Nov28

Money Matters: George Fraser

george fraserTake the Pledge of Financial Freedom

In the 400 year history of black people in America, the baby boomer generation is the only generation to raise another generation that will be financially worse-off,” says George Fraser, Chairman and CEO of FraserNET, recalling a front-page article he read last year. 

“It’s an insult to our forefathers.”

Wary of seeing the black community “just not doing the right things with our money,” Fraser who had been speaking and writing about this problem for 25 years decided to do something about it.

His Solution: The Making Our Selves Economically Successful, or MOSES, Movement.

 “Our vision,” says Fraser, “is to significantly improve financial literacy and money management skills. Our goal is to get one-million black people to pledge to the Ten Commitments of Financial Freedom, begin saving at least $50 a month, and then to become debt free.”

The NYU graduate and founder of the annual PowerNetworking Conference describes the Ten Commitments of Financial Freedom as something people can grab onto and use to guide their financial decisions. 

When first conceiving the idea of the MOSES Movement, Fraser spent two years engaging other top black financial experts. These commitments are the result of that collaboration and include ideals that range from personal financial welfare to community mindedness.

Also important to the program are strategic partnerships. Among then are churches, other financial literacy programs, a credit union, and several community minded sponsors, including Prudential Financial, Inc.

 “We are excited about the opportunity to partner with such an inspirational and iconic leader like George Fraser to change so many lives,” says Gloria Goins, vice president, Business Diversity Outreach for Prudential. “This makes sponsoring the Moses Movement particularly special.”

A church-based training program, The MOSES Movement operates on multiple fronts. Their community outreach begins by asking a church to host their $19.95 all-day financial literacy seminar, which includes lunch. Besides educating the attendees, Fraser asks the audience to sign a pledge to commit to the goal of financial freedom.

“We are a consuming culture and not a saving culture,” says the popular speaker and bestselling author. “I’ve been trying to convince my community to stop living above your means, which means you live above what you earn, and stop living even within your means, which means you spend everything you earn.

“Living below your means and put money away. Ultimately you’ll be able to fulfill the dream of every generation: the generational transfer of wealth.”

Additionally, they offer a follow up option. “Money Mastery: The 7 Keys to Your Financial Freedom” is a year-long course taught by financial powerhouse Cheryl Broussard. It includes a booklet, teleconferences, and workshops and can be purchased for $39.95. 

 “We don’t make our money by charging people for instruction and services,” says Fraser. “Whatever fees we collect basically covers the cost, if it even does that.”

What is more important, says Fraser, is that African-Americans learn how to become debt free.

 “There’s a system for everything and I taught my sons that if you want to learn how to get an A, hangout with people who are getting As because they have a system for that,” says the Cleveland-based father of two.

“There’s a system for becoming debt free. It’s not a complicated system. It does require discipline, but once you learn the system and you apply it, your whole life will change. When you have little to no debt and you have money in your savings account, you have a whole different attitude and air about you.”

This system includes three essential steps, detailed at Moses project.frasernetpnc.com, that start with a one-month goal but offer the prospect of financial freedom in three years.

“One of most pressing needs within the American African community is the need for financial education coupled with corresponding financial action,” says Goins. “My hope is that the participants will get the necessary education, support and confidence to realize their financial dreams.”

The Moses Movement offers no quick fix. “It’s not some hype, it’s not some scam,“ says Fraser, “It’s easy to get caught up in a whole lot of BS in the financial industry. You have to be very, very careful.”

Fraser espouses that becoming financially free is not a matter of luck or skill. Attaining the goal requires an investment of time, effort, discipline and a course of action. 

Having a support group, which is what Fraser calls his program, also helps.

 “This is much easier to say than it is to do obviously or everybody would be debt free,” he says. “It’s not easy, but if you have a support group that is giving you the information the timely information you need and cheering you on, it just makes it easier.”

To take the pledge and take your first step to financial freedom visit: MOSESproject.frasernetpnc.com or call (216) 691-6686

Nov28

On the Money: Gabby Douglas

gabby douglasGabby Douglas' gold worth millions in endorsement deals 

U.S. Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas made history in July when she  became the first African-American to win a gold medal during women’s  gymnastics all-around event. The 16-year-old—dubbed “the flying  squirrel” also helped her team to win gold medal in the women gymnasts  all-around team competition.

History, world records and medals aside, Douglas’ gold triumph at the  London Olympics is also expected to rake in a great deal of green for  the Virginia native. Fact is, the multi-million dollar endorsements are already coming in.  Douglas inked her first deal with P&G’s digital series “Raising an  Olympian,” which features footage of her competing as a child followed  by a deal with Kellogs that will immortalize her on boxes of Corn  Flakes.

Industry experts estimate that Douglas will make $2 million to $4  million in each of the next four years, and are speculating her  sponsorships to generate $9-$10 million.

"She's the new darling of America," said Bob Dorfman, executive  creative director of Baker Street Advertising and author of Sports  Marketer's Scouting Report. "She has the look, the great smile, and  seems like someone who could be a compelling pitch woman of products to  teens and pre-teens."

Take the Pledge of Financial Freedom

In the 400 year history of black people in America, the baby boomer generation is the only generation to raise another generation that will be financially worse-off,” says George Fraser, Chairman and CEO of FraserNET, recalling a front-page article he read last year.

“It’s an insult to our forefathers.”

Wary of seeing the black community “just not doing the right things with our money,” Fraser who had been speaking and writing about this problem for 25 years decided to do something about it.

His Solution: The Making Our Selves Economically Successful, or MOSES, Movement.

“Our vision,” says Fraser, “is to significantly improve financial literacy and money management skills. Our goal is to get one-million black people to pledge to the Ten Commitments of Financial Freedom, begin saving at least $50 a month, and then to become debt free.”

The NYU graduate and founder of the annual PowerNetworking Conference describes the Ten Commitments of Financial Freedom as something people can grab onto and use to guide their financial decisions.

When first conceiving the idea of the MOSES Movement, Fraser spent two years engaging other top black financial experts. These commitments are the result of that collaboration and include ideals that range from personal financial welfare to community mindedness.

Also important to the program are strategic partnerships. Among then are churches, other financial literacy programs, a credit union, and several community minded sponsors, including Prudential Financial, Inc.

“We are excited about the opportunity to partner with such an inspirational and iconic leader like George Fraser to change so many lives,” says Gloria Goins, vice president, Business Diversity Outreach for Prudential. “This makes sponsoring the Moses Movement particularly special.”

A church-based training program, The MOSES Movement operates on multiple fronts. Their community outreach begins by asking a church to host their $19.95 all-day financial literacy seminar, which includes lunch. Besides educating the attendees, Fraser asks the audience to sign a pledge to commit to the goal of financial freedom.

“We are a consuming culture and not a saving culture,” says the popular speaker and bestselling author. “I’ve been trying to convince my community to stop living above your means, which means you live above what you earn, and stop living even within your means, which means you spend everything you earn.

“Living below your means and put money away. Ultimately you’ll be able to fulfill the dream of every generation: the generational transfer of wealth.”

Additionally, they offer a follow up option. “Money Mastery: The 7 Keys to Your Financial Freedom” is a year-long course taught by financial powerhouse Cheryl Broussard. It includes a booklet, teleconferences, and workshops and can be purchased for $39.95.

“We don’t make our money by charging people for instruction and services,” says Fraser. “Whatever fees we collect basically covers the cost, if it even does that.”

What is more important, says Fraser, is that African-Americans learn how to become debt free.

“There’s a system for everything and I taught my sons that if you want to learn how to get an A, hangout with people who are getting As because they have a system for that,” says the Cleveland-based father of two.

“There’s a system for becoming debt free. It’s not a complicated system. It does require discipline, but once you learn the system and you apply it, your whole life will change. When you have little to no debt and you have money in your savings account, you have a whole different attitude and air about you.”

This system includes three essential steps, detailed at Moses project.frasernetpnc.com, that start with a one-month goal but offer the prospect of financial freedom in three years.

“One of most pressing needs within the American African community is the need for financial education coupled with corresponding financial action,” says Goins. “My hope is that the participants will get the necessary education, support and confidence to realize their financial dreams.”

The Moses Movement offers no quick fix. “It’s not some hype, it’s not some scam,“ says Fraser, “It’s easy to get caught up in a whole lot of BS in the financial industry. You have to be very, very careful.”

Fraser espouses that becoming financially free is not a matter of luck or skill. Attaining the goal requires an investment of time, effort, discipline and a course of action.

Having a support group, which is what Fraser calls his program, also helps.

“This is much easier to say than it is to do obviously or everybody would be debt free,” he says. “It’s not easy, but if you have a support group that is giving you the information the timely information you need and cheering you on, it just makes it easier.”

To take the pledge and take your first step to financial freedom visit: MOSESproject.frasernetpnc.com or call (216) 691-6686

Nov28

On the Money

morgan freemanHow the mortgage meltdown permanently impacts many blacks’ finances

Recent Washington Post article examined how the meltdown in the mortgage market has led to a sharp decline in credit scores for blacks. The Post article emphasized how poor credit makes it much tougher to secure loans and gain access to credit, especially for African-Americans. The significant loss of black wealth through foreclosures following the disproportionate number of costly sub-prime mortgages granted to blacks might place many African-Americans in a permanent bad credit underclass.

“At issue are the largely invisible but profoundly influential three-digit credit scores that help determine who can buy a car, finance a college education or own a home,” the Post said. But talking about credit scores exclusively in the context of credit and loans is incomplete and misses the mark. In reality, the financial fallout from having bad credit touches a person’s life in many more ways – not the least of which includes:

  • Renting an apartment in a decent neighborhood
  • Purchasing inexpensive homeowner’s or renter’s insurance
  • Qualifying for reasonably-priced car insurance
  • Getting a job
  • Securing a promotion

These things may be out of reach – or far more difficult and costly – if you have a poor credit rating. And now that so many African-Americans have lost their wealth through losing their homes, many more may also face the fallout the resultant poor credit scores will bring. And that aftermath may unfold indefinitely.

The problem is that Americans, by and large, tend to only pay attention to their credit ratings when it’s time to apply for a loan or credit.

“If you walked up to 100 people and asked: ‘Do you know your credit score?’ I’ll bet less than a quarter of them do,” says Bill Hardekopf, chief executive of LowCards.com. “Unfortunately, the credit score doesn’t get the attention it really deserves even though it has so many far-reaching ramifications.”
To be ignorant the information contained in your credit report is a shame these days, especially when you can readily obtain both online.  You can even get your credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – free of charge each year at AnnualCreditReport.com.
If you want to get ahead in your career, it’s vitally important to review your credit. The link between credit and jobs can’t be overstated, particularly in the current tough job market. With unemployment rates for African-Americans in the double digits, black job-hunters need to do everything they can to make themselves more attractive to potential employers. You don’t want a spotty credit report to take you out of the running for a new job – or a promotion at an existing job. Yet, that’s exactly what happens every day.
The Society for Human Resources Management reports that nearly 60 percent of employers in the U.S. now use credit checks as part of their screening process for either some or all job applicants. That’s just one reason why some blacks – and others with shaky credit records – are having trouble landing work.
“Bad credit will make your insurance cost more or will render you ineligible except for the most expensive coverage,” says Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., owner of Greaves Financial Services and The Bridge Insurance Agency in Brooklyn, New York.
In the case of some higher insurance premiums, blame what Greaves calls “the five credit sins”:

  • Bankruptcy in the last five years
  • Foreclosure
  • Repossession
  • Judgment
  • Any collection items at all

According to Greaves, if you have any of the above five items on your credit report, it’s going to hurt your insurance credit score and cause you to pay considerably more for things like auto, homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.
In my book, Perfect Credit, I told the story of Bill and Skip. Bill paid his financial obligations on time, managed debt wisely, and had great credit. Skip routinely missed payments, mismanaged his finances, and had lousy credit.
Over the course of a lifetime, Bill saved or earned more than $1 million compared to Skip, who constantly paid more for everything – including mortgages and loans, and was passed over for promotions and other job opportunities because of his bad credit track record.
Bill and Skip are hypothetical figures. They’re not portrayed as black, white, Asian or Hispanic. The point is to highlight how much you can save or earn by having great credit – and how you go about achieving perfect credit. (Here are my 6 ways to maximize your credit score.)
Besides, it’s important to note that amid the Great Recession, a FICO analysis found that nearly 50 million people saw their credit scores fall by more than 20 points amid the peak of the financial crisis.
But Blacks appear to have borne the brunt of this credit deterioration – primarily because African-Americans were disproportionately impacted by job losses and the wave of foreclosures that have swept the country in recent years.
The lesson here is simple: We all need to stay on top of our credit at all times. Otherwise, you risk being financially penalized and disenfranchised for decades, in ways you may not even realize.

Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach®, is a personal finance expert, television and radio personality, and the author of numerous books, including the New York Times bestseller ‘Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom.’ Follow Lynnette Khalfani-Cox on Twitter at @TheMoneyCoach.

ON THE MONEY
Black Celebrities Who Monetarily Support Obama

It seems black celebrities are willing to put their money where their mouth  is when it comes to their support for President Obama’s election bid. Last month, Morgan Freeman donated a whopping $1 million of his own money to ensure Mr. President’s reelection.

Spike Lee and Tyler Perry come in close behind with separate fundraisers that totaled at least $500,000 each. Oprah Winfrey has quietly forked over $70,000. Dennis Haysbert and Jamie Foxx donated $35,800 and John Legend handed over $20,000.

Jada Pinkett Smith, Omar Epps, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Hudson and Nick Cannon have individually donated $2,500 to $30,000.

Powerful NBA players have publically endorsed the Obama Victory Fund. Miami Heat’s LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers gave $30,000.
The super-PAC supporting President Obama pulled in $6.2 million

In total, $36.45 million for his re-election bid during the second quarter of the year and at least $142.85 million throughout the 2012 cycle.

Nov28

Money Matters

BET Joins The Prepaid Card Bandwagon For Worse, Not Better

What do Russell Simmons, Kim Kardashian, Lil Wayne, Tom Joyner, Suze Orman and now BET have in common? They all have their own or have endorsed a prepaid debit card.

Yes...they have all jumped into the prolific market which targets working class and low income families promising to give them all the luxurious privilege of spending money to use their own money.

BET has joined the ranks of those who expect people spend their money using a "glorified gift card" as they are called by John Ulzheimer, President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com.

The prepaid card is one that doesn't help anyone establish credit, costs far too much for those who have limited budgets, and, because they allow those who use them to remain outside the banking system, too often insert the user into a permanent underclass of society, unable to progress economically.

BET has partnered with NetSpend to endorse their Control Card that promotes the following perks: no credit check;
no overdraft or other surprise fees;
no interest or late fees;
no standing in line to pay bills;
a $10 Purchase Cushion; and
a 5% APY Savings Account
Life Benefits

That sounds pretty good to the naked eye, but as I have done with many prepaid cards before, let's take a look at each "perk" to see if they are really benefits.

No credit check: This is a prepaid debit card which is the same as using cash. You will never have a credit check to use your cash so you will never have a credit check to use a prepaid debit card.

No overdraft or other surprise fees: I wouldn't know about that because I couldn't see what all the fees were unless I purchased the card...surprise! To see a complete list of the fees I could find, see the end of this article.

No interest or late fees: These cards are not extending you a line of credit. Hence, they are not helping you establish credit. Therefore, there is no need to charge you an interest rate or charge a late fee since you are only using your own money and not borrowing any money.

No standing in line to pay bills: Is this any different from any other free form of online payment?

A $10 purchase cushion: If you take the time to read the fine print in this "perk" they make it very clear this is a "non-contractual courtesy exercised in our sole discretion, by which we may approve transactions that the Control Card cardholder requests from time to time." Translation — they are under no obligation to give you this cushion if they choose not to, so if any user finds themselves having to use this cushion frequently, they can deny you!

A 5 percent APY savings account: To have access to this feature, you must have deposited at least $500 in one calendar month. This seems like a high interest rate until you remember you are being charged at least 10 percent monthly on a deposit of $500 just to earn 5 percent yearly. That doesn't make much sense, and is a great deal for the bank.

By the way, if you are one of those who had the brilliant idea of putting a large sum of money into this account and using it as a high yield savings account just to get access to the 5 percent return that is offered, there is a clause in the fine print that states "a cap may be placed on the maximum amount of funds on maintained in the account."

It also states the cap can change.

Life Benefits: This is extremely misleading considering you might think you are getting life insurance from the name but are only getting extremely limited "Accidental Death and Dismemberment" coverage. Trust me...the amount of money they earn from this card will far surpass any policy payouts they have to provide from this "perk".

Here are a few of the limitations on this coverage inserted to ensure it remains extremely profitable to provide the service: It is not available in all states and is not automatic.
It is only available to those enrolled in direct deposit and is limited for a monthly benefit for 12 months based upon the amount direct deposited during the preceding 35 day period. (So if you direct deposited $8,000 in June, 0 in July, 0 in August, and have an accidental injury in September you will have zero coverage! 
Coverage is limited to $8,000 because your direct deposit was before the 35 day period. 
 The larger point that I want to emphasize is that as long as we continue to use these financial predators, the more they will feel they can market to our communities.

I have personally assisted those who would have been deemed to be "unbankable" — homeless, bad credit, and formerly incarcerated; I have taken them to a credit union to open a free bank account and get access to the precious debit card with no fees. The only problem with this solution I have implemented through my nonprofit is there is a limited profit in it for those who want to make a profit for themselves outside of feeling good for helping someone.

Suze Orman, before her prolific deal to introduce her Approved Card, gave good advice when she spoke out heavily against these cards saying the following: "I don't think prepaid cards are a viable option..."

"If you can't qualify for a credit card, I want you to start with what is known as a secured card. A secured card is a stepping-stone to getting a regular credit card."

Let's get smart, build credit the old fashioned way, and steer clear of these cards. The more we use them, the more we will depend upon them and the further away we will be as a community from those true wealth building principles which will lead us towards true empowerment!

On The Money: Parking Fines Increase Once Again

In an attempt to balance the $238 million budget deficit in Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recently proposed an increase in ticket prices for parking offenders. In his proposal Villaraigosa suggests that the fees reach the highest they've ever been, and the city will collect $40 million in ticket revenue per year.

Last year $134 million was collected in parking fines. Below is a list of infractions and how much they will cost now in comparison to 2005 when Villaraigosa was first elected into office.

• Parking in a red zone: $65-$98
• Street sweeping: $48-$78
• Parking too close to a fire hydrant: $40-$73
• Parking in a fire lane: $35-$68

Paul Krekorian, councilman of the Budget and Finance Committee assisted with the adjustment of Villaraigosa's original proposal and approved a $5 increase for all parking tickets instead of only targeting the proposed four violations. "Risk is inherent to government budgeting, because the assumptions we make about revenues are never certain," Krekorian said.

This is the sixth time that Villaraigosa successfully increased parking fees. Those most affected are people that work or live in densely populated neighborhoods in LA County.

First Ladies High Tea
November will mark the 20th Anniversary of our Annual First Ladies High Tea, honoring the contributions of female leaders and women of faith to the Los Angeles community. For more information, visit www.firstladieshightea.com
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