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More African- Americans investing

Updated:
The percentage of high-income African-Americans who own stocks and stock mutual funds is up considerably over the past two years, according to the annual Ariel/Schwab survey comparing investing habits among blacks and whites.

The survey of 605 blacks and 607 whites earning more than $50,000 a year found that 64 percent of African-Americans are stock investors, up from 57 percent two years ago.

Among whites, the percentage of those owning stocks has held steady - 82 percent today vs. 81 percent in 1998.

"The growing comfort with stock investing among African-Americans is a positive sign," said John W. Rogers Jr., president of Ariel Mutual Funds in Chicago. "The challenge ahead is to help our community better prepare for retirement through stock market investing, while meeting their other obligations."

Blacks remain more financially vulnerable in retirement than whites, partly because of greater family obligations and a tendency to put more of their savings into college for children rather than into retirement accounts, the survey said.

Thirty-two percent of blacks surveyed expect to support adult children, compared with 20 percent of whites.

What's more, 45 percent of blacks expect to support aging parents, compared with 29 percent of whites.

A growing number of consumers fear having their identity stolen, but they could be setting themselves up for the nightmare.

Seventy percent of consumers surveyed by the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies said they've disclosed confidential information online or by telephone in the last six months.

Eighteen percent said they would give their Social Security number to an online merchant and 14 percent of those surveyed said they would give their Social Security number to an Internet service provider.

When they get pre-approved credit card solicitations, 43 percent said they throw them away without shredding them or tearing them up.

"That's an invitation for identity theft," said Mary Ann Avnet, customer relations manager for Chubb.

Here are some tips to protect yourself:

Guard your Social Security number with your life. If thieves get it, they can obtain credit cards in your name and make your life miserable.

Never reveal any confidential information over the phone to an unsolicited caller.

Shred all personal financial documents before discarding them.

Drop outgoing checks, bill payments or tax documents directly at the post office, rather than mailing them from your workplace or leaving them sticking out of a home mailbox.Consider this as your son and daughter head off to their summer jobs: Most likely, your son will earn more than his sister will.

Boys earned an average $7.36 an hour, compared with $6.73 an hour for girls, according to Junior Achievement Inc.

Overall, the average wage for teens working a summer job was $6.99 per hour.

While the wage gap between girls and boys amounted to girls making 91 cents for every dollar earned by boys, girls are faring better than their adult counterparts, Junior Achievement said.

Women are only paid 74 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.When your young kids start school full-time and you no longer have soaring daycare expenses, shift the money to another crucial purpose: college expenses.

"Year after year, parents report that saving for college is one of their top savings priorities, but just over half save regularly," reports Fidelity Investments, the giant mutual fund company. "Many parents may be hoping for financial aid or scholarships to help with college costs, but that strategy could be risky."

With the cost of college rising faster than the rate of inflation, four years at a public college or university could cost you more than $100,000 by 2018, Fidelity said. Send your child to a private school, and you could fork over more than double that amount.

Pamela Yip covers personal finance for The Dallas Morning News. If you have a story idea, e-mail her at pyip@dallasnews.com.
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