Cybercrime Alert for Grandparents

There is a very real and terrible scam going on in the U.S. and abroad, in which grandparents are being targeted.

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The scam begins with something most grandparents don’t get enough of—a phone call, email message or a message through Facebook from a grandchild. The scammer, impersonating that grandchild, is frantic and says he’s been hurt in a car accident, or arrested, or gotten in some kind of trouble and needs money fast.

One former scammer told CBS News that he can easily make $10,000 in a single day. He just keeps calling until someone bites. Then he does it again and again.

A typical conversation goes like this:

Hey, Grandma, Hi Grandpa … It’s me Johnny. I’m in a little bit of trouble right now. Yeah, Ashley is good. But I’ve got a problem. If I tell you, just keep it between us. Don’t tell Mom and Dad—they’d freak out and they wouldn’t understand. I’m on vacation, but I got into a little accident, and I was arrested for a DUI. Things got out of control, and I need you to pleeeeeze send me money. Read more

The High Cost of Clutter

Okay, I’ll confess right up front. I’m a clutterbug. However, unlike others in my category, I don’t hang onto junk. No way. My stuff is all highly desirable and very useful. And I plan to use all of it. Someday. Soon.

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I was born with a propensity to be a pack rat. I don’t know where that came from and, quite frankly, it doesn’t matter. I have the problem, and I’m learning to deal with it. And I’m happy to say I’ve made excellent progress. But this did not happen until I was willing to admit to the high cost of clutter in my life.

Disorder creates distractions and confusion. Clutter costs us time, money, and, for some, jobs.

COST: MONEY. Let’s get this one out of the way first. Case in point: Three bottles of seasoned rice vinegar sitting in my pantry, two of them hopelessly past their “best if used by” date. Why? Because one was in the big pantry, the other in a smaller cupboard and the third in the refrigerator—a discovery I made when I determined to get organized. Read more

Three Free Life-Improving Resources

If you are generally wary of free stuff, I’m right there with you. Most of the time, I’ve found, free stuff is like bait. It’s a “tasty morsel,” a big tease with the clear intent of getting us to part with money we have no intention of parting with to get whatever it is that’s “free.”

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But now and then, free is truly free with no strings attached. And when it’s something I find useful in my life, well, that’s a happy find.

Today I have three truly free things for you to consider. Chances are good you’ll find them downright awesome!

KITESTRING

If you, your kids or parents are on a solo trip or even out for a walk alone at night, it’s a good idea to let a loved one know you’re safe (or possibly not). Kitestring is a simple web app that checks up on you and sends a text message to your emergency contacts if you don’t respond by a designated time.

Kitestring is an SMS-based service. If you can send text messages, you can use Kitestring. That spares you the trouble of downloading another app. You don’t even need a smartphone to use Kitestring. Read more

Two Options When Your Social Security Number is Compromised

I just received a letter from a reader that sent chills up my spine. It brought back vivid memories of having my purse stolen while traveling alone in a big strange city. The rental car keys, my cash, my one and only credit card, hotel key—everything I needed to keep going was in that bag.

There was one thing that I was not carrying. My Social Security card was safe at home. As it turned out, and thankfully, everything important in the bag was relatively easily cancelled and replaced.

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Dear Mary: About a month ago my wallet was stolen out of my handbag while in the supermarket. I filed a police report, but they advised me it’s not likely I will ever get my wallet back or its contents. I reported this to my bank and credit-card company. Those accounts were closed and reopened with new account numbers. But I am sick with worry because my Social Security card was in the wallet. I don’t know what to do. What can I do? I so appreciate any guidance that will help give me some peace of mind. I’ve learned my lesson to never carry that with me. Just wish I’d been smarter sooner. Marissa Read more

The One Thing We Need to Keep Going

Encouragement. For me it is a basic need or perhaps a character flaw, I’m not quite sure. All I know is that I need encouragement, and I need it often. I have a feeling that you do, too. This matter of getting out of debt, living below our means and learning how to manage our money can be a very discouraging proposition at times.

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I want to become one of the encouragers in your life—someone you can count on to cheer you on in the good times and help dust you off so you can get up and back on track during the bad times.

I want to be the one you can always count on to help you see the big picture, to point out the glimmers of joy in seasons of sorrow. I want to be there to help pull you up to the top of the mountain so you can see all the beauty below.

Over the years I have built up my own collection of “encouragers.” Some are people, but some are books, websites and activities like exercise and prayer. I know the people, places and things that are a source of encouragement for me. I count on them. They help me to focus and give me the confidence I need to keep going. I try to concentrate more on them than on those people and situations that tend to be discouragers.  Read more

8 Things You Can Do to Beat Tough Times

Recent California wildfires serve as a grim reminder of how quickly ones personal economy can change. If the rain of an economic downturn were to fall on you tomorrow, would you know how to find shelter from the storm?

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Troubles come and troubles go. Economic recovery is sure, eventually. In the meantime, if you play your cards right, you will not only survive a period of economic decline, you will thrive. Knowing how to survive will help you stave off potential disaster.

DEVELOP YOUR GREATEST ASSET.  Your attitude—the way you respond to life and all of its circumstances—is more important than anything. It is more important than the past, than struggle or success, than education or experience. It is more important than how much money you have, how much you owe, what you would like to do or where you would like to go. When you face tough times your attitude will be either your greatest asset or worst liability. The key to changing your attitude is reprogramming your mind. Whatever you choose to focus on is what you will move toward.

ASSESS YOUR RESOURCES.  Figure out exactly what you earn, what you own and what you owe. What insurance do you have? How long would it take your unemployment benefits to kick in? Do you have enough cash to bridge the gap? Read more

Tough Times Don’t Last, Tough People Do

Financial discouragement plagues all of us from time to time. If you’re discouraged about your situation today, there are some things you can do to counter those feeling and attitudes. The most important is to know this will not last forever.

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Let’s say your neighbor just came home with a brand new sport utility vehicle. You are overwhelmed by feelings of desire and envy. There was a time that you would begin immediately to find a way to get a new car, too. But things are different now. You have a new set of values. You no longer make financial decisions impulsively.

The car you have already is paid for and meets your family’s current needs. But still those feelings are bubbling up. Just as soon as you recognize them, start erasing! Replace those destructive attitudes with thoughts of your Freedom Account and the way you are committed to the cash-purchase of your next vehicle; think about not making huge monthly payments, not paying triple insurance premiums, not paying $400 for the annual registration fee, not forking over $600 for that 50,000 mile tune-up. Read more

Simple Rules to Live By

I have a quirk, a kind of brain glitch that annoys me to no end. I cannot easily distinguish left from right. My brain locks up and gives me that infamous “404 Page Cannot Be Displayed” message.

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Of course, I blame this on Mrs. Sailor. It goes back to that day in First Grade when she called on me to answer a simple “left or right?” question. I froze. I did not know the answer.

This was not good for a child who feared punishment for even the slightest infraction. Worse, I didn’t know how I would ever figure it out. No one else in the class had a problem with left and right.

My six-year-old reasoning concluded that the class had learned left from right on a day I was home sick. She forgot to get me caught up when I returned. I would go thirty-five years attributing my problem to a missed lesson. Imagine my relief the day I learned the whys and wherefores of my personal struggle. I have directional dyslexia type of learning disability that can be treated quite successfully with a series of simple exercises.

If I’d only had the courage to say I didn’t understand and to ask for help back then, I might have spared myself a lot of grief.

Perhaps you feel this way when it comes to managing your money. It can’t be that difficult because everyone around you seems to handle their money just fine. It’s as if you were out sick the day everyone else learned the rules of personal finance. Read more