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About to Tap Your 401K for a Loan? Six Reasons to Think Again

December 2014

Today over 25% of people who have a 401K retirement savings plan have borrowed from these funds. In fact, 401K loans have surged by 37% in just 8 years and in 2011 represented nearly 60 billion dollars in premature withdrawals, according to IRS figures. This practice has personal finance experts and retirement specialists worried. Why? you may wonder. With a 401K loan aren’t you borrowing from yourself and paying yourself back with interest? That’s true, of course, but taking a 401K loan could cost you thousands in retirement savings. This reports shows you six reasons why taking a 401K loan should be a last resort.

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It's Time to Review Your Health Insurance Coverage

November 2014

Whether you have health insurance through your employer, through a health exchange, or through Medicare, you have an opportunity to review and make changes to your health care coverage during November and December. No matter how you receive your health insurance, you should take this opportunity to review your current coverage and determine if it still meets your needs for the coming year.

Start by determining what your out-of-pocket costs were for this year. Then project what your expect your expenses to be next year. Will they be similar or have there been changes in your family’s health that could increase or decrease expenses? Do you want to keep your doctors or are you willing to change? Do you have other criteria that a plan must meet? Use this information to determine if your current plan meets your needs or if another plan would be better.

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Is the Time Right to Refinance Your Home Mortgage?

October 2014

Over the last two years average home values have continued to rise across the United States. In many areas existing homes have gained back at least half the value lost after the real estate bust of 2007 and during the Great Recession. At the same time, mortgage interest rates have stayed within a range of historic lows. During 2013 when rates were lowest, many people with equity in their homes refinanced their mortgages usually to lower payments and overall interest paid. For a variety of reasons, other homeowners sat tight with the mortgages they had. This year, although many economic analysts have been predicting that interest rates will rise more sharply, that has not happened but the potential must be considered. Taking all these factors into account you may be wondering if the time is right to refinance.

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Protecting Your Money From 2013's Most Common Consumer Complaints

September 2014

Would it surprise you to know that the top consumer complaints of 2013 included problems with new and used auto sales, trouble with home repairs, and scams against the elderly? These selected problems from the latest national report based on data from local and state consumer protection agencies and compiled by the Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators don’t surprise me at all. In over 30 years as a consumer advocate, I’ve observed many such complaints and have worked to provide useful information to help you avoid such problems. Educators is also a vital advocate for your financial well-being and provides resources to help you in the three challenges I’ve highlighted—buying a new or used vehicle, carrying out successful home repairs or remodeling, and protecting yourself or older family members from targeted scams.

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Where Are You Keeping Your Important Documents and Valuables?

August 2014

We all have important documents. Many of us have items that we consider irreplaceable. Do you know where they are? Are they protected from water, fire, and other threats? This month’s report looks at ways you can keep and protect your important items.

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