In financial straits? Back to basics

In these turbulent financial times, it is important to step back and revisit your retirement plan and do a financial checkup.

It will also help you remain calm with the day-to-day swings in Washington and on Wall Street.

Financial goals. Write down your specific goals and monitor your progress. This will allow you to evaluate your spending and investment targets. Since many living expenses can fluctuate and claim a larger portion of your monthly budget, it is important to establish your priorities and build your spending around them. Think about realistic ways to reduce expenditures that are increasing. Can you carpool or take public transportation? Would better insulation in your house cut long-term heating and cooling costs? Do you purchase groceries and clothes that are always full price, or do you use coupons and actively look for items that are on sale? Changing your daily shopping and spending habits could help you find the money you need to meet your other financial goals.

Review your current asset allocation. Ray Martin, financial consultant for CBS Money Matters suggests, “For workers sixty-plus move the money you’ll use within five years out of stock. Put ten percent in cash, forty percent in bonds, and fifty percent in stocks. For workers fifty-plus, you can afford to have a bit more money in the stock market because your accounts have more time to bounce back from the current meltdown. Time alone is not going to heal your 401(k) wounds. Increase contributions since people over the age of fifty are allowed to contribute more to retirement accounts. Allocate five percent in cash, thirty percent in bonds, and sixty-five percent in stocks. Once you stop working you can’t save pre-tax money or receive matching funds for your savings.”

Eliminate outstanding high-interest debt. Assess your accumulated debt and create a plan to eliminate it. A rule of thumb to follow: You may be overextended if more than 20 percent of your net pay goes to finance non-housing expenses or if your rent or mortgage payment exceeds 30 percent of your monthly take-home pay.

Evaluate changes in your personal situation. Promptly and proactively take action if your circumstances have changed. Have your income needs changed or have you incurred any major, unexpected cash outlays? Have you received any unexpected cash inflows such as an inheritance or have you recently applied for, or received, Social Security? Has your health changed causing you to divert other money you had previously earmarked for other goals? Have your charitable intentions changed, and if so, do you know your options and gifting strategies available to you? If you are approaching age 70, consider how required minimum distributions (RMDs) will affect your financial plan. Generally, these withdrawals must be taken by April 1 after the year you turn age 70 1/2. Remember that RMDs are taxable as ordinary income. If the full RMD is not taken each year, the IRS could charge a penalty of 50 percent of the required amount that was not taken.

Revisit your insurance coverage. Life insurance needs change as you age. If you have been investing for retirement appropriately, your life insurance needs generally decrease as you get closer to retirement. If you have owned your home for many years, make sure your property insurance coverage is sufficient to cover the cost of rebuilding. If you are age 50 or older, you may want to consider purchasing a long-term care policy. A study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that people who reach age 65 will likely have a 40 percent chance of entering a nursing home.

State of the economy forum

Many burning questions, along with a mixed bag of emotions, have come to light during this economic crisis.

We’re here to help you through these trying times by providing a forum on Oct. 28 at 12:30 p.m.

While there may not be answers provided through the forum there will be plenty of support. Bring your questions, frustrations, fears and ideas and come early to join us for a Tahitian chicken lunch. Call 264-2167 to make lunch reservations.

Special senior events

Keyah Grande tour. Back by popular demand. Keyah Grande is an exclusive retreat nestled in the heart of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains with more than 4,000 acres of pristine beauty and natural wonders. Each suite is adorned with antiques and artifacts collected in the world travels of the proprietors. Enjoy a tour of Keyah Grande Monday, Oct. 27. The cost for this trip is $1. Keyah Grande will be offering coffee and Danish. The bus will leave promptly at 8:30 a.m. Reserve your place by Oct. 24. (Be aware, there are many stairs at the retreat.)

Halloween cake decorating. The last class was such a hoot, we thought we’d offer another class on Wednesday, Oct. 27 at 12:30 p.m. Sue, the City Market bakery manager, will teach a cake decorating class. It’s a hands-on class, and Sue will provide a small cake for you to decorate. Cost for the class is $5 and you get to take your cake home. Deadline: Oct. 24.

Alzheimer’s support group. Elaine Stumpo, regional director for the SW Alzheimer’s Association, will host this monthly gathering for individuals who are supporting loved ones living with Alzheimer’s. Learn how to be supportive of someone with memory loss. The meeting will take place in the Silver Foxes Den every fourth Wednesday of the month, at 1 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 29.

Lymphedema — unraveling the myths. On Friday, Oct. 31 at 12:30 p.m. in the Silver Foxes Den, Sandra Artzberger MS OTR certified hand therapist and certified lymphedema therapist will present a one hour lecture/discussion on the topic of post mastectomy lymphedema. Topics included in this presentation will be: What is lymphedema? Who is at risk for lymphedema? What does treatment involve? What can I do to help prevent lymphedema if I’m at risk?

The majority of the presentation will focus on the latter question, aimed at healthy life style and precautions. Artzberger and two other therapists started up the first lymphedema clinic in Wisconsin in 1995 and from that experience began teaching nationally, with 10 lymphedema certification courses a year for physical and occupational therapists. She also teaches hand therapy courses nationally and internationally (so far, in seven countries) and has authored eight articles/chapters and two Internet courses.

Silver Foxes Den Halloween Party. The candy, costumes, spookiness and the fun of Halloween is not just for kids. On Friday, Oct. 31, The Den will host a Halloween costume party to celebrate this not-just-for-kids holiday. Wear your scariest, most original or funniest costume to win one of the many great prizes. So, let’s bring out the kid in all of us. Come in disguise with your trick-or-treat bags for the Halloween extravaganza.

Silver Foxes Den piano.

Meals on Wheels expansion

Archuleta County Senior Services is proud to announce the expansion of their Meals on Wheels Program. Beginning some time in November, frozen meals can be ordered for once-a-week delivery. Our goal is to reach those folks isolated in rural locations and unable to participate in our regular Meals on Wheels program. The suggested donation for these meals is $3. each. To find out if you qualify for this program, or for more information, call 264-2167.

Activities

Friday, Oct 24 — 9 a.m. Geezers; 11:15 Gym Walk, deadline for Keyah Grande tour and cake decorating class.

Monday, Oct 27 — Keyah Grande outing, by reservation; 8:45 a.m. Tai Chi;10 a.m. Tai Chi; 11:15 a.m. Gym Walk; cake decorating class; 1 p.m. Canasta.

Tuesday, Oct 28 —11:15 a.m. Gym walk;1 p.m. Meditation for Healing.

Wednesday, Oct 29 — 10 a.m. Dance for Health;1 p.m. Alzheimer’s support group.

Thursday, Oct 30 — Administrative services only.

Friday, Oct 31 — 9 a.m. Geezers; 11:15 a.m. Gym Walk; noon Halloween birthday party; 12:30 p.m. lymphdema presentation.

Menu

Suggested donation $3 for ages 60-plus and kids 12 and under, all others $5. Our meal program is partially funded through the Older Americans Act, United Way, Archuleta County, Town of Pagosa Springs and other contributions and grants. These funds help support the cost of the meal which is approximately $6. Menu subject to change. The salad bar opens at 11:30 a.m. with lunch served at noon.

Friday, Oct. 24 — Roast pork, mashers and gravy, parslied carrots, strawberry gelatin, dinner roll.

Monday, Oct. 27 — Hamburger, baked beans, French fries, fresh fruit.

Tuesday, Oct. 28 — Tahitian chicken, brown rice, green bean amandine, fruit salad, wheat roll.

Wednesday, Oct. 29 — Taco salad, strawberry applesauce, fresh fruit, cornbread.

Thursday, Oct. 30 — No meal served, administrative services only.

Friday, Oct. 31 — Scarecrow chili, monster mash squash, pill bug cornbread, bewitched apple.