Author Archive: Empower Financial Group

Traveling on a Fixed Income

Oh, the places you’ll go! Renowned author Dr. Seuss wrote a children’s book in 1990 that has become a popular graduation gift for young adults. Part of its message:1

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So … get on your way!”

Perhaps for some people, the time to travel is when they’re young — before they get enmeshed in a job or career, before they get married and have children, before their lifestyle becomes defined by the amount of their first mortgage. Some young adults have the means for planned travel, while others just throw a few things in a backpack and head out.

Other people spend their working lives dreaming of going off to Great Places once they retire. But whether you had the opportunity to travel when you were younger or are looking forward to the prospect in retirement, there’s no denying that it’s going to cost more than a few bucks. In fact, the older we get, the more some of us may expect a certain standard for travel (no youth hostels).

To make travel plans a part of your retirement, make it a part of your retirement strategy. In addition to calculating household expenses, consider incorporating a discretionary fund for vacationing away from home. We can help. Schedule time with us to review your current retirement income strategy and help you figure out ways to budget for your retirement travel plans.

Traveling once you’re on a fixed income can be a challenge, but it’s by no means impossible. Consider these tips to help you pursue your retirement travel dreams.2

  • Travel in the off-peak season, such as October or April for a popular beach locale. However, if you vacation during hurricane season (June 1 through Nov. 30), consider buying travel insurance.
  • Don’t rely solely on internet search-and-compare websites. If you have a specific hotel in mind, call it directly to request its best rate.
  • Use your credit card rewards points, a perk that many people don’t use. Rewards points may be used to pay for all or part of vacation expenses.
  • Be sure to ask whether a hotel, airline or other venue offers a discount for any memberships to which you belong, such as veterans groups, teacher associations or AAA.
  • The best time to book domestic flights is about 54 days out from the date you want to travel.3

Two of the biggest expenses in travel are transportation and lodging. Many retirees tackle both with a recreational vehicle (RV). By driving and sleeping in the same vehicle, it’s possible to see America on a reasonable budget. Plus, there are perks, such as being able to cook at home instead of dining out, sleeping on your own sheets and pillows, and not having to pack and unpack at every destination.

The federal government offers a lifetime “America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass” for only $80. This pass gains admittance to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites throughout the United States.4 Also good to know: You can camp anywhere in a national forest unless posted otherwise (a practice called “dispersed camping”).5 In other words, if you don’t mind roughing it (no services will be available), you don’t have to book a campsite ahead of time.

RV travel can offer a wide range of experiences from rustic to luxurious. You can buy or rent an RV, depending on the scenario that best meets your travel and financial needs. However, renting an RV you’re considering purchasing may be a good way to take the vehicle — and this mode of vacationing — out for a test drive.6

When it comes to finding inexpensive ways to afford travel costs on a fixed income, remember these wise words from Dr. Seuss:7

“So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
And remember that Life’s
A Great Balancing Act.”


Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Dr. Seuss. Genius.com “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” https://genius.com/Dr-seuss-oh-the-places-youll-go-excerpt-annotated. Accessed Jan. 23, 2018.

2 Brighthouse Financial. Nov. 17, 2017. “Travel More, Spend Less.” https://www.brighthousefinancial.com/education/living-in-retirement/travel-more-spend-less/?cid=paidsocial_twitter_relocation_12212017_701f10000024ukt. Accessed Jan. 23, 2018.

3 Suzy Strutner. HuffPost. May 11, 2017. “The Best Time To Book A Plane Ticket, According To A New Study.” https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/best-day-to-book-plane-ticket_us_56cf1648e4b03260bf759b79. Accessed Feb. 20, 2018.

4 U.S. Geological Survey. “Frequently Asked Questions – Recreational Passes.” https://store.usgs.gov/faq#New-Senior-Pass-Update. Accessed Feb. 7, 2018.

5 U.S. Forest Service. “Dispersed Camping Guidelines.” https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/fishlake/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5121831. Accessed Feb. 7, 2018.

6 GoRVing. “Buying an RV.” https://gorving.com/affordability/buying-renting. Accessed Jan. 23, 2018.

7 Dr. Seuss. Genius.com “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” https://genius.com/Dr-seuss-oh-the-places-youll-go-excerpt-annotated. Accessed Jan. 23, 2018.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is 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.

AE02185016B

Strokes: Symptoms and Treatment Innovations

In the United States, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. Often referred to as a “brain attack,” a stroke is caused by injury to a blood vessel that limits the flow of blood to the brain.1 The causes include some of the same ones that cause a heart attack, including high blood pressure, smoking, being overweight and having diabetes.2

In addition, women who began having periods before age 12, experienced a stillbirth, went through menopause before age 47 or have had a hysterectomy are at higher risk of stroke.3

It’s interesting that although the underlying causes of some of our most serious medical conditions, such as strokes, are well known, some of us don’t always pay enough attention. The same could be said for our attitude toward insurance coverage. Intellectually, we may know the ramifications of not having it, but some of us do not seek insurance beyond what we’re required to have — auto insurance to drive a car or home insurance to take out a mortgage. Some employers automatically cover workers with a limited life insurance policy, but for many people, that isn’t nearly enough.

Insurance is one of those topics, like a stroke or heart attack, for which we should take action to help protect ourselves and our family before a crisis situation. They also are correlated because a disabling or fatal medical condition can leave loved ones struggling financially. Please give us a call if you’d like to discuss your current insurance needs and create a strategy should the worst-case scenario strike unexpectedly.

Here’s important information to know about strokes. There are three common warning signs of an impending stroke, and they may occur in combination: One side of the face droops, one arm won’t fully lift and speech becomes slurred. These telltale symptoms occur in 75 percent of all strokes. These symptoms can come and go quickly, but they should not be ignored. Time is the most critical factor with a stroke, so if any of those symptoms are present, call for emergency services right away.4

Because time is so important, hospitals have been working on ways to improve how quickly stroke patients receive treatment. In Northern California, for example, hospitals in the Kaiser Permanente network have developed a program (Stroke EXPRESS: Expediting the Process of Evaluating and Stopping Stroke) that uses telemedicine carts to improve the time between when a patient is seen and when he or she receives clot-busting medication.5

Likewise, a hospital system in Alaska has introduced “telestroke,” which connects patients to a vascular neurologist via two-way audio and video technology to help assess the immediate situation and determine next steps.6

And finally, another bit of innovation is happening for stroke patients who are among the about 50 percent of survivors who are left with severely restricted movement in one hand. A new machine sends signals to the brain, triggering movement via a robotic exoskeleton that is attached to a paralyzed hand.7

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Harvard Medical School. June 2017. “Recognizing the most common warning signs of a stroke.https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/recognizing-the-most-common-warning-signs-of-a-stroke. Accessed Jan. 15, 2018.

2 WebMD. Nov. 3, 2017. “Top causes of stroke.” https://www.webmd.com/stroke/guide/stroke-causes-risks#1. Accessed Jan. 15, 2018.

3 Sarah Knapton. The Telegraph. Jan. 15, 2018. “Early menopause raises risk of heart disease and stroke, study suggests.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2018/01/15/early-menopause-raises-risk-heart-disease-stroke-study-suggests/. Accessed Jan. 15, 2018.

4 Harvard Medical School. June 2017. “Recognizing the most common warning signs of a stroke.https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/recognizing-the-most-common-warning-signs-of-a-stroke. Accessed Jan. 15, 2018.

5 Eric Wicklund. mHealthIntelligence.com. Dec. 18, 2017. “Kaiser Study Gives Telemedicine High Marks in Stroke Treatment.” https://mhealthintelligence.com/news/kaiser-study-gives-telemedicine-high-marks-in-stroke-treatment. Accessed Jan. 15, 2018.

6 Daily News-Miner. Dec. 19, 2017. “New telemedicine program gets fast help to Fairbanks stroke victims.” http://www.newsminer.com/news/local_news/new-telemedicine-program-gets-fast-help-to-fairbanks-stroke-victims/article_14d27cce-e496-11e7-a065-0f4a05510fd2.html. Accessed Jan. 15, 2018.

7 Harry Pettit. Daily Mail. Jan. 15, 2018. “Incredible mind-reading device could help stroke patients regain the use of their hands by strengthening the neurons in their brain.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5270797/Incredible-mind-reading-device-help-stroke-patients.html#ixzz54NA2C8uQ. Accessed Jan. 15, 2018.

Guarantees and protections provided by insurance products are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer.

 

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is 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.

AE01185013B

Women’s Issues and Retirement

In 2017, women organized and made headway toward real change, making it a hallmark year for women’s issues. The year started with the Women’s March in January and ended with the #MeToo movement spreading across the globe.1 In addition, record numbers of women considered running for public office.2

The thing is, many of the factors that may disadvantage women could also cause a drag on America’s economy. For example, challenges such as pay disparity and responsibility for the majority of caregiving (meaning less time in the workforce) can lead to lower savings opportunities for women. As a result, women are 80 percent more likely than men to live in poverty at age 65 and older, according to a report by the National Institute on Retirement Security.3

The upshot is that all women — even those who are married or in a committed relationship — need to have their own financial plan, recommends a new study from the Center for Retirement Research (CRR) at Boston College. That doesn’t necessarily mean every woman needs her own career or earnings; it simply recognizes that both spouses should be aware of the need to plan for a woman’s income sources should she survive her spouse or should the couple divorce.4 

Singles and couples concerned about protecting a portion of their retirement assets may want to consider insurance options, such as annuities and life insurance. We would be happy to help assess your insurance needs; just give us a call.

It is equally important to work with an attorney to get all documents signed and in place for an estate plan. In 2016, 34 percent of U.S. women age 65 and older were widows. In total, 55 percent of women over age 65 were single.5 It behooves all women, whether single or married, to make the effort to prepare for their financial future.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Melinda Gates. Yahoo. Dec. 16, 2017. “Melinda Gates: 2017 is the year our daughters will tell theirs about.” https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/melinda-gates-2017-year-daughters-will-tell-130032809.html?linkId=46306505. Accessed Jan. 8, 2018.

2 John Bowden. The Hill. Nov. 4, 2017. “Women are running for office in record numbers.” http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/358780-women-are-running-for-office-in-record-numbers. Accessed Jan. 8, 2018.

3 Kara Stiles. Forbes. Dec. 7, 2017. “The Unsettling Truth About Women and Retirement.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/karastiles/2017/12/07/the-unsettling-truth-about-women-and-retirement/#77df97bf1b63. Accessed Jan. 8, 2018.

4 Bernice Napach. ThinkAdvisor. Aug. 15, 2017. “Married Women Need Their Own Financial Plan: Study.” http://www.thinkadvisor.com/2017/08/15/married-women-need-their-own-financial-plan-study. Accessed Jan. 8, 2018.

5 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “A Profile of Older Americans: 2016.” https://www.giaging.org/documents/A_Profile_of_Older_Americans__2016.pdf. Accessed Jan. 23, 2018.

Guarantees and protections provided by insurance products including annuities are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is 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.

 


AE01185011B

Finding Neutral Ground on the Internet Rights Debate

It can be confusing when government bureaucrats and the media offer wildly different perspectives on the intent and ramifications of a new controversial policy. This was plainly evident in December regarding the issue of net neutrality.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the new “Restoring Internet Freedom Order”1 is meant to:

  • Reverse the previous “heavy-handed utility-style regulation of broadband internet access service, which imposed substantial costs on the entire internet ecosystem” in order to “protect consumers at far less cost to investment than the prior rigid and wide-ranging utility rules”
  • Restore the “longstanding, bipartisan light-touch regulatory framework that has fostered rapid internet growth, openness and freedom for nearly 20 years”
  • Restore “a favorable climate for network investment,” which is the “key to closing the digital divide, spurring competition and innovation that benefits consumers”2

From this perspective, the legislation sounds like a positive. But the Internet Association, a trade association that represents leading global internet companies on matters of public policy, is more favorable of the previous net neutrality policy:

“Since its inception, the internet has been governed by principles of openness and non-discrimination. Net neutrality is the legal principle that underpins the free and open internet as we know it today. Simply put, it means that broadband gatekeepers — Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, and other internet service providers (ISPs) — should treat all internet traffic equally and not discriminate between different bits of data. That’s how the internet works today: users can go to any website and access any type of content, whenever they want.”3

Those who advocate “net neutrality” want everyone to have free and equal access to content on the internet, while the FCC believes the internet is a free market and providers can sell it however they want. Thus, the new rule opens the door to competitive pricing structures, whereas customers may have to pay more to receive higher internet speed or access certain websites. Unfortunately, this means people with lesser means — such as small businesses and students — may be considerably disadvantaged.4

Even if you don’t think you have an opinion about net neutrality, FCC records may show otherwise. One of the biggest controversies surrounding the new policy is that the FCC implemented it based on public feedback to its website. However, it has since been determined that of the 21.7 million comments received in 2017, only 6 percent were unique — the other 94 percent were submitted multiple times — in some cases, hundreds of thousands of times.5

Commenters may have stolen the identities of real people in order to submit a mass wave of similar opinions. You can plug your name into this tool (set up by the New York State Attorney General’s Office) to find out if an opinion was submitted under your name and address without your knowledge.

Regulation is a complex subject, with consequences on both sides of the issue. However, there are a couple of lessons that can be taken from current debates, like the one on net neutrality. First, much of what we read has some type of biased “spin” — and this can apply to financial topics as well. Second, although it’s always a good idea to read as much as we can, it’s also important to run our thoughts and opinions by someone who is knowledgeable on the topic at hand. When it comes to insurance, that’s us. Please keep us in mind as you consider your insurance needs now and in the future.

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 FCC. Dec. 14, 2017. “Declaratory Ruling, Report and Order, and Order.” https://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2018/db0104/FCC-17-166A1.pdf. Accessed Jan. 5, 2018.

2 FCC. Dec. 14, 2017. “FCC Acts to Restore Internet Freedom.” http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db1214/DOC-348261A1.pdf. Accessed Jan. 5, 2018.

3 Internet Association. “Net Neutrality.” https://internetassociation.org/positions/net-neutrality/. Accessed Jan. 5, 2018.

4 Amy McGinn. Baltimore Sun. Dec. 27, 2017. “Net neutrality repeal widens opportunity gap for students.” http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-op-1228-net-neutrality-20171221-story.html. Accessed Jan. 5, 2018.

5 Pew Research Center. Nov. 29, 2017. “Public Comments to the Federal Communications Commission About Net Neutrality Contain Many Inaccuracies and Duplicates.” http://www.pewinternet.org/2017/11/29/public-comments-to-the-federal-communications-commission-about-net-neutrality-contain-many-inaccuracies-and-duplicates/. Accessed Jan. 5, 2018.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is 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.

 

AE01185010B

The Cost of Health Care

Americans spend a lot on health care. In 2016, national health expenditures grew 4.3 percent to $3.3 trillion, which amounts to $10,348 per person.1 It’s interesting that you’ll find few people who say our health care system is fine as is, and medical services, facilities, drugs and equipment are all reasonably priced. However, there is little consensus on ways to fix the system.

 

Health care is fast becoming one of the most dominant expenses in our lives, right up there with vehicles, a mortgage and college education. Just as we do for other big-ticket expenses, we have to plan and save for health care and even consider a possible contingency plan.

 

Another common feature of big-ticket expenses is that they often are best covered by insurance. If your family history indicates it, you may want to consider going further than health insurance by purchasing disability or critical illness policies. If you could use some help assessing your needs to determine what type of coverage is appropriate for your family, please contact us.

 

Unfortunately, many patients aren’t in a position to lower health care costs because they aren’t able to control the care they receive. Many situations may offer a variety of treatment options, but patients often rely on their providers to recommend the best course of action. Further, it may be difficult to tell what is necessary and what is discretionary.

 

In fact, some procedures may be selected by health care professionals in response to internal pressure to increase revenues.2 Others may be concerned that if they don’t order what may be considered “unnecessary” extra tests and procedures, a wrong call could end up in a malpractice lawsuit. All things being even, physicians may err toward the more expensive route.

 

Worse yet, emergency care expenses may be completely out of our hands. For example, did you

know that if you have to be rushed to the hospital by ambulance, you may be charged a fee even if you have insurance to cover the service? That’s because some cities charge a “paramedic response fee” that is not covered by insurance.3

 

Another challenge is the rising cost of prescription drugs. One reason for this could be the rebates and other discounts that drug companies pay to insurers, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and government programs for selling or administering brand-name drugs. The amount of these rebates increased from $67 billion in 2013 to $106 billion in 2015. Unfortunately, while these middlemen may save money thanks to rebates, they don’t always pass on these savings to consumers.4

 

The problem of health care expenses is so widespread that it could even influence the way we grow as a society. This is evidenced by the sage advice one mother gave to her children about entering the workforce: “You need to go to a company with good health insurance, even before you look at the salary or whether you’ll be happy there, your first priority is health insurance.”5

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

 

 

1 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Dec. 6, 2017. “NHE Fact Sheet.” https://www.cms.gov/research-statistics-data-and-systems/statistics-trends-and-reports/nationalhealthexpenddata/nhe-fact-sheet.html. Accessed Jan. 8, 2018.

2 Marshall Allen. NPR. Nov. 28, 2017. “Epidemic of Health Care Waste: From $1,877 Ear Piercing to ICU Overuse.” https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/11/28/566782829/epidemic-of-health-care-waste-from-1-877-ear-piercing-to-icu-overuse. Accessed Dec. 30, 2017.

3 Anna Gorman. Kaiser Health News. Feb. 3, 2016. “Surprise! Here’s Another Bill for That ‘Paramedic Response‘.https://khn.org/news/surprise-heres-another-bill-for-that-paramedic-response/. Accessed Dec. 30, 2017.

4 NBC News/Kaiser Health News. Dec. 21, 2017. “Arthritis drugs show how U.S. drug prices defy economics.” https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/arthritis-drugs-show-how-u-s-drug-prices-defy-economics-n831661. Accessed Dec. 30, 2017.

5 Ibid.

 

Disability and critical illness policies are not a replacement for traditional health insurance and are subject to eligibility requirements. Insurance product guarantees rely on the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer.

 

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is 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.

 

AE01185005B

Second Marriages: Financial Finesse

Of all the questions we ask a potential spouse before tying the knot, they seldom include:

 

“Who are the beneficiaries of your investment plans and insurance policies?”

“Do you wish to be resuscitated if your heart stops or if you stop breathing?”

“Do you want your ex or me to be guardian for your children if you die?”

 

These are not exactly the whispers of sweet nothings upon which romance thrives. They are, however, practical considerations couples engaged in a second marriage need to tackle either before or shortly after exchanging vows. In addition to figuring out who pays for what household expenses, spouses should consider plans for health care, saving for the future and estate planning for both the surviving spouse and all beneficiaries.1

 

Finances are a big part of the marriage contract, and they can be even more controversial when one or both spouses already have experience from prior relationships. According to the American Psychological Association, spouses who share accounts and financial decisions report higher family satisfaction than those who opt to keep their money separate.2

 

However, it’s important to emphasize that this is a highly subjective decision that should be made by both partners based on their circumstances. It may be prudent to work with a financial professional to help determine a household budget strategy, as well as insurance and designated beneficiary decisions to help protect family assets and income from unexpected events. Please contact us if you need such help.

 

Note, too, that how you handle your marital legal affairs may depend on where you live.

In a community property state, what each spouse brings to the marriage remains his or her own, but assets acquired during the marriage are considered owned by both spouses. In common law states, asset ownership is determined strictly by titles, registrations and other documents.3

 

According to the most recent census data, 50 percent of first marriages and 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce.4 Yet second marriages in the U.S. are so common now that blended families are considered “the norm.” Unfortunately, the comingling of children from prior relationships can bring all sorts of financial complications — even when the children are grown. What was once sibling rivalry over who gets the most expensive birthday gifts can morph into who gets what assets when a stepparent dies.

 

Despite bleak statistics, there are definite advantages to a second marriage. For one thing, the partners are generally older and have already witnessed the fallout of prior mistakes. Many couples enter a second marriage with the knowledge of what works and what doesn’t and have accepted the fallacy of their own mistakes. They may commit to correcting the error of their ways and engage in more open communication to ward off problems before they steep. As one seasoned spouse proclaimed, the next time around offers “a second chance for a first great marriage.”5

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

 

1 Janet Kidd Stewart. The Seattle Times. Nov. 7, 2017. “How to avoid the stress that a 2nd marriage can put on a retirement plan.” https://www.seattletimes.com/business/how-to-avoid-the-stress-that-a-2nd-marriage-can-put-on-a-retirement-plan/. Accessed Dec. 22, 2017.

2 American Psychological Association. 2017. “Making stepfamilies work.” http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stepfamily.aspx. Accessed Dec. 22, 2017.

3 Mark Eghrari. Forbes. June 2, 2017. “Second Marriage and Estate Planning: 5 Things You May Not Have Considered.https://www.forbes.com/sites/markeghrari/2017/06/02/second-marriage-and-estate-planning-5-things-you-may-not-have-considered/#71d3ad261db1. Accessed Dec. 22, 2017.

4 Terry Gaspard. The Good Men Project. Sep. 27, 2017. “10 Things to Improve Your Second Marriage Today.” https://goodmenproject.com/marriage-2/10-things-to-improve-your-second-marriage-today-fiff/. Accessed Dec. 22, 2017.

5 Jill Lipton. Boston Globe. Nov. 17, 2017. “We’re newlyweds over 50, and the best is yet to come.” https://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2017/11/14/newlyweds-over-and-best-yet-come/EL6m1jU0sosMxSRSnXALxK/story.html. Accessed Dec. 22, 2017.

 

We are not permitted to offer legal advice. Individuals are encouraged to consult with a qualified professional before making any decisions about their personal situation.

 

Guarantees and protections provided by insurance products are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer.

 

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is 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.

 

AE01185003B

How Losing Sleep Could Translate to a Loss of Money

Some teenagers seem to sleep a lot. As parents and grandparents, we can find this rather aggravating. But the fact is, as we get older, our sleep patterns may change, and our sleep can be less restful.1 Perhaps it’s a good idea to let young people sleep in peace while they still can.

 

Scientists say young adults require about nine hours of sleep a day, on average. If they get less than eight hours, they may have a harder time paying attention. Full-grown adults, on the other hand, need an average of seven and a half hours. Unfortunately, studies show about one-third of adults in Western societies get less than that on a regular basis.2

 

A recent study by the University of Zurich and the University Hospital Zurich found a correlation between chronic lack of sleep and increased risk-seeking behavior. Scientists trace the link to the brain’s right prefrontal cortex, which is directly connected with higher risk-seeking behavior. The researchers theorize that when a person persistently does not get enough sleep, this area of the brain does not recover properly, which prompts behavioral changes. Interestingly, the researchers found that study subjects did not notice they engaged in riskier behaviors and therefore were not cognizant of this relationship with sleep patterns.3

 

The study’s authors observed that sound sleep, of the appropriate duration, is critical for good decision making — especially for political and economic leaders whose daily decisions impact the larger society.4 This advice is also worth pursuing in our own lives. In other words, avoid making important decisions when you haven’t been sleeping well.

 

As financial professionals, we are here to help guide you. We’ll give your retirement income goals our full attention; just give us a call to set up an appointment to discuss how we can help you create a retirement income strategy through the use of insurance products.

 

Although we often hear that everyone needs a full eight hours of sleep each night, the actual amount varies by individual — usually between seven and nine hours.5 Just one night of insufficient sleep can make us cranky and too tired for healthy activities — like engaging in exercise or preparing a nutritious meal.6

 

Over time, sleep deprivation can increase the risk of developing a variety of chronic health problems, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. It may make us more vulnerable to getting sick when exposed to a cold virus. Chronic lack of sleep also can make us more susceptible to experiencing depression and anxiety.7

 

Women are 40 percent more likely to suffer from insomnia or symptoms of insomnia compared to men, but the reasons for this are unclear. Some researchers hypothesize that women’s traditional role in society as caregivers could be a contributing factor. Furthermore, single parents who serve as both caregivers and financial providers are at higher risk of insomnia. Some scientists speculate the sleep circuitry for women could be different from men and, when combined with social roles as both worker and caregiver, this may result in a higher risk for sleep disorders.8

 

While the length and quality of sleep is a personal matter, it cumulatively has an impact on the economy. According to a study by RAND Europe, the United States loses approximately $411 billion a year due to workers who sleep less than six hours a night — which represents around 2.28 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. However, if those poor sleepers got one extra hour of sleep each night, the data suggests about $226.4 billion could be added back to the economy.9

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

 

1 National Sleep Foundation. “Aging and Sleep.” https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/aging-and-sleep. Accessed Dec. 29, 2017.

2 ScienceDaily. Aug. 28, 2017. “Chronic lack of sleep increases risk-seeking.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170828102725.htm. Accessed Dec. 19, 2017.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 William Kormos, M.D. Harvard Medical School. May 2016. “Ask the Doctor: The right amount of sleep.https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/ask-the-doctor-right-amount-of-sleep. Accessed Dec. 19, 2017.

6 Julie Corliss. Harvard Medical School. July 2017. “The health hazards of insufficient sleep.https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-health-hazards-of-insufficient-sleep. Accessed Dec. 19, 2017.

7 Ibid.

8 MedicalXpress. Dec. 18, 2017. “New guide aims to unmask unique challenges women face in getting healthy sleep.https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-12-aims-unmask-unique-women-healthy.html. Accessed Dec. 19, 2017.

9 Sandee LaMotte. CNN. Sept. 27, 2017. “Sacrificing sleep? Here’s what it will do to your health.http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/19/health/dangers-of-sleep-deprivation/index.html. Accessed Dec. 19, 2017.

 

 

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is 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.

 

AE01185001B

Why It’s Important to Care for the Caregivers

If you picture yourself receiving long-term care at some point, you likely envision a medical professional sitting bedside, tending to your needs. However, the bulk of long-term care in the U.S. is actually provided by family caregivers.1

 

According to a recent Merrill Lynch study, 20 million Americans become caregivers each year. Moreover, family caregivers collectively spend $190 billion a year of their own money on adult care recipients. And the toll doesn’t end there. In addition to 92 percent of caregivers using their own money and/or coordinating or managing finances to aid loved ones:2

 

·      98% provide emotional support

·      92% provide household support

·      79% provide care coordination

·      64% provide physical care

 

Women usually do more caregiving than men, the study found, averaging six years of caregiving in their lifetime compared to four for men. As a result, caregiving can bring more of a financial burden for women because of the time they may need to take away from their careers to care for loved ones.3

 

The financial burden of caregiving, for both men and women, should not be underestimated. The study shows 53 percent of respondents have made financial sacrifices as caregivers, and 21 percent have dipped into their savings.4

 

If you’re in a similar situation and are concerned about having enough income in retirement, please contact us. We work with clients to create retirement strategies through the use of insurance products that help them work toward their long-term retirement income goals.

 

Increasing attention is also being given to the psychosocial burden experienced by family caregivers. The responsibility and stress can contribute to their own physical conditions, including chronic diseases caused by unhealthy eating habits, sleeping poorly and not getting enough physical activity.5

 

Caregivers have twice the incidence of heart attack, arthritis, heart disease and diabetes compared to non-caregivers. Their chronic stress can even lead to cognitive reduction such as short-term memory loss and attention deficits. To cope with their complex lives, caregivers also may be prone to develop dependence on alcohol, smoking, prescription drugs and psychotropic drugs for mood enhancement. Caregivers also tend to have higher obesity rates.6

 

To help family members who are caring for a loved one with cancer, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York developed a support program that included webcasts with staged therapeutic interactions between therapists and informal caregivers, and a message board where study participants could post responses to experiential exercise questions. Initial results found that program participants experienced reduced symptoms of depression.7

 

Technological advances may also help ease caregiving challenges. For example, wearable devices can monitor heart rate and blood pressure, among other vitals. These devices can be linked to mobile phone apps, alerting a caregiver of any changes that might trigger a serious health issue.8

 

Some wearable devices use GPS and geofencing technologies to track patients, allowing them more mobility while also helping caregivers monitor patients’ locations. Newer devices use artificial intelligence to recognize trends in vital signs or movement that can lead to health or injury concerns.9

 

Regardless of what innovations the technology industry creates to aid caregivers, there is some comfort in knowing that the primary skills necessary in a caregiver cannot be replicated by artificial intelligence or a robot. Human caregivers not only offer compassion, empathy and the ability to meet retirees’ emotional needs, but these soft skills can be learned and improved — which will prove to be a critical sector of our workforce in years to come.10

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

 

1 Advisor News. Nov. 1, 2017. “92% Of Caregivers Are Financial Caregivers.https://insurancenewsnet.com/oarticle/92-caregivers-financial-caregivers#.WgOptLaZOfU. Accessed Dec. 4, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Kathy Birkett. Senior Care Corner. “How Are YOU, Family Caregiver — Are You Caring for Yourself?” http://seniorcarecorner.com/family-caregiver-caring-for-yourself. Accessed Dec. 4, 2017.

6 Ibid.

7 Meg Barbor. The ASCO Post. April 25, 2017. “Attrition High but Positive Trends Observed in Web-Based Intervention Addressing Caregiver Burden.” http://www.ascopost.com/issues/april-25-2017/attrition-high-but-positive-trends-observed-in-web-based-intervention-addressing-caregiver-burden/. Accessed Dec. 4, 2017.

8 1-800-HomeCare. Oct. 12, 2017. “What Are the Top Emerging Tech Trends for Home Care In 2017?” https://www.1800homecare.com/homecare/new-tech/. Accessed Dec. 4, 2017.

9 Ibid.

10 Harry Welchel. ChirpyHire. July 31, 2017. “Senior Care and The Future of Work.” http://blog.chirpyhire.com/senior-care-and-the-future-of-work/. Accessed Dec. 4, 2017.

 

 

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is 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.

 

AE12175142B

The Impact of Income Inequality

As it turns out, income inequality can be an issue for all society, not just the poor.

 

A new study of high-earning clients of a bank’s wealth management unit tracked the fortunes of male and female young adults to learn how income inequity would impact their lives. The assumptions had both genders starting out in the job market earning a salary of at least $100,000 and in possession of an inheritance of $1 million.1 The following are some of the study’s findings:2

 

·      A 25-year-old woman living in a wealthy country earns 10 percent less, on average, than a man the same age.

·      By age 85, the income gap will result in the woman having 38 percent less wealth than the man.

·      The gap will widen if the woman takes a year off from work or decides to work part time for a while.

·      The problem is exacerbated by the fact that women are expected to live longer and must stretch their wealth over a longer period.

 

Retirement planning is challenging enough without the issue of lower wages throughout one’s career. Lower earnings mean fewer opportunities to save and invest, in addition to a reduced standard of living. Whether married, divorced or single, we help clients create retirement strategies through the use of insurance products that help them work toward their long-term retirement income goals. Give us a call to learn more.

 

Interestingly, the U.S. women’s labor force participation peaked in 2000. At the time, this had a big impact on household income and broader economic growth. Since then, as prime-age women have dropped out of the workforce, the national growth rate has suffered.3

 

Over the past two years, real median household income in the U.S. has increased by 3.2 percent, but this follows 17 years of stops and starts. Even today’s positive numbers can be deceptive, because they do not reflect areas of the country that are still struggling. For example, an analysis of data from the 2000 Census and the 2016 American Community Survey found that 86 urban areas — including Miami, Orlando, Phoenix, Tucson, Chicago, Indianapolis and Milwaukee — suffered declines in median income between 10 and 15 percent from 1999 to 2016. Many of these areas lost a large number of middle-income manufacturing jobs during the 2000s that have not been replaced.4

 

A new large-scale study found poverty-level household income can have a significant impact on children’s development, ranging from cognitive and educational outcomes to social development and physical health. The study included data from past research that found that when low-income families do receive an influx of cash, this money is usually spent on fruit, vegetables, books, clothes and toys.5

 

Aligned with this type of insight, some countries are looking at ways to solve some of their largest societal issues through a basic income. This year, as part of a two-year, limited trial involving 2,000 unemployed citizens, Finland became the first European country to provide a “no-strings-attached” monthly payment to cover essential costs of living. The basic income (about $587 a month) replaces any other current unemployment benefits and will continue even if recipients get a job. Cities in the Netherlands and Canada have scheduled similar pilot programs.6

 

In the U.S., test programs have found that giving homes to the homeless is the cheapest way to reduce homelessness, and paying high-risk people not to be involved in gun violence has been remarkably effective at reducing a city’s murder rate.7

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

 

1 Reuters. Oct. 23, 2017. “Pay gap to affect high-earning women’s retirement lifestyle: study.https://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-women-pay-gap/pay-gap-to-affect-high-earning-womens-retirement-lifestyle-study-idUSKBN1CS0Z7. Accessed Nov. 28, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Jay Shambaugh, Ryan Nunn and Becca Portman. Brookings. Nov. 1, 2017. “Lessons from the rise of women’s labor force participation in Japan.https://www.brookings.edu/research/lessons-from-the-rise-of-womens-labor-force-participation-in-japan/. Accessed Nov. 28, 2017.

4 Alan Berube. Brookings. Oct. 12, 2017. “Five maps show progress made, but mostly lost, on middle-class incomes in America.https://www.brookings.edu/research/five-maps-show-progress-made-but-mostly-lost-on-middle-class-incomes-in-america/. Accessed Nov. 28, 2017.

5 The London School of Economics and Political Science. Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE). “Does Money Affect Children’s Outcomes? An update. http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/case/_new/research/money_matters/report.asp. Accessed Dec. 7, 2017.

6 Drake Baer. New York magazine. Jan. 4, 2017. “What Happens When You Give Free Money to Poor People.https://www.thecut.com/2017/01/the-psychology-of-basic-income.html. Accessed Nov. 28, 2017.

7 Ibid.

 

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is 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.

 

AE12175139B

Anticipated Changes in Workplace Demographics

Online shopping has become the norm in the Western part of the world. Experts say mature economies adopted e-commerce quickly because of its strong infrastructure and a trusting financial landscape.1

 

In other words, consumers could count on receiving goods ordered, vendors knew they would get paid and any conflicts were protected by a reputable credit and court system. These things weren’t true in many developing countries, thus e-commerce was slower to gain traction there.

 

However, now that emerging markets have put a secure infrastructure in place, many expect online sales to soar — which could help bolster those waning economies. The global online market offers new prospects for struggling brick-and-mortar retailers in the U.S. Just about any retailer, large or small, that can adapt its sales model to a global e-commerce market could be poised for massive opportunity.2

 

That’s one of the interesting parallels between life and commerce — where some doors close, others open; we just need to see where opportunity awaits. The same can be true when planning for retirement. Please feel free to contact us to discuss creating retirement strategies through the use of insurance products that can help you work toward your long-term retirement income goals.

 

Interestingly, one of the biggest economic issues of the day comes from a social phenomenon: As older people are living longer, younger people are having less children. To be exact, the first of the baby boomer generation turned 70 last year while, at the same time, the fertility rate in the United States reached its lowest point since records began in 1909.3

 

The ramifications of this population shift will likely be widespread and long lasting. For example, retirees tend to contribute less to the consumer economy, with an average reduction of 37.5 percent in household spending. This, in turn, affects company revenues and, subsequently, returns in the investment market.4 At the same time, retirees may be drawing down invested assets for income, further reducing available capital.

 

The elderly population boom also is expected to cause economic drains in targeted areas of the country. For example, states that have long been popular retirement havens, such as Florida, Arizona, Oregon and South Carolina, are among at least 14 states where the cost of elderly care is rising.5

 

In Florida alone, 20 percent of the population is over the age of 65; more than 40 percent is over 50. While it’s easy to write this off as the result of Florida being a retirement haven, that is no longer the case. Within about 10 years, the entire country will have a similar demographic composition — we will become “a nation of Floridas.”6

 

Another problem with the sizable gap between retirees and babies is an anticipated drop in the number of workers. The workforce may not be large enough to support the government programs older people are entitled to after years of contributing into the system. This issue is hardly isolated to America. Between 2025 and 2050, the number of people age 65 and older is projected to nearly double worldwide.7

 

To help mitigate the drain on resources, many are raising the eligible age for government-sponsored pensions and encouraging people to work well past traditional retirement age. Whether due to lack of retirement savings or the desire to work longer, the share of people working longer has grown during the past decade: a 6 percent increase in Germany, 10 percent in the U.K. and 18 percent in the U.S.8

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

 

1 Knowledge@Wharton. Nov. 1, 2017. “Why Emerging Markets Are the Next E-commerce Frontier.http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/why-emerging-markets-are-the-next-e-commerce-frontier/. Accessed Nov. 22, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Stephen McBride. World Economic Forum. Sept. 14, 2017. “Retiring baby boomers are going to have a huge impact on the economy.” https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/09/retiring-baby-boomers-are-going-to-have-a-huge-impact-on-the-economy. Accessed Nov. 22, 2017.

4 Ibid.

5 Sue Chang. Marketwatch. Nov. 8, 2017. “These maps show just how crazy fast the world is aging.” https://www.marketwatch.com/story/these-maps-show-just-how-crazy-fast-the-world-is-aging-2017-11-08?link=sfmw_tw. Accessed Nov. 22, 2017.

6 Joseph F. Coughlin. Time. Nov. 8, 2017. “There’s No Such Thing As ‘Old Age’ Anymore.” https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/other/theres-no-such-thing-as-old-age-anymore/ar-BBEJG0u. Accessed Nov. 22, 2017.

7 Suzanne Woolley. Bloomberg. Sept. 17, 2017. “Retirement, Delayed.” https://www.bloomberg.com/quicktake/retirement-redesigned?cmpid%253D. Accessed Nov. 22, 2017.

8 Ibid.

 

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is 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.

 

AE12175138B