Newsletter: July/Aug 2020


News You Can Use

America’s Job Crises: Past and Future

Even before the mass layoffs caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, companies were having a hard time keeping workers employed. That’s because, in recent years, plentiful jobs have offered employees more options to jump ship if they weren’t happy.

In August 2019, more than 4 million people left their jobs. Professionals most likely to undergo job churn are software engineers, marketers, those who work in finance and investing, and, interestingly, job recruiters.1

Historically, people who worked in skilled trades such as education, public safety and health care were less likely to jump from employer to employer.2 However, this sentiment could possibly change post-pandemic, as many within the lower-income scale realize that the rewards of a selfless calling may not be worth the risks.

Researchers say, in general, the best way to earn a significant salary bump is to change employers. Some companies are willing pay up to 15% more than a new employee’s former salary. Compared to the standard 2% to 3% annual increase among incumbent workers, changing jobs may be the only real way to get ahead in the future economy.3

1 Jennifer Liu. CNBC. Feb. 18, 2020. “These workers are most likely to quit their jobs—and it can impact your ability to find a new job, too.” https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/14/workers-in-these-5-fields-are-most-likely-to-quit-their-jobs.html. Accessed April 6, 2020.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

That Time of Year

How to Beat the Summertime Heat

In many locations, it seems like summers just keep getting hotter. That means we need to get smarter when it comes to beating the heat. While most folks wear lighter-weight clothing during the summer months, it’s also worth checking out the new smart fabrics. For example, look for clothes designed to absorb perspiration and convert it to help regulate body temperature.1

These fabrics may not yet exist for bedding, but in the meantime, consider cotton or linen sheets that wick away sweat to keep you cooler at night. Experts recommend between 200 and 400 thread count for maximum breathability; if you go higher, the fabric can trap heat and moisture. If you still run warm during the night, consider storing sheets in a resealable plastic bag in the refrigerator until bedtime. The cool temperature may not last all night, but perhaps long enough to help you fall asleep. Alternatively, tuck frozen ice packs between the bedsheets at night.2

If you’ve been outside in the heat and need to cool off quickly, apply a covered ice pack or chilled towel to pulse points on your body — such as wrists, ankles, crook of the elbows and the back of the knees — for 20 minutes at a time. If you feel faint, drink water as soon as possible, lie down and raise your legs higher than your head. When drinking fluids, be aware that cold water takes longer for your body to hydrate; room temperature is better because it is absorbed more quickly.3

1 James Urquhart. Chemistry World. Feb. 8, 2019. “Smart textile uses sweat as switch to keep wearer cool or warm.” https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/smart-textile-uses-sweat-as-switch-to-keep-wearer-cool-or-warm/3010099.article. Accessed April 6, 2020.

2 WebMD. Oct. 24, 2018. “How to Cool Down When You’re Always Hot.” https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/ss/slideshow-cool-down-when-hot. Accessed April 3, 2020.

3 Ibid.

The Good Life

The Research on Walking

By now, many Americans have discovered the benefits of walking. Plus, it’s one of the few outdoor pastimes people can enjoy while social distancing. In addition to fresh air and light exercise, studies have recently found a few more advantages about walking.

The simple act of sauntering causes your brain to juggle a variety of different cognitive functions, from internal mapping of your route to adjusting for a faster heartbeat and quicker breathing. In addition to the physical tasks at hand, you’re likely to find your thoughts meandering from “what type of bird is that?” to a list of things you need to do when you get home.

The brain is your body’s superpower, so it has no trouble multitasking a variety of actions at once. Plus, there are underlying perks that you may not recognize until your walk is finished. For example, walking can help improve your mood, flex your creative juices and promote your capacity for learning.1

Finally, walking can boost your energy levels so you can get more done during the day and sleep better at night. If you’re feeling a bit lethargic and wondering whether you should take a nap or go for a walk, the latter option is usually better for a plethora of good reasons.2

1 Jessica Stillman. Inc. Sept. 3, 2019. “Neuroscientist: Walking Is a ‘Superpower’ That Makes Us Smarter, Healthier, and Happier.” https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/neuroscientist-walking-is-a-superpower-that-makes-us-smarter-healthier-happier.html?cid=sf01001. Accessed April 3, 2020.

2 Ibid.

How To…

… Get Your Emails Past Spam Filters

Spam filters are becoming more discretionary as the number of malware-infected spam emails continues to grow. If you find your emails are getting caught up in recipient spam folders, consider the following tips:1

  • Free email accounts (like Google and Yahoo) that are easy to set up are more likely to be tagged as spam.
  • Email messages that recipients frequently fail to open start to get flagged as spam.
  • Purchasing your own domain with an associated email address helps avoid spam filters.
  • Optimize your subject line with a personalized message.
  • Emails that contain links or attached images are a red flag.
  • Avoid words or phrases that filters associate with spam, such as “Nigeria” and “double your income.”

1 Angela Lashbrook. Medium. Feb. 7, 2020. “Your Email Spam Filter Is More Aggressive Than You Realize.” https://onezero.medium.com/your-email-spam-filter-is-more-aggressive-than-you-realize-d54b77ea788c. Accessed April 6, 2020.

Dollars & Sense

Prospects for the Post-Pandemic Real Estate Market

Prior to the COVID-19 epidemic, nearly 34% of U.S. homes were owned by residents aged 60 and older.1 As the “Silver Tsunami” winds down, existing homes may begin to flood the market — driving prices lower in residential real estate.

Interestingly, many young homebuyers have adopted a retro perspective when it comes to searching for the perfect home. The construction industry will likely be busy building new homes and updating existing properties based on recent trends.

Trending Small

The current sentiment is that smaller is better for a variety of reasons. Among millennials, less square footage makes newly built, single-family homes more affordable. Furthermore, they tend to prefer smaller homes in dense, walkable, urban-oriented neighborhoods, and favor efficient and eco-friendly houses that require less maintenance.2

Mid- and late-career demographics — many who have weathered serious economic setbacks in the past dozen years — are expected to be a bit more pragmatic when it comes to retirement living. They may seek to downsize to a smaller home so they can age in place with lower bills and maintenance obligations.

Projects That May Pay Off

If you’re contemplating improvements for your house, seek the most bang for your buck. According to the 2020 Cost vs. Value Report by Remodeling magazine, exterior projects offer some of the biggest investment returns. For example, consider the curb appeal of replacing your home’s siding with fiber cement board or manufactured stone veneer. Think about replacing the roof, older windows and even the front door.3 In recent months, homeowners have come to appreciate the value of a breezy front porch — and a separate home office would be appreciated.

These updates make a lot sense if you want to list your house for sale, as new homebuyers prefer to customize the interior for their needs. Remodeling is fun when you get to design the kitchen, choose appliances and select colors for the bathroom. But spend money to install a new roof? Not so much.

It may cost more to replace siding, but it’s an investment you can recoup in the sale price — unlike a kitchen island. Curb appeal is important because it invites more prospects to tour your home and, once inside, they can envision how to personalize the home’s interior. That’s something you can’t possibly deliver to each prospect who walks through your door.

1 Issi Romem. Zillow. Nov. 22, 2019. “The Silver Tsunami: Which Areas will be Flooded with Homes once Boomers Start Leaving Them?” https://www.zillow.com/research/silver-tsunami-inventory-boomers-24933/. Accessed April 3, 2020.

2 Skylar Olsen. Zillow. Dec. 9, 2019. “Bold Predictions for 2020: Shrinking Homes and a More Stable Market.” https://www.zillow.com/research/2020- predictions-26100/. Accessed Feb. 6, 2020.

3 Brenda Richardson. Forbes. Jan. 14, 2020. “10 Home Improvement Projects That Return The Most At Resale.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/brendarichardson/2020/01/14/10-home-improvement-projects-that-return-the-most-at-resale/#62eeaefe6201. Accessed April 3, 2020.

Text Pull for Dollars & Sense article

As the “Silver Tsunami” winds down, existing homes may begin to flood the market — driving prices lower in residential real estate.

The Scoop

How Tech Can Solve Many of Our Problems

We’ve been hearing about technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) for years. However, these esoteric concepts have not really entered our lives in a substantially influential way. That could be about to change.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the capacity for these technologies to address key global issues — such as education, health care and food supply — put them on a path for rapid expansion during the next year or two.1

Artificial intelligence can be used to adapt teaching curricula for each student’s learning capability via pattern recognition and machine learning. Additionally, because AI can analyze vast amounts of data in mere seconds, the technology can quickly and more accurately diagnose a health condition from a CT scan, MRI or X-ray — easing the backlog and expense that comes with human interpretation.2 Imagine how handy this type of analysis could be during the next pandemic.

Blockchain technology can generate more transparent and ethical supply chains that allow customers to view how products are produced, from harvesting raw materials to manufacturing to packaging and delivery. This data chain can enhance product safety, reduce fraud, and improve supply and demand forecasting.3

For example, the American company GrainChain has deployed blockchain tech to create a more streamlined and transparent ecosystem for production. This provides farmers access to information that helps them negotiate more profitable transactions in both the U.S. and worldwide.4

1 Zvika Krieger. World Economic Forum. Jan. 17, 2020. “9 reasons to be optimistic about tech in 2020.” https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/01/9-reasons-to-be-optimistic-about-tech-in-2020. Accessed April 7, 2019.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.                              

Brain Games

Provided by AE

Pg 6 Item of Value

Provided by AE

CenterStage

An Update on Surprise Medical Bills

“Surprise medical bills” may show up when a patient is inadvertently treated by a provider outside his health plans’ network. In the past year, nearly 40% of insured nonelderly adults received an unexpected medical bill. Of those, 13% say the costs were $2,000 or more.1 This is a common occurrence among patients who receive emergency care from an out-of-network provider. They may be later billed for charges above their health plan’s level of coverage.

Unfortunately, it also can happen when a patient thoroughly researches his or her medical care ahead of time and chooses an in-network provider and facility for a scheduled procedure. For example, the patient may choose his surgeon and hospital for a procedure, but the anesthesiologist assigned may not be in the patient’s network, and will therefore charge a separate bill.2

Several states have passed legislation to try to protect consumers from surprise billing. However, state laws generally do not apply to people who receive their insurance coverage from a large employer that self-insures its workforce. While 78% of Americans support the idea of federal legislation to protect patients, to date no comprehensive law addressing this issue has been passed by Congress.3

1 Karen Pollitz, Matthew Rae, Gary Claxton, Cynthia Cox and Larry Levitt. Peterson-KFF. Feb. 10, 2020. “An examination of surprise medical bills and proposals to protect consumers from them.” https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/brief/an-examination-of-surprise-medical-bills-and-proposals-to-protect-consumers-from-them-3/. Accessed April 8, 2020.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

Recipe

Summer Pasta Salad

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (16 ounce) package fusilli (spiral) pasta
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ lb. provolone cheese, cubed
  • ½ lb. salami, cubed
  • ¼ lb. sliced pepperoni, cut in half
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 (10 ounce) can black olives, drained
  • 1 (4 ounce) jar of pimentos, drained
  • 1 (8 ounce) bottle Italian salad dressing

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  • In a large bowl, combine pasta with tomatoes, cheese, salami, pepperoni, green pepper, olives and pimentos. Pour in salad dressing and toss to coat.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications and Advisors Excel.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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