Young adults have more credit card debt than savings

Detroit Free PressBy Susan Tompor

Ebeth Fielder, 23, has a simple explanation for why many people, particularly those in their 30s and 40s, owe more money on their credit cards than they have in emergency savings.

Think about it. It can take an entire year to save up around $1,000 if you're setting aside twenty bucks a week. It only takes a day to open up a credit card and rack up $1,000 in credit card debt.

Easy credit is an everyday expression; easy savings is not. About one in four Americans are living on the edge by having more credit card debt than emergency savings, according to a study by

Younger consumers are particularly challenged when it comes to trying to build savings. Many are juggling the needs of young families, the costs of old student loan debt and the temptations of more hip ways to spend money.

Ebeth Fielder said many times people just don’t realize that they can come up with money for savings in a variety of ways. (Photo: 2014 photo by Romain Blanquart/Detroit Free Press)

Ebeth Fielder said many times people just don’t realize that they can come up with money for savings in a variety of ways. (Photo: 2014 photo by Romain Blanquart/Detroit Free Press)

Fielder is the hip "spokester" for the Young & Free program that targets the 18-to-25 crowd at Michigan First Credit Union based in Lathrup Village. And she said many times people just don't realize that they can come up with money for savings in a variety of ways.

Give up the Birchbox, she says. Many young consumers love getting glam bags or monthly, personalized sample deliveries of cult brands for beauty, grooming and lifestyle products. A variety of subscription services are trending with younger consumers who easily pay $10 or $20 or $50 a month.

But after getting married and moving last year from Texas to Michigan, Fielder and her husband needed to rebuild their savings. So she cut out e-commerce subscription services.

"I realized I was wasting my money," Fielder said.

The survey indicated that 13% of consumers do not have any credit card debt, which is a good thing, but they have zero emergency savings, a bad thing.

"People between ages 30 and 49 are in the worst shape, probably because of the expenses associated with children and paying a mortgage," said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for

+ Original article

Film a video on how your degree will improve Michigan for the chance at a $10K scholarship

WXYZ | By Alexandra Bahou

Michigan students, get out your smartphones. There’s a new scholarship competition that could help you score a nice chunk of change for your studies.

A one minute YouTube video-- that’s all it takes to possibly take home $10,000 in scholarship money.

One local competition is asking high school seniors and college students to film a quick video on their smartphone about how their college education will help improve the state of Michigan.

The 60 second video should discuss what ways your degree will help our great state.

Entries can be uploaded to YouTube and then submitted to the Young and Free Michigan 2015 scholarship page.

The Michigan First Credit Union is giving away $85,000 worth of scholarships in this competition.

So, there isn’t just one grand winner.

The deadline for the entries is February 9. There is public voting and then a judging panel will select the best of the best. Winners will be announced in March.

Now if you’re a little camera shy, high school students are also able to submit an essay instead. 

Check out the contest rules here:

And good luck! 

+ Original article

Three students to win $10K scholarships

Oakland Press | by Luke Capizzo

Michigan First Credit Union, in conjunction with its young adult financial education program Young & Free Michigan, announced the kickoff of its annual scholarship contest.

The Lathrup Village-­based financial institution will give away up to $85,000 in scholarships — including three $10,000 first-place awards — to graduating high school seniors and current college students.

Over the past 11 years, Michigan First has given away more than $820,000 in scholarships to local students.

The three scholarship categories include a high school video contest, a high school essay contest and a college video contest. Depending on the category, applicants can create their response with a 60-second video or a 300-word essay. For each category, this year’s question is, “How will your degree help you improve the state of Michigan?”

“As a credit union founded by teachers, education is at the center of our mission,” said Michigan First President/CEO Michael Poulos.

“With our recent expansion into the Grand Rapids market, this will be the first year we include West Michigan students in the scholarship program, which we know will continue to create opportunities and have a positive impact on our state.”

The top 10 applicants in each category will be determined by online voting and a panel of judges will choose the final winners. The top three winners in each category will receive a $10,000 scholarship, and runners up will receive $5,000 and $3,000 scholarships. Additionally, Michigan First will select more than 30 additional high school applicants to receive $1,000 scholarships.

The Michigan First Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 2012 by the credit union with a focus on youth and education in metro Detroit, funds the scholarships as part of more than $150,000 in contributions to local charitable organizations and students each year.

Applications will be accepted now through Feb. 9 at All applicants must be high school seniors or current college students, as well as members of Michigan First, but interested students throughout Michigan may join the credit union when they apply for the contest. The public voting for the top videos and essays will take place between Feb. 12 and 19, determining the top 10 finalists in each category. The winners will be announced by March 6.

+ Original article

MTV: Millennials want their cars, SUV, pickup trucks

Detroit Free Press | By Greg Gardner 

The survey of 3,600 people between the ages of 18 and 34 found that 75% would rather give up social media for a day than their car and 72% said they would rather give up texting for a week than their car.

Millennials are more interested in driving and buying cars than much research has led automakers to believe, according to a new study MTV released todayat the annual convention of the National Automobile Dealers Association.

The survey of 3,600 people between the ages of 18 and 34 found that 75% would rather give up social media for a day than their car and 72% said they would rather give up texting for a week than their car.

But automakers, dealers and advertisers need to craft messages that speak to their transportation needs and respect their easy access to comparative pricing information.

"This is the first generation in history that can literally kill a brand with the push of a button," said Berj Kazanjian, MTV senior vice president for ad sales research.

The survey was conducted last spring and included responses from 3,600 Millennials, about 400 Generation Xers and 400 Baby Boomers.

"This generation is almost 100 million strong," Kazanjian said. "They have close to a trillion dollars in buying power. It's not something to sneeze at. They're significantly more of them than Gen Xers."

The findings contrast with other recent studies. Last October the U.S. Public Interest Research Group released a study showing, among other findings, that the generation born after 1980 is less focused that older Americans on owning cars and trucks.

PIRG found that between 2001 and 2009, the average number of miles driven by 16 to 34 year-olds declined by 23%. Census data show that the share of 16 to 24-year-olds driving to work dropped 1.5 percentage points from 2006 to 2013, while the percentage commuting to work by public transportation, walking or bicycling increased.

A 2013 study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute reported that adults between 55 and 64 were 15 times more likely than those between the ages of 18 and 24 to buy a new vehicle.

In a separate study UMTRI found that the percentage of 19-year-olds with a driver's license had fallen to 75% in 2008 from 87% in 1983.

Focusing on those 24 and younger understates the full impact of the generation MTV studied. The oldest of Millennials are now in their early 30s and Kazanjian said that as the economy improves they are earning more money than they did in the wake of the Great Recession.

The MTV team began running focus groups in Fort Lee, N.J., Cleveland and San Francisco. They also tracked Millennials as they visited dealerships and asked them to keep logs of where they drove, including mileage and destinations.

Other characteristics distinguishing Millennials opinions and behavior about the auto industry included:

  • 80% believe buying or leasing of a car should take less time
  • 71% agree that ratings and comparisons among vehicles are often unclear
  • 87% say the buying process should be more transparent
  • 33% say they plan to buy or lease a new vehicle in the next six months

"Our main point is that Baby Boomers do have the financial power to drive more sales, but there is a tremendous opportunity to work with Millennials and the industry needs to do better at reaching them," Kazanjian said.

+ Original article

The Best Money Moves for Students in January

nerdwallet | By Anna Helhoski

This month’s spring semester kickoff is the best time to find your financial footing, from navigating credit cards for college students to creating a budget and filing taxes.

“Being a new year and a new semester, college students can look at their financial situation through fresh eyes,” says Ebeth Fielder, a spokesperson for Michigan First Credit Union and its Young & Free Michigan program. The program is designed to provide real-world financial and budgeting tips for college students.

In between late-night cram sessions, papers, parties, classes and the sweet dreams of spring break, there are some key moves you can make to improve your financial life.

File your FAFSA early

 The U.S. Department of Education office of Federal Student Aid began acceptingFAFSA applications on the first of the month, so now is the time to file. It may seem early, but since financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, you’ll be ahead of the pack.

Since you’ll need tax return information for the current year in order to submit, you can choose to either use the previous year’s tax returns or wait until you or your family files income taxes for the year. If you want to file early and you opt to use the previous year’s return, you can return to your online form later to update with information from your new tax return.

Create a monthly budget

Starting in January, you need to allocate every single penny you’ll have for the month, then repeat the process each month, suggests Rachel Cruze, a personal finance expert and co-author of “Smart Money Smart Kids.” This means, laying out your income during the semester against expenses you expect to have.

“I know a budget doesn’t sound like fun for most college students, but it’s necessary,” says Cruze, who describes a budget as something that simply tells your money what to do.

Think about how much money you’ll have for the month and divvy up where it goes. Include things like bills you have to pay (such as electricity or rent), food and activities. While you may allocate some money for discretionary spending, Fielder suggests looking at material purchases with a dollar sign in mind.

“When I got my first job and I was getting paid $7.50 an hour, it made me think twice about buying a T-shirt that cost $12,” she said. “Changing your perspective on how much things actually cost can make a difference when you make your budget.”

Find credit cards for college students

The bad news is, you can’t get your own line of credit until you’re 21 years old. But there is some good news: Once you reach the magic age, many credit card companies offer credit cards specifically designed for college students. These cards may not offer high limits, but they are easier to get if you don’t have much credit history. The best ones typically have low annual percentage rates and no annual fees. Some even offer rewards tailored to student spending and for on-time payments or good grades. Compare thebest student credit cards for rewards, interest rates, signup bonuses and fees. If you’re having trouble getting a credit card find a co-signer with a solid credit score and annual income to better your chances of getting approved.

However, you have to establish healthy credit habits to avoid going into debt. First you need to get and review a copy of your credit report, suggests Rakesh Gupta, a professor at Adelphi University who teaches a seminar for freshman called “Your money AND your life.” You can get your free credit report annually from each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.

Gupta also suggests that you:

  • Pay your bills on time.
  • Pay more than the minimum due on your credit card.
  • Keep outstanding credit card balances low in relation to your credit limit.
  • Check your credit card statements carefully for errors or unauthorized charges.

Find the best rates on loans

When you are looking for a loan, be a savvy consumer and shop around for the best rate, suggests Valerie Moses, development specialist at CFE Federal Credit Union based in Florida. This means that you shouldn’t necessarily accept the first loan you’re offered.

“The intimidation level college students deal with when it comes to financial institutions is overwhelming,” Fielder says. “I tell them they can’t let themselves be intimidated by that because financial institutions want your business.”

When you’re torn between a few different loans, use a student loan calculator to compare rates, monthly payments and more.

While you’re considering any loan, be cautious, advises Michael Clark, an Orlando-based certified financial planner. “The best advice I can give is for the student to ask someone older than them (like 5 years older) for advice and guidance about student loans,” he says. “Most of the time, the person will explain any mistakes they may have made with student loans.”

Take advantage of tax credits

Tax-filing season starts Jan. 20, and there are two important tax credits the IRS offersthat you might be eligible for that can help offset the costs of your education.

The American Opportunity Credit is available during your first two years of college, and has a maximum of $2,500 per student. The credit is available to people with a modified adjusted gross income of $80,000 or less for individuals and $160,000 for joint returns.

If you don’t qualify for the American Opportunity Credit, Bill Hendricks, CEO and co-founder of the online tax software company Common Form, suggests students try toapply for the Lifetime Learning tax credit. It’s available to students at any level — undergraduate, graduate or professional — and can be worth up to $2,000 in savings.

You can’t apply for both credits in the same tax year, and you can’t claim any credits if you claim a tuition and fees deduction in the same year. Only parents or students can claim the credit, but not both. You can claim either credit by completing Form 8863 and submitting it with your tax return.

+ Original article

5 Fun Gifts That Teach Kids About Saving, Investing, Spending

Olney Daily Mail

If you're looking to turn your child into a savvy investor or money saver, the holiday season is a great chance to give a gift that also teaches a valuable lesson. Here's a look at five presents that can guide your child on the path to a bright financial future.

The old-school piggy bank
Piggy banks may seem like an old-school gift, but there's often no better choice for younger children, says Ian Gillespie, creator of iBank, a personal finance management app.

"My 3-year-old son will find a penny around the house and go put it in the piggy bank. We've just begun to instill the thought of saving some money, and he is collecting," Gillespie says.

"It's fun for them to get out the money and count it and look at how the balance in their piggy bank has been growing through time," he says.The more you can incorporate tactile, visual examples with younger children, the more the information is likely to stick.

If piggy banks aren't your thing, anything that incorporates small change is great, says Ebeth Fielder, spokeswoman for the Young & Free Michigan program at Michigan First Credit Union .

"It would be fun to give your child a jar of coins on Christmas.They can count them, save them or take them to the coin machine at the bank and deposit them. It would be an educational outing for them, and they'll be shocked at how much they're worth," she says.

Although a piggy bank or a jar of change may seem like no big deal, when children see the money deposited into their account or are handed paper bills for their efforts, reality sinks in.

"The next time they're spending money, they may think, 'Okay, this took me a long time to collect. Maybe I shouldn't spend it so fast.'"

An allowance
Allowances teach your child responsibility with money and open the door for future financial discussions, Gillespie says. While you don't have to go into the performance of your 401(k) for the last three months, you can start to have open dialogues about spending and budgeting.

"As your kid gets older you can talk to them about how your finances change from month to month. iBank makes great pie charts showing you where monthly expenses are going. When you sit down with your child you can say, 'OK, we spent 30% on food, 30% on housing, and this month I had to pay bills for car insurance,'" he says. "You can tailor those conversations to your child's developmental stage."

When you discuss how best to budget your child's allowance, present them with options but always let them make the final decision.

+ Original article

Millennials Worry Constantly about Securing Jobs, Buying Homes and Retiring

Main St.  |  Ellen Chang

After working full-time for the past two years, Andrew Park is concerned whether he can establish a secure financial foothold to be able to afford to buy a house and retire at a decent age.

Park's pressures are similar to those of his Millennial peers who are stressed because of the volatility in the job market, the anemic growth in salaries and the increasingly competitive arena of finding a secure job that pays decent wages.

"A lot of people I know who have graduated years ago are either working entry level jobs or looking for work," he said. "We have this thought that going to college is supposed to secure a future for us and that just isn't the case anymore."

Read More: Millennials Are Scared of Saving

Compare Today’s Low Mortgage Rates

The concerns facing Park, who is 25 year old and working as a PR executive in Los Angeles, mirrors the sentiment among many other Millennials. Worrying about their financial future is commonplace with 39% who said they think about it at least once a week or more, according to a recent Fidelity study. One in four of Gen Y-ers indicate they trust "no one" when it comes to advice about money although 33% identify their parents as the top choice.

The lingering impact from the recession and seeing firsthand how their parents were affected from job losses and declining retirement accounts has dampened the outlook of Millennials, said Lauren Brouhard, senior vice president of retirement for Fidelity Investments in Boston.

"They are seeking direction and have important questions on their minds about how they can start to save money and pay off debt at the same time," she said. "It's a generation which is heavily dependent on the influence of their peers and families."

Figuring out how to ensure that he can buy a home by the time he turns 30 or even by 35 and save enough money for his retirement is a constant concern, said Park. After paying for his rent and other bills, Park barely has enough money left over to go out on the weekends, let alone contribute to his retirement plan.

Read More: Millennials Are a Dire Generation - On Its Own and Stuck

"With what I'm making now and my cost of living arrangements, it's hard for me to contribute to my 401(k), so I don't honestly know when that will happen - and that is really scary," he said. "I am constantly worried about my financial future or if I'll ever reach the financial goals I've set for myself."

Millennials will be in better shape if they change their current outlook on jobs and "get out of the pre 2008 mindset," by accepting the idea that switching jobs every few years is now a valid option, said Jonathan Alpert, a New York psychotherapist and author. 

"Trust is usually derived from their peers," he said. "People in their 20s and 30s are still impressionable and strive towards acceptance. They look towards their peers for support and validation."

Since the 2008 financial crisis, job hopping has become the "norm" and is on par with the data reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and his business coaching clients who change companies every three to four years, Alpert said. Many Gen Y-ers are receiving a different message from their parents, which has led to increased pressure and concerns, he said.

Read More: Are Millennials Financially Doomed?

Compare Today’s Low Refinance Rates

"In many respects, Millennials are striving to better themselves, searching for the next promotion or advancement in rank and they have the courage to do so," Alpert said. "On the other hand, it creates instability and spikes peoples' anxiety levels and fear."

Since many Millennials feel they should be in the same place financially that Gen X-ers were at their age, it makes them question how "they're going to fund their own futures and how secure anything really is," said Jamie Gutfreund, chief marketing officer of Noise: The Intelligence Group, a Beverly Hills, Calif. consumer research company which recently conducted a survey of 3,000 Millennials across ten countries.

"One of the largest issues affecting Millennials is that they have amassed more student debt than any other generation - 54% of Millennials surveyed say a life of debt is their generation's new reality," she said. "This affects their ability to save and plan for their financial future because they're focused on the now and paying off what they owe."

Another major concern among Millennials is they do not feel they are informed about finances.

"Money management is something of a black box to them," Gutfreund said. "While there are many tools and apps that provide financial advice, Millennials feel that most of these services don't speak to them or make the information easy to understand. They want companies to explain things in plain language, not using financial jargon."

Determining what constitutes as a trusted source is another concern, said Brouhard.

"We see skepticism among Millennials and they are making sure they are getting advice from trusted sources," she said. "This generation is looking for simple steps and they don't want information to be too complicated."

Seeking advice from their friends or family is not common among Millennials who see that both groups are still struggling, Gutfreund said.

Read More: Why Millennials Aren't Embarrassed to Use Coupons

"Millennials feel like there is so much they don't know about finances that they don't know where to begin, so they often avoid even thinking about it," she said.

The disconnect and anxiety that Millennials feel stems from the fact that they are reminded constantly of the unaffordable things they want, said Elizabeth Fielder, who is 23 and a spokesperson for the Young & Free Michigan program sponsored by Michigan First Credit Union, which educates the 17- to 25-year-old crowd about finances.

"We're used to a fast pace and expect our lives to happen quickly, but finances usually don't work that way," she said. "Financial worries can easily turn into fear and I hope to help my peers get past that fear. I remind people that they can be good managers of their finances and that there is hope."

Fielder only turns to people who have a good track record of financial security for advice and avoids people who try to sell her a product.

"When it comes to financial advice, I tend to trust people who are closest to me and unfortunately, my friends and peers are often at the bottom of the list for financial advice," she said.

+ Original article Picks: The Top 20 Credit Union Blogs

Michigan First’s What’s Hot blog has some of the most visually pleasing posts on the list. There are big pictures, a nifty font, cool chevron-shaped bullet points, and slick tables. But this blog isn’t all show and no go: not by a long shot! Michigan First brings the “big guns” to bear, with authors including none other than the President/CEO himself, Michael Poulos. When someone with that kind of expertise weighs in how to create a credit card strategy, you certainly listen! Michigan First began as the Detroit Teachers Credit Union way back in 1925, and was at one time the world’s largest credit union. A stellar blog makes sense for this credit union that was one of the first to go online in real-time…way back in 1980! Today Michigan First has 90,000 members and $650 million in assets. Oh yeah, they also have a great Young & Free Michigan blog steered by the vivacious Ebeth Fielder!

+ Original article

Back-to-School Budget Tips

The Michigan Journal

There is no question school costs a lot of money. It’s important for all students—especially incoming freshman—to know how much money they have coming in and going out each week. But making a budget and sticking to it can be harder than it sounds. Here are some tips to help you out!

  • Ask questions: Before you make a purchase don’t be afraid to ask questions. For example, your professor might allow you to use the previous year’s edition of the textbook instead of the brand new edition. Make it a habit to ask the cashier at local stores if they give a student discount. You don’t know unless you ask!
  • Plan ahead: Impulse buying never helps our financial situations. Instead, plan ahead, make shopping lists, and use coupons and rewards cards. When you know you need to make a big purchase, search online for the best price before you head out to buy it.
  • Budget for fun: We all want to enjoy college, but it can be expensive! Make sure you budget and plan for fun in your life—then you can enjoy it guilt free.

Those are really simple tips to help you stay in your budget while in school, but the hardest part is applying them. Don’t forget you have some help, use online banking and savings apps to help you be a good manager of your finances. For more finance tips, blogs and fun videos go to my website

+ Original article

Credit Union Membership Soars with Young People

Public News Service

It's not your grandfather's credit union. Just ask the growing number of millennials who are among those turning to the not-for-profit financial cooperatives.

Elizabeth "Ebeth" Fielder, a 22-year-old who serves as a sort of young people's ambassador for Michigan First Credit Union, says she's one of many millienials who came of age during the financial crisis. As a result, she and many of her peers feel a philosophical pull toward credit unions, which often offer lower fees and better interest rates than for-profit banks, along with a focus on financial education.

"We don't want to be looked down on because we have questions or because we just don't know yet," says Fielder. "We want to be taught and we want to make good decisions, so it matters a lot."

Nationwide, credit unions surpassed the 100 million membership mark this summer, a milestone which includes nearly half the population of Michigan. Fielder says she feels many millenials are connecting with the credit union philosophy of "people helping people."

"They care about my finances. They care about my better being, and they care about the community as well," she says. "I didn't get that at all from my experience with the banks."

According to the Michigan Credit Union League, the state's 4.6 million credit union members saved nearly $226 million on fees and interest last year, compared with bank customers.

+ Original article