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Financial Success in 2014 Slated for H&FF Radio's Final Show

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WASHINGTON (12/27/13)--Home & Family Finance Radio finishes its seven-year run by preparing you for success in 2014 with personal finance advice.

In Sunday's episode, which you can listen to on the Internet, host Paul Berry, journalist and broadcaster, Washington, D.C., discusses these topics with special guests:
  • "Financial Literacy and the Credit Union Movement." Bill Cheney, president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association, Washington, D.C., explains why credit unions are committed to teaching and promoting sound money practices.
  • "Financially Secure in 2014." Susan Tiffany, certified credit union financial counselor and director of consumer periodicals, CUNA, Madison, Wis., offers advice about how to achieve a fresh start financially in the new year.
  • "Investing in the New Year." Michael Farr, president of investment firm Farr, Miller & Washington, Washington, D.C., gives an overview of smart investments for 2014.
Home & Family Finance is a resource center for personal finance information at the Credit Union National Association. (See related News Now story, H&FF Radio Signs off the Air, Final Show is Sunday). 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 "December Financial Fitness Challenge--Set 2014 Up for Financial Success" and "Save on Holiday Spending? Make That Money Count" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.
 

Family Heirlooms, Not Money, Most Important To Heirs

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SAN FRANCISCO (12/23/13)--Money isn't everything. Only 9% of baby boomers are eager to get their hands on inherited money. And only 14% of people age 72 or older think financial assets are the most important bequests (MarketWatch.com Dec. 16).
 
Surprisingly, boomers would rather inherit a personal keepsake or family story than inherit money. According to a survey conducted for Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America, 86% of boomers and 74% of those age 72 years or older say keeping their family history alive is most important.
 
But simply splitting up family heirlooms can breed enough discord to shake up even the closest families. To avoid potential problems, consider the following, according to MarketWatch.com:
  • Choose an executor; consider hiring a professional: Having a family member act as executor can cause hard feelings and lead to arguments. Choosing someone not in your immediate family such as a niece or good friend might be better than choosing one child or another. Hiring a professional, who doesn't have any family ties, also might be a smart move.
  • Talk about it: Parents can take steps while they're alive to help prevent sibling quarrels after they're gone. Talk as a family about what special items you'd like family members to have. Some people even go as far as placing sticky notes on the bottom of things to designate who gets certain items.
  • Document it: The best gift you can give your kids is being organized about your assets and documenting your wishes. Your estate plan should include a will, a financial power of attorney in case you're incapacitated, a health-care power of attorney, and a living will that states your wishes in regard to end-of-life care. Also consider setting up and funding a trust.
  • Act while alive: If you have a "favorite" grandchild or niece or nephew, consider doing something special for that person now instead of after your death. Family members may feel slighted if a favorite is made apparent in a will.
For more information about inheritances, read "'Dibs on Dad's Watch!' Splitting Family Property" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.
 

Estate Planning, Life-changing Travel on H&FF Radio

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WASHINGTON (12/20/13)--Learn when to begin retirement planning, how to protect your child's inheritance, and tips for planning a life-changing trip with Home & Family Finance Radio.

In Sunday's episode, which you can listen to on the Internet, host Paul Berry, journalist and broadcaster, Washington, D.C., discusses these topics with special guests:
  • "Cost of Retirement Rising." Laura Bos, AARP manager, Washington, D.C., offers advice on when to start retirement planning so your standard of living doesn't drop dramatically later in life.
  • "Protecting an Inheritance." Estate planning attorney Wendy Witt, AARP manager, Pittsburgh, walks through the steps for preparing your estate.
  • "Adventurous Traveling." Liza Carter, a photographer and author, Boston, details her life-changing trip to Outer Mongolia and what one can learn from adopting another way of life for a time.
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 "Dibs on Dad's Watch!' Splitting Family Property" and "Retirement: More to Prepare Than Finances" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Save on Holiday Spending? Make That Money Count

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SAN FRANCISCO (12/17/13)--The kickoff to the holiday shopping season that most retailers count on to boost their year-end earnings has come up short so far this year.
 
Despite retailers opening earlier and besieging shoppers with deals, spending over Thanksgiving weekend dropped for the first time in seven years, according to the National Retail Federation (Wall Street Journal Dec. 1).  
 
The retail group attributes that drop partially to wary consumers looking for the lowest prices and to the deep discounts retailers must deploy to attract them. The good news for shoppers who manage to spend less this holiday season--even a few hundred dollars can improve your life.
 
Come Dec. 26, if you find yourself with a little extra money, here are some ways you can make it count (Time Dec. 3).
 
  • Start an emergency fund. Ideally you want six months of living expenses stashed away to cover unforeseen expenses, but even $500 is a good start. And once you have a good start, it can spur you to keep contributing.
  • Take advantage of compound growth. Before spending that money, consider putting it into your IRA (individual retirement account). Not only will compounding potentially double or triple it over time, but increasing your pre-tax contributions before 2014 can cut your 2013 tax bill.
  • Shore up your investments. The average stock price in 2013 has risen considerably. Now is a good time to take a look at your mix of investments. Talk with your financial adviser about reallocating accounts and where to reinvest your holiday savings.
  • Save for a bigger--ticket expense. Whether it's for a major house renovation or a dream vacation, put the leftover holiday money in a credit union savings account; whenever you have a little extra money over the coming year, set it aside also. You could end up with a gift the whole family will cherish for years to come.
  • Donate to charity. If retailers are having a hard time, it's a good bet charities are, too. If you itemize your tax return, consider helping an organization whose works you admire. Not only can you deduct the gift, but it might ultimately mean more to you than another present under the tree.

For related information, listen to "Shop and Save in Every Season" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

H&FF Radio Offers Look at Helping Aging Parents

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WASHINGTON (12/13/13)--Home & Family Finance Radio takes an in-depth look at the issues surrounding long-term care planning and how to help aging parents transition to the next phase of their lives with compassion.

In Sunday's episode, which you can listen to on the Internet, host Paul Berry, Washington, D.C., journalist and broadcaster, discusses these topics with special guests:
  • "Planning for Long-Term Care." Certified elder-law attorney, Julieann Steinbacher, Williamsport, Pa., gives information you need to plan for how you will take care of your parents in the future.
  • "The New Mid-Life Crisis." Sheri Samotin, a life-transition coach, founder of LifeBridge Solutions LLC, and author, Naples, Fla., explains how to navigate some of the life changes involving aging parents.
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 "Investment Seminars: You're on the Menu With a Free Lunch" and "Elders Are Easy Targets for Scams" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

How to Tell If Your Identity Has Been Stolen

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SAN FRANCISCO (12/10/13)--Harried holiday shoppers beware: When it comes to protecting your wallet and your identity online or offline, you're susceptible to slip-ups that put you at risk for identity theft. Yet, many consumers don't know the signs that they're victims (Credit.com Nov. 14).
 
Shoppers aren't the only ones at risk. As of late November there were 549 reported data breaches in 2013 with more than 13.3 million exposed records, according to the San Diego-based Identity Theft Resource Center. Javelin's 2013 Identity Fraud Report revealed that almost one of four consumers who received a data breach letter became a victim of identity theft. The same study revealed that consumers who had their Social Security number compromised in a data breach were five times more likely to be a fraud victim than the average consumer.
 
How can you tell if your identity has been compromised (Credit.com)?
  • Surprise! You're denied. If your credit card is denied, find out why--particularly if you always pay on time and haven't reached your spending limit. Don't shrug it off and assume your card will work the next time. Start investigating immediately.
  • Unexpected increase in an account balance. This is a possible sign that someone made changes in your name and went shopping, hoping to leave you with the bill.
  • Unauthorized inquiries. When you see inquiries on your credit reports that you didn't initiate, that's a sign someone may be trying to open credit in your name.
  • Sudden drop in credit score. An unexplained drop in your credit score is a sign someone is using--and trashing--your credit.
  • Mysterious new account. The sooner you see unauthorized accounts opened in your name, the faster you can shut them down.
Bottom line: Review your credit reports regularly. You can order one free credit report a year from each of the "big three" credit reporting agencies--Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian--at annualcreditreport.com. And keep an eye on your credit score. Ask at the credit union for help, or visit myfico.com. Finally, contact one of the credit bureau fraud units about placing a fraud alert on your file. Find contact and phone numbers at ftc.gov.

For more information, listen to "The Truth About Identity Theft" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Online Marketing, Dating On H&FF Radio

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WASHINGTON (12/6/13)--Home & Family Finance Radio this week explores the world of online promotion, whether it's marketing a business to potential customers or yourself to a potential mate.

In Sunday's episode, which you can listen to on the Internet, host Paul Berry, Washington, D.C. journalist and broadcaster, discusses these topics with special guests:
  •  "Market Effectively Online." Social media expert John McDougall, president of Internet marketing firm McDougall Interactive, Danvers, Mass., explains how to get started marketing yourself or your company online.
  • "Fall In Love Over the Internet." Pamela Riley, dating and marriage expert, New York, explains the dos and don'ts of online dating. 
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 "Holidays Are Rich with Teachable Money Moments" and "Retirement: More to Prepare Than Finances" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Millennials: Timely Credit Card Payments Are Crucial

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NEW YORK (12/3/2013)--Between juggling student loan payments, rent, and other bills, you might be tempted to skip a credit card payment. Don't do it. Missing a payment can lower your credit score, which can lead to difficulty getting a loan or even a job (nytimes.com Nov. 20).
 
Millennials, young adults ages 19 to 29, actually have the fewest number of credit cards and the lowest average balance on them, according to Experian's annual state of credit report. But, they also have the lowest credit scores and frequently make late payments on their cards.
 
The average overall credit score in Experian's report is 681; the average for millennials is 628. Shorter credit histories and high utilization rates are two factors that account for the low scores.
 
To learn more about your credit score and give it a boost, understand:
 
What makes up a credit score--Payment history, amounts owed (especially as a percentage of credit available--the utilization factor), length of credit history, new credit, and types of credit in use determine your credit score.
 
How to improve your credit score--Pay all bills on time, every time. Also consider using a secured credit card. A secured card trades access to credit for your commitment to keep a certain amount of money in a savings account. The professionals at your credit union can set you up with a secured card.
 
How to get your credit report--You can request one free credit report a year from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus by visiting annualcreditreport.com, the only website authorized to provide these free reports. You also can call 877-322-8228 or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA, 30348-5281.
 
For more information about cleaning up your credit, read "Six Slam-Dunk Ways to Trash Your Credit Score" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.