The Psychology of Economics

Countries with a longstanding track record of economic stability and security tend to have the happiest citizens, reports journalist Dan Buettner, who has studied what makes people happy. Education and health care are two primary reasons why, combining to create an upwardly mobile lifecycle.1

Mothers with higher education levels tend to have fewer children, and those children tend to be healthier and more productive adults, Buettner says. In turn, they often become successful parents and make more well-informed voting decisions. This enables the next generation to make even higher social and economic gains.2

With this in mind, it’s worth considering how we can make education and health care more affordable within our own households. College tuition is expected to continue experiencing higher inflation levels than most other household expenses.3 Health insurance and medical inflation is expected to outpace overall economic inflation this year for the first time since 2010.4 If you’re looking for ways to help prepare for future health care and higher education costs for you and your loved ones, please set up a time to visit with us.

Another interesting, emerging economic trend is that of human workers versus automation. While we can debate the merits of cost savings versus human judgment, there’s an underlying theory that technology is not necessarily the key to future economic growth. In fact, in a departure from encouraging more students to study the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and math), there’s a new movement to better understand the drivers of human behavior and how we might interact with technology in the future.5

If you look at recent trends in consumer-driven technology, there is a discernible shift away from high-tech products and services. For example, independent bookstores and print books are experiencing a revival after years of competing with the rising popularity of online bookstores and eReaders.6 And, remarkably, instant-print cameras have become fashionable again and experienced a 30 percent growth in sales in 2017.7

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Knowledge@Wharton. March 2, 2018. “What Can We Learn from the World’s Happiest People?” http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/blue-zones-happiness/. Accessed May 18, 2018.

2 Ibid.

3 Venessa Wong. CNBC. March 17, 2017. “In 18 years, a college degree could cost about $500,000.” https://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/17/in-18-years-a-college-degree-could-cost-about-500000.html. Accessed June 7, 2018.

4 Fortune. Feb. 15, 2018. “Healthcare Prices to Outpace Inflation for the First Time Since 2010.” http://fortune.com/2018/02/15/healthcare-prices/. Accessed May 18, 2018.

5 Shon Burton. MarketWatch. May 31, 2018. “Opinion: Coding skills won’t save your job – but the humanities will.” https://www.marketwatch.com/story/coding-skills-wont-save-your-job-but-the-humanities-will-2018-05-17. Accessed May 18, 2018.

6 Alex Preston. The Guardian. May 14, 2018. “How real books have trumped ebooks.” https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/may/14/how-real-books-trumped-ebooks-publishing-revival. Accessed June 4, 2018.

7 Chaim Pikarski. Twice. Feb. 20, 2018. “What’s driving the instant photo revival?” https://www.twice.com/blog/whats-driving-instant-print-photo-revival. Accessed May 18, 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.

Family Business Considerations

Family businesses that manage to survive generation after generation leave not only a family legacy, but also the potential for tremendous wealth. For example, Arkansas-based Walmart is presently the largest business in the world in terms of revenue, earning more than $485 billion in 2017. In 1992, founder Sam Walton passed away and left his retail empire in the hands of seven heirs.1

Presently, the Walton family business outranks the wealth of the Koch Industries energy group, which is the second-largest privately owned company. Next in line in terms of individual wealth of business founders are Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway).2

These are just samples of the scope of wealth an entrepreneur can amass. However, most small business owners do well just to keep their heads above water. For those who would like to pass their business on to family members, there are basic business management strategies to keep in mind.3 If we can help you develop an insurance strategy to help protect your business, your key executive staff or your legacy, please give us a call.

On a day-to-day basis, successful family-owned entities generally follow some well-honed principles to keep family politics out of the business. For example, the patriarch and his four daughters who run the six-generation family-owned business D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. have many varying opinions. To keep the business humming, they agree that it’s OK to disagree: “Diversity of opinion is what keeps family businesses strong and spurs collaboration.”4

It’s also a good idea to keep family and business separate. This means scheduling regular, in-office staff meetings so that family dinners can focus on just that — family. It’s important, too, that everyone has distinct roles and responsibilities. It’s difficult enough when duties overlap among workers, but in a family business this can lead to an all-out sibling brawl. When jobs and job titles are doled out to family members based on their natural strengths and interests, each employee can take ownership and be held accountable, as well as enjoy the pride and satisfaction for their individual contributions.5

For some families, entering the family business may take time. Even beyond a formal education, it may be important to first seek non-family job experience before “boomeranging” back to the fold. This scenario worked well for the three generations that run Cleaver Farm and Home — a building-supply distributor in Kansas. The business has managed to expand as each generation of family members took charge. For the current generation of brothers, launching their own career paths allowed them to return to their family roots and give their own children the sort of childhood they enjoyed.6

Bear in mind, too, that younger generations can bring new skill sets to the family business.

For example, a 17-year-old prodigy whose family has owned a metalworking company since the late Middle Ages has introduced technology to the fold. Anton Klingspor added exponential growth in his family’s business through various technological tools like LinkedIn Lead Builder and Facebook Workplace to improve team collaboration and communication.7

As a business grows larger and more complex, the family may need to look outside the fold for specific skills and experience. It’s important to engage knowledgeable professionals and establish formal business and family governance systems to help manage risks and enjoy a more sustainable foundation for future success.8

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Lianna Brinded. Quartz. May 14, 2018. “The richest family in the world beat the Koch brothers, Bezos, Gates, and Buffett.” https://qz.com/1276872/the-richest-people-in-the-world-walton-family-koch-brothers-bill-gates-jeff-bezos-warren-buffett/. Accessed May 28, 2018.

2 Ibid.

Hilary Sheinbaum. Forbes. April 30, 2018. “How The 4 Yuengling Sisters Manage The Family Business.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/hilarysheinbaum/2018/04/30/how-4-sisters-manage-the-family-business-and-still-get-along-and-you-can-too/#198c9d0262ca. Accessed May 28, 2018.

4 Ibid.

5 Amy George. Inc. Jan. 17, 2018. “How to Build a Family Business That Lasts for Generations, According to Bravo TV Star Tabatha Coffey.” https://www.inc.com/amy-george/how-to-build-a-family-business-that-lasts-for-generations-according-to-bravo-tv-star-tabatha-coffey.html. Accessed May 28, 2018.

6 Raney Rapp. Farm Talk. May 15, 2018. “Cleaver Farm and Home celebrates three generations of family business.” http://www.farmtalknewspaper.com/news/cleaver-farm-and-home-celebrates-three-generations-of-family-business/article_7796c170-584b-11e8-8ed6-27bc3ee8f20b.html. Accessed May 28, 2018.

7 John White. Inc. Sept. 7, 2017. “How This 17-Year-Old Used an Entrepreneurial Mindset to Grow His Family Business to $300-Million.” https://www.inc.com/john-white/lessons-from-a-gen-zer-on-how-to-grow-a-200-year-o.html. Accessed May 28, 2018.

8 Marleen Dielemen. Forbes. May 25, 2018. “4 Types Of Family Businesses You’ll See In Asia And How To Govern Each Effectively.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/nusbusinessschool/2018/05/25/4-types-of-family-businesses-youll-see-in-asia-and-how-to-govern-each-effectively/#5147434e659f. Accessed May 28, 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. 

Deducting Home-Loan Interest

Planning Tip

The new tax law still allows a deduction for interest on a home equity loan, line of credit or second mortgage as long as the loan is used to buy, build or substantially improve the taxpayer’s primary or second home. Specifically, the interest is deductible only if the loan meets all three of the following criteria:1

  • The debt is secured by the underlying residence
  • The total of the refinanced debt is not greater than the cost of the residence
  • The proceeds are used to improve or expand the residence

However, the applicable loan is subject to a new $750,000 debt limit ($375,000 for a married taxpayer filing a separate return). This limit applies to the combined total of loans used to buy, build or improve the taxpayer’s main home and second home. If you have an existing home equity loan that does not qualify under these three criteria, the interest may no longer be deducted.2

 The content provided in this newsletter is designed to provide general information on the subjects covered. Neither our firm nor its agents or representatives may give tax advice. Be sure to speak with a qualified professional about your unique situation.

 1 IRS. Feb. 21, 2018. “Interest on Home Equity Loans Often Still Deductible Under New Law.” https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/interest-on-home-equity-loans-often-still-deductible-under-new-law. Accessed May 29, 2018.

2 Ibid.  

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

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.

For Some Retirees, Home is Where the Debt is

Today’s pre-retirees and retirees tend to have far more debt than those in years past. In addition to factors like credit card payments and medical expenses, this generation is seeing the effects of higher home prices and easily obtained low down-payment mortgages in the early 2000s.1

Between 2003 and 2016, Americans 60 and older nearly tripled their household debt — composed of mortgages, home equity loans, auto loans, student loans and credit cards.2 According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, households headed by a person age 75 or older held an average debt load of $36,757 in 2016.3

If you’re still carrying a fair amount of debt and nearing retirement, we can help you review your household budget to help plan for a more confident retirement. Please give us a call if you’d like to schedule a meeting.

One of the challenges in the new tax law is the interest-cap deduction on mortgage loan payments, meaning homeowners with high mortgage balances may be required under the new law to deduct less mortgage interest. The mortgage limit on new homes purchased is $750,000, while the limit on mortgages purchased before Dec. 15, 2017, remains $1 million. These numbers are important if downsizing is part of your debt-reduction strategy.4

Another major contributor to debt is the rising cost of sending children to college. Of the 3.5 million Americans who owe an average of $24,000 in Parent PLUS student loan debt, about half of them are parents older than age 50. Worse yet, the number of parents with student loans is rising at a faster rate than students.5 Unfortunately, all those debt payments could be used to save for retirement.

The No. 1 reason individuals file for bankruptcy is medical debt.6 Whether nearing retirement or already there, unexpected health care costs can seriously curtail retirement funds. It’s a good idea to work with a financial professional to develop a strategy for paying potential health care costs down the road.

Content created by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Rebecca Moore. PlanAdvisor. Jan. 10, 2018. “Debt Causing Financial Vulnerability for Pre-Retirees.” https://www.planadviser.com/debt-causing-financial-vulnerability-pre-retirees/. Accessed May 11, 2018.

2 Michelle Singletary. The Washington Post. Feb. 26, 2018. “Should you retire your debt before retiring?” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2018/02/26/should-you-retire-your-debt-before-retiring/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.d3d26dc8cda2. Accessed May 11, 2018.

3 Annie Nova. CNBC. May 9, 2018. “Almost half of Americans don’t expect to have enough money to retire comfortably — but there’s some good news.” https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/09/almost-half-of-americans-dont-expect-to-have-enough-money-to-retire-comfortably–but-theres-some-good-news.html. Accessed May 11, 2018.

4 Anthony P. Curatola. MarketWatch. May 10, 2018. “Watch for these pitfalls if you want to deduct mortgage interest under the new tax law.” https://www.marketwatch.com/story/watch-out-for-these-pitfalls-if-you-want-to-deduct-mortgage-interest-under-the-new-tax-law-2018-05-09. Accessed May 11, 2018.

5 Kathy A. Bolten. Des Moines Register. April 2, 2018. “Thousands of Iowa parents are going into debt to pay for their kids’ college (and they probably shouldn’t).” https://features.desmoinesregister.com/news/parent-plus-student-loans-college-debt/. Accessed May 11, 2018.

6 Sharon Epperson. CNBC. Nov. 16, 2017. “Don’t let surprise medical bills drain your retirement.” https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/15/dont-let-surprise-medical-bills-drain-your-retirement.html. Accessed May 11, 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.

Medicare News

Earlier this year, Congress passed a last-minute budget deal that included provisions affecting Medicare benefits. Specifically, one provision will permit certain therapies to continue beyond the previous caps, subject to conditions. All therapy (physical, speech and occupational) must continue to be classified as “reasonable and necessary to treat the individual’s illness or injury.” 1

There had been ambiguity in the past as to whether Medicare would continue paying for sessions without measurable improvement. Now, however, therapy sessions may continue per the provider’s recommendation. Retroactive for this year, once therapy billing has reached $2,010 (about 20 sessions at $100 per visit), a provider must add an extra billing code to ensure payment. However, if total expenses subsequently pass a $3,000 threshold, they may be subject to medical reviews and audits.2

The federal budget agreement also accelerated the share-cost reduction during the so-called “doughnut hole” period in Medicare drug plans. Starting one year earlier — in 2019 — Medicare beneficiaries will pay 25 percent (instead of 35 percent) of drug expenses once they reach the stated annual limit (currently $3,750 in 2018).3

Medicare rules are always changing. It’s a lot like trying to make retirement planning decisions throughout your career — the bar is a moving target. One potential solution is to over-plan and overfund your share of expected health care expenses in retirement. If you’re looking for ways to help plan for possible increased health care expenses in the future, contact us.  We’d be happy to discuss your options based on your unique situation.

In April, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final ruling with updates for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to provide more choices. Specifically, the rule expands the definition of “primarily health-related” benefits to cover products and services not considered direct medical treatments. Examples include air conditioners for people with asthma, healthy groceries, rides to medical appointments and home-delivered meals. Paid benefits also may include home modifications for mobility and balance, such as installing a wheelchair ramp or bathroom grab bars. Plans may offer benefits to help pay home aides who help with dressing, eating and other personal, daily-living care. MA plans must submit their bids for CMS approval by June 4 to begin offering these benefits in 2019.4

The new CMS rule also includes initiatives to address the national prescription opioid epidemic. Specifically, Medicare Part D plans now limit new opioid prescriptions for acute pain management to no more than a seven-day supply. The Overutilization Monitoring System (OMS) is expanding, increasing pharmacist accountability for patients already taking opioids.5

The CMS rule is part of a hardline approach to combating the opioid crisis. The White House has established a Safer Prescribing Plan initiative with specific goals that include cutting nationwide opioid prescription fills by one-third within three years.6

Content created by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Judith Graham. Kaiser Health News. March 29, 2018. “Scrutinizing Medicare Coverage For Physical, Occupational And Speech Therapy.” https://khn.org/news/scrutinizing-medicare-coverage-for-physical-occupational-and-speech-therapy/. Accessed May 4, 2018.

Ibid.

3 Susan Jaffe. Kaiser Health News. March 14, 2018. “Lifting Therapy Caps Is A Load Off Medicare Patients’ Shoulders.” https://khn.org/news/lifting-therapy-caps-proves-a-load-off-medicare-patients-shoulders/. Accessed May 4, 2018.

4 Bruce Japsen. Forbes. April 5, 2018. “How Trump’s New Medicare Rules Boost Amazon And Walmart.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2018/04/05/how-trumps-new-medicare-rules-boost-amazon-and-walmart/#600a42d6786c. Accessed May 4, 2018.

CMS. Fact Sheets. April 2, 2018. “2019 Medicare Advantage and Part D Rate Announcement and Call Letter.” https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2018-Fact-sheets-items/2018-04-02-2.html. Accessed May 4, 2018.

6 The White House. Fact Sheets. March 19, 2018. “President Donald J. Trump’s Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand.” https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trumps-initiative-stop-opioid-abuse-reduce-drug-supply-demand/. Accessed May 4, 2018.

We are able to provide you with information but not guidance or advice related to Medicare. Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental agency.

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.

Cultural Influences From Abroad

They say variety is the spice of life. A variety of cultural experiences may even contribute to a longer life and cognitive sharpness. A new study links cultural activities, including exposure to other languages, as a strong influence in the way we learn, amass and assimilate new information.1

Some cultural influences may well impact longer lifespans. In Japan, which has one of the world’s oldest populations, people live with a philosophy of “ikigai.” Roughly translated, this phrase means “a reason to live,” or identifying one’s purpose in life. To discover one’s ikigai, start by answering the following questions:2

  • What do you love?
  • What are you good at?
  • What does the world need from you?
  • What can you get paid for?

This idea of living for something more spiritual than, say, a job or material possessions is also practiced by the people of Costa Rica. Ticos, as Costa Ricans are called, use the term “Pura Vida” to convey a range of greetings, from hello and goodbye to “everything’s cool.” The real value of the phrase, however, is that Pura Vida reflects the way many Ticos live: relaxed and appreciative of the simpler things in life. This attitude toward life has gained the country recognition as one of the happiest places in the world. To live “Pura Vida” means you’re thankful for what you have and do not dwell on what you lack.3

Whether finding your ikigai or living a Pura Vida lifestyle, these influences may be able to enrich an American’s retirement, even if we don’t have the means to travel extensively. Reading, watching documentaries and movies, and listening to foreign music all can help expose us to other cultures and expand our mind and thought processes. Ultimately, this may help us appreciate the lifestyle we’ve created for our retirement years. If you’d like help creating a retirement income strategy to help you pursue your retirement lifestyle goals, please call us for ideas.

In the U.S., perhaps the most influential culture is that of the Hispanic or Latino population, which the U.S. Census Bureau describes as people of “Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.” At an estimated 54 million people, Hispanics are the largest minority in the U.S., and the Census Bureau expects that number to rise to 119 million by 2060.Their impact can be felt in all aspects of U.S. culture, including language, food and entertainment.

While the U.S. is influenced by other cultures, it also wields cultural power of its own. In a 2017 survey by U.S. News & World Report, the U.S. was ranked as having the third most influential culture in the world, largely due to popular contributions in music, movies and television. In first place was Italy, followed by France, with Spain and the United Kingdom rounding out the top five.5 In a separate portion of the survey that ranked overall influence, the U.S. ranked first, followed by Russia.6

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Science Daily. Aug. 4, 2017. “Cultural activities may influence the way we think.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170804103911.htm. Accessed Oct. 17, 2017.

2 Laura Oliver. World Economic Forum. Aug. 9, 2017. “Is this Japanese concept the secret to a long, happy, meaningful life?” https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/08/is-this-japanese-concept-the-secret-to-a-long-life/. Accessed Oct. 17, 2017.

3 Vacations Costa Rica. 2017. “Pura Vida! Costa Rica Lifestyle.” https://www.vacationscostarica.com/travel-guide/pura-vida/. Accessed Oct. 17, 2017.

4 CNN. March 31, 2017. “Hispanics in the US Fast Facts.” http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/20/us/hispanics-in-the-u-s-/index.html. Accessed Oct. 27, 2017.

5 U.S. News & World Report. 2017. “Cultural Influence.” https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/influence-rankings. Accessed Oct. 17, 2017.

6 U.S. News & World Report. March 7, 2017. “Most Influential Countries.” https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/international-influence-full-list. Accessed Oct. 17, 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.

Retirement Conversations: What Do You Do?

We spend a lifetime working, building a career, raising a family, etc. Then we retire, and some unsuspecting acquaintance asks, “What do you do?” It’s a whole new ballgame now.

This can be a difficult question for new retirees. Our gut instinct is to identify ourselves by our occupations — “I’m a lawyer,” I’m an office manager,” “a teacher” or a “stay-at-home mom.” When you spend that much time in one role, it becomes a part of who you are. But is that still who you are once you retire? Some people might say, “I used to be a lawyer.” After a while, they may get used to simply saying, “I’m retired.” Yet this process of figuring out how to respond may be directly correlated to how long it takes to figure out who we are in retirement.1

Some people spend years dreaming about what they’ll do when they retire, so they might answer, “I’m now an amateur golfer.” Or gardener. Or grandchild-babysitter. It’s worth taking some time to build a retirement identity for yourself; not just to answer that question, but to establish your own purpose for getting up in the morning. One of the keys to the retirement you desire is aligning your lifestyle goals with your retirement income.  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.

A recent study conducted by Humana found that the more optimistic people are by nature, the younger they feel. In fact, the most optimistic retirees also rated high in areas of good health, getting enough sleep, feeling confident and overall happiness. The study concluded that working on a more positive attitude is important to retirees’ overall health and well-being.2

But what if you aren’t naturally optimistic? One tip for achieving optimism is to practice. Work on identifying negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones. The general idea is to “fake it until you make it.”3

Researchers at Stanford University analyzed a longevity study of 60,000 diverse U.S. adults between 1990 and 2011 in areas such as demographics, medical history, physical exam and physical activity data. One of the more interesting findings was that people who perceived themselves as “a lot less active” than peers had a higher risk of death — regardless of how much they exercised or other health risk factors such as smoking or obesity. Apparently, it’s not just our health that matters, but also how we feel about ourselves.4

If we believe we are less active than everyone else — and are stressed and depressed about that — it can negatively impact our health. This is an important issue for physicians to consider, because warning about dangerous behaviors such as smoking, inactivity or overeating apparently can actually worsen the problem.5

Perhaps one way to foster optimism is to create a plan for how to spend your days. For example, start a new venture. It doesn’t matter if it’s for profit or not; the main incentive is to provide a purpose. Maybe follow up on a good idea that no one in your area is doing or find a need you can fulfill. When people retire, they often find they have time to do things that they never got to do before, and they also may have time to do things that need to get done — that no one else has time to do.

For the first time in history, there are about to be more people over age 65 than under age five.6 Furthermore, we have a shortage of care providers. Of course, not everyone will need a full-time caregiver; some may just need a little help — perhaps with remembering to turn off appliances or going to doctor appointments. Companies are currently looking at artificial intelligence for more ways — more gadgetry — to help address these issues and allow people to age longer at home.7

But for now, small, kind and oh-so-helpful gestures may be all some people need. Life is full of these types of opportunities — ways to feel good, help others and get the exercise we need without going to a gym. Here’s one idea: Some elderly people have a hard time getting their trash can to the curb for pickup, so perhaps that’s a volunteer job that provides purpose and exercise for a younger retiree while helping others.

Look around. See how you can contribute. And the next time someone asks you what you do, create yourself a brand-new identity title.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Joe Casey. Booming Encore. “Answering in Retirement: So, What Do You Do?” http://www.boomingencore.com/retirement-what-do-you-do. Accessed Nov. 13, 2017.

2 Humana. Oct. 4, 2017. “Survey: Sense of Optimism Linked to the Perceived Mental and Physical Health of Seniors.” http://press.humana.com/press-release/current-releases/survey-sense-optimism-linked-perceived-mental-and-physical-health-sen. Accessed Dec. 5, 2017.

3 Susan Williams. Booming Encore. “The Relationship Between Optimism, Health and Aging.” http://www.boomingencore.com/relationship-optimism-health-aging/. Accessed Nov. 13, 2017.

4 Monique Tello. Harvard Health Publishing. Aug. 14, 2017. “Mind over matter? How fit you think you are versus actual fitness.” https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mind-over-matter-how-fit-you-think-you-are-versus-actual-fitness-2017081412282. Accessed Nov. 13, 2017.

5 Ibid.

6 Elena Holodny. Business Insider. May 16, 2016. “We’re about to see a mind-blowing demographic shift unprecedented in human history.” http://www.businessinsider.com/demographics-shift-first-time-in-human-history-2016-5. Accessed Dec. 5, 2017.

7 Ian C. Schafer. Software Development Times. Nov. 7, 2017. “IBM expands AI research to support an aging population.” https://sdtimes.com/ibm-expands-ai-research-support-aging-population/. Accessed Nov. 13, 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.

When One Spouse Retires First

It’s easy to think of retirement and dream of a relaxed stroll into the sunset with your significant other by your side. After all, many advertisements repeat this theme with salt-and-pepper-haired couples strolling hand in hand across a beachfront.

Yet, this is not always the case. Anymore, we often see couples retire at different times – perhaps one spouse actually enjoys going to work every day while the other can’t wait to retire. Different retirement times, however, can open financial and emotional rifts for couples. What if the retired spouse enjoys travel, or wants to spend long stretches with family? Did the couple consider the financial impact of one spouse retiring versus both spouses? What if the working spouse is resentful of the time or money the retired spouse spends on activities?1

At our firm, we help with issues related to couples’ financial preparedness for retirement. If you and your spouse are looking toward retirement–either at the same time or years apart – give us a call.

With the proper planning, the financial piece of retirement doesn’t have to play into your marital dynamic. Based on your circumstances, a wide variety of solutions can help provide one or more retirement income streams while allowing an investment portfolio the opportunity to grow—possibly even throughout retirement. Many of today’s retirees hope to benefit from ongoing growth opportunities to help offset the potential long-term impact of inflation, rising health care and long-term care costs, and increasing longevity.

Now, couples with a big age gap may need a totally different set of strategies from other couples. For instance, if you have a significantly younger spouse, it may be more appropriate to invest a higher percentage of an investment portfolio in stocks than it would be for couples closer in age.2

One way the IRS helps out couples with a large age gap is with an opportunity to reduce the size of required minimum distributions (RMDs) from tax-deferred retirement plans, which are generally required to start at age 70 ½. When the account owner is at least 10 years older than their spouse, and the spouse is the named beneficiary, the older spouse can use a different factor for their RMD calculation, which can result in a lower payout. The benefit to this rule is that it gives more of the older spouse’s funds the opportunity to keep growing while the younger spouse continues to work.3This information is not intended to provide tax advice. Be sure to speak with a qualified professional about your unique situation.

Another retirement income option to consider for age-gap couples is a joint-and-survivor annuity. There are many different types of annuities to choose from, but joint-and-survivor actually refers to the type of distribution option that most annuities offer. If you purchase an annuity and choose this payout option, the annuity will continue to make payments to the surviving spouse, regardless of which spouse dies first.

A 50 percent option will continue to pay out half of the original amount to the survivor once the first annuitant dies, and a 100 percent option, while offering a lower original payout, guarantees the same amount for the life of both spouses.4This can be a suitable component of a retirement income plan for couples with a significant age gap.

Whether you and your spouse are similar ages or decades apart, and whether you plan to retire on the same day or years apart, you should be planning for the financial – and emotional – components ahead. If you’re ready to plan, we can help.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Karen DeMasters. FA Magazine. May 12, 2017. “Who’s Retiring First?” https://www.fa-mag.com/news/couples-retirement-gap-32725.html?section=3. Accessed Sept. 11, 2017.
2 Kerri Anne Renzulli. Time. June 14, 2017. “Money, Marriage and a Big Age Gap: 6 Ways to Make Sure Your Retirement is Safe.” http://time.com/money/4810932/age-difference-relationship-couples-retirement-advice/. Accessed Sept. 11, 2017.
3 IRS. 2017. “IRA Required Minimum Distribution Worksheet.” https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/jlls_rmd_worksheet.pdf. Accessed Sept. 11, 2017.
4 Zacks. 2017. “How Does a Joint and Survivor Annuity Work?” http://finance.zacks.com/joint-survivor-annuity-work-2270.html. Accessed Sept. 11, 2017.

Annuities are insurance products that may be subject to fees, surrender charges and holding periods which vary by company. Annuities are not a deposit of nor are they insured by any bank, the FDIC, NCUA, or by any federal government agency. Annuities are designed for retirement or other long-term needs. 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 and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial advice. All investments are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values.

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.

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The Longevity Revolution

How old do you have to be before you’re considered “old”? This number may change depending on the age of the person making the assessment. For example, a child or a teenager might think someone age 40 is old. That view is less likely to be held by a 39-year-old.

History indicates you have to reach a lot more birthdays these days to be considered old. One way to judge this is to look at pictures of your parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents when they were your age. Apart from the improved clarity of photographs in the modern era, many of us have fewer wrinkles and an overall healthier appearance than our ancestors.1

The data backs this up. A study by a Stanford University economics professor found that back in the 1920s, males were considered old if they were age 55 and up, whereas today that’s considered “middle age.”2

Of course, how we feel can change from day to day. Some days we might feel like a teenager, while other days we feel older than our years. We don’t want our clients to have similar feelings of uncertainty when planning for retirement. First of all, we like to help our clients work toward a well-prepared financial future. Second, it’s important to  consider that no matter how old you are, you’re likely to live longer than your parents and thus should plan for that eventuality. That’s why we work with our clients to create retirement income strategies for a retirement income that lasts as long as they do.

From a societal perspective, some of the reasons we’ve experienced a longevity revolution include universal access to clean water, sanitation, waste removal, electricity and refrigeration, as well as vaccinations and continued improvements in health care.3 At the individual level, people have their own take on why they’re living longer. One woman from Maine, 100-year-old Florence Bearse, claims the secret to her longevity is drinking wine. That, and people shouldn’t “take any baloney” if they want to live to old age.4

Another centenarian, Manhattan jazz saxophonist Fred Staton, is still playing professionally at age 102, which gives credence to the notion that creativity and passion lend themselves to a longer life.5 While a healthy lifestyle might be a strong indicator of longevity, it is by no means a definitive measure. Staton admits to smoking up until age 60, and rocker Mick Jagger — not exactly the poster child for a clean-living lifestyle — is still performing at Rolling Stones concerts at age 73.6

As for saving enough money to live comfortably throughout a long retirement, global analysts have noticed an interesting trend in spending among retirees. In wealthier countries, retirees appear to be aware of the potential for outliving their income, with many saving more than necessary.7

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Steve Vernon. CBS News. June 29, 2017. “What age is considered ‘old’ nowadays?” http://www.cbsnews.com/news/what-age-is-considered-old-nowadays/. Accessed July 8, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Time. July 7, 2017. “Secret to 100-Year-Old Woman’s Longevity Likely Wine.” http://time.com/4849191/100-year-old-old-age-secret-wine/. Accessed July 8, 2017.

5 Corey Kilgannon. New York Times. June 29, 2017. “At 102, a ‘Triple-Digit’ Jazzman Plays On.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/29/nyregion/fred-staton-jazz-saxophonist-plays-on.html. Accessed July 8, 2017.

6 The Economist. July 6, 2017. “Getting to grips with longevity.” https://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21724745-ageing-populations-could-be-boon-rather-curse-happen-lot?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/ed/gettingtogripswithlongevity. Accessed July 8, 2017.

7 The Economist. July 6, 2017. “Financing longevity.” https://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21724751-lives-get-longer-financial-models-will-have-change-financing-longevity. Accessed July 8, 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.

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Divorce During Retirement

A funny thing happens when you get busy with trying to achieve all the things you want out of life: You lose a few along the way. Unfortunately, some people lose their marriage.1 However, for those who are truly unhappy and can’t see a way back to blissful partnership, a “gray divorce” isn’t necessarily all negative. Even in retirement, leaving a spouse can open up new avenues to be explored, the chance to pursue activities perhaps not supported before and new opportunities to reinvent yourself.

With that said, you also must deal with a myriad of details when it comes to dividing assets to help ensure each ex-spouse has enough income to live comfortably during retirement. Just as it takes a village to raise children, it can take a team of experienced and qualified professionals to help you do this, from attorneys to financial advisors to tax planners and perhaps even a therapist. The goal is to emerge confident about your financial future, and we’re here to help both spouses on this journey should you need it.

When it comes to Social Security, there are certain rules that apply to benefits for a divorced spouse based on the ex’s earning history. For example, the marriage must have lasted for at least 10 years, the couple must be divorced for at least two years and the claiming ex must be currently unmarried – if the claimer gets remarried, the ex’s spousal benefits will stop. Furthermore, the ex-spouses must both be at least age 62 to begin drawing spousal benefits, and the spouse/divorcee must be full retirement age to be eligible for the full spousal benefit.2

Another important component to address is life insurance. If there are alimony payments involved, life insurance can help cover the loss of that income should the payer die first. Depending on their circumstances, divorcing couples may want to update their named beneficiaries on their respective policies. If a policy has a cash value, that money belongs to the owner. While the policy is active, the owner may forgo the death benefit and instead take the cash value, a process known as cashing out your life insurance policy.3

Research has found that divorce may be a reason why many people are working long past traditional retirement age.4 Because of this, it’s important to set aside animosity and work on an equitable agreement for both spouses’ retirement. Divorcing spouses should be cognizant that if one ends up struggling financially, their adult children may have to pick up the slack.5

 Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1 Linda Melone. Next Avenue. July 11, 2016. “Why Couples Divorce After Decades of Marriage.” http://www.nextavenue.org/slideshow/why-couples-divorce-after-decades-of-marriage/. Accessed June 6, 2017.

2 Social Security Administration. “Retirement Planner: If You Are Divorced.” https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/divspouse.html. Accessed June 6, 2017.

3 Greg DePersio. Investopedia. Nov. 25, 2015. “How Life Insurance Works in a Divorce.” http://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/112515/how-life-insurance-works-divorce.asp. Accessed June 6, 2017.

4 Ben Steverman. Bloomberg. Oct. 17, 2016. “Divorce Is Destroying Retirement.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-17/divorce-is-destroying-retirement. Accessed June 6, 2017.

5 Charlotte Cowles. The Cut. May 12, 2017. “My Mom Is Broke. How Can I Help Her?” https://www.thecut.com/2017/05/my-mom-is-bad-with-money-how-do-i-help-her.html. Accessed June 6, 2017.

Our firm is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any governmental agency and does not provide tax or legal advice.

Life insurance policies are contracts between you and an insurance company. Life 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 and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial advice. All investments are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. 

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.

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