CFEF Launches Certified Financial Education Lender Designation

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Preparing to ace your CFPB exam? This credential can help!

Community Financial Education Foundation, a foundation focused solely on consumer financial education, has developed a certification program specifically for financial service companies/lenders.CFEF wants to help companies to signal to regulators and consumers that their company is responsible, principled and transparent –in product descriptions, terms, and the small print.

A Certified Financial Education Lender designation tells the world that a company has met that goal. This certification, displayed on a company’s website, will be an immediate indication to customers and regulators that they maintain a conscientious level of consumer education on their websites and in their transactions, and a commitment to the goals of consumer awareness. CFEF will maintain a list on its website of those who have achieved the designation.

CFEF is unbiased in its approach and is committed to the principles of full disclosure, transparency, and, above all, consumer financial education.

Certification employs both a self-assessment, and an external Board Review assessment. While the Certification is not the only avenue to customer assurance of sound lending principles on behalf of the consumer, it is a visible signal that is immediately recognizable. Click here to see program details.

For more information, contact CFEF @ 202-997-8785, or

About Community Financial Education Foundation (CFEF): CFEF’s mission is to educate the American public and reach underserved communities by teaching meaningful financial life skills, encouraging positive financial behaviors, and providing access to outcome-based, educational resources over the long-term. CFEF is the proud partner in creating MyStartingPoint, a new-age online, interactive, financial education tool being used by Bank-on DC, and 11,000 users nationwide.

Preparing to ace your CFPB exam?


Friday, February 3rd, 2012

American Saves Week (Feb. 20-27) is a good time to look at your finances and budgeting…and decide if you need to do something about it.

america saves week logo

To get started: 5 myths about saving:

Five Strategies to Saving

  1. Pay off high-cost debt
  2. Save for emergencies
  3. Participate in a work-related retirement program
  4. Outside of work, save monthly through an automatic transfer from checking to savings
  5. Buy a home and pay off the mortgage before you retire

Practical Savings Tips for Every Day Savings

-Try take-out once a month instead of dining out.
-Rent a video instead of going to the movies.  If you really want to go to the movies, go to the less expensive afternoon “matinee.”
-Or better yet, go to your local library and borrow books, CDs, videos, and read the latest magazines and newspapers.
-Bring your lunch to work once or twice a week instead of buying it.
-Don’t grocery shop on an empty stomach or you may end up buying more than you need.
-Cut down food costs by buying what you need on sale, buying generic brands, buying in bulk, and shopping at discount outlets.
-Don’t buy a sale item or use a coupon just for the sake of it being “cheaper.”  Buy an item only if you need it!  Shop with a list.
-Increase your gas mileage by taking care of your car with schedule check-ups, or just drive less. Consider carpooling, walking, taking the bus or metro, or riding your bike.
-Cancel your cable (or at least the premium channels), as well as subscriptions to magazines and newspapers.
-Exercise at home rather than joining a gym.
-Make your own coffee at home rather than buying from a store, or at least cut down the number of times per week you purchase coffee.
-Get health insurance.
-Track your spending and cash – know where every dollar goes!
-Organize a friend/relative/neighbor swap of clothes, toys, furniture, CDs, etc.
-Buy clothes for next year at the end-of-season sales – try garage sales and thrift stores.
-Find a simple hairstyle that doesn’t cost too much to take care of on daily/weekly basis.
-Take advantage of free entertainment in your community – parks, museums, exhibits, etc.  Go to free park concerts and other community activities.
-Try to buy with cash, checks, or debit cards. If you use credit cards, get rid of all but one or two, and pay off the balance each month. You can save hundreds or thousands of dollars a year by avoiding credit card interest charges.
-Always do your grocery shopping with a list of items you need  — and don’t buy anything that’s not on the list. You can save hundreds of dollars a year by avoiding impulse food purchases.
-Compare unit prices on labels when shopping (for example, price per ounce). You can save hundreds of dollars a year by purchasing items with the lowest price per unit.
-Avoid shopping at convenience stores. You pay for the convenience — the prices are usually higher than grocery stores.
-Consider taking your lunch to work rather than buying it. Depending on where you live and what you eat for lunch, you could save $5 a day.
-Review your telephone and cable bills for services you don’t use and cancel them. If you subscribe to magazines you rarely get around to reading, cancel the subscription. You could save tens of dollars each month.
-When choosing a cell phone plan, find one that’s appropriate for the calls you intend to make. For example, if you plan to use the phone only for emergencies, avoid plans with monthly fees or minimums.
-When your doctor prescribes a medicine, ask if a generic is available — you’ll pay less. If you’re taking a “maintenance” medicine, consider a mail-order pharmacy — you’ll pay -less.
-Before buying a car, compare insurance, gasoline, maintenance, and repair costs for comparable models. You can save thousands of dollars over the life of the car by choosing a model with low operating costs.
-Save hundreds of dollars a year on gasoline by making sure your car’s engine is tuned regularly and your tires have enough pressure.

CFEF Accepts McGowan Grant, Commits to Expanding Access for Financially Empowered Communities

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

The Community Financial Education Foundation is thrilled to announce that the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund has provided CFEF with a $30,000 grant to support our efforts to innovate financial education. The grant will catalyze CFEF’s efforts to provide expanded access to financial education as well as financial products and services.  In response to emerging new technologies and increased broadband access, CFEF has committed to developing innovative solutions that empower individuals, regardless of background or economic status, to manage their finances and learn about their financial options through online and mobile tools Central to this effort is MyStartingPoint, CFEF’s online financial education application, which utilizes videos and interactive tools to teach users how to manage their personal finances.

The William G. McGowan Charitable Fund was established to realize and enlarge the magnificent human potential that William McGowan foresaw. Their vision is to impact lives today, create sustainable change, and empower future generations to achieve their greatest potential. CFEF is dedicated to the same mission; we hope to enable individuals across our nation to secure their financial futures by better understanding the tools and options available to them. By mitigating financial distress and exclusion, we foster equality and opportunity across our communities. It is our goal to inform people and help them to connect with the products and services that help them to achieve financial stability for them and their families. It is with great gratitude that we accept the grant from the McGowan Charitable Fund to accomplish this mission.

CFEF Brings Financial Stability to the District with Bank on D.C.

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

With over 37,000 unbanked households and 72,000 underbanked households, the District of Columbia exhibits a strong need for ready access to financial products and cohesive financial education. As such, CFEF has partnered with the District’s Deputy Mayor’s Office of Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) to manage Bank on DC, a program that integrates community, municipal, and financial partners to offer District residents free checking and savings accounts with no monthly fees, no minimum balance requirements, and no overdraft charges.

“Many unbanked District residents are forced to rely on alternative financial services just to cash their checks or pay their bills,” says Michelle Dee, Bank on DC’s Program Manager at DMPED. In an effort to bring about greater financial equality in the city, Dee says that the program can help people “save money on fees, build assets, and save money for the future.”

Over 2,500 Bank on DC accounts have been opened since the program’s inception in March 2010. While Dee counts this number as a success, she finds that one of Bank on DC’s most promising strategies has been the program’s “ability to provide financial products with financial education.” By offering expertise in financial education, outreach, and development, CFEF has been integral to this two-pronged approach. In addition to this financial education strategy, CFEF and DMPED have spearheaded a targeted community and employer-based approach to drive education and account enrollment, including joining forces with Capital Area Asset Builders (CAAB) to register recipients of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in Bank on DC accounts on the spot.

These approaches, nonetheless, are not the final goal of the program. “A bank account is just the first step to financial security,” Dee adds. “Combined with quality financial education, Bank on DC can garner success by ensuring that everyone in the District has the opportunity to open safe and affordable bank accounts.”

New Version of CFEF’s Online Teaching Tool Unveiled

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Across society, we are all trying to improve and innovate on outdated methods of communication and education. CFEF is proud to be on the cutting edge of financial education delivery by offering one the most original and effective literacy teaching tools, My Starting Point. An online resource, MyStartingPoint uses a point-based educational system that rewards financial wellness and helps users build customized lesson plans according to each individual’s needs. According to Blake Allison, the CEO of Financial Education Literacy Advisors, “by offering incentives to individuals and motivating them to improve their financial health, we can deliver effective financial education that can help people work towards personal prosperity and achieve long-term financial security.”

MyStartingPoint showed great success in 2010 by utilizing an effective format that adapts to the needs of thousands of individual users. Allison points out that MyStartingPoint offers not only measurable financial capability outcomes for professional study, but also allows CFEF to learn from actual user experiences, feedback, and traffic analysis. Therefore, MyStartingPoint met 2011 with a new and improved Version 2.0, which boasts an enhanced interface for a more engaging user experience, as well as the development of an array of instructional financial education videos. “They’re brief, witty, and fun to watch,” Allison remarks before adding, “and they’re effective educational tools.”

Looking towards the future, Allison is quick to note that Version 2.0 of MyStartingPoint is by no means a finished product. “We believe the value of MyStartingPoint will be enhanced as we add more and more partners” because the site can reach “entire communities by connecting individuals directly to the institutions that can help them achieve their personal financial goals,” Allison says.

CFEF Targets National Financial Capability Challenge

Monday, January 24th, 2011

The Community Financial Education Foundation (CFEF) today announced it will lead a grassroots campaign focused on high schools in Washington, D.C. to increase awareness and drive participation in the National Financial Capability Challenge. CFEF’s campaign is also intended to provide financial education training directly to students and through community partners in an effort to improve the financial health of students in the District of Columbia.

“Washington, D.C. received a failing grade last year based on the results of the 2010 Challenge,” says CFEF Executive Director, Jonas Singer. “D.C. had the lowest participation rate [of students] compared to any state in the U.S. so it is not surprising that student scores also were below average. It seems that these results are indicative of much bigger problems threatening our community. To start, the approach to financial education in D.C. is broken and we intend to help fix it.”

“D.C.’s performance should be a wakeup call to every school, community organization, and government official,” Singer added, “We want to do our part to sound the alarm of the financial illiteracy crisis, which is why we are making this year’s Challenge a priority for the hundreds of students we work with.”

The National Financial Capability Challenge is a joint program developed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Education. It is an awards program designed to increase the financial knowledge and capability of high school aged youth across the United States so they can take control over their financial futures. It challenges high school teachers and other educators to teach the basics of personal finance to their students, and rewards students, educators, schools, and states for their participation and their success. The National Financial Capability Challenge will be administered nationally, and in the District, between March 7 and April, 8, 2011.

“CFEF works with young adults in D.C. everyday so we know that these statistics are not reflective of the potential of the outstanding young adults in the nation’s capitol. We also have to remember that the participation rates are not the responsibility of the students. In other words, if financial education is not a priority for the schools, how can we expect it to be a priority for our students?”

CFEF (Community Financial Education Foundation) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation based in Washington, D.C. that works nationally with youth, young adults, and adults to inform, prepare, and empower individuals to secure their financial futures. CFEF’s mission is to enhance access to financial education and financial products and services in order to facilitate individuals and communities to build assets and develop financial stability.