May 22, 2011

Social Security Fix-it book

Confused about Social Security? Worried that it won't be there for you? Frustrated with the lack of action by Congress to deal with the looming financing problems? Wondering who to believe?

The non-partisan Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has produced an easy to understand educational tool to clear up the confusion and point the way toward a reasonable solution: "Everything the earnest but overburdened citizen needs to know about the Social Security financing shortfall and the leading proposals for addressing the problem."

Available at:

This colorful, illustrated, easy-to-understand booklet explains the problem (No, SS is NOT going bankrupt!) Decide for yourself (and your multi-generation household) what steps you would like your Congressional representatives to implement to resolve the funding problem before delay makes it worse. Go ahead! Click the link above. I think you will be pleasantly surprised to discover that the problem is solvable.

Natural Disaster Planning and Recovery

It's been almost a month since my last post because my husband and I have been on a 4,000 miles motorcycle trip from N. Utah to Maryland, a trip that will be remembered as the 'natural disaster' tour!

We rode along the Louisiana coast that was devastated by hurricane Rita in 2005 where we saw lots of empty concret pads where homes used to be. A section of beach that used to hold 250 homes now has a dozen, all new since Rita. Although we did not see the worst of the massive Mississippi River flooding, we rode through portions of Louisiana that are now being inundated. I've got photos of prisoners filling sandbags and we stood on a levee watching the water rise in Morgan, LA. 

As we headed north from the Gulf we saw the first examples of tornado damage near Jackson, MS. From there north through Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, N. Carolina and Virginia we viewed extensive tornado damage and passed a number of FEMA disaster recovery stations. Just 150 milies short of our destination we spent two nights in a motel to avoid the severe thunder storms; I was so glad we did as a (thankfully small) tornado struck Frederick County, MD, our destination, that day.

Right now some Utah homeowners are cleaning up after or preparing for the inevitable flooding as our massive snow pack starts to melt. I remember well the flooding of spring 1983 & 84. But our biggest risk for extensive damage in Utah (and other western states) is earthquakes. For actions to take to make your home safer during an earthquake use the search festure of this blog (type: earthquake).

But the purpose of this post is to feature a new resource for disaster recovery, Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit, developed by the University of Minnesota Extension and North Dakota State University Extension Service, in partnership with Lutheran Social Service. The Cooperative Extension Service provides adult education throughout the U.S. This excellent resource is available at:

BUT don't wait until disaster hits to take some important steps. Unit 5 is a good summary of what everyone needs to know about their current financial status. Units 6 & 7, Where will I live? are a good reminder of the need for renters insurance and the portion of HO insurance that pays for you to live elsewhere if your home is not habitable. Do you have a detailed and current home inventory, with photos, to document your possessions? Besides a copy at home, keep a copy in your safe deposit box, and with a relative or friend who lives in a different community. USU Extension's publication Take Charge of Your Money can help you get started.

Now is the time to talk with your homeowners' insurance agent to be sure you have appropriate coverage; remember that HO insurance specifically excludes coverage for lood and earthquakes. You need to purchase separate policies and your agent can help with the process. It seems that no one is immune from natural disasters so don't kid yourself and don't delay.
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