January 2006 Newsletter

Please forward this email to a friend and invite her to join you for the next meeting.
January 11 program: Small Steps to Health and Wealth
It's that time of year when we make resolutions to completely change our lives. You've seen the advertisements for gym memberships. You don't have to sign up to run a marathon to start improving your health. Neither do you need to make massive changes in your spending to start yourself on the path to wealth. Recent research shows that small steps to improve your health can make a significant difference. The same applies to finances. This mean: NO more excuses!! Come to FPW to start yourself on the path to better health and the wealth to support a long, healthy life! Please bring a friend.
One example of a small step:
Minimum Credit Card Payments Double - A $10,000 balance can now be paid off in 15 years instead of 58!
"Who can imagine paying on the same credit card debt for 58 years? Not me. That is how long a debtor would be paying on a credit card balance of $10,000, at 18 percent interest, if they were only to make the minimum payment of just two percent of the outstanding balance, which was the old minimum payment schedule for way too many years.
The nearly 58 years to pay this off, assuming that person stuck to the minimum payment each month, (according to Bankrate.com's credit card calculator, at http://BankRate.com/). The total interest paid during that time would be about $28,931. Now, the same person paying 4% of outstanding balance each month would pay off the debt in a more reasonable 15 years and would pay much less in interest: $5,916.
Minimum payments on credit cards have increased, some two years after the January 2003 guidelines issued by the Federal Reserve. Card issuers are supposed to adopt higher minimums by the end of 2005."
Upcoming programs: There is still time to request a topic for 2006!! E-mail me with your request for topics by January 11. Simply reply to this message or: lown@cc.usu.edu
FPW meets 12:30-1:30 p.m. in Family Life room 318 on the USU campus. Feel free to 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).
If you can't attend:
PowerPoint presentations and plenty of additional information can be found at the FPW web site: http://www.usu.edu/FPW
FPW welcomes Tiffany Smith as the student assistant for 2006. Thanks to the Zions Bank Smart Woman grant Tiffany will be the webmaster and student helper.
Take Action!
Start the year off right
Income Tax Planning
It's time to revise your W-4 form if you got a large refund last year or are expecting a tax refund this year. Put that money to work for you. 
Individual Retirement Accounts.
IRA amounts for 2006: Workers can contribute up to $4,000 to an individual retirement account; workers age 50 and older can contribute an extra $5,000. Don't let the higher limits discourage you. Get started today with a modest contribution. If you are a full time homemaker you can still contribute to an IRA as long as your spouse has earned income. The best way to contribute is automatically with each pay check.
Credit Reports:
If you ordered a free copy of your credit report last year it's time to check it again at: http://www.annualcreditreport.com   You can stagger your requests from the 3 major bureaus so that you check one every 4 months. The main reason for doing this is to find ID theft as quickly as possible. 
USU employees who receive the HOPE Health Letter may have noticed the recent addition of the Fiscal Fitness column. In October 2005 the topic was: Pay off your mortgage faster and save thousands. While the information is accurate, you need to look at your whole financial picture. Don't rush to pay off your mortgage early if you owe consumer and credit card debt at a much higher interest rate. Do you have an adequate emergency fund? Could you get by for 3 months without an income or could you cover a large unexpected expense (your furnace needs to be replaced)? Build up your emergency fund and plug other holes in your financial security net before you rush into paying off your mortgage early. Not sure how to assess your financial situation? Get a copy of The Financial Checkup by Alena Johnson, available through FPW.
Are you interested in learning more about basic personal financial management?
USU's popular Family Finance class is now available on the web for free (no college credit). Instructor Alena Johnson is sharing the course with all who want to learn more to improve their finances. The address is:  http://ocw.usu.edu   (notice there is no www).  Then click on FCHD and Family Finance.  The online course doesn't have the quizzes and exams, but everything else is there. You can pick and choose the topics or do the whole course.
Upcoming Events:
The more you know, the less you'll go...
Join us for a free public showing of two educational films
Learn why a growing number of conscientious shoppers are changing habits.
Learn how Wal-Mart hurts the economy, the community and its workers.
Sat. Jan. 7, 2006
Caine Lyric Theatre in Logan
5:30 pm: An hour-long PBS documentary
"Is Wal-Mart Good for America?"
Followed by audience discussion
7:15 pm: The newly released 98-minute film by Robert Greenwald
"Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price"
Followed by audience discussion
Smart Money education series for teenagers 14-18 years: Basic Money Management
Wed. Jan. 18, 6:30-8:30 pm
USU Community Credit Union, 198 N. Main, downstairs conference room (enter at rear of building). Workshops are free. To register: 753-4080, ext 3400 or moneyteacher@usuccu.org
One way to spend less and save more is to adopt a simpler lifestyle.
Voluntary Simplicity and, with sufficient interest, Healthy Children-Healthy Planet discussion groups starting!  Starting in January, groups meet weekly for several weeks, discussing different topics each week based on readings from the Voluntary Simplicity or Healthy Children - Healthy Planet readers (cost ~$20). These discussion series were created by the Northwest Earth Institute (www.nwei.org), and are sponsored locally by the Great Basin Earth Institute. For more information or to sign up for one of these discussion series, contact Marianne and Dave Christian at 753-0682 or at  mardave1@msn.com .
It's not to late to participate!
The Good Life: Planning and Preparing for Your Retirement Future
USU Extension Services and USU Community Credit Union are pleased to co-sponsor this financial education series.  Classes and materials are provided at no cost to participants.  Schedule of:
Date Time Subject
Jan 25 7 to 8:30 Preparing for Retirement: Strategies for Catching Up
Feb 22 7 to 8:30 Understanding the Stock Market
Mar 29 7 to 8:30 Needs of the "Sandwich Generation"
Apr 26 7 to 8:30 Protecting Yourself Against ID Theft
May 24 7 to 8:30 Creating a Financial Plan for Retirement
All sessions will be held in Multi-purpose Room: Suite 109, Cache County Administration Building, 179 North Main, Logan, UT
To register, contact: Adrie Roberts, USU Extension - Cache County, 179 North Main, Suite 111,
Logan, Utah, 84321.  (435) 752-6263.  adrier@ext.usu.edu
Personal Finance Humor:
http://www.comics.com/webmail/ViewStrip?key=42590640- 0bf3b3e68f-FF
If you cannot access the page by clicking on the URL above, just copy and paste it into your browser's address window. Be sure to copy the entire URL, as it may be broken up into two lines.
Do you have a favorite website, book or humor you'd like to share with FPW? Tell us at: lown@cc.usu.edu
The USU Family Life Center, 797-7224, 493 N 700 East (bottom of Old Main Hill), provides free financial counseling and occasional workshops. This is the best source for basic money management and getting out of debt. They offer the PowerPay computer debt analysis for free.
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