Read about the ‘Matter of Money’ Movement!

matterofmoney-sqlogo-01WELCOME to the Matter of Money Movement!

First and foremost, if you are reading this, I THANK YOU! I appreciate you visiting the website, following MyHomeMatters on Twitter, liking the FaceBook page or connecting professionally on LinkedIn. All of these amazing venues give me an opportunity to spread the word about something that matters a whole lot to just about everyone — MONEY & HOME! I decided after reflecting on the past year, I would take a moment to talk about what ‘Matter of Money’ is about, why I started writing and what I hope to achieve.

 

You cannot lead or change anything if nobody knows where you are going”

Whatever you are doing in life, you need to know where you are going and others need to know it to. Without a  vision and a plan, you cannot lead.

MatterofMoney (MoM) is a movement (of sorts), a movement that is very personal for me. A move toward financial freedom, sharing and wisdom. The more good and accurate information people have about money, the more in control of money they can be. We all deserve to be in control of our lives, ourselves and our relationships and that means control over matters of money. It should begin at a young age with financial education. It should be reinforced all of the time. Before big decisions are made that involve finances, everyone should be fully informed about the benefits and the consequences equally. This includes student loans, home buying, renting, jobs, financial planning, car loans, insurance and credit. This movement starts with people – consumers, you and me. And it makes a connection to how the markets and policies and industries influence consumers. The movement attempts to pull a combination and understanding of all parts together so that everyone wins.

Background — How the journey began

My journey toward this point began in housing counseling and ministry when I was a Realtor 20 years ago. I was selling homes, helping clients weed through financing options and I worked in church ministries teaching people about managing finances and preparation for buying a home. I learned about the power of credit, and the importance of a personal financial picture to ‘upward mobility’ in this country. I loved selling homes and counseling, and I knew then that I was going to have a career in housing and financial services. I absolutely loved helping people understand what was possible financially and ultimately handing them keys to their new homes or rental properties. The looks on their faces and the pure joy of having a place of their own is one I always hold with me. That is really what it is all about at the end of the day. Feeling a sense of ‘home’ and ‘stability’, and building a future for yourself and family.

My professional work started in banking, evolved to consumer lending and landed in mortgages. I have been involved in policy, compliance, operations, sales, audit and program management for large and mid-size banks and mortgage finance companies over the past 15 years. In 2008, I became very involved in matters related to the financial crisis and housing bust. I found myself in the epicenter of the crisis while I was working at Fannie Mae, where I was asked to take a role in housing policy and implementation as part of the U.S. Treasury’s recovery program launch- Making Home Affordable.  The main focus of my work was centered around foreclosures and prevention methods, and working with all of the banks to stabilize a program to help keep people from losing their homes. Foreclosures were skyrocketing as people began defaulting on mortgages across the country, home values were plummeting, and in some cases people were seeing all of their net worth disappear in what became an epic housing and financial system collapse.

I was working together with government, consumers, housing counselors, lawyers, judges, realtors, builders and financial institutions trying to put our heads together and solve one of the biggest financial crisis this country ever faced. Nobody had answers. There wasn’t one solution to solve such a big problem. Bad things were happening very fast, jobs were being lost and families were being put out on the street. The one thing that has stuck with me through all of it, as I saw so many families appear to be losing it all, was how uninformed people were about the situation they were in and how they approached trying to get out of it. On the flip side it also became very clear how inept the housing finance industry supporting all of the mortgages was at understanding how to fix the problem or deal with the people. An industry built primarily around ‘collateral, credit, and cash‘ all of sudden was expected to know how to deal with ‘consumers, complaints and compliance‘. This continues to be the center of the rebuilding effort now, with a lot of government intervention. We are now 5 years into the crisis and heading into a new year, and many of the issues persist. The road to recovery is a long road with many turns.

Over the past 5 years I have spent a lot of time with people in communities across the country through foreclosure prevention outreach, counseling, and teaching. I observed. I listened. And I learned something important — average consumers don’t understand how the system works for and against them, information was lacking, education was needed. I could help. I could teach. I could empower people with information to better their situation. It didn’t always mean a home was saved, but it did mean a life was changed,a new path was started. I decided that I would be everywhere humanly possible to be part of a solution. But being everywhere physically is really just not possible. I found that the ability to write things down, explain in simple terms and share some things that are very complex in simple terms for people was powerful. Writing and the internet help spread the word quickly to places I may not have been able to go visit at an outreach center. And it is working. My writing has been picked up in national consumer education campaigns, magazines, consumer credit blogs, national/local real estate publications and more. It is reaching people. I hear from people about their stories and situations and I can offer counsel. Its become a passion. It started as a simple blog called MyHomeMatters, edited by my younger sister and has continued to grow and evolve into something meaningful. If I am able to help anyone find a better path in their financial or housing situation, even if just one person, it means something. And this is how ‘Matter of Money’ came to be.

Fundamentals of the Vision – Home Matters, Money Matters

I believe that planning, saving, housing and giving are the foundations for a healthy and peaceful relationship with money. It may seem strange to see housing in that statement, but its just a simple truth that I have seen time and time again while fulfilling a dream of owning a home or through the extreme stress of seeing someone lose their home. through foreclosure or eviction. Where you live drives every aspect of your life – good or bad.  Where you live is your home, your stability and your foundation.  The place we call home–defines our quality of life, our health, education, financial status and opportunities. Home Matters. Money Matters. It’s all part of who we are. Very few can tell you a story about who they are without some connection to a home, community or neighborhood. And I do mean home in the broadest sense of the word, because the experience of home is so different for so many people. It could be a house, an apartment/condo, a military  base, a foster home, or grandma’s house. Its very unique and personal for each individual. Yet its so big.

Thank you for reading, following and for being a part of this important movement. Please spread the word!

Sincerely,
Alanna

Alanna McCargo is a housing and financial services executive and personal finance writer and advocate. She is a public speaker on hot topics in financial services and the housing market, and she writes a personal finance blog called “Matter of Money.” She is an active volunteer and serves on the board of directors for the Women in Housing & Finance Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to advancing financial literacy, housing policy issues, and education programs for women, children, and under-served communities. She also serves on the Habitat for Humanity of DC Advisory Board focused on supporting programs, funding, outreach and partnerships to build affordable housing stock in one of America’s least affordable cities. Follow Alanna on Twitter @myhomematters.

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