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Shutting Down the Forest, But Not the Trees

It is with both wide-eyed interest and pit-of-stomach disgust that Americans have watched the political shenanigans and subsequent impact played out during the U.S. government shut down. 

The whole strategy is reminiscent of watching a person trying to cut corners actually create a lot more work for himself. You see this with toddlers, lazy employees and particularly teenagers. Consider the 14-year old tasked with unloading the dishwasher before he can meet up with his friends. In his haste, he stacks as many dishes as possible in his arms and, en route to the appropriate cabinet, accidentally drops them all. The ensuing crash assures that he will have a far greater and time-consuming mess to clean up, not to mention the backlash from his parents and the cost to restore the kitchenware.

 

Likewise, the congressional effort to negotiate reducing the national budget and deficit by shutting down government agencies appeared to have backfired in many ways. Some public agencies (not to mention private companies) have lost much-needed revenues that help keep government costs down.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Cost of the Shutdown in National Parks: $76 Million a Day,” at the Washington Times, Oct. 11, 2013.]

And then there’s the ambiguity around which services were shut down, which were not…and why?

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Who works and who doesn’t: The law behind the government shutdown,” at NBC Politics, Oct. 10, 2013.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Government shutdown definition of essential vs. nonessential funding,” at ABC15.com, Oct. 11, 2013.]

Furthermore, all government furloughs related to the shutdown have now been recalled. One congressman remarked that since most federal employees would likely be paid for their mandatory time off, not calling them back to work was like giving them an “extended taxpayer-subsidized vacation.”

Calling back furloughed workers and reopening certain agencies tends to cast a shadow on the strategy of threatening to shut down the government in the first place. After all, if the threat is empty, how powerful or effective can it be? Think about that teenager, and the parents who threaten to take away his cell phone — knowing full well they can’t because it’s their only means of keeping tabs on the teenager.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Agencies increasingly calling back furloughed workers,” at the Washington Post, Oct. 10, 2013.]

Finally, it’s worth noting the vast number of funding bills proposed as a stop gap during the government shutdown. In other words, the flurry of “busy work” Congress created for itself instead of working on the longer-term issues. These included the Border Security and Enforcement Continuing Appropriations Resolution, the Federal worker pay fairness bill, the National Nuclear Security Continuing Appropriations Resolution and Military Chaplains Continuing Appropriations Resolution, among many others.

[CLICK HERE to access the latest bills and proposals of the United States Congress, Oct. 11, 2013.]

In some ways it’s just plain human nature to do something detrimental on a short-term basis in an effort to achieve a long-term goal — or out of simple frustration. Often enough, those efforts cause us to “cut off the nose to spite the face.” What we see played out on the national front may well occur in our own households, in the form of spending money frivolously now that we may need in the future. If you’d like help getting more of your current income working harder to achieve longer-term goals, we’re here to help.

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. 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.  

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Washington D.C.: Showdowns, Shutdowns, Lockdowns and Touchdowns

Hollywood has to work pretty hard to steal headlines from the political ballyhoo and drama in the capital city recently.

As for the showdown, the debt ceiling vote was seemingly taken hostage by politicians wanting to make a political statement at the cost of 800,000 government employees placed on furlough. Although the issue at stake is health care, it does not appear to represent the desire of the 22 million Americans expected to seek insurance coverage via the health insurance exchanges.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Furloughed Workers Call on Congress to ‘Get Their Act Together’,” from ABC News, Oct. 2, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Micro-Businesses Find Health-Care Rollout Is Slow,” from The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 2, 2013.]

Unfortunately, the GOP’s longer-term goals could be stymied by its short-term actions. Some political pundits believe that the shuttering of the government could besiege the Republicans on track to win control of the Senate in the 2014 elections and even lose seats in the current GOP foothold on the House. 

Recent polls indicate that there aren’t a large majority of Americans — Republicans, Democrats, or large and small businesses — who support any type of government shutdown. According to a survey that took place the first week of the shutdown, voters disapproved of the job being done by Congress by 72 percent to 22 percent. The poll also found that 64 percent oppose the tea party strategy to block an increase in the nation’s debt ceiling as leverage to defund Obamacare.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Republicans’ 2014 Senate Edge Muddied by Shutdown Message,” on Bloomberg.com, Oct. 2, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the news release, “American Voters Reject GOP Shutdown Strategy 3-1,” from Quinnipiac University, Oct. 1, 2013.]

When you think about it, how many businesses will actually shut down simply because their executives or partners are unable to resolve management issues? So from a businessman’s perspective, perhaps lawmakers aren’t being very fiscally responsible. Yet unlike the impact on a businessman, these politicians’ own incomes and revenues are not directly affected by the shutdown — although re-election consequences may be forthcoming in the future.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Republicans Are No Longer the Party of Business,” from Bloomberg Businessweek, Oct. 3, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Shutdown Has Limited Impact on Employee Benefits — For Now,” from the Society for Human Resource Management, Oct. 3, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How the government shutdown can impact your business,” from the Philadelphia Business Journal, Oct. 1, 2013.]

At the same time that the battle over the Affordable Care Act —  also known as “Obamacare” — is raging, the new health-care exchanges are so popular with Americans shopping for insurance that the online surge has caused glitches, delays and temporary shutdowns of their own.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Obamacare: What Would Success Look Like?” from Bloomberg Businessweek, Oct. 4, 2013.]

Then to cap off the showdown and shutdowns of the first week of October, parts of the capital city and government offices were on lockdown due to a shooting incident and subsequent police chase. This lockdown came just two weeks after another one involving a mass shooting in the D.C. Naval Yard.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Suspect in Capitol Hill Shooting Incident Is Dead; Police to Hold Presser,” at Fox News, October 3, 2013.]

It seems like there was a time when the biggest news coming out of Washington during football season involved Redskin touchdowns. Now we spend more time learning about the play-by-play on Capitol Hill. For the average American, it might be better to keep your eye on the ball on your side of the playing field — and worry less about the day-to-day actions in Washington D.C.

We’re happy to help you stay focused on your own finances and long-term goals. Please give us a call.

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

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

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. 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.   

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Health Care Insurance Shopping Lowdown

The Health Care Insurance Exchanges are now open, and you have between now and March 1, 2014, to purchase a new health care insurance plan during the open enrollment period. Rest assured, if you experience a life-altering event, such as losing your job, moving to another state or having a baby, you will be eligible to purchase a policy beyond the open enrollment dates.

One of the tricky things about trying to establish a uniform set of guidelines regarding health insurance is that everyone’s needs are different. There are so many different storylines — multi-level family configurations, work and income arrangements, and even age and health conditions — that factor in to what type of insurance plan works best for you and how much it may cost. That’s why there are so many articles and frequently asked questions columns out there that currently address these issues.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Answering Consumer Questions About Obamacare Marketplaces,” at Kaiser Health News, Sept. 25, 2013.]

One of the biggest questions is whether your health insurance will cost more or less if you buy it from the exchanges. The answer is as personal as one person never getting sick while another has chronic asthma and another has cancer — no one really knows.

For those of you who are curious about rates, but haven’t quite made it to your available exchange to price policies, you might want to check out Kaiser’s rate calculator. In about 10 seconds with some basic information inputs you can get a ballpark annual rate. It also will tell you whether you may qualify for a rate subsidy, based on your income level.

[CLICK HERE to check out the “Subsidy Calculator” at the Kaiser Family Foundation, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “State Premium Watch: Pricing in the New Insurance Marketplaces,” at Kaiser Health News, Sept. 24, 2013.]

The nice thing about the exchanges is that you can shop anonymously, without having to enter so much information that you’re bombarded with solicitous phone calls and emails. To find out if you qualify for a subsidy you’ll need to submit your annual income, but you still don’t have to give your name or contact information until you’re ready to apply for a policy.

The health care law is actually more confusing for small business owners, many offering health insurance for the first time. When you consider how difficult it is to shop for your own policy, imagine the challenges of shopping for a small staff of people you may have worked with for years and care about deeply, and have to balance that concern and responsibility for their health care with the bottom line of your business profitability. For some small businesses, their profit margin is so small that it could be completely eliminated by the legislative mandate.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “New Law, New Rules, New Taxes” at the National Federation of Independent Business, September/October 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Small Business Owners Facing Tough Decisions in Wake of Health Care Ruling,” at the Huffington Post, June 28, 2013.]

Some people are blessed with good health, and don’t have to use health care services very often. For a person in that situation, it’s annoying to have to pay for insurance at all, and doubly annoying to have to pay so much for it. By the same token, you may never use a homeowner’s or auto or umbrella insurance policy in your lifetime, but you still have to pay for them. Perhaps we don’t pay out as much of our income each year for those policies, but then again perhaps the likelihood of needing them is lower as well.

It is because we — as a collective population — need medical services more often that it is one of the most important coverages you can carry. After all, it’s really more about the cost of the big things — the cancer diagnosis, the triple bypass surgery — that insurance protects you from.

Insurance shopping comes down to balancing the health and well being of you and your loved ones with your own bottom line. The same applies to planning for retirement — it’s important to focus on your biggest priorities, even if that means foregoing luxuries.

If we can help you prioritize how you spend and save your hard-earned income, please give us a call.

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

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

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. 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.

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Retiring to a Place or a State of Mind?

Work in the modern age has become more virtual — meaning many people can conduct their jobs from home or on the road, thanks to smart phones, laptops and iPads. We used to refer to work as a place, as in “I’m going to work.” Now it’s really more of a verb: “I’m going to work.” Here, now, wherever I happen to be.

Can the same be said for retirement? It used to be a phase of life, as in “he’s in retirement” or “she is retired now.” But for many people, retire is now a verb: “I’m going to retire from doing this…so that I can go and do this…” After all, a secondary definition of the word is simply to withdraw to or from a particular place. And many of today’s retirees are doing just that.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The One Thing You Must Do Before Retirement,” at Prevention magazine, September 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “What Do You Actually Do When You Retire?” at Kiplinger, March 16, 2013.]

Planning for retirement isn’t all about income planning — it’s also about social planning, hobby planning and intellectual challenge planning. Because once you retire, you may not know what to do with yourself.

A generation or two ago, retirees had plans. They were going to golf every day, tinker in the garden, woodwork in the garage. But that was back when retirement was little more than 10 years. In today’s world, in which retirement could realistically last 30 years, you could get bored with all of those things. 

Work — the noun and the verb — has become more integrated into our daily lives. Because we’re “on call” via our smartphones all day, every day, what we do for a living has come to define our lives and our lifestyles. It’s why we seek work/life balance benefits in an employer compensation package — so that we can find ways to separate what we do from who we are.

[CLICK HERE to read the research report, “Work Longer, Live Healthier,” at the Institute of Economic Affairs, May 16, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “What Will You Do When You Retire?” at Nolo.com, 2013.]

Because of this work/life integration, many people who retire don’t know what to do with themselves during their golden years. Perhaps they worked so many hours throughout their careers that they never really developed many hobbies they can pursue during retirement. Or because their way of relieving the work/life balance dilemma was to work out or play sports, but the hobbies they enjoyed are no longer suited to an older person’s body and joints.

So what’s the plan? The answer to that is as personal as your financial strategy. It may even be integrated with your financial strategy, as many retirees are moving to exotic locales such as Ecuador or Thailand because it’s an affordable place that provides variety, flavor and challenges to make retirement years interesting and fulfilling.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “7 Reasons to Retire in Thailand,” at US News & World Report, Sept. 12, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Retire Here, Not There: Ecuador,” at Marketwatch.com, May 13, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Retirement Living: Top metro areas for retirees,” at USA Today, Sept. 9, 2013.]

We work with lots of retired folks, and lots of people planning for retirement, so we know the challenges and issues you may face — even the ones you may not have considered. Because your finances are designed to support your retirement — whether you view that as a noun or a verb — we can assist you with developing a retirement income strategy. Please give us a call.

[CLICK HERE to view the slideshow, “10 of the best things to do in retirement,” at Marketwatch.com, April 9, 2013.]

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

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

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. 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.

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Attention: A Reminder Not to Take Candy from Strangers

This sounds like advice for children. We are forever worrying that they will trust the wrong person, fall for an innocent request for information and get involved in a terrible situation. It’s every parent’s nightmare.

These days, it’s every adult child’s nightmare that his or her parents will succumb to some dark and devious plot. Not only are there more retirees than ever, living longer than ever, there are perhaps more scam artists than ever. And because of the amount of information and promotions and discounts available — more than any one person could ever wade through and verify — it can be easy to get fooled into trusting the claims of a voice over the phone.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Personal Finance: Financial scams, new and old, try to trap consumers,” from The Sacramento Bee, Sept. 8, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Rescuing the Elderly from Financial Fraud,” on CNN.com, Sept. 11, 2013.]

With the Affordable Care Act provisions set for deployment in January, there has been an increase in scam phone calls to “help” older people take advantage of the changes in the health-care law. The caller will identify himself as a Medicare representative, and then ask to confirm their personal information and even request bank account informationsaying the program will deposit money in the account to help them pay for health-care expenses.

Also, if you go to shop for new health-care insurance plans online, be aware the federal marketplace website is heathcare.gov, and all other state-sponsored exchanges should also end in “.gov.”

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Be Aware of the Latest Health Law Cons,” from AARP, Sept. 9, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the press release, “Obama administration announces a coordinated effort to protect consumers by preventing and detecting potential fraud in the health insurance marketplace,” from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Sept. 19, 2013.]

If nothing else, remember that no one from the “government” will ever call, text or email you to request your Social Security number or address. If you are approached for this information (as opposed to you initiating the call), you should certainly be aware that this is similar to a child being asked if his mommy or daddy is home. When perpetrators get their hands on this type of information, not only is it a nightmare to fix, but you may find your Social Security checks are rerouted into someone else’s hands. Your retirement incomeand ultimately the lifestyle you enjoycould be seriously derailed.

With the pick-up in the real-estate market over the last year, there’s also been an uptick in contracting scams. According to the North Carolina Department of Justice, the state experienced a 92 percent increase in complaints about construction and home repair work from 2009 to 2012. For example, a red flag that a contractor you’ve employed may not be up to snuff is if he asks for money upfront to pay for materials, as this could indicate he has bad credit.

CLICK HERE to read the article, “Home Improvement Scams to Target the Elderly,” at CaregivingCafe.com, Sept. 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Protect Your Parents from Scams,” from AARP, Aug. 20, 2013.]

An effective way to protect yourself from potential scams is to be proactive. If someone is reaching out to you, via phone, mail or on the web, to tell you about a great offer, feel free to listen but do not act at that time. Instead, verify what you’ve learned from sources you trust. Big-ticket financial matters such as health insurance, roof repair and government benefits are too important to trust to just anyone. Contact the appropriate agency/resource to file a complaint and/ or seek out information regarding your issue.

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

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

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. 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.

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The Fed: Those Crazy Kids

One month they say they’re going to taper the current quantitative easing program…and a couple of months later they change their minds and decide to keep going. In the interim, interest rates on mortgages jumped, which put a slight damper on the housing market, and the markets fluctuated a little as they adjusted and readjusted to the news. 

This is a classic case of the markets reacting to “what we say, not what we do.” These days, anything the Fed says tends to result in knee-jerk responses that, while often short lived, reverberate throughout the economy.

While the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) acknowledged improvement in the labor market, consumer and business spending, as a whole, did not view the data as necessarily sustainable. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “FOMC Meeting Statement,” at The Federal Reserve, Sept. 18, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The Fed’s About Face,” at Guggenheim, Sept. 19, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “What Rising Interest Rates Mean for Home Prices,” at The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 20, 2013.]

While the FOMC may act as one cohesive unit, it is actually comprised of a number of different bank executives with various dispositions and opinions on how to drive monetary policy in this country. In fact, one day after the Fed’s September announcement that it would stay the course, some members voiced their dissention with the latest decision. James Bullard, president of the St. Louis branch, admitted that the vote for the status quo was “borderline” and that he believed a small taper is possible in October.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Fed’s Bullard: Small Taper Possible in October,” at The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 20, 2013.]

As you would expect in a democratic society, the Fed is comprised of widely varying points of view, from those who vociferously oppose to those who aggressively support easy money policy. These viewpoints, along with continued tracking of hard data cited by the leading economic indicators, are how we as a country make decisions that impact our financial future.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Wanted: A Boring Leader for the Fed,” at The New York Times, Aug. 20, 2013.]

Apparently, this same principal of financial management works well in the household. According to a recent study by the University of Missouri, spouses who plan together and share their vision of retirement tend to be more financially stable and have greater confidence during their golden years. Money matters are not the only thing at stake here; the changes in lifestyle and relationship that occur post-retirement can have a profound effect on a couple. It’s important to ask yourself the same questions you might have when you first got married, or when you decided to have children: How will retirement impact your relationship? As one of the study’s authors pointed out, retirement doesn’t always look like it’s portrayed in TV commercials.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Spouses Who Plan Together Are Best Prepared to Retire: Behavioral Study,” at ThinkAdvisor, Sept. 6, 2013.]

Not too unlike those crazy kids at the Fed, it’s important for each member of a couple to honestly voice their opinions about their future and the way it should be managed – both from a lifestyle and a financial perspective. Once you have all of the visions, dreams, and hard data aired and explored, only then can you reach a decision that represents your best interests going forward. 

If we can help you explore and reconcile the differences you and your spouse have regarding your retirement, please contact us.

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

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

This information is not intended to provide any investment advice or provide the basis for any financial decisions. Be sure to speak with qualified professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

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Lightning Strikes Twice

There’s a saying that lightning never strikes twice in the same place. If you’re talking about the atmospheric phenomenon, apparently that’s just a myth. And if you’re talking about the idiom that refers to the same bad things not happening to people twice in one lifetime, apparently that’s not true either.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Can Lightening Strike Twice?” at Tamu Times (Texas A&M University Department of Atmospheric Sciences), July 3, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Inside the life of the man known as the ‘spark ranger’,” at The Washington Post, Aug. 15, 2013.]

Just ask boardwalk vendors on the New Jersey shoreline. A recent boardwalk fire decimated many of the same businesses that were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy last October, which penetrated the same area with devastating floods. Many of the same businesses in Seaside Park and Seaside Heights that had rebuilt and reopened just this past summer were burned to oblivion on Sept. 12.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Water, then fire: 2 NJ shore towns suffer again,” at The Houston Chronicle, Sept. 13, 2013.]

As rare a phenomenon as it may be, one Oklahoma City suburb has been struck by EF4/EF5 tornadoes twice in a 15-year period. Imagine which is worse: Disaster striking again years later, once you’re back in your comfort zone, or less than a year later, when you still have your contractors on speed dial.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Moore in bull’s-eye twice, science may know why,” at CNN.com, May 22, 2013.]

Insurance is a big topic these days, and it’s getting to where we pretty much insure everything. We’ve got auto, homeowners, flood and life insurance. As we get older, more solutions are evolving for longevity and long-term care insurance. Health insurance is being reformed to make it more affordable. And now we have policies for gun and cyber protection insurance. Who knows where it will end?

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Gun Owning Texans Investing in Gun Insurance,” at CBS Dallas/Ft.Worth, Aug. 12, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Insurance against cyber attacks may be coming soon,” at VentureBeat, Aug. 6, 2013.]

The reality is that insurance today is a very important part of our financial lives. It’s there to help ensure that when events occur — whether natural or manmade — we can have confidence in our financial strategy.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Why More Expensive Insurance Can Pay Off,” at NPR.org, Sept. 10, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The New Flood Insurance Disaster,” at The New York Times, Aug. 28, 2013.]

We are happy to help you navigate the quagmire of insurance offerings in today’s market to help determine which types of policies, and the amount of coverage, is appropriate for your situation. Please contact us if you desire assistance developing a financial strategy.

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

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

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. 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.

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Lessons from Syria: The Long and Short of It

One of the dominant headlines in August and September involves the conflict in Syria. The government is suspected of using chemical weapons against its own people in its battle with rebel forces — an atrocity that continues to be addressed by the United Nations and countries worldwide.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Syria: No War, No Victor,” at YouGov.com, Sept. 11, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Do Ordinary Syrians Want the U.S. to Intervene?” at YouGov.com, Sept. 13, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Could Syria strike back if United States, allies, attack?” at CNN.com, Sept. 2, 2013.]

There is typically a line that should not be crossed when it comes to conflict. With personal arguments, there is a fine line between the decibels one can reach before a discussion becomes a shouting match. In the criminal justice system, there are misdemeanors and felonies, and a certain line for which crimes are punishable by death. Those lines often move depending on where the defendant is prosecuted and the variables related to the crime.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Englewood Woman Sentenced to 28 Months in Federal Prison for Failure to Pay Over $4.7 Million in Employment Taxes,” at Justice.gov, Sept. 12, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Yahoo CEO fears defying NSA could mean prison,” at FoxNews.com, Sept. 12, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Richmond man gets 9 years for pulling gun on parking attendant,” at The Richmond Times-Dispatch, Sept. 13, 2013.]

Many of the bad decisions we make can lead to self-destructive behaviors intended to accomplish a short-term goal that, as a result, can wreck a long-term strategy. For example, the way stealing gum or soda from a dime store on a dare can wreck a teenager’s future. Or how taking steroids to enhance performance can derail a professional athlete’s career. Or the way using chemical warfare instead of plain old guns and ammunition in a civil dispute can ignite a global military strike.

But closer to home, reckless spending can wreak havoc on a long-term financial strategy. For example, spending more than you should on an expensive vacation — or taking too many of those expensive vacations during your working years.

Perhaps the lesson we can take from Syria’s actions is that we should temper our penchant for extreme behaviors to accomplish our goals. Just as you wouldn’t risk your annual income at Atlantic City for the chance to fund your retirement, you shouldn’t indulge in extravagant spending on a regular basis.

There’s always room for exceptions. Occasionally, you go all out for a special vacation — just not every year. Perhaps you raise your voice during an argument once in a blue moon, but choose your battles carefully for greater impact. We could all use a reminder that by focusing on long-term goals, we can avoid sabotaging our efforts for a short-term fix. Let’s hope that’s a lesson that Syria learns.

Please give us a call to see if our services can help you plan for your long-term financial future.

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

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.

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. 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. 

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Family Matters

With the recent ruling of the Defense of Marriage Act and subsequent IRS guidance on tax filings, today’s definition of “family” has changed substantially.

But honestly, the government and corporations are just beginning to catch up with today’s household. For millions of Americans, the typical family of a wife and a husband with 2.5 kids and a dog changed decades ago. Many adults today never even knew what that was like.

Today we have what has become known as the “blended family.” Some configurations may include young adults well into their twenties living at home with their baby boomer parents.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Here’s Exactly How Many College Graduates Live Back at Home,” at The Atlantic, Feb. 26, 2013.]

For years, we’ve heard about empty nesters who’ve had their divorced adult children (with grandchildren) move back into the family home. Now perhaps the opposite is true, as one in every four divorces is among couples age 50 or older — dubbed the “gray divorce.”

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How parents can adjust to an empty nest, avoid ‘gray divorce,’” at Minnesota Public Radio, Aug. 27, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the report, “The Gray Divorce Revolution,” at the National Center for Family and Marriage Research, March 2013.]

Some household units span multiple generations, especially now that more seniors are living well into their 80s and 90s. It’s not unusual to see a household with an elderly senior, baby boomer with teenager and an adult child of the baby boomer with an infant and/or grade school-aged child. You have to wonder how all these generations can agree on what to watch on television.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “3 Generations Under One Roof,” at AARP, April, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the report, “Multigenerational Households,” at the U.S. Census Bureau, Aug. 2013.]

Then there’s the blended family created by second and third marriages, wherein different configurations of children, stepchildren and half-siblings live together, at least part of the time, in one household. Additionally, with the increasing acceptance of same-sex marriages, some may assume that adoptions will become more commonplace.

All of these combinations lend a whole new meaning to the word “dependent,” especially where taxes, insurance and estate planning are concerned. It will be interesting to see how well employers adapt their benefit programs to incorporate these new family issues.

For example, trying to figure out how to cover everyone in the household with health care insurance — one of the new mandates of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — may be tricky. In a blended household in which some of the children live full time while others live part time, some may be covered by the household parent’s health insurance policies while others are covered by the ex-spouses’ — per the divorce agreements. However, say an ex’s policy doesn’t cover much-needed dental or vision insurance — can you cherry pick who gets what under your employer’s policy?

Or say you’re about to get remarried, and both of you have children of your own. If you and your spouse already have separate wills or trusts, those will need to be revised to reflect your new life circumstances so that all of your children — and any new ones resulting from the union — are protected now and in the future.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Complex Personal Issues Cloud Insurance Decisions,” at WebMD.com, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Blended Family Friday,” at Huffington Post, Sept. 6, 2013.]

If you are wondering what insurance products can help meet the interests of all of the members of your family, we’d like to help.

By contacting us, you may be offered insurance products that are available for purchase.

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

This material is not intended to provide tax or legal advice. Consult with a tax advisor or attorney before making a decision about your individual situation.

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Entrepreneurs: From Whence They Come

The atrocities in Syria have been dominating news stories as of late. It seems, sometimes, that never again will we have quiet on the Western front — a period of peace to allow our broken economy to heal properly.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “9 questions about Syria that you were too embarrassed to ask,” at The Washington Post, August 29, 2012.]

Perhaps it’s appropriate to observe some of the more positive outcomes of our nation’s strong human capital resources. For example, when our soldiers returned home from World War II in 1945, the so-called “Silent Generation” quietly set about rebuilding their lives, contributing to the economy and creating the largest baby boom in history. Their efforts played a tremendous part in the boom of the post-war economy, and the private sector grew organically.

[CLICK HERE to read the report, “Economic Recovery: Lessons from the Post-World War II Period,” at Mercatus.org, Sept. 10, 2012.]

One of the things we’ve learned about vets is that they make great workers. And why wouldn’t they? There’s a spirit about entrepreneurship that is inherently…American. Perhaps that’s why so often veterans excel at business — they’re loyal to the principals of democratic capitalism, and understand the value of discipline and hard work.

CLICK HERE to read the article, “Veterans on the front lines of small business,” at CNNmoney.com, Aug. 30, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Why do military veterans make such great entrepreneurs?” at Inc.com, May 13, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the report, “Helping Veterans Pursue Entrepreneurial Dreams,” at Forbes.com, July 1, 2012.]

It’s interesting that people who become accustomed to taking orders also become accustomed to giving them. Perhaps that comes from being just a little bit behind the curve — oppressed, if you will. We often hear stories of women who emerge from nothing, with everything against them, who succeed in small business.

Perhaps it’s out of necessity — the “failure is not an option” dictum that single parents face. Perhaps it’s sheer determination to succeed when others say it’s impossible. In fact, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest percentage of women in the world who start businesses — because they need income as opposed to trying to tap a market opportunity.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Minority Women Entrepreneurs: Go Getters Without Resources,” at Forbes.com, Aug. 28, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2012 Women’s Report at Babson College, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Success is Even Sweeter When You’ve Been Down and Out,” at Inc.com, Sept., 2013.]

Whatever incites that level of determination and perseverance — it’s American alright. Say what you will about this being a nation of brash, arrogant cowboys. Yes we are. We’ve earned that reputation through grit and sweat and soiled hands — both literally and metaphorically.

Much like the veterans who lifted this country out of the Depression Era, we will persevere. Despite terrorist attacks, unscrupulous money managers, and corrupt politicians — we will press on, just as our forefathers did and as we serve as a role model for future generations.

Whether you’re interested in starting a new career because you’ve separated from the military, or because you want to try something new in retirement or because you just plain hate your job, entrepreneurship is the backbone of the American economy. Bring it on.

We’re here to help you provide assistance with developing a retirement income strategy — now and in the future. Bring us in.

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.

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. 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.

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