Getting Your Fiscal House In Order

By JIM CHILTON

To err is human, but when mistakes affect your pocketbook it’s not exactly divine.

Don’t feel alone if you’ve committed a financial blunder, though. Two-thirds of Americans have made a significant money mistake somewhere along the way.

Since April is National Financial Literacy Month, this is a good time for anyone to pledge to do a better job handling money, says Chilton, whose organization’s mission is to “eliminate financial illiteracy, one community at a time.”

SOFA does that by conducting free workshops and seminars for corporations, small businesses, government agencies, community colleges, libraries, churches or organizations.

“One thing I always tell people is that you can’t let your emotions get in the way when you are trying to meet your financial goals,” Chilton says. “When it comes to finances, there is always going to be at least a little uncertainty.”

But he says people can go a long way toward financial stability if they avoid these common blunders:

•  Living without a ‘net.’ Bad things happen in life, even to the best people who are trying to do the right things. That’s why you need to set aside savings that will serve as an emergency fund in case you suddenly have major medical problems or lose your job, Chilton says. He recommends a six to 12-month cushion that would cover your mortgage, groceries, utilities and the other necessities of day-to-day living.

•  Failing to check credit reports. More than 70 percent of credit reports contain some sort of error, Chilton says. Meanwhile, identity theft is on the rise. You should check your credit reports annually to make sure you are not a victim.

•  Giving little thought to retirement. Many people fail to properly prepare for retirement. If you think Social Security will take care of you, think again. Social Security is designed as supplemental income, not something that can replace your entire paycheck, Chilton says. You need to plan and save to make sure you can lead the lifestyle you want in your later years.

•  Racking up credit card debt. Credit seems to rule, but cash should be your real king, Chilton says. Americans are carrying more than $800 billion in credit card debt, he says. Making a conscious effort to use cash will help wean you off your reliance on plastic. “If you are struggling with credit card debt, you need to start making a plan to get rid of that debt,” he says.

•  Seeking advice in the wrong places. Uncle Felix may mean well, but he’s not necessarily the ideal person to offer you advice on the stock market. A trained professional is your best bet, Chilton says. Sure, word of mouth can be helpful, but it can be equally hurtful. Before you pick someone to help you with investments, though, do your homework because you want someone with a good reputation, Chilton says. Check with the Better Business Bureau and do a Google search to see what else you can learn.

•  Trying to do too much, too quickly. Financial problems that took years to create aren’t going to be fixed overnight, Chilton says. So ease into your new financial plan. Instead of a dramatic overhaul that could leave you frustrated, try to make small changes that will lead to larger commitments.

“Even as we get older and presumably know more, we are still bound to make a misstep here or there,” Chilton says. “We simply can’t know it all, especially when it comes to our finances.

“But if we realize our limitations, we can at least learn to make fewer mistakes and do a better job of setting and meeting the goals we have for our money.”

Jim Chilton is the founder and chief executive officer for the Society for Financial Awareness, or SOFA (www.sofausa.org), a non-profit public benefit corporation with a mission to provide financial education across America. 

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South Shore Bank President Retiring July 1

South Shore Bank president and CEO John C. Boucher will retire effective July 1, 2015, after nearly 42 years with the Bank.  He will be succeeded by James M. Dunphy, who joined the Bank as Executive Vice President in January 2014.

John Boucher

John Boucher

Boucher has served as President and CEO of South Shore Bank since January 2007.  He joined South Weymouth Savings Bank in 1973, which was merged with Weymouth Savings Bank in 1997 to create South Shore Savings Bank.  He served as Vice President of Administration and as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer prior to his promotion to President and Chief Operating Officer in 2000, and to President and CEO in 2007.

A 1973 graduate of the University of Massachusetts Boston, Boucher completed post-graduate programs at the Massachusetts School of Financial Studies, the Graduate School of Banking at Fairfield University and the Executive Development Program at Fairfield University.  He is a member of the boards of directors of South Shore Hospital, the Massachusetts Bankers Association, Cardinal Cushing Centers and Infinex Financial Group, Inc.

James Dunphy

James Dunphy

Prior to joining South Shore Bank, Dunphy served as President and CEO of Hampshire First Bank from 2006 to 2012.  A Certified Public Accountant and Certified Management Accountant, Dunphy began his career in 1987 as a Tax Preparer at Kennedy and Lehan CPAs in Quincy and became a Manager at Grant Thornton LLP in 1989.  In 1997 he joined Granite Bank as Administrative Vice President and Controller, and was promoted to Senior Vice President in 2000.

Dunphy received his BS in Accounting from Bridgewater State University and earned an MBA at Franklin Pierce College.

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Stephane Jean Baptiste Receives Compassion Award

STEPHENE JEAN BAPTISTE (second from right), a licensed practical nurse at Marina Bay Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, was recently presented the 10th annual John Corridan Compassion Award. The Board of Alliance Health founded the award to celebrate sensitivity, humanity and compassion in giving care to elders and others needing skilled nursing. The award is named in member of John Corridan, a health care executive and founder of Alliance Health who passed away in 2004 after a long fight with colon cancer.Baptiste has been employed at Marina Bay for six years as a nurse. Born in Haiti, he earned his bachelor of science degree in human physiology at Boston University and his LPN from Quincy College. With Baptiste are (from left) Richard Bane, of Bane Care Management; Matt Weinstock, Administrator of Marina Bay Nursing and Rehabilitation  Center and Rick Canty of Alliance Health, Inc.

STEPHENE JEAN BAPTISTE (second from right), a licensed practical nurse at Marina Bay Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, was recently presented the 10th annual John Corridan Compassion Award. The Board of Alliance Health founded the award to celebrate sensitivity, humanity and compassion in giving care to elders and others needing skilled nursing. The award is named in member of John Corridan, a health care executive and founder of Alliance Health who passed away in 2004 after a long fight with colon cancer.Baptiste has been employed at Marina Bay for six years as a nurse. Born in Haiti, he earned his bachelor of science degree in human physiology at Boston University and his LPN from Quincy College. With Baptiste are (from left) Richard Bane, of Bane Care Management; Matt Weinstock, Administrator of Marina Bay Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Rick Canty of Alliance Health, Inc. Photo Courtesy Alliance Health and Human Services

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3 Tips That Could Get Your Home Sold Faster

By Dick Phinney, Realtor

When a potential buyer walks into your home, they should be able to picture themselves in the house.  Careful and creative staging of your home can remove any distractions to that vision.  By following these simple tips, you can sell your home faster.

What is staging?  Staging is a marketing strategy that will help show your property in its best light.  It can range from a simple and thorough cleaning to a complete overhaul of furniture and decorating.

1. De-clutter your home and present the property in “move in” condition.  Personal items such as stacks of mail, newspapers, or magazines should be stored out of sight.  This is also a great time to get started on the cleaning and packing that will come along with moving.  Pack up some boxes and store them in a basement, garage, or spare room.

2. Stick with neutral colors to de-personalize your decorating.  Busy wallpaper and bright wall colors can turn off potential buyers.

3. The autumn season can present certain challenges to the selling process.  Make sure to clean up your yard regularly to remove leaves and debris.  Check that all entryways and steps are stable.

Have a discussion with your Realtor to decide what kind of staging is needed for your home.  At Granite Group Realtors, we have a professional stager who can offer a that can provide a range of consultative services to help with the staging process.

Dick Phinney is an Owner and Partner of Granite Group Realtors with over 30 years of experience in the real estate market on the South Shore.  You can reach him at rcphinney@aol.com 
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Is Your Car Ready For Winter? – Advice From AAA

Consumers have leveraged the changing of the clocks to remember important but infrequent tasks like replacing smoke alarm batteries. AAA suggests motorists also use this event as a reminder to check their vehicle for winter readiness.

“The end of daylight savings time means that winter weather is on the way, which can be rough on your car,” says AAA Southern New England’s Manager of Traffic Safety John Paul. “This is a good time to have vehicle systems checked and perform important maintenance to ensure your car is in peak condition.”

Harsh winter conditions make your vehicle work harder, particularly the charging and starting system, headlights, tires and windshield wipers. AAA recommends that motorists:

  • Clean any corrosion from battery posts and cable connections and wash all surfaces with battery terminal cleaner or a solution of baking soda and water. Have the battery checked by a professional to ensure it is strong enough to face cold weather.
  • Have any engine drivability problems corrected at a good repair shop. Symptoms like hard starts, rough idling, stalling or diminished power could signal a problem that would be exacerbated by cold weather.
  • Replace worn windshield-wiper blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase one-piece beam-type or rubber-clad “winter” blades to fight snow and ice build-up. Use cold-weather windshield washer solvent and carry an ice-scraper.
  • Inspect all lights and bulbs and replace burned out bulbs. Clean road grime or clouding from all lenses.
  • Have your mechanic check the exhaust system for leaks and look for any holes in the trunk and floorboards.
  • Examine tires for tread depth, uneven wearing and cupping. Check tire pressures once a month when tires are cold, before driving for any distance. In extreme climates, a set of winter snow tires may be a wise investment.

 

AAA Southern New England is a not-for-profit auto club with 51 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey providing more than 3.5 million local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services.

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