Social Security has a surplus that now exceeds $75 billion; by the year 2000, that surplus will exceed $225 billion. When the baby-boomers start tapping the system for retirement benefits in the year 2017, the surplus will be over $7 trillion. This money, by law, must be invested in U.S. Treasury securities. This surplus can go a very long way toward helping out the federal budget deficit.
Maybe this is why Congress will hear nothing about cutting the Social Security tax. Once the baby-boomers start receiving benefits, this surplus will shrink. Over your working lifetime you will pay in a substantial amount of money and the bad news is you probably will never recoup your original investment. For some of you that is no different than some of your other investments.
Don't look now but the fees at your local bank will be going up, up, up. Back in my February 1, 1989 article in Dynamic Chiropractic, "Pennies from Heaven," I had a lot to say about the charges that banks were slipping by you. (Now don't tell me you didn't keep that article too! Oh well, if you drop me a line I will send you a copy.) Now they aren't even trying to hide these charges anymore. They are blaming them on the banks that have failed, and the additional cost to them for the FDIC. Some banks are even considering charging you for deposit slips that you will use to give them your money. Pretty soon it will be cheaper to buy a bank machine than to use one.
Even checks are going up again. If you are still buying your checks from your local bank, you deserve all the charges that you are paying. I have mentioned in many past articles that you can get checks that will save you a bundle of money. Need the names and addresses of where to write and get these checks? Send me a self-addressed, stamped envelope and tell me you want the information on the checks, and I will get that back to you ASAP. I haven't bought checks from my bank in years, and I don't have any guilt feelings at all! In fact, I kind of enjoy it.
When was the last time you checked your monthly statement to see just how much your friendly banker is tapping you for this month? You need to watch this very carefully. Remember, "Great oaks from little acorns grow." Those "little charges" add up over the course of a year; if you feel that a charge is excessive, let them know how you feel about it.
There are a lot of banks out there who would love to have your business, so if you aren't happy with the one you have now, get another one. Write that last statement down. It deserves to be added to the list I call the "Greenfield Rules of Economics." "If you aren't happy with the bank you have now, get another one." You might want to write that on the front of your checkbook. You know, the one your bank charged too much for! They have not stopped making banks out there so don't feel like you have to live with one that treats you like a second-class citizen. You will march a lot of cash through their doors over your working lifetime, and they need to keep you happy. Adopt that attitude and you will be a lot better off.
It's not that I don't like banks. It's just that I know what they are, and if we did those things to people, they would put us in jail. Start taking control of your financial world; find out where your money is, and what it is costing you to have it there.
While I am on my soapbox, when was the last time you checked out your entire insurance portfolio, from auto to life? Why not pick up the telephone right now and call your agents and tell them you want a complete review of your coverage done and you want them to send it to you in writing. You don't have time to meet with them. You need the type of coverage, the amount covered, the company who is insuring you, the due dates, the amount of the premium, and the premium mode -- annual, semiannual, etc. Tell them you also want an explanation of why you have each type of coverage and why they used a specific type of policy.
You also need to get financial information on the insurance companies you are using. Are they in any financial problems? Better to find out now. Ask for any suggestions they may have to improve your coverage and reduce your costs. Once you get that, you might want to ask why they didn't make these suggestions earlier.
If you need help trying to figure out what your needs really are, believe it or not, I did a three-part series in Dynamic Chiropractic, "How Much and What Kind," that covers that subject. Need a copy? Just drop me a line; it's yours for the asking. It will certainly come in handy when you start to do your review.
After you have done this exercise, let me know if you save any money and end up with a better program. If nothing else, you will have a better understanding of what you have and why you have it -- not such a bad thing. This little exercise should be repeated every two years, assuming you don't have some major changes in your situation. Don't ever just buy coverage and stick it in a drawer and forget about it for the next 20 years, unless you want to waste a lot of money.
If you need any information on any area of the financial world, drop me a line. I may have a copy of an article that I have done on that very subject. If I haven't done such an article, I'll still send you some materials. You may see a future article in Dynamic Chiropractic on that very subject.
Your comments and inquiries may be directed to:
Stanley Greenfield, R.H.U.
7240 Swansong Way
Bethesda, Maryland 20817
Please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Thank you.
Click here for previous articles by Stanley Greenfield, RHU.