CHAMPAIGN – The Internal Revenue Service office in Champaign will be open March 21 to help people with tax questions.
The office at 310 W. Church St., C, will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day – a Saturday – as will the IRS offices in Decatur and Springfield.
CHAMPAIGN – To accommodate folks living longer, the United States must "get people to save more, work longer and retire less," a noted expert on retirement income said.
Fewer than a third of people have figured out how much they need to save for retirement, said Olivia Mitchell, director of the Pension Research Council at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business.
Post-its dot Lisa Hettinger's desk, a neon rainbow covering about 2 inches of 2009 travel itineraries.
While Hettinger loves to travel, the trips aren't for her. She's an owner at L & L Travel Agency in Champaign, and instead of having January downtime, she's found a stream of customers calling and e-mailing about travel plans.
CHAMPAIGN – Rebates are rampant, and now that credit markets are freeing up a bit, it may be easier to finance that new car or truck.
Area auto dealers say they've never seen rebates on some vehicles as large as they are now, and if buyers have a good credit score and history, they shouldn't have a problem getting financing.
"If you have decent credit, you can get a car," said Bill Abbott, whose Monticello dealership carries General Motors' Chevrolet, Buick and Pontiac lines as well as Chrysler Motors' Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brands. "Right now, our problem is not getting people financed as much as getting people in the doors."
MONTICELLO – Bill Abbott has been selling cars for more than 40 years and says he's "never seen a time like this in our business."
But Abbott is quick to point out the auto industry isn't alone in its suffering.
In the last year you have:
a. been laid off or had your hours at work reduced.
b. had to care for a new set of triplets at home.
c. developed a medical condition that is expensive to treat.
In other words, your finances have become somewhat strained. You've fallen behind in your mortgage payments, or you anticipate having a tough time making those payments.
What do you do? Consider a renegotiated or modified mortgage.
Layoffs. Home foreclosures. The stock market tanking.
It seems it's all bad news, all the time, when it comes to the economy.
Time to get your finances in order.
More people are seeking help with doing so now, says Kathy Sweedler, an educator in consumer and family economics at the University of Illinois Extension.
CHAMPAIGN – If you're having financial problems, sometimes the best way to sort them out is to work with someone one-on-one.
That's the philosophy behind "Master Money Mentors," a program Champaign County Extension plans to put in place this year.
CHAMPAIGN – Debby Auble recalls feeling uneasy last May about the stock market and the economy in general.
A successful real estate broker who is president of Ward & Associates, 8 Main St., C, Auble said her unease led to an unusual decision. She pulled all of her investment money, which she said is "in six figures," out of stocks last May and put the money into safe money-market accounts and even a savings account that was paying 2.8 percent interest.
In good times or in bad, for richer, for poorer, a diversified portfolio is a good idea.
How to achieve the proper balance, experts say, depends on where you are in life and what your goals are.