5 Resolutions to Get You Saving in the New Year

By Katie Bryan,
America Saves Communications Manager

As the end of 2012 quickly approaches, make sure to give your finances a checkup and discover if you need to make saving your New Year’s resolution. You may discover that you have debt you need to pay down or that you are ready to take the next step in savings. Helping yourself and your family save successfully for the future should be near the top of your resolution list – and it’s one resolution you can’t afford to break! Remember, you don’t have to make a lot of money to save successfully. Start Small. Think Big.

5 Resolutions to Get You Saving in the New Year

1. Get Out of Debt
The best investment most borrowers can make is to pay off consumer debt with double-digit interest rates.
How to do it: Find places to cut your spending so that you can pay down your debts faster.

2. Save for Emergencies Having an emergency savings fund may be the most important difference between those who manage to stay afloat and those who are sinking financially. In a
recent survey, only 49% of families said they had extra funds (not including lines of credit) available to pay for an unexpected expense of $1,000. Don’t find yourself unprepared in 2013. How to do it: Save a Portion of Your Tax Refund.

3. Save for Retirement Many employees turn down free money from their employer by not signing up for a work-related retirement program such as a 401(k) plan. If they did participate, with a dollar-for-dollar match they would likely receive an annual yield of greater than 100% on their investment.
How to do it: Participate in a work-related retirement program or open up a Roth IRA. Already saving? Increase the amount you save toward retirement by 1% in 2013.

4. Make Savings Automatic It can be hard to put aside money for savings. But there is an easy way to save money without ever missing it
Make your savings automatic in 2013.

5. Buy a Home and Pay Off the Mortgage Before You Retire The largest asset of most middle-income families is their home equity. Once these families have made their last mortgage payment, they have far lower housing expenses.
How to do it: Almost anyone can afford to own a home with proper preparation. Develop a savings plan to build up money for a down payment at purchase, for moving expenses, and for post-purchase emergency expenditures such as needed home repairs.

Savings Strategy: Save a Portion of Your Tax Refund Tax Time is a great time to kickstart or grow your savings for the future! Use the 30 – 40 – 30 plan. Designate 30% of your refund to pay off debt and catch up on outstanding bills. Earmark 40% for current use. Use 30% to jump start an emergency fund or long term savings. You can use form 8888 to buy a U.S. Savings Bonds. Bonds are a safe and easy way to save for the future.

Are you ready to set your goal?

America Saves is an initiative of the non-profit Consumer Federation of America that encourages individuals and families to save money and build personal wealth. Join as a saver today to receive free resources, tips, and advice to help you save successfully!

What does the Fiscal Cliff Mean?

This link is shared by one of our Bank On instructors:

What does the Fiscal Cliff Mean

This is a short video but very informative

Maximize your Tax Refund

Now is the time to begin pulling together all those records you need at tax time to maximize your refund.  The biggest reason that people don't get more refund than they do is because they do not maintain good records (or know which records to bring to the tax preparer).  To help you get started, here is a helpful checklist of records you may want to get:

   Mileage:  Keep a log of mileage driven for: (record beginning and ending odometer, date, destination and purpose).  Keep a notebook in your car for ready use.
o   Medical
o   Charitable volunteering
o   Business
   Childcare:  Records needed for Child and Dependent Care Credit
o   Name, Address and Tax ID for childcare provider
o   Receipts for childcare expenses paid
o   Keep receipts for education related expenses - several credits available - some are refundable.
o   Keep receipts for out of pocket medical expenses
o   Keep records for medical premiums paid
o   Obtain a report of prescription costs from pharmacy
o   Keep records for mortgage interest and points
o   Keep documentation of personal property tax paid
o   Real estate taxes
   Contribute to your Retirement:
o   Retirement Contributions through 401K reduce your taxable income
o   Contributions to IRA are reported on tax return to reduce your taxable income
Saver's Credit can return up to 1/2 of your retirement contribution to you at tax time.
   Evaluate your W-4:
o   If you received a large refund, you may want to reduce your exemptions
o   If you had to pay last year, you may want to increase your exemptions

Orientation Homework

Orientation Class
ð       Pull your CreditKarma.com score; update your starting position.
ð       Pull your credit report through annualcreditreport.com; update starting position.
ð       Join Virginia Saves and make a goal; update passport.
ð       What Does Your Future Look Like Worksheet –start a dream book what you and/or your family plan to do with the money you are saving.
ð       Visit the Bank On Virginia Beach (http://bankonvb.blogspot.com) blog and answer: What dates are all the Bank On Classes for the coming month scheduled? 
ð       Make contact with your Coach.

Financial Planning Days Videos

Many of our Bank On participants attended Financial Planning Day either graduating from Bank On classes or learning more about them for the first time.  These videos really did a great job of capturing the moment and since many of you may have been in the video as well, we thought you might like to see them. Two Videos:


2.           Another From ACCESS Virginia Beach - Financial Planning Day Segment starts at 19:21 minutes

Holiday Shopping on a Shoestring

Thank you to Virginia Saves and Virginia Cooperative Extension for pulling together a wonderful video series on Holiday Shopping on a Shoestring.  As we organize our financial plan we want to enjoy the holidays without busting the budget.  This video series will give you the tools you need.

Getting Started

Food Ideas


Holiday Budget

Gift Giving

Holidays with No Money

Below are some of the forms that were shared as part of this presentation:

Groceries for the Holidays

My Holiday Spending Plan

10 Tips to Bag a Bargain

Holiday Gift Giving Ideas

Gift Coupons

Matched Savings Requirements

Our partners the Interfaith Alliance at the Beach are so passionate about helping families establish emergency savings to keep them from relying on payday lending that they have been fundraising for our participants to encourage them to establish an emergency fund for the unexpected expenses. 

They have asked that only those people who are committed to going the extra mile for their financial makeover be considered.  This means that participants would need to go beyond the minimum requirements for Bank On Classes:

1. attend EVERY class.
2. Additionally, they need to meet at least 9 times during the the 10 months of classes with a coach to help them meet their goals. 
3. Participants need to establish $150 of their own savings
4. Live in the City of Virginia Beach
5. Only one match per household.

Your coach has the forms to complete for the matched savings when you have met the requirements they can forward the request on for processing. 

We believe that your investment will pay more dividends than this small match but this should be a nice incentive to get things started. 

Finding Your Coach

New to Bank On Virginia Beach and looking for your coach to work with you?

Look no farther than our list of participating banks and credit unions in the links on the right hand side of this blog.  These participating locations have offered staff to help you complete your financial makeover one step at a time. 

If your bank or credit union is not listed, here is an idea.  While we don't want to sever your relationship with your existing bank, we would encourage you to establish your emergency savings account with one of the financial institutions listed.  This allows you to have your money in a safe location where there is not so great a temptation to use it for monthly expenses. 

Additionally, some of the churches will be offering faith-based coaching and we will be listing the dates for those sessions in the future. 

If you are unable to locate a coach please contact the Financial Empowerment Office at bankonvb@vbgov.com.  We will help you find a coach to work with you.

Bank On Next Steps

To all our Bank On Virgnia Beach Graduates,

Congratulations on completing your financial knowledge portion of the Mayor's Action Challenge for 500 Families Financially Fit for the Future.  You have worked hard and done some great work.  Now the next challenge will be even greater:  finish the challenge.

Your Financial Empowerment Passport has action steps to help you:
1. Increase income opportunity
2. Increase savings
3. Decrease debt
4. Improve credit score
5. Build Assets for your future.

Each challenge has a list of community partners who can help you acheive your mission and your coach will become even more important in this next step.  Completing the action steps that are bold and asterisked are critical components of financial stability, so as you complete them please just date and initial. 

Some action steps may have been completed or not need to be completed.  In that case, you can mark NA or just a checkmark to indicate they are done and initial off in the verification column. 

Once you have completed your actions, then fill in the data for the Ending Position on pages 32 and 33 and submit the passport to our office or to your coach who will forward it to us.  The submission instructions can be found on  page 5 of your Passport.  The Mayor has asked to have an update on those that have completed the Challenge by the end of the year.  Of course no personal information will be shared, but in aggregate we will note the increases that have been achieved by the graduates.

Your passport will be returned to you after processing so that you can keep it as a souvenir for your hard work.

Thank you to our sponsoring partners, the Interfaith Alliance at the Beach.  Your fundraising has made matched savings available to establish emergency funds for our participants.  A $300 emergency fund can allow you to borrow from yourself if you are short in the event of an unexpected expense. 

If you are applying for Matched Savings, your coach can assist you with that application.  Requirements for matched savings are:

1. Attend ALL Bank On Virginia Beach classes
2. Work regularly with your coach on your financial goals
3. Live in the City of Virginia Beach
4. Save $150 of your own savings
5. Only one match per household

Even as you are graduating please know that the Financial Empowerment Office is here to serve you and to help you complete your journey in creating your financial plan for your future.  Reach out to us and let us know how you are doing.  You can find us at bankonvb@vbgov.com.

Bank On Video

If you want to know the benefits of getting involved with Bank On Virginia Beach, we encourage you to take a look at our video and see what our participants are saying.

FInancial Planning Day October 27

Register today to Attend
October 27th 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Virginia Beach Convention Center
Free Individual Financial Planner Sessions
Free Annual Credit Report
Housing/Credit Counsel
Free Materials
Kelvin Boston of PBS’ MoneyWise Series – Keynote Address
Ready or not, the future is coming. BE READY.
Virginia Beach Financial Planning Day offers free one-on-one personalized financial advice from Certified Financial Planners and free financial workshops with no strings attached!
In today’s uncertain economy, planning for your financial future is more important than ever. Don’t miss this opportunity for a free, private consultation on financial issues that matter to you with experts from the Financial Planning Association® and highly qualified CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professionals.
Workshops are offered on a variety of financial topics throughout the day. Stay as long as you would like. It’s all free. Bring a friend!
While visiting, get your free annual credit report or get a ballpark estimate of how much you should be saving to meet your retirement needs. Credit counselors are available to help you interpret your credit report and to provide strategies for improving your credit score. Housing counselors are available to help you with information on how to qualify for a home or to keep your home free from foreclosure.
Financial topics addressed include: budgeting, credit and debt, investing, retirement, taxes, homeownership, employee benefits, education savings, estate planning and much more.
Community partners like Bank On Virginia Beach, Virginia Saves, Legal Aid, Fleet and Family Services, State Corporation Commission, Federal Reserve Bank and many more will be available with expert information throughout the day.
Please share this email with your friends and colleagues or print a flyer for posting.

Car Shopping with Power!

Remember the last time you decided you needed another car and went to shop?  What did the salesman ask you... "how much payment can you afford?"  Shopping for large purchases can lead you into one of the most common "gotcha's"; focusing on the payment and not on the purchase price.  Almost never does the total cost of the vehicle become part of the bargain, but payment does.  Why?  Because salesmen know that we tend to make our decisions based on short term thinking rather than true costs.  The car dealer can get your payment in your price range by changing how long they finance the vehicle, but that may not be in your best interest.

Let's take a hypothetical car.  Found one for $24,000 on the internet.  Now would you pay $27,000 for that same vehicle?  Of course not.  But when you finance your car, you choose to pay more to have it by adding interest to the cost of the vehicle.

The salesman asks how much payment can I afford?  Most of us have an amount we think we can manage based on our other budget choices.  Would I be willing to spend $757?  Wow!  I would become car poor to forfeit that much from my budget.  That is what financing that car over 3 years would cost.  At that rate, I would pay an extra $3,000 in interest over that three years.  We may think that is too much to pay, but in reality, that is the payment option that lets me pay the least.  In three years I would have my car paid for in full and be able to start a savings plan that would allow me to buy my next car without having to finance so much. 

Too much to manage, so the salesman offers me a great deal on the car where I can drive today for $497 per month.  He just extended my loan to five years and increased my total interest paid to $5,000.  Now this car will cost me just over $29,000.  The salesman used time to gain the power of the sale. 

Let's consider how we can use time on our side.  If I were to drive my old jalopy for another 3 years and save the monthly payment in the bank, I could go shopping with a great down payment and not have to bust my budget to have the car I want. 

Another option would be to save the payments and look for a nice used car for the money I have.  Cash is King in the bargaining world and you can get yourself a great deal if you are willing to pay cash.  Be willing to forfeit the payment route and you will find yourself in the power seat with the savings you have accumulated.  You will feel good having no payments too!

August Announcements

August Classes: During the month of August we have the following classes: 1st Wed: Library – Crisis Mode 1st Tuesday 8/7: Enoch – Pay Yourself First Last Tues 8/28: Seatack – Pay Yourself First 9/5/12 Library – Money Management

Other Classes: See the attached flyer for a Foreclosure Prevention Class offered by the UpCenter on August 25th. Also Virginia Housing Development Authority offers free First Time Homebuyer classes every month. Visit www.vhda.com and click on “homebuyers”.

Looking for a Coach?: Participants who have a coach are able to make their financial goals faster. Coaches keep you strategically focused and motivated to implement your financial plans. One of the key benefits of Bank On is getting a financial partner who is on your side to help you navigate through the maze of financial complexities. Don’t miss your opportunity to benefit from coaching.

Block Coaching: August 18th and 25th from 9:00 am - 10:00 am at Enoch Baptist Church.

You must RSVP for these coaching sessions to bankonvb@vbgov.com If there are no RSVPs sessions will be cancelled to honor the volunteer coaches time.

Bank on Partners: Don’t overlook the benefit of using our Bank On Financial Institutions for your coaching needs. Having a strong financial partner relationship can really make a difference. Having a savings account with one of the Bank On Financial Institutions can help you to build your savings in a location where you are not tempted to access your nest egg.

Community Coaches: if you still need a coach to work with you, there are a limited number of community coaches to assist. Contact bankonvb@vbgov.com.

Midterm Survey Results: WOW! You Bank On participants are doing some wonderful work! Congratulations. Attached is a report from the recent Bank On midterm survey where we asked how you were doing. Thanks for your participation!

New Classes Forming: We are currently organizing classes to begin in November and after. Classes are being scheduled for the Lake Edward, Seatack and Municipal Center areas of Virginia Beach. New classes are a great way to pay it forward and to keep the momentum you have started in reorganizing your financial life fresh. If you have missed a few sessions, new classes can help you round out any missing classes so that you can qualify for the matched savings incentives. If you want to help staff a class or have a friend or coworker who would like to attend Bank On, please share this information with those you know. New Employee Classes will begin in January at Building 14 and DHS.

Financial Planning Day: Mark your calendars to attend Financial Planning Day on October 27. You can register to attend this free event online at www.financialplanningdays.org/virginiabeach. We are excited to announce that Kelvin Boston of PBS’ MoneyWise series will be our keynote speaker for the day. Financial Planning Day is a day when Certified Financial Planners offer their financial advice for free as a pro bono outreach to the community. Participants in Financial Planning Day can meet one on one with a Financial Planner, can attend workshops, obtain a wealth of free financial resources, and get their annual credit report or evaluate their retirement savings.

Bank On Graduation Register Here: We will be graduating our first Bank On Class at Financial Planning Day on October 27th. Come and be recognized for your hard work. Instructors, coaches, and City staff will be present to recognize your hard work.

Using the Passport: There is a checklist at the back of the passport for all the activities that are required for the financial fitness challenge. Separate from Bank On graduation, participants can submit their passport for recognition in the Mayor’s program. I hope you will take this challenge and become recognized by Mayor Sessoms for your Financial Fitness. At the front of the passport is the Starting Position where the participant documented where you started from and at the end is the ending position. These two benchmarks will demonstrate the progress you have made over the course of the challenge. All information is maintained confidential and will not be shared. Reports on the Mayor’s Action Challenge will be aggregated as a whole to report the effectiveness of the program.

Worksheets and other Materials: Bank On’s Blog has a wealth of materials and information for you. Worksheets, tools and tips can be found on the Resources tab at this website: http://bankonvb.blogspot.com There is a calendar of events and all the sign up forms etc that are used with the program. No passwords required. Easy access for materials.

Does Education Pay?

There has been a lot of talk in the news about the plight of college graduates saddled with debt concluding that a college education doesn't pay.  In this article, lets take a look at whether education pays.

According to the Department of Education, the average student graduates with approximately $24,000 in student loans.  The projected interest rates for student loans may top 6% in 2012-2013 year, so lets use 6% as an estimate.

At 6% interest, I am going to have a payment on a 10 year repayment plan (assuming I am average) of $266.45 monthly.  That's a lot of eating out I will have to bypass to make my payments!  Let's see for $266 I could have a car payment, buy some awesome new clothes AND have a great phone plan with all the data I can stand!

But here's the thing....  According to the Census Bureau, the difference in my average salary will likely be 65% more after graduating with a 4 year degree compared with a High School diploma (20% higher for an Associates degree).  That means that even though I am paying $266.45 in student loan payments I can earn $4,563 per month.  That is almost $1,800 more than I would have earned without the degree.

CAUTION:  Averages are just that.  There are a lot of factors that come into play as you consider how much you can earn.  Some are factors you can control like your professional appearance, your work habits, your prior experience, the type of work you have chosen.  (Some service professions are grossly underpaid compared with their corporate counterparts).  There are other factors you can't control like the unemployment rates, the location of the employer etc.  Your best bet is to focus on the controllable factors and set yourself apart as the primo candidate the employer would love to hire.

But overall, does education pay?  You bet!

Getting Started on a Spending Plan

Getting started on a spending plan doesn't have to be hard, it just takes a little bit of planning and a whole lot of honesty.  Many of us know where the big money goes - rent, car, doctor, etc.  The trouble we have is knowing how to find all those smaller dollars that seem to evaporate into thin air if we are not watching their every move.

Lets break the budgeting process down into three steps:

Step 1:  Make a list of those regular expenses that happen each month.  For expenses that change month to month, make a best estimate or use your last month's bill as a starting point.  Here are some examples of expenses that may be on your list (you may have others):

  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Phone (landline and cell)
  • Internet
  • Cable/Satellite
  • Groceries
  • Car Payment
  • Gas
  • Insurance
  • Credit Card Payments
  • Eating Out
  • Entertainment
  • Pharmacy
  • Miscellaneous (what's that?)
  • Medical Expenses
  • Savings
Did you see that last one?  Kind of sneaked that one in on you!  Savings should be a part of everyone's regular spending plan if they are moving forward and not backward.  Emergency savings first and then longer term savings.

Step 2:  Put on your thinking cap and see how many expenses you can think of that don't happen every month.  You can use the Periodic Expense Planner in the resources section of this blog.  Some examples you may have include:

  • Property Tax
  • Home Insurance
  • Income Tax
  • Furniture and Appliances
  • Home Repairs
  • Memberships and Dues
  • Holidays
  • Vacation
  • Subscriptions
  • Gifts
  • Weddings
For these expenses do your best to estimate the total cost for last year and then divide by 12.  That is how much you should be saving each month for these items.  Even if the expense is not for several months away, continue to save it in a safe location (like a savings account you will not touch) until the expense is due.

Step 3:  Search out the spending leaks.  Leaks are any expenses for which you do not have a planned allocation.  Often we lump them into "miscellaneous" but if we are to control our cash and not have our budget control us, we need to know where all our money goes.  For these expenses, use a method that works for you, envelope, receipts, ledger (you can find some of these methods in the resource section of this blog).  Write down every penny spent so that you can evaluate how much is really necessary and how much is discretionary.  It may take a couple of months to find all the leaks in your spending plan, but as you plug the leaks and make a plan for the necessary spending you will find yourself in control and feeling good!

Power Pay Your Debts

How quickly could you be debt free and having more flow in your cash flow?  Power Pay is an online webtool designed to help you eliminate debt faster by making power payments.  What is a power payment you ask?  A power payment is a combined payment allowing you to pay extra on the most costly debts.  As soon as one debt pays off, you apply that payment to the next debt.  That is a power payment!

As debt is eliminated, saving and investing are possible to help you advance your financial goals, so you can move from being a power payer to a power saver!  Using the power pay tool you can know exactly when your debt will pay off and when the savings can begin!

In addition when you visit the power pay website, you will have access to a number of calculators including a calculator that show the percentage of take-home pay that goes to pay for housing costs.  I am house poor if my total housing costs are greater than 35%. 

Other calculators include:
  • Are your transportation costs driving ou into the "poor house"
  • How much home loan can I qualify for
  • How long will it take to pay off debt with an extra payment
  • How much emergency fund should I have

Vacation for Less with the Summer Vacation Planning Guide

Many of you Bank On participants have heard about Virginia Saves and have even made a commitment to savings but did you know that Virginia Saves is on a mission to help you enjoy life to the fullest and still stay on track with your savings goals for the future?

Virginia Saves Summer Vacation Planning Guide can help you to:

  1. Enjoy a fun filled vacation that creates a lasting memory without busting the bank
  2. Plan for the vacation of your dreams without havings to rob Peter!
  3. Find creative ways for making fun at home and away this summer.

Vacation can be one of those budget busters that throw us off our best laid cash management plans.  Without a sound plan to pay for vacation costs, you can find yourself farther behind in your financial plan than when you started, but with a little planning you can enjoy summertime fun and still have money for your other monthly expenses.  The Vacation Planning Guide offers worksheets to help you break down vacation costs and engage the entire family in planning for the big event. 

You may find that planning your big get away can be almost as fun as the destination when the whole family is involved!

Limited Time Mortgage Modification Review

The Federal Reserve Board has recently announced that if you believe that you were financially harmed during a mortgage foreclosure process from 2009 - 2010 by major mortgage providers, you may request an independent review and potentially receive compensation for the damages you incurred.

Who Qualifies?
  1. Your mortgage was begun by one of the following institutions:
    1. America's Servicing Co
    2. Aurora Loan Services
    3. BAC Home Loans Servicing
    4. Bank of America
    5. Beneficial
    6. Chase
    7. Citibank
    8. CitiFinancial
    9. CitiMortgage
    10. Countrywide
    11. EMC
    12. EverBank
    13. Financial Freedom
    14. GMAC Mortgage
    15. HFC
    16. HSBC
    17. IndyMac Mortgage
    18. MetLife Bank
    19. National City Mortgage
    20. PNC Mortgage
    21. Soveriegn Bank
    22. SunTrust Mortgage
    23. U.S. Bank
    24. Wachovia Mortgage
    25. Washington Mutual
    26. Wells Fargo Bank
    27. Wilshire Credit Corporation
  2. Your mortgage loan was active in the foreclosure process between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010
  3. The property was your primary residence
Examples of Financial Harm:
  1. Balance at foreclosure was more than you actually owed.
  2. You were abiding by modification agreement when foreclosure sale happened
  3. Foreclosure occurred while protected by bankruptcy
  4. You applied for modification and were waiting for a decision when foreclosure sale occured
  5. Fees or mortgage payments improperly applied
  6. Foreclosure action occured on mortgage obtained before active duty military service while servicemembers was covered by Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
Action to take:
Visit https://independentforeclosurereview.com or call 888-952-9105 to request help completing the form you have received in the mail.  You must request this independent review on or before July 31, 2012.

New Class At Central Library


New Class Forming Now! Click here for flyer

Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library 4100 Virginia Beach Blvd
Virginia Beach, VA 23452

WHEN: 1st Wed of each month starting May 2, 2012
TIME: 5:30 - 6:30 pm

It isn't too late to join Bank On. You can enroll today by clicking on this link. You can submit the form online or print and mail to:

Financial Empowerment Coordinator
Virginia Beach Department of Human Services
3432 Virginia Beach Blvd.
Virginia Beach, VA 23452

Welcome to Bank On Virginia Beach Blog!

You may be asking yourself, what is Bank On anyway and why should I be involved.  Bank On Virginia Beach is a unique partnership of community resources coming together to help you build a stronger financial future.  Through classes, low cost financial accounts and one on one coaching, Bank On is ready to help you take the steps needed to take control of your financial future.

Bank On Virginia Beach is a part of Virginia Beach Department of Human Services Financial Empowerment program.  Members of Bank On often enroll in the Mayor's Action Challenge for 500 Families Financially Fit for the Future.  These programs together give you a roadmap for increasing income, savings and credit score while reducing debt.

Enrolling is easy and the benefits are great.  Participants who complete the Mayor's Action Challenge for 500 Families Financially Fit for the Future will receive a certificate from the Mayor upon completion and may be eligible for other incentives as well.  Even without the incentives, you know you want a better future for yourself and your family, so enroll today and begin the journey to financial fitness!