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tv   Beyond the Headlines  ABC  December 5, 2010 10:00am-10:30am PST

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i'm cheryl jennings. every week we focus on a different topic and today we're going to talk about financial literacy. the nation's economy is still
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struggling but the holiday shopping season is in gear so it's important to keep an inventory on our finances. we'll hear about an organization of an overlooked group of people and a program that hopes to reach young people and educate them about having a more secure future. first, there is growing optimism that consumer's may be willing to spend more this season. how they do almost anything to get us to buy. >> it's the holidays. >> it looks great. >> dragged down by the recession 2008 and 2009 were hardly festive for business but things are looking up. according to credit card companies, retail sales are up 3%. they are added three times as many seasonal workers than last year and macy's ran up better
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than expected profits in the last quarter. >> there is a lot of people that are continuing buying. >> in macy's where the christmas light have been strung up, they tell us they are tired not spending money and what better time to start spending moneythan the holidays. >> that is why big business like never before is getting a head start. >> wal-mart is offering free shipping. this popcorn store outside of denver is hiring a dozen employees for the holidays. >> we're well above average of every year and so much of it is holiday traffic. >> after the last couple of years, this is one of big presents that retailers really need. >> joining us now to talk about financial literacy and what it means to you, is 7 on your side's michael finney. >> thanks for having me here
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today. >> are things loosing up a little bit? >> last year growth was less than half a percent. so hard not to do better this year than that. the figures that are coming in are all over the place, pay pal was seeing 25% increase and other places was 5% decrease. they expect 2.5% sales higher than last. >> so with the economy, a lot of people are out of work, is a good idea to spend money we don't have? >> i would suggest to people you have to be like last year. jobs are still not certain. the stock market is not certain and retirement is not certain. unless you are in a sweet spot, back off. doesn't mean kids don't get gifts. if you are having problems and
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you need to get some food but otherwise cut back spending a little bit. >> and how about a rainy day fund, if you have a luxury of having a job what should you do to plan? >> two years ago we checked the decade before that, you really don't want a rainy day fund. what you want is really good credit and keep your own in the stock market. you do need a rainy day fund and we go back to the old number which is months,hen you figure out or hear about all the people that you report on that have been out of work for two years, six months doesn't seem like enough. other than the goal seems way out, you ought to aim at of course six months ex experiences. >> even for folks that don't think about emergencies like their car breaking down.
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>> so many people are having salaries cut. if your car breaks down or kid needs to go to the dentist. >> state good time to invest? >> absolutely. you need to be doing it carefully, you need to educate yourself. you don't need to pay somebody a fortune to do it. there are plenty of resources online. we'll hook you up at but you have to get on it. you can't not be looking to the future. >> what are thoughts about saving money, or gifts this year. other ways to save money? >> one way to save money, but sometimes you need to make more money. so perhaps a second job or perhaps you start swapping your skills with someone else's. maybe they will fix your car if you watch their kids or third
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person to make a dinner. it's time to start thinking out of the box. i think people have saved so much but salaries are so low, it's time to look ahead, what else is possible. what can i trade or barter. >> credit card debt is huge because people have had no work and they are in trouble with that? >> they are. when you are stuck in that situation, what i always say, let's say you have four or five credit cards that you owe on, which is pretty normal. take the card that has the lowest amount and start paying that. first you have stop to stop cha, pay off the card that is going to be easiest to pay off so you feel like it can be done. people need to see something can happen good. then once you have that good moment, you take the card with the highest interest payment and
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start eating away with it. there is no happiness in it. >> and can you get the interest rate down? >> you can. it's not as easy as it used to be. you call up and say you need another card and now you call you up, they'll say, see you later. >> we're almost out of time for this segment so buying a house, should you do it right now? >> i would start looking down. i would look for the dream home, at the perfect price. that is the situation you are in. even some of the best neighborhoods can be down a third or more. even desirable neighborhoods are down to half. so shop for the exact home you want and what the lowest in that that neighborhood and offer less. >> we're going to be back with michael in a moment for another
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segment. we'll talk more about what you can do with your money and what you can do to better understand your finances. stay with us.
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welcome back. i'm cheryl jennings. today we're talking about financial literacy and michael
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finney from 7 side your side is with us. i want to talk about financial predators. >> i tell you, unemployment, that is growth area. people are desperate. they are willing to take measures but they are desperate and the bad guys go where the money is. they are stealing identities and talking people out of their credit card numbers. if you are looking for a job you need to put up a barrier. >> so how can we protect ourselves? >> you don't pay to get a job. you never pay to get a job. you don't pay to get a job list. you don't have to do all of this so don't do that. if they start asking you for private information, don't give it to them. when you post your resume, be careful. so many will put their social
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security on it. you have to be very careful and don't give up information that you wouldn't give up to a job to any other stranger. you don't know these people. >> if you are a victim of a scam you are there to help everybody you but you can't help the thousands. what can we do as individuals? >> we're a good starting point. call the hot line on 7 on your side and we'll help those, but we don't have the expertise, we'll refer them on, local state guys or state guys, and we'll refer you on to the place you ought to be. >> if you get overwhelmed, go to the website listed? >> absolutely. go to and click on 7 on your side and we have many resources listed there. >> one of the things i've noticed in department stores, everybody wants to get their credit card and you get 20% discount? >> and you do get the discount.
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the problem is, some of these cards are now have an annual fee and few of them are just that store are a visa or mastercard. you need to be very careful with that. and people forget and generally have a high interest rate. treat that credit card like any credit card experience. >> what if you cancel a credit card, does it count against you? >> no, it doesn't. you need a certain credit out there. you need a certain credit out there, but someone who has a good guilty rating, generally isn't going to hurt you. the only credit card you have, then they start getting in it. it's a sliding scale. >> and i got a lot of calls about people that are in danger of losing their homes. they don't know what to do. >> there are resources on that.
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there are a couple good weeks we refer people to. do not pay people. in fact they are not allowed to take money up in front until they get loan modification. we were dealing with them night and day as every other consumer activist in this town. sometimes they would get your modified. so people would go well, it worked but it didn't work that often. >> now budgeting and taxes? >> best thing budgeting, accept that you need a budget budget. people budget for all the line items, gasoline, car payment and they forget they are going to need medical care. they are going to get a parking ticket oevy a course of a year, everybody chip in when someone
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has a baby and buy a gift. you have to include all of that. that is why their budgets don't work. they aren't realistic. >> do you have to have special skills to be goodter or realistic about it? >> you have to get super realistic. most people find that it's not fun. >> all right. finally on taxes, very quickly, we have to start thinking bit? >> use the time to be thinking about it because there is moves you can make between now and the end of the year to to save you some money. the reils are very complex, they change every year but the software is out there and help is out there. irs website is absolutely fabulous. so don't assume what worked last year and what was true last year is true this year. that is the biggest mistake you
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can make. what you need to do, you need to hire a professional. that money is well spent. >> thanks for all of your advice. we do have to take break. we're going to learn about an organization that helps communities for people concncncncncncncncncncncncncncnc
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joining us to talk about the challenges that many cultural organizations face -- for folks that don't know about consumer action, what could you do? >> it's a consumer education and nationwide group that distributes free educational materials in many different languages. we do training sessions where we educate different communities stow so they can train the trainers to bring back say religious or language or even educational like military vets how their numbers can manage money better and understand how to thrive in the marketplace. >> how does it work? >> on the one hand we have a hot line where consumers have been calling us for 40 years now. we give individual responses to specific problems that consumers are having with companies. we have an out reach team that
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does training sessions that brings financial literacy to anw them to bring back materials for their own group. we conducted one a couple weeks ago in illinois, partnering with experience. it was very special two day conference where a number of different groups got great information and had rave roovs about it. we also advocate on consumer's ice. don't have a powerful first >> now there is something called affinity fraud? >> it's terrible. when an age old scam target members of a specific tight-knit group, a group organized by language or race or religious affiliation or even occupation. military is often a target of fraud. so some crooked insurance salespeople were selling due
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reply day active insurance policies that already had the coverage. in the south bay we say recently it's called the chinese american mutual assistance association which was a funeral scam where 8,000 members were paying fees depending on how many members died, with the promise they would get paid for their funeral. in contrast to the problems, the group squandered the money and people found out after paying into the fund for 20 years there was no money to pay for their fuiwl. so if it's too good to be true, it's not true. there is a legitimate barrier in place, especially when you talk about language to give the groups better access to information. that is what consumer action tries to help bridge. we provide educational materials
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in language such as chinese or vietnamese or spanish that allow people to understand how to choose a cell phone plan or how to protect yourself from identity theft or how to improve your credit score. the managing money project, it's a clearinghouse of information including our award winning educational materials and news items that we spotlight or different publications we think of is interest of consumers. there is a lot of material out there. it's free for anyone to download or order in bulk form and we give it out to organizations. >> what is some of the most often asked questions? >> when people call the hot line one of the most common ones, can i take back a used car that i just bought. with very few exceptions is no.
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three-day cooling-off period but does not apply to used car sales. that is an example of something that is difficult to remedy. if it's fraud some people can claim. and what can they do if their identity is stolen. a call from a collection agency or a look at a credit report or accounts they never had their identity has been stolen. we talk people of all the steps necessary that the accounts are fraudulent and get the financial life back on track. >> we have about 30 seconds left. i know you have had great success stories? >> let me give you one example. there was one individual that was sold a credit protection plan, an add on to a credit card that supposedly will give you money in case you lose your job or suffer a disability. this person was actually an illegal immigrant under the
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rules of the plan he would never have been eligible to get these benefits. he paid about $1500 over a 15 year period and then lost his job and found out he is excluded we spoke with the bank that this h this third party deal and we were able to get the man's money back. >> that is fantastic. >> since he was still unemployed he was particularly grateful. >> final question, how can people help out? >> we welcome any volunteers that want to work with consumer action, they can contact me or are website. we have people that are hot line counselors or help with some of the mission. >> thank you so much for all your expertise. 40 years, amazing. we do have to take another
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break. when we come back, we'll talk about the effort that warns people about financial responsibility. [ female announcer ] this is a strawberry pop tart... and this is a warm, fresh baked strawberry toaster strudel. we asked kids what they want... and we got a clear answer. the one kids want to eat. [ kids ] oooooooooooooh. toaster strudel. layers of brownie and caramel, dipped in chocolate ready to e sweet moments new from pillsbu. in the refrigerated section
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welcome back to beyond the headlines. today we're talking about financial literacy and with us in the studio representing editor mint black blog. >> thanks for having. >> i have heard bit and i want people to know about it. how do we get started? >> the website is a free online finance service helps you manage money, plan for goals, savings, that kinds of thing. along with that we offer a wealth of resources around educational content around personal finances. >> i know that originally you started out working with college
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kids? >> initially the service was people in need of personal finance, college age was pretty typical. since then we found that some of the same techniques that we found applied to teaching college kids about personal finance also apply to younger people. and our parent company did a survey where 50% of the people surveyed they felt that financial literacy was something that should be part of the younger age. that is really what i'm here to talk about today. is the curri we're developing. >> so we're developing curriculum, we bring financial literacy into the schools. we're doing lesson plans that parents and teachers can share and work with kids. also because we know that personal finances is a topic is
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not appealing but we do an interactive games that kids can play and learn the principles of personal finance at the same time. >> what would be an example of having fun? >> there is a game that we're developing. >> still in progress? >> yeah. >> what is the most important thing for kids? >> it's the same things for adults. looking at your money and treating it responsibly. learning how to use credit cards responsibly, learning how to budget. learning how to set a realistic budget. really understanding the difference between wants and needs is a big part of it, too. for kids where most of their wants are taken care of, they
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wanted that new wii video console or that sort of thing and really understanding the consequences of their actions. >> we look forward to seeing the program in schools. thank you so much. appreciate it. >> we are out of time. but i want to say a very special thanks to all of our guests. that is it for this edition of beyond the headlines. more information is on our website at if you are looking nor community resources in your neighborhood dial 211 for help. dial 211 for help. i'm cheryl jennings. - hello! - ha! why don't you try a home cooked meal... with yummy hamburger helper? oh! tada! fantastically tasty, huh?
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