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August 2016 E-Newsletter


Don't Set Off Alarms Playing "Pokémon Go"


Use caution, common sense when gaming near banks.

The augmented reality game "Pokémon Go" is everywhere, but gamers need to exercise situational awareness when playing. As of July 11, the game for mobile phones has been downloaded 7.5 million times in the U.S. and generated $1.6M in daily revenue for its developer, Niantic… and the game has only been available since July 7.

The goal of the game is to collect (or "capture") digital creatures called Pokémon by traveling to real-world locations. Some of those locations, including banks, require consumers to use some extra caution while playing. For example, a player who walks into a bank branch and chases a Pokémon into the vault or behind the teller counter may unwittingly trigger the bank's robbery response procedure.

"Banks take the safety and security of their customers and employees very seriously," explained Rose Oswald Poels, president/CEO of the Wisconsin Bankers Association. "Be respectful of your local institutions' policies while you enjoy playing the game."

Tips for Consumers
If you find Pokémon at a local financial institution, follow these common-sense tips to ensure a safe hunt:
• Ask first - Speak to a manager at the institution and ask for permission to play the game in the lobby of the building.
• Put your phone away - Don't pull out your phone to play inside the bank building until you have permission. As you might imagine, taking video or photos of the building's layout is considered suspicious activity in a bank.
• Take "No" for an answer - If the answer is "no," respect the institution's wishes and find your Pokémon elsewhere, knowing that your continued play in the building could jeopardize the security of other customers.

Source: Wisconsin Bankers Association


7 Banking Tips for Young Millennials


Once you start receiving your first paychecks after graduation, knowing how to spend or save your money wisely can be tough. While you may be able to do your banking with just a few taps on your phone, managing money well is much more complicated. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Budget using apps
Tracking how much you spend weekly and monthly shows you where your money goes and how you can save more. You can use a budgeting app that tracks your cash automatically, such as Mint, or one where you enter information manually, like Spending Tracker. Choose an app that lets you spend as little or as much time on budgeting as you want. From there, you can identify your total fixed expenses, such as rent and car payments, and more flexible costs such as shopping and dining out.

2. Set up automatic transfers to savings
When you have a rough idea of how much you can save regularly, create a recurring transfer from your checking account to a savings account. By making savings automatic, you can get used to spending “below your means” and never have to worry about remembering to transfer.

3. Avoid overdrawing your checking account
Before you pay rent or spend any other big chunk of money, take a look at your checking account's available balance. This can prevent you from spending more than you have in your account. If you overdraw, you may be charged a fee.

4. Establish credit
Student loans and credit cards can help you build good credit — as long as you stay current on monthly payments and don't overuse your cards. Your credit score, which shows how responsible you are with credit, is an important factor that lenders check before approving car loans and mortgages. The better your score, the lower the interest rate you may be eligible for.

5. Repay debts strategically
If you have debts from multiple credit cards and student loans, pay the minimum on each and then contribute more to your higher-interest debts. By making those a priority, you can reduce how much interest you're paying faster than by treating all debts the same.

6. Start an emergency fund
Being financially prepared in case of health emergencies or unexpected unemployment can save you from going into debt. Have a separate savings account just for this purpose — don't mix it up with your regular savings. A good rule of thumb is to save enough to pay three to six months' worth of living expenses.

7. Set long-term savings goals
Consider saving for retirement in an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan or individual retirement account. When you start saving early, you take advantage of compounded returns to make more money off your contributions overall.

From smart budgeting to setting goals, make good money choices now. Since time is on your side, you can benefit from building credit and saving early to be ready for big financial decisions in the future.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Security Q-Tips: Scam of the Week: Summer Olympics Canceled in Rio


The Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are going to be a major event, however, the bad guys are going to exploit this with a multitude of scams at the same time. Anything you receive in email, text, or even voice mail, you should look at with a healthy dose of skepticism, and ask yourself: "Could this be a scam?" Here are six examples but the possibilities for scams are endless:

•Emails with DOC or PDF attachments related to tickets or other special offers related to Rio
•Advertising banners on websites that are poisoned and infect your workstation
•Scam phone calls trying to sell you Rio-related travel or event products
•Links to controversial Rio-related videos
•Claims that the whole event will be moved because of the Zika virus
•Complete fake websites which claim they will sell you cheap tickets to the event
 
So remember, anything to do with the Olympics in Rio the coming months... Think Before You Click!
 
Source: https://blog.knowbe4.com/scam-of-the-week-summer-olympics-canceled-in-rio

Tips for Back to School Savings


Summer may be in full swing, but fall will be here before you know it. That means back to school shopping is on its way. Have you budgeted for school supplies and new clothes yet? The average family will spend an estimated $673 on back to school expenses, according to a recent survey from the National Retail Federation. However, creating a strategic budget and planning ahead can help you keep your family's costs down. Here are a few simple tips to help you stick to your budget during this year's trip through the "back to school" aisles.

Make a list (or get one from the school) and stick to it. Just like having a list for grocery shopping can prevent buying items you don't need, starting your back to school shopping trip with a complete list of items your child needs for the upcoming school year will save you time and money. A related tip: Take inventory of what you already have. Once you have your shopping list, check off any items you already have around the house. Notebooks, pens and pencils, and scissors are examples of items you don't need to purchase every year. This tip also applies to clothing. Basics never go out of style, so you don't need to buy your child a whole new wardrobe every year. When you do need to get them new clothes, buy sizes they can grow into.

Shop Smart. Sometimes quality trumps price. One example: backpacks. Spending a bit more upfront to purchase a good backpack will save you money in the long run, because the higher-quality item will last for years, whereas a cheaper one may need to be replaced in a matter of months. Clothes and shoes are on the other end of the spectrum, however. Children outgrow clothing so fast it doesn't make sense to spend extra money on brand names.

Start looking for sales and coupons early. Going back to school shopping last minute is a sure-fire way to spend more than you need to. Start going through that pile of "junk mail" flyers you get every week for school supplies you'll need. Spreading out the shopping over several weeks not only makes it easier on your budget, but is a good way to make sure you buy as many items as you can while they're on sale, rather than getting everything in one giant trip and only buying a few discounted items.

Finally, use this opportunity to teach your kids about personal finance topics such as budgeting and price comparing. Give teens a set budget for their items, and then go through their list with them to separate the "wants" from the "needs" before shopping. Have younger children participate by decorating plain binders, folders and notebooks (which are cheaper than character-decorated items) to personalize them.

Source: WBA Consumer Column
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Investment Corner: Navigating Medicare and Medigap


Most adults become eligible for Medicare on the first day of the month they turn age 65. Whether you need to sign up, and how to go about doing so, depends on the type of coverage you select and whether you collect Social Security benefits prior to becoming eligible for Medicare.

Medicare Eligibility
If you have already started receiving Social Security benefits before your 65th birthday, you don't have to sign up for Medicare Part A or Part B. Part A is basic hospital insurance; Part B helps to pay for medically necessary services such as doctor visits or outpatient care. You automatically become eligible on the first day of the month you turn age 65. Premiums for Part B (there is no premium for Part A) will be deducted automatically from your Social Security check.

If you are not receiving Social Security benefits, you will be required to sign up for Part A and Part B. Contact your local Social Security office three months in advance of your 65th birthday to start the process.

If you still receive medical insurance from another provider (such as your employer or your spouse's employer), you can wait to sign up for Medicare. To avoid paying a higher premium, you will be required to enroll during the eight-month period that begins during the month your employment ends or the group health coverage ends, whichever is first. Note also that you may be assessed with higher premiums if your modified gross adjusted income (MAGI) is more than $85,000 for single filers and $170,000 for married couples filing jointly.1

Medicare Part C and Part D
Both Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Part D, which is prescription drug coverage, are provided by private insurers whose plans are approved by Medicare. You can obtain information on these providers on the Medicare Website.

You can sign up for both Part C and Part D when you first become eligible for Medicare. You can also sign up between January 1 and March 31 or between November 15 and December 31 each year. Even if you don't currently have many prescriptions, you may want to consider signing up for Part D as soon as you become eligible. If you wait and try to sign up during a subsequent enrollment period, you may be charged a late enrollment penalty and be forced to pay higher premiums.

Supplementing With Medigap
Many retirees supplement their Medicare coverage with Medigap plans, which are sold by private insurers. The state where you live may determine the type of plan available to you. It's important to note that these policies do not cover long-term care, vision care, dental care, hearing aids, eyeglasses, prescription drugs, and private-duty nursing. If you anticipate ongoing use of these services, you may need to obtain another form of insurance or pay out of pocket.

When you sign a contract for Medigap insurance, you usually permit the insurer to access your Medicare Part B claim information directly from Medicare and to bill your health care providers directly. In certain instances, Medigap providers will manage claims for Medicare Part A as well.

Your Rights as a Medigap Beneficiary
Medigap policies cover only one individual, which means that for couples, each partner needs to purchase a separate policy. The best time to purchase a Medigap policy is during the Medigap open enrollment period, which lasts for six months after you are both age 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B. During this period, an insurer cannot refuse to sell you a Medigap policy or impose a surcharge because of your health status.

A standardized Medigap policy typically is guaranteed renewable, which means that, as long as you continue paying premiums, an insurer cannot use your health status as a rationale for cancelling the policy. If you were diagnosed or treated for a pre-existing medical condition within six months prior to a Medigap policy taking effect, an insurer can make you wait up to six months before providing coverage for the condition. In certain instances, if you had health insurance coverage during the six-month period before the Medigap policy takes effect, the waiting period may be eliminated or shortened.

Source/Disclaimer:
1 Source: Social Security Administration, Medicare Premiums: Rules for High-Income Beneficiaries, 2014.

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