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Series of eleven articles from the Tri-State Defender
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U of M teaches money basics: College students need the tools offered to counter trappings of credit
David Flaum, The Commercial Appeal
Students entering college are offered an average of 8 credit cards the first week of school ... About 55 percent of college students get their first credit card during their first year of college and 83 percent of college students have at least one credit card ... About 45 percent of college students are in credit card debt, the average being $3,066 ... For those reasons (in studies presented to the U.S. Senate) and more, the University of Memphis opened a financial information and resource center this year for students, faculty and staff. And it will be back next year, said Julie Heath, chairman of the department of economics, who helped organize the once-a-week, four-hour program. "Ever since we've opened, we've had a good steady flow of people in," she said.
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Tax aid at work: Free assistance helps combat 'wealth stripping' in community
Jane Roberts, The Commercial Appeal
Nobody at ServiceMaster's call center thinks filing taxes is fun, but it's a whole lot better this year than last. Last year, Brett Smith paid $300 to $400 to have his taxes figured by a private tax-preparer. Calinon White's paid $200 to have her taxes prepared. This year, they were among 142 eligible ServiceMaster employees who used a free workplace tax preparation service manned by IRS volunteer Ken Davidson. ServiceMaster offered the service to spread the word about the earned income tax credit and the exorbitant cost of instant refunds.

Record numbers filing bankruptcy: Other options, financial education key to reducing money troubles
David Flaum, The Commercial Appeal
Between them, Finis and Luquetta Parkerson have filed three bankruptcy petitions since 1998 to save their home. It didn't work. Not only is the home gone but so is their Thunderbird, partly because of a mixup over a creditors' meeting on their September 2002 petition. Their petition was one of a record 28,202 filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts for Western Tennessee in Memphis and Jackson in 2002.

Financial classes offer buoy in sea of sinking boats
David Flaum, The Commercial Appeal
Eight years ago, Emma Bowling filed a bankruptcy petition. Last week she finished the last of three financial education classes at the Memphis Literacy Council as she got ready to start a job as a day care bus driver. "I think what I learn will help me avoid the financial problems I've had in the past," Bowling said after listening with about 20 others to ideas for taking care of her income tax return.

RISE Foundation Combats Bankruptcy
Andrew Bell, Daily News
Organizers at the RISE Foundation are hitting the road in an effort to combat one of Memphis' toughest problems. RISE, or Responsibility, Initiative, Solutions and Empowerment - a nonprofit organization created three years ago as a Memphis Housing Authority initiative - hosts its first public meeting next month at a church in South Memphis to address financial difficulties that lead to personal bankruptcy.

Memphis Needs Relief From Epidemic of Predatory Lending
Webb A. Brewer
Predatory lending is an epidemic in Memphis. Following in the tradition of used car lots, proprietary trade schools and payday loan companies, it is the latest and most devastating of a series of cottage industries that exploit poor, unsophisticated and often desperate people.

Memphis Public Housing Residents Purchase Homes of Their Own
When Tammie Davis and her classmate Martha Brown set goals for themselves, they meant business. In October of 2000, Tammie set her sights on leaving her apartment in Foote Homes for a home for herself and her two teenaged children. Across town, Martha Brown made a similar vow to leave her Section 8 rental home and purchase her own as soon as she saved enough for a down payment. In late June, both will leave public housing and become first-time homeowners.

Memphis Public Housing Residents Feel the Power of Saving
The RISE Foundation is aptly named, for it is helping to raise the hopes--and bank accounts--of some of Memphis' poorest citizens. RISE stands for Responsibility, Initiative, Solutions, Empowerment. Begun a year ago through the efforts of Robert Lipscomb, director of the city's Division of Housing and Community Development and executive director of the Memphis Housing Authority, its goal is to give public housing residents the power to build assets and invest in their futures.

RISE Foundation Helps Public Housing Residents
In 2003 the Memphis Area Association of Realtors will examine affordable housing and its relationship to homeownership. Throughout the year, this column will feature various organizations in the Memphis area with innovative programs designed to promote homeownership. Our first profile is of the RISE (Responsibility, Initiative, Solutions, Empowerment) Foundation and its “SAVE-UP” Program, which is designed to provide public housing residents with the skills necessary for creating personal wealth.

The MemphisDEBT collaborative was formed under the auspices of the RISE Foundation and has received funding through grants from the Fannie Mae Foundation, Assisi Foundation, United Way of the Mid-South, First Tennessee Foundation and the RISE Foundation.

• Compare interest rates. Predatory lenders rely on the fact that you won't do your research before signing a contract.

• Contact the Better Business Bureau before loaning money, to make sure the company you're doing business with is reputable. Click here to visit the Midsouth Better Business Bureau website.

• Be wary of making quick decisions. Repairs to a car or a home can cause such anxiety that consumers often go with the first offer without considering the financial effects.

• Predatory Lending in the News: Memphis Needs Relief From Epidemic of Predatory Lending from The Commercial Appeal

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