Your HOA Board Needs D&O Insurance!

Each month we feature one article from our resource guide…

If you serve on a homeowners association (HOA) board—or are considering it—then you need to know about Directors and Officers (D&O) Liability insurance. While your HOA has general liability insurance, this does not mean that you are personally covered from claims made against you while serving on your association’s board.

But D&O insurance does. This type of liability insurance covers directors and officers in their individual or group capacity as acting board members against third-party financial damages...

Read More About: Your HOA Board Needs Directors and Officers Insurance!

Tip: End of Summer Beach Party!

If you can't get to the beach, bring the beach to the neighborhood!

A beach party is universally synonymous with relaxation and fun in the sun!

Plan a beach themed party to celebrate the end of summer and you can guarantee your community a fun entertaining time for all ages.

Try some of these ideas:

  • Provide mini bubble sets to everyone - kids and adults!
  • Promote the party with an advertisement on your website.
  • Provide frozen drinks with bamboo umbrellas.
  • Upload simple templates to your neighborhood website (fish, mermaids, sharks, crabs, palm trees, sea horses, etc.) That can be printed, cutout, and colored beforehand - Use for decoration or contests!
  • Hold an oversized beach hat contest.
  • To assure great music, send an email blast asking everyone to name their favorite beach-themed songs. (premium only)
  • Raffle off beach-themed prizes.
  • Set up two kiddie pools; fill one with water and one with sand.
  • Provide plastic sand pails and tools.

As with any community event, use your website to document the party. (Use common sense posting pictures of your neighbors in swimwear!)

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Selecting The Right Senior Housing For Your Parents

Each month we feature one article from our resource guide…

Watching our parents decline in health can be hard enough, but having to decide the level of care they need, the cost of that care and the best way to deliver it can be nearly impossible.

Most seniors want to retain their independence and live in their homes for as long as possible. Some need a little more assistance and some need more intensive care. Here’s a look at three housing options for your aging parents: in-home care, assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

Read More About: Selecting The Right Senior Housing For Your Parents...

Tip: Eliminate Litter From Your Neighborhood

Using your website for litter control is easy…

Successful litter control must be an ongoing effort involving the entire community. Make sure you involve youth, seniors, businesses, clubs…everyone! Removing litter can have a huge impact on the health and beauty of your community

Try these tips to improve litter control:

  • Always set an example by not littering.
  • Advertise your neighborhood events as “Litter Free” and hand out litterbags.
  • Organize “Quick Cleanups” via email blast. e.g. “Inviting all neighbors to go outside for 20 minutes, Saturday at 10am and do a quick litter cleanup!” ( Premium Only)
  • Create a page on your website –show pictures of areas before and after litter cleanup.
  • Organize a litter committee.
  • Report illegal dumping to local authorities.
  • Removed trapped litter from fence lines on a regularly scheduled basis.
  • Make sure homeowner trash cans have lids that can be securely fastened.
  • Ask local businesses to assure their dumpsters are covered.
Clean communities improve quality of life, and have a much better chance of attracting new residents and businesses.

Examples of real communities using their websites to control litter:
Naturally Bexar
Eagle Eyes (Forest Hills Grid 18)
Newberry Towne
West St. Catherine Neighborhood Association
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Tip: Increase Volunteerism...

Use your website to bring people together to volunteer...

Everyone is busy and we all have limited time to volunteer. However, volunteerism is critical to a thriving community. 


Use these ideas to achieve more volunteerism in your neighborhood:

  • Post volunteer opportunities on your website - Keep them updated!
  • Don't ask for long-term commitments.
  • Create volunteer opportunities for families
  • Pair new volunteers with experienced volunteers
  • Publicly recognize and thank your volunteers
  • Post pictures of volunteer efforts on your website
  • Accommodate volunteer schedules
  • Send regular email blasts to all volunteers ( Premium Only)
  • Think about holding periodic "new resident orientation" meetings.
  • Remember that a volunteer’s time is limited!

When volunteers offer their time, they still may not know exactly where to start. They often feel like they need permission to act, especially if they are new to the neighborhood. Invite them to act - The more specific the invitation, the better.

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How To Run A Background Check...

Each month we feature one article from our resource guide…

Whether you’re hiring an accountant for your business or a nanny for your child, you may at some point want to run a background check.

The good news is that you can find a great deal of information online—much of it for free. Here’s how...

Read More About:
How to run a background check

Debt Collection: Know Your Rights!

Each month we feature one article from our resource guide…

I f you’re on the receiving end of debt collection calls and letters, you may feel alone and unprotected. But the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), provides you with certain rights from debt collectors, including lawyers and in-house and third-party collection agencies.

Here’s a brief look at what is, and isn’t, allowed under the FDCPA...

Read More About: Debt Collection: Understand Your Rights!

Protect Your Child From Identity Theft

Learn how to protect your child from identity theft...

You’re aware of the dangers of identity theft—and the hassle of trying to clear your name and credit should you ever become a victim. So you’ve taken steps to protect yourself.

But what about your children? Identity theft among teens and children is growing faster than any other age group. They have clean credit records and crimes against their identity often aren’t discovered for years, making them attractive targets to thieves.

In this month's article, you will learn how to keep your child’s identity safe!
Read More About: How To Protect Your Child From Identity Theft

Fire Safety In Your Community

Learn how to prevent fires with a fire safety plan

Fires can start anywhere at any time. Help keep your homeowners and community safe with regular fire education and preventive actions.

Whether you live in a neighborhood, gated community or a condo building, there are important things you can do to help keep your community—and those who live in it—safe from fire.

Read More About: Fire Safety In Your Community

Financial Records: What To Save And What To Shred

Learn how long you need to keep your financial documents and records…

We all tend to have a love/hate relationship with our financial documents. We love to keep them…but hate the clutter.

The good news is that you can likely get rid of many of those documents you’ve lovingly saved over the years. Here’s an overview of what you should save and for how long .

Read More About: Financial Records: What To Save And What To Shred

Managing Your Aging Parents' Finances

Learn how to find, understand, and manage your parents' finances…

Are your elderly parents having trouble staying organized? Do they forget common things like important dates, or ask for the same information over and over?

Are there reminder notes or memory aides scattered around their home? If so, your parents could be struggling with memory loss.
Among the many difficulties you and your parents will have to face in such a situation is managing their finances...

Read More About: Managing Your Aging Parents' Finances...

Get Rid of Old Debt: Know Your Rights!

Know your rights when it comes to old debt...

By law, debt collectors cannot sue you to repay what is called "a time-barred debt". If you have old debt, there’s good news and there’s bad news. Bad news first: you still owe the money.

Now for the good news: you may be safe from a lawsuit to repay the debt. After a period of time, called the statute of limitations, your debt is considered time-barred, and under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), you cannot be subjected to any legal action to repay that debt.

Know your rights under the FDCPA by following
these guidelines:

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Get Rid Of Old Debt: Know Your Rights!

Year End Tax Tips for 2010

Taxes
New tax breaks may save you money.

There are a number of steps you can take each year to reduce your taxes. This year, several new tax breaks were introduced to help individuals, families and business owners struggling in the ailing economy. Here are a few you may be eligible to take advantage of when doing your taxes in 2011.

No limit on itemized deductions.
While this may change next year for the $100,000-and-over tax bracket, for 2010 there is no limit on any itemized deductions. Before December 31, pay any charitable contributions, local or state taxes, health-care costs, or anything else you can itemize on your taxes.

Credit those college expenses.
The American opportunity tax credit (which expanded and re-named the Hope credit) can be claimed for tuition and other fees paid by students or their parents. (The credit is phased out at higher income levels.) The maximum amount you can claim has been raised to $2,500 for 2010—a $700 increase. The number of years you can claim this credit has also increased from two years to four post-secondary education years.

Read More About: 2010 Year End Tax Tips

Also: Year End Tax Tips To Save You Money....

Buying A Gift Card? What You Need To Know

Gift Cards
Over 77 percent of shoppers will buy at least one gift card this holiday season. If you’re one of them, be sure you understand exactly what it is you’re buying.

For those hard-to-shop-for people on your list, a gift card can seem like the perfect option—it fits any style and, according to the National Retail Federation, is the gift most requested.

While
new laws implemented on August 22, 2010, by the Credit CARD Act regulate fees, expiration dates and other issues related to gift cards, you’ll still need to do a little homework to ensure the card you’re purchasing is the best value. Here’s what you need to know.

Read More About: The Ins and Outs of Buying a Gift Card.........

October Resource Guide

Resource Guide
The Neighborhood Link Resource Guide contains hundreds of useful articles pertaining to Associations, Homeowners, and the General Community.

The articles contain great information on subjects such as: Homeowners Insurance, Real Estate, Health Insurance, How to Start a Neighborhood Watch, Choosing A School for Your Child, FHA Loan Requirements, How To Save For Retirement, and much more....

Below is an index with links to the newest articles in the Neighborhood Link Resource Guide from October 2010.

6 Steps To Create And Manage a Budget

Budgets
Learn how to create a budget in six easy steps to help you reach your financial goals.

Finances are always a top concern for anyone with bills to pay. Yet most of us can probably rattle off half of the Ben & Jerry ice cream flavors before we can give an accurate account of our financial situations.

A budget can help with this. Creating and maintaining a budget can seem overwhelming or restrictive at first. But developing a budget is your best bet for understanding your finances and reaching your goals. And with the variety of tools available these days, you can get your budget started in the time it would take you to eat that pint of Cherry Garcia.

Step 1: Set your financial goals.
Do you want to buy a house? Go back to school? Get out of debt? Whatever your goals may be, put them in writing and then display them where they’re easily visible to you. Seeing your goals every day can be a great motivational tool.

Read More About: 6 Steps To Create And Manage A Budget

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How To Save for College With A 529 Plan

College Savings
Saving for College with a 529 Plan

The cost for higher education continues to grow. On average, students pay $7,020 per year in tuition and fees for public in-state colleges ($11,528 for out-of-state). And if your child is attending a private four-year college? Expect to pay $26,273 per year. And these costs will continue to rise.

Between 2000 and 2010, tuition increased at an average annual rate of 4.9 percent beyond general inflation—more rapidly than in either of the previous two decades.

Luckily, a number of options exist for you and your child to save and pay for college . One savings vehicle that continues to grow in popularity is the 529 plan. Created in 1996 and named after Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, a 529 plan is an education savings tool operated by a state or educational institution.

Read More About: Saving For College with a 529 Plan

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Travel Apps for Your Next Vacation

Travel Apps
Have Phone, Will Travel: Travel Apps for Your Next Vacation

The final article is our summer vacation series. Travel applications for your smartphone can help you get the most out of your next vacation or trip.

We can't live without our cell phones and now, whether you travel a little or a lot, there's a travel application for your smartphone that you'll find you can't live without either.

Need to book a hotel room on the road? There's an app for that. Wondering what the current exchange rate is for the Yen? There's an app for that, too. Trying to find a taxi? You're covered. And many of the travel apps out there can help make your vacation more affordable by finding the best deals and providing cost information upfront.

Here are some of the best travel apps out there to help you pack, organize, travel, stay, learn, eat, track and share your next trip. And since not all travel apps are created equal, prices and phone platforms are noted (as of June 2010).

Planes, trains and automobiles
Need to book a flight, find local transportation or view a train route? These travel apps can help.

Kayak.
Search for flights, rental cars and hotels and get information on your flight status, price and trends. Cost: Free. Available for: BlackBerry, iPhone, Android platforms.

Gate Maps.
Need to find out where gate C4 is at O’Hare? This app offers maps of major airports in the U.S. along with a few from other countries. Great for when you have just a few minutes to catch your connection. Cost: 99 cents. Available for: iPhone.

Airline Seat Guide.
See seating guides for aircraft from most major airlines to select the best seat on a flight. Seats are rated by color: green is good, yellow is average and red you’ll want to avoid. Cost: $1.99. Available for: iPhone.

Transport Maps.
Provides worldwide maps of public transit systems. Whether you need a bus, train or light rail to get where you’re going, you can download the map you need to save to your phone. This travel app lacks route planning, however. Cost: Free.
Available for: Android.

Google Maps.
Shows where you are and how to get where you’re going by driving, walking or public transit. Cost: Free. Available for: Any smartphone platform.

Taxi Magic.
Pull up a list of available cab companies in your area and, in some instances, make a reservation through your phone. Cost: Free. Available for: BlackBerry, iPhone, Android.

Read More About: Travel Apps for Your Next Vacation

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How to Buy and Rent a Vacation Home

Vacation Home
How to Buy and Rent a Vacation Home

In keeping with our summer vacation theme, buying a vacation home for rental and personal use can offer a number of advantages, but is it right for you? Learn what you should consider before purchasing, the tax implications of owning a vacation rental home and how to rent it to offset expenses.

With interest rates still historically low, you may be tempted to purchase a second home to use as a vacation rental home (and for your own personal use as well). There is a market for renting out your vacation home, especially as travelers look for more affordable options closer to home.

Is owning a vacation rental home right for you?
Before purchasing a vacation property, it’s important to research any local laws or property restrictions that could affect your ability to rent your home. In addition, you need to take into consideration the location of your vacation rental home. Is it near a popular tourist attraction or destination, such as a beach? This will affect that marketability of your vacation home. You also need to be sure you are willing and able to:
  • Do the necessary research to estimate how many weeks your vacation property will likely be rented, your monthly costs and your income potential.
  • Give up the use of your vacation home during the peak season, when demand for your residence is the greatest.
  • Put in the necessary work to advertise, screen tenants, and hire cleaning and maintenance crews.
  • Maintain your second mortgage if times get tough in either the real estate or vacation markets.

Read More and Learn: How to Buy and Rent a Vacation Home

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Affordable Vacations: How to Travel Cheap

Affordable Vacations
Affordable Vacations: How to Travel On the Cheap

Since it is June, that means its summer and time to think about vacations! Here are some tips for how to save on everything from transportation to hotels to airfare.

Tired of the “staycation?” Travel can be affordable, even for families. Here are some tips on how to create an affordable vacation.

Save on airfare
Airfare is one of your biggest travel expenses. But there are ways to find cheap airfare:
  • Be flexible with your dates. If you are able to be flexible with your travel dates, you can find some great deals. Traveling during the off-season can save you even more.
  • Be flexible with your destination. If you’re just looking to go somewhere, but don’t really care where, you can take advantage of advertised deals to determine your destination.
  • Shop around. Check several different websites, such as Expedia, Travelocity, SideStep and Kayak. Once you find a deal, check out that airline’s website. Often, you can find the same deal without the extra booking charges. It’s a good idea to check out the airlines’ websites anyway as not all airlines participate in the discount sites.
  • Sign up for airfare alerts. Many airlines and discount sites will alert you when a discount pops up. Simply sign up and indicate which cities you’re interested in.
  • Book a travel package. Check out air and hotel packages. Buying together can be less expensive than purchasing separately.
  • Travel light. It’s almost impossible these days to get around paying for your luggage, but the less you take the less you pay. Try to keep it to one bag per person.

Read More to Learn How To Save On Hotels, Food and Transportation: Affordable Vacations: How to Travel on the Cheap

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Purchasing Individual Health Insurance: What To Know

Health Insurance
Purchasing Individual Health Insurance: What you need to know

Approximately 20 million Americans will be purchasing individual health insurance in 2010 thanks to lost jobs and benefit cuts. Learn more to find a plan that fits your health-care needs.

You can find individual insurance plans through a broker, one of the many online sites, or by going directly to an insurer. In all cases, you’ll need to do some research to ensure you select the best health-care coverage for you. Provisions of the health-care reform will help make this process easier in the future, but for now it’s up to you to carefully review your options.

It’s a good idea to have a basic understanding of health insurance before you begin comparing different individual insurance plans. Sites such as healthinsuranceinfo.net and healthcarecoach.com can provide you with a good knowledge base.

Individual health insurance plan options
Essentially there are three types of plan options for you to choose from: fee-for-service, HMOs, and PPOs.
  • With fee-for-service plans , the insurer will pay for part or all of your care according to the policy you purchase. You get to choose your doctor and medical facility. Fee-for-service plans are typically the most expensive option.
  • Health maintenance organizations (HMOs) require you to pay for your health care in advance through a monthly fee. Deductibles and copays are usually less expensive, but you must use a provider and clinic within the plan.
  • With prefered provider organiztions (PPOs) , you pay a deductible and copay (or coinsurance), but only when health care is received. You can utilize a network of providers and clinics for a discounted, negotiated rate. You can still see a doctor outside of your network, but it will cost more.

Read More About: What You Need to Know About Purchasing Individual Health Insurance

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What Is a Health Insurance Exchange?

Health Insurance Exchange
What Is a Health Insurance Exchange?

As part of the recent health-care reform bill, health insurance exchanges will become available in 2014. Learn what a health insurance exchange is, and how it might benefit you.

Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act
With the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 come many changes to the way health insurance is provided, purchased, and paid for. The Act will touch just about every American in one way or another at some point in time—some provisions of the bill are immediate and others take effect in the coming years. One of the changes that will take place in 2014 is also one of the most controversial: the requirement for citizens to purchase health insurance. To help accomplish this, health insurance exchanges will be established. But what is a health insurance exchange, who runs it, and who benefits from it?

Health Insurance Exchange Explained
The concept of health insurance exchanges isn’t new—two states (Utah and Massachusetts) already have them. But beginning January 1, 2014, all Americans will have access to an exchange. Health insurance exchanges are a place to comparison shop for private health insurance plans. Essentially, they are meant to be cooperatives that enable purchasers to band together, spread their risk pool, and have a choice of a variety of plans.

Exchanges do not offer their own health insurance plans, but instead review policies offered on the exchange to determine if they meet government standards and are “in the interest” of potential buyers. They do not set premiums, but can help keep costs low by removing plans from the exchange due to rate hikes.

Read More Details About: What is a Health Insurance Exchange?

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What Does Health Care Reform Mean For Me?

Health Care Reform
What Does Health Care Reform Mean For Me?

The passage of the recent health-care reform bill has left many Americans confused about how it will affect them. Learn what immediate changes of health-care reform could affect you.

Many Questions!
Will I loose my health insurance coverage through my employer? Will my insurance costs increase? Will the government dictate what type of health insurance policy I have?

These are just a few of the questions Americans have had since President Obama signed into law the $938 billion Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 on March 23. And after a year-long debate about reform and a bill that’s over 2,000 pages long, it’s no wonder people are confused.

So how will the new health-care reform bill affect you? As with any matter this complicated, it all depends—on your age, your income, and other factors. Following is a brief overview of some of the most-talked-about changes that could affect you in the immediate future.

Read More About: What Does Health Care Reform Mean to Me?

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Debt Relief: How to guide to get help

Debt Relief
Debt Relief: How to guide to get help

There’s no easy way to get out of debt, but following these six steps can help you better manage your money and find debt relief.

Let’s face it, Americans love to spend. Unfortunately, we often spend what we don’t have. At the end of February 2010, total U.S. consumer debt was $2.45 trillion, which works out to nearly $8,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. And this number only accounts for credit card debt; it does not include real estate debt.

If you need help reducing your debt load, there are options available for you. Here are six steps to help you find some relief from your debt.

Read More About: How to Get Debt Relief

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Investing for Beginners: The Basics

Investing
The basics of how to invest your money.

Investing doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are the basics of investing for beginners.

Often, people will put off investing their money because it seems too complex or think that it requires a large starting sum. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Here’s a basic guide for those who are new to investing—and it doesn’t require a large bankroll.

Determine your investment strategy
Are you investing for a long-term goal, such as retirement, or for something a little closer, like buying your first home? Are you ok with making riskier investments, which can yield greater returns, or does the thought of a market slip give you the cold sweats? Do you want to be actively involved in managing your investments or would you prefer a more passive role? The answers to these questions will help determine if you should invest in stocks, mutual funds, or bonds—and if you should hire a fund manager or broker, or go it on your own.

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Retirement Savings: What is a Roth IRA?

Roth Ira
Is a Roth IRA conversion right for you?

The IRA rules around income limitations for converting Traditional IRA money to a Roth IRA have changed. Learn more about the Roth IRA conversion changes and how they might benefit your retirement savings.

When funding your retirement savings, it’s a good idea to diversify, using the various retirement investment options available to you. And now, those with high incomes are able to take advantage of the benefits of a Roth IRA, thanks to changing income rules around converting money from a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA.

What is the difference between a Traditional IRA and a Roth IRA?
The most basic difference between these two individual retirement accounts has to do with when you pay taxes. With a Traditional IRA, money you contribute may be tax-free while money you withdraw in retirement is taxed. A Roth IRA is the opposite—money you contribute is after tax and money you withdraw in retirement is tax-free. This, along with other differences, can make it valuable to have both of these retirement savings accounts as part of your overall retirement plan.

Read More About: Is A Roth IRA Conversion Right For You?

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Retirement Savings: What Is A 401K

401K
What is a 401K?

How does a 401(k) work? What are the benefits of having a 401(k) plan? Learn more about the 401(k) to see if it should be a part of your retirement plan.

Of all the various retirement investment options available to workers, the 401(k) is probably the most well-known. The 401(k) plan, named for the section of the Internal Revenue Code which authorized the use of the plan in 1978, is a retirement plan offered through an employer.

These plans gained popularity among employers in the 1980s as an alternative to pensions and are equally popular with employees thanks to their portability, employer matching contributions, and increased control over how money is invested.

How Does a 401K Work?
Contributions are automatically deducted—before tax—from an employee’s paycheck, which makes it one of the easiest ways to increase your retirement savings. Employees select the percentage of pay they want deducted from each paycheck and funds are automatically deposited into the employee’s 401(k) plan. Account holders are able to choose from a range of investment options within the 401(k), which are composed of stocks, bonds, and money market investments.

Read More about: What is a 401K?


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Retirement Savings:What Is an IRA?

IRA
What is an IRA?

How does an IRA retirement plan work? What are the benefits of having an IRA? Learn more about IRAs to see if it should be a part of your retirement savings.

So you’ve got a 401(k) through your workplace and are actively contributing. Good for you! But when saving for retirement, it’s a good idea to take advantage of additional retirement investment options as well. Another way to boost your retirement savings is to open an IRA, or Individual Retirement Account.
How does an IRA retirement plan work?

Unlike a 401(k) plan, which you may be able to open through your employer, an IRA is a retirement plan that you open on your own through any large financial institution. Typically, IRA providers offer a broad range of investment options—including mutual funds, stocks and bonds—so you can diversify your retirement portfolio to best suit your needs.

Like a 401(k) plan, dollars can be invested either through a Traditional or Roth plan. The biggest difference between the two has to do with when your investments are taxed. With a Traditional IRA, you pay taxes when you withdraw your funds in retirement. (However, in some cases, your contributions might be tax free.) The Roth IRA is the opposite—contributions are made with after-tax dollars but withdrawals made in retirement are tax-free. For both plans, you can begin making qualified distributions at age 59½. (With a Roth you must also have had the account for five years.)

Read More About: What Is An IRA?

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Retirement Planning: Investment Options

Diversify When You Invest!

In the other articles of this series, you developed a retirement plan , estimated how much you'll need in retirement savings , and learned a few tips to save more for your retirement fund . Now that you have freed up a few extra dollars, where are you going to put them? Luckily, there are a number of options available to you.

Thus, in the final article in this retirement series, we will give you a brief overview of some of the more common retirement investment options.

Talking with your banker, the benefits department of your company, or a financial advisor can help you decide which is right for you. In general, the key is to diversify and take advantage of as many options as you can as they all offer their own pros and cons.

Read More about: Investment Options for Retirement Savings



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Retirement Planning: Tips for saving

Start Saving Now!

Now that we have started you thinking about your retirement plan and calculated how much you’ll need in retirement savings, it’s time to increase those savings.

The good news is that it’s never too early or too late to start saving for retirement. You don’t have to wait until you’re approaching retirement to make changes in your spending habits to stash extra dollars into your retirement fund account. And if you are 50 or older, you may be able to take advantage of catch-up opportunities that could potentially increase your retirement income.

There are quite a few ways to increase your savings: Read More about: How to Increase Your Retirement Savings






Retirement Planning: How Much to Save?

How Much Do You Need to Save?

When beginning to plan for retirement, often the first question people ask is: How much do I need to save?

Before this can really be answered, you'll need to do some thoughtful planning about the type of retirement you are envisioning; but, in general, you should expect to have saved enough to generate retirement income of anywhere from 70 percent to 120 percent of your current income.

Before your eyes pop out of their sockets, it's important to keep in mind that how much you need for your retirement savings really depends on your situation.

The second in the series of articles will provide you with some tools and tips for calculating your retirement savings number.

Read More about: How Much Do I Need to Save for Retirement?


Retirement Planning: Start Now!


Do you have a retirement plan?

If you were to ask a number of people what they were saving for, you’d get a variety of answers: the latest tech gadget, a new car, a dream vacation, or even those splurge shoes. But the answer you most likely won’t get? Retirement.

Saving for retirement isn’t fun, but it is necessary and something we all need to be actively involved in. Unfortunately, only 60 percent of workers are currently saving for retirement and only 13 percent are confident about having enough money for when they do retire.

Neighborhood Link has created a four-part article series meant to take some of the confusion out of retirement planning by helping you to start thinking about your retirement goals, to estimate how much you’ll need in retirement funds , to find ways to save for retirement , and to help you determine what retirement investment options might work best for you.

The first step in retirement planning is to take time to consider your dream retirement. Will you continue to work? Where will you live? Do you plan to travel? Determining how you want to spend your newly-found free time and where will help you establish your future expenses.

Read more about: How to Start the Process of Retirement Planning

Swine Flu and You

Recently the United States declared a public health emergency in response to the recent reports of swine flu. The information below will help you understand some important facts about swine flu so you may take appropriate actions to help protect yourself and your family.

What is Swine Influenza?

Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs. Swine flu viruses cause high levels of illness and low death rates in pigs. Swine influenza viruses may circulate among swine throughout the year, but most outbreaks occur during the late fall and winter months similar to outbreaks in humans. The classical swine flu virus (an influenza type A H1N1 virus) was first isolated from a pig in 1930.

How Do You Catch It?

Although people do not normally get the swine flu, the virus is contagious and humans can be infected. The virus is spread from person to person by coughing and sneezing. Humans are typically contagious anywhere from one day before the start of the illness to 7 days after onset. Note: Swine flu CANNOT be contracted from eating pork and pork products.

What are the symptoms of swine flu in humans?

According to the Centers for Disease Control , the symptoms of swine flu in people are very similar to seasonal influenza and generally include fever, fatigue, lack of appetite and coughing, although some people also develop a runny nose, sore throat, vomiting or diarrhea,

Are there human infections with swine flu in the U.S.?

In late March and early April 2009, cases of human infection with swine influenza A (H1N1) viruses were first reported in Southern California and near San Antonio, Texas. Other U.S. states have reported cases of swine flu infection in humans and cases have been reported internationally as well. An updated case count of confirmed swine flu infections in the United States is kept at http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/investigation.htm . CDC and local and state health agencies are working together to investigate this situation.

How can I avoid catching it?

  • Frequent hand washing. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also helpful.
  • Avoid contact with those who are ill.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue (or your elbow) when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.

More Information

Updated Resource Guide Features

In response to numerous requests and to the current economic environment, we recently added two new areas to our Resource Guide which concern Relocation and Moving and Thriftiness .

Many people already use Neighborhood Link as a relocation tool when researching a place they are moving to. They can easily check out neighborhoods, demographics, local schools, real estate, and even query people living in a particular neighborhood or city by posting a question in a discussion forum. Thus it seemed like a natural fit for us to add a Relocation and Moving area in our Resource guide that contains profiles for every state and relocation guides that contain essential links (voter registration, motor vehicle, taxes, schools, etc) for someone new to an area. We have also included a series of articles on how to choose a school when moving to a new area.

The economy seems to be the one topic on everyone's mind these days. Thus, we created a new tag in the resource guide, called "Thrifty". The articles with the new thrifty tag all relate to saving and managing your money in the current tough economic environment. Thus, there are articles on credit scores , using grocery coupons , saving money on your cable bills , work-at-home scams , tax credits for first-time homebuyers , and much more. We will be adding many more articles in the future and if you have any ideas for an article, be sure to
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