During the month of June, 2012, Ms. B became our first Save Up participant this calendar year to use her savings for educational purposes.
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March 15, 2013
SPRING HOME MAINTENANCE INSPECTION CHECKLIST
Spring is in the air and it’s time to dust off the cobwebs of winter and do a little spring cleaning and check for any home maintenance issues that may have occurred during the winter. Conducting spring home maintenance inspections is a great way to nip problems in the bud and prevent costly repairs in the future.
- Check caulking around doors and windows.
- Test smoke and fire alarms and replace batteries.
- Perform indoor and outdoor pest control as a preventative measure.
- Clean refrigerator inside and out. Don’t forget to pull the refrigerator away from the wall and vacuum.
- Look for missing or broken roof shingles to make a note of needed repairs.
- Cut back tree limbs and shrubs that may be brushing up against the roof, which can cause roof damage if left unchecked.
- Check garden hoses and outside faucets for leaks and repair if necessary.
- Clean out leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts.
Just remember………An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Submitted by Karen Madlock, BAFF Program Coordinator
December 1, 2012
National Neighbors Silver
Our National Neighbors Silver program has served over 600 seniors already this year! As we have added more topics to our learning circle presentations, we have had the opportunity to visit with some seniors more than once. Developing these ongoing learning circles is the key to keeping unbiased information about financial products flowing to senior service organizations and the older adults that they serve.
We are excited to celebrate Go Direct! month with Social Security and the Treasury in January, to help all beneficiaries receiving paper checks to make the transition to direct deposit or to the Direct Express program. In Tennessee each month, about 8% of benefit checks are delivered to recipients through the mail. This amounts to nearly 120,000 checks printed and mailed each month – converting these checks to electronic payments would save $1,297,553 per year in additional costs for paper check handling, for Tennessee beneficiaries alone! We are helping the Treasury to “retire” these paper benefit checks by hosting a “Go Direct!” party with the residents of College Park and SunTrust on January 16. SunTrust staff will be available from the branch located in the College Park community to work with beneficiaries to get accounts and direct deposit services set up, as well as to provide refreshments and door prizes. Anyone receiving Social Security Retirement or Survivors benefits, SSI, Railroad Retirement or Survivors benefits, federal pension benefits from OMB, Black Lung payments from the Dept of Labor, and VA monetary benefits will need to make the change to electronic payments before March 1, or a reloadable prepaid card will be mailed to them with their benefit added to it each month.
We are also very excited about a new learning circle topic that we have added at the request of some of our existing groups. After many questions on these issues, we will be adding funeral planning and consumer rights to our list of discussion topics. We are also hosting a community event, “Transition Planning: Make Your Wishes Known”, on February 8, 2013 at the Benjamin Hooks Central Library. This event is intended for ministers, social workers, and anyone who helps seniors with these decisions, as well as older adults making these decisions themselves. Making decisions now and making them known is the best way to control the cost of funeral services and to ensure that estates and property are handled as they are intended to be. Often, these decisions are made but not documented, which results in additional costs and time for families. It is important to review documents and insurance policies to ensure that matters will be able to be settled and family members will be taken care of. We are looking forward to a great crowd and lots of great speakers to discuss these topics!
November 21, 2012
A season for thanksgiving!
Some Booker T Washington students went on their Thanksgiving break with just one more reason to be thankful! The National Honor Society Inductions for Booker T Washington High School were held right before the Thanksgiving holidays, with 11 students added to the BTW Honor Society. Our very own Ricco Mitchell was the keynote speaker and shared the importance of knowledge and learning. A number of the students inducted were our Goal Card students. We can't help but be proud of their accomplishments and look to continue celebrating their successes!
We are yet preparing our students for the upcoming January Goal Card Redemption Week - January 9-10 from 2:30pm to 4:30pm. We hope to see you there!
October 15, 2012
Today marks the beginning of Medicare Open Enrollment, which will run until December 7, 2012. Any changes made now will be effective on January 1, 2013.
Recent research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that one in four Medicare beneficiaries has a Medicare Advantage Plan. Many more have Part D prescription drug coverage or a supplement plan known as Medigap. Any enrollment changes from or to these plans for next year must be done by December 7.
Many people enrolled in an Advantage Plan are happy with the benefits that they receive – they may not have noticed that changes could be coming for next year, detailed in the mailings sent out from CMS, Social Security, and private insurers. For those happy with their plan, it is important to go through the information from the insurance company to make sure that the coverage will still be adequate, including doctors covered, in-network hospitals, and medications on the formulary. Even those people who are happy with their coverage now should still compare – plan prices fluctuate from year to year, as well as plan coverage.
Also, changes in drug formularies and contracts with drug companies often offer opportunities for lower cost prescriptions. Even for those who are currently happy with their coverage for 2012, another plan may be cheaper for them in 2013.
The Aging Commission of the Mid-South offers Enrollment Assistance at (901) 222-4111.
Also, as always, it is important to remember to find the best deal for you – sales representatives from Advantage Plans make about $400 for every beneficiary who they sign up for the plan. The Aging Commission does not make any money for helping you select the plan that will be the best deal for you.
October 11, 2012
FIVE EASY WAYS TO HAVE A BUDGET-FRIENDLY HOLIDAY SEASON
- Develop a budget for your gift giving and stick to it.
- Start on next year’s gift giving by creating a holiday fund and adding to your holiday fund on a monthly basis.
- Comparison shop and shop early.
- Handmade gifts can be personal, creative and inexpensive. For example, prepare homemade cookies in a decorative tin. You can also considering giving a gift of service.
- Make a donation to a local charity in your loved one’s name.
NOW RELAX AND ENJOY A STRESS FREE HOLIDAY SEASON!
September 11, 2012
September is National Senior Center Month! Our National Neighbors Silver program is busy visiting senior centers throughout the year to distribute information about financial products and services for older adults. Since March, we have visited Frayser-Raleigh, Gaisman, Lakeland, Orange Mound, Arlington, Bartlett, McWherter, and Lewis in Shelby County and the Somerville Senior Center in Fayette County. Our National Neighbors Silver program is only one of the many great things that are going on every day at these centers – and most of them are free, sometimes including lunch!
National Neighbors Silver focuses on older adults who are already retired, but since we will also be older adults someday, we also encourage planning ahead for retirement. New rules require 401k servicers to send more detailed statements with fees and costs, so this is a great time to see where your 401k is and how you could be earning more, sometimes by contributing the same amount and just making changes to the plan you have chosen. This great video from the Department of Labor explains why it is so important to read these statements closely to ensure that your retirement is as secure as possible and what to look for.
Rise Foundation's Top 10 Budget Friendly Grocery Shopping Tips
September 1, 2012:
- Try generic brands. The price may be less without sacrificing the quality.
- Sometimes you get a better bargain when you shop in bulk.
- Stock up on staples when they are on sale.
- Cook from scratch. It’s cheaper and healthier than buying prepared processed foods.
- Keep tabs on your total dollar amount as you shop to avoid busting your budget at the register.
- Know where to shop for the best bargains and plan your trips to save gas.
- Eat vegetarian a couple of nights a week.
- Don’t shop when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. You may wind up spending more money than you anticipate.
- Take the time to comparison shop. Initially, it may be time consuming, but, it is definitely worth it.
- Set a monthly written budget that includes a category for groceries and stick to it.
NNS Program for Seniors Off to a Fantastic Start!
August 2, 2012
National Neighbors Silver will be training ambassadors on August 10. We are very excited to be working on our first three subject modules and group facilitation skills with seniors. We have hosted learning circles with 220 older adults discussing how to detect scams, what regulators to investigate offers of products and services with, and what to do after being victimized by a scam.
We have also started to roll out another module about budgeting and have hosted two learning circles with 13 participants so far. One of our partners in National Neighbors Silver, the Aging Commission of the Mid-South, has data identifying how many Medicare beneficiaries qualify for help paying for their medicine. There are nearly 4,000 residents in Shelby County alone who could be receiving help with their prescription costs each month! Many of these same beneficiaries are eligible for help paying their Medicare Part B premium also. Helping the seniors that come to our learning circles with accessing these benefits is an important part of the discussion about budgeting.
We also will be focusing on the transition to all federal payments being made electronically, rather than by paper check. This change is a great opportunity to help people connect with low-cost bank accounts in the community, which will also help them save money! The St. Louis branch of the Federal Reserve calculated the cost of cashing checks and purchasing money orders each month and found the cost to be almost $100 for a $20,000 earner. Many seniors live on only Social Security, so their incomes are under that $20,000 mark and it is even more important to help them save money wherever possible. We are especially interested in helping people connect with a bank with age-friendly services. One of the priorities of the National Neighbors Silver network of partners is to define and promote age-friendly banking. There are great features available in checking accounts designed for seniors, but they vary widely from bank to bank. Helping our learning circles discover what features are most important to them and where they can find these at the lowest cost is just a part of helping them make the transition to direct deposit and to keep their benefits safe.
RISE GOAL CARD - GEARING UP FOR THIS SCHOOL YEAR!
August 1, 2012
We have begun with this year's registration for the 2012-2013 Goal Card year! Thank you to all of our participating schools for allowing us to return and encouraging the students to participate in such a great program. We registered well over 100 students, not including the pre-registered one's from the end of the year 2011-2012. We are grateful for the high demand and anticipate sharing fresh and much needed financial and academic wisdom with our students.
Redemption Weeks 2012-2013 (tentative and based on Report Card Issue)
October 17- 18
January 9- 11
RISE Goal Card Staff at KIPP Academy
July 16, 2012:
This past week, Goal Card staff worked with 11th grade students from the KIPP Academy around financial literacy for teens. KIPP prepares all of their students to enter post-secondary schools following graduation from high school, and felt that one area that they needed assistance with, was preparing their students to plan financially for their future. RISE Goal Card staff created activities and asked former Goal Card students (now in college) to share their experience with the KIPP youth. It was an exciting day and staff will work with the 12th graders this week.
This is an example of how RISE networks with other organizations to help individuals in our community to make better financial choices. Stay tuned to hear about other ways RISE is collaborating in the City of Memphis.
National Neighbors Silver Now Underway
June 29, 2012:
National Neighbors Silver is a new RISE initiative. Since the launch of the program in early April, we have been out in the community, discussing financial issues with seniors and providing information about community resources. We are developing a comprehensive financial education program for older adults with modules about common senior issues. The first topic module that we have rolled out is scams and fraud.
In the first 3 months, we have visited 14 groups in community centers, nonprofits, and senior housing. We’ve met with over 150 older adults and educated them about how to avoid scams and what to do if they are victims of a scam. We have also been recruiting ambassadors to help us reach a bigger part of the community. Soon, we will be hosting training for our first group of ambassadors so they can get out and start to work with senior groups. In the next few months, we have many more visits to community groups scheduled. We are also revisiting some groups to discuss other topics. We would love to come speak to any older adult group in the community – if you have a church, civic, or neighborhood group that would be interested in learning more, please contact us! We are looking forward to our next two topics for community presentations, coming soon – the "Social Security Go Direct! transition" and budgeting.