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What You Really Should Know About Social Security Benefits

By:  Maureen Wilkin, Federal Benefits Specialist

Published:  June 20, 2018

Most people working today tend to think of Social Security benefits as something to consider when they get old.  Human nature being what it is they put off thinking about those benefits.  And that’s not a good idea.  Social Security benefits are not a component of old age.  In fact, as a working individual, you might qualify for some type of benefit long before you reach old age.  Benefits are available to workers at retirement age, if they become disabled, and then to surviving family members at the time of the worker’s death.  If you are married to a worker receiving a benefit, you might qualify for a spousal benefit, even if you do not qualify for a worker’s benefit of your own. 

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Why Everyone Must Do Estate Planning Today

By:  Norman Handler, Esquire

Published:  May 21, 2018

Estate planning often falls to the bottom of our “to-do list”, because it is not a pleasant thing to think about and because none of us expect to need it anytime in the near future. And the probability is that most of us will not need it in the near future. But estate planning deals with possibilities, not probabilities, and it is possible that the need will arise. We have to plan to care of ourselves and our families, just in case the need does arrive sooner than expected.

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Can You Handle an Unexpected Expense?

By:  Raymond Kirk, Ph. D., Federal Benefits Specialist

Published:  April 20, 2018

 

You had an unexpected car repair; a squirrel got into your attic, your water heater ruptured.  Sudden unplanned expenses can play havoc with your budget and you are not alone.  More than one-third of households (34 percent) endured a major unexpected expense over the past year, according to Bankrate’s latest Financial Security Index survey.

Only 39 percent said they could cover a $1,000 expense with savings.  A quarter of the households would borrow from friends or cut back on other regular monthly expenses.  One out of five would use a credit card and pay off over time, making the total cost even greater.  Your best protection is to have an emergency savings fund as a cushion.

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TSP Versus IRA: Which is Better?

By:  Karen Schaeffer, Certified Financial Planner®

Published:  March 20, 2018

 

So, which is better, the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA)? Such a deceptively simple question can fill countless, “well, it depends” paragraphs without getting to an answer.  Rather than ramble on about endless variables, lets walk through some of the strengths of each, trying to keep in mind the correct answer might:

  • Be both instead of either/or;
  • Differ based on whether we’re in the accumulation phase or the spending phase of life; and
  • Be different for you than for someone else – its personal financial planning after all.

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January 2018: Twelve Weeks to Better Health

By:  Kari Utz-Wolsky, Nutrition and Conditioning Specialist

Published:  January 19, 2018

As we head into the New Year, many of us desire to make positive health changes.  And for those who make New Years resolutions, a large majority of these goals revolve around diet and/or exercise.  We may hope to give up poor habits, or embark on a new exercise routine.  Or possibly we even hope to make a complete overhaul to our nutrition plan.  Unfortunately, the odds are not in our favor.  Eighty percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February! Continue reading

October 2017: Flexible Spending Accounts

By:  Raymond Kirk, Ph.D., Federal Benefits Specialist

Published:  October 20, 2017

 

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) give employees the opportunity to save hundreds, potentially thousands, of dollars a year on health care and dependent care expenses. Yet, fewer than 20% of employees take advantage of them. There are two types of FSAs: Health Care (HCFSA) and Dependent Care (DCFSA). Both operate the same way.  Employees have money withheld from their pay and deposited in their FSA accounts. When you have eligible expenses they are paid out of the money withheld from your pay. The benefit is the money is put into your FSA account on a pre-tax basis and you never have to pay the taxes.

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September 2017: Essential Documents for Young Adults

By: Karen Schaeffer, CFP®
Published: September 20, 2017
By now the members of the high school class of 2017 heading for college or a gap year are finally getting settled. Families across the country are tearing up the check lists from Bed, Bath and Beyond, putting the last box of forgotten items in the mail and starting to enjoy the calm that a slightly emptier nest can bring.  But there is likely one more essential financial planning task that needs attention. Our 18-year-old pseudo adults are real adults in the eyes of the law and we need them to sign very adult-like documents:  a health care proxy with a HIPAA release and a durable power of attorney.   Without them, if a student is incapacitated – even for a short period of time – no one can make healthcare or financial decisions on their behalf without a court order.