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Money: Relatively Speaking

Money is a topic that is on every adult’s mind a great majority of the time. But there’s a big difference in what people are thinking when it comes to money. Some people wonder how their earned income stacks up against others. Some people create financial goals and save and invest diligently to meet them. Others just wonder if they’ll have enough to pay all their bills this month.

Recently, an employee at Wells Fargo bank sent an email to the CEO there requesting that every employee in the company be given a $10,000 salary increase. This equates to an increase of $4.71 an hour. Moreover, the cost to the company would be about $3 billion a year; a veritable drop in the bucket of the company’s net revenues. The employee cc’d 200,000 of the employees who worked at the company and the email was quickly picked up by the press. He refers to his lone email request as one voice that is a mere whisper, but calls upon his 300,000 colleagues to make their opinions heard.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Wells Fargo Worker Asks CEO for Raise in Email, CC’ing Hundreds of Thousands,” from CNN Money, accessed Oct. 10, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the Wells Fargo employee email at CNN Money, Oct. 10, 2014.]

This email was distributed the same week the White House started making a big push to increase the minimum wage across the country. It is pressing Congress to raise the wage to $10.10 an hour, as was increased by executive order for individuals working on new federal service contracts.

[CLICK HERE to read “Raise the Wage,” from The While House, accessed Oct. 10, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Small-Business Owners Push Back Against Ballot Measure to Increase Nebraska’s Minimum Wage,” from Fox Business News, Oct. 9, 2014.]

Opposing points of view on this topic are both valid and impassioned, with very little middle ground. Still, one quote from Vice President Joe Biden is worth a second thought: “No one in America should be working 40 hours a week and living below the poverty level.” The current minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, or $15,080 a year. Technically, the national poverty line for a single person is $11,670. By that argument, a person making minimum wage wouldn’t be living in poverty, but most people would find it difficult to live on $15,080 a year, or $30,160 for a two-income family of four.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “From Mid-Atlantic to Midwest, Voters Express Frustration and Fatigue,” from The New York Times, Oct. 10, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Vice President Biden: No One Who Works 40 Hours a Week Should Live in Poverty,” from The White House, Oct. 8, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the 2014 Poverty Guidelines from The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, accessed on Oct. 10, 2014.]

Of course, no discussion of income inequality is complete without comparing men’s and women’s wages. This year, Pew Research published findings concluding that young adult women are entering the workforce at near parity with men — at least for now. Women working in the technology industry may disagree, based on a recent comment from Microsoft’s CEO that drew criticism.

[CLICK HERE to view the video, “There’s More to the Story of the Shrinking Pay Gap,” on YouTube, Jan. 9, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to view the video, “Nadella’s Advice to Women on Raises Comes Back to Bite Him,” from The Seattle Times, Oct. 9, 2014.]

Wherever you stand on the pay dispute, or the income continuum, one thing remains the same: It’s personal. Our circumstances, our backgrounds, our experiences, our dispositions, our efforts, our challenges and our achievements; they are all different and combine to form the basis of our opinions on the topic.

What we set out to do is take the wealth you have accumulated and the income you have earned and help increase its long-term potential. Give us a call to see what we can do for you.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies utilizing insurance products. Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental agency.

This content is provided for informational purposes only. It is provided by third parties and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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A Lifetime of Wisdom

In contrast to popular perception, young adults do not rule. In fact, the 18 to 44 age group currently comprises 36.4 percent of the population, while those age 45 and up represent 40.3 percent. Of course, if you play your teenage child or grandchild in basketball or try to wear the same size dress you wore before having children, being part of the demographic majority may not seem like much of a win.

But the older people become, the more they tend to develop a perspective on what they’ve learned and gained versus what they still want out of life. In other words, a lifetime of wisdom might be worth more to you now than a 32-inch waist.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “So How Many Millennials Are There in the US, Anyway?” at MarketingCharts.com, June 30, 2014.]

When it comes to your health, you may not feel as good as you did when you were younger, but many people start eating better as they get older. Gone are the pizza deliveries at midnight and fast food binges on the way to meet friends. We get smarter, become more diligent and begin to notice the way certain foods (and drinks) make us feel and affect our body.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How to Old-Proof Your Body (While You’re Still Young),” at GQ magazine, Oct. 2014.]

In terms of work, as we age through our careers, we get a feel for what type of work we truly enjoy and what type of environment works best for us. This knowledge often comes through a process of trial and error, but it generally comes. Even if we remain in a less-than-satisfactory work environment for the sake of earning a living, at least we become well aware of what works, what doesn’t and why.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “America’s oldest workers: Why we refuse to retire! The Wal-Mart worker,” at CNN Money, Oct. 1, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “America’s oldest workers: Why we refuse to retire! The park ranger,” at CNN Money, Oct. 1, 2014.]

One life skill often overlooked is the ability to fail — and learn from it. Sadly, it takes years for many young people to learn this lesson, and once they learn it they may not be young anymore. The good news is that eventually most people learn this critical survival skill: The development of an internal voice that says, “I can overcome this. I can do this.” Not only can this life skill help improve life immeasurably, it makes us feel good inside, confident, self-aware and comfortable in our own skin.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “4 Critical Skills Your Child Needs to Develop before Inheriting Your Money,” at Forbes, Sept. 15, 2014.]

Perhaps many of us do trade a taut belly, balance and quick reflexes for life’s wisdom. When you think about this in totality — and on a good day — it may seem a fair trade. In return, we share our time-worn insights with others, generally younger people who believe they hold the world on a string. Who is the wiser?

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How to Become Rich, and 24 Other Insights from Warren Buffett,” at Money, accessed Oct. 3, 2014.]

Let’s put your lifetime of wisdom and our financial knowledge to work to help build you a confident financial future. Please give us a call.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies utilizing insurance products.

This content is provided for informational purposes only, it is provided by third parties and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Hospitable Hospitals

Hospitals acquire reputations, just as all companies (and people) do. But there are so many different ways a hospital can be perceived. Some consider them a place where people go to die and should thus be avoided — a commonly held belief of Ebola victims in West Africa.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Are Hospitals Part of the Ebola Problem? Charity Wants New Strategy,” from NBC News, Sept. 15 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Too Many People Die in Hospital Instead Of Home. Here’s Why,” from Kaiser Health News, Sept. 22, 2014.]

Recently, there’s been press about how hospitals are saving money thanks to Medicaid expansion in some states, citing a reduction in uninsured admissions by 30 percent. As a result, the tab for uncompensated hospital care will be approximately $5.7 billion less in 2014.

On the other hand, individual patients may not benefit from these savings. Because hospital charges are not as transparent as in other industries, even the most diligent of health care consumers can get hit with outrageous bills they weren’t expecting.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Report: Admission of Uninsured at Hospitals Dips,” from The Memphis Daily News, Sept. 25, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “After Surgery, Surprise $117,000 Medical Bill From Doctor He Didn’t Know,” from The New York Times, Sept. 20, 2014.]

But there are signs of improvement where quality is concerned — particularly with doctors. One recent study found that a surgeon’s desire to perform well surpassed the desire for financial gain by a significant margin. The research also revealed that while physician report cards are largely ignored by patients, the competitive comparison has done much to improve physician awareness and focus on quality.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How Physician Report Cards Can Improve Health Care,” from Knowledge@Wharton, Aug. 28, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Hospitals Focus on Patient Experience Through Design,” from U.S. News & World Report, Sept. 25, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Clues to How People Bounce Back from Surgery,” from Detroit News, Sept. 24, 2014.]

Meanwhile, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act continues to be scrutinized, most recently with regard to whether mandated hospital benefits are required to be offered by large, self-insured employers.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Debate Grows Over Employer Health Plans Without Hospital Benefits,” from NPR, Sept. 26, 2014.]

A new study estimates that people retiring today will need more than $318,000 to pay for out-of-pocket health care expenses over a 30-year retirement, not including the cost of retirement living expenses or long-term care.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The Easy Way to Beat the High Cost of Health Care in Retirement,” from Time magazine, Sept. 12, 2014.]

Addressing both the cost and quality of health care delivery in this country is an ongoing and daunting task. But each of us needs to address it within our own financial and retirement income plans. If we can help you with strategies to help pay for health care both now and in the future, please give us a call.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies utilizing insurance products. Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental agency.

This content is provided for informational purposes only, it is provided by third parties and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Together, We’re Worlds Apart

The world continues to grow (figuratively and virtually) smaller. The economy is more global. We are connected by Facebook and other social media. We can exchange ideas with people in foreign lands. Check out videos and photographs taken in Australia, 10 minutes ago. We’ve learned that our individual — and national — problems are more universal than we ever considered.

Yet, perhaps now we wonder why we wanted to be so connected with others. Take Scotland, for example. In a 55 percent to 45 percent vote, the country will remain a part of Great Britain. But leadership has confirmed it will move forward with expanded “devolution” plans, a process started in 1999, to decentralize governing bodies and give more powers to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Scotland Rejects Independence: What It Means for Sterling Gilts and the Economy,” at BNY Mellon, September 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Scottish Referendum: Salmond to Quit after Scots Vote No,” at BBC News, Sept. 19, 2014.]

Here in the U.S., we like our independence. We may not have appreciated it as much until our college-educated children moved back home. Along with aging parents. But with the disparity that exists among generations, preferences and cultural touch points, does geographic proximity make us any closer? Just take a look at who shows up at the dinner table on any given night. Do some family members pay more attention to their tech gadgets than the mashed potatoes? And what does a multi-generational family — potentially comprised of grade school-aged children, teenagers, young adults, middle agers and retirees — all agree upon to watch on TV after dinner? It makes you wish the Olympics were on every single night.

Even an extended family tucked away in one household is likely to scatter to individual entertainment preferences: television, video games, tablet surfing, cellphone texting, etc. Close in proximity, yet worlds apart in sharing.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Home-cooked Family Dinner Isn’t All It’s Cracked up to Be,” at The Washington Post, Sept. 19, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Study Proposes Outrageous Solution In Lieu of Family Dinners,” at NaturalBlaze.com, Sept. 4, 2014.]

Historically, the young have ruled the earth. Youthfulness is generally viewed as better; more preferable. But what would happen if young adults became the minority; when older people rule due to sheer numbers? The enormous baby boomer generation has always been a tremendous influence on commerce. Even now, fashion magazines and late-night television are riddled with advertisements for products to help people look younger and bathe without stepping over a bath tub. The elderly portion of the population is expected to expand further when you consider longer lifespans, lower fertility rates among the young and the retirement of the largest generation ever.

Once this shift occurs, consider what might happen. Politics could become dominated by retirees who vote for more generous entitlement benefits that the young must pay.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “What Happens When We All Live to 100?” at The Atlantic, Sept. 17, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Why I Hope to Die at 75,” at The Atlantic, Sept. 17, 2014.]

Retirement is often met with mixed emotions: Sorrow at leaving one chapter of life, but joy of not having to work for a living anymore. A recent study confirmed that three keys to a happy retirement are good health, financial security and having a loving family and friends. Please contact us if you would like assistance in devising a retirement income plan to help cover health care expenses that may arise.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Study Reveals The #1 Key to a Happy Retirement,” at The Huffington Post, Sep. 15, 2014.]

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies utilizing insurance products. Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental agency.

This content is provided for informational purposes only. It is provided by third parties and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Does Your Financial Strategy Take Into Account Unforeseen Retirement Challenges?

Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” However, when it comes to planning for retirement, it may not be a bad idea to develop a strategy that takes into consideration unexpected challenges that could arise.

An unanticipated scenario in retirement might include a major medical issue, debilitating illness, or an adult child moving back in after a job loss or even returning home with grandchildren in tow after a divorce. Many people create an income plan for retirement’s best-case scenario, but it may be a good idea for them to consider what may happen to their retirement income if a challenging situation were to arise.

Perhaps a better approach would be to create a strategy for potential obstacles. That way, if you happen to make it through retirement with no unexpected financial issues, you could potentially be able to leave a larger inheritance for loved ones.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Retirement Living: Biggest Retirement Regrets,” from USA Today, March 11, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Elderly Baby Boomers: With Fewer Children and More Divorce, Who Will Take Care of them?” from PennLive, July 1, 2014.]

Planning for retirement can comprise more than just a retirement nest egg. In addition to working with a financial professional, you may want to consider speaking with a qualified tax advisor or an attorney to provide you with proper tax or estate planning and develop a strategy that is appropriate for your unique situation. With a strategic, clearly defined retirement income plan in place, you may be able to avoid some common retiree mistakes, such as premature IRA withdrawals or not retiring to a more tax-friendly locale (e.g., some of the more traditional retirement spots, like Florida and Nevada).

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Raiding Savings Can Hurt Your Retirement,” from Vanguard MoneyWhys, Aug. 1, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “These States Have No Income Tax,” from USA Today, April 26, 2014.]

Another reason a retirement income plan can come up short is because both spouses are not engaged in the process. Many women manage household expenses and are sensitive to prices, inflation and their own longevity. Perhaps this is why, despite the fact that they earn less on average than men, women are catching up when it comes to retirement savings. A recent survey found the average retirement savings balance for women was up 17 percent from a year ago and up 71 percent from 2009. Nationwide, average salary deferral rates are 5.37 percent for women and 5.70 percent for men. But interestingly, deferral rates for men have been declining since 2010.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Women Showing Greater Retirement Plan Engagement,” from PlanSponsor, Aug. 27, 2014.]

Another scenario people may not plan for is divorce at an older age. Although the strategy may sound wrong and immoral, the story of one pending Medicaid recipient demonstrates why divorce can help reduce medical bills.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Divorce Due To Medical Bills? Sometimes It Makes Sense,” from Forbes, Aug. 21, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Can You Collect on Your Ex? Social Security Eligibility after Divorce,” from BlackRock Blog, July 14, 2014.]

What can each of us do now to help prepare for the unexpected in retirement? You may consider spending and borrowing less and saving more. The tendency to overleverage during high-income years can be tempting. We convince ourselves that because we work hard and earn a good salary, we should be able to drive an expensive car and take lavish vacations. Perhaps we can afford that during our high-earning years, but should we continue to live “high on the hog” if it could potentially diminish our lifestyle in retirement?

Think about adapting your lifestyle today in a manner similar to how you would like to live in retirement — and consider whether you’ll be able to retain that lifestyle once you’re no longer earning a paycheck. If we can help you develop a strategy to address the possibility of an unfavorable scenario occurring during your retirement, please don’t hesitate to call.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies utilizing insurance products. Our firm is not permitted to offer, and no statement contained herein shall constitute, tax, legal or accounting advice. Be sure to speak with qualified professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation. Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental agency.

This content is provided for informational purposes only. It is provided by third parties and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Market Volatility Has Media Calling Chris Hobart

When the market is as volatile as it has been the past couple of weeks, people need to hear sane advice from an industry expert. Chris Hobart was sought out several times by media outlets last week to clue people in on what is going on and what to expect. Check out 3 of his local appearances here:

Chris Hobart WCNC 10.15.2014

Chris Hobart WSOC 10.16.2014

Chris Hobart WBTV 10.16.2014

As always, thanks for the insight Chris!

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DIY: When It Works and When It Doesn’t

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Census Bureau, do-it-yourself (DIY) work accounts for 37 percent of all home remodeling projects in the U.S. Unfortunately, the flip side is that about 30 percent of work performed by the professional remodeling industry represents fixing DIY attempts.

We are often tempted to do something ourselves to save money or simply for the satisfaction, but how do you know when it’s OK to do the work and when you should call in a pro? As many DIY-ers have learned, even the easy-looking jobs can turn into a nightmare if you lack the proper skills and knowledge. Apart from having experience in that line of work, consider if your goal is to save money. If so, calculate not just the cost of materials but how long it would realistically take to complete a project — and the toll that may take on your personal life. Sometimes it may be cheaper — both financially and for the sake of family harmony — to hire a professional. Remember that professionals generally already own the tools they’ll need for the job and can purchase materials at wholesale prices.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “House Calls: DIY project drawbacks,” at the Leader-Telegram, Sept. 6, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Know your limit, DIY within it” at the Toronto Sun, Sept. 11, 2014.]

Fixing problems in your house is one thing, but what about treating problems with your health? The Internet has become the go-to problem-solving source for everything from broken dishwashers to diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome. According to a recent study, the average American adult spends about 52 hours looking up medical issues each year — a phenomenon called “cyberchondria.”

A future trend in health care that is already in development is the use of an affordable, handheld device that consumers can use to self-diagnose their medical conditions. For those of you familiar with the Star Trek series, this is the same type of data recording and analysis technology Dr. McCoy used to scan patients to determine what ailed them. So, yes, the DIY “tricorder” may be in our near future.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Stop Googling yourself sick,” at metro.us, Aug. 11, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The race to create a real-life tricorder,” at CNN, Sept. 7, 2014.]

This focus on health is apparently well-founded. According to a new Merrill Lynch study, health is the “cornerstone of a happy retirement” as well as retirees’ greatest financial worry. In the section titled, “Planning for Health Care Expenses: Not a Do-It-Yourself Project,” the survey reports that less than one out of six pre-retirees (15 percent) have ever attempted to estimate how much money they might need for health care and long-term care in retirement.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Merrill Lynch Study Finds Health is the Cornerstone of a Happy Retirement, and Greatest Financial Worry,” at Yahoo Finance, Sept. 12, 2014.]

Some DIY projects cannot be fixed by a professional after the damage is done. One example is DIY wills and estate planning. One woman in Florida, who thought she had dotted all her i’s and crossed all her t’s using online forms, didn’t live to see her estate plans knocked askew by probate court.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Case Illustrates Dangers of Executing a Will without Legal Assistance,” at Martindale-Hubbell, May 9, 2014.]

In life, sometimes the more we learn, the more we understand how little we really know. DIY projects are probably some of the best training ground for truly understanding that insight. We hope you will turn to us for help when developing a strategy for your own financial future. After all, that’s what we do for a living.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies utilizing insurance products. Our firm is not permitted to offer, and no statement contained herein, shall constitute legal advice. Be sure to speak with qualified professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation. Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental agency.

This content is provided for informational purposes only, it is provided by third parties and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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CHRIS HOBART ON WCNC 10/15

Chris Hobart to be featured on WCNC tonight to give us some insight on what is going on with this market. Don’t miss it- October 15 6:00pm EST on WCNC News Channel 36 evening news!

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What Jobs Mean to Us — and the U.S.

Who looks for a job in August? Who’s around to interview candidates anyway? August is a popular month for end-of-summer vacations before the school year starts. This trend showed up in the latest jobs report, which revealed a slump of only 142,000 jobs added after six straight months of payroll gains exceeding 200,000. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Miss in Job Growth a Usual August Aberration, Economists Say,” from Bloomberg, Sept. 5, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How to Read the Jobs Report Like a Pro,” from CNN Money, accessed Sept. 5, 2014.]

However, there are some interesting recent trends where the job market is concerned. For one thing, a new survey discovered that freelancers (53 million strong) make up 34 percent of the U.S. workforce. That’s not a trend that is expected to slow down, even as the job market grows stronger. Another study predicts that these “contingent workers” will exceed 40 percent of the workforce by 2020.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “5 Big Trends Shaking Up the Job Market,” from CNN Money, Sept. 5, 2014.]

Workers under 35 are more likely to freelance, and no wonder, since today’s young adults have been among those hardest hit by the slow-moving job market. A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reveals that while the unemployment rate for recent college graduates is at 5 percent — below that of the overall population — nearly half of those college grads are “underemployed.” But the news isn’t all bad. The report found that many of them are working career-oriented jobs such as dental hygienist, electrician and mechanic. Furthermore, 40 percent of recent college graduates working in non-college jobs are earning a full-time average salary of $45,000 or more a year.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “New York Fed Says Nearly Half of College Grads are Underemployed,” from MarketWatch, Sept. 5, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Are the Job Prospects of Recent College Graduates Improving?” from Liberty Street Economics, Sept. 4, 2014.]

Another demographic that has had an impact on the job market is recent retirees. Nearly 50 percent report that they left the workforce earlier than planned for negative reasons, such as a health problem or disability. Regardless, another survey found that 90 percent of recently retired households say they are very or somewhat satisfied with retirement. But even among relatively wealthy retirees, Social Security represents the largest single source of their retirement income, averaging 43 percent of the total.

What are some of the lessons recent retirees have learned about Social Security? Twenty-seven percent say their benefits are less than expected, and 23 percent of those who started drawing Social Security early wish they could change the age they started.

[CLICK HERE to access the 2013 RCS fact sheet #2, “Changing Expectations about Retirement,” from EBRI, March 19, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Surprise: Retirement is Better than Expected,” from Fox Business, Aug. 25, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to access the survey, “What They’re Saying about Social Security,” from Nationwide Financial, June 2014.]

When you add it all up to the big picture, the United States has improved its competitiveness on the global landscape in recent years. This year it took the No. 3 spot behind Switzerland and Singapore, according to recent rankings by the World Economic Forum. That’s up from last year, when the U.S. ranked fifth. The forum said U.S. companies benefit from an excellent university system that works well with the private sector in research and development.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “U.S. Economy is No. 3 in Competitiveness,” from CNN Money, Sept. 4, 2014.]

Wherever you land in the employment spectrum, contact us to discuss how we can help you evaluate your retirement assets as well as your retirement income needs and help you create a strategy for an independent retirement you can feel confident about.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies utilizing insurance products. Our firm is not affiliated with the US government or any governmental agency.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Sporting Confidence through Ups and Downs

Some of the world’s top sports figures have recently experienced ups and downs in their careers. Take Rafael Nadal for instance, one of the top men’s professional tennis players in the world. Two years ago, Nadal was forced to sit out for seven months due to a knee injury. Then he fought his way back in 2013, winning two Grand Slam titles and ending the year at No. 1 in the world. Just recently Nadal announced a wrist injury that caused him to withdraw from the final Grand Slam event of the year: the U.S. Open, where he was the defending champion.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Rafael Nadal Injury News: Rafa to Miss 2014 US Open; When Will Tennis Legend Return To Court?” from International Business Times, Aug. 21, 2014.]

The recent roller-coaster ride of young golf pro Rory McIlroy’s summer success demonstrates how quickly the tide can turn. After three straight wins this summer, including the British Open and the PGA Championship, he shot a 3-over par 74 during first-round play of his next tournament — and had to worry about even making the weekend cut.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Rory McIlroy Stumbles to Worst Start in Two Months with 3-ver 74 in The Barclays,” from New York Daily News, Aug. 22, 2014.]

Two of America’s veteran athletes recently experienced back-to-back highs and lows as well. Soccer pro Landon Donovan was cut from the U.S. men’s national team and unable to play in this year’s World Cup. But just weeks after the tournament, he announced his retirement in style after scoring the winning goal in the MLS All-Star Game against Bayern Munich — which included some of the German players from this year’s winner of the World Cup.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Landon Donovan Lifts MLS All-Stars Over Bayern Munich,” from USA Today, Aug. 7, 2014.]

Another veteran, Olympic swimmer and gold-medal record holder Michael Phelps, has stepped back into the water at the international competition level. Phelps retired after the 2012 Summer Olympics, but just four months after returning to training, he helped his teammates win gold in the 4×200-meter relay at the Pan Pacific championships. He came just short of reaching the medal podium in his 100-meter freestyle final, but Phelps said he came out of retirement because he believes he can swim faster than ever before.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Phelps Wins Gold, Ledecky Breaks 400 World Record,” from AP News, Aug. 23, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Swimming: Phelps can swim faster after comeback, coach says,” from Ahram Online, Aug. 20, 2014.]

What exactly are the qualities these athletes share that empowers them to rebound to such success after disappointment? Perhaps it’s confidence: Knowing that you have performed well in the past gives you the strength — and the hope — to believe that you can achieve those heights again.

Perhaps it’s preparation: Working hard to make sure you have the ability to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. Perhaps they surround themselves with competent professionals they trust to share their vision and support their goals. We believe all of these characteristics also can help people secure their financial future, and we’re here to help you prepare with confidence by sharing our experience and knowledge. Please give us a call.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies utilizing insurance products.

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