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Nonprofits at work: Operation Hope aims to boost financial literacy | Gallery



Operation Hope works to disrupt poverty and empower inclusion for low and moderate-income youth and adults.

With the focus on financial dignity and inclusion, the organization equips young people and adults with the financial tools and education to lay the foundation for a better future. Trained Operation Hope coaches guide participants through their personal aspirations and life’s challenges, and facilitates their journey to financial independence.

Joy Easterling, an Operation Hope financial-wellness coach, faced her own financial hurdles.

At one point in her life, as a single mom trying to get through college, she had no idea how a credit score could affect her future choices or the implications of credit card debt. As Easterling learned how to work with her own finances, she felt more confident and in control of her money and her life. Now she is passionate about helping others make better decisions about their money.

Easterling said she understands how guarded people are about their finances. She shares her story with them and says that when a person or a family begins to trust her, they can work together to create a road map toward financial independence.

There’s a big need for Operation Hope’s services in our community. About 57,000 Greensboro residents — including 1 of every 4 children — live in poverty, according the local chapter of the United Way. The federal government defines poverty as a family of four earning $24,600 per year. Many four-member households in our community need to earn around $60,000 to meet basic needs without subsidized assistance, according to local self-sufficiency standards.

Gin Reid Hall is the director at Partnership Village on Greenbriar Street in Greensboro, which provides transitional housing for formerly homeless people. Operation Hope’s financial coaching helps households qualify for conventional housing.

“Operation Hope is committed to working with residents to work through budget challenges, particularly related, but certainly not limited to, credit repair,” Hall said.

When Lanier Warner moved into Partnership Village in 2018, his credit score was low and creditors were trailing him.

“I had nowhere to go and had no idea what to do about my financial situation.” Warner said.

Larry King, a case manager at Partnership Village, suggested he make an appointment with Easterling from Operation Hope to create a plan of action.

Warner said he came to the first appointment with a pile of bills and statements. Together, Warner and Easterling created a step-by-step process to move toward financial wellness. Easterling showed him how to call creditors and negotiate a new payment plan, and he did this for many months.

As he saw his credit score go up, Warner became motivated to keep going. Just last month, Warner got his new credit score of 663 and said that without the help and accountability of his Operation Hope coach, this would have been almost impossible to do on his own.

Easterling starts the financial-wellness program by asking the client “to write down everything” so that the person has a clearer idea of what money is coming in and what is going out. She helps people look at their income and expenses with new eyes. Then she shows them how to create a realistic budget. She teaches them about automatic payments and other online banking tools.

“I share with them my mistakes and keep it real with them so they can feel comfortable with the process,” she said.

Operation Hope connects the legacy of the Freedman’s Bank, established by President Abraham Lincoln more than 150 years ago to integrate all Americans into our nation’s economic life, and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s advocacy for equity of opportunity for all.

Operation Hope’s Project 5117, a multiyear, four-pronged approach to combating economic inequality, aims to improve financial literacy, increase business role models and business internships for youth in underserved communities, and stabilize the American dream by boosting people’s credit scores.

Warner said he now has the potential to buy a small house, his dream for many years.

He recently paid off his car and can’t wait until that information “hits” and improves his credit score.

“I encourage anyone to call Operation Hope and get on the right track with their money,” Warner said. “I am blessed to be where I am today.”

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?



When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances



Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit



Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.



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