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Financial Fitness Blog

Looking for a great graduation gift? Here’s one that will last a life time

(Money Management) Permanent link

 Michelle Blog PhotoFinancial Literacy for the Young (and the Young at Heart), by Dan Otter, is a must read for those who are new to managing their own money or anyone wanting to improve their money smarts. Plus, it’s a quick read (just 47 pages).

Otter uses humor, references to Homer Simpson, and personal examples of financial “Doh!” moments to take the mystery out of seemingly complex money topics. He offers an interesting peek into the psychology behind common (and costly) financial mistakes and offers a foundation for building financial security.

Anyone picking up this book feeling even slightly intimidated will close the cover (figuratively speaking since it is an e-book) with confidence to take control of their financial future.

Dan is the co-founder of, a website that provides objective information on the 403(b) retirement plan for teachers and non-profit workers.

The book is currently available through iTunes and can only be read using an iPad. It may be available in print and other media forms in the future. If so, we will let you know!

Michelle Slawny, CFP®

Should I increase my home insurance deductibles?

(Insurance) Permanent link

Mark Blog PhotoOne way to save money on your home insurance premiums is by selecting a higher deductible. A deductible is the amount you pay out of your own pocket before the insurance policy begins to pay. The higher the deductible, the lower your premium. You can also think of it this way -  the more risk you take on, the less your insurance will cost.

Your ability to pay the deductible is an important consideration when choosing a level that is right for you. Even if you believe that paying a higher deductible to reduce your premium is a sound theory, a $1,000 deductible makes little sense if the payment creates significant hardship for you and your family.

Deciding on what deductible is right for you is a decision only you can make. However, there are three important things to consider when you are making that decision:

  1. Cost savings. When you accept a higher deductible, cost goes down. Ask your insurance representative to give you the figures for cost savings with different deductible levels.
  2. Cash flow. Can you write a check for $1000 at the drop of a hat? If not, that deductible may be too large for you. Review your deductibles periodically to see how they fit your cash flow position.
  3. Insurability. For small losses, try to pay out of pocket. Insurance is designed to cover catastrophic losses. If you have a number of small claims, your premium may increase or you could lose your coverage. Discuss this issue with your insurance representative when deciding on a deductible.

 If you have questions about whether you should choose a higher deductible, call one of our Member Service Consultants at 1-800-279-4010.

Mark Dannehl, Personal Insurance Consultant

On the hunt for lost savings bonds?

(Money Management) Permanent link

Michelle Blog PhotoDo you have missing U.S. savings bonds? Maybe a relative bought a savings bond for your daughter when she was born, but you never received the bond in the mail. Or, maybe you lost savings bonds in a fire or during a move.

Even if you don’t have all the details, there is still a possibility that you can track down missing bonds. Here are four steps to help you recover your bonds.

Step 1

Start by going to and download Form 1048 (Claim for Lost, Stolen, or Destroyed U.S. Savings Bonds). Find the form fast by using the site search.

Step 2

You can fill out Form 1048 directly online or request it be mailed to you. Complete as much information as you can about the lost bond. The more information you have, the easier it will be for the U.S. Bureau of the Public Debt to help you find the missing bonds.

Step 3

Print the form and certify it at a bank. Mail it to the Department of Treasury, Bureau of Public Debt.

For E, EE, or I savings bonds
P.O. Box 7012, Parkersburg, WV 26106 -7012

For HH or H savings bonds
PO Box 2186, Parkersburg, WV 26106-2186

Step 4

Wait. If you provided the serial number, the Bureau could track down and reissue your bonds within three to four weeks. But without all the information, it could take several months.

If you have further inquires, you can email or call 304-480-7711.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Once you receive replacement bonds or payment for lost bonds, the original bonds belong to the U.S. Government. If you find bonds after receiving replacements or payment for them, you should return them. Replacement bonds will show the original issue date. 

Michelle Slawny, CFP®

Do you know a financial mentor at your school?

(Money Management) Permanent link

Michelle Blog PhotoIn schools across Wisconsin, there are people who have a passion for helping their colleagues build financial security. They often share their financial knowledge, an encouraging word, stories of their successes, as well as mistakes and regrets with their colleagues. Their mission is to share knowledge and information about how one can do good as an education professional and do well financially. As a financial planner, I talk to members every day who were inspired by someone else to take control of their financial future. Quite often it's a fellow educator.

At WEA Trust Member Benefits, our mission is to enhance the financial security of our members. This fall we would like to recognize individuals who have given their time and talents to mentor others on the benefits of good financial planning and saving for retirement.  If you know one of these special folks, now is the perfect time to give them some recognition!

Nominations for the 2012 Financial Mentor Awards will be accepted through September 1, 2012. It takes just a few moments to fill out the nomination form at Award winners will be announced on October 15, 2012. They will also be mentioned in a short article in your$ magazine and will receive a certificate of recognition.

Michelle Slawny, CFP®

The real costs of long-term care

 Permanent link

Kelly Blog PhotoAccording to the Genworth 2012 Cost of Care Survey, the median yearly cost in Wisconsin for a private room at a nursing home is currently $93,075. Research shows that about 70 percent of people age 65 or older will need long-term care services at some point in their lifetime (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), and the costs associated with it continue to increase.

When thinking about whether to obtain a long-term care insurance policy, consider the effects on your family:

  • Relationships. When you are in need of long-term care services, it impacts your family members. You will have one or more caregivers who will need to provide personal and often financial assistance to you. There may also be other community-based support services involved. For caregivers, taking responsibility for another person's care has a dramatic impact on their lives which may affect their career, their finances and other family relationships.
  • Financial. The dollars to pay for care must come from somewhere. Most often, savings and retirement contributions are hardest hit, threatening families’ ability to live comfortably in the future. How might this affect your spouse or adult children?

Having a conversation with your family about long-term care options and possible insurance coverage ahead of time is incredibly important. It will give you a plan before you find yourself in a situation where you need services. If your health changes or you’re in an accident, you could become uninsurable. The majority of costs for extended care are not covered by health insurance or Medicare. So spending money for care on a moment’s notice is something no one wants to do, and the quality of those decisions may be compromised.

WEA Trust Member Benefits encourages you to look into the protection of our individual long-term care insurance program to see what it can mean for you and your family. Learn more by calling us at 1-800-247-5905.

(Sources: Genworth Financial and LTCi Marketing Administrators) 

Kelly Behnke, CIC, CISR, ACSR
Personal Insurance Consultant