Elder Financial Abuse

elderly.1When I have to list someone on my medical form as an emergency contact it’s usually my husband. I’ve never listed my son or daughter.  Years ago I probably listed my parents or a sibling as a secondary contact and now it’s time to look to younger minds to be backups. It’s possible this simple step could save me some money in the future.

One in five elderly individuals is a victim of some form of financial fraud. Baylor University has teamed up with the Investment Protection Bureau to enlist and train Medical providers to identify signs of cognitive impairment that will make an elderly individual vulnerable to “scams”.  Doctor’s participating in the project were trained to ask questions to identify isolation, confusion about bills and how to pay them, worry about financial decisions, pressures to loan or gift assets, and other aspects of financial management. The project resulted in several cases of prevented fraud and discoveries of committed fraud (only one in twenty-five cases of elder financial fraud are reported to authorities).  This prevention measure is gaining recognition for its impact. Sadly, it’s probably one solution that will need to be partnered with other interventions.

Joyce

Joyce Lash

Joyce Lash

Joyce Lash is a Human Sciences Specialist in Family Finance who wants to keep you ahead of the curve on financial information.

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Documents Needed When You Get “The Call”

papersAs our parents age, it is a time of celebration and preparation. Celebration because of all they have experienced and the wisdom they have shared with us. Preparation because end-of-life is a given for us all. Some people easily talk about their end-of-life wishes and some do not even want to go there.

My brother and I got “the call” on Saturday – our mother had a severe stroke. We drove the long hours to reach her and spend the last days by her side. She wasn’t able to speak or move one side of her body. She was in pain. She wasn’t going to recover. As we were together in the hospital, we quickly realized there were documents we needed with us so decisions could be made on her behalf.

We fetched the following documents:

  • power of attorney
  • long term care insurance policy
  • durable power of attorney for health care
  • living will (also called advance directives)
  • will

You may want to think ahead too of what your family will need if you are unable to make health care decisions for yourself or you are nearing the end of your life. It isn’t always easy to fill out this paperwork but doing so makes it much easier on the family that will care for you when the time comes. They then know your wishes and their roles in the decisions they will be asked to make.

To get you started, download PM 1463 from the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Store – Money Mechanics: Estate Planning and Legal Issues in Later Life .

ISU Extension and Outreach Human Sciences specialists in family finance offer a workshop series called The Finances of Caregiving. Contact your family finance specialist about this new program. It helps the caregiver and care receiver organize all the information needed into one place and prompts discussions among family members to make decisions about end of life issues.

SandraGuest Blogger – Sandra McKinnon is a Family Finance Specialist that wants you to start preparing for end of life issues now.

Brenda Schmitt

Brenda Schmitt

A Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Family Finance Field Specialist helping North Central Iowans make the most of their money.

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After The Call

phone callWe got “the call.” Mom had a major stroke one Saturday evening and was buried the next Saturday.

The chaotic week left my brother and I to work and talk together like never before.

The unexpected death put us in a whirlwind – emotionally, physically and psychologically.

There were initial decisions to be made with the funeral home plus meetings with the lawyer.

Add to the mix the fact that both of us live several hours away and are still employed full-time, and you can envision the hectic atmosphere.  We made hurried decisions – each individually regarding our own jobs and families, and also jointly regarding family needs and immediate plans.  And we acted on those decisions to the best of our ability, from the hospital and from the town of our loved one.

Thankfully, our mother was organized – in her own way. Finding necessary files and contact information was confusing, especially when we didn’t really know what we were to be looking for. For example, we spent time frantically texting relatives and digging through mom’s old high school and college yearbooks for information for her obituary and funeral program.

I’m a practical person and I think I’m organized for end of life paperwork. I now ask myself, what will make sense to my son when he has to come to town after receiving “the call?” How can I help him avoid the chaos and the whirlwind?

Before you receive “the call,” start a folder, notebook or file.

Add to it 2 quick things:

  • Your own obituary.  It took me 10 minutes to do my own, because I knew the information or knew where to look to get it. Doing so ahead of time saves my son from trying to find all the dates of marriage and graduations, and listing of relatives (alive or passed). It can always be updated.
  • The free publication Decisions After a Death. It will get you thinking about what documents you’ll need to get your hands on now and who to contact.

Then work on preparing yourself and loved ones. ISU Extension and Outreach Human Sciences specialists in family finance offer a workshop series called The Finances of Caregiving. Contact your family finance specialist about this new program. It helps the caregiver and care receiver organize all the needed information into one place, and prompts discussions among family members to make decisions about end of life issues.

SandraGuest Blogger, Sandra McKinnon is a Family Finance Specialist that wants you to start preparing for end of life issues now.

Brenda Schmitt

Brenda Schmitt

A Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Family Finance Field Specialist helping North Central Iowans make the most of their money.

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Money Smart Week 2016

Next week is Money Smart Week! Started 14 years ago by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Money Smart Week is designed as a public awareness campaign to help IMG_0039consumers better manage their personal finances. There are programs in all 50 states. Here in Iowa, more than 200 partner organizations have joined in the fun, promoting financial education with many interesting opportunities to learn. All Money Smart Week programs are free, and strictly educational (no marketing allowed).
ISU Extension and Outreach has been a MSW partner for many years. Programs are offered for audiences from preschoolers to seniors. From scout nights to shred days, essay and poster contests, geocache for college cash, piggy banks, books, and kites – in many cases, a chance to win a prize makes the learning even more fun. Educational program topics include establishing a budget, protecting financial information, raising money-smart kids, and more.

Go to www.MoneySmartWeek.org for more details about activities in your area. Check out your local libraries for a display as well as programming. Spread the knowledge!

Susan Taylor

Susan Taylor

Resources are important whether you are looking to rent your first apartment, pay your bills, buy your first home or send your child to college. There are many ways to save money to reach your goals, and hopefully ISU Money Tip$ will be one of them. I enjoy traveling, needlework and am a novice gardener.

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Think About Your Situation…

Last week, I was doing programs for individuals who live in subsidized housing. The age ranged from 26 – 90 years old. They had only one thing in is-it-safe-to-pay-bills-online-1common – they shared the same housing facility – but I sensed there was a genuine caring for each other.

I shared an activity where each person had twenty cards of basic expenses one encounters each month. Housing, Transportation, Utilities, Food, Insurance (Health, Auto, Renters), Debts, Laundry, Cleaning, Clothing, Child Care and others. I asked each person to pare the cards down to just the ten most essential ones – the ones they had to have to live. For some this was challenging, as they wanted all 20 cards. Others looked at how they were currently living and only kept the cards that reflected their current situation.

It all gets down to “Needs” vs “Wants”.   When we were children many of us had a laundry list of wants, but we learned from our parents that what was most important was the needs.

When the activity was complete, each person had identified his or her own spending priorities. Then, as sometimes occurs in real life, there was a second part to the activity: their resources were reduced and they had to remove 2-3 cards. I asked them which activity was more difficult – the first one or the second one. Several indicated giving up a few cards was more challenging. For some it was making the selection of ten cards.

Think about your priorities.

Susan Taylor

Susan Taylor

Resources are important whether you are looking to rent your first apartment, pay your bills, buy your first home or send your child to college. There are many ways to save money to reach your goals, and hopefully ISU Money Tip$ will be one of them. I enjoy traveling, needlework and am a novice gardener.

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Flood Insurance: New Requirements

Flooded house aerial viewDid you receive a letter from your mortgage lender letting you know they are required to track the payment of premiums for flood coverage and if the policy lapse’s they will charge you for forced-placed coverage?

My letter arrived this past week and I will visit the credit union that holds the mortgage or call the mortgage center just to make sure I’m in the clear for not purchasing flood insurance. The form letter wasn’t very helpful. The general website for flood insurance was given, but if you want to confirm if you are in a flood zone and required to purchase coverage the exact website you want to visit is FEMA Flood Map Service Center. My address hasn’t been mapped yet. Putting it another way;  if I need flood coverage there are a lot of people in deep water!

The credit union and I have a shaky history about homeowner’s coverage. I’ve received several years of annoying letter’s letting me know I would be enrolled in forced-placed coverage in 30 day’s if I didn’t come forward with proof of insurance. When I finally got the insurance agent involved it was discovered the automated proof of coverage form was being sent to the wrong address and evidently not being forwarded to the mortgage division.

If you ever get caught in a double coverage situation because communications failed it will cost you time to straighten out the duplication, but not extra premiums. The lender is now required by law to refund to you any premium and related fees charged during overlapping coverage.  I’m opting for a little investment of time now to avoid the process of undoing mistaken actions later.

Joyce

 

Joyce Lash

Joyce Lash

Joyce Lash is a Human Sciences Specialist in Family Finance who wants to keep you ahead of the curve on financial information.

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Pinching Pennies Foolishly

stoveI bought a new stove last month – very exciting, because the old stove was 19-1/2 years old!  One thing was central in my mind as I shopped for this stove: I didn’t want to make the same mistake I made last time.

Twenty years ago, in the midst of a lot of changes in my life, I opted for the stove that cost $350 instead of the one that cost almost $450 but had some features I really would’ve wanted.  At the time, I was reluctant to spend the extra $100, so I went without the more desirable features.

Within six months of the purchase, I regretted the decision.  In the grand scheme of things, $100 wasn’t that much in exchange for those features.  My false sense of economy created a disadvantage I had to live with for nearly 20 years.

This time around, I vowed to pay attention to features that would let me get more value and functionality from my purchase.  I spent a lot of time studying options and talking with friends about what they liked about their stoves.  In the end, I did pay a little extra to get some features I really wanted, but still stayed within a reasonable cost.  I avoided the trap of pinching pennies foolishly when buying an appliance that plays a major role in my life.  Sometimes a purchase needs to be viewed as an investment.

Prices for stoves have doubled in 20 years (not surprisingly) but I’m finding that my new stove performs way above my old one.  And most importantly, I got the features that will serve me well, I hope, for the next 15-20 years!

What experiences have you had with pinching pennies and regretting it later?

Barb Wollan

Barb Wollan

Barb Wollan's goal as a Family Finance program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is to help people use their money according to THEIR priorities. She provides information and tools, and then encourages folks to focus on what they control: their own decisions about what to do with the money they have.

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Be a “Student Loan Hero”

Repay Student DebtEhlers-guest bloggerBeing a ‘Student Loan Hero’ is a hot topic in the mainstream news. It’s also a hot topic around my family’s kitchen table these days, because 2015 was our son’s first repayment year on a private college loan and in 2016 our daughter finalizes her college finance decisions.

To sort the choices we looked at CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) tools to understand student loans (federal or private) available and repayment options.

A new ‘income-driven’ repayment option for student debt is getting attention.  It’s called REPAYE (Revised Pay As You Earn), and it is based on a certain percentage of your income. The loan repayment details under all the income-based repayment plans were best described by Federal Student Aid (U.S. Department of Education).

Much has changed in the world of college finance during the five years between our son’s and daughter’s college entrance. Federal loans issued before July 1, 2010 were made through the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program. If you’re unsure and need details about your personal federal loan you can find your information on the National Student Loan Data System database.

Whether you are a new college graduate or a soon-to-be college freshman, be a ‘Student Loan Hero’ by thoroughly researching all your borrowing and repayment options.

Carol Ehlers is a Family Finance specialist working to empower consumers to take control over their economic lives. 

 

Barb Wollan

Barb Wollan

Barb Wollan's goal as a Family Finance program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is to help people use their money according to THEIR priorities. She provides information and tools, and then encourages folks to focus on what they control: their own decisions about what to do with the money they have.

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Comparing College Financial Aid Offers: Online tool sorts college options

Carol Ehlers

Today’s guest blogger is Carol Ehlers, an ISU Extension Family Finance specialist helping Northwest Iowans make the most of their money.

My college bound daughter began getting financial aid offers these past few weeks. Rather than crunching numbers from financial aid offers, we’re using a tool from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to help us make sense of it all.  It’s called  “Compare Financial Aid.

The tool allows students to compare costs from three schools at a time. By entering only the names of the universities, we could see the estimated price of each college, the graduation rate, the loan default rate and median borrowing. Based on your individual situation you can calculate the estimated debt burden and the estimated monthly student loan payments students might face after graduating.

The tool gets more interesting after we click the “enter financial aid” button. When we enter data from the schools’ financial award letters — including expected family contributions and military benefits, if applicable — the calculator provides students and parents with a more realistic view of our college options, financially speaking.

We took the tool on a test drive. By entering the names of three schools — we chose a public university in-state, a private college and a public university out-of-state — we found that the sticker prices of the three schools ranged from $18,600 to $37,000 for the first year.  By entering personal financial aid and scholarship information, we could build a personalized financial projection, which includes projected ‘Debt at Graduation’ and ‘Monthly Payments’ on college debt.  These  costs can be viewed next to graduation and retention rates.

For my family, as for all families with a college-bound student, balancing a realistic look at costs alongside a school’s track record of success is very helpful in making an informed choice about a college investment.compare financial aid-2

 

 

 

Barb Wollan

Barb Wollan

Barb Wollan's goal as a Family Finance program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is to help people use their money according to THEIR priorities. She provides information and tools, and then encourages folks to focus on what they control: their own decisions about what to do with the money they have.

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Create a New Habit

forsaleI am a creature of habit. Regardless of price, I ALWAYS topped off my tank in the little town I live because I want to support our local business. Since the business closed earlier this month, I have found myself twice, driving into town on EMPTY; forgetting I needed to fill the tank before making the 30 minute drive home from work. How do I break that habit?

During a recent visit to Boise, I became envious of my daughter’s grocery store app. She can flag store specials that then became part of her grocery list; and clip virtual coupons that are added to her store loyalty card. When she checks out, coupons are instantly redeemed as its corresponding item is scanned. The more money she spends on groceries, the bigger discount she gets at the gas pump owned by the grocery store. While at the pump, she can chose to use or decline those points at any given visit. She usually saves the points for the time when she fills the car with the biggest tank (instead of when filling the gas can used to fill the lawn mower) so she can get the biggest discount on the most amount of gas purchased at one time.

This recent development, (our town losing its only gas station), made me look at my gas purchasing options. Turns out, a local grocery chain (headquartered in Iowa) has a similar app. I tested it out this weekend and came home with a full tank of gas that was 7 cents per gallon cheaper since I used my loyalty card. The app was easy to use; made coupon clipping fun and I think I am properly motivated to create a new gas-buying habit, which will prevent me from coming home on fumes.

Brenda Schmitt

Brenda Schmitt

A Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Family Finance Field Specialist helping North Central Iowans make the most of their money.

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