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eMagazine – July 2016

July 26th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in eMagazine

July2016

Bag Lady Syndrome

July 21st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Financial News

You must avoid it. Think about tomorrow, not just today.

shutterstock_233056858No woman wants to end up a “bag lady” – impoverished, out of options, left to fend for herself on the streets. Only a tiny percentage of women from affluent households will experience this retirement nightmare, but that does not mean the risk should be dismissed.

This is the financial circumstance you may fear more than any other. What can you do to counter that fear and guard against running out of money in retirement?

The first step is to plan. You must plan with the knowledge that you might outlive your spouse; that you might spend some, or even all, of your retirement alone. Because of your potentially longer lifespan and the lack of a spousal safety net, it is not unreasonable to assume that you may need 150% of the retirement money that a man in your situation might need. That may be stunning, but it is worth realizing. Imagine your children having to bear the financial burden of taking care of you when you are elderly. If you have no children, imagine having to rely on welfare and Medicaid at that time. Surely that is not the future you imagine or want.

Value your future comfort as much as you value your comfort today. Think ahead and investigate what it might take to retire comfortably in terms of income and lifetime savings. If you haven’t done much financial preparation for the future, you may be shocked when you see what needs to be done. Regardless, there is no avoiding it. Time is your friend in these matters, and procrastination in saving and investing only makes your retirement more of a question mark.

See wealth as something you build, not something you own. So often, society looks at wealth in terms of material items. You spend money to acquire those items, and, with rare exceptions, their value depreciates as years go by.

Rather than direct your money into depreciating items, you can save and invest it. You can steadily contribute to IRAs, brokerage accounts, workplace retirement plans, and other vehicles that permit you to invest in equities. Investing in equities is crucial, for they offer you the potential to grow your money at a rate faster than inflation. Yes, Wall Street has some bad years as well as good ones – but, over several decades, the good have outnumbered the bad. The broad benchmark of Wall Street – the S&P 500 – posted annual gains in 31 of the 41 years from 1975-2015, sometimes large ones.1

Many women are concerned about not losing money. In retirement, that is indeed a prime concern for both women and men. Prior to retirement, though, accepting some risk in your investments can lead to much greater potential reward (i.e., yield) than you might get from the typical savings or checking account or fixed-income bank investment.

Plan income streams. Too many seniors rely on a single income stream in retirement – Social Security. In fact, 47% of unmarried elderly Social Security recipients rely on Social Security for at least 90% of their income. In 2015, the average monthly benefit was just $1,335.2

On average, an American woman retires at age 62. In 2014, 40.8% of women who began receiving Social Security retirement benefits filed for them at – not surprisingly – age 62. The upside of this decision was that they gained an income stream. The downside was that by filing for benefits at 62, they received a monthly benefit about 30% smaller than the one they could have received by first claiming benefits at 66.3

One in four 65-year-old women today will live to be at least 90. Can you imagine relying heavily, or solely, on Social Security for 20, 25, or 30 years? If you find yourself in such straits, you will be consigned to a life of poverty, unless you sell or borrow against assets you own to come up with more retirement money.3

Social Security cannot be your lone income source in retirement, and, before you retire, you must arrange others.

What is a chat with a financial professional worth? It may be worth a great deal – it may be eye-opening and illuminating with regard to your retirement prospects. If you want to see where you stand today, what you may want to do to approach retirement with confidence and adequate financial resources, start there.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.
1 – 1stock1.com/1stock1_141.htm [6/28/16]
2 – ssa.gov/news/press/basicfact.html [10/13/15]
3 – nbcnews.com/business/retirement/biggest-mistake-women-make-social-security-benefits-n407816 [8/11/15]

Plans for self-driving cars have pitfall: the human brain

July 21st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

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Experts say the development of self-driving cars over the coming decade depends on an unreliable assumption by many automakers: that the humans in them will be ready to step in and take control if the car’s systems fail.

Instead, experience with automation in other modes of transportation like aviation and rail suggests that the strategy will lead to more deaths like that of a Florida Tesla driver in May.

Decades of research shows that people have a difficult time keeping their minds on boring tasks like monitoring systems that rarely fail and hardly ever require them to take action. The human brain continually seeks stimulation. If the mind isn’t engaged, it will wander until it finds something more interesting to think about. The more reliable the system, the more likely it is that attention will wane.

Automakers are in the process of adding increasingly automated systems that effectively drive cars in some or most circumstances, but still require the driver as a backup in case the vehicle encounters a situation unanticipated by its engineers.

Tesla’s Autopilot, for example, can steer itself within a lane and speed up or slow down based on surrounding traffic or on the driver’s set speed. It can change lanes with a flip of its signal, automatically apply brakes, or scan for parking spaces and parallel park on command.

Joshua Brown, a 40-year-old tech company owner from Canton, Ohio, who was an enthusiastic fan of the technology, was killed when neither he nor his Tesla Model S sedan’s Autopilot braked for a truck making a left turn on a highway near Gainsville, according to federal investigators and the automaker.

Tesla warns drivers to keep their hands on the wheel even though Autopilot is driving, or the vehicle will automatically slow to a stop. A self-driving system Audi plans to introduce in its 2018 A7, which the company says will be the most advanced on the market, monitors drivers’ head and eye movements, and automatically slows the car if the driver’s attention is diverted.

But Brown’s failure to brake means he either didn’t see the truck in his path or saw it too late to respond — an indication he was relying on the automation and his mind was elsewhere, said Missy Cummings, director of Duke University’s Humans and Autonomy Laboratory. The truck driver said he had heard a Harry Potter video playing in the car after the crash.

“Drivers in these quasi- and partial modes of automation are a disaster in the making,” Cummings said. “If you have to rely on the human to see something and take action in anything less than several seconds, you are going to have an accident like we saw.”

Operators — an airline pilot, a train engineer or car driver — can lose awareness of their environment when they turn control over to automation, said Rob Molloy, the National Transportation Safety Board’s chief highway crash investigator.

He pointed to the crash of Air France Flight 447 into the Atlantic Ocean while flying from Brazil to France in 2007. A malfunction in equipment used to measure air speed caused the plane’s autopilot to disconnect, catching pilots by surprise. Confused, they caused an otherwise flyable plane to stall and fall from the sky, killing 228 people.

Planes and trains have had automation “for 20, 30 years and there are still times when they’re like, ‘Wow, we didn’t expect that to happen,'” Molloy said.

Part of the problem is overconfidence in the technology causes people to think they can check out. Not long after Tesla introduced its Autopilot system, people were posting videos of car with the self-driving mode engaged cruising down tree-lined roads or even highways with no one in the driver’s seat. Brown, for example, had posted videos lauding the Autopilot system and demonstrating it in action.

“There is a tendency of people to take one ride in one of these vehicles and then conclude that because they have not crashed over the course of 10 minutes that the system must be ready,” said Bryant Walker Smith, a University of South Carolina professor who studies the technology.

Some experts think the ability of people to monitor autonomous systems may be getting worse. With the advent of smartphones, people are accustomed to having their desire for mental stimulation satisfied immediately.

“Go into Starbucks, for example,” said Cummings. “No one can just patiently wait in line, they’re all doing something on their phones. It’s kind of pathetic.”

Some automakers may be rethinking their approach. Two years ago, General Motors announced it would start selling a Cadillac in the fall of 2016 that would almost drive itself on freeways. But in January the company confirmed that the project has been delayed for an unspecified reason.

In briefings, company executives said they were waiting to perfect methods of assuring that the driver pays attention to the road even when the system is on.

The system, called “Super Cruise,” will use cameras and radar to keep the car in the center of a lane and also stay a safe distance behind cars in front of it. The system will bring the car to a complete stop without driver action if traffic halts, and it can keep the car going in stop-and-go traffic. But it’s designed for use only on limited-access divided highways.

Google, meanwhile, is aiming for a car that’s fully self-driving and may not even have a steering wheel or brake pedals.

Source: yahoo.com

Good Retirement Savings Habits Before Age 40

July 21st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Financial News

 Some early financial behaviors that may promote a comfortable future.  

shutterstock_184401734You know you should start saving for retirement before you turn 40. What can you start doing today to make that effort more productive, to improve your chances of ending up with more retirement money, rather than less?

Structure your budget with the future in mind. Live within your means and assign a portion of what you earn to retirement savings. How much? Well, any percentage is better than nothing – but, ideally, you pour 10% or more of what you earn into your retirement fund. If that seems excessive, consider this: you are at risk of living 25-30% of your lifetime with no paycheck except for Social Security. (That is, assuming Social Security is still around when you retire.)

Saving and investing 10-15% of what you earn for retirement can really make an impact over time. For example, say you set aside $4,000 for retirement in your thirtieth year, in an investment account that earns a consistent (albeit hypothetical) 6% a year. Even if you never made a contribution to that retirement account again, that $4,000 would grow to $30,744 by age 65. If you supplant that initial $4,000 with monthly contributions of $400, that retirement fund mushrooms to $565,631 at 65.1

Avoid cashing out workplace retirement plan accounts. Learn from the terrible retirement saving mistake too many baby boomers and Gen Xers have made. It may be tempting to just take the cash when you leave a job, especially when the account balance is small. Resist the temptation. One recent study (conducted by behavioral finance analytics firm Boston Research Technologies) found that 53% of baby boomers who had drained a workplace retirement plan account regretted their decision. So did 46% of the Gen Xers who had cashed out.2

Instead, arrange a rollover of that money to an IRA, or to your new employer’s retirement plan if that employer allows. That way, the money can stay invested and retain the opportunity for growth. If the money loses that opportunity, you will pay an opportunity cost when it comes to retirement savings. As an example, say you cash out a $5,000 balance in a retirement plan when you are 25. If that $5,000 stays invested and yields 5% interest a year, it becomes $35,200 some 40 years later. So today’s $5,000 retirement account drawdown could amount to robbing yourself of $35,000 (or more) for retirement.3

Save enough to get a match. Some employers will match your retirement contributions to some degree. You may have to work at least 2-3 years for an employer for this to apply, but the match may be offered to you sooner than that. The match is often 50 cents for every dollar the employee puts into the account, up to 6% of his or her salary. With the exception of an inheritance, an employer match is the closest thing to free money you will ever see as you save for the future. That is why you should strive to save at a level to get it, if at all possible.4

Saving enough to get the match in your workplace retirement plan may make your overall retirement savings effort a bit easier. Say your goal is to save 10% of your income for retirement. If the employer match is 50 cents to the dollar and you direct 6% of your income into that savings plan, your employer contributes the equivalent of 3% of your income. You are almost to that 10% goal right there.4

Think about going Roth. The younger you are, the more attractive Roth retirement accounts (such as Roth IRAs) may look. The downside of a Roth account? Contributions are not tax-deductible. On the other hand, there is plenty of upside. You get tax-deferred growth of the invested assets, you may withdraw account contributions tax-free, and you get to withdraw account earnings tax-free once you are 59½ or older and have owned the account for at least five years. Having a tax-free retirement fund is pretty nice.4

To have a Roth IRA in 2016, your modified adjusted gross income must be less than $132,000 (single taxpayer) or $194,000 (married and filing taxes jointly).4

Set it & forget it. Saving consistently becomes easier when you have an automated direct deposit or salary deferral arrangement set up for you. You can gradually increase the monthly amount that goes into your accounts with time, as you earn more.

Invest for growth. Much wealth has been built through long-term investment in equities. Wall Street has good years and bad years, but the good years have outnumbered the bad. Early investment in equities may assist your retirement savings effort more than any other factor, except time.

Time is of the essence. Start saving and investing for retirement today, and you may find yourself way ahead of your peers financially by the time you reach 40 or 50.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.
1 – investor.gov/tools/calculators/compound-interest-calculator [7/7/16]
2 – marketwatch.com/story/millennials-can-save-more-for-retirement-by-learning-from-baby-boomers-mistakes-2016-06-30 [6/30/16]
3 – thefiscaltimes.com/2015/11/20/7-Ways-Millennials-Are-Getting-Retirement-Saving-Wrong [11/20/15]
4 – kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T001-C006-S001-retire-rich-saving-for-retirement-in-your-20s-30s.html [2/4/16]

Money Habits That May Help You Become Wealthier

July 21st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Financial News

Financially speaking, what do some households do right?

shutterstock_238330204Why do some households tread water financially while others make progress? Does it come down to habits?

Sometimes the difference starts there. A household that prioritizes paying itself first may end up in much better financial shape in the long run than other households.

Some families see themselves as savers, others as spenders. The spenders may enjoy affluence now, but they also may be setting themselves up for financial struggles down the road. The savers better position themselves for financial emergencies and the creation of wealth.

How does a family build up its savings? Well, money not spent can be money saved. That should be obvious, but some households take a long time to grasp this truth. In the psychology of spenders, money unspent is money unappreciated. Less spending means less fun.

Being a saver does not mean being a miser, however. It simply means dedicating a percentage of household income to future goals and needs rather than current wants.

You could argue that it is harder than ever for households to save consistently today; yet, it happens. As of May, U.S. households were saving 5.3% of their disposal personal income, up from 4.8% a year earlier.1

Budgeting is a great habit. What percentage of U.S. households maintain a budget? Pollsters really ought to ask that question more often. In 2013, Gallup posed that question to Americans and found that the answer was 32%. Only 39% of households earning more than $75,000 a year bothered to budget. (Another interesting factoid from that survey: just 30% of Americans had a long-run financial plan.)2

So often, budgeting begins in response to a financial crisis. Ideally, budgeting is proactive, not reactive. Instead of being about damage control, it can be about monthly progress.

Budgeting also includes planning for major purchases. A household that creates a plan to buy a big-ticket item may approach that purchase with less ambiguity – and less potential for a financial surprise.

Keeping consumer debt low is a good habit. A household that uses credit cards “like cash” may find itself living “on margin” – that is, living on the edge of financial instability. When people habitually use other people’s money to buy things, they run into three problems. One, they start carrying a great deal of revolving consumer debt, which may take years to eliminate. Two, they set themselves up to live paycheck to paycheck. Three, they hurt their potential to build equity. No one chooses to be poor, but living this way is as close to a “choice” as a household can make.

Investing for retirement is a good habit. Speaking of equity, automatically contributing to employer-sponsored retirement accounts, IRAs, and other options that allow you a chance to grow your savings through equity investing are great habits to develop.

Smart households invest with diversification. They recognize that directing most of their invested assets into one or two investment classes heightens their exposure to risk. They invest in such a way that their portfolio includes both conservative and opportunistic investment vehicles.

Taxes and fees can eat into investment returns over time, so watchful families study what they can do to reduce those negatives and effectively improve portfolio yields.

Long-term planning is a good habit. Many people invest with the goal of making money, but they never define what the money they make will be used to accomplish. Wise households consult with financial professionals to set long-range objectives – they want to accumulate X amount of dollars for retirement, for eldercare, for college educations. The very presence of such long-term goals reinforces their long-term commitment to saving and investing.

Every household would do well to adopt these money habits. They are vital for families that want more control over their money. When money issues threaten to control a family, a change in financial behavior is due.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.
1 – ycharts.com/indicators/personal_saving_rate [6/29/16]
2 – gallup.com/poll/162872/one-three-americans-prepare-detailed-household-budget.aspx [6/3/13]

July, 2016 – Monthly Economic

July 21st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Monthly Economic Update

July2016-MonthlyEconomic

3 Simple Moves That Fight Knee And Hip Pain

July 21st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

3 Simple Moves That Fight Knee And Hip Pain

If you’re like us, you’ve probably never paid your ankles much attention. But it turns out they can make a big difference in how you feel. “Over the years, thanks to inactivity, our ankles tend to lose flexibility and range of motion,” says Bruce Mack, cofounder of MBSC Thrive Functional Training.

When your ankles aren’t able to achieve the 360-degree range of motion they’re meant to, your knees (stabilizing joints that’s main job is moving back and forward) are forced to take on side-to-side motion. “Not only can this cause pain in the knee itself, but when your knee is out of whack it can also lead to hip pain,” says Mack. “Everything is connected. When a joint isn’t working as it should, the rest of the body suffers.”

Luckily, rehabbing those creaky ankles is incredibly simple. “Ankle mobility is something you can reprogram, kind of like software,” says Mack.

Doing these 3 simple corrective movements at least 3 times a week can build your range of motion and increase flexibility.

1. Rocking Squat

Get into the bottom of a squat position with your feet shoulder width apart, hands together in front of your chest and elbows pressing against your inner knees. Lean your weight to one side (A), then rock back to the other side (B). Continue rocking side-to-side for 30 seconds.

2. 3-Point Half Kneeling Mobility Work 

Start in a half-kneeling position in front of a wall (you can hold a foamroller for balance is needed), front knee bent at 90 degrees and over ankle(A). Keeping your front heel on the floor, lean your weight and hips forward until front knee touches the wall (B). Hold for 5 seconds, then return to starting position. Repeat the move 2 more times, first angling the knee to the right and then to the left.

3. Soft Tissue Work for Bottom of Feet With Tennis Ball
Grab a tennis ball and place it under your foot while in a standing position. Roll thetennis ball up and down the foot. When you find a sensitive area, hold the ball there for a few seconds and add a little more pressure with your body weight.
Aim for 30-60 seconds on each foot.

Source: prevention.com

17 Things You Didn’t Know About Disneyland

July 21st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

There are a ton of secrets Disneyland keeps close to the vest, but that doesn’t stop the park from being the happiest place on earth.

Whether you’re an experienced mouse hunter or new to the Disneyland grind, the park offers tons of hidden corners, attractions and quirks that remain invisible to the untrained eye. Here are a few things to note — and sights to look for — during your next visit.

1. There are quite a few “unofficial” streets within the park. Here’s where to find them.

2. Celebrities ARE just like us: You can often spot one or two famed faces around the grounds.

gwen stefani disneyland

3. Disneyland has “lost” rides. Don’t worry, you can take a trip down memory laneif you really want to.

4. Much like its Florida counterpart, Disneyland has Hidden Mickeys all over the place.

5. Vintage Disneyland commercials are pretty epic. Watch five of them here.

6. You should most definitely be following “DILFS of Disneyland“ on Instagram.

7. You can check out Walt’s original plans for Disney. Just look at ‘em!

disneyland plans

8. Walt Disney used to keep an apartment on the property.

9. Kids go all kinds of nuts when they learn they’re going to/are already at Disneyland.

10. Tomorrowland was a favorite of Walt’s.

11. While alcohol isn’t available throughout the park, you can purchase wine and spirits in the ultra-exclusive Club 33.

12. Space Mountain looks real weird with the lights on. Same goes for the Jungle Cruise.

13. There are lots of places named for real people there.

disneyland california

14. The park looks awesome in time lapse.

15. We know what a trip to Disneyland looked like circa 1957.

16. There’s a hidden basketball court in the Matterhorn ride.

17. On opening day, Disneyland admission was just $1 for adults. My, how times have changed.

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