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CUA Seeks Input on Student Loan Issues

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 19, 2017
CUA is seeking input from our members on issues and problems you are having with student loans. We are gathering this information to inform us on actions to pursue and to share with regulators.

This is a broad request so please send us any issues you are having. Email us at cua@cuamember dot org and put "Student Loan Issues Input" in the subject line.

Thank you!

Tags:  Member Input  Student Loans 

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2017 Legislative Session

Posted By Administration, Monday, January 30, 2017

The 2017 legislative session is now in progress and CUA has hit the ground running. We have posted updates on our work in the Colorado legislature in the advocacy section of our site. 

We have also added a new section specifically for our Arizona members. While CUA does not lobby on legislation in Arizona, we are compiling information that might be of interest to our Arizona members.

You will find this information by going to advocacy>legislative advocacy and then follow the links at the bottom of the page to Colorado or Arizona.

Tags:  Legislative 

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New: CUA Will Sponsor Events

Posted By Administration, Friday, January 20, 2017

Attention CUA Members and the Community!

We are excited to announce our new Community Event Sponsorship program.  We will sponsor events related to our mission in communities where our members live!  Special consideration is given to events in which a CUA member is involved.  Please visit our Community Event Sponsorship page for details on how to apply.

Tags:  Financial Education; Consumers 

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Consumers United Association’s Right on the Money Awards 2016

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, October 18, 2016

CUA is proud to announce the winners of this year’s Right on the Money Awards for Excellence in Financial Education. The awards are given each year to organizations that provide excellent financial education programs to people of all ages, with a special emphasis on unique populations and tailored programs.

The Right on the Money Awards event was held on October 12, 2016 and awards were presented to the following organizations.


Know Your Dough, Durango, CO
Know Your Dough received an award for their outstanding program called the Money Game. Their program reaches about 1,000 K-12 students and young adults in the Durango area. The program teaches all aspects of money management to young people and the organization is the only one of its kind in the area to be focused solely on financial education. Know Your Dough received this award for the second time this year.

 

 

Colorado Council for Economic Education, Denver, CO (with State-wide reach)
CCEE’s program, the Stock Market Experience, has impacted tens of thousands of students and teachers across the entire state of Colorado for many years. The program teaches students about economics and financial literacy in a technological and hands-on way. CCEE received this award for the third time this year.

 

 


Bayaud Enterprises, Denver, CO
People with disabilities, those who are homeless and very low-income people benefit greatly from the program that Bayaud has developed just for them called Financial Empowerment. Each year, the program reaches over 80 people per year and it is unique because it covers identity theft and other issues that plague their target populations. Bayaud received this award for the third time this year.

 


Rocky Mountain Microfinance Institute, Denver, CO  
RMMFI’s approach to financial literacy comes by way of helping people to start small businesses in order to improve their economic security. Their program, called Business Launch Boot Camp, has an extremely high success rate in helping people to start businesses and stay in business. Entrepreneurs ultimately earn a better living and improve their lives significantly. RMMFI has received this award five times over the history of our awards because of their unique approach.


Community Resources and Housing Development Corporation, Westminster, CO & San Luis Valley
CRHDC’s Financial Capability Training is provided to people throughout the Denver metro area and also in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, which is home to some of Colorado’s lowest income rural areas. Their program helps gain control of their money and finances to set them on a path to purchasing a home and having the financial stability that comes with a “set” mortgage payment instead of increasing rents each year. CRHDC receive this award for the second time this year.

Brothers Redevelopment, Denver, CO
A long-time friend of the Denver metro community, Brothers Redevelopment has been rising to every housing challenge that has been presented to people in Colorado. That includes the foreclosure crisis, tenant and landlord issues and the now rising cost of rent. Brothers operates the Colorado Housing Connects Helpline, a vital resource to our community. It is the only housing helpline of its kind in the entire Rocky Mountain Region. The program offers clients knowledgeable assistance navigating through financial, education and other decisions that impact economic status. Brothers Redevelopment received this award for the first time this year.

Moffat County United Way, Craig, CO
In Moffat County, there’s a whole new mentality. Thanks to MCUW, the entire county is on their way to ending poverty through education and resources. MCUW utilizes the Bridges out of Poverty/Getting Ahead program not only to help individuals experiencing poverty, but also to educate and empower the entire area about how to end poverty in Moffat County. The program reaches people of all ages, including children. MCUW is the first organization we know about that has used this program to effect change on such a large scale. They received this award for the first time this year.

 

Intermountain Salvation Army and the Financial Health Institute, Denver metro area
Thanks to a partnership between Intermountain Salvation Army and the Financial Health Institute, people who are struggling with addiction recovery at the Harbor Light center are getting back on their feet. The Financial Health Institute developed a program that specifically meets the unique financial challenges of their target population. As we all know, being financially stable makes a difference in the amount of stress that people endure and that has a significant impact on addiction recovery. Intermountain Salvation Army and the Financial Health Institute received this award for the first time this year.


Future awards
CUA opens nominations for the Right on the Money awards for financial education every year in the Spring with nominations due in July. Anyone can nominate an organization, school, partnership, church, scout troop, veterans group or any entity that is providing a financial education program that is meeting unique needs for special people in the state of Colorado. Watch our site for our announcement in 2017 and for more details about our requirements for consideration.

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Tags:  Financial Education  Right on the Money Awards 

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I’m Not Financially Illiterate…I’m Just Broke!

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 21, 2016
April is financial literacy month and you have probably seen many articles about improving your financial literacy. All of the information is helpful and useful, unless you are just broke. You may be one of the most frugal people you know. You gave up designer coffee years ago, always use coupons, only buy things when they are on sale and rarely go out to eat. Yet, there is still no money left for saving. Knowing that you know what to do with your money is one thing, but having the money to save is another thing altogether. Your frustration may be so great that you don’t like to look at your finances and are in a state of feeling frozen.

The best thing you can do in this situation is to find a way to make progress, however small it may be. Even $25 per month could make a big difference. Once you start moving forward again, you will feel more secure and empowered to make more financial gains.

But how do you do that? The answer is to set a goal to “find” a small amount, fixed amount of money that can be saved each month. Here are some steps to take and some ideas for finding that money:

Don’t assume that your fixed expenses are permanently fixed

Fixed expenses are your bills that are the same amount each month. They are your rent or mortgage, insurance, installment loans of any type and some utilities like cable, phone, etc.

Sometimes, the easiest place to “find” money to save is in your fixed expenses. It may take a little of your time but make some phone calls. Find out if you can reduce any of these expenses by refinancing, changing services, consolidating, moving and/or downsizing or reducing the use of them.

Ask for a raise

If you receive an annual review and you typically get a standard annual increase without question, why not negotiate for more? Have you ever even asked? Have you told your employer lately why you are a valuable employee?

Check your automatic payments

Are you paying for anything automatically through your checking account or on a credit card on a monthly basis that you don’t really need? Once automatic payments are set up, people often forget about them.

Earn extra money for something you like to do

We aren’t talking about taking on another job or huge project that will make you feel overworked. We are talking about using a skill or talent you already have to earn a few extra dollars each month. Focus on something that might bring you a fixed amount of income each month and will not cost you money to get started.

Cut your gift-buying budget

Americans spend a lot of money on gifts. Even if you believe you are the best shopper you can probably cut your gift-buying budget. Here’s a recommendation: decide to cut that budget now by at least $25 per month or $300 per year. Just do it. Then, spend some time thinking about how you can replace those gifts that once cost you $300 per year with something more meaningful and less expensive or free. Thinking ahead for those birthdays and holiday gifts now will make it easy to make the cut. This can actually turn into a fun and rewarding weekend activity. Write some poetry or a journal for someone, find something old and already paid for and turn it into something new, or decide that you are going to “do” something for someone instead of a buying a gift. Go through your list of people you buy gifts for each year. Always remember: you are not obligated to buy gifts for everyone!

If you are like most Americans, $300 is less than you spend on gifts each year. It may even be a lot less than you typically spend. You can still leave some money in your budget for some gifts. If you are a person who actually saves the cash all year for gifts, then this idea will immediately give you money to save. If you use credit cards, you may still be paying for the last holiday and can’t put that money aside yet.

Spend time looking for more new ideas

There are so many great resources to find new ideas for increasing your income or decreasing your expenses. Spend some time looking for them. Choose the things to do that make it easy for you to save even a few dollars. Set aside just an hour or two each month to look for the ideas.

Once you start making your forward moves, you will want to find more ways to find a few dollars to save. Then, once you have some money saved, you can put your financial literacy knowledge to work for you so that money earns money for you. All you need to do is start.

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How to Save a Lot of Money by Not Paying Twice for the Same Service

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Note: CUA does not advertise specific services. Therefore, we have not mentioned names of specific services in this article.

In 1986, you could have a telephone line for about $18 per month, not including long distance charges, and you could still get television for free. Today, the average consumer is spending around $100 per month on cell phone services, $123 on cable/satellite TV and $47 on Internet access. That’s $270 per month totaling a whopping $3,240 per year, compared to zero to $216 per year in 1986. These figures don’t even include extras like paying for other movie/TV show services, the cost of equipment, etc.

If you are not examining how you use these services, you are most likely paying twice to make phone calls, watch TV or access the Internet. But you don’t have to return to the dark ages to cut your costs. All you need to do is think about where you might be paying twice for the same service and/or cut back by changing a few habits.

Even though 73% of Americans own a computer with a broadband connection and 64% of Americans have smartphones, about a third of Americans mostly use their smartphones to access the Internet. (Pew Research data.) This means that many people are paying twice to access the Internet, through cell phone data plans and internet services, unless they are consciously using Wi-fi with their smartphones.

Also, 90% of American adults own a cell phone of any type but only 41% of American homes are wireless-only. This means that there are still many homes paying twice to make phone calls.

When you have that much less cash and you are living on a tight budget, you may also be carrying credit card debt that could have been avoided if you had that cash. That means you are also paying interest on that money.

What can you do to cut these expenses significantly, without losing the services you need? Start with these steps:

  1. Check to see how much data you are using on your phone each month
  2. Make note of how you are using these services over a one-month period. Pay particular attention to which device you use for each thing and which channels you actually do watch on TV.
  3. Find out if you already have access to some TV shows and movies through other subscription services you have or via the Internet.
  4. Note how many of your phone features you are actually using regularly.

Then, start cutting:

Cell phone data and calling limits

  • Use Wi-fi as much as possible on your phone.
  • Change your settings on app downloads and updates.
  • Cut down on streaming music and video on your phone.
  • Use your computer or your TV to access the Internet at home (to watch videos, use Facebook, etc.)
  • Use your landline to make calls at home (see landlines below).
  • Limit using your phone for car navigation. Know where you’re going before you go. Get directions.

Landlines

  • Replace your landline with a very inexpensive VOIP service (These services now have 911 registration capabilities but check that first) OR
  • Eliminate your landline all together if you can make the cost work with your cell phone. It may still be cheaper to keep a landline (using VOIP) if you always use it instead of your cell phone when you are home. It depends on how much time you spend on phone calls. If you always use Wi-Fi on your cell phone at home, you don’t need the landline.

Television/movies

  • Use the Internet to watch TV.
  • Purchase lower-cost subscription services to watch TV shows (or use the ones you found you already have).
  • Switch back to using only the free over-the-air channels if available in your area. You can still get antennas to do this.
  • Switch back to the most basic pay TV and get your other content elsewhere.

After you have made many changes in your usage, go back and check to see how much data you used on your phone and how many features you used on your phone. Then, start looking for a new cell phone and plan (when your contract is up). Here are some things to look for:

  • Cell phone services that allow you to use phone you already have or where you can purchase a phone outright.
  • Flexible plans where you can change your plan any time you need to do so.
  • A plan with data that fits with your new data usage. Don’t pay for data you don’t need/use.
  • If you have a lot of access to Wi-fi, find a plan that relies heavily on Wi-fi.
  • No-contract plans.
  • Downgrade your phone to something that matches the features you actually use.

Consumer Reports always has great information on the best cell phone plans.

Although these are many steps to take, the time involved is minimal and the financial reward can be great. For example, switching cell phone carriers can save you $50-$100 per month and changing your landline to VOIP can save you over $40 per month. Eliminating pay TV and replacing it with other things can save you $100 per month. Downgrading your phone alone could save you hundreds of dollars each time you buy one.

You can still have all of what you use and need, while enjoying the extra cash you gain and even better, investing that money in college or retirement!

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