Thanks to our volunteers

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Next Step KC held a volunteer appreciation event at Union Station to thank our volunteers for their assistance in preparing 2015 tax returns.

We deeply appreciate their wonderful support in helping us help the community.

Great new Money Smark KC website available

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Money Smart KC has launched a new website that offers easy access to everything financial.

Whether you need to improve your credit, find emergency services, save for retirement or budget for your next purchase, you’ll find it at

Discover links to local and national resources, access to live support, events/classes near you and much more for providers AND consumers.

Money Smart will kick off its efforts with a Sat., April 2 event at the Kansas City Central Library from 10:30 to 2:30 pm. Several informative topics will be covered. Download a flyer

UMB joins Small Dollar Loan program

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Next Step KC is enabling more loans, recruiting more referral partners and are pleased to announce we’ve added an additional partnering bank.

Our newest bank is UMB which will provide Small Dollar Loans through three of its branch locations: 6th and Minnesota, Ivanhoe Community Center, and the Plaza.

How to Build a $1,000 Emergency Fund in 10 Months

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By Katie Bryan, America Saves


Do you have $1,000 set aside for emergencies? If you already do, you could probably use another $1,000 in that account. Experts recommend keeping at least three months expenses in a reliable, liquid account – though even an extra $1,000 can be a life-saver. But finding $1,000 to save isn’t always easy. That’s why we’ve put together this 4-step plan on how to save $1,000 in 10 months.

Get Started with These 4 Steps

  1. Find a Safe Place to Save Your Money – You will want to save your money in an account that you can access easily in case of an emergency. That means you should probably not keep this savings in a U.S. Savings Bond or in mutual funds. Choose a traditional savings account or a short-term certificate-of-deposit (CD), currently the most attractive accounts. (Early withdrawal penalties on a CD rarely lower the yield below that of a savings account.) Consider opening a new account or sub-account for this money so you’re not tempted to spend it. Most importantly, do not keep savings in a checking account, which pays no or low interest and is too easy to access.
  2. Save $100 a month – If you are already saving $100 a month, great! Skip to step 3. If not, you need to either earn $100 more a month or cut back in order to find that $100 to save. America Saves has a list of 54 ways to save money to get you started. It can also help to pay yourself first and save the $100 at the beginning of the month instead of waiting to see if you have money left over to save at the end of the month.
  3. Automate Your Savings – Setting up an automatic way to save is one of the best ways to save. Once you set it up, then it happens without having to think about it. Here are two ways to automate your savings. 1. Every pay period, ask your employer to deduct $100 from your paycheck and transfer it to a savings account. Ask your HR representative for more details and to set this up.  2.  Ask your bank or credit union to transfer $100 from your checking account to a savings account every month.  Talk to your local bank or credit union to set this up.
  4. Watch Your Savings Grow for 10 Months – The final step is to sit back and watch your savings grow. How often do you look at the calendar and think it’s half way through 2014 already? The same will apply to your savings: Before you know it you will have that $1,000. They key is not to touch the money unless you have an emergency – that’s what the money is there for after all.

Once you have at least $1,000 in your emergency account, continue your savings success and continue to build your emergency savings or apply that money to a new savings goal. Perhaps you have debt you need to pay down or want to save for a car or home.

No matter what you are saving for, America Saves can support you with tips and advice through emails and text messages. Sign up for these by taking the KC Saves Pledge today.

Katie Bryan works for America Saves, managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America (CFA), which seeks to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. Learn more at

Stay Up to Date with The Health Insurance Marketplace

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Did you buy health insurance coverage from the Health Insurance Marketplace? Are you getting advance payments of the premium tax credit to help pay for your 2014 health insurance coverage? If you are, it’s important that you report changes in circumstances, such as changes in your income, marital status or family size, to the Marketplace. 

Why? Receiving too much in advance can reduce your refund or even  make you owe money when you file your federal tax return in 2015. You should report income and family size changes to the Marketplace when they happen throughout the year. Reporting changes will help make sure you get the proper type and amount of financial assistance rather than getting too much or too little in advance.

The Marketplace makes advance payments of the credit based on an estimate of the credit that you’ll claim on your tax return when you file in 2015. If you report changes in your income or family size to the Marketplace when they happen in 2014, the advance payments will more closely match the credit amount on your 2014 federal tax return. This will help you avoid getting a smaller refund than you expected or even owing money that you did not expect to owe. 

Declare your Financial Independence!

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From our friends at Apprisen

Independence is the freedom from control: the control from other people, organizations or other states.  Yes, even the freedom from the control of money.  Money dictates many aspects of our lives – where we live, what kind of car we drive, where we shop.  Often times, without realizing how it happened, the decision of where we spend our money could jeopardize our financial dreams.  So, as our nation celebrates its independence, it’s time to declare our financial independence. Here are some ways to get started: 

  • Set financial goals. You’re never going to get what you want unless you know what it is.  Establish short, mid, and long term goals so that you have something to work for.  Write them down and refer to them often.  If your goal is something you want to do or purchase, like go on a vacation or buy a car, put a picture of it in your wallet or place it where you are consistently looking at it.  That will help you in staying focused on reaching that goal.
  • Pay more than the minimum payment.  Many people are surprised to learn that by paying even a little bit more than the minimum payment on their credit card, how much it could save them in time and interest. Use Apprisen’s online calculator  to help you figure out how much you need to add to your payments to pay those cards off quicker.
  • Spend less than you earn.  Sounds simple, but often very difficult to accomplish.  Create a monthly spending plan where you have a listing of all monies going in and out.  Then, make a plan to pay yourself first.  Have a set amount taken directly from your paycheck and deposited into a savings account using the remaining amount for paying your monthly obligations.  Be realistic when determining how much you are going to save so that you are not withdrawing it before the next paycheck.  When you receive your next raise, you can increase that amount. 
  • Know where you stand financially. Add up all your assets and liabilities and find out what your net worth is.  Often times, seeing how much debt you have can be an “ah ha” moment that will motivate you to make a plan to pay it off. 
  • Stop trying to keep up with the Jones.  Sure, you would like to have a new car every three years and go on exotic yearly vacations like it seems everyone else doing, but at what cost?  Savoy consumers know how to set goals and work towards them, knowing the greatest reward is financial security. 
  • Educate your children about money. It is natural for a child to have many wants, but by teaching them at an early age that sometimes you have to wait to get what they want, is a valuable life lesson.  Let children have control over their money and decide what to spend it on.  They will learn to prioritize, set goals and learn financial independence at any early age.  

Successful Launch for Next Step KC

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All of us at Next Step KC would like to send a special thank you to those who joined us for our official launch event. We look forward to the future and making a difference in the financial lives of people in the Kansas City metro area.

Why You're so Bad with your Money

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Grace Groner was born in 1909 in rural Illinois. Orphaned at age 12 and never married, she began her career during the Great Depression. She became a secretary, lived in a small cottage, bought used clothes, and never owned a car.

When Groner died in 2010, those close to her were shocked to learn she was worth at least $7 million. Even more amazing, she made it all on her own. The country secretary bought $180 worth of stocks in the 1930s, never sold, and let it compound into a fortune. She left it all to charity.

KC takes "wrong lead" in payday lending

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The Kansas City Star, in a Sunday editorial, wrote an extensive piece on Kansas City's direct involvement in the growth of online payday lending. 

The editorial states: "This region has embraced the noxious online payday loan industry in a big way." It then lists the direct financial and political involvement by several Kansas City area individuals in online payday lending.

Moneywise Empowerment Tour to visit KC

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The Moneywise Financial Empowerment Tour  will be in Kansas City on Saturday, September 21, 2013, 8:30 – 4:30 PM.  

The FREE event will be held at St. James United Methodist Church at 5540 Wayne Ave., Kansas City, Mo. 64110.

The event includes several national speakers and covers topics including reducing debt, saving and investments, new housing programs, starting a business and retirement.