Virginia Coalition of Police
and Deputy Sheriffs
Ways to cope with the financial
Few working Americans
are old enough to have experienced anything like today’s
financial crisis. With shock and horror, we’ve seen friends and
family members lose their jobs, neighbors’ homes go into
foreclosure, and trillions of dollars in retirement savings
advice is, first of all, Don’t panic. Remember, you’re
not alone. You have the support of a union looking out for your
interests, and working to keep your benefits and your job safe.
This support includes a host of money-management services
available to you at
Union Plus, where our mission is to help guide you down the
path that will protect you best.
Second, be proactive in defending yourself and your family. Here
are 10 recommended steps to help strengthen the financial
security you need in these painful times.
- Pay down debt.
The more you owe, the more vulnerable you are. To pay off
credit cards and other debt faster, consider cutting back on
your spending. If you need information to put together a
plan, go to
www.uniondebthelp.org for tips on digging out of debt,
answers to common questions, and repayment calculators.
- Don't sink deeper into a financial hole.
Swamped with bills? Need a budget? Take advantage of the
Union Plus Credit Counseling program. Experienced credit
counselors will listen to you and your needs, then help you
develop a plan of action you can follow. For a free credit
counseling session, budget analysis, and advice to help get
your finances on a firmer footing, fill out the
online request form or call the 24-hour toll-free line,
- Cut your expenses.
From eating in instead of eating out to slashing what you
spend on incidentals, cutting back on spending lets you keep
more of what you earn. Union Plus offers
discounts on everything from AT&T wireless service to
car repairs to clothing to make it easier.
- Don't fixate on market fluctuations.
If your goal is to build up a nest egg over time, don't let
daily ups and downs panic you into bailing out of the stock
market. Most financial advisers say don't cash-in your
stocks or make any other drastic changes. You still may have
the opportunity to benefit from its historic long-term
growth potential. Tip: Instead of constantly checking your
investments, look at your balance once a month (or even just
once a quarter) to get a clearer view of the big picture.
- Diversify your investments.
This involves putting together a balanced mix of stocks,
bonds, and money market funds or other short-term
investments, with the aim of offsetting "downs" in one asset
category with "ups" in another — a strategy, while not
working right now with all the downs, can help reduce risk
and promote growth through good times and bad. To see if
your investments are well balanced, learn more about asset
Retirees: Be sure you have enough cash for living
If you're retired, the stock market
decline could hit you hardest. Make sure you have enough
cash to cover two or more years of retirement expenses in a
safe place, like FDIC-insured bank certificates of deposit
or a money market fund.
Refinance to a fixed-rate mortgage, if you can.
With a fixed-rate mortgage, you know
how much you'll pay every month — no need to worry about
interest rates resetting or a balloon payment coming due.
(As a union member, you have access to
mortgages through Union Plus.) If you're overwhelmed and
in danger of missing mortgage payments, call the
Union Plus Save My Home hotline now at 1-866-490-5361!
out if your savings are fully protected.
If a bank or federal credit union
fails, up to $250,000 in deposits or shares per owner are
protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) or
the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Check to
make sure your bank is a
Member FDIC or your credit union belongs to
NCUA. This newly increased level of insurance covers all
of your funds on deposit as of October 3, 2008, and is valid
through December 31, 2009.
Protections for investors are different:
*The $1 net asset value of shares in a
money market fund is supported by the
financial strength of the mutual fund company. As a
temporary measure to reassure investors, the U.S. Treasury
will guarantee all assets held in eligible money market
funds on September 19, 2008. If you're concerned, ask your
fund company if it has signed up for the
*Mutual funds and
their management are structured as separate companies with
fund assets held by a custodian, according to the Investment
Company Institute. This means that even if your mutual fund
manager goes out of business, creditors cannot come after
the fund's assets.
*If a brokerage firm fails, up to
$500,000 worth of stocks and bonds in an
investor's account are protected by the
Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), an
industry-funded organization. To make sure your broker is a
Member SPIC, check its Web site or ads.
who stands behind your life insurance.
If you have life insurance or an
annuity (an insurance contract that pays you income), check
the issuer's financial strength on the
A.M. Best website. (After registration, the search is
free.) Your state's insurance guarantee association offers
protection if an insurance company goes out of business.
Most state associations cover at least $300,000 in death
benefits and $100,000 in cash surrender value for life
insurance, and $100,000 in withdrawal and cash value for
fixed annuities. Union members can get
accident, hospital and life insurance protection from