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Are you better off than you were four years ago? NO!

Upstate New Yorkers answered with a resounding "No" when they were polled earlier this month on whether they think they're financially better off than they were four years ago.

More than half of the upstate residents - 51 percent to be precise - polled by the Siena Research Institute said they were not better off financially than they were in October 2008. Just 34 percent - a little more than a third - said they were better off, while 14 percent said they were in a similar financial condition.

The poll from the Albany researcher, with financial backing from First Niagara Bank, also found that wealthier people generally are feeling better about their financial condition than less affluent New Yorkers.

While almost half (48 percent) of all New Yorkers earning more than $100,000 said they were better off now than they were four years ago, a little more than a third (36 percent) of those earning $50,000 to $100,000 felt they were in a better financial place, and only three of every 10 residents earning less than $50,000 believed they were better off.

More than a third of the Upstate residents surveyed (35 percent) said they'd taken a second job or sought more overtime to help make ends meet. And 47 percent said they were having a harder time managing their monthly expenses with their monthly income.

"New Yorkers continue to climb a steep financial hill," said Don Levy, the Siena Research Institute's director. "Few say that their load has lightened since this time in 2008."

Fewer than half of the upstate residents surveyed (46 percent) said they were confident that they'd be able to maintain their current standard of living after they'd retired. That's in stark contrast to New York City, where almost three of every five people surveyed said they were confident they'd be able to retire comfortably.

- David Robinson



Elmwood Avenue apartments.

From Business Today:


The Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church will convert its office space and former school into about 23 market-rate apartments. The added income would help support the struggling church, whose congregation has gotten smaller and smaller throughout the years. The church has lined up a construction loan and long-term mortgage from Evans Bank and will also use historic tax credits and invest some of the congregation's money to finance the work.


Check out what real estate sold for in Erie and Niagara counties in today's real estate listings.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?


From MoneySmart:

The lessons people learned during the Great Depression stuck with many of them throughout their lives--even when times got better. The lessons from the Great Recession have been a bit more fleeting. Get a refresher course on thriftiness in today's MoneySmart from a true depression-era pro.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas out there:



Scams and consumer help.

From Business Today:


Attorney General Eric T.Schneiderman has warned consumers of two scams that are making the rounds and victimizing people via the Internet and telephone. One scam has criminals impersonating bank or government officials claiming to offer mortgage settlement assistance as a way to gain access to personal or financial information. The other scam involves consumers lured into making deposits on fake rental properties advertised on Craigslist.


Want to see the reasons your property and casualty insurer gave for increasing your premium? You'll be able to find out online, thanks to the actions of the state Department of Financial Services.  The state insurance regulators are posting documents online submitted by insurance companies to support rate increases, introduce new products or change existing offerings. You can find them here. The Department of Financial Services did the same thing last fall with health insurance.


In observation of Financial Literacy Month, Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo is hosting four free financial seminars at its office in West Seneca, 40 Gardenville Parkway, suite 300. They are: "Money in Motion," at 5:30 p.m. today; "Dollars and Sense," at 10 a.m. Saturday; "Credit Counts," at 6 p.m. April 19 and "Credit Reports Review Express," at 9 a.m. April 28. For more information, call 712-2060.


A career fair will be held today from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Walter J. Mahoney State Office Building, 65 Court Street. Job listings are posted here. For more information, call (888) 4-NYSDOL or visit the Department of Labor's Web site.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Here's more on that common Craigslist scam: