State Fire Marshal Gallagher with firefighters
Volume 3 Number 1
January 2, 2006

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With the new year having arrived, it is an opportune time for 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. I encourage Floridians to resolve in 2006 to thoroughly review their finances and find ways to save more money.

Personal financial decisions are always an individual’s personal responsibility, but education can also help. The Department of Financial Services has an education initiative available online that can help Floridians make better informed decisions for themselves and their families.  Your Money, Your Life gives virtually everyone access to high-quality information on a wide range of financial topics as it details choices, benefits, and pitfalls in easy-to-understand language.

Read the savings tips below, and visit the Your Money, Your Life website to learn more.








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. 
If you decide to keep your current credit card debts or mortgage loan, consider making affordable pre-payments.  Using a mortgage loan as an example, sending in $25 extra a month can save you thousands of dollars in interest and shave years off of the term of your loan.  Hypothetically, if you had a $100,000 loan at 8 percent and paid an additional  $25 per month, you would save more than $23,000 in interest and knock off over three years of mortgage payments.  Send in $50 per month and you save almost $40,000 and even more years off the term of the loan. With credit cards, the same mathematics apply.  The larger the payment over the minimum monthly requirement, the faster the debt gets paid and the less interest you will pay over the over the life of the debt.


The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) is urging seniors to carefully check the credentials of individuals holding themselves out as “senior specialists.”

According to Patricia D. Struck, NASAA president, individuals may call themselves ‘senior specialists’ to create a false level of comfort among seniors by implying a certain level of training on issues important to the elderly. But the training they receive is often nothing more than marketing and selling techniques targeting the elderly.

Sales people and the alphabet soup of letters after their names can be confusing, and in some cases, may even be deceptive to seniors.

NASAA’s Investment Adviser Operations Project Group has observed a significant increase in designations claiming to provide the holder with expertise in providing services to investors 55 years and older. CONTINUED




Operation HOPE, Inc. (OHI) is a non-profit, public benefit organization, founded in 1992. OHI is America’s leading provider of economic tools and services and an effective facilitator, lender, advocate and educator for and on behalf of the other America.

Through a series of public/private partnerships and strategic alliances, OHI has developed and implemented programs focused on connecting the minority community with mainstream, private sector resources, and empowering under-served communities.  OHI brings together, under one organizational umbrella, some of the most talented, experienced and successful individuals that America has to offer, both from the minority and mainstream community.




Be warned on this sneaky scam that the caller does not ask for your credit card number because the number is already in the scammer's possession.  This information is worth understanding to be prepared to protect yourself.

Here is how the scam works. The person calling on the phone says, "This is (name), and I'm calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA.  My badge number is 12460.  Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify.  This would be on your VISA card which was issued by (name of bank).  Did you purchase an anti-telemarketing device for $497.99 from a marketing company based in Arizona?" 

When you say no, the caller continues, "Then we will be issuing a credit to your account.  This is a company we have been watching and the charges range from $297 to $497, just under the $500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before your next statement is issued, the credit will be sent to (your address); is that correct?"   After your assent that the address is correct, the caller continues, “I will be starting a fraud investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 1- 800 number listed on the back of your card and ask for security.  You will need to refer to this control number.” The caller then gives you a six-digit number. CONTINUED