Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Get Help Paying Your Home Heating Bills this Winter

If you can't afford to pay your winter heating bill, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) may be able to help with:
• Home energy bills
• Energy crisis
• Weatherization and energy-related home repairs
Assistance is available to low-income families who spend a large portion of income on home heating and cooling.

Contact your state or Indian tribe or tribal organization agency for eligibility requirements and to apply. Wyoming information is at http://www.liheap.ncat.org/profiles/Wyoming.htm#state

For help applying, you can also call 1.866.NRG.NEAR (674.6327).

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Time Change Sunday

Sunday, November 4 marks the end of daylight saving time (DST), so remember to turn your clocks back one hour, starting at 2:00 AM on November 4.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Beware of Phony IRS Websites

Beware of Phony IRS Websites
The IRS is warning the public about a new taxscam that uses a website that mimics the IRS e-Services online registration page. The real IRS e-Services page offers Web-based products for tax preparers and payers—not the general public. The phony Web page looks almost identical to the real one.

The official IRS website is www.irs.gov. Some of the phony websites end in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov. If you find a suspicious website that claims to be the IRS, send it to phishing@irs.gov; put "Suspicious website" in the subject line.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

September is National Preparedness Month

Have you taken steps to prepare for an emergency?

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), three elements of good preparation are:

  • Being Informed -- Learn about the potential emergencies that can happen where you live and know the appropriate ways to respond to them.
  • Making a Plan -- Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to plan what you would do in different situations. How would you get to a safe place? How would you contact one another and get back together?
  • Building a Kit -- Find a list of suggested items to include in an emergency supply kit.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Child Born in 2011 Will Cost $234,900 to Raise

USDA released the annual report Expenditures on Children by Families, finding that a middle-income family with a child born in 2011 can expect to spend about $234,900 ($295,560 if projected inflation costs are factored in) for food, shelter, and other necessities to raise that child over the next 17 years.

The results come from the Consumer Expenditure Survey -- check out the "Cost of Raising A Child" calculator at http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/.

PS Don't forget to open a 529 plan to help pay for a college education. If you start early (when your child is quite young), then time is on your side.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Saving for Retirment vs Financing Young Adult Children

If you find yourself in the quandry as to whether to continue to support your adult children you may find it interesting to note that a recent study conducted by Pew Research Center indicates that only 54% of Americans aged 18 to 24 have a full time job.  This is the lowest level registered since the government began collecting data in 1948.   Kevin McKinney, the author of the book, Make Your Kid a Millionaire  offered several suggestions in a recent article he posted on line.  I think these are worth noting.

Show them the (lack of money).  When parents learn that their benevolence today can mean a short and frugile retirement, saying no to paying for childrens wants and needs may become easier.

Cap College Costs.   High Schoolers are starry eyed about their "dream" school.  This week I sat through interviews with  High School Seniors applying for scholarships from a scholarship committtee I serve on.  We always ask where they plan to attend school, what they plan to study and how much will the school cost.  Our committtee is concerned at the lack of understanding of the long term consequences to a $40,000 a year tuition  in a "neat" sounding school.  It sounds like parents and kids are  clueless to what this "dream" school is going to cost or they haven't thought through what a quarter of a million dollars could do to financial security in later life. 

Set a cut off date.  If cutting off the cash flow seems unpalatable a suggestion is to decide upon a schedule of diminishing parental support.    This allows parents to provide an ultimate "teachable moment" regarding life's expenses and enable their adult children to start earning more, or balancing their needs and wants with their own income sources.

Blame the financial advisor.  If you know that you have to garner the courage to say "No" to your kids about their hands in your purse you could try this:  " Honey, we would love to help you out, but our financial advisor says its not a good idea right now."  or " Honey, we would love to help you out, but our financial goals and obligations don't provide for this expenditure right now."


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tax Time is Near!

This year, federal tax returns must be filed by April 17, 2012. The deadline was extended by two days because April 15 falls on a Sunday and April 16 is Emancipation Day, which is a holiday in the District of Columbia.

Friday, February 17, 2012

 Shrinking net worth is a "ticking time bomb" for Americans

U.S. households are still suffering from financial distress, according to the latest Consumer Distress Index, which measures housing prices, joblessness, budgeting, net worth and credit. Americans' net worth, an indicator of retirement readiness, has registered poorly since the counseling group CredAbility began the index 31 years ago. "The net worth number is the ticking time bomb," said Mark Cole of CredAbility. Read the full article on the Huffington Post.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentines Day Budget

Love is on a budget in 2012.   A new survey by Visa Inc. finds that Americans will spend less
on Valentine’s Day gifts, flowers, dining and other items this year. Americans plan on spending
$117 this Valentine’s Day, down 3% from $121 in 2011.   The survey indicates women are spending 14% less on their Valentines $87 in 2012 compared to $101 in 2011.   Men are actually planing on spending more this year, $149 compared to $140 in 2011---an increase of 6%.
There are lots of  meaningful ways to say I Love You to your Valentine, that don't put a punch to the wallet.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

W-2's in the mail

You should receive your Form W-2 by January 31. If you do not receive it, or have questions about the information on your W-2, contact your employer or the IRS.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

January is the month we all begin with our earnest New Year's Resolutions.  I found a list on line of Financial Resolutions which have helped me add to my list.  The 15 Simple financial resolutions listed on practical money's site are worth a read.   http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/personalfinance/tipsandtrends/15resolutions.php
I also think the list should include revisiting our Record of Important Papers:  Updating our home inventory list;  Making sure our insurance coverage is still adequate;  Updating contact information in our address books and  electronic address files(backing them up).  Changing batteries in our home alarms.    In my financial literacy classes I remind my participants that those of us who live away from our family,  need to create a list within our address books of who they should notify should they are having to wrap up our affairs upon our death.  None of us are planning to die, but unfortunatley might.    This advise came close to home for me this past year when my brother died, I had no idea of who his friends and coworkers were and I felt badly about that.   His life had included working and residing in four different states.   Mine has been in yet another.   We saw each other at family events and talked regularly on the phone, yet I didn't know who all the people were that made up his life.     I certainly could have been more honoring of him, had I had a list of those that mattered to him ( outside of his  immediate family).  A final  suggestion---take a finacial literacy class  and learn how to use a financial literacy tool.