MassSaves members and other pose by the grand staircase in the State House as they celebrate the passage of a new law that establishes standards around financial literacy in schools. These standards specify topics to cover including loans, interest, planning for higher education and balancing a checkbook, which schools can then incorporate into their current curricula.
Predatory practices such as payday loans exist in almost every major city. This, coupled with the fact that nearly a quarter of all residents in Massachusetts have debts in collection, reinforces the importance of this new legislation. The new law seeks to provide students with tools that will help them better understand their personal finances and teach them how to make smarter financial decisions.
Most of us have it, but when we have it, we want to get rid of it. What is “it”? The answer is debt – credit, student, and medical, just to name a few. Debt limits the amount of financial, educational, and even work opportunities an individual can take to be able to provide even more for their families. Debt is such a big issue in Massachusetts that one in four residents is struggling to pay off their debt and/or have debt in collection. What’s more, residents of color are disproportionately impacted by debt: about 46 percent of residents of color have debt compared to 18 percent of white residents.
When an individual falls behind on paying their debt, lenders will usually sell the individual’s now delinquent debt to debt buyers. This is when debt goes into collection, and debt buyers aggressively seek to collect the full amount of the debt – often adding interest, penalties, and attorney’s fees. It is, unfortunately, very common for residents with debt in collection to lose their privacy, be abused, deceived, or treated unfairly by unscrupulous debt buyers during the debt collection process.
Recognizing this, Representative Paul Brodeur recently introduced a bill in the Massachusetts legislature in January that would ensure financially distressed Bay Staters have more protections and rights against debt collectors. But to ensure that our legislators continue to prioritize the bill and provide more protections to Bay Staters, we need to raise our voices and share our experiences with debt collection and debt buyers. Especially if you or your community have experienced any of the following:
1. Having debt collectors file lawsuits on or want to collect old, time-barred debt
2. Getting harassment and threats from debt collectors, including excessive phone calls
3. Receiving misleading and/or confusing disclosures and other important information on your debt
Through our stories, we provide evidence of the problems to policymakers, which could lead to substantial improvements in state reforms that protect us from predatory debt collectors. We have the ability to potentially make a difference so that other consumers do not fall victim to debt collectors’ predatory practices. Let’s make our voices count.
Click here to submit a story with the National Association of Consumer Advocates. Sharing experiences will help provide evidence to policy makers that the system needs to be improved!
By Yuqi Wang
Please join the Midas Board of Directors in welcoming the new staff to The Midas Collaborative. Danielle Osterman and Alexandra Turner will be leading in management of the matched savings programs, and we are very excited to have Kimberly Hirsh on board as our new Executive Director. To learn more about our three new staff members please check out their bios here on our website.
Join us! Midas seeks an experienced leader who can navigate Midas through a transition, shape our strategic direction with staff and Board, and raise the organization’s visibility. Learn more about the exciting opportunity here.
Midas is where collaboration happens. We bring together nonprofits, financial institutions, policymakers, educators, and families to advance financial security. Financial security is defined as a state of being in control of your finances now and the foreseeable future. That is not the reality for many families in our state. Rising costs, wealth inequality, lack of financial education, and much more are making it harder to feel financially secure. Many of those families entrust Midas and our member organizations with creating a pathway to a better tomorrow. Through our innovative partnerships and collaboration, we are advancing financial security and helping families thrive.
Join us on Thursday, September 20, 2018 to celebrate, reflect upon, and expand our work. Our annual Assets & Opportunity Reception unites those who have made it possible which is YOU. Without your support to create more prosperous communities and commitment to deepen our impact, our work would not be possible. Register here and share this celebratory evening with us.
Networking, Sharing & Learning for Financial Health & Wellness
On April 27, 2018, the 10th annual MassSaves Financial Health and Wellness Summit at Framingham State University highlighted collaborative partnerships and research, generated conversations, and united different stakeholders. The continued interest in the Summit from all sectors reinforces the desire and commitment to network, share and learn to create more prosperous communities.
We had over 120 attendees united to build and safeguard the financial futures of families across New England. Attendees learned about best practices and opportunities to empower women, research highlighting the need for increased investment in higher education, the important role we play as advocates especially with pending legislation that will empower Massachusetts youth, and much more. By investing in the professional development of educators, community providers, and financial institutions, we are progressing towards our vision of making Massachusetts a model for financial confidence and empowerment.
As Midas and our partners in MassSaves incorporate what we've learned and outline next steps, we look forward to strengthening the connections we've made to improve the financial health and wellness of our clients, communities and our region. Check out materials from the Summit here.
Thank You To Our Generous Summit Sponsors:
- Boston Private
- Monson Savings Bank
- Santander Bank
- Avidia Bank
- Metro Credit Union
- RTN Federal Credit Union
- Pawtucket Credit Union
- New York Life Insurance
Financial insecurity and inequality is at an all-time high, especially in Massachusetts. As a recognized leader on the issues of consumer financial protection and asset building, Midas promotes advocacy and research at the state and federal level to address the systemic issues that lead to financial insecurity. Through Midas’ work and from our member collaborative of 25+ community organizations, we’ve seen a rise of instability in debt collections and employment for lower wage and entry level workers. This instability is exacerbated by the lack of quality financial education at the K-12 level, leaving young adults unable to make sound financial decisions that continue as they face more complex decisions. The impact of these three issues are reviewed in briefs produced by Midas in support of legislation that invests and empowers Massachusetts families.
- Calling or Emailing your State Representative for their support in pushing the bill out of House Committee of Ways and Means to the House floor for a vote
- Joining the MassSaves Advocacy Committee
- Building Support in Your Community! Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. Amplify our efforts on social media by "sharing" and "retweeting" our posts.
On February 6, 2018, Prosperity Now released the 2018 Scorecard Whose Bad Choices? How Policy Precludes Prosperity and What We Can Do About It. Despite an unemployment rate that has ticked downward and an overall improved economy, large numbers of Massachusetts families continue to struggle to save for a more prosperous future.
30.4% of Massachusetts households still remain liquid asset poor, meaning they have so little savings that they could not live at the poverty level for just three months if they lose a job or suffer another significant income loss. A new measure also shows that while 42.8% of households in the state did not set aside any savings for emergencies in the past year, that number is lower than the national rate of 43.7%. The data highlights the need for continued efforts in building awareness and support to advance the financial security of Massachusetts families especially as inequality widens within our state. Learn more about how Massachusetts fared here.
Register Today! The MassSaves 10th Annual Financial Health and Wellness Summit will be held on Friday, April 27, 2018 at Framingham State University in Framingham, MA. The Summit is an opportunity for providers, teachers, financial educators, and supporters from all backgrounds to network, share, and learn. The 10th annual Summit builds on our efforts to elevate the field by empowering and equipping us with the latest tools, resources, and knowledge.