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Save Money on Travel This Summer


Looking to set aside more money for retirement savings? Great idea. One way is to plan a summer vacation that won't bust your budget. Visiting a national park is a terrific way to enjoy America’s scenic beauty at a bargain price; Yellowstone National Park costs $30 for a one-week pass and includes attractions like Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs, as well as reasonably priced lodging and dining. The Outer Banks of North Carolina offer beautiful beaches and spacious rentals for less than ritzier locales such as Martha’s Vineyard. Beach towns such as Ocean City, Md., and Biloxi, Miss., also provide summertime fun at relatively affordable prices. And instead of a city vacation in pricey New York, consider a cheaper alternative such as Toronto. Whatever you do, have fun and remember that the more you save for retirement, the better your vacations will be for years to come.


Read more at US News and World Report.



Retirement Planning: How Do You Compare?


A recent survey of Americans showed that 63% are either “very confident” or “somewhat confident” that they will have a comfortable retirement. Unfortunately, the survey showed that much smaller percentages have taken the steps they need to ensure financial stability in retirement. According to the survey, only 48% have tried to calculate how much money they’ll need in retirement (you can do so using our retirement planning tools here). And 39% of respondents simply guess at their retirement needs versus engaging in serious financial planning to analyze their needs. And only 26% have saved $100,000 or more toward retirement, indicating some will have trouble generating the retirement income they’ll need. How do you compare? Read more at CBS News.



Test Your Life Insurance Knowledge


How well do you understand life insurance and annuities? Take this quick quiz to test your knowledge.


(1)   True or False: Life insurance has one purpose only: to provide your beneficiaries with financial protection should you die prematurely.

(2)   True or False: Term life insurance does not provide a policy cash value that grows over time.

(3)   True or False: An annuity can offer tax-deferred growth and guaranteed lifetime income.




(1)   False. There are several types of life insurance, and some provide other benefits. You can find out about different benefits of life insurance policies here.

(2)   True. Term life insurance provides a death benefit for a fixed number of years, but not the cash value accumulation feature commonly associated with a permanent life insurance policy. Because the death benefit protection is for a limited period, term life insurance premiums are often the lowest of all types of life insurance policies. However, after the level term period, premiums can go up significantly and increase annually if you choose to renew the policy. Consider choosing a term policy that gives you the option to convert to a permanent policy.

(3)   True. To learn how annuities work, and to download a tip sheet which can help you decide which one might be right for you, check out this page.



New Study: Few Americans Are Heart-Healthy


Everyone wants a long, healthy retirement – which is why we always emphasize the importance of lifelong financial planning and retirement savings. But if anything is more important than financial stability in retirement, it’s staying healthy. That’s why it’s alarming that a study, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found that less than 3% of Americans are nonsmokers who eat a reasonably good diet, get 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise and have a healthy percentage of body fat. Yet those are the four basic recommendations to maintain a healthy heart. Experts see the study, of more than 4,700 Americans, as yet another wake-up call about the importance of these four pillars of basic healthy behavior – and that’s especially true in our golden years. Won’t you join us in working to improve the percentage of Americans who are heart-healthy?


Read more at The New York Times.



A Latin Lesson: Per Capita vs. Per Stirpes


Life insurance death benefits can help ensure your family’s financial stability when they need it most. An estate plan should be part of your overall financial plan, and effective estate planning needs to define an equitable inheritance between heirs. Assets, including the death benefit from a life insurance policy, can be divided any way you choose, but many folks with children and/or grandchildren choose the per capita or per stirpes methods. So let’s brush off our old Latin dictionary to define those terms. Per capita (Latin for “by head”) simply means that shares are divided equally among a set of heirs. If you have four children, each receives 25%; if you have four children plus four grandchildren, each would receive 12.5%. Per stirpes (“by branch”) is a little different. Under this method, you assign an equal share to each branch of your family -- often meaning each of your children’s families receives an equal share, regardless of the number of people in it. If you have two adult children, one without kids would receive 50% while another with three kids would also receive 50% (and if that child predeceased you, his kids would each receive a 16.66% share).



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