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Archive for the ‘Financial Services’ 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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The 2014 Tax Season will soon be in full swing.  This year there have been changes to CAP Tulsa’s Tax program, and we wanted raise awareness so Tulsans can easily find volunteer tax sites and other resources.

Beginning with the 2014 tax preparation season, CAP Tulsa will no longer offer free tax preparation publicly to Tulsa families. The CAP Tax service will only be available to families participating in other CAP Tulsa services, including its early childhood education program and those who live in the Eugene Field and Kendall Whittier Neighborhoods in conjunction with our Neighborhood Revitalization initiative.211 postit

The Tulsa Area United Way has been working with CAP Tulsa to garner interest from other Tulsa agencies, with the long-term goal of building a coalition in Tulsa to continue offering this vital service.

For the 2013 filing season, the United Way has been successful in locating agencies to host tax sites open to the public. Anyone seeking assistance for free tax preparation in 2014 can call the Tulsa Area United Way helpline at 2-1-1 or visit http://www.211oklahomahelpline.org/to find tax websites or options near you.

Anyone who is interested in filing their own tax return online can do so by visiting (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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As part of a new project at CAP, each month we will be featuring a guest blogger from across the agency.  Amy Amatucci, Senior Fund Development Specialist, is our sixth blogger.

Last month the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) and OK Policy co-released the 2012 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard, which shows that more than one in four Oklahoma households are “asset poor.”  The report measures how residents in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia rank in their ability to achieve financial security across 52 measures in five areas, including Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care, and Education.

Asset poverty is an estimate of financial security that takes into account all of a family’s assets (e.g., house, car, checking and/or savings account) which would be used in the case of lost income. However, this is a conservative way to measure assets, since a home or car would be difficult to liquidate in an emergency. A more accurate measure of a family’s financial resources is “liquid asset poverty” which excludes those assets which are not easily converted into cash. So while 15.6% of Oklahoman residents are income poor, 27% are asset poor and, even more disturbing, 48% of Oklahomans are liquid asset poor. (more…)

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This post contains outdated information from 2012.  To view up-to-date information for 2014, please visit CAP Tulsa’s website or check out our 2014 Tax post for more resources.

It is that time of year again!  CAP’s free tax preparation program is in full swing at three sites across Tulsa.  Families who make $50,000 or less are eligible for free tax preparation with our IRS-certified volunteers.  In addition to free tax preparation services two sites, Exchange Center and Pine & Lewis BOK, have checking and savings account enrollment available, which will help you receive your refund faster than using a paper check.  Oklahoma’s Promise enrollment and US Savings Bonds are available at all the CAP tax sites listed below.

The appointment line opens January 13, 2012.  To make an appointment call 918-382-3333.

For list of items to bring to your appointment, click here.

2012’s locations and times include: (this is outdated information, for more up-to-date news visit CAP Tulsa’s Website). (more…)

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As part of a new project at CAP, each month we will be featuring a guest blogger from across the agency.  These guest posts will cover a myriad of topics chosen by the guest blogger.  I am excited to see what everyone produces.  Pat Douthitt, Financial Analyst in CAP’s Accounting Department, is our first guest blogger.

Based on statistics reported by MyBankTracker.com, 61% of Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck.  In an annual survey conducted by the American Payroll Association, 71% of workers would find it somewhat difficult to very difficult to meet current financial obligations if their next paycheck were delayed for a week.

How do we overcome this?  Depending on individual situations, the path will vary, however, the basic starting place is budgeting. (more…)

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 Lack of access to affordable credit is one difficulty faced by low-income Americans.  Of course, there are those who lack access because of poor financial decision-making and poor credit history, but many others are denied access because they do not have enough credit history.  These people are described as having a thin credit file.  A common misconception about credit is that positive payment history on rent, utilities, and services like cellular phones is included in your credit score.  However, only delinquent payments are reported to the major credit bureaus.  There has been a push to include this type of data in credit files though.  The Political and Economic Research Council and the Brookings Institution Urban Markets Initiative  released a report that describes the impact on consumers if alternative data were included in credit files.  In short, they found that people with limited or no credit history could benefit greatly from the inclusion of this data.  The report also found that the risk profiles of the new entrants in the credit market were very similar to those who already had access to the credit mainstream. 

Based on this and other research, a small segment of the credit industry took action.  PRBC was one of the first credit bureaus to recognize the importance of these types of payments to low-income and thin file credit seekers, so they began to compile this data into an alternative credit file.  RentBureau did the same with positive rent payments.  Now, one major credit bureau is stepping up.  Experian bought RentBureau and will begin to use positive rental payment data to create their general credit files.  Therefore, if your property manager reports to RentBureau and you pay your rent on time, you are improving your credit score.  This is great news for the 1/3 of Americans whose rent is their largest monthly bill.

I think I will go home tonight and ask my property manager if they report to RentBureau.

For more information about this new service, click here.

For more information about research from PERC and the Brookings Institution, click here.

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