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Placitas library offers its first paid position

With the marvelous response of the Placitas community to the new library building and its services, the Placitas Community Library Board has decided to hire a part-time paid library director (see ad in this issue). The enormous increase in library patronage since the move to the new facility creates a perfect opportunity to have a paid director.

For the past several years, Rebecca Watson-Boone and Anne Frost have served as volunteer codirectors. Rebecca will be retiring from her library volunteering in January. Anne, who has served as director or codirector since the library’s opening in 2004, wishes to scale back her commitment.

Beginning Saturday, September 2, the Placitas library will remain open until 5 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. This change is in response to suggestions from parents wishing to visit the library on the way home from school and from results of a survey of patron preferences for hours of service. As more volunteers are trained and our soon to be hired new director gets settled in, the library hopes to be open an additional day every week, probably in early 2011.

Our first-ever Adult Summer Reading Program was a great success. There were 120 people registered. Over 600 books were read and recorded by the deadline of August 14. Congratulations to Kathy Ervien for being the top reader with 42 books and to Helen Johnson who read 30 books. Both earned gift certificates to Under Charlie’s Covers bookstore in Bernalillo. Judy and Bob Gajkowski did a marvelous job of coordinating the program and hosted a delightful final celebration, complete with prizes, at the library on August 20.

Now that we have some space, we are upgrading and increasing our collection of materials for young adults (ages 12-18). Check out the YA fiction section, to the left as you enter the main room at the beginning of the main fiction collection… not with the “children’s” books. The section is expanding rapidly with many new and recent publications. Many great reads for any age can be found there. Nonfiction for ages 12-18 is shelved in the general collection.  


The high cost of dying

—Jason Alderman

In the past few recessionary years, most of us have gotten used to closely watching our expenses for everything from child rearing to college to retirement funding. Another important area where comparison shopping makes sense is funerals. Yes, funerals.

While it may not make for typical water cooler chatter, dying in America is expensive, and the costs are often borne by grieving family members who are in no mood to haggle.

Expenses vary widely, but a traditional funeral and burial can easily cost $10,000 or more, once you factor in a burial plot, funeral services, casket, viewings, flowers, obituary notices, limousines, etc. But for those whose religious or personal beliefs don’t require that specific funeral protocols or traditions be followed, there are many ways to reduce costs while still honoring your deceased loved ones and their survivors.

Here are a few ideas you may not have considered:

  • Veterans, their immediate family members, public health workers, and certain civilians who’ve provided military-related service are entitled to burial at a national cemetery with a grave marker. Burial for veterans is free, but families are responsible for funeral home expenses and transportation to the cemetery. Go to www.cem.va.gov for details.
  • A $255 lump-sum death benefit that can be used for funeral expenses is available to surviving spouses or minor children of eligible workers who paid into Social Security. Search “death benefit” at www.ssa.gov for details.
  • For many, cremation is a viable, less expensive option to burial, even with the same funeral services. If you plan to hold a viewing first before the cremation, ask the funeral home if you can rent an attractive casket for the ceremony.

Some families prefer not to hold a public viewing of the deceased. For them, “direct cremation” or “direct burial” may make sense. Because the body is promptly cremated or interred, embalming and cosmetology services are not necessary, saving hundreds of dollars. Also, with direct cremation you can opt for an unfinished wood coffin or heavy cardboard enclosure for the journey to the crematorium.

You can purchase a casket and cremation urn from a source other than your funeral home, such as another funeral home, a local casket store, or an online retailer (even Costco and Walmart sell caskets online)—often for far less money. By law, funeral homes cannot assess handling fees or require you to be there to take delivery.

Many people choose to donate their body to science. Organizations are forbidden by law from paying for donated bodies; however, many programs will pay for transporting the body and final cremation. For a list of body donation programs in the U.S., go to www.med.ufl.edu/anatbd/usprograms.html. Also, visit www.anatomicgift.com for additional information on whole body or organ donation.

And finally, it pays to know your rights when it comes to funeral expenses. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces a federal law commonly known as the “Funeral Rule,” which regulates how funeral providers must deal with consumers. Visit www.ftc.gov/funerals for full details.

Death is the ultimate fact of life; it pays to be prepared for what expenses will be so you—or your loved ones—won’t be forced to make difficult decisions during your time of grieving.


Women Starting Over

Women Starting Over

Women are more educated, earn higher incomes and have a more powerful role in the workplace than women of previous generations. But in spite of this progress, 90 percent of women say they feel financially insecure, according to the 2007 Allianz Women, Money and Power Study. The vast majority of women will need to take financial responsibility at some point in their lives, so it is vital that they have the knowledge and confidence to take charge of their financial future.

A 2009 report by The Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) says that women are particularly vulnerable going into retirement. The findings in “How Can Women’s Income Last as Long as They Do?” show that:

  • Women at age 65 are expected to live, on average, another 20 years — four years longer than men. That means they will need to save more for retirement.
  • Less than one third of retired women today receive pension income. And less than half of today’s working women have access to a pension or retirement savings plan through their jobs.
  • For more than 40 percent of older women living alone, Social Security is virtually all that they have. This group is four to five times more likely to be poor than married couples.

“Each stage of life holds events that can shape your financial needs and impact your ability to achieve long-term goals,” says Katie Libbe, vice president of Marketing Solutions for Allianz Life. “Divorce and widowhood are two stages that have significant financial impact for women, so they need to learn how to take control of their financial futures.”

Here are some tips to help begin the process of starting over.

Gather all the information you need to evaluate your current financial situation. These include:

  • Checking and savings account statements
  • Credit card information
  • Tax returns
  • Social Security records
  • Investment information — stocks and bonds certificates, mutual fund statements
  • Insurance policies — homeowner’s, life, auto, health, long-term care
  • Retirement assets — 401(k), pension, IRA, ROTH IRA, annuity statements
  • Deeds
  • Wills and powers of attorney

Evaluate how much money you will need for the next six to 12 months and keep that money in an easily accessible account in your own name.

  • Pay Your Bills. Failure to pay your bills can result in bigger problems due to late payment fees, interest charges, and damage to your credit history.
  • Take it Slow. Don’t make any major purchases or changes right away. Give yourself time to heal emotionally before rushing into major decisions.

If you don’t already have a financial advisor, it may be advisable to get one. “A professional financial planner can help you improve your current financial management and help you through these challenging changes,” says Libbe. “Their expertise and objective perspective can save you time, and help you invest for your future.”

To find a qualified financial advisor, you can ask trusted friends or professionals, such as lawyers and accountants, for references. You can also get references from professional associations such as the Financial Planning Association, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, or the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Make sure that you have a support network made up of trusted family, friends and professionals who can give you feedback, go with you to meetings and help you follow up on the actions you need to take.

For more information on finding a financial advisor and to download free financial checklists for the widowed or divorced, visit allianzlife.com/WomenMoneyPower/ConsumerInformation.aspx.

 

     

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