October 19, 2017

Selling your vehicle privately: Great advice

While you can get more for your vehicle by selling yourself rather than trading it in, it takes more time and effort. And their are potential problems to avoid. Read more at:

6 Steps to Limit Risk When Selling Your Car Privately

Risks of Selling Your Car

Term Life Insurance: all you need to know

Check out this resource on term life insurance- the affordable option for the coverage your family needs.

do i need life insurance, need life insurance, life insurance meme

October 10, 2017

Useful Calculators

Check out this website that provides a variety of online calculators, such as financial and investments, mortgage and tax, salary and savings calculators. They provide great help in making important financial decisions. http://goodcalculators.com
Calculators For Kids

October 3, 2017

Equifax Breech: Should you freeze your credit?

As reported widely, a major breach at the credit bureau Equifax, one of the “big three” companies (along with TransUnion and Experian) that compile consumer credit histories and furnish reports to lenders considering credit applications, has exposed the sensitive personal information of 143 million people. This information includes Social Security numbers, birthdates and addresses. The breach has led consumers, like Jackie* from New Jersey, to call Consumer Action’s hotline asking, “How do I place a freeze on my credit file?”
A credit, or security, freeze is a preventive tool to help you to stop impostors from using your personal information to establish credit, a crime known as “identity theft.” Freezing your credit file means that new credit cannot be established in your name until you lift the freeze. Unless you are a documented victim of identity theft, you may have to pay a fee to place the freeze and another fee to lift the freeze temporarily when you need to apply for credit, though a handful of states mandate that freezes be free for all residents.
Equifax has offered free credit file freezes until Nov. 21, 2017. If you want a free credit file freeze from Equifax, you can call 800-349-9960 or visit the company’s website.
To be effective, one should place a freeze with all three credit bureaus. However, TransUnion and Experian, not affected by breaches, are not offering free freezes. To learn the cost of freezes in your state, see this page on the TransUnion site.
So how do you place a freeze on your credit file? Contact the bureaus. Each one will have a different procedure for activating and lifting a freeze. Remember, the freeze remains on your credit file until you remove it; you should contact the credit bureaus where you placed freezes before applying for new credit. Here’s the contact information for the three major credit reporting bureaus.
Call 800 349-9960 or visit the company’s website. For more information, see the Federal Trade Commission’s “Free credit freezes from Equifax.”
Call 888 397-3742 and follow the prompts for placing a security freeze, or visit the company’s website.
Call 888 909-8872 and follow the prompts for placing a security freeze by mail, or visit the company’s website, where you can establish an account and freeze your credit file. We’ve noticed that TransUnion is pushing its TrueIdentity “credit monitoring”—a paid product—on some of its freeze information pages, but you can request a freeze, for a fee, without enrolling in the paid product.
Pros and cons
Consider both the benefits and drawbacks of locking your credit file before you decide whether or not to place a security freeze.
  • A security freeze can stop imposters from opening new accounts in your name.
  • A freeze does not stop you from getting new credit or other services.
  • The freeze does not expire—it remains in effect until you remove it.
  • Freezing provides much greater protection and typically costs much less than a monthly credit monitoring service.
  • A freeze does not affect your credit score.
  • In most cases, placing a security freeze—and lifting it—is free for victims of ID theft. However, just being a victim of the Equifax breach does not make you an ID theft victim.
  • A security freeze only is effective if you activate it at all three credit reporting agencies.
  • Depending where you live, non-victims may pay up to $30 to place the freeze with all three agencies.
  • In most states, non-victims must pay a fee whenever they ask to temporarily lift the freeze. However, it is free in many states to permanently remove the freeze.
  • A security freeze can take up to three business days to be lifted, delaying your credit application or other transaction and preventing you from accessing “instant credit” offers at stores and retailers. (A number of states have passed laws, however, that require the freeze be lifted within 15 minutes of the request.)
  • A freeze does not prevent fraud involving your existing bank or credit accounts.
For more information, visit Consumer Action’s guide to protecting your personal data in the wake of the Equifax breach.
*Not this consumer’s real name

Thanks to Consumer Action for this item quoted directly in full.

Recognize & Combat Fake "News"

Fake news” is big news these days. While not entirely new, misleading and flat-out false information being presented as fact has become far more widespread over the last few years, and the repercussions have been serious. In 2016, a fake news story about Hillary Clinton leading a child-trafficking ring headquartered in a Washington, DC, pizzeria led a man to fire an assault rifle inside the restaurant.
Other fake news stories have impacted U.S. elections, our healthcare policies, the national economy ($130 billion in stock value temporarily vanished when nervous investors sold securities because of a hacker’s false Associated Press tweet claiming that an “explosion” had injured President Obama), individual finances (58 percent of Americans believe that fake news is a serious threat to their financial decision-making) and even personal health.
Consumer Action’s recently published Fake news: Recognizing and stemming misinformation is written to help consumers evaluate the accuracy of what they read or hear and refrain from spreading false stories. Thanks to the internet and social media, misinformation that decades ago might have been heard or read by relatively few can now reach millions of people around the world in a matter of minutes. While companies such as Facebook and Google have made efforts to prevent fake news from “going viral,” informed consumers are the best gatekeepers when it comes to stopping its proliferation.
To help consumers fulfill their critical role in stemming fake news, the new publication covers:
  • The different forms fake news can take, from propaganda and hyper-partisan stories to factual misstatements and misidentified satire;
  • How to vet a story, from looking for telltale signs of fakery to using the internet and tech tools to verify sources, facts and photos;
  • The “dos and don’ts” of dealing with fake news; and
  • A dozen resources—articles, websites and tech tools—that further empower individuals to avoid, spot, vet and stop fake news.
Fake news: Recognizing and stemming misinformation is available as a free PDF download from the Consumer Action website. The publication, which was created with a grant from Google, will also be available in Spanish by the end of November.
Thanks to Consumer Action for the entire direct quote above!

Medicare open enrollment

Medicare open enrollment begins October 15. If you’re already enrolled in Medicare this is the time you can make changes to your supplemental plans.

Attend a free PEHP Medicare presentation near you to learn about Medicare and your options. If you have questions visit www.pehp.org/medsup or contact us at (801) 366-7555 or (800) 955-7347.

October 1, 2017

How women undermine their retirement security

"While women still face a gender pay gap, their inclination to put family expenses first and their reluctance to discuss financial matters also hurt retirement savings. The Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement symposium explored possible solutions, including forming financial book clubs and taking advantage of employers' automatic enrollment or automatic escalation for retirement savings." http://www.nextavenue.org/wisest-retirement-solutions-women/
Author Kerry Hannon writes: "From my research, I’ve found that the root of the money quandary many women face is their own attitude. And that’s manageable. You can control how you approach your finances. You can stop the negative mental chatter. You can put an end to procrastinating. You can choose to make understanding your own financial decisions a priority. And you need to." Amen! My research also found that women put themselves last, often supporting adult children who need to be cut off the parental gravy train.

September 28, 2017

Medicare Advantage Shopping: 10 rules

The Squared Away Blog offers some excellent advice on shopping for Medicare Advantage Plans: http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/medicare-advantage-shopping-10-rules/
Comparison shopping for Medicare Plans starts October 15. Don't wait to educate yourself and don't just stick with your current plan out of inertia.

Help Navigating the College Debt Jungle

"Using this interactive map, parents can compare the average debt levels for 2016 graduates and the odds of graduating with debt reported by more than 1,000 U.S. colleges." Check out this great resource from The Squared Away Blog to get info on college graduates' debt levels. The blog post explains what to look for in the data. http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/help-navigating-the-college-debt-jungle/ 

September 22, 2017

So you think you don't need flood insurance?

Unaware and in Need of Flood Insurance

Just because you don't live next to the ocean or on a river bank doesn't mean your house is safe from flooding as too many Houstonians discovered. For the vast majority of Americans their house is their biggest financial asset and often the bedrock of their retirement plan.
It's time to face the facts of global climate change and take personal action as well as insisting that your legislators take their heads out of the sand and start taking collective action to address global warming. The storms are getting worse and more frequent; we all suffer from climate change denial.
"Millions of U.S. homeowners may not realize they’re at risk of flooding, due to outdated flood plain maps and even less information about dam and levee “failure zones” and urban storm-water hazards like the river running through downtown Miami during Hurricane Irma." Read this valuable article from the Squared Away Blog and ACT on the information! http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/unaware-and-in-need-of-flood-insurance/
P.S. I just called my insurance agent to update and increase our property insurance.

Roth vs. regular 401(k)s

Traditional 401(k) or Roth 401(k)?
"Workers usually don’t know the difference. Yet employers increasingly are asking them to choose." "The difference in the two types of plans is the timing of federal income taxes." Get the details from the Squared Away blog at: http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/the-411-on-roth-vs-regular-401ks/

How to pay for college in face of rising costs

"A common misperception among parents with children heading to college is that they should go to any length to keep the student from taking on debt, says financial planner Davon Barrett. He notes that the alternatives, such as tapping into retirement savings or reducing contributions, can be more damaging to their finances than taking out a loan." Read: Ready, Set, Student Debt" at https://www.financial-planning.com/news/ready-set-student-debt-prepare-clients-and-their-kids-for-financing-school-student-loans-student-debt-financial-aid-fafsa

Is debt threatening your retirement?

"More than 4 in 10 Americans age 56 to 61 carry debt -- more than $17,000, on average -- while more than a third have less than $1,000 in a checking account, according to a MagnifyMoney analysis. The combination paints a grim picture for these future retirees, but five steps can help, beginning with assigning top priority to reducing debt." Retirement Security SmartBrief.  Read the details and find out how to pay down that debt! http://www.nextavenue.org/debt-threatening-retirement-dreams/

Are you ready for a disaster?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (under attack from Congressional Republicans) is a terrific resource and consumer watchdog. Check out their resources:

Featured topic: Disaster Preparedness and Recovery
When a catastrophe like Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma happens, people's lives can be turned upside down. During these tough times, it may be difficult to know who to trust and where to look for guidance and assistance, as well as what financial steps to take.  Even if your area isn’t affected this time, you may want to help the people you serve to prepare for upcoming catastrophes or just for their peace of mind.  Here are some tools and resources that can help.

1.      Disaster Recovery Resources 
These are a few organizations that can help immediately after a natural disaster:
After the most urgent needs are addressed, people can start thinking about financial obligations and issues, especially if they have experienced damage to their home or property. We have five steps people can take to help secure their home and finances:

·         Contact your insurance company
·         Register for assistance with  www.DisasterAssistance.gov
·         Contact  your mortgage servicer
·         Contact your credit card companies and other lenders
·         Contact your utility companies

To get more details on these tips and other actions people can take to recover from disasters, go to our blog on disaster recovery.
The CFPB has a Disaster Checklist to help consumers consolidate the information needed —including account numbers, personal records and financial record— to avoid problems and recover faster after a disaster.

4.  Scams and identity theft

While many people pull together during times of crisis, there is also an increased risk for scams and fraud. The CFPB has tips to avoid scams after a disaster that you can explore here.

5. Upcoming Webinar

Disaster Preparedness and Recovery
Thursday, September 28, 2017
2:00-3:00 pm (Eastern Time)
Join us for a webinar to learn about disaster preparedness from a financial standpoint. On this webinar, we will discuss tools and resources available from the CFPB and other federal agencies to help consumers prepare for and cope with the financial aspects of disasters. 

Step 1:  To join the September 28th webinar, please go to the following link at the time of the webinar:
(Note that this webinar link will not be live until the day of the webinar).

Step 2:  Listen to the audio by dialing 888-795-5920 and entering participant passcode 4791947.
(Note:  you must dial in via the conference line.  There is no audio available via Webex.)

September 15, 2017

Trump says tax proposal wouldn't favor rich

Trump says tax proposal wouldn't favor rich

The tax package that Republicans hope to get through Congress this year would leave the wealthy "pretty much where they are," President Donald Trump said. Trump has begun reaching out for support from Democrats, many of whom have spoken out against tax cuts for the wealthy.
CNBC (9/13)  

If you believe this I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you along with prime development property in Florida!

Republicans aim to weaken Consumer Watchdog just as Experian data breech affects 143 million Americans!

CFPB in congressional crosshairs, experts say
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created as part of the post-crisis Dodd-Frank Act, will be unable to retain its full power to rein in Wall Street, even if its Democratic director, Richard Cordray, remains in his post, experts say. The Republican-dominated Congress has repeatedly taken aim at the agency's mandate and budget.
Gee! Doesn't this make lots of sense just a Experian revealed that it failed to protect 143 million Americans from having their personal data stolen that will be used for ID theft.  The data breech occurred this summer and it took two months before the problem leaked out to consumers and the news media!
Let's hope that more than a few Republican Congress members are victims of this data breech.

September 11, 2017

Disaster Planning: 5 Essentials for your Financial Emergency Kit

With wildfires in the northwest, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma causing so much destruction, it's a reminder to prepare for disaster... earthquake, tornado or ???
"It's tempting to put off until tomorrow some of the important decisions about what happens to your retirement assets when you die. But it pays to plan ahead, especially for accounts that aren't transferred by will or trust. Start here: Make sure there are designated beneficiaries for any retirement savings plans and pensions you own or may be entitled to."
1. Cash and keys
2. Contacts
3. Personal Identification
4. paper or electronic copies of personal financial records
5. An inventory of your valuables and personal belongings.
Get the details at: 

September 9, 2017

Equifax breach exposes 143 million people to identity theft

Who can you trust? No one... when a major credit bureau's computers have been breached it's a really frustrating situation.

I discovered that my social security number is among those at risk. 

Experian has set up a website where you can check if your personal info was stolen:  https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/. Also, call this phone number 866-447-7559 for more information. Experian is offering free credit monitoring to all U.S. consumers for a year.

Check out details at The Salt Lake Tribune: http://www.sltrib.com/news/2017/09/08/equifax-breach-exposes-143-million-people-to-identity-theft/

August 22, 2017

Bad Credit? Here is reliable help

U.S. News & World Report created resources to improve financial literacy among consumers with bad credit. Topics include how to monitor credit scores and dispute errors, to the best and worst credit cards and how to evaluate them.

U.S. News & World Report’s credit survey and guide can be viewed here:

  1. 2017 Survey of Consumers with Bad Credit
  2. Before You Apply
  3. Choosing the Best Credit Card for Bad Credit
  4. Cards to Avoid
  5. Using Your Credit Card to Rebuild Your Card

How to talk to aging parents about money

When you were a kid, your parents probably talked to you about money, perhaps about the value of a buck or how you might spend your allowance. As time marches on, you may find the situation reversed—and that you have to have the "money talk" with your parents.

Adult children sometimes feel concerned that they're invading their parents' privacy when raising money issues. Parents, meanwhile, can feel threatened, or worry about losing their independence. Still, it can be helpful to have a dialogue with your parents about their finances as they get older.
  • Show your love.
  • Choose your words carefully.
  • Talk about yourself.
  • Offer to help.
  • Ask the right questions.
  • Keep an eye out for scams.
  • Consider professional guidance.
Learn more at FINRA:

August 21, 2017

Women spend less than half of adult life in marriage- implications for retirement

A study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found that the average US woman now will spend less than half of her adult life as part of a married couple. This "has significant implications for financial planning," the study's authors note. (8/21/17 Retirement Security Smartbrief).

Do Women Still Spend Most of Their Lives Married?



The brief’s key findings are:
  • Traditionally, women spent their adult lives married, so it made more sense to study households rather than women separately.
  • The question is whether today’s women are spending fewer years married.
  • The analysis looks at four birth cohorts, ranging from the Depression Era to Mid Baby Boomers.
  • No matter how you define the age span, the percentage of years spent married has dropped from about 70 percent to 50 percent.
  • The reasons are three-fold: 1) fewer women get married; 2) when they do marry, they get married later; and 3) more women end up divorced.
  • Thus, looking at women’s finances separately from men is increasingly necessary for a full assessment of their retirement security.
Women need to invest for retirement security beginning with their first job and not depend on a man for financial security in later life. 

August 3, 2017

Time to leave Wells Fargo after one more scandal

It is LONG past time for consumers to leave Wells Fargo Bank after one more revelation of customer mistreatment to enhance the bottom line. This time the bank has admitted charging  570,000 of its customers for auto insurance that duplicated coverage they were already paying for, causing financial strain that resulted in many to lose their vehicles. The bank is offering an apology and refunds of overcharges but this is little comfort to people who lost their vehicles and had their credit rating damaged by Wells        Fargo executives lining their own pockets.
This latest scandal of consumer abuse comes on top of last year's sales scandal where bank employees were coerced into opening 2.1 million accounts using ficticious info or unauthorized customer info, according to Emily Glazer in The Wall Street Journal (7/29-30/17). Also reported by The New York Times. The insurance Wells Fargo forced on its customers was more expensive than the coverage the vehicle owners already had paid for on their own policies.
Wells Fargo customers need to wake up and leave their bank for another bank or a credit union!

July 13, 2017

3 Retirement Calculators

The Squared Away Blog from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College recommends 3 free retirement calculators. Check out the blog and their recommendations at: http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/retirement-calculators-3-good-options/

June 29, 2017

How to Protect Your Retirement Savings From a Crash

"Since the market hit rock bottom about eight years ago, it has been steadily improving, and investors have seen skyrocketing stock prices and annual returns. Unfortunately, those spectacular averages won't last forever, and the investment pros have some pretty pessimistic predictions for the future," according to Katie Brockman writing for The Motley Fool.
"So what can you do to protect your retirement savings in the event that the market crashes?"
1. Check that your investments are aligned with your risk tolerance
2. Don't invest anything you'll need within five years
3. Eliminate as much debt as possible
4. Prepare for the worst


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