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The Psychological Impact of a Divisive Election

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 American Psychological Association. Feb. 15, 2017. “Stress in America 2017 Snapshot:
Coping with Change.” http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2016/coping-with-change.pdf. Accessed April. 26, 2017.
2 Carey Goldberg. WBUR. Nov. 18, 2016. “Mass. Doctors Are Seeing the Effects of the Election in the Exam Room.” http://www.wbur.org/commonhealth/2016/11/18/mass-doctors-election-effects. Accessed May 17, 2017.
3 American Psychological Association. Feb. 15, 2017. “Stress in America 2017 Snapshot:
Coping with Change.” http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2016/coping-with-change.pdf. Accessed April. 26, 2017.
4 Sridhar Pappu. New York Times. Aug. 13, 2016. “He Likes Trump. She Doesn’t. Can This Marriage Be Saved?” https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/14/fashion/marriage-politics-donald-trump-hillary-clinton.html. Accessed April 26, 2017.
5 Matt Lindner. Chicago Tribune. Nov. 9, 2016. “Block. Mute. Unfriend. Tensions rise on Facebook After Election Results.” http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/ct-facebook-election-reaction-family-1109-20161109-story.html. Accessed April 26, 2017.
6 Maeve Duggan and Aaron Smith. Pew Research Center. Oct. 25, 2016. “The Political Environment on Social Media.” http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/10/25/the-political-environment-on-social-media/. Accessed April 26, 2017.
7 Jill Cornfield. March 20, 2017. “10 Best States to Retire in if You’re Sick of Politics.” http://www.bankrate.com/retirement/10-best-states-to-retire-in-if-youre-sick-of-politics/#slide=1. Accessed April 26, 2017.
8 Ibid.

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


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

 

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As You Age, Keep Looking Forward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 National Institute on Aging. “Getting Your Affairs in Order.” May 2, 2017. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/getting-your-affairs-order#important-papers. Accessed May 9, 2017.
2 Judith Graham. Kaiser Health News. March 9, 2017. “A Playbook for Managing Problems in the Last Chapter of Your Life.” http://khn.org/news/a-playbook-for-managing-problems-in-the-last-chapter-of-your-life/. Accessed April 18, 2017.
3 Ibid.
4 PlanYourLifespan.org. 2015. “Why Should I Talk With Others?” http://www.planyourlifespan.org/step/talk/why/intro?s=d313940ba9e44ef934baedfcfc163adf. Accessed April 18, 2017.
5 David Boyd Williams. 3BL Media. April 13, 2017. “Quality of Life Is Not One Size Fits All When It Comes to Experienced Adults.” http://3blmedia.com/News/Quality-Life-Not-One-Size-Fits-All-When-it-Comes-Experienced-Adults. Accessed April 18, 2017.
6 Saffron Alexander. The Telegraph. March 2, 2016. “Why Getting a Pet in Retirement Might Just Be the Best Thing You’ll Ever Do.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/goodlife/living/why-getting-a-pet-in-retirement-might-just-be-the-best-thing-you/. Accessed April 18, 2017.

 

 

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

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

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Russia, Beyond the Headlines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 MasterRussian.com. 2017. “Fast Facts about Russia.” http://masterrussian.com/russia/facts.htm. Accessed April 8, 2017.
2 Frommer’s. “Russia: Arts, Culture & Music.” http://www.frommers.com/destinations/russia/arts-culture–music. Accessed April 14, 2017.
3Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. 2017. “Keep Reading to Keep Alzheimer’s at Bay.” https://www.alzinfo.org/articles/reading-alzheimers-bay/. Accessed April 8, 2017.
4 Frommer’s. “Russia: Arts, Culture & Music.” http://www.frommers.com/destinations/russia/arts-culture–music. Accessed April 14, 2017.
5 Varia Fedko-Blake. The Culture Trip. Jan. 27, 2017. “12 Great and Overlooked Russian Novels from the Last 100 Years.” https://theculturetrip.com/europe/russia/articles/12-contemporary-russian-books-everyone-should-read/. Accessed April 8, 2017.
6 MasterRussian.com. 2017. “The Russian Alphabet.” http://masterrussian.com/russian_alphabet.shtml. Accessed April 14, 2017.
7 RusCuisine.com. 2017. “Cooking Recipes.” http://www.ruscuisine.com/recipes/. Accessed April 8, 2017.
8 Elizabeth Helen Spencer. MoneyUnder30.com. March 9, 2017. “How to Travel to Russia.” https://www.moneyunder30.com/how-to-travel-to-russia. Accessed April 8, 2017.

 

 

 

This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

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

 

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Simplify Your Life

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

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

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

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

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

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1 CanYouActually.com. 2017. “50 Incredibly Useful Life Hacks You Won’t Believe You Didn’t Know.” http://canyouactually.com/life-hacks/. Accessed March 31, 2017.
2 Action on Hearing Loss. 2017. “Check Your Hearing.” https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/your-hearing/look-after-your-hearing/check-your-hearing/take-the-check.aspx. Accessed March 31, 2017.
3 Harvard Medical School. 2017. “5 ways to manage arthritis and keep it from slowing you down.” http://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/5-ways-to-keep-arthritis-from-slowing-you-down. Accessed March 31, 2017.

This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

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

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Will Bank Changes Lead to Withdrawal From Human Interaction?

The investment banking struggles that contributed to the 2008 recession prompted stronger regulations for the finance industry. Unfortunately, some of the rules created to keep the larger banks in check also impacted smaller community banks, which have suffered as a result.1

However, the Trump administration’s goal to cut regulations by 70 percent to 80 percent in various industries could have an impact on banks of all sizes.2 This is just one more anticipated change for a banking industry that was already poised for substantial shifts.

Some experts project bank tellers may soon be replaced by more cost-efficient artificial intelligence,3 and e-banking is expected to displace as many as one-third of brick-and-mortar branches in the next decade.4

While technology, and possibly even artificial intelligence, certainly has its place in the financial world, it’s unlikely to entirely replace the necessity for human assessment, guidance and recommendations. One reason is that it’s important to trust the person who is helping you work toward your retirement income goals. As financial professionals, that’s something we strive to provide for our clients. Please feel free to contact us to discuss how we can help you create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit your needs and objectives.

Of course, it’s still important to embrace technology, with the hope that companies go about it the right way. Another concern as technology becomes more prevalent is the battle over private data. In recent years, many apps and websites have encouraged consumers to input financial data regarding bank and credit card accounts to help manage their money.

Banks have started pushing back to restrict sharing of this kind of data with technology companies, but with the growing political trend toward deregulation, the sale and purchase of personal financial data may soon become more common.5

It’s important to be aware of financial regulations and how they can help protect consumers. If you have questions about your rights concerning bank accounts, credit cards or mortgages, you can check out the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s fact sheet for answers to frequently asked questions.6

 

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

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

 

1Joyce M. Rosenberg. The Morning Call. Feb. 8, 2017. “Community Banks Hopeful as Lawmakers Target Financial Rules.” http://www.mcall.com/business/finance/mc-community-banks-hopeful-as-lawmakers-target-financial-rules-20170208-story.html. Accessed April 28, 2017.

2 Moira Vetter. Forbes. Jan. 31, 2017. “Saving Community Banks and Their Borrowers by Gutting Regulation.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/moiravetter/2017/01/31/saving-community-banks-and-their-borrowers-by-gutting-regulation/#60f6848672fe. Accessed March 28, 2017.

3 Luke Graham. CNBC. March 17, 2016. “Man vs Machine: A.I. Could Put You out of a Job.” http://www.cnbc.com/2016/03/17/man-vs-machine-ai-could-put-you-out-of-a-job.html. Accessed April 18, 2017.

4 MarketWatch. March 28, 2017. “Why the Bank of the Future Will Look Like an Apple Store.” http://www.marketwatch.com/video/sectorwatch/why-the-bank-of-the-future-will-look-like-an-apple-store/109B928E-1BA3-4DFB-8ABD-D0E43FB95B72.html. Accessed April 28, 2017.

5 Nathaniel Popper. The New York Times. March 23, 2017. “Banks and Tech Firms Battle Over Something Akin to Gold: Your Data.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/23/business/dealbook/banks-and-tech-firms-battle-over-something-akin-to-gold-your-data.html. Accessed March 28, 2017.

6 FDIC. Winter 2017. “From the FDIC Inbox: Our Answers to Common Financial Questions.” https://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnwin17/commonquestions.html. Accessed March 28, 2017.

 

This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

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

 

 

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How Government Regulations May Impact the “Average Joe”

We tend to take government regulations for granted. They can be annoying, like having to sign the HIPAA privacy notice before a doctor’s visit, or time consuming, like the yearly requirement of filing a tax return.

But as the new presidential administration begins rolling back financial regulations, some people may wonder how they might be affected. In fact, there’s a near-even split among Americans who think we don’t have enough regulation of the financial industry (49 percent), and those who think we have too much (42 percent).1

Opponents say regulation hampers economic growth. Others disagree, saying that some regulations have proved effective at enhancing economic growth at the household level. Take, for example, the 2012 rules requiring 401(k) plan sponsors to disclose certain expenses related to administration and management of plans so participants understand how the fees impact their account value.2 Although the rules did not mandate how much plan sponsors could charge, 401(k) fees have declined in nearly all market segments.3 

Let’s take a look at another controversial regulation: The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009. The law was designed to eliminate hidden fees that came from such practices as increasing interest rates on existing balances or applying payments to balances with the lowest interest rate.4 Four years later, researchers at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business found that the credit card act was directly responsible for saving credit card holders about $20.8 billion a year.5 

Unfortunately, there is little the average citizen can do to change the tide of government agendas, whether that means more regulation or less. That’s one good reason to diversify your assets, particularly those earmarked for retirement. If all your assets come from one basket that is then affected by some new form of regulation, you could feel the impact in your retirement income. If you’re interested in learning whether insurance products may fit into your retirement income strategy, please let us know. 

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1 Samantha Smith. Pew Research Center. March 2, 2017. “Public Remains Divided Over Role of Government in Financial Regulation.” http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/03/02/public-remains-divided-over-role-of-government-in-financial-regulation/. Accessed March 14, 2017.

2 U.S. Department of Labor. February 2012. “Final Rule to Improve Transparency of Fees and Expenses to Workers in 401(k)-Type Retirement Plans.” https://www.dol.gov/sites/default/files/ebsa/about-ebsa/our-activities/resource-center/fact-sheets/fsparticipantfeerule.pdf. Accessed March 14, 2017.

3 401kHelpCenter. March 7, 2017. “Lower Investment Fees Help Push 401k Fees Down Last Year.” http://www.401khelpcenter.com/401k_press/pr_401kaverages_030717.html#.WMhQRPkrKM-. Accessed March 14, 2017.

4 Gerri Detweiler. Credit.com. Feb. 24, 2017. “How the Credit CARD Act of 2009 Affects You.” https://www.credit.com/credit-law/credit-card-act-of-2009/. Accessed March 14, 2017.

5 Floyd Norris. The New York Times. Nov. 7, 2013. “Card Act Cleared up Credit Cards’ Hidden Costs.” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/08/business/economy/a-credit-card-rule-that-worked-for-consumers.html. Accessed March 14, 2017.

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

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

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Will We Ever Close the Gender Gap?

Every year, the World Economic Forum updates its Global Gender Gap Report, which measures gender disparity across 144 countries and tracks this progress over time. The report pays special attention to the gaps between women and men with regard to health, education, economy and politics.1

Although the corporate “glass ceiling” has been broken by a growing number of women, the 2016 gender gap report shows that progress is slowing down for working women both in North America and Europe, while the Middle East and North Africa regions showed the most improvement.2 The report projects that:

  •         Western Europe will close the economic gender gap in 47 years
  •          Latin American and the Caribbean are on tap to close the gap in 61 years
  •          South Asia may not reach parity for another 1,000 years
  •          North America has been moving backward since 20063
  •          At the current pace, it will take