Bank On Graduating Class

Congratulations to the newest challenges for the Mayor's Action Challenge for Financial Fitness~

Mayor William Sessoms was on hand to congratulate our graduating class at Financial Planning Day November 7th, 2015.

January Classes now Enrolling

Get your free financial makeover by enrolling in Bank On.  New classes beginning January 2016!  Don't miss out on this opportunity to:
  • Improve Income Opportunity
  • Grow Savings
  • Reduce Debt
  • Build Credit
  • Protect your Finances from Loss
Participants will have a financial plan to help them reach their own personal goals and it only takes one class per month and a meeting with your personal financial coach.  All at no cost to you!

Holiday Shopping on a Shoestring

Free Holiday Workshop to help you enjoy your holiday season well without the pain of growing debt.

RSVP to 

Financial Planning Day

Register today for Financial Planning Day.  Your one stop shop for everything financial.  Free; no strings attached. 

Investment Webinar

Wondering how to get started investing?  Check out our webinar covering the basics of investing.  Topics covered:
  • Getting the most out of your investments
  • Risk vs Return
  • When is the Best Time to Invest
  • Minimizing Investment Costs
  • Diversification
  • Buy & Hold vs Marketing Timing
  • Minimizing Taxes
  • Rebalancing
To view the webinar CLICK HERE

Take the Challenge: September Classes Enrolling

Get your free financial makeover by enrolling in Bank On.  New classes beginning September 1!  Don't miss out on this opportunity to:
  • Improve Income Opportunity
  • Grow Savings
  • Reduce Debt
  • Build Credit
  • Protect your Finances from Loss
Participants will have a financial plan to help them reach their own personal goals and it only takes one class per month and a meeting with your personal financial coach.  All at no cost to you!

Businesses Benefit from Your Lack of Cash


No Cost Retirement Boost

A recent Financial Engines Study suggested that Americans are leaving $24 Billion on the table by not maxing out their employer's retirement match or an average of a little more than $1,300 per person. That is money that should have been ours!   In other studies, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates we are paying $34 Billion in excess fees like late fees and overdraft fees.  More money in the wrong pockets!

What would happen if we were able to operate in a world where we didn't pay such fees and took that money to boost our retirement?  Let's see.... if $24 billion averages out to $1,300 per person, then $34 billion would be around $1,850.  Right off the bat we could see a nice little boost for our retirement of $3,150!  That is free money since it didn't change your cost of living one bit and it didn't increase debt or deplete savings.  Oh, boy, I am feeling a bit rich!

Now, what would happen if I could do that every year over the next 40 years of my working career.  Using my handy dandy Excel Spreadsheet I calculate the future value of $3,150 invested each year over 40 years at 10% rate of return and presto chango... I have almost $1.4 million stashed away for my dream retirement seeing all the sights and resting with a cold drink on the beach!

Now to get there, the trick is, I need to make sure that I have a good handle on my cash flow so that I never overdraft or incur late fees on my accounts AND I need to participate in my employer's retirement plan and maximize that match!  If you need help getting started.  Bank On is here for you.  In 10 months you could see greater financial control and get yourself on a financial plan to achieve your dreams.  Now is the time to get started.  You can enroll today at for the classes beginning soon.  Check out our calendar of classes while you are there.  Best thing; it is FREE, no cost to you, pro bono.... you get the idea!  See you soon.

College Doesn’t Have to Be a Debt Trap: 5 Tips for Reducing College Costs

Nine in ten parents believe that college is a worthwhile investment. While this statistic from Sallie Mae’s How America Saves for College 2015 report shows that the value placed on higher education is nearly universal, a staggering 84% of parents are also willing to stretch themselves financially in order to make college possible for their children. “Better we have the debt than [our children] have the debt,” Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley was quoted as saying in a recent Washington Post article on student loans and parent borrowers.  


The increasing costs of higher education are a part of our current reality, but breaking the bank doesn’t have to be. Making smart financial decisions from the start, and turning good savings behaviors into long-lasting habits can be the ticket to a fruitful and (hopefully) debt free future – for students and parents alike.


5 Tips for Reducing College Costs


  1. Start Saving as Soon as Possible – This goes for parents and prospective college kids alike. Parents can start as early as birth to save for college through popular vehicles like 529 plans and savings bonds. See how putting away small amounts of savings will build up over time and will reduce the amount of loans that have to be paid back later in this video.
  2. Do Your Research – If you already have your major chosen, do some digging into what credentials are required in you major’s industry down the road and consider what your options are for getting the most bang for your buck. Not sure what you want to be when you grow up? That’s okay! Check out community colleges. These low tuition schools offer a wide variety of courses to give you options and time to define the direction of your studies, while keeping costs at a minimum. Liberal arts colleges also have a reputation for giving more generous financial aid packages with similar broad spectrum course options.
  3. Save on Room & Board – Sometimes there really is no place like home. Take a moment to think about what living expenses really entail: a room to sleep in, furniture, electricity, internet, laundry, regular meals, and any variety of moving costs. Whether you’re trying to reduce student loan debt after college or trying to stretch those 529 savings accounts, living at home during school will save you thousands of dollars.
  4. Work While In School –Working one (or a few) part-time job can help pay for anything from tuition to books, transportation to school supplies. Every little bit that you can earn and save before and during college will reduce the amount of loans you need to take and save you money you would pay later.
  5. Know the Fine Print – When savings and free money won’t cover all the costs, student loans will inevitably step in. Whether you’re a student or parent borrower, be mindful of the debt that you take on. Scrutinizing repayment terms is critical as they can help you know how much you’ll owe after you graduate, when you’ll have to start paying on the interest and principal of your loans, and whether you’ll be eligible for any forgiveness options down the road. Get cozy with the details before you sign that promissory note.


Learn more about saving for college and pledge to save at


Tammy Greynolds works for America Saves, managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America (CFA), which seeks to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. Learn more at

Investment Webinar

Investing can seem risky, complicated and scary for the beginner.  If you are interested in growing your investments, but want to learn more to get started, this webinar is for you.  Join us online or by phone!

FREE WEBINAR: AUGUST 4th, 2015  7:00 - 8:30 pm

REGISTER: email to get a link to this free webinar.

Topics Covered:

  • Investing Principles
  • Am I Ready to Invest
  • Where to Put Your Money
  • How Much Money do I Need
  • Investment Options
  • Diversification Techniques
  • Index vs. Non Index Investing
  • What is Dollar Cost Averaging
  • Cost of Waiting
  • Common Mistakes Made
Webinar offered in partnership with Virginia Saves and Bank On Virginia Beach as part of their commitment to the Campaign for a Secure Retirement.

REGISTER today at

Build Your Business - July

Host: The Focuss Group 4176 S. Plaza Trail
RSVP: 757-631-1100

National my Social Security Week 2015 July 19 – 25, 2015

From July 19 – 25, Social Security will celebrate its second National my Social Security Week. Activities across the country will include email blasts, news articles, social media posts, posters and banners, registration events, and more!

Why all the activity? Because a personal my Social Security account is the most convenient way for people to access and manage their Social Security information online. Taking advantage of this convenient, cost-effective, and secure service allows workers to plan for their financial future and enables them to verify that their information on our records is correct. This is important since earnings are the basis for determining the amount of future retirement benefits. For people who already get Social Security benefits, my Social Security is the easiest and most convenient way to manage their benefits and get an instant benefit verification letter, change their direct deposit information, and much more.

As of April 2015, almost 19 million people have opened my Social Security accounts. In fact, someone opens a new my Social Security account every six seconds.

Join the millions and sign-up for your free my Social Security account this week. It’s the perfect time to open an account and start planning for retirement or managing your benefits online. You can sign up today at

June Small Business Workshop

Are you building your small business?  Having good financial controls in place can make the difference between success or failure.  Attend June's Small Business Workshop on June 30th to get the information you need to keep your business on top!

Financial Management - understanding this critical practice

After completing this module, the participants will be able to:
  • Understand the essentials of financial management.
  • Apply financial management practices, rules, and tools most relevant for small businesses.
  • Prepare for common business financing needs: start-up finance, working capital, and fixed asset loans.

LifeCents Online

Take a free online financial assessment to see where you stand financially.  LifeCents is offering a drawing of $25 each day for people who will do a financial assessment, a weekly drawing of $100 and a grand prize drawing to take place in July.  All you have to do to get started is visit LifeCents!

Plan for Your Someday

Working hard, paying bills, and putting money aside for your needs and wants in the “now” are so often automatic in our day-to-day lives – so why aren’t we thinking about or planning for the future? According to the 2015 Retirement Confidence Survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, nearly one-third of workers have almost no retirement savings or investments (< $1,000), and a staggering 57% are underprepared with less than $25,000 for retirement.
It’s clear that anyone not using the present to plan for retirement will likely be setting themselves up for a less than golden future. But it’s never too early or too late to save for retirement. Try one – or more! – of these three ways to take advantage of retirement savings opportunities right now to build yourself a more secure future:
1. Open Up a my Social Security Account
Social Security benefits play an important part of planning for retirement. Don’t forget about your my Social Security account! This free account can help you determine what your benefits will be and when will be best for you to start receiving them.
2. Save Early and Save Often, No Matter How Much You Earn
Starting retirement savings early is the best way to take advantage of compound interest and establish good savings habits. Take advantage of any workplace opportunities, like a 401(k) or 403(b), and never turn down “free money” that comes in the form of employer contributions or matches. Individual Retirement Accounts or IRAs are also a great way to save, with some tax benefits in the process. If you get paid by direct deposit from your employer, you may also be eligible to participate in the new myRA program. myRA is a simple, safe, and affordable retirement account created by the United States Department of the Treasury for the millions of Americans who face barriers to saving for retirement.
Need help finding ways to save? Turning off your phone or cable could save you $5 a month. Find a penny, pick it up; by saving $.50 in change a day, you will save $15 a month. For more ideas like these, visit America Saves online.
Starting early isn’t possible for everyone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play catch-up. Calculate what you will need to save in order to live comfortably in retirement. Once you have turned 50, you can make “catch-up contributions” – an extra amount beyond the normal limits that you can contribute to tax-deferred retirement plans.
3. Take the America Saves Pledge
Those who make a commitment to themselves and their family to save usually save more than those who don’t. Make your commitment to retirement savings today and receive regular advice and support via email and/or texts while you save money. America Saves will provide you with the motivation and advice you need to reach your savings goal.
Tammy Greynolds works for America Saves, managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America (CFA), which seeks to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. Learn more at America Saves is proud to be part of the “Campaign for a Secure Retirement: Helping Millions of Americans Plan and Save for Retirement” joint, national educational retirement campaign to encourage retirement planning and saving and to promote the online Social Security Statement, available through mySocial Security, as an important retirement planning tool.

Are you Credit Invisible?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently released a report about the millions of Americans that are "credit invisible" having no reportable credit information at all or "credit unscorable" meaning they have few active lines of credit preventing our commercial credit scoring models from generating a valid credit score.

If you are one of the 45 million Americans (19% of adult population) with no credit or limited credit, you may find that traditional avenues to obtaining loans are closed or difficult to navigate.  Many of these Americans have been responsibly paying their financial obligations, but have no record of their payments recorded on their credit report. 

Bank On partners offer citizens a path toward better credit.  By working together with our Bank On participants, our financial institutions can help you overcome your lack of credit history and help you build a positive credit profile that assures you have access not only to lower interest loans, but also to housing, jobs and better insurance rates that are available to citizens with solid credit.

To read more:

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Every dollar that passes through our fingers has a destiny.  It is used to fund our lifestyle either yesterday, today or tomorrow.  Think about it.  We are either paying for the purchases of yesterday through payments, enjoying the comforts of today or preparing for our tomorrows by saving. 

The purchases of yesterday might be something of lasting value like transportation that gets us back and forth to work so that we can continue earning dollars in the future or it might be those impulse purchases that some slick salesman made us believe we couldn't live without one more moment.  Yesterday purchases include the meal that we charged so we could go out with our friends or the gas we purchased when we were short on dough. 

Sales people know that we are short sighted generally, so when it comes to larger purchases, rather than talking about the price, they will often discuss the monthly payment.  Whether it is furniture, appliances, computers or cars, sales people know they can get their commission today if we will commit to piling on a bit of debt.

Those purchases of yesterday add up quickly if we are not careful.  In Bank On we discuss the magic of compounding, but our credit card companies have learned that lesson too and they can use that compounding against us unless we have a plan to minimize our reliance on debt.  If you are finding that the yesterday is stealing from your today and tomorrow, you might want to build a debt snowball by visiting  At, you can create a secure login, list your debts and find out how a debt snowball can dramatically reduce your repayment time saving you both time and interest.

Our lifestyle has a cost.  The things we buy today can keep us from moving ahead on our financial goals.  We live in a culture where we are encouraged to get what we want now and let the future take care of itself.  The pair of shoes that catches our eye, the night out on the town, the camp for our kids all can wear away our cash. 

Sometimes, little things can be a spending leak that diverts our funds from the important to the trivial.  For instance, how often do you make an extra purchase at the gas station or buy more than what was on your list at the store?  Even vending machines at work add up over time. 

To get control of your spending leaks take the challenge of tracking your expenses for a month.  If you are diligent about tracking every single dime, you will be amazed at the potential leaks that will be uncovered in process.  You can find a Spending Tracker under our Worksheets section of this blog. 

Finally, one of the "today" expenses that may need some careful management are the fees we pay.  Every late payment, every overdraft transfer, and even some services come with fees.  We all pay fees of some sort, but the trick is to manage well so you don't pay for services you don't need.  Check out the worksheet for When Are Bills Due under the Worksheets section of this blog. 

The savings we earmark from each paycheck buys us opportunity and perhaps even time tomorrow.  Think about it; when you have an emergency savings established, you have options when it comes to funding those unexpected and unplanned expenses.  Savings also allows us to purchase larger items without having to finance them.  We can buy at a discount and never pay interest.

If I lose a job and have emergency savings, I have bought myself some security and perhaps even extra time so that I can find the next job that meets my career goals rather than needing to take the first thing that comes along.  Savings buys us time to recover from the unexpected without having to incur unnecessary fees.  We have time to regroup and plan for replenishing our safety net without having to go into crisis mode.  Nearly every financial crisis we face can be lessened or avoided altogether with that savings safety net in place.

We also need to have savings for those periodic expenses that come along like personal property taxes, back to school, birthdays, holidays, car maintenance and the like.  Savings keeps the periodic from becoming a budget buster.

After our basic savings is in place, having an investment plan to prepare for the long term like retirement is essential.  Few of us can work until the time we pass and most of us don't want to.  Preparing for retirement and later life expenses allows us to have greater opportunity to enjoy life in the future.  Savings and investing is like having an added layer of insurance to protect us in the future. Savings is flexible too.  Unlike insurance that only covers specific hazards, savings can be used to cover any hazard that comes our way. 

They say Cash is King.  With savings in place we can allow our money to begin working for us rather than stealing interest and opportunity from us along the way.  To get started on your savings plan, check out the resources at or get your Ballpark Estimate for retirement at

What's Your Money Personality?

How we make financial decisions tells us a lot about our personality.  
Are you a CASH person or an ASSET person?  Take this quiz to find out:




1.       I save money out of each paycheck

2.       I use my credit card when my account is low

3.       I pay more than the minimum payment on my credit card bill each month

4.       I have more in savings now than I did at the beginning of the year

5.       I use my credit card each month without paying off the balance in full 

6.       I contribute to my retirement each month

7.       I have at least one housing payment (rent/mortgage) saved in a savings account

8.       My credit card balance is more than 50% of the limit 

9.       I have had an overdraft payment or late fee in the last 6 months 

10.   I am prone to make purchases on impulse 


Give yourself a point if you answered “Yes” to: 1,3,4,6,7

Give yourself a point if you answered “No” to: 2,5,8,9,10


1-3 Points:  CASH PERSON:  You are a cash person.  You generally use all the money coming to you each month and then some.  You enjoy life and don’t mind spending a little to have the things you want.  You are a risk taker and believe that the future holds great things for you just around the corner.  You also may be putting your financial future at risk by incurring too much debt and sacrificing savings.  It is good to have fun, but take time to put your cash flow on a plan so that you can continue enjoying life well into the future.  Many cash people focus on today because they do not have written goals for their future.  Check out Bank On’s S.M.A.R.T. Goals to build a forward moving financial plan.  Call us at 757-385-3551 if you want help getting started. 

4-6 Points:  BALANCED PERSON:  You are a balanced person when it comes to managing your money.  You enjoy a good meal out now and then, but you keep your spending in check and manage to save a little for your future.  While you are on a good path, building a good working spending plan will allow you to reach your goals faster and let your time and money work for you rather than against you. 

7-10 Points:  ASSET PERSON:  Just like the nursery rhyme where the king is in the counting house, counting out his money, you like to see your savings grow!  You assess needs and wants critically to minimize the amount of debt you owe.  While that sale item is tempting, you know how to exercise power over your financial choices.  Great work!  To take your financial plan to the next level, review your credit report at for accuracy, then get on the fast track to reducing your debt using a debt snowball at

Improving Your Credit Score

Your credit score (FICO® Score) is a number between 300 and 850. This number is calculated through a formula which takes several variables into account, including, ‘accounts owned’ (30%), ‘length of credit history’ (15%), ‘new credit’ (10%), ‘payment history’ (35%), and ‘types of credit’ (10%). As you see, each variable has a corresponding weight, with payment history affecting your score the most. If you would like a deeper understanding of each category, you can view this information on the MyFico ( website.

Your overall credit report is used to factor in the importance of each factor in your credit score calculation.  Your credit score is calculated only from information available on your credit score. For a credit score to be calculated, your credit report but have at least 1 account that has been open for 6 months or more and at least 1 undisputed account that has been reported to the credit bureau in the past 6 months. If these 2 things are relevant to you, you should have a credit score.
It is a common myth that your current credit score will hurt your chances of getting a loan or new credit forever. As your financial situation changes and new information is added to your bank and credit bureau files, your credit score will change gradually.

To begin improving your credit score, there are several steps you can take. A good first step will be to check your credit report. Since your credit score is calculated based on your credit report, you should review your credit report to make sure the information there is accurate and contains no errors. If you made a payment on time but it appears as late on your credit report, you should get that resolved immediately. Also confirm that the outstanding amounts that you owe are correct and up to date. If you find any errors on any of your three credit reports, be sure to dispute them to the credit bureau immediately.

Several other ways to improve your credit score include- reducing the amount of debt you owe, keeping the balances on credit cards low and setting up automatic payments or payment reminders to ensure timely payments. You can find more great tips on improving your credit score at

Once you are able to raise your credit score you will be able to receive lower interest rates on new loans and credit cards, have more credit available to you and will appear to be a better candidate for a job or new apartment.

Why Check Credit

What is a credit report?

A credit report is a statement combining all of the information from your different credit, loan and payment reports into a single document. There are three nationwide credit reporting companies in the United States- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. When you make or miss a payment on a loan or credit card, the lender reports this information to the credit reporting companies. There is also personal information on your credit report- current and previous residences, whether you’ve been sued or if you have filed bankruptcy. 

To receive your credit report, you will have to provide your full name, address, social security number and date of birth. If you have moved in the last few years, you will also have to provide your previous addresses. When you view your credit report, you will see:

  • A list of companies that have given you credit or loans
  • The total amount for each loan or credit limit for each credit card
  • How often you paid your credit or loans on time, and the amount you paid
  • Companies that have asked to see your credit report within a certain time period
  • Your address(es) and/or employers
  • Other details of public record
Why should I check my credit report? And how often?

The information on your credit report strongly affects whether you will be able to get a loan or credit but it may also affect your ability to rent an apartment or get a new job. Another good reason to check your credit report is to ensure the information is accurate, complete and up to date. If you see anything that is incorrect or possibly identity theft, you should get that repaired immediately.

You receive one free credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting companies ( It is recommended to check each of the three credit reports each year. It is also a good idea to check your credit report prior to applying to for a loan, credit card or insurance. By staying a step ahead of the lenders, you are able to ensure your credit report is accurate and may receive a lower interest rate.

How long will negative information stay on my credit report?

The credit reporting companies can report most negative information for seven years and bankruptcy information for 10 years. If you have any criminal convictions, there is no time limit on that information being reported.

What if there is an error on my credit report?

If you spot an issue on your credit report, no matter if it is a small issue (such as the misspelling of your name) or from a long time ago, you should still correct the error. Both the information provider (lender, company or organization) and the credit reporting company are responsible for correcting inaccurate information once they are notified.

I have more questions about my credit report, where can I find trusted information?

If you have additional questions, head to While there, you can access frequently asked questions, the steps to resolve an issue on your credit report and much more.