March Financial Calendar

1-31 National Nutrition Month. Spearheaded by the National Dietetic Association, National Nutrition Month was established to remind people to eat nutritionally and develop healthy exercise habits. During March, concentrate on your nutritional intake and level of physical activity. Your good health = more money in the bank.

1 The first quarter of the year ends the 31st of this month. Maybe it’s time to take a look at your earnings so far this year. Are you meeting your mark? Think creatively about what you can do to increase your income every quarter this year.
2 Read Across America Day/Dr. Seuss’ Birthday. Dr. Seuss books serve as encouragements to read for a lot of kids every year. Why not donate a large stack of Dr. Seuss books to a local nursery school, grade school or foster care program? You’ll feel so wonderful to know you’re giving the gift of reading to children, plus your donation is tax deductible, which means you’ll benefit, too at the end of the year!
11 Daylight Saving Time Begins. Although you’ll lose an hour when you set your clocks forward one hour at 2 a.m., ultimately you’ll save money by using less energy for lighting. After all, when Daylight Saving Time begins, you save daylight!
15 Business taxes are due today for many people who run their own business. This is also a good day to start gathering your paperwork for April 15th.
17 St. Patricks’ Day. Who doesn’t love to celebrate the patron saint, St. Patrick, of Ireland? Have fun with your friends and family and don’t forget to wear green. Speaking of the color green, put an extra $50 away this week in honor of St. Patrick.

20 First Day of Spring. With the amount of daylight and night-time nearly even today, you might say it’s a day of balance. Take a look at your stock portfolio to ensure it’s balanced in terms of growth stocks and stable CDs.
22 World Water Day. This day in March is designated by the United Nations to increase the world’s understanding of the importance of water to the lives of all people. Do you do everything you can to conserve water in your home and office? Take shorter showers and teach your kids to do the same. You’ll not only conserve water, you’ll also save on your water bills.
31 Review monthly grocery expenditures. Gather your grocery store cash register receipts for this month. How much did you spend for the month? Plan to reduce your monthly total by 10% next month.


Why Seniors Need to Beware of Financial Fraud

Sometimes our advantages can become our weaknesses. If you’re retired or getting close to retirement, you may have some great things going for you, such as an excellent credit rating, your own your home, without any mortgage, and a substantial retirement nest egg.

However, these great things, along with your age, can also put you at greater risk for a range of frauds targeting older people, who usually have more savings but are looking to earn more. We are going to look at a few of the most common frauds perpetrated on seniors, and what you can do to avoid being taken advantage of.

Job Contractor Fraud

If you own your own home, sooner or later it is going to need repair, especially if you have been living in it for some time and your health prevents you from making the repairs yourself.  Contractor scams happen when the contractor asks for the money up front and does not do it, does work that was not agreed upon, and then demands to be paid, or worst of all, does repairs that are bot necessary and then often overcharges for the work, too.

Other common variants include:

* Using admittance into your residence as a means to burglarize it

* Convincing owners to be part of fraudulent insurance claims

Reputable contractors don’t generally go knocking on doors to drum up business. If your house needs some work done, it is usually better to ask around for referrals, or investigate contractors listed by your local Better Business Bureau. See what reviews are posted about them, and look to see if there are any complaints against them before you ever agree to any work being done. Do not pay them until the work is completed to your satisfaction and as agreed upon.

Reverse Mortgage Fraud

Reverse mortgages can be a legitimate technique used in order to gain access to the equity, the money invested, in your home. These are most commonly referred to as home equity conversion mortgages (HECM). HECMs are insured by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA). They were created so that people 62 years and older could easily get hold of some of the equity from their principal residence and make life easier for themselves financially once they retired.  The mortgage would be paid off, and a reverse mortgage would value the house and then give you either a lump sum, annual payout, or monthly pay out for you to live on, but still let you and your partner stay in the house until both of you passed away.

A problem can occur with non-HECM reverse mortgages, however, especially ones that sound to good to be true. Some seniors have ended up as an unsuspecting pawn in a property-flipping scheme, or billed huge fees by an unscrupulous “advisor” that simply handles the standard paperwork involved with a normal HECM loan. If you’re interested in a reverse mortgage, your bank or a reputable mortgage broker is a good place to start. Again, no one reputable will never need to go door to door to drum up business.

Investment Fraud

While people of all ages are taken in by various investment frauds, seniors seem to be targeted the most often, most likely because they have substantial savings that can usually be accessed quickly.

Always be skeptical and double check with a trusted professional when it comes to your life savings. Don’t succumb to any time pressure tactics; if it’s something that you have to decide right now, your answer right now should be “NO.” False time limits are a common technique to get people to commit their hard-earned money to a fraud. They are not giving you enough time to think and make any sort of sensible decision or be able to dig deeper, such as on the Internet, to find out if the offer is a scam or not.

It probably doesn’t seem fair that you as a senior have to constantly be on the look out for fraud in your golden years, but you have worked too hard for your money and house to lose it to scammers. Always ask the right questions, and remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

If you think you have been the victim of a scam, or a scammer has come to your door and is pressuring you, report it to the police. Hopefully the scammer will be stopped before he can harm anyone else. Don’t be an easy victim. Remain alert, and fight fraud.


For more great tips on how to make the most of your money, visit the Eternal Spiral Books Money Matters section.


How to avoid hip fracture

Hip fracture is a leading cause of disability amongst seniors, and can lead to other complications as well, such as the bad effects of a sedentary lifestyle on overall health, pneumonia, and permanent lack of independent mobility.