Strategies for Optimal Social Security Payouts

Social Security benefits are typically synonymous with retirement income. It would be inefficient to create a retirement plan without first estimating how much you will receive from the government.1 According to a 2018 report, Social Security benefits represent approximately:2

  • 33% of elderly income
  • 50% or more of income for about half of elderly married couples
  • At least 50% of income for 71% of elderly singles
  • At least 90% of income for 23% of married couples and 43% of singles

In a recent survey, more than half of pre-retirees said they expect Social Security to be their primary source of retirement income.3 With so many people relying on Social Security payouts, it makes sense to explore strategies to receive the largest possible distribution. In some cases, this could mean tapping into your personal investment portfolio to delay drawing Social Security.

If you’d like to discuss various insurance and investment strategies to help supplement part-time income or bridge the gap between retirement and Social Security, please come talk to us.

The earlier you start drawing benefits, the lower the payout will be — and your payout level is locked in for life (with the exception of periodic cost of living adjustments). Unfortunately, the most common age that people start taking benefits is the first year they are eligible. If possible, it often makes sense to wait longer so that benefits can accrue.4

If you can wait until age 70, benefits will earn an additional 8 percent a year past full retirement age for a maximum boost of up to 32 percent. Delayed retirement credits are technically accrued on a monthly basis, so even if you don’t wait until age 70, every month you delay past full retirement age will increase your payout.5

Delayed retirement credits also apply toward surviving spouse benefits. In other words, should you pass away before drawing benefits, your spouse will receive the amount you qualified for as of the month of your death.6

Social Security benefit strategies are complex, but considering the importance this income is to most retiree households, it’s a good idea to learn as much as possible to help optimize benefits for your particular situation. This Social Security quiz is a good place to start.7

Content provided by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Social Security Administration. 2018. “Retirement Estimator.” https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/estimator.html Accessed May 1, 2018.

2 Social Security Administration. 2018. “Fact Sheet.” https://www.ssa.gov/news/press/factsheets/basicfact-alt.pdf.

Accessed May 1, 2018.

Mary Beth Franklin. Investment News. April 25, 2018. “Future retirees expect Social Security to be main source of income.” http://www.investmentnews.com/article/20180425/BLOG05/180429953/future-retirees-expect-social-security-to-be-main-source-of-income. Accessed May 1, 2018.

Ray Martin. CBS News. April 30, 2018. “How to claim your Social Security benefits wisely.” https://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-to-claim-your-social-security-benefits-wisely/. Accessed May 1, 2018.

5 Rachel L. Sheedy. Kiplinger. February 2017. “Why Your First Social Security Check May Be Smaller Than Expected.” https://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T051-C000-S004-when-delayed-social-security-credits-get-delayed.html. May 1, 2018.

6 Laurence Kotlikoff. Forbes. April 27, 2018. “Ask Larry: ​​​​​​What If Either Of Us Dies Before 70?”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kotlikoff/2018/04/27/ask-larry-%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8Bwhat-either-of-us-dies-before-70/#6f18b1ea4081. Accessed May 1, 2018.

Mary Kane. Kiplinger. April 18, 2018. “Do You Really Understand Social Security?” https://www.kiplinger.com/quiz/retirement/T051-S009-do-you-really-understand-social-security/index.html.

Accessed May 1, 2018.

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 U.S. government or any governmental agency.

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.

Music Plays Instrumental Role in Healing Ailments

Hearing a familiar song from a happy period in your life, such as childhood, can instantly make you feel joyful. It’s as if you’re right back there — toe tapping, head bopping and singing along. Just as with our sight, smell and taste senses, positive auditory memories can enhance mood and transport us back to a happier time.

The power of music has led researchers to study various applications of music therapy to help people overcome the pain of health conditions, emotional challenges and even the cognitive decline that often accompanies old age.1

It’s not enough to believe we will all grow old gracefully. This usually doesn’t happen without planning. A big part of planning for retirement isn’t just how to provide enough income for the rest of our life, but how to help ensure we still enjoy a high quality of life no matter our age.

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; just give us a call. As for creating a plan to help enhance quality of life, consider some of these music therapy applications.

Music therapy is now a board-certified health profession. With approximately 7,500 practitioners throughout the country, the practice has become prevalent in nursing homes and hospices. The American Music Therapy Association reports about 10 percent of musical therapists work with terminally ill patients in a new discipline called end-of-life music therapy.2

 A growing body of research indicates music therapy can help improve cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.3 It also can be used to aid in stress and pain management, memory enhancement, communication and physical rehabilitation.4

Further, the discipline has been found to help people with psychiatric problems, such as depression, trauma and schizophrenia. Music can help calm patients as well as help them process emotions, trauma and grief.5

Interestingly, the military has used forms of music therapy since the post-World War I era. Trained musical therapists use it as a tool to help wounded, injured or ill soldiers express their thoughts nonverbally. Research also shows music can be effective at increasing neuroplasticity in the brain, which is an important role in helping veterans address symptoms of PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.6

 Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Sharon Otterman. The New York Times. Jan. 15, 2018. “Music Therapy Offers an End-of-Life Grace Note.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/15/nyregion/music-therapy-nursing-home-hospice.html. Accessed April 13, 2018.

2 Ibid.

3 Sherry Christiansen. Alzheimer’s Universe. July 24, 2017. “Quick Alzheimer’s Prevention Pearl: Studies Show Music Improves Cognition in People with Alzheimer’s Disease.” https://www.alzu.org/blog/2017/07/24/how-music-helps-with-alzheimers-prevention/. Accessed April 18, 2018.

4 American Music Therapy Association. 2018. “What is Music Therapy?” https://www.musictherapy.org. Accessed April 13, 2018.

5 Molly Warren. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Dec. 19, 2016. “The Impact of Music Therapy on Mental Health.” https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/December-2016/The-Impact-of-Music-Therapy-on-Mental-Health. Accessed April 18, 2018.

6 Frank Otto. Drexel University News Blog. March 20, 2018. “3 Things to Keep in Mind About Music Therapy in the Military.” https://newsblog.drexel.edu/2018/03/20/3-things-to-keep-in-mind-about-music-therapy-in-the-military/. Accessed April 13, 2018.

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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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.

Personal Productivity

Do you ever feel as if you don’t get enough done in a day? Many of us tend to do what we absolutely must, tackling easy tasks instead of launching into bigger projects or the pursuit of longer-term goals. In other words, we cook, clean, answer emails and catch up with the day’s news – but do we ever start that novel or the side business we’ve been considering?

One of the causes of poor productivity may be lack of a plan. Ben Franklin planned out everything he would do each day at what time, tracked in half-hour time blocks.1 In fact, studies have shown that writing a plan is an effective way of improving productivity. Further, writing out a plan by hand – as opposed to typing it on a computer or smartphone calendar – is even more effective. Apparently, it makes us feel more connected to the material because we use the frontal lobe of the brain for both writing and planning, as well as problem solving.2

According to a recent article in Inc. magazine, a few simple habits can help make us more productive. They include setting basic building blocks toward a goal, creating benchmarks for incremental success and using only essential tools – don’t spend a lot of time and money unnecessarily.3

Some of these tips are also worthwhile practices for retirement saving and budgeting. After all, it’s a good idea to have a strategy for retirement income – a written one is best. Focusing on small, regular savings can help you meet incremental goals, and making commonsense decisions about what you do and don’t need to spend money on in retirement can help reduce the amount of income you’ll need. If you’d like some more ideas on ways to help make your retirement savings more productive through the use of insurance products, please give us a call.

Sometimes all we need to make ourselves more productive is to take a break from the action. However, it’s best not to take a long one – just enough to distract your brain so it returns to the task re-energized. In that break, you could stand and stretch, complete a quick chore – like paying a bill online – or respond to a text or email.4 Other productivity boosters include taking a 20-minute power nap and spending some time outdoors – preferably in the sunshine.5

Bear in mind that productivity isn’t about how many hours there are in a day, but how well you use them. A new study out of the United Kingdom said the average worker would be more productive if he or she were expected to work only three hours a day. That’s because the average office worker is generally engaged in actual work for only that long – the rest of the day is spent checking social media, visiting news websites, chatting with coworkers, etc. If we weren’t expected to be at our job for a full eight hours – if we could leave as soon as we got “X” amount of work done – it’s easy to imagine that people would become a lot more productive in less time.6

If you’re retired, consider translating this idea into your usual day. Imagine that long-term task you want to accomplish is your job, and you have to be “at work” for a full hour each day. The rest of the day is all yours for everything else. Would you be more productive in that one hour?

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Amy Carleton. TheCut.com. Oct. 11, 2017. “The Centuries-Old Strategy That Turbocharged My Productivity.” https://www.thecut.com/2017/10/the-centuries-old-strategy-that-turbocharged-my-productivity.html?utm_campaign=sou&utm_source=tw&utm_medium=s1. Accessed Oct. 24, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Julian Hayes II. Inc.com. Oct. 25, 2017. “These 5 Overlooked Habits Will Instantly Make You More Creative and Productive.” https://www.inc.com/julian-hayes-ii/5-simple-habits-that-will-immediately-boost-your-productivity.html. Accessed Oct. 25, 2017.

4 Richard Moy. Inc.com. Oct. 20, 2017. “A 5-Minute Routine to Jolt Your Productivity.” https://www.inc.com/the-muse/how-to-boost-energy-at-work-5-minute-routine.html. Accessed Oct. 25, 2017.

5 Stephanie Vozza. Fast Company. Oct. 12, 2015. “15 Habits That Will Totally Transform Your Productivity.” https://www.fastcompany.com/3051540/15-habits-that-will-totally-transform-your-productivit. Accessed Oct. 24, 2017.

6 Arielle Tschinkel. Hellogiggles.com. Sept. 28, 2017. “A new study shows that a 3-hour work day may be better for productivity.” https://hellogiggles.com/lifestyle/money-career/3-hour-work-day-productivity/. Accessed Oct. 24, 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.

Anticipated Changes in Workplace Demographics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

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

2 Ibid.

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

4 Ibid.

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

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

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

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.

How Losing Sleep Could Translate to a Loss of Money

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

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

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

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

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

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

7 Ibid.

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

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

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

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

Why It’s Important to Care for the Caregivers

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

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

  • 98% provide emotional support
  • 92% provide household support
  • 79% provide care coordination
  • 64% provide physical care

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

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

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

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

6 Ibid.

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

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

9 Ibid.

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

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

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

Innovating to Solve Problems

The 2017 hurricane season was one of the most active of the new century, and scientists are predicting hurricanes will likely get more intense in the decades to come.1 But these predictions for worsening conditions in the future may pave the way for stronger innovation.

For example, the governor of Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria in September, suggested the island rebuild its power resources into a microgrid. This strategy means that power outages caused by storms would be more localized so a huge area isn’t impacted when one system goes down. It also would accurately pinpoint which grids need repair and better assign resources so that power can be restored more quickly.2

The microgrids could be powered by alternate and renewable resources such as wind and solar energy, which would be better for the environment and less expensive for residents. This type of innovation could avoid the need to completely rebuild infrastructure the next time a major hurricane hits the region.3

There are two issues when considering the catastrophic nature of a disaster like a hurricane. The first is societal – how do we restore power and other infrastructure after a crisis? The second is personal – how do we recover when our homes are damaged or demolished? While we seek and embrace innovations that can lessen the damage caused and hasten our recovery, the current solution is to insure against losses that can devastate us financially.

Other issues that are cropping up in today’s society are spurring innovation. For example, researchers say the U.S. workforce participation rate is declining. In fact, a recent analysis found that one-third of prime-age men not in the labor force have a disability. Rising incarceration rates have impeded the workforce even after release, due to criminal records.3

Furthermore, increasing numbers of baby boomers are retiring each day, and younger generations might not have, at this point, the skills and experience to take their place.4 With so many critical issues converging, who will work America’s jobs?

Enter robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Today’s technology not only has robots and computers performing a wide range of routine physical work activities better and more cheaply than humans, but they are increasingly capable of providing cognitive insights that were once considered too difficult to automate. This includes sensing emotion, driving vehicles and even making decisions.5 Scientists project that automation is poised to change the daily work responsibilities for a spectrum of jobs, including miners, landscapers, commercial bankers, fashion designers, welders and even CEOs.6

It’s worth considering both the pros and cons of automated labor. While this type of innovation may create a less expensive workforce for American companies, it also reduces the overall tax base. Which leads us to the question: Will the remaining human workers have to pay higher taxes to cover government programs and expenses, or will companies need to pay taxes on robot workers?7

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Michael Greshko. National Geographic. Sept. 22, 2017. “Why This Hurricane Season Has Been So Catastrophic.” https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/09/hurricane-irma-harvey-season-climate-change-weather/. Accessed Nov. 9, 2017.

2 Brad Jones. World Economic Forum. Oct. 6, 2017. “Puerto Rico is using an unusual method to restore power after the hurricane.” https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/10/puerto-rico-is-using-an-unusual-method-to-restore-power-after-the-hurricane. Accessed Nov. 9, 2017.

3 Eleanor Krause and Isabel V. Sawhill. The Brookings Institution. Feb. 3, 2017. “What we know – and don’t know – about the declining labor force participation rate.” https://www.brookings.edu/blog/social-mobility-memos/2017/02/03/what-we-know-and-dont-know-about-the-declining-labor-force-participation-rate/. Accessed Nov. 9, 2017.

4 Dona DeZube. Monster.com. “Bye Bye Boomers: Who Will Fill your Workforce Gap?” https://hiring.monster.com/hr/hr-best-practices/recruiting-hiring-advice/strategic-workforce-planning/baby-boomer-workforce-gap.aspx. Accessed Nov. 9, 2017.

5 James Manyika, Michael Chui, Mehdi Miremadi, Jacques Bughin, Katy George, Paul Willmott and Martin Dewhurst. McKinsey Global Institute. January 2017. “Harnessing automation for a future that works.” https://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/digital-disruption/harnessing-automation-for-a-future-that-works. Accessed Nov. 9, 2017.

6 Ibid.

7 Kari Paul. MarketWatch. Sept. 28, 2017. “Why robots should pay taxes.” https://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-robots-should-pay-taxes-2017-09-12. Accessed Nov. 9, 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.

Best Places to Live in Retirement

Many retirees believe the best place to live in retirement is right in their own home. Let’s explore some of the “best places” where that home might be located and what it might look like.

It’s worth noting that the retirement experience varies widely. Some people have the money to relocate or buy a second home. Some people have plenty of retirement funds but choose to remain where they are. Come talk to us if you’d like help in creating a retirement income plan to assist you with figuring out what you may be able to afford.

According to a study by U.S. News & World Report on the top states for people 65 and older, Colorado is the best place in America to spend your retirement years. The study evaluated which states are most effective at helping retirees meet their health care, financial and community involvement needs.1

If you have a specific retirement haven in mind, be sure to do some research about it. For health care services, for example, U.S. News publishes a guide to the best hospitals with a searchable database. To learn about a locale’s cost of living, consider the Council for Community and Economic Research’s Cost of Living Index. To get a feel for an area’s year-round climate, check out the interactive climate data tools at the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information.2

Relocating after retirement can be difficult for some people, especially those with close friends and family ties to an area. If this is a concern for you, consider a short-distance move. Perhaps move to a nearby town that has less hustle and bustle, and more outdoor and cultural activities. If your motivation is to downsize, you may even be able to do that in your own community. In this case, you can get rid of the big house and accompanying maintenance chores and expenses, but stay close to family and friends.

Consider where you might be able to access personal help as you age, and the best way to procure that help. For example, you could relocate to a neighborhood near a nursing or medical school, and hire a student to help you if needed. If you have an extra bedroom, consider offering free or low-cost accommodations in exchange for personal aid. Even when we don’t need help with health care needs, as we age it never hurts to have someone we know and trust around to help maintain the house and lawn, drive or run errands, or just check in for conversation.

Think long term – not what your health is like right now, but what it could be like 20 years from now. In other words, having stairs may increase your chances of a fall. They also will be difficult to use if mobility is an issue. For some, the solution may be to buy a single-story home with the idea of avoiding those potential problems.

Another option to consider may be to sell your home and rent a smaller home. This could allow a retiree to pocket equity from the home sale and keep expenses low enough for current income sources. Renting also may eliminate the risk of a large maintenance cost or unanticipated repair.3

These are all long-term considerations people should think about with regard to the “best place to live in retirement.”

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 U.S. News & World Report. “Best States: Aging in America Ranking.” https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/rankings/aging. Accessed Nov. 21, 2017.

2 Melissa Phipps. The Balance. Sept. 4, 2017. “Find out Where You Should Retire.” https://www.thebalance.com/where-should-i-retire-2894254. Accessed Oct. 31, 2017.

3 Eric Petroff. Investopedia. March 17, 2017. “Retirement Living: Renting Vs. Home Ownership.” https://www.investopedia.com/articles/retirement/07/buy-rent.asp. Accessed Nov. 29, 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.