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Junior Achievement of Arizona- Helping Student Reach Financial Success

Junior Achievement of Arizona- Helping Student Reach Financial Success 5.00/5 4 votes

If you had never heard of Junior Achievement of Arizona until today, don’t worry; you’re not the only one. A lot of people have yet to realize that there is an organization out there that is making a different in thousands of student’s lives simply by teaching them economics and finances.

Junior Achievement of Arizona is a not-for-profit organization aimed to aid students in not only their general education, but financial future as well. They have been making a difference in children’s lives since 1919 with offices in Tempe and Tucson.

juniorachivementbiztown200Junior Achievement launched JA BizTown in 2007. A student sized town built to enhance students understanding of real world practices. Students are required to write checks, pay their bills, and make financial decisions.

While public schools prepare student for a higher education, Junior Achievement educates students on how to generate and effectively manage wealth.

As a single mom, and daughter of a single mom, I know the hardships that come with not being financially educated and not knowing how to make the right decisions when it comes to money. I know that attending a program like Junior Achievement has to offer would have helped me in becoming more familiar with economics and finances.

I want to be able to teach my daughter that there is a whole world that general education does not teach her. I want her to be able to put her foot in the water while she’s young, rather than being thrown when she is sent off to college.

Junior Achievement taught almost 100,000 students in Arizona last year. Their goal is to teach up to 150,000 students this year.

To learn more about Junior Achievement of Arizona visit their home page. Find out how to sign up and visit one of their locations. You can also donate to this organization and make a difference in thousands of students’ lives.

2nd Annual Women Investing in Women Summit- A Complete Success

January 13, 2014 by  
Filed under Finance, SmartFem featured content

2nd Annual Women Investing in Women Summit- A Complete Success 5.00/5 5 votes

The second annual Women Investing in Women Summit was a complete success. The event was hosted in Scottsdale Arizona at ASU’s SkySong on Saturday January 11, 2014.

summit3The goal of the summit is to bring women entrepreneurs together under one roof to network, educate and allow them to lend a hand to each other. Throughout the event, women were able to talk about their business and goals. They exchanged business cards with one another.

City of Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane made the opening remarks. Mayor Lane claimed to be an entrepreneur at heart, so he was glad he was able to speak in front of a large group of women that had similar goals. He was also very excited to be part of an organization that made a positive impact on the community.

The panels of women speaking at the summit included a group of very successful women entrepreneurs. Each woman was able to share some of her background and how her business started. Those in the audience took good notes of how these ladies were able to make it to the top and create such successful businesses.

sharonSharon Lechter, the very well known author, accountant and philanthropist gave an extraordinary speech about creating success. She made it very clear to everyone in the room that one of the keys to success is asking for help. “You need to get the help you need to get where you want to go,” said Sharon Lechter.

The moderators of the summit wanted to make sure that no person left the room without feeling that they got a great education, connections and had a lot of fun. By looking around the room throughout the event, it was clear that every person in the room left with information that will follow them throughout their path towards launching or growing their business.

If you weren’t able to attend this summit, don’t worry, there is already talk about the one for next year. You can also go to Women Investing in Women’s Facebook page for more information on upcoming summits across the nation.

Women Investing in Women Dinner

January 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Finance, SmartFem featured content

Women Investing in Women Dinner 5.00/5 5 votes

The Women Investing in Women Dinner was hosted at The Sanctuary in Scottsdale Arizona. It was a perfect way to network and mingle with successful women before the 2nd annual summit happening today at the ASU’s SkySong.

More than 40 powerful women filled the room. The night started with some cocktails, followed by dinner and desert.

Anu Bhardwaj, the founder of Women Investing in Women Institute made everyone proud as she shared her thoughts about women and the difference they could make in the world if they could just get the right amount of support.
City of Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton was one of many to speak at the lavish dinner. Successful women of different careers and backgrounds shared their stories and accomplishments.

The night was full of inspirations.Powerful words of encouragement were shared amongst all the women. It showed what Women Investing in Women was all about. Lending a hand to women around us that are in need.

If you were lucky enough to score some tickets to the big event, you’ll be in for a treat. Those of you that weren’t able to snag your ticket for the sold out show, stay tuned… we’ll tell you all about it here.

Mayor Jim Lane’s Perspective on the Role of Women in Scottsdale

January 8, 2014 by  
Filed under Finance, SmartFem featured content

Mayor Jim Lane’s Perspective on the Role of Women in Scottsdale 5.00/5 3 votes

Lea Haben SmartFemSmartFem publisher Lea Haben interviews Scottsdale Mayor W. J. “Jim” Lane and asks important questions about the role of women in the city of Scottsdale now and for the future.

I admit that I prefer to take my politics served light with a lot of humor and cynicism, but the positive optimism and passion displayed by Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane during our recent interview was such a refreshing change.  I wasn’t quite sure how he would respond to my female centric questions, but his comments about the important role of women here in the valley were passionate and articulate.  I later found out that he grew up in a family as the only boy with five sisters so of course he should understand women.

Here is the interview:

City of Scottsdale ArizonaSmartFem:  Scottsdale has historically been a cowboy town and the men have run the town, do you see that changing?

Mayor Lane:  It’s an interesting perspective; I think that the western cities put far more stock in women than traditional east coast cities.  Opportunities and acceptance is long standing in Arizona particularly in politics.  That isn’t to say we don’t have our problems but overall, I think we are in a very good state.

SmartFem:  Do you think the new Health care reform will hurt or help small business owners in the Valley?

Mayor Lane:  Early indications are not too good; in fact I think this will hurt some small business owners.  I think it will be difficult from a cost standpoint. I wonder how it will affect or disrupt women who are comfortable with their current healthcare professionals. Still it is still pretty early to predict.

SmartFem:  Have you seen a surge in women-owned businesses in Scottsdale?

Mayor Lane:  I don’t know that I would call it a surge as I think that Scottsdale has more women owned businesses that those of their male counterparts. I feel that we have always had some pretty savvy women business owners.

SmartFem:  There still seems to be a glass ceiling for women in the work force, how can we change that?

Mayor Lane:    I think the ceiling still exists and this is one of the reasons women become entrepreneurs. I also believe some women go into business for themselves so they can develop a lifestyle that suits them…that corporate America can’t provide.

SmartFem:  While growing up which woman in your life provided the most influence?

Mayor Lane: My sister Liz, I had 5 [sisters]. Liz could do anything [and] didn’t want to necessarily follow traditional roles. She was a professor and pilot and she followed my dad’s lead. She was a strong woman and chose an interesting life.

SmartFem:  Who is your favorite female historical figure and why?

Mayor Lane:  Barbara Bush, she was involved in very important programs very quietly and gracefully. I admired her for that.

SmartFem:  Mayor Lane what changes would you like to see in Scottsdale and in Arizona for the future?

Mayor Lane:  The City of Scottsdale has done some great reforms in efficiency but we need to do more. Opening up the city to the younger generation and working with them side by side so that we can balance out some of our differences such as ethnicity, economic backgrounds and bringing people together.

In his own Words… Here are a few things you may not know about Mayor Lane.

Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane photoI was born…in Jersey City, New Jersey as the fourth and only boy in a family of 6.

The most influential person in my life as a child was…my dad, with an uncanny understanding of people and human nature. He was a great salesman who sold whatever advice he gave us individually as our own.

I believe women can….do whatever they set their mind to.

The biggest challenge being mayor of Scottsdale is….balancing interests and values between the different socio-economic groups.

My guilty pleasure is…an occasional cigar.

My favorite movie of all time is….Open Range with Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall.

One thing no one knows about me is…I cry at the end of the movie A Wonderful Life.

My proudest moment was….winning my second term as Mayor with the acknowledgement of my first term accomplishments. – “Reform, Results, Recovery”

One thing I’ve learned that I want to pass on to the women of the valley is…when working properly and honestly the complimentary psyche of the genders is a great gift to society.

Women INVESTING in Women SummitAfter interviewing Mayor Jim Lane, I too feel very good about the role of women in Scottsdale and am encouraged about its future.

Mayor Lane will be attending the Women investing in Women event on January 11th at ASU Skysong. Click here to register.

Government Shutdown Drawing Out Cyber Thieves and Scams

Government Shutdown Drawing Out Cyber Thieves and Scams 5.00/5 3 votes

Government Shutdown_Cyber Thieves and Scams_300Watch out for a deluge of online scams promising great deals as a result of the current Government shutdown. They’re promising anything from unbelievably cheap cars to cheap health care plans under the new Affordable Care Act commonly referred to as “Obamacare.”  Online scams are in the form of fake websites, email spammers, and even phone calls or text messages.  The cyber thieves’ goals can be to obtain personal information, credit cards numbers, and even so far as to attempt to con you into a wire transfer from your bank account.

Symantec’s security website issued a warning of spammers using fake headers to get past email filters and get seemingly official and legitimate offers to your inbox.  Watch out for emails promising deals as a result of the Government shutdown and clearance sales on fleet vehicles, cars and trucks.  For that matter it is wise to be suspicious of any offer involving special deals as a result of the shutdown.  Be cautious of anyone who emails you and question why they would have your email. Spammers are able to spoof commonly known email headers and even people you know personally.

Government Shutdown_Cyber Thieves and Scams_120As a general rule never give your personal information such as name, address or phone number let alone more private information such as social security number, family names and employment information to any stranger who calls you on the phone no matter how official they sound.  If it’s a company name you recognize, hang up and call them back at their listed number to verify the caller.

U.S. CapitolThe Government shutdown couldn’t have come at a worse time for those shopping for health insurance this week.  Starting October 1 the Health Insurance Exchange went live.  Scam artists are taking full advantage of the overwhelming response and confusion associated with this new provision of the Affordable Care Act.  Not only are the various exchanges inconsistent with their security protocols they are so new there that it’s easy for cyber thieves to take advantage of the confusion and lure people into a fake site to steal their personal information and even their money.

Trend Micro, a computer security company, has published warnings for consumers. The best way to avoid healthcare scams associated with the Affordable care Act is to head directly to the Federal Government website to either find the sites directly or verify the authenticity of sites you might find from a search engine such as Google or Bing.

Remember, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.  Scam artists and cyber thieves will always jump in and take advantage of the confusion surrounding situations such as the Government shutdown and the newest provisions of the Affordable Care Act to make a quick buck at your expense. Be careful of such offers, verify the source and authenticity of anything that requires your personal or private information, and be suspicious of all emails that include links to websites or phone numbers with a too good to be true offer.

Has Your Industry Been Commoditized?

September 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Finance, SmartFem featured content

Has Your Industry Been Commoditized? 5.00/5 1 vote

Recently I had a longtime customer call me to cancel, and of course I was a little taken back since I had built a relationship with them. When I asked why they were leaving they stated that it had nothing to do with my service, but that they had gotten a telemarketing call and someone gave them a smoking rate that was lower than mine. Obviously at that point I talked about lowering the rate and the service I provided, and how I was there for them anytime they had issues or problems with their account.

Upon hanging up, and yes losing the customer in the end, it got me thinking about how many industries have been commoditized by cut rate companies coming in with low ball rates but providing little service. Credit card processing, the insurance industry, and even the banking industry have all been commoditized. Many industries have been affected by cut rate companies promising low rates which sound unbelievably true.

So how do they do it?

Obviously I cannot speak for every industry, but I know how it works in the credit card processing arena. First of all, the low rates that are quoted are typically for check cards/debit cards. The cost from Visa and MasterCard for a check card or debit card is around 1.00% so 1.30% or 1.59% seems like a great rate. However, depending on your business model you may never even see a check or debit card. For instance if you are a vacation and travel company the odds of someone putting their vacation on a check or debit card are very slim so… guess what… you will never see that awesome rate of 1.30% or 1.59%.  So be careful and understand what types of cards you see before you sign a contract.

Another trick of the trade is this: many companies get the account signed at the low rate they promised and when Visa and or MasterCard increase their rates they will increase your percentage rate. So if Visa goes up .01% points well you get a notice that says it is going up .03%. After a couple of increases guess what, you are right back to what you were paying before you switched or even worse case is that they will raise you even higher than what you were originally paying.

So how can you avoid buying into another industry sales gimmick? Just as I always preach, build a relationship with an expert in that industry. Find someone that you know, like, and trust. Go with the person that has been in the business for a good number of years because that person has obviously made a living at what they are doing which means that other people must know, like, and trust them. It doesn’t always work, but I guarantee that the success rate is much higher with an industry veteran versus someone you have never met or has called upon you with the latest scheme or gimmick.

Deborah Bateman and the Only Bank You Need!

Deborah Bateman and the Only Bank You Need! 5.00/5 1 vote

Deborah BatemanDeborah Bateman does incredible things for women. In fact, she is an incredible woman herself. She is the Executive Vice President of National Bank of Arizona as well as being the Director of Wealth Strategies.  National Bank of Arizona is Arizona’s bank for women and Deborah is a large part of what makes that true. After all, she is also the creator of the Women’s Financial Group (WFG). Through this group Deborah and the team at WFG aim to help women become financially “literate.” Deborah said that literacy is, “the foundation.”

Women’s Financial Group would be nothing without the support of Keith Maio, the President and CEO of National Bank of Arizona, either. Deborah attributed him as a huge advocate for programs such as this. It makes a world of difference when there is someone dedicated to the advancement of women financially as the President of the bank. As a woman herself, Deborah understands the issues that come up in the financial world when you are female.  From the astounding wage gap that exists between men and women in the working world, to things such as budgeting and planning, Deborah, along with Women’s Financial Group, works with customers to improve their monetary lifestyle.

On the WFG website, National Bank provides a description on what this specialty organization does.  “WFG is supported by experienced and approachable bankers who understand the financial challenges women face and the strategies to help them succeed in work, business, and life.”

As far as the “financial challenges women face,” Deborah related that they are, “as different as the women.” After years of helping women with their struggles and solutions with money, Deborah knows that every woman is vastly different from the next and that no two problems are alike. The attitude towards diversity and understanding is what makes Women’s Financial Group what it is today.

In addition to aiding clientele of the National Bank, Deborah is famous for her generous nature in promoting and recommending women for various high level positions. In addition to an individual’s own talent, when hiring, Bateman looks for qualities of ingenuity and women with a goal in mind.

inset-WFGCoincidentally, Deborah is one of the most genuine people I have ever had the privilege of interviewing. Her passion for the lifestyle of successful women simply exudes off of her.  She said that she had always been good with money and saving, but there was never really anyone to teach the techniques for building a financial foundation when she was younger, aside from economics classes. Deborah mentioned that it is so important to start young with financial planning. For this reason, National Bank of Arizona occasionally partners with schools across the state in order to provide seminars and workshops to guide teens and young women on their journey towards stability in their immediate and long term future.

Deborah said that her best technique is to always have a goal in mind. She prefers to pick vacations as her own, but there are an infinite number of other end goals, big and small, to prepare, save for, and look forward to.

In closing, Deborah Bateman quoted Ashton Kutcher in a recent speech he made at the Teen Choice Awards. “Build your life,” is what Deborah quoted of Kutcher. This represents building your life in all ways, financially, and simply building it up to what you want to make it. The foundation to the “building of life” is strong financial literacy and with Women’s Financial Group along with Executive Vice President Deborah Bateman achieving your goals is possible.

Coming Soon!

Deborah Bateman will be contributing to through articles, features, and advice. Look for updates on SmartFem’s Facebook page.

5 Tips for Setting Up Credit Card Processing

5 Tips for Setting Up Credit Card Processing 4.50/5 2 votes

When it comes to shopping for credit card processing every company sales on price and that they have the lowest price in town.  So how do you know if you are setting up your Paying with Debit Cardbusiness with the services and pricing that is best?  Here are 5 tips to consider when shopping.

  • Make sure you are not signing a long-term agreement.
    • Most credit card processing companies want you to sign a 3 year commitment, however look for a company that only make you commit to a year.  Or better yet one that is strictly month to month.
  • Do you have a relationship with the company or representative?
    • Go online and do a Google search on that person or business.  Ask another business owner for a referral.  If your gut is telling you that you feel comfortable with the representative then odds are on your side that things will go well.
  • Ask the representative “Who will be servicing my account”?
    • Will that person be your first point of contact or will you just be given an 800 number for support.  If they say yes and give you their cell phone number, call it a few times and see if they answer.  I would also see how long they’ve been in the business…here today, gone tomorrow.
  • Make sure they are asking you questions about how your business functions.
    • If they are not asking questions about how you accept credit cards then they are probably just looking for the sale and don’t really care about your business.  This is where you could LOSE money!  What you don’t understand could hurt your bottom line and once you’ve signed on the dotted line you could be stuck if you signed a committed agreement!
  • MC910215929Ask if they monitor their accounts for risk or fraud and what happens if something bad happens to your account like a breach.
    • If they stumble or cannot answer the question then they don’t really understand the industry and aren’t looking out for your best interest.  Ask if they offer breach insurance.  There could be serious consequences to your business if you get caught in a security risk or fraud issue.


These tips and talking points will give you more to talk about than just pricing and the more items you can discuss the better your gut will feel and tell you if something’s wrong.

The Theives Are Coming, The Theives Are Coming! than a century ago, Paul Revere shouted the warning that is now a part of history forever, “The British Are Coming, The British Are Coming!” And thank goodness people took action and defended themselves and preserved a great nation in the making.

So here is the new warning and proclamation of a fast and furious pending danger, “The ID Theives Are Coming, The ID Thieves Are Coming!”  And too many people are not heeding the warnings of this proclamation, and face a horrible probability of ID theft that gets stronger every day.

Consider this, in 2011 over 2010 there was a 67 percent increase in one year in the number of US citizens (more than 36 million) who received data breach notification letters from various companies, associations, and government agencies.  These letters were to warn citizens that their private and secure ID information was lost or stolen and could be used against them in a harmful way; financially or otherwise.

67 percent is a HUGE and ominous increase to consider.  It is like filling beaches with thousands of sharks and yet everyone keeps going into the water unprotected, because we don’t see the sharks lurking below the surface. Ignoring these statistics and not creating some form of ultimate safety-net to be ready when the sharks/thieves attack, is just like jumping into the shark infested waters and taking your chances.

Now consider this, in 2012 over 2011 there was another increase in data breaches of 48 percent! This signifies compounding data breach statistics over the past two years and justifies someone to get on their horse (or blog) and start screaming some kind of warning to everyone. So here is your warning from your SmartFem advisor: get protected against the risks of ID theft and fraud and do it for less than $1 per month (a SmartFem special offer). This will protect your whole family!


The Millennials: Future of Homeownership

The Millennials: Future of Homeownership 5.00/5 2 votes

House and Keys in Female HandsUp until recent years, buying, owning, and retaining a home for adults who were born post-1980 was out of the question. The past years of unemployment rates, foreclosures, and bad loans had deferred many millennials from thoughts of home ownership. However, with the market shift, and rates that are at all-time lows, many are ready to become first time home-buyers. In fact, 65 percent of renters ages 18-34 with an annual income of at least $50,000 have indicated their intent to buy a home has strengthened significantly within the past year

College graduates today are continuing to wise up when it comes to planning out their next chapter in life. Building a financial portfolio at a young age is becoming increasingly important. The millennials are learning from the patterns of the past and attempting to avoid them by beginning to save early.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the median sales price of a home is $184,300. The mortgage payment, including principal and interest would be $661.89 per month putting at least 20% down payment at a 3.5% interest rate. In comparison, the median rent asking price is $717 per month. Now which option seems more beneficial and logical to a first time buyer?

The way I see it, instead of paying someone else to provide for you, you could provide for yourself. When weighing out the decision between renting vs. owning, you want to take a look at your current finances and get pre-qualified to determine what price point of a home you can afford.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development even has a page specifically for new-home buyers which can help answer most financial questions on the subject.Younger Generation, aka Millennials

The majority of millennials, 76 percent, will buy first with their spouse, and 22 percent will end up purchasing with a roommate. As a couple, the benefit of home ownership includes saving money on your monthly payment, as opposed to a rent situation, and owning a home will also help in building equity for your future.

As an individual, the benefits of owning a home include avoiding the over-payment of rent, but also the possibility of charging a roommate or two monthly rent. With the help of a decent price point, the combined rent money will cover your monthly mortgage, and maybe even place a bit extra back in your wallet.

Both scenarios will enable the homeowner to take advantage of many tax benefits. With a 30 year mortgage fix, your housing expenses will remain the same till the end of the loan. But as for renting housing expenses, the pattern is continuing to rise.

Increasing Cost of Rent

As millennials continue to look forward to a bright, successful future, home ownership seems to be at the top of their list. With the market consistently improving, now is the time, for everyone, to consider making the smart investment in home ownership.

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