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      Financial 411: Concerns over economy, stimulus

      Our panelists handled a record number of phone inquiries on Monday, Feb 9, with the stimulus proposal the number one concern. Ted Sarenski, from Dermondy, Burke & Brown Financial Services, laid out the basic benefits for private citizens: an expected increase in paychecks this year, and benefits for buying a house. That brought a flood of questions, with Sarenski, also, explaining that social security recipients and others with no earned income will get no benefit. Unemployed will, also, see lesser benefits. There will be no check, as happened last summer. Drawdowns continue to be a concern for those over 70: Bryan Place, of Place Financial Advisors, says you should notify your securities company that you don't want the 'mandatory' drawdowns that have been waived for this year, because many would take them out automatically. Eric Liebundgut, with Leigh Baldwin & Company, says the banks continue to raise credit card fees and rates with the penalties for not paying on time or carrying over a balance are increasing to huge amounts. Dennis Hebert, of Hebert Financial Strategies, says people who are saving for college need to look at options, with 529 plans losing value as have other savings instruments. He suggests Community Colleges for, at least, the beginning of college careers as an economical way of getting started. We welcome emails to