Accepting the Kindness in the Workplace Challenge

In honor of Random Acts of Kindness Month, our office has taken the Kindness in the Workplace Challenge. We are looking forward to formally incorporating the six concepts of kindness into our daily routine — respect, caring, inclusiveness, integrity, responsibility and courage. We anticipate a seamless transition as our workplace is already full of people who exude these principles. One of our co-workers showed up on Valentine’s Day with chocolate hearts for us all and tulips for the front desk. Another so regularly exceeds his job description that his first name has become a verb around here. We have a talented colleague who crochets and donates hats and mittens, another who volunteers her very green thumb to keep the plants around here thriving. Our remote co-worker encourages us in very specific ways every week to exercise, drink water and take care of ourselves. She also heads up our monthly charitable donations. We have people who bring in delicious treats for every occasion, and so many see-a-problem-solve-a-problem staff members that most issues get resolved before anyone else is even aware of them. Our Winch Financial team has worked hard to foster a family-friendly environment and to extend that courtesy to a broad range of families, including the four-legged members. The Kindness Challenge offers specific activities throughout the year. Follow along with us via our social media channels, or swing in to see us in person. It’s going to be a great year!

A tribute to education on World Teacher Day

Today on World Teacher Day we are honoring the educators who taught us the most (and some who are just beginning their teaching career). We also want to honor another important person, who not only has taught all of us important principles of finance and business, but who also has maintained an atmosphere of education throughout our firm. Our founder, Christina Winch, began her career as a high school teacher. Through the casual advice she offered to her fellow teachers, Christina recognized a need for more formal financial education and advice. She earned the required licenses and opened her firm in 1981. In the more than 40 years since, the business has grown exponentially, though the goal has remained steadfast. We don’t just handle our clients’ retirement accounts, we work very hard to explain what we do, why we do it and how each decision, by us and by our clients, matters. We teach in formal classes, during client meetings and on each phone call. We want our clients to understand their Required Minimum Distributions, the difference between qualified and non-qualified accounts, the taxable impact of withdrawals, how to determine their risk tolerance, how to plan for Long Term Care expenses, the importance of updating their beneficiary designations, among countless other things. We take care of these things for our clients, and we also make sure they understand why we do it. The desire to educate, born in a high school lunchroom more than 40 years ago, still fuels every conversation we have with clients and their families. That is the standard she set, and the legacy she’ll leave. Happy World Teacher Day to all of our favorite educators and to our founder, Christina Winch.  

Five ways to avoid being scammed

As long as there have been humans on this earth, working hard to make an honest living, there have been lurkers trying to scam them. So prevalent have these scams become, that local law enforcement offices have teamed up with credit union representatives to create a fraud squad. You can find all their tips and an updated scroll of frauds on their website, Technological advancements have ushered in a new wave of scams, but fraudsters have been around for well over two thousand years. The earliest recorded case of fraud happened in 300 BC when a Greek sea merchant, Hegestratos, took out an insurance policy, known as a bottomry, using his ship and cargo as collateral. Hegestratos got caught attempting to sink his own ship in an effort to keep the borrowed funds, and he drowned attempting to escape. Since the Greek merchant’s failed attempt to scam funds, shady humans have only intensified their efforts, capitalizing on increasingly sophisticated technology and consumers’ happy reliance on it. The scams may evolve along with the days’ headlines, but you can still protect yourself by taking basic safety measures. Be very leery of conversations you have not initiated. Scammers often have access to software that can spoof calls and emails to make them appear to be coming from legitimate sources, including government agencies, charities, banks, relatives and large companies. Never share personal information, including usernames, passwords, contact information, Social Security numbers, or one-time codes that people can use to access your accounts or steal your identity. No government agency will contact you by phone or email to request money from you. Enable multifactor authentication. Even if it takes you a little longer to log into your account, and means one more passcode to remember, this extra step is worth it to protect both your identity and your accounts. Research charities before you donate and do not allow yourself to be pressured into… | Read More »

Giving Tuesday calls for both generosity and vigilance

By both design and calendar placement, Giving Tuesday is meant to be the palate cleanser that allows us all to digest and breathe a little easier following the ominously titled Black Friday and frenetic Cyber Monday. Meant to call attention to charities in need of support, Giving Tuesday began here in the United States and has since spread across more than 709 countries. The timing of the day also allows tax savvy adults aged 72 and over to donate their Required Minimum Distributions directly to the charity of their choice. (Of course, they can do this throughout the year, but the deadline to withdraw your RMD is Dec. 31 and many people do this in December.) In addition to altruism, Giving Tuesday also inspires a call to vigilance. We encourage everyone to research their charities carefully and to choose their donation method wisely. An international day of giving presents the perfect opportunity for people with nefarious intent as well. Here are five tips to keep you safe as you make your donations and shop online this holiday season: Hover your cursor over a link before you click it so you know exactly where that link will take you. When you look for something in Google or any other search engine, make sure you sift through the results carefully. Many companies intentionally mimic others and pay to be listed above them in search responses. If you are intrigued by something you see on social media, exit the app and initiate a fresh search for information about the company. Avoid clicking directly on links you see on social media. Before you input your credit card information, make sure the address includes an https:// at the beginning. HTTPS is an indication that a company or nonprofit’s website encrypts data to protect the information you give it from cybercrime. Be very wary of public Wi-Fi when you are making a monetary transaction. If you… | Read More »

Just Joshing

Josh Tatum’s infamy straddles three centuries thanks to a financial scheme that apparently netted him $15,000 and inspired the U.S. Treasury Department to recall and then re-design the Liberty Nickel. If you’ve ever used the phrase “just joshing around”, you’ve referred to Mr. Tatum. Young, enterprising and, by some accounts, both deaf and mute, Josh Tatum took advantage of some similarities between the nickels minted in 1883 and gold pieces worth five dollars. Both coins were the same size and had remarkably comparable designs. At the time, the word “cents” did not appear on the nickel. So, as the story goes, Josh enlisted a friend of his to help him electroplate the nickels so he could pass them off as gold. He simply purchased low priced items, paid for them with the nickel that looked like a $5 gold piece and then collected the change. By some accounts, he wracked up more than $15,000 with this scheme, or more than $337,737.00 by today’s standards. Eventually, Josh was caught and charged but not convicted. His apparent defense was that the merchants were responsible for recognizing the value of the coins he handed over to them and, as a deaf mute, he never said anything to mislead them. He said he viewed the extra change he received as a gift. The opportunity to pass these nickels off as more valuable gold coins came and went very quickly. The U.S. Treasury first released the “Liberty Nickels” on Feb. 1, 1883 and, by March 11 of that same year, they began re-casting them with a design that included the word “cents” on them. If you’re planning to celebrate April Fool’s Day by “joshing around”, remember the origin of that phrase and always be sure to double check any financial transactions you make.