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Planning for the Future Series: Retirement & Education Funding

Monday, February 28, 2011

With constant talk of the economy and the number of baby boomers retiring, many people are thinking about the future. These days, it’s not uncommon to begin researching methods to plan for your child’s education not long after they enter the world. Whether planning for your child’s education or looking to retire, here are some answers to some of your frequently asked questions:

Can I take money from my individual retirement plan to pay for my child’s education?

Traditionally you would incur a 10% early distribution penalty for withdrawing money from a traditional or Roth IRA before you reach age 59-1/2. Luckily, there is an exception for distributions used to pay qualified higher education expenses. Keep in mind that the qualified higher education expenses must be for you, your spouse, your children or your grandchildren. For more details, visit the FinAid website. 

How can I save on my taxes while setting aside retirement income?

By utilizing an IRAs, whether traditional or Roth, you can receive a great tax savings. You will only pay taxes on your investment gains when you withdraw money in a traditional IRA and might be able to deduct contributions to the plan. Conversely, with a Roth IRA, you cannot deduct contributions but you can take advantage of tax-free growth and laws were changed to allow you to contribute more to the Roth IRA.

What’s my best bet for long-term growth for retirement savings?

If you have the time and the patience, you will find that investing in stocks will increase your ability to achieve higher returns over the long run. Whether you have a lifetime or little time to save, remember to plan wisely for retirement. Use the Social Security Administration’s calculator to find out how much you can expect to expect in Social Security when you retire.

Have more questions or want to get started? Turn to the experts at The Salmon Agency. Give us a call at 407-365-1766 and take a positive step toward your future!

New Content for 2011: Have you seen our Twitter or Facebook lately?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

If you are following our blog, we hope that you are already a fan of ours on Facebook. Please “like” our page if you haven’t already to stay up-to-date on great insurance resources as well as to receive some other great insight. If you also have a twitter, stay active or get reacquainted with @salmonagency. Every week, you can expect to see a few things posted to help ease your pockets or to help you stay positive and motivated during the week. Here’s the rundown of what to expect:

Magical Monday: One of the few things that people don’t mind being extra plump on their body is the size of their wallets. On Mondays, look out for money saving deals to help keep that cash in your pockets. The Salmon Agency will also be spotlighting unique local organizations and community leaders to keep our followers up to date on our area and the people making difference in it. If you or your nonprofit organization (or charitable works by your business) are interested in being featured here, please contact us.

Wednesday’s Wise Words: If you find the hump on Wednesdays too hard to get over and you’re just dying for the weekend, check out Wednesdays Wise Words to find inspiration to not just survive the day, but also thrive. If you have a quote that’s helped you, don’t be too shy to let us know about it.

Fun Fridays: Fun polls on Friday – We’ll post some interactive questions about popular discussions so that you can chime in and let us know your opinion!

We hope you will enjoy this refreshing new content in 2011 and please don’t be shy about sharing our blog, our Facebook and our Twitter page with your friends and followers.

Cutting Your Energy Costs Can Mean More Lattes!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It’s a new year and many people are looking to makeover their expenses while they makeover their bodies. While my specialty may be insurance, I am mindful of helping all of my clients – whether businesses or families – to look at their whole life and as a result, have helped clients save hundreds or sometimes, thousands of dollars a year.

One of the easiest areas to cut expenses is in the luxuries you may splurge on; magazine subscriptions or shopping sprees for instance. However, many people have already eliminated these types of expenses from their budget. Another place to look to save without drastically changing your lifestyle is in reducing your energy costs. Here are a few simple steps you can take to reduce that energy bill and help reduce your environmental footprint in the process:

  • Consider switching to a natural-gas water heater and turn the setting down to 120 degrees. This will cut energy use by half!
  • Use compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) in your lamps. They not only last much longer, but provide a warm glow and 70 percent more energy efficiency!
  • Seal your home or business: close the fireplace damper; seal ductwork and caulk any unnecessary openings that may permit drafting of air.
  • If you cannot afford to install all Energy Star appliances, then install Energy Star–certified ceiling fans which are 50 percent more energy efficient.  
  • Unplug your computer and other appliances when they are not in use.

With these simple steps, you could easily save more than $600 annually on your energy bill. That’s extra cash you can use for those Starbucks lattes, toward a down payment on a car, or even more importantly, for retirement! Call our experts at Salmon Agency at 407-365-1766 to discuss your financial goals and insurance needs – helping you achieve your dreams is our goal!

New Year's Resolutions: Often Overlooked Resolutions to Tackle in 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011

New_Year.jpgEvery new year, you not only have a fresh start, but a wholly new perspective for your life and your work. Oftentimes, we approach the New Year with a mind fixed on shedding those pounds we gained over the holidays. We commit to fad diets or to actually using our gym memberships.

While these resolutions have great intentions and paying attention to diet and exercise are critical for a healthy, full life; you may be ignoring some other key goals that are necessary for what I call a “whole life.” Here are some resolutions you may want to consider along with your new workout plan:

1) Use a Flexible Spending Account (FSA):

FSAs allow you to use pre-tax income for anything from purchasing aspirin to other eligible medical expenses. The benefits are huge; according to FSAFEDs, with an FSA, you can both reduce your taxes and get more for your money by saving at least 20 percent of what you would normally pay for out-of-pocket health care and dependent care expenses with after-tax (as opposed to taxed) dollars!

2) Review Your Insurance Policies

It may have been a year, or perhaps even over five years since you last reviewed your insurance policies. You may be able to increase or lower your deductibles and save on your premiums, helping you to lower your bills. Your life situation may have also changed (marriage, children, divorce, career, property sale or purchase) and your insurance needs may have changed significantly. This year, make sure you and your loved ones are properly protected. For your insurance review, contact Salmon Agency at 407-365-1766.

3) Consider Your Investment Options

The economy is looking up and as the country’s economic situation improves, you may be considering your own investment options but feel unsure. Make sure you speak with a trusted financial planner before proceeding. There are options such as fixed annuities - a guaranteed income stream for retirement – that you may want to consider. Our Salmon Agency financial experts can help you to make sense of what works for you from where you are currently at in your “whole life.”

We hope our “overlooked resolutions” will help you to have a more prosperous and healthy future ahead. Happy New Year from our Salmon Agency family to yours!

Tips to Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

thankstraditionsdinner_15596_469x299.jpgThe holiday season is always a happy time of year to enjoy with friends and family. Thanksgiving is filled with delicious food and gathers friends and loved ones to enjoy the meal together. While celebrating, we should also remember to take precautions to keep the holiday season both festive and safe. Here are some tips to keep in mind this Thanksgiving: 

 

  • Many may want to sneak a bite before the great feast, but it is important to keep the kitchen clear of too many people. This could be a potential hazard to start a fire or spill hot food on fellow guests.
  • Always have both heat resistant gloves and a fire extinguisher closely accessible.
  • Turn pot handles away to ensure that you and your kitchen helpers don’t accidentally walk by and knock the pans off the stove.
  • Never pour water on grease fires! This will cause the fire to spread. Instead, grab a lid and slide it on top of the pan and turn off the burner - lack of oxygen will extinguish the fire.
  • Try to avoid deep fryers. It’s difficult to know the correct amount of oil put in the pan and often when you are ready to place the turkey in, the oil can become displaced, causing an unstable fire.
  • Candles are always an essential accent to the holiday season, whether it be for scent or just to set the mood, but they can be dangerous if not attended. If candles are lit please make sure to keep an eye on them and out of a child’s reach.

Many of these tips were provided by our friends at Underwriters Laboratories, making household items safer for your family. Holiday safety is very important and should always be a top priority. Since the holidays are such a happy time, people often forget to be mindful of things that could potentially be harmful for our loved ones. Here at Salmon Agency we encourage you to be safe and have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Thank you for your business and looking to us as your trusted advisor for your “whole” life. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!

Seat Belts Save Lives

Friday, November 5, 2010

seat-belt-with-adult1.jpgThink drunk driving is the only leading cause of death in car accidents in Florida? Think again! Buckle up, Florida! Ejection from a vehicle is serious business in a car crash. Of those people ejected from a vehicle, 75 percent of them are killed. Seat belts save over 13,000 lives a year. Buckling up is the most effective thing you can do to protect yourself and others in a crash. During times like the holiday season, where more crashes occur due to impaired or distracted driving, seat belt safety is even more of a concern.

A common misconception is that air bags alone save lives. Air bags help to save lives, but they do not act as seat belts and are not a replacement for them. Without a seatbelt, an abrupt or harsh movement could throw you into the air bag, injuring you or even killing you. So just be safe, Florida, and click it. Remember it’s not just you in the car. The passenger seat can sometimes be the most dangerous seat in a vehicle. Unfortunately, motor vehicle crashes are the top cause of death among children ages 3 to 14. The correct use of child safety seats or seat belts, however, is extremely effective and reduces a child’s risk of death as high as 71 percent! Out of these children that are buckled up, 73 percent of these child restraints are not used or implemented correctly, so make sure to follow instructions for securing your child in the car. Aside from child safety, make sure before you buy a car that the seat belt is right for you too! Ask about seat belt adjusters at the car company if needed.

Seat belt safety awareness is helping save lives. In 2006, seat belt use was at an all time high at 81 percent thanks to public service announcements. Click it or Ticket, which I’m sure all of you have seen on the roads of Florida, is the national safety belt use campaign which runs during late May. To find out more on how to safely buckle yourself, children, or other loved ones visit www.nhtsa.gov and click “4 Steps for Kids”, as well as the “Should pregnant women wear seat belts?” brochure. Both are guides that can make all the difference.

Does this all effect insurance rates? You bet! Be a safe driver this holiday season and always!


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