INDIANAPOLIS (January 2, 2014) – Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson knows many of you want to pay off debt and improve your financial situation in 2014. Many Hoosiers’ New Year’s resolutions involve money, and there’s no time like the present to get started.
Over the next few weeks, as part of her focus on financial literacy, Secretary Lawson will take to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to share helpful tips for starting a budget, paying off debt, and saving for the future.
Secretary Lawson’s Top Tips for 2014
1) Create a budget and prioritize it! Cutting unnecessary expenses will allow you to pay off debt and build a bigger nest egg. Plus, understanding how your money is being used can lead to more responsible decision-making.
2) Try to negotiate lower interest rates with creditors. If you’re in good standing with the creditor, it’s possible they will give you a better rate and make it easier for you to pay back what you owe. There’s no harm in asking.
3) After paying off a credit card, consider keeping it open! Your credit score is partially determined by how much credit you have, and how much of that credit you are using. It’s called credit utilization. If you have a lot of credit, but are only using a small amount, your score will go up. Closing a card will lower your amount of available credit and potentially lower your score.
4) The new year is a good time to check on your credit report. You’re entitled to one free credit report every twelve months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. The official website to order these credit reports is www.AnnualCreditReport.com. We recommend you bookmark that site. Go over your credit reports carefully. Mistakes happen!
Secretary Lawson says, “The most effective form of investor protection is investor education.” Her office teaches Hoosiers about investment fraud and financial literacy through Indiana Investment Watch. The education program is not funded by taxpayers, but with fines imposed on violators of securities laws. Indiana Investment Watch has educational materials covering the various types of fraud, as well as general financial literacy tools. Workshops and outreach events held throughout the state provide more in-depth information on detecting and avoiding scams. For more information, visit www.IndianaInvestmentWatch.com....
Lake effect snow is reported in Lake County and is lowering visibilities causing a drop in speeds. Located on the state line, the lake effect snow squalls are slowing speeds both directions on the Borman (I-80/94) between the Bishop Ford and Cline Avenue. INDOT is reporting that traffic is moving an average speed of 16 to 30 mph. At one time earlier this afternoon, on the Illinois-side, traffic on the Tri-State Tollway was reportedly stop and go due to near white-out conditions caused by the lake effect.
(Photo Courtesy of the LaPorte Police Department)
A LaPorte woman was arrested on Tuesday in connection with a stabbing in the 100-half block of Kabelin Avenue. LaPorte Police report the victim informed officers he and the suspect, 24 year old Amber Whiteman, were discussing a family situation when Whiteman began making suicidal threats. The victim stated Whiteman grabbed the knife and cut herself, and when he attempted to grab the knife from her, she allegedly began swinging the knife back and forth towards him. Police report the victim sustained four-to-five lacerations and was transported to the hospital. Whiteman was located nearby and was also hospitalized and after her release was taken into police custody....
Indiana Governor Mike Pence issued a statement today urging motorists to avoid unnecessary travel as winter storms continue throughout much of the state. Governor Pence says, “Hoosier motorists may be assured that the State of Indiana will continue to monitor the road conditions and weather and will respond with all available resources.” Since the storms hit the Hoosier state late Wednesday into Thursday morning, INDOT has deployed more than 740 trucks and crews and will continue to work to clear roadways as the snow continues to fall.
Road conditions are accessible at http://indot.carsprogram.org/main.jsf. For up-to-date county travel statuses, Hoosiers are encouraged to visit http://www.in.gov/dhs/traveladvisory/....
While geared toward those 50 years and older, the A-A-R-P Smart Driver Course can help any driver learn the skills to stay safe behind the wheel.
According to Indiana state coordinator Lesley Pence, trained instructors cover the ever-changing challenges on the roads, including construction, cul-de-sacs, roundabouts and dangerous weather conditions.
"There are so many new things that are happening that it is a learning process, and even though we might be a little older, we have to continue to learn to deal with changing road conditions."
Pence said 97 percent of those who take the course change at least one driving behavior, and that another important aspect of what they teach people in class is when to look for those signs that it is time to consider giving up driving.
"Unfortunately we all have to cross that bridge someday, and we think that we can help with that so people realize that maybe it is time to turn in the keys."
Pence said the course is helping to both to build confidence in older drivers, and to keep them and others safe on the roads.
"A number of older people have come back to me and said, 'You know, what we actually learned in class did save our lives.' That's why it's so important to give these people something that can help them and keep them driving longer on the road."
The AARP Smart Driver course is offered in both classroom and online settings, and you do not need to be an AARP member to take it. Additionally, some insurance companies offer discounts upon completion of the course. For more information about courses in Indiana, you can go to http://states.aarp.org/category/indiana/