A Financial Education Event

Armed Forces Network Radio and Television-Germany

Today was a great day in Germany with our military members and their families. We had an amazing 15 hour day that began with a meeting with the Wing Commander and ended with a meal of Schnitzel at 10:00 PM (a typical European meal time).
In between meeting and eating we also did some greeting! We met some wonderful professionals at the AFN studio in Germany and I gave interviews on live radio and (taped) television. Pictured are Vanessa Heinzelman and Demarno Spence. We had lots of fun in the studio, especially when they played Collective Soul on the radio in between interview spots. The AFN media really worked well as I gave my “Heroes at Home” message to capacity crowds and also gave the “Half Price Living” message as well. There were many young airmen in the audiences and the looks on thier faces when I autographed free books for them was just so incredible.

Our message is one that we hope encouarges those in the audience to be proud that they are Americans and realize how very special their service in the military is in the big world scheme of life. These men and women were handed their books and I shook their hands, thanking them for their service their faces said, “I’m so proud to serve. You made me feel special and that what I do for a living really matters.” They verbazlied their thoughts and thanks. The very best part of the day was when we saw that they caught the vision of their worth to us and to other Americans.

After a truly gratifying day, Wendy and I slept like babies and were on the road at 7:00 AM the next day (today) to go to England–the next leg on our tour. Tomorrow we have another 15 hour day, beginning with interviews, several presentations at two bases and then a 2.5 hour car trip to London.

I feel that so many of you are with us in spirit and I share your sentiments of gratefulness to our military members and their families as we give these presentations.

God bless you and God bless America!

Ellie Kay
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

Ellie Kay, Featured Expert: Front Page USA Today Story

I’m in Chicago last week, eating at “Bubba Gump Shrimp” in a business meeting. The waiter comes to our table with important issues–trivia questions:

  1. Name the two rock and roll artists that Forrest meets
  2. Name the three Presidents that he met.
  3. Name his three best friends (one female, two males)

So far, I’ve gotten all the questions right and I’m feeling pretty good about life and then my assistant for the trip (Bethany Grace) gets a call from a USA Today reporter. He’s doing a feature cover story on ways Americans are cutting back on “luxury items.” I take the call outside the restaurant (did I mention Chicago was a chilly 5 degrees?) and tried to get out of the “Forrest” frame of mind and into the “Financial Expert” mode.

He said: “So do you think that the American public is headed for a recession.”

I said: “Life is a like box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.”

He said: “Um…people are cutting back on things like Starbucks and Evian water, do you think that’s smart?”

I said: “My mama always said…stupid is as stupid does.”

He said: “That’s fascinating, do you have any thoughts on the perceived peer pressure among people who are saving and those who are not?”

I said: “I just had 19 Dr. Peppers, I have to go….”

After about 30 minutes of this, the poor guy had to either end the interview or end his life. I guess he’s still alive and I must have managed to say something worthwhile as the piece ran with my incredibly Forrest-like wisdom included. For the full article, go to http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2008-02-26-consumers-cut-small-luxuries_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip .

As a result of that story breaking today, my offices were contacted by CBS radio and I did a slightly better interview for them than my Bubba Gump shrimp interview. You’ll hear that airing throughout the day as well.

Just remember one more thing, if you follow the tips in this blog, you’ll be able to get where you’re going. You can have your savings and some of your luxury items too–if you cut back the smart way. Just step in my shoes and I’ll take you there because “Mama says they was magic shoes, they could take me anywhere.”

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Ellie Kay

“America’s Family Financial Expert” (R)


Ellie on Fox News Network!

I came home from Fort Polk, LA to a message from The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet. They had a family they wanted to help recession proof their life. I packed my bags and left the next day for New York. My hotel was in Times Square, so I shielded my eyes from looking at the N-ked Cowboy (and instead saw the N-ked Cowdog) and made my way to the Stage Deli for some pickles and cheesecake.

Here’s a link to the show we did with the Payne family. They were fantastic and when they showed up, the father did not have a job after much searching, they had their five beautiful kids in tow and their house was in foreclosure. Here’s a link to their story.


And it’s cool to report that this story has a happy progress report after only one week! Here’s the note I got from Jefri and Tymika:

This is Jefri Payne from Indianapolis, IN. My wife (Tymika) and I were on the Morning Show with Mike and Juliet with you last Monday. I am writing to thank you for all the wisdom, advice, and most of all the encouragement you shared to help us improve our lives financially. Things have started to improve for us. I started a new job Wednesday as a substitute teacher in the local school district. I have signed on with Career Builder to improve my marketability. Tymika is clipping coupons like a madwoman. We took our children to Wal-mart with the gift card and treated them to some new clothes, shoes, and groceries. We have spoken to a certified mortgage loan officer about our mortgage situation. After reviewing our paperwork, she discovered that we have been overcharged. To top things off, the realator who got us in this house was put in jail for mortgage fraud. When everything is said and done, we will be paying 50% less per month and possibly credited all that we have paid thus far. I am looking forward to things turning around completely. — Thank you, Jefri and Tymika Payne!

So take courage, Mr. & Mrs. America! Your “low point” may simply be your “turning point” toward a road to recovery!

Ellie Kay
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

Random House AudioBooks & The New York Times

I don’t get sick often, but two days after I posted my last blog I got kicked into bed for FIVE DAYS! I had chills, fever, a migraine–it was so bad I couldn’t take my kids to/from school. Bob, who was out of town flying, called my girlfriends, Lina and Audrey, who helped in the pinch. Once every couple of years, I get that sick. I even had to have Bob drive me down to Los Angeles on Sun night to be in place to record my audiobook on Monday morning. I was set to do the reading.

Miraculously, by 6:00 PM on Sun, I started feeling better. Even though I was as weak as a kitten, I managed to get through the first day’s worth of taping. Jessica, my producer, was fabulous–she made me sound young and skinny! She also told me I was wearing “quiet clothes” when I arrived at the studio–knits that don’t make sounds. She said she had one famous producer arrive in a Safari suit. Once he had taken off most of the suit, he announced, “I’m not taking anything else off!”

On the second day of taping, I went down to the Hilton gift shop and got a copy of the New York Times and who was featured in the Business day but yours truly? http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/14/business/14homeec.html?oref=login# There’s been a flurry of major media since it hit and it’s been busy for this weak kitten, just coming back.

One of the other fun things I learned at the audio book taping was when Jessica, a producer-and-attorney-and-single-mom, turned me on to http://www.fatwallet.com/ . This is a site like Craig’s list, but more inclusive, and better monitored (to keep whack jobs out). When I got home, I played around on the site and found coupons for free Lattes at Barnes and Noble. I picked up the boys from school and we all had a free drink thanks to FatWallet.
Now I’m off on travels—again.

Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

Ellie on The Today Show

Hey, isn’t it great when you can be two places at once? I’m visiting my daughter in college in Washington and last night, while we were sitting in the theater, watching the touring Broadway version of “Phantom of the Opera” there was a story being prepped in NYC for The Today Show.

So this morning, while we ordered room service for breakfast, I was also on The Today Show in New York City! The piece is about the historical tendency for merchants to try and “sell” the consumer during difficult economic times. The reporter saw that during the current financial crisis, there is another trend–some merchants are actually trying to help their customer weather the storm. That’s where I come in–as the financial expert who has partnered with Wal-Mart in order to help educate consumers in all the areas that matter most from budgeting to paying down debt to buying smarter.

To see the show, go to:

Today Show – 10/20/08http://www.criticalmention.com/ctv3-1/landing_email.php?type=email&video=true&random_string=7e2738249097a1ec8d1f5c1eabd8bda5

Now, back to visiting with my baby girl!

Ellie Kay

“America’s Family Financial Expert” (R)


Dr. Laura features Ellie Kay’s “Heroes at Home”

Today, Monday, November 17th, Dr. Laura is featuring my book, “Heroes at Home” on her radio show and will give away 30 copies of the book. So call in today and get your free copy! http://www.drlaura.com/reading/. Her son is an American paratrooper and there’s nothing like having your baby go and jump out of a perfectly good airplane to make you want to reach out to other military families and help them!

That’s what I did last week on Veteran’s Day when I was on Midday Connection, a large national radio call in show. One of the callers was Kelly, a girl who had read “Heroes at Home” and was in the audience when I spoke at the Stryker Brigade in Alaska two years ago. It was a horrible, no good, very bad time for these families as their military members, who had been gone a year, came home and were sent back for another four months. Donald Rumsfeld was sent out to play “clean up” batter and the community of Fairbanks, Alaska brought me out to play “pinch hitter.” He spoke of “reasons” and I spoke of “reality.”
On the phone, Kelly thanked me and talked about what it was like for her and her husband during that time and how our “Heroes at Home” team made a big difference. I remember telling them not to vent on their spouses in Iraq, but to tell them three simple things, “I love you, I’m proud of you, I’ll be all right.” Then when they came home from Iraq, they could let him change diapers.
Later in the program, a female soldier called in who was also in the Stryker Brigade during that difficult time and shared the perspective of what it’s like from the other side of the ocean. She said she remembered hearing what our team did for the families during that trip and thanked me from a soldier’s perspective.
Finally, Bill called and gave us a retiree’s perspective. His voice sounded so feeble, but Anita, the host, and I quickly realized it sounded that way because he was emotional. His quietly told us that he (and others) had been honored at a special Veteran’s Day event at a local middle school. Anita had to drag his own story out of him because he was too humble to let us know that he was a tail gunner in B-17s in WWII. He said, “This program, what they did for us, was very meaningful.” Then he began to cry. It was a powerful moment. Somehow, I held it together enough to thank him for his service and Anita had to cut to a break because she, too, was feeling the power of a grateful heart.

Ellie Kay on Fox and Friends

This morning I met Mike Huckabee in the green room at Fox! He was really kind and gracious and nice to everyone from the tech people to the talent! A great contrast to the man I met on a previous show, a billionaire in the green room with an ego the size of Texas! You meet the good, the bad and the ugly.

Today’s show was a lot of fun and I’ve already received some questions from viewers. One of the most common questions has to do with Homeowners Policies. Most consumers have this paid by the bank as part of their mortgage payment, so when the policy renewal comes in they put it aside and say, “Oh, the bank pays this so I don’t have to worry about it.” Wrong.

It’s important to re-evaluate all your policies EACH YEAR (homeowners, auto, health, life) because you could be missing out on savings. It’s important to make sure you have your home insured for the actual cash value (ACV). So you need to make sure you have an RCV (replacement cost value) clause in your policy and be insured to value or you might find yourself with the inability to repair, replace or rebuild your home at full value in the event of a covered loss. Also, you insure the HOUSE not the DIRT. So if your home is valued at 300K, you won’t insure the house for that much!

Call you homeowners insurance policy broker, he’s the expert, and see if you can or should make adjustments to your coverage. Recently a client made that call and “for the SAME coverage” reduced his premiums by 30% because the insurance company had phased out his old policy but never told him! Ask your insurance broker for a quote for higher deductibles and any other discounts that you may qualify for.

For more tips, watch the Fox and Friends clip online!

Ellie Kay
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

Ellie on MSNBC – Should You Rent or Buy?

I was on MSNBC a little while back and several of you have written me for the link. I did the show live from the west coast NBC Bureau. It was a CRAZY day, but it worked out. We got the notice that I needed to leave (and be camera ready) in 1.5 hours. Then the car service did not arrive and when I called them, they had the wrong time (east coast instead of west coast). This meant I had to hop in my roadster (good thing it’s fast) and just start driving, getting directions (via my cel) while in the car. They bumped the segment to the bottom of the half hour in order for me to arrive at the studio in time. I walked in, did the show and then left right after. I’m always amazed by the stats involved in media –2.5 million viewers, the equivalent of $150K in advertising for the 5 minutes I’m on the show–really wild. But I also got 6 really quick and easy tips into the segment to help consumers.

One of the things I’ve been talking about in the media is the entire question of “do I rent or do I buy?” Well, I’ve got a handy dandy rent vs. buying tool on my website (along with a ton of other cool calculators) that can help you crunch the numbers. Generally speaking, if you are going to stay in your house for 5 years or longer, then it is a fantastic time to buy. But you also need to know what kind of mortgage rate you will get, if you have ample downpayment and if your job looks secure enough in the future to be able to take on the responsibility of a home (not to mention all the associated costs like upkeep, utilities, taxes, insurance, etc). Long gone are the days of mortgage lenders overlooking debt versus income ratios and not following up on applications that could include falsified information.

So if you know someone who is considering taking this big step, direct them to this tool and it could save them a huge headache!

Ellie Kay
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

Texas to Toronto – From Ya’ll to Eh!

My “Living Rich for Less” book tour took me from my original stomping grounds in Texas all the way to the frozen white north of Toronto. I tend to adapt easily to my surroundings, so when I did TV shows in Canada, I found myself saying, “The thing aboot finances if that you have to stay on top of them, eh?”

In Dallas, I had to keep myself from saying, “Hey ya’ll, I’m fixing to tell you some thangs that are gonna help you a bushel with yer money.” But somehow I managed and you can see some of these clips to get short, pithy and helpful hints that will help to save you $30,000 in 2009! This was on CBS NEWS You be the judge and tell me if you think the Financial Expert or the Texan took over in these interviews!

Ellie’s personal story: Runs 2:40
– Ellie on the economy: Runs :43
– How to save on Homeowner’s Insurance: Runs: 1:51
– How to save on Auto Insurance: Runs 1:31
– Grocery Savings: Runs 1:14
– Restaurant savings: Runs :55
– Saving Is Cool: Runs: :24
– Tips on Refinancing your mortgage: Runs: :47
– Charitable Donations: Runs: 2:09

I’ll be back to Texas to do shows for CBS “Prime Time” (interactive perhaps?) and other shows on March 19th–so stay tuned!

Hey ya’ll, check back again for more helpful hints on my blog, eh?

Ellie Kay
America’s Family Financial Expert

Ellie on Neil Cavuto — Financially Pinched Companies Pinch Employees

Goodyear Tire announced that they were reinstating their 401(k) program after cancelling it in 2003. But it’s not the “good news” it appears to be because at the same time they froze more traditional pensions, thereby saving hundreds of millions of dollars at employee’s expense! So what do YOU do when your company cuts benefits–do you have a recourse?
Basically, you take charge. You don’t rely on your company to be your uncle sugar, you realize that you have to rely on other resources that are available to you. Today, I shared this on Neil Cavuto
1) TAKE ADVANTAGE WHILE YOU CAN: Invest in your 401(k) if/when it comes back into play. Companies are reinstating formerly suspended 401(k) plans. These may come back for six months, a year or longer. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE MATCHING PORTION up to the the % the company allows (usually 4% or 5%). Even if they are only matching 25%, that’s a much better percentage than what you can make on your money in today’s market.
2) TAKE MATTERS INTO YOUR OWN HANDS: One of the things that companies are doing is kind of a bait and switch tactic. For example, they may be reinstating 401(k)s but they are coming in the back door and cutting pension programs that are far more costly. It used to be that you could cound on social security and your pension to retire, but that is no longer true during a recession. Therefore, you need to fund your own retirement through Roth or Regular IRAs or even a SEP IRA (Simplified Employee Pension) if you or your spouse own a small homebased business. Max out the amount you contribute to your IRA based on your age (up to $5,000 for a traditional IRA or $6,000 if you are over 50) and don’t trust your company to fund your retirement.
3) TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN HEALTHCARE: Just about the time we find out that healthcare costs are rising 7% to 8%, we also find out that more and more companies are cutting healthcare benefits. Yesterday was the time to check into a high deductible individual or family plan with an HSA (Health Savings Account). For example, if you’re an individual and have a $2900 deductible on your health insurance, you can tuck up to $2900 into a tax favored HSA account. If you’re a family you can contribute up to $5800 per year. These tax favored funds are not the old fashioned “use it or lose it” rather they are your funds that will be rolled over from year to year and can eventually be used at retirement. Premiums for this high deductible plans are about half what a costly group plan can cost you and your family, so now is the time to have that safety net of covering the big medical expenses while not trusting your employer to be there for you when it comes to healthcare.
4) TAKE IT TO THE TOP & BE THE TOP: Employers still want to attract and keep the best talent. Show them you are not the weak link and make yourself indispensable. Go the extra mile, do quality work, bring in business, get along with your peers, support your boss and make sure that YOU are the talent they want to keep.
5) TAKE THE HIGH ROAD: If you are in the position of having to accept a severance package realize that you can still negotiate it. You can often test the wiggle room to get a higher amount and you can determine whether you take a lump sum or a longer payout. You also need to be sure to negotiate for longer lasting health and life insurance benefits. Don’t sign any papers the day you are let go and don’t make any rash or emotional decisions. Take a breath, take your time and realize that you still have options.

Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert (R)
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