The open road, independence and the flexibility to work how and when you want. Reasons why trucking is a great job.
(BPT) - To truly understand the impact the trucking industry has on our economy, walk into any business, retail shop or grocery store and take a look around. Nearly everything you see was delivered there by a truck. In fact, according to the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) Freight Transportation Forecast, 70 percent of all freight in the U.S. is handled by trucks. It is awe-inspiring to realize one industry has such an enormous impact on everything we do, purchase and consume in our everyday lives. Quite simply, trucks keep America moving, and without them, America stops.
Imagine going to your favorite grocery store to pick up your family's dinner and seeing the shelves empty, or stopping by the corner hardware store for light bulbs only to find they're not available. If it's not during the aftermath of a weather disaster, we can't readily imagine such a scenario happening in this country. That's because 3.5 million professional drivers are always on the job, working day and night to make the deliveries that keep our economy humming.
But, it's getting more and more difficult for the industry to keep up with demand. There's a severe shortage of professional truck drivers on the road today, and it's expected to get even worse. The ATA estimates that the industry will face a 175,000-driver shortfall by 2026. Ask any professional driver and they'll tell you the same story: They get headhunting emails and calls from recruiters every day, and their own companies are so short-staffed they need to put in extra shifts just to cover all of the routes.
That's why the ATA is partnering with Pilot Flying J, the largest network of travel centers in North America, to raise awareness of the profession, recruit new drivers, and celebrate the tremendous contributions of professional drivers to our nation's economy.
It's ironic that there's a shortage in this profession, because those same drivers who remain committed to the industry and to keeping our economy moving will tell you how much they love the job.
"My father was a driver and as far back as I can remember, truck driving is all I've ever wanted to do," says Steve Brand, a professional driver who has spent 27 years with FedEx Freight. Brand is a member of the ATA America's Road Team, a national public outreach program of professional truck drivers who share superior driving skills and safety records. "Trucks move America forward and it's a great feeling knowing I have a small part in that."
Other benefits of being a driver?
* Independence. When you're in a big rig, nobody is looking over your shoulder telling you how to do your job. It's like being your own boss.
* Freedom. If an office job isn't for you, trucking is a perfect choice. You're out on the open road, and not tied to a desk.
* Flexibility. There isn't just one kind of driving. Want to see the country driving from coast to coast? You can do that. Want to come home to your family every night? You can do that, too, and myriad options in between.
* Pay. ATA’s recent Driver Compensation Study found that the average salary for a truck driver ranges from $53,000 to $86,000 depending on the type of employer and type of equipment operated.
Coupled with not having the crushing student debt that college graduates are carrying around, it makes for a very good living.
Opportunities. Since the industry is hurting for drivers, it's a job seeker's market out there. Recent grads from driving schools are in high demand, and can pick and choose the job that's right for them.
Brand counsels potential recruits to choose a reputable school for proper training and then seek out a top-rated company, or find a company that has its own school.
"I go to bed happy and wake up happy knowing I'm making a difference," he says.
Pilot Flying J is making a difference, too. As part of its partnership with the ATA, Pilot Flying J recently announced a $60,000 philanthropic gift to the ATA's Trucking Cares Foundation to help support professional drivers and the future of the industry.
“Hardworking professional drivers make many sacrifices to keep our economy moving and our ways of life possible,” said Ken Parent, president of Pilot Flying J. “As we face a growing driver shortage, our hope is that this contribution will help support the Trucking Cares Foundation’s mission to improve the safety, security and sustainability of the trucking industry and contribute to the future growth of the industry through education and training.”
To learn more about becoming a professional driver, visit the ATA at www.trucking.org.
With the increasing likelihood that Social Security and Medicare benefits may be reduced in the future, it’s more important than ever to use every technique available to maximize your retirement savings. These three outside-the-box strategies could make an enormous difference in your retirement readiness. The sooner you start, the more you may save.
(BPT) - Individuals who rushed to prepay property taxes after the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act may have saved some money in 2018 — but that’s pennies compared to the long-term tax savings taxpayers should take advantage of before the TCJA’s individual tax provisions are expected to expire in 2026, according to Robert Fishbein, vice president and corporate counsel at Prudential Financial.
Also expected to expire in 2026? According to trustees for Social Security, that’s when Medicare’s main trust fund will run out of money. With the increasing likelihood that Social Security and Medicare benefits may be reduced in the future, it’s more important than ever to use every technique available to maximize your retirement savings.
Three outside-the-box strategies could make an enormous difference in your retirement readiness. The sooner you start, the more you may save.
Fund an HSA for retirement health care
Estimates suggest even a healthy 65-year-old couple will need at least $275,000 to cover retirement health care costs. A Health Savings Account, or HSA, provides a way to save that money without paying a dime in taxes. An HSA account is available to individuals enrolled in a high deductible health insurance plan.
First, these individuals can fund their HSA through a tax-deductible contribution or pre-tax payroll deduction. Second, any interest and investment gains are tax-free. Finally, the funds can be withdrawn tax-free to pay for qualified medical expenses— a triple tax advantage over a traditional savings account.
The best part? There is no requirement to use HSA funds in the year of contribution, which means funds can grow on a tax-favored basis for future health care expense needs.
For 2018, family contribution limits are $6,900, or $7,900 if you are 55 or older, and those amounts are indexed for inflation in future years. If you start contributing the maximum even as late as age 55, and earn 3 percent per year, you could have more than $90,000 to pay for your retirement health care by age 65. If you start contributing the maximum as early as age 40, you could have saved almost $270,000. These funds will continue to grow tax-free in retirement until you need them.
If you don’t use HSA funds in full before you die, excess funds are subject to income tax, but will be otherwise available for your heirs.
Consider a Roth IRA conversion
The typical dogma says that converting an IRA or traditional 401(k) to a Roth IRA does not make sense if you expect your tax rate in retirement to be lower than at the time of conversion. However, lesser known benefits of a Roth IRA may make it worthwhile to have at least part of your retirement assets in Roth IRA form.
Start with no required minimum distributions. With a Roth you aren’t forced to draw down your funds once you attain age 70½ and can continue to benefit from the tax-free growth, thereby maximizing the after-tax funds eventually available for you or your heirs.
Another significant benefit of a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k) is tax diversification. For example, you may choose to take taxable distributions up to a certain amount and then tax-free distributions to avoid a higher income tax bracket.
If you are a high-income taxpayer, Roth IRA distributions are not considered income when determining thresholds for increased Medicare premium charges or the 3.8 percent income tax surcharge on investment gain. If your income is more modest, Roth IRA distributions are not considered income when determining whether you are subject to income tax on Social Security benefits.
If anything, a conversion is more attractive now since you have an opportunity to convert and pay income tax with marginal rates that are generally lower than under prior law. Since individual tax law changes are temporary and tax rates will revert to the former higher amounts starting in 2026, you have an eight-year window to benefit from lower rates.
Make “backdoor” Roth IRA contributions
The tax law prescribes income limits so high-income individuals may not make a direct contribution to a Roth IRA. However, there are no income limits on converting traditional IRA funds to a Roth IRA.
Any person under age 70.5 who has earned income by year-end can make an IRA contribution. While income limits may prevent you from making a pre-tax contribution, you can make this contribution even if you have fully funded a 401(k) or another employer plan.
Once you have made your contribution to a traditional IRA, simply convert that amount to your Roth IRA. As long as this is your only traditional IRA and you have made an after-tax contribution, then an immediate conversion will have converted a tax-deferred asset into a potentially tax-free asset. If you have multiple IRAs, the IRAs are aggregated to determine how much is taxable upon conversion.
While we spend much time on our investment strategies to help gain an extra percentage or two of investment yield, these tax planning strategies can be a more reliable way of maximizing your after-tax retirement income and wealth for your family — no matter how Social Security and Medicare turn out.
Prudential Financial, its affiliates, and their financial professionals do not render tax or legal advice. Please consult with your tax and legal advisors regarding your personal circumstances.
Here are four steps to take today to spruce up your money management process and get yourself on the path to financial health.
(BPT) - Are you feeling good about your finances? Or do phrases like “account balance,” “credit score” and “retirement savings” give you a twinge of anxiety?
Don’t worry, you’re in good company. Only 24 percent of millennials have basic financial literacy, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education. When it comes to getting their financial house in order, most millennials would prefer not to set foot in that proverbial house in the first place. Getting yourself out of debt and building enough savings to cover your expenses in an emergency is a marathon, not a sprint. Small, incremental changes in your financial habits today can make a big difference in your financial health months or even years from now.
Take these steps today to spruce up your money management process and get yourself on the path to financial health.
* Check your credit score. Before you start the work of realigning your finances, you should check your credit score and review your credit report. It helps to know where you stand financially, and the good news is, even if your credit score is not as high as you’d like it to be, you can take steps to improve it. Establishing a history of on-time payments and maintaining a healthy credit utilization ratio are two things that could improve your credit score quickly. One way to access your credit score without any cost is to find out if your bank or lender offers your VantageScore through their website.
* Knock down your debt. Track down all your accounts — checking, savings, investment, credit cards and other loans — and do the math to find out your net worth. That’s your benchmark to help you track your progress. In the beginning, the truth can hurt, however, knowing how much you have in savings and knowing how much you owe gives you a valuable blueprint for where you need to direct your energy. From there, put together a household budget, and figure out where you can trim expenses, so you can pay ahead on your debts, one account at a time.
* Automate your savings. You’re much more likely to accumulate savings when you make the decision once and let the rest happen automatically. Log onto your bank account and set up an automatic transfer from checking to savings, starting with a small amount, preferably timed with your regular pay day. If you can manage to set aside $85 a month, in a year’s time, you’ll have set aside a full $1,000. That’s a decent emergency fund for things like car repairs and doctor bills.
* Open a retirement account. Here’s another way to automate savings. If you haven’t done so already, start contributing to a retirement plan. Even better, if your employer makes a plan and a match available to employees, sign up as soon as you can. If you can’t afford to contribute the full amount to get the full match, start with a small percentage, and slowly add on.
Taking the first steps to gain control of your finances isn’t easy. Setting up good financial habits today can leave you in a better place tomorrow. Test your credit score knowledge at CreditScoreQuiz.org, and be sure to visit VantageScore Solutions to learn what things influence your score, and what you can do to improve it.
Are today’s senior citizens sufficiently prepared for retirement or have past financial mistakes impeded their progress? What did older Americans wish they knew about managing finances when they were younger? This study from Mike Brown of LendEDU reveals key insights that can help investors of all ages.
For the everyday consumer, getting a grasp on finances can be stressful or even seemingly impossible.
It could take years of balancing a budget and living paycheck-to-paycheck - a crash course of sorts - to full understand the ins-and-outs of personal finance allowing someone to position him or herself for a better financial future.
Unfortunately for some, irresponsible management of finances, such as taking on too much debt or not saving enough, could lead to irreversible damage.
In our latest survey of 1,000 senior citizens, LendEDU sought to uncover how older Americans are faring financially and if they made the right decisions throughout life to live comfortably in their later years.
Are today’s senior citizens sufficiently prepared for retirement or have past financial mistakes impeded their progress? What did older Americans wish they knew about managing finances when they were younger?
Here were a few key takeaways from the study:
Observations & Analysis
More Than Half of Senior Citizens Underprepared for Retirement, Most Wish They Started Saving Sooner!
To gather the data for LendEDU’s story, we surveyed 1,000 Americans, all of whom were at least 65 years of age.
One of the first questions we asked the respondent pool was the following: “What is the biggest financial regret you have from your twenties?”
The plurality of the respondents, 21.4 percent, indicated that the biggest financial regret from their twenties was not saving enough for retirement. Other popular answer choices included spending too much money on nonessential things (17 percent), not investing (12.3 percent), and getting into too much debt (10 percent).
Circling back, it was quite telling that senior citizens regret not saving enough for retirement in their twenties. Getting a jumpstart on retirement is essential to living a comfortable life in one’s later years. Due to compound interest, the earliest possible start to retirement saving will be the most beneficial as your money will have more time to grow.
Professor Timothy Wiedman of Doane University, 66, agreed with most senior citizens who took this survey in that his biggest regret was not getting a jump on retirement while in his twenties.
“I put off starting to save for retirement and didn't open my first IRA until I was a bit over 31 years old. I justified this by telling myself that I could always "catch up" later on my long-term financial plans after establishing a solid career and seeing my income increase,” said Wiedman.
Wiedman soon realized the delay had a substantial impact on his ability to save and earn.
“But the earning power of compound interest is based on time, so an initial delay can have severe consequences. Thus, for young folks these days, opening a Roth IRA as early as possible is vital,” he said. “For example, if a 23-year-old fresh out of college puts $3,000 per year into a Roth IRA that earns a 7.8 percent average annual return, 44 years later at retirement, that $132,000 of invested funds will have grown to $1,009,275. On the other hand, starting the same Roth IRA 20 years later will yield very different results.”
So we know that many older Americans seriously regret not saving for retirement early enough. But were they able to salvage that lost time? Are they prepared for retirement?
The following question was proposed to all 1,000 senior citizen respondents: “As of today, do you believe that you have saved enough for retirement?
The strong majority of older Americans, 54.6 percent, admitted that they do not believe they have saved enough for retirement, while only 26.6 percent think they are on the right track, and 18.8 percent are still unsure.
It came as quite a surprise that so many senior citizens believe they are not aptly prepared for life after work when they should be enjoying warm weather and leisure activities.
But once again, it goes to show the potentially crippling effects of not saving enough for retirement at a younger age. Quite a few senior citizen respondents wished they had saved more in their twenties and that sentiment transferred over to this more black-and-white question.
For reference of what is to come, a LendEDU study found that of 500 millennials who consider themselves to be saving for retirement, 41 percent are using a savings account to save for retirement. A savings account - even a high interest savings account - likely won't produce anywhere near the growth delivered by a 401(k) or individual brokerage account, which 59.4 percent of respondents used.
If those millennials wish to find themselves in a better position than more than half of the baby boomers at the age of retirement, they should probably switch from a savings account to a robo-advisor, 401(k), or brokerage account.
Additionally, when we asked our senior citizen respondents to answer what they know about personal finance today that they had not known at 25, 15.68 percent of the answers were: “I know how to save for retirement.”
The plurality of answers, 28.68 percent, pertained to learning how to live within one’s means, while 25.95 percent of answers were: “I know how to budget.”
Dr. John Story, a 60-year-old college professor at the University of St. Thomas, Houston, summed up this question quite well and further reinforced the importance of getting a jump start on retirement.
“I wish I had known the true cost of debt, and the flipside, the real value of long-term saving.”
With a Lack of Retirement Funds, Many Seniors Relying on Social Security and Life Insurance
As one gets older, there are two components that are thought to be key to achieving a sustained financial comfort. One is life insurance, a product, while the other is Social Security, a benefit.
Life insurance and Social Security benefits become all the more crucial for senior citizens when they have not saved enough for retirement, which is the case for over half of our respondents.
Not surprisingly, many poll participants indicated that they are relying heavily on both things to live their later years comfortably due to a lack of sufficient retirement savings.
In comparison to life insurance, older Americans were more likely to list Social Security benefits as important to their financial strategy. A majority, 69.1 percent, stated that Social Security benefits are a critical component, while 18.7 percent said the opposite, and 12.2 percent were still undecided.
Whereas life insurance must be purchased, Social Security is a benefit that can be qualified for by being of age and by working for a certain number of years (usually 10).
Life insurance is purchased by many senior citizens because it can solidify the financial security of loved ones should the buyer pass away.
While a majority was not achieved, 46.9 percent of senior citizens indicated that life insurance was an important part of their financial strategy. 34.1 percent said that the insurance product does not hold much weight for their financial plan, while 19 percent were unsure.
Considering many of LendEDU’s respondents are not sufficiently prepared for retirement, having life insurance or access to Social Security benefits could become quite pivotal for living comfortably in their later years.
All data within this report derives from an online poll commissioned by LendEDU and conducted online by polling company Pollfish. In total, 1,000 respondents ages 65 and up and residing in the United States were surveyed. These respondents were found via age and location filtering on Pollfish, and then were selected at random from Pollfish’s U.S. user panel of over 100 million. The poll was conducted over a 5-day span, starting on March 26, 2018, and ending on March 30, 2018. Respondents were asked to answer all questions truthfully and to the best of their ability.
Full Survey Results
1. What do you know about personal finance today that you didn't know when you were 25? (Select all that apply)
a. 25.95% of answers were "I know how to budget"
b. 28.68% of answers were "I know how to live within my means"
c. 15.68% of answers were "I know how to save for retirement"
d. 8.57% of answers were "I know how to invest in the stock market"
e. 14.65% of answers were "I understand how consumer credit works"
f. 6.48% of answers were "None of the above"
2. What is the biggest financial regret you have from your twenties?
a. 21.4% of respondents answered "I didn't save enough for retirement"
b. 17% of respondents answered "I spent too much money on nonessential things"
c. 12.3% of respondents answered "I didn't invest my money"
d. 5.5% of respondents answered "I made poor investment decisions"
e. 2.8% of respondents answered "I didn't save enough for my child's education"
f. 10% of respondents answered "I got myself into too much debt"
g. 5.1% of respondents answered "Took a job where I made more money but did not enjoy it"
h. 5.8% of respondents answered "Took a job where I made less money but enjoyed it"
i. 20.1% of respondents answered "None of the above"
3. Is life insurance a critical component of your financial strategy?
a. 46.9% of respondents answered "Yes"
b. 34.1% of respondents answered "No"
c. 19% of respondents answered "Unsure"
4. As of today, do you believe that you have saved enough money for retirement?
a. 26.6% of respondents answered "Yes"
b. 54.6% of respondents answered "No"
c. 18.8% of respondents answered "Unsure"
5. Are Social Security benefits a critical component of your financial strategy?
a. 25.8% of respondents answered "Yes"
b. 29.7% of respondents answered "No"
c. 44.5% of respondents answered "Unsure"
State laws determine the process for surrendering the manufactured home title when the home is permanently affixed to the land, becomes part of the real estate, and is no longer considered personal property separate from the land. Like manufactured homes, modular homes are also constructed indoors, sheltered from the elements. But unlike manufactured homes, modular homes do not require a title. Since they are built to International Residential Code standards and not the HUD Code, ownership of modular homes is treated the same as site-built homes.
(BPT) - On June 15, 1976, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) instituted the Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards — more commonly referred to as the “HUD Code.”
With these regulations, HUD defined the safety and quality standards required for construction of a manufactured home.
This was a pivotal moment for the manufactured home industry. Prior to the HUD Code, these homes were built with portability as a primary focus and were commonly referred to as “mobile homes” — hence the difference in terms.
You will often see the terms “mobile” and “manufactured” used interchangeably. But, according to the Manufactured Housing Institute, the HUD code draws a line of distinction between the two.
A mobile home refers to a home manufactured prior to the standards set by the HUD Code. Back then, the homes were built to voluntary industry standards enforced at the state level in 45 out of the 48 states in the continental U.S.
With the birth of the HUD Code, manufactured home now refers to a factory-built home constructed to those federal standards.
The HUD Code regulates, among other things, energy-efficiency standards, durability, transportability and quality. It also sets standards for the performance of HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems.
While the difference in quality between today’s manufactured homes and pre-HUD Code mobile homes is evident, you may be wondering how the terms “mobile” and “manufactured” are so often confused.
One similarity that may be the biggest contributor to the confusion is titling.
Like the mobile homes built prior to HUD Code, modern manufactured homes also require a title. So what does that mean?
Requirements for titling vary by state, but generally a manufactured home requires a title much like an automobile. This is because a manufactured home is considered personal property.
As personal property, a manufactured home is typically taxed separately from the land on which it sits. Visit https://drivinglaws.aaa.com/ for more general information on state-specific laws regarding the titling of manufactured homes.
State laws determine the process for surrendering the manufactured home title when the home is permanently affixed to the land, becomes part of the real estate, and is no longer considered personal property separate from the land.
Like manufactured homes, modular homes are also constructed indoors, sheltered from the elements. But unlike manufactured homes, modular homes do not require a title. Since they are built to International Residential Code standards and not the HUD Code, ownership of modular homes is treated the same as site-built homes.
For more information from Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance Inc. about manufactured or modular homes, visit www.vmfhomeloan.com/first-time-buyers/.
Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc., 500 Alcoa Trail, Maryville, TN 37804, 865-380-3000, NMLS #1561, (http://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org/), AZ Lic. #BK-0902616, Loans made or arranged pursuant to a California Finance Lenders Law license, GA Residential Mortgage (Lic. #6911), Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee, Licensed by the NH Banking Department, MT Lic. #1561, Licensed by PA Dept. of Banking.
Retirement is waiting just around the corner. People need good advice to help them build their nest eggs before "someday" becomes "now." Here are the best tips, advice and tactics for retirement planning from the top financial advisors in the business.
(BPT) - You're 10 years or less away from retirement. You can clearly see the next phase of your life down the road and it's coming up fast. Are you ready for it? Do you have a comprehensive plan in place so you don't outlive your savings?
If you're not as prepared for retirement as you should be, you're not alone. The Federal Reserve did a study and found that one-fourth of Americans have no retirement savings or pension. And a Money article reports 56 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved.
Why aren't more people prepared? There are myriad reasons. Some people are stretched thin. Credit card debt, student loans, rising mortgage and interest rates all conspire to make it difficult for them to save. Others may lack information on the importance of retirement savings, or lack the financial savvy to be comfortable managing their own investments. And then there's the gap between men and women. The Federal Reserve’s study found that among women with any level of education, investment comfort is lower than among similarly educated men.
Yet, retirement is waiting just around the corner. People need good advice to help them build their nest eggs before "someday" becomes "now."
That's why the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), a national organization representing Fee-Only financial advisors, conducted a poll of its members to get their top tips and advice for people who are nearing retirement. They want to raise consumer awareness about the urgency of preparing for retirement and the importance of having a comprehensive plan in place.
Here are the best tips, advice and tactics for retirement planning from the top financial advisors in the business.
1. Make a list of retirement “needs” and “wants.” If you do not have enough savings for all of your “needs,” make a ten-year plan to increase your funds.
2. Take a hard look at any major debts you have and develop a plan to eliminate them.
3. Brainstorm any “big ticket” financial commitments (caretaking for a family member, etc.) for the next 10 years and consider how these items might affect your ability to save for retirement.
4. Continually monitor and analyze your asset allocation to make sure it is the right one for you. Understand whether you should move to a more conservative asset allocation or continue investing for growth.
5. Be tax efficient with your investments. For example, you should defer as much of your salary as you can to your defined contribution plans.
6. Save to an emergency fund and stay aware of your company’s financial situation. Companies are prone to reorganizations and layoffs, and older workers can be vulnerable.
7. Ask your HR department about the relationship between your current health insurance and Medicare, as well as what your options are when you reach age 65. Get information about any pension or defined contribution options and any other retiree benefits.
8. Research when stock-based compensation might expire and what stock awards you can retain after retirement.
9. Double check your reported Social Security earnings and resolve any discrepancies now. Explore your Social Security claiming options and make sure you understand the timing of applying for benefits.
10. Make sure that all of your estate documents are up-to-date. Verify that your named executors and proxies know your wishes and are willing to act on them if needed.
If you think you’ll need help creating and sticking to a financial plan, NAPFA recommends working with a Fee-Only financial advisor who adheres to a strict fiduciary standard. These advisors are required to put your best interest first and don’t accept commissions on the products they recommend, which reduces potential conflicts of interest. For more information and resources on retirement planning, check out NAPFA’s infographic about the poll. To find a Fee-Only financial advisor in your area, visit the NAPFA website at www.napfa.org and NAPFA’s “Find an Advisor” search engine.
Whether you're uninsured or simply facing a high insurance deductible, you can take several steps to better manage your health care budget. Consider how the following money-saving tips can help control the rising costs of health care.
(BPT) - As Americans work hard to meet all the obligations that come with work, family and everyday life, many are challenged to find time to manage all the financial elements affecting their health care.
The details associated with health care insurance can be confusing. At the same time, you want to make smart decisions about the quality health care you and your family need.
Out-of-pocket health care spending rose by more than 50 percent between 2010 and 2017, The Atlantic recently reported, partly because half of all health insurance policyholders in the U.S. are dealing with annual deductibles of at least $1,000.
Whether you're uninsured or simply facing a high insurance deductible, you can take several steps to better manage your health care budget. Consider how the following money-saving tips can help control the rising costs of health care.
* Read bills with a critical eye. Any bill can include administrative errors, and some estimates have indicated errors on as many as 80 percent of medical invoices issued, reports the Medical Billing Advocates of America. That statistic makes it well worth your while to examine and question your expenses before you pay.
* Lower the cost of your meds. The free Inside Rx prescription savings card provides discounts on prescription medications for eligible patients. According to the data, eligible patients have saved an average of 40 percent on the more than 100 featured brand medications included in the program, and even more on generic medications. Inside Rx is an option to help the uninsured, those facing high deductibles or anyone trying to save money on their meds. Inside Rx even offers prescription savings for pets for qualifying medications. The card is free and easy to download, with no registration process.
* Compare costs whenever possible. Some medical services can be difficult to compare on an apples-to-apples basis, but it’s worth doing your homework before making appointments for more standard services such as annual check-ups, lab work and testing, dental care or dermatology services. Check vendor websites, make phone calls and conduct web searches to find online databases, such as HealthcareBluebook.com, that suggest fair prices for services. If you're insured, your insurance provider can clarify what portion of the bill will be covered.
* Be bold about negotiations. It's OK to speak up. You have nothing to lose by politely asking your health care provider to work with you on the price of an upcoming service, especially when dealing with a private practice. Start the conversation by aiming for the Medicare rate or an amount close to that paid by commercial insurers. As an alternative, ask the office administrator to set up a manageable payment plan.
* Consider paying cash up front. Some vendors offer discounts for simply paying cash for your services without funneling everything through insurance. Even if you're insured, you can still evaluate whether immediate cash payments would be lower than your post-insurance costs.
Keeping a close eye on where you might be wasting money on health care can pay off in a big way — and the remedies don’t have to be complicated. Conduct your due diligence on such costs to protect your financial health as vigorously as your physical health.
The bottom line is that protected retirement income can help provide much-needed peace of mind for many Americans.
(BPT) - How big is your retirement nest egg? Is there a chance you could outlive it? Even if you're socking money into your 401(k) every paycheck like clockwork, that's a question worth pondering.
Americans are living longer, more active, younger lives. They say that 60 is the new 40, and if you look around at who we used to call "senior citizens," you'll see people in their prime. That's the good news.
It also presents a problem. We're all facing a silent, growing crisis. Study after study, including financial research organization LIMRA’s 2016 Secure Retirement Study, shows that many Americans underestimate their retirement expenses. Today, retirement isn't the end of your life, it's a transition point. It's about enjoying the fruits of your labors without the stress of your 9-to-5. Will you have enough money to do that for the rest of your life?
Kent Sluyter, president of Prudential Annuities, says the first step toward achieving that goal is to change your mindset. We're all programmed to think about retirement savings, contributing to that 401(k) and accumulating wealth month after month and year after year. That's important, no doubt, but it's only one part of the retirement puzzle. It's also about generating regular income during retirement, so you're not simply depleting your accumulated retirement savings with nothing coming in to replenish the pot.
One way to get a regular "paycheck" during retirement, Sluyter says, is with annuities. But they're not top of mind for many people, and misinformation and confusion is floating around out there, even in financial advisors' offices.
"The annuities market is at an inflection point," says Sluyter. "Annuities are passed over by many consumers and investors because they are often perceived as expensive and unnecessary."
Annuity sales fell 8 percent in 2017, according to LIMRA data. Observers attribute much of the drop to the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule that governs the way financial professionals sell and market annuities. The rule made it less attractive for many to sell annuities and created a great deal of media coverage that amplified existing negative perceptions of them. Annuities have a reputation of being complex, which only increases the risk of their being misunderstood. However, annuities can serve a critical purpose within a retirement portfolio among a combination of strategies, investments and products.
That’s why several companies, including Prudential, recently established the Alliance for Lifetime Income with the goal of promoting greater understanding of how annuities can protect retirement income and help grow retirement savings.
“Through the Alliance, we’re fostering clarity and simplicity, so consumers have confidence in lifetime income solutions such as annuities," says Sluyter.
What are annuities, exactly, and how do they differ from other retirement savings? Here's a short course in Annuity 101.
An annuity is an insurance product that guarantees income. Just like an insurance policy, you pay into it, often in a lump sum, and it guarantees you monthly, quarterly or yearly payouts for the rest of your life. There are three different types:
Why are more consumers investing in annuities? Sluyter explains:
The bottom line is that protected retirement income can help provide much-needed peace of mind for many Americans.
Annuities are issued by The Prudential Insurance Company of America, Pruco Life Insurance Company (in New York, by Pruco Life Insurance Company of New Jersey), located in Newark, NJ (main office), or by Prudential Annuities Life Assurance Corporation located in Shelton, CT. (main office). Variable annuities are distributed by Prudential Annuities Distributors, Inc., Shelton, CT. All are Prudential Financial companies and each is solely responsible for its own financial condition and contractual obligations.
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