The Influence of Language on Saving

If so many human characteristics are universal, why does something so basic as the household saving rate vary from 10 percent in Belgium to 4 percent in the United States?

Traditional economic explanations point to built-in retirement account defaults, government mandates or financial incentives. But UCLA behavioral economist Keith Chen mines the study of linguistics for an unorthodox explanation of the wide global disparities in saving.

Discussing his early findings in this new field in the video above, Chen explains one aspect of grammar that may influence saving.

To find out what that is, watch the video. This Ted talk was filmed in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2012. …Learn More

Ranking: Top Cities for Successful Aging

With snowstorms hammering the eastern United States, some baby boomers may be looking for a permanent escape when they retire.

Yet Southern cities did not come out on top in the Milken Institute’s new ranking of the Best Cities for Successful Aging, a ranking based on a fairly comprehensive set of factors important to seniors. Take frigid Iowa City, the No. 1 small city: it gets credit for its transportation and the affordability of its assisted living and adult day care services.

Map mockup

Milken Institute economist Anusuya Chatterjee saw common themes among the top-ranked metro areas.   They tended to have vibrant economies, quality healthcare services, opportunities for intellectual stimulation and active lifestyles, and easy access to amenities like grocery stores, transit, and culture.

University towns often fill these requirements, she said.  Madison, Wisconsin – home of the University of Wisconsin – was the top-ranked large metropolitan area.

Financial considerations also influenced the rankings, such as living costs and the cost of day services for the elderly or assisted living. Convenience amenities have financial implications too – a monthly subway pass is cheaper than owning a car.

The methodology, explained in more detail later, was more rigorous than what’s typically found in city rankings.  Here are other surprising results: …Learn More

SSA-1099 Tax Forms Are Now Online

Lose your SSA-1099 tax form showing your total Social Security benefits in 2014? Or perhaps you moved and never received it in the mail.

SSA form

Last year, more than 156,000 retirees did just that and had to call the U.S. Social Security Administration for a replacement. But help has arrived.

For the first time, retirees can go to the agency’s website to retrieve and print out a duplicate SSA-1099 form.

The SSA-1099, which is mailed in January, provides benefit information necessary for filing an individual’s income taxes. The SSA-1042S, a similar form for immigrants and other non-residents, is also available online. …Learn More

The Psychology of Fraud

What makes this AARP video about fraud compelling is that a few brave seniors were willing to discuss how they were cheated out of a few thousand dollars, $20,000, even $300,000.

With the baby boom population aging at the same time that the Internet has become a haven for hackers, scammers, and invasions of privacy, experts predict that the incidence of online and other fraud against the elderly will continue to increase in coming years. Some researchers have begun to explore the topic of fraud and aging, with one recent study showing that people become more vulnerable to fraud as they age and experience natural cognitive decline.

The seniors’ testimonials in the video, produced by the AARP Fraud Watch Network, demonstrate how con artists’ strategies tap into our deepest emotional needs.  “These tactics are so powerful, and [scammers] use them with such intensity that it is difficult to say ‘no,’ ” said Anthony Pratkanis, a psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Pratkanis explains four psychological strategies that con artists use to lure people into surrendering their money: …Learn More

Like written on chalkboard

What Readers Liked in 2014

Since you are the best judges of what financial information is most useful, it’s a holiday tradition to feature readers’ favorite articles published during the year.

Please spread the word among family and friends about the most popular 2014 blogs, listed below, by “liking” Squared Away’s Facebook page.  Readers can also sign up for emails of each week’s headlines.

The  articles are ranked in the order of their total page views:

  • Retirees Live on Less. People who’ve already retired say adjustments are required to live on a smaller income.
  • Retirement Delayed to Pay the Mortgage. Paying off the house tilts many baby boomers’ decisions.
  • Retirement: a Good State of Mind. New research tries to resolve the conflicting evidence about whether retirement is good for you.
  • How Much For the 401(k)? Depends. Saving is critical in a 401(k) world.  The sooner Millennial workers start, the less painful saving will be.
  • Parents’ Longevity Sways Plans to Retire. If a parent dies suddenly, retirement becomes a higher priority. …
  • Learn More

Photo of a family around the thanksgiving dinner table

A Time for Family and Friends

The staff at Squared Away wish our readers a Happy Thanksgiving with your family and friends.
Our twice-weekly articles will resume next Tuesday.Learn More

trust

Trusting Souls Want Financial Advice

Here’s a conundrum: Americans struggle to save for retirement or reduce their credit card spending.  But only about one out of three seeks help with financial issues.

So what lies at the heart of our decisions about whether and when to seek help?  Trust.

In the video below, Angela Hung, director of the RAND Center for Financial and Economic Decision Making, describes research showing that people who trust financial institutions – the markets, financial services companies, brokers – are also more likely to ask for advice from a financial adviser or similar professional.

Further, Hung’s research found that people who trust the industry are also “more likely to be satisfied with their financial service provider.”  Watch the video for Hung’s explanation of an interesting experiment that explores the circumstances under which people follow the advice once it’s given to them.

Learn More

1234510...