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Fractured Finances

April 25th, 2016 by judytalks

Fractured Finances

Female?  Thinking of retiring? Think carefully and get out your calculators.

Financially secure retirement for women is a thing of the past.

One in five older single women lives below the poverty line.

The sad truth is that women simply don’t save enough for retirement, and the financial security they had as wives can quickly disappear.

According to CNBC (2016/03/18) 36% of unmarried women and 29% of married women think they need less than $250,000.00 for retirement. At the same time, the majority of men think they need $500,000.00 for retirement.

There’s a strong disconnect here. Women usually live longer than men, they earn less than men, and, when widowed or divorced, their spendable income is considerably less. How is it they are so naïve about the cost of living?

For women retired or nearing retirement, here are some critical facts to help explain this puzzle.

  • Girls are not taught the purpose and importance of money.
  • Earning, for women isn’t as important as for men.
  • Women don’t always prioritize saving for retirement.
  • When men are promoted, it’s based on their future value to the company. When women are promoted, it’s based on past performance.

How has this worked for women in America?

One in five older single women lives below the poverty line. Most of these women lived middle class lives when they were married. Even though couples have savings and investment plans, when she’s alone the income isn’t sufficient.

The differences in women’s and men’s work records are significant.

  • Women interrupt their careers to care for children or adults who need help.
  • Women’s pay is lower.
  • Women often don’t get a pension.
  • Women save less than men

All of these facts mean a reduction in her retirement finances.

  • Less social security
  • Less money in a 401k
  • A portfolio that is below what she needs

 

By the time she is alone, her options have narrowed. Her only choice may be to start a new job in retirement.

Many women and men are doing just that. A hobby may become a small business, some companies specialize in hiring retirees, and there are affordable franchises especially designed for seniors.

The big issue is that this shouldn’t be happening to women.

  • If she cannot work, she becomes dependent on family members for help.
  • For lack of information, women have made irreversible mistakes regarding Investments, housing, and care options.
  • It’s simply unacceptable for women to be in this situation.

The rising cost of living eats into spendable income, but drawing out money from savings has negative consequences. The result could be something like the obituary that follows:

It is with regret that we inform you of the death of your financial assets.

Your extensive portfolio had been in ill health for quite some time. Though several experts in the field of money management had examined said assets, the diagnosis was unanimous. Terminal.

Your portfolio began life on May first, 1981, with a deposit of $100.00. It grew as a traditional IRA, receiving annual deposits of varying amounts until 2004. No deposits have been made since that year.

The company which held the IRA, No Holds Barred, has deposited the last $100.00 in a cash fund, to be collected by the holder of the IRA, Ms. Jane A Doe.

Of course, no such item would ever be posted, but the results are the same. Only one third of women over 65 are married. That leaves a lot of single older women living on the assets that two people accumulated. The interesting thing is that when a husband survives his wife, he has almost no financial problems.

Where can you go to learn how to save and manage your money?

Many financial websites now have information especially for women. Much of it is not specific as to individual needs and situations. However, it is a start.

Here is a short list to begin your research for a more complete and secure financial retirement.

www.womensmoney.org

www.wife.org

www.cnbc.com

www.fidelity.com

Google keywords to find a variety of websites that address different aspects of the financial situation facing women. Look for articles and educational insights especially for women, subscribe to newsletters, and make note of the top financial issues. Whether you are now retired or thinking about it, the cost of living will not go down. Get your ducks in a row now.

The Facts About Seniors and Fraud

April 8th, 2016 by judytalks

Moving forward following a loss means building a new life. Who you are now may be very different from the person who lost a loved one. The changes taking place prompt learning as a survivor begins to thrive.

Understanding the place and purpose of money is often difficult for older women. This may lead to mistakes in managing your money. The last blog post told the true story of an unsuspecting lady who lost a large sum of money. My research regarding scams and fraud turned up useful information for identifying these crimes.

The following is an article for you to read and save.

The Facts About Seniors And Fraud

Scamming is a billion dollar international business. It targets anyone with a telephone or mailing address. Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable.

There are no solid statistics regarding the number of seniors who are victims of fraud, because many never report it. It’s estimated, however, that one in 20 persons over 65 have been victimized, while only one in 44 ever report it.

Scams are often perpetrated by a phone call or letter. Both appear legitimate. Impressive letterheads and references to titles and offices imply authority. However, there are telltale signs that it’s not for real. Sentence structure is often awkward, with numerous grammatical and spelling errors.

According to the FBI, older citizens are easy to scam because they are too polite and trusting. Con artists easily exploit these traits, drawing people into well-rehearsed pitches, and then steal their nest eggs. Because of their reluctance to hang up or authenticate the letter, the money is gone.

The reasons senior citizens rarely report fraud:

  • Don’t know where or how to report it
  • Concerned that relatives will think them mentally incompetent
  • Too embarrassed to admit it

What can be done? Early detection results in stopping fraud in its tracks. There are two levels of detection and prevention in the US:

  • Federal programs inform and educate.
  • Community programs train employees to spot suspicious activities.

Banks train employees to be on the alert for irregularities when doing business with customers. A suspicious signature, a withdrawal for an unusually high amount, or a transaction that doesn’t fit the profile for this customer may elicit a conversation for clarification. It may save someone from financial disaster.

Communication and money transfer companies, such as Western Union, now train employees to recognize potential fraud. Partnering with law enforcement and individual detection experts can greatly increase awareness of identity theft and other forms of fraud.

Family members need to be aware that their loved ones are aggressively targeted. Thousands of products and services being sold seem legitimate. Many have specific appeal to seniors. Health aids, financial insights, cognitive and memory games and anti-aging products are especially popular, and it’s difficult to spot the scams.

When elderly citizens do report, they usually make poor witnesses because

  • Memory may be impaired.
  • It may be difficult to admit they have been swindled.
  • Weeks or months may have passed before reporting.

A government website that has information on all aspects of fraud, scams and identity theft:

https://fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors.

Careful reading will help you to become familiar with all the kinds of fraud and how to spot them. Shop wisely, safeguard your nest egg, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

A Google search turned up a long list of websites for “how to identify and prevent scams.”  These are from a variety of sources.

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0060-10-ways-avoid-fraud

http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/10-ways-to-avoid-online-scams

http://lifehacker.com/how-to-identify-and-avoid-the-most-common-telephone-sca-1692068970

http://www.rd.com/advice/saving-money/7-online-scams-and-how-to-avoid-them/

http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/credit-debit-card-fraud.html

Billions of dollars are stolen every year from people of all ages. Senior Citizens are a prime target.

Don’t take chances with your nest egg. And if you think you’ve been scammed, call the police.

Scams and Other Business Ventures

April 1st, 2016 by judytalks

Scammers target everyone and anyone. Older persons are particularly vulnerable. Many people in this age group live alone, and many are in the stages of bereavement. Their emotional resistance is low, and they generally are not suspicious people. Here is a sad but true story of one woman who believed the documents she received were authentic. Education is the best preventive measure for stopping crimes of this kind. You can find relevant information on the Internet and from banks and other financial institutions.

 

Scams and Other Business Ventures

Will you be next? Can you protect yourself or your loved ones from fraud? Stories like this one happen to millions of people every day.

The first letter was sent out on letterhead, informing her that she was a winner in a promotional draw.  Her prize was $850,000.00. It had been deposited in Bank of America, and had been insured.

The letter appeared to come from the International Gaming Commission Sweepstakes & Lottery in Washington, DC. It stated that she should keep the entire details of the award “strictly from public notice”. In other words: Don’t Tell Anyone. The recipient of this letter was a 79-year-old woman, widowed, with a modest income and some investments.

The second letter appeared to come from the US Department of the Treasury, acknowledging her as a winner, stating the amount of her prize, and informing her that  “… the amount you will have to take care of is $30,000.00 and it will have to be made payable to our chief accountant which that name will be given to you later.” The rest of the letter gave instructions to contact her “representative” whose name and phone number were provided, with a security code she should use.

Despite the impressive letterhead, the documents had numerous mistakes.  There were typos and   poor grammar throughout. For example, the first sentence of the letter from the Gaming Commission  says:  “Congratulations to you as we bring to your notice, the results of the First (3rd) Category draws of International Gaming Commission SWEETSTAKES.” And in paragraph three “… the total prize money of US$ 29,000000.00….”

Many people receiving such correspondence would immediately recognize it as fraud. This particular woman did not. She believed it to be authentic and promptly called her financial planner to pay the alleged taxes. She insisted that she couldn’t tell him why she needed the money.

Needless to say, this was a red flag to him. He was reluctant to make the transaction and asked her to wait until he returned from his vacation a week later.  Somehow, she was able to make the payment herself.

The $30,000.00 is gone. The lady is poorer but wiser. But the scammers probably will never be caught.

Don’t let yourself be the next victim.

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