Tag Archives: Random Musings

Pay Day

A Safe, Affordable, and Feasible Template for Small-Dollar Loans
Product Element Parameters
Amount $2,500 or less
Term 90 days or more
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) 36 percent or less
Fees Low or none; origination and other upfront fees plus interest charged equate to APR of 36 percent or less
Underwriting Streamlined with proof of identity, address, and income, and a credit report to determine loan amount and repayment ability; loan decision within 24 hours
Optional Features Mandatory savings and financial education

I’m really interested in working with a non-profit. I know I am drawn to women’s issues and i’m not bad with finances, so that’s a start. In 2008 there was a pilot program, which looked at how large corporate banks might be used to give small dollar loans. This would  help replace the pay day lenders who essentially steal money from borrowers in need. Can you imagine paying 500% interest on a loan you used to pay your water bill? Neither can I.

One of the things I love most about the program is that it not only lowers the risk to the borrower, but it also provides financial literacy education. There have been so many times when I was volunteering in the community and felt like what we were doing was too temporary- because there was no education to support whomever we were helping once we were gone.

While listening to NPR I heard about a non-profit West End Neighborhood House. This group handles the paperwork and approval process of  small loans with its program Loan Plus. While the bank, who participated in the FDIC pilot program, handles the actual loan itself. West End promotes self-sufficiency, something that I don’t think enough non-profits actually do for their recipients. You can also view the groups complete financial records on-line, which is legit. The organization has kept management costs below 12% for the past 15 years (1/3 of the national standard of 35% set by the Better Business Bureau). To put it into further perspective, 12% is on par with the United Way.

I wouldn’t know the first thing about approaching Bank of Oklahoma with a similar strategy to improve the financial literacy of it’s potential future patrons. BOK’s website is a little boring, but it doesn’t look like anything like this type of lending is going on once you get the personal loans page. Ideally I think you could join something like Mustard Seed, (except less about community organizing and with an open dialogue about its finances) and mix it with something like the Loan Plus program and throw in a little Francis Tuttle. Promoting self sufficiency, education, and skills for future success.

What is your favorite non-profit? Or an idea you have for something lacking in your community?



Our Local Harvest

There is something to be said for homegrown. Unfortunately my green thumb and my patience for all things slimy has not fully developed and so I rely heavily on the local farmers market for all things fresh. I wouldn’t mind having a raised garden in my backyard someday. Partially because I want an excuse to wear hats that are too big and my rain boots on days that aren’t rainy. So far, I’ve decided I would plant dill and black eyed peas; clearly not a fully developed plan.

Next year, I plan on checking out a CSA(Community Supported Agrigulture); I say next year because it runs from April-October. I used to think these were only available to people who lived in larger cities or on the coast-which I guess is completely ridiculous. Crestview Farms has caught my eye, boasting it’s 13 week and 24 week programs, with 6 to 11 items per week. If you want to find a local CSA closer to your neighborhood go here and type in your zip. They can be expensive up front, so we suggest budgeting for one a few months ahead (or 5).

For us the benefits are:

1. You get a few weeks of random things you never cook with; experiments in the kitchen are not an option.

2. Supporting your local economy -capitalism at it’s finest.

3. Deliciousness, ‘nough said.

*Photo credit goes to Husband and La Boqueria.

Our Homemade Life

I know I am a little behind the times in terms of discovering the book A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg; a wonderful food biography, a derivative of an even more amazing blog Orangette. Molly has inspired myself and Chad to consider food from a different angle. Taking the most simple ingredients we can think of to make something delicious and maybe a memory or two. Healthiness is implicit when your ingredients are all fresh and basic. We usually eat at home and our meals are typically homemade but more the way Sandra Lee does things, so this week are going a step further and having a “from scratch” adventure. Our lunches and breakfasts will be homemade, but our dinners will be from scratch. If we want bread, we’ll bake it, etc. We thought about going “No Impact Man” and even trying to make our own butter, but a quick google search and we decided butter was an acceptable place to stop. This week is about trying new things and letting our dinners have a little more personality.