November 2008 Newsletter

Note the time and place change for the noontime programs! 12-1 p.m. in the Taggart Student Center room 335.
November 12: Surviving the global financial meltdown. Panic is NOT an investment strategy! When is the last time you reviewed your asset allocation for retirement?
I will discuss how to evaluate your asset allocation and offer some insights on the current global financial crisis. Your asset allocation  is the most important investment decision. Should you make any changes as a result of the global financial crisis? We will also discuss whether USU employees who participate in TIAA-CREF should move any retirement assets to Fidelity, the new option offered by USU. 
The upside of a down market: With the stock market so low, now is a good time to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth; find out why and how.
Everyone will receive a copy of Taking The Mystery Out of Retirement Planning,a colorful 61 page workbook for all stages of adult work life or Late Savers Guide to Retirement
December: No program
Input needed! What topics would you like FPW to cover in 2009? Send ideas for topics (and financial humor) to: jean.lown@usu.edu
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; Financial Planning for Women
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.
Help in understanding the global economic meltdown (Thanks to FPW reader Catherine Sharpsteen!) This American Life on NPR has a couple of programs that explain the current financial situation in a digestible way:  The first, "Big Money" was aired last Spring, and explains the background for the mortgage crisis.  More recently, "Planet Money" explains the current crisis (hedge funds, etc.) and several possible ways to do a bail out. The website includes podcasts and transcripts.
Gallows humor courtesy of The Wall Street Journal: What’s the definition of optimism?
An investment banker who irons 5 shirts on a Sunday evening.
Bear Market Strategies to Keep Emotions in Check
Quote of the month: "If you have too much debt - particularly credit card debt - I can guarantee that you do not have much of a financial future." Jean Chatzky
Preparing for the holidays during a recession
Now might be a good time to consider a “green” holiday… not in the sense of green dollars but in terms of green gifts: compact fluorescent light bulbs, thrift and consignment store gifts (Check out Somebody’s Attic in Logan at 39 W 100 N in Logan and Somebody’s Attic Too, 3 S. Main in Smithfield.
If you are tempted by “no interest” plans:  “Interest-free installment plans for big-ticket item electronics purchases come with caveats. Among them: miss a monthly payment or fail to pay off the entire balance within the interest-free period and you typically get dinged for all the interest, right back to the date of purchase.” December 2008 Consumer Reports
Gift cards often impose fees to purchase, some expire before being used, some impose fees if not used within a certain time. The recipient cannot save part and spend part (a good way to encourage kids to save) and if the company files bankruptcy (like Sharper Image and many other retailers) the gift card holder is out of luck. Gift cards are debt of the company and essentially worthless.
Worried about the stock market?
You don't want to sell now and lock in your losses. If you sell now you will convert “paper losses” into actual dollar losses. The market will bounce back over time. See the FPW website for info on retirement investing and IRAs. Go to the home page Financial Planning for Women Home and click on PowerPoints at the bottom of the home page.
Review:
Asset allocation strategy
What is an IRA?
Taking the Mystery Out of Retirement Planning
Mutual funds for your IRA & Handout
Target retirement date funds
Late Savers Guide to Retirement
With the stock market down, now is a good time to convert part or all of a traditional IRA to a Roth. To be eligible to convert, one’s Modified AGI must be less than $100,000. Calculate your MAGI here
Stop credit card offers (protect against ID theft and save paper and trees): 1-888-567-8688 or http://www.optoutprescreen.com/
Are you ready for retirement?
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, http://www.ftc.gov/YouAreHere  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.
 “FTC.gov/YouAreHere links the important work of the FTC to the lives of children,” said FTC Chairman William Kovacic. “It teaches kids how to be more savvy consumers by demonstrating the benefits of competition, how advertising can influence buying decisions, and the rules and regulations that many business people deal with. It’s a great tool for parents and teachers who are trying to help kids understand their role in the marketplace.”
The site features animated guides who help visitors navigate a virtual mall and interact with shopkeepers and other consumers. Kids can design and print advertisements for a shoe store, uncover suspicious claims in an ad, and guess the retail price of various candies based on their supply, demand, and production costs. One game that has players match the features of various cell phones with certain audiences illustrates the principles of target marketing; another allows visitors to compare sales pitches from three pizza joints as it explains competition. A short film playing at the cinema illustrates the history of the FTC.
 For parents and teachers, the site offers fact sheets that cover advertising, marketing, and competition in more detail, along with ideas for related activities. “We hope that teachers will use the site in classroom activities that involve consumer economics, government, social studies, history, and language arts,” Chairman Kovacic said. “It takes a unique approach to both consumer tips and the role of business and government in daily life.”
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.
“It just got cheaper to save for college. Low costs and well-run underlying funds are important to investors when deciding how to save for a child’s higher education,” said Lynne Ward, Director of UESP. “The fee reduction and new investment option assist account owners, beneficiaries and UESP move closer to the shared goal of children receiving a higher education.”
“UESP makes it easy and affordable for Utah families to save for college. The Utah state tax credit and reduced fees provide an even greater incentive to start planning for your children’s future,” said Bill Sederburg, Commissioner of Higher Education.
To learn more about the Utah Educational Savings Plan, call 800.418.2551 or visit
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’.”
Workshops and events:
Smart Money education series for teenagers 14-18 years and their parents.
Wednesday,  Nov. 19, 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. To register: 753- 4080, ext 3400 or moneyteacher@usuccu.org
Home Ownership Workshop. November 8: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Call 435-797-7224 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
Send an email to erickson@uidaho.edu  to subscribe. 
Find a Utah Lawyer Directory. www.findautahlawyer.org
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.