October 2009 Newsletter

October 14 National Savings Rate Guidelines for Individuals. How much should YOU be saving/investing? A recent research study provides the answer. This presentation “provides guidelines that individuals of different ages, incomes, and accumulated wealth can easily apply in determining how much to save for an adequate retirement.”

Heads up!! Expect an email soon asking you to provide feedback on the FPW program. Please respond and help us demonstrate the value of FPW to funding sources.

Upcoming programs:

November 11 IRAs: Should you switch from traditional to Roth in 2010? Learn more about individual retirement accounts, the difference between traditional and Roth IRAs, retirement tax credits for low & moderate income, and why you should consider converting your traditional IRA to a Roth in 2010.

Resources:

Making your nest egg last a lifetime. http://crr.bc.edu/images/stories/Briefs/ib_9-20.pdf

WSJ article: Saving Again? Here's a Way to Do It Right. The Return of Thrift Calls for Smart Planning; From Top Drawer Down. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203803904574428832893728894.html

Web sites of the month: You can buy your official FICO credit score ($8 at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp but you can get an estimate of your FICO credit score by answering some questions at: FICO score estimator (range is 300-850)

http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/credit-score-fico-calculator.aspx

About FICO scores: http://www.myfico.com/Default.aspx

Click on “About FICO scores” near middle of the page.

Free Annual Credit Report: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp

360 Degrees of Financial Literacy  http://www.360financialliteracy.org/

Info for all life stages.

What are your savings goals? Don’t wait until January to set specific financial goals. Every Sunday in the Business section The Salt Lake Tribune publishes The Savings Game, a weekly column by Humberto Cruz. Cruz is always right on target with practical information and advice that is easy to understand. The October 4 column is available at: http://www.sltrib.com/business/ci_13467337

Tax Credit for college expenses

Many parents and college students will be able to offset the cost of college over the next two years under the new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This tax credit is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Here are six important facts the IRS wants you to know about the new American Opportunity Tax Credit:

  1. This credit, which expands and renames the existing Hope Credit, can be claimed for qualified tuition and related expenses that you pay for higher education in 2009 and 2010. Qualified tuition and related expenses include tuition, related fees, books and other required course Materials.
  2. The credit is equal to 100 percent of the first $2,000 spent and 25 percent of the next $2,000 per student each year. Therefore, the full $2,500 credit may be available to a taxpayer who pays $4,000 or more in qualifying expenses for an eligible student.
  3. The full credit is generally available to eligible taxpayers who make less than $80,000 or $160,000 for married couples filing a joint return. The credit is gradually reduced, however, for taxpayers with incomes above these levels.
  4. Forty percent of the credit is refundable, so even those who owe no tax can get up to $1,000 of the credit for each eligible student as cash back.
  5. The credit can be claimed for qualified expenses paid for any of the first four years of post-secondary education.
  6. You cannot claim the tuition and fees tax deduction in the same year that you claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit. You must choose to either take the credit or the deduction, whichever is more beneficial for you.

Complete details on the American Opportunity Tax Credit and other key tax provisions of the Recovery Act are available at the official IRS Web site at IRS.gov/Recovery.

Links:

Extension Personal Finance Resources: eXtension is an interactive learning environment delivering the best, most researched knowledge from the smartest land-grant university minds across America. eXtension connects knowledge consumers with knowledge providers - experts who know their subject matter inside out. http://www.extension.org/personal_finance

Teach your kids about credit cards with http://foolproofme.com/ online videos. Check out some of these ‘edgy’ teen/college student-friendly videos about the hazards of credit cards. FoolProof is endorsed by the National Association of Consumer Advocates and the Consumer Federation of America.

Workshops and events:

The Family Life Center is offering a financial management workshop on budgeting, saving, and debt management. "The Nuts and Bolts of Nickels and Dimes" costs $15 per household; scholarships are available. The workshop is scheduled for the first and third Wednesday of the month from 6:45 P.M.-9:00 P.M. at the Family Life Center. To register call: 797-7224

Home Ownership Workshop. October 10, November 14, & December 5th : 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Call 435-797-7224 to register.

Smart Money education series for teenagers 14-18 years and their parents.

Wednesday, October 24, 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

More Resources

Small Steps To Health And Wealth: http://njaes.rutgers.edu/sshw/

The Wall Street Journal Sunday http://online.wsj.com/public/page/sundayjournal.html

Great resource: Consumer Action handbook http://www.consumeraction.gov/pdfs/2009_Handbook_Web_Version.pdf

Idaho's Two Cent Tips

Large file, please allow 30 seconds or more for download.

To access newsletter archives visit:  http://extension.ag.uidaho.edu/madison/itct.htm

Send an email to erickson@uidaho.edu to subscribe. 

The Color of Money (NPR) Michelle Singletary (personal finance advice from author and columnist Michelle Singletary via podcast; 5 minutes or less for each) http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4465062

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.

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. http://www.usu.edu/fchd/housing/

Nolo Press Books from which to choose if you bring a new participant to FPW:

Nolo’s Essential Guide to Divorce

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

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

The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife and Beyond

You and Your Money: A No-Stress Guide to Becoming Financially Fit

50 & Forward: A woman’s journey of financial awareness and self discovery

Get a financial life: Personal finance in your twenties and thirties

Thanks to the Certified Financial Planner Board Grant for financial support of FPW.

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