August 18, 2011 - Car Buying 101 - Speaker Michael Boone
A representative from Ford and Honda attended the meeting. Each of them answered many questions from the audience. For example, one question was "What is the lowest profit you have taken on a car?" The answer for both was a loss. Also, both gentleman agreed with Boone, the speaker, that doing some basic research is one of the best ways to prepare for buying a car. Websites, such as Edmunds and Consumer Reports, provide up to date information about rebates and incentives. If a consumer is not aware of this information, then this can quickly switch from your savings to their profit. Profit is okay, but as Boone said, "I want them to earn profit, yet I don't want all of it to come from me. I think $500 to $1000 is a fair profit range." Overall, Boone shared many important insights, and the car dealers were wonderful in sharing their perspective. Boone's email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to email him questions or if you would like to to have the Excel spreadsheet that was used during the talk.
September 15, 2011 - Wild World of Credit - Speaker Helen Whisnant
Helen Whisnant, from the Consumer Credit Counseling of Catawba Valley, first began her talk on how to obtain a true free credit report. She shared that the easiest way is to use snail mail and then provided a form that can be sent. The best "free" credit report is free from people and free from jumping hoops. Next, the 159 page 2011 Consumer Action Handbook, which was passed out earlier, was discussed. This handbook is an amazing resource that helps create savvy consumers and helps them spend every dollar wisely. The website, www.powerpay.org, was explained next. This website is a powerful tool that allows people to create a spending plan, savings plan, get out debt plan and much more. Finally, the B-word, budget, was brought to attention. The new phrase to replace the B-word is "expense and income tracker". Helen shared that most people are not aware of their expenses. She suggested that similar to a journal where one keeps track of calories, a person could keep a journal of expenses. Furthermore, people tend to lump their expenses into one category, such as Wal-Mart Stuff, and this can also be misleading. The expense and income tracker sheet Helen provided is a simple two sided form that lists in detail the expenses, so that people can clearly see where their money is going. In between all of these topics, Helen shared amazing stories of working in the fiance world. For example, Helen has seen people with credit cards six inches high and has witnessed people get out of $30,000 of credit card debt. In summary, Helen provided a wealth of financial tools that will hopefully attract more wealth for those that use them.
October 15, 2011 - Deter Detect Defend: Identity Theft - Speaker Helen Whisnant
Helen Wishnant visited CVCC again and this time she spoke about identity theft. People's personal information has always been at risk. Your identity gives more than just access to money, it also allows people to open accounts and apply for loans. Though you can get your money back, you cannot get your time back, which can be hours and hours. Helen gave an example of client who had spent over 60 hours trying to fix all of the damage. However, by following of few simple steps, your identity can be safe. A video was shown that was put together by the Federal Trade Commission. (More resources can be found at IdTheft website.) They offer three basic steps: Deter, Detect, and Defend. First, "deter identity thieves by safeguarding your information." Second, "detect suspicious activity by routinely monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements." Last, "defend against ID theft as soon as you suspect it." Helen inserted wonderful tips in each section to help us follow these three basic steps. In the end, we saw how valuable a persons identity can be and how important it is to protect all of the hard work that goes into establishing good credit.