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Financial Fitness Blog

Facing the top FIVE most frightening financial fears this Halloween

(Retirement, Money Management) Permanent link

Brenda EcheverriaLet’s face it, we all have fears when it comes to finances.Maybe your heart skips a beat when bills and bank statements arrive. Perhaps you fear your identity will be stolen or you will lose your job.  Or it’s facing the looming questions: Have I saved enough? How do I create a budget and make it work? Here are several common fears and how to face them this Halloween:

  1. I fear I may never get out of debt.
    How to face your fear: The scariest part is identifying exactly how much debt you have and why. Once you’ve assessed your debt, devise a plan to pay off the smallest debt first. If you need some help, contact our financial planner. We’ll help you come up with a plan to get you back on track.

  2. I fear bills and bank statements.
    How to face your fear: Bills and bank statements are unavoidable. But, don’t live in denial, if you’ve gotten to the point of fearing bills and bank statements, you’re probably overspending. Cut back, don’t spend more than you make. Then, build a budget and stick to it. We have tools and calculators to help you.

  3. I fear my identity will be stolen.
    How to face your fear: Be diligent. Monitor your credit reports,bank statements, and transactions. Sign up to receive text or email alerts from your bank or credit union if your financial institution offers this service. Our Identity Theft Infographic has some great tips.  

  4. I fear I haven’t saved enough for my future
    How to face your fear: It’s never too late to start. Contribute more. Pay yourself first, and stick to your budget.

  5. I fear I will lose my job someday
    How to face your fear: Prepare in advance. Establish an emergency fund, and stash away at least six months of living expenses.
Remember,facing your financial fears doesn’t have to be scary. The key is to identify the cause of your fears, and face them by taking action, making a plan, and being realistic about your situation. 

Brenda Echeverria, Financial Planner

It’s National Save for Retirement Week!

(Retirement) Permanent link

Eric SchwartzNational Save for Retirement Week is a national effort to raise public awareness about the importance of saving for retirement. It’s a great time to reflect on your personal retirement goals, get information, and ask for help when you need it.

Here’s some of our best retirement savings advice in a nutshell:

Of course, there’s lots more to know. Member Benefits has many tools and resources to help you, including:

Our retirement resources page has some great articles and videos as well, including WRS information. As always, give us a call if you need assistance or just have questions at 1-800-279-4030 or email

Eric Schwartz, Financial Planning Specialist

This blog post is for informational purposes only and not intended to be legal or tax advice. Consult your tax advisor or attorney before taking any action.

Concerned about identity theft? [INFOGRAPHIC]

 Permanent link

ID theft guyPrevention is the best protection against identity theft. October marks National Crime Prevention month and the National Crime Prevention Council has information and resources available on their Web site to help protect yourself and your family from fraud and identity theft.

We've compiled this handy infographic for you to share, and it includes eight tips to consider to help keep your identity safe: 

Get your home ready for winter

(Insurance) Permanent link

Steve SchofieldWe’re still having some beautiful weather around here, but you know it won’t last long. Take advantage of these nice days and get your home prepped before the white stuff starts flying so you can have a safer, healthier winter.

  • Trim the limbs. Dead tree limbs can harm roofs, gutters, siding, decks, and cars, as well as people. Trim back any limbs that are hanging over your house, driveway, or sidewalks so they don’t cause a hazard.
  • Prep the plumbing. Turn off the water supply to outdoor spigots and sprinkler systems to avoid burst pipes when it gets cold. Install pipe insulation in unheated areas.
  • Check the chimney. It’s a good idea to have your fireplace chimney cleaned and inspected yearly to ensure it’s not a fire hazard and there are no critters making their home in there.
  • Stay on alert. If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector, get one right away. Otherwise, make sure to test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and change the batteries. Use the time change to help you remember to check each year.
  • Give your furnace a checkup. Start out by changing your filter—it will help your furnace run more efficiently. If you haven’t had it professionally checked in the last two or three years, make an appointment.
  • Inspect your foundation and home’s exterior. It’s important to keep snow and rain from building up around your home’s foundation. Clear out excess vegetation, take any steps needed to ensure water runs away from your house, and clean the gutters and downspouts. Around the outside of your house, seal up drafts and places for pests to enter your home, especially around doors and windows, the chimney cap, attic vents, roofing, siding, and areas where utility lines enter.

Lastly, make sure you're properly insured. Not all policies are the same, so be sure you understand what you have or what you are purchasing so you won’t find yourself short on coverage when you need it. Member Benefits can help. For a free insurance consultation and comparison quote, give us a call at 1-800-279-4010 or schedule a personal phone consultation at a time convenient for you.

Steve Schofield, Personal Insurance Consultant

Got student loans?

(Money Management) Permanent link

Brenda EcheverriaDo you (or a family member) have student loans? If you took out loans after October 1, 1998, have been teaching full-time in a low-income elementary or secondary school for five consecutive years, or are working in public service or in the military, you may qualify for some student loan forgiveness programs.

It’s surprising how many people are not aware of these programs and how many borrowers could actually benefit from them—the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that one-fourth of the American workforce may be eligible for repayment or loan forgiveness programs.

Here a few stats of interest:

  • 40 million student loan borrowers (including 753,000 Wisconsinites) have outstanding student loans today.
  • More than $1.2 trillion outstanding student loan debt exists nationwide.
  • Two-thirds of U.S. college students carry a debt load averaging $25,250.
  • About 14% or 5.4 million borrowers have at least one past due student loan account.
  • It now takes an average student loan debtor twenty-one years to pay off his or her college loans.
  • Tuition for students at public universities has more than doubled since 1987.
  • Rates of home ownership are 36% lower among people still carrying student debt.

If you'd like to learn more about some potential routes to student loan forgiveness, read our "Got student loans? Seek forgiveness" article.

Brenda Echeverria, Financial Planner

This blog post is for informational purposes only and not intended to be legal or tax advice. Consult your tax advisor or attorney before taking any action.