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Fuel-efficient vehicles help thwart gas price hikes

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NEW YORK (5/3/10)--Will gasoline prices rise like the summer temperatures? If so, the type of vehicle you drive will make a difference. Experts say the price at the pump is poised for a summer increase as the economy shows signs of strengthening. The increase American consumers will face should be moderate and nothing like the 2008 fuel price jolt, analysts say (abcnews.go.com April 24). However, gas prices are difficult to predict, and there’s no guarantee they won’t increase more than expected. One way to fight prices at the pump is to drive a fuel-efficient vehicle. But how do you know which vehicle is best for you? Here are five guidelines for finding the right fuel-efficient vehicle for your needs:
* Determine your needs. Figuring out what you’ll need the vehicle for will help you narrow your choices. Will a hybrid work for you, or do you need the power of a diesel? Consider a four-cylinder gas-powered car, especially if you’re on a budget. * Find the right fit. The right size vehicle for your needs can help with fuel efficiency. For example, a large truck will drain your wallet more than a smaller vehicle if you’re only using it to commute for work. * Research online. Use the Internet to determine what fuel-sipping vehicles meet your needs and your lifestyle. Sites like Edmunds.com feature a lot of information to help you figure out the best options. * Shop around. Locate dealerships online with the vehicles you are interested in. You can compare prices, search inventories, and identify rebates or other incentives. This also helps you target which dealerships to visit, saving you from gas-guzzling trips to every car lot in town. * Obtain preapproval. Getting preapproved for a loan at your credit union helps you understand how much vehicle you can afford and helps you avoid gimmicky dealer finance options. It’s usually a better deal to find the financing yourself.
For more help finding a fuel-stingy vehicle, read “Are You Ready for a Really Small Car?” and “How You Drive = What You Spend on Gas” in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

HandFF Radio examines student loans freelance income

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WASHINGTON (4/30/10)--Sunday's H&FF Radio will look at two student loan angles, including how student loan borrowers can be beneficiaries of health care reform; ways freelancers can earn more money; and how to defend your property against eminent domain. 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 90 million members, and is presented by CO-OP Network. The Credit Union National Association (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. Sunday's show, which you also can hear later via the Internet, features Paul Berry, Washington, D.C., journalist and broadcaster, discussing these topics with special guests:
* "Colleges Maintain Pledges to Limit Student Loans." Edie Irons, communications director, project on student debt, Institute for College Access and Success, Berkeley, Calif., reviews the 52 colleges with policies to limit or eliminate loans in student aid packages. * "Why Student Loan Borrowers Are Big Winners in Health Care Reform." Beth Kobliner, personal finance columnist and author, New York, describes how an income-based repayment plan can save families thousands of dollars a year on student loans. * "The Wealthy Freelancer." Ed Gandia, co-author, "The Wealthy Freelancer: 12 Secrets to a Great Income and an Enviable Lifestyle," and co-founder, TheWealthyFreelancer.com, Marietta, Ga., offers advice on marketing, fees and new income streams for freelancers. * "This Land Ain’t Your Land, This Land is My Land: A Primer on Eminent Domain, Redevelopment, and Entrepreneurship." Marc Scribner, policy analyst, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C., presents what property owners can do to defend themselves against eminent domain abuse.
Home & Family Finance is a resource center for personal finance information at CUNA. The radio show is sponsored by CO-OP Network, the national credit union ATM network; Cabot Creamery Cooperative, maker of award-winning cheddar; and the Defense Credit Union Council and member credit unions, serving those who serve the country worldwide. For more information, read “Prep Your Home-Based Business for Success” and “Paying for Graduate School” in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Reduce your taxable income

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WASHINGTON (4/28/10)--In this tough economy, you may think tax shelters are of little use to you. But as President Barack Obama’s fiscal reform commission considers raising taxes in its war on debt, methods of reducing taxable income are more important than ever (The Hill Apr. 13). This is especially true for retirement plans such as 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts (IRA). Here’s why:
* Tax shelters are off-limits for creditors. Unfortunately for many debtors, this will be important. Money in a tax shelter strengthens your hand if you have to negotiate with lenders and is protected if you end up in bankruptcy. * Federal deficits mean your taxes probably will be higher in the future. Tax shelters are more valuable as your tax rate goes up. By the way, this is also a reason to own a Roth IRA. By paying the tax upfront, assuming you’re 59 1/2 or older and the money’s been in the Roth at least five years, you don't owe taxes when you take money out. * Keeping bonds in a tax shelter increases returns. Recent stock market volatility has reminded investors to keep some money in bonds. But bonds, except for municipals, don’t get favorable tax treatment--unless they’re in a tax shelter. This is especially important if you hold Treasury inflation-protected securities (TIPS) bonds; always try to hold TIPS bonds in a tax shelter. Why? The value of TIPS bonds is adjusted twice a year for inflation and counts as taxable income. * You’ll be expected to contribute less if your children apply for financial aid for college. Money in tax shelters like an IRA or a 401(k) doesn't count against you in the federal formula for financial aid. Money in a regular investment account does. * The less money you have in retirement, the more your tax shelter will pay you. That’s because income tax rates are progressive--you’ll get to keep more of your money.
When you move investments into a tax shelter, your gains aren't taxed each year, but you make a trade. When you withdraw the money in retirement, except for a Roth IRA, the withdrawal is taxed as ordinary income. If that worries you, keep in mind that you are subject to the top 35% marginal tax rate only if you’re earning $370,000 a year in retirement, in which case you likely don’t have too much to worry about. If your situation is more like that of the average married couple in retirement, according to the U.S. Census you’ll live on about $31,000 a year. That would put you in the 15% income tax bracket. You’ll get to keep most of the money you withdraw from your tax shelters.

No-brainer Shut off car engine when not in use

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REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (4/26/10)--It’s almost vacation time and gas prices are on the rise. Fuel prices have been averaging $2.85 per gallon and forecasters expect prices to continue to increase, to about $3 per gallon by summer (billshrink.com April 16). In fact, fuel prices are a key factor in the 4.8% rise in the cost to own and operate a vehicle, according to AAA’s 2010 “Your Driving Costs” released earlier this month. Here are some ways to cut your fuel bill:
*Avoid carrying excess weight. Car-top carriers are convenient, but cause you to use extra gas. Every extra 100 pounds reduces miles per gallon by 2%. *Use cruise control. Driving at a consistent speed saves gas. *Consider joining a loyalty club. Some gas stations offer lower prices on gas to customers using a membership card. *Slow down and calm down. “Cut back your speed, not necessarily to the speed limit but to match the traffic flow,” said Jerry Edgerton, an automotive writer in New York and frequent contributor to the Credit Union National Association's Home & Family Finance publications. “Even more, don't speed up, slow down, speed up. That means don't tailgate, because then you have to brake and speed up again. Don't constantly switch lanes trying to go faster, then have to brake." * Avoid idling. “Most people don't think about this,” Edgerton said. “This is such a gas saver that auto companies are working on technology to shut off the engine at stoplights, then seamlessly start it again—just as now happens in gas-electric hybrids. If you are waiting for someone, shut off the car.”
To learn more ways to save on fuel, listen to the “10 Ways to Cut Gas Costs & Consumption” audio segment in Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

HandFF Radio delves into repos better credit cards

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WASHINGTON (4/23/10)--Sunday's H&FF Radio examines the significance of a million-plus repossessed cars, why credit cards from a credit union may be the better choice, how individual development accounts work for people with low and moderate incomes, and how government agencies are cooperating to fight identity theft. 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 90 million members, and is presented by CO-OP Network. The Credit Union National Association (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. Sunday's show, which you also can hear later via the Internet, features Paul Berry, Washington, D.C., journalist and broadcaster, discussing these topics with special guests:
* “Repo Madness.” John Van Alst, staff attorney, The National Consumer Law Center, Boston, describes the economic, privacy, and safety issues raised by the estimated 1.9 million cars repossessed last year. * ”Play Your Cards Right--Consider a Credit Card From a Credit Union.” Susan Tiffany, director, consumer periodicals, Credit Union National Association (CUNA), Madison, Wis., presents facts that show a credit card from your credit union might be your best bet because of their lower interest rates and fewer fees. * ”Weathering the Storm: Have IDAs Helped Low-Income Homebuyers Avoid Foreclosure?” Caroline Radcliffe, senior research associate and economist, The Urban Institute, Washington, D.C., answers questions about eligibility for Individual Development Accounts and whether they are right for people with lower and moderate incomes. * ”Coordinating Federal Policies on Identity Theft.” Linda Foley, founder, Identity Theft Resource Center, San Diego, Calif., covers how the Justice and Treasury Departments, FBI, Federal Trade Commission. and other groups are cooperating to combat identity theft and electronic security breaches.
Home & Family Finance is a resource center for personal finance information at CUNA. The radio show is sponsored by CO-OP Network, the national credit union ATM network; Cabot Creamery Cooperative, maker of award-winning cheddar; and the Defense Credit Union Council and member credit unions, serving those who serve our country worldwide. For more information, read “Crooks Use High-Tech Scams to Commit Fraud” and “April Financial Fitness Challenge—Play Your Cards Right” in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Your car does not run on gasoline alone

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MADISON, Wis. (4/21/10)--Sure, you may be shelling out $40 to $50 to fill your car’s gas tank, but don’t let prices at the pump blind you to what that hunk of metal in your driveway really costs. Gasoline is perhaps only one-fifth or so of the overall expense to own and operate your car. For a more complete picture, the American Automobile Association (AAA, “Your Driving Costs,” April 8), tallies all ownership and operational expenses, including insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation, finance charges, fuel, maintenance, and tires. All things considered, depending on its size, your sedan will cost between $6,496 and $10,530 this year. And for 2010 you can expect to pay $9,301 for your minivan and more than $11,000 for your 4WD SUV. Here’s what you can do to better manage the total expense of being a motorist, according to AAA and CUNA’s Center for Personal Finance editors:
* Drive smart. Make sure your car is operating at peak efficiency with regular tune-ups, repairs, and tire pressure checks to achieve the best possible mileage. Avoid quick starts and stops, and realize that there’s a significant surcharge for driving faster than 60 miles per hour—the equivalent of 20 cents more per gallon of gas for every five mph increase. Combine driving errands and, if you have more than one car, use the more fuel-efficient vehicle for city driving. Finally, lighten your load by removing unnecessary cargo. * Check your policy. If it’s been awhile since you re-evaluated your auto insurance coverage, shop around for competing bids. Even if you stay with your current insurer, make sure that you’re taking advantage of every discount you’re eligible for. * Do the numbers. At the AAA-estimated 70 cents per mile cost to drive the typical SUV, public transportation can be a real bargain for some trips. But don’t assume that the math always works against driving. Even a spike of $1 per gallon would add only $40 to the cost of a 1,000-mile trip in a car that gets 25 miles to the gallon. That means a sudden jump in gas prices is no reason to call off a much-anticipated family trip, especially when you can offset the added expense by eating a few meals in your motel room instead of a restaurant.

Prepare for rising interest rates

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NEW YORK (4/19/10)--What goes down, must come up? It would seem so with interest rates. Economists, researchers, U.S. Treasury professionals all agree. In the words of David Wyss, chief economist with Standard & Poor’s, “We’ve had almost a 30-year rally that’s come to an end” (The New York Times April 10). After a three-decade decline in the cost of borrowing, consumers are facing the beginning of what is expected to be a sustained period of rising rates. Let's look at three areas where interest rates are likely to increase. Housing--Rates are already on the move upward. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has risen half a percentage point since December. Consider as a further sign that mortgage rates will continue to rise: the Federal Reserve has halted its emergency program to buy mortgage debt. Homeowners, if you haven’t refinanced in the past two years, your optimal window is closing. This spring could offer house hunters the best housing choices and rates. Predictions put the 30-year mortgage close to 6% by year end; it is about 5.3% now. According to Christopher J. Mayer, a professor of finance and economics at Columbia Business School, each increase of one percentage point in rate adds as much as 19% to the total cost of a home. Credit cards--The typical American household now pays about $200 more a year in additional interest rates over fourth quarter 2008, when rates were at their lowest. Add in new federal regulations, and you get a new landscape for the credit card arena. Gone are low, low teaser rates; in are late-payment rates--some nearing 30%--that penalize you for 12 months. Compare the most recent statements for all your credit cards, and call for current terms on those cards you don’t use. If you’re not carrying a credit union-issued card, you’re probably paying too much in interest. To protect yourself against late-payment fees and their companion penalty interest rates, set up automatic direct payments. If you’re uncomfortable automatically paying the entire monthly bill, try $50 or $100 in an automatic payment and the rest in an additional online payment. Investing--Consumers aren’t the only ones facing a rate hike. The U.S. government, too, expects to pay more to borrow. This could result in more Treasury bonds issued. Investors in American bonds and bond mutual funds might consider reallocating assets. Bill Goss’s Pimco Total Return fund has reduced its U.S. debt holdings to 30% in favor of debt from Europe and developing countries. For another investing idea, watch the “Investing: Dollar-Cost Averaging” video in Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

HandFF Radio presents cheap eating financial advice

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WASHINGTON (4/16/10)--Sunday's H&FF Radio covers eating on the cheap, spring cleaning your finances, using your free time to earn more money and finding financial resources for low-income families. 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 90 million members, and is presented by CO-OP Network. The Credit Union National Association (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. Sunday's show, which you also can hear later via the Internet, features Paul Berry, Washington, D.C., journalist and broadcaster, discussing these topics with special guests:
* “Cheap Eats.” Cate Williams, vice president financial literacy, Money Management International, Chicago, Ill., answers common questions about generic vs. favorite brands, coupons, and cheap but healthy recipes; she also provides information about a free, downloadable book. * “Spring Clean Your Finances.” Bill Losey, certified financial planner and retirement strategist, Wilton, N.Y., covers the right way to pay off your credit card, goal setting, saving for a rainy day, steps to becoming debt free, and the effect of healthcare changes on family finances. * “The Other Eight Hours.” Robert Pagliarini, certified financial planner, author, and president of Pacifica Wealth Advisors, Mission Viejo, Calif., helps consumers identify activities that suck up free time they could use to make extra money, develop more job-related skills, expand an entrepreneurial venture, or simply engage in more fulfilling hobbies. * “Boost Financial Health of Low-Income Families.” Kirsten Moy, director, economic opportunities program, the Aspen Institute, Washington, D.C., describes how organizations can find assistance with budgeting, saving, debt, credit scores, insurance, and organizational resources for their low- and moderate-income clients with AssetPlatform.org.
Home & Family Finance is a resource center for personal finance information at CUNA. The radio show is sponsored by CO-OP Network, the national credit union ATM network; Cabot Creamery Cooperative, maker of award-winning cheddar; and the Defense Credit Union Council and member credit unions, serving those who serve the country worldwide. For more information, read “Tough Times Series: Gouged by Groceries” and “November Financial Fitness Challenge--Be Bold, Think Small” in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Health care law confusion spawns perfect storm for crooks

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WASHINGTON (4/14/10)--Industry professionals fear that confusion over the recent health care legislation is a key ingredient in a recipe for disaster. Add in the rising cost of health insurance premiums, millions of uninsured Americans, and high unemployment, and crooks are salivating at what’s being called a “perfect storm of vulnerabilities” (npr.org April 1). The new law commits funds for beefing up anti-fraud enforcement and oversight, but that’s not going to stop con artists from taking advantage of a confused public. Scams started popping up within days after President Barack Obama signed the law. One cable TV ad urged viewers to call a toll-free number to avoid missing out on a “limited enrollment” period to obtain coverage. Some crooks already are going door-to-door selling so-called “Obamacare” insurance policies. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, Washington, D.C., warns that the best defense is to educate yourself. Don’t allow anyone to rush you into making decisions about any kind of insurance. Take these precautions:
* Beware invasive sales pitches. Crooks are using the phone, fax machine, and e-mail messages to promise you good insurance deals. Don’t bite. * Steer clear of slick, evasive websites. Bogus plans are popping up online that are high on hype but slight on details. If you’re asked for a credit card number without seeing the policy first, walk away. * Tell pushy sales reps to back off. If anyone tries to get you to act fast and give up your credit card or financial account numbers, that’s a sure sign the deal is no good. * Be suspicious of enticing offers. If the sign-up process seems too easy, or the premiums seem unreasonably low, or the medical questionnaire isn’t very detailed, that’s a red flag. * Watch for language about “federal oversight.” If the salesperson tells you the plan doesn’t require state licenses because it’s regulated by ERISA or some other federal law, run--don’t walk--to the nearest exit.
If you think you’ve been swindled, contact your state insurance department immediately. Visit naic.org/state_web_map.htm for the office nearest you.

Whats your plan for the April 15 tax deadline

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MADISON, Wis. (4/12/10)--Nearly seven of 10 taxpayers will get a refund, and the average refund for 2009 is up nearly 10% from last year to $3,036, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Eight of 10 people getting a refund say they will pay down debt, save, invest, or use it for everyday necessities, a telephone poll by Bankrate.com (April 5) revealed. Less than 10% plan to splurge on some extravagance. And among the 24% paying the IRS this week, 60% will pay taxes with funds from their bank or credit union accounts, 6% plan to borrow money, and 17% say they intend to set up an installment plan to pay, according to the Bankrate survey. That 70% of consumers pay more than they owe each month and will get a hefty refund suggests many need to adjust their income tax withholding, says Michelle Dosher, managing editor of Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) MoneyMix and Home & Family Finance Resource Center online money management tools for credit unions. "A recent survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that 72% of 4,000 respondents preferred to have an extra couple hundred dollars in their pocket each month rather than a $2,400 refund once a year," Dosher noted. "People should recognize that a refund means you have overpaid your tax liability all year long." Too often, she said, those who overpay each month are the very ones who struggle to make ends meet. "Consumers can adjust their withholding any time during the year," she advised. For consumers getting a refund, Dosher offered these ideas:
* Adjust your deductible. Think about it. If you receive the average return of more than $3,000, you gave the federal government an interest-free loan of $250 per month. * Pay down your credit card debt. * Open an individual retirement account (IRA) or direct the amount of your refund you want going toward that option. With 54% of Americans having less than $25,000 saved for retirement, it's a great way to start saving. Only 3% of respondents to the Bankrate.com survey said they were going to have their refunds deposited into multiple savings options. * Make energy-efficient upgrades to your home. Check energystar.gov to see which upgrades qualify for tax incentives. * Pay down your mortgage or look into refinancing it. Your credit union professionals can help you decide which option makes more sense for you. Knocking $1,000 off your principal now will save significant dollars over a 30-year mortgage. Or look to refinance. Rates are still at historically low levels. * Use the refund to bolster a down payment for a vehicle upgrade. Nationally, credit union rates for new and used vehicles are more than 100 basis points (or one percentage point) lower than bank rates, according to Datatrac, a rating service out of Milwaukee, Wis.
For more information, read “Seize Tax Refund Opportunity” in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

HandFF Radio features foreclosure and investing advice

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WASHINGTON (4/9/10)--Sunday's H&FF Radio features cost-saving advice on gardening, a primer on annuities, strategies for high-worth investors, and a look at Washington’s role in foreclosures. 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 90 million members, and is presented by CO-OP Network. Home & Family Finance welcomes a new station, WHTC 1450 AM, in Grand Rapids, Mich. The Credit Union National Association (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. Sunday's show, which you also can hear later via the Internet, features Paul Berry, Washington, D.C., journalist and broadcaster, discussing these topics with special guests:
* ”Efficient Gardening Will Save Big Bucks.” Adria Brodas, Fairfax County Extension Service, unit coordinator agent, Fairfax, Va., gives tips on water use, plant placement and care, and how to find expert help in your area. * "Not Your Grandparents’ Annuities." Craig Hemke, president and founder of BuyAPension.com, Kansas City, Kan., covers the long-term benefits, risks, and tax aspects of investing in annuities. * "Can Washington Stem the Tide of Foreclosures?" Deborah Goldberg, director, Hurricane Relief Project, National Fair Housing Alliance, Washington, D.C., updates listeners on the latest government and lender initiatives to help people stay in their homes, and discusses why home foreclosure is a civil rights issue. * "Investing Strategies for the High Net Worth Investor." Niall Gannon, private wealth manager, The Gannon Group, Morgan, Stanley, Smith, Barney, New York, offers lessons from the past decade and answers questions about hiring a financial adviser, reasonable rates of return, and the performance of stocks vs. bonds in the long run.
Home & Family Finance is a resource center for personal finance information at CUNA. The radio show is sponsored by CO-OP Network, the national credit union ATM network; Cabot Creamery Cooperative, maker of award-winning cheddar; and the Defense Credit Union Council and member credit unions, serving those who serve the country worldwide. For more information, read the articles “New Hope and Help for Struggling Homeowners” and “Tough Times Series: In a Down Market, It Pays to Know the Financial Risks” and view the “Investing: Dollar-Cost Averaging” video in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Health care cost study offers more incentives to save

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BOSTON (4/7/10)--Consumers looking for incentives to save for retirement need look no further than health care costs. A new study from the Center for Retirement Research (CRR March) at Boston College suggests health care will cost the typical married couple age 65 about $197,000 over the rest of their lifetimes. These costs include insurance premiums, out-of-pocket costs, and home health care costs. But that estimate does not include costs for nursing home care, which could boost lifetime health care costs for that couple to $260,000. On a worst-case basis, according to the report, there is a 5% chance costs could exceed $570,000. It is unclear how the new health care reform act would change CRR calculations, but the report nevertheless shows how health care costs represent a substantial risk for all households. "Even at the peak of the stock market in 2007, less than 15% of households approaching retirement had accumulated that much ($570,000) in total financial assets, much less financial assets available for health care costs," the report says. Prudential Financial, a Newark, N.J.-based provider of life and health insurance, provided support for the research paper, co-authored by Anthony Webb, associate director for research at the Boston College CRR, and Natalia Zhivan, a consultant for the CRR. Cost estimates in the report, "What Is The Distribution of Lifetime Health Care Costs From Age 65," are consistent with other research findings. About one-third of people turning 65 this year will need at least three months of nursing home care, 24% more than a year, and 9% more than five years, according to the report. The average annual cost for a stay in a nursing home is about $71,000 for a semi-private room. "These numbers are eye popping," noted Susan Tiffany, editorial director for the Credit Union National Association's online Web products Plan It and Home & Family Finance Resource Center. "There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that it will take big money to live well in retirement: As a nation, we’re living longer, which means our nest eggs will have to last longer. Inflation in the cost of health care also is a major consideration, and health is strongly correlated with financial wherewithal. The respected Health and Retirement Study from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, indicates that average household net worth is more than $400,000 when both spouses are in excellent health, but only $31,000 when they are in poor health," Tiffany said. If there’s good news, it is that spending tends to fall rather than rise following retirement and continues to fall rather than rise with inflation. That’s because people older than age 75 typically spend about one-quarter less each year than those age 65 to 74, according to the Department of Labor’s Consumer Expenditure Survey. So, inflation will eat up some portion of your income, but you will be inclined to spend less as you become less active. But health care costs remain the No.1 question mark for people planning their retirement finances, Tiffany noted.

Financial literacy month Youth Week teach money skills

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SILVER SPRING, Md. (4/5/10)--April marks Financial Literacy Month, officially recognized since 2004 to help educate people of all ages about financial literacy. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), with its member agencies, is celebrating the month by promoting increased awareness of financial education (NFCC March 30). A new financial blog with initial posts from Jean Chatzky, financial expert and best-selling author, is one NFCC initiative, along with the launch of a Spanish language website, Termineconsudeuda.org, to expand financial education outreach to the Hispanic community. Credit unions nationwide are joining in the financial literacy celebration by participating in National Credit Union Youth Week, April 18 to 24. “Many credit unions teach money management skills all year long through classroom presentations, online games and programs, and electronic or print publications,” said Lin Standke, Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Youth Week manager. “April is when credit unions place a special emphasis on youth and focus on the benefits of saving for their goals with fun incentives, prizes, and activities.” CUNA sponsors the National Youth Saving Challenge during the entire month to help youth younger than age 18 develop the saving habit. Last year youth made record deposits of more than $26.5 million. Credit union staff can visit the financial literacy section on CUNA’s website (finlit.org) to sign up for the Saving Challenge, share celebration plans, and to download free promotional materials. To brush up on adult money management skills, join the Financial Fitness Challenge on the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

HandFF Radio features advice on tax refunds basic investing

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WASHINGTON (4/2/10)--Sunday's H&FF Radio offers potential solutions for managing a tax refund, siblings who disagree about how to handle mom and dad’s finances, people in need of quick and affordable legal help, and common sense investing. 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 90 million members, and is presented by CO-OP Network. The Credit Union National Association (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. Sunday's show, which you also can hear later via the Internet, features Paul Berry, Washington, D.C., journalist and broadcaster, discussing these topics with special guests:
* "Seize Tax Refund Opportunity." Susan Tiffany, director, consumer periodicals, CUNA, Madison, Wis., describes smart things to do with the income tax refund--and whether you should receive one at all. * "They’re Your Parents, Too! How Siblings Can Survive Their Parents’ Aging Without Driving Each Other Crazy.” Francine Russo, journalist and The New York Times fellow at the International Longevity Center, New York, provides advice for siblings who need to work together to help mom and dad. * "Handle Your Own Legal Affairs With HALT." Theresa Rudy, interim executive director, Center for Legal Empowerment, Accountability and Reform, Washington, D.C., offers information about how to handle legal affairs affordably, equitably, and simply. * "Complete Idiot’s Guide to Investing." Ed Koch, former investment professional and co-author of the fourth edition of "Complete Idiot’s Guide to Investing," San Diego, Calif., offers investment strategies for beginners.
Home & Family Finance is a resource center for personal finance information at CUNA. The radio show is sponsored by CO-OP Network, the national credit union ATM network; Cabot Creamery Cooperative, maker of award-winning cheddar; and the Defense Credit Union Council and member credit unions, serving those who serve the country worldwide. For more information, read the articles “What Was Grandma’s Password?” and “March Financial Fitness Challenge--Seize Tax Refund Opportunity” and view the “Investing: Dollar-Cost Averaging” video in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.