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30 and Thriving

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30 and Thriving

Uh oh…is 30 quickly approaching or GASP – has it already arrived?
16, 18, 21, 20 40, and so on. These tend to be what many people consider to be major steps and age/birthday celebrations in life. Of course these are only few among numerous milestones, but you get what we are saying.
So many people that I know made and make a very big deal out of turning 30. I don’t personally see what the big deal is, but to each their own. I do however see and underst and the big deal behind making sure you have all your ducks in a row when it comes to insurance and finances at that age. I came across a great article with some very useful information that I wanted to pass along – focusing on personal finances.

1. When you reach 30 it is actually past time to start saving for retirement. Don’t ignore this! You REALLY do need to start saving!
2. Look into long-term investments
3. Check credit score, know your credit score, and know what’s on your credit report
4. Learn how to fix credit report errors – and FIX THEM!
5. Make/revise a budget and stick to it.
6. Build an emergency savings account that you never touch and don’t tell anyone about. Let it build and let it be!
7. Revisit your student loan status and see if you can consolidate, lower rates, or make bigger payments
8. Search for lower credit card interest rates or consider get rid of the cards all together
9. Meet with an agent and determine if you need life insurance
10. Stop working a ‘job’ and find your
11. Is it time to rent or to own?

This To-Do list could and should be significantly longer, but it is an excellent starting point to kick-off your 30’s with a string sense of you financial status and the direction to take in order to strengthen your status.
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Health And Retirement

In planning for your retirement, buying disability, health or long-term care insurance is important. The insurance company would usually want to know a lot about you. You will be classified based on your habits, medical records and family history.

You have to have an underst anding of your own health. The biggest factor in determining the insurance cost is your health.

Here is some advice from insiders to get the best health ranking possible at lowest possible rates:

1. Tell the truth

Hiding some facts on your health will not help you. First, the insuring company will eventually find out because they do have your records. They will presume that the problem is serious, since you did not mention it. Worse, withholding info the company regards as important could lead to the cancellation of your policy.

Give the insurance company your complete health history. But do it under your own terms. For example, don’t just say that you have high blood pressure. Inform them that you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure several years ago and have kept control of it.

Give them complete information and reduce the uncertainty, then eventually you would get a good deal.

Be careful on how you say things, a hesitant answer would seem that you are hiding something. Be as clear as possible with your replies.

Ask what the ranking is based on. There would generally be criteria in determining the health ranking and it varies from one company to another. Determine your ranking in a specific company and why. This helps you get a better picture and hopefully and decrease your premium. Canvass for the best rates possible but know that the rate is just one consideration.

2. Your doctor can help.

Inform your physician. Insurance companies would want to talk with your physician and look at your records. If not that, they would at least look at your records at the Medical Insurance Bureau.

Your best move is to inform your physician that you’re applying for insurance. A forewarning helps in ensuring that the insurance company gets noticed and gives you in return a favorable rating.

Ensure that the company gets a complete record, especially if you have moved from one doctor to another. The insurance company wants all of your health records to get a complete idea of your state of health.

Inquire discretely. Too much inquiry might raise a red flag on you. Try to get an agent to do the shopping for you. Choose your insurance broker carefully. Just like other professionals, they’re not created equal.

Growing Old

There are a couple of things in life that we know, at some stage, we will be worried about. Growing old certainly seems to be one of them. More and more, our culture is becoming obsessed by the cult of youth. Not only are film stars and musicians young and beautiful, but increasingly, politicians and newsreaders are getting younger also. Add to this the extraordinary lengths to which the not so young among the elite are going to maintain their youth and appear young and you will quickly see why so many people are becoming distressed about growing old.

There is one thing that people have known, at varying levels, for centuries however. This is that old age is a state of mind. Therefore, the secret to staying young lies also in the mind and not in the body. When someone mentions Madonna, we don’t think about old age or an elderly woman, but is this because she still looks quite young, or because she is as active and controversial as ever, releasing hit albums and doing what she has always done? In many senses it is a combination of the two, but I would propose that it is the young mind that keeps the body young rather than the other way around.

There are many things that you can do to keep your mind young and active. One is to keep up the old hobbies and pastimes that you have enjoyed for your whole life. Try to keep physically active. Consider walking and swimming which are less stressful on joints and bones than some other activities.

At the end of the day, it is not such a young person’s world out there. The charity. Help the Aged, defines the elderly as anyone above the age of 50. There are many 50 year olds around who would defy this but the fact is that many people, by this age, are already preparing for retirement. Age discrimination has also been recognised by the government who in 2006, will bring into force the age discrimination act that outlaws discrimination on the basis of age in the workplace.

Also, the over 50 age group is not only the fastest growing segment of the population, but 80% of the nation’s wealth is owned by the over 50s. They are also one of the freest and least tied down segments of the population. As society’s attitudes change towards old age, perhaps the time is coming to let loose and enjoy old age for all the potentialities it provides.

Why I love whole life insurance

If you are looking into life insurance, you have two basic choices. You can choose term insurance or whole life insurance.

Term insurance offers cheaper premiums. With that in mind, why do I love whole life insurance? It may have something to do with the reason I love getting a big tax refund. You see, I know I could change my deductions and get more on each pay, but I kind of like getting that big tax refund. I pay a little more every payday but it pays off each April.

It is the same way with whole life insurance. I may pay more in monthly premiums, but there are two VERY big plusses for me. One is that whole life builds cash value, making it virtually a savings account for me. The other reason is that I know my premiums won’t ever rise. Those are two pretty good reasons. But there’s more.

I have a tough time saving money, so whole life has that built in feature. I pay the premiums and a portion goes into a cash value. It also allows me to access to my built up cash value via policy loans. If I ever need some extra cash on the cheap and don’t want to go to a bank, a whole life policy could be the ticket.

Yes, I’ve heard the expression “buy term insurance and invest the difference.” For me, I love whole life insurance because I am more likely to spend the difference. Whole life helps me save it.

Seven Steps to a Sound Financial Future

Today, many people find themselves bombarded by a constant stream of financial news from television, radio, and the Internet. Yet, does all this “information age” data really help you manage your finances any better than in the past? The truth often is that the “old-fashioned” practices, such as periodic financial reviews, lead to greater success in the long run. Why not spend a few hours reviewing your finances? The changes you make today could result in increased savings. Consider these seven steps:

Analyze your cash flow. When your income is greater than your expenses, the excess is called a positive cash flow. When your expenses exceed your income, the shortfall is termed a negative cash flow. A positive cash flow means that you may have funds you can set aside as savings. A negative cash flow can indicate that it may be a good idea to reorganize your budget to minimize any unnecessary expenses.

Develop a program for special goals. For every financial and retirement goal you establish, identify a projected cost, a time horizon (how long it will take to reach the goal), and a funding method (such as through savings, liquidating assets, or taking a loan). Consider your goals in terms of a “hierarchy of importance.” The bottom—or “foundation” tier—should include emergency funds to cover at least three months’ worth of living expenses. The middle tier should include such essentials as your children’s education. On the top tier, place the “nice-to-haves,” such as a new car, home renovation, or vacation.

Boost your retirement savings. Employer-sponsored pensions and Social Security may not provide sufficient income to maintain your existing lifestyle when you retire. Thus, it is essential to identify your retirement needs and plan a disciplined savings program for the future. Maximize your contributions to retirement accounts, and if possible, make “catch-up” contributions.

Taxpayers, who are 50 years old, or older, are allowed to make additional contributions to their retirement plans. Traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and eligible Roth IRA holders can save an extra $1,000 a year in 2010. Those with eligible 401(k), 403(b), or 457 plans can save an additional $5,500 in 2010.

Minimize income taxes. Why give Uncle Sam any more of your money than is necessary? It is in your interest to take advantage of all income tax deductions to which you are entitled. Consider exploring any possible ways of reducing your income taxes. For instance, under appropriate circumstances, losses or expenses from prior years may be carried over to the next tax year. A qualified tax professional can help you implement a tax strategy that meets your needs.

Beat inflation. Your income and retirement savings must keep pace with inflation in order to maintain your buying power. This means that if the inflation rate is currently 3%, you need to achieve at least a 3% annual increase in income just to break even. If your long-term savings plan fails to keep pace with inflation, you may be unable to maintain your current st andard of living.

Manage unexpected risks. As you undoubtedly know, life can sometimes throw you a “curve ball.” Without warning, a disability or untimely death can cause financial hardship for your family. Adequate insurance is an important foundation for your financial program—it offers the protection you need to help cover potential risks and liabilities.

Consult a financial professional. In today’s complex financial world, everyone needs help in making informed decisions. A qualified financial professional can help ensure that your financial affairs are consistent with your current needs and long-term goals.

Reviews can help bring focus to your overall financial picture. In the future, you will have the opportunity to alter your programs due to changing goals and circumstances. By faithfully tracking your progress, you will be in a better position to build financial security and realize the retirement of your dreams.

Pursuant to IRS Circular 230, MetLife is providing you with the following notification: The information contained in this article is not intended to— and cannot—be used by anyone to avoid IRS penalties. This article supports the promotion and marketing of insurance and/or other financial products and services. You should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

MetLife, its affiliates, agents, and representatives may not give legal or tax advice. Any discussion of taxes herein or related to this document is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be complete or cover every situation. Tax law is subject to interpretation and legislative change. Tax results and the appropriateness of any product for any specific taxpayer may vary depending on the facts and circumstances. You should consult with and rely on your own independent legal and tax advisers regarding your particular set of facts and circumstances.

Copyright © 2010 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

L0910131535(exp1211)(All States)(DC)

This article appears courtesy of Karl Susman. Karl Susman is a representative of the New Engl and Life Insurance Company. He focuses on meeting the individual insurance and financial services needs of people on the West Coast. You can reach Karl at the office at (424) 785-4337. New Engl and Life Insurance Company, 501 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

How Much Can You Earn and Still Receive Social Security?

Retirees are often ready, willing, and able to start new careers or businesses late in life that may earn them valuable incomes. However, some may feel that it is not worthwhile to work for wages, only to have to “give up” some of those earnings in the form of higher income taxes. Frustrating as that may sound, it is important to underst and the fundamentals of Social Security income and taxation so you can make your retirement years more “golden” and less “taxing.”

Income Limits—Paying to Work?

The first factor you must consider is your age and the so-called Social Security “giveback.” If you are age 62 or older, under the full retirement age (65–67 depending on your birth year), and receiving reduced Social Security benefits, you must “give back” $1 for every $2 earned above $14,160 in 2010. If you attain full retirement age in 2010, your benefits will be reduced by $1 for each $3 earned over $37,680. Upon attainment of full retirement age, you may earn as much as you like and Social Security benefits are not reduced.

How Much Is Taxable?

A second factor affecting your Social Security benefits is the potential income taxation of those benefits. Let’s assume you are working and you also receive a check from the Social Security Administration (SSA) each month. You must first determine how much, if any, of your benefit is included in your gross taxable income. The first step in estimating this is to add up the following items: your wages, taxable pensions, interest, dividends, and other taxable income; all tax-exempt interest; any exclusions from income; your net earnings (net income less net losses) from self-employment; and half of your Social Security benefits.

This total is then compared to a first-tier threshold of $25,000 for a single taxpayer or a married taxpayer who is filing separately and lived apart from his or her spouse for the entire year, or $32,000 for a married taxpayer filing jointly. For a married taxpayer filing separately, who lived with his or her spouse for any period during the year, the first-tier threshold is $0.

For the sake of illustration, suppose your total applicable earnings are $27,000, and you are married and filing jointly. Since the total does not exceed the applicable threshold amount of $32,000, then no portion of your Social Security benefit is taxable. However, if the total exceeds the applicable threshold amount, a further, more complicated, calculation must be performed to determine the amount of your benefits that are taxable. You can refer to IRS Publication 915, Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits, for more information, or consult your financial or tax professional.

As you can see, performing these calculations is no simple task. Thus, it is important for anyone who is thinking about taking Social Security benefits while still working to underst and the potential tax consequences and to plan accordingly. As with all tax planning matters, it is wise to consult a tax professional to help ensure your planning decisions are consistent with your overall goals.

Pursuant to IRS Circular 230, MetLife is providing you with the following notification: The information contained in this document is not intended to ( and cannot) be used by anyone to avoid IRS penalties. This document supports the promotion and marketing of insurance products. You should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

MetLife, its agents, and representatives may not give legal or tax advice. Any discussion of taxes herein or related to this document is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be complete or cover every situation. Tax law is subject to interpretation and legislative change. Tax results and the appropriateness of any product for any specific taxpayer may vary depending on the facts and circumstances. You should consult with and rely on your own independent legal and tax advisors regarding your particular set of facts and circumstances.

Copyright ã 2010 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

L0510108090(exp0511)(All States)(DC)

This article appears courtesy of Karl Susman. Karl Susman is a representative of the New Engl and Life Insurance Company. He focuses on meeting the individual insurance and financial services needs of people on the West Coast. You can reach Karl at the office at (424) 785-4337. New Engl and Life Insurance Company, 501 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

Divorce and Retirement Plan Proceeds

Unfortunately, divorce is increasingly common in our society. Because divorce entails the dividing of assets, some of which have tax implications, it is important to be aware of potential “tax traps” when you begin planning. One such trap in the area of retirement plan assets is the existence of vested account balances.

In the past, with traditional defined benefit plans, the plan participant was promised a retirement benefit, but he or she had no vested retirement account balance. However, with the shift toward defined contribution plans, vesting for employee contributions is immediate, and vesting for employer contributions builds quickly. Consequently, as more Americans participate in 401(k) plans and other defined contribution retirement plans, dividing vested retirement plan assets in divorce situations has created complex financial issues.

Protect Yourself with a QDRO

A qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) is a judgment or order that involves child support, alimony, or property rights pertaining to a spouse, former spouse, child, or other dependent. A QDRO can be used to establish one spouse’s right to part or all of the other spouse’s retirement plan(s)— and to ensure that the recipient spouse pays the tax.

To be protected through a QDRO, it must specify the following:

o The name and address of the plan participant and the “alternate payee” (typically, the participant’s spouse).

o The name and account number of each retirement account involved.

o The percentage (or dollar amount) of each plan that is to be paid to the alternate payee.

o The period of time or the number of payments covered by the QDRO.

The QDRO must be a part of the divorce decree or a court-approved property settlement document. The decree should also specify that a QDRO is being established under Section 414(p) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and the particular state’s domestic relations laws. Intent to establish a QDRO is insufficient; it must be spelled out in the divorce papers.

Getting divorced can be “taxing” enough, but it need not be made more difficult by mish andling the division of assets in a retirement plan. And, although this particular decision does appear to provide room for straying from the precise wording of the statute, applying the proper language in a divorce decree may help ease some of the inevitable complications that can arise, facilitating a smoother transition for all involved. Qualified legal advice should be obtained to help ensure that any desired planning actions are worded and structured properly.

This article appears courtesy of [Reps full name]. [Reps first name] is a Registered Representative offering securities through MetLife Securities, Inc.(MSI) (member FINRA/SIPC), New York, NY 10166. Insurance and annuities offered through Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MLIC), New York, NY 10166. MSI and MLIC are MetLife companies. [He/She] focuses on meeting the individual insurance and financial services needs of people [in/from] [name occupation/profession/business/or lifestyle market]. You can reach [rep first name] at the office at [registered branch office address and phone number, including area code]. MetLife does not provide tax or legal advice.

Copyright © 2010 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

L0210091158(exp0311)(All States)(DC)

This article appears courtesy of Karl Susman. Karl Susman is a representative of the New Engl and Life Insurance Company. He focuses on meeting the individual insurance and financial services needs of people on the West Coast. You can reach Karl at the office at (424) 785-4337. New Engl and Life Insurance Company, 501 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

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