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  • Archive for September, 2008

    How to Start Saving

    Monday, September 29th, 2008

    No matter how much debt you’re in, no matter how old you are, no matter what’s happening this week on Wall Street, it’s never too late to start funding your future by creating a savings plan. It’s easy to put off saving for the future because of current bills and expenses. But don’t let your current financial situation stop you from setting savings goals: close your eyes, hold your nose, and put that money aside for yourself.

    Understand where your money is going now: Write down everything you spend money on for a few months. You may think about carrying a small notebook to record cash purchases and an envelope for credit and debit card receipts. Cellphones also often have a “Notes” function where you can record recent purchases. Put all of your spending information together on WISER’s Budget Sheet to find out what your expenses are for an average month. By tracking your spending, you can look for ways to reduce your expenses and relocate that money into savings.

    Make a plan to save a certain amount each month: Plan to put a certain amount of money or percentage of your income into savings every month. Set savings goals and make sure to stick to your plan. Once you start saving and stick to it, you won’t even miss that money.

    Reduce your credit card debt: Monthly credit card bills can tie up money that you could be saving. The Institute of Consumer Financial Education can help you find ways to lower your debt. If you want to continue using a credit card, but you’re tired of high interest rates, visit for information on how to find the best low-interest credit cards.

    Wall Street Financial Crisis Raises Issue of Families Living in Poverty

    Friday, September 26th, 2008
    In the wake of the financial crisis on Wall Street, The United States Joint Economic Committee held a congressional hearing on Thursday, September 24 entitled, “Leave No Family Behind: How Can We Reduce the Rising Number of American Families Living in Poverty?” Headed by Chairman Senator Charles Schumer and Vice-Chair, Representative Carolyn Maloney, the hearing featured a number of poverty expert panelists who offered insight on the current state of poverty and how to deal with the rising number of families in poverty.

    The most recent statistical figures on poverty show that the rate rose 12.5% in 2007. According to panelist John W. Edwards, Jr., Chairman of the Community Action Partnership, Inc., this increase has been marked by a rise in the number of married couples who are in poverty. As a result of the increasing poverty rates, $679 billion will be spent on means-tested welfare programs in fiscal year 2008. These programs provide cash, food, housing and free or subsidized medical care. Panelists cited the outdated poverty measure as a cause for concern; the measure is still based on the average amount a family spent on food in the 1950s.

    As the country confronts severe economic upheaval, many Americans will be affected adversely. According to Senator Schumer, “recessions hit the ordinary working Americans of Main Street the hardest.” The situation on Wall Street will very likely serve as a catalyst for pulling many families into poverty because of job loss, salary loss and benefit loss.

    Though policy makers in Washington are currently pushing for legislation to reform systems which seem to lack in effectiveness, you and your family should take great care to reduce the impact of financial crises by making smart financial decisions. Visit the WISER website for a variety of tips and suggestions on smart money management.

    Young Woman’s Financial Planning Guide

    Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008
    Marriage & Money: Joining Assets the Smart Way

    You’ve imagined the scene before. Your partner has finally mustered the courage to pop that proverbial question. There are tears, you say yes, the ring is perfect. Pretty soon, your life is a chaotic flurry of decisions: Canapes or mushroom caps? Mauve or lilac taffeta bridesmaid dresses? Hawaii or Florence?

    Getting hitched is certainly an exhilarating time in a young woman’s life, but important concerns often get lost amidst the amorous atmosphere. Marriage is a serious commitment and, as such, should be approached responsibly. Specifically, you and your spouse-to-be should think about the financial implications of the consolidation of your lives.

    According to Betsey Stevenson, assistant professor of business and public policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, “A lot of the debates people have about money are code for how we want to live our lives.” If you and your mate seem like financial opposites, don’t fret just yet. Making use of the tips below may help you bring about a more compatible financial relationship:

    Make expectations clear: There are many financial concerns to be considered when starting a family. Private or public school for the kids? A life of thrift or a life of extravagance? When expectations are made explicit from the beginning, you and your husband can keep financial skirmishes to a minimum. According to Karen Altfest of the New York firm L.J. Altfest & Company, weekly meetings to discuss finances will help a couple stay “in sync with each other’s goals.”

    Forge a financial partnership: You and your significant other may benefit from constructing a budget and keeping track of your finances together. Decision making in respect to these aspects should also be done together so as to avoid rifts down the road. According to Mary Ann Sisco, national wealth adviser at JPMorgan’s private wealth management division, “When [you] are making the decisions together, [you] really have ownership of those decisions and any results of those decisions.” So, even if the choices you make together turn out less than favorably, neither spouse will be able to play the blame game.

    Decide on long-term financial goals: Though such issues as retirement and paying tuition may seem like distant notions in the eyes of newlyweds, getting a jump start in respect to these matters is a very financially sound decision. You and your spouse may want to set specific goals (e.g. saving up for the cost of private college tuition for two children) and start investing now in order to ensure maximum growth over time.

    Visit the WISER website and explore such fact sheets as 5 Money Mistakes Women in Couples Should Avoid to learn more.


    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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