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Financial Fitness Blog

Meet our planners

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Laura KampsOur financial planners specialize in working with Wisconsin public school employees. They put the members’ best interests first. There are no commissions attached to our financial planning services, so you receive an unbiased analysis of your situation.

Let me introduce you to:

Brenda Echeverria, Financial Planner

Brenda Echeverria“Education is close to my heart. Several of my family members are educators. As a financial planner, I educate members about their unique financial situations and help them create a plan so they can realize the retirement lifestyle they desire and deserve.”

Brenda has worked in financial services for over 25 years, and has been with Member Benefits since 2008. She is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor and holds several securities licenses including series 6, 7, 63, 65, and life and health insurance licenses. A graduate from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor’s in Finance, Brenda is currently a Certified Financial Planner® candidate working on a Master’s in Financial Planning.

Eric Schwartz, Financial Planning Specialist

Eric Schwartz“I enjoy meeting with members and helping them identify where they want to go and coming up with a plan to get them there.“

Eric has been with Member Benefits for nearly four years and has held various roles within the organization. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor’s degree in Personal Finance and a Business Certificate and holds securities licenses 6, 63, and 65, and a Wisconsin life insurance license. Eric is also a candidate for the Certified Financial Planner® designation.

Plan ahead!

Schedule your 2016 consultation with one of our financial planners. Appointments are first-come, first-served and they fill up fast! Appointments available in:

  • Brookfield
  • Eau Claire
  • Green Bay
  • Madison
  • Stevens Point

For more info, visit, call 1-800-279-4030, or e-mail

>>Read more in our article, "Get your plan on in 2016."

Registered representatives of WEA Investment Services, Inc., member FINRA. Registered investment advisor agents of and investment advisory services offered through WEA Financial Advisors, Inc. Fees and services subject to change.

Laura Kamps, RIS Specialist

Contribution limits remain unchanged

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Brenda EcheverriaAnnual contribution limits for the 403(b) and IRA retirement savings plans remain unchanged from last year. The 2016 limit for the 403(b) is $18,000 and the age 50 and over catch-up is $6,000. For the IRA, the $5,500 limit remains the same for the fourth year in a row, with the age 50 and over catch-up limit an additional $1,000 for a total of $6,500.

Read more about maximizing your contributions, making contribution changes, and automatic contributions.

Brenda Echeverria, Financial Planner

Icicles, ice dams, and how to prevent damage to your home

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Icicles largeIce. It’s great for skating, fishing, and cooling a beverage, but icicles hanging along the eaves of your house may be a sign of trouble. When snow or ice is melted by sunlight or heat loss from your roof, the melted water then drips down a surface (your roof, gutters, downspouts, etc.) and forms an icicle.

Icicles and ice dams are a sign that you have insulation and/or ventilation issues in your home. Icicles that are larger around than a soda can are likely attached to an ice dam. Ice dams are a thick ridge of solid ice that builds up along the eaves of a roof when the upper part of your roof is warm enough to melt snow and the eaves are cold enough to freeze the runoff. Simply knocking down the icicles will not get rid of the problem. Ice dams can loosen shingles, rip off gutters, and allow water to infiltrate your home. If that happens, you’ll likely have damage to your walls, ceiling, floors, and attic insulation.  

How to prevent icicles and ice dams

  • Keep your attic cold. Properly insulate your attic floor and be sure your attic is adequately ventilated. Install roof vents, gable vents, and/or soffit vents to ensure a well-ventilated space. An added bonus—insulating can help lower energy bills.
  • Clear your gutters of leaves and debris so melting snow can drain out.
  • After a heavy winter storm, remove a layer of snow at least three feet above the gutter line with a long-handled aluminum roof rake while you stay safely on the ground. A rake with wheels will help prevent damage to your roof.
  • Do not chip at ice dams with a hammer, an ice pick, or shovel. It’s dangerous and can often do more harm than good.
  • Don’t use salt to melt the ice. This may damage your plantings and roofing material.

Water damage from ice dams is generally covered on your home insurance policy, but exclusions may apply. Be sure to read your policy carefully and contact your insurance company right away if you have damage. If you have your home policy with us, give us a call at 1-800-279-4010 to report any damage.

Property and casualty insurance programs are underwritten by WEA Property & Casualty Insurance Company. The terms and conditions of your coverage are exclusively controlled by your written policy. Please refer to your policy for details.

52 Week Savings Challenge

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52 week savings challengeAre you up for a challenge in the new year? Kick off 2016 with a simple incremental savings plan that could help you save money throughout the year. Start out by saving a dollar this first week and increasing your savings by an additional dollar each week after that. At the end of the 52 weeks you’ll have saved $1,378!

Here is an easy-to-follow chart to help you keep track of your savings each week. When you've finished this challenge, why not open an IRA and watch your savings grow even more over time!