Summertime is Calling Me...

I don't know about you, but it's that time of the year when I'm dreaming about sand under my feet, a yummy tropical drink in hand and the kiss of  a cool ocean breeze.
The summer season is fast approaching and that means vacation time.  A time to forget our worries, de-stress and just  RELAX. Enjoy you vacation time this summer, whether it's at the beach or the mountains, or somewhere in between.
Now, I am sure you spent a good amount of time planning your 1-2 week summer vacation.  Have you spent any time planning for your long-term vacation (retirement)? For example, it is typical to live 20-25 years after you retire. That could be 1300 weeks, a very long vacation! Do you have the financial plans in place to insure you can live a happy and stress free retirement, (long vacation)? 

Please give me a call or email me any time. I am happy to talk with you about your unique financial situation, and help you put the proper plans in place to insure a happy retirement.

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Are you Prepared for Retirement 
Healthcare Costs? 

Paying for healthcare in retirement is no small task. With costs escalating and coverage growing more complex, you can take steps today to help ensure you're not struggling tomorrow. As your explore your own retirement planning and healthcare costs, here are key facts to keep in mind.
Fact 1: We are living longer.
Today's retirees are living longer than ever before. In 1975, the average life expectancy at birth in the U.S. was 76.6 years old. As of 2015, the average life expectancy increased to 85.6 years old.
When you break this data up by gender for today's expectations:
  •  American women who turn 65 this year have a life expectancy of 86.6 years.
  •  American men who turn 65 this year have a life expectancy of 84.3 years.
As a result, the longer you live, the more years you have to account for in your financial preparations. You can check your personal life expectancy by using the Social Security Administration's online calculator.
Fact 2: Healthcare could cost you up to $400,000.
Healthcare will be one of the most expensive responsibilities you have once you retire. To prepare for retirement, you have to face reality: As your health declines, your costs will rise.
Here's an example breakdown of the costs you can anticipate:

  •  Medical expenses: $260,000
These costs include increasing prescription drug prices and higher medical care costs.
  •  Long-Term-Care (LTC) coverage: $130,000
Retirees usually receive diagnoses later in life for three common ailments: stroke, Alzheimer's disease, and cancer.
  • Other miscellaneous costs: amount depends on your insurance and Medicare coverage
These include ongoing costs for items such as vision and dental care, co-pays, and any out of pocket costs (not adjusted for inflation).

Fact 3: Medicare Part A and Part B won't cover all your costs.

Retirees who receive Medicare will not see all their extraneous costs covered. In fact, Medicare Parts A and B do not cover healthcare costs such as:
  • Eye exams
  • Hearing aids
  • Most dental care
  • Routine foot care

As a result, making sure you have adequate coverage and income to cover supplemental expenses will help you prepare for any gaps. You can calculate your potential personal healthcare costs in retirement by using the AARP Health Care Costs Calculator .
Ultimately, your specific retirement goals, health, savings, and other unique details will determine any additional funds you may need to cover your healthcare costs. If you'd like to explore your planning needs against your current financial standing - and how life insurance and annuities could further help meet your goals, I am  happy to help you.
You can call me at (336)659-7060, or email me at

How to Make the Most of a Staycation

The next time you're looking to take a short trip, why head out of town when you can have an enjoyable vacation by staying close to home? "Exploring your backyard with a staycation is a relaxing break and one that's very special because most of us have never visited the highlights in the area where we live," said Marla B. Schaffer, the president and chief executive of Leaders in Travel, a New York travel consultancy.


Here, she shares her top tips on how to have the ideal staycation:

You're not far from home, but the point of a staycation is to feel as if you got away, and staying at a high-end hotel is a good way to do that. "The property you book should make you feel pampered with its luxe surroundings and doting service," Ms. Schaffer said. Many upscale hotels, especially in cities, even offer appealing staycation packages with breakfast, late checkout, in-room movies and discounted spa treatments.

When looking for ideas on how to spend your minibreak, Ms. Schaffer said your area's tourist bureau was a gold mine for suggestions. "The bureau will have information on the latest happenings and will also know about free events and tours," she said. Her favorite staycation activities include checking out bookstores to meet authors in town for signings, visiting wine stores for free tastings, seeing museums and catching a show at a comedy club, theater or concert hall.

Since you're not paying for airfare or spending a large amount of money on fuel, a staycation is a good excuse to spring for an indulgent experience that otherwise is too expensive. You can take a helicopter ride or a private boat tour, for example, to see where you live from a different perspective. Other possibilities include a massage or a facial at a fancy spa, dinner at an expensive restaurant, a private cooking class with a well-known chef or a private behind-the-scenes tour of a museum or theater. Ms. Schaffer has arranged for her staycation clients in New York to be given backstage tours of Radio City Music Hall and Lincoln Center and has also booked private walking tours of art galleries in SoHo with a local artist.

While you should have some semblance of an itinerary, as with any vacation, don't plan too much for your staycation: Leave room for spontaneous discoveries. Select an area of town that's unfamiliar to you, and walk the streets or skip making dinner reservations one evening, and enjoy small bites at the bar at several different restaurants. Better yet, sleep in and have breakfast in bed or hang out in your pajamas one night while you watch a movie or savor a rich dessert.

Source:  The New York Times, Shivani Vora

If a Dog Was Your Teacher

What have your learned from your parents? They taught you many things. Say "please" and "thank you". Be respectful of others. And what did you learn from your school teachers? How to read. How to write. And what can you learn from your dog? That's right. What if your dog taught you about life. - 

If a Dog was Your Teacher, You Would Learn:

*When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

*Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.  Dogs love 'em.

*Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to 
be pure ecstasy.

*When it's in your best interest, practice obedience.

*Let others know when they've invaded your territory.

*Take naps.

*Stretch before rising.

*Enjoy dog days.

*Run, romp, and play daily.

*Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

*Avoid biting when a simple doggie growl will do.

*On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

*On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady dogwood tree.

*When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

*No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout ... Always run right back and make friends.

*Be loyal.  (Learn from the dog teacher)

*Never pretend to be something you're not.

*If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

*When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by ...... 
and nuzzle them gently.

*And finally..... Never trust anyone until you sniff them a bit.


The Powerful Health Benefits of Curcumin

The orange Asian herb turmeric has been traditionally used for centuries by Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Curcumin is the most powerful active anti-inflammatory compound within turmeric. Curcumin has been shown to be a powerful suppressor of chronic 
inflammation-mediated disease processes.

Many Asian cultures use turmeric in nearly every meal. They rave of its anti-aging and medicinal benefits. Western medicine has just begun to research its components at a very deep level to better understand turmeric's remarkable health properties. Over 240 studies have appeared in the mainstream literature demonstrating curcumin's cancer-preventive effects.

Curcumin and blood sugar stability:
Curcuminoid polyphenols are the primary antioxidant in turmeric root. Curcumin is the principle curcuminoid, and it is responsible for the majority of health benefits attributed to turmeric. The other curcuminoids include desmethoxycurcumin and bis-desmethoxycurcumin.

Blood sugar imbalances and insulin resistance are huge factors that promote inflammatory conditions in the body. Elevated blood sugar creates hazardous glucose cross-links with proteins, causing Advanced Glycolytic Enzymes (AGEs) to form. These AGEs damage cell membranes, vital enzyme systems and perpetuate inflammatory conditions throughout the body.

Curcumin modulates blood sugar and improves insulin receptor function by improving its binding capacity to sugar. Curcumin activates PPAR (peroxisome proliferator-activator receptor), which is a group of key nuclear proteins that regulate gene expression and modulate sugar uptake and utilization in the bloodstream.

Curcumin also reduces the activity of specific liver enzymes that release sugar into the bloodstream while activating enzymes that store sugar as glycogen. Research on diabetic rats resulted in blood glucose stabilization and lowered triglyceride levels in the group that consumed curcumin.

Curcumin as an antioxidant: 
Turmeric is the fourth most antioxidant-rich herb with an Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of 159,277. The curcuminoids boost levels of the body's most potent antioxidants including glutathione, superoxide dismutase and catalase. These molecules are critical for the body to limit oxidative stress-related damage to the vital organ systems.

Curcumin has been shown to reduce inflammation-mediating prostaglandins, cytokines and other molecules such as interleukin 6, nuclear factor-kappa beta (NF-kb) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). With a high enough dosage, this has the ability to pull the body out of a strong inflammatory cascade and reset anti-inflammatory behavior at the cellular level.

Curcumin and cancer:
Research done by the Life Extension Foundation found that curcuminoids target ten factors involved in cancer development. This includes chronic inflammation, DNA damage and disruption of cell signaling pathways. Curcumin supplementation was shown to destroy cancer cell mitochondria, disrupt the cancer cell cycle and arrest stem cell development that facilitates further cancer cell formation.

There are hundreds of other studies that have shown that curcumin turns on natural apoptotic (cell suicide) switches in cancer cells. They also reduce inflammatory prostaglandins that promote cancer cell growth. A study out of China showed that curcumin was able to induce apoptosis within triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) cells. TNBC is a type of cancer that defies conventional chemotherapy and radiation.

Best dosages of curcumin:
For optimal curcumin absorption, it is necessary to combine the turmeric with good fats such as coconut oil, milk or olive oil. You will also want to add a dash of black pepper for the piperine molecule that enhances curcumin uptake. You can also find fermented turmeric in an organic acid base which has an extraordinarily high absorption rate.

For individuals with chronic inflammatory diseases such as cancer, it is recommended to supplement with high-dose curcumin. Find one that is made with piperine in an enteric coating that protects the nutrient from stomach acid for optimal absorption.

An official dosage has not yet been established by the scientific literature. However, studies involving human patients with cancer found that curcumin doses of 3.6 grams or more daily had the best effect.

Curcumin regulates tumor suppressor pathways and triggers mitochondria-mediated death in the cancer tissue. Curcumin is anti-angiogenic, which means that it shuts down the ability of cancer cells to form new blood vessels for blood supply and fuel. This effect makes cancer cells more vulnerable to pharmacological treatments such as chemotherapy and other cancer-control drugs.


Strawberry & Kiwi Salad with Balsamic Glaze 

Juicy strawberries and bright kiwis meet creamy goat cheese and rich balsamic glaze for a sweet-and-savory treat.

Yield: 4 servings.

3 kiwis, peeled and sliced
1 quart fresh strawberries, topped and halved
4 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
4 fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Pinch of salt
4 ounces goat cheese
4 tablespoons balsamic glaze

Place kiwis, strawberries, basil, and mint in a large mixing bowl. Squeeze lime juice over fruit and sprinkle with salt. Toss gently. Crumble goat cheese over the fruit and refrigerate until ready to serve. Drizzle balsamic glaze over salad just before serving.

Source:  Our State Magazine, Lynn Wells