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November 28th, 2012 by

Credit cards can be a great asset or a great liability, depending on how a cardholder uses them. And, as we approach the holiday season, you should consider your financial goals before you get wrapped up in holiday spending. These 7  credit card mistakes can certainly cause pain to your pocketbook and damage your credit score:

1. Too Close To Credit Limits:  Just because your issuer awarded you a $6,000 credit limit doesn’t mean you should max out the card. Bumping up against your credit limit is likely to have a negative overall impact on your credit score. “The closer you get to your credit limit, the riskier your credit profile is going to look,” says Chris Mettler, founder of CompareCards.com, since it leads to a high credit-to-debt utilization ratio.
2. Check Your Credit Score: You might assume your credit score is in fine standing based upon a presumably stellar payment history, but the truth of the matter is that credit reports can easily contain errors.
3. Applying For Too Much Credit: Too many credit card inquiries – generated by lenders who are looking to see if you deserve a new line of credit – in a short timeframe can also negatively impact your credit score. Instead, apply for credit as you need it and add a new card to your payment arsenal about once a year until you’ve got three or four you can consistently pay off on time at your disposal.
4. Taking Out Cash Advances:  Just don’t do it. “You’re going to be charged a significant amount of interest,” Mettler says, estimating that most transactions will carry an interest rate around 23% or higher. As such, it’s best to use a credit card only in instances where the plastic itself can be used to make the purchase and you can pay back the funds by the subsequent bill’s due date.
5. Applying for a Card That Has Special Perks:  Before selecting a card that promised rebates, cashback and points, be sure to determine if the credit card fits your lifestyle. These special perks usually come with fees and higher interest on unpaid balances. There may be a great rewards card with no annual fee that serves your purposes just fine.
6. Closing All Your Credit Card Accounts:  Although it might seem like a good idea to rid yourself of all credit cards, it can negatively affect your credit score. Rather, keep the credit accounts open, but not use them. This will help keep your credit-to-debt ratio positively intact and not jeopardize the average age of your credit report.
7. Not checking your monthly statement:  It can be easy to set up automatic bill pay on your account and then forget all about your credit card, especially in instances where you use it infrequently. You could be paying for things that you forgot you signed up for. life_guide_retirementOr, worse yet, you could be paying for identity theft.

Sources: MainSt.com : The 7 Deadly Credit Card Sins

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November 27, 2012
November 27th, 2012 by

Retirement planning for couples

If you think your marital hurdles are over by the time you hit retirement age, think again. According to a Wall Street Journal article from April 2012, many couples are in disagreement about what age to retire.  A recent study by Fidelity Investments found that well over half of couples—62%—disagree on the timing of their respective retirements.

These Times Are Different

The days when a husband automatically retires at 65 with a corporate pension and his wife dutifully follows him to a golf course in Florida are officially over. Most women approaching retirement age are now working, and many have their own retirement savings and viewpoints. “Many women have entered the work force later and are at their peak when men slow down and want out,” says Dorian Mintzer, co-author of “The Couple’s Retirement Puzzle.” “The timing can create some struggles.”

Only about half of couples retire within two years of each other, says Richard Johnson, a senior research analyst at the Urban Institute, a social-policy think tank in Washington, D.C. Men approaching retirement age are, on average, almost four years older than their spouses, he says. And the larger the age difference between spouses, the less likely they are to retire at the same time.

Retirement Talks Are More Sensitive

The talks about when to retire seem much more sensitive and difficult than the question of where to retire. The question of when involves focusing on money, age differences, job satisfaction and gender roles. Often times, it’s all these these factors at the same time. Therapists, not surprisingly, stress the importance of planning, clear communication and compromise. In order for it to work well, each person needs to clarify their own vision of what’s important and learn to talk with each other.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, 4/19/12 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204571404577255662010466038.html

Call The Host of Radio Show- Big Talker 1580AM, Freeman Owen Jr Retirement planning is the best way to avoid undue stress. As a retirement strategist, I can help you navigate your financial options and ease the transition into retirement.
Get my best retirement strategy advice with a free consultation 833-313-7233.

November 20th, 2012 by

money saving tips to keep more cash in your pocketThe average American household with an income of $50,000 to $60,000 spends close to $10,000 on automobile costs (e.g., auto payments, gas, insurance, and related expenses) — more than what is spent on health insurance or taxes. Of course, choosing to buy or lease a fuel-efficient vehicle could help drive down the costs. But if a new automobile is not in your plans, you may want to try these money-saving tips.

Search out gas savings. Fuel usually accounts for the lion’s share of day-to-day expenses. Before filling up the tank, use websites or smartphone apps to find the cheapest gas stations in your area and potentially save $.40 or more per gallon. You may also want to set up carpools rides to work.

Review your insurance coverage. Raising your collision-coverage deductible to $1,000 or more may result in a lower premium. Remember to ask whether you qualify for any special discounts.

Don’t ignore maintenance. Fixing a fluid leak or other small issue when you first notice it may prevent larger and more expensive breakdowns later. Change the oil only as often as your manual recommends, which may not be as often as some shops suggest.

Get estimates before scheduling repairs. If your car needs a common but costly repair (such as a brake job or timing belt), comparing rates with several shops could save hundreds of dollars.

Sources: Time.com, October 24, 2011;
Consumer Reports, February 2012

Saving money should become a lifestyle. It leads to better planning and savings for retirement. Let’s evaluate where you are financially and let me help you keep your money safe. Get my best retirement strategy advice with a free consultation 833-313-7233.

November 19, 2012
November 19th, 2012 by

Cost of Care Giving in Retirement PlanningMore than 65 million Americans — about one out of three adults — provide care for someone who is ill, disabled, or aged.1 Although these caregivers are unpaid, the total value of their efforts is estimated at $450 billion annually — more than the value of paid home health care and more than the 2010 retail sales of Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer.2–3

Not surprisingly, about two-thirds of all caregivers help someone who is age 50 or older, typically a parent, a spouse, or a friend.4 Most people volunteer out of love and a sense of duty, but the high expense of professional care is an important factor. The average annual cost of nursing-home care exceeds $77,000.5

Unpaid informal caregiving, although free, could still have a significant financial impact. Seven out of 10 working caregivers reported having job difficulties, from changing their schedules or turning down a promotion to taking unpaid leave or giving up work entirely.6 For caregivers who live nearby or with the person receiving care, average out-of-pocket costs range from $4,570 to $5,885 annually. For long-distance caregivers, who often have substantial travel and lodging expenses, the average annual cost is $8,728.7

Of course, the financial burden is only one aspect of the cost of caregiving. Studies show that many caregivers also suffer physical and emotional effects, especially back problems and depression.8 The old expression, “Physician heal thyself,” may be appropriate. When you provide care for someone else, it’s important to take care of yourself (see chart).

As with many aspects of life, your nest egg can make a significant difference. Only 3% of caregivers with six-figure incomes report suffering fair or poor health themselves, compared with one-third of those who have household incomes under $30,000.9

If you haven’t factored the cost of long-term care into your retirement planning, it may be wise to give it serious consideration. If you are caring for a loved one — or receiving care — a sound retirement strategy could help alleviate some of the stress.
I am available to discuss your situation 833-313-7233  and help you consider your options.

Sources:
(1–2, 4, 6–9) Family Caregiver Alliance, 2011
3) Deloitte Global Services, 2012
5) 2012 Field Guide, National Underwriter

November 9th, 2012 by

As you calculate the dollars it may take to retire, remember to factor in your retirement wants as well as your basic needs. What do you picture for your retirement? The top retirement dream for today’s older Americans is vacation and travel.1 Perhaps you’d like to see South America or go fly fishing in Alaska. Maybe you want to work on your golf or tennis game, or enjoy a hobby that you don’t have time for now. You might like to volunteer for your favorite charity or move closer to your children and grandchildren.

Sixty-nine percent of middle-income Americans say they’d like to work in retirement in order to “stay busy.”2 While this could be a worthwhile goal, wouldn’t it be nice to work on your own terms — to pursue your passion instead of a paycheck?

If you’re young, retirement may seem too far off to worry much about. If you’re approaching the end of your working years, you may have a clearer picture of life after work. Regardless of your age, a solid retirement strategy could help you retire more comfortably.

Sources:
1) AARP, 2011
2) Journal of Financial Planning, August 2011

Call The Host of Radio Show Let me help you find the best planning for retirement strategies that will keep your money safe. Contact me at 833-313-7233 for a free consultation.

November 9th, 2012 by

Wouldn’t it be disappointing to dream about a comfortable retirement and then find yourself unable to enjoy your leisure years because of limited financial resources? Unfortunately, this is a possibility for people who underestimate planning for retirement expenses and the rising cost of living.

Evaluate Spending and Costs In Retirement

Although your expenses may change when you retire, reductions in some areas (such as clothing and transportation to and from work) could be offset by higher costs in others. For example, your home energy expenses may be higher if you spend more time at home, and health-related costs typically increase as you grow older.1

Some expenses, such as food and housing, may stay about the same. Home-related expenses represent at least 42% of spending for Americans aged 50 and older, regardless of whether they are retired.2 One study found that even though three out of five workers expect to spend less in retirement, half of retirees said their spending in the early years of retirement was about the same or higher than it was when they were working.3

Where you live could play a significant role in your overall expenses. If you’re living on a limited income, your money might go further in some cities and states than it could in others (see the cost-of-living chart). You’ll need to consider not only the cost of housing, food, and utilities but also taxes. States have varying rules for taxing pension and Social Security income, and property and sales taxes may vary not only by state but by county.

Sources:
1–2) Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2012
3) Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2010
4) AARP, 2011
5) Journal of Financial Planning, August 2011

Call The Host of Radio Show Let me help you find the best planning for retirement strategies that will keep your money safe. Contact me at 833-313-7233 for a free consultation.