Archive for June, 2011

Credit Cards: Understanding Your Rights

Credit Cards: Understanding Your Rights

Credit cards. They can be a real convenience. Yet they can also help unwary consumers drive up debt that is hard to escape. If you are a credit card user, it’s important to use your credit card wisely, and also understand your rights, in order to protect your credit rating and live the lifestyle you choose.

Using Credit Cards Wisely

When choosing a credit card, it’s important to check the interest rate that will be charged. When you do not pay the full amount of your bill within the billing cycle (around 30 days), you are charged a percentage of that amount on top of the amount owed. This can really add up each month, so be sure that you understand how much more you will pay for the same purchase.

For example, if you are purchasing a $1000 item with your credit card, and only pay $10 towards that amount each month, and your card charges 10% interest each month, you will pay $1159 extra in interest, and it will take you 18 years to pay off that item. Is it really worth it? You might be better off just putting money aside each month until you have enough to purchase the item outright.

You can check out your own purchases using a credit card calculator online, such as this one.

Understanding Your Rights

Credit card companies also have obligations when it comes to lending through credit cards. Some things you should know:

  • Your credit card company must inform you, in writing, 45 days before raising your interest rate. They must also tell you how to cancel your card as part of that notification.
  • You must receive your statement at least 21 days before the payment is due.
  • Interest rates cannot be increased during the first 12 months that you have a credit card.
  • Promotional rates must last 6 months.
  • Your bank can increase your interest rate if your payment is more than 30 days late.

These and other rights are included in this PowerPoint that you can download titled “Credit Card Act of 2009 and You.

Know Your Credit Score

Your ability to get a credit card with a low interest rate is determined by your credit score.  It’s important to review your credit report regularly, to ensure that everything on it is accurate. This will help you make better decisions.

How do you protect your credit score? How do you teach your kids to use credit wisely? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

Why Supporting the DSEF Matters: Guest Post by Jen Fong

Why Supporting the DSEF Matters: Guest Post by Jen Fong

When I served as president of a direct selling company, my first introduction to the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) was at a DSA Annual Meeting. Doris Christopher, founder of The Pampered Chef, unveiled the Ethics videos they’d just produced, and asked us to support the DSEF. To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what the DSEF did, but, heck, Doris Christopher is kind of an icon for me, and I wrote my check.

And I really didn’t think about the DSEF much beyond that. I wrote my check each year at the DSA Annual Meeting after a moving presentation, and that was it.

And then this year, the DSEF approached me about helping with their social media strategy. And I got a chance to participate in some of their events with outside stakeholders, meet the passionate staff, interview some of their partners at colleges, the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Women’s Business Centers, and more.

The stories I heard were remarkable. Stories about giving women a chance to make it because they learned about direct selling through DSEF’s partnerships with Women’s Business Centers. About students who never understood direct selling before, but after attending a Girl’s Night Out or Campus Days event realized that they might one day want to own their own business. About women who got free financial information as a result of the programs that the DSEF supported, which helped them make wiser decisions about their money. And it made me even more passionate about telling the DSEF story through social media.

Because you see, the DSEF has quietly, behind the scenes, been serving the public for nearly 40 years. They’ve been advocates for women’s empowerment. They’ve defended the rights of consumers. They’ve helped college students learn about why direct selling is a great entrepreneurial option. And throughout this work, they’ve also produced some remarkable resources that direct sellers can use to build their businesses in an ethical way.

Here are just some of the resources they’ve shared to date:

Pretty remarkable, right? The work they’ve done on behalf of the industry is enormous. And they’re not even CLOSE to done.

So this year, I encourage every direct selling company to be generous in their support of the DSEF. Tell your salesforce to go get the amazing resources they’re sharing through their FacebookTwitter, and YouTube accounts. They need your support to continue showing the world that direct selling is an ethical, legitimate option. They need your support to stand up for consumer protection, ethics education, women’s empowerment, and more.

They make you look good. They help the public understand that you’re NOT a pyramid scheme, but instead a legitimate business opportunity. They provide 3rd party resources that help your salespeople show how ethical you really are.

Companies can support the DSEF. And so can individuals. I encourage you to support the DSEF right now. Click here to donate.

It matters.

Jennifer Fong is a corporate consultant and speaker who teaches direct selling companies and individual direct sellers how to use social media effectively as a business building tool. She is also the author of the blog, Direct Sales and Social Media, which is read by thousands of people in direct sales from around the world.

Take Control of Your Finances: Tips to Become Debt Free

Take Control of Your Finances: Tips to Become Debt Free

Money. It’s something that each of us deals with on a daily basis. Yet a lot of us are not very good at it. Out of control credit card debt and spending, instead of investing and saving, are causing levels of debt that are nearing crisis levels.

Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do right now to get yourself out of debt, and take control of your finances. Here are some tips:

  • Keep a spending diary. Every time you spend money, write down what you’re purchasing, and what it’s for.
  • Write a list before shopping, and stick to it. You’re less likely to load up on impulse buys if you have a list.
  • Have a certain amount in your checking account automatically transferred to savings each month. The savings can really add up over time.
  • Work a part-time business on the side, such as direct selling, and put that income towards debt or savings. It’s a great way to help with bills without touching the money from your regular income.
  • Pay your mortgage every two weeks instead of monthly. The extra payments will cut years off your mortgage payments.
  • Start a “clothing co-op” in your neighborhood. Participants pass kids’ (and even adult!) clothes down as the kids grow out of them. Everyone saves money!

Ready to learn more about taking control of your finances? Check out the Moneywise Women Get Smart teleseminar series. Our sponsorship makes these calls free for you. Take advantage, and get smart about your finances!

Ethics in Business: What You Can Do as a Business Owner

Ethics in Business: What You Can Do as a Business Owner

As a business owner, you know how important your reputation is. People do business with you because they know, like, and trust you. As a result, it’s important to be sure your business transactions are conducted with the highest level of ethics. In this interconnected world, even on questionable transaction can come back to haunt you time and time again.

So what can you do to assure your customers that you hold yourself, and your business, to the highest level of ethics? Here are some tips:

  • If you’re a direct seller, join a Direct Selling Association (DSA) member company. ( Organizations that are members of the DSA agree to the DSA Code of Ethics. Explain to customers how shopping with a DSA member company benefits them.
  • Understand how the DSA Code of Ethics works, and what it means for your business. A great place to start is by watching our series of ethics videos. You can view them on our YouTube channel here: (
  • Make sure your customer always understands exactly what he/she is purchasing, how it works, and how much it costs. Always follow up after the sale to ensure that the customer is satisfied. If he/she needs to return something or changes his/her mind about a purchase within 3 business days, make it easy. This helps build a customer for life.
  • Make sure it’s easy to contact you both before AND after the sale, so if a customer needs something they can find you easily. Include your name and phone number on the customer’s receipt, and verbally tell them how to contact you at the end of the transaction. If you’re online, it’s also a good idea to connect with your customer via your social networks, so you’re easy to reach if there’s a need.
  • Keep your word. If you tell a customer he/she can expect something from you, make sure it happens. Ethics and integrity are paramount when you’re a business owner.

Ethics is a key component to any successful business. Not only will you feel great about the work that you’re doing, but customers will prefer to shop with you, because they know they can trust you.

To learn more about ethics in business, and resources we provide to help, visit our website at We’re here to help you do business better! We wish you much success.

Women’s Entrepreneurship in a Down Economy: Tips for Starting Your Own Business

Women’s Entrepreneurship in a Down Economy: Tips for Starting Your Own Business

Ready to Start Your Own Business? Tips for Getting Started

June is National Women’s Confidence Month. Many women find that owning their own business gives them tremendous confidence. It helps you take control of your finances, set and reach goals, and enjoy the satisfaction of accomplishing what you set out to do.

This economy has been a tough one for many families. Many people have lost their jobs, and families have been forced to find new ways to earn an income. One way families have done so is through direct selling. It’s a low investment way to start your own business. What’s nice about direct selling is that it can be done around other priorities. So if you’re looking for work, you can do it on the side and still bring in some income. Others start part time, with the intention of going full time once they reach a certain income level.

Have you thought about starting your own business? Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • On Your Own or With Support? Decide if you’ll start a business from scratch (larger investment of time and money), or if you’ll start a business under a company (direct sales or franchise).
  • What Kind of Business? Are you interested in consulting, sales, virtual administrative support…there are many things you can do. Decide what you’re most interested in doing, and where you’ll earn the income you’re looking for.
  • How Much Will I Need to Invest? Be sure you understand the costs involved in starting a business. Do you have the money, and are you able to earn your initial investment back quickly?
  • Do your Research! Research the type of business you want to start. Who has been successful in this business? How much time is required? Will you need to learn any new skills to be successful? Is training provided? How much income can you earn? If possible, talk to others who have run a successful business in the field you wish to work. A women’s business center in your area can be helpful as you conduct this research.
  • Check Out the DSA Website. If you’re thinking about a direct selling opportunity, check out companies that are Direct Selling Association members ( These organizations agree to comply with the DSA code of ethics, which protects you and the consumers you’ll work with. It’s a great idea to choose a DSA company that offers a product line you love.
  • Tap Your Warm Market. Talk to your friends and family about the business you’re thinking about starting. Are any of them potential customers? Would they do business with you? It’s great to get a feel for your “warm market” prior to starting your business, as this can be a great foundation from which to start.
  • Read Any Contracts Carefully. When you start your business, you’ll likely need to sign agreements or other contracts. Be sure you read these carefully, so you know exactly what terms you’re agreeing to. When in doubt, consult with an attorney who specializes in small businesses.

Above all else, be sure you choose a business you’ll enjoy. After all, you’ll most likely be spending a lot of time on your new business. Be sure it’s something you’ll still enjoy a few months and years from now.

Owning your own business can be a fun and profitable experience. It also helps you develop new skills, and the confidence you need to succeed. For additional resources related to running your business ethically, we invite you to check out the resources on our Facebook Page. We wish you luck with your new business!

“Y We Care” about Miami-Dade’s Teens and Tweens

“Y We Care” about Miami-Dade’s Teens and Tweens

(MIAMI—June 3, 2011) – When hundreds of company executives gather in Miami for the 2011 annual convention of the Direct Selling Association, they will do more than take in the Florida sunshine and discuss their direct selling businesses.  On June 5th, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., CEOs and executives from notable companies such as Mary Kay, The Pampered Chef, Avon and more will roll up their sleeves and work by side with the teens and tweens of the Greater Miami-Dade YWCA to help them make their facility a more inviting environment for Miami’s young people.

The event is sponsored by the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF), whose community service programs continue the direct selling industry’s rich tradition of giving back to the communities in which they do business. “Y We Care, a partnership between the YWCA of Greater Miami-Dade and the Direct Selling Education Foundation, is an event that demonstrates the deep commitment to corporate responsibility shared by the entire direct selling industry,” said Charlie Orr, DSEF’s Executive Director, “Leaders from our industry will work with the kids on a variety of creative projects.  We’ll be painting, gardening, building bookshelves and helping the kids to document the day through photography and interviews.”

“To anticipate nearly a hundred guests exchanging ideas with our teens and tweens is exciting,’” said Eileen Maloney-Simon, CEO, YWCA of Greater Miami-Dade. “The leadership example and fellowship being shown to inner-city youth is outstanding and we are thankful to the Direct Selling Education Foundation for taking the time out of their conference schedule to do this community project.”

Founded in 1919, the YWCA Greater Miami-Dade of is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.  The organization fulfills its mission with programs that empower Miami’s youth through education, advocacy and unity.  The Miami-Dade YWCA programs benefitted almost four thousand young people from ages six to eighteen during fiscal year 2009-2010.  A more inviting YWCA environment attracts more young people to gather, learn and enjoy activities that encourage educational excellence, independence, resourcefulness and responsibility.

The Direct Selling Education Foundation serves the public interest by advancing the direct selling industry’s support of consumer rights and protection, education about the industry, ethical leadership and individual economic empowerment. Through its partnerships with consumer advocates, educators and students, public policy officials, and members of the small business and entrepreneurship community, DSEF enhances public awareness of direct selling in the global marketplace. For more information, visit,