December 21, 2010

Last minute gift idea for child: college savings

Give the gift of a college savings account.
"The Utah Educational Savings Plan is offering a $25 bonus for those who open new college savings accounts between Monday, Nov. 29 and Friday, Dec. 24. You must make a contribution of at least $25 and meet other criteria to be eligible for the offer, which is courtesy of Zions Bank…"  Be sure to use the promotion code "1012HOLI" when setting up the account to receive the matching funds. UESP website:
Read Lesley Mitchell’s Salt Lake Tribune column for details on why Utah’s college savings plan is one of the best in the nation:

December 17, 2010

Why you need to scrutinize your credit card bill

Ack! I just spent (wasted?) 2 hours trying to sort out my credit card statement. I knew something had changed because the bill itself looked different. Then I saw the interest charge for $11.77. No way! I always pay my bill in full. Long story short... after 4 phone calls and 2 hours I found out that my bank had sold the credit card payment operation to "Card Services" which collects payments. 

I can no longer pay my bill online from 2 different accounts (I "share" a card with my 85 year old mother). I used to be able to split the charges and pay from separate accounts online. Now "Card Services" will only allow you to link to one account so I have to pay one "share" of the bill by mailed-in check. I easily got the $11.77 deleted from my bill but only because I was vigilant and asked questions. Of course, I could apply for another credit card to keep my bills separate from my mother's but I really don't want to have to deal with another bank, another monthly statement.... I already have 2 credit cards (one is Am Exp which is NOT accepted everywhere but offers cash rebates).

Moral of the story: check your credit card bill each month!

December 14, 2010

Home energy audit

Hey, it's not sexy but one of the best gifts you can give yourself or someone else is a Questar Energy Audit.  I just had Questar Gas home energy audit this morning--WOW!! I learned so much about little (cheap) things we can do to make our home more energy efficient to save money, save energy and cut pollution. It is worth far more than the $25 cost.  I highly recommend the you have the audit guy come to your house. In theory you can do it yourself, but it so worth it to have the auditor check your home in person.  You'll receive good advice and a detailed report listing changes you can make, estimated cost, and estimated payback time. Check it out at:

Women are Not Planning Long-Term for Retirement

While half of women at age 65 will likely live beyond age 85, 92% of female retirees and 89% of female pre-retirees do not plan far enough in the future to cover this 20-year period. A new report from the Society of Actuaries (SOA) highlights these gaps in planning.
Given the fact that women outlive men on average by three or four years, women need to better plan for inflation, outliving assets and the need to cover long-term care costs. For example, the expected average cost of lifetime long-term care services is $29,000 for males and $82,000 for females, in 2000 dollars, which highlights the need for women to better prepare for the risk of incurring long-term care costs in retirement.
"Our study on the impact of retirement risks for women is meant to be a call to action for women to educate themselves on retirement-related risks, better prepare for the long-term and, hopefully, avoid financial shortfalls" said Anna Rappaport, co-author of the report.
The SOA report highlights five key risks affecting women in retirement, including:
  1. Outliving Assets– While men and women have similar planning horizons, women have significantly longer life expectancies.
    • 4 of 10 women over 65 living alone depend solely on Social Security for income.
  2. Loss of Spouse–Because women have longer life expectancies than men and traditionally are younger than their husbands, periods of widowhood of 15 years or more are not uncommon. For many women, the death of a spouse is accompanied by a decline in standard of living.
    • 85% of women over age 85 are widows, compared to 45 percent of men.
  3. Decline in Functional Status–Women are likely to have a longer period of chronic disability and are more likely to need care in a long-term facility or from a paid caregiver.
    • women are more likely than men to have to pay for assistance during the final years of retirement.
  4. Healthcare and Medical Expenses–Health benefit costs may affect women more than men because they often have lower incomes, but not lower health care costs, and are less likely to have employer provided early retiree health benefits.
    • Health care costs for a retired couple both at age 65 in 2010 can amount to $250,000 over their retirement years, not including the cost of long-term care.
  5. Inflation and the Economy–Inflation has a greater impact on women due to their longer life expectancy.
The Womens Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) co-sponsored the report.

Stop robocalls! National Do Not Call Registry

Tired of getting telemarketing calls, especially those recorded “robocalls”? Then take 3 minutes to register your phone number(s).
“The National Do Not Call Registry gives you a choice about whether to receive telemarketing calls at home. Most telemarketers should not call your number once it has been on the registry for 31 days. If they do, you can file a complaint at this Website. You can register your home or mobile phone for free. Your registration will not expire. Telephone numbers placed on the National Do Not Call Registry will remain on it permanently.”
You need to include an email address and then click on the email link (one for each phone number) in order to complete the process.  It took me less than 3 minutes.
The FTC is cracking down on scams robocalls that promise a reduction in your credit card interest rate. Hang up; it’s a scam.

December 10, 2010

Electronic pickpocketing- check your credit cards

A new twist on credit card theft- a scanner that can pick up the details of your credit card... while the card is in your wallet or purse! Watch this 4.5 minute video from WREG TV news in Memphis. Check your credit cards for the RFID symbol.  Thanks to Smithfield, UT police chief Johnny W. McCoy for sharing this link with my colleague Alena Johnson.,0,6564458.story

Why I Hate Gift Cards

OK. I know gift cards are THE hot gift item this year. They make it easy to give a gift without worrying if it will fit or be the right color. However, the problem is that, unlike cash, a gift card prevents the recipient from saving any of the gift. 

While gift cards are great for the retailers and the economy, they force the recipient to buy something when they might rather enjoy an experience like attending a performance (musical, symphony, ballet, etc.-- support the local performing arts). 

Psychological research confirms that we value experiences more than things (and gift cards are usually for retail stores or restaurants-- while dining out can be an experience, most of us don't need more calories). BUT, most of all, unlike a check or a few crisp bills, gift cards do not allow the recipient to save any of the gift or to donate to charity. 

This is of particular concern when the recipient is a child. A persistent theme through the focus group research I've conducted with women is the desire to teach their children better money management than what they learned. Teaching children the importance of saving and sharing (through donating to a charity that means something to them) should be part of the holiday season. 

With unemployment, underemployment and over-indebtedness plaguing so many families, some adults really could use the money to pay their bills rather than buy another sweater. 

For those who are determined to give gift cards (& for recipients), please check out the advice of the Federal Trade Commission: "FTC Has Gift Card Tips for Holiday Buying" Be aware, that despite the new federal protections, gift cards can still expire, charge inactivity fees, and charge a fee to purchase the card! 

Whether you are the buyer or the recipient of a gift card, check out the FTC's tips. For example: "Avoid online auction sites, because the cards sold there may be counterfeit or may have been obtained fraudulently."

Happy Holidays, 

December 9, 2010

Is it time for your loved one to hang up the car keys?

 "Do you think your older loved-one may be experiencing diminishing driving skills due to the aging process? Are they becoming lost in familiar places, bumping into curbs, mailboxes, or scraping the sides of the garage when they back out? Have they been involved in a minor parking lot fender-bender or do they complain about being honked at? Do they seem easily confused or more forgetful when you talk with them on the phone?

Beyond the emotional challenges, are you concerned about financial and liability issues that could arise from an incident involving the older driver in your family? Have you reviewed your insurance coverage for gaps and premium issues? Is it possible that the older driver in your family could jeopardize not only his or her own financial well-being but also your own?

If so, don't panic; you're certainly not alone. The most important thing to remember is that the time to start addressing your concerns is now, before "concerns" turn into "tragedies".

To help you do that, Keeping Us Safe has released its long awaited workbook titled:
"Beyond Driving with Dignity; The workbook for the families of older drivers".

The workbook employs a very user-friendly, uncomplicated method and is designed to be used in the comfort and confidence of the family's home.

"Beyond Driving with Dignity" was written to help families (or professionals working with families) by providing them with a "roadmap to success" in their quest to overcome the challenges of an older driver's safety.

If driving restrictions or even a complete retirement from driving are deemed appropriate, the "Limit Driving, Not Living" chapter of the workbook helps the family identify and implement alternative means of transportation for the retiring driver.

Keeping Us Safe is a national organization with a primary mission of helping to keep older drivers, safe drivers. In addition to the Beyond Driving with Dignity program mentioned above, Keeping Us Safe also offers two presentations for your group or organization titled:

- A Safe Drive Through the Aging Process (meant for older drivers)
- Adults with Aging Parent Drivers"

(quoted from Institute for Financial Consumer Education)

The workbook costs $25 + S&H from:

But first check the AARP website for their free online resource: Is it time for your loved one to hang up the keys?  AARP’s We Need to Talk online seminar is "Produced by AARP and based on information created jointly by The Hartford and the MIT AgeLab, the seminar provides practical tips and advice on how to recognize when it’s time to limit or stop driving and how to discuss the topic with loved ones. We recommend you complete the three modules in sequence. Each takes approximately 30 minutes to complete."

Earn higher interest at online banks

Online savings accounts are the best option right now for liquidity and rates: FDIC insured, no minimum balance, no monthly fees, no early withdrawal penalty, interest compounded daily, and they pay higher interest rates than money market mutual funds and many other options. Transfer money electronically to a linked account (traditional savings or checking account); limited # of withdrawals/month (often 6). Rates are variable and, at this point, declining but still better than other liquid options.

Some good options and recent interest rates:

Don't forget that all these links should automatically convert to an "https" URL with the little padlock symbol in the lower right corner to ensure the sight is secure.

November 29, 2010

Arlo & Janis on "Black Friday"

In case you missed the Arlo & Janis (by Jimmy Johnson) comic strip on "Black Friday":

Arlo: "It's 'Black Friday,' the most profitable day of the year."

Arlo: "They say our spending is vital to the economy, especially the stock market." 

Arlo: "They're only telling half the story!"

In the background Janis is digging into her purse as she prepares to go shopping...

Arlo: "It's 'Red Friday' for most of us!"

See it in color at:

The Wall Street Journal Sunday

Each Sunday the Salt Lake Tribune includes The Wall Street Journal Sunday in the "Sunday Money" section of the paper. WSJ Sunday is a fabulous free source of personal finance and investing info. It's available online at and then click on the newspaper of your choice. get in the habit of checking the site each week.

A couple items that caught my eye include Medicare Enrollment 101 (under "The Aggregator" section which includes a variety of helpful subjects each week.

Also of value: "How to give children the gift of investing." I can't tell you how many times women have said to me that they wished they had learned about basic concepts like the Time Value of Money (compound interest) when they were younger. Educate your children by giving them the gift of investing this holiday season instead of the latest techno toy that will soon be outdated and end up as toxic waste in the landfill.

Giving thanks is good for your mental & physical health!

Don't stop giving thanks now that the T-day turkey is history (or soup). According to an article  in The Wall Street Journal, "a growing body of research suggests that maintaining an attitude of gratitude can improve psychological, emotional, and physical well-being."

"Adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not."

"They're also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics. They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and have greater resistance to viral infections."

New research shows that gratitude provides similar benefits for kids. Cultivating gratitude is a type of "cognitive-behavioral therapy." For tips on helping raise kids to be grateful check out this link:
("Thank you. No, thank, you," by Melinda Beck, WSJ 11/23/10, p. D1)

November 24, 2010

MetLife 2010 Study of the American Dream Finds Many Americans Feeling the Stress of Living Close to the Financial Edge

According to the MetLife 2010 Study of the American Dream

"Americans are taking significant steps to improve their financial situation. More than half (56%) are taking on more responsibility at work, almost two-thirds (64%) have started saving more and spending less, and an additional 29% plan to cut spending."

"Americans are helping their family members financially – even though they may also be struggling themselves."

"Many Americans still find themselves close to financial ruin should they lose their job: 45% could not take care of expenses for more than a month, and 65% could not do so for more than three months."
Insufficient emergency savings/cash reserve adds to the stress. "Americans who consider themselves to have an adequate personal safety net are twice as likely to feel they have achieved the American dream as those who do not (57% vs. 24%)." 

One disturbing finding: "Though many are struggling to make ends meet, needs and expectations continue to increase. More than half (58%) of Americans believe that the bar is constantly rising in terms of the basic necessities in life. Three in ten (29%) feel more pressure to buy more and better material possessions." (bold added)
What to do? 
  1. Recalibrate your expectations! It's time to downsize and simplify your life; get off the consumption escalator. If all your friends are on consumption treadmill, it's time to start expanding your circle of friends to people who have a healthier (for themselves and the planet) perspective on the American Dream. Start by reading Greg Mortenson's book Three cups of tea (see related blog). Check out websites about downsizing your consumption and simplifying your life.
  2. Start or build your emergency savings. A great place to begin is with an online savings account. Check out some options at:
  3. Read more of my blog!

Do Parents Live It Up When Children Fly the Coop?

Norma B. Coe, Zhenya Karamcheva, and Anthony Webb at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College answer the question. 
“Today, responsibility for a comfortable retirement rests mostly on the individual. This change has led to widespread concern about the adequacy of households’ retirement savings.”
What do parents do with the money that is freed up when their children leave home? Do they spend it or do they invest for their retirement?
IF they save the extra money, parents benefit in two ways. “First, they are able to quickly build up retirement savings. Second, they keep their per-person consumption low and thus need less money to fund consumption in retirement.”
This study reports how these households really behave. “It shows that parents maintain household-level and increase per-capita consumption when their children leave home. These findings …show that more households are at risk of an unsatisfactory retirement.”
 “Households face a choice when their children leave home. They can save more for retirement or in­crease per-capita consumption. The… research shows that households choose the latter, increasing per-capita, non-durable consumption by 51 percent on average. As a result, many are at risk of entering retirement with insufficient wealth to maintain the level of consumption they enjoyed while the children were in the house, let alone the increased consump­tion they enjoyed after the children left home” (p.4).
What about you?

November 23, 2010

Black Friday or Buy Nothing Day? You decide

The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally one of he biggest shopping days of the year, complete with news stories of predawn shoppers lining up in the cold. (Remember the trampling death at Walmart a few years ago?)

The alternative is "Buy Nothing Day," an international day of protest against rampant, run-wild consumerism. Two years after the September 2008 world financial meltdown, the Global Financial Crisis drags on and the U.S. is still mired in (the aftermath of) the worst recession since the Great Depression. Although the National Bureau of Economic Research has declared the official end to the US recession, unemployment remains high (nearly 10%) and the foreclosure rate in Utah is still going up (note the appalling number of Legal Notices (a.k.a. foreclosures) in the newspaper.

With Thanksgiving ("the forgotten holiday") upon us, and Friday the beginning of the holiday shopping season, now is a good time to take a deep breath and reflect on what is really important to you. Some of us did much of our shopping at the Alternative Gift Market in Logan. It's never too late to give a meaningful gift to help the world (and reduce the pressure on the local landfill). Check out In Northern Utah shop at: Global Village Gifts, 146 North 100 East, Logan, UT 84321-4610; (435) 713-4347 "Global Village Gifts is a non-profit shop in Logan that supports struggling artisans in developing countries by selling their fairly-traded handicrafts."
Don't forget Logan's Gallery Walk from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Fri. Dec 03, 2010. Buy locally!

Yes, the economy depends on consumer spending to get back on track and create jobs but consider giving tickets to a music or dance performance, pump your $ into the local economy rather than buying this year's hot gift made in China. For a great deal on last year's hot gifts, just check E-bay.

Other gift ideas: 2 books by Greg Mortenson who is fighting the Taliban by building schools for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Books, not bombs! His first book, Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace, One School At A Time, is an inspirational worldwide best seller and mandatory reading for all Army Special Forces. I just finished reading his second book, Stones into Schools, and highly recommend it. Both books make great gifts for women and men.If you and your family and friends have already read both books, consider making donations to the Central Asia Institute in the name of a loved one. (Check the website to learn about ikat). Greg is speaking at Weber State October 1, 2011... but it's already sold out. I guess I'll have to wait for the movie which is surely coming (Sundance 2012??). 

Three Cups of Tea is also available in a young readers edition: Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Journey to Change the World…One Child at a Time.

"Listen to the Wind, the children’s book, is told in the voice of Korphe’s children, and illuminates the humanity and culture of a relevant and distant part of the world while sharing a riveting example of how one person can change thousands of lives. Visit for more information."

Also check out Pennies for Peace, "an international service-learning program," for kids

Happy holidays!

November 11, 2010

Teaching Your Kids About Saving and Investing

The nonprofit Alliance for Investor Education (AIE)  highlights 10 of the best Web-based resources for parents to teach their kids about how to save and invest in today’s tough financial times.

  1. Investing ABCs: Teaching Your Children About Stocks – the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy
  2. Gen I Revolution - Council for Economic Education
  3. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Planning for College Expenses – CFA Institute
  4. Choose to Save: Savingsman Episode 5: Saving Early - Employee Benefit Research Institute
  5. Tips for Teaching Students about Saving and Investing - Securities and Exchange Commission
  6. Teach Your Children - Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards
  7. The Basics of Saving and Investing - Investor Protection Trust
  8. Cover the Basics Before Your Child Leaves the Nest - National Endowment for Financial Education
  9. Great Minds Think: A Kid’s Guide to Money - Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve
  10. Fraud Scene Investigator - North American Securities Administrators Association

Credit Reports and Scores Consumer Guide

"Your credit history is important to a lot of people: mortgage lenders, banks, utility companies, prospective employers, and more. So it's especially important that you understand your credit report, credit score, and the companies that compile that information, credit bureaus. This site--maintained by the Federal Reserve Board--provides answers to some of the most common, and most important, questions about credit."

Benefits of middle age

The Age of Reason: Financial Decisions over the Life-Cycle with Implications for Regulation is the title of a research study that reports we hit our peak financial decision making ability in middle age. According to the four economists/authors: "We conclude that financial mistakes follow a U-shaped pattern, with the cost-minimizing performance occurring around age 53." 

Further info: "Many consumers make poor financial choices and older adults are particularly vulnerable to such errors. About half of the population between ages 80 and 89 either has dementia or a medical diagnosis of 'cognitive impairment without dementia.' We study lifecycle patterns in financial mistakes using a proprietary database that measures ten different types of credit behavior. Financial mistakes include suboptimal use of credit card balance transfer offers, misestimation of the value of one's house, and excess interest rate and fee payments."  

Young adults: listen to your parents' advice. 

Oldsters: get help with your finances from your kids or a trusted advisor.  

Middle agers: enjoy your wisdom but watch out for your parents (and keep learning as the financial world evolves and becomes more complex). 

If you haven't already initiated the conversation with your parents about financial management in old age, maybe this info can help.  (Although the focus of the study is on needed public policy changes to help consumers avoid poor decisions, it has application in the realm of family finance.)
Citation: Agarwal, Sumit, Driscoll, John C., Gabaix, Xavier and Laibson, David I., The Age of Reason: Financial Decisions over the Life-Cycle with Implications for Regulation (October 19, 2009). Available at SSRN:

November 10, 2010

Health insurance for uninsured Utahns

Uninsured adults can apply for basic health insurance through Utah's Primary Care Network (PCN). Beyond the annual enrollment fee of $50, the program is free and covers doctors visits, emergency room care, prescriptions (birth control included), and some dental and eye care. Requirements: age 19-64, U.S. citizen or legal resident, no other health insurance, not eligible or Medicaid, and meet income requirements (i.e., Max. $33,075/year for family of four). Apply online: or 1-888-222-2542.
Deadline is Monday, Nov. 22. Thanks to The Salt Lake Tribune for this info.

November 8, 2010

Women's Institute For A Secure Retirement

"Improving the long-term financial security of all women through education and advocacy"

WISER is a terrific resource for planning your financial future, finding great resources and learning about financial planning. Check out the WISER website:

Find out the Top 5 Things Women Need To Do For Retirement, discover great care giving resources, get resources to help yourself or a friend/family member who is experiencing divorce or widowhood, or learn about annuities by reading a free chapter in Mark Miller's new book, The Hard Time Guide to Retirement Security, which is geared to the specific needs of baby boomers who are now nearing retirement. And lots more!

AARP Retirement Calculator

"For many, the first step to evaluating their financial future begins with a retirement calculation to determine when they can retire and what is needed to do so. AARP launched a new Retirement Calculator that balances usability and accuracy to provide retirement planning resources to all Americans."

“Based on user feedback and a changing retirement landscape, AARP revamped its retirement calculator to enhance usability, but maintain accuracy in its results.”

The new AARP tool strikes the right balance between giving users the information they want while making it engaging and easy to use. The calculator features pre-populated answers that can be adjusted easily, the ability to develop a retirement plan for a dual-income home and simple navigation. It provides an easy to understand explanation of where an individual is currently at in their retirement planning and the ability to experiment with various retirement scenarios to create a plan that is right for them. Upon completion of the calculator, individuals will be provided links to a number of AARP resources to learn more about Social Security, financial planning and health care in retirement. The new AARP Retirement Calculator does not promote any product or service.

To try out the new AARP Retirement Calculator, visit

For more information about retirement and financial planning, visit

Best college & university values

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine publishes a yearly article on best values in private and public colleges. The November magazine had their latest on private colleges:

It’s enlightening to see how they rate the schools. The article is especially helpful in showing the average amount of student debt of graduates and info on need-based and non-need based aid. 

The best way to save for college is through 529 college savings plans and Utah’s Educational Savings Plan always ranks among the best due to its low costs. Check our

November 3, 2010

Pay cash at grocery store? Eat better

We know from previous research studies that customers paying with a credit card spend more than those who pay cash. Now there is evidence, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, that paying cash at the grocery store may result in healthier food choices.

People are more likely to buy unhealthy foods when they pay using credit or debit cards. Why? "First, there is a correlation between unhealthiness and impulsiveness of food items: Unhealthy food items also tend to elicit impulsive responses. Second, cash payments are psychologically more painful than card payments, and this pain of payment can curb the impulsive responses to buy unhealthy food items."
Maybe it's time to try using old fashioned cash when grocery shopping. Save money and eat better.
Read more at:

November 1, 2010

Will you have enough $ to retire?

From Consumer Reports

In the October 2010 Issue Consumer Reports ran article titled: “Will You Have Enough to Retire?”

"If you can't answer that question, you're in good, or at least plentiful, company these days. Just 46 percent of U.S. workers say they or their spouses have tried to calculate how much they need to save for a comfortable retirement, according to a recent survey by the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington, D.C. And 14 percent of that group admit to guessing.

Even if you never plan to retire fully, or the day is still decades off, having more than a guess about how much money you'd need can help you avoid some unpleasant surprises years from now. "It may sound like a lot of work," says Steve Vernon, an actuary and blogger on retirement topics in Oxnard, Calif., "but it's worth it given that you're planning the rest of your life."

It doesn't have to be a lot of work if you shoot for an approximate number rather than try to account for every possible variable. With all the unpredictable factors involved, including future inflation rates and investment returns, as well as your own longevity, an approximation may be the best you'll do anyway. Here's how to come up with one.

Dementia and Money Problems

The Vanishing Mind: Money Woes Can Be Early Clue to Alzheimer's

"New research shows that one of the first signs of impending dementia is an inability to understand money and credit, contracts and agreements."

This NY Times article, although geared to financial planners, has a clear message for family members-- the need to plan for possible mental deterioration due to aging. The message is clear: we need to watch out for signs of dementia with our parents and grandparents and have a plan in place to address the problem. For those of us without children-- who will watch out for our needs as we age?

October 27, 2010

Retirement Readiness Rating

What Is Your R3?

"So you think you're preparing well for your retirement, but are you really? Use this quiz to determine your Retirement Readiness Rating (R3). Your R3 is an indicator of how good a job you're actually doing in financial preparation for retirement. It may help you flag some action items that, up to now, you may have neglected or overlooked. And if you have, it provides some resources to point you in the right direction and help you get started!" (Employee Benefit Research Institute)
Answer each question (truthfully!) and click on the "What is my RRR?" button at the end of the quiz to calculate your Retirement Readiness Rating.

Retirement Resources

“Choosing a Retirement Solution for Your Small Business” (, presents employers with a number of retirement plan options, and describes the advantages and features of each; from a simpler IRA-based plan to the more sophisticated automatic enrollment 401(k) plan. Even businesses with as few as two employees will find options using this new online tool.

For additional resources on retirement plan options, visit the EBSA Website at

Individuals seeking more information about retirement planning can find assistance at the AICPA’s website, The 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy campaign teaches financial literacy to Americans in every stage of life. The site’s “Retirees” section under “Life Stages” provides guidance on retirement planning and related topics.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

Reverse Mortgages for older homeonwers

Many older homeowners are "house rich and cash poor." A reverse mortgage can help turn their home into a stream of income once they are age 62 or older. the mandatory reverse mortgage counseling is provided free by the USU Family Life Center HUD-approved RM counselors. For an appointment or more info call: 435-797-7224.

For trustworthy information on reverse mortgages from the National Council on Aging, read: Use your home to stay at home: A Guide for Older Homeowners Who Need Help Now

October 26, 2010

Check your credit report & protect your identity

Opt out of credit and insurance offers to protect against someone stealing your identity by stealing your mail. Save paper and trees, too. 

How can I exclude my name from nationwide consumer credit reporting company lists for unsolicited credit and insurance offers?

You may request that consumer credit reporting companies exclude your name from lists for pre-approved, unsolicited credit and insurance offers. To find out more, please call 1–888–5OPTOUT (1–888–567–8688).
Don't forget to get your free credit reports each year from
Order a report from one of the 3 agencies once every 4 months (encourage spouse/partner, adult kids to do the same). It’s a good way to monitor your report to be sure info is accurate and to catch ID theft early in the event someone else gets credit in your name or steals your identity. 

“This central site allows you to request a free credit file disclosure, commonly called a credit report, once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.”

October 25, 2010

Book of the month: Women's Worth

Women's Worth: Finding your financial confidence

"In Women's Worth, CFP Eleanor Blayney breaks through the traditionally male-dominated field of financial advice to offer informtation you-- as a woman--can really use. Her frank approach intersperses practical advice with easy-to-do exercises that will help you understand your beliefs about money, learn the fundamentals of financial planning, and gain confidence in your financial know-how."

More info online at:

October 22, 2010

Stop mail delivery of advertising flyers

While some people may look forward to them, others would like to stop the endless flow of advertising in their mailboxes (yes, the newsprint can be recycled but it is better to stop the flow if you don't use them).

Write to the address printed on the outside of the packet of flyers requesting that they stop sending to your address. In Logan the advertisements come from: Red Plum, One Targeting Centre, Windsor, CT 06095 (this may differ depending on where you live).

Stock volatility- stay the course

'Stay the course investors' move ahead of panic sellers (Fidelity analysis with graph). Although we hope the worst of the dramatic stock market losses are behind us, it's a good time to remember the irrational investor behavior that guarantees losses.

Key Take Aways:

  • U.S. investors withdrew a record $70 billion from the stock market during the peak of the financial crisis in October 2008, and another $50 billion near the market low during Feb/March of 2009.
  • As of Oct. 16, 2009—one year after the peak in liquidations—investors who remained in the stock market had fared better than those who exited at the peak of the crisis and stayed on the sidelines.

Halloween Retirement Planning

Halloween is a great time to get motivated to plan for retirement by watching this 30 second video

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