10 Steps You Can Take Right Now

10 stepsDaunting Task

Are you concerned about having enough savings and assets to retire? Does it feel like the bills just keep coming in like the tide? Do you feel like you don’t really understand what it is you need to do to prepare in the first place? Do you wish that someone would give you 10 steps to success?

10 Steps

Well, look no further! If you aren’t sure where to begin, here’s a great list of steps from bankerate.com. First of all, step one says, to begin with an assessment. What should you evaluate, you ask? Read all about it here.

Is Retirement Possible Without $1 Million?

Retirement$1 Million Retirement

Of course entering retirement with a million dollars makes things easier, but you can absolutely live well without having met that magical goal. Preparing ahead of time and making small changes – or big ones – can pay off big in the long run.

5 Strategies

There are a few things you can try to help meet your goals like boosting your Social Security payments. Here are 5 strategies, from our friends at USNews.com that  you can employ to make your (less than $1K 401(k)) retirement a joy!

We would love to know if any of these suggestions have worked for you or if you think any of these strategies might help. We would also love to hear what else might have made your less than $1K savings work for you.

 

Are you confident and ready for retirement?

Most people don’t know. Take our quiz to find out.

June Newsletter

June Newsletter

Take a look at our June newsletter for 2017.

A few features in this issue

Check out this follow up article in our June Newsletter on Cutting Trees, why small business optimism is heightened, in addition to a report the the retirement planning status of young Americans. This issue of our newsletter also includes our usual games, puzzles, comics and more.

Just click here for the full June newsletter:  June17

Also, please be aware that we have released an update (2017.4b) If you are not running that edition then you may update from the links below. To determine which version you are currently operating, open your software and look in the upper right side of your splash screen. What new features do you love? Share  some features that might be added to make this software more valuable to you.

Download Mac version

Download Windows version

 

Economic Growth – Optimism Heightened

Optimism Heightened

Small business owners continue to be very optimistic about future economic growth, according to a recent survey. It shows that optimism heightened but with some mixed reviews.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) released its February Small Business Optimism Index in March. The reading was the highest it has been in 43 years. The NFIB, however, noted that evidence on the economy is mixed. The New York Federal Reserve puts first quarter growth at 3.1% while the Atlanta Federal Reserve is looking at only 1.8%. Both can look to the same data.

The gulf between liberals and conservatives, however is large. The University of Michigan/Reuters poll in February illustrated this, with the Expectations Index at 55 among Democrats, 120 for Republicans and 89 for Independents. The Democrats expect the worst, the Republicans the best. Spontaneous positive references to economic policy were made by a record 28% of consumers, 26% made negative references. Reality will resolve the gap.

Small businesses are optimism heightened in hopes that there will be a new health care law, tax reform, and relief from regulations.

“It is clear from our data that optimism skyrocketed after the election because small business owners anticipated a change in policy”, said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. “The sustainability of this surge and whether it will lead to actual economic growth depends on Washington’s ability to deliver on the agenda that small business voted for in November. If the health care and tax policy discussions continue without action, optimism will fade”.

The index fell in February, but still is considered very high.

The NFIB noted that the slight decline follows the largest month-over-month increase in the survey’s history in December. It showed another rise in January.  Despite a small decrease, nearly half of owners expect better business conditions in the coming months.

The elephant in the room remains to be whether the Trump administration will be able to deliver on the many policies small business owners are counting on. The health care legislation stalled in March. Tax reform may not be dealt with until the end of the year. It remains to be seen what other major regulations will be dismantled.

We are feeling optimism heightened here at Torrid! You are reporting to us that business is picking up for many of our customers and that their clients are feeling more hopeful overall. Check out our June newsletter here.

Cutting Trees

What does cutting trees have to do with RetirementView?

Well, it’s an analogy really. If you read my previous post (and April newsletter article), you would have seen the saga of cutting trees down in my yard. The cycle we’ve seen seems to represent the cycle of business – Torrid’s to be specific. Maybe it sounds familiar to your business as well.

Problems: Limited Growth

Scorched Earth: Cutting Trees

In case you missed it, the tree in my yard had been struck by lightening. While it had survived, it looked sort of deformed with a chunk blown out of it in the hit PLUS it had gotten so big that no grass could grow around and/or under it. It just really needed to go.

Actions: Cutting Trees

Cutting trees is an expensive endeavor! We asked all our friends if they had anyone they would recommend who was licensed, bonded and reasonably priced. Well, we found just the right guy and he brought out his crew to do the job. They had that thing down, chopped up and hauled away in no time at all. Now that the tree was down, it amplified how truly awful the yard looked.

Discomforts: Not So Pretty

Our yard was really more dirt than grass and with the tree gone, that was never more obvious. This giant ugly bald spot in the yard was horrifying. On top of that, it’s been raining here all summer. The good – things are growing and it hasn’t been so hot – the down side – the dogs come in muddy every time they have to go out. Since we’re hoping to grow new grass, the rain was welcome and Resolve Carpet Cleaner has never been happier! Ha!

Due to all the rain, they were unable to get the stump grinder in here for a couple of weeks and once they ground it down, all the rain kept us from getting the shavings cleaned up as quickly as we would have liked.

Results: Getting Better

New Growth: Cutting TreesIt’s been almost 2 months now since the cutting of the tree. Things are looking much better and it’s difficult to believe this is even the same yard! The grass is spreading rapidly across the bald spots now that the sun can reach the ground. We still need to do a little clean up and some more growth is needed but things are definitely on the upturn!

So what about Torrid?

We’ve done some cutting trees through growing and changing this year. Technology changes quickly these days – I’m sure you know. Some of the elements in our program, while they worked fine, weren’t as aesthetically pleasing as we would like. There were some elements that needed to change PLUS we’re experimenting with a web based version as well.

It’s taken some pruning and “tree cutting” of the software and some of the backend programming and working with you to fix some small bugs and inconveniences . We appreciate your assistance and patience as we work through those! Our programmers have spent some LONG hours fine tuning countless details and figures as well as millions of lines of programming. BUT, in the end, we believe we’ve made strides to a better product. A product that, after some of the difficulties in the building process, you will notice to be better and make your user experience better – which makes a better experience for your clients as well.

Since technology is ever changing, so are we – always looking for what could make a better software. Our earnest desire is that you notice that too…and please let us know when you encounter something that would be helpful to you. The best way to submit suggestions is by emailing us at support@torrid-tech.com.

What about your business?

Are their places that you need to prune? Do you need to dig out some decaying roots? Does the soil need tending – fertilizing or watering? Once you make the decision to change and go through the discomfort that inevitably comes with that, ideally you see growth and THEN you can sit back and reap the benefits of all your hard work.

How we can help!

You will notice that one of the biggest changes we’ve made this year is that now you can open all files on both Mac and Windows computers.  Some of our advisors purchase the Couples Edition ($249) and the Personal Editions ($149) and sell that back to their clients. Then their clients can keep up with some of the changes in their financial picture during the year. Then, when they are due for an annual review, they can email you the file prior to that meeting. You can then both come to the meeting better prepared and informed to make some decisions. If that is of interest to you, please give us a call and we can give you more details on the discounted prices available to advisors for the Personal and Couples Edition packages.

We hope you have a wonderful summer and if your plans include a vacation, we wish you safe travel!

 

Cost Cutting – Grocery Bills

If you really want to cut your grocery expense in half — or more — don’t make a shopping list until you plan your meals.

Money experts are in near unanimity about meal planning as a way to save on grocery costs. The advantage of meal planning is that you buy just what you actually eat, cutting down on food waste and time spent figuring out every meal.

According to SimpleDollar.com, if you make a meal plan you’ll find that you usually eat simply, even if you do like to fantasize about the fancy meals you see on Facebook. Meal planning can allow for hurry-up meals and make room for more creative cooking. The key is: Plan first. Use the weekly grocery flyer in your local newspaper to find deeply discounted items.  The Simple Dollar recommends identifying three discounted items and planning six meals around them.  Using the discounted items as a base, plan your meals for a week.

How much can you save?

Writing in Simple Dollar, Holly Johnson says she feeds her family of four on $150 per week by creating meal plans and shopping sales.  Here’s how her grocery list roughly breaks down:

    • Produce: $52, including fruits, lettuce, carrots, celery parsnips, cabbage squash, tomatoes.
    • Core Foods: $51, including bread, eggs, milk, noodles, cereal, vegetable broth, juice, cheese, beans,  peanut butter and soup.
    • Snacks: $10, crackers and granola bars.
    • Drinks: $14, beer, soda, tea.
    • Total: $127.25.

Among the meals Johnson planned for the week: Vegetable soup, vegetable lasagna, egg sandwiches, spaghetti squash and sauce, grilled cheese and tomato soup.

May the Fourth be With You – PROMOTION 2017

StarWars-May4thBeWithYou

To Those Who Might Want our RetirementView Software,

…SCROLL TO END OF ARTICLE FOR A SPECIAL OFFER….

May the 4th has become known as “Star Wars Day”!  Built on the idea of May the 4th be with you.

I wanted to use this day to tell you about my recent trip on a Disney Star Wars cruise.

I got to take my wife and 2 youngest sons (still in high school) on the cruise which offers Star Wars movies, characters, memorabilia, and of course the awesome “Star Wars Day at Sea”.

Being like a big kid, I signed up for a couple of “character encounters”.

Tim gets to meet Darth Vader!

Tim gets to meet Darth Vader!

My encounter with Darth Vader was quite scary.

 The dude is like 6 foot 8 in the Darth costume and he has the “real” James Earl Jones voice – I assume from a voice converter box.  He said that I looked like I might be part of the “rebel alliance”.

I was lucky to even get a picture before he pulled out his light saber and tried to chase me down!

On another encounter, I got to meet R2D2 and C3PO.

These droids were alive and active.

C3PO shook my hand when I walked up and talked to me ad lib in the C3PO voice.

Meanwhile, R2D2 was blinking and chirping with his computerized “voice” during the entire photo encounter.

It was so real I couldn’t believe it.

I had to get a photo to “prove” I met two of the most outstanding movie characters of all time.

Although R2D2 is soooo cool, the wit and wisdom of C3PO has always made him my favorite.

Tim meets his mystery friends.. R2D2 and C3PO.

Tim meets his mystery friends.. R2D2 and C3PO.

My wife and kids were too tired to want to get up to meet R2D2 at 8am. Sure I was on vacation but I would have gotten up at 5am to see these guys!

During the cruise we could watch any Star Wars movie we wanted on demand except Force Awakens which was only in the theater.

They have a full size theater on the ship just for showing movies!

On the ship’s opening departure party, they have a lot of Star Wars and Disney characters there to “see us off”.

This deck party has a lot of music and dancing and typical Disney show flare.

On the Day at Sea you can buy the BB8 cup (you can see it in the Darth Vader picture) or a Bobo Fett cup.

They double down on the movies and show Star Wars the CLone Wars cartoon on the huge deck screen.

At night they have another deck party where there is a mob of people dancing and celebrating in Star Wars costumes.

There are so many light sabers out on the deck and costumes that it makes for a really cool experience.

This article is mainly about “STAR WARS” but the cruise itself is fantastic.  I’ve added a couple of pictures at the bottom if you want to see them.

SPECIAL OFFER: MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU!

IF you are smart enough to follow these directions, you will be rewarded with a 20%, 30% or even 40% discount on our RetirementView software.

And this promotion is good for ANY edition.

Directions:

– find pictures of actual Star Wars characters in this article

– write down their names in all CAPS

– if their name is greater than 4 letters, then mark out everything after the first 4 letters

– go to the page for the edition you want to purchase.  Personal or Couples or Professional Edition.

– enter into the Promo Code the 4 character “name” of one of the Star Wars characters you have selected (hint: not traditional Disney characters but Star Wars only)

– a DISCOUNT should appear on the order form

– Complete the purchase process and enjoy using the RetirementView software!

May the Fourth Be With You in Your Retirement Planning!

THESE SPECIAL DISCOUNTS END FRIDAY MAY 5th at MIDNIGHT!

Star Wars Day at Sea

Star Wars Day at Sea

Disney Adult Pool

Disney Adult Pool

My best buddy PLUTO!

My best buddy PLUTO!

The Disney Cruise ship docked at Castaway Cay

The Disney Cruise ship docked at Castaway Cay

View from the ship of Disney's private islande Castaway Cay!

View from the ship of Disney’s private island Castaway Cay!

To The Moon, Alice!

Jackie GleasonAlice Kramden was famously unimpressed when her husband Ralph regularly threatened to send her to the moon. The hugely successful and iconic series ‘The Honeymooners’ starred Jackie Gleason as the frustrated bus driver Ralph and Audrey Meadows (as sensible housewife Alice. It was just one part of the hugely successful career of Jackie Gleason. In fact, the series was so enduring and popular (though perhaps a little shocking by today’s standards) that in 2000, a life-size statue of Jackie Gleason, in uniform as bus driver Ralph Kramden, was installed outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City.

By the time Gleason was age of 71, he had established an entertainment legacy that included one of the most financially lucrative shows in history (The Honeymooners), a list of memorable films like The Hustler’ with Paul Newman and Smokey and the Bandit with Burt Reynolds, as well as, a collection of romantic music LPs, the first of which, ‘For Lovers Only,’ sold over half a million copies.

The larger than life star, who had entertained audiences for more than half a century, was a self-made man who propelled himself beyond the limitations of his background. A high-school dropout, Gleason was born on February 26, 1916, to a poor Irish-Catholic immigrant family from Brooklyn, New York. Originally named Herbert John Gleason, his childhood, and adolescence were scarred by hardship. Gleason’s father abandoned him when he was only 8 years old, five years after the death of his only sibling from tuberculosis. 8 years after that, he would find himself completely alone at age 16, after the death of his mother.

Initially involved with a street gang called ‘The Nomads’, Gleason was well- known for his acerbic tongue, fashion sense and pool table smarts. He resolved to make a career out of his understated talent for wordplay. He used the streets to develop a comedic style and create a slew of characters that eventually won him first prize in a neighborhood talent contest for an original comedy routine. He headed in the direction that this early achievement pointed, becoming a club emcee before landing his first job in broadcasting, working as a part-time disc jockey on Newark radio.

His ability to turn life’s lemons into lemonade became a notable part of Gleason’s biography. Although the pathway to fame was far from smooth, he had learned how to hustle on the streets of New York. He saw failure from two different perspectives. When for instance, he was hired to host a TV game show that was cancelled after only one episode, Gleason apologized on air, and landed himself what was to become the precursor to the Honeymooners – ‘The Jackie Gleason’ show. Later, when he couldn’t sell his music album to a major company, he paid Capitol to publish it, and of course, the sales did nothing but prove his instincts right.

What’s your favorite Jackie Gleason memory?

New Money-Wise

Rolling over an IRA

In an effort to simplify the process of rolling over an IRA account, the IRS has just made a change to the way it handles the 60-day deadline to avoid paying penalties on those funds. As of August 2016, those filing past 60 days will have the opportunity to apply for a waiver and be given the benefit of the doubt from the government while they wait for their answer. This means the funds can move safely into their new home without waiting in limbo for a decision.

Buying Flowers

According to Aboutflower.com Valentine’s Day accounts for 25 percent of the total dollars spent on flowers for the year in the U.S. But surprisingly, only 20 percent of mothers surveyed by Offers.com list flowers as one of their top gift picks. If flowers are a must, purchasing a few days early through a local florist will often yield the best results and value.

Pros and cons of mobile check deposits

As technology progresses, even old industries such as banking are beginning to offer new features that can utilize the convenience of smartphones.  According to Bankrate.com, 63 percent of mobile bankers are likely using their phone to deposit checks. They also point out that mobile deposits can help prevent some types of fraud, allow deposits after business hours, and allow customers unprecedented convenience. Be sure to void the checks and mark them deposited. It’s not all great, however, as banks often place a cap on your deposits, place temporary holds on mobile-deposited funds, and have no safeguards against bounced checks.

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