June 29, 2011

Utah in top 5 for Ponzi Schemes

Last year the FBI labeled Utah as one of its top 5 states for Ponzi (pyramid) schemes. Now a new study confirms that Utah is #5 in the nation on the "Ponzi Prosperity Index."

Ponzi schemes promise outrageous investment returns and use money from new investors to pay the initial investors who brag to their friends and family to suck them into the scheme. Does no one remember Bernie Madeoff and his promises of guaranteed, safe returns?? No investment return is guaranteed. The new study shows that religious group members are Ponzi targets about 30% of he time (based on trust of religious leaders and co-worshipers). The elderly and retired people are also prime targets (because that's where the money is).

For at least the past 3 decades The Salt Lake Tribune has been published articles about "affinity group" investment fraud and today's (June 29) paper reminds readers to be very wary of unrealistic promises of safe, high investment returns. Keith Woodwell, director of the Utah Division of Securities is quoted in the article, "I would say it is probably closer to 50 percent of the scams we see in Utah that are marketed based on some type of affinity group." Be skeptical and help educate your friends and family (particularly seniors) about Ponzi schemes and affinity fraud.

Read the details at: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/money/52091892-79/ponzi-utah-state-fraud.html.csp

June 21, 2011

So You Think You Know All About Credit Scores...

http://www.creditscorequiz.org/ is a new website to educate consumers ahead of new regulations’ poised to dramatically affect borrowers.  CreditScoreQuiz.org is an interactive quiz that lets you test their understanding of credit scores and improve your understanding of how your credit scores affects the cost of borrowing money. Compare your score to the national average. After you take the quiz be sure to check out the resources page http://www.creditscorequiz.org/resources/
While you’re at it, don’t forget to get a free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three national credit reporting companies at annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.
P.S. I teach this stuff and I didn’t score 100%.

Beware Business Credit Card Solicitations

Four U.S. Senators urged the Federal Reserve to crack down on business credit card marketing, because the cards do not come with many of the protections that are standard on basic consumer credit cards. According to the Wall Street Journal the senators want the Fed to require credit card companies to improve disclosures on the business cards and clearly warn consumers that the cards are NOT protected by the latest regulations that have reined in billing practices such as sudden interest-rate hikes. Each month lenders send out 10 million offers to consumers for professional credit cards, according to a study by the Safe Credit Card project at Pew Charitable Trusts, a Washington, D.C.-based consumer-advocacy group. See: http://www.pewtrusts.org/our_work_detail.aspx?id=616
Second point: register to Opt Out of credit card solicitations to cut down on junk mail, wasted trees & paper, and to protect against ID theft from stolen solicitations. Sign up at OptOut Prescreen:  https://www.optoutprescreen.com/?rf=t

Save up to $1/gallon of gas

I don’t like to promote specific retailers in this blog but I was pleasantly shocked recently when I bought gas at Conoco on 400 North in Logan and saved 90 cents per gallon!! 

I’m used to the old system of saving up to 15 cents/gallon by swiping my Smith’s fresh values reward card when buying gas.  When I shopped at Smith’s yesterday I noticed the sign claiming you can save up to $1/gallon. With the vacation travel season starting, this is a great deal.   

I shop at Smith’s Marketplace because it is close to my home so I can walk, ride my bike, or stop on my way home with the car (saves time and money to shop close to home).  Students in the “Consumer in the Market” class at USU do a comparison shopping project each semester and their studies show there is not a consistently cheapest grocery store in town.

June 12, 2011

Get a Life You Don't Need a Million to Retire Well

Get a Life: You Don't Need a Million to Retire Well
While I'm always encouraging people to invest more for retirement, this is one of my favorite books.  Read a free chapter online at: http://www.nolo.com/products/get-a-life-LIFE.html

"The financial-service industry wants you to believe that in order to avoid financial destitution, you need to put aside huge amounts of money that you -- let's say it together -- "should have begun saving years ago."

Not true, states Ralph Warner, Nolo co-founder and the author of Get a Life. Although a sensible savings plan makes good horse sense, many other actions and decisions will determine whether you enjoy your retirement years.

Get a Life shows you how to beat the anxiety surrounding retirement, and to develop a plan to make your golden years the best of your life by:
  •     developing family relationships
  •     maintaining and creating friendships
  •     improving health
  •     keeping active
  •     developing a robust curiosity for the world
  •     realistically calculating how much money you need and how to secure it
The 5th edition provides the latest research and studies that show physically and mentally active retirees live longer and enjoy happier lives."
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