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Financial Resources – News Articles & Links


THE 'SHOULDS' OF RETIREMENT

For anyone confused about retirement, there are lots of sources that explain who, what, how, when and why, but very few places to turn for one of the most important questions – should. This guide is meant as a quick reference to that really tricky word, with some of the most common “should” questions addressed.

Q: How much money should I have when I retire?
A:  The answer that most experts give, “as much as you’ll need” isn’t particularly helpful. A better, although still maddeningly incomplete answer involves some simple math: Take your annual income the year before you plan to retire and subtract your annual retirement income (Social Security, pension, trust, etc.) from it. Whatever that difference is, multiply it by the number of years you expect to live after retirement, probably 15-20. That’s how much you need, give or take a bit.

For example, if your Social Security and pension pays you around $50,000 per year, and you’re making around $150,000 before you retire, the difference is $100,000. Multiply that by 20, and you’ll probably need around $2 million. If that sounds like a whole lot of money, that’s because it is a whole lot of money.

Q: How much should I be saving now?
A: Retirement should be your savings priority, ahead of college funds or other long-term savings, simply because you can’t get a loan to retire, but you can for virtually everything else. If you feel like your monthly contributions are just drops in the bucket, stop focusing on the bucket. Instead, take a look at your monthly picture. Make a pie chart with five big slices: Bills, debt, spending, short-term savings and long-term savings. This isn’t yet the time to go through and figure out how to trim your bills or refocus your spending, just look at those five. How much of your long-term savings is being used for retirement? Could that number be higher? If so, put more into retirement. If you want to find ways to reduce your costs so you can save more money for retirement, look at those categories again and start making cuts from right to left. First, cut some spending from other long-term savings. Then short-term savings, spending, debt and finally bills.

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS RETIREMENT CALCULATORS

Q: When should I start saving?
A:  If you haven’t started, start today.  Remember the motivational cliché: The best day to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second-best day is today.

Q: What kind of retirement account should I get (or get next)?
A: There are three major considerations when selecting a retirement account. First, how many years do you have until you retire? The answer to that question should help determine your risk. The second question is how much money do you make? The answer to that question determines whether you’d like to be taxed on the income now or in retirement. Unfortunately, you’ll have to pay taxes on it at least once. Finally, have you maximized the benefits of another account? If you’re past the point of getting your employer to match your 401(k), look at all of your options. If not, put in as much as you can that your employer will match.

It is important to be proactive about your future. Start today by checking out the additional resources on Life Stages


Beware the Password Scam!

How it works
The victim gets an email from a "hacker" claiming to have cracked their passwords, broken into their computer and used their webcam to watch online activity. They'll threaten to reveal that the victim has been visiting disreputable sites or to loot their accounts-unless the victim pays a steep price.

To prove that they are "legitimate," the scammers will share a password that the victim had used many years ago. They'll often include the password in the subject line to grab the victim's attention.
 
If you receive an email like this, don't panic. There's no professional hacker behind the scam, and no one has watched your online activity. The simple explanation for how the scammer got your password lies in previous breaches.
 
Over the last decade or so, there have been massive database breaches of major corporations, sites, and retail stores like Yahoo, eBay, Target, and more. Thanks to these breaches, there are now huge amounts of personal data and passwords floating around the internet. This data can be easily nabbed by a partially skilled hacker or purchased illegally.
 
How to spot the scam
Many potential victims recognize this scam for what it is as soon as the hacker claims to have dirt on them. For others, the outdated password is their clue. However, for victims who have been using the same passwords for years, this old code might still be in use and the scam seems legit.
 
If you receive an email with your password in the subject line, ignore the message and delete it.
 
Protect yourself
There's not much you can do about the sensitive data loose on the internet. However, you can protect yourself from falling prey to this, or a similar scam. Here's how:
1. Update your and use strong, unique codes for each site.
2. Choose two-factor authentication when possible.
3. Never open emails from suspicious sources.
4. If you are targeted, alert the FTC at ftc.gov.

Important Update about your EMV Chip Debit Card

When you use an EMV chip-enabled debit card to make a payment, most merchants that are equipped with EMV chip card terminals give you the option of paying as either “Debit” or “Credit.” Either option may require you to enter your PIN.  Always inform the cashier "you want to choose credit.”  You might encounter the two options - US MasterCard or International MasterCard, always choose International MasterCard; and your transaction will be completed as a credit transaction.  You may also see US MasterCard and MasterCard, choose MasterCard and your transaction will be completed as a credit transaction.  Please note, you may still be required to enter a PIN, but as long as you select credit, International MasterCard or MasterCard, the transaction will be processed as a credit transaction and not Point of Sale (POS).  If you don't see these options, the merchant you are shopping with has decided for you; and they will only route it through US MasterCard as a POS transaction.

Many members who make purchases with their debit cards at certain retailers, no longer have the option of choosing “Credit” when making their payment. Unfortunately, some stores have made the business decision to require their customers using a debit card to use the “Debit” option and enter their PIN, thus making the “Credit” option unavailable. When your purchase, if over $50, goes through as a pin-based POS debit transaction, it will incur a nominal 50 cent fee.

If a retailer does not permit you to select “credit” at the sale terminal, you have the following options:

  • Complete the transaction and pay a 50 cent fee
  • Cancel out of transaction; and pay with a First Service VISA Credit Card instead
  • Cancel out of the transaction and pay with a check or cash

Let your voice be heard!  If a retailer tells you that you no longer have an option on how to pay for your transaction – we encourage you to call or write the store. Let them know that as a consumer, you want them to bring back your choice on how you pay for your purchases.


Additional online resources:

  • MyCreditUnion.gov - Financial tools and calculators, including college savings, student loans, mortgages and retirement savings. Users also have access to a personal budgeting worksheet.
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  • Pocket Cents - A financial literacy tool for all age groups which provides personal finance lessons and tips for groups including youth, tweens, teens, young adults, families, seniors, parents, educators and service members.

Click here for additional free Consumer Protection links to protect your identity and personal information.