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Enriching retirement years through volunteering at school

Retirement is a precious time in our lives to enjoy the things we love most, whether it be traveling, gardening, reading, fitness, learning new skills, spending time with family and friends; the list goes on and on.  Another way to enjoy and enrich retirement could be giving back to our kids and our communities.  There are so many opportunities out there to take advantage of, but many folks don’t know where to begin.

Here are just a few ideas on how to get more involved according to Cynthia Ramnarace, a health and families writer for AARP.org:

1. “We would love to have grandparents volunteer to talk about their careers and what they believed made them successful in life — or what they would have done differently,” says Chuck Schiller, principal of St. Paul Lutheran School in New Orleans.

2. “We have grandparents help children with reading,” says Terry M. Nelson, principal of Midland Elementary School in Randolph County, W.Va. “They help students learn their sight words, and learn letter sounds.”

3. Volunteers are needed for extracurricular activities, says Barb Werstler, principal of Dodge Intermediate School in Twinsburg, Ohio. Grandparents could help run the chess club, book club or ski club and help coordinate events such as Pajama Day and Crazy Hair Day.

4. “We would love for grandparents to develop relationships with children who do not have grandparents,” says Montie Koehn, principal of Sequoyah Elementary School in Oklahoma City. 

Grandmother and granddaughter reading library book 	Hispanic grandmother and granddaughter reading library book . — Dave & Les Jacobs/Blend Images/Getty Images

5. “I’d love a volunteer who’s willing to be taught computer skills by the children,” says Raquel Scharf-Anderson, director of student services at Pardes Day School in Phoenix. “Teaching reinforces skills learned in the classroom.”

6. “Grandfathers are desperately needed,” says Pat Stille Martin, teacher at Raleigh Egypt Middle School in Memphis, Tenn. “They help break up fights. They talk to the boys. They may play basketball or help them with a bully.”

7. Offer your career skills, says Jacqueline Edelberg, community activist who helped turn around the Nettelhorst School in Chicago. “If you’re a tax attorney, you can help us with tax stuff,” says Edelberg. “If you’re an accountant, you can help us with that. You don’t even have to like kids. I have tons of stuff you could do at home with a computer.”

8. Work one-on-one with a student on math or reading, says Dina Gerdon of Children First Academy, which serves homeless children in Tempe, Ariz., and Phoenix. “Many of our students are one or two grade levels behind, and having a caring adult to work with them can add that extra bump they need to achieve,” she says.

9. Bring history to life for students by telling stories of where you were and what it was like to live through the defining historical experiences of your lifetime, says Rhonda Parmer, principal of Frazier Elementary School in Houston.

10. “We love to have grandparents come read with children,” says Linda Anderson, principal of Sharon Elementary School in Orem, Utah. “A caring adult sitting by a child as they read and then discussing the book is the ideal situation to promote reading. Often parents have huge time demands as they try to provide for their young families. But grandparents can help fill this essential role.”

Source: http://www.aarp.org

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Getting the Hearing Impaired “in the loop”

Are you or do you know of individuals who struggle to hear what is being spoken in houses of worship and in movie theaters?  If so, you will be interested to learn of an exciting new development to help the hearing impaired!  Over the past two years, churches have been leading the way to enhance hearing aid functionality for people with hearing loss.

Hearing Loop technology takes a feed from the PA system and then transmits the sound through a wire loop that surrounds hearing-impaired listeners.  The loop accomplishes this by projecting a magnetic signal through a “telecoil” receiver, an inexpensive device that is found in 60% of new hearing aids.

This looks to be a very exciting and welcomed change for those experiencing the frustration of not being able to comprehend spoken words; words that are understood and appreciated by others around them.

The benefits of this innovative technology, as stated in a recent New York Times article:

A hearing loop, typically installed on the floor around the periphery of a room, is a thin strand of copper wire radiating electromagnetic signals that can be picked up by a tiny receiver already built into most hearing aids and cochlear implants. When the receiver is turned on, the hearing aid receives only the sounds coming directly from a microphone, not the background cacophony.

“It’s the equivalent of a wheelchair ramp for people who used to be socially isolated because of their hearing loss,” said David G. Myers, a professor of psychology at Hope College in Holland, Mich., who is hard of hearing. “I used to detest my hearing aids, but now that they serve this second purpose, I love the way they’ve enriched my life.”

After his first encounter with a hearing loop at an abbey in Scotland, where he was shocked to suddenly be able to understand every word of a service, Dr. Myers installed a loop in his own home and successfully campaigned to have loops installed at hundreds of places in Michigan, including the Grand Rapids airport and the basketball arena at Michigan State University.

“One of the beauties of this simple technology is that it serves me everywhere from my office to my home TV room to nearly all the worship places and public auditoriums of my community,” Dr. Myers said.

Source: nytimes.com

What is an Annuity?

Annuities have become a very popular retirement investment vehicle.  Even so, there is a lot of confusion regarding annuities.  Although there is some complexity to understanding the various options available to annuity purchasers (fixed, variable, indexed, etc.), the basics are fairly straightforward.

An annuity is an insurance product that pays out income, and can be used as part of a retirement strategy. Annuities are a popular choice for investors who want to receive a steady income stream in retirement.

Here’s how an annuity works: you make an investment in the annuity, and it then makes payments to you on a future date or series of dates. The income you receive from an annuity can be doled out monthly, quarterly, annually or even in a lump sum payment.

The size of your payments is determined by a variety of factors, including the length of your payment period.

You can opt to receive payments for the rest of your life, or for a set number of years. How much you receive depends on whether you opt for a guaranteed payout (fixed annuity) or a payout stream determined by the performance of your annuity’s underlying investments (variable annuity).

Source:  money.cnn.com

When making any investment decision be prepared and ask questions.  To name just a few…….How long will payments be made?  What are the tax implications?  What is my return on the money I put into the annuity?  Is it fixed or variable?  What are the death benefits?

Individuals have different tolerances to risk, investment horizons, business and family situations, portfolio objectives, etc. The sale of any financial product should involve a careful analysis of the suitability of the product for a given individual.

As always talk to an advisor and ask questions.

Experts Recommend Annuities According To Government Accountability Office Report

In June of 2011 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published the report “RETIREMENT INCOME: Ensuring Income throughout Retirement Requires Difficult Choices”. The GAO was, refreshingly, quite blunt about the environment in which current and future retirees exist. The report states:

As life expectancy increases, the risk that retirees will outlive their assets is a growing challenge. The shift from defined benefit (DB) pension plans to defined contribution (DC) plans also increases the responsibility for workers and retirees to make difficult decisions and manage their pension and other financial assets so that they have income throughout retirement.

In the summary letter to Chairman Senator Herb Kohl the letter states:

Today, a husband and wife both aged 65 have approximately a 47 percent chance that at least one of them will live to his or her 90th birthday and a 20 percent chance of living to his or her 95th birthday. In addition to the risk of outliving one’s assets, the sharp declines in financial markets and home equity during the last few years and the continued increase in health care costs have intensified workers’ concerns about having enough savings and how to best manage those savings in retirement.

This is not new to readers here. A previous blog post, “A record 51% doubt they can pay for medical expenses in retirement”, noted that consumers are seriously concerned about their ability to meet expenses in retirement.

So, what to do? The report continues and states:

Financial experts GAO interviewed typically recommended that retirees systematically draw down their savings and convert a portion of their savings into an income annuity to cover necessary expenses, or opt for the annuity provided by an employer-sponsored DB pension instead of a lump sum withdrawal. Experts also recommended that individuals delay receipt of Social Security benefits until reaching at least full retirement age and, in some cases, continue to work and save, if possible.

Clearly, individual situations vary. Just as clearly, the GAO believes that annuities should be considered as an option for diversifying your portfolio and decreasing the risk in your retirement assets. Check with an advisor to determine how you may benefit from an annuity.

The full text of the report can be found at http://www.gao.gov