Author Archive: Empower Financial Group

Small Business, Small Incomes

Large corporations in America have only been around about 13 decades. Before then, America was built on the backs of small business owners.

Larger companies started to take root in the mid-19th century, led by railroads and industrial firms. Small business owners took a hit but adapted by developing market niches too small for big companies to accommodate or by serving as suppliers to larger firms. Small businesses have never gone away, and today they provide 55 percent of all jobs in America.

[CLICK HERE to read an excerpt from “A History of Small Business in America,” by Mansel G. Blackford at the University of North Carolina Press, Copyright (c) 2003.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Small Business, Big Impact!” from The U.S. Small Business Administration, accessed Oct. 17, 2014.]

In the recent economic recovery, small businesses have been more instrumental in forging the path toward economic growth, generating two-thirds of all new jobs. But the true measure of success comes from hiring the right people with the experience needed for the job they hold. The bland “jack-of-all trades” position is buckling under the need for more specialized skills and knowledge. In traditional college curriculums, many students may not be qualified to hold the high-tech jobs that are available in the country’s newly energized manufacturing industry.

Still, with six straight months of employment gains above 200,000, the prospects for stronger economic growth are indeed on the horizon.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Small Businesses at Head of Trend in New Job Creation,” from The Bay State Banner, Oct. 16, 2014.]

Of course, successful small businesses tend to grow into larger companies. But is it a given that they will succumb to big business policies, politics and problems? Not always. Kip Tindell, the chairman and CEO of The Container Store, started his company with two buddies and an initial investment of $35,000. Today, the man who sells boxes has honed his management skills by thinking outside the traditional box. Just check out a few tenets on which he bases his company’s success:

  • The average retail clerk earns $48,000 a year.
  • He believes that if you hire great employees and pay them twice as much, you’ll get three times the productivity.
  • He believes women make better executives than men because they have high emotional intelligence, keep their egos in check, are comfortable surrounding themselves with people better than them, aren’t hungry or insecure and are calm and have self-awareness.
  • Women hold about 70 percent of the top leadership positions at the company.
  • The company’s turnover rate is just 10 percent, compared to the retail industry average of about 100 percent.
  • The Container Store has never laid anybody off in the history of the company (although it does fire people in pursuit of meritocracy).
     
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The Container Store CEO Says ‘Women Make Better Executives than Men,'” from Business Insider, Oct. 13, 2014.]

A lot of media attention has been given to the growing disparity among incomes in the United States. People who earn more than they need to live on are able to take advantage of market opportunities, while those who live paycheck to paycheck have little chance of ever getting ahead. It’s just one of the growing economic problems in this country for which no one has successfully prescribed an antidote.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Yellen ‘Greatly’ Concerned by Widening Inequality in America,” from Bloomberg, Oct. 17, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Americans Consider Inequality World’s Greatest Danger,” from PBS NewsHour, Oct. 17, 2014.]

Whether a small business owner, an employee at a large corporation or a retiree living on a fixed income, we tend to spend much of our time focused on the here and now. Please contact us for help creating a retirement income plan to help improve your financial future. We’ll do what we’re good at, so you can focus on what you’re good at.


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


This content is provided for informational purposes only. It is provided by third parties and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed.

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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Money: Relatively Speaking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Lifetime of Wisdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hospitable Hospitals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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