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Consumer Archive

Consumer

HandFF Radio discusses youth sports and the economy

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WASHINGTON (6/29/12)--Sunday's Home & Family Finance Radio program covered the growing youth sports business and its economic effects.

The 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:

  • "i9 Sports Survey." Brian Sanders, chief operating officer, i9 Sports, Brandon, Fla., addresses the growth of youth sports franchises in the U.S.
  • "Sports and Kids." Tim Brant, sports anchor, ABC-7, Washington, D.C., shares survey results revealing how youth sports could affect future investments.
  • "Playing the Game." Kit Bannantine, former student soccer player, Pittsburgh, and Garrett Schwabb, former student lacrosse player, Los Angeles, explain how competing in sports has helped them in the professional world.
Home & Family Finance is a resource center for personal finance information at the Credit Union National Association (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.

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.

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 more information, watch "Talk With Your Children About Family Finances" and listen to "Biz Kid$: Teaching Kids About Money and Business" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Elder financial abuse a national epidemic

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (6/26/12)--Frontline professionals who deal with financial exploitation of older Americans agree: The problem of financial swindles targeting senior citizens is a very real problem and is getting worse (Investor Protection Trust June 13).

An online survey was conducted in early June of 762 financial planners, securities regulators, adult protective services workers, medical professionals, law enforcement officials, and others who deal with older Americans. Effectively all (99%) respondents are concerned, saying that older Americans are very (75%) or somewhat (24%) vulnerable to financial swindles (AdvisorOne.com June 13).

Another Investor Protection Trust survey revealed that one of five Americans older than age 65 had been the victim of a swindle in 2010. MetLife calculated that Americans age 60 and older were cheated out of at least $2.9 billion in 2010, a 12% increase from 2008 (The Washington Post June 14).

Who are the perpetrators? Research indicates that most often they are family members or caregivers, with elderly women more likely to be targeted than men. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau plans to release a guide explaining financial responsibilities to family members and caregivers.

If you provide care for an older individual, watch for these red flags that financial exploitation or abuse may be going on:

  • Large, unexplained withdrawals from accounts, or transfers between accounts that the older person cannot explain;
  • Suspicious signatures on checks or other documents;
  • Lifestyle not consistent with income or assets, or significant changes in spending patterns;
  • Notices to disconnect utilities;
  • Anxiety about personal finances;
  • Missed appointments or unpaid bills;
  • Abrupt changes to a will or power of attorney; and
  • Unusual transfer of assets to others.
If you suspect financial exploitation, contact the local Adult Protective Services office immediately.

For more information, read "Elders Are Easy Targets for Scams" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

iHandFF Radioi covers convenience of credit unions

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WASHINGTON (6/22/12)--Sunday's H&FF Radio program has advice for understanding bankruptcy, repairing your credit, and using credit union shared branching.

This is a rebroadcast of an earlier H&FF Radio program.

The show, which can also be heard later via the Internet, features Paul Berry, Washington, D.C., journalist and broadcaster, discussing these topics with special guests:

  • "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Personal Bankruptcy." Lita Epstein, financial writer, Orlando, Fla., covers what you need to know before you consider filing for bankruptcy.
  • "The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Repairing Your Credit." Edie Driskill, certified financial planner and author, Columbus, Ohio, tells how to reestablish credit after a problem.
  • "Credit Union Branch Use and Convenience on Vacation." Craig Beach, senior vice president of marketing and business development, CO-OP Shared Branching, Atlanta, explains how credit union shared branching can help members who are traveling.
  • "Road Out of Debt: Bankruptcy and Other Solutions to Your Financial Problems." Theodore Connolly, Esq., Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge, and co-author, "The Road Out of Debt," Boston, highlights strategies for solving financial problems.
Home & Family Finance is a resource center for personal finance information at the Credit Union National Association (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.

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.

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 more information, read "Understand All Your Options for Dealing With Debt" and watch the "Build Your Best Credit Score" and "Top 10 Reasons to Belong to a Credit Union" videos in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Rethink your budget if retiring early

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NEW YORK (6/19/12)--If you're drawing on Social Security earlier than you'd planned, you have company. Joblessness has forced 200,000 more people to file first-time Social Security claims in 2009 and 2010 than predicted, and the trend is continuing. And more people ages 55 to 64 are looking for part-time work (New York Times June 9).

Whether you're taking early retirement with or without Social Security benefits, don't get caught by surprise. Take certain factors into consideration when planning your budget.

If you're claiming Social Security:

Calculate possible reduced benefits--If you live in the U.S. and retire early, your benefit can be permanently reduced by as much as 30%. In addition to that reduction, if you hold a job, in 2012 the Social Security Administration will deduct $1 from your benefit for every $2 you earn above the $14,640 limit. In the year you reach full retirement age, the administration uses a different formula and upper limit: $1 for every $3 you earn above $38,880.

Starting with the month you reach full retirement age, there is no limit on your earnings.

Use net earnings to calculate income--Many retirees make the mistake of assuming they won't pay taxes on Social Security benefits. In fact, the federal government taxes Social Security benefits as ordinary income and many states follow suit.

Not only might you owe more taxes than you planned, you could be in for a double surprise. If you don't withhold enough from your pay, you could be hit with a penalty at tax time. To avoid this, adjust your withholdings so that your tax payments match your actual tax liability.

Even if you don't claim Social Security benefits:

Take health care costs into account--If you retire before you reach age 65, you don't qualify for Medicare. Your health care can cost tens of thousands of dollars if you don't have access to insurance coverage through a spouse or employer.

Even after you turn 65, there are many gaps in Medicare and it's helpful to have additional health insurance.

Remember the expenses of working--Calculate the expenses of commuting, parking, work-appropriate clothing, meals and so forth. Eating out can cost as much as an hour's wages.

Revisit your pension--If you have a pension plan, it's probably calculated using a formula partially based on your salary in the years before you retire. Before you trade in a full-time position for a part-time one at your company, discuss it with your pension administrator to find out how or if it will affect your pension.

Finally--If you file for Social Security early but your situation changes, you can file Social Security Form 521, "Request for Withdrawal of Application." This lets you withdraw from the program and pay back all benefits you have received. You can do this only once, and only within 12 months of when you became eligible for benefits.

For more retirement information, read "Four Key Steps to No Regrets Retirement" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Youth and money spending priorities on IHandFF RadioI

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WASHINGTON (6/15/12)--Sunday's Home & Family Finance Radio  program covered strategies for starting the money conversation with your kids and for keeping excessive spending in check.

The 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:

  • "The Money Talk." Joseph C. Dellutri, certified financial planner, T. Rowe Price, Tampa, Fla., provides guidance for starting early conversations with your children about money.
  • "Reality TV Drives Fantasy Spending." Susan Tiffany, certified credit union financial counselor and director of consumer periodicals, Credit Union National Association (CUNA), Madison, Wis., offers advice for enjoying guilty-pleasure reality television without emulating the excessive spending habits depicted on some programs.
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.

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.

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 more information, read "Giving Your Kids an Allowance (Or Not)" and "Reality TV Drives Fantasy Spending" and watch "Talk With Your Children About Family Finances" and "How to Use Children's Wants to Motivate Them to Save" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Teens Get off your butt and get a job

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NEW YORK (6/12/12)--School's out, but if your kids have yet to look for a summer job, you're in luck. The number of teenagers hired in May 2012 was more than double the teens hired in May 2011. And yet, the majority of teens are not interested in working this summer (Time Moneyland June 5).

About 160,000 American teens were hired this May compared with 71,000 in May 2011. In May 2010 only 6,000 teens were hired--leading to the worst summer job market for teens since just after World War II, when returning servicemen were competing with high school kids for jobs.

Teens looking for work have a great chance of landing a job. Here's some help for the underage job hunter in your house from an Oregon (Wis.) School District newsletter:

  • Set goals. Help children define goals and set priorities for summer employment. Maybe they  want money to pay for a new computer or a special trip, maybe they want to learn more about a certain industry, or maybe they just want a little spending money.
  • Fill out applications. Stress the importance of using nice handwriting on applications or typing them, as well as filling them out thoroughly. Some employers won't interview candidates who don't follow directions on the application.
  • Network. Encourage teens to let everyone know that they're looking for employment--teachers, counselors, friends and relatives. Even a Facebook post to a safe and select group of "friends" is a good place to start. You never know who's looking for someone to help with a business or knows of someone needing an extra hand.
  • Think logistics. Before your child applies for jobs, make sure he or she knows where the business is located. If you're going to be your child's only means of transportation, set limits for how far you're willing to travel, and when.
  • Be professional. Explain the importance of being prompt and well-groomed, speaking clearly and maintaining eye contact. A firm handshake and being confident helps too. A biggie--dressing appropriately. Your child may need a little help choosing something to wear to a job interview. To be safe, have your child err on the conservative side.
  • Prepare for the interview. Help your teen practice interviewing by role-playing. Pretend you're the potential employer and ask some tough, but real-life questions about instances such as calling in sick. Encourage your child to do some research about the company before the interview to show prospective employers an interest in the job.
  • Follow up. Encourage your teen to e-mail a short thank you letter to prospective employers reiterating interest in the job.
For more information, watch "How to Help Your Teen Enter the Work Force" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

HandFF Radio highlights childrens financial literacy

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WASHINGTON (6/8/12)--Sunday's Home & Family Finance Radio program addressed youth financial education, employment for military veterans, "wealthy" living on a budget and green home design.

The show, which also can be heard later on the Internet, features Paul Berry, Washington, D.C., journalist and broadcaster, discussing these topics with special guests:

  • "Spencer's First." James Merritt, author of the "Spencer's First" series, Baltimore, discusses his financial literacy books for youth.
  • "Military Employment." Susan Fallon, vice president of business development, Monster Government Solutions, New York, provides resources to help servicemembers, veterans and family members find employment.
  • "Simple Wisdom." Danny Kofke, author, "A Simple Book of Financial Wisdom: Teach Yourself (And Your Kids) How to Live Wealthy with Little Money," highlights strategies for living well on a budget.
  • "Going Green." James Merida, owner, Bountiful Design, Easton, Md., covers green home design, and products and furniture for completing an environmentally friendly home.
Home & Family Finance is a resource center for personal finance information at the Credit Union National Association (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.

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.

CUNA and Radio America are podcasting Home & Family Finance through iTunes, Podcast Alley, Odeo and other popular podcast library sites, and on Radio America and CUNA's websites.

For more information, watch "Thrive by 5: Teaching Your Preschooler About Money" and listen to "Personal Finance and Our Military" and "Going Green in 2012" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

New grads Position yourselves for job offer

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MCLEAN, Va. (6/5/12)--There is good news for college graduates entering the job market: Employers plan to hire 10% more grads this year than in 2011, payroll employment increased in 32 states last month, and the unemployment rate dropped to 8.1% in April, compared with 9% a year ago (USA Today May 25).

Graduates entering the job market also should prepare themselves for a challenge: According to USA Today, salaries for recent grads dropped by 10% during the recession and have yet to return to previous levels. In addition, half of college graduates younger than age 25 were unemployed or underemployed last year, according to a study by Northeastern University in Boston.

Employment prospects are getting better, but they still aren't great. It's important for grads to take extra steps to stand out as they search for their first postgraduate jobs. According to a study by Millennial Branding and Experience Inc., both in Boston, internships still are excellent résumé builders, but they don't guarantee a job offer (TIME Moneyland May 15).

These ideas from Dan Schawbel, managing partner of Millennial Branding, can help graduates better position themselves for a job offer:

  • Work on soft skills. While experience and technical abilities can give grads an edge, employers realize that specific technical skills can be taught once they've hired the right person for the job. Instead, many companies look for communication, teamwork and other interpersonal skills in potential employees. To hone these skills, consider volunteering or participating in an activity that emphasizes in-person communication.
  • Narrow your focus. You might think flooding the job market with as many applications as possible will improve your chances of securing a position, but doing the opposite actually is a better strategy. By applying only to jobs you're truly passionate and excited about, you'll display genuine positivity in applications and interviews. Hiring managers are much more likely to hire someone who shows real interest in a job than someone who simply needs a way to pay the bills.
  • Think like an entrepreneur. In the Millennial Branding and Experience Inc. study, nearly a third of employers cited entrepreneurship experience as a desirable quality when hiring new graduates. But that doesn't mean you need to be the next Mark Zuckerberg with your own wildly successful business. Demonstrating entrepreneurial qualities, such as taking the initiative to put your ideas out there, can achieve the same effect. Consider starting a blog about a subject you truly enjoy or creating a discussion group on LinkedIn to stand out.
  • Look for variety in your experiences. To adapt to a quickly changing workplace, seek out diverse opportunities that will help you develop a wide range of new skills. Look for internships, volunteer opportunities, or other activities that provide different and unique experiences, instead of focusing on one internship or one narrow career direction.
For more information, listen to "Getting Along in the Workplace" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.