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Member Benefits E−Direct Winter 2012

A quarterly digest for all your Member Benefits news

Issue 1

Essential Guide to the New Year

Inside this issue: Financial Independence Plan ...........pg 5 GPS Safety Tips ...............................pg 6 Warning Signs of a Debt Problem .....pg 7 Pet Insurance (New Program)...........pg 8

800 Troy-Schenectady Road Latham, NY 12110 800-626-8101 M-F 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. memberbenefits.nysut.org

NYSUT Member Benefits Trust NYSUT Member Benefits Corporation ŠCopyright 2012


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Table of Contents From the Director ...................................................................................................................... 3 Learn more about the new Member Benefits E-Direct electronic newsletter and our goals for 2012.

Member Benefits Essential Guide to the New Year.......................................................................................... 4 Member Benefits is here to help you reach your goals for 2012 and make this a great year for you and your family.

Have you created your financial independence plan? ...............................................................................................5 Learn the three components of a financial plan and how to set yourself up for success.

Are you putting yourself in harm’s way? .............................................................................................................................6 Use these helpful tips to help protect your vehicle and home.

Warning signs of a serious debt problem.................................................................................................................7 Are you being honest with your financial situation?

First year pet costs .....................................................................................................................8 What to think about before getting that furry friend.

Member Benefits E-Direct is a quarterly publication produced by NYSUT Member Benefits designed to educate NYSUT members about a variety of topics and issues of importance to them and their families. The goal of this e-newsletter is to serve as an educational and informative piece that helps our hardworking members to make better informed decisions in their lives. For information about any of our programs or about contractual endorsement arrangements with providers of endorsed programs, please contact NYSUT Member Benefits at 800-626-8101 or visit memberbenefits.nysut.org. Agency fee payers to NYSUT are eligible to participate in NYSUT Member Benefits-endorsed programs.


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Winter 2012 |

From the Director Welcome to the Winter 2012 edition of Member Benefits E-Direct, the first issue of our new electronic newsletter. The goal of this quarterly piece is to educate NYSUT members about topics and issues of importance to them and their families. We hope that it serves as an educational and informative publication that helps our hardworking members make better informed decisions in their lives. Each issue will contain a variety of helpful articles along with fun facts and other information that you may not know about Member Benefits. Just as you have goals that you would like to accomplish this year, Member Benefits also has a number of goals that we would like to realize. First and foremost among these is to continue to serve as an advocate for NYSUT members and ensure that they have a premier experience with our programs and services. If for any reason you ever encounter an issue with any of our programs, we encourage you to contact us immediately. Our involvement in this type of situation assures that your needs are addressed quickly and efficiently. Second on our list is to let you know about new and existing programs that could benefit you and your family. We are very excited to announce two new endorsed programs and a change to an existing endorsed program. The new Member Benefits Trust-endorsed Level Term Life insurance program offered by The United States Life Insurance Company in the City of New York provides Level Term Life insurance coverage for members and their families.

The new Member Benefits Corporationendorsed pet insurance program offered by VPI Pet Insurance – part of the Nationwide Insurance family – offers a variety of coverage options for dogs, cats, birds, and exotic pets. Finally, the Member Benefits Trust-endorsed Dental Plan (formerly known as the Retiree Dental Plan) is now open to both in-service members and retirees. With the economy still slow to recover, we are happy to be able to offer these programs that will provide NYSUT members with the coverage they need while helping to save them money. We also plan to continue offering financial assistance to NYSUT members to assist them in today’s financially unstable climate. Our endorsed Financial Counseling Program offers unbiased, objective advice customized to your specific financial situation. The program is provided by Stacey Braun Associates, Inc., an investment advisory company that provides fee-based professional financial counseling for both groups and individuals. All members should feel free to contact us at 800-626-8101 or visit memberbenefits.nysut.org for details about the many endorsed programs and services that we offer. We hope that you will provide us feedback about Member Benefits E-Direct so that we can continue to improve this publication. Have a safe and enjoyable winter season! -- Lynette A. Metz Director, NYSUT Member Benefits Trust CEO, NYSUT Member Benefits Corporation

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Winter 2012 |

Member Benefits Essential Guide to the New Year!

The New Year brings with it the desire to take stock of our lives and determine areas where we can make positive changes. These resolutions often include goals such as becoming healthier, getting our finances in order and volunteering to help others. For many people, though, this time of year can leave them feeling stressed and overwhelmed – especially if they break one of their resolutions (a common struggle for all of us). Never fear! Member Benefits is here to help you set yourself up for success in the New Year! The following tips can help you and your family to realize those goals you set for yourself and make this a great year. We present to you the definitive Member Benefits Essential Guide to the New Year: Take control of your finances Spent a little too much during the holidays? If you feel that your finances are getting out of control, consider enrolling in our Financial Counseling Program provided by Stacey Braun Associates. Perhaps you’re looking for some credit counseling? You may want to reach out to ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions (formerly operating as Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Central New York). You may also want to enroll in the Equifax Credit Watch Gold credit monitoring service. Make sure your family is protected If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to make sure that your family is protected in the event that something should happen to you, consider enrolling in one or more of our endorsed insurance programs. Looking to create or update your Will or Health Care Proxy? Consider enrolling in the Legal Service Plan provided by the law firm of Feldman, Kramer & Monaco, P.C.

Plan that special trip Our all-inclusive travel program offered by TripMark.travel can help you find a great deal to a beautiful location far away from the craziness of everyday life. You may also want to use Wyndham Hotels and Vacation Rentals to book a great room at more than 7,000 participating hotels. Keep more money in your wallet With the economy slow to recover, Member Benefits is here to help you save some hard earned money. Take advantage of our endorsed discount programs for savings on movie tickets, theater tickets, theme parks, electronics, books, car & truck rentals, and much more. Take off those extra pounds You’re on your own here! Wish we could help but we’ve got our own weight issues to deal with. Now, pass those Buffalo wings...

Happy New Year to all NYSUT members!

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Have you created your financial independence plan?

Everyone needs a financial blueprint for life after work. Operating without one is a little like closing your eyes as you barrel down the highway. It’s essential to know where you’re going and how you expect to get there. A financial independence plan will help you achieve your goals... but only if you incorporate it into your financial life, and that won’t happen unless the plan feels comfortable. Consider these three components of a financial plan and how they are connected -- offered by Stacey Braun Associates, Inc., the provider of the Member Benefits Corporation-endorsed Financial Counseling Program:

1. Cash flow analysis -- your plan needs to project where your money will come from and where it will go during the rest of your life (and your spouse’s life, too, if you’re married). 2. Contingency plans -- having a cash cushion along with life, disability and long-term care insurance can prepare you to handle potential setbacks.

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3. Investment choices -- three factors affect what should be in your investment portfolio. • Your goals -- what kind of return do you need, both while you’re working and during retirement, to support your lifestyle? • Your risk tolerance -- how much volatility in portfolio returns are you willing to accept to meet your goals? • Your time horizon -- how long do you have to save for retirement, what is your tax bracket, and how many years do you need your savings to last?

For more information about our endorsed Financial Counseling Program, please call 800-626-8101 or visit memberbenefits.nysut.org. ©Copyright NYSUT Member Benefits Trust 2009

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Winter 2012 |

Are you putting yourself in harm’s way? Provided by MetLife Auto & Home® A GPS navigational device can

serve a great benefit by helping you to find various locations and navigate through different areas. It can also serve a much darker purpose for criminals and thieves. Are you aware of the danger of programming your home address into your vehicle’s GPS? Think about it. If your vehicle is stolen, thieves now have an easy way to find out where you live simply by turning on the GPS. Although only a handful of crimes appear to have been connected to stolen GPS units, you can eliminate this threat by programming a nearby business address instead of your real home address. Better yet, don’t tempt car thieves in the first place. Fight crime with these three ultra-effective techniques: 1. Hide the GPS device and other valuables in the trunk when you’re not in your car or simply take them with you. 2. Always lock your car doors.

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3. Never leave the car keys in the ignition -- even for a minute. To find out more or request a free auto insurance quote, contact MetLife Auto & Home toll-free at 866-NYSUT-22 (866-697-8822). MetLife Auto & Home is a brand of Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company and its affiliates: Economy Fire & Casualty Company, Economy Preferred Insurance Company, Metropolitan Casualty Insurance Company, Metropolitan Direct Property and Casualty Insurance Company, Metropolitan General Insurance Company, Metropolitan Group Property and Casualty Insurance Company, and Metropolitan Lloyds Insurance Company of Texas, all with administrative home offices in Warwick, RI. Coverage, rates and discounts are available in most states to those who qualify. L1208009865(exp1111)(All States)

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Winter 2012 |

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Warning signs of a serious debt problem How bad is your debt? It is important to be honest with yourself. Are you contributing to your debt management issues without realizing it? Ask yourself the following questions provided by ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions (formerly operating as Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Central New York):

• Are you starting to receive collection calls?

• Are you taking advances on your credit cards to pay your bills?

• Are you living paycheck to paycheck?

• Are you only making the minimum payment on your credit cards?

• Do you have little or no money put aside as savings?

• Have you avoided adding up your total debt -- knowing that you won’t like what you find?

If you answered yes to any of these warning signs, consider seeking debt management or budgeting help from a nonprofit consumer credit counseling service. Don’t wait to take action any longer. Free appointments for credit, debt, budgeting, and most housing-related issues can be made by calling 800-479-6026 or visiting CreditHelpNY.org.

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Winter 2012

First Year Pet Costs NYSUT members receive a 5% group discount and up to 15% for multiple pets

How Much Is That Puppy (or Kitten) in the Window? The first-year costs of owning a puppy or kitten can come as quite a shock. Start-up costs alone can reach well into the thousands of dollars—and that doesn’t include the cost of purchasing the pet. These simple health and safety tips can protect your newest family member and keep unexpected veterinary costs to a minimum.

Five Smart Ways to Invest in Your New Pet 1. Provide a collar with ID tags and discuss microchipping with your veterinarian.

As a pet owner, understanding the risks to your

2. Visit your veterinarian for a complete examination and vaccination schedule that’s appropriate for your pet.

VPI to protect your pet and your pocketbook from

3. Use flea and heartworm preventive treatments.

pet’s health is part of responsible care. Look to unexpected veterinary expenses. We offer Pet Well Care Protection, which provides reimbursement benefits for wellness exams, vaccinations, flea and/or heartworm preventive

4. Promote good oral health habits with dental treats and, when appropriate, pet toothbrushes.

medicines and more.

5. Enroll in a VPI® Pet Insurance policy to protect your pet’s health and well-being.

learn more aboutpet protecting pets and to obtain a free quote, To find out whether insuranceyour is the right choice for you, visit call 877-PETS-VPI or log onto memberbenefits.nysut.org and eb.petinsurance.com click on “Discounts & Travel - Members” and then “VPI Pet Insurance -- NEW!” VPI Pet Insurance plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. Optional Pet Well Care Protection coverage is also available. All applications are subject to underwriting approval. Policies are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Policies are underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company in California and in all other states by National Casualty Company, an A+15 rated company, in Madison, Wisconsin and a subsidiary of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. ©2009 Veterinary Pet Insurance Company. 08GRP191 This article may be used for duplication and reprinting.

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Winter 2012 MB E-Direct Issue #1  

Winter 2012 E-Newsletter first publication.

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