ONE-MINUTE TIPS

Each month, Stewards In Action presents One-Minute Tips on 103.7 FM The Beat. Narrated by SIA Secretary and Treasurer Karen Cheathem, the tips can be implemented by any individual or family to help control spending, achieve financial goals and plan ahead to avoid problems. If you miss the radio broadcasts, just visit our website to view the transcripts in their entirety.

October 2017
Message 1
Anticipation of the winter weather have you thinking about retirement? Some points to remember -
  • You are never too young to start saving for retirement. In fact, the earlier you start the more time you will have to build a well-defined financial plan.
  • You may not realize it, but retirement is the most expensive thing you will ever buy in your lifetime. When you put money into a retirement account, you are saving today so you can enjoy your future.
  • Each year, retirement becomes more expensive. Fewer companies are providing traditional pension plans which puts the responsibility of your retirement on you.
  • If your company has a retirement plan, ask if you can you contribute? If so start small and increase your contributions until you reach the max allowed.
  • If your deduction is pre-taxed you could take home a few dollars more.
  • Remember a simple automatic deduction saving plan today, will be a great benefit when you retire.
Message 2
Anticipation of the winter weather have you thinking about retirement? Here are some other things to consider.
  1. Now is the time to review your financial status.
  2. Estimate your annual retiree income. Pension and/or 401K plan, other income, and Social Security.
  3. Consider the cost for Medicare Part B or Medicare Advantage Plan, retiree insurance or a supplemental coverage, dental, prescription drugs, optical and related co-pays.
  4. Add, monthly bills, taxes, food/non-food and insurance for home and auto.
  5. But the key question- if you have debt, do you really want to carry it into your retirement years? If the answer is “NO”, now is the time to review your spending habits, determine your total debt and set a plan to eliminate it prior to your retirement date.
  6. Most retirement income is less than your current earnings. Now is the time to make the financial change so you can enjoy your retirement years.
SEPTEMBER 2017
Message 1
Fall Check-up Before the Winter Blast
  • Inspect and clean gutters and downspouts
  • Seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors with weather-stripping and caulk
  • Inspect your roof for damaged or curled shingles, corroded flashing, or leaky vents
  • Drain and winterize outdoor faucets and irrigation systems
  • Clean or replace dirty furnace filters
  • A wood stove should be checked before firing it up
  • Review fire escape plans
  • Rid your home of old newspapers and other fire hazards
  • Keep hallways clear of objects that could cause fall and/or injury
  • Keep emergency contact numbers and medication list in a place where emergency personal can easily access
  • And keep a radio, flashlight and batteries in case of power outages
Message 2
Fall Check-up Before the Winter Blast
  • If you can feel cold air when you pass the door or windows that means you are paying more for your heating expense. Cover windows with plastic from the inside. This will provide an extra layer of insulation and reduce heat loss.
  • Rolled towels or a rug can be used as a simple way to block the cold air that comes under the doors. Both simple steps can reduce your monthly heating expense.
  • Remember to keep your car winter ready by keeping the gas tank full. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Be prepared for winter emergencies. Keep at least a 3-day supply of water; that is one gallon per person per day and a 3-day supply of non-perishable food. Keep a working flashlight, radio, batteries, and a first aid kit.
August 2017
Message 1
Keeping Your Personal Information Secure Offline
  • Lock your financial documents and records in a safe place at home, and lock your wallet or purse in a safe place at work. Keep your information secure.
  • Limit what you carry. When you go out, take only the identification, credit, and/or debit card you need. Leave your Social Security card at home in a safe place.
  • Before you share information, ask why they need it, how they will safeguard it, and the consequences of not sharing.
  • Shred credit offers, credit applications, checks, bank statements, expired charge cards, and similar documents when you no longer need them.
  • Destroy the labels on prescription bottles before you throw them away. Don’t share your health plan information with anyone who offers free health services or products.
  • Take outgoing mail to post office collection boxes or the post office. Promptly remove mail that arrives in your mailbox. If you won’t be home for several days, request a vacation hold on your mail.
Message 2
Do it Yourself - Appliance Maintenance
Check your appliances to make sure, there isn’t any dust clogging them and that they’re fairly clean.

Look behind the appliances, and use your vacuum to gently clear away dust. Check all the vents, especially refrigerators, dryers, heating and cooling units.

The less dust you have blocking the mechanics of these devices, the more efficiently they’ll run (reducing your utility cost) and the longer they last, the more time you have to save for future replacement cost.

Don’t forget to have your fire extinguisher tested, make sure you know how to use it, and replace batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
July 2017
Message 1
Time to Think Investment
The purchase of a freezer is a great investment. You can use it to maximize the local Farmers Markets and buy all sorts of bulk foods, which enables you to pay less per pound.

You can purchase now and have fresh fruits and vegetables all winter long.

Food should be divided into family serving sizes and carefully wrapped or placed in moisture or vapor-proof containers designed for freezer storage so no air enters the package. In addition, you can store lots of cooked meals prepared in advance, so at the end of the day, you can go home, have a nutritional meal, and extra money in your wallet.

Remember having food in the freezer and/or on your shelf means fewer shopping trips. That not only saves gas, it stops the chance for impulse, non-planned, buying.

Message 2
Keeping Your Devices Secure
Install anti-virus, anti-spyware, and a firewall. Set a time to update often so you are protected against intrusions and infections that can compromise your computer files.

Don’t open files, click on links, or download programs sent by strangers. Opening a file from someone you don’t know could expose your system to a computer virus or spyware that captures your passwords or other information you type.

Before you send personal information over your laptop or smart phone on a public wireless network in a public place, check to make sure your information will be protected.

Keep financial information on your laptop only when necessary. Don’t use an automatic login feature that saves your user name and password, and always log off when you’re finished. That way, if your laptop is stolen, it will be harder for a thief to get at your personal information. AND

Read Privacy Policies - Yes, they can be long and complex, but they tell you how the site maintains accuracy, access, security, and control of the personal information it collects; how it uses the information, or if it provides information to third parties. If you don’t see or understand a site’s privacy policy, consider doing business elsewhere.

June 2017
Message 1
When you’re just starting out on your own, credit cards offer a convenient way to make purchases and build a credit history. But it’s also easy to make costly mistakes and damage your credit record.

First:
Read the fine print. Before you apply for a credit card, read all the terms and conditions so you know exactly what you’re getting into. This is especially important if the card offers a low introductory Annual Percentage Rate(APR) because you need to know when the introductory rate ends, when the new rate begins and the new rate amount.

Second:
You can avoid late fees by paying your bill on time. Why give away money and receive nothing in return. Late fees range from $27.00 to $38.00. Review your statement, for details.

Third:
Try to pay the entire balance in full and on time every month. That way, you will avoid interest charges and save money. However, if you cannot pay the balance in full, pay at least the minimum monthly payment amount, and do so before the due date.

Remember, delinquent payments, can result in fees and hurt your credit score

Message 2
Living on large or living on more is the current financial dream and yet the term is not new. Living Large just means having the ability to pay for and enjoy a very expensive life style like vacations in the hot spots, a huge apartment or home in the city, cars, servants etc.

The five key words to remember are the ability to pay for. Living large begins with a plan called a budget. This is the means by which you learn how to set spending priorities so that you achieve your goal. No matter the amount of your current gross salary, establish a consistent savings plan for emergency spending only. Next plan your spending so you purchase needs vs. wants and always look for ways to reduce other costs. Plan to eliminate costly debt where the total interest could be twice the amount of the original loan or purchase. If you follow these steps, you have the beginning format for fulfilling your dream.

The ability to pay for living large comes from years of sacrifices. It is during those years when you learn how to spend wisely.
May 2017
Message 1
Time To Put Your List Together For Your 2017 Graduation Celebration
It is time to secure the venue for the party to ensure you have the day and time you want. Party decorations don’t have to be costly. You can by share decorations with someone else who is holding a graduation party on a different day! You can split the cost. Start early while selections are plentiful.

Plan your menu. Ask people family and friends to help prepare the meals and be available to assist them at their party. If ordering cold cuts or fruit trays, remember to put you order in early. Shop for disposable tableware now. Stick with a plain solid color and buy in bulk. Design your invitations and print them yourself. Roll the paper to look like a scroll, tie with a ribbon, and deliver them to the invitees. Don’t forget to send invitations to out of town invitees early so they have plenty of time to make travel plans. Graduation marks a milestone in a person's life. Pictures, fun and fellowship are key. When it’s over you will be tired, but your wallet won’t be empty.
Message 2
Summer is just around the corner. Now is the time to plan some summer activities for the family that are fun, educational and inexpensive.

Call ahead for college tour dates. Spend time on the campus, light lunch, the walking, sharing stories and enjoying the time together.

Use the internet to find places and plan an overnight trip with a group. Purchase tickets in advance for visits to aquariums, zoos, museums and or other places of interest. Group rates are less expensive and group activities make for a meaningful experience. Don’t forget to post pictures. And consider taking the Muskegon Trolley from downtown to the beach for a picnic. Time well spent with family. When you realize that what your children want and need most of all is your time and not your stuff, you’ll find money in your pocket and joy in your heart.
April 2017
Message 1
Retirement
  • Now is the time to start thinking about retirement.
  • You are never too young to start saving for retirement. In fact, the earlier you start the more time you have to build a well-designed financial plan.
  • You may not realize it, but retirement is the most expensive thing you will ever buy in your lifetime. When you put money into a retirement account, you are saving today for the cost of your retirement tomorrow.
  • The future years are becoming more expensive, fewer companies are providing traditional pension plans which puts the responsibility of your retirement on you.
  • If your company has a retirement plan, ask if you can contribute. If so, start small and increase your contributions until you reach the max allowed
  • If your retirement plan deduction is pre-taxed, you could take home a few dollars more.
Message 2
Saving For Your Children's Education
  • Next to saving for retirement, your biggest financial challenge is saving for your children and/or grand children’s college education.
  • College is an investment for a lifetime - the gift of a college education can open the door to a world of opportunities for your children or grandchildren. Saving, even a little at a time, can make a big difference down the road. With the cost of a college education continuing to increase, the key is to start saving early and regularly
  • You should begin a savings account as soon as they receive their Social Security number.
  • Research savings options including the Michigan Educational Savings Program and/or other 529 state qualified educational accounts.
  • Small educational investments, over the years, will mean more than dollars spent now on items long forgotten.
March 2017
Message 1
Think Spring
Now that the snow, ice, and chilling cold winds have passed, it is time to check for the winter damages.

Roof
Examine roof shingles to see if any were lost or damaged during winter. If your home has an older roof covering, you may want to start a budget for replacement.

The summer sun can really damage roof shingles. Shingles that are cracked, buckled, or loose should be replaced. Flashing around plumbing vents, skylights, and chimneys need to be checked and repaired by a qualified roofer.

Chimney
Examine the exterior of the chimney for signs of damage. Have the flue cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep.

Gutters
Check for loose or leaky gutters. Improper drainage can lead to water in the basement or crawl space. Make sure downspouts drain away from the foundation and are clear and free of debris.

Remember, your home is an investment.

Message 2
Think Spring
Use Compacted Soil
Low areas in the yard or next to the foundation should be filled with compacted soil. Spring rains can cause yard flooding, which can lead to foundation flooding and damage. Also, when water pools in these low areas in summer, it creates a breeding ground for insects.

Move Firewood
Remove firewood stored near the home. Firewood should be stored at least 18 inches off the ground at least 2 feet from the structure.

Check Outside Faucets
Check outside hose faucets for freeze damage. Turn the water on and place your thumb or finger over the opening. If you can stop the flow of water, it is likely the pipe inside the home is damaged and will need to be replaced. While you're at it, check the garden hose for dry rot.

Service The AC Unit Have a qualified heating and cooling contractor clean and service the outside unit of the air conditioning system. Clean coils operate more efficiently, and an annual service call will keep the system working at peak performance levels. Change interior filters on a regular basis.

Check Power Equipment
Check your gas- and battery-powered lawn equipment to make sure it is ready for summer use. Clean equipment and sharp cutting blades will make yard work easier.

Remember, your home is an investment.
February 2017
Message 1
The discipline to fix your credit score is important. A low score can be costly such as being denied for credit and /or loan applications; high interest rates on credit cards and/or loans; not hired for job positions; and high insurance premiums to name a few. Take steps to improve your score. Start by:
  • Requesting or printing your free credit report annually.
  • The Federal Trade Commission’s website provides information to request and access reports.
  • Review it to make sure there are no errors if there are follow the instructions listed on the report.
  • Select the lowest debt and work to pay it off and continue the process until all debts are paid.
  • Seek professional assistance is necessary.
  • As your score improves, so will your savings.
  • The process will take time so do not be discouraged.

It pays to plan your spending so that all the bills are paid on time.

Avoid purchasing expensive items on impulse. Think about it for 30 days. Taking this step can reduce the regrets of the purchase and allow you time to determine if it is an affordable need or non-affordable want.
Message 2
Questions you should ask before signing the rent-to-own contract.
A copy of a complete list of any additional fees and how much will my payments be with these charges?
  • How much are my payments and the due date?
  • What is the total dollar cost to own the item?
  • When do I own the item?
  • Is the merchandise new or used?
  • Can I pay off the item early to save money? Or is there a penalty?
  • Am I responsible for loss or damages to the item?
  • Who pays for repairs if the item breaks down?
  • Is there a grace period for late payments?
  • What happens if I miss a payment?
  • If I miss a payment or am late and the property is returned or repossessed, how long do I have to reinstate my payments and agreement? How much and what types of charges must I pay, in addition to paying all my past-due payments?

Visit the Federal Trade Commission for additional information about Rent-To-Own.
January 2017
Message 1
Financial Wellness - Reduce Debt and Save More
2017 promises to be a year of many changes and the perfect time to think about your financial future. Begin with a list of all outstanding debt. Circle the lowest debt as the point to start.

Financial Wellness begins with eliminating debt starting with the smallest amount. Once that debt is paid, add that payment amount to the next debt until all debts are paid.

Start by reviewing your spending habits. For 30 days, make a list of every penny you spend and why.

Review the list and look for those areas where you can cut back. Even small reductions in spending can create an emergency savings and/or eliminate one small debt.

The discipline to log your spending prepares you for financial opportunities. The lack of discipline = self-imposed poverty.

Remember, all debt is costly so why pay more, when you can pay less and save.
Message 2
All Decisions Should Begin With Prayer
The discipline of prayer is vital in establishing financial stability along with TWA – think, write, and action.

Once you have prayed wait for the answer.

Perhaps your desire is overpowering you; Thinking before you spend, helps you put things in perspective.

Example: Your friends are planning a trip to tour Michigan. You really want to go. Total cost per person, is $1,297 if you sign up this week. Work is slow and you are currently behind in your bills.

Ask yourself, can I really afford the trip? Is this trip worth the additional debt? How will the late payments on my current debt impact my credit score? Your answer will determine your action.

Debt is costly and stressful. Remember, saying NO to Debt is an option few use, but many wish they had.
December 2016
Message 1
THREE WINTER TIPS FOR HOME, AUTO AND SUPPLIES
  • If you can feel cold air when you pass the door or windows that means you are paying more for your heating expense. Cover windows with plastic from the inside. This will provide an extra layer of insulation and reduce heat loss. Rolled towels or a rug can be used as a simple way to block the cold air that comes under the doors. Both simple steps can reduce your monthly heating expense.
  • Remember to keep your car winter ready by keeping the gas tank full. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • And be prepared for winter emergency Keep at least a 3-day supply of water; that is one gallon per person per day and a 3-day supply of non-perishable food. Keep a working flashlight, radio, batteries, and a first aid kit.
Message 2
2017 PLANNING TIPS
It is time to make your 2017 birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and/or special day gift list.

List the names, date, ages, event, and possible gift ideas.

Next decide the budget limits and write that information next to their names.

Keep the list with you and watch for sales and/or discounts. When possible purchase items at the end of the season for the next year.

Keeping track of the items you actually need and planning ahead, can mean more savings for you.

Do holiday shopping right after the holidays when discounts are best and you can store your items in the closet until next year. Only purchase what your budget can afford. Plan ahead and save.
November 2016
Message 1
Christmas is just around the corner. Before you leave the house to check out the stores, do you have a written money saving plan?

What do the children need vs. want? What about a simple savings account that you start for their post high school education? The Christmas note can let them know that you have invested in their future because you have great expectations that they will continue their education and advance their career.

Enclose the receipt noting the amount you have invested. In addition, set time to share with them and keep communication alive.

Remember, some gifts, even expensive ones, can lose their excitement before the new year begins. Many are boxed in the closets, broken or just buried with the other gifts from prior years. But time spent is a gift that will last forever.
Message 2
HOLIDAY SPENDING:
  • Know your spending limit. Lack of money is one of the biggest causes of stress during the holiday season.
  • This year, set a budget, and don't spend more than you've planned. It is okay to tell your children that a certain things costs too much.
  • Don't buy gifts that you'll spend the rest of the year trying to pay off.
  • You can show love and caring with any gift that is meaningful and personal. It does not have to cost a lot.
  • You can use words instead of an expensive gift to let people know how important they are to you. Make phone calls, write notes, visit, and share your feelings.
  • Sharing throughout the year is important but especially during holidays.
  • Remember the true meaning of Christmas is the depth of love, given to us, based on our need.
October 2016
Message 1
Looking for health insurance? Make sure that is what you are buying. Medical discounts plans are not the same as health insurance. And, they are not a substitute for it.

DID YOU KNOW?
Medical discount plans do not pay your health care cost. They’re not insurance. They offer discounts from certain providers.

Some plans do not include local providers or give you a current lists. Before you enroll or pay any money, call local providers on the list and check whether they offer the advertised discounts.

Be aware, some offers are just plain worthless scams or a ploy to steal your information and then your identity. Check out the company with your state Attorney General, state insurance department, and visit ftc.gov/medical discount scams
Message 2
TIME TO PREPARE YOUR HOME FOR WINTER WEATHER:
Seal air leaks around windows, doors, and places where pipes and wires come through walls. Check existing caulking and weatherstripping for gaps or cracks.

If your home has very old or has inefficient windows, think about replacing them. Look for special energy efficiency offers.

Ask your local utility salesperson about cash rebates, low-interest loans, tax breaks, or other incentives for buying energy-efficient products, and how you can qualify. You can learn about tax credits and incentives at energy.gov/savings.

Check filters for forced-air furnaces, heat pumps, or air conditioners as recommended to see if they need to be cleaned or replaced, and don’t forget to close the fireplace dampers when you don't have a fire going. Remember small savings can add up.

If you are on a fixed income or have trouble paying your utility bills, contact your utility company. There may be energy assistance plans available, call 211, or your local Community Resource Partners.
September 2016
Message 1
Planning to buy a used car for your college bound student?
Part 3 of 4

Warranties: When you buy a used car from a dealer, get the orginal or a copy of the final Buyers Guide that was posted in the vehicle. The guide must reflect any negotiated change in warranty coverage. It also becomes part of your sales contract and overrides any contrary provisions. For example, if the Buyers Guide says the car comes with warranty and the contract says the car is sold “as is,” the dealer must give you the warranty described in the Guide.

When a car is sold “as is”, the box next to the “As Is-No Warranty” disclosure on the Buyers Guide must be checked. Make sure any promise, is written on the Buyers Guide. Anyone who owns the vehicle during the warranty period is entitled to warranty service.

You have a right to see a copy of the dealer’s warranty before you buy.

Note, some states do not allow, “as is” sales for many used vehicles. Make sure to check before you buy.
Message 2
Planning to buy a used car for your college bound student?
Part 4 of 4

When buying a used car, it is best to have it inspected by an independent mechanic before you buy it.

For about $100, you will get a general indication of the mechanical condition of the vehicle and the overall reliability. There are no standard operating procedures for pre-purchase inspections. Ask how long it takes and the cost. Get the information in writing.

Once the vehicle has been inspected, ask for a written report and make sure they include the vehicle’s make, model, and VIN number.

When buying from a private seller, they generally are not covered by the Used Car Rules and do not have to use the Buyers Guide. In addition, Private Sales, usually are not covered by the implied warranties of state law. That means a private sale probably will be” as is” unless the seller states otherwise.
August 2016
Message 1
Planning to buy a used car for your college bound student? Part 1 of 4
Before you buy a used car from a dealer of an individual:
  • Examine the car using the inspection checklist. You can find checklist in magazines, books, and on websites that deal with used cars.
  • Test drive the car under varied road conditions, hills, highway, and stop and go traffic.
  • Ask for the car’s maintenance record from the owner or dealer or repair shop.
  • Ask questions about the car’s history.
  • Hire a mechanic to inspect the car.
  • Determine the value of the vehicle before you negotiate the purchase. Check National Automobile Dealers Association Guides, www.nadaguides.com; Edmounds, www.edmunds.com or Kelley Blue Book www.kbb.com.
  • For information about the title, odometer data, and certain damage history visit www.vehiclehistory.gov. Expect to pay a nominal fee for each report.
  • Contact the National Insurance Crime Bureau at www.nicb.org which maintains a free database that includes flood damage and other information. You can investigate the car’s history by using the Vehicle Identification number (VIN)
  • Information not current, some dealers websites have links to free reports.
Message 2
Planning to buy a used car for your college bound student? Part 2 of 4
  • You have two (2) choices: pay in full or finance over time. Financing increases the total cost of the car because you are paying the cost of credit, including interest and other cost. Consider the down payment, monthly payment and the financing term. Rates are usually higher and financing periods shorter on used cars vs. new ones.
  • Financing – shop around for the best deal. If you are a first-time buyer or if your credit isn’t great, be cautious about special financing offers. They can require a big down payment and a high APR (annual percentage rate)
  • If you finance, understand the agreement, the exact price, how much you are financing, and the finance charge (that is, the dollar amount the credit will cost you)
  • How many payments will you be making and how much is each one and
  • What is the total sale price – the sum of the monthly payments plus the down payment.
July 2016
Message 1
A credit report includes information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you have been sued or have iled for bankruptcy.

Nationwide credit reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that, in turn use it to evaluate your application for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a place to live.

You should check your credit report to make sure the information is correct, complete, and up-to-date before you apply for a loan for a major purchase like a house, car, buy insurance, or apply for a job.

By law, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – once every 12 months. To order, visit annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
Message 2
How can your credit report affect your job application?

When you apply for a job, employers look at the application you complete and the resume you prepare. Depending on the employer and the job, some employers check into your background information including your employment history, driving record, criminal record, and your credit report.

The employer must get your permission before asking. If you do not give your okay, your application may not get a second look.

If you do not get the job because of information in your report, the employer has legal obligations: First the employer must show you the report, and tell you how to obtain your own copy.

The report is free if requested within 60 days of learning the bad news. For more information read Employment Background Checks at www.consumers.ftc.gov.
June 2016
Message 1
Time to review your auto insurance. Are you taking advantage of all possible discounts?
Passive Restraint Discount - your car came from the factory with airbags and motorized seatbelts
Anti-lock brake Discount - your car is equipped with anti-lock brakes
Anti-theft device Discount – your car is equipped with an anti-theft device in your car
New car Discount - you are the first owner of the vehicle and your car is only two years old
Economy car Discount - you could save some green by driving an economy car
Military – Member of the armed forces
Occupational-nonmilitary – Member of approved business/professional groups
Policy Discounts on auto insurance - when you set up automatic withdrawal
Full Pay Discount - when you pay your policy in full
Low mileage Discount
Loyalty Discount - For having stayed with the insurer for a length of time
NOTE: Remember to check with your insurance agent to see what discounts they offer. Discounts vary based on state and agency.
Message 2
Time to review your auto insurance. Are you taking advantage of all possible discounts?
Multiple Policy Discount - combining your auto insurance, home or renters policy.
Good Payer Discount - you did not receive a cancellation notice for non-payment during the past 12 months.
Lifestyle Discount - senior adult discount Drivers who are at least 55 years old and not actively seeking full-time employment
Resident Student Discount - you have a child attending school at least 100 miles away from where your car is garaged.
Good Student Discount - single, full-time students under the age of 25 can save for getting good grades.
Driving Discounts:
  • Driving 3 years without any violations or accidents.
  • Driving 60 months without any violations or accidents.
  • Your teen successfully completes the teenSMART driver education program.
  • Drivers who are 55 years old, who completed six or more hours of defensive driving courses and have no violations and no at-fault claims
NOTE: Remember to check with your insurance agent to see what discounts they offer. Discounts vary based on state and agency.
May 2016
Message 1
Save money by following these simple Credit Rules:
  • Remember credit cards are just like a loan – you have to pay what you owe.
  • Keep track of how much you spend. Remember that incidental and impulse spending add up fast.
  • Save your receipts and match them to your statement. Report all problems to the company that issued the card as soon as possible.
  • Never lend your card to anyone.
  • When you pay you bill in full, you avoid finance charges on the unpaid balance.
  • If you pay the minimum, you will pay more because it takes longer to pay off the debt.
  • Owing more than you can repay can damage your credit rating. This can make it hard to finance a car, rent an apartment, get insurance, or even a job.
Message 2
Special note to homeowners:
Scammers are targeting people having trouble paying their mortgages.

Claims like – “We can stop your foreclosure!” “ Guaranteed to save your home!” or "97% success rate!” are warning signs of a foreclosure rip-off. Don’t walk away – run.

Don’t pay for promises to prevent foreclosure or the ability to get you a new mortgage. These companies are out to make quick money. Never send them money or sign any paperwork.

Remember websites can be designed to look like they are a part of the government.

If you want to contact the government agency, look it up on the government’s website and use the number listed. You can call a HUD-Certified Counseling Agency for free at 1-888-995-HOPE the national hot line open 24/7. More information visit the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/yourhome
April 2016
Message 1
Safeguard Your Child’s Future by Protecting Their Identity
A thief may steal and use a child’s information to get a job, government benefits, medical care, utilities, loans, and /or a mortgage and use it for many years before the crime is discovered. The victim may learn about it years later when they apply for an apartment, job, or a loan. Parent’s, keep all documents, such as date of birth, social security number, birth certificates and/or your child’s personal information safely locked up.

If you think your child’s information is at risk, check to see if your child has a credit report. Contact each credit reporting company (Trans Union, Equifax, and Experian) and request a manual search based only on the child’s social security number. If a credit file was created as a result of identity thief, contact one credit reporting company and request a fraud alert, you can request a credit freeze, file an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission, and don’t forget to file a police report.
Message 2
Things to Consider When Taking Out a Loan
  • Is it a need or a want?
  • A loan should be based on need and your ability to repay in full.
  • How much will it cost in dollars?
  • What are the fees?
  • What is a Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
  • How soon must the loan be repayed?
  • What happens if you cannot repay the loan?
  • Check other resources for a lower cost that better meets you needs.
  • Read all information before you sign. If you do not understand, ask someone you trust to help you.
  • Borrow only what you need and can afford to pay back.
  • Keep receipts of all payments and
  • Remember to request documentation that confirms the loan is paid in full.

March 2016
Message 1
Parents and grandparents, College is a subject that should be discussed as early as pre-school. Start planning to visit a local campus or attend an event that allows the children to get excited about the possibilities of attending in the future.

It is also a perfect time to think about the cost of college and the need to start a savings plan even if it is only a small amount. Remember, the key is consistency.

When thinking Scholarships, start early. You can obtain information via the internet and/or your local library. There are scholarships for students under the age of 13.

Take time to read the information and insure its validity. You can always contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.consumer.ftc.gov if you have questions about a website.
Message 2
Simple Money Saving Tips:
Never spend your loose change. Put it aside as an emergency only fund. Over the year, you will be surprised how fast it adds up. Remember building an emergency fund can help avoid the cost of an emergency loan.

Never purchase what you cannot afford. Limit your spending so your monthly payments can be paid in full and on time. This practice helps you avoid late fees and interest cost, helps you save money and has a positive impact on your credit report.

Before you renew your home or auto insurance, check other carriers for rates that provide the same or better coverage.

Question for thought - If you were walking across the dry hot desert, what would you carry? Only what you need. Consider that thought when you shop. Make a list and purchase only what you need because debt is a heavy, costly, and unnecessary burden to carry.

February 2016
Message 1
Make your Valentine’s Day special with a romantic flair. Begin with a simple box or basket. Decorate it with colorful paper. Insert plates, napkins, cups, flatware, and various snacks.

Write love notes to each other to share later. Think of something special and the reason for your love.

Now, enjoy a drive and take time to watch the sunset. Exchange or read your notes to each other.

Sharing time together is a memory moment that has a lasting blessing for both and the perfect time to demonstrate to your children that love is made stronger when you share time together.

Remember, money cannot buy love. It is a priceless gift that grows in value as you spend time together.
Message 2
Spring is just around the corner. Time to make a list of things you need to do.
  1. Check for winter damage. If you need repairs, it is better to have it done in the spring than in the summer when demand is high and could be more costly.
  2. Check heating and cooling systems and/or air conditioner units. Again, it is better to have it done in the spring than in the summer when demand is high, the waits is longer and it could be more costly
  3. Check your windows and doors for air leaks. Check for broken of loose chalking. Remember small openings can lead to costly utility bills.
  4. Test and/or replace batteries in fire and carbon monoxide detectors.
  5. Check and repair any loose bricks on the chimney.
  6. Clean gutters and downspouts. Make sure the downspouts point away from the house.

This is a starter list to help you maintain your biggest investment – your home.

January 2016
Message 1
It is time to review 2015. Were you able to maximize your money and meet your needs? Were you able to save a little, at least $25 or $30 dollars? Did you achieve at least one of yours goals for the year? If you did, congratulations.

The goal for 2016 is to gain knowledge from the past and move forward.

The key is to set A PRIORITY SPENDING PLAN (list spending in the order of importance) Taking care of the needs must come first. Discussing financial issues and the concept of setting priorities, has a positive impact on every area of life.

For example – You have enough money to pay the utility bill but you want a new outfit. The first is a need and the second is a want. When you place the need first, you save additional cost associated with late or partial payments. Remember, spending in the order of importance helps to keep the family financially sound.

Message 2
When was the last time you could not find an important document? How much time do you spend trying to straighten out your household business affairs, especially at income tax time? How do you protect your important information from fire, flood, or thief?

First, establish a file draw or container to store copies of important information. Keep the file current and in alpha or date order. Do the same for tax information. The key, once you review the information file is it the proper place every time.

To protect your important information place the original copies of all birth and/or death certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, adoption papers, Veteran’s papers, citizenship records, wills, deeds, mortgage papers, important contracts, titles, leases, patents, copyrights, passports, stock and bond certificates, U.S. Savings bonds, and an inventory list of your household possessions should be stored in a Safe Deposit Box. Check with your local bank for options

Who besides you knows where to turn for needed information? Keep a record book and give a copy to a family member or a trusted friend.

December 2015
Message 1
Holiday Spending
  •  Know your spending limit. Lack of money is one of the biggest causes of stress during the holiday season.
  • This year, set a budget, and don't spend more than you've planned. It's okay to tell your child that certain things cost too much.
  • Don't buy gifts that you'll spend the rest of the year trying to pay off.
  • Give something personal. You can show love and caring with any gift that is meaningful and personal. It does not have to cost a lot. You can use words to let people know how important they are to you. Make a phone call or write a note and share a meal or short visits during the year.
  • Time spent with those you love throughout the year is more meaningful than because there is no gift that can be purchased that can provide lasting fulfillment like knowing that family really cares.

From the Board and Officers of Stewards in Action we wish you a blessed Christmas.
Message 2
During the hustle and bussle of the holiday season, protect your information. Take care that online actions don’t cost you money or future embarrassment.
Regardless how fast your fingers type, your best tool is your brain. When you are ready to post, send a message, a photo, download a file, game or program, or shop for something – stop for a second and think about:
  1. Do you know and trust who you’re dealing with or what you are sharing or downloading?
  2. How will you feel if your information ends up somewhere, you didn’t intend?
  3. When posting comments, before you click, how would you feel if your family, teachers, coaches, neighbors, current, and/or future employers viewed your information? Employees have been terminated for statements posted on social media.
  4. Once you post something on line, you can’t take it back. It may still be on line or on someone else’s computer.
  5. Some information should stay private.
  6. Whether it’s your laptop, tablet, or phone never leave it in  public. Not even for a minute.

From the Board and Officers of Stewards in Action we wish you a blessed New Year.

November 2015
Message 1
Understanding credit rules before you shop, can save you money.
  • Credit cards are just like a loan- you have to pay what you owe.
  • Keep track of what you spend. A little here and there can add up fast.
  • Save your receipts and compare them to your monthly bill. Report problems as soon as possible. Federal law limits your liability for unauthorized charges to $50 per card.
  • Never lend your card to anyone.
  • Owing more than you can repay can damage your credit rating and make it hard to rent an apartment, finance a car, get insurance, or even a job.
  • Pay your bill on time and in full if possible. Finance charges on unpaid balance can be costly. Remember, it takes a long time to pay off the debt if you just pay the minimum amount.
Message 2
Scam artists in the U.S. and around the world defraud millions but you don’t have to be one of them. Here are some tips from the Federal Trade Commission:
  • Wiring money is like sending cash. Don’t wire money to strangers or anyone who claims to be a relative or friend in an emergency and wants to keep the request a secret.
  • After a disaster, give only to established charities.
  • If you receive a call that requires you to act now, the risk is low and they guarantee high profits, or demand you send cash, hang up and immediately report them to ftc.gov.
  • Don’t agree to deposit a check and wire money back. If the check turns out to be fake, you are responsible for paying money back to the bank. Someone who overpays with a check is almost certainly a scam artist.
  • Don’t reply to messages asking for personal or financial information be it telephone, text, email or an ads.
  • Read your monthly statement and make sure the charges are correct. If there is an error call your bank, card issuer etc. immediately.


October 2015
Hello, my name is Karen Cheathem, secretary and treasurer for Stewards in Action, a registered non-profit organization, home based in Muskegon, Michigan with a one-minute tip on Financial Wellness:

Message 1
Parents, it’s time to think about your children’s future and how will they manage their financial choices once they leave home? If your children leave home with the idea, that you are their backup plan if they run short, both parties are in trouble.

Check to see if the school offers a basic class in financial management as an elective. If not, tell them the simple steps. Never spend more than you earn. Start a savings account and be consistent no matter how small the amount is.

Let them know, as their parent, you are here to help them help themselves. So they need to think before they spend so that they spend wisely. Children are never too young to have a savings account and a budget. The sooner you start, the more prepared they will be to face their financial chooses in the future.

For more information on this subject, contact Stewards In Action at 231-728-5490 or visit us on face book or on the web at www.stewardinsaction.com. Thanks and have a great day
Message 2
Building Lasting Memories:
As the retailers prepare their early holiday move to encourage you to spend more, you should be preparing to enjoy the holiday season without the associated debt.

Begin by planning a family get to together where the focus is on getting to know each other. Building strong families that share its history, encourage each other to do their best, give and receive respect , share meals, cry and laugh together, show the love of God daily is a gift whose value cannot be measured.

Perhaps the family as a whole can pool resources and donate to a charity or volunteer to serve in the food kitchen that provides for those in need. Alternative ways for holiday celebrations must be considered if we are to break the cycle of poverty which weakens our spirits and destroy our dreams.

Our children learn by what we do not what we say. Helping others is an opportunity that blesses both the giver and the receiver and the cost - a few hours of your time.

For more information on this subject, contact Stewards In Action at 231-728-5490 or visit us on face book or on the web at www.stewardinsaction.com. Thanks and have a great day

September 2015
Hello, my name is Karen Cheathem, secretary and treasurer for Stewards in Action, a registered non-profit organization, home based in Muskegon, Michigan with a one-minute tip on Financial Wellness:

Message 1
September is Reminder Month for families with Preschool and kindergartners. Between 2029 and/or 2031, your children and/or grandchildren will be graduating from high school. Sounds like the distant future, but the years will pass very quickly. Now is the time to begin developing a savings strategy for college.

Start with a simple savings account at your local bank or credit union. Inform the family so some funds can be set aside for depositing into the account as opposed to purchasing expensive birthday and Christmas gifts. Next, gather information about the 529 College Tuitions Savings plan. List your questions. Schedule a meeting with a financial investor to determine what options are available to you. And don’t forget to utilize the internet to check out Scholarships for Children Under age 13 and other scholarships geared to your family status. The goal is to begin early so your children can avoid costly debt associated with student loans.

For more information on this subject, contact Stewards In Action at 231-728-5490 or visit us on Facebook or on the web at www.stewardinsaction.com. Thanks and have a great day.

Message 2
Hello, my name is Karen Cheathem, secretary and treasurer for Stewards in Action, a registered non-profit organization, home based in Muskegon, Michigan with a one-minute tip on Financial Wellness:

Now that the business of summer is over, it’s a great time to plan a family time with your children to reinforce goals, expectations, attitudes, and their future.

Children need to understand setting goals is only the beginning. To achieve them requires discipline and sacrifice.

It is not about the short-term trends and fashion, it’s about using spiritual wisdom as a guide to discipline one’s life to foster educational excellence, career development and the desire to use it all to help others achieve.

The results are called breaking the cycle. Reading vs. videos; saving vs. spending; and walking the path less traveled vs. following others. Our children’s failures are not always, because they did not listen. Sometimes it’s because we never told them.

For more information on this subject, contact Stewards In Action at 231-728-5490 or visit us on Facebook or on the web at www.stewardinsaction.com. Thanks and have a great day.

August 2015
Message 1
Hello, my name is Karen Cheathem, secretary and treasurer for Stewards in Action, a registered non-profit organization, home based in Muskegon, Michigan with a one-minute tip on Financial Wellness:

August is a perfect time to invest in a freezer.

You can use it to store all sorts of bulk foods, which enables you to pay less per pound.

Food should be divided into family serving sizes and carefully wrapped or placed in in moisture or vapor-proof containers designed for freezer storage so no air enters the package.

In addition, you can store lots of cooked meals prepared in advance, so at the end of the day, you can go home, have a nutritional meal, and extra money in your wallet.

Remember having food in the freezer (and cupboards) means fewer shopping trips. That not only saves gas, it stops the chance for impulse, non-planned, buying.

For more information on this subject, contact stewards in action at 231-728-5490 or visit us on face book or on the web at www.stewardsinsaction.com. Thanks and have a great day.

Message 2
Hello, my name is Karen Cheathem, secretary and treasurer for Stewards in Action, a registered non-profit organization, home based in Muskegon, Michigan with a one-minute tip on Financial Wellness:

Time to start thinking about Fall and Winter Preparation that save you money. Let’s look inside your home.

Have your heating system checked and serviced by a licensed contractor before the heating season begins.

Check smoke detectors, fire alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries to ensure they are operating properly.

Check for water leaks and fix problems immediately.

Add extra insulation in the attic to guard against ice dams and keep heat from escaping.

And remember to clean your gutters or install gutter filters to prevent clogs during the autumn and winter months. Clogged gutters can become a real hazard or liability to your home or family.

Add weather stripping around doors and caulk windows to guard against drafts and heat loss.

For more information on this subject, contact stewards in action at 231-728-5490 or visit us on face book or on the web at www.stewardsinsaction.com. Thanks and have a great day.





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