Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

As the year comes to a close, and friends and families gather, the team at Our Susu thanks you for building our circle. Though the site is relatively new, your kind words and support make us hopeful and determined to expand our community in the upcoming year.

In 2010, we'll have new offerings including:

* Pooled Susus -- Instead of one person being paid out each week/month, all members save toward one date or common goal. Pooled Susus are great for families saving for vacations, reunions, or real estate.
* Opportunities for partnerships with local organizations -- Our Susu belongs to you. In the coming year, members will be able to integrate into their local communities.

Anything new you'd like to see from Our Susu in 2010? If so, let me know.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

Carlton Langley
Founder, Our Susu

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dashing to the Mall? Survive the Shopping Scramble

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, with stockings filled with goodies and gifts under the tree. For last-minute shoppers the scramble to get gifts can leave you feeling stressed out instead of enjoying the Christmas spirit!

Here are some tips to make sure you’re not busting your budget or channeling Scrooge this year:

Don’t panic

The way consumers act from Black Friday to Christmas Eve, you’d think the mall is scheduled for demolition on Dec. 26. There’s no need to panic. You may not get Black Friday deals, but most stores have deep discounts throughout the month to lure shoppers. If you’re shopping online, most stores offer guaranteed delivery by Christmas if you order by Dec. 20. And many of them even offer gift wrapping!

Weeknight warriors

Trying to find a parking space at the mall on a Saturday in December is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Instead, hit the mall on your way home from work. It will be less crowded, the salesclerks will be less harried and with less hustle and bustle, you won’t be as likely to grab the first thing on display just to get the heck out of there.

Make it manageable

Make a list of the gifts you are getting so that you have a plan of action when you head to the stores. Stick to the list and you’ll stick to your budget. And break your list up into manageable chunks. If you have a bunch of toys to buy for your kids, nieces and nephews, get those one day. Focus on gifts for the women in your life the next day. And so on.

Give gift cards

Gift cards get a bad rap. They may seem impersonal but they are incredibly useful. Many supermarkets have kiosks that offer gift cards ranging from stores like the Home Depot and Toys R Us and even iTunes. If you want to make the gift cards more personal, pair them with an ornament in a gift bag. This is quick and easy, but still has a special touch.

No cash, no carry

Most importantly, don’t let the last-minute scramble force you to put gifts on credit. Christmas is about spending time with your loved ones, not spending money. If you stick to your cash budget, you won’t go overboard and you can enjoy the holidays without the stress of worrying about the bills to come.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How An Interest-bearing Susu Works

If you are participating in a Susu to help out a friend or family member who needs money right away, you’ll probably elect to be at the back end of the Susu. An interest-bearing Susu rewards your patience with a few extra dollars. The interest is paid for by the participants who received their payments earlier in the Susu.

For example, let’s say you are in a five-week Susu with five friends with a $500 payout (you each save $100 a week for five weeks for a $500 payout).

Participant 1 receives $495 because he/she paid $5 in interest for being the first person paid
Participant 2 receives $497.50 because he/she paid $2.50 in interest for being near the front
Participant 3 receives $500 because he/she just happened to be in the middle
Participant 4 receives $502.50 because he/she gained $2.50 in interest for being near the end
Participant 5 receives $505 because he/she gained $5 in interest for being the last person

As you can see from the payments, the overall value ($2500 for the total Susu) doesn't change one bit compared to non-interest Susus. Those in the front are just repaying those at the end for the help they received.

Our Susu gains nothing from the interest – our revenues come from the small administrative fees charged to run the accounts. The interest gained or paid is between the participants and only if your group elects to participate in an interest-bearing Susu. Also note, the interest is calculated prior to any administrative fees.

With or without interest, Our Susu is a great way to save. The interest-bearing accounts add an extra incentive for participants that are near the end of the savings circle and can be compared handsomely to bank rates.

Check out to get information on interest-bearing accounts and compare rates.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving party of 10 – Yours for only $42.91

$42.91. Does that price mean anything to you? Amazingly, it’s the average cost of a Thanksgiving dinner for 10. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, "...a shopping list that includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10," costs only $42.91. Hooray for Thanksgiving! It is officially cheaper than:
  • Four porcelain hippo figurines
  • 171 boxes of Lemonheads
  • A roller derby costume for Halloween, complete with skates and fake tattoos
  • Movies with popcorn, snacks and beverages for 2
  • Most speeding tickets (I think. I don’t speed and thus have no true point of reference.)

To be fair, many of us prepare more dishes than the ones listed. I wonder how much those dishes increase the cost? If you’re comfortable sharing, how much do you spend on Thanksgiving? What do you cook? How many do you serve? What else could you buy for $42.91?

Regardless of the cost, I hope you and yours have a very safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Carleen M.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

One habit I don’t want to break

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably interested in personal finance and know what you’re supposed to be doing: saving money, avoiding debt, building your credit score. Of course, we all know that’s easier said than done.

I’ll be the first to admit that I always put savings last. There was always some bill that had to be paid or some emergency that would come up and dash whatever hope I had of saving money that month. In fact, when my friend asked me to join a Susu my first reaction was “Where am I going to find the money for that?!”

But somehow I incorporated the Susu contribution into my budget. The push I needed to save was knowing that my friends and family participating in the Susu with me were depending on me to come through. When I was just saving for myself, I always found a "better" use for that money.

Even though at first I was scared of the hit on my budget, participating in Our Susu has actually helped me use my money more wisely. I was able to save enough to pay for a kitchen renovation I’ve wanted for years without having to put it on a credit card. Making the regular contributions to the Susu was automatic and it became a routine. And after the Susu was over, I was so used to putting away $100 a week that I continued the habit. I’ve now got an emergency fund that will cover at least three months’ worth of bills. The security I feel knowing I have a backup is priceless and saving has now become a habit I don’t want to break.

Lissette S. user and Blog Contributor

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Our Susu is getting noticed!

Thanks to Gil Michel at Black Money Matters for writing about Our Susu.

Carlton Langley
Founder, Our Susu

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Taking Charge

If you’ve been watching your mail lately, you may have noticed a decrease in credit card offers, but an increase in rates. Many users in good standing have seen a lowering of their credit limits even though they’ve paid on time every month. I’ve spent more time reading through the many sheets of paper in my credit card statements in the past few months than I’ve spent in the last 15 years. What’s with my new interest in the fine print and sorting through all the gibberish? I want to keep an eye on everything until February 22, when the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (or CARD Act) will limit how credit card companies can penalize users and raise interest rates. Until then it’s open season on consumers.

Check your rates. Look at your limits. Monitor your situation. A rate that was once below 10% may be above 20%. Now is the time to really read through your statements. See where you can save money or pay off cards.

As you know, at we’re all about saving. Why not start a Susu to pay off your credit cards? I’m sure you have a few family members and friends who’d like to decrease their debt. Help one another. You’ll know whom you’re borrowing from. You’ll know whom you’re lending to. And the best part is – if there’s an interest rate, you’ll always know what it is.

For more on the CARD Act, visit

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday

Once again another year seems to have flown by. Halloween just wrapped up and already the stores are filled with holiday decorations. If you’re like me, all the spending during the holidays can cause a lot of stress. Between gifts for the kids and trips to visit family, not to mention the cost of attending holiday parties, it’s enough to blow anyone’s budget.
Of course, I’m using Our Susu to save money for the holidays. Having the money on hand will go a long way towards easing the stress I used to feel January 2. You know how it is. The new year rolls around; you have a big stack of bills, and the only thing to show for it is a pile of toys the kids are already done playing with. To start your own savings circle just head over to
In addition saving with Our Susu, I’m careful about where my Susu savings money goes in the first place. Here are some tips to help you prepare for a financially stress-free holiday season:
• Budget is not a bad word. Before you buy, budget.  Be realistic about what you can spend.  I wish I could buy everyone I loved an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii.  They’d live it up on the island, but I’d be stuck in the poor house.  Don’t buy gifts you can’t afford.  
• Make a list, check it twice. Santa was definitely onto something with this. Having a list ready before you go shopping will save you money and time. Not only will you avoid impulse buys, but you’ll know in advance where you have to go to buy each gift.
• Check the Sunday circulars. The store advertisements distributed with the Sunday papers not only have valuable coupons, but they allow you to compare prices so you don’t have to drive all over town looking for the best deal.
• Shop online. While everyone is up at 4 a.m on Black Friday, battling aggressive, determined shoppers hopped up on caffeine, I’ll sleep in late and enjoy a relaxing day. That’s because I do most, if not all, of my shopping online. Spending about an hour online helps me avoid the hassle of searching for a parking spot, navigating the crowded malls and dealing with frazzled shoppers. My gifts come in a couple of days, and sometimes they are already wrapped!

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Welcome to Our Susu!

"What is a Susu?" I've been getting hit with that question pretty much non-stop since I started work on the site. In simplest terms, a Susu is a way to save and borrow money with people you trust. Everyone invests. Everyone saves. The key to it is that everyone does it together. My family has been running Susus for most of my life. I've seen them used to launch businesses, for down payments on cars, for vacations, even for things such as home repair. I've used them personally for the down-payment during the purchase of my home and even to start a few small ventures, this one included.

In our current economy where small business loans and personal loans are so hard to obtain, Susus are an excellent alternative. This site is my way of taking what has helped me so much and modernizing it to help others.

You might think it's strange to save, lend and borrow money with people you know. I, personally, think it's much stranger that we are so quick to lend and borrow with institutions we don't.

Carlton Langley
Founder, Our Susu

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