About To The Writer

Writer (Novels), Poet, Writer's Club Company Name: TO THE WRITER PO BOX 6 WOODVILLE, OHIO 43469 www.ToTheWriter.com

BACK TO YOU!

Hello! Am back to try a re-connect to my blogs, i.e. Stories, Health, and Finance.

Still looking for more of you to join the Newsletter that will begin again in October, 2018!

New address: To The Writer
778 Scenic Gulf Drive, 416B
Miramar Beach, Florida 32550
http://www.ToTheWriter.com
ToTheWriter@yahoo.com

Hope to hear from you soon; will be updating the site with correct information.
Thank you for hanging in there!

Barb

To The Writer

If you currently endeavor to write poems, fiction or non-fiction books,  and you find procrastination, time and many other issues delay your efforts, this is for you.  Check out http://www.ToTheWriter.com for details, or shoot a quick e-mail at ToTheWriter@yahoo.com with any questions.  Hope to see you soon!

FINANCE HIGHDANCE

DEMENTIA AND FINANCIAL PLANNING

I know this will seem like a cross subject, but it concerns money and Alzheimer’s.  I decided it needed to be in Finance Highdance; the Alzheimer’s is a whole other matter.

Most of us have either had a parent or grandparent with dementia problems, and it creates a humongous strain on the whole family.  From money, to financial responsibilities, to care, to housekeeping, and on and on.  If you happen to be one of the children, or grandchildren who still live nearby, the burdens typically fall on you.  When it comes to financial issues there may come a time when you will need to take over.   How do you do that?

You should hire legal assistance to go forward due to the fact that financial institutions need authorization for such actions that you may need to do.  Your attorney can help you accomplish the power of attorney paperwork which, in effect, can allow you financial authority over specifics.  A durable power of attorney allows you immediate ability to process financial matters, or a springing power of attorney only takes effect when a medical diagnosis confirms the individual’s mental incompetence.  Whichever is decided you will need to send copies to financial institutions.  It is recommended that it may be best to get a durable power of attorney before your parent or grandparent is unable to make financial decisions, as some financial institutions require the original owner to sign a form to allow another person access to investments.  You can also be appointed as guardian or conservator.  Your attorney will guide you in these differences and decision-making.

Hopefully, you can provide medical history or prescriptions, as needed.  Also the checking, savings and investment accounts, insurances, PASSPORT and/or Driver’s License, Social Security Numbers and any passwords used.  You will need to know the beneficiaries for insurances or any other documents which allow those.  Your attorney will be able to help in some of these instances, including income, wills, deeds and trust documents.

You may decide that you do not wish to become the responsible party.  You can very carefully review whether to select an attorney or a wealth management organization to  assist in these details.

Rest assured you are not alone in this situation these days.  There are many support groups available for families struggling through the maze.  Check with your attorney, your local health department and/or senior center; help is waiting.

 

 

 

 

 

HEALTH

We all want to be healthy, and the need seems to increase with the number of birthdays we experience!  How many times did you hear an older relative complain about aching back, sore knees, neck pain, etc., along with a statement about getting older.

Unfortunately, getting older isn’t the be-all and start-all of pain.  Reasons are endless.  Ask yourself how often you are in the recliner daily, as opposed to when you were younger.  One lady I know decided she no longer had to worry about weight or her looks since  she is now a grandmother.  Mercy sakes!  If you stand back, look around at others, you will identify immobility as a culprit.  A man once said, “Give me ten minutes a day, and you will lose weight, pain and the aging process.”  In other words, move continuously only ten minutes a day for improvement!  How hard can that be?  Ah, but the young at heart attitude is, I believe at the heart of it all, no pun intended.

I just saw a television program this morning in which Anderson Cooper, a CNN TV Anchor and son of Gloria Vanderbilt, shared their family album and some stories with Rita Braver on CBS News.  It is highly recommended that you look up and enjoy this interchange.  What I took away was that Gloria never plans (drives son bananas), and always thinks there is another exciting possibility right around the corner.  She is 92, now, but Anderson says she still thinks there might be a guy waiting on a boat in the south of France.  To quote Anderson “My Mom is the most sort of young and optimistic person I know.”

Anyway, she looks pretty health to me!  Pain…what pain?

You will find the full report at cbsnews.com/news/mother and son

 

 

STORYTIME

For those of you who have patiently waited for continuation of Cabin With a Balcony, I may finally be able to continue.  Thank you for your interest; I hope you enjoy.  Others who may just be reading the site for the first time may go back to January, 2015 for the beginning segment.  Critiques are welcome!

CABIN WITH A BALCONY

Chapter 6, Cruise Day 3

Captain Rogers sat in deep thought.  He arose from his desk and began pacing back and forth.  To some it would seem he sought to solve the world’s problems by the determination of his stride and furrowed brows.  He was thinking he had not gotten this far without taking a few chances, that nothing or no one would stop this shipment from taking place; therefore it could mean losing Robert.  Funny, he thought, Robert doesn’t know that this is also my final deal.  I am going to retire to Aruba, relax with my “savings” and watch the world go by.  To hell with all these difficult people.  Robert is getting to be a softie like his dad.  William did everything he possibly could to keep me from “ruining my life”.  I knew he had to go down with the ship that I helped sink.  What’s one more Goulet in the scheme of things?  What little remorse the captain might have felt had been destroyed long ago.

As Robert walked toward the lounge, his thoughts were about his father.  Now that he had mentioned him it would be difficult to get him off his mind.  He began to replay memories.  Sure, his father had been away at sea a lot.  Sure his mom worked a lot.  Robert was left alone much of the time, but it couldn’t be helped.  Robert’s father was a man of honor; proud to be a ship’s captain, and both parents tried to instill honesty, character and behaviors they believed would keep him in good stead in life.

What went wrong?  Robert slowed his walk after asking himself this very real question. He had never asked himself this before.  Why, he thought, am I thinking this now?   Nothing has gone wrong; things are just the way they always were.  Sure, he’s getting a little nervous, and more careful, but it is just time to move on.  He had brought Betty Lou into the picture to throw off suspicion.  He had been too abrupt that day in the lounge.  If it seems that he cares for her…so what?  Maybe he does.  Her quiet innocence touches him somehow.  He smiled to himself when he remembered her sweet explaining about the dinner and show responsibility for Judy Lane.  Their time together made him feel like he used to when he had a family.

Robert consoled himself as he reached the lounge doors by remembering he did try to obtain the college degree his father had always wanted for him.  His father’s ship sank when Robert was only nineteen.  Mom died the next year; a heart attack, but he was sure it was from heartbreak at William’s loss.  Next came flunking out of his third year due to his introduction to selling drugs by his father’s old friend.  Father surely could not have known the captain that Robert knows   Robert knew deep down that drugs were not the answer, but he made himself believe that his father may have thought it was o.k. temporarily.  He had asked himself many times why his father thought this man was a friend.  He only remembered a statement long ago made by his father to his mother, that David Rogers could sure use a friend.  A small, still voice prompted the sinking doubt and disappointment he could imagine in his father’s eyes, but sounded further and further away as he opened the door, and the lounge voices silenced the guilt.

HEALTH BLURBS

Did you notice that CVS Health quit the U.S. Chamber over its stance on smoking?

It seems that the chamber and its foreign affiliates are undertaking a global lobbying campaign against anti-smoking laws.  This campaign is counter to Anthem, Health care Service Corporation, Steward Health Care System of Boston and the Indiana University Health system, (U.S. Chamber members)  who all support anti-smoking programs.  As most everyone does, these days.

According to a chamber spokesperson, “To be clear, the chamber does not support smoking and wants people to quit; at the same time, we support protecting the intellectual property and trademarks of all legal products in all industries and oppose singling out certain industries for discriminatory treatment.”

Comments?

FINANCE HIGHDANCE

ROTH; IS IT FOR ME?

When you contribute to a Roth account you will probably pay more taxes today so that in retirement your taxes will be lower.  If you already have a retirement account and are considering converting to a Roth, the same will apply to the converted amount.  A Roth is beneficial if you expect to be in a higher tax bracket at retirement, as high earnings time is when you face the biggest tax bills.  So, will you indeed be in a higher tax break then?  No one has that crystal ball since political policies can change, your income may have been affected by a company downsizing, etc.  Motley Fool’s article Rule Your Retirement by Robert Brokamp, CFP has a few guidelines:

If you are single and have $37,450 or less in taxable (not gross) income, or are married and have $74,900 or less in taxable income, you are in the 15% tax bracket in 2015.  The Roth is probably your better bet.

Since younger workers reach their greatest earning years in their late 40’s or early 50’s it makes sense for them.

The closer you are to retirement will require you to use an online tax calculator to estimate your current and retirement tax liabilities in order to feel comfortable with projections.

Most people drop into a lower tax bracket when they retire.

Since we seem to have large government deficits and underfunded entitlements it is expected tax rates will go up.  That would fall to the younger, higher-income individuals or families.

TAX BENEFIT

The more income you receive in retirement, the more your Social Security benefit will be taxed.  Withdrawals from traditional accounts are included in your income, which can lead to higher Social Security taxation.  Withdrawals from Roths are not.  So, not only are the withdrawals tax-free, but they might also shield more of your Social Security from taxation.  But remember that contributing to a traditional retirement plan or deductible traditional IRA reduces your adjusted gross income (AGI) which affects other aspects of your tax bill.  Use an online tax calculator or speak with your accountant to understand your best move.

AGE 70 1/2

You must begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from traditional accounts at age 70 1/2, or wait a year and take two distributions.  (Don’t ask, I don’t understand)  I have an account that will not only remind me, but with my approval, forward my correct percentage check, so that I never mess that part up.  Beyond this age of 70 1/2 you can no longer contribute to a traditional IRA, but you do not have to worry about RMDs with Roth IRAs, and you can continue to contribute as long as you have income. Roth 401(K)s and 403(b)s are subject to RMDs when you no longer work for the company, but all you have to do is transfer those assets to a Roth IRA to make them RMD-free.  Woo Hoo!  If you have lots of moolah, keeping money in tax-advantaged accounts as long as possible is obviously beneficial in order for you to leave a nice income-tax-free inheritance to your heirs.

LIMITS

There are tables you can access which tell the limits of how much you can contribute to Roth accounts, and higher-income folks may not be able to contribute to a Roth IRA at all.  However, anyone of any age can do a Roth conversion.  There used to be an income restriction, but that is no longer.  Through work the only money you can’t convert is any non-vested employer matches.  You will still owe taxes on the amount converted.  If you have some sort of financial turn-around after your conversion there is a process called recharacterization you might utilize to change your mind; you have until October 15 of the following year to do that.  The conversion cannot be pieced, or less than the conversion, in recharacterization.  If you are concerned, more than one account could be utilized.

If you are unable to contribute to a Roth IRA because of income limits, you still might have an option.  You can contribute to a non-deductible traditional IRA (at less than 70 1/2, though) as long as he or she has earned income, and immediately convert to a Roth.  If you don’t have any pre-tax money in any other traditional IRA accounts, including SEPs, rollovers, SIMPLEs, you can immediately convert that traditional IRA to a Roth IRA,  (“you”, meaning you can ignore what your spouse has.)  Here is the real bonus:  Because you couldn’t deduct the contribution, and because the account had no opportunity to grow, you won’t owe any taxes on the conversion.  This is also known as the “Backdoor Roth”.

BOTTOM LINE

If you are confused, so are experts, at times.  A good bit of caution is warranted, especially when it comes to pre-59 1/2 withdrawals and account rollovers.  So triple-check all and work with your CPA for information and confirmation.  Do not give up, though.  Putting in the time to learn all the details, getting help, and making the moves that are right for you can result in thousands of dollars of after-tax monies.

STORYTIME

For those of you new to my continuing segments, you may go back to the January 18, 2015 post to read from the beginning; to those of you following my story, welcome back!  Feedbacks are always encouraged. 

CABIN WITH A BALCONY 

Chapter 5, Cruise Day 3 Continued

“Our ship’s doctor will not sign because we will have told him he already had.  Unfortunately, he won’t remember..and yes, we will have a forged document”, replied Robert.

Turning to the captain, Robert said “Your job,Captain, is to announce how sorry you are to give notice of an on-board death of one of the passengers and that a helicopter will be picking up the remains as requested by the family,” Robert continued,  “Also, you will provide the contact information for ordering the helicopter to the radio crew, confirming, and I mean confirming, they will meet us at 9:00 a.m. when we have sailed and cleared the coastal waters of Cozumel.”

“Do I have to stay in the refrigerated area until 9:00?” asked Wilbur.

Slowly and painstakingly Robert responded, “Wilbur, you are an inquisitive guy, aren’t you?  Your answer is yes and no, but you will be put in the wooden coffin, and it will be nailed shut.  The coffin and any other items that need to be transferred will be in the helicopter landing area.  We will have a few boxes there, just to look as if they might be your personal items.  Look, Wilbur, don’t worry.  We have done this many times before, it is no big deal; you won’t freeze.  We still have a couple of days to plan, but Captain Rogers here has some kind of perfection phobia which drives many people crazy, including the guy before you.  The good news, Wilbur, is that you get your cut.  Why, Cap, did you not explain all this ahead of time to Wilbur?”

“I expect Wilbur to do as he is told.  I want no more questions; just finish your plan so we can get on with this.  I want more meetings before the shipment is picked up.  This is Wednesday; we meet tomorrow, same time, and 8:00 a.m. Friday to go over and over this again and again; ON time, same place, or as many times as it takes for me to know you are absolutely sure of no holes in your plan.”  Captain Rogers breathlessly ended.

Wilbur held up his hand.  Captain Rogers looked incredulously at him.  “This is not school, Wilbur.  What do you want, now?”

“I just want to know when I get out of the box, sir.” Wilbur almost whispered.

Quietly speaking while leaning toward Wilbur, Captain Rogers explained, “When you get to shore, Wilbur, our team will open the box, let you out and remove the shipment from the base.  Parties will be present to take over the shipment; monies will be received.  After the parties leave you will receive your cut.”  Captain Roger’s voice began raising, “Robert and I have to wait for our cut until we dock again.  Does that tell you everything you need to know?” Captain Rogers ended in a near shout.

Quietly Wilbur replied, “Yes sir.  Thank you, sir.”

Robert looked at his watch.  ” I have to get to work at the lounge; see you tomorrow.”

“Wait, I need to speak with you Robert,” looking at Wilbur, Captain said “You may leave now Wilbur.”

“Thank you, sir,” replied Wilbur, not moving.

“GO NOW WILBUR!”  Rogers shouted.  Wilbur hustled out the door.

Captain Rogers turned to Robert and said, “Robert, this may be your last trip.  I will not stand for your disrespect, even in front of a goon like Wilbur.  Do you understand that I am the one who brought you into this opportunity?  Don’t answer that…let’s just say that you know too much for this to be your last trip.  Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, very clear, and I agree your opportunity allows me to orchestrate all the movements and plan the cut.  All the players work with me and have for some time.  I have done all your dirty work, including the poor slob who preceded Wilbur, and let me tell you something you may not know.  I have never once enjoyed my job.  I have asked myself repeatedly why I do this, and I know it is for the money, but I have recently begun to realize that money isn’t everything.  You didn’t believe me, but I meant it when I told you that I am resigning after this trip.  Any with that, let me say that it may be you who doesn’t know enough, and just for the record, I believe my father would never have called you friend had he really known the kind of man you are.”  With that, Robert exited, leaving Captain Rogers wondering what happened.  Captain Rogers knew things were changing, and that he had better be ready.

Stay tuned for the next segment of Cabin with a Balcony!

FINANCE-HIGHDANCE

RETIREMENT

I should have printed that in red.  It is on a lot of minds right now.  Just think of the Boomers retiring left and right, day and night!  I found a few pearls of wisdom, one entitled “How You Could Retire Comfortably on Half of Your Income” by Matthew Frankel, and felt compelled to share:

Oh wait, it is advising some smart planning in my pre-retirement years.  Who has that much time?  Something about the 80% rule, or the assumption that your postretirement expenses will be close to your pre-retirement ones.  You will still be paying for the same utilities, etc. as before, but the only thing you “save” is the amount you had been putting aside for retirement.  Granted, good point.  A pre-retirement suggestion, next, was to see if you can “up” your payment on one of your debts prior to retirement, so you get to keep, or spend, that amount along with what you were saving to spend.  Make sense so far?

Basically, try to get rid of a major debt (like car or home) prior to the milestone moment.  If you are fairly young enough to get this plan going, the article makes a few suggestions to get you started:

Use a biweekly payment plan to pay off your mortgage…pays off sooner and saves interest.

Take any tax refund each year and put it on the mortgage

Trade down to a less expensive car (what?) that you can pay for in full.

Seriously, this plan is not a bad one, (check out Fool.com) and there are many ways to save for retirement as in CD’s instead of bank savings accounts, market trading, financial investor (be careful; as Suzi Ormon directs…stay away from Annuities!),and many types of investments.  It reminds me of the old saying..”Gee, if I had known I would live this long I would have taken better care of myself!”  I always thought it meant health:)

You cannot go forward without a plan.  As I mentioned before (and I know you did it) you have your personal financial statement, your credit score, and now you can crunch some numbers.  You have to sit down and figure out exactly what your expenses are, then you need to know exactly what your annual social security will be (remember those letters we receive once in awhile that you put somewhere?), and pensions or any other passive income you have.  If you are still working and you are, let’s say, over 40, you will need to try to put away $18,000 a year (Government limit in 401K for 2015) and any other monies in any form you choose, savings accounts, etc.   Now, and beside the point, the Social Security check will vary, depending on what part B Supplement plan you buy that is deducted from your check, or you can have an increase, but the important thing right now is to GET A PLAN.  We will discuss Medicare and Supplemental Insurance in another segment when you have figured out where you really are and how you got, or will get there.

Stay wise, my friends!

HEALTH BLURBS

Hello All!  Ok, Ok, I know I have not written any health information since around Easter.  I hear and feel your pain, no pun intended.  Although things have been pretty busy in the Herman household, I am making a commitment here and now that at least once per month you will get a blog in the areas of health, finance and storytelling.  The poetry sessions will be thrown in from time to time for good measure.  (Hmmmm, been quite a while on that one, so no promises there.)

Today, I want to share with you some information I read in the AARP magazine.  Some of you will remember that you already read it, but since we can’t all look at everything, and if we do read AARP, my bet will be that we meant to remember, but forgot:)

Following are the highlights of a section entitled “Healthy You”:

1.  It seems that you can safely watch 2 hours of TV per day; more than that increases the concentration of triglycerides in your blood and lowers HDL.

2.  A new study finds that a gain of just 10 beats per minute over normal increases your risk of dying from heart disease by 10 to 18 percent.  (What does this mean?  Maybe I shouldn’t do all that exercise!)

3.  I know you have been having at least your 5 servings of fruits and veggies, but if you can go on up to 7+ your risk of an early death can be reduced by 42 percent (per a British study).

4.  Love this one!  A study of more than 21,000 healthy adults who slept five or fewer hours per night were 50 percent more likely to become obese.  Based on this study, I should probably be skinny.  Not.

This in within the last month from the New York Times journalist, Andrew Pollack:

Discussions at the recent annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology included–

New class of meds may unleash the body’s immune system to attack tumors, prolonging the lives of people with the most common form of lung cancer.   In a separate study, researchers say they found that a particular genetic signature in the tumor can help predict which patients could benefit from the immune-boosting drugs.   Wow…we may be getting somewhere!

If you have the signature you should be treated with checkpoint inhibitors.  They work by releasing molecular brakes, or checkpoints, that prevent the body’s immune system from attacking the tumor.  The products on the market so far are Keytruda (Merck) and Opdivo and Yervoy (Bristol-Myers Squibb).  All three drugs are approved to treat melanoma; Opdivo was also approved in March to treat the so-called squamous-cell form of non-small cell lung cancer, which accounts for about one-quarter of the lung cancer cases.

Opdivo also prolongs survival for those with non-squamous cell lung cancer.  Patients who received Opdivo lived a median of 12.2 months compared with 9.4months for those treated with the chemo drug docetaxel.  Opdivo, also known as nivolumab, had far fewer side effects.  The randomized trial, paid for by Bristol-Myers, involved 582 patients with advanced cancer who had already had treatment with platinum-containing chemotherapy.  This summer, Bristol intends to apply to have Opdivo approved to treat non-squamous lung cancer, the majority of lung cancer cases.  It has my vote!

To review more, a version of this article appears in print on the May 30, 2015, page B3 of the New York Times edition, with the headline “New Promise in New Class of Drugs for Cancer”.

Stay healthy, my friends!