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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Financial Guides Come in Many Languages

The federal government has added two Spanish-language guides to its multilingual library printed in languages ranging from French to Tagalog, the language of the Philippines.

The Spanish guides (previously available in English) – “Money Smart para Adultos Mayores” (“Money Smart for Older Adults”) and “Cómo Administrar el Dinero de Otras Personas” (“Managing Someone Else’s Money”) – teach seniors and their caregivers how to spot scams and frauds and help caregivers to understand their financial duties.

They are all free of charge and published by the Office for Older Americans in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Other topics also appear in the CFPB’s online table of contents, which permits consumers and financial planners to search by language or by subjects including money management, credit, and mortgages.

Booklets in Chinese and other languages explain the safest ways to send money back home. Mortgage booklets are available in Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Tagalog, and Spanish. They explain borrower’s rights, including the additional requirements for lenders’ disclosures to borrowers put in place in the wake of the subprime mortgage meltdown, which also affected immigrant neighborhoods. The Spanish booklets include one on reverse mortgages for retirees.

The library’s table of contents is available here – it requires clicking around to find out what’s available in each language.Learn More

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