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Keeping Snowbirds Safe

It’s that time of year again. Many of us will be traveling from our “regular” homes to spend the winter in warmer states like Florida or Arizona.

Be careful. Law enforcement warns that you may at risk at home and away.

Before you leave: Make sure you have one of or more timers set for the lights in your winter home. Also, recruit a friend or family member who’s staying put to check your house periodically to make sure the driveway is shoveled and to pick up any “penny shopper” type newspapers that aren’t held or forwarded by the post office.

When you arrive: If possible, confine all your purchases to a single credit card. That will make it easier to monitor to ensure that no one you encounter during your winter stay has stolen your card number and is making unauthorized purchases or using that card to open other accounts under your name.

Safeguarding Your Wallet or Purse

With all the emphasis on identity theft, the theft that’s 3 times more common is the theft of a wallet or purse. Here are 2 tips that can help minimize the damage should yours fall victim to a thief:

Remove the riskiest items – These are things that shouldn’t be in your wallet or purse to begin with including your Social Security Card, copies of your online passwords or your bank PIN number.

Make photocopies – Scan or photocopy the important things that remain in your wallet or purse. That includes your driver’s license, bank and credit cards, insurance cards, and even your library card. Make sure you copy both the front and back!

Before You Take a Bite Out of Bitcoin…

Thinking of investing in bitcoin? You might want to think again.

The first rule of investing is – don’t invest in something you don’t understand.

Bitcoin is a bunch of computer code that its backers insist is worth “real money.” Yet, the currency is literally backed by nothing at. There is no government nor really any financial institution that stands behind this “currency.” Yes, there a bunch of speculators, idealists and, frankly, criminals who insist it is a valid currency. Yet, its value against the world’s hard currencies swings wildly (which simply reflects demand for bitcoin). Finally, do you know any place you can exchange your bitcoin holdings for a loaf of bread, college tuition or a new car?

If some “financial advisor” starts talking about bitcoin being based on “blockchain” technology – this is also just computer code. It's not magical.

Remember, if you don’t understand it, probably not smart to put your money there. Just ask the people who didn’t really know how the internet function back in the 1990s and dumped their savings into dot-coms that went bust.

Is It Time to Break Up with Your Bank?

Many of us do a year-end review of our finances.

Don't overlook shopping around for banks. If your bank is charging you for checking or paying barely any interest on your savings, it may be time to shop around. Many community banks and credit unions offer free checking and online banks often have better interest rates on savings accounts, frequently with no minimum blanace.

So it pays $$$ to shop around!

Avoid These Retirement Mistakes

Still working? Great! You avoided the first mistake many Boomers make – retiring too early! The longer you work, the more secure you can make your retirement years.

Here are a few other common mistakes:

Taking Social security Benefits Too Soon – Sure, you can start getting your Social Security at age 62, but the experts say that can reduce yourt benefits by as much as 25%!

Retiring With Credit Card Debt – If you can it pays to pay off all your credit cards before you retire. If you can pay off your car loan and pay down the mortgage, so much the better.

Underestimating Your Life Expectancy – People today are routinely living well into their 80’s. The experts say it’s better to over-estimate than to underestimate; so to be safe, plan on living well into your 90’s!

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