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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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Together, We’re Worlds Apart

The world continues to grow (figuratively and virtually) smaller. The economy is more global. We are connected by Facebook and other social media. We can exchange ideas with people in foreign lands. Check out videos and photographs taken in Australia, 10 minutes ago. We’ve learned that our individual — and national — problems are more universal than we ever considered.

Yet, perhaps now we wonder why we wanted to be so connected with others. Take Scotland, for example. In a 55 percent to 45 percent vote, the country will remain a part of Great Britain. But leadership has confirmed it will move forward with expanded “devolution” plans, a process started in 1999, to decentralize governing bodies and give more powers to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Scotland Rejects Independence: What It Means for Sterling Gilts and the Economy,” at BNY Mellon, September 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Scottish Referendum: Salmond to Quit after Scots Vote No,” at BBC News, Sept. 19, 2014.]

Here in the U.S., we like our independence. We may not have appreciated it as much until our college-educated children moved back home. Along with aging parents. But with the disparity that exists among generations, preferences and cultural touch points, does geographic proximity make us any closer? Just take a look at who shows up at the dinner table on any given night. Do some family members pay more attention to their tech gadgets than the mashed potatoes? And what does a multi-generational family — potentially comprised of grade school-aged children, teenagers, young adults, middle agers and retirees — all agree upon to watch on TV after dinner? It makes you wish the Olympics were on every single night.

Even an extended family tucked away in one household is likely to scatter to individual entertainment preferences: television, video games, tablet surfing, cellphone texting, etc. Close in proximity, yet worlds apart in sharing.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Home-cooked Family Dinner Isn’t All It’s Cracked up to Be,” at The Washington Post, Sept. 19, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Study Proposes Outrageous Solution In Lieu of Family Dinners,” at NaturalBlaze.com, Sept. 4, 2014.]

Historically, the young have ruled the earth. Youthfulness is generally viewed as better; more preferable. But what would happen if young adults became the minority; when older people rule due to sheer numbers? The enormous baby boomer generation has always been a tremendous influence on commerce. Even now, fashion magazines and late-night television are riddled with advertisements for products to help people look younger and bathe without stepping over a bath tub. The elderly portion of the population is expected to expand further when you consider longer lifespans, lower fertility rates among the young and the retirement of the largest generation ever.

Once this shift occurs, consider what might happen. Politics could become dominated by retirees who vote for more generous entitlement benefits that the young must pay.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “What Happens When We All Live to 100?” at The Atlantic, Sept. 17, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Why I Hope to Die at 75,” at The Atlantic, Sept. 17, 2014.]

Retirement is often met with mixed emotions: Sorrow at leaving one chapter of life, but joy of not having to work for a living anymore. A recent study confirmed that three keys to a happy retirement are good health, financial security and having a loving family and friends. Please contact us if you would like assistance in devising a retirement income plan to help cover health care expenses that may arise.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Study Reveals The #1 Key to a Happy Retirement,” at The Huffington Post, Sep. 15, 2014.]

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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