Friday, March 26, 2010

Limited Resources Don’t Have to Keep You from Dreams

My middle sister is a tourist at heart. She stalks travel sites, enjoys making itineraries and is the type of person who stops to read all the historic markers. If you ever want to know the most strategic way to tackle a theme park, she’s your woman. But she cares about more than the fine details of her destination. She dreams big, relishing the idea of riding an Icelandic pony or floating down a Venetian canal long before she leaves home. Traveling makes her feel fully alive.

I know this because she weaves travel talk into everyday conversation. She listens with rapt attention to other people’s travel stories and tucks destination ideas into the back of her mind. She soaks in travel magazines and reads guidebooks for fun. She is awash in wanderlust.

As much as she enjoys the process of thinking and planning, she has realized that she wants to do more actual traveling. “There are so many places I want to see, so much I want to do, and I know I can’t wait for the ideal time,” she recently declared. This means fitting travel into her life as a wife and as a mother of three homeschooled children, all while working within a slim budget.

She’s obviously serious about this. She’s leaving this week to visit a friend in Texas, thanks to a $150 ticket. After that, it’s a girlfriends’ getaway to Nevada. And this summer, it’s a road trip with her kids to the places where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived and wrote about. My sister is determined to live her dream, not just talk about it. She’s doing the best she can with the resources she has right now.

Her newfound determination reminds me of a story I read about renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman. Perlman reportedly had a string break during a concert in front of a large crowd. The story goes that he continued playing with the remaining three strings, adjusting and compensating as he went along--and ending his performance with rousing applause from the audience. When the crowd quieted, Perlman spoke. “You know, sometimes it’s the artist’s task to find out how much music you can make with what you have left.”

Limited resources don’t have to keep you from achieving a longtime dream, whether it’s large or small. First, you need to get out of the “dreaming” stage and move into the doing. In other words, decide on your destination; this is your goal. While you’re doing this, tune out the naysayers, even if you’re one of them right now.

Next, work on removing the limits that can make you feel stuck. If it’s a lack of savings, start an automatic payroll deduction or save every five dollar bill you get. If it’s debt that’s holding you back, get a handle on what you owe and create a repayment plan. If it’s an overscheduled life, look for ways to free up time.

Keep in mind that removing limits doesn’t necessarily mean making major changes. Maybe your obstacle is some as simple as having a lack of space for your own garden; you don’t have to move to do what you love. Look for a community garden plot or ask a friend if you can put in a few raised beds at his house for a share of the bounty.

Whether you reach your destination quickly or if you travel down a winding path to get there, always make it a point to do the best you can with the resources you have at your command right now. Here’s to Iceland ponies and to following your passion wherever it might lead.

CCCS/ACCE –American Center for Credit Education
Carey Denman

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

FTC Amends Free Credit Reports Rule To Help Consumers Steer Clear of ‘Free’ Offers that Cost Money

Starting April 2, advertising for “free credit reports” will require new disclosures to help consumers avoid confusing “free” offers – which often require consumers to spend money on credit monitoring or other products or services – with the no-strings-attached credit reports available at, or 877-322-8228.

The Federal Trade Commission’s Free Credit Reports Rule will require new prominent disclosures in advertisements for “free credit reports.” For example, any Web site offering free credit reports must include a disclosure, across the top of each page that mentions free credit reports, which states:

You have the right to a free credit report from
or 877-322-8228, the ONLY authorized source under federal law.

The Web site disclosure must include a clickable button to “Take me to the authorized source” and clickable links to and FTC.GOV.

The Credit CARD Act of 2009 requires the Commission to issue a rule by February 22, 2010, to prevent deceptive marketing of “free credit reports.” Specifically, the Act requires that certain advertisements for “free credit reports” include prominent disclosures designed to prevent consumers from confusing these “free” offers with the federally mandated free annual credit reports available through the “centralized source,” which is, or 877-322-8228. The Credit CARD Act of 2009 requires a slightly different disclosure between now until April 2: “Free credits reports are available under Federal law at:”

The FTC proposed amending the Rule in October 2009 and received more than one thousand comments from consumers, consumer reporting agencies, consumer report resellers, business and trade organizations, state attorneys general, consumer advocates, law firms, members of Congress, and academics.

The amended Rule also restricts practices that might confuse or mislead consumers as they try to get their federally mandated free annual credit reports. For example, the amended Rule requires nationwide consumer reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to delay any advertising for products or services on until after consumers get their free credit reports.

The amended Rule is effective April 2, 2010, except for the wording of the disclosures for television and radio advertisements, which takes effect on September 1, 2010. The FTC will monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the amended Rule and the required disclosures, and will consider additional changes as necessary.

The amended Rule can be found on the Commission’s Web site as a link to this press release and will soon be published in the Federal Register. The Commission vote authorizing the publication of the Federal Register notice was 4-0.

Information in credit reports may affect whether consumers can get a loan or a job, so it is important that consumers check their credit reports and correct any information that is inaccurate. Each of the nationwide credit reporting companies is required to provide consumers with a free copy of their credit reports once every 12 months upon request. Consumers can learn more about their right to a free credit report under federal law at

Frank Dorman,
Office of Public Affairs

Katherine Armstrong,
Bureau of Consumer Protection
(FACTA - Free Credit Reports)
(FTC File No. R411004)

Reprinted from the Federal Trade Commissions website at