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Metro seniors put in effort as pandemic forces them to transition to tech | FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV



KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As more meetings become virtual, many doctor visits are now going tele-health. That means seniors are finding themselves more reliant than ever on computers.

It’s a population already often behind the curve in terms of technology, and they’re now feeling the strain more because of COVID-19.

Helping seniors even more during the pandemic is important to the people who make up the Urban League of Greater Kansas City.

“They do all the grown things that you do, but there’s just one little area in their lives that they’ve just got this, it’s a barrier,” Lynn Miller said.

She brought her mother, Barbara Flowers, to Spectrum Digital Academy, a computer lab inside the Urban League of Greater Kansas City. 

Flowers is an 89-year-old retired nurse who has her own iPhone and iPad, though the transition to technology is a work in progress.

“She has nothing in her past to associate these terms with, words like ‘icon,’” Miller said.

The pair sat side-by-side Tuesday morning, reviewing highlights from a community Zoom call earlier in the morning.

“So everything I put in the computer has the same format, am I right?” Flowers asked.

Her daughter’s answered prompted a deep sigh. Miller told her, “It basically has the same format, but they’ll have different passcodes and different ID numbers.”

The frustration is shared by others in a generation who grew up writing on paper, reading physical books and using ink pens.

“Just because we’re old, doesn’t mean that we’re not smart; and just because we’re not smart by your standards, doesn’t make us dumb,” Jim Nunnelly said.

Nunnelly, a senior himself, has spent some of his free time during the pandemic both teaching tech and exposing others to something he recognizes as a bigger, underlying issue.

“The biggest problem that we have in dealing with population is the erroneous assumptions that we make about that population,” he said. “Particularly African Americans, [others] make the assumption that we are illiterate. That presumption gets in the way of the delivery of care. We’re not only literate, but we want to be in line with and up-to-date with everything around, including technology.”

Nunnelly is working with others his age, in terms of both technology and health education, like a Diabetes Expo call he was on last week.

“We reached out to senior citizens, who are the most presumed-illiterate, and said, ‘Get in this. Learn how to do Zoom,’” he said. “We were elderly and African American and senior citizens as well, and so we enjoyed it as much as anybody.”

Nunnelly’s wife Janice has also taken classes at Digital Spectrum Academy.

“I’ve actually learned how to text,” she said with a laugh. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do that!”

She said a nudge from her older sister helped, too.

“My sister is deaf, and she’s the one that really kind of made me learn how to text. She said, ‘I’m deaf. I can’t hear or speak. I have to use sign language. What’s your excuse?’”

One of the things Janice liked most about the learning experience was her teacher, Jaqua Wilkins.

“The one thing that this young lady does is she takes her time and she goes slow enough that you don’t feel the pressure of learning something, doing different,” she said of Wilkins.

Teaching technology to seniors is only one part of the many things Wilkins does at the Urban League of Greater Kansas City.

“It’s just the reward of seeing someone light up and get it, right?” she said.

Through a grant from Spectrum, Wilkins is able to both teach in-person at the Digital Academy, as well as travel around the city for one-on-one meetings.

“I do basic computer classes for seniors and families. I also do credit repair bootcamp and help people learn how to use technology to help enhance their lives, whether it be for texting or Facebook reconnecting with people, also with Zoom,” she said.

“I even help people set up a Zoom account for themselves so they can conduct their own family reunions during the summer.”

The Urban League said its seeing more people with need during the pandemic, but the outreach hasn’t stopped.

“What we found is that people either don’t have access to the devices or the hot spots, so we went out and we bought more devices for our clients and our workforce development too,” Wilkins said. “We help people do online banking, pay their bills online, anything they can do technology, we teach them here at the Urban League.”

“Our Urban League computer lab is sponsored by Burns and McDonnell and our Spectrum digital grant,” Wilkins continued. “We want to help remove any barriers that will help them successful and make them successful.”

She also introduced FOX4 to what she calls one of her greatest successes, a student-turned-teacher.

“Mr. Charles, he came to me. He didn’t have computer skills,” she said. “He worked general labor, and now, he’s teaching the basic computer skills class here at the Urban League to seniors, and so that it what’s so rewarding about it.”

Davis Sr. understands computers now, but it wasn’t easy for him.

“I didn’t have a clue. I was one of those finger-picking computer operators,” he said laughing, as he plucked away at the keyboard with his index fingers. 

The senior committed to the learning process, and now he’s an instructor at the Spectrum Digital Academy.

“He’s coaching on Zoom now to our students, so Mr. Charles has come a long way,” Wilkins said. 

“The computer is helpful. It’s not hurtful. It’s not harmful to them as long as they understand each component and how it operates,” Davis Sr. said. 

Nunnelly said he’ll continue to use his time connecting people in need with available resources already established in the community. You can reach him at 816-695-4200.

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If you need a co-signer, you’re not ready | Business



My fiancée and I want to make an offer on a house. She has a lot of late payments and a bad credit record, though, but she is working hard to manage her money better and get out of debt. I don’t make enough money to get a home loan by myself, and I have some debt to pay off, too. In order to help us out, my aunt and uncle said they are willing to co-sign a mortgage loan for us. What do you think of that idea?

Here’s a simple, solid piece of advice for anyone looking to make a purchase of any kind. If you need a co-signer, you’re not ready to make that purchase—period. I’m not trying to beat you up or anything, but it’s way too soon for you two to be thinking about buying a home. I mean, for starters you’re just engaged right now.

When a lender requires a co-signer, it basically means they don’t believe you’ll pay back the money. And besides, you two don’t need a house now or right after you get married. The two of you should get married, and live in a decent, inexpensive apartment for a while. During that time, you both need to work hard on paying off all your debt. After that, save up an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses. Then, start setting aside cash for a down payment on a modest home.

When it comes time to buy a home, I recommend a 15-year, fixed rate loan with a down payment of at least 10%. Twenty% is better, because it will help you avoid having to pay PMI (private mortgage insurance). Make sure the monthly payments on the loan are no more than 25% of your combined take home pay. Keeping the payments at 25% or below will make it easier to address other important financial issues, like saving and investing.

Your aunt and uncle are obviously generous people, Evan, but they’re a little misguided in their offer. At this point, helping you two buy a house — something you obviously can’t afford —would be a huge burden instead of a blessing.

Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business, and CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 11 million listeners each week on more than 550 radio stations and digital outlets. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at

Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business, and CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 11 million listeners each week on more than 550 radio stations and digital outlets. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at


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Dave says: If you need a cosigner, you're not ready – Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal



Dave says: If you need a cosigner, you’re not ready  Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

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How to improve your credit score in 2021: Easy and effective tips



If you’ve ever wondered “What is my credit score?” it’s probably time to find out. Having a good credit score can make life a lot more affordable. If you’re about to buy a house or car, for example, the higher your credit score is, the lower your interest rate (and therefore, monthly cost) will probably be.

Your number may also be the deciding factor for whether or not you can get a loan and ultimately determine if you are even able to buy something you want or need.

So, yes, the goal is to have the highest possible credit score you can, but increasing the number doesn’t just happen overnight. There are important steps to take if you want to increase your score, and the sooner you start working on it, the better.

“If you’re trying to increase (your credit score) substantially to accomplish a goal, you’re really going to have to have as much lead time as possible,” said Thomas Nitzsche, director of media and brand at Money Management International, a nonprofit financial counseling and education provider that advises people on how to legally and ethically improve their credit score on their own.

If you have fair credit and you’re trying to improve the number for a house purchase, for instance, you’ll want to start working on it at least a year in advance, he explained to TMRW.

But even though that sounds like a long time away, you can (and should!) start doing things right now to bump that number up. Below, see seven things you should do — and not do — to help improve your credit score:

1. Review your credit report

Review your credit report and look for errors that might be hurting your score. Morsa Images / Getty Images

The first thing you’ll want to do is pull up a copy of your current report so you know where you stand. You can get free reports from all three agencies — TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax — at Nitzsche said it’s important to take a moment and understand the financial snapshot of where you are today and where you want to be.

You’ll also want to take some time and look for any errors on your report, which could negatively impact your score. “If your name is misspelled, that’s not going to hurt your score,” he explained. “But if you see a late payment or missed payment (that’s in error), or maybe you have an account that should be reporting but isn’t, then that’s a problem and that will impact your score.”

If there is an error, you should dispute it and try to provide as much proof as you can.

One other thing: You can also ask a creditor to remove an issue if it’s been corrected (i.e., if you paid off a collection debt). Nitzsche said it doesn’t hurt to ask and the worst thing they could say is no.

2. Have good financial habits

“The biggest part of your credit score is payment history, so the most critical thing is never missing a due date,” Nitzsche said. Set up a monthly autopay or add all due dates to your calendar so you never miss a bill.

You can also achieve a higher score when you mix different types of accounts on your credit report. It may seem counterintuitive to get extra points for having debt in the form of student loans, mortgages and auto loans, but as long as you’re paying them off responsibly, it shows that you’re reliable.

3. Aim to use 30% or less of your credit at any given time

Know your credit limit and aim to only use 30% or less of it for a better credit score.Tim Robberts / Getty Images

Know your credit card limit, and try not to use any more than 30% of that number each month, otherwise your score could lose points for too much credit utilization.

Another thing you can do is ask your bank to increase your limit. “That will give you more flexibility to spend more,” Nitzsche said. You could also pay it off twice a month to keep the balance low. But he does warn that you never know when the balance is going to be reported to the bureau. It can happen at any point during the month, so it might be the day after you make the payment or the day before. “You don’t necessarily want to use the card and pay it the next day because that doesn’t give the bureau the chance to know that you’re using it,” he said.

4. Avoid requests for new credit

If you’re looking to increase your score around the time you want to buy a house or car, you won’t want to open up a new line of credit, like a retail card, credit card or loan. That’s because “hard” credit inquiries like those can lower your score, and sometimes it comes down to a few points over whether you’re approved or what your rate will be, Nitzsche said.

“Soft” credit inquiries, like when an employer checks your credit or when you pull your own report, won’t affect your score.

5. Keep all accounts open, even ones you don’t use anymore

Even if you don’t use that credit card from college, it’s a good idea to just keep it open because closing it could hurt your score. Nitzsche explained that you’ll be dinged some points for each account that is closed. If you want or need to mentally break up with a card, just cut it up instead.

6. Build your credit if needed

If you haven’t established credit yet, you might not even exist … in the credit report space, that is! “If someone has never fallen in delinquency on any subscriptions or utilities or never had collections on anything and they have not utilized credit cards or loans in the past seven to 10 years, they may not have a credit profile at all,” Nitzsche said. “That presents a challenge when you want to buy a home.”

If this sounds familiar, you may have to get a secured credit card where you put down a deposit, he advised. “You still have to make payments and use it responsibly. Not all banks offer them but you can usually check with your local bank or credit union.”

7. Reach out for help

If you want personal guidance on boosting your credit score, make an appointment with a credit counselor.kate_sept2004 / Getty Images

There are many apps and credit-monitoring services that can help you stay on top of your credit score. You could also reach out to a professional credit counselor who can help you navigate your specific situation. (Here’s a good resource about finding a reputable service.)

One last thing: Nitzsche warned that everyone should beware of credit repair scams that claim to be able to increase credit scores for an advance fee to get accurate negative information removed (even temporarily) from credit reports.


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