Those of us in harm’s way of Harvey, Maria and Irma have experienced troubles ranging from life threatening to inconvenience at worst. Life has its challenges and it’s our response to them that builds the character in our lives. Holding on to our values and beliefs can sometime be the only anchor that keeps us from being blown away by the winds of chaos, confusion and we’ve now witnessed one of the most horrific mass shootings in modern history recently in Las Vegas which has left us dumbfounded and very concerned for our country. Growing up, we never experienced such madness and evil yet each occurrence of these killings has us questioning where this country is headed. We all have our thoughts on how these trends are developing but my theory is that when a country turns its back on God, even prohibiting the display of the Ten Commandments in public places, where is there any definition of right and wrong? What moral compass remains to steer the ship of private and public consciences? The morass of public opinion or political sway will not suffice. The immediate outcry from certain political persuasions blaming gun toting “R________”s who voted for T___and used this opportunity for their own political gain defies belief. If we can’t come together and unite in the wake of such a tragedy to focus on the overarching problem at a time like this, when will we ever?
Everyone needs a break to unwind and flush the mind with some relaxation and rejuvenating time away from the grind. I’ve discovered family vacations can do that if planned properly and everyone has an opportunity to participate in something they enjoy doing. Our family just enjoyed one of those that belong on the highlight reel of memories. We spent several days in a remote cabin on the top of a mountain in North Carolina where we experienced lows in the high 50s at night and high 70s during the day- a much needed break from the sauna heat we’ve had here in central Florida. On the way up, we had a nice overnight stay at the Jekyll Island club off the golden isle coast of South Georgia. The history and beauty of the low country coastal region there has a magical effect for us and a nice bike ride around the paths of the island offer some really spectacular scenery.
Social Security Status Report - We often have the concern raised in financial planning discussions on the viability of Social Security and should we be concerned that it will be around when those now eligible and the other millions that will retire in the next 5-10 years. This is one of the entitlements that congress most likely will never let slip away but something dramatic will have to occur to maintain benefits. Most likely, those who have the most means with the largest benefits will be affected if cuts need to occur.
Here’s an executive summary of some of the key market and economic data suggest we’re continuing to see moderate growth but not enough to have the Fed put the brakes on with sharp rises in interest rates. Despite the geo political and global risks and commotion, the U.S. and international markets have been trending upward and onward….
In my childhood, both parents were relegated to working in low paying employment situations that were not fulfilling and struggled to pay the bills. There was not any financial instruction for me or my two older sisters on saving, budgeting, let along things like investing, insurance and basic wills. Looking back, they had few options since their educations were limited, my mom only finished High School and dad had an art degree but was trapped in a job he detested as a theater manager. Without any funds for college, I joined the Army out of high school and was able to use the GI Bill to pay for undergraduate school and later for part of my MBA degree. In addition, I started a small business to help pay for other expenses.
Our teenage daughter Vika graduated eighth grade this month from Junior High after being at the St. Barnabas school for over eight years. It’s a milestone for her and a giant step toward becoming a young lady. I was choking back tears seeing her walking down the aisle wearing the classy dress, white gloves, make up and nice conservative pumps! There’s something about seeing your daughter grow up and all of the sudden you wonder, “what happened to my little girl?” Remember the song “Butterfly kisses”? It kills me every time I hear it. She really progressed this last year academically, emotionally, spiritually even though she still has her teenage drama, hormonal over-reactions and a few conniving moments.
Growing up in Florida for most of my life, I’ve lived through some scary hurricanes over the years. My family referred to them back then as “HER’ a-cans” but these days we can also call them “HIM’a-cans” since we also use the male gender for named storms. Knowing what we Floridians experienced last year with Hurricane Matthew, it was a wake- up call that we should take hurricane season seriously. June 1 is the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season. Florida's 10-year hurricane-free streak was broken as Hurricane Hermine made landfall last fall near the coast of St. Marks. Not long after, Hurricane Matthew made landfall over Haiti as a Category 4 hurricane, soon taking a three-day jaunt up Florida's east coast and into Georgia and the Carolinas, causing damage that according to the State’s Chief Financial Officer, Jeff Atwater, “exceeded $729 million generated by 112,000 insurance claims. In total, Floridians last year filed nearly 130,000 insurance claims totaling roughly $800 million in losses. The question now is: If a storm were to reach Florida's shores next week, would you be prepared?”
According to the Department of Labor, there were 27.0 million “foreign-born” persons in the US labor force in 2016, comprising 16.9% of the American workforce. The percentage of “foreign-born” workers was 13.3% in 2000.
A 401(k) is a retirement savings plan sponsored by an employer that lets workers save and invest a portion of their paycheck before taxes are taken out. 401(k) plans emerged in the 1980’s as a supplement to pensions. Pensions known as defined benefit plans became more and more expensive for large corporations as the aging demographics required more workers and fund performance to guarantee pension income for retired workers. But as the cost of running pensions escalated, employers started replacing them with 401(k) plans, a type of defined contribution plan.
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