Thursday, June 25, 2009

Join our Facebook page!

We have a new page on Facebook and want you to become our fan! To join the group, you need to have a Facebook account (to sign up, click here). To join our group, find it through the search engine in the upper right corner while on your Facebook home page. Search "Minnesota Elder Economic Security Initiative" and select the first option, with the Minnesota image. While on the MinnEESI page, select to become our fan!

For questions on how to join our Facebook page, contact Marie Nelson at 651-228-0338 or

By Marie Nelson

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Minnesota Senior Federation Dissolving

The Minnesota Senior Federation is dissolving July 1, 2009 as the result of accumulated debts. Most of the Minnesota Senior Federation's programs will continue, but we are waiting to hear about the future of their advocacy work. For the full article from the Star Tribune, click here.

By Marie Nelson

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gov. Pawlenty cuts renter's credit by 30 percent

The following is from an article in the Star Tribune:

Smaller, less noticeable cuts abound. The credit for renters will drop by nearly 30 percent.

For further developments, check the Minnesota Budget Project's website. For the complete article on Pawlenty's budget cuts, click here. The renter's credit provides economic relief to about 275,000 households in Minnesota.

By Marie Nelson

Gov. Pawlenty cuts elder care

The following is from an article in the Pioneer Press:


What would be cut: $7.5 million by capping home care hours, $5.9 million by adjusting nursing home rate adjustments for the years covering July 2009 through June 2011.

When the cut would begin: July 1, 2009.

Potential impact: With more than a quarter of nursing homes in financial jeopardy, the withdrawal of rate increases may force some to close and reduce access for seniors. Rate adjustments to compensate for inflation already had been eliminated for 2011, but Pawlenty pushed the schedule up one year. Similarly, the state budget already capped personal care aides, or PCAs, at no more than 310 hours of work per month. Pawlenty would cut that to 275 hours. The cap could eliminate some fraudulent billing to the state — some PCAs claimed more than 24 hours of work in a day — but also push some quality aides out of the business. Seniors needing round-the-clock care may struggle to find help and end up in expensive nursing homes sooner than planned.

For the full article detailing Pawlenty's budget cuts, click here.

By Marie Nelson

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Minnesota elders need more advocates

Volunteers of America is seeking advocates for elderly Minnesotans who have no close family or friends to help make medical decisions when they can't do it themselves. Read more about these "elder orphans" in this Star Tribune article.

By Marie Nelson

Action Alert: Help Women and Low-Income Workers Gain Green Jobs From Climate Change Bill

Women and other disproportionately low-income workers will be able to get on a pathway to economic security in new green jobs if Congress adopts a provision targeting jobs and training. A proposal is being circulated by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Wider Opportunities for Women has been working with him and a broad coalition to ensure that groups traditionally left out of construction gain a foothold as a result of federal spending on energy projects in the energy bill.

Ask your representative to contact Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, and urge them to support such a proposal. They are in the process of preparing the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACESA) for floor action as early as June 24.

By Marie Nelson

Monday, June 15, 2009

50 Ways to Love Your Money

Below is an article by Jason Alderman, who authors the weekly column Practical Money Matters. This article includes a guide developed by AARP Financial and Chase.

There's no getting around it: Baby boomers are officially middle-aged. Millions of Americans born in 1959 will turn 50 this year; and many boomers born right after World War II have already begun receiving Social Security benefits.

Chances are that most boomers didn't grow up with the same depression-era mentality as their parents, which explains why some find it difficult to live within their means and probably haven't saved as much as they should for a rainy day or retirement.

And, when you consider soaring costs for health care, energy and food – coupled with falling housing prices and stock values – it's easy to see why many worry their retirement savings might run out too soon.

Whether you're rapidly approaching the half-century mark or have already passed it by, here are a few financial questions you should probably be asking yourself:
  • Am I saving enough for retirement?
  • Do I understand how Social Security and other retirement benefits work?
  • Is my budget realistic? If I don't already have one, where do I start?
  • How do interest rates impact the true cost of loans and credit purchases?
  • What's my credit score and why is it so important?
  • How can banking fees and penalties impact my account balances?
  • Where can I turn if my debt gets out of control?
  • How can I balance raising kids and assisting aging parents while protecting my own financial future?
If you are over 50 and need help thinking through these questions, check out "50 Ways to Love Your Money," a clear and simple guide created by AARP Financial and Chase. It's found at Practical Money Skills for Life, Visa's free personal financial management site (

"50 Ways" contains 50 easy-to-follow tips on how to live happily within your means, create and manage a budget and use banking products and other financial services wisely. It also contains web links and phone numbers where you can get more information on a host of important retirement-related topics.

Answering the question about saving enough for retirement, AARP Financial and Chase recommend planning to have 60 to 80 percent of pre-retirement income to maintain your current lifestyle after retirement. How you get there depends on many factors, including:
  • Expected benefits from Social Security, 401(k) plan, pension, IRA and personal savings.
  • When you started saving – the earlier you begin, the greater your savings will "compound" or grow.
  • How your savings and retirement accounts are invested – higher-risk investments like stocks have greater potential for growth, but also greater risks in the short term.
  • Age at retirement and expected lifespan.
  • Expected inflation and tax rates after retirement.
Many online calculators are available to help you estimate your retirement income needs, like the ones offered by Fidelity Investments ( and ( Or consult a professional financial planner for a more personalized strategy – can help you locate one.

Even if you're not quite ready for – or able to afford – retirement just yet, it's still a good idea to prepare yourself now so that when the time comes, you won't be caught off guard.

By Marie Nelson

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

MSW Internship Available with MinnEESI

The Minnesota Women's Consortium is developing a new internship for students pursuing their Master of Social Work.

This placement is open to first or second year students with an interest in gerontology, policy, or community organizing. The placement is for the duration of the 2009-10 school year.

The intern would have an opportunity to work with poverty and economic issues, legislation, policy writing, communication, and curriculum and program development, all within the context of gerontology. For more information on the MinnEESI project, click here. For more information on the Minnesota Women's Consortium, click here.

The intern will have their own workspace with a computer and phone in an open office. A car is not necessary.

If you are interested, please email your resume to Marie Nelson at We hope to schedule interviews as soon as possible.

By Marie Nelson

Monday, June 1, 2009

Elder couple spreads joy at the Mayo Clinic

This elder couple got their hands on the lobby piano in the Mayo Clinic. The result is a lot of laughter. Fran and Marlo Cowan have been married 62 years.

By Marie Nelson

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity Restoring Foreclosed Homes

Habitat for Humanity is shifting from building new homes in the suburbs to restoring old homes in the city. They are working with projects such as painting homes, replacing siding and landscaping. The new approach is to attempt to change a neighborhood rather than build at sites scattered throughout the Twin Cities.

You can read more about Habitat for Humanity's new project here.

By Marie Nelson

Individual Development Accounts in Minnesota

Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) are special savings accounts designed to encourage low-wage workers to build assets through matched savings, financial education, and financial coaching. Dr. Michael Sherraden, author of Assets and the Poor and the Director of the Center for Social Development at the Washington University in St. Louis, developed the concept of IDAs in the early 1990s as a vehicle to help people in poverty to accumulate assets.

Family Assets for Independence in Minnesota (FAIM): Statewide IDA Program
Launched in 1999, Minnesota’s statewide IDA program, Family Assets for Independence in Minnesota (FAIM) is made possible through federal, state, and private funding. IDA accounts can be used towards acquisition of one of three assets.
  • Home Ownership
  • Launching a Small Business
  • Higher Education
FAIM is delivered by a 28-site collaborative comprised of 23 Community Action Agencies, WomenVenture, City-County Federal Credit Union, Emerge Community Development, and the Leech Lake and Mille Lacs Bands of Ojibwe Tribal Governments.

Participants must have incomes below 200% of poverty and commit to saving up to $480 per year, which is matched at a 3:1 rate for up to two years. They also complete 28 hours of financial management classes and 10-14 hours of specific asset training classes, such as first time homebuyer, business development or career development.

From 2000-2007 $1.6 million was deposited into IDA matched savings accounts, over 1000 assets purchased, and 1500 people completed financial education classes. In addition to helping participants to acquire assets, IDAs also promote savings behavior and provide social support that contributes to sustainable economic self-reliance and asset-building. This is achieved by providing participants with no-fee bank accounts, which encourages regular savings, and providing financial literacy education and coaching. Frequently, the community organizations offering IDAs also offer other supportive services maximize long-term success.
  • Learn more about Family Assets for Independence in Minnesota (FAIM)
  • Locate a local FAIM agency in your county
  • Minnesota Statute 256E.35 Family Assets for Independence
Family Savings Accounts in Minneapolis
Sponsored by Faith in the City, the Personal Finance Center offers Family Savings Accounts, matched savings accounts to help low-to-moderate income families develop assets.

Payne-Phalen: Saves 3:1 program in St. Paul
Opened in 2007, the Center for Working Families in St. Paul is a coalition of 6 organizations. The Center offers this IDA program and is located in the Old Swedish Bank Building, 965 Payne Ave., St. Paul. For more info, contact May Xiong.

For more information, check out Help MN Save and the Assets for Independence Act.

Thank you to Pam Johnson of the Minnesota Community Action Partnership for contributing this post.

Thank you to our new endorsers!

Thank you to Three Rivers Community Action, Inter-County Community Action, Prairie Five Community Action Council, and Mahube Community Council for endorsing the Minnesota Elder Index.

These divisions of the Minnesota Community Action Partnership chose to endorse the Minnesota Elder Index as a new tool to ensure that future planning and policies are based on the true costs of shelter, food, transportation and health care, so that Minnesota elders can continue to live with dignity in their own homes and communities.

Thank you for endorsing this new cost-of-living tool!

By Marie Nelson