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For the Health of Marriage

Turns out marriage can do more for your heart than fill it with love. A recent study found that, among other health benefits, married people have a higher probability of surviving a stroke.1

They are also more likely to survive major surgery, have fewer heart attacks, be less likely to have advanced cancer when diagnosed and more likely to survive it longer, have a lower chance of becoming depressed and, generally, live longer than those who remain single. Scientists have put forth various reasons for these health benefits, ranging from stronger immune systems to taking fewer risks to living a healthier lifestyle.2

Financial health can also be impacted by the dynamics within a marriage. If a husband doesn’t pay the household bills, he may not appreciate how much it costs every time he leaves the hose running after he washes the car. A wife, on the other hand, may not know where the couple’s financial accounts are held or who to consult for emergency cash should her husband become incapacitated.

That’s why we believe it’s best for both spouses to be a part of the conversation when meeting with a financial advisor. It’s important to build a relationship of trust, and that can be difficult to do if one spouse is left out of meetings and annual reviews.

While marriage is often about sharing, it may also be a good idea for each spouse to establish his and her own credit history, even if they share a credit card account, as it is likely one spouse will pass before the other.3

In this situation, the deceased spouse should be removed from any jointly owned credit cards. This is one reason it can be a good idea to have individual credit histories, so the surviving spouse isn’t impacted by the loss of the deceased spouse’s credit history. An additional advantage is that a surviving spouse generally is not liable for the outstanding debt of a deceased spouse’s solo accounts.4

In the case of second and third marriages, establishing a financial relationship between both spouses is important. For example, if one spouse moves into the home of the other, it may be a good idea to get both names put on the deed.5

Health, credit and housing aside, both spouses need to understand their investments and the household net worth. It’s not enough for wives to pay the bills while husbands manage the investments, or vice versa. Ninety percent of women are responsible for managing their finances by themselves at some point in their life6 – which is particularly unfortunate if they’re forced to take on this task during retirement without a clear understanding of how to do it. 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications. 

1 Nicholas Bakalar. The New York Times. Dec. 27, 2016. “Marriage May Help You Survive a Stroke.” http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/27/well/family/marriage-may-help-you-survive-a-stroke.html?_r=0. Accessed Dec. 27, 2016.

Robert H. Shmerling. Harvard Health. Nov. 30, 2016. “The health advantages of marriage.” http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-health-advantages-of-marriage-2016113010667. Accessed Dec. 27, 2016.

3 Lucy Lazarony. Credit.com. Nov. 9, 2016. “Credit Matters After the Death of a Spouse.” https://www.credit.com/credit-reports/death-of-spouse-and-credit/. Accessed Dec. 27, 2016.

4 Ibid.

5 Quentin Fottrell. MarketWatch. Dec. 7, 2016. “My husband won’t put me on the deed to the family home.” http://www.marketwatch.com/story/will-i-inherit-everything-from-my-husband-without-a-will-2016-06-24. Accessed Dec. 27, 2016.

6 Fidelity. March 23, 2016. “Women & money: How to take charge.” https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/personal-finance/women-manage-money. Accessed Dec. 27, 2016.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial advice. All investments are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values.

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

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Looking Through the Glass Ceiling

The Women’s Rights Movement began in 1848 to enable women to have representation in decisions impacting their social, civil and religious rights.1

While Hillary Clinton, the first female presidential candidate from a major party, was not elected this year, women take their right to vote very seriously. In every presidential election since 1964 (2016 results not yet available), the number of women who voted exceeded that of men.2

Another area where women have made up ground, but are still working to pull even, is the wage difference between genders. This gap can also be a hindrance for women when it comes to saving for retirement. For example, while women are more likely than men to work for employers that offer retirement plans, far less are eligible to participate in those plans because they work part-time or for a shorter time span. As a result, nearly 12 percent of baby boomer women who have participated in the workforce end up retiring in poverty.3

From paying bills to participating in large-scale financial decisions, it is important for women to take an active role in their own retirement planning. One thing to consider may be setting up separate retirement income streams for each spouse to ensure household income is not significantly reduced should one spouse die or become incapacitated.

Self-employment is one area that might seem free of glass ceilings, but new research reveals a lack of capital funding available for women. Reasons cited for this include not having enough collateral necessary to secure a loan, gender discrimination or simply that women tend to be more risk averse when it comes to borrowing large sums of money.4

In a recent speech, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, pointed out that if women participated in the U.S. labor force to the same extent as men, our national income could increase by 5 percent.5

Lagarde also gave an example of women breaking the glass ceiling, but ultimately not achieving complete parity. Iceland elected its first female president back in 1980, but women’s wages there still trail men’s by 14 to 18 percent. Interestingly, Icelandic working women recently protested lower wages with a job walk-out at precisely 2:38 p.m. — the time of day when they stop being paid (relative to men’s pay).6

The Women’s Rights Movement is now about 168 years old. According to the IMF, at the current rate of progression globally, women should achieve parity with men’s wages in another 170 years7 — so we’re almost halfway there. Baby steps.


Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Bonnie Eisenberg and Mary Ruthsdotter. National Women’s History Project. “History of the Women’s Rights Movement.” http://www.nwhp.org/resources/womens-rights-movement/history-of-the-womens-rights-movement/. Accessed Nov. 29, 2016.

2 Center for American Women and Politics. “Gender Differences in Voter Turnout.” http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/resources/genderdiff.pdf. Accessed Nov. 29, 2016.

3 Jennifer Erin Brown, Nari Rhee, Joelle Saad-Lessler and Diane Oakley. UC Berkeley Labor Center. March 1, 2016. “Shortchanged in Retirement: Continuing Challenges to Women’s Financial Future.” http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/shortchanged-in-retirement-continuing-challenges-to-womens-financial-future/. Accessed Nov. 29, 2016.

4 Robert M. Sauer. World Economic Forum. Sept. 28, 2016. “The self-employed glass ceiling isn’t getting the attention it deserves.” https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/09/the-self-employed-glass-ceiling-isnt-getting-the-attention-it-deserves. Accessed Nov. 29, 2016.

5 Christine Lagarde. The International Monetary Fund. Nov. 14, 2016. “Women’s Empowerment: An Economic Game Changer.” https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2016/11/14/SP111416-Womens-Empowerment-An-Economic-Game-Changer. Accessed Nov. 14, 2016.

6 Ibid.

7 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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What it Means to be Disenfranchised

Disenfranchised people are those who feel deprived of a legal right or privilege. The number of people disenfranchised within the United States is part of the reason Donald Trump, a candidate without a history in politics, was elected to office. While much of the country is recovering from the Great Recession, there continues to be a lag for many disenfranchised Americans.1

For some, there’s a feeling that they can’t afford anything anymore. One poll found that a large swath of middle-class Americans long for quality jobs, affordable health care and child care and both economic and financial security.2

Over the past three decades, America’s economy has moved from manufacturing-based jobs to service-based jobs. This gradual process transformed the job market. Even with today’s low unemployment rate, there are jobs available, but in many cases, those who need the job may not have the skills and experience that the position requires or it may not pay the wages they are looking for.3

Americans dissatisfied with the health care initiatives introduced by Barack Obama reported a variety of motives for voting Trump. A common complaint was that premiums seemed to increase every year. Others went deeper, saying Trump’s proposals would promote personal responsibility rather than guarantee health care for those who are “lazy and entitled.” Sixty-six percent of Trump supporters said the economy is “rigged for people receiving government assistance.”4

The combination of expensive health care options, a difficult job market and overwhelming debt, and it’s easy to see why some have become so disenfranchised. How many Americans are we talking about?

Leading up to the election, a Gallup poll found only 27 percent were satisfied with the current state of the country.5 A post-election poll in December found a similar overall result, with Democrats still feeling slightly better than Republicans despite the presidential election results.6

Dissatisfaction can take on different forms. Many people have their concerns about the future of the country, but perhaps more importantly, are focused more on their own personal situation. The fact is, contentment has a lot to do with feeling confident, or at least hopeful, about your future.

One way to work toward this confidence is to insure a portion of your retirement assets. That’s where we come in. We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. Please contact us if you’d like to discuss ways to develop more confidence about your ability to provide income throughout retirement.

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Bob Rapoza. The Hill. Dec. 9, 2016. “Rural America demands the nation’s attention.” http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/presidential-campaign/309735-rural-america-demands-the-nations-attention. Accessed Dec 9, 2016.

2 The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Nov. 15, 2016. “The Needs of Working Folks.” http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/the-needs-of-working-folks/. Accessed Dec 20, 2016.

3 Ibid.

4 Olga Khazan. The Atlantic. Dec. 20, 2016. “If Not Obamacare, Then What?”

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/12/if-not-obamacare-then-what/511130/. Accessed Dec 20, 2016.

5 Gallup. Oct. 13, 2016. “U.S. Satisfaction Remains Low Leading Up to Election.” http://www.gallup.com/poll/196388/satisfaction-remains-low-leading-election.aspx. Accessed Dec 20, 2016.

6 Clark Mindock. International Business Times. Dec. 16, 2016. “Are Americans Happy With The US? Election, Economy, Wars Have Most Dissatisfied, New Poll Finds.” http://www.ibtimes.com/are-americans-happy-us-election-economy-wars-have-most-dissatisfied-new-poll-finds-2461644. Accessed Dec 20, 2016.

 

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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Possible Perks and Perils of Buying Coastal Property

All over the world, from Miami to the Maldives, rising sea levels threaten coastal real estate.

Scientists say the daily high-water mark has been rising by nearly an inch a year in places like South Florida. During extraordinary high tides, saltwater even sneaks up the driveways of some multi-million dollar coastal homes.1 

While projections vary, the general consensus is that sea levels could rise by anywhere from 3 to 6.5 feet by the end of this century. 2 

Many people dream throughout their careers of owning a piece of real estate on the water, perhaps as a retirement first or second home. While oceanfront property demand remains strong and communities are still being developed, the potential effect of climate change is beginning to cast a shadow over this dream.3 

According to the federal government, eight out of 10 of the most expensive natural disasters in U.S. history were caused by hurricanes.4 For anyone intending to purchase property near the ocean, it’s an issue that should not be ignored. It’s a good idea to speak with an experienced property and casualty insurance agent to understand a homeowner’s responsibilities regarding coastal property. 

If your heart is set on the waterfront, a real estate agent with experience selling these types of properties can be helpful. Buying coastal properties requires a certain amount of due diligence. For example, it’s wise to find out:5 

·         The different types of mortgage loans and qualifying criteria, because a loan for waterfront properties can take a lot longer than a normal home loan

·         Whether the structure’s building materials are designed to withstand local weather conditions

·         What’s allowed and what permits are required for any improvements you may want to make, such as adding a deck, dock or boat lift

·         If all the utilities you expect are available, such as cable television, internet access and cellphone coverage 

Generally, mortgaged properties in flood zones require flood insurance sold by the federal government. While this insurance may be required to purchase the property, some homeowners later drop their policies. If you don’t have insurance and your house floods, the financial impact could be disastrous. Under some circumstances, the government may still offer assistance but it may not be nearly enough. For example, the average federal assistance in Florida is $4,000, compared to the average flood insurance payout of $51,000.6 

Another flood insurance tip: There’s generally a 30-day waiting period before coverage goes in force, so you may not want to wait until your local news starts tracking a storm to purchase flood insurance. 7 

Then again, coastal real estate can provide free housing for vacations as well as ongoing rental income. You should carefully consider whether you’re up for the task, which can include landlord duties, maintenance and upkeep, ongoing expenses and the inconvenience of an illiquid asset.8 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications. 

1 Elizabeth Kolbert. The New Yorker. Dec. 28, 2015. “The Siege of Miami.” http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/12/21/the-siege-of-miami. Accessed Dec 11, 2016.
2 Ibid.
3 Ian Urbina. The New York Times. Nov 24, 2016. “Perils of Climate Change Could Swamp Coastal Real Estate.” http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/24/science/global-warming-coastal-real-estate.html?_r=0. Accessed Dec 11, 2016.
4 FloodSmart.gov. Sept. 27, 2016. “Tropical Storms and Hurricanes.” https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/flooding_flood_risks/tropical_storms_hurricanes.jsp. Accessed Dec 11, 2016.
5 Shannon Petrie. HGTV. 2016. “Waterfront Buying: Top 10 Tips from Agents.” http://www.hgtv.com/design/real-estate/waterfront-buying-top-10-tips-from-agents. Accessed Dec 11, 2016.
6 Harold Bubil. The Herald Tribune. March 23, 2016. “Flood insurance is getting expensive, but can you afford to be without it?” http://realestate.heraldtribune.com/2016/03/23/flood-insurance-is-getting-expensive-but-can-you-afford-to-be-without-it/. Accessed Dec 11, 2016.
7 FloodSmart.gov. 2016. “Protect What Matters.” https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart. Accessed Dec 11, 2016.
8 Bankrate.com. Aug. 2, 2016. “Funding retirement with rental income.” http://www.bankrate.com/finance/retirement/funding-retirement-with-rental-income-1.aspx. Accessed Dec 11, 2016. 

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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Tips for the Modern Traveler

Traditional vacation prep used to entail choosing a budget destination, buying some traveler’s checks and heading to the airport just in time for your flight. For many, that list of things to do has changed drastically. 

“Wellness travel” has become a big draw for vacationers who are willing to spend around 140 percent more than the average wanderer in pursuit of wellness opportunities. Wellness venues include treatment amenities ranging from spas, meditation, yoga, Pilates and kickboxing classes to personal nutrition and  detox programs.1 

If wellness is what you’re looking for, then prepare for some extra expense. One of the pitfalls of vacations is that we tend to overspend because, well, we’re on vacation. Before you even start shopping for airline tickets or hotel rates, it’s a good idea to establish a reasonable budget that you can afford to spend. 

Another thing you may want to consider is buying travel insurance, which about 30 percent of travelers now purchase. Policies range from minor to comprehensive “cancel for any reason” coverage. Remember that travel insurance is best purchased for large-ticket risks, so you don’t necessarily need to buy it for “nickel-and-dime” expenses. Keep in mind, the older you are, the more likely you may need medical care while on vacation.2 

Looking for the best credit card to use for traveling? If you’re going abroad, use one that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee. Many levy anywhere from 1 to 3 percent extra on every purchase — and that’s on top of any increases caused by currency conversion.3 Also, consider getting a credit card with the EU chip. 

It may also be a good idea to procure the local currency for your travel destination before you leave the U.S. You can order it through your bank and will likely get a better exchange rate than if you use other vendors once you’re abroad. Be aware, too, that the number of merchants that accept traveler’s checks is dwindling.4 

Another travel tip is to follow airline recommendations and arrive at the airport hours in advance to make it through security. This is especially important when the airport is busy. When it’s not, you’ve just got a lot of time on your hands and some uncomfortable seating. If you need some peace and quiet, find the airport chapel, or an airport museum or art gallery. Another way to break away from the crowds is to pay for a one-day pass into an exclusive airport VIP club.5 

When it comes to planning for a restful vacation, remember not to overbook activities so you get worn out, and that taking advantage of travel insurance, concierge recommendations at your destination and other available resources may help take some of the stress out of traveling. 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications. 

1 Why Travel. Nov. 23, 2016. “10 Hotels Leading the Wellness Travel Space in 2017.” http://whytravel.us/news/10-hotels-leading-the-wellness-travel-space-in-2017.html. Accessed Dec 2, 2016.
2 Jeff Blyskal. Consumer Reports. Nov. 19, 2016. “Should You Buy Travel Insurance for the Holidays?” http://www.consumerreports.org/travel-insurance/should-you-buy-travel-insurance/. Accessed Dec 2, 2016.
3 The Flight Deal. Nov. 21, 2016. “How to Save Money Abroad with No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards.” http://www.theflightdeal.com/2016/11/21/how-to-save-money-with-no-foreign-transaction-fee-credit-cards/. Accessed Dec 2, 2016.
4 Melissa Lambarena. Nerd Wallet. Mar. 9, 2016. “Where to Exchange Currency Without Paying Huge Fees.” https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/banking/exchange-currency-paying-huge-fees/. Accessed Dec 2, 2016.
5 Rudy Maxa. Travel Channel. Dec. 1, 2016. “Layover Survival Guide.” http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/travel-tips/articles/layover-survival-guide. Accessed Dec 2, 2016. 

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.