For the week of August 4, 2008
The U.S. stock market faced a bumpy end to the week as news of General Motors large quarterly loss
and a rise in oil prices sent stocks falling on Friday. For the week, the Dow was down 0.37 percent to
end at 11,326.32. The NASDAQ remained flat up only 0.02 percent to close the week at 2,310.96, while
the S&P finished up 0.24 percent, ending the week at 1,260.31.
Source: Morningstar.com. * Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and
cannot be invested into directly. Three and five-year returns are annualized. The S&P, excluding “1 Week”
returns, is a reflection of return to an investor, by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax.
Unclaimed Stimulus Checks – The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported last week that
more than 5 million Americans have not claimed their share of the $170 billion in economic stimulus
funds. The federal government automatically sent checks in late May, June and July to taxpayers who had
filed a 2007 return. Those who have not filed a return or requested a stimulus check have until Oct. 15,
2008, to claim their payments.
Up For Now – The Social Security trust fund had $179 billion more of taxes paid into the fund than
expenditures it paid out (in the form of benefit payments) during calendar year 2007 (Source: Social
Security Administration, BTN Research).
Add And Subtract – There were 4.3 million births of American babies during calendar year 2007.
There were 2.4 million deaths of American citizens last year (Source: Center for Disease Control, BTN
Putting More Away – One out of every six American workers (16 percent) has increased his/her regular
retirement savings amount as a result of the slowdown in the U.S. economy (Source: Bankrate,
BusinessWeek, BTN Research).
Outdated – Even though 78 percent of business owners have an estate plan in place, 89 percent of this
group have failed to update their document due to a marriage, divorce, birth or a death (Source: Bank of
America, BTN Research).
WEEKLY FOCUS - Anti-Scam Tips for Surviving Spouses
Newspaper obituaries provide a service in notifying a
large number of people in a short period of time about
the death of a community member. Unfortunately, they
also provide a list of potential victims to scam artists
and thieves looking for emotionally vulnerable and,
during memorial services, physically absent targets. A
few simple guidelines can help you or your loved one
avoid most of the common scams.
The most immediate vulnerability will be an empty
house. Through an obituary, a thief can ascertain when
the family will be away, and with friends and relatives
coming and going, neighbors may assume the person
going in while the family is gone has permission to do
so. Ask a friend or neighbor to house sit – not just watch from next door – during visitations and
services. (This rule also works well for weddings and anniversary parties that have been announced in
Treat anything from an unknown party with suspicion. Invoices, calls regarding orders for products or
services, investment opportunities and claims for money owed can all be scams looking to part
distracted grieving survivors with their money. Pay those bills you know to be legitimate – mortgage,
utilities, credit cards, car payments. Set everything else aside. If you don’t have caller ID on your phone,
consider getting it so you know before you answer who is on the line. And remember that companies that
pressure you to make decisions or send money during a difficult time probably don’t have good reasons
for doing so.
Consider a checks-and-balances approach to decision making, especially regarding finances. Ask a
family member, friend or trusted advisor such as an accountant, attorney or financial professional to
review invoices and other claims before you send money. You will still have control of your money, and
you’ll have a second opinion from someone you trust.
Surviving spouses generally fall into two groups – those who believe they have plenty of money and those
afraid they don’t have enough. We can work with attorneys and accountants to help review the surviving
spouse’s finances, including any lump sum payments from life insurance or a 401k. Please contact our
office if you or a loved one needs financial assistance during your bereavement.
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of
the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded
blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter
common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The
Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely
recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies
representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all
dividends. Written by Securities America. WMCSAI# 284589
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