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ATMs  Businesses  Credit  Credit cards  Debt  Finances  Insurance  Investments  Jobs  Scams  Telemarketers 
ATMs   (AUTOMATIC TELLER MACHINES)

Well before using an ATM:
____ Avoid using ATMs between 7 p.m. and midnight - 50% of crime at ATMs occurs during these hours
____ Choose an ATM where there are a lot of people around, preferably in a store, etc.

Before using an ATM:
____ Have card ready
____ Have forms filled out
____ Try to choose an ATM which is:
          - Well lit
          - In a busy area
          - A drive through
          - Doesn't have suspicious-looking people near it

While using an ATM:
____ Be aware of your surroundings
____ Watch for suspicious people and activity
____ Use mirrors at the ATM to watch behind you
If using a drive-through ATM:
____ Keep your doors locked and raise windows as feasible
____ Keep car running
____ Only open the driver's window
If someone is in the area on foot:
____ Avoid using that ATM

After withdrawing money:
____ Don't show the money
____ Don't stay in the area

If someone approaches:
____ Drive away quickly

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BUSINESSES
Also see: BANKS, BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES, DESK, INTERNET, INVESTMENTS, JOBS, OFFICE, TRAVEL, WORK, WORKPLACE

HOME BUSINESSES:
If you are a parent with small children:

____ Consider giving your children jobs to do to help with the business

During the summer:
____ Send kids to summer camp
____ Arrange for a few hours a day for uninterrupted phone calls
____ Set aside time for kids
____ Lighten workload

If you have someone watching kids:
____ Ensure kids understand why you can't spend more time with them
____ Establish rules regarding when they can and can't disturb you
____ Explain what emergencies are (when you should be disturbed)
____ Line up several babysitters for emergencies

Multi-level marketing:
____ Be very careful - only those who get into it early usually make money

PARTNERSHIPS:
Before going into business with a partner:

____ Be aware that con artists are usually very good at making you feel like you don't need to check them out
____ Ask for following from potential partners (don't be shy) (if they balk, be suspicious):
          - References
          - Business licenses and other professional licenses
          - Degrees
____ Have a background check done on potential partners (- approx. $25-100) including:
          - Business credit check
          - Civil filings
          - Criminal record
____ Get permission (a release) from the person you're looking to check out (if they balk, be suspicious)
____ Look for a data search company under "Information services" in the Yellow Pages

SMALL BUSINESSES:
____ Don't be too reluctant to delegate to others
If you don't have good management skills:
____ Obtain the services and/or advice of professionals - most small business failures are due to poor management

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CREDIT
Also see: CREDIT CARDS, DEBT, FINANCES

If you want to improve your credit rating:
____ Live at the same address for at least 2-5 years
____ Stay at the same job for at least 2-5 years
____ Stay in the same profession/field for at least 2-5 years
____ Avoid using a finance company
____ Use retail cards and bank cards
____ Make payments on a bank card, etc. on time
____ Avoid having too much credit available, e.g., don't always pay off balances

Annually:
____ Check your credit reports

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CREDIT CARDS
Also see: CREDIT, FINANCES

Before applying for a credit card:
____ Determine:
          - The interest rate for purchases (watch out for unspecified rates, e.g., "as low as" a certain rate)
          - The interest rate for cash advances
          - If there's an annual fee and, if so, how much
____ The waiting period before finance

When you receive a new card:
____ Make a note (in wallet, home files, etc.) of phone number to call in event card is lost or stolen

When you receive a notice (e.g., "important changes") with your credit card statement:
____ Read it carefully, looking for:
          - New or increased penalties for paying off your balance
          - Cutbacks in rebate programs, etc.
          - Shorter waiting period before payments are late
          - Higher late charges
          - Penalty interest rate if you're late making payments, e.g., twice

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DEBT
Also see CREDIT, FINANCES

If you are in debt:
____ Keep track of everything you spend for a month
____ Establish a budget
____ Take your credit cards out of your wallet
____ Buy things only with cash
____ Set up a payment plan to pay off debt
____ Consider having a professional counselor help you
____ Call the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (800 388-2227) to find a nearby counselor
____ Consider consolidating your loans

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FINANCES
Also see: COLLEGE, CREDIT CARDS, INVESTMENTS, LOANS, MORTGAGES

ASAP:
____ Establish an emergency fund of liquid assets approx. equal to at least 3 months income
____ Consider using a credit union checking account vice one at a bank - credit unions usually cost you significantly less than banks
____ Save money automatically, e.g., deducted from your pay to go to savings (e.g., company retirement plan, mutual fund, brokerage account, credit union account, bank savings account)
____ Keep your finances as simple as feasible, e.g., reduce number of credit cards, accounts
____ Set up a simple record-keeping system which works for you
____ Plan for retirement daily ... remember that:
          - Life expectancies are increasing
          - Employers have been cutting back on their retirement plans
____ Buy a residence (try to have mortgage paid off by the time you retire) - to take advantage of tax benefits
____ Ensure you have adequate insurance coverage
____ Live below your means
____ Establish your financial goals, e.g., buy a house, pay for college, be able to retire at a young age

REGULARLY:
____ Put a portion of your income into savings

CHECKS:
____ Keep checks in safe place (so criminal won't be able to get your account #, create checks and write checks on your account)
____ Write as few checks as possible (so criminal won't be able to get your account #, create checks and write checks on your account)
____ Draw line after the payee - so crooks can't write in additional letters to make themselves the payee
____ Take outgoing mail with checks in them directly to the PO or a public mailbox, vice leaving in your mailbox
____ Check bank statements immediately for unauthorized checks
If you notice unauthorized checks:
____ Notify bank immediately

____ Consider having payments made automatically from your checking account (mortgage, car, estimated taxes, college savings, insurance, 401K, IRA, etc)
____ Ensure you keep sufficient funds in the account to cover automatic payments


Consider opening an online banking account, e.g.:
#1 Rank by SmartMoney

For more info on finances: newbiesmoneyguide.com

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INSURANCE
Also see: DAMAGE, FINANCES

If you have questions about insurance:
____ Contact the Insurance Information Institute at (800) 942-4242

HEALTH INSURANCE:
If your insurer denies a claim:
____ Seriously consider appealling - most people don't appeal even though many appeals are at least partially successful

LIABILITY INSURANCE:
____ Consider obtaining if you own real estate and/or a business

LIFE INSURANCE:
Before obtaining:

____ Be aware that:
          - You probably don't need life insurance if there is no one who depends on you
          - Children usually don't need life insurance
          - Your first priority should be to obtain some basic term life insurance - to provide your family with funds if you die
          - Whole life and universal life insurance policies are life insurance policies mixed with an investment package - these usually cost you quite a bit up front and don't provide any substantial payoff for many years

PROPERTY INSURANCE:
If your property sustains damage:

____ Consider not filing a claim if the damage is minimal, especially if you have a significant deductible - some insurance companies drop policy holders who file several claims within a short period, even if the amounts are small

For more info:
____ Click on tips

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INVESTMENTS
Also see: BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES, FINANCES

Before investing:
____ Pay off consumer loans (car, etc.)

Investing:
____ Keep no more than a percentage approx. equal to your age in fixed-income investments
____ Try to invest only in socially-conscious stocks and mutual funds
____ Don't invest in anything you don't understand
____ Don't invest in anything quickly
____ Don't hold onto an investment for sentimental reasons

If you consider yourself an aggressive investor:
____ Invest a percentage of your investments in stock funds which is equal to 120 less your age; invest the rest in bonds
If you consider yourself a moderately aggressive investor:
____ Invest a percentage of your investments in stock funds which is equal to 110 less your age; invest the rest in bonds
If you consider yourself a conservative investor:
____ Invest a percentage of your investments in stock funds which is equal to 100 less your age; invest the rest in bonds

If you're considering investing in real estate:
____ Avoid paying more than approx. seven times the projected annual rental income for the property

If you suspect fraud:
____ Contact the National Fraud Information Center at (800) 876-7060

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JOBS
Also see: BUSINESSES, DESK, OFFICE, WORK, WORKPLACE

LOOKING FOR A JOB:
Determining what types of jobs you're looking for:

___ Consider trying to find a job-sharing position

FINDING A POTENTIAL JOB:
When you talk to contacts:

___ Ask for their business card

TAKING A JOB:
Before agreeing to take a job:

___ Does employer offer adoption benefits?

AFTER TAKING A NEW JOB:
___ Advise your child's school of your new work phone number

BEING FIRED:
____ Don't automatically accept the company's first offer(s) regarding severance pay, benefits, etc.
____ Ask for, or demand, a meeting to discuss terms of your termination (- most employees will agree to a meeting to help avoid possible litigation), and, at that meeting:
          - Explain your financial obligations (mortgage, kids in college, etc) and your probable difficulty in getting another job
          - Request the standard severance pay (approx. 4 weeks pay for each year of service)
          - Try to get severance pay paid out over a period of time vice a lump sum payment to help you keep insurance, retirement and medical benefits in place, etc.
          - Consider requesting additional severance pay if you don't have a new job within a specified amount of time

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SCAMS
Also see: COMPLAINTS, MAIL, RIP-OFFS, TELEPHONE (Receiving calls), VISITORS

If you are offered an opportunity, especially one that seems too good to be true:
____ Be aware that once you start going along with a con artist, it's very difficult to keep from being scammed
____ Beware of con artists (confidence games) (e.g., driveway repair, reps from utility company, water pressure problems, requests for change for a large domination bill, requests to borrow an article, well dressed, fix roof, for next to nothing using leftover materials from another job, patch leaky boiler, ?
____ Be aware that most con artists:
          - Work in teams (usually in pairs)
          - Often use any excuse to get into your home
          - Try to intimidate you
          - Are able to gain your confidence
          - Try to fast talk you into agreeing
          - Talk you into a corner
          - Try to keep you from thinking
          - Can be very charming and very convincing
          - Seem like nice guys
          - Are talkative
          - Exploit loneliness, disabilities, charities, infirmities, your willingness to help, and/or your desire to get something for nothing
          - Know how to exploit your weaknesses
          - Can make even the craziest proposition sound plausible
          - Live off of their wit and their looks
          - Are usually well-dressed
          - Are everywhere
          - Prey on elderly

____ Be very wary of anyone who:
          - Claims to be a bank examiner
          - Claims to have won a lottery
          - Asks you to withdraw money from your bank account

____ Be very wary whenever something unusual happens, e.g., something which distracts you

If someone offers you a home equity loan unsolicited:
____ Review Consumers Union

If you believe you are the target of a scam:
____ Contact the police - they may be able to confirm that you're being targeted by a scam and you may be helping to prevent others from losing money to criminals

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TELEMARKETERS
Also see: SCAMS, TELEPHONES

When telemarketers call:
____ Request that they put your name on their "no call" list
____ Request that your name not be shared with other telemarketers
If the same telemarketers keep calling:
____ Document the calls, including date and time - companies can face fines

If you're tempted to give money to a telemarketer, e.g., for a charity:
____ Request that they send you written information
____ Contact the charity directly to verify that the telemarketer actually represents them
____ Never give them your credit card number
____ Never give cash

If you've lost money to a dishonest telemarketer:
____ Be aware that some dishonest telemarketers promise to help people recoup money lost to telemarketers

If you don't want telemarketers to call you:
____ Write to the Telephone Preference Service, c/o Direct Marketing Service, P.O. Box 9014, Farmingdale, NY 11735-9014 and request that your name be removed from national call lists

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