August 22, 2011

Elder Rights Resource Booklet

The Utah Elder Rights Resource Booklet
This 28 page resource was written by Jilenne Gunther and published by the Utah Division of Aging and Adult Services. Table of Contents:
  1. Protecting Yourself against Scams and Sales
  2. Knowing Your Consumer Rights
  3. Preventing and Protecting Yourself from Abuse
  4. Caring for Grandchildren
  5. Learning about Benefits
  6. Obtaining Medical Insurance
  7. Finding Housing Options
  8. Organizing Your Assets: Estate Planning
  9. Keeping the Power: End-of-Life Planning
  10. Making Arrangements: Death of a Loved One
  11. Getting Legal Help: Where to Go from Here
The author is willing to speak to groups on any topic in this book. 

Jilenne Gunther
Legal Enforcement Counsel
Utah Division of Aging and Adult Services

How expensive a home should you buy?

Whether you currently own a home or are in the market to buy, some national statistics shed slight on the question of how expensive a home to purchase. 

The traditional rule of thumb has been to spend no more than 2.5 times your annual income on a home. The acronym PITI stands for principal, interest, taxes, and insurance.  So PITI includes your monthly mortgage payment (principal & insurance), property taxes, and HO insurance premium but should also include any homeowner’s association fee and mortgage insurance premium.  It is this total, not just the mortgage payment, that should be 30% of your income or less.  

A recent Wall Street Journal article (8/17/11) reveals:  “For the U.S. as a whole, home prices were around 2.9 times incomes from 1985 to 2000. But during the housing boom, values increased at a much faster rate than incomes. The price-to-income ratio peaked at around 5.1 in 2005. Home prices have since fallen so that on average, nationally, prices are around 3.3 times incomes, or about 14% above the historical trend.” So homeowners can calculate your own ratio and see where you stand.  

Personally I have always bought homes that are well below the ratio so that we have more money for other goals and flexibility so my husband could switch jobs or take time off (a summer in Australia for us) and to allow for possible unemployment and unexpected expenses. It’s clear from these data that far too many Americans exceeded their capacity to pay (encouraged by real estate sales people, mortgage brokers, and media hype) during the housing bubble.

August 18, 2011

Looking on the bright side of stock market woes

With assets losing value it’s hard to find any good news in the investment markets. One exception is that now may be a good time to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. When you convert you have to pay taxes but with reduces values the amount of taxes will be less.

Read about this strategy in “Market Woes Open Door for Roth Conversions” By Steve Garmhausen

August 16, 2011

Become a Saver!

Are you a Saver? Do you want to get started on building savings and paying down debt?

Visit to learn how you can take action to Build Wealth Not Debt! There are state specific websites as well such as Utah Saves:

August 14, 2011

Financial guidebook for widows

Widowhood can be a devastating life event.  Friends and family members may offer to help but we often feel helpless in providing support. Providing the widow with a copy of this book may be the most valuable help you can offer. 
Kathleen Rehl’s book, Moving Forward on Your Own: A Financial Guidebook for Widows.
Quotes below are from the web page which also provides ordering information for this award winning book:
“A husband’s death is possibly the most devastating event a woman will experience. She may wonder, “Am I going to be able to make it on my own?” She may feel overwhelmed and not know what to do next.
“This guidebook helps widows begin to feel more secure about their financial matters, serving as a catalyst to assist women make progress after a spouse's death. It integrates basic financial information with self-reflective exercises to encourage self-confidence about money issues. Written in an easy-to-understand manner, it's presented in a beautiful format--to help heal a woman's soul while gently focusing on money matters.
“Widows transitioning into their new financial life may use this book on their own or with the guidance of a professional. Grief support group members can use this book together. Or, it may be given as a gift to a family member or friend who is widowed.”
Financial Planning for Women does not sell, rent, loan, lease or otherwise provide any personal information collected at our site to any third parties.