Facing Financial Fears
Maybe your heart skips a beat when bills and bank statements arrive. Perhaps you fear your identity will be stolen or you’ll lose your job. Or it’s facing the looming questions: Have I saved enough? How do I create a budget and make it work? Here are several common fears and how to face them this Halloween.
I fear I may never get out of debt.
How to face your fear: The scariest part is identifying exactly how much debt you have and why. Once you’ve assessed your debt, devise a plan to pay off the smallest debt first. If you need some help contact our financial advisor. We’ll help you come up with a plan to get you back on track.
I fear bills and bank statements.
How to face your fear: Bills and bank statements are unavoidable, but don’t live in denial if you’ve gotten to the point of fearing bills and bank statements you’re probably overspending. Cut back don’t spend more than you make. Then build a budget and stick to it. We have tools and calculators to help you.
I fear my identity will be stolen.
How to face your fear: Be diligent. Monitor your credit reports, bank statements and transactions Sign up to receive text or email alerts from your bank or credit union if your financial institution offers this service.
I fear I haven’t saved enough for my future.
I fear I will lose my job someday.
How to face your fear: Prepare in advance. Establish an emergency fund and stash away at least six months of living expenses.
Remember, facing your financial fears doesn’t have to be scary. The key is to identify the cause of your fears and face them by taking action, making a plan, and being realistic about your situation.
Keeping it cool with a pool
Ahhh, the backyard pool…splashing around with family and friends, a chance to relax and relieve some stress, and a fun way to get some exercise. No wonder they’re so popular. According to the trade group Pool & Hot Tub Alliance, there are 10.4 million residential swimming pools in the United States. And the small window of warm weather in Wisconsin every year makes time at the pool even more special.
So there’s a lot to love about a backyard pool. But like anything else, there is a price tag that comes with it in order to keep everyone safe and make sure you’re financially protected.
With some careful planning and preparation, you can have a great summer with your pool. Before you dive in, you need to recognize the real signs of drowning, take some safety precautions, and make sure you’re financially covered so you don’t get dunked.
Drowning doesn’t look like drowning: It’s silent
Think you know what drowning looks like? Of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In 10% of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening (source: CDC).
Drowning is usually a deceptively quiet event. The dramatic waving and yelling we often see on television and the movies actually rarely happens in real life. Dr. Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D, calls what people actually do to avoid suffocation in the water “the instinctive drowning response.” Here is some of what it looks like:
- People are usually physically unable to call out for help, because speech is a secondary function to breathing. The mouths of drowning people aren’t often above water long enough to exhale, inhale, and call for help.
- Drowning people are pressing down on the water’s surface to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe. Because of this, they’re not likely to wave for help.
- People who are drowning can’t voluntarily control their arm movements to reach out for a rescue item or move toward a rescuer.
- From the beginning to the end of the drowning process, people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no supporting kick. Unless rescued, they will likely bob on the surface of the water for 20 to 60 seconds before they submerge.
It’s still possible for a person to wave and yell for help very early on. Unlike true drowning, they can still grab a lifeline or a throw ring, etc. But that initial period doesn’t last long.
If you see someone who looks like they’re just treading water, looks glassy-eyed, or has their head tilted back with their mouth open, ask them, “Are you all right?” If they don’t respond, you may have less than 30 seconds to rescue them.
And remember—children playing in and around the pool make noise! If the kids aren’t making noise, get to them right away and find out why.
Play it safe
Better safe than sorry is more than just a piece of common sense. When it comes to having a pool, it should be your cardinal rule. Some of the tips below may seem obvious, but it’s easy to underestimate what can actually happen around a pool. Stay vigilant and you’ll reduce the risk of someone getting hurt.
- Always watch your children when they are in or near a pool or spa.
- Can’t find your child? Look in the pool first.
- Have a cell phone close by at all times when you or your family are using a pool.
- Plan out a set of safety instructions and poolside rules and share them with your family, friends, and neighbors.
- You should know how to swim and your children need to learn how to swim. Most communities have lessons available.
- Make sure you’re up to date on the latest CPR techniques for adults and children. Visit redcross.org for classes.
- Understand the basics of life-saving so that you can assist in a pool emergency. Get started by contacting your local YMCA, Red Cross, parks and recreations department, university, or community college for courses in water safety techniques.
- You need a four-foot or taller fence around the pool with self-closing and self-latching gates. Ask your neighbors to do the same at their pools.
- If your house serves as a fourth side of a fence around a pool, install door alarms and always use them. For additional protection, install window guards on windows facing a pool.
- Ensure that your pool has compliant anti-entrapment or safety drain covers—ask your pool service provider if you’re not sure.
- You may want to install pool and gate alarms to alert you when children go near the water.
- Consider using a surface wave or underwater alarm.
Insurance costs and protection
Most insurance companies, like Member Benefits, require a pool to be four feet from the ground to the top of the pool in order to be covered in the policy. For an inground pool, the yard must be fenced in.
From an insurance perspective, swimming pools are considered an attractive nuisance—something that is likely to entice children and could pose a risk of injury. As the owner, you have the burden of taking adequate measures to protect children. Even if someone comes over and uses the pool without your knowledge, you may be liable for any potential injury they may suffer from it. So take safety measures seriously to reduce your risk. You may also want to increase your liability coverage through a personal umbrella policy.
Whether you have a pool or are considering purchasing one, be sure to talk to your insurance company so that you clearly understand your specific options, obligations, and coverages in your plan.
One last thing
Don’t forget to contact your town about local safety standards and permit requirements before you install a pool. Your neighborhood association may also have guidelines for you to follow.
So before you dive into your pool this summer, take some time to understand your risks and responsibilities and keep everyone safe. You’ll still have plenty of time to relax and make some waves.
Keep track of your beneficiaries
While saving as much as you can for retirement is important, it’s just as important to determine the beneficiaries of your account—and keep them up to date.
Naming beneficiaries for your retirement accounts is an important first step in your estate planning. Without careful consideration, your decision may have unexpected tax and estate planning implications.
There are two basic types of beneficiaries. Primary beneficiaries are entitled to receive any undistributed assets in your account following your death. They share equally in your account unless you specify different percentages. If a beneficiary predeceases you, his or her share of your account is divided proportionately among the surviving beneficiaries.
Contingent beneficiaries are entitled to receive any undistributed assets in your account only if you have no surviving primary beneficiaries at the time of your death. If there are no surviving primary beneficiaries, your contingent beneficiaries share equally in your account unless you specify different percentages.
You may name anyone as a beneficiary of your account. Although spousal beneficiaries have the most flexibility with an inherited retirement account, for many reasons you might find it more appropriate to name someone other than your spouse as your primary or contingent beneficiary. You may also name a trust or charity, as well as other options. However, these options may have different financial consequences. Consult an attorney or tax advisor if you have questions about your beneficiary designations.
Types of accounts
The types of accounts that may require beneficiaries include:
- Retirement accounts such as a 403(b) and IRA.
- Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) accounts.
- Other types of investment accounts, such as Member Benefits’ Personal Investment Account.
- Life insurance policies and health savings accounts.
- Some banks will allow you the option of naming a beneficiary on your checking account so that it passes directly to that person.
It’s important to keep your account with Member Benefits up to date as well as any other accounts you may have. When members don’t update their beneficiaries after a major life event and then pass away, those named beneficiaries can no longer be changed. If members have no beneficiaries named on their account, the account will go to their estate. Unfortunately, that can cause many issues and delays in accessing those funds if they are needed.
Be sure to name and update your account beneficiaries on all of your accounts—and make sure they match up with your estate plan as well.
Trampolines: Worth the risk?
But if your plans for summer fun include using a backyard trampoline, make sure you know the risks and realities that come with it. Here’s what you need to consider.
There is a surprising amount of power that can be generated from jumping on a trampoline—children can bounce up to 30 feet, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). According to the CPSC, trampoline-related injuries have been increasing over the years, with an estimated 331,800 trampoline injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2019 alone.
Injuries are commonly caused by:
- Colliding with another person on the trampoline.
- Landing improperly while jumping or doing stunts on the trampoline.
- Falling or jumping off the trampoline.
- Falling on the trampoline springs or frame.
Head and neck injuries account for 10–17% of all trampoline-related injuries. These often happen with falls and failed somersaults or flips and can be the most catastrophic of all trampoline injuries suffered.
An “attractive nuisance”
You may think of trampolines as just a fun way for the family to get some exercise. But from an insurance perspective, they’re considered an attractive nuisance—something that is likely to entice children and could pose a risk of injury. Other examples include swimming pools, discarded appliances, and abandoned cars.
As the owner of the trampoline, you have the burden of taking adequate measures to protect children. Even if someone comes over and uses the trampoline without your knowledge, you may be liable for any potential injury they may suffer from it.
Will insurance cover you?
If you have a trampoline or are considering purchasing one, talk to your insurer about your home policy coverage. Typically, insurance companies handle them in one of four ways:
No exclusions. The insurance company doesn’t place any restrictions on trampoline ownership or usage in accordance with your home policy.
Coverage with safety precautions. An insurance company may include coverage if you have pads to cover the trampoline springs, a net enclosure for the sides, and/or other safety precautions.
A trampoline exclusion. Many insurance companies consider trampolines to be too hazardous to insure. This means no matter who gets injured on the trampoline or how they get injured, the insurance company will not cover those claims.
Refusal to insure the home. Some companies will not write a home policy if there is a trampoline on the premises.
Since trampolines represent a higher risk of liability, you may want to consider purchasing personal umbrella insurance. This may extend your liability protection beyond your existing home policy limit.
However, don’t just assume that because you have one or both of these policies that you are covered. Under some circumstances, you may not be. Contact your insurer so you understand your policy guidelines.
Considerations for renters
Your landlord has the obligation to keep the property reasonably safe for tenants. Since trampolines are considered an attractive nuisance, he or she may risk liability costs for allowing one. Check your rental agreement or speak with your landlord to find out whether or not a trampoline is allowed on the property.
If you decide to take the leap
If you must have a trampoline, put safety first. Take these steps recommended by the CPSC to reduce the risk of injury:
- Allow only one person on the trampoline at a time.
- Do not attempt or allow somersaults because landing on the head or neck can cause paralysis.
- Do not use the trampoline without shock-absorbing pads that completely cover its springs, hooks, and frame.
- Place the trampoline away from structures, trees, and other play areas.
- No child under 6 years of age should use a full-size trampoline. Do not use a ladder with the trampoline because it can provide unsupervised access to small children.
- Supervise children at all times.
- Trampoline enclosures may help prevent injuries from falls.
Regardless of the precautions put in place, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly discourages the home use of trampolines. More than 1 million people visited the emergency department for trampoline injuries between 2002 and 2011, according to a September 2019 report from the AAP. Most patients were younger than 17 years.
The decision to purchase or keep a trampoline comes down to risk versus reward. While they may seem appealing as a fun summer activity, know the safety risks as well as the legal and financial risks to you and ask yourself: Are they worth it?
More about staying safe with your pool
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that you create a pool safety tool kit to have near your pool to ensure you are ready to respond if there is an incident. It should include:
- A first aid kit.
- A pair of scissors to cut hair, clothing, or a pool cover to free someone from entrapment if needed.
- A charged portable telephone to call 911.
- An approved flotation device and rescue equipment.
Once you are set on safety precautions and on knowing all your responsibilities as a pool owner, you can relax and enjoy! Here are a few fun facts about from swimmingpool.com that you might find interesting:
- Swim fins were invented by Benjamin Franklin.
- The first recorded swimming races were held in Japan in 36 B.C.
- The oldest known concrete swimming pool—the Deep Eddy Swimming Pool—was built in Texas in 1915.
- An hour of vigorous swimming will burn up to 650 calories. That’s more calories than walking or biking will burn.
- You need to stay hydrated while swimming by drinking water. Your body still produces sweat as it does with other physical activity, but it is not as apparent since you are already wet.
Have a fun summer!
Coffee or Savings
Take a look and see what saving $20 per month could do for your savings goals with our infographic demonstrating the power of compound interest!
If you would like to download a PDF of the infographic, click on the image.
This infographic and these calculations are for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal, financial, or tax advice. Certain recommendations or guidelines may not be appropriate for everyone. Consult your personal advisor or attorney for advice specific to your unique circumstances before taking action. Your actual situation may be different from the value shown here. This example uses a projected interest rate of 6% for illustrative purposes only. No guarantees are expressed or implied. Results will vary depending upon the actual rate used in the calculation. Over time, the results of any investment will fluctuate, can lose value, and are not guaranteed.
The 403(b) retirement program is offered by the WEA TSA Trust. TSA program registered representatives are licensed through WEA Investment Services, Inc., member FINRA. All advisory services are offered through WEA Financial Advisors, Inc., a registered investment advisor.
Emergency Road Service Reimbursement
For just $1 per month per vehicle, you can get up to $100 of coverage per incident to reimburse you for towing or for labor to bring gas, change a tire, or open your vehicle. A $2 per month per vehicle for up to $250 of coverage per incident is also available.
Give us a call to add Emergency Road Service Reimbursement to your existing policy at 1-800-279-4030.*
*Vehicle must carry liability and comprehensive coverages to add Emergency Road Service Reimbursement. The costs of parts or materials such as gas or tires are not included in the coverage.
Take the risk out of Halloween with proper insurance coverage
As a homeowner, renter, and/or motorist, consider the important role your insurance plays in protecting you and your finances in the event the unexpected happens.
Tricks can be costly when they cause damage to your home or car. Standard home and renters policies generally provide coverage for vandalism, less your deductible. If your car gets damaged, there may be coverage under the optional comprehensive part of your auto policy (if you carry it).
Decorations can be more than scary! Fire damage from a Halloween candle or electrical decoration is generally covered by your home or renters policy. The amount and terms of coverage are stated in your policy.
Is your coverage limit enough to replace your home and personal belongings in the event of a total loss? Too often people under insure their largest investment for the sake of a few dollars each month and put their family’s financial security at risk.
Use extra caution while driving. Remember that kids out canvassing the neighborhood for treats on Halloween night may be distracted by all the costumes and candy. Dimly lit streets make it difficult to see children, so proceed with caution. Accidents that do not involve another driver or pedestrian are typically covered under the optional collision portion of an auto insurance policy, if you carry it. If another car or person is involved in the accident, the liability portion of your auto policy would kick in (up to your coverage limits).
If you have questions about your insurance coverage, call us at 1-800-279-4030.
Subscribe to a simple savings plan
If you’re looking for an easy solution to boost your retirement savings this year, we have one word for you: Automatic. Making contributions directly from your checking or savings account or taking advantage of payroll deduction are the easiest ways to build your IRA retirement savings with Member Benefits.
Chances are you’re already paying for other things automatically through a subscription. Do you watch shows on Netflix, Hulu, or a similar platform? Look forward to monthly boxes of prepackaged meals, beauty products, or the like? If so, you’re probably enjoying its benefits without really missing the money that’s being taken from your account every month to pay for it.
Automating your retirement savings contributions is like signing up for a subscription service to benefit the future you. It’s easy to do with Member Benefits. Just set it, forget it, and watch your retirement savings grow over time.
You have two options to choose from. Both make for smaller, easier-to-manage installments—and they are free with no additional fees.
- SmartPlan: Our popular automatic monthly payment option is a convenient and budget friendly way to make IRA contributions. Contributions are automatically drawn from either your checking or savings account.
- Payroll deduction: Payroll deduction is a convenient option in many Wisconsin public school districts. If available at your district, you can payroll deduct your IRA contributions. Just contact your business office.
Subscribe to a new savings plan—you’ll thank yourself later. Call us at 1-800-279-4030 to learn more, or enroll online to start saving with an IRA today.
Have you planned for this financial risk?
The duration of paid care varies widely. However, according to LongTermCare.gov, about 69% of those who turned 65 in 2017 will need an average of three years of some kind of LTC during their lifetime. And that can be costly. For example, in Wisconsin, the median cost for a semiprivate room in a nursing home for just one month is $8,334 (Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2018).
Unfortunately, most people haven’t planned for this financial risk—only about 7.2 million Americans have LTC insurance (AARP). For many, this means losing their wealth in a short period of time, even for a relatively brief nursing home stay.
Because neither health insurance nor Medicare was designed to pay for LTC services, individuals who require these services as a result of an accident or illness may need to dip into their personal savings or use other assets to cover the costs…unless they have LTC insurance.
LTC insurance can be more affordable than you think. If you meet requirements, plans may include rate caps, limited-time pay options, or the ability to insure two people for a discounted premium.
Contact us at 1-800-279-4030 for more information on our long-term care insurance program.