Financial Check-In: Strategizing Your Savings

How do my savings stack up?

Your savings are an important part of your financial snapshot. But if you wish you had more money in the bank, you’re not alone. An estimated 38 million households in the US live paycheck-to-paycheck, and nearly half of American households have no retirement savings at all. Use the calculator below to learn where your savings fall, and keep reading to find some tips on how to save more effectively.

Experts recommend having at least three months’ worth of expenses set aside for emergency savings. How many months’ worth of savings do you have?

You can also visit Bankrate.com’s retirement calculator to estimate how much you can expect to need for a comfortable retirement.

Emergency savings goals

Building up an emergency fund equal to three months of expenses might seem like an impossible goal, but the good news is that you can start small. Even small amounts of savings can help create a cushion for times of financial hardship.

Take it one step at a time.

You won’t save three months (or one month) of expenses overnight, so set manageable goals. You can build up your emergency fund in stages. These stages can look different for different families, but they should aim to increase the amount you have saved over time. Maybe Step 1 is saving $100, Step 2 is saving enough to cover your car insurance deductible, and Step 3 is saving one month’s worth of expenses. Set goals that make sense to you.

Direct deposit.

It’s much easier to save when you don’t have to think about it. The old adage “out of sight, out of mind” is especially true when it comes to saving money. Consider setting up a direct deposit into a savings account so that part of your paycheck automatically goes toward your goals—before you even see it in your bank account. This method saves you time and makes it more likely that cash will find its way into your savings account.

Don’t be discouraged if you have to break into your savings.

More often than not, emergencies come up before we reach our “ideal” savings goals. It’s easy to get discouraged when an unexpected expense chips away at the savings we’ve worked so hard to build. But remember: if you used your emergency savings, it means you did not have to go into debt to cover that expense. And also, if you saved that money once you can do it again.

Building retirement savings isn’t easy, and planning for what feels like the distant future can be hard when there are so many expenses to cover now. But the earlier you start saving for retirement, the more time your money has to work for you. The sooner you start, the more you can watch your money grow.

Don't forget retirement!

Make a plan for retirement.

Don’t wait to start planning. It’s important to think about what your finances will look like and what your expenses will be. You can access https://www.ssa.gov/retire/ to find out what your social security benefits will be when you retire. If you have retirement accounts but don’t know how much is in them, request a statement to find out. Your coach would be happy to help.

Find out what your employer offers.

If you don’t already know, find out if your employer offers a 401k, and if they do, if they offer any kind of savings match. An employer match is basically free money, so it’s definitely something to take advantage of if at all possible.

Find the right product for you.

Talk to your coach about the right retirement product for you. If it’s your first time saving for retirement or if you’re worried about investing your money, ask your coach about opening a myRA, a great retirement product for beginners.

 

We Asked, You Answered: Budgeting Tips

In February, we asked Compass clients to share some of their favorite budgeting tips and money-saving strategies. Thank you so much to everyone who responded! Here's what you said:

“Pay yourself first and put it where you can’t touch it.”

-Luz

“Waiting a day or two before making a large purchase to see if its really what I want.”

-Kate

“I don’t carry cash. Instead of driving [I take] Uber. [It] saves on insurance and gas.”

-Myetia

“Credit Union savings accounts”

-Anonymous

“Not carrying cash with me"

-Gloribel

“Automatic deductions to a savings account!”

-Juana R.

“Write down everything in a notebook (all expenses).”

-Mariana P.

“Use different folders for different types of expenses.”

-Anonymous

Financial Check-In: Determining Your Debt

What’s my debt-to-income ratio?

Thinking about your debt-to-income ratio can be a big part of thinking about your financial goals, as well as your overall financial health. Carrying too much debt can lower your credit score, make it difficult to save (or even cover your day-to-day expenses), and hold you back from reaching your goals. Many experts recommend a debt-to-income ratio of below 36%, and at Compass, we want to help our clients manage their debt. Calculating your debt-to-income ratio is simple: it’s just the amount of debt you have compared to your overall income. You can use this calculator to find out what that number looks like for you.

Is your debt-to-income ratio in a healthy range (below 36%)?

Here are some tips for keeping it down:

Avoid adding to your debt.

This might sound obvious, but it can be easy to add to your debt without realizing how it will affect your financial goals. For some people, credit card debt might creep up around the holidays, or for others, it might be tempting to cosign on a loan for a friend of family member. Remember that any time you take on new debt (for yourself or someone else) is a major financial decision.

If you do take on new debt, make sure it is sustainable.

Sometimes, taking on new debt can be necessary, or even helpful for reaching your long-term financial goals. Maybe it’s taking out a student loan to help get a degree that will increase your earning potential, or maybe it’s purchasing a car that’s necessary to get to and from work. Whatever the case, it’s important to make sure you are getting a good return on your investment. It’s also important to make sure that you are only taking on debt that you will be able to pay off comfortably. If you are wondering whether to take on new debt, your Compass coach would love to help.

Is your debt-to-income ratio higher than you’d like (above 36%)?

Making a plan to lower your debt is the first step. Here are some tips:

Use the “snowball technique.”

Sometimes it goes by different names, but the idea is the same: Use a strategy that will allow you to pay off your debt faster and more efficiently. The snowball technique is especially useful for credit card debt spread across multiple accounts. The idea is simple: make some extra room in your budget to put toward your credit card balances, rank your credit cards, and pay them off one at a time. Just remember: no matter what strategy you use, always make at least the minimum payments on all your cards.

If necessary, go back to the budget.

It’s difficult (if not impossible) to pay down debt if there’s no extra room in your budget. If your expenses are higher than your income, you may find yourself relying on credit cards or loans to make ends meet. If you are just breaking even, it might be hard to put anything extra toward your debt payments. If this is true for you, it might be helpful to go back to the budget and find out if there is any potential for lowering your expenses or increasing your income.

Talk to your Compass coach.

Your Compass coach would be happy to talk to you about any debt repayment strategies. Even if you feel like your debt is overwhelming, we can talk about options, products, and strategies that can help. So if you want to talk in more detail about how to make the snowball technique work for you, how to make room in your budget to pay down debt, or other options that might be right for you, don’t hesitate to contact your coach.

Which Specialized Workshops Do You Want At Compass?

At Compass, we are always working to bring you opportunities to dig deeper into personal finance topics that are relevant to your life. Recently, we have begun offering specialized workshops--1-2 hour events that provide information on a specific finance topic.

In the coming months, look out for announcements about specialized workshops that cover the following topics: 

  • homeownership
  • paying for college
  • purchasing a car

Now, it is your turn to tell us which specialized workshops you would like us to bring to you. Are there financial topics that you would like to learn more about? Send an email to your financial coach or leave your thoughts in our Suggestion Box and let us know.

 

Financial Check-In: Diagnose Your Deficit

Oftentimes, people think that a budget deficit automatically means that they are overspending. You must correctly identify the source of the budget deficit in order to implement the correct solution. A budget deficit can signify that there is not enough income entering the household or that the household is spending too much. Sometimes, the deficit indicates both of these facts.

The basic budget activity can help you diagnose your budget.

Step 1: Use this calculator to subtract your basic monthly expenses from your net (after tax) income. Enter the amount for each expense by using the slider on the left side or entering the number in the right column.

 

Step 2: Evaluate the results. How much money is left over for saving and to cover nonessential monthly expense? If you have a low or negative number left, then this may mean that there is not enough income coming into your household. You can set goals to increase income.

If you find that your balance is enough to cover your nonessential expenses, then ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is this number accurate to my reality?
  • Am I able to pay the rest of my expenses comfortably or do I have deficit at the end of the month?

If your balance indicates that you have enough to pay your monthly expenses but you still experience a monthly budget deficit, then you may need to work on reducing your expenses.

Regardless of your findings, you can take a step to make your desired changes a reality. Set goals that areS.M.A.R.T--specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.

Feel free to share your findings with your Compass coach.

 

Coaches Share... Favorite Personal Finance Resources

To celebrate Financial Literacy Month, Compass coaches are sharing some of their favorite resources on personal finance. Keep reading to discover what blogs, apps, and documentaries your coach is tuning into, and become an expert yourself.

Joselyn Yrayta:

Joselyn.jpg

CNN Money

“I go to CNN Money for more complex financial questions, particularly their section where they list the descriptions for the types of products that you can purchase. I also like it since it’s a bit easier to understand.” Here’s a sample article on investing in your 401k: http://money.cnn.com/pf/money-essentials-401k-investing-alt/index.html.

Lucia Reed:

Personal Capital

“Personal Capital is a website and a phone app. It allows me to see all of my financial accounts in one place: credit cards, loans, retirement, checking and savings accounts. I can see the progress of my overall financial picture by looking at the net worth section (my assets minus my debt). It helps me lower my expenses.  Since it lists the highest to the lowest expense by category each month, I can pick a category with high expenses to focus on lowering for next month.

It helps me see the impact of the smaller expenses that I spend on day to day that don’t feel like are a big deal. However, when I see it added up over the month or year, I realize what I could have used that money on instead.”

Moriah Garcia Nelson:

NerdWallet

“Nerdwallet is one of my favorite personal finance blogs, especially to compare the pros and cons of different credit card offers. The articles are short, fun to read and are a good place to learn about different personal finance topics. Just remember, don’t take the articles as absolute fact. The authors share their experience, opinions and the site earns money from highlighting different services and brands. Make sure to check other websites and resources to confirm the information you read there before making your own financial decisions."

CFPB

"I also really like the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s resources for owning a home. It gives a great overview of the home buying process from start to finish, with tips and additional resources throughout.”

Shailean Hardy:

www.ThePennyHoarder.com

"This website is good for finding free money.  It gives an overview of all the products/programs that pay people to do little to nothing (Ex. Medical research, money to open checking accounts, apps that give cash back deals, paid surveys, etc)."

The Biggest Surprises in Retirement

"This article is lighthearted and a very easy read.  It made me reevaluate how much I may need in retirement and also made me feel good that people are truly happy when they retire.  I used to use the rule that you’ll need to replace around 80% of your current income to have enough to live on when you retire but one retiree stated that you should probably budget for using 100% of your current income because whatever costs you reduce in retirement will only be replaced by a new expense like healthcare.  So basically, save as much as you can!"

Maxed Out

"This documentary discusses the crisis in credit card debt and features Elizabeth Warren.  It highlights the predatory practices of the industry and the need for financial education (it’s not pleasant to watch but it’s necessary for people to know the information)."

When I’m 65

"This documentary discusses the crisis in retirement savings and does a good job of identifying alternatives savings mechanisms that may make up the shortfall in retirement savings.  It also asks viewers to rethink how they will spend their time on retirement (ex. You may need to move to a cheaper place or get roommates or take out a reverse mortgage, etc).  This is a good documentary that is suitable for someone who is starting to think about saving for retirement."

Requesting Your Annual Credit Report

As a consumer, you are entitled to receive a free copy of each of your three credit reports once per year. This is a great way to monitor your credit, check for errors, and make sure you aren’t caught by surprise when you go to make a major financial decision.

You might want to pull all three of your credit reports at once, or spread out pulling each of your three reports (from TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) over the course of the year. Whichever you choose, requesting a copy of your credit report is easy. You can:

Annual Credit Report Request Service

P.O. Box 105281

Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

Remember: Only your report is free! Avoid requesting your official FICO score, which comes with a fee.

If you pull your credit reports, please bring them to your next Compass appointment! Your coach will be happy to help you read your report and get a more complete picture of your credit.

3 Collection Myths That May Be Hurting Your Credit Goals

debt.jpg

Misinformation about collections can keep you from enacting an effective action plan to address your debt. This week, we debunk three common collection myths. Your Compass coach can help you take a deeper look into these topics and create a personalized plan of action.

Myth 1: Paying off collections will automatically improve my credit score.

Choosing to address negative debt can be a sound financial decision that helps you avoid legal action from debtors and reach financial goals, like renting an apartment and purchasing a home. Some people may find that paying in full or settling the debt may not initially improve their credit score.  

It is important to remember that when it comes to your credit score, time is a forgiving friend. As negative items age, they impact your score less. The key to improving a credit score after paying a collection or other negative item, is to focus on actions that can help you build positive credit history as your negative items become less impactful to your score. Prioritize paying on time, keeping your utilization low, and avoid adding new collections to your credit history.

To discuss options for improving your credit, reach out to your Compass coach. The following resources can help you learn more about factors that affect your credit score:

Video - Compass Shares: Credit Card Tips: This video covers tips on how to use a credit card to build your credit.

Basic Facts About FICO Scores: Page 2 lists the five components that make up your credit score.

 

Myth 2: The 7 year credit bureau reporting period on a collection resets each time a new collection agency purchases the account.  

Collections remain on your credit report for 7 years and 180 days from the date of delinquency. By law, “delinquency” is defined as the month and year that the account first became delinquent in the eyes of the creditor[1]. The delinquency date is the missed payment that led to the original credit account being closed by the creditor or sold to a collection agency. The date of delinquency does not change, regardless of whether the collection is sold to a new collection agency. So, a new collection agency that purchases the debt does not reset the clock on your collection to seven years.  

To find the delinquency date on a collection, request  your free annual credit report online or by mail.

If you notice a collection that is older than 7 years and 180 days from the delinquency date, then you have the right to request the removal of the collection from your credit report. Review Myth 3 for more information on fixing errors with the credit bureaus.

In addition to the reporting period for a collection, the debt also has a statute of limitations for how long you can be held legally responsible for the debt. After the statute of limitations has expired, a collection agency cannot pursue a lawsuit against you for the debt. If you have questions about the statute of limitations for your debt, thenyour Compass coach can provide you with a referral to a legal resource.

 

Myth 3: I cannot fix incorrect information on my credit report.

You have the right to dispute any false information that appears on your credit report. You can dispute incorrect demographic information, like age, address, and employment history. You also have the right to dispute incorrect account information or accounts that you do not remember.  

When sending a dispute, it is best to mail a certified letter and include any documents that support your case. A certified letter allows you to make sure that the credit bureau receives your dispute and responds to you in time. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers  a sample dispute letter. You can also locate the addresses for the 3 major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.  

 

[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/1681s-2

 

Credit-Building Products: Making Them Work for You

Whether you’re building your credit from scratch or looking to rebuild damaged credit, sometimes a credit-building product can help. When used correctly, a credit-building product can help you establish positive credit history and improve your credit score.

Your coach might recommend a credit-building product if you don’t have a credit score (appears as “N/A” on your credit report). Your coach might also recommend one of these products if opening a new line of credit could help you reach your financial goals, but you might not be approved for a traditional credit card. If you are looking to improve your credit by opening a new trade line, your coach would be happy to help you choose a product that will suit your needs and interests.

There are two principle types of credit building products:

A Credit Builder Loan is a loan designed to help you build positive credit history.

  • Operates like a typical loan, but you do not have access to the funds immediately.
  • Loan is initially deposited into a savings account, and you can access the funds only after you have finished paying off the loan.
  • Typically has a low interest rate.
  • Can also be a tool to build savings.
  • The account will close after you finish paying off the loan. This means that it will no longer be contributing as heavily to your positive credit history.

A Secured Credit Card is a credit card where you put down a deposit to cover your line of credit.

secured credit card.jpg
  • Operates like a typical credit card, but you put down a deposit when you open the card. This deposit will usually be the same as your credit limit (e.g. if you put down $200, your credit card will have a limit of $200).
  • Allows you to build positive credit history by making on-time credit card payments.
  • A secured credit card is a revolving account, meaning you can keep the account active for as long as you want by making small charges and paying off the balance.
  • Often can be transitioned into traditional credit cards after a period of time, and you can recover your deposit.

Before you open a credit-building product, here are a few things to consider:

  • A credit building product will be reported to the credit bureaus just like any other loan or credit card. That means that even though you might not have access to your loan money or may have put down a deposit to cover your credit limit, late payments can still hurt your credit score.
  • Before you open an account, check to make sure it will be reported to all three credit bureaus.
  • If you are thinking about opening a secured credit card, check out our Secured Credit Card Resource to learn more about your options and best practices.

As always, your coach would be more than happy to answer any questions about what products can best help you reach your financial goals!

Federal Tax Tools--Track Your Refund and Manage Your Tax Bill

Here are two tools from the IRS that can help you track your federal refund and pay your tax bill:

Where's My Refund - IRS Refund Tracker

https://www.irs.gov/refunds

You can track your refund from the IRS' website. To use this tool, enter your social security number, filing status, and exact refund amount that appeared on your tax return.

IRS Refund image.png

Image Source: https://www.irs.gov/refunds

 

How Much Do You Owe? - IRS Payment Portal

https://www.irs.gov/payments/finding-out-how-much-you-owe

With this tool, you can:

  • view your balance for each tax year you owe
  • review your payoff amount (the amount to pay off the debt. A payoff amount differs from balance, because the payoff amount includes interest and fees that you may owe.)
  • set up payment arrangements

Taxpayers can access this tool during the following hours:

Monday - Friday 6am-12:30am E.T.

Saturday 6am-10pm E.T.

Sunday 6pm-12:00am E.T.

IRS Pay Bill.png

 

 

A Mailing List for Job-Seekers

newspaper_-_jobs.gif

A few months ago, we introduced a new option for Compass families who are interested in upcoming employment opportunities. If you are interested in receiving these updates, it's never too late to sign up! You can join our mailing list, which will highlight local job openings, career fairs, and other resources. Here’s how it works:

  • Call or email your coach to sign up!
  • Compass coaches will be keeping an eye out for relevant career resources or job openings that become available.
  • Most weeks, you will receive an email highlighting these opportunities.
  • Use these emails as a resource as you pursue your career goals!

If you or someone in your household is in the middle of a job search—or if you’re just interested in seeing what’s out there—we would love to include you! Reach out to your Compass coach at any time to let them know that you would like to sign up.

Budgeting Tips for the New Year

budget.jpg

A new year can be a great time to think about your budget. Whether you’re trying to make up for holiday spending, follow up on a New Year’s resolution, or just want to take a fresh look at your finances, the budget can be a great place to start.

This month, Compass is sharing some tips to help you get started. But we also want to hear from you! Keep reading to find out how you can get your favorite budgeting tips and techniques featured in the next newsletter.

Tip #1: Know the two types of budgets.

The basic formula that makes up your budget is simple: Income – expenses = savings. However, it can be useful to think of two different kinds of budget.

  • One kind of budget is the “now” budget. This tells you how you are using your money currently. Your “now” budget should be a realistic picture of your income and your expenses at this moment in time.
  • The other kind of budget focuses on your financial goals. Your “goals” budget paints a picture of how you hope to be spending money in the future.

Remember that these two budgets can influence each other! They’re equally important, and eventually, you want your “now” budget to match up with your goals budget.

Tip #2: Track expenses.

Tracking expenses is essential to creating your “now” budget, but it can be a hassle. Here are some ways to make it easier.

  • Focus on the problem areas. Tracking every single expense can seem impossible for busy people. If this is true for you, try focusing on the “problem areas:” the areas where you’re really not sure how much you spend, or areas you think you might like to change.
  • Find your method. The same expense tracking strategies won’t work for everyone! Some people like to save receipts, while others like to write expenses down in a notebook. People who always use their debit card might like to sit down and look at their bank statements at the end of the week. Some people might like the convenience of a budgeting app such as Mint. If you have questions about different methods, your financial coach would be more than happy to help!

Tip #3: Be strategic.

If you decide to cut some expenses, you want to get the most bang for your buck. Think about your priorities, and look for resources to make things easier. Different people will find different expenses to be important!

  • Be specific and realistic. At Compass, we try to avoid setting budgeting goals that are vague or unrealistic. For instance, “I'm going to save money” is a vague goal, and “I’m never going to buy coffee again” might be an unrealistic goal. A more useful goal might be something like “I will start buying coffee three days a week instead of five, and I’ll make it at home the other two days.”
  • Know what resources are available to help you with your budget. There are a number of resources that can help you save money or manage expenses. One example is budget billing. Your utilities company likely offers a service called “budget billing” or “balanced billing.” This service lets you regulate your monthly gas or electric payments, so that your payment is the same each month. This can help you plan expenses and avoid high winter bills.

But budget billing is only one example! As always, you can ask your coach if they know any resources that might help you manage expenses.

Tip #4: Think of savings as a fixed expense.

If your budget has reached the point where you have money left over at the end of the month, it’s time to think about savings. You can think about savings as just another fixed expense in your budget, like your rent or your cell phone bill. Just like it’s important to pay your landlord or your phone company, it’s important to pay yourself! After all, it’s your money.

 

Do you have a favorite budgeting strategy that you’d like to share with other Compass families? We’d love to feature it in next month’s newsletter! Here’s how to submit:

  1. Email your budgeting tip here.
  2. Use the subject line “Compass Connect Submission”
  3. Tell us if you would like to include your first name, or keep it anonymous.
  4. Click send!

Taxpayers May Experience Delays in Tax Refunds

As a result of a new law, the IRS will hold refunds for taxpayers who are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Additional Child Tax Credit until February 15th. The IRS anticipates that after processing, people may receive access to their refunds the week of February 27th. To learn more, click here.

We encourage you to follow these steps so that you save money and can receive your refund at a timely date:

File your taxes as soon as possible. You can file your taxes starting Monday, January 23rd. The last day of this filing season is April 18th.

Locate a free, VITA tax preparation site. The following resources can help you find a location:

Boston Tax Help - This flyer lists VITA locations in 13 Boston neighborhoods and Quincy.
IRS VITA Site Locator - Enter your zip code to find free tax prep sites near you. All of the VITA tax preparation sites listed on the IRS website require appointments. 

Prepare the documents for your tax appointment. Our tax preparation checklist can help you prepare for your appointment.

Beware of tax preparers who promise to get you a refund quicker.  Taxpayers who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC) and Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) should expect a delay regardless of who files your taxes and the method used.

Beware of refund advances and refund loan products. Although these products promise to give you money sooner, you will most likely pay the loan back at a costly interest rate. Save the most money this tax season by filing as soon as possible waiting for your refund from the IRS and the state. You can schedule time with your financial coach to better compare your options.

Congratulations to Our Lynn FSS Graduates!

In November, Compass celebrated the first graduating class from the Lynn FSS program. Below are a message from founder and Executive Director Sherry Riva, a video about the graduation, and pictures from the event.

Tuesday, November 29th was an extra special day here at Compass. We gathered to celebrate the first class of graduates from our Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program operated in partnership with Lynn Housing Authority. Over the past five years, these 76 graduates have saved a total of $662,000 through the program, and used those savings to reach major financial goals.

There were many great moments that night, but what I keep thinking back to in particular is the way that so many graduates described how they are passing on what they have learned to their children, their siblings, or their neighbors. Amidst all the signs that our work is having an impact, I can think of no greater one than this – that our clients are sharing what they have learned with their friends and family, and inspiring others to follow their example.

Please take some time to check out a short video and several photos from the night, all included in this message.

Warmly,

Sherry Riva
Founder and Executive Director


 

FSS graduates and their family members joined Compass staff and representatives from the Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development (LHAND) at Spinellis in Lynnfield.

FSS graduates and their family members joined Compass staff and representatives from the Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development (LHAND) at Spinellis in Lynnfield.

Banquet Hall 3.jpg
All of the graduates were presented with a certificate.

All of the graduates were presented with a certificate.

Guest Blog Post: Veronica

Veronica has been a Compass client for almost a year now! She is working hard toward her goals of homeownership and continuing her education. Veronica is a die-hard bargain shopper. In every coaching appointment, she has a new tip or trick she has used to reduce her expenses and maximize her family’s income. Veronica launched a blog in order to share some of her money making and money savings tips. On her blog, she also reviews products under the name Vero-The-Test. Check out Veronica's blog by clicking here. As part of Compass Connect's year end wrap-up, Veronica wrote a guest post about three money saving tips she used this year.

 

Do you like to save? I do! It is one of my biggest hobbies, so I’m excited to share my top three money savings tips with you.

Couponing

Couponing has become a staple in my household and is an underused technique.  This isn’t just about coupon clipping from fliers, but also using online coupons that you can print and get rewarded for using them.

The first site that I would like to introduce to you is SendEarnings.  This site is free and has several ways to earn cash, but I just use the couponing and paid email features. Here is what you do:

  1. Register on SendEarnings.com

  2. Click the Deals Tab

  3. Select Coupons - you will see a huge list of coupons from Coupons.com, but you get an additional $0.10 for each coupon you redeem through SendEarnings (check out more details on my blog).

Cash Back Rebates

Now if you are like myself--a frugal, busy mom that does most of your shopping online--then you will LOVE this.  My next tip is a cash back rebate site, Ebates.  It is also free--simply register. After your first purchase, they send you a FREE $10 gift card.

To use Ebates, you should shop online as normal; but, instead of logging onto the store’s website, you log-in through the Ebates Marketplace.  There is a pop-up window for each store with the cash back percentage that you will receive after your purchase.  This is your money that you just get back as a rebate for shopping at the stores you already shop at!  To make it even more convenient, you can download an add-on to your web browser that will remind you if you qualify for any rebates through Ebates when you are logged into another store.  The excitement doesn’t stop there; they also provide you with a list of discount codes to use on your purchase. If you ask me, that’s a win-win.

Cash Back Apps

Here are a few of my favorite money saving mobile apps that you download to your smart-phone, select offers, and save. To save even more, I like to combine this savings method with my first tip, couponing! One of my favorite apps is MobiSave. I also use Ibotta and Checkout 51.

The apps are simple to use; download the apps, select the coupons that interests you ($0.25 off, $5 off, etc.), purchase the items and scan your receipt on the app. Cha-ching! The best part is that you can get cash back for the same product on each app.  So, upload that receipt to all 3 apps to get even more cash.

If you are interested more awesome tips, feel free to free to follow my blog for more on how these sites/apps work. I also provide step-by-step instructions and how-to guides.

Thanks for reading!

Veronica (Vero-The-Test)

Tips from a Career Counselor

This month, we spoke to Sahra Kuper, a Career Counselor with the Cambridge Employment Program. Sahra shares career and job search advice and helpful resources for job seekers.

Cambridge, MA residents can learn more about free services at the Cambridge Employment Program. If you live outside of Cambridge, then listen to the tips below and talk to your Compass coach about finding employment resources in your community. 

Help for Your Holiday Shopping

Looking for help with your holiday shopping? There are several local organizations providing winter assistance to families:

Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD)

  • ABCD offers holiday toys, gift cards, meals, and winter assistance.
  • Intake forms and supporting documents are required.
  • For more information and to find your closest ABCD location, see here: http://bostonabcd.org/holiday-gifts.aspx

My Brother’s Keeper

Toys for Tots

Introducing: A New Mailing List for Job-Seekers!

We are excited to introduce a new option for Compass families who are interested in upcoming employment opportunities. Beginning this month, Compass clients will be able to sign up for a mailing list that will highlight local job openings, career fairs, and other resources. Here’s how it works:

  • Call or email you coach to sign up!
  • Compass coaches will be keeping an eye out for relevant career resources or job openings that become available.
  • Each week, you will receive an email highlighting these opportunities.
  • Use these emails as a resource as you pursue your career goals!

If you or someone in your household is in the middle of a job search—or if you’re just interested in seeing what’s out there—we would love to include you! Reach out to your Compass coach at any time to let them know that you would like to sign up.

Meet a Compass Coach: Joselyn Yrayta

Welcome Joselyn Yrayta, our new Financial Coaching Associate for the Mass LEAP and One Family Scholars programs!

Q: How did you first learn about Compass?

A: I first learned about Compass when I met Phuong Luong, the Director of Financial Services, at a United Way training. I was very interested in what she had to say about how Compass serves their families as well as their different approaches.

Q: What made you decide to be a financial coach?

A: I decided to be a financial coach when I realized just how much misinformation exists about finances. I realized that as a Latinx woman, I need a different story to tell and an angle to present financial information. I come from a working class background with my parents who immigrated to this country from Peru. My mother was the “financial planner” in the family and when she met my dad, he was deeply in debt. At the time, they lived in the projects, and my mother always dreamed of owning a house. Through her hard work – literally working two minimum wage jobs to save as much as she could– they were finally able to save enough to buy a house. I understand what it means to struggle and what kind of sacrifices have to happen to “make it”.  However, as my mom now laments and how I witnessed first hand, there were many financial products and methods that she wasn’t aware of that would have benefited our family.

As a coach, I am able to let people know about helpful programs and financial methods. Everyone deserves the right to access high quality financial services and I am so proud to be part of the Compass team, which does exactly that.

Q: What do you like best about working with Compass clients?

A: Information sharing. Everyone has knowledge to bring to the table and every day I feel like I learn something new. I believe that it is so important to share knowledge in your communities. It is also such a privilege and honor to be part of the process that clients go through to reach their dreams. I am always in awe of my clients and their tenacity.

Q: What do you like to do for fun?

A: I enjoy reading scary novels, volunteering with animals, and being on my PlayStation 4.