The Bullseye - February 2009

Sunday, February 1, 2009

In This Issue:
Avoiding Scams in 2009,
Alumni Update,
Obama's Economic Plan,
Monthly Drawing Winner,
Steps for Raising Financially Responsible Children

Avoiding Scams in 2009

The recent collapse of the American economy and world markets has given rise to something old but new; the modern scam artist. Whether the scammers are individuals or “shady” companies, they have taken advantage of the recession, unfortunately at the cost of others. 
 
One area of caution involves credit counseling and debt relief companies. They give a promise of hope and help to those with insurmountable debt. They claim to help lower monthly payments and get you back on track. What some of these companies don’t tell you is that they aren’t paying your bills, and you are accumulating late payments and other fees. Other companies are just taking your money and running. In the end, you’ll end up owing more than before. To avoid credit counseling and debt relief scams, do your research. Don’t jump on the first ad you see. Find a reputable company, and speak with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). The NFCC has over 100 member agencies and more than 900 local offices throughout the country.  They operate under the Consumer Credit Counseling Service member seal, which represents accredited agencies with high standards. 
 
Another scam to be reticent about are “advance fee loans.” Many people who are desperate for money will jump on advance fee loans. This is a big mistake. First of all, no “legitimate” company can “guarantee” a loan. These companies will always need a fee upfront. To avoid this scam, only apply for a loan through a reputable lender or bank, and never apply for a loan through a company that asks for a fee upfront.  

 

Work-at-home opportunities should always be looked at with suspicion, especially those who demand an out-of-pocket fee. Everyone has seen the advertisements where you can make money at home stuffing envelopes or assembling crafts. Just to start, the company will demand fees for a contact list and/or supplies. Then they don’t send the materials and make off with your money. To check on the legitimacy of a company visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website at http://www.ftc.gov/ for a list of work-at-home scams.  

 

Finally, avoid foreign lottery scams and sweepstakes offers. If a company says you have won money of any sort and then asks for a fee for insurance, processing or any other reason, it is a scam. Avoid it at all costs. You will never see a dime, and they will have your money, or worse, your credit card number.  

 

People who should be particularly weary are those who have been hit hard by the recession. This includes people who have lost their jobs or homes in the housing market crash. Also, the elderly should be cautious and Baby Boomers who have lost a significant portion of their retirement. Scam artists and phony companies will take the time to find those who are vulnerable. Always check with the FTC on any promotion or offer that seems too good to be true. More often than not, it is. 

Alumni Update

 

"I am set at the place of employment that Orion placed me in as a Field Service Engineer at Siemens Medical Diagnostics.  I just wanted to take the chance to thank you and your company for helping me in my transition from 11 years active duty Navy into the civilian workforce. This current  position has proved both lucrative and satisfying along with the added benefit of high job security. I have been promoted once already in a year and a half of service to Siemens, and am  approaching a second promotion this summer to Senior Engineer. 

I cannot thank you guys enough for your help, and have recommended your services to other folks that I know who are coming out of the military." 

 - Thomas Dyer 

Do you have an update to share with us?  Did you get promoted, have a new addition to your family or any other news you’d like to share?  Click here to tell us about it.

Obama's Economic Plan

President Barack Obama has released an outline of his economic stimulus plan. The plan aims to boost jobs and stimulate economic growth. The plan, called “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan,” aims to create over 3 million jobs, most of which (80%) will be in the private sector. 

 

President Obama also called for a reduction in U.S. reliance on foreign oil, as well as increasing renewable energy production two-fold. He called for long-term investments, such as infrastructure building, healthcare reform, and building “21st century” learning institutions. He also proposed direct tax relief to "95% of American workers.” 

 

Working families would be eligible for a $1000 tax credit and individuals for a $500 credit. Some details have not been finalized though. For example, upper income individuals are not eligible for the tax credit, but the upper income level limit has not been determined. 

 

Some have estimated the plan to cost upwards of $850 billion to $1 trillion. Despite the amount, President Obama says this plan differs from traditional Washington policies of “throwing” money at problems and aims for “strategic investments”. 

 

The plan is undergoing review with congressional leaders, and it is hoped by the Obama-camp that it will be passed soon after his inauguration which was held on January 20th. 

 

Congratulations to this Month's Winner

 

Erick Canas won the Job Seeker Referral monthly drawing and is the winner of a $50 gift card. 
 
 
Ready for your chance to win a $50 gift card? You’ll receive an entry into our monthly drawings for Client and Job Seeker referrals for each referral that you submit – good luck and thank you for the referral!

Steps for Raising Financially Responsible Children

Today’s tough financial times can make children question economics. Now is probably the most important time to start teaching your children financial responsibility. Why? Because as parents we need to set a good example and teach the importance of financial planning, especially for times like these.  

A study sponsored by the Council on Economic Education (CEE) indicated that 66% of high school students (without any economic education) tested on basic money skills scored an "F". Only 3% got an "A". According to http://www.msmoney.com/, teenagers are spending about $200 billion of their own money each year and influence an additional 50% of their family spending. This spending power is amazing considering the fact that our youth are so poorly educated on economics.  

Here are some basic suggestions for teaching financial responsibility to our youth.  

Suggestion 1: Be A Role Model: This is probably the most obvious lesson. In order for children or teens to learn, they must have a role model. How often do your children see you buy something impulsively or use your credit card? If they do see you use your credit card, do you explain that you pay your credit card off fully at the end of each month? Setting a good example is the first step to raising financially responsible kids. 

Suggestion 2: Allowance: Yes, allowance is still a critical part of the financially responsible learning model. The key to a successful allowance strategy is making sure that the pay fits the chore or work. 

Suggestion 3: Don’t Fall for the Fuss: As parents, we have all fallen victim to a temper tantrum. Sometimes it is out of embarrassment or because it is just plain easier to buy them what they want. But be warned, this is setting your child up for financial failure. Every time we buy a child something when they demand it, they learn the lesson of “I can get what I want when I want it…especially if I cry.” This lesson has obvious implications. And remember that putting your foot down is worth the struggle.

Suggestion 4: Set Limits: When purchasing an item for your child, set limits. If they want a larger purchase, make them contribute a certain amount or save it for a gift. Don’t buy large purchases on a whim, and don’t purchase something extravagant for a child or teenager. Setting limits will teach your child that money doesn’t grow on trees, and they cannot have everything they want. 

Suggestion 6: Teach Reflective Thinking: Encourage your child to use their allowance for any purchases they make. Help them realize that if they spend all they have, they may not be able to purchase something else. Or, if they see something they want, teach them to wait a day and think about how much they really need the item. Is it something they will use long term? Do they like it as much as they think? Will there be a better deal if they wait for a sale? Encouraging your child to think like this will help them spend less. 

Suggestion 7:  Teach Financial Literacy: Help your child to understand basic personal finance. Teach them how to balance a checkbook, open a savings account, manage a credit card, and build a nest egg.  

Following these suggestions will help set your child up for financial success. Let them understand the struggles of today’s economy and how we got there. Encourage children to be responsible with money and they will be better off for it. 

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