Debra Mackie Financial Professional New Horizon Financial Services, Inc. 3880 Vest Mill Road, Ste. 100 Winston-Salem, NC 27103 336.659.7060
Spring - A Time for Renewal

Spring is a good time to let go of the old and make room for the new.   This can apply to the traditional spring cleaning but most importantly we need to apply it to letting go of old grudges, resentments, and anger that holds us back from enjoying inner peace and more happiness in our lives.

When we hold on to the old we keep ruminating and re-visiting old wounds and they keep us stuck. And sometimes we don't even know it.

When we choose to let go of the old we make room for the new and open the door to endless possibilities that are waiting for us.

 Question of the Month A question from a client warmed my heart because it perfectly demonstrates how you should seek help to maximize your Social Security benefits even after the recent changes to the claiming strategy rules are fully phased in. This strategy, which applies to surviving spouses and surviving ex-spouses, is not going away. The question involves a widow, age 62, who is still working.  She earns about \$45,000 per year and plans to continue working through her full retirement age of 66. Her survivor benefit would be worth \$2,057 per month if the widow waited until 66 to collect, or about \$1,666 per month if she claimed now at age 62.  But because she is still working, her benefit would be subject to earnings restrictions. In 2017, someone who is under full retirement age for the entire year would forfeit \$1 in benefits for every \$2 earned over \$16,920.  But in this case, something is better than nothing. I'm thinking she should collect survivor benefits now, and she would get about 81% of the survivor benefit based on her current age, or about \$20,000 for the year.  The reduction from working would be around \$14,000, so she would net almost \$6,000 for the year. The math works like this:  \$45,000-\$16,920 (earnings limit) = \$28,080/2=\$14,040.  Subtract that amount from her \$20,000 in annual survivor benefits and she would end up with just under \$6,000 this year. The benefit reduction due to excess earnings would be temporary. When she turns 66, Social Security will adjust her benefit amount upward to reinstate the amounts withheld due to working.  Any benefits lost due to excess earnings are restored after full retirement age in the form of larger monthly payments. In the meantime, the widow can let her own retirement benefit continue to grow up until age 70 or any age prior to 70 and then switch to her retirement benefit.  With an estimated retirement benefit of \$1,700 per month at full retirement age, postponing her benefit until 70 will boost her monthly payout by 32% to about \$2,244 per month. Any intervening cost-of-living adjustments would be applied to her retirement benefit. If you have questions about Social Security planning, please do not hesitate to call me.
 Cat and Bird Do Everything Together When Irina Stepanova brought a parrot home, she hoped her 10-year-old cat, Bonifazii, would at least tolerate him. But she never imagined they'd spend their days playing and snuggling together. Once the parakeet, whom Stepanova named Yasha, had settled into her home in Chelabinsk, Russia, she decided to cautiously introduce her to Bonifazii. "I began to let [Yasha] out of the cage," Stepanova told The Dodo. "He flew and Bonifazii calmly watched the parrot. Then Yasha landed on the floor and met the cat." Since this first meeting went well, Stepanova allowed Bonifazii and Yasha to spend more time together. "They play together and run around the apartment.  The ir favorite game is hide-and-seek. Th e parrot flies out of the cage and immediately looks for the cat," Stepanova said. Now Bonifazii and Yasha do everything together, t hey gaze out the window, go on  adventures.... Bonifazii even lets Yasha sit on his head. Stepanova trusts them completely now, and she's happy to leave them alone together.   "Whenever I'm home, the parrot cage is always open," Stepanova said. "Bonifazii is a tolerant cat, and very gentle. I trust my cat." While Bonifazii and Yasha's friendship is very beautiful, it's also extremely unusual. It's best to always use the utmost caution when introducing different animal species to each other, particularly a cat and a bird or other small animal.     "Although you will see cats being friendly to other species like house rabbits or parrots on Youtube, these are the exceptions," Celia Haddon, a cat behavior expert, said. "Never take this for granted. Always supervise." "Something the other animal does - a squeak or a sudden movement - could  trigger the dormant hunting instinct and the feline friend could become the feline hunter," Haddon added. "Where animals are concerned it's better to be safe than sorry. Their relationship may not be typical, but Bonifazii and Yasha have certainly shown that love knows no bounds.
 The Month You Retire is Important A large percentage of people choose the end of the year, December, to retire. December may actually be the worst month to retire. Since people often receive extra or larger paychecks upon retirement, it is often to their best advantage to retire at the beginning of a new year since income will likely be less in that year.

You deserve a little R&R. Chill time is the antidote to  stress , and when you think small, getting it on a regular basis is easier than you think. Aim to do one of these three things every day.

Try a daily 3-minute meditation.

Just a little bit of zen can help keep a case of the crazies at bay. Shut the door, close your eyes, and devote a few minutes to just breathing. You might be surprised by how much calmer and cool-headed you feel.

Set a phone curfew.

It's not your imagination: That never-ending flood of selfies and notifications really can leave you feeling funky, research says. So pick a nightly stop time-and honor it. (Your newsfeed will still be there in the morning. Promise.) Try to make it a couple hours before bed, if you can. The blue light from your device is better at wrecking your sleep than a double espresso, suggests a recent study