Guidewell Financial Joins National Network of Financial Services Innovators

Guidewell Financial Solutions , a certified, nonprofit housing and credit counseling provider, has joined the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) – a national network focused on consumer financial health – on Financial Health Matters Day.

 

Financial Health Matters Day is an annual awareness holiday hosted by CFSI. Guidewell Financial Solutions, together with other network members, use this holiday as a platform to continue paving the way for financial health for all consumers.

 

While the membership for Guidewell Financial Solutions primarily includes insight into what the marketplace needs through advanced consumer and industry research, Guidewell Financial Solutions will be able to take these collective learnings and advance financial products and services in Maryland and beyond to promote financial health locally.

 

“This membership offers a tremendous opportunity for our organization to use market intelligence and resources from our peers to further our mission and offerings in our community,” said Guidewell Financial Solutions’ CEO Helene Raynaud.

 

For additional information on Guidewell Financial Solutions’ CFSI Financial Health Network membership, please call 800-642-2227. For general information on Guidewell Financial Solutions, visit http://www.guidewellfs.org/ .

Happy Small Business Week, From Our Small Business to Yours

The national Small Business Week logo may feature a series of storefronts, but as a leading nonprofit financial counselor for small business owners, we know that many of them operate outside of Main Street, USA.

 

Maryland has more than 580,000 small businesses and they all look different. From the farmers hosting the local market you shop at and the person who cuts your hair, to your favorite food truck and the team who plows snow out of your neighborhood – we all rely on small business owners every day. And they rely on us.

 

We teach business owners how to separate their personal and business finances; understand their personal credit’s impact on their business; utilize a customized financial action plan to better manage a small business; and manage personal debt at the same time.

 

As a small business owner, having access to a nonprofit financial counselor like Guidewell Financial Solutions can make a big difference in seeing personal and business financial dreams become a reality. We recognize that money management – including spending, saving, and borrowing – is an important life skill, but it’s also important for small business owners at every stage of the business lifecycle.

 

As we celebrate National Small Business Week this week, we’re offering afree guide to separating personal and business finances – typically the first step for small business owners starting off. The six-page guide explains everything from Employer ID Numbers to financial coaching. We’re committed to supporting small business owners with resources and tools that support their financial wellbeing.

 

With certified credit counselors and financial education experts guiding individuals, families, and small business owners on money management every day, our team is acutely aware of the financial challenges small business owners face. 

 

Every small business owner counseled by Guidewell Financial Solutions walks away with a financial action plan and a full assessment of their financial challenges. Small business owners can arrange financial coaching in person or on the phone.

 

Anyone with an interest in making the most of their personal financial goals while starting or growing a small business can connect with us today by visiting www.guidewellfs.org or calling toll-free 1-800-642-2227. 

 

Small business owners can also download our Open for Business Guide to Separating Personal and Business Finances here.

Celebrate America Saves Week by Saving Cash and Building Credit

What would you do with an extra $300.00? For less than $30.00 per month in savings for the rest of the year, you can find out. Guidewell Financial Solutions, an accredited, nonprofit financial counseling agency is celebrating America Saves Week – starting Monday, February 26 – with access to its Justine Petersen “Save2Build” program. 

America Saves is a weeklong Consumer Federation of America campaign promoting good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status.

The campaign asks individuals to pledge a monthly savings amount because, they say, people with a plan save more successfully. Guidewell Financial’s Justine Petersen “Save2Build” program offers clients an opportunity to do just and more: save with monthly payments and simultaneously build credit.

Under the “Save2Build” program, clients make monthly payments of about $26.00 over 12 months to a locked savings account, and then receives the $300.00 saved at the end of the term. In the interim, every record of payment is shared with major credit reporting companies to build the client’s credit score over time.

“Consumers with higher credit scores may save up to $250,000 in interest and fees during their lives, so we know that credit score can directly impact how someone is able to build up a savings,” said President and CEO of Guidewell Financial, Helene Raynaud. “America Saves Week helps more communities understand healthy financial behaviors – like monthly automatic or recurring savings – which is the foundation that the ‘Save2Build’ program was built on. Monthly savings open the door to financial opportunity and fiscal well-being.”

Guidewell Financial Solutions works with individuals and families privately to develop a budget, figure out financial options, and even negotiate with creditors to repay debts. Guidewell Financial can help individuals reach their savings goals by reviewing budgets to find room to save, making recommendations on how to supplement income, and more. For more information about Guidewell Financial Solutions or the Justine Petersen “Save2Build” program, please contact Katie Kristensen, creditbuilding@justinepetersen.org.

Storm Proofing Your Finances

 

 

 Storm Proofing Your Finances

 

They say a tree with strong roots can withstand all storms. The old adage rings true in nature, but also for many people when it comes to safe-guarding personal finances. Guidewell Financial Solutions works to educate people about their finances, as well as potential risks all consumers face, so they are more prepared in the event of an unforeseen life-changing event. Two ways you can stormproof your finances include saving money regularly and investing in insurances that protect your interests. 

 

Get Out of Debt

 

The higher the debt, the more difficult it is to focus on future goals, like building up emergency-proof savings. Clearing debts can enhance your personal sense of security and enable you to overcome obstacles from your past which may have caused financial strain. Resolving debt can also prepare you for financial challenges that may come up with as an unexpected financial challenge, such as a storm or theft. At Guidewell Financial Solutions, our goal is for you to become debt free so that you can prosper, but also so you can remain confident when facing risks you don’t always see coming.  (Guidewell Financial Solutions offers a debt-management program to condense and to tackle your debts).

 

When You Save, You Prepare

 

People often consider their futures with high hopes when asking, “what will I do when I get out of debt?”, “how will I be spending the holidays?”, and “how can I become a millionaire?” But by thinking simply about the basic necessities of life and how they can change in the matter of a moment, we can better position ourselves for both normal and abnormal circumstances in health, career or family. Setting money aside from every earned paycheck can help you grow a savings that withstands these variations.

 

Guidewell Financial Solutions Counseling Manager, Ericka Blagmond recommends to her clients that they put 10 percent of their income in savings each month. If they are uncomfortable with committing that amount to savings monthly, she recommends a minimum personal contribution of $20 per paycheck. Starting small to accumulate a large savings is the first step to putting down strong roots and stormproofing your finances. (Guidewell Financial offers comprehensive counseling sessions that can recommend a monthly savings as part of your budget.)

 

Spend a Penny; Save A Fortune

 

Per an article by The Washington Post, only 17 percent of homeowners residing in the Houston area hit by Hurricane Harvey had current flood insurance. Investing in proper insurance today can protect your family’s assets against the event of storm damage. Homeowners insurance is often a requirement by most mortgage lenders to protect their assets, as well as yours, but it is still important to shop around and find the best policy for your situation and investment. Spending a few pennies on insurance today might save you and your family a fortune tomorrow.

 

Ultimately, more money in savings and proper insurance coverage of assets and investments typically offers more assurance when faced with less than ideal circumstance. When you protect your assets by being savvy and preparing for risks, you’re are storm proofing your finances like planting a tree with the strong roots.

 

 

 

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What the Equifax Data Breach Means for You

WHAT THE EQUIFAX DATA BREACH MEANS FOR YOU:

Guidewell Financial Solutions Identifies Ways You Can Protect Yourself

Data Breach

Reports estimate that nearly 143 million U.S. consumers were affected by the recent Equifax data breach.  In the era of becoming #CreditConfident, it is important to monitor your risk in the aftermath of one the largest data breaches in recent history.

Why a Data Breach Can Be Devastating

The Equifax data breach has potentially compromised the private information of millions of Americans. Individuals’ names, social security numbers, addresses, birth dates and driver’s license numbers were stolen. This may result in full identity theft for those affected.

Medical identity theft, tax fraud, and new identity creation in the form of bank accounts and 401k/retirement plans are major damages which can result due to the loss of consumers’ personal information. According to the Federal Trade Commission, victims of identity theft pay, on average, $631.00 per incident to recover their identities and expend an average of 600 hours managing related problems.

Identity theft can also lead to job opportunities being denied, credit being destroyed, and difficulty taking out a mortgage or car loan. Victims ultimately experience a sense of personal violation and loss of peace of mind.

How Can a Data Breach Occur?

In today’s digital world, the increasing challenge of minimalizing and managing cyber threats is an issue across industries.  As a consumer, it is important to take measures to right credit wrongs and take advantage of identity protection services to avoid falling prey to these types of breaches.

At Guidewell Financial we offer comprehensive credit counseling to assist in rectifying credit statements across varying accounts. We also recommend securing privacy by sharing your private information only with secured, reputable agencies.

How Long After a Data Breach Can I Be Affected?

To remedy the breach in data, Equifax is offering consumers one year of free credit monitoring.  This does not mean that your information will be safe after just one year. 

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Martha Souder receives Client of the Year Award

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In the past year, she’s enrolled in the agency’s financial coaching program and also become a passionate consumer finance advocate.  Martha, congratulations on your success and your National Foundation for Credit Counseling Award!  We are very proud of you.