stockfresh_7102501_college-debt_sizeS-300x300Commencement ceremonies are going on all over America. While COVID-19 has disrupted many college experiences, the graduation festivities are there to remind young people that all their hard work finally paid off. While the lucky have landed some good-paying jobs, many graduates face the real world with a sizable amount of debt on their young shoulders.


The College Debt Monster


It is no joke at all. College graduates can be looking at a debt of thousands of dollars that will take many years to pay off finally. Graduation speakers tell their audience to take a few months and explore the world, but that is not feasible. The payments will start in about six months after receiving the diploma. Graduates may be tempted into declaring forbearance, but that will only delay the inevitable at an even higher price. Continue reading

stockfresh_2912650_what-do-i-do-now-thinking-person-thinker-question_sizeS-297x300No one can entirely escape the government, not even hermits up in the mountains. You will sooner or later have to work with a public agency or an official’s office to get things done. It is essential to know how to deal with public agencies to get the services you need.

The public sector intends to help citizens, but the average person does not effectively work with a public bureaucracy. There often appears to be so many forms to fill out or data to submit. This happens because the government must have the correct information to get the job done. Moreover, government entities are themselves governed by various regulations. Errors of omission on forms or missed deadlines will cause lengthy delays. A perceived inability to get things done will cause the average citizen to be reluctant to work with the government. That should never be the case. Continue reading

stockfresh_709412_problems-and-solutions_sizeS-300x272COVID-19 placed many homes in financial jeopardy. Extended furloughs required people to rely on savings and 401(k) plans to ride out the storm. The stimulus checks were able to prevent many people from falling into economic ruin. Sadly, the situation was already so desperate for some that no amount of assistance would turn things around. These are facing bankruptcy.

The emotional stress of bankruptcy is mind-numbing. People are ashamed of the situation, but they are also terrified of what happens next. Hasty decisions can lead to even more problems. Young employees are especially vulnerable to making the wrong choices and reaping harsh consequences.

Compassionate employers do not want to see their loyal employees suffer under these circumstances. They want to help their subordinates get out of a major mess, and many times good advice from experts will help. Countrywide Pre-Paid Legal Services has a financial wellness program that will offer expert assistance to those in dire straits. Continue reading

stockfresh_8439488_keyboard-with-blue-keypad-consumer-protection-3d-illustration_sizeS-300x200The Biden Administration declared February 28 through March 6 as National Consumer Protection Week. It recognizes that COVID-19 did more than release a deadly virus. It created the opportunity for considerable amounts of consumer fraud.

Consumers lost billions last year in all kinds of scams. Identity theft in the form of phishing emails and robocall led the list. People who were quarantined were at home during the day and put at the mercy of unsolicited phone calls and pressure tactics. Older people have always been a target and were primary victims. Continue reading

id-theft1The Colonial Pipeline scare introduced many of us to ransomware and that is just one of the tools used to hack into computer privacy. Hacking is a simple concept. Thieves break through the security walls surrounding data and have the software to conduct lengthy and thorough raids on the information. The victim suffers devastating consequences. The standard hacker habits include wiping out bank accounts, maxing out credit cards, and other forms of mischief.

A successful person has a right to worry about these attacks on privacy. It takes cyberpiracy to a whole new level. There must be a means of protecting a person’s private information and assets. Countrywide Pre-Paid Legal Services has offered a group legal plan benefit for organizations since 1987. In addition, we do something else that many group legal plans do not. We provide individual identity theft and credit monitoring plans. Continue reading

stockfresh_5802529_generation-z-y-x-boomers-millennials-3d-word-gears-demographics_sizeS-300x300This might seem strange to think about, but COVID-19 makes it easier for organizations to innovate and try new strategies. Remote working is now the standard working environment, and telehealth is no longer a group health benefit novelty. Employers are ready to take risks to ensure better productivity, and the possibility of new employee benefits is on the table.

Competent executive teams realize there is an excellent opportunity to gain the goodwill of their employees by improving and introducing better employee benefits. An essential criterion is the immediate value of anything new. Subordinates do not want window dressing or just “feel-good” additions to the benefits program; they want programs that will help with various challenges in their lives. Financial wellness is an issue that is grabbing the attention of the employee benefits experts. It is a benefit whose time has now come. Continue reading

stockfresh_6387113_gavel-and-stethoscope-on-table_sizeS-300x200We have talked about the importance of living wills and how a person’s wishes for medical care are safeguarded if that person becomes unresponsive. It is essential to look at a companion legal document that supports the living will: medical powers of attorney. Group legal plans should include medical powers of attorney with any offering of a living will. It is the active agent.

The Power to Direct

The intent is to name a trusted individual to be the agent of the unresponsive patient in matters dealing with medical care. It includes making sure that religious considerations are honored, and specific treatments are used. Medical powers of attorney can relieve family members of decision-making burdens. It is hard enough emotionally to deal with the possibility of a loved one dying. Giving instructions on when to turn off the life support system is excruciating for a child or a spouse. A trusted third party makes the grieving process easier to bear. Countrywide Pre-Paid Legal Services offers medical powers of attorney as an option for our group legal plan benefit. Continue reading

stockfresh_7560715_multitasking-woman_sizeS-300x300Employee benefits provide service and an opportunity to learn how to get rid of bad habits. Health insurance teaches an employee to be more concerned about his or her physical condition, and a 401(k) program encourages a person to think about the future and saving for retirement. Countrywide offers a benefits program that ends terrible spending habits that have harmed an employee for years.

Understanding the Origins

A typical spending problem is the overuse of credit cards. Folks will go so far as to do grocery shopping with their plastic, not understanding that the interest charged on the card increases the cost of buying food. Some financial habits are homegrown. Very frugal parents may have raised an employee. Reckless spending becomes a means of rebelling. Other households practice periodic splurges that only cause more money problems. Anyone who starts receiving large paychecks can be tempted to abuse plastic. Continue reading

stockfresh_7709431_stressful-bristle-man-with-headache-using-laptop-computer_sizeM-300x200We are moving into the Second Quarter, and those New Year’s resolutions are being gradually completed. The objective for the First Quarter might have been paying off those Christmas bills and some other debts. The COVID-10 stimulus checks helped, and now is a great time to address another 2021 goal, which could be putting the domestic finances in order.

The best way to put some structure to the personal cash is to develop a budget. Let’s face it, living from paycheck to paycheck is a recipe for stress. The employee does not have any way of sensibly meeting credit card payments or other incidental expenses if there is no budget in place.

That person may end up relying too much on credit cards. Budget less households are not ready for any emergencies and do not put money aside for the future. A big challenge is that these people have never worked with a budget and need help creating one. Continue reading

stockfresh_132711_senior-couple-meeting-with-agent_sizeS-300x201Older employees can have a touch of grey, but it does not mean they are not productive and can no longer contribute to the team. They have the experience of the years to balance the enthusiasm of younger employers, and they serve as valuable mentors. They are necessary for the success of any organization.

Good employee benefits help a person be prepared for significant life events. An older employee is concerned about retirement planning. They want to be ready for the day when the desk gets cleaned out and the last goodbyes are made. There are many legal documents the older employee has, and these were created years ago. Are they still valid? That is an important question, and outdated legal papers can lead to some very nasty surprises. Continue reading