*** January 2009 ***
* E-zine *

This Month's Highlights:
· Need a Financial Planner?
· Modern Technology
· Health Plan Knowledge

New BeginningsNew Beginnings

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Has the turmoil experienced on Wall Street, Washington and the world's other financial capitals upset your financial well-being? For most of us the answer is probably yes. Hence, the normal New Year's review of your situation and plans takes on added significance. While managing your finances is ultimately your responsibility, getting some help may be the right move. A qualified and knowledgeable financial expert can help maximize your financial resources by helping to generate a plan and then seeing it through execution and success.

The cornerstone to financial success is to have a solid plan and approach. The key elements to a plan are:

  1. Set realistic goals. They may cause you to reach, but they must be reasonably attainable.
  2. Determine your current financial status, including income, liabilities, assets and expenses. Don't forget to consider your estate plans.
  3. Address financial weaknesses and strengths as you generate your plan.
  4. Implement your plan. Most importantly, monitor the plan results often.
  5. Stay alert for changing economic and legislative changes that may influence your results.

Consider the following issues as you decide whether you should engage a financial planner.

  • Do you have both the time and the expertise to do the planning and execution?
  • Would an objective third-party look provide a sounder plan? It would certainly help with emotional or difficult decisions.
  • Can you stay focused to execute your plan through tough environments?
  • Do you have some special financial needs brought on by the following situations?
    • Assuring your money will last
    • Rolling over a retirement plan
    • Inheritance issues
    • Marriage or divorce issues
    • Significant illness
    • Family business to consider

When selecting a qualified financial planner, take a hint from a study by the Wall Street Journal (10/4/2008) that showed that the following planner qualities were very important.

  1. Works in your best interest;
  2. Understands financial situations and goals;
  3. Is available and responsive;
  4. Is willing to listen and discuss ideas;
  5. Provides periodic assessment of plan goals and progress.

Additional financial information for seniors can be found at:

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Had it with modern technology and the shortcuts that seem to make everything more complicated?
Well, with a bit of humor, why not try to get even? The offering below about the over-mechanized joys of banking as experienced by a consumer should give you pause to consider how you will approach similar situations in the new year. Shown here is an actual letter that was sent to a bank by an 86-year-old woman. The bank manager thought it amusing enough to send it to the New York Times, which published it!

"Dear Sir:
I am writing to thank you for bouncing my check with which I endeavored to pay my plumber last month.
By my calculations, three nanoseconds must have elapsed between his presenting the check and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honor it.

"I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my entire pension, an arrangement that, I admit, has been in place for only eight years. You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account $30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank. My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways.

"I noticed that whereas I personally answer your telephone calls and letters, when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, faceless entity that your bank has become.
From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person. My mortgage and loan repayments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by check, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate.

"Be aware that it is an offense under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope. Please find attached an Application Contact which I require your chosen employee to complete. I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative. Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Notary Public, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof. In due course, at MY convenience, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me.

"I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modeled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

"Let me level the playing field even further:
When you call me, press buttons as follows:

#1 To make an appointment to see me;
#2. To query a missing payment;
#3. To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there;
#4. To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping;
#5. To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature;
#6. To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home;
#7. To leave a message on my computer, a password to access my computer is required. Password will be communicated to you at a later date to that Authorized Contact mentioned earlier.
#8. To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 7.
#9. To make a general complaint or inquiry. The contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service.
#10. This is a second reminder to press * for English. While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call.

"Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.

"May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous New Year?

"Your Humble Client,"

(Again: This was written by an 86-year-old woman.) 'YA JUST GOTTA LOVE THEM SENIORS'! And remember: Don't make old ladies mad. They don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to set them off.)

Please note that the event which triggered this letter (i.e., a bounced check) is more the customer's fault than the bank's. One should always verify with their bank that the account holds sufficient funds before issuing a check.

Additional seniors' Aging Process information can be found at:

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New Tuskegee Historic Museum
In the 1940's, Tuskegee, Alabama became home to a "military experiment" to train America's first African-American military pilots. In time the "experiment" became known as the Tuskegee Experience and the participants as the Tuskegee Airmen. The National Park Service has opened the Tuskegee Airmen Historic Site. At this facility visitors can explore the accomplishments of over 10,000 men and women of the "Tuskegee Experience." The Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site museum is in one of the original hangars at Moton Field. The visitor center houses exhibits and a 25-seat auditorium where five historic films that show different aspects of the Tuskegee Airmen Story. Also included are displays that cover the stories of the civilian pilot training program at Tuskegee Institute. This federally funded program was the precursor to military pilot training at Moton Field.

For more information on the new historic site,
visit the National Park Service's Tuskegee Airmen:

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Your Health Plan Knowledge
To avoid surprises when you need benefits, it is wise to review your health plan ahead of time. Three main topics should be reviewed.

  1. What your plan covers. "Covered services" usually include medical benefits, medications, treatments and tests. Be sure to assess the "not covered" items to avoid surprises. If your plan has "preferred providers," using them will generally save you money.
  2. What your costs are. The following costs should be understood: premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and co-pays. Your out of pocket expenses may also include, doctors, hospitals, out of system providers, emergency and after-hours care.
  3. What rights do you have. You should understand the appeals process for charges that you believe should be covered. This should be addressed by the plan handbook or online.

A medical insurance information file should be easily accessible. The file should include plan paper work, letters about plan changes, claim information, and records of phone conversations. In addition, the file should also have your plan representatives' and customer service representatives' names and contact information. An excellent way to assure the file is available when needed and that your caregivers have access to it is to use a digital storage device like offers.
See it at:

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We present here some words from those with a birthday this month.

Eli Manning - "I never try to be something I'm not,"

Joan of Arc - "Act, and God will act"

Carl Sandburg - "I am an idealist. I don't know where I'm going but I'm on my way."

Loretta Young - "I think making mistakes is as inevitable as receiving disappointments."

Michael Stipe - "My feeling is that labels are for canned food...I am what I am - and I know what I am."

More "Thoughts" at:

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1. Family Fit Lifestyle Month
Less than 25% of adolescents eat the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. Few get regular physical activity. While seniors and caregivers are aware of the importance of healthy eating and physical activity habits, they struggle with the best way to implement them. With obesity rates rising among the population, it's important to receive information and realistic tips for making and sustaining healthy nutrition choices.

The focus of Family Fit Lifestyle Month is to encourage proper nutrition and physical activity for families, emphasizing that a bright future starts with a healthy lifestyle. The notion that "Good Nutrition Can Lead to Great Things" reinforces that healthy eating and physical activity are fuel for one's mind and body.

To learn more visit: and use the USDA's Food Pyramid as an effective tool to help make healthy choices.

The ADA is the source for diabetes information. Call 1-800-DIABETES (342-2383) or visit for information and materials.

2. Financial Wellness Month
An estimated 1.8 million families will face foreclosure this year. Not only do foreclosures have a disastrous financial impact on a family, but they also have harsh consequences for entire communities. Just one or two boarded-up homes can send a residential block into a downward spiral, driving down property values and leading to increased crime, rundown schools, and flagging economic growth.

Studies show that roughly 50% of delinquent borrowers avoid contact with their lender, hoping the problem will just "go away." Further, more than six in ten delinquent homeowners are not aware of services that mortgage lenders can offer a person behind in their mortgage.

This month's focus encourages homeowners at risk of losing their homes to call 888-995-HOPE, where they will find quality counseling and financial advice from a trusted, third-party nonprofit on the opportunities available to avoid foreclosure.

Here are some keys to "Financial Wellness"

  1. Educate yourself on financial issues;
  2. Use the counsel of wise individuals;
  3. Plan major expenditures;
  4. Live beneath your means;
  5. Treat your savings as your "first creditor": pay yourself first;
  6. Fund company-sponsored savings plans to the maximum;
  7. Regularly review your financial progress.

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Veterans' Benefits Online
Veterans, survivors, and other claimants can apply online for disability compensation and enrollment in the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) health care system, or for nursing home, domiciliary or dental benefits.

VONAPP is an online system that allows veterans to fill out forms and apply online for various benefits offered by the U.S. Veterans Benefits Administration. The online form can be found at

Ask the VA to help you fill out the form by calling or visiting a VA health care facility. Look in your telephone book under "United States Government, Veterans" to locate your local VA health care facility. Or call VA's Health Benefits Service Center toll-free at 1-877-222-VETS (8387).

Before you call or go to the VA health care facility, gather the necessary materials identified in Step 2 of the instructions. This includes data on your insurance, employment, military service, financial status, and dependents.

Email for Seniors
Would you (or your loved one) like to receive emails without a computer? There is a service and device that can fill the bill. It is focused primarily at those not comfortable with computers or smart phones. It allows the receipt of email, and even photo attachments. The drawback is that this system is one-way -- users can receive email and pictures, but can't send them. The name of the service is Presto. It uses a special printer that connects to a phone line, not broadband. You receive a Presto email address, and any emails and photos sent to you can be printed out. Get your email message printer at: You'll find it as the last item in Gifts for Seniors."

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For Those Who Love The Philosophy Of Ambiguity DJG, Newark, NJ

  1. What do you do when you see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant?
  2. If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages?
  3. Would a fly without wings be called a walk?
  4. Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?
  5. If a turtle doesn't have a shell, is he homeless or naked?

Zen Humor

  1. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
  2. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
  3. Some days you're the bug; some days you're the windshield.
  4. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.
  5. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.

"Oh My Aging Funny Bone" is at:

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SPONSOR'S INFORMATION: We welcome appropriate entities to provide sponsorship support. If you are interested please contact us at: [email protected]

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This issue has been edited by Betsy Day ([email protected]).

Copyright 2009, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Information in this document is subject to change without notice. Other products, service and companies named herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders and are solely responsible for the content of their articles. Articles are included for informational purposes and are not an endorsement.

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