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Rusty’s resource picks

(Retirement) Permanent link

Brenda Echeverria Rusty Wulff, a teacher in the Fontana School District who started a financial mentor group with his colleagues last year (“The Reluctant Mentor,” Fall 2013 issue of your$ magazine), shared his favorite financial resources for those who want to beef up their knowledge about personal financial matters or start a personal finance group. We think you might find some favorites here, too.

The Retirement Gamble (Frontline, air date April 23, 2013), takes a critical look at inherent conflicts between the financial services industry and investors in an easy-to-understand manner. When discussing fees and how they eat into retirement savings, Rusty liked what Jack Bogle, the founder of The Vanguard Group, said: “It doesn’t take a genius to know that the bigger the profit of the management company, the smaller the profit the investors get.”

"Wise Guy" (article about Dan Otter, Summer 2012 issue of your$ magazine). Otter is a teacher, author, and
403(b) expert and advocate for quality, low-cost 403(b) options for public school employees. Rusty stated, “When I read the interview, I felt really good about what we have available to us here in Wisconsin. His book Teach and Retire Rich and podcasts are worth checking out as well.”

The Enrollment Booklet for the 403(b) and IRA programs offered by Member Benefits, which provides a step-by-step educational approach to retirement saving and investing. “If anyone How will you fund this portionwanted to start something up in their school with colleagues, this is a wonderful point of departure,” said Rusty. “Do the survey and then hand out this enrollment packet.”

Sources of Retirement Income pie chart developed by Member Benefits. This illustrates what most Wisconsin public school employees who have 25–30 years of service can expect from the three main sources of income in retirement: Wisconsin Retirement System (the state pension), Social Security, and personal savings.

Warren Buffet, widely considered the most successful investor of the 20th century. Rusty said, “When the market dived in 2008, he looked into the camera with that kind, wise face and said, ‘When everyone else is scared, I’m buying. Everything is on sale, folks.’ So, we did that as a family. We invested more. It was really scary to do, (laughs) because we just watched everything we had drop 40%.”

If you have questions about retirement savings, give us a call at 1-800-279-4030.

Brenda Echeverria, Financial Planner

This article is for informational purposes only and not intended to be legal or tax advice. Consult your tax advisor or attorney before taking any action. The 403(b) retirement program is offered by the WEA TSA Trust. TSA program registered representatives are licensed through WEA Investment Services, Inc., member FINRA.  The Trustee Custodian for the WEAC IRA accounts is Newport Trust Company.

National Teen Driver Safety Week

(Insurance) Permanent link

Mark DannehlOctober 20-26, 2013 is National Teen Driver Safety Week. Ensure the safety of your teen driver, and others, by actively preparing them for the open road. Here are eight tips to ready your teen driver for the road:

  1. Slow down. Many inexperienced drivers simply take corners too fast–even though they are within the speed limit–especially on highways. Make sure your child is aware of this and encourage them to slow down.
  2. Be prepared. Rapidly changing weather conditions are typical in Wisconsin. Allow your child to get a feel for different conditions by taking them to a large, empty parking lot when it's slippery and have them use the anti-lock brakes, take some sharp turns, and experience a fish-tailing skid, as well as how much longer it takes to stop.
  3. Be defensive. Teach your teen how to anticipate, predict, and know how to react quickly in case another driver catches them off guard. Remind them to pay attention and increase the distance between the car they drive and others around them.
  4. Tune out. While any type of distraction can be dangerous, texting in particular poses a greater threat because it requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver. There are many smartphone apps on the market that are designed to help teens resist the temptation to use their cell phone while driving. Learn more about the dangers of texting by reading our article, "Is texting the new DUI?"
  5. Click it. Seat belt use in not optional. Remind your son or daughter that seat belts are there for a reason (for all passengers) and it's the law.
  6. Set limits. With as little as 30 hours of behind-the-wheel practice time, your teen may not be ready for the open road even if they passed the exam. Ease them into driving by setting rules and guidelines for where and when they can drive, and who they can have in the car.
  7. Put in the time. In Wisconsin, those between the ages of 15½ and 18 must follow the Graduated Driver License (GDL) process. The GDL requires a child under age 18 to have 30 hours of driving experience (10 hours of which must be at night) before they receive their license. Track your teen’s time behind the wheel and make sure to expose them to a variety of driving situations. The more practice they get, the safer they’ll be.
  8. Sign an agreement. Driving a car is a big responsibility. If you’re ready to hand over the car keys, you may want to consider having your teen sign a driving contract before they back out of the driveway. Check out the Center for Disease Control (CDC)'s driving agreement for an example of a parent-teen driving contract you may wish to use.

Ready to get out on the road? Be sure to read our article on how (and when) to "Add a Teen Driver to Your Policy."  

Need more? The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has a variety of resources available on their Teen Driver Portal.

Still have questions? Give us a call, we're happy to help.

Mark Dannehl, Personal Insurance Consultant

Mark Dannehl, Personal Insurance Consultant


2013 Financial Mentor Award winners

(Retirement) Permanent link

Brenda EcheverriaCongratulations to the winners of the 2013 Financial Mentor Award! The award is given annually to Wisconsin public school employees who take the time to mentor their colleagues on the benefits of good financial planning and saving for retirement.

We received a number of comments from those who nominated a mentor that illustrate the effort people make to help others. They said their mentors:

  • “...continually look out for (employees’) well being whether it is financial or personal.”
  • Are always “...patient in helping others understand financial decisions and generous with their time to others.”

One of the nominators stated that Rusty Wulff, who is the focus of our cover story in the Fall 2013 your$ magazine issue, took the initiative with his colleagues to “start the (financial) conversation, putting in a lot of time and energy to help his fellow workers become better educated.”

What a difference these well-deserving winners make in other people’s lives! Each winner was recognized in your$ magazine and received a personal certificate of recognition. 

Ella Brooks 
Milwaukee Public Schools
Del Deberg
Melrose-Mindoro Area Schools
Victor Herbst
Janesville School District
Deb Huppert 
Prescott School District
Patrick Kubeny
School District of Rhinelander
Ron Perry (retired)
Melrose-Mindoro Area Schools
Alli Pratt 
School District of Onalaska
Bobbi Pulver 
Three Lakes School District
Jeff Riemann 
Oshkosh Area School District
Rusty Wulff  
Fontana Elementary School

Do you have a financial mentor in your school? Or maybe it’s you. Nominations for 2014 mentors are now being accepted online.

Brenda Echeverria, Financial Planner

Calculators to help you budget, save, and more

(Money Management) Permanent link

Brenda EcheverriaPerhaps you need help paying off debt, or are curious to know how much monthly income you’ll need for retirement. Maybe you are thinking about buying a house and are wondering how much house you can afford, or you’re considering refinancing your current home. We have a variety of calculators that may help answer some of the most common questions related to retirement planning and financial decision making. There are eight categories from which to choose and you can print the results and keep them for your review.

You can also find calculators to help answer questions like:

  • What kind of investor am I?
  • Which type of IRA may be right for me?
  • How much does postponing my savings really cost?
  • What will it take to help me reach my savings goals?
  • How can I save for my kid’s college?
  • Am I financially prepared to pay for costs related to long-term care?

Plus, our calculators are now mobile-friendly, so you can access them anywhere.

Keep in mind these calculators are for informational purposes only and we encourage you to seek personalized, professional assistance if you are looking for specific financial advice. Member Benefits offers a variety of free and fee-based financial planning services. Sign up for a free 30-minute personal financial consultation and get started today.

Brenda Echeverria, Financial Planner


Six tips for driving during deer season

 Permanent link

Mark DannehlOctober through December is the most accident-prone time of year for deer-vehicle collisions. During the fall, vehicle-deer crashes are most likely to occur during the hours between 5pm and midnight and then again from 5am to 7am. In 2011, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation reported a total of 18,176 deer-vehicle crashes.

Take proper precautions
Deer are the third most commonly struck object in Wisconsin (after auto-auto collisions and fixed-object collisions). Keep caution in mind when driving this fall, and remember these important driving tips:

  • If you see a deer, slow down and blow your horn; or flash your headlights to scare the deer away.
  • If you see a deer in front of you, brake firmly, don't swerve, stay in your lane. It is better to hit the deer than to swerve and lose control of your vehicle.
  • If you hit a deer, do not leave your vehicle. The injured deer could hurt you. Try to get your car off the road and call the police. 
  • Be attentive in the early morning and evening hours.
  • Pay close attention to deer crossing signs.
  • Wear your seatbelt, stay sober, and use your high beams where possible.

If I hit a deer with my car, will my insurance cover it?
Only if you carry comprehensive coverage on your vehicle. Collision coverage under an auto insurance policy doesn’t cover you if you hit a deer. Comprehensive coverage provides financial protection beyond that of collision coverage, including hail, theft, falling objects, and deer hits. It's a good idea to check your insurance policy to see if you have comprehensive auto coverage. If you have a policy through Member Benefits, call us at 1-800-279-4010 and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Mark Dannehl, Personal Insurance Consultant