Helping Other People be Empowered!!!

H.O.P.E, Inc's mission is to serve low-income single parents working to obtain a college degree by providing assistance in subsidized housing, child care assistance, social services, and life skills.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Your Single V-Day Survival Guide

The good news? This year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday. For singles, this makes it relatively easy to think of the so-called holiday as just another work day. The bad news? Well, Valentine’s Day is still right around the corner.

                                                     Image by Wildshuetz (Pixabay)

Being single on Valentine’s Day can evoke feelings of loneliness (and the potential problems that come with that), but it doesn’t have to be that way.

You can depend on the go-to tricks for self-soothing this February. The staple NPR coverage of the dark origins of Valentine’s Day works for some, while others look forward to February 14th as the day to score some seriously discounted chocolates. However, having a game plan for the big day can be a fantastic way for many singles to make it through the heart- and pink-infused kerfuffle of February.

Tuesday, February 14th: Game Plan

Morning: Sleep in if you can. Every day might have 24 hours, but that doesn’t mean you have to fill all of them with busy work. Plus, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 33 percent of American adults are sleep deprived. Lack of sleep can lead to a host of diseases, slow metabolisms, and of course all the usual side-effects such as lack of clarity, memory, and a poor disposition.

Early Rituals: Practice healthy, kind morning rituals this February 14th—and challenge yourself to stick to them throughout the year. Begin your day without a rush, make time for stretches, or try making yourself a healthy breakfast instead of skipping it or calling the splash of creamer in your coffee “nutrition.”

Mid-Day: If you work in an environment where it’s common for co-workers to get bombarded with flowers or singing telegrams, know that this is the worse part about Valentine’s Day for many. You are far from alone. However, empathy is a trait that must be consciously practiced and Valentine’s Day is a great time to hone those skills. Challenge yourself to be genuinely happy for your co-workers. Take joy in their joy, notice the beauty of the gifts, and remember that a happy work life is akin to more happiness yourself. Numerous studies show that happy employees are more productive, so if you’re in a management position that’s an added bonus!

Lunch: If it’s possible, take yourself on a day date or make a mid-day date with friends or co-workers. Slow down. Eat with intention, and let go of distractions. If you’re a noon gym-goer, don’t let the holiday throw you. Maximize your workout, listen to your favorite feel-good songs, and remember that using any holiday as an excuse to slack will probably make you feel worse in a few hours.

Afternoon: Schedule a happy hour meetup with friends, or plan your own solo outing designed with health and intention in mind. Try an urban hike along a route you’re unfamiliar with on foot, check out a new bookstore, or head to a movie and know that if you’re going alone for the first time, it’s really not as scary as you might think. Choose a theater with good food and drinks for a little buffer.

Evening: This can be the toughest time for some singles on Valentine’s Day—but it shouldn’t be. It’s a work day, you’re heading into the mid-week slump tomorrow, and on any other Tuesday you’d likely be doing unremarkable tasks from laundry to reading anyway. Stick with your normal Tuesday evening tasks to transition smoothly into Wednesday.

Of course, if you’re simply aching for a little Valentine’s Day love after the sun sets, you can always treat yourself. A long shower, new-to-you show to gauge for weekend binge watching, or lovingly prepared meal for yourself (with enough leftovers for the rest of the work week) is a savvy act of self-love you can indulge in any day of the year.

Written by: Michelle Peterson

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

We're Running!!

H.O.P.E. Inc. Joins Peachtree Corners Festival 5K Run on June 8, 2013

By Lisa McGloiry
H.O.P.E. Inc.

H.O.P.E. Inc. is excited to join the Peachtree Corners Festival 5K Run on June 8, 2013 as one of their charity partners!  The event starts promptly at 7:30 a.m. at the Peachtree Elementary School, 5995 Crooked Creek Rd NW, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092.

In an effort to give back to the community, the Peachtree Corners Festival added a special Charity Challenge, giving its community of volunteers, sponsors and participants the opportunity to make donations for the charity of their choice.  Through this effort, the Festival hopes to raise over $25,000 for their charity partners, which includes H.O.P.E. Inc.!

H.O.P.E. Inc. is taking on the challenge by participating in the run this year and we’re asking for more sponsors!  Our goal is to raise $2,500 through this effort! We currently have 13 sponsors and we need more. With less than four weeks until the run, we’re asking for your immediate help. As our organization continues to grow, we are always looking for new events and fun ways to continue our mission: to help serve low-income single parents obtain a college degree.  By helping to provide these individuals with assistance in subsidized housing, child care, social services, and life skills, H.O.P.E. Inc.’s services will help them to finish their education, earn the skills to become employable, join the workforce and become more productive members of our society. 

You can be confident that 100% of any donations made to H.O.P.E. Inc., whether small or large, will go directly to help single parents in need. Your donation is going to a great cause and will go a long way in helping us to reach our $2,500 goal! Won’t you consider making a donation today, or sign up to register for the Peachtree Corners Festival 5K Walk on June 8, 2013 right here on our website!

So please take the time to sign up here on our website and help us reach our goal of $2,500!   Let’s run for the single parents in need of childcare and rent assistance so they can stay in school and create a better life for their families! Please spread the word! Please sign up or donate today! H.O.P.E. Inc. hopes to see you at the Festival on June 8th!

Remember that by supporting H.O.P.E. Inc. you are providing hope and help to single parents earn a college degree!  Please come out and support us!  We’ll have a booth at the Festival and a special “Meet and Greet” session where you have the opportunity to meet with board members, our supporters, sponsors, friends and me. It’s going to be a fun and exciting day as we run for a good cause and help build up our community!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why do I need an emergency fund?

Why do I need an emergency fund?

By Sarah C.

Now that you have a regular budget, consider earmarking money each month for an emergency fund.  This money should be set aside in a savings account that you don’t touch for regular monthly bills.  Instead, it’s there when something unexpected arises – like an unforeseen car repair, or medical bill, or job loss.  Rather than going into debt by using a credit card or loan, your emergency fund allows you to pay for the expense without derailing other financial goals. 


For example, if you charged a $1,000 emergency with a credit card that carries an 11% interest rate, and repaid the minimum payment ($40), it would take six years to pay off the debt, and you would have paid $258 in interest.  That’s six years of paying for yesterday’s problem and not being able to plan for the future.  Not to mention the other things you could have done with the $258.


Ideally, your emergency fund should have enough money to cover 3-6 months of living expenses.  That can be an intimidating number when you’re starting off, especially if you are also paying off debt.  So start with a goal of $1,000.  Then, when your other debts are paid off, work on increasing your emergency fund so it can cover you for a few months just in case.


When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it can seem impossible to find extra money to fund an emergency fund.  But that’s when you need it the most, because the impact of any financial set-back – extra debt, higher interest rates, etc. – is amplified in a tight budget.   Knowing you have money available can also reduce personal stress you feel about finances.  Tax refunds are a great way to jump-start an emergency fund, so if you’re expecting money from the IRS this year, pledge to put some aside for emergencies.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tax Time!!

Tax Time

By Sarah C

Now that 2013 is here, it’s time to think about taxes.  Whether you’re getting a refund or not, it’s a good idea to file your return early.  In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of fraudulent returns filed by identity thieves.  They file tax returns, obtain your refund, and disappear before you (and the IRS) realize someone has already filed a return in your name.   And, even without the concern of identity theft, if you’re getting a big refund, you want that money as soon as possible!  Here’s a quick guide to getting your taxes done early.


First, gather key documents.  You need three types:

1.      Identification documents – social security cards for you and any dependents.

2.      Income documents -W-2s, 1099s (from investments, bank accounts, or social security money received), and any other record of income.

3.      Expense documents – receipts for any expenses that might be tax deductible.  This includes student loan interest, certain child care expenses, mortgage payments, property taxes, qualifying health care expenses*, and charitable contributions.  Your records could be documents sent from the government (for student loan expenses) or cancelled checks, receipts, or other records of payment.   Some of these deductions will probably only apply if you itemize deductions, but you should gather everything just in case.  You will also need records of any contributions to retirement accounts, which can reduce your tax burden.


Second, figure out how you’ll prepare your taxes.  If you’re comfortable doing it yourself with an online program, go for it!  H&R Block offers free filing if your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) was less that $57,000 and you are younger than 52.  See their website for info.  The IRS also trains volunteers who will prepare your taxes for free if your AGI is under $51,000.  Search  for “VITA” (tax volunteer program) or call 800-906-9887 for a VITA location near you.


Third, if you are getting a refund, make a plan for the money!  More than 80% of filers get a refund.   Some tax preparers will offer you an “immediate” tax refund, but these carry a very high interest rate, so beware.  The IRS processes refunds quickly and deposits the money directly into your account, so it’s better to wait the 5-7 days for the full amount than take the quick money.


If you are due a refund, it means more money has been withheld from your paycheck than was necessary, and you’re getting it back at tax time.  You may want to change your W-4 withholdings so you get that money throughout the year, rather than as a refund.  However, some people count on this big check to pay down debt, save for emergencies, or otherwise invest.  Identify how you’ll spend the money before it arrives, so it’s used for a purpose and doesn’t just flow through your fingers.  Then, make that money work for you!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Identity Theft: Deter, Detect, Defend

Identity Theft: Deter, Detect, Defend


Identity theft is when someone uses your personal information, such as name, social security number, or credit number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.  Approximately 9 million US residents will have their identities used fraudulently each year, with an average cost of $3,500.  The Federal Trade Commission advises a three-part plan of attack to dealing with the potential of identity theft: Deter, Detect, and Defend.


Deter.   Keep financial information safe.  Sometimes information is obtained by stealing wallets or credit cards, so carry only what you need, do not carry your social security card, and do not have you pin number in your wallet.  Sometimes information is obtained by sifting through trash bins, so shred any trash that contains sensitive information, including free credit offers and other “junk” mail.  Finally, sensitive information may be sought through phishing, or sending emails that appear to be from legitimate institutions (banks, credit card companies, utility companies), asking you to “update,” “confirm,” or “validate” your account.  However, when you click on the link you are taken to a fake site.  The site appears real, so you may not even realize it’s a fraud until damage is done.  Never click on links in email – legitimate companies do not seek information this way.  Rather, call the company or go to their website yourself to be sure no action is needed.  Always be cautious about opening attachments in emails, no matter who sends them.


Detect.  Some people do not know that a thief has opened a line of credit in their name until they review their credit report or are contacted by creditors.  Check your credit report annually for free at  Review each report to be sure there are no lines of credit or credit cards that have been opened that you don’t recognize.  If you see any unknown credit, contact the creditor directly to find out what’s going on.  Also check the addresses – thieves sometimes file a change of address form so they can obtain credit cards at their home in your name.  If anything is wrong, correct it with the agency (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion).  Also, it’s a good idea to review your credit card charges monthly to be sure there are no unknown charges. 


Defend.  If you have been the victim of fraud, consider placing a fraud alert on your credit by calling any one of the credit agencies (who will alert the other two). Anytime someone attempts to open or increase credit in your name in the next 90 days, the bank or merchant must take steps to verify that it is you.  Close any accounts that you suspect or know have been tampered with, and take steps to correct your credit report.  See for more information about dealing with identity theft.


Being aware of how identity theft works and taking simple steps to protect yourself is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself.



Monday, November 5, 2012

Holiday Budgeting


It’s the most wonderful time of the year…until you get the credit card bills in January.  Christmas gift-giving can cause financial stress when shopping and later when trying to pay the bills.  Here are some tips to keep your season festive while still sticking to a budget and not derailing your financial goals.


1.      Know your limits.  Set a budget for Christmas spending.  The four biggest categories for most people are gifts, travel, entertaining, and decorating.  But don’t forget about other items that arise – extra tips for service people in your life, holiday clothes, pictures, postage for shipping gifts, etc.  Identify these expense categories beforehand and estimate how much you can spend on each one.  Then, like your regular budget, track your expenses.


2.      Plan ahead.  If you can set aside money in your regular budget for a couple months ahead of time, use cash!   If you use credit, plan to pay it off within two months. Next year, plan “holiday spending” right into your monthly budget so you have enough saved by December that you don’t have to use credit.   Monitor your expenses and save your budget to help guide you next year.


3.      Make a list.  Jot down the names of everyone you’d like to give a gift to.   Now, see if you can make the list a little smaller.  Could you do a gift swap with your siblings or another group instead of shopping for everyone?  If money is really tight, explain to some people that you have a tight budget and can’t exchange gifts – sharing a potluck meal with friends can result in just as must good cheer as a gift.  When you have your final list, set a price limit for each gift.


4.      Think creatively.  Consider your own gifts – what can you make or offer someone?  Some ideas: volunteer in your child’s classroom in lieu of a gift; handwrite a letter to your parents telling them what you have learned from them; offer to make someone a home-cooked meal; or swap babysitting with a friend.  There are tons of ideas online for homemade gifts, from crafts to recipes in a jar to homemade soap.  Take a look and try something new!  If you are purchasing a gift, remember that a thoughtful gift chosen with the recipient in mind will be more meaningful than the latest gadget.


5.      Shop early to take advantage of deals.   Maybe.   Taking advantage of Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals is great, but be careful not to buy something just because you’re caught up in the excitement.  With smart phones and the internet, comparison shopping has never been easier.  Make sure it fits into your gift-giving plan.  And, if you do buy early, cross that person off your list and make sure you don’t keep buying for them!


Above all, remember the reason for the season!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Magic of Compound Interest  -- Or --  How to Retire a Millionaire

Compound Interest is a powerful tool to building wealth over time.  Here’s the idea: you deposit money into a savings vehicle that pays you interest, such as a savings account, money market account, or mutual fund (the stock market).   Wait patiently!  Over time, your money earns interest and that interest earns interest.  After many years, even modest investments can grow to great sums.


Here’s an example:


Jennifer, age 20, invests $5,000 in a Roth IRA with an average return rate of 8%.  She does nothing else; she simply leaves it alone.  At age 65, that initial investment will now be worth $160,000 à a nice chunk of change for retirement.  

·         Investment = $5,000

·         Time = 45 years

·         Total at retirement = $160,000


If Jennifer waited until she was 39 to invest that $5,000 in a Roth IRA with the same return rate of 8%, the investment would only grow to $40,000.

·         Investment = $5,000

·         Time = 26 years

·         Total at retirement = $40,000


Starting early was the key!  Even better, if Jennifer can start early and make an investment of $5,000 every year, the growth is huge!  $5,000 each year will grow to more than $1.93 million.

·         Investment = $5,000 per year (over time, $225,000)

·         Time = 45 years

·         Total at retirement = $1,932,528


There are many compound interest calculators online.  Here’s an example where you can set your own investment amounts, whether it’s a one-time investment or monthly saving.  I ran the numbers on a small savings of $20 per month at 3% interest (something like a money market account).

·         Investment = $20 per month

·         Time = 15 years

·         Total = $4,593


How can you use the magic of compound interest?  Start saving now, even if it’s just a small amount.  Don’t touch the money and let time work for you.

By: Sarah Coats