DIY: When It Works and When It Doesn’t
22 October 2014, 6:49 pm
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Census Bureau, do-it-yourself (DIY) work accounts for 37 percent of all home remodeling projects in the U.S. Unfortunately, the flip side is that about 30 percent of work performed by the professional remodeling industry represents fixing DIY attempts.
We are often tempted to do something ourselves to save money or simply for the satisfaction, but how do you know when it's OK to do the work and when you should call in a pro? As many DIY-ers have learned, even the easy-looking jobs can turn into a nightmare if you lack the proper skills and knowledge. Apart from having experience in that line of work, consider if your goal is to save money. If so, calculate not just the cost of materials but how long it would realistically take to complete a project -- and the toll that may take on your personal life. Sometimes it may be cheaper -- both financially and for the sake of family harmony -- to hire a professional. Remember that professionals generally already own the tools they'll need for the job and can purchase materials at wholesale prices.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, "House Calls: DIY project drawbacks," at the Leader-Telegram, Sept. 6, 2014.]
[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Know your limit, DIY within it" at the Toronto Sun, Sept. 11, 2014.]
Fixing problems in your house is one thing, but what about treating problems with your health? The Internet has become the go-to problem-solving source for everything from broken dishwashers to diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome. According to a recent study, the average American adult spends about 52 hours looking up medical issues each year -- a phenomenon called "cyberchondria."
A future trend in health care that is already in development is the use of an affordable, handheld device that consumers can use to self-diagnose their medical conditions. For those of you familiar with the Star Trek series, this is the same type of data recording and analysis technology Dr. McCoy used to scan patients to determine what ailed them. So, yes, the DIY "tricorder" may be in our near future.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Stop Googling yourself sick," at metro.us, Aug. 11, 2014.]
[CLICK HERE to read the article, "The race to create a real-life tricorder," at CNN, Sept. 7, 2014.]
This focus on health is apparently well-founded. According to a new Merrill Lynch study, health is the "cornerstone of a happy retirement" as well as retirees' greatest financial worry. In the section titled, "Planning for Health Care Expenses: Not a Do-It-Yourself Project," the survey reports that less than one out of six pre-retirees (15 percent) have ever attempted to estimate how much money they might need for health care and long-term care in retirement.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Merrill Lynch Study Finds Health is the Cornerstone of a Happy Retirement, and Greatest Financial Worry," at Yahoo Finance, Sept. 12, 2014.]
Some DIY projects cannot be fixed by a professional after the damage is done. One example is DIY wills and estate planning. One woman in Florida, who thought she had dotted all her i's and crossed all her t's using online forms, didn't live to see her estate plans knocked askew by probate court.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Case Illustrates Dangers of Executing a Will without Legal Assistance," at Martindale-Hubbell, May 9, 2014.]
In life, sometimes the more we learn, the more we understand how little we really know. DIY projects are probably some of the best training ground for truly understanding that insight. We hope you will turn to us for help when developing a strategy for your own financial future. After all, that's what we do for a living.
Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies utilizing insurance products. Our firm is not permitted to offer, and no statement contained herein, shall constitute legal advice. Be sure to speak with qualified professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.
Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental agency.
This content is provided for informational purposes only, it is provided by third parties and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual's situation.
If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.
Same Sex Marriage – 3 Retirement Benefits for AZ Couples
18 October 2014, 9:30 pm
On October 17th, Nelda Majors and Karen Bailey became the first same sex couple to obtain a marriage license in Phoenix. They won their long court battle for marriage equality in the state of Arizona.
Now, these ladies can now potentially take advantage of 3 important retirement income benefits that they didn’t have before saying “I do”.
Many people In retirement rely on three sources of income
- Social Security
- Personal Savings
Each of these sources is impacted by the change in the law.
Number ONE is Social Security.
When a single person nears retirement, they are faced with the decision regarding when to begin taking Social Security benefits. For most single people, the decision is fairly straightforward.
Marriage, however, complicates the “when to take Social Security” decision – in a good way. The reason is that there are many more options for married couples to maximize their joint retirement income.
In our office, we use sophisticated software tools when working with our clients to determine the best strategy for their needs.
Additionally, marriage impacts a not so fun to talk about part of a couple’s retirement plan. This is what I refer to as the “Ring Around the Rosie” wish.
Ring-a-round the rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
We all fall down.
Not to be morbid, but there’s a romantic fantasy that a married couple will “all fall down” together. The reality is that this rarely happens. Therefore, maximizing widow and widower benefits is a very important part of implementing a complete retirement plan.
Survivor benefits work like this: When the first partner passes away, the survivor visits their Social Security office. The workers at Social Security then review the benefits for both partners and pay the surviving spouse the GREATER of their benefit or their spouse’ benefit. Since it’s very rare for couples to have identical Social Security benefits, this represents an income increase for approximately ½ o f these new married couples.
Number TWO is pension income.
When an individual retires, they are usually given a choice on how to receive the pension from their employer. One option is a single life annuity in which the employer writes the retired employee a check for their lifetime. When they die, so does their pension.
The second option is for a joint life annuity which provides income for “as long as either of you shall live”. In most circumstances it is best for married couples to elect this income payout option. Although it ALWAYS means that the monthly check is lower, this option provides income security for the survivor.
Likewise, there are expanded income benefits for the THIRD source of retirement income – personal savings.
There are several ways to use your personal savings to meet your retirement income needs, but a popular alternative is the use of annuities to provide lifetime income. Some annuities allow for joint life payouts that are ONLY available for married couples.
A joint life income payout works very similar to the pension option above. The good news is that the joint payout will pay income for the life of both partners. The bad news is – again – that the monthly income check will be smaller.
There’s one important thing that you should be aware of. Not all annuity contracts allow for joint life payouts. I find time and time again that an annuity is pitched showing a single life payout. However, when it comes time to begin taking income benefits, the annuity owners have a rude awakening. They discover that the contracts do not allow for a joint payout.
If you are considering purchasing an annuity to provide retirement income, make sure that a joint payout option is allowed in the contract that you are contemplating. Also insist that the benefit which is illustrated covers both of you.
If you own an existing policy, call the insurance company 800 number today. Find out if you can elect a joint payout for your existing policy. If your contract only covers you – and not your spouse – it may be time to consider replacing that contract with one that is more inclusive.
Congratulations to all the newlyweds in Arizona! I hope that you can live – and retire happily ever after.