Gain freedom by saving money

The Charlotte Observer
South Charlotte News
Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Alliance Credit Counseling, a non-profit organization located in Ballantyne, launches its Saves Week from Feb. 19-26 through its community outreach program, CharlotteSaves.

CharlotteSaves is a local savings and financial advocacy program that was derived from the national America Saves campaign, which was coordinated by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA). CharlotteSaves is the second largest municipal savings program under America Saves with 10,000 savers, said Susan Yarber, director of Development and CharlotteSaves.

“CharlotteSaves teaches people they can build wealth no matter their level of income,” she said.

The event’s theme is “Be an Everyday Superhero, Save Automatically!” and it encourages people to partner with local banks to set up automated savings accounts. Details vary, but most waive the savings account fee for CharlotteSaves members.

Besides the bank partnership, CharlotteSaves will also host a student forum at UNC-Charlotte’s Student Union on Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. with speaker Brenda Williams, director of Financial Literacy for the NC Department of State Treasurer. This is a free event open to area high school and college students. No registration required.

CharlotteSaves hosts its annual luncheon on Feb 2312 from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at Blue Restaurant in Uptown with keynote speaker Tom Buckmiller, author of “The Everyday Superhero.” The emcee for the event is Terrance Bates, co-host on Fox News Rising.

Alliance Credit Counseling opened in May 2000 and its mission is providing “help, hope and empowerment to the financially distressed.”

Alliance offers free financial counseling from certified counselors on topics such as pre-home ownership (HUD certified pre-home ownership, charged only for HUD certification book), bankruptcy counseling approved by the Department of Justice and credit counseling.

In conjunction with the credit counseling, Alliance presents a debt management program where counselors work with your creditors to reduce interest rates and monthly fees, but there are fees for this program.

The only state and federally mandated criteria for these counseling programs is that participants cannot owe more than $275,000 on their mortgage.

Alliance is also the call center for the NC Housing Agencies foreclosure preventions fund.

Through CharlotteSaves, Alliance partners with other area non-profits like the American Red Cross, Charlotte Housing Authority, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, NC Employment Security Commission, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Habitat for Humanity providing their participants with presentations and one-on-one work with a wealth coach, whom are all certified financial planners, at no charge. The money received from their annual luncheon funds their Financial Literacy Outreach programs.

Alliance also provides free financial literacy on their website, www.knowdebt.org/.

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