City of Red Oak receives favorable audit report

Andrew Moore, of Judd, Thomas, Smith and Company, PC, delivered the results during the meeting held Monday, March 13.

“This year’s audit went really smooth and was completed in a record four and one-half days. This was a very fast audit due to Miykael [Reeve’s] well-organized preparation,” Moore said. “[…] We look at all the departments as one, similar to a corporation. Miykael has done a fine job communicating budget management through all the departments.”

Reeve serves as the finance director for the City of Red Oak.

“Rather than department heads managing debt and fixed assets, Miykael has taken this task on and placed it in the finance department where it should be,” Moore added.

Moore also told the council the city would not be in the same condition as the City of Dallas is with its retirement liability.

“This city is part of a pool where employees retirement benefits will not be a city liability,” Moore said. He also cited the condition of the city’s cash reserves, which has increased the fund balance by $1.9 million. “We are in much better condition than we were seven years ago. There have been many significant, credible improvements in the financial audit.”

The only improvement Moore suggested was an increase in staff in the financial department but noted the current staff has “done an excellent job. An increase could further smooth out the flow of the department.”

The city’s annual audit will be forwarded to the Government Financial Officers Association for review and evaluation for recognition. Both the City of Red Oak and Reeve have been recognized with the Certificate of Excellence for four consecutive years.

However, this was the first year the council has had to approve the audit, due to a change in state law. The audit was unanimously approved.

Economic Data: Installment Debt Continues to Boom While Revolving Debt Drops

FFN Quarterly Comment: While credit card debt falls, personal loans increase

San Mateo, Calif. (PRWEB) March 23, 2017

While revolving debt continues to decrease, non-revolving (installment) debt is growing faster than ever – an indicator that more people are turning to personal loans instead of credit cards to handle expenses, according to the Freedom Financial Network Quarterly Comment on consumer debt and credit issues.

The number of consumer personal loans in the United States rose to 15.82 million borrowers at the end of 2016, according to TransUnion.

In January, revolving debt – such as credit cards – fell at the fastest rate in four years, by $45 billion nationwide, said Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Phoenix operations for Freedom Financial Network (FFN). This drop could be good news, but we suspect the decrease is somewhat deceptive. For example, we know that some borrowers arent increasing their revolving debt because they have maxed out their credit cards.

Freedom Financial Networks personal loan product, FreedomPlus, offers unsecured installment loans of up to $35,000 for consumers. Personal loans are increasingly popular among consumers who need funds to consolidate credit card debt or pay for large expenses such as adoption or a wedding. FreedomPlus is unique among personal lenders in that the company offers discounted rates for people with co-signers, those who have retirement savings, and consumers who will use the funds as debt consolidation loans and opt for FFN to directly pay their creditors. In addition to loans, the company provides assistance and advice for managing debt.

The economy has been more successful in recent years – but for many people, costs are increasing while wages remain stagnant, added Andrew Housser, Freedom FFN co-founder and CEO. The trend toward tighter personal budgets is driving more people to take out personal loans to find financial relief.

Freedom Financial Network observes several economic indicators closely and provides consumer education in its work to help consumers get out and stay out of debt. Recent financial data as reported:

1. Non-revolving debt continues to grow faster than revolving debt. In January (the most recent data available), total outstanding consumer credit rose by 2.8 percent to a total projected $3.773 trillion, excluding mortgage debt. In January, revolving debt (primarily credit cards) decreased at an annual rate of 4.6 percent. In contrast, non-revolving debt (debt for items such as vehicles and education, as well as unsecured installment loans) increased by 5.5 percent.

2. Personal income climbs again. In January (the most recent data available), personal income increased by $63.0 billion, or 0.4 percent. Disposable personal income increased by 0.3 percent, or $40.1 billion. Personal spending rose by 0.2 percent, a decrease from December, but at the same rate as November and down slightly from October 2016.

3. Consumers continue to save. In January (the most recent data available), consumers saved 5.5 percent of their personal disposable income – a total of $795.7 billion. This rate is comparable to the personal savings rate for 2016.

4. Unemployment level and discouraged workers remain steady. In February, the US unemployment rate was 4.7 percent. Similar to months past, 1.8 million people are long-term unemployed (jobless for 27 weeks or more). Another 1.7 million people are marginally attached to the labor force, meaning they want to work and have searched for work during the past year, but not during the past four weeks. Of this population, half a million people – called discouraged workers – have given up looking for work completely because they believe no opportunities exist for them.

The FFN Quarterly Comment pulls together significant statistical releases and provides quarterly comment on timely debt and credit issues that matter to consumers. To schedule an interview with Andrew Housser, contact Aimee Bennett at 303-843-9840 or aimee(at)faganbusinesscommunications(dot)com.

Freedom Financial Network, LLC (

Freedom Financial Network, LLC (FFN), is a family of companies providing innovative solutions that empower people to live healthier financial lives. For people struggling with debt, Freedom Debt Relief offers a custom program to significantly reduce and resolve what they owe more quickly than they could on their own. FreedomPlus tailors personal loans to each borrower with a level of customer service unmatched in the industry. helps homeowners better understand their loan options and make smarter mortgage decisions.

Headquartered in San Mateo, California, FFN also operates an office in Tempe, Arizona, and employs nearly 1,500 people. The company has been voted one of the best places to work in both the San Francisco Bay area and the Phoenix area for several years.

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Merging finances after marriage

Bringing another party into the equation can complicate matters, particularly when one spouse may not have the full picture of the others spending and saving habits. In fact, the financial resource says some of the most common financial problems newly married couples encounter include overspending and managing debt.

When deciding how to merge their finances, couples can experiment to see what works best for them. It may take some trial and error before couples find a solution that fits their needs, but its important that they keep the lines of communication open and express a willingness to compromise with regard to managing money.

The following are some additional tips for couples who want to make the transition to sharing finances go as smoothly as possible.

Start the conversation early

According to a recent poll by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, more than two-thirds of engaged couples had negative attitudes about discussing money with their soon-to-be spouses, with 5 percent saying even having the conversation would cause them to call off the wedding.

If money is causing this type of issue before the wedding, delaying the conversation until after tying the knot can be a big mistake. Its better for couples to begin financial discussions and start brainstorming long-term goals and plans as soon as they get engaged. Dont hide negative financial information from a prospective spouse. Being open and honest -even though it can be challenging -is the best way to proceed.

Deal with debt

Can We Talk?

A new study finds that family members tend to discuss different financial topics with different relatives.

According to researchby Ameriprise Financial, adult children are most likely to initiate conversations with their parents about:

  • managing current finances (74%);
  • the cost of health care (73%); and
  • long-term financial goals (70%).

When parents take the lead in financial discussions with their adult children, they also bring up managing debt (73%).

Estate of Mind?

In general, survey respondents report they are less likely to talk to their family members about estate planning and inheritance, but it’s still a popular topic: 67% talked to their parents about it, and 69% talked to their adult children about it.

The No. 1 reason why adult children haven’t talked with their parents about the topic: They “don’t believe it’s their place to raise the issue.” Parents, meanwhile, don’t bring up the subject because “they haven’t thought about it” (25%) or “don’t feel it’s appropriate” (19%).

Additionally, 9 out of 10 adult children who have discussed estate planning say a “life altering incident” triggered the talk with their parents. The study suggests that advisors can help initiate these conversations ahead of those emergencies.

Leave Behinds

Most survey participants (83%) want to leave money or assets to a loved one; however, only 64% feel they are on track or prepared to leave an inheritance, and even fewer (50%) have a formal plan in place. Only 21% of parents who are planning to leave something to their children have told them how much inheritance they will receive.

Little surprise then that the majority of respondents (53%) expected to receive more than $100,000. In fact, the majority (52%) of those who have received an inheritance got less than $100,000, an amount that only matched the expectations of 28% of those surveyed. Nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents think an inheritance will cause tension or disagreements with family members — a sentiment that rings true for a quarter of individuals who have received money following the loss of a loved one.

The Family Wealth Checkup study was created by Ameriprise Financial, Inc. and conducted online by Artemis Strategy Group Nov. 23-Dec. 15, 2016 among 2,700 US adults between the ages of 25-70 with at least $25,000 in investable assets.

3 Things Not Counted in Your Credit Score

Douglass:And credit-counseling services also not included.

Hamilton:Yes, and thats the third one. If you look at it, the preceding things that may affect your credit score — if you go through a bankruptcy, thats going to affect your FICO score. But credit-counseling services that you may take advantage of after that fact arent going to affect your FICO score because, essentially, if you think about it, it is a good move by you to improve your finances, and that should be reflected in your FICO score. You definitely shouldnt be dinged, which is what the model accounts for.

Douglass:Absolutely. That makes sense. And the fact of the matter is, with the internet being what it is, there is a lot of misinformation out there, and so its important to have a good resource. And fortunately weve got one. Its There weve got a lot of information about credit, about debt, about managing debt, budgeting, and credit cards.

Hamilton:And more credit score stuff.

Douglass:Right, absolutely. Weve got free copies of our credit card guide, and we also have our picks for the best credit cards of 2017, which should be useful to a lot of different people. So well hope to see you there. Nathan, thanks much.

Hamilton:Thank you.


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Family Conversations Increase Confidence in Financial Future

than half (52%) of Americans say they feel extremely or very confident about
their family’s financial future, due to regular family conversations about
money, according to research released by Ameriprise Financial.

study found family members tend to discuss different topics with different
relatives. Adult children are most likely to initiate conversations with their
parents about managing current finances (74%), the cost of health care (73%)
and long-term financial goals (70%). When parents take the lead in financial
discussions with their adult children, they also bring up managing debt (73%).
In general, survey respondents report they are less likely to talk to their
family members about estate planning and inheritance but it’s still a popular
topic (67% talked to their parents, and 69% talked to their adult children about
this topic).

estate planning can be a tough topic to initiate, families who have talked
about it say the discussion went much smoother than anticipated. The
overwhelming majority said the conversations were straightforward, easy and
relaxed as opposed to awkward or difficult.

hardest part is starting the conversation, which is where a financial adviser
can make a difference,” says Marcy Keckler, vice president of financial advice strategy at Ameriprise Financial. “Working with a financial professional can
help family members get on the same page and could mean the difference between
leaving behind a loving legacy and leaving behind a headache and hurt feelings.”

NEXT: Inheritance may cause conflict

Financial plans on track? Residents, see how you compare

“Financial stressors occur early and often during residency,” wrote Denise S. Friday, vice president of AMA Insurance, a subsidiary of the AMA. “From staggering debt loads to low salaries and long hours, residents face a complex personal financial situation now and into the near future. This is especially true of the nearly half of residents who are already married and a quarter who have already started their families.”

Despite their own perceptions of not being financially prepared, 73 percent of respondents said they were not using a professional financial advisor. More than one-third said this was due to lack of time. Nearly a quarter said the service was too costly, 15 percent said they hadn’t found a trustworthy professional, 14 percent would rather take the do-it-yourself approach and the remainder offered other reasons.

5 moves to make now

Residents shouldn’t “try to take on a whole personal financial checklist at once,” said Allan Phillips, financial advisor with Taylor Wealth Solutions. “Instead, strive to make sound decisions in a few key areas.”

Taylor Wealth Solutions is a member of the AMA Insurance Physicians Financial Partners program, launched in 2011 to give doctors access to a nationwide network of independent, local and experienced professionals who have undergone a comprehensive due-diligence process by AMA Insurance.

Phillips recommended making these your first steps:

Secure the most important kinds of insurance. These include disability, life and umbrella liability insurance. For example, employers might provide a good base amount of disability income insurance, but if you were to become disabled now with only that policy, you may be frozen at, say, 60 percent of a resident’s salary instead of a practicing physician’s salary.

Evaluate debt in context. Despite being a top concern, paying off medical school loans as quickly as possible should not necessarily be the top priority. Instead, Phillips suggests saving 15 percent of one’s income in an emergency fund, prioritizing paying down the debt with the highest interest rates, including mortgages, car loans and consumer debt.

Establish a realistic budget. Once you have insurance and an emergency fund in place, Phillips recommends striving to save 15 to 20 percent of your gross income for long-term wealth building. He also suggests limiting mortgage payments to 15 percent of your gross income, taking full advantage of employers’ 401(k) or 403(b) matched retirement contributions, and considering funding a Roth IRA, which is a post-tax retirement account that allows for more flexible access to funds before retirement.

Find a professional financial advisor. This can help you with budgeting, managing debt, securing the right kinds of insurance and establishing savings. You also will learn how to establish strong financial habits early on and come to understand what a realistic lifestyle will look like.

Get support with employment contracts. The cardinal rule is to not sign a contract you do not understand. The AMA provides a library of resources to help residents with employment contracts. In addition, your state medical society may be able to refer you to a trusted attorney, and physician mentors may have insights about issues they encountered with their contracts.

Budget, budget, budget

The report also features practical and philosophical advice from established physicians on saving, spending and work-life balance. In addition, it features numerous links to additional resources tailored to residents, including expert advice on managing medical school loans, refinancing student loans and developing repayment strategies.

The AMA’s Career Planning Resource provides guidance on a variety of resident-life topics, such as understanding disability insurance and evaluating policies, building short-term savings and buying versus renting a home.

Editor’s note: AMA Insurance does not provide financial planning or investment advisory services, and Taylor Wealth Solutions is not affiliated with the AMA. Taylor Wealth Solutions offers insurance products through Taylor Financial Corp. Securities offered through Taylor Securities Inc. (member FINRA/SIPC).

Related coverage

  • 3 ways to get ahead financially even if you’re not an expert
  • Top personal finance tips from experienced physicians
  • 6 top financial mistakes physicians make
  • 5 ways to partner with a physician-friendly financial advisor

Australians lacking in financial education, survey finds

ASIC’s MoneySmart site offers free information and financial advice for Australians across a range of fields: credit, borrowing, superannuation, retirement, investing and even potential scams.

The corporate regulator aims to improve the money knowledge of all Australians and empower their decision making, according to Laura Higgins, ASIC’s senior manager, financial capability.

“Knowing how to manage your money and make financially sound decisions is one of the most important skills in everyday life,” Ms Higgins said.

“Financial capabilities impact the daily decisions Australians make including balancing a budget, buying a home, funding their children’s education and ensuring an income at retirement.”

Ms Higgins said changes to technology and the financial landscape can make it hard for Australians to keep on top of the latest financial information, while factors such as life stage, gender, household composition, income and attitudes towards money can also play a role in people’s outcomes.

“It’s important that Australians are well informed to ensure they have the financial skills and knowledge to understand budgeting, saving and managing debt,” Ms Higgins said.

Originally published as Aussies behind on financial knowledge

EMIR Exemptions for Central Banks in Six Countries

The European Commission published a report on the international treatment of Central Banks and public entities managing public debt with regard to OTC derivatives transactions. The European Market Infrastructure Regulation imposes clearing, reporting and risk mitigation obligations for derivatives. EU central banks and EU public bodies managing public debt are exempt from EMIR. The European Commission may exempt central banks and public bodies managing public debt from other countries following analysis of the international treatment of the relevant entities in a particular country. In the first of these reviews conducted in 2013, the Commission added central banks and public bodies responsible for the management of debt in the United States and Japan to the list of exempted bodies through a Commission Delegated Regulation.

The Commission has concluded in its second report that central banks and public bodies managing debt in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Mexico, Singapore and Switzerland should also be exempt from certain parts of EMIR. These new exemptions will come into effect once the new Commission Delegated Regulation is published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The Commission will continue to monitor the progress of other countries in implementing similar requirements for OTC derivatives.

View the Commissions report.