Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski Announces Retirement At Age 29 After Months Of Speculation

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has announced he is retiring. After months of speculation that the 29-year-old star player would be hanging up his cleats, the man himself released a statement confirming the rumors.

As with all other celebrity announcements these days, The Gronk, used Instagram to break the news to fans he was done with football.

“It all started at 20 years old on stage at the NFL draft when my dream came true, and now here I am about to turn 30 in a few months with a decision I feel is the biggest of my life so far. I will be retiring from the game of football today,” he shared at the beginning of a very lengthy post.

Gronkowski went on to thank the two men who gave him a chance of a lifetime, owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010. My life experiences over the last nine years have been amazing both on and off the field,” he continued.

The football player also expressed his gratitude for his teammates, as well as Patriots fans, who are affectionally referred to as Pats Nation.  He shared how it was his privilege to be part of such a magnificent team and franchise.

“To all my current and past teammates, thank you for making each team every year special to be a part of. I will truly miss you guys. Cheers to all who have been part of this journey, cheers to the past for the incredible memories, and a HUGE cheers to the uncertain of whats next.” The Gronk praised those who had his back on and off the field.

View this post on Instagram

It all started at 20 years old on stage at the NFL draft when my dream came true, and now here I am about to turn 30 in a few months with a decision I feel is the biggest of my life so far. I will be retiring from the game of football today. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010. My life experiences over the last 9 years have been amazing both on and off the field. The people I have meet, the relationships I have built, the championships I have been apart of, I just want to thank the whole New England Patriots organization for every opportunity I have been giving and learning the great values of life that I can apply to mine. Thank you to all of Pats Nation around the world for the incredible support since I have been apart of this 1st class organization. Thank you for everyone accepting who I am and the dedication I have put into my work to be the best player I could be. But now its time to move forward and move forward with a big smile knowing that the New England Patriots Organization, Pats Nation, and all my fans will be truly a big part of my heart for rest of my life. It was truly an incredible honor to play for such a great established organization and able to come in to continue and contribute to keep building success. To all my current and past teammates, thank you for making each team every year special to be apart of. I will truly miss you guys. Cheers to all who have been part of this journey, cheers to the past for the incredible memories, and a HUGE cheers to the uncertain of whats next.

A post shared by Rob Gronkowski (@gronk) on

The New England Patriots will be down one of their most invaluable and talked about players when football returns this fall. Rob Gronkowski has decided it is time to close the chapter on football and move on to something new. His announcement is not all that surprising, as fans have been speculating, he was done playing the game.

It will be tough to replace The Gronk in the eyes of those that played football with him and those who spend their Sunday’s cheering him for the past ten years. Pats Nation is definitely going to feel the loss of Gronkowski.

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How to Reach Your Retirement Savings Goal in 2019

How much do you have saved for retirement? If you’re an employee, you probably have a 401(k) or other sponsored retirement plan, but you don’t have to stop there—there’s more to retirement savings. Depending on your annual income, there are different types of retirement vehicles. One that is often overlooked by many young professionals and self-employed entrepreneurs is the Roth IRA.

A Roth IRA is an individual retirement account that allows you to use after-tax dollars to fund life during retirement. The tax-free factor provides a tax-free stream of income (including gains) when you retire. It’s important to take advantage of this when you’re younger because this tax-free retirement vehicle is not available to you after you reach a certain income threshold.

The IRS also raised the annual Roth IRA contribution limits from $ 5,500 in 2018 to $ 6,000 in 2019 (for individuals under 50). That means you can contribute $ 6,000 to retirement this year and enjoy the benefits of tax-free withdrawals when you retire. If you contribute $ 500/month, you can max out your retirement account goals in 12 months. That adds up to a retirement savings goal of $ 125 a week! Below, are additional steps you can take to reach your retirement goals this year.

Reach Your Retirement Goal in 2019:

Make it Automatic

Are you disciplined enough to automatically set aside a specific dollar amount or percentage of your money and allocate it toward retirement every time you get paid? Most people aren’t. And there’s no point in adding another task to your to-do list when you can automate it. All you have to do it set up recurring transfers from your checking account to your retirement account to ensure you are consistently making contributions.

Allocate Lump Sum Payment Amounts Wisely

Are you going to receive a year-end bonus, tax refund, or another fat check? Have a plan for your money or it can quickly disappear right before your eyes. You can use this money to jump-start your retirement goals, which will decrease the amount of money that you have to save monthly to max out your Roth IRA retirement contributions.

Invest Your Spare Change

Don’t abandon your pennies because they are the foundation of nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollars. A little can go a long way if you are consistent. Your spare change can be used to build your retirement savings. You can use apps that help you invest your spare change, or you can do it yourself.

Manage Income and Expenses

If you’re strapped for cash, you need to decrease your bills or increase your income. Knowing where your money goes will help you determine which expenses are necessary and which can be cut. If you want to increase your income, do yourself a favor and accumulate profitable skills or find ways to profit from your passion as a freelancer or small business owner. A work promotion or a salary increase can also give you something extra to add to your retirement savings.

Take Advantage of the Saver’s Credit

According to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies annual survey, only 12% of American workers who meet the income requirements are aware that they can take advantage of this retirement benefit. The Saver’s Credit was designed to reward low- and moderate-income taxpayers for their retirement contribution. What’s the benefit? This credit can reduce your tax bill or allow you to eliminate it.

The best thing you can do right now to prepare for retirement is to start now. Although retirement may sound like it’s eons away, you should get started right away or risk being left behind scratching your head while retirement creeps up on you.


Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

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3.14.19 Zebit CFO responds to Clark; Fee-laden target retirement funds; Renovation scams

Zebit sells electronics items to people with low credit scores. Clark made some comments earlier this week and now has the Zebit CFO on to respond to his comments; Fee-laden target retirement funds have been targeted by the SEC; A huge percentage of folks that decide to renovate a home feel that they were scammed in the process

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Lindsey Vonn Crashed in the Super-G at the World Championships Just After Announcing Upcoming Retirement

(ARE, Sweden) — One of the hallmarks of Lindsey Vonn’s career has been the way she bounces back from major crashes time and time again.

So perhaps it’s fitting that the most successful female skier of all time will enter her last race before retiring following yet another tumble into the safety netting.

Vonn straddled a gate mid-air during the super-G at the world championships Tuesday and ended up sliding down the hill face first.

“I’ve got a bit of a shiner. I feel like I’ve been hit by an 18-wheeler, but other than that I’m great,” Vonn said with a laugh. “My knees are the same as they were before the race. I think my neck’s going to be sore. I got the wind knocked out of me, my ribs are oddly sore. It’ll be fine. Sunday will be great.”

Vonn quickly got up after the fall and skied down the hill under her own power after being tended to by medical personnel. Then she sat and happily answered reporters’ questions during a half-hour news conference.

The 34-year-old Vonn, the all-time leader in women’s World Cup wins, announced last week that she will retire after racing the super-G and downhill at the worlds — meaning that Sunday’s downhill is her final race.

View this post on Instagram

It’s been an emotional 2 weeks making the hardest decision of my life, but I have accepted that I cannot continue ski racing. I will compete at the World Championships in Downhill and SG next week in Åre, Sweden and they will be the final races of my career. I have always pushed the limits of ski racing and it has allowed me to have amazing success but also dramatic crashes. I have never wanted the storyline of my career to be about injuries and because of that I decided not to tell anyone that I underwent surgery this past spring. A large portion of cartilage that had delaminated from my bone was removed. My crash in Lake Louise last year was much more painful than I let on, but I continued to race because I wanted to win a medal in the Olympics for my late grandfather. Again, I rehabbed my way back this summer and I felt better than I had in a long time. Then I crashed in Copper this November and injured my left knee, tearing my LCL plus sustaining 3 fractures. Despite extensive therapy, training and a knee brace, I am not able make the turns necessary to compete the way I know I can. My body is broken beyond repair and it isn't letting me have the final season I dreamed of. My body is screaming at me to STOP and it’s time for me to listen. Honestly, retiring isn’t what upsets me. Retiring without reaching my goal is what will stay with me forever. However, I can look back at 82 World Cup wins, 20 World Cup titles, 3 Olympic medals, 7 World Championship medals and say that I have accomplished something that no other woman in HISTORY has ever done, and that is something that I will be proud of FOREVER! I always say, “Never give up!” So to all the the kids out there, to my fans who have sent me messages of encouragement to keep going… I need to tell you that I’m not giving up! I’m just starting a new chapter. Don’t lose faith in your dreams, keep fighting for what you love, and if you always give everything you have you’ll be happy no matter what the outcome. Thank you for the amazing years, for always supporting me, and for making my job so fun. Can’t wait to see some of you in the finish in Åre where I will give it my all one last time. Love always, Lindsey

A post shared by L I N D S E Y • V O N N (@lindseyvonn) on

“Don’t count me out,” Vonn said. “I’ve got one more chance. Maybe I’ll pull off a miracle, maybe I won’t. … I’m going to try my hardest. Just because I get knocked down, it doesn’t mean I don’t get back up.”

Vonn’s long history of crashes has included frightful falls at the 2006 Turin Olympics and 2013 worlds. Her legs are so battered that she will have knee surgery for the seventh time soon after she retires — to repair the left knee ligament she tore during training in November.

“I need complete reconstruction. That will be fun. Hopefully my last surgery,” Vonn said.

Vonn was planning on retiring in December but moved up her last race upon realizing last month after failing to finish a super-G in Italy that her knees just can’t handle anymore pounding. She has discussed the long-term health risks for her body with her doctors.

“I’m screwed. I’ve known that for three years now,” Vonn said. “It’s only a matter of time. The analogy I was given was, I only have a certain amount of steps left. And I’ve run out of steps at this point. I know I’ll have pain for the rest of my life but I wouldn’t change it. … I got no cartilage, no meniscus, I got rods and plates and screws. There’s a lot going on. My head is still good, that’s all I need.”

It didn’t take Vonn long to process on why she crashed. When she barreled through a gate, the panel fitted between the two poles detached and got stuck on her boots. When she hit the ground she slid downhill face first, using her hands to keep her head from hitting the snow, then came to a stop in the netting.

“I had the right line coming in, that roll or jump had kind of a crown, it wasn’t exactly smooth and I think one of my skis hooked up and sent me into the panel,” she said. “The header into the fence wasn’t the best.

“My immediate thought was ‘What the hell? Why am I in the fence again?’ It was like, ‘Why am I here? I’m too old for this.’”

Vonn was wearing a safety air bag device under her racing suit, which inflated as she tumbled over and softened the impact when she hit the safety nets.

On a highly technical course, many other skiers also failed to finish their runs. American teammate Laurenne Ross also crashed and of the 43 starters, 14 failed to finish.

Mikaela Shiffrin won the race despite nearly making a similar error to Vonn toward the end of her run, correcting her direction in mid-air as she, too, was heading directly into a gate.

“I just squeaked by,” the American said. “That’s the sport. It’s such a fine line between the risk you have to take in order to win and then the risk where you take it’s just a little bit too much.”

Upon seeing Vonn’s crash, Shiffrin looked away from the big video screen in the finish area. Sofia Goggia, who took silver, clasped her helmet with both hands, and the crowd gasped. One American fan appeared to be crying.

“That’s Lindsey. She (goes) 100 percent or nothing,” said Austrian racer Nicole Schmidhofer, who finished 11th. “That’s why she has won so many races and why she’s an Olympic champion.”

Sports – TIME

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Olympic Alpine Skier Lindsey Vonn Announces Retirement After World Championships in Sweden

Lindsey Vonn has only two races remaining on her aching knees.

The women’s all-time leader in World Cup wins announced Friday that she will retire from ski racing after this month’s world championships in Sweden.

The 34-year-old Vonn had been planning to retire in December but changed her plans because of persistent pain in both of her knees, which she fully realized after failing to finish a race in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, last month

“It’s been an emotional 2 weeks making the hardest decision of my life, but I have accepted that I cannot continue ski racing,” Vonn wrote on Instagram. “I will compete at the World Championships in Downhill and SG (super-G) next week in Are, Sweden and they will be the final races of my career.”

View this post on Instagram

It’s been an emotional 2 weeks making the hardest decision of my life, but I have accepted that I cannot continue ski racing. I will compete at the World Championships in Downhill and SG next week in Åre, Sweden and they will be the final races of my career. I have always pushed the limits of ski racing and it has allowed me to have amazing success but also dramatic crashes. I have never wanted the storyline of my career to be about injuries and because of that I decided not to tell anyone that I underwent surgery this past spring. A large portion of cartilage that had delaminated from my bone was removed. My crash in Lake Louise last year was much more painful than I let on, but I continued to race because I wanted to win a medal in the Olympics for my late grandfather. Again, I rehabbed my way back this summer and I felt better than I had in a long time. Then I crashed in Copper this November and injured my left knee, tearing my LCL plus sustaining 3 fractures. Despite extensive therapy, training and a knee brace, I am not able make the turns necessary to compete the way I know I can. My body is broken beyond repair and it isn't letting me have the final season I dreamed of. My body is screaming at me to STOP and it’s time for me to listen. Honestly, retiring isn’t what upsets me. Retiring without reaching my goal is what will stay with me forever. However, I can look back at 82 World Cup wins, 20 World Cup titles, 3 Olympic medals, 7 World Championship medals and say that I have accomplished something that no other woman in HISTORY has ever done, and that is something that I will be proud of FOREVER! I always say, “Never give up!” So to all the the kids out there, to my fans who have sent me messages of encouragement to keep going… I need to tell you that I’m not giving up! I’m just starting a new chapter. Don’t lose faith in your dreams, keep fighting for what you love, and if you always give everything you have you’ll be happy no matter what the outcome. Thank you for the amazing years, for always supporting me, and for making my job so fun. Can’t wait to see some of you in the finish in Åre where I will give it my all one last time. Love always, Lindsey

A post shared by L I N D S E Y • V O N N (@lindseyvonn) on

The worlds open with the women’s super-G on Tuesday in the Swedish resort of Are. The women’s downhill is scheduled for Feb. 10.

“You have consistently raised the bar, you have created a legacy that will live forever, and you have given us all some of the greatest memories in our sport,” Tiger Shaw, the president and CEO of U.S. Ski and Snowboard, wrote on Twitter.

Vonn’s right knee is permanently damaged from previous crashes. The American has also torn ACLs, suffered fractures near her left knee, broken her ankle, sliced her right thumb, had a concussion and more. She’s limited now to about three runs per day, and her aching body can’t handle the workload of other skiers.

“My body is broken beyond repair and it isn’t letting me have the final season I dreamed of,” Vonn said. “My body is screaming at me to STOP and it’s time for me to listen.”

However, with 82 World Cup wins, Vonn will not be able to match the overall record of 86 held by Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark.

“Honestly, retiring isn’t what upsets me. Retiring without reaching my goal is what will stay with me forever,” Vonn said. “However, I can look back at 82 World Cup wins, 20 World Cup titles, 3 Olympic medals, 7 World Championship medals and say that I have accomplished something that no other woman in HISTORY has ever done, and that is something that I will be proud of FOREVER!”

In her announcement, Vonn also made public for the first time that she had yet another surgery on her right knee following last season.

“A large portion of cartilage that had delaminated from my bone was removed,” Vonn said, without specifying which bone. “My crash in Lake Louise last year was much more painful than I let on, but I continued to race because I wanted to win a medal in the Olympics for my late grandfather.”

Vonn achieved that goal by winning a bronze medal in downhill at last year’s Pyeongchang Games.

But then she crashed again during training in Copper Mountain, Colorado, in November, and tore the lateral collateral ligament and sustained three fractures in her left knee.

“Despite extensive therapy, training and a knee brace, I am not able make the turns necessary to compete the way I know I can,” Vonn said.

Retiring in Sweden brings Vonn full circle.

She won the first two major championship medals of her career — two silvers — at the 2007 worlds in Are. Vonn has also won seven World Cup races at the Swedish resort, including two giant slaloms, and has 12 podiums overall there.

At last season’s World Cup finals in Are, Vonn won the downhill and finished third in the super-G.

So broken knees and all, nobody will be counting Vonn out as a contender in her final races.

“Can’t wait to see some of you in the finish in Are,” she said, “where I will give it my all one last time.”

Sports – TIME

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Could you live on your retirement savings for 23 years?

The average retirement lasts more than 20 years. Here’s how to figure out if your savings will last that long, and what to do if you’re in danger of running out of money
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Retirement Calculators (and Facts) for Real Life

Stashing money away for the golden years can be a huge burden for many people. In fact, saving for retirement is the leading financial stressor for Americans, a new study from Lincoln Financial Group shows. Further, 90% of U.S. residents report stress about their financial situation impacts their daily mood.

The study by the Radnor, Pennsylvania-based financial services company indicated people know that saving for retirement is imperative. Some 57% of Americans say it is important to have room in their budget for a retirement plan. Yet, individuals put household necessities, utilities, and transportation ahead of retirement savings.

“Saving for retirement doesn’t have to be stressful, and it doesn’t have to be difficult,” says Jamie Ohl, EVP, president, Retirement Plan Services, Head of Life and Annuity Operations, Lincoln Financial Group. “It’s all about taking small steps over the course of your working life to help you achieve the retirement you envision.”

Another revelation from the American Consumer Study is that only about half of Americans are confident about saving for retirement, and just a quarter say they don’t plan to retire. The recent study included 2,501 respondents.

The good news is there are steps people can take to help boost their confidence about retirement savings and enhance their ability to retire.

For one, waiting to save can cost you and impact your financial future. This calculator shows the effect that delaying savings can bring.  Another point to consider is that a small change now can make a big difference later. For instance, consider cooking your own meal versus eating out once a week.

This calculator shows what that could mean. For instance, that action could add $ 113,000 to your retirement account.

People also should look at ways to protect their income in retirement. The study suggests many Americans are approaching their retirement years “unprotected”—meaning their savings are not shielded from rising healthcare costs, outliving savings, and other forces. Individuals should talk to a financial adviser to gain options—perhaps utilizing an annuity for instance—to discover ways to help turn retirement savings into sheltered lifetime income.

Interestingly, the study also found that about 1 in 4 Americans don’t plan to retire due to financial uncertainty in the future. Among its findings:

  • Forty-nine percent of us plan to retire, while 24% don’t plan to retire.
  • Twenty-seven percent will not retire because they do not have a good picture of what their financial future will look like.
  • Some 26% of people are looking to live comfortably and keep their current lifestyle in retirement.
  • Fourteen percent of Americans plan on beginning a “second career” later in life, while 32% aren’t sure and might consider the possibility.
  • Of those wanting to begin a second career, 25% say it is because they want to continue to have some income, and 17% say it is to keep busy and try something different.
  • More than 3 out of 4 Americans say they anticipate living in their own home once they are retired. That is particularly true for Young Boomers and Old Boomers (82% and 83%, respectively)
  • Forty percent of Americans are not now contributing to a retirement savings plan.
  • Some 24% of Americans with a formal retirement plan say “I wish I can retire earlier so that I can enjoy my time off doing personal things.”
  • Americans without a formal plan are more indifferent, with 1 in 3 saying “I feel no particular way about retirement.”

 

 

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8 Ways You Can Get to Retirement 10 Years Earlier Than You’ve Planned

Retirement. It seems like it’s forever away, doesn’t it? With all the bills and debt you’ve already accumulated, the idea of cashing in your chips and calling it a career could be an impossible dream.

But here’s the trick: Think like an entrepreneur, and start managing your life like it’s a successful business.

Try out these 8 tips that will help you do just that. You could even find yourself rocking retirement as soon as 10 years earlier than you would otherwise. Sweet, right?

1. Pay Off Credit Card Debt, So You Won’t Be Weighed Down

When you think about how much debt you have, you might feel a little anxious.

That’s where a company like Fiona can be helpful. It can help you find personalized lending options to refinance or consolidate your debt to potentially save thousands of dollars in interest.

Fiona will show you all the lenders willing to help you pay off your credit card and eliminate the headache of paying bills by allowing you to make one payment each month.

You can borrow up to $ 100,000 (no collateral needed) and compare interest rates, which start at 4.99%. The idea is to secure a loan at a lower interest rate, potentially helping you save thousands. Repayment plans range from 24 to 84 months.

Take, for example, Katherine, who faced $ 12,000 in credit card debt. Holding her back? The 15.24% interest rate. By refinancing with a 5%-interest, seven-year personal loan, she saved $ 12,000 in interest.

If she’d kept on the same road, she would have paid something like $ 14,000 in interest alone over 25 years. Yikes.

So even if you’re simply curious about what’s out there, know that checking rates on Fiona won’t hurt your credit score — and can probably save you in interest.

2. Have a Sit-Down With Your Credit Score

Dana Sitar with partner Stefan Davis spend some time reviewing credit sesame both on their phone and on personal laptop. St Petersburg, Fla.

If you want to retire early, your credit score is going to be a valuable tool. With a good credit score comes lower interest rates on loans, which means less money out of your pocket.

One of the toughest parts about paying down debt and fixing your credit score is knowing where to begin.

To create a rebuilding plan, you have to first know what you’re dealing with.

Do you have credit card debt? Is your name attached to any unpaid loans? Are you behind on medical or utility bills you didn’t know about?

Your credit report will give you this information.

You can get a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus.

If you want to keep a closer eye on your credit, get your credit score and “credit report card” for free from Credit Sesame. This website breaks down exactly what’s on your credit report in layman’s terms, how it affects your score and how you might address it.

3. Hope for the Best, but Plan for the Worst

A family tragedy can do more than just break hearts. Losing someone in your life can come with a large emotional, and even financial, burden.

You’re setting plans to retire early. Don’t let a tragedy get in the way. Make sure that you and your loved ones have life insurance policies in place. They protect those left behind so they can continue to live out their dreams.

A company like Policygenius offers an easy way for anyone to compare and buy life insurance. The search engine allows you to compare policies and get instant quotes. Once you find the right fit, you can apply right online.

If you’re young and mostly healthy, consider purchasing term life insurance online from Ethos. It partners with a major A-rated life insurance carrier to provide policies for a low price. For example, $ 30 a month could get your family $ 1 million of coverage.

It’s not fun to think about, but it’s a necessary step for your life plans.

4. Pad the Bottom Line With Passive Income

The housing market is booming in Florida, including in places like Palmetto, Fla

Passive income is awesome. It’s income that keeps rolling in without you having to do much on your end. Suh-weet.

One great way to earn passive income is to invest in real estate. We found a company that helps you do just that.

Oh, and you don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of dollars, either. You can get started with a minimum investment of just $ 500. A company called Fundrise does all the heavy lifting for you.

Through the Fundrise Starter Portfolio, your money will be split into two portfolios that support private real estate around the United States.

This isn’t an obscure investment, though. You can see exactly which properties are included in your portfolios — like a set of townhomes in Snoqualmie, Washington, or an apartment building in Charlotte, North Carolina.

You can earn money through quarterly dividend payments and potential appreciation in the value of your shares, just like a stock. Cash flow typically comes from interest payments and property income (i.e. rent).

(But remember: Investments come with risk. While Fundrise has paid distributions every quarter since 2014, dividend and principal payments are never guaranteed.)

You’ll pay a 0.85% annual asset management fee and a 0.15% annual investment advisory fee.

5. Bring Your Operating Costs Down

If you’re treating your life like a business, you need to keep your operating costs down, right? That means taking a hard look at your monthly bills and cutting unnecessary costs. Luckly, that’s easier to do now than ever.

Download TrueBill, an app that’ll negotiate your bills, cancel unwanted subscriptions and refund your bank fees. On average, TrueBill says it helps customers save more than $ 700 a year by lowering their bills, canceling necessary subscriptions and getting refunds.

And what about insurance on your wheels? For many, car insurance is just one of those things where we cave in and pay. Because, just like the electric bill and phone service, we need it, right?

Yes. Unfortunately, there’s no getting around car insurance,. But one way you could save money is by shopping around and comparing rates at least once a year. Less than 50% of us do that, according to this survey from The Zebra, though 81% of us report wanting lower rates.

So, just like you compare the prices of flights, shoes and laptops before purchasing, why not compare car insurance?

The Zebra, an online car insurance search engine that offers “insurance in black and white,” compares your options from 204 providers in less than 60 seconds.

When you cut out excess spending on monthly bills, you can put more in your pocket and more toward retirement. It just got a little closer.

6. Invest Like a CEO, but With as Little as $ 5

Aileen with money.

You know that you should be investing, but how? “It takes money to make money” is what they always say. Well, if you want to start investing, it doesn’t take as much money as you’d think.

If you’re like most of us and wish your money would just take care of itself, consider starting an investment account through Acorns.

You can start small and stack up change over time with its “round-up” feature. That means if you spend $ 10.23 at the grocery store, 77 cents gets dropped into your Acorns account.

Then, the app does the whole investing thing for you.

The idea is you won’t miss the digital pocket change, and the automatic savings stack up faster than you’d think. For example, we reviewed how Penny Hoarder Dana Sitar was able to save at a rate of $ 420 a year!

At that rate, you could set aside $ 1,000 in about two and a half years — without trying.

The app is $ 1 a month for balances under $ 1 million, and you’ll get a $ 5 bonus when you sign up.

You’ll be able to watch your investments grow as you get closer and closer to retirement. It’s okay. Show off your portfolio to the gang at the water cooler.

7. Give Your 401(k) a Pep Talk

For many people, a 401(k) account is their primary tool for retirement savings. That’s great. But if you want to retire early, you need to make sure it’s doing all it can for you.

If you’re saving for your retirement with a 401(k), awesome.

But when’s the last time you truly checked in on your account, adjusted your allocations, addressed any fees and all that other fun stuff?

Try using a robo-adviser to make sure your 401(k) is on track with your retirement goals. Blooom is an SEC-registered investment advisory firm that’ll optimize and monitor your 401(k) for you.

Your initial account checkup is free, and you can do it online in less than five minutes. This will help you get to know your account a little more intimately. Find out if you’re paying too many investment fees or if you have the appropriate amount of money invested in stocks versus bonds.

If you’re satisfied with the outcome of your initial checkup, great! If not, you can enroll in Blooom for $ 10 a month (Penny Hoarders get one month free). It’ll automatically adjust your 401(k) to best fit your needs all the way up to retirement.

8. Give Yourself Yearly Reviews

Now that you’ve made some smart moves to help put yourself in position to retire 10 years earlier than you otherwise could have, don’t just sit back and coast.

Like any good business, you need to review things at least once a year. Where can you cut back? Can you put a little more into your investments?

You’re the CEO of your life. Start acting like it, and watch the bottom line get bigger and better with time.

So… what will you do with an extra 10 years of free time?

Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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9 Ways to Avoid Early Withdrawal Penalties From Your Retirement Accounts

Have you ever been in dire need of some cash but your bills are due and your bank account is low?

Then you look at your 401(k) sitting over there and think, “I could just take out a loan, problem solved.”

Wait. Before you get crazy with a loan that may not be in your best interest, you should know there are ways to get money out of retirement accounts without a loan or being subject to the 10% withdrawal penalty.

How to Get Money Out of Your Retirement Accounts Before 59 ½  

According to a TPH analysis of microdata from the Federal Reserve Board’s latest financial wellness survey, one in 10 Americans under the age of 60 borrowed money or withdrew early from one of their retirement accounts in the last year.

Once you put money into your 401(k) or IRA, if you try to access it before the age of 59 1/2 it’s typically through a 401(k) loan or paying a 10% penalty on the withdrawal in addition to any applicable taxes.  

While we advise having an emergency fund over resorting to retirement savings, sometimes life comes at you fast and you need that money. And if you’re using it for the right reasons, we think you shouldn’t be penalized for using money that’s yours to begin with.

So here are some of the ways you can get money out of those accounts without fees, penalties, or restrictive loan terms.

Contribution Withdrawals From a Roth IRA

The Roth IRA is your most flexible account in retirement because you don’t have to pay taxes on withdrawals, no matter how large your growth, and it’s the only account without required minimum distributions.  

Your Roth IRA also offers you the most flexible options when you need to pull money from retirement. You can withdraw contributions you’ve made at any time tax-free and without penalty.

This applies only to the contributions, not the earnings of your Roth IRA.

Disability Exemption

The legs of a man using a blind walking can make their way down an asphlt path.

If you become physically or mentally disabled and are unable to work, you can take distributions from any retirement account penalty-free.

Once a physician certifies that the physical or mental impairment is continuous and of long or indefinite duration, all retirement accounts become available as they would at 59 1/2 — which means even though there’s no penalty, you’re still subject to federal and state taxes.

Home Purchase

You can withdraw up to the lifetime maximum of $ 10,000 — $ 20,000 for couples — from an IRA (Roth or traditional) to buy or build a home. To qualify, you cannot have owned a home in the two years preceding the home purchase.

But because you can withdraw contributions from your Roth IRA penalty-free, those limits apply only to earnings.  

The caveat is that if the account is less than five years old and you decide to withdraw earnings, you will have to pay income taxes on those.

If you prefer to withdraw from a traditional IRA, your maximum is a straight $ 10,000. You will have to pay applicable taxes on it. If you have both and think you’ll need to dip into earnings for the withdrawal, the traditional IRA is the account to go with because it’s easier to grow the balance through 401(k) rollovers.

Health Insurance Costs

If you lose your job and collect unemployment compensation for 12 consecutive weeks, you can use your IRA to pay for health insurance for you, your spouse and your dependents.

Since you can use Roth IRA contributions for any reason, this is more notable for a traditional IRA.

Big Medical Expenses

Medical expenses not reimbursed by insurance can qualify for a penalty waiver. Those expenses would need to exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income if you’re withdrawing from an IRA and 7.5% to withdraw from a 401(k). The distribution can be used for you, your spouse or your dependents.

The distribution has to be made in the same year that the medical expense is incurred, which could be difficult if you have an accident taking down the Christmas lights on Dec. 31 — another reason to leave them up until January.

If that all sounds intimidating and vague, that’s because it is. You’ll definitely need to consult a certified public accountant and your plan provider if you decide to go this route.

A better option is contributing to a health savings account (HSA) if you have one available to you. For medical expenses, an HSA is more flexible, easier to access and more tax advantaged than any other retirement account.

Military Service

Qualified reservists can take distributions from an IRA, 401(k) or 403(b) during an active duty of more than 179 days.

This includes all Reserve and National Guard members. While other distributions put you at a loss, qualified reservist distributions (QRDs) are allowed to be paid back in full for up to two years after your active duty ends, even if those extra contributions exceed the annual limit.

College Costs

A woman in a graduation robe counts money.

If you, your spouse, child or grandchild are pursuing higher education, it can be paid for from your IRA without penalty. Qualified expenses include tuition, fees, books, supplies and — if enrolled at least half time — room and board.

While this is only a benefit of an IRA, you can also rollover a 401(k) into a traditional IRA to pay for college. But understand that withdrawals for college costs can reduce your or your student’s eligibility for financial aid.

And if you’re thinking about using your retirement account to save for college, stop right there! 529 plans were designed for just that.

Change of Employment

If you leave your job in the year you turn 55 — or any time after — you can withdraw from your 401(k). If you anticipate retiring around this age and have any old 401(k)s lying around, this would be a good reason to roll it over to your current 401(k) instead of a traditional IRA.

Bonus: If you’re a government employee with a 457(b), you can access those retirement savings penalty-free whenever you leave your job, no matter your age.

Annual Distributions

If you’re trying to retire earlier than 55, you can agree to withdraw a specific amount every year called substantially equal periodic payments (SEPPs.) You’ll basically need to agree to take consistent withdrawals, based on IRS calculations, each year for the rest of your life.

The calculations are a bit confusing, so this is another one you’ll need to consult a financial adviser for. They can also tell you if SEPPs are your best option for early retirement or if there’s something more flexible that still gets you around the 10% penalty.

In conclusion, every time you take money out of a retirement account, you lose out on the compounding interest that money could have earned you. None of these should be go-to methods for getting extra money but they are available if you need them

Jen Smith is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She maxes out her Roth IRA and gives money-saving and debt-payoff tips on Instagram at @savingwithspunk.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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Paradise Lost: Wildfire Chases Seniors From Retirement Havens To Field Hospitals

CHICO, Calif. — After barely getting out of Paradise alive before the Camp Fire turned her town to ash, Patty Saunders, 89, now spends her days and nights in a reclining chair inside the shelter at East Ave Church 16 miles away.

It hurts too much to move. She needs a hip replacement and her legs are swollen. Next to her is a portable commode, and when it’s time to go, nurses and volunteers help her up and hold curtains around her to give her some measure of privacy.

“Never in my life did I think I would end up in a situation like this, but when it’s time to go, you got to go,” Saunders said. Under the circumstances, she is in good spirits, with a rotating cast of people stopping by to chat and take care of her.

Most of the fire victims here are older folks like her. They rest on cots, inflatable beds and recliners in a pop-up community of nearly 200 evacuees displaced by the Camp Fire and an army of volunteers.

The Camp Fire, the deadliest in state history, took ruthless aim at older people. Paradise, the Northern California town erased by fire, was largely a retirement community, with a quarter of the population 65 and older. The fire’s death toll was 77 at last count, and nearly 1,000 people were still unaccounted for — most of them seniors. The sheriff’s list of the missing includes many in their 70s and 80s.

Like everyone else in the wildfire’s path, older people fled swiftly, if they escaped at all, often leaving behind medications, wheelchairs, walkers and essential medical equipment.

Altogether, around 50,000 people are thought to have evacuated, now staying in motels, cars, shelters and a makeshift camp at Walmart in Chico. But the elderly refugees often need more support, especially with chronic conditions and infections that incubate and spread in close quarters. Some need dialysis but can’t get it. Others have respiratory illnesses aggravated by smoke. One woman in a Yuba City shelter was recovering from cancer surgery with a stapled wound.

“It’s been rough,” said Joy Beeson, 76, an evacuee who landed in the Chico church shelter. “Lost a couple of bedmates the other night. They all went to the hospital.”

They were felled by norovirus — a nasty stomach illness that causes diarrhea and vomiting. People were throwing up all day. Then, in the middle of night, paramedics came and removed the sickest, according to some evacuees.

Martha Pichotta lost her mobile home in Paradise, Calif. She doesn’t have insurance and lives off $ 900 a month in Supplemental Security Income. She is now at the Red Cross shelter at the fairgrounds in Yuba City, Calif.

Last week, nearly all the shelters from Chico to Yuba City were hit by an outbreak of the stomach illness — sending dozens to hospitals. Last week, the Butte County Public Health Department said 145 people in the shelters had been sick with the virus. Fearful volunteers and evacuees rarely shake hands anymore; fist bumps and elbow knocks are highly encouraged.

“Just threw up a few times,” said Martha Pichotta, 65, who was staying at the Red Cross shelter in Yuba City, about 50 miles south of Chico. After 24 hours of isolation behind blue curtains, she was released to mingle with other evacuees.

Adding to the physical and emotional stress, especially for seniors, was the hurried escape from longtime homes and the disruption of often predictable lives. There was little time for practical consideration, let alone sentiment — beloved pets and rooms full of memories were lost.

Beeson, whose shelter mates were taken to the hospital, said her adult son put his hand on her back to steady her, yelling, “Run, mama, run!” The only reason they escaped the fire alive was because a car picked them up and whisked them to freedom.

David Jackman, a 72-year-old man, said he shuffled down the road as fast as he could, leaving behind his dog and his walker as the flames overcame his house and propane tanks exploded behind him. A firetruck came to his rescue — likely saving his life.

Saunders, the 89-year-old Paradise resident, nearly burned to death in a car. One side of it melted.

Most of the older folks in the shelter said they couldn’t be more grateful for all the support and care they’ve received. Even so, life in a shelter is hard.

A team of University of California-San Francisco nurses meet at the East Ave Church shelter on Saturday.

Denise Parker, a Red Cross volunteer in Yuba City, said they can offer displaced people Pepto-Bismol and lots of Gatorade. But some were so dehydrated they needed to be hospitalized. Parker said they double-bag all waste and isolate those who are sick.

Parker recently got a request for an oversize wheelchair but wasn’t sure how to find one, she said. One evacuee needed dialysis, but they didn’t have the resources to drive the hundred or so miles back and forth to get him to a clinic.

A nurse and doctors stop by to write prescriptions, Parker said, but for more complicated conditions the shelter struggles to meet the need. They aren’t a full-fledged medical facility.

Ron Cooper, a 78-year-old who evacuated his home in Magalia, 5 miles north of Paradise, was staying at the Yuba City shelter with his wife, Jacque. Days after the fire hit, Jacque was released from the Oroville Hospital, following surgery to remove a cancerous kidney, but couldn’t go home. Her husband said she is doing OK in the shelter, even with a stapled wound in her side, but was concerned that she won’t eat or drink.

David Ramey, a 64-year-old with a scraggly beard, lounged on an inflatable bed at the Chico shelter, puffing on a nebulizer to soothe his emphysema. It was acting up because of the soupy smoke hanging in the air. He bought the device soon after getting out of the danger zone.

David Ramey lounges on an inflatable bed and puffs on a nebulizer to soothe his emphysema, which was acting up due to the smoky air. (Brian Rinker/California Healthline)

A soupy smoke hangs in the air as David Jackman and Martha Pichotta smoke cigarettes outside the shelter at the fairgrounds in Yuba City, Calif., on Saturday. Both lost everything in Paradise. (Brian Rinker/California Healthline)

Many of those who lost nearly everything are in a limbo state, not knowing what they will do next. Some are waiting on assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or for an insurance check. Others are looking for affordable housing in nearby communities. Paradise was attractive not just because of its natural beauty but because housing was reasonably priced for retirees. Several evacuees, like Pichotta, had been living in mobile homes.

At the Yuba City shelter Saturday, Pichotta sat in a wheelchair puffing on a cigarette with a blanket over her legs. She was talking with her 33-year-old son about what they should do now.

The short answer: no idea.

“My mobile home is this high,” she said, placing her hand a few inches above the ground. They didn’t have residential insurance and their only monthly income is a $ 900 Supplemental Security Income check. While she doesn’t know where she will end up, she knows her life in Paradise is over.

“I never want to go to Paradise again,” she said, and cried.


This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation.

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$500 Billion: Study Finds Parents Spend More on Adult Children than Retirement

Recent study insights reveal a telling tale of the extent of a parent’s love — and maybe even negligence — when it comes to their adult children. According to research, retirement security has taken a backseat for parents who are putting their children’s financial well-being ahead of their own future financial security, and they’re halting their golden-year plans just to make sure their offspring are thriving.

According to the study, “The Financial Journey of Modern Parenting: Joy, Complexity and Sacrifice” which was conducted by Merrill Lynch in partnership with Age Wave, parents today spend $ 500 billion annually on their adult children — ages 18-34 — double the amount they contribute each year to their retirement accounts.

More than 2,500 American parents were surveyed for the study which marks the third in a multi-year research series from Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, a company that studies maturing consumers.

“In this new era of delayed financial independence of young people, financial planning is no longer a solo or coupled activity,” Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., CEO, and founder of Age Wave said in a news release. “It’s become an ongoing family project with longer and different social, housing and economic interdependencies than we’ve seen before.”

80% of parents say they would be willing to make a major financial sacrifice for adult children, including dipping into their savings or cutting back their lifestyles. 25% would take on debt or pull money from retirement accounts. The research also found 31% of early adults ages 18-34 live with their parents, but even if the child is out of the house, parents are chipping in on school costs, health insurance, rent, and car expenses. 59% expect to help pay for their children’s weddings, 26% expect to contribute to their children’s first homes, and one-third plan to contribute to their grandchildren’s college costs.

Despite the financial sacrifices, 93% of respondents said being a parent was the most rewarding aspect of their lives and 94% said raising their children — and the costs that come with doing so — has been worth “every penny.”

“When emotions and money become intertwined, parents risk making financial decisions that can compromise their — and their children’s — financial futures,” Lisa Margeson, head of retirement client experience and communications at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said in the release. “Parents can navigate this difficult balance by setting clear boundaries about their level of support, fostering financial independence in adult children, and reconciling spending on children with long-term savings goals to avoid jeopardizing their own financial security.”

 

 

The post $ 500 Billion: Study Finds Parents Spend More on Adult Children than Retirement appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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$500 Billion: Study Finds Parents Spend More on Adult Children than Retirement

Recent study insights reveal a telling tale of the extent of a parent’s love — and maybe even negligence — when it comes to their adult children. According to research, retirement security has taken a backseat for parents who are putting their children’s financial well-being ahead of their own future financial security, and they’re halting their golden-year plans just to make sure their offspring are thriving.

According to the study, “The Financial Journey of Modern Parenting: Joy, Complexity and Sacrifice” which was conducted by Merrill Lynch in partnership with Age Wave, parents today spend $ 500 billion annually on their adult children — ages 18-34 — double the amount they contribute each year to their retirement accounts.

More than 2,500 American parents were surveyed for the study which marks the third in a multi-year research series from Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, a company that studies maturing consumers.

“In this new era of delayed financial independence of young people, financial planning is no longer a solo or coupled activity,” Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., CEO, and founder of Age Wave said in a news release. “It’s become an ongoing family project with longer and different social, housing and economic interdependencies than we’ve seen before.”

80% of parents say they would be willing to make a major financial sacrifice for adult children, including dipping into their savings or cutting back their lifestyles. 25% would take on debt or pull money from retirement accounts. The research also found 31% of early adults ages 18-34 live with their parents, but even if the child is out of the house, parents are chipping in on school costs, health insurance, rent, and car expenses. 59% expect to help pay for their children’s weddings, 26% expect to contribute to their children’s first homes, and one-third plan to contribute to their grandchildren’s college costs.

Despite the financial sacrifices, 93% of respondents said being a parent was the most rewarding aspect of their lives and 94% said raising their children — and the costs that come with doing so — has been worth “every penny.”

“When emotions and money become intertwined, parents risk making financial decisions that can compromise their — and their children’s — financial futures,” Lisa Margeson, head of retirement client experience and communications at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said in the release. “Parents can navigate this difficult balance by setting clear boundaries about their level of support, fostering financial independence in adult children, and reconciling spending on children with long-term savings goals to avoid jeopardizing their own financial security.”

 

 

The post $ 500 Billion: Study Finds Parents Spend More on Adult Children than Retirement appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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