Friday, October 30, 2009

ABC News Now - When Two Incomes Becomes One

I just love my bloggers, FB friends & eblast recipients! Once again, you guys helped make the latest segments on ABC NEWS NOW really great!

You can view the first segment and then be sure to view the questions and answers, where YOU had your questions answered on the air and WON a copy of Little Book of Big Savings!

Here's part of the transcript
ELLIE: I think these numbers only indicate part of the problem. For every person we have who is unemployed we have others who have taken pay cuts to keep their jobs or they've had to accept a position significantly below what they had before. Even when the recession ends and we are in recovery, I think we're going to see the contagion effect of unemployment and underemployment.

ELLIE: Step one is to "Review and Re-evaluate your Financial Goals." When you go from two paychecks to one, all of the sudden money for your four year old's college fund and/or funding retirement isn't as important as making the house payment. It's time to radically re-evaluate what needs to get paid to survive. Essentially, you will work backwards. Determine what you need for the end of each month to cover the basics (house, car, insurance, credit card bills, food, etc) and then work backward toward that financial goal.

ELLIE: Establish a "One Income Budget." This will, hopefully, be temporary, but you will need to readjust how money is spent until your spouse is employed again. This will include cutting back on expenses where you can. But don't panic. Before you cut the cable or disconnect the internet, look at ways to cut back that are less painful and more productive.

ELLIE: Call the company and let them know you think you are paying too much & that you can get coverage cheaper elsewhere. It's amazing how motivated they'll be to help you reduce costs. You can raise deductibles to cover the big things and then lower those again when your spouse is employed. My literary agent took this tip to heart and discovered he had an old policy that had been grandfathered in, when they updated it, he saved $475!

ELLIE: It costs less to insure a car that is no longer driven to and from work. Go to to get comparison quotes on your auto insurance, then call your provider and ask for all the discounts that are available to you. Most clients I've worked with save an average of $350.

ELLIE: Whether you live on one income or two, you still have to buy food. By taking ten minutes to go to before you shop, you can save as much as $4,000 per year. The site does most of the work for you as it tells you what is on sale, what manufacturer's coupons are available, what other store coupons are offered and the final price of what you'll pay. There are dozens of items each week that cost only pennies or are free.

ELLIE: Proactively Plan for Your Financial Future. Just because you're unemployed does not mean you should enter the panic mode-this can lead to poor financial decisions. Go get help at the National Consumer Credit Counseling service ( which is a non-profit that won't make you accrue more debt as the "for profit" counseling services will do. Oftentimes the nfcc knows the programs that you may qualify for in order to keep your house, renegotiate with lenders and help you proactively plan for your financial future.

Congratulations to Kristen Whirrett of Fort Wayne, IN; Ruth Schmidt of Willard, MO; Stephanie Woods of Sheperdsville, KY; Karen Power of Keller, TX; Rachel Morales of Victorville, CA and Kathy Hansen of San Diego! You guys had the questions selected by the producers of ABC NEWS NOW - GOOD MONEY show!

Ellie Kay
Americas Family Financial Expert (R)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Calling All Military Spouses!

We are a proud military family as many of you know! My hubby became a fighter pilot in the 80s and has loved every one of his 5,000 hours in the air. Philip, our second oldest son, is at USNA(Naval Academy) and plans on becoming a Marine Corp aviator. The next two sons (still in high school) want to go to USAFA (Air Force) USMA (Army) or even USNA. By the time we're done, we'll be a joint force (purple) family! But it runs in the family. My dad is a retired Chief from the Air Force and my Grandpa was a bombadier in WWII. In fact, we can trace our roots all the way to the Mayflower (John and Priscilla Alden) and they are peppered with service members.

My profession revolves around money matters but my passion revolves around military families. Heroes at Home, is now in the hands of over 100,000 military members and their families, making a huge difference in lives. I've spoken directly to the troops as well as to their spouses everywhere from California to China and from Germantown to Germany. Ellie Kay bylines are in Military Money (Kiplinger), Operation Homefront,, and Military Spouse. All of this is because I believe in and support our military members. I want to bring that message directly to the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In these travels, I have found listening ears as the presentation seeks to encourage and inspire those who put service before self. I know that the WWII generation has been called "The Greatest Generation" but when I look at the young private, stationed in Germany who has to leave his pregnant wife to go to Afghanistan--and he does so willingly and with honor. When I see the airman who volunteers for his third tour in Iraq, knowing it has the possibility of being his last. When I look into the eyes of a 21 year old woman, who proudly tells me what company she's with and when she'll go remote to Korea. When I see this generation making the sacrifices that would have made their great grandparents proud. It's then that I have to say that we're looking at America's Greatest Generation. It's important that we support them. The men and women who serve in our military today--and their spouses are the greatest. I salute them. I thank them every chance I get--whether it's on tv, in person at a Heroes at Home event or in the airport. I encourage you to do the same.

I just got back from TRADOC (a major Army command in Ft. Leavenworth) and once again, I saw the greatest generation in action. The Heroes at Home speech I presented is the same one I've given to over 100,000 military members and their spouses--one event at a time. I don't do it for the standing ovations. In fact, I'm convinced that those standing O's aren't for me at all. I think that my verbal affirmation of the fact that "America loves you, we're proud of you and together we'll be all right" is the reason they stand. Not to single out a keynote speaker, but to applaud the fact that the sacrifices they make have value and meaning--it's worth it. They stand as a team and as a family.

While at TRADOC, I met a team of people also interested in improving the quality of life among military personnel and their families. In an effort to better serve the military, a research group at the University of Kansas is calling for military spouses to complete a survey. Your anonymous response to this research project will help in the implementation of the Army's new Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program.

If you just want to leave a post and thank someone for serving, you can do that here on my blog. With Veteran's Day coming up next month, I think saying "thanks" to a military member or their family is a perfect way to celebrate!

May God Bless America,

Ellie Kay

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

When Two Incomes Become One - WIN A BOOK!

Here is another chance for you to win a copy of Ellie's newest book, The Little Book of Big Savings (Waterbrook, 2009) by having Ellie answer your question on ABC News Now.

Do You Fear Unemployment?
Are you a two income family, that is suddenly down to one income?
Are you afraid your company's cutbacks might include your job as well?

If so, then we want to hear from you! What question(s) would you like to ask Ellie about your situation?

The producer(s) of ABC News Now will select the questions for Ellie to answer on the "Good Money" show to air on October 27, 2009.

Please email your questions to: or posted it on today's blog (below).

The deadline for your questions is: Monday, noon PST, October 26, 2009

Remember the ABCs of past prize winning questions:

  • Accuracy- Questions that accurately fit the show's theme for the day are most relevant. This week's theme is "When Two Incomes Become One."
  • Brevity - If it takes two minutes to ask the question, then it won't be selected. A question that can fit into a 10 to 15 second soundbite is ideal.
  • Clarity - The world of TV news revolves around questions asked in a way that is easily understood by viewers.

We look forward to hearing from YOU as you join Ellie on ABC News!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is the Recovery for Real?

One of my favorite musicals is The Phantom of the Opera. I've seen it on Broadway, in Spokane and in Los Angeles and it's always a powerful reminder of the phantoms we struggle with in life. This recession has been a formidable foe for many Americans as they wonder when (and how) it will end.
Recently, Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernake, announced that he believes the recession is over. How do we know if this is the real deal or just a phantom? Here are some signs that the recession is really over:

  • Retail Sales - With the holidays right around the corner, retailers are forever watching to overall gains and losses. Any signs that retail sales are on a sustainable upward trend (3 or more quarters of growth) are good signs for a recovery.
  • Corporate Profits -- We will need to see genuine revenue growth from US Companies in order for us to say this area is picking up. We can't just look at profits that result from cost and job cuts or stimulus incentives. Real growth means real revenue.
  • The Market - When investors move away from safe havens such as low yielding CDs and money market funds and they instead go back to investing in stocks--then we can be sure that confidence in the stock market has been restored.
  • Jobs -- Just try to tell the guy who is unemployed, "hey good news! The recession is over!" He's still without a job--it doesn't feel like it's over for him. We've lost almost 7 million jobs since the beginning of 2008. Signs that companies are creating jobs, done firing and even looking to hire mean that their cash flow is improving and so is our economy. When there's a drop in the number of jobless claims (getting below 500,000), then we can believe we're in recovery.

Whether the recovery is real or we're still in a recession, it's important to practice the basics of good financial management: get on a budget, live a more frugal lifestyle, pay down debt, and follow the seven steps to thrive and survive during a recession. If you allow this recession to be a wake up call as to how you manage your money, then your personal recovery will last a lifetime!

Ellie Kay

America's Family Financial Expert (R)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

PreMarital Money Talk Winners! - ABC News Now

TO see the winners of this week's questions I answered on ABC News just click on the link. The following bloggers will receive a free copy of The Little Book of Big Savings (Waterbrook, 2009) from our offices: Lauren from Tucson, Trish from Ft. Lauderdale, Misti from Chicago, and J Brooks from Hawaii,

Here is a review of my Q&As for the show:

1.) There’s already so many things going on, Ellie, tell us where you can start when it comes to dealing with money before the big day.

Answer: The most important financial merger of your life requires hard work—but it’s worth it. COMMUNICATION is the key to dealing with money in marriage. According to a 2008 study conducted by California State University, 21% of couples fight over money daily or weekly. 10% fight monthly and 46% put on the gloves every few months.

2.) But successfully merging your money when you marry isn’t as easy as slipping rings on each others’ finger’s. How much time and effort should couples put into this financial merger?

Answer: I think it’s critical for couples to get premarital counseling that specifically deals with money matters. Each partner comes to a marriage with different money management styles. For example, I was a born saver (big surprise) and my husband, who had a good work ethic from the time he was a child was a born spender. In fact, his money never say the inside of his pocket! Consequently, I recommend date nights should be set aside monthly (if not weekly) to regularly talk about your financial progress with your mate. Spouses-to-be who discuss their views of money and work together on how to use their financial resources may discover that they actually like the process.

3.) Also, some experts recommend doing credit checks on their spouse-to-be. Do think this is a good idea? After all ‘till death do us apart is the saying, and that means accepting everything about the other person, including any bad debt.

Answer: I like to say that my love is unconditional, but my money is conditional. Part of accepting my spouse means that I know what I’m accepting—good bad, and indifferent. I need to know the debt, the problem areas and what kind of future the mingling of money will have as an impact on my own credit score. When you merge all financial resources, it means that in many cases---for mortgages, home improvement debt, car loans and joint accounts—his credit becomes my credit.

4 ) When one has better track record than the other, does the credit score get better or worse for the couple?

Answer: Usually, the bad score will more quickly impact the good score when joint credit is secured. However, it depends on how previous debt and accounts are handled. I do not recommend putting the person with good credit onto the debt history of the partner with bad credit—this deteriorates the good payer’s FICO. So if Mr. Debt has a credit card that he wants to add MS. GOOD to, then she just says no. But when it comes to future loans, there is a measure of unavoidable mingling. As a personal example, when my husband and I moved to CA and had to hook up electricity, his FICO score required a $500 deposit and mine allowed us to get it with no deposit—obviously we put the bill in my name and in this case, it didn’t deteriorate my FICO but it saved us $500!

5.) So, what are some of the most crucial topic couples should cover as they talk about financial matters?

Long Term Financial Goals (buy a home, have kids, dream travel destinations)
• Spending Plan
• Saving Plan
• Retirement
• Debt Management
• Short Term Financial Goals (new furniture, honeymoon trip)

5.) And when it comes to financial goals, it’s obviously important to make them and reach them , but it is that something that can wait after you’re married?

Answer: Some goals, such as dream vacation destinations, can be ironed out after marriage. But other goals, such as having kids (and how many) is something that should be agreed upon before you marry. Other critical goals that should be discussed pre-nuptials is home ownership—when and how? One partner may be content to spend money to have a “good life” and doesn’t really care about paying down consumer debt in order to buy a home. While the other partner may think that home ownership is a primary goal and spending should be put on hold in order to achieve that goal. These are the kinds of discussions that are necessary before rather than after the big day.

6.) And of course saving money is at the top of the list for many people, tell us, should we go the route with joint or individual accounts? And why is this important?

Answer: Any home based business accounts should be kept separate at all times from a couples joint account. As to other checking accounts, there is no right or wrong answer on this one—it all depends upon what the couple mutually agrees to and what works for them. If there are separate accounts, there needs to be full disclosure and accountability for those accounts. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of counseling many couples where one spouse racked up thousands of dollars in consumer debt and the other partner knew nothing about it until it was too late. On the other hand, I’m a firm believer in keeping mad money and surprise money separate. After all, if Bob wants to give me a surprise trip to Paris for our anniversary—whom am I to rob him of that pleasure?

7.) And finally tell us how newlyweds can prep for the future. Say, purchasing a home or having new additions to the family like babies. This is something that obviously needs to be discussed before walking down the aisle?

Answer: In the picture above, you'll see the newlyweds in our family, our 22 year old son just married his bride. I’ll give our viewers the advice I gave them: plan for what you can, try to prepare for the unexpected and roll together when life throws you a curveball. Our newlyweds have no consumer debt, student loan debt or automobile debt. One partner is still in college and they both have modest jobs. So they are living within their means, spending less than what they make, and saving for future kids (my grandbabies, mind you!) and a future home of their own. They are on their way to a wonderful life!

Thanks for your questions and be sure to tune in next time to see how you can win a copy of one of my books!

Ellie Kay
America's Family Financial Expert (R)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Money Matters Before You Marry - ABC News!

It's time, once again, for you to win a copy of my book, "The Little Book of Big Savings." If your question is selected by the producers when I'm on ABC News Now this coming Friday, October 9th, then we'll send you a free autographed copy!

The topic is: Money Matters Before you Marry

Deadline for questions: Noon on Thursday, Oct 8th

If you are married, what question do you wish you could have asked Ellie about money matters before you got hitched? If you are not yet married, what are your questions for Ellie? Maybe you have a son or daughter who is engaged, what questions would you like to ask on their behalf?

Submit all questions to ellie's blog at and/or send a copy of the question to:

See you on TV!
Ellie Kay
America's Family Financial Expert (R)