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Protect Your Information

April 8, 2011 Leave a comment

How many emails have you received this week telling you that your email has been exposed to unauthorized parties?  At this point, at least four companies have told me that Epsilon, a company that manages customer’s emails, has had a breach that puts me at risk for spam.  Epsilon is used by a wide variety of companies so there’s a good chance that you’ve received an email informing you about the breach.

At best, spam is an annoying part of internet life that you have to put up with from time to time.  At worst, it’s an invitation to have your identity, personal information and/or money stolen.  According to Consumer Reports, in 2009, 1 million households had lost money or had accounts misused as a result of phishing (the practice of trying to obtain sensitive information through fake emails that look trustworthy).

But there are several things you can do to protect yourself.  A Consumer Reports article lists 6 tips you should follow to protect yourself.  By taking some simple steps such as safeguarding your personal information and refraining from clicking on any links in any email, you can make sure you don’t become a victim.

For more ways to protect yourself, check out this article on Yahoo! from CBS moneywatch.com.   Make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your information and your money safe.

Can You Be Too Frugal?

March 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Is it possible to be too frugal?  I think so. With most things, moderation is key.  An MSN article discusses several ways that bring too frugal can do more harm than good.  Cutting out certain items so you can save money may not be the best idea.  The article focuses on nine ways the being frugal can cost you including avoiding regular medical check ups and being underinsured.

But keep in mind that being overly frugal may not just have a negative impact on your finances, it may also have a negative impact on your mental well-being.  There are people who save and save and avoid spending money on enjoyable experiences because they believe that their financial goal is to amass as much money as possible.  But they end up missing out on a lot of fun things in life.  If you’re overly frugal you may want to ask yourself, “Why am I hoarding my money?”  I’ve been guilty of holding on to my money to the point where I’ve missed out on some great opportunities.  I’ve skipped concerts and other enjoyable events because I didn’t want to pay and I didn’t like the idea of parting with my money for something that was not a necessity.  But when I look back, I know that my money would have been better spent on an experience that would lead to great memories.  I wouldn’t have missed that money in the long run but I certainly regret missing the experience.  Now, I make it a point to think about my entire financial picture and understand why I may be hesitant to spend that money.

The point is that spending money isn’t a good or bad thing and saving money isn’t a good or bad thing.  You need to plan and save for your future but you also have to live your life.  You have to understand why you’re spending money and why you’re saving money to make sure that it makes sense for you.

Women in Finance Symposium

March 25, 2010 Leave a comment

As I’ve discussed in the past, your career is closely tied to your financial health.  I try to go to networking events and professional panels whenever I can so that I can strengthen my ability to develop skills and move forward in my career.  Since March is Women’s History Month, I’ve found that many organizations have hosted events specifically geared towards helping women develop skills to advance in the workplace. 

Well, it looks like the U.S. government is also providing some help in this area.  The U.S. Department of Treasury is hosting a Women in Finance Symposium on Monday, March 29 between 10 am and 2 pm.    The panel will include Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman Sheila Bair and many others.  The panel will discuss how they achieved success in the financial world and will answer questions submitted by students and young professionals.  Questions can be emailed to the panel at the following website: WomenInFinance@do.treas.gov.

You have until the close of business on Friday, March 26 to submit your question.  Treasury is also recommending that people gather for “watch parties.”   The symposium will be moderated by CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo.

Categories: Uncategorized

Family and money (and Black Enterprise Magazine!)

March 25, 2010 Leave a comment

There are always questions about nature vs. nurture.  Why do we do the things we do?  Is it our genes or is it our environment?  I believe we are shaped by both genetics and our surroundings.   So I believe that the way I deal with my money is a function of what my parents have handed down to me through their genes and through the way they raised me.

There is an article about me in the April 2010 issue of Black Enterprise Magazine (click here to read it!).  The article profiles me and discusses some of my money tips and how I have managed my money.  The article also discusses the influence my parents and more specifically, the influence my dad has had on my money management.  I grew up watching my dad mind his money, restrain himself from buying extravagant things and maintain a modest life style so that he was able to support his family, pay for  retire at age 60.  I still call my dad when making financial decisions because I respect his money management style.

How have you been affected by the way your parents or the people around you have managed their money?  Do you feel like they passed along information or skills that have made you a financial success?  Or have you had to overcome some bad habits and lack of information?

No matter where you started out, remember that you can control your financial destiny.

Categories: Uncategorized

New Year, New Look

February 24, 2010 Leave a comment

You  may have noticed some changes to my website and my blog.  I’m revamping my website and separating the blog from the business site. 

I will continue to make changes over the next month or so but I will still be posting and you can still find me through www.allmanfinancialplanning.com (just click on the “blog” tab and then click on the link).  Or, you can come straight to the blog by typing in www.yourmoneyandyourmind.wordpress.com.   Enjoy!

Categories: Uncategorized

Do You Need Financial Help?

January 27, 2010 1 comment

I’m not always sure what pops into people’s heads when they hear the term “financial planner.”  Before I decided to pursue financial planning as a profession, I generally believed that financial planners spent most of their time selling insurance or investment products.  And to be honest, this characterization is one of the reasons I did not pursue financial planning a long time ago.  I did not want to be a sales person and I wanted to focus on helping people rather than convincing them to purchase a particular product. 

But I gradually learned about different types of financial planners and I decided to open a practice where clients would not feel pressured to purchase products.  I wanted to provide no-strings attached financial advice to people who wanted to responsibly manage their money.   So I started a fee-only financial planning practice. 

So you may be wondering: is financial planning for me?  Some reasons to use a financial planner include the following:

  • You have no interest or time to manage my finances
  • You would like confirmation that you’re making the correct financial decisions given your goals  
  • You  have a special situation that requires more complicated financial analysis (e.g., chronic illness, special needs child, self-employed)
  • You can’t get your spending under control
  • You need help eliminating your debt

But if you’re still not sure or would like more information on what a financial planner can do for you, I recommend this New York Times article.  As the article mentions, wealthy families have relied on financial planners for years and ” paying for advice is as natural as paying the landscaper.”  But more and more non-wealthy Americans are finding that a financial planner can provide a financial checkup or financial guidance that can help them get on the right track.  Do you fall into any of the groups of people who could use professional financial help?

Categories: Uncategorized

How to Right the Wrongs

January 20, 2010 3 comments

Last week, I wrote about not letting credit run your life.  I stand by that, but that doesn’t mean that credit isn’t important for many aspects of your life.  Potential landlords and employers may check your report for judgments and delinquencies.  And most of us are aware of how important your credit score is in getting the best rates on a mortgage or a loan for a car or education. 

Because of this, it is important to regularly check your credit reports to make sure the information is correct and that you aren’t a victim of identity theft.  To do this you have to actually see your credit report.  Luckily, you have a right to a credit report from one of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) once a year.  To get your reports, go to www.annualcreditreport.com, call 1-877-322-8228 or write to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.  

I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials for freecreditreport.com and freescore.com.  Ignore these sites.  www.annualcreditreport.com is the official website to get your free credit report.  The other sites often charge you for monitoring services and they aren’t always upfront about it (see a New York Times article discussing these issues here).

So, now that you know the right way to get your credit report, you are going to pull all three credit reports.  Look at each report carefully.  Is your name correct?  Birth date?  Accounts?  You’re looking for errors and you need to look carefully.  Does your report list accounts that you never opened?   So what do you do?  Who do you speak with?

  1. Write to each credit bureau (see the links above for addresses)
  2. Include your full name, date of birth, social security number, current mailing address, name and account number of the creditor and item in question, the specific reason for your disagreement and your signature
  3. Send the letters certified mail with return receipt

Click here for a sample dispute letter.  The information in italics should be personalized.

If the agency will not remove the erroneous information, you are entitled to include a 100 word statement explaining your side of the story.

So what do you do once you’ve seen the reports and confirmed that the information is accurate.  Make sure you regularly check your reports to make sure there isn’t any inaccurate activity listed.  You can pay to receive these reports throughout the year, but there is a more frugal way to watch your credit.   If you pull just one report at a time, you can check your report for free three times a year (e.g., pull one in January, pull another in May and pull the last in September). 

There are many steps in the process of becoming financially healthy and pulling and reviewing your credit report is a great place to start.  Keep in mind that your report is free, but your score is not.  You have a to pay separately for score.  But the first step is to review the report and make sure all the information is correct.

Categories: Uncategorized