Category Archives: Money Management

A Post Office with Banking, Bill Paying, and Small Loans?

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I was attracted to a post in the Huffington Post which acknowledges that many Americans are not having their basic banking needs met by the existing services.  A few years back I probably wouldn’t have even noticed an article about the subject.  Yes, I have seen payday loan advertisements, been at the local super market where people cash paychecks, or even seen check cashing businesses in the strip mall.  However, they were just part of the background scenery. Everyone in my life knows her or his way around banks, mortgage companies, brokerages,  and all that the financial world offers.  Of course they offer it to us because it is profitable.

My perspective changed when I moved to a small town located on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in Texas.  The people with money are visitors, business owners, and those who own resort properties.  The local workforce includes a high percentage of low-income people or those living at poverty level.  No longer was I living in the suburbs where having a checking account with a debit card is a fact of life for high school students.  I found myself standing in line at the post office with lots of people who were getting money orders to pay bills and send money to family members.  Sometimes it actually looked more like a bank than a place to send and receive mail.  That’s why this concept of basic and uncomplicated banking services at the post office seemed logical to me.

Over time I learned a lot about why the low-income people around me avoided traditional banking systems.  One reason is that often they were undocumented and want to remain invisible.  Even if the person does have legal status, often he or she was brought up in a family where the parents were undocumented.  The children simply emulate what the parents did and the cycle of using cash, money orders, and expensive loans is perpetuated. People living in poverty or on very low incomes see banks as scary places which they don’t trust.  Even those of us who are middle-income and above often have that same feeling.  Things have just gotten very complicated.

According to the article,  collectively those households which use alternative banking products spent about $89 billion in 2012 on interest and fees. That represents a huge cost for people with lower than average incomes.

Please click here to read the entire article.  The concept of tying simple and affordable banking services to the local post office is being done elsewhere successfully.  There is a very good chance that those people currently using alternative banking methods would be more trustful of a place they have visited throughout their lives, the post office, than they would be of banks which really don’t want them there anyway.  There are benefits to the U.S. Postal System too!

Until next time.

Debra Hadsall

financialFreedom_bookwww.ffptalk.com

To order my book, please click here.

Empty Mansions– Living the Good Life?

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I just finished reading the book “Empty Mansions” by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Junior.  The title says it is about “The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune”.

Any book with the words fortune and spending just calls to my financial education mind.  It would seem that a book about wealth would be all about what we call “living the good life”.  I learned that the title refers to the empty properties Huguette continued to maintain even though she didn’t live in them.  Interesting.

This book is about a woman and her story which revolves around extreme wealth, business, family owned businesses, decision-making, relationships, trust and distrust, and how money can be both a blessing and a curse.

Personally, it took me a long time to learn to deal with money in an unemotional manner.  The main character, struggled with that for a really long time as she was born in 1906 and died in 2011. She dealt with a lot of emotions and they often guided her decisions.  For Huguette, these decisions usually involved  large sums of money. The world changed radically during her lifetime and she also outlived her close relatives.  Some of the change was more than Huguette wished to deal with, so she created a lifestyle which was strange and unconventional to most ordinary (and even wealthy) people.  Her needs for security and safety as a wealthy person played a big part in how she spent money.  As an elderly woman  it appeared that those who were caring for her may have taken advantage of  her financially, even though the medical professionals found her competent.

It is hard to imagine the majestic homes her father created with his wealth  and the mind-set of  Huguette who was born into such a lifestyle and never knew anything different.  Still, I was struck by the similarity between the decisions she had to make about  businesses, advisors, and income management, and those made by the rest of as we manage our personal finances or make lifestyle and financial decisions about the senior citizens our lives.

Was Huguette happy living what most would see as “the good life”?  It is hard to tell.  That is the mystery which remains in her interesting life story.

Until next time.

Debra J. Hadsall

New Year, New Chance to Increase Retirement Contribution$$$

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When I was a financial advisor, I learned that the time between Thanksgiving and January 1st was going to be a slow time for me in terms of working with new clients.  Yes, existing clients were often on vacation and using that time to catch up with me and to check in about their accounts and plans.  The rest of the world seemed to be waiting until the first of the new year to really think about their goals, dreams, and how their finances could be changed or improved to meet them.

Every year about this time I would print out a new list which showed the maximum contributions allowed in various types of retirement accounts.  In reality, most people don’t contribute the maximum and often they just look at the list and give up.  So, just  remember, these are the maximums.  You can contribute less and work towards your goals.

To see the list for  2014, please click here.  Good information to know and to discuss with your advisor or with the person who is knowledgeable about your company or organizational retirement plans.

Please share with others.  As I often say, don’t always assume everyone knows what you know or takes the time to access

Until next time.

Debra Hadsall

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Shopping for the Glory of God?

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I clearly have shopping on my mind.  Really, who doesn’t?  First we have 24×7 advertising and reporting on “Black Friday”, “Cyber Monday”, and an incredible amount of supersized  holiday shopping media blitzes everywhere.  It is, after all, the biggest marketing cycle of the year.  It seems to start before Thanksgiving and doesn’t end until those “after holiday sales” in January.  For those of us who gave up shopping until we dropped, it doesn’t matter.  We get exhausted just observing others go through it.  Then there are always the financial and emotional aspects of all this shopping.  Sometimes a different take on the whole experience can help us regroup and refocus.

Recently I re-posted one of my articles about shopping. It was a start, but some of the most useful and thoughtful guidance I have received came from a sermon.  It became  an important part of how I deal with the craziness of the intense comsumerism of the holidays.  It is a message based on the Christian celebration of Christmas.  The sermon (or message) is called “Shopping for the Glory of God”.  I came to experience this sermon over and over because it became part of the work my friend Emily Mann and I did with creator of this message, Rev. Dr. Marti Zimmerman.   The three of us together collaborated on what developed into a book called First You Dream, A Financial Management Workbook.  The sermon is one of six in the workbook and they all focus on money, consumerism, and faith.  I personally typed  all those sermons for the manuscript, so I am pretty well acquainted with them!

I hope you will take a few minutes to experience the power of Marti’s s words and an alternative view of shopping for Christmas and holidays.  Just click here.

Until next time.

Debra J. Hadsall

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DiminishedCapactity, What’s That?

Diminished capacity includes a variety of symptoms or conditions.  Often we relate them to aging, but it can be in people of all ages due to physical or mental health conditions.  Whatever the cause, when things change in a person’s life as a result of diminished capacity the lives of those around her or him change also.  Not all issues are simply medical ones, many have to do with how a family member or friend can assist.  To learn more, please just click here

Until next time.

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Debra Hadsall

Financial Freedom Party for Women, A Little Book about Money for Women, Workbook Edition is now available at amazon.com.  Just click here.