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For Financial Literacy, A Surprising Political War

When Kelly Cook and her husband tackled the daunting task of buying their dream home in Lebanon, Ohio, they got help from an unexpected source. Struggling to come up with a down payment, the couple discovered a program intended for moderate income homebuyers caught in a similar financial bind. But it didn’t involve the government doling out money and handing over the keys. Instead, for the first time ever, the Cooks worked hand-in-hand with their own, personal financial coach – before, during and after they purchased their modest $135,000, four-bedroom ranch home on a shady cul-de-sac in the small southwest Ohio town. “We were like everybody else, we got our paychecks, paid our bills, and figured out how much money we had left over at the end of the month,” said Cook, 39, an information technology project manager “But our coach got us thinking, what’s your plan long-term, like 20 years from now? How much do you need to retire? It was forcing me to look at my overall financial health. We just weren’t saving

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Skipping Banks: The New World of Prepaid Cards for Victims of High Fees

It began with just one bad check, a few dollars short on a rent payment. But the $35 overdraft charge, plus another $50 late fee to the rental company, sent Betty White down a deep financial hole. Another check bounced, then another, then another. By the time it was all over, White owed $600 in fees and unpaid bills. “It was like a snowball effect,” said White, 34, who earns between $25,000 and $31,000 a year as an administrative assistant for a Washington, D.C. nonprofit. “Everything was late, the rent was late, the car note was thrown off, insurance and everything. It was just terrible. The fees just keep going, the longer you are overdrawn.” She figured out one way to get out of the mess: “Overtime, overtime, overtime, that’s how I did it.” She also took in extra work at night at home, typing in documents on the computer for clients. “It took about two months to pay everything off,” said White, a single mother of five. “I was exhausted.” White also figured out

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