Considerations for Retiring Couples

Retirement is another chapter in your life; one that requires not only planning but day-to-day maintenance once you get there. And if you have a partner in life, it’s important to remember that your retirement, like a tandem bike, is built for two.

Planning for your own retirement is complicated enough, but doing so at the same time as your spouse can be daunting, with additional details to consider.

For starters, you and your spouse may have two completely different sets of needs in retirement.1 One may have health problems requiring expensive medications and frequent visits to the doctor. The other may live 20 years or more after the first spouse dies. Two people. Two different income needs.

When most people plan for retirement, they figure out how much household income they need. Their income sources may include two Social Security checks, a pension or other employer-sponsored plan, and withdrawals from personal savings accounts. But have you thought about how much income would be lost when one spouse passes away?

In some cases, the household income may go down to one Social Security check, less pension income and reduced personal savings once lingering medical bills and funeral expenses have been paid. In this situation, it’s helpful to know that a surviving spouse may be eligible for a lump sum death payment of $255 from Social Security to help pay for funeral or burial costs.2

Married couples frequently enjoy savings from shared costs by living in one house with one set of utility and cable bills. However, when one spouse passes away, those costs usually remain static; it’s not as if they’re reduced by half because only one spouse lives there going forward.

Consider this situation and ask yourself — will the surviving spouse need less money to maintain the household? In many cases, that person will likely need more money to hire someone to do some of the chores previously handled by the deceased spouse. Will the survivor have lower medical bills? Not likely if he or she lives into their 90s or beyond. What about housing? Will there be enough money should the survivor need living assistance or full-time nursing care down the road?

With all these questions to consider, it may be worth exploring various ways to help protect a surviving spouse’s financial situation, such as buying life insurance3 and/or working with a qualified attorney to establish a trust. Please keep us in mind if you and your spouse could use some help planning for retirement income. As an independent financial services firm, we help people create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1 Jeff Brown. U.S. News & World Report. May 17, 2017. “Investing Advice for May-December Marriages.” http://money.usnews.com/investing/articles/2017-05-17/investing-advice-for-may-december-marriages. Accessed May 26, 2017.

2 Wesley E. Wright, Molly Dear Abshire. Laredo Morning Times. May 18, 2017. “Elder law: Social Security – Many fail to apply for death benefit.” http://www.lmtonline.com/news/article/Elder-law-Social-Security-Many-fail-to-apply-11156931.php. Accessed May 26, 2017.

3 Jamie Hopkins. Forbes. April 27, 2017. “Why Life Insurance Is Essential for Retirement Planning.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamiehopkins/2017/04/27/why-life-insurance-is-essential-for-retirement-planning/#4b15989b31cd. Accessed May 26, 2017.

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.

 This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice. We are able to provide you with information but not guidance or advice related to Social Security benefits. Our firm is not affiliated with the Social Security Administration or any governmental agency.

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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What Is Evidence-Based Investing?

The evidence-based approach originated in the medical field to promote the use of clinical experience and the best available research to make decisions about individual patient care.1

In the investing world, this translates to a goal of using current evidence to help maximize an individual’s investment returns while minimizing risk from market downturns.2 In more simplistic terms, evidence-based investing (EBI) means that whatever you decide to do, make sure you have an evidence-based reason for doing it, and always be prepared to amend your plan when the evidence necessitates a change.3

While we’re happy to explain to our clients various investing and wealth management approaches, including EBI, please keep in mind that our advice is tailored to each person’s needs. What works for one client may not work as well for another. We’d love to talk with you about our individual approach to investing – give us a call toll-free at 1-888-272-1099 and we’ll be happy to set up an appointment.

Financial professionals who use evidence-based investing typically take a four-step decision-making process:4

  1. Eliminate meaningless questions.
  2. Ask meaningful questions.
  3. Apply the evidence.
  4. Monitor for effectiveness.

Another significant distinction about EBI is that it is commonly misinterpreted as passive investing. However, EBI is not so much about active versus passive management but rather is about keeping an eye on how much you pay for each investment and determining if what you’ve gotten in return is worth the price.5

Please remember that investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Michael Chamberlain. Investopedia. March. 28, 2017. “Comparing Traditional to Evidence-Based Investing.” http://www.investopedia.com/advisor-network/articles/comparing-traditional-evidencebased-investing/. Accessed May 26, 2017.

2 Michael Finke. ThinkAdvisor. Spring 2017. “The Rise of Evidence-Based Investing.” http://www.researchmagdigital.com/researchmag/april_2017?utm_campaign=Q22017%20Thought%20Leadership&utm_content=52019654&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&pg=14#pg14. Accessed May 26, 2017.

3 Robin Powell. The Evidence-Based Investor. April 25, 2017. “Bob Seawright: Behavioral Finance Is as Much a Part of EBI as Indexing.” http://www.evidenceinvestor.co.uk/bob-seawright-behavioural-finance-much-part-ebi-indexing/?platform=hootsuite. Accessed May 26, 2017.

4 Michael Finke. ThinkAdvisor. Spring 2017. “The Rise of Evidence-Based Investing.” http://www.researchmagdigital.com/researchmag/april_2017?utm_campaign=Q22017%20Thought%20Leadership&utm_content=52019654&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&pg=14#pg14. Accessed May 26, 2017.

5 Corey Hoffstein. Newfound Research. Nov. 18, 2016. “What I Learned at the Evidence-Based Investing Conference.” https://blog.thinknewfound.com/2016/11/4-lessons-ritholtz-wealth-evidence-based-investing-conference/. Accessed May 26, 2017.

 

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.

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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Can Longevity Truly be Predicted?

Every morning, Emma Morano ate a raw egg and biscuits. When she died at age 117 in April of this year, she was the oldest person in the world. She lived in Verbania, a picturesque town situated on Lake Maggiore in northern Italy.1

Violet Brown, who was born in 1900 and lives in Jamaica, now holds the mantle as the world’s most senior senior.2 Like Morano, she resides in one of those beautiful locales that most of us only dream about. Could picturesque surroundings be a factor in longevity?

Surely happiness, time spent with good friends and family and a high quality of life can be factors. But no one really knows how long they’re going to live, which makes it particularly difficult to plan accurately for retirement income.

According to the Society of Actuaries, men who reach age 65 can expect to live to an average age of 86 and women to 88 — but those are just averages.2 In reality, some won’t make it to their predictive age and others will live longer. Which will you be?

As financial advisors, we understand the dilemma of planning for the unknown because it’s what we do every day. If we can help you develop a retirement plan, please contact us for a financial review.  We can help you stay focused on your long-term goals and work with you to design a specific plan using a variety of insurance and investment products that help you work toward your desired financial future.

One tool to estimate your lifespan is the Actuaries Longevity Illustrator. Based on a few simple questions regarding health and demographic characteristics, it offers a series of percentages predicting your chances of living to various ages.3

If that’s too broad in nature, you might enjoy completing a more detailed questionnaire at the Biological-Age calculator. Based on how healthy a lifestyle you lead, this calculator knocks years off your current age for an estimate of how well your body is holding up.4

The Living to 100 Life Expectancy Calculator (livingto100.com), which was developed by Dr. Thomas Perls, of the New England Centenarian Study, asks 40 questions about health and family history to help estimate how long you may live based on researched medical and scientific data.5

If you’re concerned about getting older, here’s a bit of good news: People tend to get happier as they age. In a poll earlier this year, people age 70 and older said their quality of life has improved as they’ve aged.6 This could reflect the sentiment many people feel who either never enjoyed working or are simply happy to stop.

Either way, it’s probably more uplifting to stop thinking about the limitations of getting older, and reflect more on the advantages we can enjoy that were denied us at younger ages.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1 Sean Rossman. USA Today. April 15, 2017. “World’s oldest person, last known to be born in 1800s dies.” https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/04/15/worlds-oldest-person-last-known-born-1800s-dies/100501238/. Accessed April 18, 2017.

2 Mark Miller. The New York Times. Feb. 18, 2017. “How to Make Your Money Last as Long as You Do.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/18/your-money/retiring-longevity-planning-social-security.html?_r=0. Accessed April 18, 2017.

3 Society of Actuaries. 2017. “Actuaries Longevity Illustrator.” http://www.longevityillustrator.org/. Accessed April 18, 2017.

4 Biological Age. 2017. “Find Your Biological Age.” http://www.biological-age.com/#. Accessed April 18, 2017.

5 Dr. Thomas Perls. 2017. “Living to 100 Life Expectancy Calculator.” . Accessed April 18, 2017.

6 Matt Sedensky. The Detroit News. March 22, 2017. “Poll: As people move toward old age, optimism sets in.” http://www.detroitnews.com/story/life/wellness/2017/03/22/poll-old-age-optimism/99485000/. Accessed April 18, 2017.

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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As You Age, Keep Looking Forward

Many people spend a large portion of their lives taking care of people like their spouse, children, siblings and older parents. Here’s a message for those in their later senior years: Don’t stop now.

As we age, our concerns start to change. Some people may become preoccupied with ailments and difficulties in their living situations, and others gradually may stop taking care of themselves or their homes. Some of us start looking back instead of forward. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Certainly, every stage of life has its challenges and issues. From forging a career to buying a home, raising a family and juggling a myriad of financial priorities, each stage seems to bring a new focus to the foreground while others subside. During retirement, many people face health and financial challenges. We work with pre-retirees and retirees to help them develop a retirement income strategy, adjust the strategy if needed, and help address the challenges of making money last and leaving a legacy for family. Please let us know if we can help you with any or all of these stages.

It’s important to get much of your retirement and estate planning completed as early as possible. This planning includes documents like a basic will, durable power of attorney and health care proxy.1 You should work with an attorney to ensure all aspects of an estate plan are covered.

However, other pressing matters can create day-to-day concerns and stress. Dr. Lee Ann Lindquist, chief of geriatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, conducted a study to find out what the biggest concerns are for those age 75 and up. She found they had less to do with completing a will and were more about how seniors would be able to live at home if they developed health issues.2

Dr. Lindquist also discovered that many older adults hadn’t made plans to address such concerns. As a result, she created a website, www.planyourlifespan.com, that helps seniors start talking and thinking about their future by prompting them to address such questions as:

“Who will take care of my dog if I am hospitalized?”

“Who will shovel our sidewalk and driveway when it snows?”

“Who will go to the pharmacy now that I can no longer drive?” 3

It helps to have a strong support system to deal with these types of practicalities. If you don’t live with or near family or friends who have the time to help, perhaps it’s worth considering exploring community resources for transportation, errands, meals and household help, or moving into a senior community.

One of the keys to successful aging is letting other people know what you want or need. While many seniors don’t wish to burden their children, they may be surprised to learn their children want to talk about these issues. Knowing your wishes in advance can reassure them that they are doing the right thing if they need to make decisions for you at some point.4

Another issue older seniors confront is a feeling of no longer being able to contribute to the lives of loved ones or their community. It’s important for seniors of all ages to reflect on their personal strengths and find ways to continue to contribute. For example, retirees who have enjoyed cooking throughout their lives should continue to do so; find friends and neighbors with whom to share meals and baked goods. Moreover, tell children and grandchildren first-person life stories and the lessons learned. It is important not just for seniors but also for societies to benefit from the resilience, wisdom and experience of the elder population.5

Many of the oldest of the elderly may be able to continue their lifelong love of taking care of someone — a pet. Dogs make wonderful companions and encourage exercise with daily walks. Less mobile retirees may benefit from the quirky affection of an independent cat. Pet/retiree relationships are truly symbiotic: Both enjoy immense quality of life in the company of each other.6

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 National Institute on Aging. “Getting Your Affairs in Order.” May 2, 2017. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/getting-your-affairs-order#important-papers. Accessed May 9, 2017.

2 Judith Graham. Kaiser Health News. March 9, 2017. “A Playbook for Managing Problems in the Last Chapter of Your Life.” http://khn.org/news/a-playbook-for-managing-problems-in-the-last-chapter-of-your-life/. Accessed April 18, 2017.

3 Ibid.

4 PlanYourLifespan.org. 2015. “Why Should I Talk With Others?” http://www.planyourlifespan.org/step/talk/why/intro?s=d313940ba9e44ef934baedfcfc163adf. Accessed April 18, 2017.

5 David Boyd Williams. 3BL Media. April 13, 2017. “Quality of Life Is Not One Size Fits All When It Comes to Experienced Adults.” http://3blmedia.com/News/Quality-Life-Not-One-Size-Fits-All-When-it-Comes-Experienced-Adults. Accessed April 18, 2017.

6 Saffron Alexander. The Telegraph. March 2, 2016. “Why Getting a Pet in Retirement Might Just Be the Best Thing You’ll Ever Do.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/goodlife/living/why-getting-a-pet-in-retirement-might-just-be-the-best-thing-you/. Accessed April 18, 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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Russia, Beyond the Headlines

These days, people have all sorts of opinions about Russia. Even beyond politics, images come to mind of fur-lined parkas and frozen tundra – hard and cold weather conditions, despite the fact that parts of it have a humid, subtropical climate.1 Perhaps we should take a moment to see Russia for its more positive attributes: captivating storied traditions, picturesque landscapes, and a rich and influential culture in the arts, including classical music, ballet and literature.2

A few of the hallmarks of transitioning into retirement and aging gracefully are to stay engaged by continuing to learn and explore – perhaps even cultures that are less familiar. With so many Russian-based headlines in the news today, it may be worth taking a deeper look into the history and culture of Russia as well as other countries to see how their philosophy and lifestyles have evolved. Discovering these insights can help us better understand our own outlook when it comes to politics, culture and human nature.

Our biases and our prejudices can be  influential factors in our decisions, including financial ones. And that’s not always a good thing; sometimes it helps to be a bit more objective. That’s where we can help. We can assess our clients’ lifestyle and financial objectives without subjective biases. As an independent financial services firm, we help people create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives.

One good habit to retain throughout a lifetime is reading. Research shows that reading can help keep memory and cognitive skills intact.3 In the case of Russia, consider its magnificent contributions to literature, including “Anna Karenina,” “Crime and Punishment,” “The Brothers Karamazov” and “War and Peace.”4 Yet the country’s tradition of great literature did not end in the 1800s — there are many fine examples to be discovered today.5

Learning a new language also can be an effective way to exercise mental acuity. Learning Russian includes mastering a different alphabet, which can provide increased stimulation for the brain.6

If you like to cook, consider exploring both traditional and contemporary recipes for Russian cuisine, such as pelmini (dumplings), beef stroganoff or gozinakh (walnut honey candy).7

And finally, if all of your explorations into Russian culture motivate you to travel there, consider that the dollar exchange rate against the ruble is quite favorable at the moment, especially compared to cities such as London and Paris.8

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 MasterRussian.com. 2017. “Fast Facts about Russia.” http://masterrussian.com/russia/facts.htm. Accessed April 8, 2017.

2 Frommer’s. “Russia: Arts, Culture & Music.” http://www.frommers.com/destinations/russia/arts-culture–music. Accessed April 14, 2017.

3Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. 2017. “Keep Reading to Keep Alzheimer’s at Bay.” https://www.alzinfo.org/articles/reading-alzheimers-bay/. Accessed April 8, 2017.

4 Frommer’s. “Russia: Arts, Culture & Music.” http://www.frommers.com/destinations/russia/arts-culture–music. Accessed April 14, 2017.

5 Varia Fedko-Blake. The Culture Trip. Jan. 27, 2017. “12 Great and Overlooked Russian Novels from the Last 100 Years.” https://theculturetrip.com/europe/russia/articles/12-contemporary-russian-books-everyone-should-read/. Accessed April 8, 2017.

6 MasterRussian.com. 2017. “The Russian Alphabet.” http://masterrussian.com/russian_alphabet.shtml. Accessed April 14, 2017.

7 RusCuisine.com. 2017. “Cooking Recipes.” http://www.ruscuisine.com/recipes/. Accessed April 8, 2017.

8 Elizabeth Helen Spencer. MoneyUnder30.com. March 9, 2017. “How to Travel to Russia.” https://www.moneyunder30.com/how-to-travel-to-russia. Accessed April 8, 2017.

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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Will Power be Restored to Coal Industry?

In March, President Donald Trump signed executive orders to rescind several regulations that were in place to limit pollution from mining and burning coal.1 The administration’s goal is to revive the coal mining industry, but the downside is coal emissions release more greenhouse gases than natural gas.2

These recent actions serve as a reminder that nearly every sector, no matter how reliable it has been in the past, goes through cycles of uncertainty. The utilities sector, for example, has long been recognized as a steady provider of dividend payments and thus is a popular instrument for retirement income.3

Like any industry, it has its ups and downs, which can affect an investor’s returns and income stream. That’s why we believe it’s generally a good idea to remain diversified, even within a historically reliable sector, to help mitigate risk. As financial professionals, we’re here to help you analyze your personal financial situation and create strategies utilizing a variety of investment and insurance products that can help you work toward your financial goals. Please remember that investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values.

In 2016, natural gas (34 percent) surpassed coal (30 percent) as the country’s No. 1 source of energy for the first time in U.S. history. Nuclear power accounted for a 20 percent share of electricity generation. Renewable power sources, such as wind and solar power, are the fastest-growing power sources today, but they still represent only 8 percent.4

As for the future of coal, the CEO of the country’s third-largest coal mining company believes the industry will see most of its future gains not from policy changes, but from demand by China and South Korea. Last fall, these countries agreed to stop importing coal from North Korea, which was a boon for the U.S. industry.5

The CEO for the U.S.’s largest public utility says his company closed many of its coal plants because it could produce energy at a lower cost with fewer facilities — not because of regulations. He also reiterated the company’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions by 60 percent by 2020. Having been raised near coal plants in Philadelphia, with coal cinders floating frequently through the air, he said he appreciates the great strides that have been made in clean air.6

While clean energy sources have a way to go before they become the more affordable choice, many experts believe that eventually will happen. When it does, it’s unlikely consumers or corporations would choose a more expensive option to fuel their electricity.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1 CNBC. March 28, 2017. “Coal can be more profitable and efficient going forward, expert says.” http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/28/coal-can-be-more-profitable-and-efficient-going-forward-expert-says.html. Accessed April 25, 2017.

2 Ryan Handy. Houston Chronicle. Jan. 16, 2017. “Natural gas surpasses coal as fuel for power production.” http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/article/Natural-gas-surpasses-coal-as-fuel-for-power-10861176.php. Accessed April 25, 2017.

3 Kira Brecht. U.S. News & World Report. Feb. 5, 2016. “Generate Income and Play Defense With Utility Stocks.”   http://money.usnews.com/investing/articles/2016-02-05/generate-income-and-play-defense-with-utility-stocks. Accessed April 25, 2017.

4 Ryan Handy. Houston Chronicle. Jan. 16, 2017. “Natural gas surpasses coal as fuel for power production.” http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/article/Natural-gas-surpasses-coal-as-fuel-for-power-10861176.php. Accessed April 25, 2017.

5 Michael Bastasch. Daily Caller. 2017. “Mining CEO Expects A Record Year For Coal Exports.” http://dailycaller.com/2017/04/14/mining-ceo-expects-a-record-year-for-coal-exports/. Accessed April 25, 2017.

6 Jonathan Matisse. Knoxville News Sentinel. April 19, 2017. “TVA CEO: Coal plants not reopening under Trump.” http://www.knoxnews.com/story/money/business/2017/04/19/tva-ceo-coal-plants-not-reopening-under-trump/100641238/. Accessed April 25, 2017.

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 Psychological Impact of a Divisive Election

Before 2016, the American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual Stress in America surveys showed money, work and the economy were the biggest sources of stress in people’s lives.1 During the 2016 presidential campaign season, however, doctors began reporting patients were increasingly anxious due to issues candidates highlighted in speeches and interviews. 2

 The APA’s most recent survey discovered top stressors now include personal safety and the threat of terrorism. The survey also found more than half of Americans reported the presidential election itself was a significant source of stress.3

This is hardly welcome news, considering all the other things we have to be concerned about in life, such as health care, career and finances — and often, those three are intertwined. Many people choose their jobs based on benefits like health insurance, and salary and personal financial confidence are almost always correlated.

The link between health and finances can be challenging during retirement. If you’re having trouble figuring out how to plan for retirement income, including the possibility of increased health care expenses — just give us a call. Some insurance products, such as life insurance and annuities, provide various options you may want to consider. We would be happy to discuss your options based on your unique situation.

Last year’s election even put pressure on some relationships and marriages, particularly when one spouse supported Donald Trump and the other didn’t.4 These types of rifts also were evident on social media sites, with lifelong buddies “unfriending” each other on Facebook when learning the other’s political viewpoints.5 Interestingly, it turns out that getting annoyed and stressed about political posts on social media is a bipartisan issue, equally shared by both Democrats and Republicans.6

One way to stay up to date on current events without the associated political stress is to spend time with people who are disinterested about who lives in the White House. To help retirees figure out where those types of people reside, Bankrate.com conducted an analysis of the most appealing places to live in the U.S. if you’re tired of hearing about politics. The most politics-free states lie in the Great Plains region, ranging from Kansas (lowest cost of living among choices) to North Dakota (lowest per-capita contributions to political campaigns).7

Bankrate.com’s No. 1 pick for a politics-free retirement was Wyoming. In addition to boasting a high degree of overall well-being, the state carries only three electoral votes in presidential elections. That means residents are spared the usual campaign ad blitz that battleground states face.8

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 American Psychological Association. Feb. 15, 2017. “Stress in America 2017 Snapshot:

Coping with Change.” http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2016/coping-with-change.pdf. Accessed April. 26, 2017.

2 Carey Goldberg. WBUR. Nov. 18, 2016. “Mass. Doctors Are Seeing the Effects of the Election in the Exam Room.” http://www.wbur.org/commonhealth/2016/11/18/mass-doctors-election-effects. Accessed May 17, 2017.

3 American Psychological Association. Feb. 15, 2017. “Stress in America 2017 Snapshot:

Coping with Change.” http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2016/coping-with-change.pdf. Accessed April. 26, 2017.

4 Sridhar Pappu. New York Times. Aug. 13, 2016. “He Likes Trump. She Doesn’t. Can This Marriage Be Saved?” https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/14/fashion/marriage-politics-donald-trump-hillary-clinton.html. Accessed April 26, 2017.

5 Matt Lindner. Chicago Tribune. Nov. 9, 2016. “Block. Mute. Unfriend. Tensions rise on Facebook After Election Results.” http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/ct-facebook-election-reaction-family-1109-20161109-story.html. Accessed April 26, 2017.

6 Maeve Duggan and Aaron Smith. Pew Research Center. Oct. 25, 2016. “The Political Environment on Social Media.” http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/10/25/the-political-environment-on-social-media/. Accessed April 26, 2017.

7 Jill Cornfield. March 20, 2017. “10 Best States to Retire in if You’re Sick of Politics.” http://www.bankrate.com/retirement/10-best-states-to-retire-in-if-youre-sick-of-politics/#slide=1. Accessed April 26, 2017.

8 Ibid.

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

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Simplify Your Life

Life has its highs and lows. Sometimes when we go for a long stretch — everybody in the family is healthy, finances are on track, you’re enjoying yourself — we get that nagging feeling that our good fortune just can’t last. Often, that’s true. There’s inevitably a repair needed on your car, an appliance breaks down or you fall and twist your knee. You deal with it and life just keeps carrying on.

One of the ways to help keep balance in life is through discipline. Establish a fixed fitness routine that you enjoy so that it’s easier to sustain, make plans to visit with friends and family on a regular basis to nurture important relationships and create a retirement income strategy with the goal of providing for you and your family in the future. Just as maintenance is one of the keys to good health, discipline is one of the keys to financial confidence. If you’d like to discuss creating retirement strategies through the use of insurance products that can help you work toward your long-term retirement income goals, please give us a call.

There also are small and easy ways to make our lives simpler. You can find freshly termed “life hacks” while surfing the internet. Some of these ideas are quite ingenious, like the myriad ways to use an office binder clip: cable catcher, razor safety cover, toothpaste tube squeezer, money clip or emergency cuff link. Discover dozens of clever ways to use household objects to make life easier, such as tucking away long electrical cords into empty paper towel rolls, differentiating keys by painting them with colored nail polish and tucking sheet sets into their corresponding pillow cases to keep them together in storage.1

There also are plenty of free online tools designed to help you manage your health, such as an online hearing check.2 There are even ways to help manage arthritis pain without medication, such as using a rubber grip pad to help hold a pen, toothbrush or silverware.3

There will always be good stretches in life and times when it seems like things are going wrong. But one of life’s greatest “hacks” is to find the silver lining in difficult periods. For instance, should you get laid up for a time with nothing to do, look up some of the nifty “life hacks” posted all over the web. You’ll find that a little bit of imagination can go a long way toward maintaining a simpler life.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

 1 CanYouActually.com. 2017. “50 Incredibly Useful Life Hacks You Won’t Believe You Didn’t Know.” http://canyouactually.com/life-hacks/. Accessed March 31, 2017.

2 Action on Hearing Loss. 2017. “Check Your Hearing.” https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/your-hearing/look-after-your-hearing/check-your-hearing/take-the-check.aspx. Accessed March 31, 2017.

3 Harvard Medical School. 2017. “5 ways to manage arthritis and keep it from slowing you down.” http://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/5-ways-to-keep-arthritis-from-slowing-you-down. Accessed March 31, 2017.

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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The Power of Going Green

Here’s a new twist to the renewable energy and save the planet story: The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Benham, Kentucky, has recently switched from coal to solar power to help save on operational costs.1

It just goes to show you that the power struggle over power may be better energized by not making it an “either/or” (traditional vs. renewable sources) conflict. Individuals might consider looking at their financial strategy in much the same way. For example, there are financial vehicles retirees traditionally use for income, such as government bonds, Treasury bills, CDs and money market accounts. But given the potential for higher inflation in the future and today’s longer lifespans, there is a greater call for incorporating growth opportunity in a retiree’s financial strategy.

This poses a challenging situation in that more growth potential generally involves more market risk. However, there are alternative options, such as insurance products, that can capture some of the gains of equity markets while protecting your principal from market losses, and we’d be happy to discuss them with you. Like the energy sources debate, a financial strategy may be best served by incorporating a combination of both traditional and alternative solutions.

While recent news for the coal-mining industry indicates a positive turn2, many experts believe that if the U.S. doesn’t continue to make substantial investments in renewable energy sources, we could fall behind in global competition.3 In fact, the global investment in renewable power in 2015 was more than twice that invested in new coal- and natural-gas-fired power generation. China alone represented 36 percent of that total investment.4

Speaking of global efforts, consider some of the ways other parts of the world are going green. For example, German households don’t just separate trash between garbage and recyclables; the average home has five different bins for dispersing paper, packaging, glass, compost and trash.5

And finally, studies in green trends have revealed positive effects on our health, particularly in the health of women. Research by Harvard Medical School found that women who lived among higher levels of green vegetation had lower rates of mortality. The study found that higher exposure to green landscapes was associated with lower levels of depression and increased levels of social engagement and physical activity.6

These factors may have a significant impact on longer lifespans. But it’s also interesting to note the vegetation correlation — plants have been found to remove pollutants, making them natural air filters.7 This may explain why women in the study who were continuously exposed to green environments were less likely to die of a respiratory disease.8 That’s one green benefit that can help you breathe easier.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Fox News. April 6, 2017. “Kentucky Coal Mining Museum Switches to Solar Power.” http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/04/06/kentucky-coal-mining-museum-switches-to-solar-power.html. Accessed April 8, 2017.

2 John Kemp. Fortune. April 7, 2017. “Look for Coal and Mining Jobs to Come Back This Year” http://fortune.com/2017/04/07/coal-mining-jobs/. Accessed April 8, 2017.

3 Nick Stockton. Wired. March 16, 2017. “Clean Energy Could Spark a Trade War Between the US And China.” https://www.wired.com/2017/03/us-china-clean-energy/. Accessed April 8, 2017.

4 Jeff Nesbit. US News & World Report. March 15, 2017. “Clean Energy Is Seeing Monumental Job Growth.” https://www.usnews.com/news/at-the-edge/articles/2017-03-15/clean-energy-is-seeing-explosive-job-growth-dont-let-budget-kill-it. Accessed April 8, 2017.

5 Perfect Rubber Mulch. 2017. “Recycling Across the Globe.” https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5548ed90e4b0b0a763d0e704/t/58e69d90b8a79bf113147752/1491508625841/TheGlobe_by_GiuMagnani-2.jpg. Accessed April 8, 2017.

6 Elizabeth Pegg Frates, MD. Harvard Medical School. March 9, 2017. “Time Spent in ‘Green’ Places Linked With Longer Life in Women.” http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/time-spent-green-places-linked-longer-life-women-2017030911152?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialmedia&utm_campaign=030917&utm_content=blog. Accessed April 8, 2017.

7 Melanie Pinola. Life Hacker. May 20, 2015. “This Graphic Shows the Best Air-Cleaning Plants, According to NASA.” http://lifehacker.com/this-graphic-shows-the-best-air-cleaning-plants-accord-1705307836. Accessed April 13, 2017.

8 Elizabeth Pegg Frates, MD. Harvard Medical School. March 9, 2017. “Time Spent in ‘Green’ Places Linked With Longer Life in Women.” http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/time-spent-green-places-linked-longer-life-women-2017030911152?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialmedia&utm_campaign=030917&utm_content=blog. Accessed April 8, 2017.

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

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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