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Talking About Money with Your Spouse 
There are few things less romantic than talking about money.  That may be why many couples never sit down and have the essential money conversation before they get married. 


Failing to talk about money together can lead to big problems in a relationship. It can cause financial problems, if partners aren't on the same page about spending priorities or don't share everything that affects the household financial picture. And it can cause marital problems, as financial strain and bad communication stress the bonds between you.

It would be nice if one good conversation about money was all you needed. Sorry, that's not the way it works. Just like exercise, good financial habits need to be practiced continually. How often you need to do this depends a lot on your circumstances.

When you do sit down for a finance meeting, it's important to have some structure. Otherwise its easy to feel overwhelmed and not get much done. To make the most of your time, set up an agenda beforehand. Your specific agenda will vary from meeting to meeting, but here are some good topics to cover:  

  • Review your long-term financial goals. Check in to see how you're doing saving for the big things, and make sure your plans still reflect your values and desires.
  • Compare your spending plan to your actual spending. See how you're doing in each category, and talk about places you may want to cut back and places you may want to spend a little more.
  • Talk about upcoming unusual expenses and make a cash flow projection for the coming week or month.

Good financial communication with your partner is key to your healthy relationship.

See full story, located at Forbes.


How to Fight the Bogus Charges on Medical Bills

Health care reform turned one last month, but Americans are still facing massive medical bills.  A recent study from Deloitte reveals consumers spent $363 billion in health care during that period, 14.7% more than traditionally reported by official government accounts, mostly due to costs that fall outside of traditional health-care spending.  On top of that, about 80% of medical bills contain errors, according to Christie Hudson, vice president of Medical Billing Advocates of America, making already-expensive bills higher.

Investment Insight
2nd Quarter 2011
Talking About Money with Your Spouse
How to Fight Bogus Charges on Medical Bills
Drive Smarter, Get Better Gas Mileage
Two Key Strategies to Boost Retirement Savings

HORAN offers a range of investment products and a comprehensive suite of services to enhance your financial security.
Our team of experts provides guidance, insight, and investment monitoring with complete objectivity.

By focusing on your needs first, success will follow.

Retirement planning is increasingly complex. A host of investment options, combined with fluctuating interest, inflation rates and other variables, make it difficult to determine how much you will need, where you should invest, and who to turn to for assistance. The complex tax and legislative environment surrounding retirement planning compounds the confusion.

We guide our individual and corporate clients through the confusion surrounding retirement planning.

For more information on the topics in this issue, contact a HORAN advisor at 513.745.0707 or visit our website www.horanassoc.com.

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These errors, which are hard to detect because medical bills are written in a mysterious code, can result in overcharges that run from a few dollars to tens of thousands.


It is difficult for a consumer to audit their own bill, but there are steps patients can take if they suspect bogus medical charges and Federal and compliance billing guidelines are on your side.


Request an Itemized Bill - The number one rule is never pay the summary bill.  Federal law requires any medical facility to supply itemized invoices upon request


Make Sure Services were Ordered by Your Physician - If your physician didn't order a test or procedure in writing, you can't be charged for it.


If You Don't Understand it, Question it - Challenge denials for procedures with your insurance company, you can determine whether something is truly not covered on your plan or is a clerical error.


Look for Duplicate Charges - Bills for surgeries have the most opportunity for errors and there could be duplicates. Upcoding mistakes, when a provider bills for a more costly procedure than what was performed, are another common mistake on medical bills. To fight these charges, compare your medical records against the bill.


Request an Internal Audit - Many large clinics and hospitals have in-house auditors, according to the experts, so take advantage of them to review your bill.  Always try to bargain the entire amount of the bill if you can pay it in full.


Hire a Professional Billing Advocate - Not every bill is worth the battle, but if you suspect fraud and are unable to make headway on your own, consider calling in a professional billing advocate.  These professionals are familiar with medical codes and tend to charge up to 35% of the amount they save you.


See full story, located at Fox Business.


Drive Smarter, Get Better Gas Milage

Not only are Americans expected to use more gasoline during the upcoming summer driving season, it's expected we'll pay $1.10 a gallon more for it than we did last summer. That's what the Energy Information Administration said last week in its short-term outlook report. Retail prices are forecast to peak at $3.91 a gallon in early summer, and average $3.86 a gallon during the driving season, which started April 1 and will end Sept. 30. Prices averaged $2.76 a gallon last summer - ouch.


One of the best ways to improve gas mileage is simply to drive more intelligently. To begin with, drivers need to relax.  Aggressive driving - fast acceleration and braking - can lower gas mileage by 33% on the highway, and 5% around town, according to the Energy Department.  Look farther down the road. Don't accelerate all the way up to a stop sign and then slam on the brakes


Here are a few other tips:


Take a load off.  Aerodynamics can become quite significant at highway speeds. Carrying luggage on the roof of your car or towing equipment can be costly.  Drivers should remove any unnecessary weight from their trunks. Weight is the biggest pitfall when it comes to maximizing a car's fuel efficiency.  The more weight the car has to move, the harder the engine has to work.


Plan your trips.  To save on gas, try to run all of your errands in one trip and avoid backtracking. 


Turn on the air conditioning.  Drivers with modern cars that recirculate cooled air shouldn't be afraid to run the air conditioning.  When you open those windows, you are not going to get maximum fuel efficiency because it creates new drag.


See full story, located at Market Watch.  (free registration may be required)



Two Key Strategies to Boost Your Retirement Savings
It's National Retirement Planning Week.  Who knew?   In honor of this week - sponsored by an industry coalition - here's a look at two items to put on your to-think and to-do list.


Save More -  If you're not saving, start. If you have a 401(k) at work, start contributing at least 10%, if not more. On average, workers contribute 7%, but that's not enough to fund a retirement where you won't have to sacrifice your future standard of living.

Yes, you might have to sacrifice your current standard of living. But that might be the better sacrifice to make. You don't want to get to the end of your life and find yourself, as some older Americans already do today, cutting back on much-needed medications, not just their life dreams. Remember, you won't run out of savings so much as you'll run out of lifestyle.


If you are already saving in a 401(k), up your contribution. If you are stashing away 3%, up it to 7%; if you are at 7%, move to 10%; and if you are at 10%, up it to the maximum allowed. And put your increases on automatic pilot.


Public Policy Risks - What about Social Security and Medicare?  The questions are when, for whom, how much will change, and what does it mean from a planning-for or living-in retirement perspective. The good news is that if lawmakers make changes to Social Security and Medicare, those changes might be implemented gradually so you should have time to make adjustments.


As for taxes, it's time to think about the old adage, "It's not what you earn, it's what you keep."  Yes, now would be a good time to be examine the most tax-efficient ways to save for retirement as well as examine the most tax-efficient ways to draw down your assets in retirement.


What's more, the research suggests that retirees are not withdrawing their funds from their various tax-deferred and taxable accounts in the most tax-efficient manner either. 


See full story, located at Market Watch.  (free registration may be required) 

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