Women & Money: Unique Issues

When: October 11, 18, & 25, 2016, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Where: Florida West Coast Credit Union, 1225 Millennium Pkwy, Brandon, FL 33511.

Topics will include:

  • Evaluating Money Decisions
  • Goal Setting
  • Investment Basics
  • Estate Planning

Cost: $10 for the entire series. No shows and late cancellations will not receive a registration refund. Refreshments will be provided.

Registration Deadline: October 4, 2016. Seating is limited, so register early to reserve a spot.

Register at:  https://2016wm1.eventbrite.com

This is a non-commercial, educational program. No products or services will be sold. The presenter is a University Florida/Hillsborough County Extension personal finance educator.

For additional information contact Lisa Leslie at 813-744-5519 ext. 54143.

Persons with disabilities requiring special accommodations, please contact Lisa at 744-5519 x54143 at least five working days prior to the program so proper consideration may be given to your request.

Hillsborough County Extension Service is a cooperative service of Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners and the University of Florida. The      Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M, University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating.


Did you hear about the fiduciary rule & retirement plans?

A fiduciary is someone who has a legal obligation to put a client’s interest ahead of their own. A financial professional with a fiduciary obligation must recommend investment products that are in your best interest.

Some financial professionals have this legal obligation and some do not. For instance, brokers do not have fiduciary responsibility, a Registered Investment Advisor does. A broker is required to recommend products that are suitable for their clients. But they may also legally sell products with substantial fees and commissions that can conflict with a client’s best interests.

The debate as to which financial professionals should carry fiduciary responsibility has been going for years. On April 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor released a Fiduciary Final Rule that said any financial advisors who provide advice regarding retirement plans must meet the fiduciary standard. The rule was proposed for transitional roll out from April 17, 2017 to January 1, 2018. Financial industry groups and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have filed lawsuits challenging the rule.

The take-home for investors is to understand how their advisor is compensated and any conflicts of interest. Be aware of the fees and commissions you are paying. If it is recommended that you roll money from a workplace retirement plan into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) weigh the costs and benefits. Steer clear of an advisor who says company match for your retirement account is not as good as an IRA. Understand that fees and commissions can significantly impact investment returns.

Use the FINRA BrokerCheck to find out about a broker’s history http://brokercheck.finra.org/

Florida Master Money Mentor Training

Hillsborough County Extension is offering training to those interested in becoming a Florida Master Money Mentor Volunteer. The four week training is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 2, 9, 16 and 23 at the County Extension office, 5339 County Road 579 in Seffner.

The program is an opportunity for mentors to learn more about personal finance and then share that knowledge with individuals in the community. No previous financial education or background in financial services is required. Individuals who promote, sell, or endorse financial products or services are not eligible to be volunteers. But they can attend the training to increase their personal financial knowledge.

Prospective mentors will receive approximately 20 hours of training on how to provide basic personal financial mentoring. Training topics include effective communication strategies, budgeting, credit, debt management, and saving & investing for future goals.

Mentors are asked to commit to volunteering at least three hours per week and follow guidelines in regards to reporting, client confidentiality, and providing researched based unbiased information.

Volunteering is a great way to broaden your life experience and meet a diverse group of people. Being a volunteer will also give you the satisfaction of knowing you are making a positive impact in your community.

Register online at http://2016fmmm.eventbrite.com by no later than May 24.

For more information, contact Lisa Leslie, Hillsborough County Extension Services at 813-744-5519 x54143 or lesliel@hillsboroughcounty.org

The University of Florida Extension serves to provide the infrastructure for this program throughout the state of Florida, thanks to a gift from Bank of America.

Personal Finance Benchmarks: Do You Know Your Numbers?

Financial ratios and comparing to general benchmarks are a tool to analyze your financial situation. They can be a good way to determine strengths and weaknesses and can help
develop a realistic financial plan.

Below are some common ratios and benchmarks.  These benchmarks are just a starting place. Your specific situation, goals, budget priorities and stage in the life-cycle need to be considered. Think of these benchmarks as a general guide, not the key to precise happiness.

Emergency Fund: The recommendation is to have enough money in a safe, liquid account so you can cover 3-6 months of non-discretionary expenses. Just how much depends on whether or not you have sick leave, disability  insurance, and income stability. In addition, even 3 months can seem like an overwhelming goal. Start slowly. Saving  $1.50 a day for 2 years will give you a nest egg of $1,095.

Savings to Income Ratio: If a person starts when they are 25-35 and saves & invests 10 – 13% of their income throughout their working years, they have a good chance at a comfortable retirement. A person who starts later in life or who has additional goals such as saving for children’s education will likely need to save and invest more than 10%.

Credit Card Usage Ratio: This is the amount of money charged on credit cards compared to the limits of those cards. This ratio will impact your credit score.
Example: Charge $1,000 a month and total credit card limits are $5,000. Usage ratio = 20%.

Recommended benchmark is to keep usage below 30%. This is true even if you pay the balance in full each month.

Housing Mortgage Ratio: Generally the recommendation is  that no more than 30% of gross income should go for the mortgage. This includes principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI).

Example: Gross income =  $4,000 a month. A monthly payment = $1,200 could be considered affordable. Lenders may allow for 33% ratio. In this example that would  allow for a monthly mortgage payment = $1,320.

Overall Debt: Overall debt includes mortgage debt, student loans, credit cards, and auto loans. The benchmark is 36% or less of gross income.

Example: Gross income  = $4,000. Overall debt goal < $1,440. So with a $1,200 mortgage there is $240 left for other consumer debt payments.

Some lenders will stretch the ratio limit to 42%. In this example that would allow  debt levels  = $1,680.

Assets to Debts: The benchmark for the asset to debt ratio depends on our stage in the lifecycle. Ideally, closer to retirement assets- such as investments and savings- are considerably greater than debts.

Wise Money Moves

Ideas for saving money, avoiding fees, and simplifying your personal finances.

  • Take advantage of free tax preparation services and resources. Info about free options is available at www.irs.gov and click on the free file option.
  • Develop a realistic cash flow management plan then automate bill paying, saving, and investing.
  • Keep your spending and investment goals realistic and avoid dipping into retirement plans.
  • If your emergency fund is depleted and you need money for the unexpected, understand that you can withdraw contributions from a Roth IRA account without penalty. However, there are penalties for non-qualified withdrawals of earnings.
  • Look to retirement accounts in the workplace first for retirement saving. In addition to company contributions or match, these plans may come with the less fees.
  • Consider low-cost index funds. Many studies have found that over the long-term these passive funds outperform
    actively managed funds.
  • Take a long term approach to investing by avoiding panic selling and bubble buying. Include equities in your portfolio as a hedge against inflation.
  • Understand your money personality. If retail therapy is an issue avoid carrying credit cards when shopping and 1– click ordering.

Pledge to be a Tampa Bay Saver and receive non-commercial personal finance updates and motivational messages www.TampaBaySaves.org 

Women & Money: Unique Issues

Join us for a program that will provide the motivation and knowledge to help you achieve your financial goals.

Topics will include:
Evaluating Money Decisions
Goal Setting
Cash Flow Management
Saving and Investing

When: April 25 & 27, 2016, 6:15 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.

Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, 1002 East Palm Avenue, Tampa, FL 33605. Registration is required.

Registration: $10 covers both days. No shows and late cancellations will not receive a registration refund. Refreshments will be provided.

Register at: https://2016wm.eventbrite.com

Registration Deadline: April 18, 2016. Seating is limited.

This is a non-commercial, educational program. No products or services will be sold.

Identity Theft Protection

Identity theft is often in the news. This can generate panic causing people to turn toward costly insurance. Below are some laws and steps that offer protection at for no cost.

  • Consider a credit security freeze. A freeze will prohibit the credit reporting agencies from releasing your information to anyone unless you lift the freeze. If you are under 65 years old it costs $10 to place a freeze. If are 65 or older, or have been a victim of identity theft the fee is waived. For more information visit the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Service’s web site and click the Security Freeze link http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Consumer-Services/Consumer-Resources/Consumer-Protection/Scams-and-Fraud/Security-Freeze-Credit-Report
  • If your credit card account number is stolen, federal law states that you cannot be held liable for the fraudulent charges. If the physical card is stolen, the maximum you can be held liable for is $50.00.
  • Order your Consumer Report available through http://www.chexsystems.com. This report includes a five year history of check orders and information reported regarding returned checks or collection accounts. By federal law you are entitled to an annual free report.
  • Order your free credits reports annually through the federally authorized web site www.annualcreditreport.com. Keep in mind that it is your credit reports, not your score, which will provide a detailed history that may better alert you to credit fraud.
  • Federal law does not offer the same blanket coverage for debit cards. However, private institutions offer this protection at no charge. The downside with debit cards is having money fraudulently removed from your account can cause problems with non-fraudulent transactions.
  • Opt-out of preapproved credit offers. You can choose to opt-out for five years or permanently at https://www.optoutprescreen.com
  • If you are going away, put a hold on your postal mail. This can be done online at the US postal service. You might also want to weigh the advantages and costs of a PO Box for all mail.
  • In addition to the credit reporting agencies, there is a long list of private companies that collect consumer data. These include your employment history, medical records, insurance claims and utility payment. Find out more about these companies and which will provide free annual reports by downloading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report “List of consumer reporting agencies” available at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/askcfpb/1813/what-are-specialty-consumer-reporting-agencies-and-what-kind-information-do-they-collect.html