Get Housing Help

An Article from Money Management International

Paying housing expenses, including mortgages, taxes, insurance and utilities, can be difficult on a senior citizen’s fixed income. Are you finding yourself overwhelmed with housing bills? If you are in a situation where you find that your home is becoming a financial burden, there are some options available to you.

Are you living in the same home you lived in when raising your family? Do you find the amount of upkeep for your current home to be overwhelming? If so, you may want to consider downsizing. Downsizing means that you sell your current home, and purchase a smaller home that’s more suitable for your current lifestyle. Downsizing serves many purposes, including decreasing your monthly mortgage payment (or providing you with a lump sum of money). In addition, you’ll probably find that you have lower insurance, tax, and utility bills.

If you want to downsize, you should talk to a Realtor to find out the approximate market value of your home. Then, you can search for properties that are smaller, and more reasonably priced. Some seniors choose to downsize in their current neighborhood or town, while others select a different area. Depending on your situation, you may also want to consider an “over 50” housing area or condo, which may require less upkeep and maintenance from you.

Another option available to seniors is a reverse mortgage. With a reverse mortgage, you will receive money to live on, while you can still remain in your home. Reverse mortgages aren’t for everyone, so you should learn about them and consider all alternatives before choosing this option.

When considering any of these options, watch out for scams that may target seniors specifically. Know who you are dealing with, and obtain recommendations from friends and relatives before paying for any services or information. If you aren’t comfortable with something, ask for help from a friend or family member before proceeding.


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Last Minute Retirement Investment Strategies

An article from Money Management International

If you are getting close to retirement and don’t feel comfortable with the amount of money you have saved, you are not alone. Studies show that relatively few workers feel confident that they have enough money saved for retirement. If you are in the majority, and do not feel confident in the amount of money you have saved for retirement, there are some strategies you can use to “catch-up".

If you are 50 or over, and are current participating in a 401(k) plan, you may be eligible to make catch-up contributions to your 401(k). Catch-up contribution provisions also exist for those who contribute to IRAs. For more information, visit www.irs.gov/retirement.

Save extra in non-retirement accounts
You can also save extra money in your other, non-retirement accounts for later use. Revisit your budget, and see where there are areas that you can cut back in order to free up extra money for savings. You could also take another job now, or find other ways to create more income.

Change your retirement investment strategy
Another way you can work to increase your retirement investments is to revisit and possibly change your investment strategy. Either analyze your own accounts, or visit with a personal finance professional to discuss your investment strategies. Seniors should review their investment strategies and rebalance their account at least once per year.

Postpone your retirement
Working even one year longer than planned can make a big financial difference. You might also consider working in a different capacity, such as becoming a consultant. Don’t rule out the possibility of embarking on an entirely different career path.

Research other income sources
Estimate your potential Social Security benefit amount by using the calculators at SSA.gov. Consider starting a business that you can handle while “retired.”


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Fighting Fraud, Phishing, and Identity Theft

An Article from Money Management International

Just turn on the news and you are likely to hear a story concerning victims of financial fraud. Identity theft, phishing, and other financial crimes against seniors are on the rise, but there are some things that you can do to protect yourself.

Keep account and Social Security numbers private

Fraudsters with access to your account and Social Security numbers can cause significant damage so it’s absolutely essential that you keep that information private. If you receive phone calls or emails requesting your account numbers, passwords, or your Social Security number, there’s a chance that the email or call is fake and the originator is looking to obtain valid numbers for fraudulent purposes. Make sure that you know exactly whom you are giving your information to.

Deal only with known entities

Unfortunately, senior citizens are frequent targets of people looking to commit fraud. If someone calls you on the telephone, or rings your doorbell, do not supply that person with your private information, such as account numbers, account balances, passwords, or your Social Security number. Instead, if you are looking to open any new financial accounts, go into an office or call them yourself. That way, you can know who you are dealing with is legitimate. Ask friends and relatives for recommendations of companies that they have had good experiences with, and remember that the best companies don’t need to solicit business door to door or through telemarketing.

Shred confidential documents before disposal, and guard your passwords and pin numbers
Identity theft often occurs when your account information gets into the wrong hands. Shredding confidential documents before throwing them away, or anything with your account information or Social Security number on it, can help reduce your risk of identity fraud. If you carry an ATM card, make sure that you’ve memorized the PIN number and are not carrying the number around in your wallet.

Monitor your credit

All Americans are entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus. To order your free credit report, you can utilize the special Web site (AnnualCreditReport.com) or call 877.322.8228. This is the only official Web site, so make sure you do not use any other Web address. Take advantage of this opportunity to order your credit reports and review them for any suspicious activity. Reviewing your credit reports is the best way to determine if your identity has been stolen, as identity thieves generally start opening accounts right away.


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