Author: Jeremy Cunningham

Many American Physicians not Prepared for Retirement and have less Retirement Benefits Savings

A new study has found that a large chunk of the physicians in America are unable to meet their retirement goals and they are behind schedule with regard to retirement benefits savings. Those who are better prepared for retirement and are ahead of schedule say that they have better knowledge of financial matters. They also have better financial health and confess to the fact that they make use of the services rendered by financial advisors.

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Being Behind the Schedule for Retirement Benefits Savings

A study conducted by American Medical Association Insurance that was entitled 2016 study on physicians’ financial preparedness found out that the percentage of American Physicians who said that they were ahead of schedule in their retirement plans from 2013 to 2016 has doubled. It went from 6 percent to 11 percent. Unfortunately, the same study has found that about 40 percent of American physicians admit to being behind schedule when it comes to retirement benefits savings.

The Study

The study was conducted in about 125,000 practicing physicians. They had varied age, employment situation, and specialty. It discovered that physicians can be financially prepared for the retirement at any age so age is not a valued factor. It stated that 7 percent of physicians who are on their 30s are ahead of schedule. It added that 11 percent of physicians in their 40s and 13 percent in their 50s were also ahead of their retirement schedule.

Being Financially Educated

The researchers found that the physicians who were financially prepared were eight times more likely to claim that they have better knowledge on financial matters such as insurance, investing, retirement planning, etc as compared to the physicians who admitted to being behind their retirement schedule.

Taking Help

About 67 percent of physicians who claimed that they are ahead of the retirement schedule said that they took the assistance of a financial advisor than 44 percent of physicians who are behind.

Better Financial Health

The physicians claiming that they are ahead of the retirement schedule and have better retirement benefits savings also have more money saved as compared to other physicians in their age and career stage. They also max out their qualified retirement plan contribution, have fewer debts, have the real estate plan well-defined and have more diversified investments. On the whole, they have better financial health.

Few Federal Employees are Leaving Jobs Due to Election of President Trump

Before the presidential elections took place last year, many federal employees were of the opinion that they would leave their jobs if presidential candidate Donald Trump was chosen for the oval office. Well, the elections are over now and he is the new President. But are the feds leaving their jobs? No, because they probably like the comforts of a government job as well as the annuities they get as a part of FERS retirement system.

federal employees

Surveys Said Many Federal Employees May Leave if Donald Trump becomes the President

There were many surveys in which many federal employees stated that they will leave the job if Donald Trump comes to power. In one survey, 25 percent federal workers said that they might leave if he comes to power. In another survey, only 65 percent of the feds said that they would commit to keeping their jobs if he came to power. As many of the federal workers are older, one expects the federal retirement numbers to see a jump in January. But did it happen?

January Numbers Did Jump

OPM has reported that the January numbers have jumped dramatically and the number of backlogged applications was up by 53 percent in January as compared to the last month, i.e., December 2016. After seeing these figures one assumes that the feds are keeping up with their opinion of leaving a federal job post retirement. But all is not as it seems.

But Not Much

These figures are not much when one considers the fact that an annual surge of retirements always takes place in January as most feds decide to quit in the final month of the year. While one remembers the fact, it can be seen that the figures in January 2017 are actually lower than the previous five years.

In the data shared by OPM, it was highlighted that the number of new retirement benefits claims of federal employees was 15,317 in January 2017 while they were actually higher, 15, 423 in January 2016. In January 2015, they were at 18,629 while in January 2014, they were 17, 383. These numbers were 22, 187 in January 2013.

Older Feds Will Dominate

As per the figures of September 2015, almost 28 percent of the federal employees were 55 or older than that. Many of the federal workers opt for leaving the service when they qualify for federal retirement pension. Even when that happens, 25 percent of the US workforce will comprise of people who are 55 years of age or older in 2020.

The Love for Federal Jobs

One of the reasons why people stick to federal jobs no matter whether they like the new president or not is that they receive a retirement annuity for the remainder of their lives. The federal retirement system is so lucrative that people love it immensely.

How Many Ineligible Federal Employees Retired Post Election

Unfortunately, the data on the number of federal employees who retired post-election without being eligible is not revealed yet. It will be sometime later when people will get to know that how many of the recent retirees were eligible for it and how many took retirement without even being eligible just because they didn’t like the new president.

No Surge Foreseen

Given the recent federal retirement application data, it is clear that many federal employees are not planning to retire in bulk due to the presidential election. If that were to happen, it might have happened till now.

Not a Lie

Some people may assume that as the federal retirement figures didn’t jump drastically post-electoral results, many federal employees (of the 35 percent who said that they would retire if Donald Trump wins) were lying. It is a misconception, people should realize that the respondents probably didn’t shift their loyalties and might have voted for Hillary Clinton, the Libertarian candidate or the green party candidate. Some may have actually retired earlier than planned.

Just an Opinion

It is highly probable that many federal employees were just expressing their political opinion in a dramatic manner while answering the survey questions. Some of them might even have hoped that the answers they are giving might steer other voters away from President Trump. Some may even think that they would resign but couldn’t resign due to financial responsibilities or other such reasons.

Simply put, the federal employees might have thought that the election results were one of the reasons for leaving but it was not the main or the only reason for quitting a lucrative job with numerous benefits. They might have also changed their minds later on.

It is also possible that the government will lose many federal employees who are young and don’t like the election results.

Conclusion

It can be seen that though many federal employees don’t like the fact that Donald Trump is their new president, they are not considering quitting due to the benefits like annuities offered by the FERS retirement system.

Dallas Police and Fire Pension System May be Scrapped Soon

A new report says that the Dallas police and fire pension system may be scrapped soon as the city officials are unable to come up with a plan to save it. The liabilities of the system are increasing at a high pace which means that it will run out of money in a few years. A suggested solution is to create a new system where the retirees get less money but they have a guarantee that the money wouldn’t stop coming in. The officials are looking for other viable options too.

Retirement Benefits

Who Suggested that the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System May be Scrapped Soon?

The suggestion that the Dallas police and fire pension system may be scrapped soon was first highlighted by the city officials. They aim to create a totally new retirement system that will be known as the Public Safety Employees Retirement Fund.

The New System

A new retirement system that will replace the current Dallas police and fire pension system would allow the younger and active employees to switch to the new system where they would be eligible for a traditional pension benefit and a 401(k) plan that has a city match of 5 percent.

If the news that Dallas police and fire pension system may be scrapped soon is confirmed, the police and firefighting officials would need to take lower guaranteed benefits and they would be able to escape a system that is heading towards insolvency within a decade.

The Other Side of the Story

If the news that Dallas police and fire pension system may be scrapped soon proves to be wrong, the retirees who draw money from this pension fund would be left in limbo and would lose the future payments when the fund runs out of money. Meanwhile, the taxpayers would continue to pay a share of pension contributions for firefighters and police members who choose to stay in the existing system.

The Primary Goal

The Chief Financial Officer, Elizabeth Reich stated that the first objective is to fix the current Dallas police and fire pension system and creating a new system is one of the alternatives that must be considered to ensure that the retirees keep on getting some money.

Not the Best Choice

The outgoing City Manager, A.C. Gonzalez has acknowledged that if Dallas police and fire pension system may be scrapped soon and a new system is created, there will be still many problems that would be unresolved.  A key problem that will remain unresolved is the fact that the fate of 3,000 retirees who are living off their pensions would be in jeopardy.

Pension Board Holds the Power

Between the assumptions that Dallas police and fire pension system may be scrapped soon, Reich also clarified that it is the responsibility of pension board and not the city to ensure that the retirees can make do with about $2.1 billion that are left in the fund. Given the fact that the pension system paid out about $285 million in retirement benefits in 2015, the fund would not last long.

The City is Responsible too

Max Patterson who serves as the Executive Director of the Texas Association of Public Employee Retirement Association thinks that it is the responsibility of the city to ensure that retirees are given some money, especially those who can’t work anymore and have no social security to rely upon.

The New Plan

If the news that Dallas police and fire pension system may be scrapped soon is confirmed and a new system is established, it would be beneficial for the city. People who transfer to the new plan would give up the claim to the benefits they had in the old pension system. The new system’s formula would determine the benefits. The total cost of bringing all the qualified employees would be around $200 million, believes Reich

In the new plan, the city would pay a contribution rate of 14 percent of the salaries into the pension system while the firefighters and police also pay the same amount. As of now, the city is paying 27.5 percent on top of the fire and police salaries which came down to about $124 million in the last fiscal. Even if the city opted to pay the 5 percent match on the 401(k) accounts, the taxpayers would be able to save millions every year.

The Administration

The current Dallas police and fire pension system is controlled by a board of 12 trustees out of which 4 are City Council members while the others are firefighters and police, both retired and active. The new system could be controlled by the City Hall. The new Public Safety Employee Retirement Fund could also share the administrative expenses with ERF, the city’s civilian employee pension plan.

Other Options

Though the news that Dallas police and fire pension system may be scrapped soon is true, a final decision has not been taken yet. Officials believe that they will explore other options like moving the new employees to the ERF or a state system.

Baby Boomers and Millennials Equally Use Technology for Retirement Benefits Savings

The use of apps and tools to manage retirement benefits savings is almost equal among Millennials and baby boomers. This was revealed in a recent survey. It also highlighted that the Millennials were far ahead of baby boomers when it comes to using technology to manage health & well-being and their finances. Millennials were also more focused on tracking their heath, diet and sleep via apps as compared to the baby boomers.

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The Survey on Using Apps for Retirement Benefits Savings

The survey was conducted by leading global advisory, brokerage, and solutions company, Willis Towers Watson. It had about 5100 respondents who were U.S. employees. It found out that about two-thirds of Millennials and 66 percent of baby boomers agreed that the mobile apps and tools are vital to keeping track of the retirement benefits savings. About 6 in 10 Millennials (59 percent) also confessed that they use such tools to calculate when they will be able to retire and how much income they can expect after retirement. Around 54 percent baby boomers also feel this way.

Management of Personal Finances

Millennials prefer to manage their personal finances via mobile apps too. About 71 percent accepted it. They use it to pay bills and monitor bank accounts. About 44 percent of baby boomers manage personal finances via mobile apps. Over 57 percent Millennials also confessed that they use price comparison websites to shop for best deals and consider it to be vital as compared to just 42 percent of baby boomers. About 41 percent Millennials also use budgeting tools to monitor their household spending as compared to 18 percent baby boomers. Around 25 percent of Millennials give importance to finance advice websites while just 14 percent baby boomers do it.

Health and Well Being

The survey highlighted that about 33 percent Millennials make use of wearable devices that monitor their health when compared to just 24 percent baby boomers. The survey also discovered that 35 percent of Millennials think that apps that track diet are vital as compared to just 16 percent of baby boomers. About 27 percent of Millennials value apps that monitor sleep habits as compared to just 14 percent of baby boomers.

The Results

After studying the patterns highlighted by the survey, it can be seen that only retirement benefits management is the vital thing that has made the baby boomers adopt more technology as they are not much into technology for managing their health, well-being or personal finances.

Majority of American Workers have less than $100,000 Retirement Benefits Savings

A new survey has revealed that majority of American workers have less than $100,000 retirement benefits savings. It includes baby boomers and Millennials as well. Another thing revealed by the report is that many of the American workers have already withdrawn money from the retirement savings or they intend to do so. The report also suggests two major solutions to this problem.

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Survey Says Majority of American Workers have less than $100,000 Retirement Benefits Savings

The survey that says the majority of American workers have less than $100,000 retirement benefits savings was done by a financial services company PWC. It was entitled as the Employee Financial Wellness Survey. It stated that 51 percent of all the American workers have less than $100,000 retirement benefits savings. It also highlights that 77 percent of the people who have $100,000 retirement benefits savings are Millennials and 50 percent of them are baby boomers.

The Withdrawals

The survey stating the majority of American workers have less than $100,000 retirement benefits savings also uncovered the fact that about 25 percent of baby boomers have already taken money out of the retirement savings to meet the non-retirement expenses. About 36 percent of the respondents think that they would need to take out money from the retirement savings in the future.

Major Solutions

One thing that the baby boomers do to get over the fact that majority of American workers have less than $100,000 retirement benefits savings is to work longer. In reality, about 52 percent of the baby boomers who are cash-strapped have accepted that they plan to work longer, says the PWC survey.

Another solution is to try for debt reduction. About 23 percent of the baby boomers who are planning to delay their retirement have mentioned that debt is a main reason for the delay. About 46 percent of baby boomers have also accepted that they constantly carry a balance on the credit cards they own. Around one-third of those even have faced trouble in making the minimum payments. The baby boomers must reduce the number of debts by not being a victim of the debt trap in which debt takes the power of compounding and turns it against a person to create a situation in which the money owed by a person keeps on growing until that person takes intentional steps to pay it back.

These solutions seem apt for resolving the situation in which majority of American workers have less than $100,000 retirement benefits savings.

Marietta College’s Learning in Retirement Program

Retirees often crave knowledge post retirement and this need of them is now being fulfilled as Marietta College’s Learning in Retirement Program has commenced. People like the program as it is taught by experts in the fields. The fee for the program is very affordable and there are no age barriers. It means anyone can sign up for any program he or she likes in a few moments by using a website.

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Why Marietta College’s Learning in Retirement Program was Initiated?

Marietta College’s Learning in Retirement Program was initiated because they wanted to help life-long learners to learn new things. The variety offered in the programs is very extensive. It varies from the history of film to getting a taste of O. Henry. The fee for the program is just $30 and anyone can sign up for the program. People might think it’s for retirees only but it is not the case. There is no age limit and the more are the merrier, says the program Chairwoman, Barb Moberg. The courses are being offered during the winter session.

Lesson Schedule of Marietta College’s Learning in Retirement Program

The retirement program includes taking two-hour classes for once a week for eight weeks. The classes have already begun but still, people can enroll in them. Signing up for the classes is not too late yet.

The Organizers of Marietta College’s Learning in Retirement Program

The Marietta College’s Learning in Retirement Program is organized and operated by volunteers, said Moberg. She also added that they are a nonprofit organization and the structure & details of the courses were defined by simply asking people what they are interested in.

Day-Wise Schedule

As a part of the Marietta College’s Learning in Retirement Program, David Cress, a retired Marietta College professor teaches a History of World Cinema on Mondays. The program includes learning about the evolution of cinema from the 19th century and up to 1950s. The core aim of the course is to examine the development of film technique as well as its content by viewing a huge variety of film clips and full movies.

On Tuesdays, a retired Parkersburg South High School English teacher and Ohio Valley University English instructor, Bannister teaches four Greek tragedies with the help of a retired English teacher and a retired Parkersburg South High School Theater, Jayne Whitlow. The core aim of this course is to break down and read the plays of Euripides, Sophocles, and Aeschylus.

Soul Searching

Bannister believes that in order to understand some of these things people must understand themselves. With today’s politics, a lot of people are bound to initiate some soul searching. Bannister and Whitlow are teaching in the Marietta College’s Learning in Retirement Program for the first time. They stated that they are excited by the fact that they have an opportunity to continue educating people via the program.

Whitlow mentioned that the thing about people participating in these classes as that they are life-long learners. Learning about something outside their own life really helps them to evaluate their own thinking.

A Taste of O Henry includes several stories from the author William Sydney Porter who is well-known by his pen name, O. Henry. Another course, digital photography focuses upon the use of several cameras, software needed to edit the photographs and the uses of different camera settings. The latter is a hands-on course that is taught on Thursdays at the Marietta College’s Learning in Retirement Program. On Fridays, the class includes stepping into the future with the Utopians, the Singularity, and Dystopians.

Participant’s Views on the Marietta College’s Learning in Retirement Program

Judy Piersall, who has signed up for the Marietta College’s Learning in Retirement Program says that she appreciates the variety offered in the program. She also says that retirees are learning for their own pure enjoyment and she loves it.

Something for Everyone

Virginia Mayle who has been involved in the Marietta College’s Learning in Retirement Program since her husband became the Director of the Program says that the program has something for everyone and will surely attract a variety of people from different aspects of life.

Sign Up for Marietta College’s Learning in Retirement Program

If anyone is interested in the Marietta College’s Learning in Retirement Program, he or she can sign up for any of the courses at the website- ir.marietta.edu. The sign in process is very easy and uncomplicated.

Subject Matter Experts

Another thing that people appreciate in the Marietta College’s Learning in Retirement Program is that the classes are taught by teachers who have in-depth knowledge of their fields. It helps them to teach every person in the most flawless manner. This statement was made by Tony Touschner who is a 72-year-old living in Marietta. He added that all the subjects are also very interesting.

Army is Helping Soldiers Learn About Financial Management and Blended Retirement System

Reports say that the army is helping soldiers to learn about financial management and blended retirement system. It will benefit the soldiers to manage their finances in a better manner and they will be less worried about their future and the future of their families. It will also let them be aware of the financial tools out there and motivate them to start saving early on.

How the Army is helping soldiers to learn about financial management and blended retirement system?

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The army is helping soldiers to learn about financial management and blended retirement system by seeking the assistance of Suze Orman, a personal finance expert who will educate the soldiers as well as their families on money matters. It will ensure that they don’t become victims of mounting credit card debts, predatory loans, and other critical financial issues.

The Free Service

Though it is a fact that the army is helping soldiers to learn about financial management and blended retirement system by bringing Suze Orman on board but the army is not paying her. The best-selling author is offering her services totally free of charge to the soldiers. These free of charge benefits include access to a seven-step online course that normally costs $54. She will also provide the access to an upcoming video that will be detailing the new retirement system of the military.

The Statement

In a statement given to the Press on January 2, 2017, Orman stated that if anybody deserves the finest financial advice in the world, which she is more than capable of offering, it’s the men and women who serve everyone. She also shared her desire to visit varied military bases in order to talk to the troops in person during the seminars. She said that nothing will make her happier than to personally visit every single base in the whole world.

Army’s Opinion

The army leaders are also thrilled about the future readiness of the soldiers after having the star of the finance world to come on the board without any expense. Patrick Murphy, who serves as the undersecretary of the army stated that when the soldiers don’t have the minds or hearts on the job, it is not good for their team and their personal security. This is the main reason why the army is so happy about partnering with Suze.

Makin Things Easier

As the army is helping soldiers to learn about financial management and blended retirement system by hiring Orman, it is a great boon for soldiers as she is an expert in simplifying personal finance tips so that they are easier to understand. For example, she says that if a 25-year-old soldier sets aside $100 a month in the Roth Thrift Savings Plan, he will be able to get his hands on about $1 million by the time he reaches 65 years of age. In contrast, if the soldier waits to start saving until he reaches 35 years of age, he will save just $300,000 at the time he reaches 65 years of age.

Orman thinks that when soldiers realize that 10 years cost them about $70,000, they will start to put money away sooner rather than later.

Other Topics

Some other topics that Orman would teach soldiers include but are not limited to how to live life in a debt-free manner and tackling financial obstacles to purchasing valuable assets like a car or a home. Any military member that wants to benefit from free financial advice can enroll in the course at Suzeu.com by using the access code “USA.”

The Blended Retirement System

Orman will also help in creating a video that explains every aspect of the blended retirement system which is to be rolled out in 2018. The BRS is expected to give a portable retirement benefit of about 85 percent of the army as compared to just 19 percent at the moment.

Murphy also commented on why the army is helping soldiers to learn about financial management and blended retirement system. He said that army loves the troops and their family. They are the corps of who the army is as a team. The army wants to ensure that they get access to the best advice.

Murphy also hopes that Orman’s advice would steer the cash-strapped soldiers away from the payday loan businesses that often try to exploit them by charging high-interest rates. The soldiers would learn that there are useful tools out there that don’t need them to pay high-interest rates.

Honest Advice

The army is helping soldiers to learn about financial management and blended retirement system because it wants the soldiers to get honest and unbiased advice. Orman stated that it is very difficult to find an honest and unbiased financial advice and she hopes to serve as a source for just that.

Survey reveals Retirement Differences between Men and Women

A survey has highlighted the retirement differences between men and women. It points out to the fact that men see retirement as a time to do the things they didn’t do before while women’s lives remain almost the same as before. The survey also mentioned that most men want to take financial care of their partners while women would usually care about the financial well-being of the whole family, even friends.

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The Survey on Retirement Differences between Men and Women

The survey that maps the retirement differences between men and women was done by The MIT AgeLab. The details of the survey were shared by Joe Coughlin who serves as the Director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab. It first highlights that there are many common things that are expected by men and women both. It includes stuff like travel, recreation, family time and more time to do the stuff people love.

Financial security

Men prefer to think of their partners post retirement. They also want to make sure that the health and security of the partners are taken care of before they pay attention to any other family members. The financial security of the partner is a must for men while doing retirement planning.

Women, on the other hand, would likely worry about the financial well-being of every member of their families, be it their partner, siblings, children, grandchildren or even their close friends.

Spending Time

The survey also highlighted that men think that retirement is a reward for all the hard work they have done. They want to spend this time to do things they always wanted to do but could not do. Leisure and travel time are their top priorities in retirement.

Women don’t think that their lives would change much post retirement. They would usually expect themselves to do the things that they have done till now. It includes part-time work, volunteer work or providing care to family members or loved ones. For women, retirement is more about specific activities and tasks.

The Authority Figure

The survey revealing retirement differences between men and women also pointed out that in retirement, most women would serve as the chief family officer as well as a multi-tasker. They would take all the health care decisions and serve as an advocate for the family members across all generations.

Retired Federal Employees to get only a bit of COLA

The cost of living adjustment is a vital thing for the retired federal employees and the recipients of social security benefits because they need the money to maintain a decent standard of living when their income is minimal. The rate of COLA didn’t change the last year which was a huge disappointment for the eligible people. This year it’s set to increase by only the slightest bit and employee unions are already criticizing it.

Increase in COLA for Retired Federal Employees

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It has been reported that retired federal employees and social security benefits recipients who were deprived of any increase in COLA in 2016 have something to cheer about. They will have a 0.3 percent increase in COLA in 2017. Unfortunately, the overall income of the federal retirees would still go down.

It is vital to mention here that this would be the smallest increase in COLA on record as the COLA increase was never less than 1.5 percent. It was 1.5 percent in the year 2014, 1.7 percent in 2015 and 2013 respectively. There was no COLA in the years 2010, 2011 and 2016.

The Rising Premiums

One of the biggest challenges faced by the retirees is the constantly increasing costs of health care insurance. There has been a recent increase of 6.2 percent in the premiums that come under the Federal Employees Health Insurance Program (FEHB). So a slightly better COLA would not be able to pull their income levels up. It is pertinent to add that a significant increase in the long term care insurance costs averaging around 83% has also been announced. It will also be a big blow for a number of retired people.

Union’s Opinion

The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) has stated that the COLA increase for retired federal employees and social security recipients is unrealistically low as does not reflect the expenses faced by seniors.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) also shared its opinion when it stated that the prices of items needed by seniors are increasing at a rapid pace as compared to the overall inflation rate. So they must not be expected to be content with the huge cost burden. This burden will most likely have a devastating impact on the modest living standards of the retired federal employees. It is clear that both the unions are not satisfied with the menial increase in COLA.

Best Places for Retirement in 2017

A report by International living has highlighted the best places for retirement on 2017. They all have been decided by keeping in mind the cost of living and various other factors. Though the list comprises on 24 amazing places, here is the list of the top 10 destinations that would make the golden years more glorious and comfortable.

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List of Best Places for Retirement in 2017

The list of best places for retirement in 2017 was created by International Living, an organization which has been doing it for more than 25 years. It has changed its parameters constantly and added new categories as well as considerations. It has also gathered new data by asking better and more questions from a better number of expats. Some countries were also added to the list when they had the limelight like Malaysia was added in 2000 while Colombia was added in 2007.

This year too, all the best places for retirement in 2017 were decided after putting them under the microscope and examining them. The locations are ranked by highlighting the destinations where the value of a dollar goes further, where one can get the best bang for the buck in terms of real estate, quality of life and cost of living. The quality of infrastructure and healthcare were also analyzed. The English proficiency of the local people, the size of expat communities that exist and the level of a healthy lifestyle were also judged.

A Worthy Winner

Mexico has topped the list of best places for retirement in 2017 as it has been constant. For the last 14 years, it has constantly ranked in the top 10 retirement destinations available on the planet. It has taken the top spot fifth time in the Annual Global Retirement Index.

Other Winners

Standing at number two is Panama which is followed by Ecuador at number 3. The fourth position is bagged by Costa Rica which is followed by Colombia, Malaysia, and Spain. Nicaragua, Portugal, and Malta have the 8th, 9th and 10th positions respectively.

Conclusion

It can be seen that there are multiple best places for retirement in 2017 that are all affordable and enjoyable at the same time. A person should choose a destination on the basis of his or her own needs, preferences and the budget. Also, this decision should never be rushed as a person’s future life depends on it.

The City of Santa Fe Didn’t Pay Medical and Retirement Benefits to Some Employees

It has recently come to light that the City of Santa Fe didn’t pay medical and retirement benefits to some employees who were eligible for the same. Some of the employees have even worked for the city for more than 7 years and still didn’t receive the benefits they deserved. After the exposure, no visible disciplinary action has been taken but the processes have been improved so as to avoid such a fiasco in the future.

Retirement Benefits

How It came to Light that the City of Santa Fe Didn’t Pay Medical and Retirement Benefits to Some Employees?

The fact that the City of Santa Fe didn’t pay medical and retirement benefits to some employees came to light during an internal audit. The audit was in part initiated by a former employee who alleged that some managers might be abusing the seasonal or temporary job classification as a method of avoiding payment of normal benefits. These allegations were made during an exit interview. The audit was carried out by the city Internal Audit office.

The report of the audit clearly states that 13 out of 41 seasonal or temporary employees were eligible for getting medical benefits but they didn’t get anything. It further stated that 20 out of 41 employees were eligible to receive retirement benefits but they also didn’t receive any. It is not clear whether any disciplinary action has been taken for this grave mistake or not.

The Firing

It is pertinent to mention that the city got rid of dozens of temporary workers sometime back who were kept beyond the 90-day work assignments. At least two of those workers have served the city for more than seven years.

As per the city, seasonal or temporary employees became eligible for medical benefits as per the federal Affordable Care Act when they worked for a year and over 30 hours per week. They also became eligible for retirement benefits as per the Public Employees Retirement Act if they worked more than nine months and over 20 hours per week.

The Mistake

The audit that found the City of Santa Fe didn’t pay medical and retirement benefits to some employees mentioned that the Human resources Department policies of the city were not updated and there was no monitoring system in place that alerted seasonal or temporary employees when they became eligible for medical or retirement benefits. Now, the HR department is tracking the eligibility and informing temporary or seasonal workers about the same by sending PERA applications to the employees that need to be filled out.

Federal Employees Can Now Know the Best and Worst Agencies to Work for

All the federal employees can now know the best and worst agencies to work for. A recent report has mentioned the best places to work for and the worst ones. It has also mentioned that the agencies boosted their image as compared to 2015, 2014 and 2013. Comparisons with private sector firms were also made. Overall, the employee engagement has increased, which is a great thing.

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How Federal Employees Can Now Know the Best and Worst Agencies to work for?

The federal employees can now know the best and worst agencies to work for because of the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government report. The report was published by the Deloitte consulting firm and Partnership for Public Service. The report uses data from the OPM’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. The report basically highlights the agencies in which the employees are most or least engaged as employee engagement pays off in service to the public and productivity.

The Results

Though federal employees can now know the best and worst agencies to work for, they should also know that the employee engagement index increased by 1.3 percent on a government-wide basis this year. It now stands at 59.4. It was highest in 2010 when it reached 65. Over 72 percent of all the agencies have increased their scores as compared to the results of 2015, 2014 and 2013. It was 70, 43 and 24 percent in 2015, 2014 and 2013.

The Comparison

Employee engagement in the private sector stands at 77 which is far ahead of the employee engagement in the public sector. But the good news is that 12 agencies have scored above the private sector average.

Max Stier, the Partnership’s president and chief executive stated that the private sector organizations know that enhanced employee engagement leads to improved outcomes and better performance. He added that the government should also realize that people are its greatest asset and it should make a commitment to strengthen the federal workforce and improve the workforce culture.

The Best

As promised, federal employees can now know the best and worst agencies to work for here. The best agencies to work for include NASA among the large agencies, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp among the middle ones and the National Endowment for the Arts among the small ones. The Office of the Inspector General at the Tennessee Valley Authority is the best among subcomponent agencies. The worst places to work for include the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Election Commission, the Secret Service and the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Cheaper Law School is added to Federal Employee Benefits

There is some good news for feds who wish to pursue a law degree as cheaper law school is added to federal employee benefits now. The benefit would be applicable for all the federal workers and their spouses. The feds would be able to enjoy a 10 percent fee reduction. OPM says that this move would help agencies to close the skills gap in a better manner while the Law dean of the University of Maryland also thinks that this alliance is a good idea.

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How Cheaper Law School is added to Federal Employee Benefits?

The cheaper law school is added to federal employee benefits only after OPM forged a partnership with the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and requested the latter to cut the tuition fee by 10 percent for all the feds and their spouses. It is a unique arrangement between a law school and federal government as anything like this has never happened before. The 10 percent discount represents a new marketing approach of the university in which the specialty law degree programs are promoted among nonlawyers and practitioners.

Dean’s Opinion

The thoughts of the Law Dean of the University on the development where cheaper law school is added to federal employee benefits were also shared. Donald Tobin who serves as the Law Dean at Maryland says that OPM is telling their employees that this is a worthwhile and valid program. It helps the university to talk about the program with feds and gives access to the educated and thoughtful workforce. He says that’s it’s exciting on both sides.

The Discount and the Profits

As cheaper law school is added to federal employee benefits, the feds would get $2500 discount from the $25,000 price of Master of Science in Law or LLM. The school is hoping that the overall increase in the number of students would offset the forgone tuition and hence the profits won’t be affected.

OPM’s Opinion

OPM’s opinion on the development where cheaper law school is added to federal employee benefits was also mapped. Beth Cobert who is serving as the acting OPM Director has stated that this new benefit would let the federal employee obtain the education they need to meet the workplace challenges. It would also assist the federal government agencies to close the skills gap which will enable the federal workforce to fulfill its key mission to serve the people of America effectively and efficiently on every single day.

Busiest Day for the USPS

It was recently revealed that December 19, 2016, was the busiest day for the USPS in Kansas. The number of packages that needed to be delivered was too many but still, USPS demonstrated confidence over the fact that it would be eager to help. People are encouraged to send their packages early during the holiday seasons and arrangements like setting up kiosks have been made to help them.

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Why December 19 was the Busiest Day for the USPS?

It is a fact that December 19, 2016, was the busiest day for the USPS in Kansas because about 4.3 million letters, cards and packages were to be mailed. The number breaks down to 50 mails per second, 3,000 per minute and 180,000 per year. When the nationwide figures are looked at, they are also astonishing. About 611 million pieces of mail were expected to be delivered nationwide. It comes down to 7,000 mails per second.

The Enthusiasm

Despite the fact that December 19, 2016, was the busiest day for the USPS in Kansas, the post office made a statement that they would be ready to help and fully staffed. Ryon Knopik who serves as the Wichita Postmaster also gave a bit of advice. The advice was that the customers should send the mails early and conveniently rather than waiting for the eleventh hour.

The Steps

One crucial step a person can take to avoid sending mails on the days that are busiest days for the USPS is to send the packages from home by using usps.com. The post office said that over 3 million customers are expected to print the postage-paid shipping labels as well as request free pickup of the packages or mails they need to send.

Self-Service Kiosks

In order to deal with the holiday rush, three postal locations in Wichita have established self-service kiosks that are easy to use. The kiosks make tasks like shipping packages and buying stamps not only convenient but also 24/7.  The kiosks are located at Wichita Corporate Hills Station 9350 E. Corporate Hills Dr., Wichita General Mail Facility 7117 W. Harry St. and Wichita Downtown Station 330 W. 2nd St. North.

The Prediction

A prediction says that December 22 would be the busiest day for the USPS as over 30 million packages would be delivered on that day. If someone needs more information on mail-by-dates, mailing tips, etc., that person should visit usps.com/holiday. It is pertinent to add here that the Postal Service receives no tax dollars to pay up the operating expenses. It relies only on the sale of products and services in order to fund its operations.

Poor Financial Planning Will Force Millennials in Phoenix to Work Post Retirement Age

A survey conducted by a financial firm has stated that poor financial planning will force Millennials in Phoenix to work post retirement age. Experts believe that Millennials should get over the self-taught financial planning and should seek advice from an investment expert to make the right investment decisions. They should also seriously consider plans like 401(k).

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Survey Says Poor Financial Planning Will Force Millennials in Phoenix to Work Post Retirement Age

The survey that says poor financial planning will force Millennials in phoenix to work post retirement age was conducted by Merrill Edge. It is a biannual survey. The results of the survey highlight that about 82 percent of the workforce in Phoenix expects to work past the retirement age. Three factors were mentioned. One is the poor financial planning done by this generation and the second is the zeal to follow a passion. The third reason is the need to keep busy.

Experts Opinion

Tom Gustafson, a spokesperson for Merrill Edge stated that he was shocked to see the number. He believes that lack of planning is the key reason for why the millennial generation is lagging behind. He believes that proper financial planning is not as hard as they think it is. Though most of the Millennials want to retire with money in the bank, many fo them are going about it in the wrong way. They are self-taught investors who have learned to invest by using the internet which makes them invest in those funds that have a higher risk and the same financial returns.

The Advice

Gustafson says that if Millennials put in the time to learn all the things about investment, they would probably do okay but when they try to do the investments without looking at all the angles, it causes them problems.

If Millennials want to contradict the assumption that poor financial planning will force Millennials in phoenix to work post retirement age, they should just check the investments with a financial advisor every once in a while to ensure that the things are running as expected, believes Gustafson. He also adds that Millennials particularly need to be realistic about a so-called magic number or the amount of money they would require to live the way they want to post retirement. They should also think about investing in plans like 401(k) and stay away from debt whenever possible.

Millennials Prefer Mutual Funds to Boost Retirement Benefits Savings

A new study has found that Millennials prefer to invest in mutual funds to get better retirement benefits savings. Though people from all ages invest in mutual funds, the Millennials are leading the show. The survey also highlighted that Millennials prefer to invest in mutual funds mostly through an employer retirement plan. It also highlighted that Millennials start investing in mutual funds at an earlier age as compared to the previous generations.

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Mutual Funds as a tool for Retirement Benefits Savings

A study conducted by the Investment Company Institute named the 2016 household survey has revealed that Millennials are saving for retirement benefits via mutual funds. The survey found that 45 percent of households that had invested mutual funds were headed by the Millennials. It also found that only 34 percent households that had invested in mutual funds were headed by the baby boomers.

Workplace Retirement Plans

The study also exposed the fact that among the mutual fund-owning households that bought the first mutual fund after 2010, 71 percent bought it via the workplace retirement plans. This percentage was just 56 percent when compared to the first mutual fund purchases made before 1990.

Mutual Funds for Meeting Financial Goals

The Senior Director of Retirement and Investor Research at ICI, Sarah Holden stated that the survey done by her organization clearly shows that people across all the generations are using mutual funds as a tool to meet their financial goals. She also stated that more and more Millennials are buying the mutual funds at a younger age these days and they prefer to buy the mutual funds with the assistance of the employers’ retirement plans only.

The Age Factor

This survey also showed that the age of people investing in the mutual funds has decreased with time. Baby boomers started investing in mutual funds when they were in their thirties. The Gen Xers started these investments when they were 27 years of age and the median age of the Millennials while buying the first mutual funds was just 23. For people who don’t know, Millennials are people who were born between the years 1981 to 1998, the Generation Xers were born between 1965 and 1980 while the Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964.

It is clear that the Millennials are depending more on mutual funds to reach their financial goals like retirement benefits savings as they start investing in them too soon.

Retiree Health Care Changes Dumped in Lansing Michigan Due to Protests

Many retiree health care changes have been dumped in Lansing, Michigan due to the protests carried out by the police officers and firefighters. Only one important bill has been passed and the rest are postponed for the next year. If the changes would have been implemented, it would have had a terrible impact on the firefighters and police officers as compared to other employees.

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How Retiree Health Care Changes Dumped in Lansing Michigan Due to Protests?

A few days back, the lawmakers sat together to pass the bills regarding retiree health care but the result was that the retiree health care changes were dumped in Lansing, Michigan due to protests. The legislators decided that they will not put the bills through this year and informed the media of the same. It is evident that the protestors breathed a sigh of relief due to this development as their efforts proved to be successful.

What Changes were Made?

Though all the crucial retiree health care changes were dumped before the meeting, one bill was passed. It was the House Bill 6075 which is a reporting bill that requires the communities to submit the annual reports in a prompt manner so that the state Department of Treasury can compile the given information and share it with legislatures and public. The bill also requires the communities that had less than 60 percent of the retiree health care funded to explain the steps they were taking in order to boost the funding levels.

The Retiree Health Care Changes that did not get a Nod

The retiree health care changes that did not get a nod were the bills that would have required all of the Michigan communities with less than 80 percent funds of retiree health care benefits to a hard cap on the coverage amount they could offer to the current retirees. If those bills were passed, the retirees would be required to pay at least 20 percent of the heal care costs on their own. The new employees would also not have been eligible for retiree health care benefits beyond the maximum 2 percent employer contribution made to a health savings account.

A Vital Concern

A vital concern that played a major role in the dumping of retiree health care changes was that the firefighters and the police would have been more severely affected by the newly introduced bills as compared to the other municipal employees because the former tend to have more retiree health care benefits and an earlier retirement.

Thrift Savings Plan Numbers in November 2016 were Optimistic

Soon after the disappointment of huge downslide in TSP numbers in October, it has been reported that the thrift savings plan numbers in November 2016 were optimistic. Only the F fund had lower return as compared to the previous month. Though G, S, C, I and L all improved as compared to the last month, only G fund has succeeded in remaining positive.

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Details on Thrift Savings Plan Numbers in November 2016

The Thrift Savings Plan Numbers in November 2016 have improved for all funds except the F fund. This is the only fund that had offered a lower return in November 2016, as compared to October 2016. In the last one year, it has dropped to 2.44 percent, it’s down from 4.66 percent in October. The low-risk fund, the G fund has improved to 0.16 percent in November but it dropped slightly too as it was about 1.80 percent for the last 12 months.

The S Fund which invests in the small-cap stocks holds the distinction of offering the highest 12-month return at about 9.81 percent. It has improved a bit in the last month because it went from -3.86 percent in October to 7.95 percent in the month of November. The L Income fund posted a return of 0.49 percent in November and the rest of the lifestyle funds succeeded in showing positive returns.

The C fund that invests a person’s money in the S&P 500 Index posted about 3.71 this month. It still has got the second highest return of around 8.11 percent in the last 12 months. The I fund which is an international stock-index was negative in November as well. It was -1.99 percent which is a slight improvement over the -2.03 percent it posted in the month of October. It has been in the negative for about last 12 months at about 3.29 percent.

Conclusion

On the whole, it can be stated that the investors can cheer a bit because the thrift savings plan numbers in November 2016 are optimistic and far better than they were during the previous month. If they keep on bringing in positive and hefty returns, the lives of all the TSP investors would become easier and the overall face value of the TSP plans would also boost. It may also lead to attracting more visitors to the useful investment option that’s become very popular in the last few years.

Survey says Student Loans are a Financial Planning Threat as they Impact Retirement Savings

A new survey has highlighted that rising amounts of student loans and the time taken to get rid of them is taking a toll on the retirement savings of Americans. People with a student loan to pay often need to save less towards retirement which is a financial planning threat. It was recommended that the HR of companies should help the employees in this situation by hosting workshops that assist in better management of finances.

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The Survey on Student Loans as a Threat to Good Financial Planning and Retirement Savings

The survey that states that student loans are impacting the financial planning abilities and the retirement savings of Americans was conducted by a renowned benefit consulting firm known as Aon Hewitt. It found out that the employees who have student loans that need years to be paid off can make people feel the strain even in their retirement years.

This survey was conducted on over 2,000 U.S. workers. It found that about 28 percent of the respondents had an outstanding student loan at the moment. It’s not the workers of the younger generations that are impacted. About 44 percent of the Millennials, 26 percent of respondents from the Generation X and about 13 percent of respondents from the baby boomers’ age group have a student loan debt. It is being estimated that about half must pay $3000 per year as a payback.

The Low Savings

It was also made clear by the survey that about 71 percent of respondents who had a student loan to deal with saved less money on a retirement plan provided by the employer. In contrast, respondents who had no student debts, about 77 percent saved more towards the employer-provided retirement plans.

Savings Percentage

About 51 percent of the Americans who had a student loan just contributed 5 percent of the total pay to the plan. Aon Hewitt says that saving less than 6 percent of pay towards the retirement savings can hinder retirement readiness as most workers miss out on the full matching contributions by the company.

The Advice

Aon Hewitt also said that the HR of a company can help people in better financial planning by offering workshops. People should also be given advice on participating in retirement savings plans. Some employers already offer benefits that are designed in a way that helps employees to pay the student loans quickly.

Many Erie County Residents are not Ready for Retirement: Survey

A new survey has revealed that the residents of Erie Country are not ready for retirement. Most of them are afraid that they have not saved enough for retirement. Some of them even fear that they will not be able to get the promised social security benefits after they leave the job for good. The survey respondents included both, the Gen Xers and the Baby Boomers.

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Research claims that Erie County Members are not Ready for Retirement

The research that claims that Erie County Members are not ready for retirement was conducted by the Siena College Research Institute and AARP via a survey. The respondents of the survey included more than 600 people from the Erie County. Their ages were between 35 to 70. Apart from the Erie Country residents, the residents of Monroe County, Long Island, Capital District, Central New York and New York City were also surveyed.

Key Findings

The most important finding of the survey is that about a quarter of Erie County respondents are ready for retirement because they think that they have got enough money. While most of the respondents have basic retirement savings, about 63 percent say that they are not sure whether their savings would be enough to meet their post-retirement needs.

The Reason

This vital survey also tried to find out why people think that they are not retirement ready. David McNally who serves as the AARP’s Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy in New York stated that a lot of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are just getting by financially or facing a lot of financial difficulties. He also added that about half of the Gen Xers in the Western New York and 43 percent of Baby Boomers have confessed to finding it difficult to manage their finances well.

Social Security Fears

About 6 in every 10 respondents belonging to the Erie County stated that they are worried about whether they will be able to avail the promised social security benefits or not. It seems that they fear the SSA won’t have enough funds to pay them.

It is clear that the members of Erie County, including all generations, need some expert assistance in managing their finances and boosting their confidence in the retirement system as it will lead to making them more ready for retirement in the near future.