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Keeping up with the Joneses online: An old phenomenon moves to a new platform

MMI Copywriter

By Kim McGrigg, MMI Community Manager

Websites such as Facebook and Twitter can add a lot to your social life, but their use also comes with the inevitable myriad of consequences. Some are more obvious, such as the loss of time management skills. (Did I really just spend two hours on Facebook reading what that woman I barely remember from college had to eat for lunch today?!)  And then there are those that can impact your wallet – yes, your wallet.

There are numerous factors that drive consumption, according to financial experts. From a desire to show off our success, to coveting things other people have, these feelings can be magnified when you are comparing yourself with the virtual “Joneses” on websites such as Facebook.

When you are looking at photos from the “amazing vacation!” a former colleague recently returned from in Europe, it may be hard to suppress the green-eyed monster that is threatening to rear its ugly head. As you peruse the lives of others via status updates and posted photos you may find yourself wondering why everyone else has such a seemingly perfect, financially stable life.

In reality, that is almost never the case. Studies show more Americans are relying on credit to maintain their standards of living. According to the Federal Reserve, the total U.S. consumer debt is $2.4 trillion as of June 2010. Statistics also show the average credit card debt per household is $15,788.

Don’t be tempted to sacrifice the peace of mind provided by sound financial planning for the opportunity to post a rejoinder to someone’s recent purchase of the latest HD television.  Instead, try looking for ways that social sites can actually improve your financial standing. 

Following are six ways you can use Facebook and Twitter to your financial advantage.

  1. Stay informed.  Get up-to-the minute information by following the tweets of top personal finance bloggers. 
  2. Get support.  Many financial services organizations offer information about products and services via their social networks and some even offer support services. 
  3. Ask questions.  Get free answers to personal questions in forums and tweetchats.  Most participants are happy to share their knowledge and experience. 
  4. Gain balance.  “Liking” personal finance websites and organizations on Facebook will give some needed balance to your news feed.  Look for profiles that will regularly provide you with practical ideas on improving your financial situation.
  5. Win prizes. Both Twitter and Facebook are full of opportunities to enter contests for chances to win gift cards and prizes.  While you shouldn’t ever count on winning, it doesn’t hurt to try!
  6. Further your career.  Having a steady income is imperative to your financial wellness.  Social sites are a great place for networking and learning. 

The key to managing your online community and your money is to keep your perspective.  Be aware that when someone creates a social media profile, they are determining the version of themselves that you will see. Their virtual persona is not necessarily their reality. How many times have you seen photos of credit card statements to go along with the photos from that fabulous trip to the beach?

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June is National Homeownership Month. Are you thinking of buying a home? Are you dealing with issues regarding your current property?

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When you submit a question, a member of our team of experts will personally respond by email with answers, helpful tips, and/or solutions. This is a free service offered by Money Management International (MMI).

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Emergency Homeowners' Loan Program - MMI assisting distressed homeowners with HUD's new initiative


This week the federal government launched a $1 billion initiative that is expected to help up to 30,000 homeowners in 27 states and Puerto Rico.

The Emergency Homeowners’ Loan Program (EHLP) was created to help homeowners at risk of foreclosure due to economic hardships caused by unemployment, underemployment, or a medical condition. If eligible, homeowners can receive emergency assistance to pay a portion of their mortgage for up to 24 consecutive months or $50,000, whichever comes first. The program is designed to assist homeowners who experience a drop in income of at least 15 percent.

Money Management International (MMI) has been approved to assist struggling homeowners in applying for emergency assistance from the EHLP and is currently accepting the pre-applicant screening worksheet required by HUD. There is no cost to complete and submit the worksheet, but homeowners must act fast. The deadline for submitting the pre-applicant screening worksheet is July 27, 2011.

MMI counselors and experts will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer questions about the EHLP program and help with the submission process.

The application process will include three steps:

  • Pre-screening Process - Applicants must complete a pre-screening worksheet and sign and date a pre-application authorization form.
  • Selection Process - NeighborWorks America, the national organization partnering with HUD to facilitate the program, will select homeowners until funds have been depleted for their state.
  • Application Process - Homeowners selected through the pre-screening process will be contacted with further instructions, including the documents needed for the loan application process. HUD will later contact them to complete the funding process.

The experts at MMI will be available to assist and advise throughout the process. Call MMI at 877-329-2502 for information and assistance, or go online at

As part of its mission, MMI assists distressed and struggling homeowners through its ongoing counseling and financial education services. The organization’s trained counselors are experts in helping clients find alternative options to foreclosure and create a plan to maintain their dream of successful homeownership.

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About Money Management International

Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling, and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan, and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call
866.530.9869 or visit

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