MANAGING THROUGH “INTERESTING TIMES” |
“May you live in interesting times,” often referred to euphemistically as the Chinese curse, is reputed to be the English translation of an ancient Chinese proverb and curse. If ever we were living in interesting times, it would be now.
To say that the current economic times are challenging might seem like an understatement. With the unprecedented events in the market over the past several months, people everywhere are concerned about protecting and preserving their money. While this uncertainty can leave all of us feeling uneasy, it can also bring forward the need for all of us to be proactive about our personal finances and manage our money with care.
Since early in 2008, the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy has been working to develop policies and programs to promote financial literacy. Their goal is to provide substantive guidance and resources that can help people make smart financial choices during both good times and bad.
Last month, the council offered a series of tips for managing your money in challenging times. I offer a few of these tips below, along with information on additional available resources.
1. Understand how your deposits are insured. As we’ve discussed in previous articles, the FDIC insures all deposits at insured banks up to at least $250,000. In addition, Zions Bank is participating in the FDIC’s voluntary Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program. This program insures 100 percent of deposits that are held in noninterest bearing deposit transaction accounts at Zions Bank (including NOW accounts with interest rates of 0.5 percent or less), regardless of the dollar amount, through Dec. 31, 2009. For additional information on how to maximize your FDIC insurance coverage visit zionsbank.com.
2. Understand how your investments are protected. Brokerage firms are required to be members of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, which insures customer securities accounts up to $500,000, including $100,000 in cash claims, when a brokerage firm fails. To learn more about these protections, visit www.sec.gov/answers/investoralert.htm.
3. Protect your credit score. Only put on your credit cards what you can afford to pay back. For other hints on improving your credit score, visit www.controlyourcredit.gov. Also, to protect against identity theft, get a free copy of your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com.
4. Make sure you have a rainy day fund. Keep an emergency fund worth three to six months of your monthly expenses in an insured account. If you don’t have an emergency fund, try to start one. Visit “Managing Your Money” at the Zions Bank education center to access budgeting calculators, savings calculators and more.
5. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for scams trying to take advantage of all of the recent changes in our nation’s financial markets. Educate yourself at www.FTC.gov.
As we begin 2009, we can all feel a little more secure in our financial situation as we become more proactive in managing our personal finances.
Zions Bank continues its commitment to helping you through these “interesting times” with innovative products and services, as well as the financial advice and information you need to make informed decisions. We haven’t forgotten who keeps us in business, and together we will weather this storm.
A. Scott Anderson is President and Chief Executive Officer of Zions First National Bank
Featured as “The Last Word” in the January/February 2009 issue of Zions Bank’s Community magazine.
*Artwork from Rob Sheridan under Creative Commons license at Flickr.com.