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DIY: When It Works and When It Doesn’t

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Census Bureau, do-it-yourself (DIY) work accounts for 37 percent of all home remodeling projects in the U.S. Unfortunately, the flip side is that about 30 percent of work performed by the professional remodeling industry represents fixing DIY attempts.

We are often tempted to do something ourselves to save money or simply for the satisfaction, but how do you know when it’s OK to do the work and when you should call in a pro? As many DIY-ers have learned, even the easy-looking jobs can turn into a nightmare if you lack the proper skills and knowledge. Apart from having experience in that line of work, consider if your goal is to save money. If so, calculate not just the cost of materials but how long it would realistically take to complete a project — and the toll that may take on your personal life. Sometimes it may be cheaper — both financially and for the sake of family harmony — to hire a professional. Remember that professionals generally already own the tools they’ll need for the job and can purchase materials at wholesale prices.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "House Calls: DIY project drawbacks," at the Leader-Telegram, Sept. 6, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Know your limit, DIY within it" at the Toronto Sun, Sept. 11, 2014.]

Fixing problems in your house is one thing, but what about treating problems with your health? The Internet has become the go-to problem-solving source for everything from broken dishwashers to diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome. According to a recent study, the average American adult spends about 52 hours looking up medical issues each year — a phenomenon called “cyberchondria.”

A future trend in health care that is already in development is the use of an affordable, handheld device that consumers can use to self-diagnose their medical conditions. For those of you familiar with the Star Trek series, this is the same type of data recording and analysis technology Dr. McCoy used to scan patients to determine what ailed them. So, yes, the DIY “tricorder” may be in our near future.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Stop Googling yourself sick," at metro.us, Aug. 11, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "The race to create a real-life tricorder," at CNN, Sept. 7, 2014.]

This focus on health is apparently well-founded. According to a new Merrill Lynch study, health is the “cornerstone of a happy retirement” as well as retirees’ greatest financial worry. In the section titled, “Planning for Health Care Expenses: Not a Do-It-Yourself Project,” the survey reports that less than one out of six pre-retirees (15 percent) have ever attempted to estimate how much money they might need for health care and long-term care in retirement.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Merrill Lynch Study Finds Health is the Cornerstone of a Happy Retirement, and Greatest Financial Worry," at Yahoo Finance, Sept. 12, 2014.]

Some DIY projects cannot be fixed by a professional after the damage is done. One example is DIY wills and estate planning. One woman in Florida, who thought she had dotted all her i’s and crossed all her t’s using online forms, didn’t live to see her estate plans knocked askew by probate court.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Case Illustrates Dangers of Executing a Will without Legal Assistance," at Martindale-Hubbell, May 9, 2014.]

In life, sometimes the more we learn, the more we understand how little we really know. DIY projects are probably some of the best training ground for truly understanding that insight. We hope you will turn to us for help when developing a strategy for your own financial future. After all, that’s what we do for a living.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies utilizing insurance products. Our firm is not permitted to offer, and no statement contained herein, shall constitute legal advice. Be sure to speak with qualified professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation. Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental agency.

This content is provided for informational purposes only, it is provided by third parties and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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What Jobs Mean to Us — and the U.S.

Who looks for a job in August? Who’s around to interview candidates anyway? August is a popular month for end-of-summer vacations before the school year starts. This trend showed up in the latest jobs report, which revealed a slump of only 142,000 jobs added after six straight months of payroll gains exceeding 200,000. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Miss in Job Growth a Usual August Aberration, Economists Say," from Bloomberg, Sept. 5, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "How to Read the Jobs Report Like a Pro," from CNN Money, accessed Sept. 5, 2014.]

However, there are some interesting recent trends where the job market is concerned. For one thing, a new survey discovered that freelancers (53 million strong) make up 34 percent of the U.S. workforce. That’s not a trend that is expected to slow down, even as the job market grows stronger. Another study predicts that these “contingent workers” will exceed 40 percent of the workforce by 2020.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "5 Big Trends Shaking Up the Job Market," from CNN Money, Sept. 5, 2014.]

Workers under 35 are more likely to freelance, and no wonder, since today’s young adults have been among those hardest hit by the slow-moving job market. A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reveals that while the unemployment rate for recent college graduates is at 5 percent — below that of the overall population — nearly half of those college grads are “underemployed.” But the news isn’t all bad. The report found that many of them are working career-oriented jobs such as dental hygienist, electrician and mechanic. Furthermore, 40 percent of recent college graduates working in non-college jobs are earning a full-time average salary of $45,000 or more a year.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "New York Fed Says Nearly Half of College Grads are Underemployed," from MarketWatch, Sept. 5, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Are the Job Prospects of Recent College Graduates Improving?" from Liberty Street Economics, Sept. 4, 2014.]

Another demographic that has had an impact on the job market is recent retirees. Nearly 50 percent report that they left the workforce earlier than planned for negative reasons, such as a health problem or disability. Regardless, another survey found that 90 percent of recently retired households say they are very or somewhat satisfied with retirement. But even among relatively wealthy retirees, Social Security represents the largest single source of their retirement income, averaging 43 percent of the total.

What are some of the lessons recent retirees have learned about Social Security? Twenty-seven percent say their benefits are less than expected, and 23 percent of those who started drawing Social Security early wish they could change the age they started.

[CLICK HERE to access the 2013 RCS fact sheet #2, "Changing Expectations about Retirement," from EBRI, March 19, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Surprise: Retirement is Better than Expected," from Fox Business, Aug. 25, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to access the survey, "What They're Saying about Social Security," from Nationwide Financial, June 2014.]

When you add it all up to the big picture, the United States has improved its competitiveness on the global landscape in recent years. This year it took the No. 3 spot behind Switzerland and Singapore, according to recent rankings by the World Economic Forum. That’s up from last year, when the U.S. ranked fifth. The forum said U.S. companies benefit from an excellent university system that works well with the private sector in research and development.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "U.S. Economy is No. 3 in Competitiveness," from CNN Money, Sept. 4, 2014.]

Wherever you land in the employment spectrum, contact us to discuss how we can help you evaluate your retirement assets as well as your retirement income needs and help you create a strategy for an independent retirement you can feel confident about.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies utilizing insurance products. Our firm is not affiliated with the US government or any governmental agency.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included.

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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Sporting Confidence through Ups and Downs

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

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Rafael Nadal Injury News: Rafa to Miss 2014 US Open; When Will Tennis Legend Return To Court?" from International Business Times, Aug. 21, 2014.]

The recent roller-coaster ride of young golf pro Rory McIlroy’s summer success demonstrates how quickly the tide can turn. After three straight wins this summer, including the British Open and the PGA Championship, he shot a 3-over par 74 during first-round play of his next tournament — and had to worry about even making the weekend cut.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Rory McIlroy Stumbles to Worst Start in Two Months with 3-ver 74 in The Barclays," from New York Daily News, Aug. 22, 2014.]

Two of America’s veteran athletes recently experienced back-to-back highs and lows as well. Soccer pro Landon Donovan was cut from the U.S. men’s national team and unable to play in this year’s World Cup. But just weeks after the tournament, he announced his retirement in style after scoring the winning goal in the MLS All-Star Game against Bayern Munich — which included some of the German players from this year’s winner of the World Cup.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Landon Donovan Lifts MLS All-Stars Over Bayern Munich," from USA Today, Aug. 7, 2014.]

Another veteran, Olympic swimmer and gold-medal record holder Michael Phelps, has stepped back into the water at the international competition level. Phelps retired after the 2012 Summer Olympics, but just four months after returning to training, he helped his teammates win gold in the 4×200-meter relay at the Pan Pacific championships. He came just short of reaching the medal podium in his 100-meter freestyle final, but Phelps said he came out of retirement because he believes he can swim faster than ever before.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Phelps Wins Gold, Ledecky Breaks 400 World Record," from AP News, Aug. 23, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Swimming: Phelps can swim faster after comeback, coach says," from Ahram Online, Aug. 20, 2014.]

What exactly are the qualities these athletes share that empowers them to rebound to such success after disappointment? Perhaps it’s confidence: Knowing that you have performed well in the past gives you the strength — and the hope — to believe that you can achieve those heights again.

Perhaps it’s preparation: Working hard to make sure you have the ability to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. Perhaps they surround themselves with competent professionals they trust to share their vision and support their goals. We believe all of these characteristics also can help people secure their financial future, and we’re here to help you prepare with confidence by sharing our experience and knowledge. Please give us a call.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies utilizing insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only. 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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Transitioning to Retirement

Change is never easy, at least for most people. And the people who do adjust to change well are often serial planners, knowing how to prepare well in advance.

But when it comes to retirement, even when you know decades ahead of time that it’s going to eventually happen, you may still have trouble adjusting to change. This can be particularly true if retirement happens earlier than you expected. In fact, 49 percent of Americans retire unexpectedly because of health problems, disability, spousal-care demands and downsizing. For many, this unexpected change in employment can cause a financial hardship.

[CLICK HERE to download the report, "EBRI's 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey: Confidence Rebounds -- for Those with Retirement Plans," EBRI Issue Brief #397 at Employee Benefit Research Institute, March 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "8 Job Killing Companies," at CNNMoney, Aug. 15, 2014.]

Another way you can adjust to retirement is by conducting your own internal downsizing — of your home. A former telecommunications mogul out of Atlanta decided to save money on an agent commission by selling his multimillion, 50-acre estate as “For Sale by Owner.” It took a lot of time and money to pursue this strategy, but he seemed happy with the outcome.

In this robust seller’s market of low inventory, more homeowners are trying to sell houses on their own. If you find yourself suddenly retired with nothing but time on your hands, this is a strategy that may be worth considering.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "A Multimillion-Dollar Estate, for Sale by Owner," at The New York Times, Aug. 15, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "More Home Sellers Choosing 'For Sale by Owner' Route," at Prairie Business Journal, Aug. 5, 2014.]

Of course if you don’t want to sell the family home, you could always rent it. The real estate market as it stands now offers some pretty interesting benefits to retirees who own a second home. Rental property can offer a relatively stable stream of income for retirees looking to supplement their finances before applying for Social Security benefits.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Retire as a Landlord," at AliciaGaratoni.com, July 7, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "More Homeowners Becoming Landlords," at CNNMoney, June 17, 2014.]

What about dealing with the issue of how to spend all that free time in retirement? There’s a new breed of “retirement coaches” that specialize in nonfinancial issues of life after traditional work, ranging from helping retirees get involved in volunteer activities to living a healthier lifestyle. Just be sure not to trust your finances to anyone who is not properly licensed and credentialed to give you guidance on the subject for which you are considering hiring them.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Now we Need a Coach for Retirement, too?" at Marketwatch, Aug. 7, 2014.]

That’s where we come in. If we can help address your needs as you transition to a retirement lifestyle, please give us a call.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies utilizing insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Lessons of a Millennial Nation

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

Similar to previous young adult generations, millennials are idealists. Consider that:

  • The millennial generation is skeptical of political and religious institutions
  • Sixty-four percent of millennials said they would rather make $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they think is boring
  • Record numbers of new college graduates are applying for jobs in the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps or Teach for America
  • Millennials have indicated a stronger likelihood to buy from companies that support solutions to specific social issues
  • This generation has raised health-consciousness to a new level, with 12 percent professing to be “faithful vegetarians”
  • According to Pew Research, millennials are the nation’s “most dogged optimists”
[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Generation Nice," from The New York Times, Aug. 15, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Of Americans, 45% Say They're Spending More Than Year Ago," from Gallup, Aug. 15, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "The Recession Generation: How Millennials are Changing Money Management Forever," from Forbes, Aug. 18, 2014.]

The world millennials must navigate today is a bit different than that of previous generations during their young adult years. Whereas in the past, national stories came and went via brief coverage on nightly news and daily newspapers, this generation has been exposed to public atrocities both domestic and abroad through 24-hour news cycles — including terrorist attacks; ongoing and unresolved wars; the Great Recession; floods, earthquakes, tornados and tsunamis; mass shootings at Columbine and the University of Virginia — and the list goes on and on.

In addition, “new-age” pitfalls accompany today’s fast-paced technology advancements, such as security breaches of personal, financial and medical data.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Hospital Network Hacked, 4.5 Million Records Stolen," from CNNMoney, Aug. 18, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "What Hackers Know About You," from CNNMoney, accessed Aug. 18, 2014.]

There is much to be admired about our new crop of young adults. It is a generation that came of age during the recession, absorbing the ensuing lessons that — if we’re lucky — will last their lifetime. They embody a boundless spirit of possibility, yet do so having already suffered hardships of overwhelming student debt and high levels of unemployment. As parents and grandparents, we can give ourselves a pat on the back for raising an enlightened generation with an enduring spirit — and learn from them as well.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "The Four Leadership Lessons Millennials Really Need," from Forbes, Aug. 14, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Work + Home + Community + Self," from Harvard Business Review, September 2014.]

Remember that as our lives lead us down different paths, we develop skills and knowledge based upon individual experience. Yet in other areas, we must depend on the knowledge of others. When it comes to securing your financial future, please know that you can rely on us for guidance. Contact us whenever you have questions or concerns.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Problems, Solutions… And More Problems

Retail Health Care
Retail health care is on the rise. If you’re not familiar with this term, it may be coming to a Wal-Mart near you. In fact, Wal-Mart shoppers in Florence and Sumter, South Carolina, can now get a checkup at an in-store health clinic after they check out with a cashier.

Does Wal-Mart care about the health of its customers and employees? Sure. But at the forefront of this business plan is an effort to grasp some of the billions of health care dollars spent by its massive constituency every year. Wal-Mart’s plan is to increase store traffic as a result of customers who come in to fill prescriptions and get a flu diagnosis, then decide to shop for a few household items while they’re there.

What does the Wal-Mart approach mean for the health care industry as a whole? Perhaps the same as what it meant for the grocery, hardware and electronics sectors: more competitive pricing. But with low prices comes an intrinsic stratification of quality — is Wal-Mart the appropriate medical facility for mainstream America to have its most prevalent chronic diseases managed?

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "In Ambitious Bid, Walmart Seeks Foothold in Primary Care Services," from The New York Times, Aug. 7, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Beyond the Clinics: What the Retail Movement Really Means," from The Advisory Board Company, July 29, 2014.]

Corporate Inversion
Twelve U.S. companies have reincorporated in low-tax countries since 2012, with eight more on deck to do so in the coming year. Why? Because the U.S. corporate income tax rate, currently at 35 percent, is the highest in the developed world, and we’re one of only a few countries that levies taxes on profits generated by a U.S. subsidiary in a foreign country.

We could lower taxes, but the federal government is in a bit of a budget deficit bind these days, and tax reform is one of those issues that’s “too big to debate” during an election year. For now, the debate ensues as to whether American companies or the American government should be at a tax disadvantage.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Tax Inversion: How U.S. Companies Buy Tax Breaks" from Bloomberg, July 18, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Inverting the Debate Over Corporate Inversions," from The New York Times, Aug. 6, 2014.]

Robot Workers
Apparently, we are now faced with a conflict over whether technology-based robots will threaten employment levels. This brings to mind past debates as to whether reproductive cloning would be used to engineer a new race of people with superior traits. Alas, for every solution, there is a problem.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Experts Have no Idea if Robots Will Steal Your Job," from The Harvard Business Review, Aug. 8, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Is Your Job at Risk From Robot Labor? Check This Handy Interactive," from Quartz, April 29, 2014.]

For every step forward, there are often tradeoffs and drawbacks. For example, should you spend money to retrofit your home with environmentally friendly features in order to save on utility bills in the future? And if you do, will your future repair and replacement bills be higher? Each financial decision we make behooves us to consider the return on investment both in individual households and throughout our national economy.

For every concern, perhaps there is a solution; but often our solutions create other concerns. When it comes to your financial confidence, these are the debates we can help you with through information and industry insights. Turn to us to help you find the solutions that can work to elevate the confidence you have in your individual situation.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies utilizing insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Cautious Optimism

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

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Guarding Against Complacency," from Guggenheim Partners, July 9, 2014.]

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the impact of the last recession still reverberates among many demographics. In fact, poverty rose by two percentage points in rich countries between 2007 and 2011. Worldwide, young adults suffered the biggest income losses during the recession. Interestingly, this age group currently is at the greatest risk of income poverty, whereas just 25 years ago it was the over-65 age group that faced the greatest risk. Now the 65-plus demographic is in the most positive financial shape.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "The Measure of Poverty," from the OECD, June 30, 2014.]

The government has taken steps to protect both businesses and consumers against the severity of a future financial crisis. In the wake of the recession, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010, which mandated stronger regulation of Wall Street finance and private equity firms.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "On its Fourth Anniversary, Has Dodd-Frank Begun to Bite?" from The Center for Economic and Policy Research, July 17, 2014.]

Fidelity discusses a “protected accumulation strategy” to help guard against today’s potential market volatility. This tactic locks in a portion of your future income and protects it from market drops.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Safeguard Your Retirement Income," from Fidelity, July 10, 2014.]

New research reveals that money can only enhance your life to a certain degree. How you feel about your life and accomplishments can improve with higher income and education levels, but the study concluded that, on average, there is a certain level of annual income at which needs are met and Americans are not likely to be any happier as a result of higher earnings. This salary range varies by state based on the cost of living: In Hawaii it is $122,175 per year; $65,850 in Mississippi.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Here Is the Income Level at Which Money Won't Make You Any Happier in Each State," from The Huffington Post, July 17, 2014.]

We’d like to emphasize this notion of “cautious optimism” when it comes to your financial picture. Economic prospects may be improving at the national level, but each household’s circumstances are different at the personal level. If we can help you assess your situation to guard against complacency, please contact us.

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

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies that include the use of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the 
basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in 
this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Equal, Yet Separate

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

The paper reports that the economic divide between high-skill workers and those without a college education increased by 67 percent from 1980 to 2000. As a result, American cities that feature higher paying jobs also have higher housing expenses — and a better quality of life. The study suggests that cities with a higher cost of living offer residents who can afford to live there more amenities for quality living, such as entertainment, educational opportunities, better air quality and lower crime rates.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Rebecca Diamond: What is Happening to America's Cities?" at Stanford Business, July 8, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Has Income Inequality Lessened Under Obama?" at msnbc.com, July 24, 2014.]

While the 14th Amendment of the Constitution guarantees protection under the law to all citizens, for more than 50 years a doctrine citing “separate but equal” policy allowed the government to permit services, facilities, public accommodations, housing, medical care, education, employment and transportation to be separated along racial lines as long as the quality of each group’s public facilities was equal. That doctrine was overturned by a series of Supreme Court decisions starting in 1954.

[CLICK HERE to read an explanation of "Separate but Equal," at Boundless.com, accessed Aug. 15, 2014.]

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, whose ruling supposedly ended the “separate but equal” system of societal segregation. Debates still continue as to whether desegregation truly exists in all areas of the country, but that issue could merge with the recent attention to today’s updated form of income inequality, economic mobility and even geographic segregation.

Research from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) further concludes that, while inequality may be ethically undesirable, it may also cause low and unsustainable economic growth.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "K-12 Education: Still Separate, Still Unequal," at Education Week, May 13, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the report, "Redistribution, Inequality, and Growth," at IMF, Feb. 2014.]

A recent article in TIME magazine reported one top economic advisor’s solution to “fix” income inequality as it relates to saving for retirement. Former White House economic adviser for the Clinton and Obama administrations, Gene Sperling, proposed reducing the 401(k) tax advantages that offer a greater benefit to high income earners while creating a government-funded universal 401(k) plan that would benefit lower-income workers by incorporating low fees, safety, a generous match and automatic enrollment.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "How to Fix the 401(k) and Income Inequality in One Fell Swoop," at Time, July 23, 2014.]

As we make decisions regarding our retirement income strategy, it’s important to consider ways we can help forge a better path not just for ourselves but for our children, grandchildren and our legacy. Financial issues such as student loan debt, scarcity of jobs and lack of opportunities all have an impact on long-term success.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Inequality's Not All Equal," at U.S. News and World Report, July 24, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Why Voters Aren't Angrier About Economic Inequality," at The New York Times, July 24, 2014.]

If we can help you establish a retirement income plan that can help you feel more confident about your future, please give us a call.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies utilizing insurance products.

Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. Government or any governmental agency.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Failure to Launch … a Materialistic Generation

Young adults have had a relatively tough time over the past four or five years. Entry-level jobs have been scant for the onslaught of recent college graduates, many of whom have taken menial jobs to make ends meet until a “real job” comes their way.

According to Pew Research, in 2012 only one-third of engineering majors got work as engineers, and only 26 percent of physical sciences majors worked in any science, technology, engineering or math occupation.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Chart of the week: Where engineering and English majors end up working," from Pew Research, July 11, 2014.]

The scarcity of jobs has forced many young people to live at home, either while in college or after graduation. Approximately 56 percent of young adults ages 18 to 24 lived in their parents’ home in 2012, while 16 percent of those ages 25 to 31 did so as well.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "A Rising Share of Young Adults Live in Their Parents' Home," from Pew Research, Aug. 1, 2013.]

However, a little bit of adversity doesn’t usually hurt. In addition to building character, it can also create a heightened sense of accomplishment and appreciation when your proverbial ship does come in. According to Scott Hammond, a clinical professor of management at the Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University and author of “Lessons of the Lost: Finding Hope and Resilience in Work, Life, and the Wilderness,” when bad things happen, one of the most important things you can do is cultivate hope for something better to come.

While working at something other than their dream jobs, the millennial generation appears to be doing just that. A new study from Transamerica Insurance reveals that millennials are actually beginning to save for retirement earlier than their baby boomer parents. While most baby boomers started saving for retirement at around age 35, 70 percent of people in their 20s and 30s have already started saving. Unfortunately, the rest of them appear to be at the opposite end of the financial spectrum, living paycheck to paycheck (if they’re lucky) and otherwise drowning in student loans and consumer debt.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "How Resilient People Stand Back up When Life Knocks Them Down," from Fast Company, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Study: Millennials Saving Better than Baby Boomers," from NBC San Diego, July 8, 2014.]

In this post-recession world of tentative jobs, tight credit and oppressive student loan debt, young adults may be more risk averse and rightfully skeptical of the value of status and wealth. Perhaps this new generation now better appreciates the things handed to them by their parents just a decade ago — like cars, laptops and cellphones. As each new generation becomes parents, it passes on values both learned and experienced. So in the future, their children and grandchildren may return to the values of saving for what they want instead of relying on credit. Perhaps.

In the meantime, we’re here to help you and the young adults among your family and friends work toward developing sound financial habits for the future. If we can offer guidance, please give us a call.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "He's the Top U.S. Mortgage Salesman. His Daughter Isn't Buying It," from Bloomberg, July 1, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Dispersing Millennials," from New Geography, July 9, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Commentary: Millennials Think Government Is Inefficient, Abuses Its Power, and Supports Cronyism," from Public CEO, July 11, 2014.]

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies that include the use of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the 
basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about their personal situations.

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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More or Less

Sometimes it feels like there’s just more to do these days. Our houses are bigger and our toys more sophisticated, so there’s more to maintain. On the other hand, we can buy prepackaged salads and don’t have to shell peas anymore. Our cars don’t need oil changes nearly as often, and our ovens self-clean. But between checking emails, returning calls, running errands, carpooling children and being on-call for work and family issues 24/7, it’s important to take time out to simply do less.

In fact, according to a recent research paper, making time to do absolutely nothing can help foster our imagination and improve mental health.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "The Importance of Doing Nothing," at Forbes, July 1, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the white paper, "Doing Nothing and Nothing to Do: The Hidden Value of Empty Time and Boredom," at INSEAD, 2014.]

While this summer might be the perfect season for us as individuals to do nothing, corporations, U.S. government agencies and other nations at large have been busy doing some very positive things.

For example, businesses and governments went on a hiring spree in June, which yielded a drop in the unemployment rate to 6.1 percent. The good news is that the rate hike is due to people finding jobs, not simply giving up hope of finding one and dropping out of the job market as they have in the past.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Solid U.S. Job Gains Pointing to a Stronger Recovery," at The Associated Press, July 3, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Five Takeaways from the June Employment Report," at The Wall Street Journal, July 3, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the press release, "Employment Situation Summary," at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 3, 2014.]

Also recently, the U.S. Department of Treasury issued final rules allowing longevity annuities to become more available to 401(k) and IRA markets. This salary deferral option allows participants to shelter a portion of their retirement plan savings to be distributed at a later age (typically 80 or 85), skirting the required minimum distribution at age 70½.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Treasury green lights annuities in 401(k)s" at Producers Web, July 2, 2014.]

But if you are exclusively focused on the positive news in the U.S., you could miss out on opportunities elsewhere. A recent report cites Argentina, Denmark and India as the top three best performing markets in the world, with the U.S. coming in at number 32.

[CLICK HERE to see the interactive chart, "Best performing global markets" at CNNMoney, June 27, 2014.]

We work very hard to earn our money, but many times we set up financial strategies and never look back. It’s important to remember, however, that there are times when it’s good to do nothing, and there are times when it may be beneficial to react to the constant changes in our world. If you would like a mid-year review to discuss your current retirement strategy, please give us a call.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies that include the use of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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