Fall 2018 Newsletter
Oct 26, 2018
Table of Contents
2018 Marks FamilyMeans’ 55th year of improving the lives of individuals & Families. We’ve been busy this year connecting with you in our community!
I am so grateful for your support and assistance during a very trying time in my life. I was able to complete my BS accounting degree, help support my sons during their struggles and health issues, and begin a new life I hoped and prayed for after a long and arduous divorce.
Dreams do come true! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!”
The above quote is from one of our clients who worked hard with our team of credit counselors to pull herself out of a seemingly inescapable morass of debt. This sort of dedication and perseverance is not uncommon within our program, and neither is the ensuing success. In 2017 alone, we helped 1,237 families pay off $5.5 million in debt.
So why do so many hardworking people still turn to debt settlement companies instead of FamilyMeans’ Debt Management Program (DMP) when their finances start to feel out of control?
“Because debt settlement companies may make promises to wipe out half the debt load and reduce their payments dramatically,” Counseling Manager Linda Humburg says. “These promises are often too good to be true.”
Humburg explained that the process for debt settlement companies is to estimate a 3-4 year repayment plan based on a portion of the total debt owed. The consumer pays a monthly payment to the settlement company and those funds are held or saved until there is enough built up to offer one creditor a lump-sum payoff of a percentage of the actual amount owed. Essentially, they are asked, “Will you settle for less?”
While the funds are building up, the individual debt accounts go unpaid so late fees and interest continue to build, increasing the balances owed, as well as the stress on the consumer. The collection process continues as creditors are not receiving the required monthly payments. Eventually, a creditor may be offered 50%, 40% or even as low as 10% of the original balance to “satisfy the outstanding debt” and creditors need to determine if accepting the offer is better than continuing with collection efforts. Many creditors take legal action to seek compensation through other routes,
especially if the consumer is working or owns property. Throughout the settlement process, the consumer’s credit is irreparably damaged.
FamilyMeans’ Debt Management Program, however, works with creditors and DMP clients to leave the former satisfied and the latter with strong credit.
Through the DMP, most creditors agree to fixed monthly payments, interest reductions and late-fee adjustments in order to assist the consumer toward full repayment of the debt within a maximum 5-year plan. DMP clients make one payment monthly for distribution to multiple creditors, simplifying their own finances, keeping accounts in good standing and the balances reducing on an accelerated level. Positive repayment activity correlates to positive credit impact. And, when a debt is fully repaid, the credit report will state “Paid In Full,” resulting in a credit score boost.
“Debt can be overwhelming. It takes focus and effort to keep the budget in shape and make monthly DMP payments, as life’s challenges do not always stop,” Humburg says. “But when clients join the program and have success with debt repayment, they build more than a credit score.”
Debt does not mean defeat. FamilyMeans provides hope to move beyond debt that feels overwhelming, and the tools and guidance to do so. Our financial counseling and education programs include Budget and Debt Counseling, Financial Education, Credit Report Review and, of course, the Debt Management Program. To learn more about how these programs can help you or someone you know, visit FamilyMeans.org or call 800-780-2890.
Each year, FamilyMeans serves about 350 children and youth in our nationally-recognized Youth Development programs located in Cimarron and Landfall. This year, youth from the Cimarron Teen Center worked with professional artists from StoryArk to create their own original podcast, Carnation. A collaboration with StoryArk, the podcast has been made possible by support from ArtReach St. Croix’s NEA Big Read, Stillwater Area School District’s Office of Equity and Integration, and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council.
“It was heartening to watch the students grow in confidence as they build their skillsets and give voice to their stories,” said Youth Development Director, Tom Yuska.
Carnation focuses on the personal stories of Cimarron teens and explores the themes of immigration, borders and belonging. A majority of Cimarron youth are of Latinx heritage, and many of them have had their lives deeply impacted by these themes, both in and out of school.
The first of four episodes of Carnation premiered in May and is archived at storyark.org/carnation-3 . The second episode was performed live at the StoryArk Festival on August 1 at The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson. Follow FamilyMeans on Facebook and Instagram for updates on the release of this performance and to hear the third and fourth episodes.
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
In Memory of…
Charles Anastasi | Iona Chandler | Jackie Dreon | Edwin Fierke | Elizabeth Fierke Lucy H. Gehan | Shamus Halgason | Hilmer Huber |Anne Huninghake Sandy Johnson | Robert Maynard | Emery Nelson | Lora Neumeier | Howard Norberg Pat Pearson | Ardis Phillips | Elvira Sarbacker
In Honor of…
Larry Loyer-Trosdahl | Norma Wilson
Click here for more information about these gifts.
Programs and services are funded in part through donations, grants and local United Ways.
*Gifts received between 5/7/18 - 10/17/18
Donations are always appreciated to help us annually match an anonymous gift of $10,000 to support school-based mental health in Stillwater Area Schools.
FamilyMeans has been working directly in District 834 since the 1990s and can be found in five additional districts.
Proceeds from the sale of Erik Sletten’s “Parallel Bridges” items also count toward this match! These make great gifts for home, office or dorm, and can be purchased at FamilyMeans in Stillwater!
Poster prints: $15
Notecards are delightful hostess or teacher gifts! $20 for 10
Click here to learn more about the Wellness Center Challenge and Prints
Each day, more and more individuals, couples and families are asking themselves a challenging question:
What do I want my aging to be like?
They are often considering their physical health, emotional wellbeing, social connections and financial circumstances as they look toward the future. Many people come to FamilyMeans feeling the weight of a decision about where they or a loved one should live. Whether planning ahead or needing to make a change soon, the number of factors to consider can be overwhelming.
- Is the house or apartment I have lived in for years still comfortable now that I am living alone?
- What kind of setting might be right for my dad who has early dementia?
- I think I would like to live someplace that has services available on-site, but can I afford it?
- I wish my mother would come live near me so I can help her, but she doesn’t want to leave her friends.
These are the kinds of dilemmas families frequently face.
Home holds special meaning for most of us. Making a change to where we call home can be stressful, especially if that is one of many life changes underway all at once. It is common for older adults and caregivers to be juggling several big life changes simultaneously. When that happens, it can be helpful to talk through one’s strengths and challenges, and get support in recognizing priorities and understanding options.
Beth Wiggins, Director of FamilyMeans Caregiving & Aging says, “There are many supports and resources that can be brought to an aging person no matter where they live. Moving is sometimes a good answer, but it usually is not the only option. Understandably, most people don’t know about the various possibilities that can support what really matters to a caregiver and the person in their care.”
Support is here. FamilyMeans Caregiving & Aging can provide resources, education and coaching for you and your loved ones so that you can move forward with confidence. Meet with a caregiver coach today and start finding your way through those big questions. Contact the Caregiving & Aging team at 651-439-4840 or visit FamilyMeans.org to learn more.
Organizations can feel subtle pressure to continually grow, and come up with new ideas for programs and program delivery. I believe growth and new programs are needed to address changes in family and community life. Yet I also believe in sustaining existing programs that we know work really well is worthwhile.
Financial Solutions, specifically the Debt Management Program (DMP), is an example of a long-standing service that has helped thousands of our clients pay off significant debt. These same clients are the people who send us thank you notes and share the excitement of being able to save enough money to buy their first home or take a memorable family vacation. We have added new services such as credit report review and student loan counseling. Our staff look at both national and local trends when considering our next possible program to help people get out and stay out of debt.
I remember a young man who came to FamilyMeans for financial counseling. He had significant debt from helping a parent with medical bills. His high interest rates meant his monthly payments barely covered interest charges and very little on the principal. After talking to our financial counselor, he realized he would be able to pay off all his debt in four years thanks to FamilyMeans’ ability to negotiate the interest rates he was paying. Once he was enrolled in our debt management program, the majority of his monthly payments would go towards the principal rather than interest. He was grinning from ear to ear and relieved he could see the end of his significant debt. We gave him the tools and guidance he needed for a better life.
This year is the 55th anniversary of FamilyMeans. Since the first day we opened our doors, we have provided some kind of financial counseling. While the model of these services has changed since 1963, the substantial need for the program continues. Over these many years, we have helped people pay off more than $100,000,000 in debt. This money goes to creditors and to businesses in our local community. Plus, clients form better fiscal habits and raise credit scores. This is a service worth sustaining and promoting. The following comments are from our clients who have most recently benefited from Financial Solutions DMP:
“This program has made a huge difference in our lives. We wouldn't have been able to do it on our own. It has been a grind, and at times very stressful, for us and our children. Learning to live within a set budget is good, but can be hard on kids. The alternatives would have been much worse, but we kept our cars, home, sports teams and fun activities and are still on the path to financial freedom. Thank you.”
“You guys have helped save my life. I really appreciate all the help that I’ve received from such a professional organization. Shout out to <my counselor> for all her help, compassion, and advice. I appreciate her very much.”
FamilyMeans is grateful for the support of the many individuals, foundations and United Ways that allow us to continue to offer the Debt Management Program to help people become debt free. On behalf of those looking to find financial freedom, thank you.
FamilyMeans Board of Directors 2018-2019
Elizabeth McGinley, Chair | Kristin Kroll, Secretary | Cary Stewart, Treasurer
Johan Nielsen, Past Chair | Charles Bransford, MD | Brian Gunderson
Brad Hallett | Heidi Hubbard, MD | Lynn Ogburn | Donald Schuld
Linda Skoglund | Susannah Torseth | Josh Zignego | Arba-Della Beck, President
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