November 13, 2015

Now may be a good time to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth

One upside of the current stock market slump is that now may be a good time to convert part or all of a traditional IRA to  Roth IRA.
Check out's "Convert IRA to Roth calculator"

"In 1997, the Roth IRA was introduced. Since then, many people have converted all or a portion of their existing traditional IRAs to a Roth IRAs, where interest earned may be completely tax-free. Is this a good option? A conversion has advantages and disadvantages that should be carefully considered before a decision is made. This convert IRA to Roth calculator estimates the change in total net worth, at retirement, if you convert a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA."

Checking out on-line education programs

Much of the blame for skyrocketing student education debt can be attributed to for-profit colleges and online programs. It is essential to carefully check out programs before enrolling. A helpful resource is: ( Use this website as the first step in checking our potential programs.

November 5, 2015

5 Fiancial Goals for Teens & Young Adults

Check out this post from Squared away and watch the 11 minute Ted Talk by Alexa von Tobel.
She proposed these five financial priorities (with minor alterations by Squared Away):
  1. Follow a budget.
  2. Have an emergency savings account.
  3. Strive to become debt-free. Pay credit cards in full.
  4. Negotiate your salary.
  5. Save for retirement to secure employer’s 401(k) match.

Investing Should Be Painful!

Alan S. Roth write in the Nov. 2 issue of Financial Planning 
"In the real world, risk correlates with reward.... Our minds, though, are often disconnected from reality, and we view risk and reward as disconnects."
"People base their judgments of an activity or a technology not only on what they think about it, but also on how they feel about it."
If their feelings toward an activity are favorable, they are moved toward judging the risks as low and the benefits as high; if their feelings toward it are unfavorable, they tend to judge the opposite — high risk, low benefit. Of course, the pattern isn’t logical, but it’s how humans think."
"In his 2011 book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Nobel Economics Prize winner Daniel Kahneman discussed our two ways of thinking:
System 1: Rapidly, automaticly, frequently, emotionally, stereotypically, subconsciously.
System 2: Slowly, effortfully, infrequently, logically, calculatingly, consciously.
Essentially, system one is rooted in how we feel, while system two is, supposedly, rooted in logic. Two critical points, however, are that both systems reflect how we think, and that we typically don’t know which system we are thinking with. We assume we are always using logic when making decisions."
"System 1 feels more pleasure and pain. It views the stock market as high reward and low risk at the height of bubbles, and high risk and low reward at the bottom.
System 2 always considers stock investing to be risky, but leads to the conclusion that stocks are a better buy after a half-off sale than after the price has doubled. Our thoughts also assess the high probability that capitalism will survive. When stock prices reach an all-time high, System 2 knows there is a low probability that stocks will rise indefinitely without the arrival of a bear market."
"Research indicates that System 1 typically prevails in investing. Most data show investor returns typically lag fund returns due to poor market timing. Fund flow data reveal we buy more stock funds near the top price and sell more near the bottom."
"Behavioral finance readily explains how we can think we are being logical while doing illogical things...."

Read Roth's full discussion at:

October 21, 2015

Sick of Robo Calls?

Well, so am I! Even if you are registered with the Federal Trade Commission's National Do Not Call Registry, you may still be getting calls. You can file a complaint at:
  1. You may file a complaint if you received an unwanted call after your number was on the National Registry for 31 days.
  2. You may also file a complaint if you received a call that used a recorded message instead of a live person (whether or not your number was on the Registry).

    Reminder: Even if your number is registered, some organizations may still call you, such as charities, political organizations, and telephone surveyors. For a full description of who may still call you, please consult our Consumer FAQs.

    Debt collectors may also continue to call you whether your number is on the Registry or not.

September 17, 2015

Solid Finances Webinars begin October 7, 2015

Jointly sponsored by South Dakota State University Extension, University of Idaho Extension and Montana State University Extension, the 2015-2016 Solid Finances schedule will consist of 18 sessions, with the first session on October 7th.  The first 12 sessions will focus on issues for residents of all states. The final six sessions will focus on issues specific to participants from these three states.  Solid Finances will feature 10 different presenters sharing their expertise and answering your questions.
October 7: Saving Money & Finding Spending Leaks
Oct. 14 & 21: Home Buying and Emergency Savings. (2 sessions)
Oct. 28: Financial Records Organization: Preparing for Emergencies & Disasters.
Retirement Planning will be the focus of several sessions in December.  For a complete schedule visit:
All webinars are recorded; past sessions are available at:

8 Phone Scams to Watch Out For

"Scammers target millions of Americans every year via robo dialers and many people fall victim as they are threatened with arrest warrants or guaranteed free vacations. One of the most infamous phone scams, the IRS scam, has stolen over $14 million collectively since October 2013 and it's on the rise."
1. Free Vacations and Prizes
2. Phishing Scams
3. Loan Scams
4. Phony Debt Collectors
5. Fake Charities
6. Medical Alert/Scams Targeting Seniors
 7. Warrant Threats (for arrest)
8. IRS Calls
Read the details to protect yourself, your family and friends:

September 10, 2015

Why you should give your kids an allowance

According to my favorite blog, Squared Away, allowances help kids learn to manage their money. Recent research reports: "Kids between ages 8 and 14 who get an allowance were two times more likely to feel knowledgeable about managing their money than kids who do not – 32 percent versus 16 percent – according to a survey of 1,000 parents and 881 children by T. Rowe Price.  The kids with allowances also feel they know more about credit, student loans, and other financial matters." Read more at:

September 8, 2015

Avoiding Elder Abuse

"Over 3.2 million adults living in nursing homes and other long term care facilities in the U.S. As many as 40 percent of all adults will enter a nursing home at some point during their lives and as the U.S. population ages, the number of nursing home residents is expected to grow. Many of these elders are well-cared for but many may be the victims of abuse.
Elder abuse, particularly when it involves a patient in a residential care facility, can be difficult to detect and for every reported case of abuse, more than five cases may go unreported.
Nursing home abuse is a serious concern and seniors who have been abused have a 300 percent greater chance of death in the 3 years following the abuse than those who aren’t abused. Up to 1 in 6 nursing home residents may be the victim of abuse or neglect every year."
Learn more at:
The Utah Division of Aging and Adult Services offers Long-Term Care Ombudsman services, INfo on Legal Services, and much more at:

August 23, 2015

Pay extra on student loans

The Squared Away blog has a good resource to show the benefit of paying extra on student loan debt. "Paying down debt is just another form of saving, and larger loan payments significantly shorten the time it takes to pay it off, while reducing the total interest paid." For example: "Paying $96.66 per month on a $5,000 student loan with 6 percent interest eliminates it in five years. An extra $50 every month – a couple of nights out – knocks two years off the payment time." Learn more at:
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