The Time to Plan for Retirement is Now

It’s National Retirement Planning Week (April 3-7) — a perfect opportunity to focus on arguably the most important piece of the financial-planning pie.

Bluntly stated, there is an urgent need for retirement planning. A unique set of challenges has emerged that make planning essential, including changes in employee benefits, longer life spans, and rising costs of health care. Add to these challenges another reality: more Americans are shouldering the burden of saving for retirement on their own.

The National Retirement Planning Coalition — the group of prominent education, regulatory, consumer advocacy and financial services organizations behind National Retirement Planning Week — believes retirement readiness is achievable. The coalition recognizes that saving and crafting a plan for retirement is a long-term process and with different steps at difference stages of life. To help us on our way, the Coalition offers resources for everyone from students to grandparents. These resources aim to help us take steps, both large and small, on the path toward retiring on our own terms.

Many consumers who are unsure about where to start may benefit from developing a retirement income plan with the help of a trusted, qualified advisor. A knowledgeable advisor will help you define life goals, identify risks you may face, and establish the right financial picture.


In the News

Test Your Retirement Readiness IQ

How much do you know about planning for a long, financially secure retirement? Fidelity Investments recently prepared a two-part quiz that can help you answer that question. The first part concerns retirement savings and asks three key questions about how to put enough money away for a secure future. READ MORE

Grandparents to the Rescue: The Tax-Smart Way to Cover Preschool

Here’s a way for boomers to share the wealth with their children and grandkids: Cover the cost of preschool and shake off gift taxes to boot. You already know that college expenses are skyrocketing. High-end preschools can be nearly as bad. READ MORE

Here’s Why That Big Tax Refund Isn’t Great News For You

A large tax refund may feel like free money, but it isn’t. Many tax refund recipients are putting that money to work. About a third of taxpayers getting a refund expect to save or invest the money, while nearly three in 10 will pay down debt … READ MORE

6 Secrets To a Better Credit Score

A credit score plays a big role in your daily life. It can determine the interest rate a consumer is going to pay for credit cards, car loans and mortgages — or whether they will get a loan at all. READ MORE

Are You Spoiling Your Kids?

Kids require three things: love, lots of work and money. There’s nothing wrong with indulging your children every once and a while. Yet constantly overspending on gifts, birthday parties, sports or vacations is a common mistake most parents make even if it comes at the expense of their own savings and retirement. READ MORE

“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.”

– Paulo Coelho

Toasted Spaghetti With Clams

Enjoy the toasted flavor of this simple pasta dish! Serves Four.

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 lb of spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
crushed red pepper
3 cups bottled clam broth
1 cup water
3 dozen littleneck clams, rinsed
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, minced

1. Heat olive oil until it shimmers in a large skillet over medium heat.
2. Add the raw spaghetti pieces and sauté, stirring constantly until golden (about 3 minutes).
3. Toss in minced garlic and a large pinch of the crushed red pepper. Cook until they become fragrant (about 1 minute).
4. Add the water and clam broth, and bring the mixture to a boil.
5. Cover the skillet with a lid, and cook until the noodles are just al dente (around 8 minutes).
6. Add the clams to the skillet, nestling them so they are snug within the pasta.
7. Cover the skillet again and cook until the pasta is al dente and clams open (about 7 minutes)

Finishing Touches – Before Serving:
8. Liven up the pasta with a few tablespoons of water if it’s slightly dry from cooking.
9. Top pasta dish with minced parsley and enjoy.

Tax Benefits of Higher Education

Pursuing higher education can provide you with tax benefits that help offset the money you owe if either you, your spouse, or your dependents attended in 2016. You have two credits available: 1) American Opportunity Credit and 2) Lifetime Learning Credit. Here are tips for knowing if these credits apply to you and how to claim them.

American Opportunity Credit
— For: Students who actively pursued a degree or another recognized college credential at least part time and for a minimum of one academic period in 2016
— Worth: Benefit maximum is $2500 per student
— Time Limit: Only applicable during first four years of attendance at an eligible college or vocational school

Lifetime Learning Credit
— For: Students who pursued any postsecondary education, including courses taken to acquire or improve job skills
— Worth: Benefit maximum is $2000 per tax return, no matter how many students in your household can claim this credit
— Time Limit: No limit on the number of years you can claim this credit

Other qualifying factors may apply, and you can learn more on the IRS website. When filing taxes, claim your credits using Form 8863.

*This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice.
We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor

Tip courtesy of

Improve Your Game by Training Your Brain

Being mentally sharp during golf is just as important as the mechanical aspects of your game. When your mind isn’t clear—or you’re distracted—an extraordinary shot can easily turn into a dud. You can sharpen your game by training your brain to focus. Here are a couple of tips for bringing the right headspace to the course.

1. Focus Your Attention
When you are taking a shot, your mind digests the movements you plan to make and then tells your body what to do. Having clarity and confidence as you swing is essential for maintaining fluid control. If you’re unsure or feel tentative about your decision, then you’ll probably bring a different tempo to your swing—and miss the opportunity to play your best.

Suggested Fix?
Learn to remain present in the moment. Don’t consume your mind with thinking about what you did before or what you’ll do after this hole. Instead, keep your attention on what you need to do now.

2. Look at Moves in Reverse
Sometimes, looking from the starting point of a move can keep you stuck on what to do next. Planning your approach at the tee box gives you multiple steps and potential sce-narios and outcomes to consider. You can train your brain to sharpen its focus by think-ing first about the last step of your move.

Suggested Fix?
Work in reverse by imagining sinking the putt and consider each shot that got you there. Visualize each move and how they connect to one another. If you feel confident with this visual play, then go ahead and bring it to life.

Tip courtesy of THINQ Golf & Golf Tips Magazine

Self-Care Tips for Managing Anxiety

Having an anxiety disorder or trouble managing anxiety can require medical care. How-ever, certain lifestyle choices also may help keep anxiety under control. Here are some self-care tips to help you manage your anxiety, regardless of whether you take medication to assist you.

1. Quit or Avoid Cigarettes and Caffeinated Beverages: Nicotine and caffeine can increase anxiety levels. Decreasing or completely avoiding these can help decrease your anxiety.

2. Write Daily Logs in a Journal: A journal can be helpful for tracking your daily activities and moods as an ongoing log of your emotional health. Both you and any therapist you may be seeing can use these insights to gain a deeper under-standing of the stresses and anxiety triggers you are experiencing in your life.

3. Eat Healthier Foods: Studies have shown a possible link between healthy eat-ing and decreased anxiety levels. You can support your preventive care by eat-ing more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish.

4. Socialize: Staying isolated doesn’t improve anxiety. Make sure you spend time with friends and family, and make socializing part of your mental health routine.

Tip courtesy of Mayo Clinic

Ways to Buy Sustainable Seafood: Fish

Your food-shopping habits can support your green living goals. One important factor worth paying attention to is how you buy your seafood—and specifically knowing how to make sustainable choices. Consider these two green tips the next time you’re buying fish to bring home for dinner.

1. Know the Source
Knowing where your fish comes from can help you answer important sustainability questions, such as: Do their fishing practices accidentally catch other animals? Are the fish harvested ethically in relation to their population numbers? You’ll want to identify details, including:

– Are the fish wild or farmed?
– What are their fishing methods?
– How abundant are the fish populations?

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch provides helpful resources for navigating many of these consumer questions.

2. Buy Local Seafood
Whenever you buy local food, you minimize the amount of shipping needed to get you the fish you want—which is usually energy extensive. Plus, you support your local fishing communities while buying food that is typically less expensive and has more abundant populations.

You can explore sustainable fish options by state through the Seafood Watch guide.

Tip courtesy of U.S. News