June 2006 Newsletter

June 14: What women need to know about Social Security. Speaker: Sandy Hunter, Social Security Administration. Men are also welcome and encouraged to attend. FPW meets 12:30-1:30 p.m. in Family Life room 318 on the USU campus. Bring your lunch. The same program is repeated in the evening: 7-8:30 p.m. at the Family Life Center, 493 North 700 East, Logan (at bottom of Old Main Hill).
FPW Advisory Board Thanks to the following women who serve on the FPW Advisory Board:
Lola Bolton
Valerie Byrnes
Susan Haddock
Rae Ann Hart
Dena Larsen
Chris Lord
Norma Mann
Visnja Taylor
The role of the Advisory Board is to help determine program topics and to provide ideas on how to promote FPW. In the coming months the Advisory Board members will be introduced in alphabetical order. LJ Bolton began working for the Utah State University Technology Commercialization Office in December of 2002. Her responsibilities consist of managing all administrative task which include providing technical support for all intellectual property including inventions, patents, projects and agreements. She conducts research and prepares complex monthly metric analysis reports regarding TCO's activities. LJ also reviews, tracks and oversees license compliance and all financial information for the office. She has an excellent business background with more than 10 years in engineering and manufacturing firms. She also has excellent customer service experience having started her career in the retail industry. LJ has more than 27 years of progressive management, office administration and customer service. LJ is married with five children, and has lived in Logan the past 6 years.  She is passionate about teaching people, especially women, about handling their finances wisely.  She serves on the Board of Directors for the Boys and Girls Club, is a Wish Granter for Make-A-Wish and loves to garden.  She also has a small home based consulting business.
If you have suggestions for topics please email: lown@cc.usu.edu
Websites of the month:
  1. Social Security Information for Women: http://www.ssa.gov/women/
  2. Can you afford to retire? http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/retirement/
New web site on saving and investing:
"SaveAndInvest.org is your source for objective answers, unbiased investing resources and straight-talking financial information and tools. It's a free service of the NASD Investor Education Foundation-helping you to protect yourself from costly mistakes and learn more about handling your finances. So there's no sales pitch. No confusing advice. Just the help you need to make smart decisions for your future."
Take action!
  1. Read your Social Security Benefits Estimate statement.
  2. Order you free annual credit report by calling 1-877-322-8228 or https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp Under federal law each consumer is entitled to one free report each year from Equifax, Transunion & Experian.  Order one every 4 months to make the most of this free service. WHY? To catch ID theft as early as possible as well as to clear up inaccurate information.
  3. Congress recently extended a bunch of tax breaks that benefit the wealthy while failing to extend one of the best tax breaks for low and moderate income workers: Retirement Savings Tax Credit. This credit expires at the end of 2006 so NOW is the last time to take advantage. If you qualify be sure to contribute to your IRA or 401(k) plan during 2006 (now, not later).
  4. If you are getting a raise on July 1, commit at least a part of your raise to paying down consumer debt (while not taking on any more consumer debt) and/or investing. If you've been able to live on what you earn for the past year and your income is going up, you can still afford to live on what you earned last year. How to find $ to invest or pay off debt: Adjust your W-4 income tax withholding if you got a refund on last years taxes. Put that money to work by having it automatically transferred from your paycheck (or checking account) to a savings plan such as an IRA.
  5. Get earthquake insurance! Everyone homeowner in Cache Valley needs earthquake insurance. Allstate just announced it is pulling out of the market but there are plenty of other insurance companies that offer earthquake coverage. Another coverage to consider is flood insurance. See the November 2005 program (Powerpoint) about homeowners insurance. http://www.usu.edu/fpw/schedule/powerpoints.htm
Follow up on June FPW
Target Retirement Date mutual funds for your IRA
What they are: a diversified mutual fund with asset allocation appropriate to your stage in life (in relation to when you plan to retire) that automatically maintains an appropriate asset allocation that becomes more conservative as you approach retirement.
Where to buy: Vanguard has the lowest management fees but requires $3,000 to begin an IRA. T. Rowe Price charges a higher annual management fee but lets you start an IRA with as little as $50 if you sign up for an automatic investment plan.
Read The Wall Street Journal Sunday in the Sunday Salt Lake Tribune Business Section or read it online: http://online.wsj.com/public/page/sundayjournal.html
Upcoming FPW programs (mark your calendar):
July 12: 20 Steps to 7 Figures: Secrets of The Millionaire Next Door
August 9: Am I on track for a comfortable retirement ? How much to invest for retirement using the Ballpark Estimate September 13: Taking the Mystery out of Retirement Planning
October 11: Stretching Your Dollar (tentative)
November 8: Getting off the Consumer Escalator. Watch DVD featuring Juliet Schor, author of The Overspent American , followed by discussion.
Personal Finance Humor:
"The problem with our business is that 98% of investment advisors give the rest of us a bad name." (A joke from Jonathan Clements' Wall Street Journal "Getting Going" column May 31, 2006: "Due Diligence: The five keys rules to heed before hiring a financial advisor."
Send some $ jokes to: lown@cc.usu.edu
Upcoming events: Housing and Financial Counseling (USU Family Life Center) workshops:
June 10 (Saturday): Homeownership workshop in Brigham City (call 797-7430 for location and to register) 8:30-4:30 (registration required)
June 21 (Wednesday): Home Smart 7-9 p.m. Details and upcoming workshops at: http://www.usu.edu/fchd/hfc_workshops.pdf
Financial Planning for Women (FPW) is a monthly educational seminar that meets the second Wednesday of each month at two times: 12:30-1:30 p.m. in Family Life room 318 on the USU campus. Bring your lunch. The same program is repeated in the evening: 7-8:30 p.m. at the Family Life Center, 493 North 700 East, Logan (at bottom of Old Main Hill). The longer evening time slot allows for more discussion. Programs are free and registration is not required. Bring a friend! For further information: (435) 797-1569; lown@cc.usu.edu
The USU Family Life Center, 797-7224, 493 N 700 East (bottom of Old Main Hill), provides financial counseling and monthly workshops. This is the best source for basic money management and getting out of debt. They offer the PowerPay computer debt analysis. Counseling sessions cost $5 for first session with sliding scale charges based on family income and family size for subsequent counseling sessions.
Thanks to Zions Bank Smart Women grant for funding for FPW.