Volume 2, Number 1, January 3, 2005
The cataclysm from the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia is still unfolding. The number of deaths is climbing and, frightfully, now mirrors the population of the city of Tallahassee. The suffering is incomprehensible.
What does this mean to us in Florida? Recovering from the impact of four hurricanes in one season, we know the financial and emotional devastation and the toll it takes. We also know how important it is to give help in this time of need.
Many of us are donating to charity to help with direct relief aid. Make sure that the organization to which you give is reputable and recognized as a legitimate aid group. Be sure to ask questions – a legitimate group will be glad to answer your inquiries.
Florida can also be proud that Governor Jeb Bush is calling on his Florida disaster relief experience as one of a distinguished group representing the United States overseas and now visiting the hardest hit areas.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all involved in this tragedy. Through the partnership of governments, non-governmental organizations and individuals around the world, we hope victims of the tsunami take comfort in knowing that help is on the way.
-- Tom Gallagher
GALLAGHER TO MORTGAGE HOLDERS: KNOW YOUR BANK’S PROCEDURE FOR PROCESSING INSURANCE CLAIM CHECKS
To assist Floridians who recently received claims settlement checks or who are expecting payments from insurance companies, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is advising storm victims with mortgages to be aware of bank procedures for receiving insurance funds to make repairs.
Consumers should also contact the Department of Financial Services if they are experiencing delays in dealing with adjusters or receiving claims settlement offers, or if they have a dispute with an insurance company over a settlement offer.
START THE NEW YEAR RIGHT AND SAVE MORE
With the new year here, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is urging Floridians to resolve to save more money.
“We all intend to save, but many of us just don’t follow through on our good intentions,” Gallagher said. “I encourage Floridians to make 2005 the year that they resolve to thoroughly review their finances and find ways to save more money."
Gallagher offers the following tips:
Lower the cost of your outstanding liabilities.
Review interest rates on all of your credit cards and loans. Do research to see if you are paying a higher rate than the current average. If you are, contact your creditors and negotiate a new rate. If they won’t budge, consider moving your accounts. This same rule applies to outstanding mortgage loans. However, you must also consider fees connected with refinancing and calculate how long it will take to recoup the closing costs. If you don’t know how to do the cost-benefit calculations, ask a loan officer to do the calculations for you.
Make additional monthly payments.
Review your bank account to determine if it is the best product for you.
Pay bills on-line.
Change your computer passwords.
Check Your Credit Report.
SENIORS, YOUNG ADULTS ARE FOCUS OF NEW FIRE SAFETY PROGRAMS CREATED BY STATE FIRE MARSHAL’S OFFICE
Each year, fire claims the lives of Florida’s elderly more than any other age group. At the same time, statistics show increasing fire incidents on college campuses.
To combat these sobering trends, State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher has launched new education programs targeting the state's seniors and college students.
Also, this fall, fire prevention specialists with the State Fire Marshal’s Office visited university campuses to draw attention to the special risks college students face when living away from home for the first time. The specialists were armed with a new video about fire safety and campus life, and another new program geared toward college students, “Candle with Care.”
TEENS: CASH IN ON YOUR MONEY SMARTS!
Having money smarts means knowing how to do things like stash your cash, watch your spending and shop for good deals.
It also means that teenagers know it is time to get going on submissions to our essay contest which is open to 14-18 year olds who want to win some money. “Cash in on Your Money Smarts'' offers a top award of $750 for one student in each of five regions.
Friday, February 11, 2005, is the day that essays must be in to the Department of Financial Services to be eligible for up to $7,500 in cash prizes. The essay of at least 750 words, in English or Spanish, responds to the essay question “Why do you consider yourself money smart?” Essays may be submitted electronically or by mail.
"This is a chance for our teens to be rewarded for their knowledge of smart financial decisions,'' said Tom Gallagher, Florida's Chief Financial Officer.
The contest is part of a Gallagher initiative, Your Money, Your Life, to help Floridians avoid debt and build assets, including savings and home ownership. He started the program this summer after a state survey reported that many Floridians put themselves at financial risk by waiting too late to save.
The survey, performed by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc., also found that interest runs high in providing Florida's youth with a solid education in personal finances. Nearly 90 percent of Floridians believe schools should teach financial management skills as a required part of the curriculum.
Three essays will be selected for each of five regions in Florida, and cash prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place. For complete contest details, or to download an essay application or submit an essay electronically, log on to www.MyFloridaCFO.com and click on "Cash in on Your Money Smarts.''