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Everywhere we hear the same warnings: Consumer debt soars; bankruptcies have skyrocketed; Corporate America is downsizing their workforce; etc. The American employee is fast losing ground in the economic pursuit of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Instead of securing the promise of a financial future where “golden years” are really golden, too many are forced to continue working past retirement. Especially with the rising cost of prescriptions and medical care.

People find themselves using their available credit to purchase both luxury items and items of necessity. When it is so easy to use this
available credit the consumer
can find him or herself in a credit catastrophe. Sometimes just
circumstances beyond their control can place them in a financially difficult situation, such as a medical condition or loss of an income. Before they know it, they find themselves paying so much in fees and interest that they will be in debt for many years to come.

Fall seems an appropriate time for change. We would like to help you make those changes in your life so that the credit problems you have today will not follow you into the future. We want your future to be as bright and satisfying as it can possibly be.

We at Pioneer can help people who find themselves in this debt situation. We are not a loan company, but a company determined to help those who are willing to make the changes for the betterment of their lives, and the lives of their families. Living with a huge debt is stressful, and can be very damaging to your home life and your financial future. By consolidating all of your creditors we make it convenient for you to only have one monthly payment to Pioneer and we will handle the rest. Our goal is to help you become debt free and educate you about your money management.

How can you achieve financial freedom? How can you free yourself from the burden of debt? Pioneer can help get you on the right track. Pioneer is open Monday thru Friday, 8 am to 8 pm Mountain Standard Time, you can reach us by calling this toll free number, 1-800-888-1596. You may also access your existing account or apply for help 24 hours a day at www.pioneercredit.com.

We hope you enjoy our newsletter, and use it as an additional tool to reach your financial goals.


 

   
 
 

We are all faced with those unexpected expenses. Car problems, medical bills, a new roof, legal bills, the hot water heater needs replaced, and the list goes on. For whatever reason we find ourselves in a debt situation, we can do something about it, and if your reading this newsletter, you most likely have. By joining and following the Pioneer Credit Counseling program you will find your future financial situation looking better and better in time. There is light at the end of the tunnel!

Once you have established a budget and your staying on course, you can start thinking about saving for that one thing that just might throw a wrench into the wheel. If you haven't done this, see Chapters 2 through 4 in your “Life Skills Book” and Chapter 2 in the “Credit When Credit is Due” book. It's always a good idea to try to save some kind of an Emergency Fund. No matter how small your monthly contributions to it might be.

The budget is an important tool for managing your money. It also keeps you in control of your spending.

Here is an idea for the whole family to get involved with your budget. Keep a "Spending Log" or a "Spending Diary" of money that has been spent, no matter how little. You will be amazed at where it goes.

Get an inexpensive notebook at your nearest dollar store and make this your SPENDING DIARY. Write the date on it and place it at a general location. The kitchen or dining table usually works best. You may want to give everyone their own small note pad to carry with them, to write down everything they have spent, as soon as they spend it. Then make sure they transfer the information into the main Spending Diary when they get home. This will show you exactly where your money goes. A dollar or quarter here and there, will add up.

After you and your family keep the Diary for a week, go through and mark the ones that were absolute necessities.

Then add up only the ones that were not necessities and see just how much you could have saved. For instance, did the kids really need those $2.50 milkshakes, couldn't you have made them for less at home? Or did you really need to have your nails done? Couldn't you have done them
yourself? Did the kids really need those new toys?

Or perhaps because the whole family is being asked to be conscientious about where and how they are spending money, you might be quite surprised how well everyone can do, especially when they work together as a team. Perhaps make a game of it, with a little reward for whoever spends the least.

From the information you acquire you can make adjustments on your spending and set clear goals as to how much money your family could save towards your family Emergency Fund.


     

 

 

 

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While we hope and wait for the price of gas to come down, we are spending more at the pumps these days. So, until those happy days return, there are some things we can do to save, no matter what the cost of gas.

Of course, there is the obvious, do you drive a V8 engine or SUV? Perhaps it's usually only you and maybe your spouse driving to the grocery store in a sunshine state? Have you considered a more economical form of transportation? If you absolutely can justify that larger vehicle here are a few things you can do to help:

• Check your owner's manual to find out what octane your engine needs, then buy it. Resist the urge to buy the higher “premium” gas. The experts tell us that about fifteen percent of cars sold in the United States require premium gasoline, yet premium gas accounts for 20% of all gasoline sold. Premium gas costs about 15 to 20 cents more than regular. This can add up to $100 or more a year in extra costs.

• Keep your tires inflated to the proper levels. Properly inflated tires provide less road-resistance and can improve fuel efficiency. Not only that, but properly inflated tires and regularly rotated tires will wear longer. Again check your owner's manual.

• Keep that engine tuned. Make sure that you get regular tune-ups and change the oil according to your owner's manual.

• Check your car's air filter
monthly. A dirty filter shortens the engine's life and reduces gasoline mileage up to 10%.

The longer you can keep your car running trouble free and efficient, the better you will be at keeping your transportation costs down.

Driving at a slower speed and at the speed limit, is also an excellent way to save on gasoline. Give
yourself enough time to get to
your destination. Certainly nobody wants a high priced speeding
ticket, besides you don't really
get to your destination that much faster when you speed. And absolutely nobody wants to be involved in an accident because they were in a hurry and missed
a stop sign or red light.
Also, using the cruise control actually helps conserve gas by driving at a consistent speed.

In America we consume somewhere around 360 million gallons of gasoline a day. That's an average per household of 3.6 gallons a day. In addition to watching our own consumption, we should also think about using public transportation whenever it is available.

And last but not least, if the
store is only 1 mile or less from your house, take a walk! It's a good way to save on the gas and wear-and-tear on the vehicle and it's good for your heart!

Happy trails!

 

RESOURCES:

http://money.howstuffworks.com/gas-price.htm

 

 

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Just like anything else, shopping around for a home equity loan or mortgage will help you get the best deal. Whether you are looking for a home purchase, refinancing, or a home equity loan, remember the price and terms are negotiable. Shopping around and comparing may save you thousands of dollars. Educating yourself about mortgages and shopping around will be well worth all of your time and effort.

Start by figuring out just how much of a down payment you can afford, know how much principle you owe on your current mortgage, and exactly how much you are able to comfortably borrow especially if you are a first time home buyer. Your lending institution can help you with this, but it is their job to get you to borrow as much as you possibly can, not what you realistically should. So do your homework before you visit the lenders. Some helpful tools can be found on the web. For example, http://www.realestate.com or http://www.realtor.com has calculators and other tools to help you figure out what you can afford.

Contact several lenders or brokers and make sure you get all the information about fees involved in the loan.

• Ask the lender for a list of current interest rates and whether the rates being quoted are the lowest for that day or week.

• Ask whether the rate is fixed or adjustable. Generally when the rate is adjustable the interest rate goes up, consequently so do the monthly payments.

• If they give you adjustable rates ask if the loan payment will go down if the rates drop.

• Ask about the annual percentage rate (APR). This takes into account not only the interest
rate but also points, broker fees, and certain other credit charges that you may be required to pay as a yearly rate.

• You may check your local newspaper in the Real Estate Section for information on rates and points.

• Ask for points to be quoted to you as dollar amounts also.

• Make sure the lender gives you all the fee information you need. There are many fees involved, loan orientation or underwriting fees, broker fees, transaction, settlement, and closing costs. Several items may be lumped together into one fee.

• Ask for an explanation of a fee if you don't understand it.

• Ask what percent of the loan as a down payment is required, usually 5% to 20%. Remember the larger down payment you make the less you will be borrowing, and if you can put down 20% the PMI or Private Mortgage Insurance may be waived.

Gather the information from each lender and do your homework. Then when you feel ready, negotiate the BEST deal you can! For example, ask them to waive or reduce fees or ask for a lower rate.

Once you have obtained the best deal, ask for a Lock-in quote in writing. Then when you are ready
to sign the preliminary paperwork you will get what you bargained for, even if the rates have increased.

Remember, SHOP, COMPARE, and NEGOTIATE!

 

Resources:

http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/mortgage/mortb_1.htm

 

 

 
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By now you definitely realize that money makes the world go ‘round. Your probably wondering “just how can I get enough of it to do what I need to do!” Buy a car, go to school, get a place to live? The best way to reach your goals is to know where you are financially and what you have to work with. Learning to live within your means is sometimes hard, but a very rewarding lesson to learn.

• The first thing you need to do
is set up your budget. Find a
budget spreadsheet online at http://www.wiser.heinz.org/budgetsheet.html. Or you could ask your parents to use page 19 from their “Financial Life Skills Workbook” that they received from Pioneer Credit Counseling. You can also find the Financial Life Skills Workbook on line at www.pioneercredit.com/edmat.asp.

Budget sheets break down all of your expenses. This is a good tool to see where your money is going, and to make sure you have enough to cover all of your expenses. It will also show you where you need to make necessary adjustments to meet your goals.

• You also need to know how to
balance your checkbook. Remember this needs to be done each month as soon as you receive your statement. Make sure you write in all transactions, withdrawals, deposits, and ATM transactions and fees correctly. Keeping good records is a must!
• Withdrawing from an ATM only what you need or only once a week is a good way to keep your spending down.

Good money management takes practice, willpower, and perseverance. Now is the perfect time to
create habits that you will use to help build your future and keep you financially fit for years to come.

 

 
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Teaching children the skill of money management early is a wise decision for the parents. Children learn early that money can get them things. They aren't sure about how much things cost, how many pennies and dollars they need, or the values of currency. They just know they need it, to get what they want.

Begging for it is the usual course. But if you teach them that money is a tool and how to manage it early, you could have many happy trips to the store and less hassle when the child wants to make
a purchase.
Teaching the pre-schooler the lessons of coin worth is the first step. Using the play coins and paper money you can pick up at a Dollar Store, or use real cash and coins, you can set the child up in their own little store and have family members and friends come to
purchase (of course they don't really take the things they buy with them.) Try to explain the money but don't be too specific,
it's the general idea of exchange of money for something that they'll learn and that different coins and bills have different value. They will understand more after time. Besides this is a great tool for teaching the math skill of counting.

 
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The air is becoming crisp, the leaves are changing color, and November 25th will be here soon. If you plan ahead you can have a Happy Thanksgiving without spending lots of cash. Here are some money saving ideas for decorating, preparing the meal, and a fun project to do with the kids.

Decorating is a fairly easy thing to do this time of year. There are many things outside that you can harvest and bring into the house; leaves, pine-cones, and vines. Of course the most obvious element you can use is the pumpkin.

• Use a pumpkin as a vase. Scoop out the insides and insert floral foam that has been cut to fit and soaked in water. Then arrange the cut flowers.

• The jack-o-lantern is a wonderful centerpiece. You can have the kids decorate it safely with paint or try glow in the dark paint for added fun.

• Inexpensive miniature pumpkins make great candle holders by cutting off the top and scooping out the inside. You might have to level the bottoms before you add the candles.
Decorate with a grouping of seasonal items on a porch, a mantel, or any other focal point in your home using vines, leaves, pumpkins, mums, and or corn husks. Using the vines and corn husks to add height and movement. Baskets with natural decorations will look best and when you are finished with them you can place them in a compost heap and not worry about storing them for next year. You can purchase candles at the dollar store and they will bring a nice warm glow to your house when the air starts to get chilly.

If you don’t want to, or cannot find natural materials to use where you live, make a trip to your local dollar store. They are sure to have a variety of Autumn related products.

What comes to mind most about Thanksgiving Day is the feast. There are ways to save if your entertaining a group or just feeding your own family a special meal.

• Write out a menu and watch the papers for local bargain prices and coupons on food you will be using way before November 25th.

• Another idea is to have a pot-luck dinner. Perhaps you can make the turkey and everyone else brings the potatoes, green bean casserole, corn, etc. For someone who doesn’t cook, they can always
supply the drinks. It’s a nice way to get everyone involved and not just one person is stressed out over all the details.

Keeping the kids occupied and happy on Thanksgiving Day can be a joy for you and your guests. Here’s a simple and fun idea for a Thanksgiving Tree:
• Start by cutting a tree trunk shape out of brown construction paper and use magnets to put it on the refrigerator, tape onto the back of a door, or pin onto a cork bulletin board.

• Then have the children trace their hand on fall colored paper and cut out the shapes for the leaves. Have enough shapes cut out for all the guests or as many as you wish.

• Then after dinner and before
the football games and naps, or
perhaps before dinner, have the
children write what they are thankful for on their cut out,
and hang it on the tree. Then have everyone do the same, having the children help of course.

Don’t forget, taking a walk after the meal is a great way to walk off those extra calories!

 
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