Shortlink

Taxes Filed. Now What?

In a 1789 letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, Ben Franklin wrote, “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

It’s interesting that while the Constitution has changed only minimally since 1787, the tax code changes all the time.

Now that we’re well and through this year’s April 15 tax deadline, hopefully you are one of the 113 million who filed your return on time and paid any taxes owed. If not, you at least should have filed for a tax extension for your 2014 federal income tax return. Bear in mind that, even if you filed for an extension, any amount you may owe was still due on April 15. Otherwise, the very next day the clock started ticking and penalties and interest will accrue on any outstanding amount you owe.

  • Late filing penalty: Typically five percent of the tax bill for each month (or part of a month) that the return is late, up to 25 percent of the tax bill
  • Late payment penalty: Typically 0.5 percent of taxes owed for each month after April 15
  • Late payment interest: The interest rate equals the federal short-term rate plus 3 percent (set quarterly)
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The Quotable Franklin,” from UShistory.org, accessed April 24, 2015.]
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “IRS Reports Tax Filing Numbers as Expected, Issues Statement on Refund Delays,” from Forbes, April 21, 2015.]
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “It’s Tax Day. You haven’t filed. Should you freak out?” from The Washington Post, April 15, 2015.]
If you haven’t paid what you owe yet, consider your options. You can set up an installment payment plan with the IRS. If you do so, the late penalty drops to 0.25 percent per month, and you get as long as six years to pay off the debt. Remember, though, interest will continue to accrue until the balance is paid.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Apply for an Online Payment Agreement for Individuals and Businesses,” from IRS.gov, April 16, 2015.]
If you charge what you still owe to a credit card, pay careful attention to the fees involved. For example, charging your payment to a debit card may cost a flat fee of $2.49 to $3.50. However, if you charge it to your credit card, your fee can range from 1.87 percent to 2.35 percent of the amount you charge. With a large tab, say $10,000, that’ll tack on as much as $235 — and that doesn’t even take into account the interest you’ll pay until the credit card charge is paid off. The good news? You can deduct that initial fee on next year’s return.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Pros and cons of paying taxes with a credit card,” from CreditCards.com, March 20, 2015.]
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Pay your Taxes by Debit or Credit Card,” from IRS.gov, Jan. 15, 2015.]
If you did get your return filed in time and you’re all square on tax payments, good for you. However, it’s never a good idea to just slap your hands clean and wait until next year. There are moves you can make now to help lower your tax liability for next year. For example, you can max out your contributions to tax-advantaged retirement and health care savings accounts. And consider the merits of tax diversification — which basically means having both a retirement income source that is currently tax-deferred and one with distributions that won’t be taxable in retirement.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “4 moves to make now to cut your taxes for 2016,” from USA Today, April 5, 2015.]
There are many ways to help increase your current income and help develop more tax-efficient income strategies — whether for next year or in retirement. Please contact us for help tailoring a strategy that works best for your individual situation.

We are an independent financial services firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. Our firm is not permitted to offer, and no statement contained herein shall constitute, tax, legal or investment 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.

AE05155106
Shortlink

Trends in Jobs and Education

It’s that time of year. Student graduates have crossed the tassel from one side of the cap to the other, parents are both teary-eyed and relieved, and millions of wide-eyed young adults will be flooding both college campuses and the workforce.

For young college grads just entering the job market, the news is upbeat. One recent survey found that employers are planning to hire 9.6 percent more graduates in the U.S. than they did last year. Not surprisingly, the most hirable major continues to be engineering, the degree of choice for approximately 72 percent of companies. Other popular majors are business (68 percent) and computer science (58 percent). Sought-after personal traits for first-timers aren’t that much different from what companies seek from experienced workers: critical thinking, problem solving, being a team player, professional demeanor and strong work ethic.

[CLICK HERE to read student profiles, “The College Degrees and Skills Employers Most Want In 2015,” from Forbes, April 15, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to listen to the podcast, “Podcast: Which countries are top in IT?” from World Economic Forum, April 17, 2015.]

For high school graduates, the competition to get into the top universities continues to be fierce. However, schools today aren’t just looking for all A’s and high test scores, they want “well-rounded” students, which means even 4.0 students might benefit by playing a sport, musical instrument or joining other school organizations.

This year, some students have been accepted into Ivy League schools without the standard qualifications. For example, the daughter of a second-generation teen mom and five-time convicted felon was accepted into Yale, Dartmouth, Duke and Cornell with a less-than-perfect application. One young horse lover has been set on discovering a cure for Laminitis (an incurable foot disease of horses) since age 9, and has carved a path for herself to do just that. Some say they are poor test takers, others admitted to earning a few B grades. All are driven to succeed for a variety of different reasons and most are passionate about something, be it sports, science, art — even if it’s something on which they can’t necessarily build a career. You can read their interesting profiles here:

[CLICK HERE to read student profiles, “How I got into an Ivy League school,” from CNN Money, April 16, 2015.]

Among last year’s crop of high school graduates, 2 million out of 2.9 million enrolled in college. About a third of those, 706,000, enrolled in two-year colleges, an increasingly popular option to help pursue a higher-paying job without the higher price tag. Another option for grads is to pursue an apprenticeship to acquire skills while working — some of which pay salaries up to $50,000.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “What’s in Store for This Year’s High School Grads,” from U.S. Department of Labor, April 17, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “4 Reasons for High School Graduates to Turn to Community College,” from U.S. News & World Report, April 16, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to visit the website, “Apprenticeship is win-win for both employers and workers,” from U.S. Department of Labor, April 9, 2015.]

When it comes to paying for college, one recent survey found 75 percent of parents and grandparents are confident their children will attend college, but 59 percent have not yet begun to save for it. New options are currently being explored to help, such as repurposing funds for current tax credits to create a savings account for every child at birth. This option would enable deposits to qualify for the American Opportunity Tax Credit — long before the child attends college. Another option is to allow parents to contribute to a Roth Account for Youth Savings (RAYS) for long-term growth with the flexibility to use it for higher education, homeownership, medical expenses and/or retirement.

[CLICK HERE to read the news release, “Savingforcollege.com Survey Reveals American Families Are Still Unsure of Best Way to Save for College,” from SavingForCollege.com, April 16, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Why America needs a new savings account for children,” from World Economic Forum, April 8, 2015.]

Paying for college is just one of the many priorities that fight for a share of our current income and assets. If we can help you develop a strategy that can make you feel more confident in your retirement now while saving for future college expenses, please give us a call.

We are an independent financial services firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. Our firm is not permitted to offer, and no statement contained herein shall constitute, tax, legal or investment 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.

AE05155087

Shortlink

Surprising Findings

Sometimes, hidden among the gloom and doom news headlines and economic predictions, we find little nuggets of information that surprise and can even make our day.

For example, thanks to national budget cuts, fewer taxpayers are being audited. The average taxpayer’s chance of being audited has dropped by 23 percent in the past three years, and the news is even better for higher-income earners who are usually more likely to get audited. For those earning $200,000 to $1 million, the chance of getting audited is 2.2 percent (more than twice that of the average income earner). Those earning more than $1 million have a 7.5 percent chance. However, even those rates are continuing to drop.

The only exception is the expatriates. More stringent regulation of off-shore assets has resulted in a higher number of American taxpayers who live abroad being audited.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The IRS Has New Favorite People to Audit,” at Bloomberg, April 9, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the report, “2014 IRS Data Book,” at IRS.gov, March 2015.]

Many retirees or near-retirees often consider moving to another location when they retire, or even just downsizing to help save money. Regardless of whether they stay or go, most report they’re happy with their decision. A full two-thirds of retirees say they currently live in the best home of their lives. Another point of interest is the number of retirees who do decide to settle somewhere new: 64 percent say they’re likely to move at least once during retirement.

Where are they moving? Recently, a billboard photo made the rounds on the Internet that read, “Say what you will about the South, but no one retires and moves up North.” Statistically speaking, the South does appear to be a popular choice. Among pre-retirees who say they want to move somewhere else for retirement, 39 percent report their preferred destination is in the South Atlantic region of the U.S.

Here are a couple of other tidbits: 72 percent of homeowners age 65 and up have paid off their mortgage, and almost half of them (49 percent) “upsized” in their last move. One out of six retirees has a grown child living with them.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Merrill Lynch Study Finds New Freedoms Help Two-thirds of Retirees Live in the Best Home of Their Lives,” at MarketWatch, Feb. 25, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to download the report, “Home in Retirement: More Freedom, New Choices,” at Merrill Lynch, 2015.]

We’ve all heard the news about rising obesity rates and the subsequent medical costs associated with treating weight-related illnesses, but did you know that people who actively pursue a healthier lifestyle in the great outdoors contribute significantly to our economic growth?

Americans spend approximately $646 billion each year on outdoor recreation, and that’s more than we spend on pharmaceuticals and other medical products ($389 billion) and motor vehicles and parts ($418 billion). If you think we (children in particular) have abandoned outdoor recreation for indoor electronics, consider that Americans actually spend three times more on outdoor recreation than on computers, cameras and other IT equipment ($211 billion).

In fact, one study found that localities that feature national parks, wilderness and other recreational areas attract more high-wage, high-skill jobs — such as engineers, architects, software developers, doctors, lawyers — than similar communities without them. There also is a correlation between outdoor public lands/open spaces and higher-quality schools and reduced crime rates.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The Government Should Begin to Measure America’s Powerful Outdoor Economy,” at Center for American Progress, Jan. 21, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the State of Obesity annual report at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Accessed April 10, 2015.]

Whether you’re considering what tax strategies may be effective for you, potential retirement moves or even making changes to your current lifestyle, please consider us a resource to help you develop a secure financial plan.

We are an independent financial services firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of the nation’s leading insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. Our firm is not permitted to offer, and no statement contained herein shall constitute tax, legal or investment 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.

AE04155084

Shortlink

3 Tips for Doing Something Better

You see those article headlines all the time: “10 Tips for …” blah blah blah. The writer claims to have simplified some common problems we all face — losing weight, achieving happiness, getting along with your boss at work — into three, five, or 10 nuggets of no-fail wisdom. Often we find two or three that are useful and ignore the rest because they seem benign or we’ve already tried them and know they’re no panacea for success.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Numerals in headlines quantify value, draw readers,” from Wylie Communications, April 3, 2015.]

Sometimes it’s helpful just to remember that life is a journey, not a destination. After all, the sooner you get to a destination the sooner your journey ends. And when it comes to living, well, that’s not a good thing.

So here are a few insights garnered from recent Internet articles that may be more helpful than doing a kale cleanse or trying your sister-in-law’s new miracle diet.

1. Relocate to a happier place.

The happiest people in the world reportedly live in Europe — namely Denmark. In fact, retired Danish women claim the highest order of cheerfulness, consistently reporting a happiness score of 8.5 out of 10. According to recent research, geography does play a factor in happiness, which is probably less of a revelation for people who live in excessively cold or depressive surroundings. For those in sunnier climates, they probably recognize and appreciate this fact on a daily basis.

A second indicator of happiness is income — up to a point. The higher the pay, even if it’s just one quintile higher on the income scale — the more content the demographic. But pay apparently doesn’t trump geography, as even “the poorest 20 percent of Danes are more joyful than the richest Greeks.”

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Stated preferences,” from The Economist, March 31, 2015.]

2. Don’t replace your job, replace your boss.

New research reveals that less than one-third of Americans are engaged in their jobs and, at some point in their career, at least one-third of workers left their job to get away from their boss. It seems such a shame that one person can be endowed with the power to make a group of people (direct reports) miserable on a daily basis. This impact is not even confined to the workplace; unhappy employees tend to go home and make their families miserable as well. That’s a lot of power.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Employees Want A Lot More From Their Managers,” from Gallup, April 8, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “What Do Workers Want from the Boss?” from The Wall Street Journal, April 2, 2015.]

3. Reject rejection.

They say you can’t control bad news, just how you respond to it. One high school student recently took that advice one step further and decided to reject her bad news. Specifically, being rejected entrance into Duke as a freshman next year. She wrote the university a letter informing them that she rejected its rejection and looked forward to seeing them in the fall.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “17-year old rejects Duke’s rejection letter,” from CNN Money, April 3, 2015.]

Let’s face it: Most of these tips are not practically applicable. But it may help to recognize that not all goals need to be monumental. They can be small and daily, like did you get in your half-hour walk today? In a recent speech, the Dalai Lama reiterated the importance of focusing on what is truly important to each of us:

“We all want to live happy lives. We want our lives to have meaning. Leading a meaningful life doesn’t mean accumulating money, power and fame, but generating happiness … No matter how complicated our lives may be, if we can maintain a degree of inner peace, we’ll be happy.”

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Friendly Meetings and Conclusion of Brief Teachings,” from Dalailama.com, March 21, 2015.]

We realize there are many things we cannot control in life, but perhaps the best tip is to focus on what you can control. When it comes to securing your financial future, we can help with that.

We are an independent financial service firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives.

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.

AE04155081

Shortlink

Best-Laid Plans

A recent survey revealed that six out of 10 Americans believe they are inadequately prepared for a financial emergency, and only 50 percent feel that they are overall financially secure. For most, planning for retirement is one of their biggest worries. This stress is further exacerbated by the fact that most Americans reported having experienced a financial setback last year — something along the lines of reduced income, hospital bills, the loss of a spouse, or a major repair bill for their home and/or car.

[CLICK HERE to read the report, “How Much Should Workers Save for Emergencies?” from Hello Wallet, accessed April 3, 2015.]

Perhaps even more illuminating, 21 percent of Americans say they are not planning to retire. At all. Unfortunately, even the best-laid plans can go awry — and that includes a plan to continue working. Many manual labor jobs are simply impractical to continue after a certain age or long-term, wear-and-tear on the body. In the white collar-world, a larger number of better-educated employees are delaying retirement or electing to work to some degree during retirement. In fact, more than half of the highest-income quartile of those 65 and older worked in 2013.

When you think about it, this could create kind of an interesting phenomenon: Higher income earners may continue working to a very old age while lower-income earners retire to a life of (albeit low-income) leisure.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Americans’ Financial Security,” from The Pew Charitable Trusts, March 5, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The five ages of financial planning — simple tips to make your money work,” from The Guardian, March 26, 2015.]

Recently, even the value of a college education has come into question. Recent graduates have emerged with thousands of dollars in student loan debt with fewer job prospects available. This phenomenon definitely has students questioning the validity of their long-range plans. But the news now is better.

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, among students who graduated at the height of the financial crises in 2008, 85 percent are now fully employed and enjoying an average annualized salary of $52,000. Better yet, their unemployment rate is down to 3.4 percent, which compares favorably to the 10 percent rate for those with a high school degree or less.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The Value of a Four-Year Degree Is Increasing,” from The Huffington Post, April 1, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Why College Is Worth the Money for Almost Everybody,” from Financial Advisor Magazine, April 3, 2015.]

But suppose you didn’t study what you really wanted to in college, or get the job or career you’ve always wanted. It’s not too late. Whether planning to pursue your passion in retirement or start a new career because you can’t yet afford to retire, college is increasingly becoming a new option for retirees. Well-respected universities such as Tulane and George Washington are designing new curriculums to entice bored and affluent retirees back to school.

For those not seeking to pay a high tuition for another college degree, there are viable alternatives to simply auditing classes now. For example, in California, all of its 23 state universities offer tuition-free classes in their Over 60 Program. In Texas, public colleges and universities offer a tuition-reduction programs for students 55 or older. For many older Americans, college classes aren’t just a way to get out of the house. Some are launching second professional careers in a whole new area of expertise.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Over 50 and Back in College, Preparing for a New Career,” from The New York Times, April 3, 2015.]

Retirement these days is a multi-dimensional process. Many people may even duck in and out of the workforce as needed to pay for specific expenses, such as a six-month travel vacation or to help grandkids pay for college. Just remember, even the best-laid plans sometimes need back-up plans. Please consider us as a resource to help you cover all the angles.

We are an independent financial service firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives.

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.

AE04155078

Shortlink

Longevity Decisions

People over age 90 are now the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. By mid-century, this population is expected to quadruple. Many researchers currently are studying what the commonalities are for longevity and whether we can replicate them either in lifestyle choices or perhaps even pharmaceutically.

A “60 Minutes” episode last year revealed some interesting findings about people over age 90, based on data originally gathered on this group back in 1981. Some marked commonalities among this group included:

  • Exercise every day is correlated with a longer life. As little as 15 minutes a day is effective, but 45 minutes a day is ideal (even more ideal than two hours a day). Also, it isn’t necessary that the exercise be intense or all at once — it can be spread throughout the day through walking, gardening, housework, etc.
  • Taking vitamins has no impact on longevity.
  • Clean living is not a factor; people who drink alcohol tend to live longer than those who don’t. And not just red wine — all types of alcoholic beverages, up to two servings a day.
  • Coffee drinking — consuming the caffeine equivalent of one to three cups a day is consistent with longevity.
  • Engaging in non-physical activities, such as book clubs and bridge, are consistent with a longer life. The more activities, the better.
  • Eating — not worrying about food intake is a common theme. In fact, moderate weight gain as you age is OK; being underweight is a negative factor for longevity.
One study from Brigham Young University further contributed to the data, showing that people who are lonely or isolated from social relationships and communities have the same risk of premature death as those who struggle with obesity or those who live in poverty.

[CLICK HERE to view the “60 Minutes” episode segment, “Aging to 90+ years,” on Youtube.com, Aug. 31, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Loneliness and Isolation Are as Bad for You as Obesity, New Study Says,” from The Huffington Post, March 12, 2015.]

However, there are decisions other than lifestyle choices we can make at earlier ages to help prepare for a longer life. One such decision is what we do for a living. Obviously, the happier and more satisfied we are with our professional lives, the less aggravation and stress we feel. A recent article from World Economic Forum features a list of six questions to ask yourself regarding whether or not you should stay in your current work situation.

If you work for a family-owned business, your longevity can take on a whole new meaning — in terms of your legacy. Research from Harvard Business Review discovered that only 30 percent of family businesses last into the second generation, even though they account for the most employment in most countries. The sustainability of these businesses across multiple generations is largely indicated by whether they invest in both family and non-family talent, whether they engage in succession planning and whether they implemented a firm governance structure such as a board of directors.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Are you sure you want to leave your job?” from World Economic Forum, March 20, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Leadership Lessons from Great Family Businesses,” from Harvard Business Review, April 2015.]

And finally, how much does our wealth and the language we speak impact us by the end of a long, eventful lifetime? There are interesting studies revealing that people with less money rely more on and prioritize their social relationships, while wealth tends to breed independence — often with the unintended consequence that wealthier people can grow more isolated over time. In fact, one study went so far as to conclude that wealth can make us less sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. In other words, “meaner” than those with less means.

As for accumulating wealth, there is a fascinating study underway that correlates why many northern European countries lead the world in personal savings rates. Hint: It has to do with the language the people speak and the way it impacts their culture and mindset for saving money.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Does money make you mean?” from BBC News Magazine, March 16, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to view the video, “The Influence of Language on Saving,” on Squared Away Blog from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, March 19, 2015.]

Obviously, there are dozens of ways to prepare for longevity. We can help you tackle some of those as they relate to your financial life. Please give us a call.

We are an independent financial service firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. Our firm is not permitted to offer, and no statement contained herein, shall constitute tax, legal or investment 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.

AE04155074

Shortlink

Happy Breeds More Happy

In the 20th century, the typical retirement lasted about 10 to 15 years. These days, if you retire in your 60s, your golden years could last upward of 30 years or more. The more people recognize this, the more it becomes evident that we can’t work our careers in quite the same manner anymore. Working for 40 years — particularly in our more materialistic culture — typically won’t provide enough income to both live and save for a retirement that could last nearly the same amount of time.

Longevity experts are now calling for a revolution in the workplace, one that enables people to work longer. For one thing, it doesn’t help our economy to have our most knowledgeable and experienced workers completely out of the workforce. On the other hand, few people want to work for 50 or 60 years without taking a break. So, why not take a break?

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Retiring retirement?” from Fidelity, Feb. 4, 2015.]

Today’s longer life expectancies behoove employers to consider more flexible and part-time options for people. Employers may need to consider options for employees to move in and out of the workforce periodically. In other words, being out of workforce for a few years shouldn’t hurt a person’s ability to find a new job.

With this new approach to work, young people could travel the world for six months to a year at an age in which they can truly soak in that experience. They could enter the workforce and work long enough to earn the money to take off for a year — but not so long that they’re already burdened with children and a mortgage.

Such a work culture might also help remove the stigma of young moms and dads taking time off work to raise children. Retirees and near-retirees could take off a few years to hit the links, then go back once they get bored. Mid-career workers could jump out of the rat race for a while to re-charge their batteries, then jump back on that wheel with re-energized motivation.

Experts say extending our work lives would benefit us both mentally and cognitively. Work enables us to wake up in the morning and know we are needed somewhere — that our presence and knowledge have value. Moreover, the intellectual stimulation of work is proven to improve our cognitive abilities and delay the onset of conditions associated with old age.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “5 Ways To Make Workplace Flexibility The New Way Of Working,” from Forbes.com, Oct. 30, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Mom Corps: A Further Move to Flexible Work Hours,” at American Management Association, Aug. 15, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “5 Secrets to a Happy Retirement,” from Time.com, Jan. 12, 2015.]

Adapting work schedules and providing a happier work environment doesn’t just benefit employees. Another recent study found that companies with the lowest employee satisfaction tended to significantly under-perform in the stock market. Conversely, highly profitable companies that invest in attracting top talent and have employee-friendly policies tend to outperform the overall market.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Do Satisfied Employees Matter for Company Bottom Lines?” from Glassdoor.com, March 11, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Like Your Job? The Stock Market Will Probably Like Your Company,” from The Wall Street Journal, March 11, 2015.]

It’s hard enough to create a financial plan for the future, but how can you also create a long-term “happiness” plan? Some experts have suggested viewing a long life in 10-year segments. For example, if you’re 40, think about what you want to be doing when you’re 50. At 50, think about 60, and so on.

Long-range income planning is important, but it doesn’t have to sacrifice your happiness. After all — does spending money make you happy, or does spending time doing what you love with people you love make you happy?

We’re always happy to help you re-evaluate your priorities.

We are an independent financial service firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. Our firm is not permitted to offer, and no statement contained herein shall constitute, investment 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.

AE04155045

Shortlink

Funny About Money

Money is both basic and complicated. It enables us to get the things we want, yet people are often reluctant to talk about how much they make, how much they have or how much they pay for things — even to their own family.

In fact, according a recent survey of affluent investors:

  • 62% said they do not plan to tell their children about their net worth — ever
  • The lower their net worth, the less likely they are to tell their children
  • 75% of business owners said they do not tell their kids about their financial situation
  • Of the 38% of investors who did tell their children about their net worth:
    61% said they did so in case something happened them
    - 56% said they wanted their children to understand the implications of major financial decisions, such as their college choice
    More than 50% said they spoke to their children about the family’s net worth once they reached age 21 or older 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Over half of wealthy people don’t tell their kids what the family is worth,” from Business Insider, March 4, 2015.]

 
[CLICK HERE to view the video, “The Mistake 80% of Parents Make with Allowance,” from Time.com, March 6, 2015.]
One of the newest innovations in money is “virtual currency.” The most popular version is bitcoin, which was created in 2009 but no one knows by whom — the person used the alias Satoshi Nakamoto. That may seem incredible, but bitcoin is no joke. Bitcoins can be used to buy merchandise anonymously all over the world via the Internet with no bank or credit card fees, which is why more and more merchants are accepting them. Furthermore, there are “bitcoin exchanges” in which you can buy or sell bitcoins using different currencies.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “What You Should Know about Virtual Currencies,” from the California Department of Business Oversight, April 2014.]
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “What is Bitcoin?” from CNN Money, accessed March 6, 2015.]
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “U.S. Bank Regulator: Virtual Currencies Could Be ‘Revolutionary,’” from The Boston Globe, March 4, 2015.]
Whatever our individual feelings are about money, most people believe it’s important to save. The good news lately is that more Americans have increased their savings over the past year. According to a new survey, people with a savings plan are more likely to be prepared in case of a financial emergency (82 percent vs. 48 percent with no plan), believe they are saving enough for retirement (65 percent vs. 31 percent) and are currently saving the difference from spending less than their income (90 percent vs. 50 percent).
Furthermore, the percentage of affluent Americans surveyed who report they have no consumer debt or are reducing their obligations rose from 76 percent to 78 percent over the past year.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Good Going, America! You’re Saving More!” from Spectrem Group, March 3, 2015.]
Saving tends to be a universal priority no matter what level of affluence people achieve. But when you reach retirement age, you may want to consider converting those savings to a regular stream of income. We can help you evaluate ways to do that.

We are an independent financial service firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. Our firm is not permitted to offer, and no statement contained herein shall constitute, tax, legal or investment 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.

AE03155031
Shortlink

2015: Beyond the Cold

As parts of the country dig out from under the snow this winter, it’s important to remember that, despite life’s uncertainties, you can always count on one thing: Spring will come.

It may be a small comfort, but it never fails that sunshine, warmer temperatures, blooming flowers, leaves appearing back on the trees and people enjoying themselves outdoors has a calming, hopeful effect on so many.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Unrelenting snowfall darkening our moods,” from The Boston Globe, Feb. 10, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How Spring Opens the Mind,” from The Atlantic, March 21, 2014.]

This year, economic experts believe there is much to be positive about. 2015 started on strong footing with lower oil prices, higher jobs reports and, according to one analyst, positive indicators that wages are finally going to pick up. While home-buying numbers fell, the average sale price of houses rose. These factors combine for a potential bottom-line impact on household budgets and individual purchasing power. This is great news domestically and abroad, since consumers drive about two-thirds of the U.S. economy.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “A year of wow,” from Fidelity Investments, Feb. 20, 2015.]

Before 2007, there were 10 postwar recessions that ranged in length from six to 16 months. The 2007-09 recession, which officially lasted 18 months, is recorded as the longest and most severe recession in the postwar period.

One of the most important tenets of moving forward with a positive outlook is to remember where you’ve been. First off, recognize that we survived this latest economic battle. Second, most of us will experience yet another recession in our lifetimes, quite possibly more than one, so it is important to keep lessons learned top-of-mind as we move forward.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The Recession and Recovery in Perspective,” from The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, accessed Feb. 27, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Is the economy different this time?” from Bason Asset Management, Feb. 27, 2015.]

They say the best time to look for a new job is while you have a job. It enables you to better target the next logical step based on career goals and negotiate from a position of power and confidence. The same applies to your finances. As your financial picture improves, it may be a good time to start planning for the future — both the good and the bad that may occur, like winter and springtime.

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 investment 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.

AE03155028

Shortlink

Keep Calm and Carry On

During World War II, the British government used a poster campaign to help the general public prepare for and deal with the realities of war on their personal lives. The first poster was encouraging: “Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution will Bring Us Victory.” The second was a bit menacing: “Freedom is in Peril.”

The third and most well-known, “Keep Calm and Carry On,” was ironically never even distributed. It was scheduled to be posted should Germany invade Britain, but that never happened. Perhaps it has been the most enduring missive due to its more tempered message — both realistic and reassuring.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Keep Calm and Carry On, The Real Story,” from The Churchill Centre, Mar. 7, 2012.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “So what is this Keep Calm and Carry On thing all about then?” at Keepcalmandcarryon.com, accessed Feb. 20, 2015.]

Throughout the recession, we looked for hope. Instead we got a slow, lumbering recovery — both here and abroad. But apparently we don’t need a booming global economy to carry on. Great times may be great, but as we’ve witnessed over the last few years, good times aren’t so bad either.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Stock markets keep calm and carry on,” from Reuters, Feb. 18, 2015.]

You may be familiar with the oft-quoted adage that you can’t control the things that happen to you, but you can control the way you react. According to a recent Forbes article, there are five surefire ways to help adjust your attitude as a means of handling whatever life throws at you:

  1. Never complain again — or, more realistically, go 21 days in a row without complaining.
  2. Feel great by waking up earlier. Wake up one hour earlier each morning to focus on yourself.
  3. Take 100 percent ownership. If you take ownership over all that happens to you, there is no one and nothing left to complain about.
  4. Exercise your mind through journaling. Through documentation, you can see the things that you continue to repeat year after year.
  5. Believe in something bigger. The law of attraction says if you believe that something will happen, the universe will move out of its way to make it happen for you.

 

 

 

 

Personal life coach Tony Robbins suggests that people can master their “internal world” by adopting the viewpoint that life is not something that happens to you, but rather, it happens for you. With this approach, you acknowledge that everything bad that happens must be for a reason, so you use this knowledge to figure out how it will serve you.

He suggests conducting a seven-day exercise in which you say “erase” anytime you catch yourself saying anything negative or derogatory. If you truly focus, he jokes, it’ll take you about a month to actually go seven consecutive days without having to say “erase.” The exercise is meant to make us fully aware of how much negativity seeps into our consciousness every day.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “5 Ways to Improve Your Attitude in 2015,” from Forbes, Dec. 31, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “An In-depth Interview with Life Coach Tony Robbins,” from The Huffington Post, June 29, 2012.]

Whether you are currently experiencing a stretch of good or bad fortune, the one thing you can count on is that nothing lasts forever. One of the best coping mechanisms is to devise a well-thought out plan to deal with misfortunes. It’s best to do this during the good times, as it provides confidence to help you through the bad times. Naturally, we’re here to help you through both.

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 investment 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.

AE03155024