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Equal Pay Debate Worth Another Look

What are we aiming for when it comes to equal wages these days? Sometimes it seems like a moving target. 

For example, should two workers doing the same job get the same pay? Or should the person who performs better receive more income, and is that judgment arbitrary or based on strict, measurable criteria? Should a worker be paid based on his or her market value, such as one movie star’s box office pull versus another’s? 

Using those criteria, there might not be a more interesting case study than the U.S. women’s soccer team. Male athletes generally make more in this country because they generate better TV ratings, sell more tickets and pull in more advertising dollars. But compared to their counterparts on the men’s national team, these numbers all fall in favor of the women’s squad. 

Following the women’s 2015 World Cup title and qualification for the 2016 Olympics, something the men’s team failed to do, the disparity in talent may be greater than ever. Yet the men are still making more, leading the women to speak out against the unequal pay and consider a strike. 

The controversy mirrors one that has been growing nationwide as a result of pay difference between genders. As debates continue over raising the minimum wage and instituting equal pay, it’s interesting to consider how we value people within the work landscape. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “California on track for $15 minimum wage,” from BBC News, March 31, 2016.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Stars Allege Pay Discrimination,” from The Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2016.] 

The issue of women’s worth is not going away any time soon. Some experts have identified that women in the workplace face obstacles in three areas: Struggling to get hired at entry-level positions in certain industries, getting stuck in mid-career roles and simply getting locked out of top executive positions. In essence, some women must overcome obstacles at every stage of their career, no matter how successful they eventually become. 

Economists are now engaging in studies demonstrating that gender inequality impacts everything from household incomes to economic growth. One study estimated that advancing women’s equality in both social and economic realms throughout the world would add $12 trillion to the global GDP by 2025. 

We believe we’re fortunate that the treatment of women in the U.S. is more advanced than many other countries, but there’s still a ways to go when it comes to equal pay. Whether in Hollywood or soccer stadiums, American women have proven that they are no longer willing to wait to be paid less than what they deserve. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Breaking down the gender challenge,” from McKinsey & Company, March 2016.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “As Emerging Multinationals Take Off, Are They Leaving Women at the Gate?” from Knowledge@Wharton, March 25, 2016.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Does gender discrimination in social institutions matter for long-term growth?” from OECD, March 2016.] 

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

The information contained in this material has been obtained from third-party sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions.

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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We’re Living in a Digital World

Madonna, David Bowie, Lady Gaga: Some of the most successful entertainers in show business have been renowned for reinventing themselves. But, when you think about how much our lives have changed over the years, reinvention has become a part of our everyday routines as well. 

Twenty-five years ago, we had to stay at home if we were expecting a phone call. We had to go inside the bank to deposit our paychecks and withdraw cash. We paid our bills through the mail and lamented the rising cost of a single stamp. 

But, it’s the 21st century, and now most tasks can be done electronically or virtually. The way we communicate with each other, conduct business, learn new skills and information, and even entertain ourselves has been transformed. It’s also changed the way we manage our finances. If we maintain a life insurance or annuity policy for you and you’d like to learn more about how to get online access to that policy, please don’t hesitate to contact us. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “After 20 Years, It’s Harder to Ignore the Digital Economy’s Dark Side,” from Harvard Business Review, March 11, 2016.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Why Estonia Is Letting Entrepreneurs Become ‘E-Residents,’” from Harvard Business Review, March 9, 2016.] 

It’s truly amazing how much the digital era has changed society. Amazon has all but eliminated the need for a traditional bookstore. Google has rendered encyclopedias obsolete, and GPS has turned maps into relics suitable for framing. 

But of course, reinventing ourselves and society as a whole due to advancements in technology comes with some pitfalls. There are always a few bad apples who will abuse what’s available to them. As a result, new innovations create the need for new laws, structures, norms and approaches to help put guardrails on what information we can access and how we use it. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “In Privacy Law, It’s the U.S. vs. the World,” from Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery, February 2016.] 

When there are no rules, or the ones that exist are ambiguous, we may have to rely on the court system to provide clarification. Today’s judicial branch of the government is littered with lawsuits that no one could have dreamed of 20 years ago. For instance, “throttling” is when your cellphone carrier slows your data speeds down because you exceed a certain data threshold in a given month (even if you have an unlimited data plan). 

When you consider how hard it must be to police such activity, it’s easy to yearn for the good old days, when a phone was tethered by a cord, and you had one easy-to-understand bill. At the same time, you must equally weigh the inconveniences when comparing today to the past. Like it or not, technology will continue to evolve, and we believe the more willing you are to reinvent, the more enjoyable life will be. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “AT&T Dodges Data-Throttling Class-Action Lawsuit,” from Digital Trends, March 14, 2016.] 

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

The information contained in this material has been obtained from third-party sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions.

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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Statistics on Centenarians Don’t Always Make Sense

While it’s true that people, in general, are living longer than ever, unfortunately there’s no guarantee that applies to everyone across the board. 

A recent study showed men and women in the lower 25 percent of socioeconomic status have not achieved the same average longevity as those in the highest quarter. We believe the reason this type of data is important is because raising the full retirement age for Social Security benefits may create a disadvantage for lower-income Americans. 

[CLICK HERE to read the report, “Does a Uniform Retirement Age Make Sense?” from Centre for Retirement Research at Boston College, January 2016.] 

In our opinion, retirement income planning is not just something wealthy people should do. We believe individuals at every income level can reasonably expect to retire. But those without sufficient retirement assets may have to rely more on government benefits, including Social Security. 

If you’re reading this blog, you may be thinking about your own retirement income planning. As a financial professional, we are here to help you create a retirement income strategy that you can feel confident about through the use of insurance products. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Retirement Benefits” from Social Security Administration, January 2015.] 

Meanwhile, despite what the statistics say, even those who are in the lowest quartile can live to 100 and beyond. Just look at some of the oldest people alive today. Currently, the oldest man is 112. Did he live an easy life? In a word — no. 

Israel Kristal was separated from his parents at age 11 and spent years confined to slave labor at Auschwitz and other concentration camps. Having survived WWII, he moved to Israel and built up a confectionary business until he retired. Kristal will turn 113 in September. 

The world’s oldest woman lives in Brooklyn, New York. After working a series of domestic jobs, Susannah Mushatt Jones retired in 1965. She is currently 116 years old. 

According to Guinness World Records (August 2015), the oldest living male twins are 102. Pierre and Paul Langerock live in Belgium, both worked as court magistrates and are best friends to this day. Their advice for a long life? “Don’t waste your time fooling around, don’t eat too much and don’t run after women.” 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Holocaust survivor, 112, is world’s oldest man, Guinness World Records says” from USA Today, March 11, 2016.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “This 116-Year-Old Brooklyn Woman Is the World’s Oldest Person” from New York magazine, Dec. 14, 2016.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Belgian centenarians confirmed as oldest living male twins” from Guinness World Records, Aug. 18, 2015.] 

It just goes to show that no one really knows how to predict who will live long and who won’t — regardless of socioeconomic status. In fact, there is growing discrepancy as to what age is even considered “old.” In a recent poll, the majority of centenarians say they didn’t start feeling like they were old until age 87. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How Old Is Old? Centenarians Say It Starts in Your 80s; Kids Say Your 40s” from United Healthcare, April 30, 2015.] 

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

The information contained in this material has been obtained from third-party sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions.

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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Privacy Issues Make Online Buying a Tough Sell

Going online, in many ways, is like opening up a diary of your life and inviting corporations all over the world to analyze what’s inside it. By looking at your personal information, including interests, purchases and browsing history, companies can engineer ways to sell you their goods and services. 

This is what people have come to expect on social media, where it’s common practice to share exactly where you are and what you’re doing with pictures and check-ins. It’s also reasonable to assume the same type of tracking takes place when you make a purchase online. 

To get an idea of who monitors what you’re buying, you would need to read the privacy policy of each website where you make a purchase. And a privacy policy doesn’t always restrict who companies share or sell your personal information with. It’s simply the document that provides an overview of how they share that information. 

Privacy is a growing concern across all mediums: Computers, cellphones and your cable TV provider, just to name a few. This issue reiterates the importance of building a relationship with a trusted financial professional — as opposed to a website — and as a financial professional we’re always open to meeting face to face to discuss your long-term retirement income goals.

If you entrust your retirement assets to an entity with which you communicate only online and by phone, you’ll never get that face-to-face interaction, a handshake, and all the other cues that may help you to determine that a person is trustworthy. In short, the Internet takes from you of the ability to use your instincts to help make decisions regarding who to trust. 

We work hard to earn our clients’ trust. It is the hallmark of the financial professional-client relationship and one we take very seriously — both in person and with electronic records and communications. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “It’s Your Data: Empowering Consumers to Protect Their Privacy on Broadband Networks” from Re/code, March 10, 2016.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “New privacy rules expected for Internet providers” from Fox Carolina 21, March 10, 2016.] 

Just to give you an idea of how big the privacy issue has become, a study by Pew Research revealed that 91 percent of Americans believe consumers have lost control of how personal information is collected and used by companies. Given the highly publicized data breaches of some the country’s largest companies, the public also has little confidence that companies (who can afford to do so) are keeping their personal data secure. 

Despite these concerns, many Americans are willing to provide additional personal information (email address, mailing address, phone number, etc.) to receive a discount on a purchase. And why not? Saving money makes sense. However, a new survey found that while many shoppers are willing to make this trade-off, they resent it.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “8 conversations shaping technology” from Pew Research Center, March 10, 2016.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The Convenience-Surveillance Tradeoff” from The Atlantic, Jan. 14, 2016.] 

If the tide is turning toward more stringent controls over private information, it is happening very slowly and amid a great deal of opposition by the companies seeking to use personal consumer data. Not to mention government agencies. In recent years, the FBI has had access to data involving emails, texts and phone calls that Americans have with people outside the country, which is collected by the National Security Agency. 

Just this year, however, the FBI revised its privacy rules to limit this access by requiring “supervisory approval.” This ambivalent language still suggests that the FBI may not require a court order for access, but rather a level of internal approval. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “FBI quietly changes its privacy rules for accessing NSA data on Americans” from The Guardian, March 8, 2016.] 

There are ways to protect yourself from excessive supervision. For example, the article below details how Microsoft Windows 10 users can adjust privacy settings that reset the “Express Settings” commonly selected during the initial setup. 

While it may be complicated to manually change settings on your computer (as opposed to simply clicking an “opt out” button), those who take the threat of privacy loss seriously may wish to do so. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Broken Windows Theory” from Slate, Aug. 3, 2015.] 

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

The information contained in this material is provided by third parties and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions.

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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The Complexity of Convenience

Forty years ago, you couldn’t grocery shop on Sundays. In fact, you couldn’t really do much shopping on Sundays at all. 

This tradition was rooted in the religious doctrine that on Sundays, we rest. Some stores still observe the Sabbath, but most indulge the habits and demands of consumerism. Not to mention higher revenues. 

It seems that, more and more, there are tradeoffs for the conveniences we enjoy. Ironically, more convenience often comes with an added dimension of complexity. When dealing with insurance products, that doesn’t always have to be the case. We’re here as your financial professional to help address your retirement income concerns and make recommendations based on your specific situation. 

We work in an industry in which there are few simple products, but some may provide convenient features that are not readily found elsewhere. Please let us know if you would like us to provide clear, concise descriptions and illustrations of how these types of insurance products work. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Chick-fil-A makes rare Sunday exception” from CNBC, Dec. 28, 2015.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How to get guaranteed retirement income for life” from CNN Money, Jan. 20, 2016.] 

Here’s another new idea that offers both convenience, and yet challenges. A small grocer in a rural region of Sweden opened a store that has no employees. Shoppers sign up for admission and use an app on their cellphone that allows them to enter, shop and pay for goods all by themselves. This is a great option when it’s midnight and you’ve run out of diapers. 

However, one of the challenges is that some residents find the app usage requirements a little beyond their comfort zone, so the business model doesn’t quite cater to everyone. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “In Sweden’s 1st unstaffed food shop, all you need is a phone” from Associated Press, Feb. 29, 2016.] 

Speaking of cellphones, is there anything more convenient/complex? Later in 2016, the new iPhone 7 will feature “integrated wireless charging.” This confusing-sounding component makes it easier to charge a phone by setting it on a wireless device that will charge it without a cord. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “IHS Technology: Five Wireless Power Predictions for 2016″ from HIS Technology, Jan. 7, 2016.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Wireless Charging” from PowerByProxi, 2016.] 

What about keyless ignitions? How great is it not to carry your car keys around; just push a button and go. But how awful to jump out of the car and forget to turn it off because there’s no key you have to dislodge. Some folks wake up the next morning and find their car still running. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The Deadly Dangers Behind Keyless Car Technology” from CBS New York, Feb. 1, 2016.] 

Then there’s the issue of service. Thus far, no amount of technology has been able to match or surpass the value of personal service and customized recommendations. You can research many things on the Internet, but you can’t trust everything you read. We believe trust is one of the cornerstones of financial services, and we’re happy to be in the business of earning it. 

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

The information contained in this material is provided by third parties and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions.

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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All Work, No Play Makes for a Long Day

One of the great things about the United States is that your level of success is largely in your hands. Hard work and the right decisions can go a long way in ensuring your prosperity.

However, when chasing the American dream, some forget that it’s important to maintain happiness along the way. Many workers in the U.S. are known for living with a “work hard, play hard” mentality.

On the surface, putting all of your passion and focus into the activity in which you are engaged seems like a good idea. But the fact is, when we’re happy, we make better decisions, both at work and at play.

We believe the same holds true when making financial decisions. It may not be a good idea to make a big financial decision when you’re under a lot of stress or grieving. That’s one reason why it’s important to work with a financial professional who can help you with your long-term financial goals, using a variety of insurance products.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Decision Making under Pressure” from CFA Institute, Feb. 22, 2016.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Financial Guidance for Widows Struggling Through Grief’s Fog” from The New York Times, Feb. 19, 2016.]

Studies have shown that people who prioritize their own well-being tend to be more productive, perform better and have better relationships with other people. This is true both in your personal life and in your professional one.

Research also demonstrates that leaders and employees who are more supportive of others around them — as opposed to “looking out for No. 1″ — not only improve their own performance, but even improve their health and longevity.

There are even more benefits to the science of being happy. For example, it can lead to better sleep, better digestion and just plain giving your nervous system a break. Many of the methods for facilitating happiness are simple and inexpensive, such as low-stress exercise like walking and swimming, not eating lunch at your work desk and eating fresh and more nutritious foods. Take time to focus on long, deep breaths, which help slow your body’s rhythm and funnel more oxygen to the brain.

It may also help to just take a break from whatever causes you stress, particularly at work. Studies have shown that creativity is more apt to occur when our mind is in a more relaxed state.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Why Being Happy Is the New Success” from Knowledge@Wharton, Feb. 25, 2016.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “7 Positive Psychology Happy Habits for Work and Life” from Huffington Post, April 13, 2015.]

Thanks to America’s work ethic and prolonged hours in the office, the nation ranks highly in many areas compared to other developed countries. But in the happiness department, we fall a little flat. Perhaps if we focus on our own well-being and learn to de-stress and improve decision making, we can close the gap on Columbia and Denmark on the list of countries that rank highest in the happiness category.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “This Country Was Just Named the Happiest in the World, Again. No surprise here.” from Huffington Post, Jan. 5, 2016.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “WIN/Gallup International’s annual global End of Year survey reveals a world of conflicting hopes, happiness and despair” from WIN/Gallup, December 2016.]

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

The information contained in this material is provided by third parties and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions.

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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How to Handle Finances with Class

Going back to college as a grown adult is a big decision.

In the long run, the skills and knowledge acquired from additional education can help land a higher-paying job. The question is if the temporary costs and time constraints of paying for classes will provide a satisfactory return on investment. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Important Money Tips for Older Adults Going Back to College,” from U.S. News & World Report, Sept. 9, 2015.] 

Before using current assets to fund either your own education or the education of a child or grandchild, we encourage you to meet with a financial professional first. While the initiative to seek higher education is admirable, it’s also important to ensure that your objectives do not circumvent your long-term financial goals. 

After all, there are ways, including auditing or taking online classes, to help procure the knowledge you seek for yourself or a loved one without adversely impacting your retirement income goals. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Free School: A Secret Benefit for Seniors,” from Senior Planet, Aug. 5, 2014.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Grants for Adult Students,” from CollegeScholarships.org, 2016.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Class of Now: Reasons to Go Back to School,” from SeniorResource.com, 2016.] 

The increase in people paying for college later in life has translated to a higher amount of debt for today’s pre-retirees and retirees. Economists at the New York Federal Reserve recently published a report revealing that older Americans held significantly more debt in 2015 than they did in 2003. 

In fact, the amount of debt among borrowers between the ages of 50 and 80 has increased by about 60 percent. While mortgage debt, home equity lines of credit, auto debt and credit card debt have stayed relatively flat for this demographic, student loan debt has increased substantially.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The Graying of American Debt,” from Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Feb. 24, 2016.] 

In another report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the following data regarding this issue. 

  •          27 percent of loan balances held by those aged 50 to 64 was for their children
  •          The remaining 73 percent was for their own education
  •          Among the next-older age group, 82 percent of the loan balances was for the borrower’s own education 

The GAO report also indicated that older Americans are more likely to default on their student loans than younger co-eds. While 12 percent of federal loans held by borrowers aged 25 to 29 were in default, more than twice that (27 percent) were held by borrowers between the ages of 65 and 74. Among people age 75 or older, more than half their student loans were in default. 

[CLICK HERE to read the report, “Older Americans: Inability to Repay Student Loans May Affect Financial Security of a Small Percentage of Retirees,” from Government Accountability Office, Sept. 10, 2014.] 

As if having student debt during retirement isn’t already a challenge, the federal government can garnish Social Security benefits to repay the loan. The number of retirees who had their Social Security benefits garnished to pay for student loans increased sixfold from 2002 to 2013. 

While the problem is no doubt worrisome for retirees or near-retirees carrying a large load of student debt, this is by no means a mainstream issue. If you feel the urge to enroll in classes and further your education, you shouldn’t be deterred by the financial challenges others have endured. 

However, it does emphasize the need to carefully assess your assets, your future earning potential and your timeline for repayment before you apply for student loans for yourself or a loved one. Feel free to speak with us if you have questions about how tuition may fit into your  retirement income strategy.

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

The information contained in this material is provided by third parties and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions.

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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Difference in Stagnant Market Could be Startups

The jobs report from January 2016 revealed gains in some industries and declines in others, with the net result putting the unemployment rate at 4.9 percent, roughly the same as the month before. 

Areas on the rise included retail, food and beverage, health care and manufacturing; declines were seen in private educational services, transportation, warehousing and mining. Perhaps the best hope of sustained growth in the U.S. job market rests in the potential of startups. 

[CLICK HERE to read the new release, “The Employment Situation — January 2016,” from The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Feb. 5, 2016.] 

The most net job creation in the U.S. economy comes from brand new companies during their first few years of existence. By contrast, established companies may look to increase their profit margin by decreasing jobs. 

According to one report, the United States is enjoying a “veritable entrepreneurial revolution.” 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “‘The Looming Entrepreneurial Boom’: Kauffman Weighs In,” from The Atlantic, Feb. 22, 2016.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the report, “The Looming Entrepreneurial Boom: How Policymakers Can Renew Startup Growth,” from Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, 2016.] 

As a local independent financial professional, we applaud and embody the spirit of entrepreneurship. We feel it is important to live, work, worship and play in the communities where our clients reside. We understand the day-to-day issues you face, whether in our schools, our workforce, our local government, at the gas pump or in the grocery store. Our guidance is personal, as are our client relationships. 

So it’s heartening to see that a greater proportion of our national economy is supported by smaller, specialized, entrepreneurial firms. Larger companies have even started recognizing that the key to their own growth is to invest in the smaller players. 

Instead of competing against the little guys, many are funding them. A smaller, innovative startup is more nimble and can incubate ideas more quickly than within the vast infrastructure of a larger corporation. As an example, Campbell Soup Company has invested $125 million in a venture fund to help finance food startups. 

The combination of ready capital and established manufacturing facilities and distribution channels with new, innovative ideas appears to be the next wave of opportunity in the U.S. Consider that between 2012 and 2015, the grocery store food and beverage category grew by only 2.3 percent a year, but the largest 25 food and beverage companies contributed only 0.1 percent to that growth. The rest was generated by 20,000 small companies outside of the top 100.

It’s true that the vast majority of startups fail. But the one thing they have in common, which larger companies typically do not share, is the opportunity for rapid growth. Just like children grow faster each year than fully grown adults, studies show that surviving young firms grow at much faster rates than firms that have been around for decades. As a result, their net employment growth rate is about 15 percent, compared to 4 percent for the oldest companies. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Big Companies Should Collaborate with Startups,” from Harvard Business Review, Feb. 25, 2016.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Start-Ups That Last,” from Harvard Business Review, March 2016.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Job Creation by Startups and Young Companies,” from CGA Office of Legislative Research, Jan. 26, 2016.] 

While an increase in startups should give the job market a boost, the rise in automation and robot technology may work against it. The World Economic Forum recently released a report purporting that the increased functionality of robots will create a loss of more than 5 million jobs in 15 major developed and emerging economies by 2020. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Where will robots take over the most jobs?” from The World Economic Forum, Feb. 16, 2016.] 

However, other experts claim that it is simply the nature of work that will change. People will continue to work, but they may not have “jobs” in the traditional sense. We’ve seen new, flexible work options crop up over the past 10 years, enabling companies to scale their workforce based on their needs, and workers to become more independent. 

This trend also means that each of us may have to be more responsible for our own financial future, such as health insurance and retirement income planning through the use of insurance products, which were once the domain of employers. These are our areas of experience, and we’re here to help you along the way whenever necessary. 

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

The information contained in this material is provided by third parties and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions.

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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Pondering Retirement Relocation?

There often are two schools of thought among new retirees: (1) Stay put, or (2) “Get out of Dodge.” For those interested in moving, there’s a proliferation of questions to address. 

For example, where would you go? Do you have a favorite vacation spot where you’ve always dreamed of living? Can you afford to live there if you sell your current home? Should you downsize, or even consider buying a low-maintenance condominium? 

The first step is to see how much you have in retirement assets, and then figure out where you can afford to go. We can help you  create a strategy to help optimize your retirement income for a more confident — and possibly sunnier — future. 

Here’s a new trend among retirees that doesn’t require relocating very far away: Downsize to downtown. With the kids grown and out of the house, many folks don’t see the point in keeping up the big house in the suburbs. 

After all, weekend traffic can be crazy driving by the ever-growing strip mall meccas and soccer field complexes. There frequently are long lines at the post office and local bank branches, with popular grocery stores crowded and impersonal. That doesn’t even take into account the big house that must be cleaned, the expansive yard that must be maintained and the pressure to buy a brand new Lexus to “keep up with the Joneses” down the street. 

So what’s another option for a couple on the brink of retirement who don’t want to move far from friends and family? How about a walk-up brownstone or converted loft downtown? If it’s within walking distance of theaters and museums, corner coffee shops and eateries, boutique shopping and a local farmers market, all the better. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “More choosing to retire, empty-nest downtown Minneapolis,” from NBC Channel 11, Sept. 18, 2015.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Downsizing to Downtown,” from Tucson.com, May 18, 2015.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Kennedy: Trend alert: Downtown downsizing,” from The Times Free Press, Sept. 18, 2014.] 

Your relocation can be even more enhanced in a college town. Often, retirees are able to take advantage of university amenities even more than students or faculty because they have both more time and a greater appreciation of what’s available. 

Some colleges allow community members to access their athletic and cultural facilities for a fee, not to mention the option to audit classes on campus for lifelong learning. 

Even if you don’t become associated with the school, there may be other opportunities available in a college town. Transportation usually is excellent, parks and other green areas tend to be well-maintained and the surrounding community is generally brimming with local service businesses, bookstores, banks, music venues, art galleries and art-house movie theaters. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How Do You ‘Live Well’ in a College Town?” from College Town Retirement, 2016.] 

If going downtown doesn’t offer the drastic change of scenery you’re looking for, you may want to think about retiring abroad thanks to the current global economy. Mexico and certain Central American countries, such as Panama, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, offer a combination of low-cost living in a warm, sunny climate. 

If health care is a concern, Malaysia gets high marks. And the neighboring countries of Spain and Portugal are popular for their first-rate European infrastructure, moderate climate and healthy Mediterranean diet and lifestyle. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The World’s Best Places to Retire In 2016″ from InternationalLiving.com, Jan. 1, 2016.] 

Then there’s always the option to move into a well-appointed senior living community. Many of these upscale establishments feature country club living on-site every day. Some feature multiple bars and gourmet restaurants, media rooms and live theater, contemporary gyms with trainers, pools, golf courses and the latest exercise trend: pickleball courts. 

Just keep in mind, the more upscale the community, the higher the cost. Come talk to us if you’d like help in creating a retirement income plan to assist you with figuring out what you may be able to afford. 

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

The information contained in this material is provided by third parties and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions.

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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It’s Never Too Early to Plan Your Retirement

Even when you’ve determined an exact date you want to retire, it’s hard to know how many years your retirement will last. So it stands to reason that planning for an early retirement could be a challenge. 

However, there are ways. We can take a look at your current financial situation and figure out if there is a strategy to help you retire or semi-retire with a retirement income plan that you can have confidence in. In the meantime, here are a few ideas to bear in mind. 

First of all, should you wish to retire at age 55, you will not be subject to the standard 10 percent early withdrawal penalty from your current employer’s retirement plan, including a defined contribution plan, on distributions made before age 59 ½. The penalty-free retirement age drops to 50 for people who work in public safety professions. 

Why public safety officers? These generally are higher-risk jobs in which stress takes its toll, leading more people to retire earlier than from other careers. Examples include federal law enforcement officers, firefighters, border patrol officers and air-traffic controllers. 

Note that this penalty exception does not apply to IRAs or any retirement plan you may have still with prior employers. This is important to remember if you’re thinking of rolling over your employer plan into an IRA. If you do that when you retire early, you may not be able to tap that money before age 59 ½ without triggering the penalty charge. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How to avoid the 10% penalty when retiring early,” from MarketWatch.com, Feb. 5, 2016.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Getting Your Retirement Money Early — Without Penalty,” from Nolo.] 

In the past, another concern with regard to retiring early was health insurance. However, due to health care reform, you can buy your own policy on the exchange to hold you over until you’re eligible to enroll in Medicare. 

You may pay higher premiums due to your age, but you won’t be penalized for any pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease. Remember, if you’re retiring early and living on far less income, you could qualify for tax subsidies to help pay for your health insurance. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The New Rules for Early Retirement,” from Time, 2015.] 

While some wealthy entrepreneurs retire early and live a life of luxury, many early retirees choose the trade-off of freedom from work in lieu of wealth. That could mean drastically cutting living expenses. To help you get to that point, reduce expenses while you’re still working and stash that extra cash into your retirement savings. Then when you retire early, it won’t seem like such a lifestyle downgrade. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Retiring Early and Moving Abroad: How One Couple Made It Happen,” from Time, 2015.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “5 Lessons From People Who Retired at 40,” from Entrepreneur.com, Feb. 3, 2016.] 

And finally, one of the most important decisions you can make regarding early retirement is whether to start drawing Social Security benefits. Of all of your retirement assets, this may be the one you want to hold off on the longest. 

Here’s a good rule of thumb to consider: If both of your parents lived past 90 years old, delay. If you have major health issues, draw sooner. At the end of the day, it’s all about effectively utilizing the retirement income sources available to you. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Tips for People Who Will Retire in 2016,” from U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 7, 2015.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “A soon-to-be retiree’s guide to a crazy market,” from CNNMoney, Feb. 11, 2016.] 

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

The information contained in this material is provided by third parties and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions.

We are not permitted to offer, and no statement contained herein shall constitute, tax or legal advice. Individuals are encouraged to consult with a qualified professional before making any decisions about their personal situation. 

We are able to provide you with information but not guidance or advice related to federal benefits. Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental agency.

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.