Few African Americans Take Advantage of Retirement Planning Products

Recent research shows that most African Americans/blacks age 50-plus use financial products, such as checking accounts and savings accounts. But only 1 in 10 use retirement planning products, such as a 401(k) plan or individual retirement account (IRA). Millions of Americans haven’t saved any money for their golden years, and millions of others haven’t saved nearly enough. According to the Federal Reserve, the median balance of retirement accounts totals less than $60,000, and many African Americans/blacks have saved even less. >> AARP …

How to Find Reward by Working With Those in Need

As Maureen McCarty and I meet with Maria (not her real name), I realize the compounded struggles of the poor. Maria’s English speaking and comprehension are limited. She and her husband are separated. Her son’s health issues complicate her search for work. And at this moment, with area rents topping $1,000 a month, even for a small apartment, Maria needs rent assistance. Can we help her? Each Wednesday morning, McCarty and other finance counselors who volunteer with a Christ Church’s …

Fewer Struggle With Medical Costs as Obamacare Expands Coverage

WASHINGTON (AP) — Not only do more Americans have health insurance, but the number struggling with medical costs has dropped since President Barack Obama’s health care law expanded coverage, according to a study released Thursday. The Commonwealth Fund’s biennial health insurance survey found that the share of U.S. adults who did not get needed care because of cost dropped from 43 percent in 2012 to 36 percent last year, as the health care law’s main coverage expansion went into full …

10 New Year’s Resolutions to Prevent Scams

Pledging to drop pounds might be the most popular New Year’s resolution, but consider adding these 10 simple steps to reduce your risk of scams in 2015 and beyond: Get your credit report – three times a year. Only about 1 in 6 Americans check their credit reports annually with each of the three credit bureaus, and 1 in 4 check with only one bureau, AARP has found. Bad move, since everyone is entitled to three freebies per 12 months at AnnualCreditReport.com. It’s …

Rising Propane Prices, Shortages Add to Winter Woes

Persistent record-setting low temperatures across much of the United States are making this a tough winter for many families. Households face higher heating bills as prices for heating fuels continue to increase with rising demand sparked by the cold. Price increases for liquid propane have been significant. The Department of Energy estimates that 6 million households, mostly in the Midwest and Northeast, use propane as their primary source of heating fuel. Low inventories and high demand for the fuel have …

Managing Mom’s Money? Do It Right.

Stacks of unopened bills, calls from creditors, compulsive purchases from websites or TV shopping networks, donating sums of money to questionable charities – these may be the signs that it’s time to talk to Mom and Pop about managing their finances. It’s not an easy talk to have. And it’s not an easy job to do. Handling the finances for your parents, or other elderly relatives, involves more than just paying their bills. To understand what’s involved in carrying out …