Pack up financial tips before heading to college

Detroit Free Press | By Susan Tompor

Ebeth Fielder, 24, a spokeswoman for the the Young & Free program at the Michigan First Credit Union, said parents and students should break down the costs of living away. Or the added costs of commuting to college, such as gas and parking.

+ Original article

Summer job interview tips for teens

myFOXdetroit.com

More than two hundred thousand teens will find jobs in Michigan this summer -- a positive number that reflects a strengthening state economy. For many of them, this will be their first job interview.

Ebeth Fielder, spokesperson for Young & Free Michigan, has some tips for those teens interviewing for their first job.

-Research the company and the position: Learn as much as you can about the company, its goals and the work you'll be expected to perform.

-Connect your experiences to their needs: Did a school field trip to the zoo spark your interest and make you want to work with animals this summer? Have you already volunteered at your local animal shelter for two years? Make it clear this is the right job for you.

-Be enthusiastic and positive: With teenagers and customer service jobs, one of the biggest employer worries is attitude.

-Show, don't tell: Rather than saying "I'm very organized and a great leader," tell a story about coordinating your friends to win a school fundraising contest.

-If you can, be a customer first: Going to a restaurant, theme park or clothing store that's hiring and looking closely gives you a great perspective on what their employees do well... and maybe not-so-well.

-Practice: Ask a parent, teacher or family member to ask standard interview questions so you can practice your responses.

-Do the easy things right: Dress up, be early and be positive!

-Send a hand-written thank you note.

+ Original article

Budgeting Made Simple With the Help of Mobile Tech

Verizon Wireless Midwest 

This is a guest post from Ebeth Fielder, the Spokester for Young & Free Michigan.

Hi, I’m Ebeth! I’m 23 years old and I’m considered a financial guru. As the Spokester for Young & Free Michigan powered by Michigan First Credit Union, I write a blog, make YouTube videos and give presentations to help young adults become better managers of their personal finances. I’ve found the best way to start being a good manager of your finances is keeping track of them. In other words, you must know how much money is coming in and how much is going out.

Mobile tech and online banking are fantastic resources I believe everyone should take full advantage of. I never have to worry about guessing how much money I have in my account, or wait in the teller line to get my account information—I have it all at my fingertips! And if I want to make sure my bills are paid on time, I can do that with the click of a button.

A few useful budgeting apps and websites that can help Millennials (or anyone, really) manage their money are:

  • Mint: This app helps you stay on track, pay bills on time and watches your credit score. It offers a variety of tools to sort incoming expenses in your account to ensure you stick to your budget.
  • BudgetSimple: Focused on helping users get out of debt, this is a great way to set and stick to a simple budget. Starting with a straightforward, spreadsheet-style approach, BudgetSimple provides the tips, tools and advice to make the process less daunting. It offers both free and paid services.
  • LearnVest: For those interested in a more hands-on approach, LearnVest is the most well known and successful of a number of tools that connect you directly with financial advisors to give you expert, individualized advice. It’s useful but not free. It costs several hundred dollars to set up and also includes an ongoing “support” cost.
  • Mobile Banking: Most financial institutions provide mobile banking options to help their customers track accounts, pay bills and transfer funds. Other perks of mobile banking include the ability to deposit checks remotely, set up account reminders and alerts and the peace of mind that comes with staying on top of your finances.

Let’s be realistic, we expect almost everything these days to be as easy as clicking a button—making changes to our finances is no different. That said, my smartphone is not just my phone, it’s my camera, my personal assistant, my map, my notebook, my social interaction and my financial institution.

My mobile tech is helping me reach my financial goals. And as a Verizon customer, I can literally manage my budget from anywhere. Whether I’m at the mall and need to check my account balance or want to deposit a check digitally, I can count on the Verizon 4G LTE network to keep me connected to my financial accounts anywhere I go.

I’m glad I’m part of a generation who has been exposed to so much awesome technology, because we can really use these tools to reach our goals faster. If I need to set a budget, I don’t need to grab a pen and paper, collect all of my receipts and grab my calculator—a budgeting app can do it for me!

Do you have any questions about becoming a good manager of your finances? Hit me up on my website, YoungFreeMichigan.com! You can also find me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Keep it Fresh, Young & Free!

+ Original article

Student filmmaker enjoys successes, wins scholarships

C&G News | By Victoria Mitchell

There are some givens when Evan Gulock steps behind the lens.

He will approach his latest film with the maturity of an old soul, the final project likely will receive an award, and his Royal Oak High School film teacher and mentor, Mike Conrad, will cheer Gulock on while giving sage advice.

“It’s a relationship I never expected to have with a student,” Conrad said. “There is a great sense of pride watching him do his work. Some of it I can’t take any credit for. Some of it I would like to say I helped nurture, but when you see an Evan project, you know it’s an Evan project.”

Royal Oak High School senior Evan Gulock is enjoying a number of recognitions for his films. (Photo by Deb Jacques )

Royal Oak High School senior Evan Gulock is enjoying a number of recognitions for his films. (Photo by Deb Jacques )

Humble beginnings

Conrad began mentoring Gulock, 18, when the high school senior began taking film classes at the school.

“I was warned about him four years ago from the middle school teacher saying, ‘Hey, keep your eyes on Evan Gulock because he’s doing really great things,’” Conrad said. “In eighth grade.”

So when Gulock ended up in Conrad’s class in 10th grade, the teacher thought, “Hey let’s see what this kid can do.”

Conrad tells the story that on the second day of the class, Gulock asked Conrad to sign a competition form for a statewide contest for which Gulock made a film on his own time. Gulock won second place.

“So before he even entered my class, he was doing it. Sometimes it just comes to you,” Conrad said.

“My philosophy has always been you have to just keep making stuff, because every now and then you just might make something good,” Gulock said. “Don’t worry so much about the quality of it the entire time you’re doing it.
“Have fun with it and see what you can do, and the more you stretch and the more you kind of play around with your possibilities, the more you start working out the kinks and the more you start finding your voice.”

Conrad’s advice to Gulock often reaches into time management, schedule making and other topics with which a young adult tackling a film career needs help.

When it comes to filmmaking, the teacher helps push Gulock beyond his comfort zone, as evidenced in one of Gulock’s short films, “Paper Planes.”

Soaring high

“That was kind of the beginning of this year — experimenting with approaching each project with, ‘OK, what is something new that I can work on and improve,’” Gulock said. “I did a lot of things with ‘Paper Planes’ I had never done before.

“I felt like I found something new inside me when I did that project, and that kind of propelled everything else forward.”

“The goal of the project was to make a film with no words,” Conrad said. “And it’s the one that everyone watches and they are like, ‘Oh. It’s so emotional.’ And there is no dialogue in it. I just really wanted to see what he would do with that.”

The film takes Gulock’s ability to tell a story to the next level, tugging at viewers’ heartstrings and taking second place at the Orchard Lake Film Festival and Audience Favorite at the March Mitten Movie Project.

“It’s very rewarding to see someone smile or laugh, or some people tearing up, when they are watching ‘Paper Planes,’ and it’s very gratifying to see that,” Gulock said. “And I find you don’t really get that with ninjas or pirates.”

“His real gift is storytelling. Coming up with a compelling story, whether it’s a short story or documentary, it always stands out,” Conrad said.

Conrad said his student has filmed about 10 things this year.

“It’s going to be quiet around here next year,” Conrad said.

Gulock’s other films receiving acclaim include his C-SPAN documentary titled, “The Affordable Care Act: A Snapshot of the Now.”

The documentary received Excellence in Production through the Michigan High School Student Television Production Awards competition, sponsored by the Michigan Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Emmys); Best in Show at the Orchard Lake Film Festival; and second place in the C-SPAN Studentcam contest. Gulock also received another first-place Emmy award for a director reel he submitted.

Gulock received a $10,000 scholarship in the Michigan First Credit Union’s statewide scholarship contest and was named the top high school video contest winner in the credit union’s Young & Free Michigan annual competition. The topic of this year’s competition was “How will your degree help you improve the state of Michigan?”

Other fun productions of note included a short film titled “Snow Globe,” “Not in So Many Words” and a public service announcement titled, “Driving Song.” Gulock has many of his films on his YouTube channel.

Conrad is still waiting on results from three additional competitions.

“He’s taken this year and ran with it,” Conrad said.

Conrad added that Gulock is not the only student winning awards this year. At the Orchard Lake Film Festival, Royal Oak High School students walked away with 14 total awards.

In that festival, Gulock took first place finishes in the categories of Best in Show, Drama and Documentary. He also received honors as part of the Royal Oak Film Club in the Drama and PSA categories. He received a cash prize of $750 and a $3,500 scholarship to The Motion Picture Institute for his wins.

Fostering talent

Gulock said his film career started in fifth grade with a love of writing and making goofy movies.

“I would get my friends together and we would see what could we do,” Gulock said. “As it went on, I was like, wait, I really actually like this, and I really enjoy this. It has definitely been for the majority of my life.”

Conrad said he had to create a third-year film course on producing short films to keep Gulock — and a core group of his talented classmates — growing in the field.

“They all want to do it for a career, so how do I stifle that?” Conrad said. “So, not stifling it, we kind of created this third-year program for them. And the whole basis of the third-year program is to create short films, (enter) scholarship competitions, (enter) film-television competitions.”

Conrad said his student took to it.

“It’s just such a higher level than you would expect possibly from even someone in college,” Conrad said. “The quality is amazing. Great stories. Great quality. It’s a lot of fun.”

Conrad said Gulock’s approach is different in many ways, but his ability to look beyond the walls of Royal Oak High School and go above and beyond to capture his message makes him stand out. In his Affordable Care Act documentary, Gulock visited many locations.

“I’ve never wanted it to feel like I was limited to just the school. I wanted to be able to go out and find different places,” Gulock said. “As cool as I think green screens are, I like to be able to actually go out into the world and find exactly what I’m looking for, even if it may be hard.”

The C-SPAN project asked entrants to show how a federal law impacts the community.

“I wanted to find something that really affected a large amount of people, not just from a personal side, but also from a business side, a medical side. It covered so many aspects of so many people’s lives, it made it relatable,” Gulock said. “I wanted to make it as informative as possible while making it relatable.”

He interviewed U.S. Rep.  Sander Levin, PBS correspondent Hari Sreenivasan, local residents and business owners, and Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin.

Finding inspiration

Gulock said the inspiration for his film projects comes from everywhere.

“Whether it’s a documentary or whether it’s a short film, I want to be able to tell a human story,” Gulock said. “I think that is definitely what connects them. … There is still some human aspect to whatever I’m making.”

Gulock said people joke that he thinks and sees in movies.

“I definitely will look at the world in a certain way,” he said. “And I think because of that, I start finding new ways that I can film things.”

Gulock said he takes mental notes on his surroundings so that when people are watching something he’s made, it’s a unique experience.

“I like to give some sense of semblance of dimension to the films that I make, and I definitely think with character, with cinematography, with story, all of that, I need to feed off my surroundings and my experiences, because that is what makes it real. That is what really puts in that human aspect of the story,” Gulock said.

The young filmmaker believes there has to be a story first; otherwise, no one is going to remember the film and it won’t stick with people after it is over.

“The message is what is most powerful, and it’s the message that people are going to remember,” Gulock said. “That has to come first.”

The end ...

Gulock lives in Royal Oak with his parents. In addition to filmmaking, he is president and founder of the Royal Oak High School film club, the senior class historian, and an Advanced Placement student.

As far as the future, Gulock is in the process of choosing a path.

“What I have right now is a direction,” Gulock said. “I haven’t found the location. I haven’t found where I’m quite going yet.

“I’m kind of still testing everything and seeing what works. I have this direction and I’m just going forward, and I know I’m going to end up where I need to end up, but I’m not sure what is going to work yet.”

He is still deciding whether he wants a future in filmmaking, news, business, advertising or other media-related careers.

Conrad said he has no doubts that Gulock will end up in filmmaking.

“It’s a huge part of who he is. It’s not just like, ‘Oh, Evan makes videos,’” Conrad said.

“I can’t wait to see where he goes,” Conrad said. “It’s going to be fun to watch.”

+ Original article

Royal Oak High School Senior wins top prize in statewide video contest

Oakland Press | By Monika Drake

Royal Oak High School Senior Evan Gulock received a $10,000 scholarship in the Michigan First Credit Union’s statewide scholarship contest.

He was named the top high school video contest winner in the Credit Union’s Young & Free Michigan annual competition. This year’s question was, “How will your degree help you improve the state of Michigan?”

Royal Oak High School Principal Mike Van Camp presents senior Evan Gulock with a $10,000 scholarship from Michigan First Credit Union. Photo submitted by Rebecca McLennan

Royal Oak High School Principal Mike Van Camp presents senior Evan Gulock with a $10,000 scholarship from Michigan First Credit Union. Photo submitted by Rebecca McLennan

In the video, Gulock said, “I grew up in Royal Oak ... just 15 miles from Detroit where, all my life, I have seen an unbeatable and unbreakable determination and integrity against all odds. This is how Michigan has shaped me.”

He said, with a degree in film making and television broadcast, he wants to help build Michigan’s film making industry — giving people jobs and outlets for creativity.

The Young & Free Michigan competition includes three scholarship categories — a high school video contest, essay contest and a college video contest. Applicants create their response with a 60-second video or a 300-word essay.

Mike Conrad, the high school’s video and TV media instructor, said, “Evan’s passion, talent and drive are being rewarded. This is a great example of an exceptional student expressing his future desire and a local business putting forth the resources to help make it a reality.”

The top 10 applicants in each category were determined by online voting and a panel of judges chose the final winners. The top three winners in each category received a $10,000 scholarship.

To view Gulock’s winning video, visit bit.ly/evangulock.

+ Original article

Can You File Bankruptcy on Student Loans?

CardHub | by Richie Bernardo

If a debtor cannot discharge his or her student loan debt through bankruptcy, what are other effective ways to reduce or eliminate that debt?

  • Debt is a huge burden that is extremely difficult to discharge. Although bankruptcy might seem like the best option, it should only be considered as the absolute last resort.
  • If someone is having trouble making student loan payments, they should look into debt consolidation through their lender or a third party. Doing this will lump all of their loans into one, usually lowering the interest rate!
  • It's important to make paying down debt, as well as saving for future expenses, part of a monthly budget. If you can create and maintain that positive pattern in your own finances, you're halfway there.
  • Although debt can be overwhelming, the most important thing to do is to maintain good habits in money management and stay goal-focused in your finances. Breaking a bigger debt challenge into smaller, more manageable pieces can also help you feel like you're making progress toward that goal.

+ Original article

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 Bankrate.com.

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 Bankrate.com 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 Bankrate.com.

+ 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: http://www.youngfreemichigan.com/2015-college-student-videos.

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 YoungFreeMichigan.com. 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