July 26, 2013

Aging Mind and Money

Check out the “Squared Away” blog (from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College) for vital information about how aging affects our ability to handle finances. Having spent years managing my parents’ finances, I’m well-acquainted with the need to plan for a trustworthy person to monitor, manage and eventually take over finances as we age. Whether planning for yourself or for aging parents, read the research-based details at:

Opt-out of pre-approved credit card offers

Save paper and trees!
"Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Consumer Credit Reporting Companies are permitted to include your name on lists used by creditors or insurers to make firm offers of credit or insurance that are not initiated by you ("Firm Offers"). The FCRA also provides you the right to "Opt-Out", which prevents Consumer Credit Reporting Companies from providing your credit file information for Firm Offers. Use this website https://www.optoutprescreen.com to:
·         Opt-Out from receiving Firm Offers for Five Years - (electronically through this website).
·         Opt-Out from receiving Firm Offers permanently - (mail Permanent Opt-Out Election form available through this website)."
To exercise your right to Opt-Out of firm offers of credit and insurance, you'll be asked to provide your personal information set out below.
• Name
• Address
• Social Security Number
• Date of Birth
When asked to type in the random letters and numbers to confirm your request, you may need to use CAPITAL letters!

July 24, 2013

3 Big Don’ts of Rebuilding Credit

1.      Don’t miss payments
2.      Don’t add a secured credit card
3.      Don’t close cards
Read the detailed advice from John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at SmartCredit.com

July 10, 2013

Retirement income scorecard: Systematic withdrawals

This concise explanation by Steve Vernon, Research Scholar for the Stanford Center on Longevity, of one option for withdrawing funds in retirement is clearly written and contains helpful charts. Check the MoneyWatch website for info on the 3 methods of generating a retirement paycheck. Vernon cites research by highly respected researcher Wade Pfau who cautions that the 4% withdrawal guideline is based on a period in US investment history that is unlikely to be repeated in the future.  What is not mentioned is the option to delay claiming Social Security benefits until age 70 which allows higher withdrawals from personal assets. Keep in mind the 3 stages of retirement described by Michael K. Stein: the initial “go-go” phase when retirees are traveling and recreating and may be spending more than they did while working. Next is the “slow-go” phase; think: never want to deal with TSA again, which is followed by the “no-go” phase when health limits activities. This last phase can be low cost (just want to tinker in my garden or garage or sit on the porch and watch the world go by) or very expensive with long term care costs. I highly recommend Vernon’s series of articles on retirement income (and other financial topics. Check them out: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505146_162-57592461/retirement-income-scorecard-systematic-withdrawals/

July 9, 2013

Have you purchased these autos?

Consumer Action is sharing updates about potential class action litigation. If you purchased the products described below, contact the law firm listed below for further information.

BMW. Owners/lessees and certain prior owners/lessees of certain BMW vehicles should be aware of a potential design defect that allows water to enter the vehicle’s trunk and potentially damage electronics.  Because of the design of the vehicles’ drainage system, as well as certain other design issues, water may enter into and collect in your trunk, damaging vital electrical components. In addition, BMW did not warn owners that liquids should not be transported in the trunk because sensitive electrical components are located there. In many cases, BMW has refused to cover the cost of repairs. The defect appears to affect the following vehicles: 1999-2006 X5 series vehicles; 2003-10 X3 series vehicles; 1999-2006 fourth-generation 3-series vehicles; 2006-11 fifth-generation 3-series vehicles; 2006-11 5 series vehicles; 2004-10 6-series vehicles; and MY 2002-08 7-series vehicles.

Ford Fusion and C-Max Hybrids. Owners/lessees of Model Year 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid and C-Max Hybrid vehicles should be aware that independent testing performed by Consumer Reports indicates that the Vehicles’ EPA-reported gas mileage far overstates the actual mileage achieved by the Vehicles. Ford marketing materials assert that the Vehicles have an EPA-reported gas mileage of 47 miles-per-gallon on both highways and city roads.  Independent testing conducted by Consumer Reports concluded that the Vehicles’ mileage ratings actually vary by as much as 10 miles-per-gallon.

Ford Ecoboost. Owners/lessees and certain prior owners/lessees of 2010-2013 Ford vehicles containing a 3.5L V6 Ecoboost Engine should be aware of a potential engine defect may cause the vehicle to suddenly limp or stall. Ford’s Ecoboost engine utilizes a “Charge Air Cooler” to cool the engine and conserve gas.  As moisture collects in the cooler, the moisture may be pulled into the engine, causing the engine to shudder, shake violently, lose power or stall.

Jeep Liberty or Jeep Cherokee. Owners/lessees and certain prior owners/lessees of 2005-2007 Jeep Liberty or Jeep Cherokee models should be aware of a potential window mechanism defect. There appears to be a defect in the window regulators, lift plates and related mechanisms that causes the windows to bind, stick, tip forward, chatter and fall to the bottom of the door frame. Often, this occurs suddenly and when the windows are partially or totally closed. The defect also causes the window to get stuck in a closed, partially closed and totally open position. The defect occurs while the engine is off or running, while the vehicle is standing still or being operated at any speed. Any dealer repairs involve simply replacing the defective Window mechanisms with similarly defective mechanisms.

MINI Cooper. Owners/lessees and certain prior owners/lessees of the 2007-2009 MINI Cooper R56 (“Cooper Hardtop”) and 2008-2009 MINI Cooper R55 (“Cooper Clubman”).  A defect with the timing chain tensioner can cause sudden engine failure at even high speeds. The Timing Chain Tensioner is a component that maintains proper tension of the guide rails against the timing chain. It ensures that the timing chain maintains proper synchronization between the camshaft and crankshaft. If it is defective, synchronization brakes down, the crankshaft may be impacted, leading to more serious engine problems. Symptoms: an engine knock occurs, indicating a problem with the tensioner. If there is a complete failure, there is a loss of power to the car.

Bryan L. Clobes
Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel LLP, Philadelphia, PA
Email: BClobes@CaffertyClobes.com
Phone: 215-864-2800 (office)
Website: www.caffertyclobes.com

July 2, 2013

Long term care insurance industry problems escalate

"The long-term-insurance industry now is shrinking, premiums are soaring and there is no fix in sight. At the same time, government safety-net programs, already under cost-cutting pressure, are bracing for demand from more of the 77 million aging baby boomers,"according to The Wall Street Journal report by Kelly Greene & Leslie Scism (front page, July 2, 2013). "Long-term-care insurers are retreating from the marketplace and raising premiums for policies that remain, a situation that has put many seniors who bought the coverage in a bind. The problem, experts say, is that insurers underestimated almost everything key to the policies: How many people would tap the benefits, how fast medical costs would rise and how few customers would surrender their policies."  If you are thinking of buying a policy or already own one, this is must reading. Details: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323475304578501820197828966.html?mod=dist_smartbrief
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