Report:

Master Your Money

A How-To Guide For Financial Stability
Released by: PIRGIM Education Fund

PIRGIM has created a financial literacy guidebook to help consumers take on the banks, lenders and credit card companies that take advantage of unknowing and frustrated consumers, and supported strong protections for financial privacy.

"Mastering Your Money: A How-To Guide For Financial Stability" is PIRGIM's concise, user-friendly guidebook for low- and middle-income families. It explains how to budget, save money, find affordable banks and credit cards, avoid predatory loans, and get out of debt.

Bank fees 

A common financial problem is that banking is too costly. The average family who can't meet minimum balances pays nearly $250 a year for a regular checking account. Yet, the banking industry earns over $120 billion in annual profits. By raising existing fees, inventing new ones, making it harder to avoid fees and raising minimum balances, consumers get stuck paying more. 

Mastering Your Money gives consumers 4 tips for paying less at the bank and building a framework for financial stability. To better protect consumers, PIRGIM is also urging Congress to ban unfair bank fees and offer low-cost lifeline accounts for low-income families.

Credit reports

Consumers use their credit report to get approved for loans, credit cards and leases. Unfortunately, most credit reports have mistakes because credit bureaus don't ensure that credit reports are complete and accurate. "Mastering Your Money" warns consumers about common mistakes to look out for in credit reports and offers tools for improving consumers' credit history 

In addition, businesses continue to gather, buy and sell extensive records of personal data, often without consumer knowledge and almost always without permission.

Predatory lending 

Payday loans and other forms of predatory lending are deals that sound too good to be true --- and they normally are. Payday loans take advantage of desperate consumers by enticing them into high cost short term loans. To help consumers, "Mastering Your Money" provides four alternatives for getting a short term loan without getting ripped off.

PIRGIM supports laws to prohibit high cost short term loans secured by personal checks, tax refunds, or car titles. Additionally, PIRGIM supports a ban on unfair or predatory lending terms, such as excessive upfront charges, prepayment penalties or mandatory arbitration, and is working to protect homes from foreclosure when debt has resulted from fraudulent or predatory lending practices.

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PIRGIM Education Fund is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.