Technology Pros and Cons

Not all innovations are initially successful. Think about the driverless car. It sounded like a great idea — helping the disabled and elderly retain some independence — until the first pedestrian fatality involving a driverless car occurred in Arizona this year.1

Driverless technology may be a work in progress, but it may still have advantages. After all, the technology could reduce the number of cars on the road and their greenhouse gas emissions. America’s parking lots consume more land than Delaware and Rhode Island combined, and the average privately owned car in the U.S. is used only 5 percent of the time, sitting parked the rest of the time.

We deal with the pros and cons of new technology every day. We love our smartphones, often relying on them too much — like when the battery goes dead and GPS navigation disappears. After all, who carries a map in their car these days? These lessons can be applied to other aspects of life, like carrying insurance for an item we no longer use, such as a boat or a lost piece of jewelry. Take stock and see if there are goods, services or habits you do not need and are costing you money. Sometimes our conveniences create more problems than they solve. 

While you’re in the mood to take stock, consider giving us a call to review your current retirement income strategy. We will be happy to help you make sure it aligns with your goals for retirement.

Social media is another area that has revealed both pros and cons. It has been a wonderful invention for keeping family, friends and colleagues in touch, regardless of location. Then Facebook announced that 87 million users’ data was used by a political consulting and data brokerage firm.3 One of the data scandal’s most interesting revelations was, while a social media user may carefully control who sees his or her personal information, any time we friend, follow or otherwise link with other people exposes information to marketers who target the followed individuals.4

Other “conveniences” also may have questionable implications. Amazon recently announced it was adding an option to deliver packages to a purchaser’s locked car, in addition to the in-home delivery service launched last year. The new car delivery service uses an Amazon Key app with connection technologies common in new vehicles.5 Trusting a delivery person with access to your empty home or car — what possibly could go wrong?

Despite constant concerns about privacy and security in technology and personal data, one of the most irritating issues is keeping track of passwords. It seems we are constantly inundated with requests to change them, so much so it’s nearly impossible to keep up with which websites have which passwords. While most people recognize the need to exercise caution, two of the most common passwords used today are still “123456” and “Password.”6

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Anita Balakrishnan and Deirdre Bosa. CNBC. March 19, 2018. “Uber halts self-driving car tests after first known death of a pedestrian.” https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/19/uber-self-driving-car-fatality-halts-testing-in-all-cities-report-says.html. Accessed April 27, 2018. 

2 Ely Razin. Forbes. March 11, 2018. “How Driverless Cars Could Disrupt The Real Estate Industry.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/elyrazin/2018/03/11/how-driverless-cars-could-disrupt-the-real-estate-industry/#61039ab013c1. Accessed April 27, 2018. 

3 Nadeem Badshah. The Guardian. April 8, 2018. “Facebook to contact 87 million users affected by data breach.” https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/08/facebook-to-contact-the-87-million-users-affected-by-data-breach. Accessed April 27, 2018. 

4 Knowledge@Wharton. March 22, 2018. “Why the Cambridge Analytica Scandal Is a Watershed Moment for Social Media.” http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/fallout-cambridge-analytica/. Accessed April 27, 2018. 

5 Andrew J. Hawkins. The Verge. April 24, 2018. “Amazon will now deliver packages to the trunk of your car.” https://www.theverge.com/2018/4/24/17261744/amazon-package-delivery-car-trunk-gm-volvo. Accessed April 27, 2018. 

6 Matt Burgess. Wired. Jan. 2, 2018. “In 2018, it’s finally time to ditch those bad tech habits.” http://www.wired.co.uk/article/technology-resolutions-2018-improve-digital. Accessed April 27, 2018. 

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. 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.

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Notes on U.S. Infrastructure

The American Society of Civil Engineers has given the U.S. an overall infrastructure grade of D+. Throughout the next decade, it will take more than $4.5 trillion to fix our aging infrastructure — including upgrades to roads, mass transit, wastewater treatment plants and the electrical grid.1

We’ve reached the mission-critical stage. One industry analyst observed, “We’re at the point where our infrastructure is becoming an impediment to productivity and long-term economic growth.”2

The idea of national infrastructure may remind us of personal retirement preparation. If you are still working and thinking about retirement options, consider your own “infrastructure” situation. First, are you considering relocating or downsizing, or are you committed to aging in your own home? If you prefer the latter, it’s a good idea to check out your home from top to bottom to see whether you need any major repairs or maintenance while you’re still earning a paycheck.

This inspection should include considering a new roof, checking for mold buildup in your crawl space and researching new windows or other energy-efficient features that can help lower your utility bills. Even replacing older appliances could impact your household budget once you’re living on a fixed income.

Given our dramatic weather pattern swings, we should also prepare for the possibility of a natural disaster that could affect our daily living. Consider how you might plan for a long-term disruption in power or clean water supplies, such as installing a generator, solar panels, tiles and/or a battery pack. While it may seem farfetched, remember that the citizens of Puerto Rico probably never thought they would have to adapt for long-term power outages, as seen after Hurricane Maria.3

One way the U.S. is trying to address some of these issues is by incorporating green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) in sewer overflow control and integrated wet-weather plans. The idea is to evaluate the performance of GSI systems for future development.4

With all the discussion about funding at the federal level, one little-known fact is how much infrastructure is controlled at the local level. In fact, 40 percent of the nation’s bridges and 46 percent of all public roads are owned and maintained by counties. Furthermore, counties help fund one-third of the nation’s airports and 78 percent of public transportation programs.5

The news isn’t all bad. According to the World Economic Forum, the U.S. international ranking for overall infrastructure quality improved from 25th to 12th place last year out of 138 countries. However, when it comes to specific categories, we show mixed results — the U.S. ranks second in road infrastructure spending but ranks 60th for road safety. The U.S. also lags behind other developed countries when it comes to infrastructure resilience and future sustainability.6

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Merrill Lynch. 2018. “Getting a Bigger Bang for the Infrastructure Buck.” https://www.ml.com/articles/getting-a-bigger-bang-from-the-infrastructure-buck.html#financial-research-and-insights. Accessed April 20, 2018.

2 Ibid.

3 Camilla Domonoske. NPR. April 18, 2018. “Puerto Rico Loses Power — Again.” https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/18/603569966/puerto-rico-loses-power-again. Accessed April 20, 2018.

4 Water Environment Federation. April 4, 2018. “Data analyses confirm GSI value in overflow control.” http://stormwater.wef.org/2018/04/data-analyses-confirm-gsi-value-overflow-control/. Accessed April 20, 2018.

5 Mary Scott Nabers. Infrastructure USA. April 9, 2018. “County government — a critical component of America’s greatness.” https://www.infrastructureusa.org/county-government-a-critical-component-of-americas-greatness/. Accessed April 20, 2018.

6 Hiba Baroud. PBS News Hour. Feb. 18, 2018. “Measuring up U.S. infrastructure against other countries.” https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/measuring-up-u-s-infrastructure-against-other-countries. Accessed April 20, 2018.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. 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.

 

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Music Plays Instrumental Role in Healing Ailments

Hearing a familiar song from a happy period in your life, such as childhood, can instantly make you feel joyful. It’s as if you’re right back there — toe tapping, head bopping and singing along. Just as with our sight, smell and taste senses, positive auditory memories can enhance mood and transport us back to a happier time.

The power of music has led researchers to study various applications of music therapy to help people overcome the pain of health conditions, emotional challenges and even the cognitive decline that often accompanies old age.1

It’s not enough to believe we will all grow old gracefully. This usually doesn’t happen without planning. A big part of planning for retirement isn’t just how to provide enough income for the rest of our life, but how to help ensure we still enjoy a high quality of life no matter our age.

As an independent financial services firm, we help people create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives; just give us a call. As for creating a plan to help enhance quality of life, consider some of these music therapy applications.

Music therapy is now a board-certified health profession. With approximately 7,500 practitioners throughout the country, the practice has become prevalent in nursing homes and hospices. The American Music Therapy Association reports about 10 percent of musical therapists work with terminally ill patients in a new discipline called end-of-life music therapy.2

A growing body of research indicates music therapy can help improve cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.3 It also can be used to aid in stress and pain management, memory enhancement, communication and physical rehabilitation.4

Further, the discipline has been found to help people with psychiatric problems, such as depression, trauma and schizophrenia. Music can help calm patients as well as help them process emotions, trauma and grief.5

Interestingly, the military has used forms of music therapy since the post-World War I era. Trained musical therapists use it as a tool to help wounded, injured or ill soldiers express their thoughts nonverbally. Research also shows music can be effective at increasing neuroplasticity in the brain, which is an important role in helping veterans address symptoms of PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.6

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications. 

1 Sharon Otterman. The New York Times. Jan. 15, 2018. “Music Therapy Offers an End-of-Life Grace Note.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/15/nyregion/music-therapy-nursing-home-hospice.html. Accessed April 13, 2018.

2 Ibid.

3 Sherry Christiansen. Alzheimer’s Universe. July 24, 2017. “Quick Alzheimer’s Prevention Pearl: Studies Show Music Improves Cognition in People with Alzheimer’s Disease.” https://www.alzu.org/blog/2017/07/24/how-music-helps-with-alzheimers-prevention/. Accessed April 18, 2018.

4 American Music Therapy Association. 2018. “What is Music Therapy?” https://www.musictherapy.org. Accessed April 13, 2018.

5 Molly Warren. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Dec. 19, 2016. “The Impact of Music Therapy on Mental Health.https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/December-2016/The-Impact-of-Music-Therapy-on-Mental-Health. Accessed April 18, 2018.

6 Frank Otto. Drexel University News Blog. March 20, 2018. “3 Things to Keep in Mind About Music Therapy in the Military.https://newsblog.drexel.edu/2018/03/20/3-things-to-keep-in-mind-about-music-therapy-in-the-military/. Accessed April 13, 2018.

 

 

This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. 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.

 

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Demographic Differences

Consider these questions for a moment: Have your outlook and attitude toward politics and culture changed over the years? Or are you the same as always? If you were a conservative young adult, do you hold the same beliefs today? If you were a rebel as a youngster, are you still? Or have you mellowed with age?

The study of generational cohorts gives researchers a better understanding of what influences us as we age. What are the factors that influence our beliefs — parents, education, religion, career path, life experiences or opportunities to travel? Also, how much impact do the economy and social politics have? For example, millennials who saw their parents lose jobs, and even homes, during the economic recession that began in December 2007 may have a different view of the world than they would have if the recession had not been so severe.

We do change as we grow older. And certainly, our financial picture changes to reflect our needs, our wants and our goals. As you reflect on what you were like in the past and where you’re headed in the future, feel free to give us a call to discuss ways to create a retirement income plan that can help support the path you’re on now.

For the sake of generational research, think tank Pew Research Center has declared the end of an era. It has officially determined the last birth year for millennials as 1996. Pew defines millennials as anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 22-37 in 2018) for its future work. People born starting in 1997 onward are considered members of a new generation.1

A lot has changed. Post-millennials are growing up in a time when social media, constant connectivity and on-demand entertainment are taken for granted. Most baby boomers (born from 1946 to 1964) will likely remember when television was still black and white, Generation X (born from 1965 to 1980) grew up with Blockbuster Video stores and Millennials embraced the age of smartphones and computer games.

This increased exposure to technology stratifies generations in ways you might expect. For example, among people who pay for their news sources, those over age 65 are five times more likely to buy a print edition rather than digital (72 percent vs. 14 percent).2

This preference carries over to reading books as well. Within the age 65+ demographic, 63 percent have read a print book in the past year, 15 percent have read an e-book and 12 percent have listened to an audiobook. Among the 18- to 29-year-old set, those numbers are 75 percent, 34 percent and 23 percent, respectively. Young adults are not abandoning books, they are simply diversifying the way they read.3

Here’s another interesting divide that seems a departure from years gone by. It’s a common perception that as we grow older, we develop healthier eating habits. Not so much anymore. Today’s millennials are very well attuned to healthy living habits. As a demographic, they smoke less, are more conscious of their diet and exercise more than previous generations at that age.4

There’s also a growing discrepancy between young and old when it comes to political beliefs. Among the “silent generation” (those born from 1928 to 1945), 52 percent lean Republican versus 43 percent Democrat. Baby boomers are pretty evenly split at 46 percent GOP and 48 percent Democrat. Millennials, on the other hand, are overwhelmingly more liberal than previous generations, with 59 percent Democrat and 32 percent Republican.5

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Michael Dimock. Pew Research Center. March 1, 2018. “Defining generations: Where Millennials end and post-Millennials begin.” http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/01/defining-generations-where-millennials-end-and-post-millennials-begin/. Accessed March 29, 2018.

2 American Press Institute. May 2, 2017. “Print vs. digital subscribers: Demographic differences and paths to subscription.” https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/publications/reports/survey-research/print-vs-digital/. Accessed March 29, 2018.

3 Andrew Perrin. Pew Research Center. March 8, 2018. “Nearly one-in-five Americans now listen to audiobooks.” http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/08/nearly-one-in-five-americans-now-listen-to-audiobooks/. Accessed March 29, 2018.

4 A.T. Kearney. “Demographic Shifts.” https://www.atkearney.com/web/health250/1.-demographic-shifts. Accessed March 29, 2018.

5 Reid Wilson. The Hill. March 20, 2018. “Demographic gaps between parties widen.” http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/379369-demographic-gaps-between-parties-widen. Accessed March 29, 2018.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. 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.

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Recent Articles

  • Technology Pros and Cons

    Not all innovations are initially successful. Think about the driverless car. It sounded like a great idea — helping the disabled and elderly retain some…

  • Notes on U.S. Infrastructure

    The American Society of Civil Engineers has given the U.S. an overall infrastructure grade of D+. Throughout the next decade, it will take more than…

  • Music Plays Instrumental Role in Healing Ailments

    Hearing a familiar song from a happy period in your life, such as childhood, can instantly make you feel joyful. It’s as if you’re right…