Written by Tony Payne
Somewhere between 35 and 40, many adults find themselves donning their first pair of glasses. It's nature's way of saying "This is not a dress rehearsal." So, what might you do to advance your career, support your family and be poised for the next 50 years of an engaged, fun and financially secure life?
In this context, "I" and "we" are synonymous. When we marry or are part of a family, "we" is central to moving forward together.
Much of life is about preparing for and adapting to your circumstances. For example, we cannot control the weather but, as an instructor at Outward Bound once said, "There's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing." The Boy Scouts boil it down to two words "BE PREPARED!" Each of these admonitions assumes we are on a journey with a destination in mind. Being prepared and dressed appropriately are simply guidelines for the quest.
Let's assume a couple things about those 35 or older; possibly married, a child or two, a career path, home or auto ownership, debt, some savings, aging parents. So, at 35 today, what could you be doing about your future?
1) Commit to writing a set of goals that include dates and what you would need to do to achieve them. There's an old saying that says that if you don't have a destination in mind, any road will take you there. However, most of us do have aspirations and interests.
2) Keep learning whether by taking classes, earning certifications or reading. At minimum, read, with near-religious devotion, the advice of Michelle Singletary's column, "The Color of Money." Why? Because achieving economic security creates options and opportunities.
3) Sit down with your insurance agent and plot a strategy for transferring risk for your family, your assets, health and retirement. Insurance is more than protecting "things"; it is about using today's dollars to protect against the unexpected and the events that are likely to happen. A good example is Long Term Care Insurance — an estimated 70 percent of us will have to pay for outside assistance when we are unable to get around on our own.
4) Begin a conversation with a certified financial adviser to understand how best to start investing for the big ticket items of life: debt management, college educations, health care costs and retirement. If your employer offers a retirement plan, you need to decide how much to invest and in what products. Put as much as possible into a 401(K) plan to get your employer's full matching contribution, as well as, a Roth retirement plan funded with after tax dollars. There is little doubt that taxes will go up on retirement incomes. A Roth retirement plan produces tax-free benefits.
5) Meet with a lawyer to make a will and establish your wishes should anything ever happen to you. Not only will you want to be sure your family is provided for, but that you are explicit about your end-of-life care, organ donation and celebration of your life.
6) Show up, often. By getting involved with others for a common cause, you learn, connect and grow. A church, service club, charitable cause or politics are all ways in which we can make a difference and learn from the experience.
7) Try to turn your avocation into your vocation. Said differently, try to make a living by pursuing your passion. When you do what you love, it isn't really "work."
8) Start paying more attention to your health and establish a close relationship with a health care provider who is focused on lifelong wellness. An engaged health professional will coach you about diet and exercise, preventive medicine and chronic disease management.
9) Engage with your family and talk openly about the previous points. Open communications builds strength and confidence in a family. It also models the behavior you hope your children will adopt.
10) Be sure to have fun, every day, by having a good laugh, making a difference in someone's life and treating myself to a little happiness.
Though we ultimately are responsible for ourselves, we are not alone. The people we love, admire and work with have lots to share. It may be opinions, advice, an extra hand, labor or money. By availing ourselves of this time,treasure and talent, we can then be secure in offering them to others. Now, that's good goal to set.
Laugh, love, live and learn — and start making those lists and appointments.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 October 2014 00:30
Written by Staff Report
Brothers Guillermo Fuentes of Westbrook and Hector Fuentes of Waterville were sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court for hiring 10 or more undocumented aliens in a 12-month period and making false statements, according to U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II.
Guillermo Fuentes was sentenced to 37 months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release, Delahanty reported. Hector Fuentes was sentenced to 30 months in prison to be followed by one year of supervised release, Delahanty reported. Both were ordered to forfeit over $48,000 that was seized in connection with the investigation. The defendants pleaded guilty on June 16, 2014.
Court records reveal that the charges relate to the hiring of undocumented workers at the Fajita Grill restaurant in Westbrook and to post-arrest statements the defendants made to law enforcement officers in September 2011 in which they falsely stated, among other things, that federally required documentation regarding the immigration status of employees had been properly completed, Delahanty reported.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations and the U.W. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General.
Last Updated on Monday, 20 October 2014 21:41
Written by Tony Payne
Your parents may have said "never ride with strangers," but Uber, the new cashless ride sharing app, has taken urban regions by storm. Though there are many virtues of the on-demand travel service, liability insurance coverage remains a question mark. What should you ask before tapping the app for a ride?
Let's back up first (after looking both ways and in the rearview mirror). Here's what ride sharing is all about. This is a smart phone application designed to connect drivers for hire with patrons in need of a lift. Uber, the world's leading provider, is currently available in more than 45 countries and more than 100 cities. Uber introduced a disruptive technology application that has up-ended the longstanding practice of licensed taxi cabs controlling the for-hire urban transportation market. Others such as Lyft and Sidecar have joined the chase for app-based fares.
How does it work? Once you download the app, the app will find your location via GPS. You then select "Set Pickup Location," choose your desired car type and then simply tap "Request." In the U.S. and Canada, verification of the request via text message is required. The app then finds the nearest available driver.
No money changes hands as the transaction is billed through the intermediary including the tip. Drivers are paid by app's organization.
The issue of liability insurance is significant for passengers and drivers alike. Though Uber's website tells prospective drivers that they must have a Personal Auto Policy to qualify, the Personal Auto Policy (PAP) insurance form for some insurance companies explicitly excludes coverage for anyone engaging in a ridesharing program, also known as Transportation Network Companies (TNCs).
Should an accident occur in which the passenger is hurt or killed or property (e.g., luggage) is damaged, the driver's personal insurance policy may not pay for bodily injury or damaged property. That could leave the passenger paying out-of-pocket for some of their care or damages. If injuries are not covered by the driver, the injured party may sue the driver or file a claim with their own insurance company for bodily injury if they have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage in their auto policy.
According to the Maine Bureau of Insurance, "Most private auto insurance policies exclude coverage for losses that occur when a covered auto is used to carry passengers paying a fee. While some TNCs purchase liability protection for their services, questions remain about how coverage would be applied in the event of an accident."
Maine Superintendent of Insurance Eric Cioppa said, "Individuals should ensure they are protected before using these new services. Check in with your insurance agent or broker, or contact your insurance company directly, to determine if there may be gaps in coverage should an accident occur when using a TNC."
In Maine, consumers can contact the Bureau's Property and Casualty Division at 800-300-5000. In New Hampshire, residents can call 800-852-3416.
Another interesting feature of the Uber experience is that both drivers and passengers may be rated on a variety of factors. Passengers score their experience on a one-to-five scale in what is called a peer-to-peer rating. If drivers fall below an acceptable standard, they will be dropped from the program. Frequently mentioned transgressions include not knowing where they are driving, being late, rude or exhibiting poor driving habits.
Similarly, passengers also may be rated by the drivers — though those ratings are not public. Drivers interviewed for various articles cited passengers who damage vehicles, get sick in the back seat, smell, are rude or are tardy for their pick up. In crowded cities, simply being on the wrong side of the street can earn a passenger a low rating. The outcome: a would-be-passenger may no longer be able to access the app. The same goes for drivers with low scores.
The upshot is that the Uber ride sharing model may make both drivers and passengers more timely, civil and courteous — and that's not a liability at all.
Last Updated on Sunday, 19 October 2014 17:59
Written by Tony Payne
Here's a dilemma. You're both working, raising kids and saving or paying for college. Saving for retirement. You're active in your community. Dad died and mom needs help getting around, being fed, getting dressed and bathing. You're the adults on-deck. Welcome to the sandwich generation. How will her care be paid for?
For that matter, how will you pay for your own long term care when the time comes?
This is National Long Term Care Awareness Month – a time to help bring home the reality that
Medicare pays only for skilled nursing, NOT FOR AID WITH THE TASKS OF DAILY LIVING.
Medicaid pays only for the very poor but often won't pay for care in your own home.
Therefore, the responsibility for assisting people with the basic tasks of living falls squarely on individuals and their families. The cost of getting that help typically ranges from $3,300 to more than $11,000 per month.
So let's do the math, conservatively, for a typical retiree who has a monthly fixed income of $4,500 from all sources:
$ 600 Food expense
$ 165 Medicare supplemental insurance premium
$ 100 Out-of-pocket medical expenses
$ 500 Mortgage or rent payment
$ 100 Home maintenance
$ 390 Average home energy cost
$ 135 Average utilities
$ 200 Average car payment
$ 150 Average car operating cost
$ 400 Dining, entertainment, travel
$2,740 Total essential monthly living expenses (single)
$3,070 Total essential monthly living expenses (couple)
If the pot of money saved for retirement income is $457,000 and long term care is needed in addition to monthly living expenses, the draw-down on the nest egg looks like this:
Average Home health Aid ($5,245/month) – You run out of money in six years.
Average Assisted Living Facility ($5,814/month) – You run out of money in five years.
Average private nursing home room ($11,410 / month) – You run out of money in three years.
The alternative is having a family member reduce their work hours or quit their job or, pay someone to do it for them.
This is where Long Term Care Insurance comes into play. As with any insurance that anticipates paying benefits at some point, the monthly premium is lower the younger you are. It also depends on your health at the time you buy insurance coverage.
Let's look at the health status question. If you have a change in health that makes you more likely to need long term care in the future, you may not be able to find LTC insurance at any cost. Just as an insurance company won't sell insurance for a house on fire, they are not going to sell insurance to someone who is very likely to need care shortly after the policy is sold.
On the other hand, someone who buys LTC insurance at a younger age while they are in good health makes economic sense. For the consumer, it is making what amounts to installment payments for the time they may need to file a claim for LTC benefits.
If your mom or dad are healthy today but do not have LTC insurance, it makes sense to find out how much they can budget. The policy benefit they can afford may not cover all the costs but it can take the edge off the sticker shock of paying for outside help.
For you and/or your spouse, making the investment today can pay off in lower monthly premiums and offer peace of mind for you to avoid being a financial burden to your children.
Here are statistics and requirements about LTC benefits.
Approximately 70% of all individuals will need LTC assistance before they die
The average time benefits are required is about 3 years ($143,000 ~ $345,000)
Also, a large percentage of claims for LTC benefits come from people younger than 60 years of age
The average duration of Alzheimer's is ten years with facility costs ranging from $10,000 to $12,000 per month
"I have been guiding people through this discussion for years and I continue to be both surprised and concerned that there is little understanding or attention given to the near-certain costs for assisted living," says Kerry Peabody of Clark insurance.
If you're the meat in the sandwich generation, it may be past time to get long term care insurance for you, your spouse and your parents.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 October 2014 01:10
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