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Consumer Archive

Consumer

H&FF Radio Hails Co-op Month

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WASHINGTON (9/27/13)--Because October is Co-op Month, Home & Family Finance Radio hosts several leaders who explain what co-ops are and how they help consumers, how to find or start one, and what the difference is between credit unions and banks.
 
The show, a rebroadcast of an earlier program, features Paul Berry, Washington, D.C., journalist and broadcaster, discussing these topics with special guests:
  • "October is Co-op Month." Adam Schwartz, founder and principal of consulting firm The Cooperative Way, Springfield, Va., explains the purpose of co-ops--there are 29,000 in the U.S.--and how people use them, often unaware of just what they are.
  • "Find a Co-op--or Start Your Own." Andrea R. Cumpston, director of communications and marketing for the National Cooperative Business Association, Washington, D.C., talks about how NCBA helps consumers locate co-ops, as well as how to start one.
  • "The Diversity of Co-ops." Jim Bausell, chief operating officer of Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, Arlington, Va., discusses the organization's website, which helps consumers do energy checkups, and how co-ops help consumers in everyday life.
  • "The Credit Union Difference." Michelle Dosher, managing editor for two Credit Union National Association personal finance microsites, outlines the difference between banks and credit unions--including their status as cooperatives--the qualifications for joining a credit union, and how credit unions benefit consumers.
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 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 more information, read "Majority of Consumers: Thumbs Up to Co-op Businesses" and watch "Top 10 Reasons to Belong to a Credit Union" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Kids' Allowance: Free Money Or Teaching Tool?

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WASHINGTON (9/24/13)--Do you pay your kids an allowance? Should you? And if so, should they have to do chores to earn it?

As more people recognize the importance of financial literacy for children, experts are debating how most children are first introduced to the concept of money--the weekly allowance.

Ron Lieber, personal finance writer for The New York Times, says he and his wife pay their 7-year-old daughter $3 a week, no chores necessary (National Public Radio News Sept. 18).

Lieber's daughter puts $1 in a "save" jar and $1 in a "give" jar for a cause of her choosing. The final $1 she can spend as she wants. Lieber's reasoning is that an allowance is a teaching tool, and making it contingent on chores muddies the issue. What if the children decide they don't want money? Do they still have to do the chores?

Lewis Mandell, a financial economist and professor emeritus at the State University of New York, Buffalo, however, says unconditional allowances are a "terrible idea," citing a 2000 study that showed kids who received a regular allowance left high school knowing less about personal finances than kids who received no allowance--although the differences were slight (St. Louis Dispatch Sept. 8).

One problem may be that, like many Americans, kids aren't the most diligent about saving. While 61% of parents pay an allowance, only 1% report that their children save any of it, according to a 2012 survey by the American Institute of CPAs.

The survey found that as children age, they receive a higher allowance, but across all ages the average take is $780 a year. That's enough to buy an iPad or a good start for a college savings plan--if they were saving.

About 90% of the parents who paid their children an allowance required them to do chores to earn it, but only 81% had spoken to their kids about money management. More parents had spoken to their kids about good manners, their grades and healthy eating habits than how to handle their money.

So how should you handle an allowance with your own children?
  • Use it as a teaching tool. Regardless of how your children earn an allowance, use it as a tool to reinforce good money habits from an early age. Talk about finances early and often.
  • Consider matching their savings. To encourage savings, tell your children for every $1 they set aside for long-term goals, you'll match it. Then let them watch the money accumulate.
  • Gradually introduce them to financial products. When they're old enough, deposit their allowance into a savings account, later a checking account, and help them manage them wisely.
Kids who learn to manage money at an early age are better prepared to handle their finances when they leave home. And, ultimately, teaching children good financial stewardship is a sound investment for parents, who often are the ones stuck helping their adult children when they run into real-world money problems.

For more information, read "Teach Teens Financial Responsibility" and "Giving Your Kids an Allowance (Or Not)" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Health Care Law, Where To Rent On H&FF Radio

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WASHINGTON (9/20/13)--Get a better handle on provisions of the new health care law scheduled to go into effect next month and learn where you should live if you're a renter 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:
  • "Understanding the New Health Care Law." Cindy Whaley, president of Avery Hall Benefit Solutions, Easton, Md., breaks down what the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act means to you.
  • "Renting? Live Here." Andrea Browne, editor for Kiplinger.com, Washington, D.C., lists the top 10 affordable big cities for renters.
  • "Filing at the Last Minute." Looking ahead, Steven Duben, a certified public accountant, Encino, Calif., shares strategies for filing your taxes at the last minute.
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; 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 95 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 "Health Care Law Delay: Who Will It Affect?" and "Home Office Tax Deductions Can Help Business Pay Off" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Women: Get Serious About Emergency Savings

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MADISON, Wis. (9/17/13)--According to the Credit Union National Association's recent Women's Financial Survey, roughly 59% of women ages 45 to 60 don't have an emergency savings fund that would cover expenses for six months. The survey also found that men are more likely than women to have an emergency fund.
 
Without emergency savings, a job loss, a medical emergency, or a large unexpected expense can leave no choice but for women to turn to credit cards, home equity, payday loans, or retirement savings.
 
Before you start funding an emergency savings account, first determine how much you need to set aside each payday to cover living expenses for an extended amount of time. Compared with previous generations, women in their 50s or 60s now are more likely to face rising health-care costs and longer lengths of unemployment in the event of job loss. Women should aim to save six months to a year's worth of expenses for long-term emergency savings, and $1,000 to $2,000 for immediate emergency savings.
 
Once you've determined how much to save, decide where to put your money. Your long-term funds should be accessible--but not too easily--in money-market accounts or in certificates of deposit/share certificates that will mature in one year or less. Keep short-term emergency savings in an account that's immediately accessible at your credit union.
 
If you also are paying off debt, first build up a $1,000 short-term emergency fund. Then start eliminating your debt and continue to build your emergency fund until you're debt-free. As you pay bills off, put the same amount of money you were putting toward monthly payments into your emergency savings fund.
 
Here are ways to fund an emergency savings account:
  • Empty your pockets at the end of the day and save all your change. Use it to open and grow a small savings account.
  • Use your tax refund to begin or increase savings.
  • Cut back on small, unnecessary expenditures.
  • Get your family involved.
Put your savings on auto-pilot. Set up an automatic transfer from your paycheck to your emergency savings account.

H&FF Radio: Fourth-quarter Investing, Networking

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WASHINGTON (9/13/13)--This week Home & Family Finance Radio talks networking--how to do it and why it's important--and how to time your investments late in the year.
 
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:
  • "The Importance of Being Social." Dana Manciagli, career coach and author of "Cut the Crap, Get a Job! A New Job Search Process for a New Era," Bellevue, Wash., stresses that networking is key to finding a job.
  • "Fourth-Quarter Investment Jitters." Michael Farr, president of investment firm Farr, Miller & Washington, Washington, D.C., discusses the stock market and timing your late-in-the-year investments.
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; 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 95 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 "The Time Has Come...To Get a Job" and "Investment Seminars: You're on the Menu With a Free Lunch" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Beware Debt Collectors Wrongfully Suing Card Holders

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WASHINGTON (9/10/13)--There's a scandal brewing potentially affecting tens of millions of credit card holders, many already being wrongfully sued for money they don't owe (Kiplinger Oct. 2013).
 
The age-old problem of being hounded by debt collectors is now complicated by multiple "debt buyers." If the bank, credit card company, or other lender gives up trying to collect on a debt, the debt may be purchased by a debt buyer for a fraction of the amount owed. That buyer then could resell it to yet another debt buyer. With each transfer, the consumer's file gets slimmed down to bare-bones detail and may wind up incomplete or inaccurate.
 
Debt buyers increasingly are going after people for debts they've already paid off. Worse, they're going after the wrong people altogether (ABCNews.com Aug. 12). Some consumers successfully disputed a debt with one debt buyer only to find the debt was resold to another buyer with incomplete paperwork, forcing the consumer to begin the whole process again. And many of those incomplete or faulty documents, including those for debts with small balances, are now finding their way into lawsuits filed by debt collectors.
 
The debt buyer problem has been on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau radar for two years, and other groups are attacking the problem simultaneously. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is investigating abuses by JPMorgan Chase, and 13 state attorneys general are investigating alleged sloppy practices by Bank of America, Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo.
 
If you get a letter about a debt you don't owe, don't pay it--but don't ignore it either:
  • Write to the debt collector. Demand proof of the debt and state that you don't believe it's yours. Keep a paper trail--send the letter certified mail.
  • Review your credit reports. Check whether the debt buyer has reported an erroneous debt to the credit reporting agencies.
  • Don't ignore lawsuits. If you're sued over a debt you don't owe, file an answer with the court. For low- or no-cost attorney assistance, contact the National Association of Consumer Advocates.
Finally, file complaints with the Better Business Bureau, your state attorney general's consumer protection office, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

For more information, read "Understand All Your Options for Dealing with Debt" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

The Value Of Debt, Savings Binge On H&FF Radio

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WASHINGTON (9/6/13)--Go into debt like a well-run business, but save like someone addicted to socking away money. This week Home & Family Finance Radio tells you how to do both. 
 
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:
  • "Manage Your Debt Like a Business." Tom Anderson, an investment management analyst and author of the book "The Value of Debt," New York, explains why debt, when managed properly, is a useful tool for families.
  • "Break the Earn-Spend Cycle." Jack Bosch, entrepreneur and author of the book "Forever Cash," Phoenix, lays out his philosophy for money management and building wealth.
  • "Indulge In a Savings Binge." Susan Tiffany, certified credit union financial counselor and director of consumer periodicals, Credit Union National Association, Madison, Wis., recommends making saving fun and building a nest egg quickly by going on a savings bender.
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 98 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 "Gotta Have It? Check Impulse Spending" and "September Financial Fitness Challenge--Indulge in a Savings Binge" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Smart Starts For Young Credit Card Users

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WASHINGTON (9/3/13)--As parents pay off credit card charges from summer vacations and school shopping, their college-aged children are receiving offers for cards of their own (National Foundation for Credit Counseling Aug. 22).
 
While credit is a terrific money management tool, using it carelessly can affect your ability to get a job, lease an apartment, or buy a vehicle. Follow this advice from the NFCC for using credit cards:
  • Choose a low-rate, low-fee card. Make your credit union the first stop. Credit union credit cards typically have lower rates and fees than other financial institutions. If you're not already a credit union member, visit asmarterchoice.org to locate a credit union in your area.
  • Don't charge daily living expenses. Refrain from using a credit card for daily living expenses such as groceries and gas. Consider using a debit card or cash instead, and monitor your account balance online to keep spending on track.
  • Don't charge more than you can pay for when the bill arrives. Think twice about charging a vacation, a new wardrobe, or other items that won't be worth the debt if you can't pay for the items when the bill arrives. Instead, set up a special savings account for future purchases at your credit union.
  • Don't let anyone else use your card. If you allow a family member or best friend to borrow your card, it's still your responsibility to make payments and pay off the debt.
  • Protect your card. Identity theft often is committed by people the victim knows. Keep your credit card in a purse or wallet instead of lying around your apartment for all eyes to see.
  • Get a secured credit card to help build or rebuild credit. "If you've dinged up your credit record with careless habits, it's hard to qualify for credit," says Susan Tiffany, certified credit union financial counselor and director of consumer periodicals, Credit Union National Association, Madison, Wis. "A secured credit card trades access to credit for your commitment to keep a certain amount of money in a savings account. Once you've made, say, 12 months or so of on-time credit card payments, you'll have developed or redeemed your credit record and be eligible to apply for a conventional credit card."
For more information about credit cards, read "Secured Cards Help Establish Creditworthiness" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.