Business & Economy
Read Contracts Carefully Before Signing PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jason Alderman   
Monday, 07 July 2014 12:57

If you always stop to read the fine print before signing anything, congratulations – your parents trained you well. If you don't, beware: Your signature could commit you to a long-term gym membership you don't really want, an apartment you can't afford or worst of all, paying off someone else's loan you cosigned.

Broadly defined, contracts are mutually binding agreements between two or more parties to do – or not do – something. It could be as simple as buying coffee (you pay $3 and the restaurant agrees to serve you a drinkable beverage), or as complex as signing a 30-year mortgage.

Once a contract is in force it generally cannot be altered unless all parties agree. And, with very few exceptions (e.g., if deception or fraud took place), contracts cannot easily be broken.

Before you enter a contractual agreement, try to anticipate everything that might possibly go wrong. For example:

  • After you've leased an apartment you decide you can't afford the rent or don't like the neighborhood.
  • Your roommate moves out, leaving you responsible for the rest of the lease.
  • You finance a car you can't afford, but when you try to sell, it's worth less than your outstanding loan balance.
  • You buy a car and only later notice that the sales agreement includes an extended warranty or other features you didn't verbally authorize.
  • You sign a payday loan without fully understanding the terms and end up owing many times the original loan amount.
  • You buy something on sale and don't notice the store's "No returns on sale items" policy.
  • You click "I agree" to a website's privacy policy and later realize you've given permission to share your personal information.
  • You buy a two-year cellphone plan, but after the grace period ends, discover that you have spotty reception and it will costs hundreds of dollars to buy your way out.

Cosigning a loan can be particularly risky. If the other person stops making payments, you're responsible for the full amount, including late fees or collection costs. Not only will your credit rating suffer, but the creditor can use the same collection methods against you as against the primary borrower, including suing you or garnishing your wages.

Still, there may be times you want to cosign a loan to help out a relative or friend. The Federal Trade Commission's handy guide, "Co-signing a Loan," shows precautions to take before entering such agreements (www.consumer.ftc.gov).

A few additional reminders:

  • Ensure that everything you were promised verbally appears in writing.
  • Make sure all blank spaces are filled in or crossed out before signing any documents –including the tip line on restaurant and hotel bills.
  • Don't be afraid to ask to take a contract home for more careful analysis or to get a second opinion. A lawyer or financial advisor can help.
  • Don't be pressured into signing anything. If salespeople try that tactic, walk away. (Be particularly wary at timeshare rental meetings.)
  • Keep copies of every document you sign. This will be especially important for contested rental deposits, damaged merchandise, insurance claims, extended warranties, etc.
  • Take along a "wingman" if you're making an important decision like renting an apartment or buying a car to help ask questions and protect your interests.
  • Be wary of "free trial" offers. Read all terms and conditions and pay particular attention to pre-checked boxes in online offers.

Bottom line: Contracts protect both parties. Just make sure you fully understand all details before signing on the dotted line.

 
Braley Brings Protecting Social Security & Medicare Tour to Dubuque, Davenport & Burlington PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Braley for Iowa   
Wednesday, 02 July 2014 08:44
Braley discussed protecting the promise of Social Security and Medicare with Iowa’s seniors.

Des Moines, IA – Rep. Bruce Braley today continued his statewide Protecting Social Security & Medicare Tour in Dubuque, Davenport and Burlington, hosting roundtable discussions with local seniors to discuss the importance of the programs to their retirement security and underscoring the importance of honoring the promise of Social Security and Medicare to current and future retirees.

Braley said, “Social Security and Medicare are a promise that if you work hard, the benefits you’ve earned will be there for you when you retire. We need to protect Social Security and Medicare and ensure their promise is honored for current and future generations of workers.

“That’s why I’ve fought against schemes to privatize Social Security and end Medicare as we know it, because gambling Social Security on the stock market and giving Medicare vouchers to seniors puts current retirees at risk. We should strengthen these programs, not undermine them.”

Braley has held similar roundtables in Waterloo, Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. The tour will continue this week with stops in Ottumwa, Ames, Mason City, Sioux City and Council Bluffs.

The tour comes on the heels of a new report released by Braley for Iowa that details the devastating impact of State Senator Joni Ernst’s plan to privatize Social Security and replace guaranteed benefits with personal savings accounts for Iowa seniors. According to the report, Ernst’s proposal would require “radical reductions in benefits”—cutting future retirees’ benefits nearly in half and severely threatening the retirement security Iowans have earned through a lifetime of work. As of 2012, 19,420 Dubuque County residents relied on an average Social Security benefit of $13,994 a year; 30, 730 Scott County residents relied on an average Social Security benefit of $14,333 a year, and 9,575 Des Moines County residents relied on an average Social Security benefit of $14,240 a year.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 530,000 Iowans were enrolled in Medicare in 2012. The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare calculates that Iowa has more than 584,000 Social Security beneficiaries, with the average senior receiving a monthly benefit of $1,131.

Braley has strongly opposed efforts to privatize Social Security and transform Medicare into a voucher program. Braley has also opposed efforts to reduce future Social Security benefits for retirees if cost-of-living increases were shifted to a so-called “chained CPI” calculation.

Last month, Braley earned the endorsement of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare PAC for his strong record of fighting for Social Security and Medicare. And last week, Braley introduced legislation to block planned service reductions at 19 Social Security offices in Iowa.

State Sen. Joni Ernst has called for privatization of Social Security, a position that would undermine benefits for current retirees. Sen. Ernst has also supported plans that would transform Medicare as we know it and pave the way for Medicare vouchers, increasing costs for retirees.
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Modern Woodmen of America National Convention Elects Officers and Reports Progress PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Amber O’Brien   
Monday, 30 June 2014 16:07

President Kenny Massey reports four years of solid growth

 

Indianapolis, Ind. – Modern Woodmen of America President W. Kenny Massey, LeClaire; National Secretary Denis P. Prior, Davenport; and all members of the board of directors were unanimously elected on June 30 by the fraternal financial services organization’s 42nd National Convention. Massey has been president since 2005; Prior has been national secretary since 2009.

An organization with a democratic form of government, Modern Woodmen represents its members’ ideas and concerns through elected delegates who participate in a National Convention once every four years.

Local residents Darcy G. Callas, Moline; David B. Emrick, Davenport; Gary L. Medd, Davenport; and Jerald J. Lyphout, East Moline; were elected to Modern Woodmen’s Board of Directors. Other members elected to the board of directors were Albert Hurst Jr., Little Rock, Arkansas; Judge Robert C. Pollex, Perrysburg, Ohio; and William D. Keltner, Jackson, Tennessee.

Also elected were: Eugene A. Ortis, national adviser, Alexandria, Louisiana; Anthony W. High, national escort, Tompkinsville, Kentucky; Donald D. Wixom, national watchman, Nampa, Idaho; and Cary L. Mathes, national sentry, Parkville, Missouri.

Solid growth

More than 1,300 Modern Woodmen members and guests, including 190 delegates, from throughout the United States gathered at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis, Indiana, to attend Modern Woodmen’s 2014 National Convention.

Massey shared Modern Woodmen’s progress during the four-year period from Jan. 1, 2010, to Dec. 31, 2013, and reported gains in all phases of operation.

—  Assets increased 45 percent to a total of $13.4 billion.

—  Life insurance in force increased 8 percent to $36.3 billion.

—  Surplus increased 33 percent to $1.51 billion.

—  Total benefits paid to members increased 18 percent to $2.9 billion.

—  Fraternal expenditures grew to $77 million, a 10 percent increase.

Modern Woodmen has more life insurance in force than 90 percent of all life insurance companies in America.  The third largest fraternal organization in the U.S., in terms of assets, Modern Woodmen’s A.M. Best Rating remains A+ (Superior) – the second highest of 15 ratings.

“Ten years ago our assets totaled $6.9 billion and today we stand at $13.4 billion,” said Massey. “That’s an increase of $6.5 billion, which makes us the fastest going fraternal organization in America during the past decade.”

Massey explained that Modern Woodmen continues to exist to:

·         Help members in times of financial crises (especially after the death of a loved one).

·         Accumulate funds for a secure retirement.

·         Engage members and enrich their lives with fraternal benefits and activities.

·         Benefit communities through fraternal benevolence and outreach programs.

“Our mission statement reads ‘to improve the quality of life for our members,’” he explained. “We live out our mission every day, it’s in our DNA. It drives our decisions and actions as an organization.”

Fraternal focus

In the past four years, Modern Woodmen’s fraternal programs benefitted members and communities across the country.

  • Fraternal benefits help members, their families and their communities in good times and in times of need. From disaster relief aid to scholarships to providing for orphans, members have a safety net of benefits.  In the last four years, Modern Woodmen gave $4 million in benefits to members.
  • Modern Woodmen put $34.2 million into matching fund activities in the past four years. Matching fund activities allow members to show their support for a community cause or an individual in need.
  • Through more than 99,500 chapter activities across the nation. Members and their families participate in social and volunteer activities.
  • Through nearly 48,500 youth service club activities. Modern Woodmen children from tots to teens discover the benefit of helping others. Youth service club volunteers have given nearly 1 million hours of volunteer service in the past four years.

Modern Woodmen of America is a member-owned fraternal financial services organization. Since 1883, the organization has brought people together, supported families and strengthened communities nationwide. Modern Woodmen – touching lives, securing futures.

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Why the Best Financial Advisors are Also Great Team Players PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 30 June 2014 15:56
Top U.S. Advisor Offers 3 Tips for Successful Collaboration

Individuals and families with large estates have enough to worry about – they shouldn’t have to wonder whether the advisors they depend upon have their best interests at heart, says financial advisor Matthew T. Shafer.

“Many don’t realize that wealthy people are targets for criminals and opportunistic people; that’s why an estate should have a good team of professionals who work well with each other,” says Shafer, author of “The Future of Your Wealth,” (http://mattshafer.us/).

“Wealthy families – and many middle-class families – have multiple advisors who specialize in different disciplines, including attorneys, tax specialists, insurance agents and the like. A family could find the best specialist in each field, but if these experts do not work in harmony, the results can be dreadful.”

These key players are like musicians in a band or orchestra. If they are off doing their own thing with no consideration for the overall production, it will sound terrible, says Shafer, who offers tips for overcoming potential problems within a group of advisors.

•  Keep egos in check. The best lawyers, tax advisors and financial advisors – top performers who’ve spent years honing their skills in highly competitive environments – tend to be strong-minded personalities. When members of the team are required to review the work of another within the team, egos can get in the way, even when all parties can agree that a second pair of eyes can improve work. Advisors should establish a cooperative, collaborative dynamic and avoid pointing fingers of blame; rather, make the priority to do whatever’s best for the client.

•  Educate yourself about other disciplines. “Financial advisors can do a better job for their clients if they’ve taken the time to learn about these other fields so they’re comfortable with cross-discipline conversations,” Shafer says. Better understanding another team member’s profession requires a longsighted view, and there isn’t an immediate payoff. But, as with any educational pursuit, the value will be evident down the road. That value includes clients with increased peace of mind in knowing that their team is coordinated.

•  Be tactful in troubleshooting tough situations. If a team member senses something is amiss in the work of another, first approach another advisor within the team and tactfully ask for help connecting the dots. Give the other advisor every opportunity to identify a problem and resolve a possible mistake. The only exception to this is when you think a crime is being committed. In that case, advisors are legally obligated to tell their client. An accusatory approach tends to damage relationships, or even bring them to an end. The goal is to get the best results for the client, not to criticize the other professionals on the team.

About Matthew T. Shafer

Matthew T. Shafer, author of “The Future of Your Wealth,” (http://mattshafer.us/), is a graduate of American University, where he obtained Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in economics, with a concentration in International Financial Markets. In 2005, Matthew attended the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkley, where he obtained the title of Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA®) and joined the Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA). He has been named one of the top 1,000 Financial Advisors in the U.S. by Barron’s Magazine (2009) and has received several national recognitions, including “Premier Advisor” by the National Association of Board Certified Advisory Practices (2012).

 
Media Link Announces Growth PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Natalie Linville-Mass   
Monday, 30 June 2014 09:39
Rock Island, IL/ June 27th, 2014 - Media Link, Inc. is proud to announce its newest Marketing Consultant Ronna Walker-Johnson. In her new position she will be working with current clients, as well as building additional strategic client accounts.

Ms. Johnson has over twenty five years of marketing experience; with an intense background in broadcast radio, broadcast television, cable, newspaper and web marketing.

"I am thrilled to bring my media experiences full circle and join such an exciting team," says Ms. Johnson. "Media Link, Inc. is truly a major player in this industry. Natalie Linville-Mass has brought this company to the forefront with amazing innovation, and the development of Media Link Software™. I look forward to assisting clients with their business growth; utilizing the comprehensive strategies and innovative technologies that Media Link Inc. can offer.”

"We are very excited to have Ms. Johnson aboard. Her vast media experience and energy to our team makes her an exciting addition to our team.  Her commitment to our company is another step in continuing the growth and expansion of our company." says Natalie Linville-Mass, President of Media Link, Inc.

Media Link, Inc. is a full-service integrated marketing firm specializing in strategic media buying and placement. Media Link works with businesses in the Quad-Cities and around the country to develop and execute customized marketing strategies to help them more effectively reach their customers. Media Link, Inc. recently developed and launched its own media buying software system, Media Link Software™. This company is also one of the only marketing firms in the region to have obtained an 8(a) SDB certification, a designation of significance to clients who contract with the federal government.

 
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