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Real Money Helps Viewers Find “Hidden” Money in Their Lives

abc's real money

I had a chance to speak with Paula Faris and pick her brain about a series she hosts called Real Money.

For the past several months ABC’s Paula Faris has crisscrossed America in search of easy and inventive ways families can cash in by making small changes at home.  Her Real Money reports air regularly weeknights on ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer.

Anna Newell Jones: What is the Real Money series all about?

Paula Faris: Real Money is about finding HIDDEN money that we didn’t know we had through easy inventive avenues.

ANJ: Do you have personal experience with being in debt or with getting out of debt? If so, would you mind telling us a little about it and if that is a motivator for you for this series? 

PF: My personal experience wasn’t a motivating factor for this series. That said, I’ve always considered myself fiscally and financially responsible. We didn’t have excess growing up and my parents taught us if we’re wise with a little, we’ll be wise if we’re ever in a situation of abundance. Still, I’ll admit to a few poor financial situations along my journey. Nothing I haven’t learned from, though. As a mom of two young children—with another on the way—I really stress the importance of generosity to my kids.

ANJ: What is the biggest takeaway/tip you’ve learned from doing the series that you’ve been able to implement in your own life?

PF: We’re living in an age of empowerment and transparency. The answers are there for us. However, they won’t just show up. The onus is on us as consumer to ask questions and explore.  We hope the segments we do on World News with Diane Sawyer awaken people’s curiosity and get them to start asking more of questions.

ANJ: What is the area of life where you see that average Americans are losing the most money? And what can we do about it?

PF: Healthcare — the costs and process can be overwhelming, not to mention frustrating. We don’t know whether we’re getting charged fair market for a procedure. And, to take it a step further, we may not even know what fair market price is. One of the better apps/websites out there is Health Care Blue Book, which provides you a fair market price based on your particular area. Brighter is another app/website great for gauging fair market dental prices. And, when it’s time to fill that prescription, don’t trust your pharmacy is giving you the best price. The varying costs will astound you if you call around. I recommend GoodRX—log on to their website or app and they’ll provide the price of that particular prescription at each pharmacy in your zip code. GoodRX also provides prices for your animals medications. Knowledge is power.

ANJ: Can you tell us about some resources that are available to help us find the “hidden money” in our own lives?

PF: In addition to the ones above for medical costs, here are some additional resources we learned about during our recent Real Money week:

  • Sixty-six percent of us feel we’re getting ripped at the auto shop. You can ensure you’re not overpaying by using Repair Pal. They’ll give you a fair market price range for each particular service, then give you a list of vetted mechanics in your area. Don’t just trust that your mechanic is giving you the best price, do your homework.
  • My Energy helps you gauge whether you’re overspending on your energy bills by listing what others with comparable homes in your area are paying each month.
  • If you’re in a heap of trouble with those hospital bills, ask for their charity care department. Nearly half of the nation’s hospitals are non-profit, meaning they receive substantial tax breaks from the government, and they’re obligated to pass those savings on to their patients. But, you have to ask for it.
  • Tired of you getting burned by bank fees and seeing your money earning next to nothing in your checking account? Log on to Deposit Accounts—which has a database of every bank and credit union in the country. They’ll tell you which will give you the highest interest rate, allowing you to earn much more on your liquid assets. And, to prevent those fees — bank fees and late credit card payments — check out Mint. They’ll alert you BEFORE you’re hit with those fees. Also, don’t assume you have the right credit card. Check out Nerd Wallet and based on your needs and spending habits, they’ll recommend the right credit card for you.

ANJ: Is there follow-up with the people that are helped from the series? If so, how many people stick with the suggestions and continue to change their financial situations based on what they learned on the series?

PF: One thing we have learned is that people turn to the news for a lot of different reasons. They want to know about the big stories happening each day, but they also want information that they can apply to their own lives.  With Real Money we’re providing viewers with some real answers — we hope they walk away feeling empowered by that. Occasionally, we’ll check back with the families we’ve profiled on “World News” and to see that we’re able to help so many is gratifying and humbling.

ANJ: What do you wish all Americans knew about money/managing their money?

PF: It’s so important to establish responsible habits — and it’s never too late to start.

All of our reports, and the corresponding tips are online at ABCNews.com/WorldNews.

Image source: 401(K)2013

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