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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Love and Marriage

As the song goes, “love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage.” Interesting then, that if you don’t put the horse in front of the cart, things go awry. Perhaps it is the same with relationships.

Only about half (50.5 percent) of Americans ages 18 and over were married in 2012, which is a significant drop from nearly three-quarters (72.2 percent) in 1960. However, 70 percent of American adults confirmed they were in a committed relationship of some sort.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “5 facts about love and marriage,” at Pew Research Center, Feb. 14, 2015.]

As the traditional transition of romantic relationships into marriage continues to shift, so too does the conversation regarding gender roles, both in and outside the home.

Gender disparity continues to persist in the professional world. The degree however, depends upon your perspective. In one study, 72 percent of male senior executives agreed that much progress had been made toward women’s empowerment and career progression. However, among female executives, about the same percentage (71 percent) disagreed with that statement.

Stereotypical roles of men and women still run quite deep, regardless of how far society progresses. In short, while people often theoretically support the advancement of women, perceptions of women in the work environment show there is an underlying bias. This is evidenced in a Fortune magazine research report that analyzed how men and women were labeled in personnel reviews: 76 percent of feedback on women included descriptions like “abrasive,” “judgmental” and “strident.” Only 2 percent of reviews on men included those types of comments.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How men and women see gender equality differently,” at World Economic Forum, Feb. 11, 2015.]

Well-defined expectations for the roles of men and women start long before they enter the workforce. One survey of Harvard Business School graduates found that once they entered marriage, half of the men thought their career would take priority over their wives’, and 75 percent of male graduates assumed their wife would take on most of the responsibility of child/caregiving. The female Harvard Business School graduates did not share these beliefs, with half of the women saying they believed their careers would share equal importance with those of their spouses.

And why not? In 38 percent of U.S. marriages, the wife earns more than her husband. If you eliminate the marriages in which the husband doesn’t work at all, 29 percent of women earn more than their husbands. While it is well-documented that wives still shoulder the greater burden of household chores in two-earner families, it’s interesting that this gap is even wider among households in which the woman earns more. Why? Researchers believe she’s trying to overcompensate on the home front so her husband won’t feel threatened. Unfortunately, the increased strain of working “double-duty” can also lead to challenges in marriage, increasing the statistical likelihood of divorce.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How Many Women Earn More Than Their Husbands?” at FiveThirtyEight.com, Feb. 5, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Wives who earn more than their husbands, 1987-2012,” at U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 24, 2014.]

As a country, we don’t make it easy for either working spouse to be an attentive parent. In fact, of the 185 countries and territories compared in a Geneva international law review, the U.S. was one of only three (the other two being Oman and Papua New Guinea) that do not require companies to offer paid maternity leave. Additionally, nearly 50 percent of American dads say they don’t get to spend enough time with their children. In countries that promote paid paternity leave, studies have found that a dad who takes two or more weeks off after the birth of his child becomes more involved in changing diapers, feeding and bathing the infant nine months later than a father who doesn’t take leave. It also helps with the future household income; in Sweden a mother’s income rose 7 percent for every month of leave her husband took.

Unfortunately, studies also confirm what we already know about moms who take time off work to have children: When Dad takes family leave, his immediate earnings can suffer, in addition to experiencing a higher risk of getting demoted or disciplined.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How Everyone Benefits When New Fathers Take Paid Leave,” Think Progress, Feb. 13, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “U.S. Paid Family Leave Versus the Rest of the World, In Two Disturbing Charts,” at Think Progress, July 31, 2014.]

Love, marriage, family…it’s a lot to balance. Whether you see any of these factors playing out in your life or the lives of your loved ones, we can help you develop and monitor a financial strategy that can help provide confidence in your family’s future.

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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Consumption

In society, consumption means a variety of things. Economically speaking, the term refers to the purchase of consumer goods. In ecology, consumption refers to the natural food chain. And finally, the antiquated definition of consumption refers to tuberculosis — the infectious disease of yore.

Today, we generally speak of consumption as a positive economic force. After years of high unemployment and low consumer confidence, people are finally building a financial foothold and beginning to spend money again. Of course, like the disease, consumption can become infectious to the point that it leads to over-spending and living beyond one’s means. Then, too, exuberant consumption can lead to a greater schism in wealth inequality, because some people can afford to spend more discretionary income while others would be wise to save it.

Recently, at least one retailer claimed that if we don’t spend beyond our needs, the overall economy will suffer. As voices call to limit consumer spending and over concerns for over-consumption of ecological resources, the head of the world’s second-largest fashion retailer said the poor will suffer most if we decrease consumption. Instead of limiting typical buyer behavior and possibly leading to higher prices and loss of jobs, he advocates that companies be more innovative in their raw materials and manufacturing.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “CEO of H&M: reducing consumption will create a social catastrophe,” from The Guardian, Feb. 3, 2015.]

The reality is that consumer consumption is critical to our economy, representing approximately 70 percent of U.S. economic activity. In the final quarter of 2014, it was the driving force behind GDP growth, which increased by more than 4 percent. A big part of recent consumer demand has been for imported goods, which reached an all-time high in December as U.S. companies imported $48.8 billion worth of consumer goods.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The Good News Behind GDP’s Decline,” from Guggenheim Partners, Feb. 5, 2015.]

Increased consumer demand is attributed largely to progress in the job market. Employment improved with the biggest three-month gain in 17 years and the highest wage increase since 2008. One of the key indicators is that people who previously dropped out of the job market are now back in: In January, 1.05 million people entered the labor force and 759,000 found work.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Jobs Report Crushes It,” from Bloomberg, Feb. 6, 2015.]

Now that we have jobs and confidence, it’s a good time to consider the value of discipline in the face of prosperity. It’s easy to consider cutting back on spending when you have no choice; much tougher when you have more discretionary income. In fact, new research has found that this lesson is retained much better when first taught in high school. Currently, 22 states require students to take an economics course. A new study found that high school students required to take personal finance in high school had higher credit scores and fewer credit delinquencies than students in states without this mandate. In fact, three years after high school, the enlightened graduates had significantly higher credit scores — up 11 points in Georgia, 16 points in Idaho and 32 points in Texas.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “New Findings About Kids and Money That Your School Can’t Ignore,” from Time, Feb. 6, 2015.]

While presently high consumption is positive news, we must monitor it carefully within our own lives to help ensure it does not adversely impact our total financial picture. As always, we’re here to help you create financial strategies with your future in mind.

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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