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Give Thanks. The Grass is Greener Here.

12.09.14: As we enter this holiday season, it’s worth taking a look at your individual circumstances and gauging whether your financial situation is stronger than it was last year, three years ago or five years ago. We can all find reasons to gripe about one thing or another, even in the best of the times. But that’s why it’s so important to remember when things were more difficult. This may be the very reason why bad things happen to good people -- to help make us stronger. Read more

Small Business, Small Incomes

12.02.14: 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. Read more

Money: Relatively Speaking

11.25.14: 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. Read more

A Lifetime of Wisdom

11.18.14: 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. Read more

Hospitable Hospitals

11.11.14: 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. 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. Read more

Together, We’re Worlds Apart

11.04.14: 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. Read more

Does Your Financial Strategy Take Into Account Unforeseen Retirement Challenges?

10.28.14: Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” However, when it comes to planning for retirement, it may not be a bad idea to develop a strategy that takes into consideration unexpected challenges that could arise. An unanticipated scenario in retirement might include a major medical issue, debilitating illness, or an adult child moving back in after a job loss or even returning home with grandchildren in tow after a divorce. Many people create an income plan for retirement’s best-case scenario, but it may be a good idea for them to consider what may happen to their retirement income if a challenging situation were to arise. Read more

DIY: When It Works and When It Doesn’t

10.21.14: According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Census Bureau, do-it-yourself (DIY) work accounts for 37 percent of all home remodeling projects in the U.S. Unfortunately, the flip side is that about 30 percent of work performed by the professional remodeling industry represents fixing DIY attempts. We are often tempted to do something ourselves to save money or simply for the satisfaction, but how do you know when it’s OK to do the work and when you should call in a pro? Read more

WHAT JOBS MEAN TO US—AND THE U.S.

10.14.14: Who looks for a job in August? Who’s around to interview candidates anyway? August is a popular month for end-of-summer vacations before the school year starts. This trend showed up in the latest jobs report, which revealed a slump of only 142,000 jobs added after six straight months of payroll gains exceeding 200,000. However, there are some interesting recent trends where the job market is concerned. For one thing, a new survey discovered that freelancers (53 million strong) make up 34 percent of the U.S. workforce. That’s not a trend that is expected to slow down, even as the job market grows stronger. Another study predicts that these “contingent workers” will exceed 40 percent of the workforce by 2020. Read more

Sporting Confidence through Ups and Downs

10.07.14: Some of the world’s top sports figures have recently experienced ups and downs in their careers. Take Rafael Nadal for instance, one of the top men’s professional tennis players in the world. Two years ago, Nadal was forced to sit out for seven months due to a knee injury. Then he fought his way back in 2013, winning two Grand Slam titles and ending the year at No. 1 in the world. Just recently Nadal announced a wrist injury that caused him to withdraw from the final Grand Slam event of the year: the U.S. Open, where he was the defending champion. Read more

Transitioning to Retirement

09.30.14: Change is never easy, at least for most people. And the people who do adjust to change well are often serial planners, knowing how to prepare well in advance. But when it comes to retirement, even when you know decades ahead of time that it’s going to eventually happen, you may still have trouble adjusting to change. This can be particularly true if retirement happens earlier than you expected. In fact, 49 percent of Americans retire unexpectedly because of health problems, disability, spousal-care demands and downsizing. For many, this unexpected change in employment can cause a financial hardship. Read more

PROBLEMS, SOLUTIONS…AND MORE PROBLEMS

09.23.14: Retail health care is on the rise. If you’re not familiar with this term, it may be coming to a Wal-Mart near you. In fact, Wal-Mart shoppers in Florence and Sumter, South Carolina, can now get a checkup at an in-store health clinic after they check out with a cashier. Does Wal-Mart care about the health of its customers and employees? Sure. But at the forefront of this business plan is an effort to grasp some of the billions of health care dollars spent by its massive constituency every year. Wal-Mart’s plan is to increase store traffic as a result of customers who come in to fill prescriptions and get a flu diagnosis, then decide to shop for a few household items while they’re there. What does the Wal-Mart approach mean for the health care industry as a whole? Read more

LESSONS OF A MILLENNIAL NATION

09.16.14: The so-called millennial generation -- those born after 1980 and before 2000 -- continues to suffuse news headlines. There are actually more millennials (80 million) now than baby boomers. Perhaps continued interest in this age group is driven by hope that it will become an economic force to propel our nation’s humdrum growth. Now reaching adulthood, this demographic is poised to spend greater discretionary income, buy homes, have children, start up successful companies and pour its newfound earnings into the securities markets. Read more

CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM

09.09.14: According to Guggenheim Partners, the most recent data from leading economic indicators, ranging from hiring to housing, demonstrates that the U.S. economy is “firing on all cylinders.” However, CIO Scott Minerd harkens back to the summer of 1987 when investors, deluded by a benign risk environment, failed to recognize the levels of overvaluation present in the market. This  ultimately led to the dramatic October 19 market drop known as Black Monday. Read more

EQUAL, YET SEPARATE

09.02.14: The U.S. Declaration of Independence declares that all men are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights — such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, new research from Stanford indicates the pursuit of happiness is increasingly aligned with affordability. The study asserts that America’s cities are becoming more divided into two distinct groups, with college-educated workers clustered in more desirable locales that less-educated people cannot afford. Read more

FAILURE TO LAUNCH…A MATERIALISTIC GENERATION

08.26.14: Young adults have had a relatively tough time over the past four or five years. Entry-level jobs have been scant for the onslaught of recent college graduates, many of whom have taken menial jobs to make ends meet until a “real job” comes their way. According to Pew Research, in 2012 only one-third of engineering majors got work as engineers, and only 26 percent of physical sciences majors worked in any science, technology, engineering or math occupation. Read more

More or Less

08.19.14: Sometimes it feels like there’s just more to do these days. Our houses are bigger and our toys more sophisticated, so there’s more to maintain. On the other hand, we can buy prepackaged salads and don’t have to shell peas anymore. Our cars don’t need oil changes nearly as often, and our ovens self-clean. But between checking emails, returning calls, running errands, carpooling children and being on-call for work and family issues 24/7, it’s important to take time out to simply do less. In fact, according to a recent research paper, making time to do absolutely nothing can help foster our imagination and improve mental health. Read more

Lessons We Can Learn from Youthful Transgressions

08.12.14: These days it seems that few people from age ten to 20 can be seen without a cell phone in hand. Now that school is out, parents complain of adolescent boys spending the summer playing video games, while girls are having full-on tête-à-têtes in 160-character text messages. One positive way to look at it is that adolescents can have virtual playdates without tracking dirt throughout the house and pilfering the fridge, not to mention learning the art of give and take in conversation. Read more

Fed Dovetail

08.05.14: In consideration of the current labor force participation rate and the fact that many discouraged workers may re-enter the job market, Scott Minerd — Global CIO at Guggenheim Partners — recently predicted the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) won’t increase interest rates until as late as early 2016. Read more

HEALTH CARE AT THE FOREFRONT

07.29.14: In recent news, we’ve witnessed the fallout of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, where officials falsified records to hide the amount of time former service members have had to wait for medical appointments. As if health care doesn’t get enough bad press, this is just one more scandal indicating the dire need to overhaul the industry, its delivery mechanisms and costs. Both the House and the Senate have passed versions of a VA bill to help rectify the situation, and members of Congress say they are confident of sending a unified version to the president by the end of June. Read more

The Printed Word

07.22.14: We blog, tweet, post. Read, skim, search. We can now receive so much of our information online, on demand, and choose exactly what sources from which to receive it. We’re no longer limited to three nightly newscasts and our daily local paper. Read more

All Things Inflation

07.15.14: At the end of May, the Commerce Department reported that the price index for personal consumption expenditures increased by 1.6 percent in April from a year earlier — the fastest pace since November 2012. This is the latest sign that U.S. inflation is starting an upward trend. Read more

Bully for Us: Consumerism Soars

07.08.14: Summer is here. The housing market has gained strength, jobs and incomes have risen, and overall consumers are feeling bullish. Seeing most of us have had to adjust to the “new normal” since the turn of the millennium, recent conditions are the relative equivalent to “happy days are here again.” As it turns out, we’re also pretty good at turning a negative event into a positive force. For years we’ve been reading about how the “graying of America” will leave shortfalls in the workforce and medical field while spending will increase exponentially in health and long-term care. Fortunately, the market tends to follow demand. Read more

Positive News on Jobs, Food and Fitness Fronts

07.01.14: April unemployment numbers brought good news. About 288,000 new jobs were created, representing the highest one-month total in two years. Unemployment is now at 6.3 percent, its lowest level since September 2008. Employers added an average of 238,000 jobs each month over the last three months, which is a substantial improvement over the average of 167,000 per month in the previous three. Consumer spending is up, but only modestly. Due to the chilly weather, in the first quarter we spent more money on utilities and health care. Spending on consumer goods was relatively flat, but in March Americans bought more cars and boosted retail numbers at shopping malls. Read more

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES

06.24.14: Many Americans tend to assume we’re the greatest nation. After all, people from other countries are frequently trying to move here. For the most part, we have a strong economy, we’re well educated, we make decent money, and we have the NFL, NBA, and MLB for goodness sake. The U.S. rules. Except when it doesn’t. The state of our economy is greatly influenced by what goes on in other countries. For example, as the Ukraine-Russia conflict increases the risk profile in Europe, the United States could benefit from greater global capital inflow. On the other hand, should Russian aggression become more pronounced, our government officials may soften the pressure they have placed on regulators to decrease the U.S. defense budget – requiring politicians to look elsewhere for a solution to the country’s deficit woes. Read more

Live Long and Dance

06.17.14: A recent study reveals that engaging in appropriate exercise after age 65 can help conditions such as back pain and arthritis. Even the Mayo Clinic claims that exercise can be effective at helping prevent and even treat a wide range of age-related health conditions. Read more

“Life” Is Its Own Financial Variable

06.10.14: Retirement income is a common topic in the financial services industry, with 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day for the next 15 to 20 years. One of the biggest questions pre-retirees face today is whether or not they’ll have enough income to support their desired lifestyle when it comes time to retire. Read more

Living and Working (and Thinking) in a Box

06.03.14: In the late 1970s sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati,” news director Less Nessman would not acknowledge the presence of co-workers unless they simulated knocking on the door of his fake office. His “office” was merely a desk and chair with imaginary walls marked by tape on the floor. Perhaps this was an indication of things to come — the slow evolution of workplace layouts going from private closed-door offices to wide open floor plans filled with individual employee cubicles. Read more

THE UNITED STATES: FOR RICHER AND FOR POORER

05.27.14: A recent Health and Retirement Study by the Brookings Institution found that life expectancy is rising more quickly for people at the highest ranks of socio-economic status, while declining or remaining static for those in the lower levels. This discrepancy was raised in relation to Social Security benefits and posed the question as to whether raising the full retirement age as a means of sustaining the program is fair to those of a lower socio-economic class — since research shows that this group tends to pass away younger and may thus receive fewer benefits. Read more

Couples’ Angst

05.20.14: According to research done by Fidelity, nearly four in 10 couples don’t agree on the lifestyle they want to have in retirement. Sometimes this discussion gets put off before an efficient financial strategy can be developed. For example, have you and your significant other talked about where you want to live in retirement, and whether that involves selling the family home and moving to something that may be easier to maintain? Perhaps you’d love to retreat to a different part of the country – or move to another country altogether – but are hesitant to bring up such a wild idea with your conservative spouse. Read more

Creative Solutions for Life’s Little Problems

05.13.14: It’s refreshing to see that many people are beginning to implement new and innovative ideas to address some of life’s seemingly little problems that may have a more widespread societal impact. Read more

Retirement or Tuition? The Savings Dilemma

05.06.14: No one, much less a parent, wants to see a young college graduate weighed down by the burden of student loans. And if those student loans weren’t bad enough, some college students open credit card accounts as a right-of-passage of sorts into adulthood. Although a credit card provides students and young adults the opportunity to enter a new world of financial responsibilities, they can also cause those students to end up even further in debt by the time they graduate. Read more

The Power of Optimism

04.29.14: The White House recently announced that it expects the U.S. economy to grow by 3.1 percent this year, up from its 1.7 percent expansion in 2013. Is that a realistic projection, or an optimistic one? While the unemployment rate hovers in the 6.7 percent range, many economists say that rate has dropped recently in part because many people have stopped looking for work. That may be true, but it is certainly a pessimistic viewpoint. Read more

ALZHEIMER’S HIGHER DEATH TOLL, BUDDY PROGRAMS AND GUIDE DOGS

04.22.14: According to a study recently published in the journal Neurology, the number of Americans who die as a result of Alzheimer’s disease has been vastly underestimated for years. New research indicates that since Alzheimer’s is an underlying disease – which leads to complications resulting in death – the number of deaths that may be attributable to Alzheimer’s has been under-reported by as much as half a million people per year. This is six times higher than previously reported, and moves Alzheimer’s up as the number three killer each year, behind heart disease and cancer. Read more

IS PART-TIME THE NEW NORMAL?

04.15.14: With continued sluggish unemployment reports, are we becoming a nation of part-time workers? A recent report from the U.S. Census of Agriculture revealed that more than half – 52 percent – of American farmers only work part time. The majority of our 2.1 million farmers responsible for day-to-day farm operations do not list farming as their principal occupation. Read more

WHAT’S YOUR RETIREMENT MISSION STATEMENT?

04.08.14: Mission statements have long been a staple of corporate business strategies. They’re usually bland, jargon-filled platitudes that have been crafted, edited and revised ad nauseam by someone in the marketing department. Then Tom Cruise came along in the 1996 film, Jerry Maguire, and re-energized the mission statement as a guiding life principle, not just a bromide: “What started out as one page became twenty-five. Suddenly, I was my father’s son again. I was remembering the simple pleasures…” Perhaps each of us, as we approach retirement, should write a mission statement about what we want our retirement to be like. Read more

The Peyton Manning Annuity Plan

03.25.14: This article, "The Peyton Manning Annuity Plan", recently featured in Market Watch offers a new and entertaining take on understanding the potential role of fixed annuities in your portfolio. Discussing financial matters can often be a bit on the dry side but this article takes a more lighthearted approach and details how “One of the best quarterbacks in the NFL unknowingly provides a road map to how you should approach the possibility of adding a fixed annuity transfer-of-risk strategy to your portfolio.” Contact us today to review your retirement plan and determine if a fixed annuity is right for you.

Are You Ready for a Long Retirement?

02.25.14: Did you know that, according to recent research, only 35% of retirees are “financially prepared to live into their 90s”? As you’re well aware, one of the key elements to a financially secure retirement is ensuring that you’re not solely reliant on Social Security. In this article from the Wall Street Journal, “Are You Ready for a Long Retirement?” one of the recommended options is an annuity to help ensure you have enough money to cover expenses. Of course everyone’s situation is different which is why we encourage you to contact us today so we can discuss the best strategy to suit your individual needs.

Tax Planning for Retirement

02.11.14: “Tax Planning for Retirement” featured in Kiplinger is a great guide for those nearing or in retirement. As it highlights, “Taxes don’t stop when your paycheck does. In fact, tapping your retirement nest egg comes with all sorts or new rules and opportunities.” The article offers suggestions and tips on how the tax rules change as you move from being in the workforce to becoming a full-fledged retiree. We understand that these changes and options can be overwhelming which is why we're here to help. Contact us today so we can discuss the best options to suit your individual needs.

When Should You Claim Social Security Benefits?

01.28.14: For many retirees, Social Security is an integral part of retirement income planning. But did you know that choosing the “wrong time” to start your benefits could cost you tens of thousands of dollars? This recent Forbes article, “When Should You Claim Social Security Benefits?”, highlights the primary issues to consider  as you decide on when to begin taking Social Security. It can be a pretty daunting task to figure out when to start your Social Security benefits but I’m here to assist you. Contact us today to review your retirement income plan so we can determine the best solution for you.

New Year’s Resolutions Boomers Should Make

01.14.14: Although we’re half way into January, it’s not too late for New Year’s Resolutions that focus on your retirement. As the article, “New Year’s Resolutions Boomers Should Make”, from Fox Business highlights, “Boomers can look to 2014 with hope and determination to improve our financial situation and to keep us on the path to a successful retirement.” The article then offers five key tips on how to keep a successful plan in 2014. Whether you’re looking for an advisor or already have one and are looking for a second opinion on your retirement plan, we're here to help. Contact us today so that we can determine the right plan to take you into 2014 and beyond.

Could You Be Oversaving for Retirement?

12.10.13: While much has been said about Americans not saving enough for retirement, new research shows that perhaps the outlook isn’t quite so gloomy. “Could You Be Oversaving for Retirement?” featured in Yahoo Finance reviews the finer points of the study. The rule of thumb has been that workers need to aim to replace 80% of their income per year. While it’s a reasonable rule, what is clear from the study is that determining your ideal income replacement rate should be “calculated in the most personalized way possible.” The research also addresses the “widely-held assumption that annual retirement spending keeps pace with inflation, both increasing at around 3% to 4% a year” and pokes holes through that assumption arguing that spending rates sometimes decrease in retirement. So what's best way to determine if you’re on track with the right retirement savings plan? Contact us today to schedule a thorough review of your plan to ensure that it’s the right fit for your personal goals and circumstances.

Delaying Social Security Is the Best Inflation Hedge

11.26.13: So much is said of inflation, but did you know that Social Security is one of the best ways for investors to protect themselves from inflation fears? This Wall Street Journal blog post, “Delaying Social Security Is the Best Inflation Hedge”, highlights that while the initial idea is straightforward enough, “there’s an additional layer to the decision that’s often forgotten: Social Security benefits receive an annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to increase benefits for inflation.” Contact us today to discuss any questions you have about ensuring that your retirement plan is set to keep pace with inflation or for any other retirement planning questions you may have.

What You Don’t Know About Social Security

10.22.13: Think you know all that you need about Social Security benefits? Think again. In "​What You Don’t Know About Social Security Can Hurt Your Retirement", the article highlights some key points that many people are not aware of. Did you know that Social Security isn't just a retirement benefit? Or that you can take Social Security benefits early or late? There are many quirks to Social Security, but do you know which benefits you actually qualify for and which can be hazardous to your retirement plan? Read on to learn more and contact us today so we can ensure your retirement income plan provides for you in your retirement years.

10 Reasons Your Retirement Plan Won’t Cut It

10.08.13: This enlightening article in Market Watch, “10 Reasons Your Retirement Plan Won’t Cut It,” highlights why retirement plans are not a comprehensive solution to finance your retirement years. In fact, the article states: “retirement plans, in and of themselves, generally aren't sufficient to meet most individual's financial needs for the duration of their retirement years. Projected longer life expectancies don't make this situation any easier. While Social Security helps soften the blow, it doesn't solve the problem in most cases.” Contact us today so we can evaluate your retirement income plan and ensure that you have what you need to provide for you in your retirement years.

12 Important Retirement Planning Deadlines

09.24.13: U.S. News & World Report offers a summary of the key ages and deadlines to be mindful of when planning for retirement in "12 Important Retirement Planning Deadlines." It’s a great cheat sheet to keep handy so that you make the most of your benefits because “if you don’t make the cutoffs, you could face higher taxes, penalties and fees.” For assistance with your retirement income plan, including assistance with maximizing your retirement benefits, please contact us today to discuss how we can create a comprehensive strategy tailored to your needs.

How to Maximize Social Security Benefits

09.10.13: The age-old question, “When is the best time to turn on Social Security?” is becoming easier to answer these days thanks to a growing number of inexpensive (and in some cases free) online programs that can help you determine the best answer based on your circumstances. A recent Wall Street Journal article, “How to Maximize Social Security Benefits,” evaluates five such programs currently available. Did you know that Strategy Financial Group offers a complimentary Social Security Analyzer report for clients? For your customized report or assistance with your overall retirement income plan, even if you’ve already turned on Social Security, please contact us today.

Deferred Income Annuities Offer Predictability

08.27.13: If you’re looking for a pension-like income stream in retirement, you might want to consider a fixed annuity. A recent article in Kiplinger's Retirement Report, “Deferred Income Annuities Offer Predictability,” explains how these annuities can be used to create a steady source of income. There are so many myths and misconceptions about fixed annuities out there, and sorting it all out can be a rather daunting task. That’s why we're here. Contact us today so that we can review your retirement plan and determine if a fixed annuity is right for you.

Do You Have a Retirement Care Plan?

08.13.13: Have you thought about your care in retirement? It’s not something we like to think about but it’s an often-overlooked yet critical part of your overall retirement plan. According to a recent study, “Boomers are largely uninformed and unprepared for the day-to-day care they may need in retirement." In the article, “Do You Have a Retirement Care Plan?”, U.S. News & World Report presents the studies’ five recommendations for consumers. Please contact us today to review your retirement plan so that we can ensure you’re properly prepared for what lies ahead.

Creating Your ‘Retirement Vision’

07.23.13: Sometimes our clients are so focused on the financial preparation for retirement (which is great) that they forget to take some time to step back and figure out what they’re actually going to do once they retire (which is not so great). As “Creating Your ‘Retirement Vision’” by MarketWatch highlights, “Many people believe all you have to do is show up to retirement and it will somehow all work out and be wonderful. While this does occasionally happen, it’s by no means the norm.” Have you taken the time to envision life in retirement? What you plan to do? What your priorities are? Could you describe your typical day in retirement? Of course, getting the money part right is a critical piece in bringing your vision of retirement to reality which is where I come in. Contact us today so that we can determine the resources you need to fulfill your retirement dreams.

Don’t Let These 6 Surprises Wreck Your Retirement

07.09.13: We’ve all heard that the best laid plans often go astray. That applies to retirement planning as much as anything else in life. A recent Wall Street Journal article, “Don’t Let These 6 Surprises Wreck Your Retirement,” highlights the big surprises that await you in retirement and how you can prepare for them. Are you equipped to handle changes in your budget, rising health care costs, inflation and more? Contact us today to schedule a review of your retirement plan to ensure you’re ready for the challenges ahead.

How to Budget for Health Costs in Retirement

06.25.13: When determining your budget for retirement, it’s important to factor in potential health care costs. “Medicare provides near universal health insurance coverage to people age 65 and older, but retirees still face often significant out-of-pocket costs.” In “How to Budget for Health Care Costs in Retirement,” featured in U.S. News & World Report, the article provides guidance on how you can budget for likely health care expenses in retirement. For additional information and to review your retirement income needs, including planning for out-of-pocket medical expenses, please contact us today.

Annuities As Income, Not Investments

06.11.13: In the article, “Annuities as Income, Not Investments,” Market Watch explores the value of annuities as part of your retirement income strategy. In fact, according to one expert, “It is the single best way on a risk-adjusted basis to maximize one’s ability to spend in retirement without concerns about running out of resources. Given that running out of money in retirement is one of the biggest concerns facing pre-retirees and retirees today, annuities are definitely something to consider. Contact us today to review your retirement income needs and determine if a fixed annuity is right for your overall retirement plan.

Draining IRAs Too Soon Poses Big Risks

05.28.13: Did you know that the consequences of dipping into your IRA before you reach 70 ½ are significant? In doing so, you may be putting your standard of living at risk according to “Draining IRAs Too Soon Poses Big Risks” by Market Watch. However, some experts argue that in some cases it makes sense to take money from your IRA before age 70 ½. So how do you determine which strategy is right for you? Retirement income planning can be tricky and the “best strategy” is truly unique to each person’s situation. Contact us today to schedule a review of your retirement plan so we can determine the right plan to fit your lifestyle and retirement goals.

Retiring on CDs Not Viable

05.14.13: Gone are the days when retirees could live off the returns from certificates of deposits.  In fact, “today's low CD rates and rates on other savings vehicles could cause retirees to run out of money before they run out of life.”  In “Retiring on CDs Not Viable” by Bankrate.com, the article also warns that the low-yield environment has impacted the old 4% rule to the point that it is no longer viable.  Now that tax season is officially behind us, this is a great time to review your asset allocations and consider if a guaranteed income product is right for you. Contact us today to schedule a review of your retirement plan to be sure that it will support you throughout your lifetime.

What Are Your Real Retirement Costs?

04.23.13: Often times, I find that people who come to me for help are so busy saving for retirement that they haven’t stopped to ask what exactly they’re saving for and, more importantly, how much they will need to live the way they want to during retirement. In “What Are Your Real Retirement Costs?” by U.S. News & World Report, the article reviews the “five important yet often-overlooked retirement costs that you’ll want to consider.” Do you know how much you need in order to live the life you want in retirement?  Contact us today to discuss how we can create a comprehensive retirement plan tailored to your needs.

Preserving Your Assets in Retirement

04.09.13: This article from Fox Business, “Preserving Your Assets in Retirement,” underscores the importance of protecting your retirement assets from losses while ensuring that your money lasts your lifetime and beyond.  With products like fixed indexed annuities, you can do just that. Contact us today to review your retirement income needs and determine if a fixed indexed annuity is right for your overall retirement plan.

What Is The Present Value Of Your Social Security Benefits?

03.26.13: Many Americans are counting on their Social Security income to help support them in retirement. The big questions many people often have are: how valuable are my benefits and how exactly can I maximize those benefits? Forbes helps shed light on the answers to these questions in: “What Is the Present Value of Your Social Security Benefits?

Say Goodbye to the 4% Rule

03.12.13: No doubt you’ve heard about the 4% rule when it comes to the conventional wisdom on retirement withdrawals, but will that strategy actually work for you given the current environment? According to “Say Goodbye to the 4% Rule” from the Wall Street Journal, “it’s getting tougher to tell.” The article then goes on to suggest three options as alternatives to ensure that your nest egg is ready for retirement.

10 Things Everyone Should Know About Social Security

02.26.13: When it comes to Social Security, people often have more questions than answers. In “10 Things Everyone Should Know About Social Security” from U.S. News & World Report, the most important facts about Social Security are readily explained. The article covers everything from how your benefits are calculated to understanding your full retirement age along with eight other important facts that everyone should know about Social Security.

3 Tips for Tapping Your Nest Egg

02.12.13: While much is written about building up your nest egg, do you know what to do when it’s time to start taking money out? The article “3 Tips for Tapping Your Nest Egg” from CNN Money, helps sheds some light on determining your withdrawal strategy. The article discusses what rate you should plan to withdraw at, where you should pull your money from first, and how to continue fine-tuning your plan well into retirement.

Seven Resolutions to Get Your Nest Egg in Shape

01.22.13: In the spirit of New Year's resolutions, we wanted to share with you some great tips on how to get your nest egg in shape for 2013. If getting your retirement plan in order isn't already on your list, it definitely should be. In “Seven Resolutions to Get Your Nest Egg in Shape,” the Wall Street Journal offers advice on how to get back on track in planning and saving for your retirement. Call us today to discuss how we can help you create a personalized retirement plan so that you can enjoy the peace of mind you deserve.

What the Fiscal Cliff Deal Means for Your Taxes

01.08.13: In “What the Cliff Deal Means for Your Taxes,” Market Watch has prepared an easy to understand cheat sheet of the tax changes most impacted by the fiscal cliff deal recently passed by Congress. Significant changes have been made to income tax brackets, the alternative minimum tax, capital gains and dividends, Roth IRA conversions, payroll taxes and estate taxes. Click here to learn more.

Your Retirement Benefits - What to Expect in 2013

12.11.12: With the New Year just around the corner, U.S. News & World Report recaps the changes to expect to retirement benefits in “Your Retirement Benefits: What to Expect in 2013.” Did you know that the costs and benefits of 401(k)s, Social Security and Medicare will all be adjusted next year? Those working will be allowed to contribute $500 more to retirement accounts while retirees will receive slightly larger Social Security checks. Additionally, Medicare Part D coverage will improve although premiums will increase slightly to support this change. For a full list and explanations of the retirement benefit changes you can expect in 2013, please click here.

Retiring On The Edge of The Fiscal Cliff

11.27.12: With the fiscal cliff on the horizon, Market Watch offers 10 ways to protect your retirement savings in “Retiring On The Edge of The Fiscal Cliff.” According to the article, “One of the biggest risks that retirees and pre-retirees face is that of taxes; not just paying them but the risk that tax policy will change and throw a big wrench into one’s plans. Well, that risk - in the form of the fiscal cliff - is now upon us and retirees and pre-retirees must now develop a plan of action for their portfolio should all, some, or none of the scheduled tax changes and spending cuts become a reality on Jan. 1.” Click here to read more.

IRS Guide for Retirement Payouts

11.13.12: The Wall Street Journal recently published the article, “IRS Guide for Retirement Payouts” which examines the idea of utilizing the Internal Revenue Service’s Required Minimum Distribution tables to craft your retirement withdrawal strategy versus the conventional “4% rule.” “Rather than withdrawing a set dollar amount every year as with the 4% rule, a retiree withdraws a percentage of his retirement savings. That percentage rises slightly every year. The idea is to avoid the kind of outsized withdrawal during a market setback that could hurt the retiree later in life.” Determining your retirement income distribution strategy is key to enjoying peace of mind in your retirement. Ready for some peace of mind? Click here to read more.

What’s Your Magic Retirement-Savings Number?

10.23.12: Fidelity Investments, the nation’s largest 401k provider, recently released guidelines to help evaluate if you’re on track to meet your retirement income needs based on your current savings. According to Fidelity, “eight” is the magic number meaning the typical person should save eight times their ending annual salary to afford retirement. The catch: most of our situations aren’t typical, they’re unique. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal article, “When ‘Eight’ Isn’t Enough,” which examines Fidelity’s guidelines, there are many variables involved in determining how much you will need in retirement – everything from when you started saving to the return on your retirement funds to when you plan to retire. Additionally, “retirement experts suggest that once you are in your 50s, you should consult a financial planner or experiment with online calculators to figure out the number you need to support the retirement you want.”

8 Social Security Myths Exposed

10.09.12: The most recent government-issued report projects that Social Security benefits will have to be reduced starting in 2033 when funding runs out.  While this may seem like a long way off, this is a year earlier than previously expected and, as pressure continues on the Social Security system, this timeline may be even further reduced.  It’s no wonder then that these days the biggest question on the minds of many pre-retirees about Social Security is: Will it be around when I retire?  In “8 Social Security Myths Exposed,” Money Talks News separates fact from fiction by explaining the most common misunderstandings about Social Security.  Should you begin collecting as soon as possible or hold off?  Will you be able to live comfortably on Social Security alone?  Are you eligible for Medicare as soon as you can collect Social Security?  For answers to these questions and more, please click here

Index & Variable Annuities: Exploring the Similarities & Differences

09.25.12: For those considering investing an annuity, it is important to know the differences between index annuities and variable annuities. While there are several benefits across all annuities such as tax-deferred growth and guaranteed income payments there are also some significant distinctions. As an annuity consumer, you must determine your financial needs, evaluate your risk tolerance and review your goals in order to make the appropriate annuity choice. In the article, “Index and Variable Annuities: Exploring the Similarities and Differences” you can view a side-by-side comparison to help you determine which retirement investment strategy is right for you. Click here to read more about the key differences of index and variable annuities. 

A Retirement Plan Beyond the Financials

09.11.12: U.S. News and World Report recently released a fantastic article called “A Retirement Plan Beyond the Financials. While planning for the financial side of retirement is perhaps the most important (and most discussed) part of retirement planning, we often neglect to plan for the life we want once we're retired. Considering many people will enjoy retirement for 20 to 30 years, it's a good idea to start thinking about what you will do to create a “fulfilling and stimulating retired life.”  To read more about planning the lifestyle you want in retirement and creating your “retirement happiness,” please click here.

10 Critical Retirement-Saving Mistakes

08.28.12: U.S. News & World Report offers excellent tips on how to avoid the “10 Critical Retirement-Saving Mistakes” such as retiring with too much debt and withdrawing Social Security payments prematurely. Many of these classic mistakes can be easily avoided with appropriate planning to ensure your financial security in retirement. To read the article in its entirety and learn all about the retirement savings mistakes you should avoid, please click here.

10 Things You Should Know About Social Security

08.14.12: AARP answers the most frequently asked questions about Social Security in “10 Things You Should Know About Social Security.” This quick read is packed with great information every individual should know about Social Security benefits, covering everything from eligibility to how to maximize your benefits. Understanding your Social Security benefits is critical to your overall retirement plan. To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

Q&A: Stanford Economist John Shoven on Social Security

07.24.12: Lower interest rates and longer life spans can significantly affect your retirement planning. So how can you get the most out of your social security benefits? One strategy to consider: delay social security benefits and rely on your other investments earlier. Stanford University economist John Shoven offers guidance on how to get the most out of current Social Security benefits and explains the problems at the heart of the retirement crisis. To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

IRA Rules Get Trickier

07.10.12: "Uncle Sam is about to get a lot tougher on individual retirement account mistakes - and that could trip up investors who aren't careful." This article, “IRA Rules Get Trickier,” from the Wall Street Journal highlights costly IRA mistakes and reviews the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration's report on the hundreds of millions of dollars the IRS is losing by not collecting penalties for IRA errors such as missed required minimum distributions and excess contributions  The IRS will start cracking down on this, possibly beginning later this year. Be sure you're working with an an educated advisor who can help you avoid these costly mistakes. To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

Get the Basics on Indexed Annuities

06.26.12: If you're interested in learning about the role of a Fixed Indexed Annuity as part of your overall retirement plan or know someone who is, we've got a great 3-minute video for you by the IAL Council. Fixed Indexed Annuities offer the potential upside of stock market-linked growth without loss of principal due to market downturns. For those looking to create guaranteed income for life and a stable, predictable standard of living, fixed annuities are a great option to consider as part of your overall retirement strategy. To watch the video in its entirety, please click here.

Barron’s Picks the Top 50 Annuities

06.12.12: The cover story on the May 26th issue of Barron's Magazine features their picks for the Top 50 Annuities. Barron's reviewed hundreds of products to identify their top 50 choices among a wide range of annuities and carriers. As the article highlights, Americans are eager to lock in steady retirement income. To read the report in its entirety, please click here.

The Reasons to Consider a Fixed Indexed Annuity

05.22.12: Considering a fixed indexed annuity, but want more information? Visit FixedAnnuityFacts.com for a full report about the benefits of fixed indexed annuities including: safety from market loss, growth potential, tax advantages, income guarantees and beneficiary planning advantages. To learn more, please click here.

Is There Really a Perfect Life Insurance Contract?

05.08.12: Fox Business recently published, “Is There Really a Perfect Life Insurance Contract?” which explains how indexed universal life insurance policies (IUL) may offer an ideal solution for many consumers in today’s market. There are lots of options out there and benefits can vary significantly by policy and company. It is very important to make sure that the policy you are considering truly fits your needs. The best way to ensure that is to choose an independent advisor who works with several different companies versus an advisor that works for a single company. To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

5 Important Steps to Update Estate Plans

04.10.12: AdvisorOne recently reported on the importance of reviewing your family’s estate plan. Keeping your estate plan current is essential in protecting your family and assets and updating your plan every few years will ensure your plan reflects your current circumstances. The article, “5 Important Steps to Update Estate Plans,” discusses the reasons estate plans need to be reviewed and updated, and outlines the steps to take in order to ensure its accuracy. To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

How Much Does Retirement Really Cost?

03.27.12: Reuters rcently reported on a new report from the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) entitled, “How Much Does Retirement Really Cost?” The key question in retirement planning is: “How much income will you need to replace after you quit working?” Because most retirees’ spending and savings habits change once retirement starts, income analysis is a critical part of retirement planning. To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

Indexed Annuity Insights: Reaching Retirement Goals

03.13.12: The Indexed Annuity Leadership Council recently released an informative video featuring a retiree’s personal story about reaching his retirement goals using indexed annuities. To view the video, please click here.

Obama’s Latest Retirement Rescue Plan: Annuities

02.28.12: CNN Money recently published an article entitled, "Obama's Latest Retirement Rescue Plan: Annuites." According to the article, the Obama administration has proposed new rules to help retirees make their savings last throughout their lifetime - by investing in annuities. To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

Retirement Planning in the New Normal

02.14.12: Fox Business recently published an article entitled, "Retirement Planning in the New Normal." According to the article, "Prudent planning going into retirement would dictate that a healthy percentage of your portfolio be moved to fixed investments as you age." What exactly are the fixed investments recommended in the article, you ask? Fixed indexed annuities. These excellent products offer the potential upside of stock market-linked growth without loss of principal due to market downturns. To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

Health Care Expenses & Retirement Income: How Escalating Costs Impact Retirement Savings

01.24.12: The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) recently released its report, "Health Care Expenses and Retirement Income: How Escalating Costs Impact Retirement Savings." This is a great read which reviews the effect of rising medical expenses and the strategies available to help alleviate the financial impact on your retirement income. According to the IRI, "Health care costs are one of the biggest concerns for Boomers as they enter retirement and is also one of the largest threats to Americans' overall retirement income security." Are you prepared to cover future medical expenses? To read the report summary or access the full report, please click here.

5 Ways To Make Retirement Planning a Priority In The New Year

01.10.12: As we kick off 2012, this is the perfect time to consider how to make retirement planning a priority in the New Year. According to a recently published article by ING, “71 percent of Americans do not have a formal investment plan to help them reach their retirement goals.” The article offers five simple but important retirement planning resolutions for 2012 that can help keep you on the right path to meeting your financial goals. To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

Retired? Here’s How to Cut Your Tax Bill

12.27.11: CNBC recently published a fantastic article about how retirees can cut their tax bills. Ideas include delaying withdrawals from a 401(k) or traditional IRA, setting up a Roth IRA Rollover, properly managing required minimum distributions (RMD) withdrawals, and considering Stretch IRAs and annuities. As the year comes to a close, this is a perfect time to start thinking about your plans for 2012. To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

Annuities: A Retirement Income Solution?

12.13.11: Bankrate.com recently published an article about how to use fixed annuities to create a retirement pension. Consider this: "For those at or nearing retirement, annuities offer a flexible solution to a range of back-nine challenges from income and estate planning, to long-term care insurance." Intrigued yet? To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

Funding the Post-Pension Retirement

11.15.11: The Wall Street Journal recently published a thought-provoking article addressing the challenges that many retirees will face in the coming years as it relates to funding their retirement. Countless retirees will be tackling retirement without a pension and instead will rely heavily on Social Security and accumulated savings. This will make retirement asset-allocation and withdrawal strategies even more critical to one's overall plan. To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

Social Security Benefits to Go Up 3.6 Percent

11.01.11: The federal government recently approved a cost of living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security benefits in 2012, the first such COLA to the program since 2009. To read more about how this may impact you, please click here.