Friday, May 27, 2011

IDA Alumni Stories: Dierdre Davis

My name is Dierdre Davis.  I am a 2004 graduate of the IDA PROGRAM.  In late 2002 I was told about a program that ESR had that would provide assistance for home ownership.  Being a single mom of two boys I knew I wanted to have a home for us, where they could run around like boys do.  After inquiring about the program it seemed to be something that I could benefit from so I enrolled.  At that time I only thought that it was something to help me with the down payment on a home for me and my boys but I got much more out of the program. 

The financial literacy program was an asset to me and I continue to keep what I learned at the forefront of my mind.   I found out that before you purchase a home there were other things that needed to be in order; that it wasn’t just about having a monthly income to pay the mortgage.   I learned that in order to be a successful homeowner there were steps that I had to take to get my finances in order.   Those sporadic trips to the shopping mall or out to eat had to be limited.  To help keep me on track me I taped a picture of my dream house to my favorite credit card.  Every time I pulled it out I would see what I was possibly giving up.  I learned to track every penny that I earned which helped me to really understand how much house I could afford.  

Having the support of my Success Coach, Mrs. Bianca was great because she was with me every step of the way and gave me a lot of encouragement.  Because I was serious about what I wanted, I went into the class wanting to learn.  I definitely got more out of it than what I was expecting.  I feel that the financial literacy program is something that is very much needed and I encourage all the people that I know who plan to purchase a home to look into this program.  If you are educated about preparing to purchase a home and how to keep it once you purchase it, you have a win-win situation.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Andriana's Guide to Road Trips

Written by:
Andriana Bicanin
AmeriCorps*VISTA 2010 - 2011

 This past weekend I attended an out-of-town Art Festival. I learned of this festival about a month ago, and thought about attending, but never solidified any plans. A day before the event was to take place I decided to buy a bus ticket and leave early the next day. I love spontaneous out-of-town trips, I love the arts, and I needed a getaway.

In the past four years I have lived in four different states, a combination of nine apartments, houses and dorms, had around 15 roommates, in five towns, three time zones, and each coast. If I needed to, I can pack all of my worldly possessions in a duffel bag, suitcase and backpack. Almost all of these moves were planned a month in advance, if that.

Jack Kerouac and the Beat writers are some of my favorite writers, not only for their writing, but because of the life they led, and the free spirited nature of their existences. They hopped freight trains or hitchhiked across the country. Kerouac believed in all things spontaneous, from prose to life. If he and his friends could do this, then why can’t I?

So, come game day I was completely unprepared, and about an hour into the days festivities I found myself limping, in need of new shoes, with a scowl on my face, and a few hours after that I had gone $40 over budget. I wasn’t the adventurer of days past.

I went over budget because I utilized my credit cards cash advance service. Never. Again. Yes, I needed to, my feet more than hurt, they were scarring, I was barely able to even limp, and I was anything but enjoying the gorgeous weather, wonderful music, and art. I did cash advance because the only store within walking distance that sold affordable shoes only accepted cash. I heavily weighed the pros and cons of cash advance:


ATM fee of $3
Bank fee of $10 in addition to 4% of the amount withdrawn.
I will go over budget and struggle with my next two paychecks.



Pros won.

After buying the shoes, which were extremely comfortable, I was able to enjoy the rest of my trip. But nagging at the back of my mind was the $40 I had just spent, and how it negatively impacts the rest of this months budget, and maybe next.

I would not have had to do cash advance had I brought a little bit of cash/spending money, and I could have remained ‘spontaneous’ had I a savings account exclusively for such adventures. I also may not be able to attend another festival, one I am more excited about, this coming weekend.

A part of me is sad because I am ‘growing up’ and unable to partake in the adventures I used to, and that I weigh such things as money spent and how it will effect my future. I would love to lead a life of hopping freight trains, hitchhiking, meeting interesting people across this great nation and watching waves crash against the rocks of Big Sur, as there is a romantic notion and strong appeal regarding packing my bags and leaving earthly possessions behind, but I would rather have a budget, spending money, and a little bit of preparation to assure an enjoyable excursion, and feet that don’t hurt. That is adulthood. That is life. In retrospect, the majority of the Beat writers had addictions, and ultimately died rather tragically. I’ll pass on that. I’m ready for stability. I’m ready to “Put my big girl pants on.”

Andriana’s Guide to Road Trips:
  • Greyhound or other bus services are great money savers. You don't have to pay for gas or parking, and someone else is doing all the driving. You can also meet some interesting people, and a great story may come of it (my facebook status updates this past winter, regarding a bus trip home, was the entertainment of several friends).
  • $50 from each paycheck will now automatically transfer into my savings account. This is my road trip money.
  • Have a set amount of money I am allowed to spend on a road-trips, and bring it with me in cash (taken from my road trip savings account). 
  • If not comfortable with a large amount of cash, check to see if my bank has ATM machines in the area, and if there aren’t any, take the ATM fee out of the spending allowance.
  • Bring a credit card in case of an emergency, but do not use it. Temptation in the form of a $7 burger or $50 painting (what a steal!) may arise, but that is what the spending money is for. 
  • Pack some food to snack on. Part of the fun of trips is eating out, but I may overeat if very hungry. A bag of pretzels, peanuts, or an orange or an apple in my purse will keep me fed enough so that I don’t overspend at a restaurant or cafĂ©.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Never use cash advance.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Saving for Repairs and Upkeep of Your New Home

Written by:
Barbara Johnson, IDA Program Director
Experiment in Self Reliance
In today’s economy how do we make repairs to our homes or even maintain and keep them up?  I’ll tell you by planning ahead and using a budget. Some may think of a budget as restrictive but a budget is really a wonderful and useful tool. For example what if you need to purchase a lawnmower before next spring and it is going to cost you $550 if you plan to purchase it in March you have 10 months to save for it @ $55 a month. When March comes around you already have the money to buy your mower. This is a painless way to acquire the things you need and those things you want also. We do not eat an apple in one bite why try to tackle big expenses that way. Wouldn’t it be better to take on expenses like we eat an apple one bite at a time?