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Consumer Archive

Consumer

Moving Back Home: Set Rules With Adult Children

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McLEAN, Va. (10/29/13)--You're finally over Empty Nest Syndrome. Maybe you've taken up a new hobby, or you and your spouse are enjoying getting to know each other again. Then...your adult child asks to move back home (USAtoday.com Oct. 22).
 
Thirty-six percent of young adults ages 18 to 31 were living with their parents in 2012, up from 34% in 2009 (The Wall Street Journal August). Unemployment, the high cost of buying a house or paying rent, and postponing life events such as getting married are factors. Or maybe a divorce is why an adult child is moving back home.
 
Whatever the reason, if your little chickadee is coming back to the nest, consider these ideas to keep the peace, based on the Pew Study, "Why Adult Kids Still Live With Their Parents":
  • Discuss expectations. One reason adult kids don't like to leave is they think mom still will take care of everything she took care of before. Decide up front what kids will be responsible for. Examples might include doing their own laundry, cooking, and helping with yard work and shopping. Before kids move back in, let them know if they'll be required to pay rent or for part of the groceries.
  • Ask about goals and timeframes. Ask about their goals and how long they think they'll need a place to stay. A returnee's expectations of a reasonable timeframe to live with Mom and Dad often is much longer than theirs. Outline with your kids how much time you expect them to spend networking and looking for work. Tell them this is a good time to focus on paying down debt and making timely payments on student loans and other obligations.
  • Set rules for autonomy. Just because they're adults doesn't mean your kids don't have to respect house rules. Ask them to send a text if they won't be home for dinner. Even though they no longer have a curfew, they should be considerate and quiet when they return from an evening out. Parents and offspring alike should show respect by knocking before entering each other's private space.
You've most likely met with a financial adviser about retirement planning. That mentor can help you decide what you can and cannot afford to do for adult children. Setting rules before they move back home can help you keep your retirement goals and savings on track.
 
For related information, listen to the Home & Family Finance Radio segment "Before You Give Your Kid a Loan" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

H&FF Radio: Debt Ceilng Debates, Declined Cards

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WASHINGTON (10/25/13)--This week's Home & Family Finance Radio takes a look at how the never-ending debt ceiling debates in Washington are jeopardizing retirement savings and why credit cards get declined.
 
In this episode, which can be heard on the Internet, host Paul Berry, Washington, D.C., journalist and broadcaster, discusses these topics with special guests:
  • "Debt Ceiling Debates Jeopardize Your Retirement." Adam Levin, founder and chairman of credit.com, San Francisco, explains why Congress' reoccurring debates about whether to honor the country's debt puts your savings at risk.
  • "Why Your Credit Card Was Declined" Bill Hardekopf, CEO of the credit card comparison website LowCards.com, Birmingham, Ala., gives the reasons for declined credit cards and discusses prepaid cards—what they are and when to use them.
Home & Family Finance is a resource center for personal finance information at the Credit Union National Association. The radio show is sponsored by CO-OP Network, the national credit union ATM network; and the Defense Credit Union Council and member credit unions, serving those who serve the country worldwide.
 
Home & Family Finance airs Sundays at 3 p.m. ET on the Radio America Network. The show also is carried on American Forces Radio Network. The one-hour program devoted to consumer finance issues is brought to you by America's credit unions and their 97 million members, and is presented by CO-OP Network.
 
CUNA and Radio America are podcasting Home & Family Finance through iTunes, Podcast Alley, Odeo, and other popular podcast library sites, as well as on Radio America and CUNA's websites.
 
For related information, read "Find the Best Low-Cost, High-Value Car" and "Majority of Consumers: Thumbs Up to Co-op Businesses" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

When Airline Fees Are Worth It

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WASHINGTON (10/22/13)--New fees aren't surprising; they are big business for airlines. Last year airlines made $27 billion in fees and extra charges, more than doubling their takes from 2009 (MarketWatch Oct. 2).
 
 While some smaller airlines already charge fees for carry-on luggage, the major airlines are following suit by emphasizing priority boarding. If you're not willing to spend extra to be seated first, you might not have overhead-bin space for your carry-on (The New York Times Oct. 11).
 
Some fees are obviously worth skipping--paying extra to print your boarding pass or book by phone, and paying for onboard snacks, for instance. But some fees are worth it, particularly on longer flights and layovers.  They include:
  • Premium economy seats. Premium seating usually offers more legroom, the ability to recline further, and outlets to charge mobile devices. While not worth the $10 to $50 extra on a shorter flight, the added comfort could be worth it for longer flights. Be sure to check what premium seating offers, at it varies by carrier.
  • Airline lounge passes. A one-day pass to an airline's lounge, which offers perks such as free snacks, drinks, Wi-Fi, more comfortable seating, and a quieter space to relax, can be worth its $50 price tag during long layovers. If you have multiple layovers, your pass should work at each stop as long as they're on the same day.
  • Seat assignments. Are you an aisle person? Do you fear being stuck in the middle? Are are you traveling with small children necessitating easy access to the restrooms? Then paying extra to pick your seats might be worth it.
  • In-flight Wi-Fi. If you want to get work done or want a broader variety of in-flight entertainment than a handful of sitcom reruns, paying for Wi-Fi is a good option. Delta and American charge $14 a flight. Southwest's fee is $8.
Before paying any travel fee, research what you're paying for to ensure it's exactly what you want and worth the additional cost.
 
For more information, read "Do You Need a Travel Agent?" and "Make Tracks: Traveling by Train for Your Next Trip" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

H&FF Radio: Holiday Credit, Home Efficiency

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WASHINGTON (10/18/13)--Discover the best credit cards for holiday shopping and find out the quickest way to ensure your home is as energy efficient as possible on this week's Home & Family Finance Radio.

In this episode, which you can listen to on the Internet, host Paul Berry, Washington, D.C., journalist and broadcaster, discusses these topics with special guests:
  • "Holiday Credit Cards: The Good, The Bad." Eric Adamowsky, co-founder of the consumer-protection site Credit Card Insider, New York, shares the best and worst credit cards for holiday spending.
  • "How Energy Efficient Is Your Home?" Mark Furst, owner of Grading Spaces, Fort Atkinson, Wis., breaks down how an energy audit not only can give you a blueprint for improving your home's efficiency but also can help save you money on home improvements.
  • "Uneven Income? Then Saving Is Even More Important." Amy Peek, a certified public accountant, Pittsburgh, explains why you should save 20% of your income if you're self-employed.
Home & Family Finance is a resource center for personal finance information at the Credit Union National Association. The radio show is sponsored by CO-OP Network, the national credit union ATM network; and the Defense Credit Union Council and member credit unions, serving those who serve the country worldwide.
 
Home & Family Finance airs Sundays at 3 p.m. ET on the Radio America Network. The show also is carried on American Forces Radio Network. The one-hour program devoted to consumer finance issues is brought to you by America's credit unions and their 97 million members, and is presented by CO-OP Network.
 
CUNA and Radio America are podcasting Home & Family Finance through iTunes, Podcast Alley, Odeo, and other popular podcast library sites, as well as on Radio America and CUNA's websites.

For related information, read "Find the Best Low-Cost, High-Value Car" and "Majority of Consumers: Thumbs Up to Co-op Businesses" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Cybercrime Costs, Vulnerabilities On the Rise

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FOSTER CITY, Calif. (10/15/13)--National Cyber Security Awareness Month marks its 10th anniversary in October. Despite considerable efforts to educate and change behavior over the past decade, consumers and software remain vulnerable to online threats (eWeek.com Oct. 8).
 
The annual cost of cybercrime in the U.S. is $11.56 million per company, up 26% from 2012, according to the 2013 Cost of Cybercrime Study. Each year, Ponemon Institute analyzes a cross-section of companies in several industries and evaluates the prevalence and costs of cybercrime attacks. Last year's projection of a leveling off in costs didn't materialize.
 
As more consumers bounce from laptop to phone to tablet, they are in an "always signed in" environment. Online security has never been more important, and experts continue to stress the basics.
 
In a Sept. 16 TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) talk, speaker James Lyne said if everyone followed basic online safety practices, security would be "massively improved" because most cybercrime attacks still play on preventable failures to protect personal data. Lyne offered six pointers for consumers:
  • Download the latest version. If you have out-of-date Java or PDF software, you're vulnerable. It's common for exploitive tools to use old attacks that have been fixed, so update all your software.
  • Create strong passwords. Use a string that mixes numbers, letters--both upper and lower case--and special characters, and make it eight characters long or more--a lot more. Make up a memorable sentence then use the first letter of each word as your password, with some numbers and characters thrown in for good measure. Change passwords frequently, and don't use child or pet names, your birthday or anniversary, city of birth, or favorite sports team. And use different passwords for different sites and services, or consider a password manager to help keep track of them.
  • Question everything. An e-mail claiming you just won an iPad may grab your eye, but its intent likely is to scam you and your wallet. And don't count on all online scams containing grammar and spelling mistakes as a tipoff.
  • Back it up--now. Some online attacks do irreparable damage. Save yourself severe pain with a simple and regular backup procedure.
  • Update antivirus software. Many people are running severely outdated antivirus software. Even though updated software doesn't block everything, it's one of the basic steps needed to keep your system clean.
  • Secure your mobile device. You may have secured your PC, only to put vulnerable data on a mobile device lacking any security checks at all. Android mobile phones are targeted with an increasing amount of malicious code. Many iPhone users still don't have a PIN or screen lock, and the jury is out on whether people will use the new fingerprint feature.
Protecting yourself from cybercrime requires vigilance and common sense. For a list of free computer security checks for your computer, visit staysafeonline.or and type "security check ups" in the search box.

For more information, read "FBI: Cybercriminals Using Photo-Sharing Programs" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Co-ops, New Cars And IQ On H&FF Radio

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WASHINGTON (10/11/13)--Recognize your favorite co-ops, get the best price on a new car, and find out if smarts correlate with success on this week's Home & Family Finance Radio.

In this episode, which you can listen to on the Internet, host Paul Berry, Washington, D.C., journalist and broadcaster, discusses these topics with special guests:
  • "Celebrating Co-op Month." Joel Kopischke, a leadership developer for CDS Consulting Co-op, Milwaukee, explains the benefits of co-ops and their role in America.
  • "The Best Deal on a New Car." Jessica Anderson, editor for Kiplinger.com, Washington, D.C, provides strategies for getting a new car as inexpensively as possible.
  • "Does Intelligence Matter?" Robert Flowers, director of The Gilchrist Institute for the Achievement Sciences, Bronxville, N.Y., explores the connection between smarts and success, and whether the I.Q. test is the only meaningful measure of intellect.
Home & Family Finance is a resource center for personal finance information at the Credit Union National Association. The radio show is sponsored by CO-OP Network, the national credit union ATM network; and the Defense Credit Union Council and member credit unions, serving those who serve the country worldwide.
 
Home & Family Finance airs Sundays at 3 p.m. ET on the Radio America Network. The show also is carried on American Forces Radio Network. The one-hour program devoted to consumer finance issues is brought to you by America's credit unions and their 97 million members, and is presented by CO-OP Network.
 
CUNA and Radio America are podcasting Home & Family Finance through iTunes, Podcast Alley, Odeo, and other popular podcast library sites, as well as on Radio America and CUNA's websites.

For related information, read "Find the Best Low-Cost, High-Value Car" and "Majority of Consumers: Thumbs Up to Co-op Businesses" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Millennials: No-Brainer Tips For Your Job Interview

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DULLES, Va. (10/8/13)--Young job seekers are in trouble. According to a report just released by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, young people make up a much larger share of America's unemployed population than they do of the work force. And the job market is getting more competitive: By 2020, more than 65% of jobs will require more than a high school degree (Huffington Post Sept. 30).

If you're a recent grad fortunate enough to land an interview for a white-collar job in this economy, it's important not to alienate the people who could be signing your pay check.

Although much about the interview is out of your control, these suggestions might help you make a better impression with a prospective employer:
  • Think of the interview as a sales event. The interview environment is still traditional. Dress appropriately, and avoid slang and casual language. Human Resource executives say that quirks such as taking calls or texting during an interview, bringing a parent or even a pet, and other formerly taboo behaviors have become more commonplace during the interview. Make no mistake--those stunts will rule out otherwise qualified candidates.
  • Show your interest in the position, the company, and its culture. Learn all you can about the position. Look at the company's website, and check out past and current projects. Get a general sense of the office culture. Appear interested and engaged.
  • Don't discuss your personal life in detail. Less is more when it comes to personal drama. The employer is only thinking about how your aptitudes and accomplishments can help the company meet its objectives.
  • Ask questions. When it's your turn to ask questions at the end of the interview, find a way to relate to the interviewer. For example, come prepared with a question about the boss's career by digging in to LinkedIn or a website bio.
To become a "wow" candidate, when it's your turn to share, turn your focus to the industry in general. Read relevant news and put the company in context with the latest headlines. Then come prepared to offer your own ideas.
 
For more information about handling your financial life after being a student, read "The Time Has Come...To Get a Job" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

H&FF Radio: Save $1,000 By Christmas, Estate Planning

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WASHINGTON (10/4/13)--With this week's Home & Family Finance Radio show, learn how to sock away money in time to pay for the holidays, and how to split property among family members without resorting to blows.

H&FF Radio host Paul Berry, a well-known Washington, D.C. journalist and broadcaster, discusses the following topics with special guests this week:
  • "Save $1,000 in Time for the Holidays." Cameron Huddleston, a personal finance columnist for Kiplinger.com, Washington D.C., offers easy tips for saving for holiday spending.
  • "Mortgage Industry Forecast." Trey Rider, senior loan officer at First Home Mortgage, Baltimore, discusses the state of the mortgage industry.
  • "Who Gets What?" Liza Hanks, an estate planning lawyer, Palo Alto, Calif., shares strategies for splitting family property when a parent dies.
 The episode can be heard via the Internet (use resource link below).
 
Home & Family Finance is a resource center for personal finance information at the Credit Union National Association. The radio show is sponsored by CO-OP Network, the national credit union ATM network, and the Defense Credit Union Council and its member credit unions, serving those who serve the country worldwide.
 
Home & Family Finance airs Sundays at 3 p.m. (ET) on the Radio America Network. The show also is carried on American Forces Radio Network. The one-hour program devoted to consumer finance issues is brought to you by America's credit unions and their 98 million members.
 
CUNA and Radio America are podcasting Home & Family Finance through iTunes, Podcast Alley, Odeo, and other popular podcast library sites, as well as on Radio America and CUNA's websites.
 
For related information, read "'Dibs on Dad's Watch!' Splitting Family Property" and "Keep Holiday Debt in Check" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center (resource link below).

Obamacare Scammers Out In Full Force

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NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. (10/1/13)--This month, millions of consumers will begin shopping for health plans using the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's (ACA) federal and state-based health exchanges. Unfortunately, scammers looking to get hold of consumers' personal information also will be out in full force (Bankrate.com Sept. 19).
 
The Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C., already has spotted several scams (CNNMoney Sept. 19):
  • Medicaid cards--Scammers tell you that the ACA requires you to get a new Medicaid card so you don't lose coverage. Scammers will tell you they need your Social Security number, financial account numbers, and credit card information to process the new card.
  • Charging for advice--Scammers call and offer to "help" enroll you in the insurance exchange for a small fee or tell you that you need a new insurance card to avoid penalties. They'll need your personal information to do this.
  • Government imposters--Scammers call, e-mail, or text you to talk about health insurance or verify your personal information. Government officials will not call you about your health insurance coverage and would never ask you to verify personal information over the phone.
If you're shopping for health insurance using an exchange, use this advice to safeguard your identity:
  • Never give out personal information to anyone who calls or shows up at your home.
  • Don't sign blank insurance forms--Scammers might offer to fill the forms out for you if you'll just sign your name.
  • Watch for bogus websites luring consumers to give up personal information--When looking for health exchange information online, look for sites ending in ".gov" and look for official government seals and logos.
  • Ignore offers that sound too good to be true--The U.S. government doesn't offer promotions of winning cruises, vacations or other prizes.
For related information, read "Life Changes Trigger Financial Changes" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.