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Getting Ahead
3rd Quarter 2007

Welcome to the first quarterly edition of the Getting Ahead e-newsletter....

Everyone could use a little advice from time to time about how to get ahead financially and how smart money moves can make a big impact for your money today and in the future. Read on for helpful tips on making the most of your money. And visit the GettingAhead Association Web site often.


Keep Your Cards Safe Online: Setup a Password for Your VISA or MasterCard

Credit CardsOnline shopping is quick, easy and convenient. It’s also anonymous, which can be dangerous. After all, if you’re shopping in person, the cashier can check your ID and make sure you resemble your picture. But if someone has your credit or debit card number, it’s easy for them to masquerade as you on the Internet.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to protect yourself from online fraud. Visa and MasterCard both offer password protection services free of charge. Simply visit the applicable Web site and follow the directions to enroll. Once your password is set up, you will be prompted to enter it whenever you shop at a participating online merchant.

Even if you never shop online, it’s a good idea to place a password on your card. That way, if your card is lost or stolen you won’t have to worry about fraudulent online transactions.

Verified by Visa: Visit to set up your personal password
MasterCard Secure Code: Visit


Starting Out or Starting Over: How to Establish Credit

Establishing CreditPeople who don’t have a solid credit history can run into a frustrating dilemma. Nobody wants to offer you credit because you don’t have credit. And you don’t have credit because nobody will give it to you!

How can you break this vicious cycle? By planning ahead, taking some small steps and establishing good financial habits.

Start here:
First, contact one of the
credit unions associated with the GettingAhead Association and open a checking account and a basic savings account. Over time, you will have a record of responsible money management.

Then move to the next step:
Apply for a small loan at your credit union or ask about a secured credit card. Keep your balance low and manageable and make your payments on time, every time.

If you need a little help:
Maybe a relative would co-sign the loan for you. If you just don’t qualify for financing, try a department store card or a gasoline credit card. But make sure your payments will be reported to the credit bureaus, and make extra sure you pay off your balance each month.

Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Your credit score will grow as you establish a pattern of on-time payments. For more tips on building up your credit, visit the “Learning” section of

Upcoming Events

Get Fiscally Fit: Be Credit Wise Today for Financial Independence Tomorrow
Thursday, August 23rd, 1 – 3:30 p.m.
Georgia State University, Student Center
44 Courtland Street, Atlanta, GA 30303
Special guest: Congressman John Lewis
Sponsored by: Delta Community Credit Union in partnership with GettingAhead Association, Georgia State University Federal Credit Union, Consumer Credit Counseling Services

For more information, email

High School Doesn't Have to Cost a Fortune

GraduationFirst came diapers, formula and baby clothes. Then bikes, roller blades and dance classes. Once your kids hit the high school years, the “cha-ching” really starts to add up!

Fortunately, with a little creativity you can tame some of the high cost of high school. Here are some ideas from

For the athlete
No matter what sport your child chooses, you can expect to shell out some serious money for uniforms and equipment. Check the Internet or contact athletes who are graduating to see if you can get a deal on some gently-used items.

Sweet music
For the budding virtuoso, you can rent an instrument or try to find a used one online or in a pawn shop. Contact graduating students to ask about buying a used tux, uniform or choir outfit.

Prom season
Talk about cha-ching! Between dresses, limos, tuxes and other expenses, many students spend hundreds of dollars on proms. Encourage your child to keep his or her expectations realistic and scour consignment shops for dressy duds at a fraction of the cost.

Senior year
Graduation expenses can be out of this world. Be sure to compare costs for school pictures and class rings. Ask other parents if they’d like to throw a group graduation party (they may jump at the chance). Resist the temptation to send your child on a lavish senior trip if you really can’t afford it.

Remember, there’s nothing wrong with asking your child to pitch in. And there’s nothing wrong with asking your credit union or financial institution for help if you need it! Contact your credit union for friendly assistance with savings accounts, low-cost loans, debt consolidation plans or a fixed-rate credit card to see you through.


How to Talk with Your Parents about Money

FamilyMoney is always a sensitive subject. For most people it’s especially hard to talk about finances with aging parents. You don’t want to overstep your boundaries. You certainly don’t want to imply that you’re anxious to get an inheritance, but you do need to know where your parents stand and where they keep important papers and account information.

When to start:
If your parents are in their 60s or older, it’s a good idea to begin communicating about their finances. Choose a calm, neutral time to bring up the subject, rather than waiting for a crisis to hit. Make it clear that you’re not trying to take over – you just want to talk.

What to ask:
Come right out and ask how they’re doing. You don’t need to know exact dollars and cents, but you will want to ask whether they have enough resources to support themselves for the long term. Here are some other questions to bring up over the course of several conversations:

• Who manages your money right now? How is that going?
• Do you have a will? A durable power of attorney? Long-term care insurance?
• Where are your policies stored?
• Do you have bank, credit union and/or brokerage accounts?
• Do you have a safe deposit box? Where is the key?
• Would you consider moving if you were having trouble keeping up with the house?

For more information, visit the Family Caregiver Alliance Web site at If your parents need support services, call the Eldercare Locator, an information and referral service sponsored by the federal government, at (800) 677-1116 for a list of local and national organizations that can help.