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  • Archive for the ‘Financial News You Can Use’ Category

    A New Year to Invest in Your Financial Future

    Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

    The New Year presents us all with an opportunity to reevaluate our priorities and make some new year’s resolutions. Sometimes we have a habit of creating really extravagant goals for ourselves each year, hoping that this year will be the year to change it all. But by the time the New Year ball drops again, we often feel disappointed that we didn’t accomplish all we had in mind. This year, let’s resolve to make some financial resolutions that will stick!

    WISER’s mission is to help you create achievable savings and investing practices that can be maintained for a lifetime. To help you create your own unique, financially savvy path towards retirement, we have put together resolutions—one for each month—that are realistic and attainable. Take this opportunity to start fresh in 2011 with new goals for your financial future. Then when the ball drops on this year, you will be on your way to a more secure retirement. From all of us at WISER we wish you a happy financial new year in 2011!

    12 Helpful Tips for Each Month of 2011: Click here to print out your own copy for the fridge or your desk to remind you year round!

    1. January – Resolve your budget.
    Even if you feel like you are swimming in debt or living paycheck to paycheck, the first step to taking control is knowing how much money is coming in and where it is going. Our budget worksheets can help track where your money is going and help you establish some firm financial goals. Simply taking the time to calculate the numbers and having them right in front of you can be empowering and help motivate you to get (and stay!) on track.

    2. February – Invest in your financial relationships.

    This month, take time to sit down with your partner, spouse, significant other, (or even just yourself) and review all of your finances – look at what you spend each month, make sure you are both aware of each other’s employee-sponsored or other retirement plans and assets, review your insurance needs, and create an organized file with your important documents. Try not to let it become an overwhelming conversation, but make it your goal as a Valentine’s day gift to yourself and your loved ones to have a financial discussion about the future.

    3. March – Prepare for Tax Season.

    A quick way to immediately start saving before your tax refund burns a hole in your pocket is to have your tax refund automatically put into a savings bond. Visit the IRS website for great information that can help you fill out your tax forms so that you can instantly start saving with government bonds.

    4. April – Start a “Rainy-day” fund.

    April showers bring May flowers, and this month is a great opportunity to start a “rainy-day” fund. Many experts recommend having about six months’ worth of expenses in a savings account to cover sudden unemployment or other emergencies. Of course it will take some time to build up to this amount, but resolve this April to start stashing away some money each month, even if it’s just a small amount, for that rainy day.

    5. May – Show Mom you really care.

    May is a time to celebrate our mothers and all the other women in our lives who have done so much for us over the years. A great way we can show our mothers and other older relatives our appreciation is to make sure they will have the financial assistance they need in retirement. Take time this month to have a conversation with your parents or others who may depend on you down the road about their caregiving needs and retirement plans. Helping them now will also help you in the long run. Visit the National Alliance for Caregiving for great resources on this topic.

    6. June – Take a vacation from your finances by paying yourself automatically.
    Put yourself at the top of your “payee” list. Regular automatic deductions from your paycheck or bank account into a savings, investing or retirement account will keep you on track toward your short and long-term financial goals. Commit to save as much as you can each month, but if you don’t feel like you have a lot to save, start small. Find a way to save even just $25 a month towards your retirement goals.

    7. July – Kick the summer doldrums by taking a long-term view.
    Summer months give us the opportunity to slow things down and appreciate the long days of summer. This is good time to think long-term about your retirement needs.  Take some time this month to play around with a retirement calculator and start to get a sense of what you will realistically need. Don’t let this task overwhelm you, but instead try plugging in different scenarios and allow yourself to plan for the future. A good calculator we recommend can be found at www.360FinancialLiteracy.org, specifically the Retirement Planner Calculator.

    8. August – Feeling the heat of debt?

    Let’s admit it; most of us have some pesky debt that is hanging over our heads. Take this month to face the heat and organize your debt. Resolve to stop adding to your debt and start making some headway on paying it off. Check out WISER’s Debt Warning Signs Fact Sheet to see where you fall when it comes to financial debt, and what you can do to start getting out of it.

    9. September – It’s back to school time, so educate yourself.
    If you are not already investing your money and feel overwhelmed by the thought of things like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, then commit this month to educating yourself on these topics.  Read at least one book or informational booklet that covers the basics of investing.  You do not need to be an expert in finances to successfully plan and save for retirement; a little knowledge of the basics can go a long way. WISER’s booklet, “What Everyone Needs to Know About Money and Retirement” is a great place to start.

    10. October – Trick or Treat? Understand Financial Scams.

    Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether or not something is a great financial opportunity or just too good to be true. Use October as the time to educate yourself about financial scams and abuse that unfortunately happen more often then we’d like to think. WISER’s Too Good to Be True Checklist can help you spot a financial scam, and our Elder Financial Abuse Brief can also help you look out for those you love. Then share this information with a friend or family member to help protect them too!

    11. November – If you have benefits at work, give thanks! And learn how to maximize your options.

    For many companies and organizations, November is benefits enrollment season where you can sign up or make adjustments to your benefits. Take this month to learn more about your individual benefits and how you can make the most of them.  To help you think about this, check out WISER’s brochure “20 Ways to Take Advantage of Your Company Benefits Plan”.  If your company does not offer a benefits plan, take this time to research what you can do on your own, like opening an IRA (Individual Retirement Account).

    12. December – Celebrate your financial success.

    As the year comes to an end, celebrate all that you have accomplished this past year. Look back on all of the financial strides you have made and commit yourself to keeping up those goals and improving upon your success next year. If for some reason you were unable to meet your financial goals, then take this month to recommit to your financial future and to making each month count in 2012. One month at a time can make all the difference when it comes to saving for retirement.

    Speak Up! Tell an Important Female in Your Life about the Importance of Making Your Money Last a Lifetime

    Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

    In honor of Older Americans Month, Wider Opportunities for Women is hosting their second annual Blog Day. This year’s topic: “America’s Budget Matters (So Does Yours).” We encourage you to share your personal stories on the importance of programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid along with any tips or advice you have to offer on making your money stretch throughout retirement. Leave a comment on our blog or check out WOW’s blog to learn more!

    As women, we can generally expect to live longer than our male counterparts. In fact, women’s life expectancy is now 81.4 years, while men’s is 75.5 years of age. If we want to be able to enjoy our retirement years, one of the biggest requirements is getting a hold on our household budgets and making sure our money will last as long as we do.

    There are other reasons women especially need to be aware of properly managing their finances.  Sixty-six percent of the 65.7 million caregivers in the U.S. are female. This means there are more than 43 million women who are currently providing care for others on a regular basis. If you are not currently providing care to a child, older relative, or dependant, odds are that you will face this situation at some point in your lifetime. Caregiving responsibilities seep into other aspects of life, namely, a caregiver’s ability to work as much as (s)he wants or needs to.  Less time for work can also mean fewer opportunities for promotions and less time for accumulation of retirement plan savings. This means women have to be even more diligent about managing their finances and being aware of how much they will need for retirement! Check out WISER’s special report to learn more on keeping your sources of retirement income in order while caring for others.

    More time spent caregiving also means that Social Security is extremely important for women who had less time to accumulate other forms of retirement savings. Without Social Security benefits, more than HALF of older women alive today would be in poverty. Social Security is also important because it is a progressive benefit, meaning those who earn less and need the benefit more, receive a higher percentage than higher earners. Understanding your individual Social Security statement will further help you estimate your income in retirement and determine how much money you will need to supplement your Social Security benefits later in life. It is important to understand what these benefits will mean for you and your loved ones as you begin planning to retire. WISER’s Financial Planning Workbook dedicates an entire section to explaining the Social Security process and breaking down what this can mean for you and your financial future.

    Lastly, but most importantly, take time to be proactive about your future! Start now by looking at how you are spending and saving your money using some of the helpful budgeting and financial management tools we have linked to above. Also in the name of Older American’s Month remember how much knowledge and guidance our elders can provide for us and have a conversation with your mother, daughter, sister, aunt, or friend about how important it is to save for retirement and plan for your financial future. It’s never too early to start planning for your financial future in order to make your money last a lifetime.

    Census Benefits for Women

    Friday, March 5th, 2010

    Census Picture

    Every 10 years the United States is required by constitutional law to take a census of the American people. The census is responsible for helping the government gauge how federal funds should be allocated over the years to come and determines the number of seats each state may hold in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    More importantly however, and our focus today, is the impact the census results have on low to moderate income women, who deeply benefit from additional federal funding. According to the Government’s website, “The 2010 Census will help communities receive more than $400 billion in federal funds each year for things like: hospitals, job training centers, schools, senior centers, bridges, tunnels and other public work projects, and emergency services.” The information collected from the census is used not only by the government, but by countless female oriented organizations that provide care, assistance, and support based on this information to those needing it the most. By taking 10 minutes to answer 10 quick and simple questions women can provide answers that could potentially aid them in the future.

    In the past, the census has helped bring key women’s issues to the forefront of both government and non-profit agencies’ agendas. Statistics such as the number of women in the U.S., with jobs, with children, of different racial backgrounds, married or single, renting or owning their home are all collected and developed from information gathered from the U.S. Census. This information will help women gain the funding they need for years to come. As President Obama says, “We can’t move forward until you mail it back.” So when you receive your 2010 census form in mid-March fill it out and send it back, because it could be the determining factor behind getting that additional assistance you need over the next 10 years.

    WISER

    About Us

    WISER is a nonprofit organization that works to help women, educators and policymakers understand the important issues surrounding women's retirement income. WISER creates a variety of consumer publications including fact sheets, booklets and a quarterly newsletter that explain in easy-to-understand language the complex issues surrounding Social Security, divorce, pay equity, pensions, savings and investments, banking, home-ownership, long-term care and disability insurance.

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