Healthy Concepts
Troy Beck

Troy Beck

This article was prepared by Thrivent Financial with an article from Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions Inc. ©2017 for use by Darboy representative Troy Beck. He has offices at W2719 Brookhaven Dr. in Appleton and can also be reached at 920-423-3896.

The information provided in these materials, developed by an independent third party, is for informational purposes only and has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable. However, Thrivent Financial does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. The material is general in nature. Thrivent Financial and its respective associates and employees cannot provide legal, accounting, or tax advice or services. Work with your Thrivent Financial representative, and as appropriate, your attorney and/or tax professional for additional information.

Insurance products issued or offered by Thrivent Financial, the marketing name for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Appleton, WI. Not all products are available in all states. Securities and investment advisory services are offered through Thrivent Investment Management Inc., 625 Fourth Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN

55415, a FINRA and SIPC member and a wholly owned subsidiary of Thrivent Financial, the marketing name for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Appleton, WI. Thrivent Financial representatives are registered representatives of Thrivent Investment Management Inc. They are also licensed insurance agents/producers of Thrivent. For additional important information, visit Thrivent.com/disclosures.

 

Wednesday, 01 August 2018 02:55

The college application process

Like hot chocolate and apple pie, some things can be counted on to bring comfort every fall. Unfortunately, the college application process isn’t one of them. In fact, for your child, it probably ranks right up there with going to a new school or wearing that first pair of eyeglasses. It’s easy for your child to feel overwhelmed while trying to manage numerous applications, each with varying deadlines and requirements. Just imagine if you had to fill out multiple tax returns this year — and your future job depended on it!

But filling out college applications properly is crucial. After all, you and your child put a lot of time and effort into choosing schools — now it’s time to complete that process. Your child should allow plenty of time to work on the applications, and you’ll want to make sure that you’re available for help. Here are some things to keep in mind before your child gets started.

What’s required in the application?

Most college applications have standard requirements, such as:

  • Biographical and family information
  • List of extracurricular activities, hobbies and interests
  • Reference letters (usually from teachers but occasionally from someone in the community)
  • High school grade transcript
  • SAT/ACT scores
  • Personal essay
  • Application fee

The key is for your child to present all of this information in the best possible light. Though your child won’t have any flexibility in the presentation of his or her personal information, grades or SAT/ACT scores, he or she will have an opportunity to stand out from the pack with reference letters and the personal essay. Not surprisingly, then, these two items are very important.

Your child should spend some time thinking about the teachers whom he or she wants to write the recommendation letters. Also, your child should allow plenty of time for the teacher to write the reference, and tell the teacher what to do when finished (i.e., send the letter directly to the college — in which case a prestamped, preaddressed envelope should be provided — or give it back for inclusion with the rest of the application).

The personal essay is often the heart and soul of the application. It helps the admissions team distinguish your child from many other applicants and, in some cases, may be the deciding factor. To write a thoughtful, coherent essay, your child should choose a topic that is especially meaningful to him or her. As a parent, you’ll want to refrain from actually writing the essay (it’s also unethical for your child to hire a professional ghostwriter). However, you can c ertainly brainstorm ideas with your child, offer editing suggestions and proofread the final product for spelling and grammatical mistakes.

If your child needs help getting started, most college guidebooks devote a chapter to writing a good college essay. Ideally, your child should browse through this material in the summer before senior year to get familiar with the process before he or she faces the terror of writer’s block the weekend before the application is due.

The total package: what colleges look for in prospective applicants

Beyond grades and test scores, it’s no secret that colleges will be looking at your child’s extracurricular activities to see what interests and abilities he or she can bring to the campus. And as colleges have become more competitive, the quest of parents to find the “right” mix of activities has intensified. Many parents have spent countless hours (and dollars) driving their children to every extracurricular activity imaginable in an effort to ensure their child’s entry into a prestigious university. Yet this isn’t necessarily the magic elixir.

Instead, admissions officers generally say that they favor applicants who have demonstrated a real passion in one or a few areas, as opposed to those who participate in a long list of activities just for the sake of putting it on their application. So instead of forcing your child to dabble in everything (e.g., music, art, theater, sports, community work, religious work, business internships), it’s better to let your child focus on those pursuits that he or she truly enjoys. And if your child doesn’t get accepted at a particular college, don’t take it personally — your child’s path to success doesn’t depend on just one college.

Timeline for applying

Generally, college applications are submitted in the fall or winter of your child’s senior year of high school, with acceptance or rejection letters arriving in the spring. However, if your child applies for early admission (via either early decision or early action), the acceptance or rejection should arrive by December of their senior year. It’s important to note that the college application timeline isn’t the same as the financial aid timeline; the latter is usually later.

Each college has its own application deadline, as well as its own application requirements. Many private colleges use the Common Application, and require students to fill out short, individualized supplements to this application. Other colleges require their own individual application. To stay organized, write each deadline on a central calendar, and then create an individual folder for each college to keep track of applications, correspondence, reference letters, essay requirements and other items. Most of the application paperwork can also be tracked online.

Early admission versus regular admission

Some students favor early admission because it lets them relax and enjoy their senior year. There are actually two ways to apply for early admission:

  • Early action: Your child applies by the early deadline but has until the college’s normal deadline to decide whether to attend. Your child can apply to several schools under the early action process.
  • Early decision: Your child applies by the early deadline but then must commit to attending immediately. Your child can only apply to one college under the early decision process.

If your child’s heart is set on one particular college and the match is a good one, it might be worthwhile for your child to apply early decision. However, a note of caution: it’s easy for your child to wind up with less financial aid than a regular applicant. This is because colleges know that your child is already committed to attending the college; thus, they figure they can offer a less attractive financial aid package. And although your child can rescind an early decision acceptance if the college doesn’t offer adequate financial aid, he or she may be rushed in applying to other colleges.

 

Monday, 26 March 2018 23:55

Handling market volatility

Conventional wisdom says that what goes up, must come down. But even if you view market volatility as a normal occurrence, it can be tough to handle when it’s your money at stake.

Though there’s no foolproof way to handle the ups and downs of the stock market, the following common sense tips can help.

Don’t put your eggs all in one basket

Diversifying your investment portfolio is one of the key ways you can handle market volatility. Because asset classes often perform differently under different market conditions, spreading your assets across a variety of different investments such as stocks, bonds and cash alternatives (e.g., money market funds and other short-term instruments), has the potential to help manage your overall risk. Ideally, a decline in one type of asset will be balanced out by a gain in another, though diversification can’t guarantee a profit or eliminate the possibility of market loss.

One way to diversify your portfolio is through asset allocation. Asset allocation involves identifying the asset classes that are appropriate for you and allocating a certain percentage of your investment dollars to each class (e.g., 70 percent to stocks, 20 percent to bonds, 10 percent to cash alternatives). A worksheet or an interactive tool can suggest a model or sample allocation based on your investment objectives, risk tolerance level, and investment time horizon, but your strategy should be tailored to your unique circumstances.

Focus on the forest, not on the trees

As the markets go up and down, it’s easy to become too focused on day-to-day returns. Instead, keep your eyes on your long-term investing goals and your overall portfolio. Although only you can decide how much investment risk you can handle, if you still have years to invest, don’t overestimate the effect of short-term price fluctuations on your portfolio.

Look before you leap

When the market goes down and investment losses pile up, you may be tempted to pull out of the stock market altogether and look for less volatile investments. The small returns that typically accompany low-risk investments may seem downright attractive when more risky investments are posting negative returns.

But before you leap into a different investment strategy, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. How you choose to invest your money should be consistent with your goals and time horizon.

For instance, putting a larger percentage of your investment dollars into vehicles that offer safety of principal and liquidity (the opportunity to easily access your funds) may be the right strategy for you if your investment goals are short-term or if a long-term goal such as retirement has now become an immediate goal. But if you still have years to invest, keep in mind that although past performance is no guarantee of future results, stocks have historically outperformed stable value investments over time. If you move most or all of your investment dollars into conservative investments, you’ve not only locked in any losses you might have, but you’ve also sacrificed the potential for higher returns.

Look for the silver lining

A down market, like every cloud, has a silver lining. The silver lining of a down market is the opportunity you have to buy shares of stock at lower prices.

One of the ways you can do this is by using dollar cost averaging. With dollar cost averaging, you don’t try to “time the market” by buying shares at the moment when the price is lowest. In fact, you don’t worry about price at all. Instead, you invest the same amount of money at regular intervals over time. When the price is higher, your investment dollars buy fewer shares of stock, but when the price is lower, the same dollar amount will buy you more shares. Although dollar cost averaging can’t guarantee you a profit or protect against a loss, over time a regular fixed dollar investment may result in an average price per share that’s lower than the average market price, assuming you invest through all types of markets. A workplace savings plan, such as a 401(k) plan in which the same amount is deducted from each paycheck and invested through the plan, is one of the most well-known examples of dollar cost averaging in action. Please remember that since dollar cost averaging involves continuous investment in securities regardless of fluctuating price levels of such securities, you should consider your financial ability to make ongoing purchases.

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

As the market recovers from a down cycle, elation quickly sets in. If the upswing lasts long enough, it’s easy to believe that investing in the stock market is a sure thing. But, of course, it never is. As many investors have learned the hard way, becoming overly optimistic about investing during the good times can be as detrimental as worrying too much during the bad times. The right approach during all kinds of markets is to be realistic. Have a plan, stick with it, and strike a comfortable balance between risk and return.

Don’t stick your head in the sand

While focusing too much on short-term gains or losses is unwise, so is ignoring your investments. You should check up on your portfolio at least once a year, more frequently if the market is particularly volatile or when there have been significant changes in your life. You may need to rebalance your portfolio to bring it back in line with your investment goals and risk tolerance, or redesign it so that it better suits your current needs. Don’t hesitate to get expert help if you need it when deciding which investment options are right for you. 


This article was prepared by Thrivent Financial with an article from Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions Inc. ©2017 for use by Darboy representative Troy Beck. He has offices at W2719 Brookhaven Dr. in Appleton and can also be reached at 920-423-3896.

About Thrivent Financial: Thrivent is a not-for-profit membership organization that helps Christians be wise with money and live generously. It offers its more than 2 million member-owners a broad range of products, services and guidance nationwide. For more than a century it has helped members make wise money choices that reflect their values while providing them opportunities to demonstrate their generosity where they live, work and worship. For more information, visit Thrivent.com. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

The information provided in these materials, developed by an independent third party, is for informational purposes only and has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable. However, Thrivent Financial does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. The material is general in nature. Thrivent Financial and its respective associates and employees cannot provide legal, accounting, or tax advice or services. Work with your Thrivent Financial representative, and as appropriate, your attorney and/or tax professional for additional information.

Insurance products issued or offered by Thrivent Financial, the marketing name for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Appleton, WI. Not all products are available in all states. Securities and investment advisory services are offered through Thrivent Investment Management Inc., 625 Fourth Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55415, a FINRA and SIPC member and a wholly owned subsidiary of Thrivent Financial, the marketing name for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Appleton, WI. Thrivent Financial representatives are registered representatives of Thrivent Investment Management Inc. They are also licensed insurance agents/producers of Thrivent. For additional important information, visit Thrivent.com/disclosures. 1926021-101817

 

Thursday, 30 November 2017 21:07

Understanding long-term care insurance

It’s a fact: People today are living longer. Although that’s good news, the odds of requiring some sort of long-term care increase as you get older. And as the costs of home care, nursing homes and assisted living escalate, you probably wonder how you’re ever going to be able to afford long-term care. One solution that is gaining in popularity is long-term care insurance (LTCI).

What is long-term care?

Most people associate long-term care with the elderly. But it applies to the ongoing care of individuals of all ages who can no longer independently perform basic activities of daily living (ADLs) — such as bathing, dressing or eating — due to an illness, injury or cognitive disorder. This care can be provided in a number of settings, including private homes, assisted-living facilities, adult day care centers, hospices and nursing homes.

Why you need long-term care insurance (LTCI)

Even though you may never need long-term care, you’ll want to be prepared in case you ever do because long-term care is often very expensive. Although Medicaid does cover some of the costs of long-term care, it has strict financial eligibility requirements — you would have to exhaust a large portion of your life savings to become eligible for it. And since HMOs, Medicare and Medigap don’t pay for most long-term care expenses, you’re going to need to find alternative ways to pay for long-term care. One option you have is to purchase an LTCI policy.

However, LTCI is not for everyone. Whether or not you should buy it depends on a number of factors, such as your age and financial circumstances. Consider purchasing an LTCI policy if some or all of the following apply:

  • You are between the ages of 40 and 84
  • You have significant assets that you would like to protect
  • You can afford to pay the premiums now and in the future
  • You are in good health and are insurable

How does LTCI work?

Typically, an LTCI policy works like this: You pay a premium, and when benefits are triggered, the policy pays a selected dollar amount per day (for a set period of time) for the type of long-term care outlined in the policy.

Most policies provide that certain physical and/or mental impairments trigger benefits. The most common method for determining when benefits are payable is based on your inability to perform certain activities of daily living (ADLs), such as eating, bathing, dressing, continence, toileting (moving on and off the toilet) and transferring (moving in and out of bed). Typically, benefits are payable when you’re unable to perform a certain number of ADLs (e.g., two or three).

Some policies, however, will begin paying benefits only if your doctor certifies that the care is medically necessary. Others will also offer benefits for cognitive or mental incapacity, demonstrated by your inability to pass certain tests.

Comparing LTCI policies

Before you buy LTCI, it’s important to shop around and compare several policies. Read the Outline of Coverage portion of each policy carefully, and make sure you understand all of the benefits, exclusions and provisions. Once you find a policy you like, be sure to check insurance company ratings from services such as A. M. Best, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s to make sure that the company is financially stable.

When comparing policies, you’ll want to pay close attention to these common features and provisions:

  • Elimination period: The period of time before the insurance policy will begin paying benefits (typical options range from 20 to 100 days). Also known as the waiting period.
  • Duration of benefits: The limitations placed on the benefits you can receive (e.g., a dollar amount such as $150,000 or a time limit such as two years).
  • Daily benefit: The amount of coverage you select as your daily benefit (typical options range from $50 to $350).
  • Optional inflation rider: Protection against inflation.
  • Range of care: Coverage for different levels of care (skilled, intermediate and/or custodial) in care settings specified in policy (e.g., nursing home, assisted living facility, at home).
  • Pre-existing conditions: The waiting period (e.g., six months) imposed before coverage will go into effect regarding treatment for pre-existing conditions.
  • Other exclusions: Whether or not certain conditions are covered (e.g., Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease).
  • Premium increases: Whether or not your premiums will increase during the policy period.
  • Guaranteed renewability: The opportunity for you to renew the policy and maintain your coverage despite any changes in your health.
  • Grace period for late payment: The period during which the policy will remain in effect if you are late paying the premium.
  • Return of premium: Return of premium or nonforfeiture benefits if you cancel your policy after paying premiums for a number of years.
  • Prior hospitalization: Whether or not a hospital stay is required before you can qualify for LTCI benefits.

When comparing LTCI policies, you may wish to seek assistance. Consult a financial professional, attorney or accountant for more information.

What’s it going to cost?

There’s no doubt about it: LTCI is often expensive. Still, the cost of LTCI depends on many factors, including the type of policy that you purchase (e.g., size of benefit, length of benefit period, care options, optional riders). Premium cost is also based in large part on your age at the time you purchase the policy. The younger you are when you purchase a policy, the lower your premiums will be. 

 

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