November 2010 - Posts - The Dollar Stretcher
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The Dollar Stretcher

The Dollar Stretcher blog will explore people and money.

November 2010 - Posts

  • Baby Boomers and Long-Term Care Insurance

    Just finished reading an article in USA Today about how baby boomers are dealing with long-term care insurance.If you're not familiar with it, long-term care insurance helps with the expenses that come with a long term illness. And, unfortunately, about half of baby boomers will be the victim of a long-term illness at some point in their lives. That's what causes the problem. The odds of the insurance company paying out on these policies is high. And, the average payout is high, too. 

    If you're a baby boomer, or the child of a baby boomer, you'll want to read the article. You might also want to check out an article we ran on long-term care insurance by by William D. Brownlie. 

    Keep on Stretching those Dollars!


  • Looking for People Who Want to Cut Spending

    Wanted to ask a favor. A reporter from Newsweek magazine contacted me regarding an article he's writing. It's trying to find out to what extent Americans have really changed their spending and savings habits. He's looking for folks who vowed to stop spending and start saving more during the economic crisis, but just haven't been able to do it. If you fall into that category and would like to speak with Ross, please send him an email. Who knows, you could become a celebrity!

  • Thanksgiving and Stress

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Hope that, no matter what your financial situation, that you have much to be thankful for. I know that I have many, many things that are a blessing in my life.

    Just recently I saw a documentary on stress from National Geographic. Turns out that what we know as stress is much more complicated than we thought.

    Ok, now that I've totally confused you, let me explain what stress has to do with Thanksgiving. I know that it sounds old-fashioned, but taking a few minutes to think about (or even list) the things that you're grateful for can reduce your stress levels. Scientists have proven it. Thinking happy thoughts can actually minimize stress and improve our health. So I intend to take a little time over the next week reducing my stress levels! Shoot, I'm even thankful for reduced stress!

    While we're talking about things I'm thankful for, among them are many of the things involving The Dollar Stretcher.com. Just this week Andrea put together a Christmas calendar <stretcher.com/tips/christmas-to-do-list.cfm>. It's designed to help you remember everything and keep on schedule through the next few weeks. Please take a look and let us know if we've missed anything.

    Also wanted to thank everyone who has contributed ideas to the upcoming articles on Christmas recipes, baking and entertaining. If you haven't sent your idea in yet, there's still time. Just send an email.

    Finally I wanted to thank Claudia Broome for her review of our site and Gregory Karp for including some of my thoughts in a Chicago Tribune article on grocery savings.

    Keep on Stretching those Thanksgiving Dollars!


  • How Safe Is Your Pension?

    Just finished reading an article on a site called RealClearMarkets.com about government pension promises. It seems (to no one's surprise) that our elected officials have made promises to government workers for pensions that will be very difficult to keep. In some cases it would appear that it's inevitable that they will NOT be kept. 

    So my question is this - how safe is your pension? In the past we pretty much assumed that a government pension was guaranteed. That we could assume that we would get what we were promised. But, based on the numbers in the article, I'm not so sure that's the case. Can a city or county operate when half of it's annual budget is going to pay pension benefits to retirees? What happens when the choice is between shutting down schools, reducing police/fire protection or failing to meet past pension promises? 

    No one can know for sure how that will work out. But, something does seem clear. If you're counting on a government pension you should be prepared in case you don't get as much as you were promised. That way if benefits are cut you won't be left out in the cold (literally). 

    That means paying down debts. Owning a home without a mortgage by the time your retire. Have other assets that can provide some income to supplement your pension. 

    If all the pension promises are kept you'll never regret having too much money. You can always spend it on the grandkids! 

    But, if the promises are not kept and you didn't prepare, you might be in a very tough place during your so-called 'golden years'.


  • The Dollar Stretcher on Your Money Matters

    The other day I was fortunate to spend an hour with Marc Pearlman of Your Money Matters. As I get to know Marc better it's clear that he understands money. Guess that's not surprising considering his training and experience. 

    If you'd like to listen to the show, pour yourself a cup of coffee and click here

    Hope that you find it interesting.

    Keep on Stretching those Dollars!


  • The Discouraged

    Last week we learned that 151,000 new jobs were added during the month of Oct. But unemployment was unchanged at 9.6%. I don't think that either statistic was particularly surprising. The stat that got my attention is the 1.2 million 'discouraged workers' or more accurately discouraged non-workers. These are people who are not counted in the unemployment rolls because they've given up hope of finding a job and no longer look for one. You'll find the write up in a USA Today article.

    I can't help but wonder how discouraged you have to be to quit looking for a job. To give up hoping that you can make tomorrow better. My heart goes out to these people. At the same time, I'd also encourage them to keep trying. You might not be able to find work in your field or at the pay that you want. But, some jobs are available. As evidenced by the 151,000 new jobs last month.

    The same message holds true for those of us seeking Financial Independence. Even if we haven't made any progress in months, that doesn't mean we should give up. You're not a loser until you give up. So don't give up!

    What do you think? Should discouraged workers continue to look for jobs? Even if they don't find success? Send us an email and let us know what you're thinking. And what you do to keep from becoming discouraged.

  • TriState Bargains

    Just found out that an interview that I did with TriState Bargains was played on WBTNAM.org radio this past weekend. If you'd like to hear it visit TriStateBargains.net

    Just remember that I look better than I sound!

    Keep on Stretching those Dollars!


  • Holiday Spending Survey

    Just heard about a survey on holiday spending. Some interesting data.

    Ninety-four percent of consumers will spend the same or less on holiday gifts this year – most people between $200 and $500 - according to a just-released survey from Western Union Payments. 
    Regardless of how much you spend, what are the keys to avoiding a Holiday Financial Hangover in January? (hint: start planning today)
    Findings from the latest Western Union Payments’ Money Mindset Index survey reveal:
    -          30% of consumers have hidden a gift purchase from their spouse / significant other
    -          60% will set a holiday budget
    -          12% of consumers will spend nothing this holiday
    -          32% will spend less on each person this year
    -          19% will shop only at discount stores
    -          22% say they would pay off debt, instead of buying gifts, if they had the choice; only 2% would save the money
    -          20% will buy a holiday gift for their work colleague;   19% of those report they will do it because they feel obligated
    -          6% admit they will give bosses, clients or colleagues gifts to gain favor in 2011
    -          40% consider government the biggest ‘Scrooge’ this holiday
     The Western Union Company is a leader in global payment services. For more information, visit http://www.westernunion.com.

    How does that compare to your plans? Are you joining the roughly 1/3 who expect to spend less on each person this year? My guess is that many people will actually follow through on their plans. Usually it's a battle between a plan to control spending and the pull exerted by a store pushing gifts. This year I'd give the edge to the spending controls.

    In any case, I thought that the data was interesting and that you might enjoy it.

    Keep on Stretching those Dollars!



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Gary is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who edits The Dollar Stretcher website <www.stretcher.com> and newsletters. You can follow Gary on Twitter.com/gary_foreman
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