January 2009 Newsletter

January 14 program- Start the year off right: More small steps to health and wealth. “This program is designed to motivate consumers to implement behavior change strategies that simultaneously improve their health and personal finances.” See preview at: Small Steps To Health And Wealth
Financial Planning for Women (FPW) is a monthly educational seminar that meets the second Wednesday (except December) at two times: 12:00-1:00 p.m. in the USU Taggart Student Center room 335. Bring your lunch. The same program is repeated in the evening: 7:00-8:30 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. For further information: (435) 797-1569; jean.lown@usu.edu; FPW Website
Forward this message to a friend; bring a woman to FPW who has not attended before and receive your choice of a Nolo Press book as a reward. (See list of books at end of newsletter).
Reminder: PowerPoint presentations for the past few years are available on the FPW website. Click on PowerPoints at bottom of home page.
See 2009 FPW schedule at the end of this newsletter.
Book of the month: The smart woman's guide to midlife and beyond. A copy will be given away at the January meeting to someone who brings a NEW woman to FPW. “a terrific resource—and a wonderful read” according to The Wall Street Journal. December 13, 2008. “A lot of health books cross our desks each year, but few have done a better job of grabbing our attention than "The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife and Beyond." The authors -- Janet Horn and Robin H. Miller, both physicians -- open with this passage: "Let us be right up front as you start reading. This book is not about becoming young again." Rather, the two explain that women "can stay healthy by working along with [their] bodies as they change with time, not fighting against them." In addition to information about fitness, diet, mental health and common illnesses, the authors write about their personal health experiences, share stories from their work with patients and provide a "Health Maintenance Schedule" to help readers monitor their progress. It's a terrific resource -- and a wonderful read.”
Quote of the month: "Most people have spending problems, not financial problems." Jan D. Andersen, PhD, USU Family Resource Management Specialist, who developed the Non-Monthly Expenses Calculator
Check it out and provide him with feedback.
“Best” Online savings account according to Kiplinger’s magazine: FNBO Direct. Currently paying 2.8% APY. FDIC insured.
The Color of Money (NPR) Michelle Singletary (personal finance advice from author and columnist via podcast; 5 minutes or less for each)
Recent topics:
You can still save money
Read that benefits package carefully
Should you invest in bargain stocks?
Your personal finance questions answered
Credit Cards: The Next Financial Crisis
“While the economy tumbles and the government rushes to help stop the housing crisis, another danger is lurking—in your wallet. Credit cards are shaping up to be the next chapter in the financial meltdown, promising to stymie consumer spending, drag on the economy and force a whole new wave of financial difficulty on Americans, according to today’s Forbes.com. To combat the risks, major lenders like Bank of America, Citigroup and American Express are raising rates on existing balances and slashing credit lines. Meredith Whitney, an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co., estimates banks will cancel $2 trillion of available consumer credit over the next year. The government is taking action as well: The Federal Reserve, along with the Office of Thrift Supervision and the National Credit Union Administration, are expected to publish new rules that could have a dramatic effect on credit card lending and consumers' access to credit. Among other things, the new rules will prevent card lenders from jacking up interest rates on existing balances, a controversial practice that consumer advocates have long spoken out against. Banks have fought the new rule vigorously, saying they need to continually adjust to the changing risk profiles of their portfolios and raising rates on delinquent accounts helps cover the costs of greater risk of default. While banks will be able to raise rates for future balances, the new rules, which aren't expected to take effect until 2010, will not allow them in most circumstances to increase the rates consumers pay on existing balances. The rules also prohibit banks from raising rates when a customer falls behind on other bills not related to their card accounts. The Federal Reserve estimates credit lines could be cut by an average of $2,029 per account, an industry-wide reduction of $981 billion. Tighter credit standards could put credit cards out of reach for 45 million consumers, the Fed says.” American Bankruptcy Institute News
Stop credit card offers (protect against ID theft and save paper and trees): 1-888-567-8688 or click on the link.
For parents of younger children: A rabbit teaches children what many parents wish they had learned early
Teaching Kids to be Better Consumers
On October 30, 2008, the Federal Trade Commission launched a new Web site to introduce kids to key consumer and business concepts. Set in a shopping mall, You Are Here takes kids on an experiential journey that presents the FTC’s mission and its important role in American commerce. Kids under 12 are reported to spend billions of dollars on goods and services every year. “For parents and teachers, the site offers fact sheets that cover advertising, marketing, and competition in more detail, along with ideas for related activities.
Investing for College
The Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP) is a great tax- advantaged way to invest for college: for your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews. Always at the top of the charts when Money magazine and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance review the various state plans, UESP is reducing its investment fees. With no minimum investment and easy automatic savings plans, there’s no excuse for not starting a plan today (while saving on your state taxes each year and your federal taxes when you withdraw the funds to pay for college). To learn more about the Utah Educational Savings Plan, call 800.418.2551 or click on the link.
Avoid foreclosure (share this info with someone who may need it): Utah Housing Corp. “DreamSaver” for borrowers with adjustable rate mortgages originated Jan.1, 2002 to Jan. 1, 2008. Phone: 801-902-8200 Utah Housing Corp.
Hope for Homeowners Program
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has a new Hope for Homeowners site with information. The HOPE for Homeowners program is a way to refinance mortgages for borrowers who are having difficulty making their payments, but can afford a new loan insured by HUD's Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The program began October 1, 2008, and will end September 30, 2011.
Avoid Fake E-mails Tied to Bank Mergers
Online scammers are taking advantage of tough economic times. While electronic phishing for sensitive data is nothing new, scammers are taking advantage of upheavals in the financial marketplace to confuse consumers into parting with valuable personal information. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urges caution regarding e-mails that look as if they come from a financial institution that recently acquired a consumer’s bank, savings and loan, or mortgage. In fact, these messages may be from “phishers” looking to use personal information—account numbers, passwords, social security numbers—to run up bills or commit other crimes in a consumer’s name. The FTC urges consumers to take the bait. The FTC has advice about how to stay on guard against this type of scam in the consumer alert “Bank Failures, Mergers and Takeovers: A ‘Phish-erman’s Special’.
Want to monitor your power usage to reduce energy use and save money?
Logan residents can do that for $5 a month. Meter monitor Chris “Niemann said it allows residents to become ‘kilowatt cops’ and identify which activities are pushing up their power bill. City workers install the meter and it indicates kilowatt usage and costs associated.” “Niemann said another woman who used it discovered her power tape, used to melt ice off her rain gutters, was costing much more than she anticipated and reduced the cost through using a timer. A similar solution worked for a man who plugged in his diesel truck all night, which he learned was very costly. By running it with a timer for two hours before he woke up, he saved money.” Call 716-9700 to get on the list.
Publication: Herald Journal; Date: Jan 2, 2009; Section: Bridgerland; Page Number: A3
Workshops and events:
Smart Money education series for teenagers 14-18 years and their parents.
Wednesday, January 21, 6:30- 8 p.m. @ USU Charter Credit Union, 198 N. Main, Logan. In downstairs conference room (enter at rear of building). Workshops are free. Also Feb. 21 and March 21. To register: 753-4080, ext 3400 or moneyteacher@usuccu.org
Home Ownership Workshop. USU Family Life Center Housing and Financial Counseling Center Call 435-797-7224 for January date and to register.
Resources
Recession got you down? Does your money amplify bad habits? Worried about credit scores and perking up your credit card rewards? If you said yes, then this month's special health and wealth edition of Idaho's Two Cent Tips is for you.
Large file, please allow 30 seconds or more for download.
To access newsletter and podcast archives visit: Idaho's Two Cent Tips Archives
Send an email to erickson@uidaho.edu to subscribe.
Find a Utah Lawyer Directory.
Thursday Night at the Bar “is a pro-bono legal clinic designed to assist the public in determining their legal rights. Volunteer attorneys are available during those meetings to meet briefly with individuals to provide preliminary counseling and general legal information.” 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of every month @ Cache County Courthouse, 199 N. Main Street, Logan.
Small Steps To Health And Wealth
The USU Family Life Center, 797-7224, 493 N 700 East (bottom of Old Main Hill), provides individual financial counseling. 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.
Nolo Press Books from which to choose if you bring a new participant to FPW:
Your Little Legal Companion: Helpful Advice for Life’s Big Events
Nolo’s Essential Guide to Divorce
Quick and Legal Will Book
Nolo’s Simple Will Book (With CD)
Estate Planning Basics
The Busy Family’s Guide To Estate Planning: 10 Steps To Peace Of Mind (With CD)
Long Term Care: How to Plan and Pay For It
Social Security, Medicare, and Government Pensions
Work Less, Live More: The Way to Semi-Retirement
Work Less, Live More Workbook: Get Set For Semi-Retirement (With CD)
For more info on these books go to www.nolo.com
Also: How to Care for Your Parents’ Money While Caring For Your Parents
Thanks to the Certified Financial Planner Board Grant for financial support of FPW.
FPW topics for 2009 Note that March and May will be the FIRST Wednesday
January 14 Start the year off right: More small steps to health and wealth
February 11 Planning to retire soon? On the verge of retirement- what to do?
March 4 (first Wed.) Making your money last in retirement
April 8 Why we do dumb things with our money: Understanding economic psychology
May 6 (first Wed.) The perfect mutual fund for your IRA.
June 10 Spend, spend, spend like there is a tomorrow! Dr. Jan Andersen: Family Resource Management Extension Specialist
July 8 The Financial Checkup. Participants will receive a free workbook to conduct their own financial checkup
August 12 Getting a grip on debt: 8 benchmarks for borrowing
September 9 The Sandwich Generation: Caught in the Middle:Are You Financially Prepared?
October 14 National Savings Rate Guidelines for Individuals.
November 11 IRAs: Should you switch from traditional to Roth in 2010?