Archive for the ‘Asset Building’ Category

America Saves, the organization that coordinates the annual America Saves Week , is working with Money Smart Week on a public awareness campaign that began April 5th. Money Smart Week seeks to connect providers of financial education to consumers who want to better manage their personal finances.

money smart weekThe need to connect consumers with financial resources is clearly there, as Americans continue to face challenges saving money and paying bills even as the country continues a slow economic recovery. In February, Stephen Brobeck, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of America, discussed the results of the America Saves’ annual survey saying,

Only about one-third of Americans are living within their means and think they are prepared for the long term financial future. One-third are living within their means but are often not prepared for this long term future. And one-third are struggling to live within their means.”


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I’m often inspired by the innovative ideas being developed to help low-income families meet both present and future needs.  One example I recently shared highlighted community gardens that provide fresh food to low-income neighborhoods in Tulsa.  Today, I’m drawing inspiration from the economic seeds being planted through San Francisco’s Kindergarten to College (K2C) program.

Launched in 2011 by the City and County of San Francisco, K2C is the first publicly funded, universal children’s savings account program in the country.  Operated through the city’s Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE), the program ensures every kindergarten student in the San Francisco Unified School District is automatically enrolled in a College Savings Account.  Accounts are seeded with $50 provided by the city-county government, with students enrolled in the National School Lunch Program receiving an additional $50.

Accounts are desigmoney ladderned to make contributing as easy as possible by allowing relatives and extended family to deposit money by mail, online, or in person.  There is no minimum deposit amount required, so families can give what they can afford, when they can afford it.  Partnerships with local foundations, organizations and businesses also provide matching funds for promotions that encourage families to save regularly and speed the growth of account balances.

The program is still relatively new but the results so far are encouraging.  As of 2012, over (more…)

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America Saves Week kicks off February 25.  This annual event offers people a chance to assess the status of their own saving and take financial action.  America Saves Week is coordinated by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council, and also includes hundreds of partners who promote the event across the country.  The theme this year encapsulates three essential steps: “Set a Goal. Make a Plan. Save Automatically.”  It is hoped that with practice individuals can turn these three actions into healthy financial habits.

Last summer, a survey by Bankrate.com reported that 22% of Americans have insufficient savings and 24% have no savings at all.  The situation in Oklahoma, as damerica saves weekiscussed in a previous post, is not any better with nearly 44% of residents living without sufficient savings to cover a job loss or other crisis. However, storing up assets for a rainy day is only one reason to save.  Putting money aside for vacations, education, retirement and large purchases are also examples of wise financial planning.  By saving money for large purchases, families can avoid paying high finance rates.  Saving money to invest in education can lessen the burden of future student debt.  And saving for vacations and retirement will lead to a higher quality of life.

While the positive aspects of savings are easy to understand, as the statistics point out, a significant number of the Americans still fail to take steps to build savings into their budget.  (more…)

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CFED recently released their 2013 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard, subtitled Living on the Edge: Financial Security and Policies to Rebuild American Prosperity. It details how millions of Americans are still just getting by in the wake of the recession, and for Oklahoma the data highlights two or three real problem areas. However, before we take the plunge into a sea of disconcerting data, there are two bright spots. Oklahoma earned the second highest rank 2013_scorecardamong the states in Early Childhood Education participation, an especially relevant figure since CAP Tulsa is an early childhood program provider. The state can also boast of a low unemployment rate, the fifth best in the country. However, the high marks do not carry over to other areas of the Scorecard.

The Assets and Opportunity Scorecard examines the financial security of Americans by assessing states based on 69 different outcome measures. The measures are grouped into five broader categories: 1) Financial Assets and Income, 2) Business and Jobs; 3) Housing and Homeownership; 4) Health Care; and 5) Education. Oklahoma’s general report card, shown below, reflects a mixture of good news and bad news:

  • D – Financial Assets & Income
  • B – Business & Jobs
  • B – Housing & Homeownership
  • D – Health Care
  • C – Education

For more detail on all of Oklahoma’s results, you can click here. For now, to better understand what these grades mean, we will take a quick look at just two of Oklahoma’s problem areas: 1) Financial Assets and Income; and 2) Health Care. (more…)

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Last month, the Pew Charitable Trusts released Who Borrows, Where they Borrow and Why, the first in their Payday Lending in America series.  Their research gives us insight into behaviors and policies behind the use of payday loans, which we know are a costly alternative to traditional banking. Among five groups identified as highly likely to take out  payday loans are individuals earning less than $40,000 annually.

In the report and interactive features, Oklahoma clearly stands out with the highest usage rate in the nation for payday loans, at 13%.  Part of the problem for Oklahoma, as pointed out in the Pew report and numerous news articles, are the permissive laws regulating payday lenders.  The so-called “hybrid states,” which restrict storefront payday loan operators to lower limits on fees, all have usage rates significantly lower than Oklahoma. However, the best results are from states with the most restrictive laws, and therefore no storefront payday loan operators, some of which come in as low as 1%.  (more…)

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Earlier this week the Federal Reserve (Fed) released the key findings of their most recent Survey of Consumer Finance.  The report, which occurs every three years, is a comprehensive survey of family finances, focusing on income, net worth, assets and liability.

When NPR’s Morning Edition, and other news sources, discussed the survey’s finding they focused on the hit to the middle class, however a deeper look at the report makes it clear the impact fell heavily on many low-income families. The survey reports the median net worth for the lowest quartile fell from $1,300 to zero during the period from 2007 to 2010.  The mean net worth for this same group also declined; falling “from negative $2,300 to negative $12,800.”

Still, the Fed’s report does show some lower income families managed to accumulate additional wealth during this period.  (more…)

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