Miscellaneous information about your money

How to protect it and make it last longer

Why some older people are sitting ducks for con artists

Sad but true, seniors are often targeted by scam artists because they make good victims. Reader’s Digest asked one former con artist, Jim, what it is about some seniors that make them the focus of thieves.

Here’s a summary of what Jim said:

• Senior citizens generally have money. Many are “sitting on fat nest eggs.”

• Their emotional needs are easy to read. They volunteer information about how they love their kids and grandkids, and they share their fears about the global economy and the instability of the financial markets.

• Because of their economic fears, it’s easy to persuade them to buy into phony oil and gas deals and gold coin scams, presumably to hedge against a coming financial crisis. (More about this later.)

• Victims, Jim said, do not ask questions when you are telling them about an “investment.” Instead they answer a lot of questions, giving you plenty of information to make the scam work.

• Victims don’t read paperwork, they wait for you to tell them what is in the paperwork.

Jim is no longer in the scam business, but if he was, he told Reader’s Digest he would focus either on reverse mortgages, or on precious metals. With that in mind, Jim’s mom asked him what advice she could give her friends to help them avoid these scams.

Here’s what he said:

Reverse mortgage. If a senior owns a paid-off home, that’s a large untapped amount of money sitting there waiting to be picked off by a thief. Ask yourself what’s in it for the salesman, Jim said. If he’s successful in persuading you, he gets a huge commission. While it may not be a scam, it’s a better deal for him than for you. Jim’s advice, never sign any paperwork related to your home until an attorney you choose (not recommended by the salesman) approves the deal. This is not to say all reverse mortgages are scams, by any means. But every industry seems to have bad apples who are ready to steal when they get the chance.

Precious metals. The industry is unregulated, said Jim. A victim might pay $25,000 for coins which they are told will increase in value if they hold them for several years. That time frame, “several years” gives thieves cover. When victims do go to cash in the coins, they find out the coins are worth only a few thousand dollars. By that time, the sellers might be long gone.

Again, that doesn’t mean precious metals are not a good investment, but it’s an area that is also ripe for scams. Stick with reputable dealers who have reputations you can check.

Comparison shop for your prescriptions

Are you spending a fortune for prescription medicines? This seems to be the case for most people over a certain age. While it’s comfortable to go to the pharmacy you’ve been with for years, you should know, pharmacists set their own prices for drugs.

Generally big box stores like Walmart or Costco charge much less, because they can. Your local pharmacist may charge more but if they think they will lose your steady business, they may be willing to cut you a deal.

Also check online, at GoodRx.com. They track prices of thousands of common prescription drugs. GoodRx.com is free to use, and may provide you with discount coupons that can save you a bundle.

What’s your money language?

Ever ask yourself, “Why is my wife such a spendthrift?” or “Why does my husband always insist on playing the big shot, picking up the check at the restaurant?” The answers may surprise you.

Most people know the number one reason married people argue is over money. So whether you’re celebrating decades of wedded bliss and money fights, or about to embark on a new marriage, take a look at what Dr. Kenneth Doyle says about “money languages.” Dr. Doyle is a financial psychologist at the University of Minnesota.

Money language shows how you view money and how your spouse or future spouse views money. The differences can go a long way to explain why money creates arguments, and a bit of understanding may help avoid some of those issues.

Where do you fit in these categories?

• Driver: Drivers show love by displaying what money has done for them to improve their lives. A weakness for a driver is that he/she can be overly dependent on money for significance, and may be a little materialistic.

• Analytic: Analytics see money as a way to ward off problems. Their finances are usually well-structured. They are good long-range financial planners. They show love by saving money and looking out for the future well being of those they love.

• Amiable: For Amiables, relationships and people are the focus of their financial desires. To them, sharing their money is the way they show love to family and friends. If they don’t have money to share, they feel limited in their ability to show love.

• Expressive: Money is acceptance to an Expressive. It purchases respect and admiration from other people, and is the basis of relationships with desirable people. Shopping, buying and spending are the ways they gain acceptance from those people. If there is a weakness in an Expressive, it’s that they spend to hide feelings of pain, insecurity or incompetence. They may over-rely on money to solve problems and calm fears.

This information is used with permission from 2014 Marriage Today. You can see more by logging onto Marriage Today and typing “money language” into the search window.

What’s on sale in October?

Readers Digest is kind enough to advise readers when it’s the best time to buy certain items. To save money on planned purchases, take a look at these upcoming deals.

October is a good time to buy:

• Jeans: Stock up on jeans for the family, after the back-to-school sales are over and the leftovers get discounted.

• Outdoor goods: Think ahead to what you will need for next spring, with deals on lawnmowers, gardening tools and even camping supplies. Lawnmowers make great housewarming gifts for your kids or grandkids who may be buying their first homes. When spring comes, they’ll realize they need lawn equipment.

• Toys: Holiday shopping starts earlier every year, and 2014 will be no exception. Ask the kids for their Christmas lists early.

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