7 Ways You Might Be Sabotaging Your Salad

making a healthy salad

Salads may not be as American as apple pie, but plenty of people report eating them regularly: four times a week, on average, according to a poll commissioned last year by Fresh Express and conducted by OnePoll. More than half of the 2,000 U.S. adults polled — 62 percent — said that salads are part of their regular diet.

It’s a little puzzling to reconcile those numbers with the staggering rates of obesity in this country, but then, the health value of a salad really depends on quality rather than quantity. While salad — usually conceived as a big bowl of fresh, raw vegetables and leafy greens — has all the makings of a terrific health food, it’s easier than you might imagine to go astray and sabotage your salad. Pouring on the dressing, overdoing the carbs, forgetting about protein, and other common missteps can turn this nutritious meal into a calorie bomb.

Whether you’re ordering out or tossing your own, here are seven common mistakes to avoid.

  • Mistake 1: Forgetting Protein
  • Mistake 2: Drowning in Dressing
  • Mistake 3: Packaged Dressings
  • Mistake 4: Going Crazy on the Croutons
  • Mistake 5: Boring Bowls
  • Mistake 6: Using Light Greens
  • Mistake 7: Not Cleaning Around Your Greens

The Magic Formula for a Winning Salad

Now that you’ve learned what salad mistakes to avoid, here’s how to do it right! Cassetty shares her formula for building a satisfying, substantial, nutrient-dense salad. Combine the following:

  • Two parts veggies, which could be leafy greens; chopped peppers, cucumbers, or tomatoes; or roasted veggies
  • One part carbs, such as quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, or dried or fresh fruit
  • Protein, such as eggs, beans, legumes, or tofu
  • Fat Cassetty encourages plant-based sources of fat such as avocado, olives, or an oil-based dressing. Cheese works well for certain salads — think beets and goat cheese or a Greek salad with feta.
  • Crunchy bits Nuts, seeds, or crunched-up whole-grain chips or crackers
  • Flavoring Along with dressing you can add enhancements like Italian, Greek, or everything-but-the-bagel seasoning.

How much of the protein, fat, and crunchy bits should you add? “The amount that would feel comfortable and enjoyable,” Cassetty says. “Think about the fat source as an accessory — it gives your salad lots of flair, but you don’t want to overdo it,” she says. “And protein is a filling element, so how hungry are you? When we base our decisions like that, we’re tuning into our bodies, and that helps us eat more in line with what our bodies need.”

To read the full article click here

By Stephanie Thurrott (March 2023)

7 Things That Ruin a Healthy Salad (everydayhealth.com)

Income tax diversification defined

tax diversification

If you’re saving and investing for retirement, you’re probably familiar with the concept of investment diversification: Combining different types of assets to balance your overall investment risk and return. This same principle can and should be applied to income tax diversification.

Why? Income tax diversification may allow you to structure withdrawals in retirement to potentially increase the amount of after-tax spendable income.

To achieve a diversified tax base, you want financial assets that offer different types of income tax advantages as you:

  • Save for retirement (Contribution).
  • Grow your savings (Accumulation).
  • Use them for retirement income (Distribution).

There are particular income tax advantages offered by different financial instruments at each of these stages.

Choosing options that offer tax advantages during these different stages may help you accumulate more for retirement and reduce your income tax liability during retirement.

Retirement savings plans (pretax contributions, tax-deferred accumulation, taxable withdrawals)

As you earn money, you pay income tax. But certain retirement savings programs — 401(k) plans, IRA’s, and some types of pension and profit-sharing plans allow you to contribute on a pretax basis. This effectively lowers your gross pay and, as a result, the taxes on that income.

Additionally, many employers offering these types of plans offer some kind of match of funds to a certain limit. For example, your employer may contribute 50 cents for every dollar you contribute up to 6 percent of your pay. So, if you contribute 6 percent of your pay, then add your employer’s match, your contribution amount is effectively increased to 9 percent.

The pretax income you invested in these types of qualified retirement accounts grow on a tax-deferred basis, meaning the money doesn’t get taxed until you take it out.

These kinds of plans are typically subject to a 10 percent penalty for distributions prior to age 59½, and may also have annual required minimum distributions (RMDs) starting at age 73. Failure to take full RMDs will result in a penalty tax equal to 50 percent of the shortfall.

Roth plans (after tax, tax deferred, tax advantaged)

Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s are built with after-tax dollars. Both earnings and withdrawals are income tax free if the owner is 59½ and has had the account for five years or longer.

Contributions are limited, however. Those making more than a specific income level cannot contribute a Roth IRA. And those do qualify can only contribute a set amount. Roth 401(k)s don’t have income thresholds, but have limits on how much can be contributed.

Roth account values may also pass tax deferred to the account beneficiary at death.

Annuities (tax deferred, tax advantaged)

An annuity is a contract with an insurance company that can protect you from the risk of outliving your savings in retirement. It is purchased in a lump sum or series of payments and guarantees a stream of payments at some time in the future.

There aren’t any statutory limits on how much after-tax money can be used to fund an annuity, although the annuity itself may have contractual limits.

Earnings in annuities accumulate tax-deferred. When you start receiving payments, you’ll be taxed. If the annuity was bought with pretax funds, the payments will be taxed as ordinary income. If purchased with after-tax funds, you would only pay tax on the earnings.

Life insurance (after tax, tax deferred, tax advantaged)

Life insurance provides a death benefit to help your loved ones carry on in the event of your passing, and life insurance death benefit proceeds are generally income tax free.

Some types of life insurance build cash value. This cash value grows on a tax-deferred basis.

The cash value can be accessed on a tax-advantaged basis. Money taken from the cash value of a life insurance policy is not subject to taxes up to the “cost basis.” That’s the amount paid into the policy through out-of-pocket premiums.

Policyowners can withdraw or borrow against their cash value for any need, like paying a college bill or coming up with a down payment on a house. Retirees can use the cash value as a ready reserve of funds for inevitable market pullbacks, allowing time for invested funds to recover.

Municipal bonds

Those looking to diversity their tax base also sometimes look at municipal bonds.

The attraction of municipal bonds is the interest earnings are not subject to federal taxes. They may also avoid state and local taxes if the investor lives in the state that issued the bond.

Conclusion

The kind of income tax diversification mix using the various options will be different from individual to individual, depending on age, income, and other circumstances. Many people turn to a financial professional to help them understand the choices and possible outcomes.

Provided by Matthew Clayson, courtesy of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). CA Insurance License # 0I01304


©2023 Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Springfield, MA 01111-0001

MM202611-307408

Spring Storm Preparedness

As spring approaches, it brings with it the possibility of a major spring storm, which can cause severe weather events like thunderstorms, lightning, hail, and even tornadoes. It is essential to be prepared and safeguard both property and personal safety. Here is a concise guide on how to prepare for the unpredictable weather of the season.

Review Your Insurance Coverage

Begin by reviewing your home insurance policy to ensure it covers damages caused by storms. It is crucial to understand the specifics of your coverage, including how to file a claim, before the spring storm season arrives. If you have any questions or need adjustments to your policy, please contact us for a detailed review.

Secure Your Home

  • Outdoor Items: Secure or store outdoor furniture and decorations to prevent them from becoming windborne hazards.
  • Roof and Gutter Check: Inspect your roof for damages and clear gutters and downspouts to prevent water damage.
  • Emergency Kit: Assemble an emergency kit with essentials like water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, batteries, and a first-aid kit.
  • Power Outage Plan: Prepare for potential power outages with supplies and consider investing in a generator for extended blackouts.

Stay Safe

  • Stay Updated: Monitor weather forecasts and spring storm alerts through a reliable weather app or NOAA Weather Radio.
  • Identify Safe Spaces: Know the safest area in your home to take shelter during a storm, such as a basement or an interior room without windows.
  • Practice Safety Plans: Conduct regular drills so all household members know the safety plan.

After the Storm

  • Assess Damage: Safely assess and document any property damage with photos and detailed notes. This information is vital for your insurance claim.
  • Prompt Claim Reporting: Contact us as soon as possible to report damages and initiate the claims process.

Conclusion

Spring’s arrival brings with it the need for vigilance and preparedness against a major spring storm. By taking proactive steps now, such as reviewing your insurance coverage, securing your home, and planning for emergencies, you can significantly reduce the risks posed by these unpredictable weather events. Remember, we’re here to assist, from policy review to claim support. Stay safe and make this spring season both enjoyable and secure.

6 Forces Driving Commercial Property Insurance Costs

commercial property cost increasing

The market for commercial property insurance continues to be challenging. Here are several factors contributing to premium increases for commercial property coverage.

  1. Catastrophe losses

Hurricanes, floods, wildfires, tornadoes, winter storms. The frequency and severity of major catastrophes continue to stress the industry. In the last four years, these events have caused annual insured losses of more that $100 billion globally.1 In 2023, total insured losses globally were an overwhelming $118 billion.2 Severe convective storms (SCS) represented 58% of the losses globally, and in the U.S., six of the 10 most expensive events were SCS events.3

  1. Reinsurance

Although reinsurance capacity improved in 2023 and into 2024, the cost of available reinsurance capacity remains high. The continued impact of catastrophic events is a major factor driving up costs, along with the increasing cost of capital, financial market volatility and inflation. This is an expense carriers need to pass along to customers.

  1. Underinsurance

After years of increased material and labor costs, insured property replacement values continue to lag.4 Just 43% of business owners say they have increased their policy limits to accurately reflect what it would take to replace insured property now.5 Customers must have accurate valuations for their assets so they don’t come up short after a loss, and premiums will reflect those high values.

  1. Property replacement costs

Led by a 65% increase in fabricated structural steel and a 37% increase in the price of concrete products, nonresidential construction costs remain high with a 37% increase over the past four years.6 Similarly, machinery and equipment costs have increased 22% over the same period. Many contractors continue to struggle with a supply chain that, while better, is still far from pre-pandemic levels.

  1. Skilled labor shortage

Nearly half of construction costs are wages and salaries, and wages have increased 22% over the past four years.7 Even with the higher wages, 77% of contractors are struggling to find skilled labor.8 Higher rebuilding costs and longer delays may trigger an increase in business interruption losses.

  1. Property rate need

For years, escalating loss trends have outpaced rate increases, primarily because of the costs of catastrophes, severe weather and large fires. Expect carriers to raise rates again this year to close the gap.9

6 Forces Driving Commercial Property Insurance Costs | Travelers Insurance

Sources

1 2023: A historic year of U.S. billion-dollar weather and climate disasters

2 Aon

3 Insured nat cat losses hit $123bn in record-setting 2023: Gallagher Re

4 Insurance Information Institute (III)

5 The Harris Poll

6 Bureau of Labor Statistics – 12/2019 – 12/2023 Table 9

7 Bureau of labor statistics, Table B-8B

8 AGC 2024 hiring and business outlook report

9 Commercial property insurance rate hikes come off highs


6 Signs You May Be Underinsured

Presented by Matthew A. Clayson

says are you underinsured for life insurance

How do you know if you are underinsured? If you’ve purchased life insurance, you’ve taken an important step in protecting your family’s financial future, but you still may be underinsured. Such coverage can help your loved ones maintain their living standard in the event you should pass away prematurely, or at least eliminate some of the stress of making ends meet.

But how do you know if you have enough coverage? That can be a complicated question. And possible answers are likely to change over time. Life insurance is not a “set it and forget it” financial solution. As circumstances change, so do your coverage needs.

You may need to revisit the amount (and type) of life insurance coverage you have if:

  1. Your family has grown.
  2. Your stay-at-home spouse is not insured.
  3. You only have group life insurance through work.
  4. Your income rose.
  5. You have significant debt.
  6. Your financial goals have changed.

Life Insurance Policy Review

There is no one right answer. The appropriate death benefit amount differs for everyone depending on their assets, income, and financial goals.

How Many are Underinsured?

Underinsurance is common. According to Life Happens, a nonprofit consumer education group, 41 percent of U.S. adults — both insured and uninsured — say they do not believe they have enough life insurance protection.1 Some started off with sufficient coverage, but failed to increase their policy amount as their income and financial obligations grew.

Of course, the “right” amount of coverage is relative. People purchase life insurance for different reasons. Often, it’s used to replace the policyowner’s lost income if he or she should die unexpectedly, so their surviving spouse and kids can pay the bills. Others buy whole life insurance to provide for a spouse in retirement or cover long-term care expenses. And some use it as an estate planning tool to pass money along on a tax-favored basis to their heirs, so they may not realize they are underinsured.

1. Your family has grown -If you added a new family member to your flock, it may be time to increase the size of your life insurance policy. According to the most recent government estimates, it will cost the average middle-income, married couple nearly $311,000 to raise a child through age 18. That does not include the cost of a college education. If you aim to cover your kid’s college education, braces, and future wedding in the event that you are no longer around, those expenses should be factored into your death benefit as well.

2. Your stay-at-home spouse is not insured-It’s a common misconception that stay-at-home parents do not need life insurance coverage. True, they don’t produce an income. But if they should pass away when the kids are still young, the breadwinner would need to pay for day care or a nanny.

One more reason to insure a stay-at-home parent: It protects the earnings potential of the breadwinning parent, so he or she would not have to scale back hours or take a less-demanding job to keep their household afloat.

3.You only have group life insurance-Employer-provided life insurance is a great benefit for many, but the amount provided may not be sufficient to protect your family from financial loss. Group life insurance is typically not portable, either. And, if you develop a health condition between now and when you leave your job, you may no longer be eligible for the lowest rates, or qualify for private insurance at all.

To estimate how much life insurance coverage his clients should have, Guarino said he starts by calculating the cash-flow needs (through retirement) of each spouse and any dependent children with the assumption that the other spouse has passed away. He then compares that figure with their cash flow sources.

4. Your income rose-A bigger paycheck is a good thing, but if your family depends on your income to cover their living expenses, your life insurance coverage needs to keep up. It may be time to review your coverage needs if your salary has grown substantially since you purchased your policy.

Remember, the purpose of life insurance is to provide a big enough safety net that those you leave behind would be able to maintain their lifestyle if you were no longer around. If that lifestyle has changed, your coverage amount should, too.

5. You have debt-You may need more coverage if you have private student loans, mortgages, medical bills, or other debts.

Remember, the purpose of life insurance is to provide a big enough safety net that those you leave behind would be able to maintain their lifestyle if you were no longer around. If that lifestyle has changed, your coverage amount should, too.

6. Your financial goals have changed-Many couples purchase budget-friendly term life insurance when they start a family, primarily because it costs less. But as their income and financial goals change, they may no longer have the kind of protection that’s right for them. Term life insurance provides coverage for a specific length of time. The beneficiaries receive the death benefit only if the policyowner dies before that term is up, so you may still me underinsured.

By contrast, a permanent (or whole) life insurance policy costs more because it guarantees a death benefit to your beneficiaries when you pass away at any age, as long as you maintain your policy. It may also enable policyowners to accumulate cash value that can be used to help meet their retirement and other long-term accumulation goals. If you currently have a term life policy, but wish to leave a legacy to your heirs (or a favorite charity), you may not have the type of coverage you need.

Conclusion

Underinsurance is common in U.S. households. To be sure your family has the protection it needs, review your coverage regularly to ensure that you have both the amount and the type of policy that’s right for you.

Donating Blood Impacts Your Community

Published by Alyssa Malmquist on January 17, 2024

donating blood photo of heart in hand

The month of January is National Blood Donor Month. It’s an annual celebration that highlights how much this act of service can impact and help others. Historically, January is when blood donation has been needed most. The American Red Cross notes that the winter months can bring critical blood shortages. Typically, the steep drop in donations happens because of the holidays.

Transportation can add another challenge, especially in places with harsh winters and snow. Many individuals get sick around this time of year, too, which also makes it difficult to donate. So if you’re able to, it’s worth the extra effort to donate in January.

But it’s always a good time to donate blood, especially given how much your donation can impact members of your community:

  • In the U.S., approximately 29,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day.
  • Someone needs blood or platelets every two seconds.
  • A car accident victim can require as many as 100 units of blood.
  • Blood and platelets can only come from volunteer donors.
  • One donation can help save more than one life.
  • Many cancer patients need blood transfusions, sometimes daily, during chemotherapy treatment.
  • Babies born early may need a blood transfusion to increase the number of red blood cells in their bodies.
  • Transfusions of plasma, which is found in blood, help heal bad infections, serious burns, or liver failure.

Giving blood can also boost your health. According to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, blood donation can help reduce iron in your system. This can improve cardiovascular function. In that research, people who donated blood had an 88% lower risk of experiencing a heart attack.

Plus, you’ll feel good knowing you’ve made a difference. A survey of more than 5,000 blood donors found that nearly 75% of donors give blood to help others. As a result, they feel more connected to their communities.

Responding to Rare Blood Type Needs

Most blood types fall into groups A, B, AB, or O. But some people have rare blood types that are difficult to match, so it’s essential to maintain a diverse blood supply. Blood transfusions are used in accidents and ongoing treatments. For example, people with sickle cell disease often need transfusion therapy.

The best blood type match for patients with rare blood types often comes from donors of the

same race or similar ethnicity. The American Red Cross notes that although blood is matched by type, patients are at lower risk of developing complications from transfusions if their donor matches their race and ethnicity.

How to Donate

If you’re ready to make a resolution to give blood during National Blood Donor Month, you can schedule an appointment at the Mass General Blood Donor Center or the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

You can also check out this blood donation site, which will help you find a donation site close by. Once you find a place, it helps to call ahead or visit their website to schedule an appointment. Finally, you can always visit the American Red Cross’s website.

Here’s how donating blood impacts your community (massgeneralbrighamhealthplan.org)

Water Damage Safety Tips

water damage to floor in home

Whether it’s the result of a leaky appliance, burst pipe, or destructive storm system, even a small amount of unwelcome water in your home can lead to thousands of dollars in damages within hours. We hope the information provided here will help you understand where water damage in your home is likely to start and how you can possibly identify minor issues before they become major problems.

6 Common Causes of Water Damage in Homes

  • Plumbing-related losses, e.g., frozen or burst pipes
  • Drain line issues, e.g., blockages or breaks
  • Roof leaks
  • Water heater failures
  • Sump pump overflows and municipal sewer backups
  • Appliance-related breakdowns

Telltale Signs You May Have a Water Leak or Damage in Your Home

  • Trickling, dripping, or running water sounds
  • Musty odors
  • Cracking, peeling, or bubbling paint or wallpaper
  • Water stains on ceilings or walls
  • Mold or mildew growth
  • Warped Floors or ceilings
  • Puddles under or around pipes

10 Steps You can Take to Prevent Water Leaks and Damage

With the following list in hand, take a walk around your home. If you answer no to one or more of the questions below, it may be wise to contact a licensed professional to help you better protect your property from water damage.

  • Protect the Pipes-Are all pipes on external walls or in unheated places insulated? Can you relocate vulnerable pipes to heated spaces? Do you shut off your water supply to exterior water spigots and drain them prior to winter months? Have you upgraded to frost-free exterior spigot lines?
  • Seal Any Gaps-Are all cracks and holes sealed, especially those where water pipes and electrical cords come in and out? Are all rubber seals and hoses connected to appliances secure with no signs of wear and tear?
  • Maintain Appliances-Is grime or buildup removed from the refrigerator coil, dishwasher filter, and washing machine drain regularly? Did a licensed professional install appliance water and gas lines? Do you know when your hot water heater warranty expires? Have you considered changing the anode rod?
  • Clear Gutters and Downspouts-Are leaves and debris scooped out and is water flow good? If you spotted a leak, has it been fixed with waterproof sealant? Are all gutter hangers firmly attached?
  • Inspect the Roof-Do you frequently check your roof for loose or missing shingles and damaged soffits? Are tree limbs cut back from the roof’s surface? Have you checked for signs of wear at the roof connection point for chimneys and vent pipes?
  • Safeguard Septic and Sump Pumps-Does your system have a backflow prevention valve to protect against overflow or clogs? Do you have a backup sump system or alternate power source if electricity gets knocked out?
  • Install Sensors and Alarms-Are leak detectors near all water-use appliances, under sinks, and in bathrooms, crawl spaces, and the basement? Do you have temperature change alarms to detect sudden drops? Have you checked with your home security system provider to see if you can add these helpful sensors?
  • Landscape Smartly-Have you made “rain gardens” so water runs off the lawn and away from the foundation? Has your lawn been graded properly to ensure water runs away from the building? Are there trenches between your home and nearby plant beds?
  • Know How to Stop Water Flow-Does everyone in your home know the location of the main water shutoff valve, and is it easily accessible? If your gate valve looks corroded, have you considered having a licensed plumber change it to a ball valve style? Is your shutoff valve connected to leak and temperature sensors?
  • Have an Away-From-Home Plan-Do you shut off water supply to appliances while traveling? If there is a water emergency while you are on a trip, does a family member, friend, or local licensed professional have access to your home? If you’re traveling for an extended period or relocat- ing temporarily for the winter season, do you consider shutting off your heating system and draining your pipes?

Click below to view a copy of the article

https://www.clearyinsurance.com/wp-content/uploads/Water-Damage-Information-Sheet-Andover-Companies-Updated-2.pdf

Rate Increases on Personal Auto

rate increase Red toy car rides up a stack of coins

Seeking a return to profitability after a few years of underwriting losses, U.S. private passenger auto insurers continue to issue double-digit rate increases for drivers, according to a report from S&P Global.

Over half of the country has seen double-digit auto insurance rate increases.

The average premium has gone up 11% year-to-date nationwide, S&P revealed.

“The countrywide average will have increased by double digits in back-to-back years if this trend continues for the remainder of 2023,” the ratings firm added.

Among the top 10 personal auto insurers, USAA, Farmers Insurance and State Farm have implemented the largest effective rate changes year-to-date, with average increases of 14.9%, 14.2% and 13.9%, respectively. The top insurers with the lowest average increases so far are GEICO at 7.6%, Progressive at 8.5%, and Nationwide and Liberty Mutual at 8.8% each.

Rate increases vary widely by state, S&P noted. Nevada has had the highest overall effective rate increase so far at 27.9%, while rates in Idaho have increased the least at just 2.5% on average. In all, 32 states have seen double-digit increases.

Texas has the highest cumulative rate increase stretching back to January 2022, at 37.6% over the 20-month period. Seven other states have a cumulative effective rate increase of at least 30% since 2022. They include Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Nevada, Arizona, Illinois and Utah.

The states with the lowest cumulative increases are Hawaii (4.4%), Vermont (6.3%), North Carolina (8.2%) and California(11.1%). S&P noted that the cumulative rate increase in California is low “due to the almost two-year hiatus by the state regulator to approve any private auto rate increase.”

Rate-change data in S&P’s analysis is current through Aug. 18, 2023, and reflects 8.5 months of approved rate filings.

Key Takeaways

Even as insurance providers increase rates, consumers are looking for ways to reduce costs. Individuals are encouraged to discuss potential discounts with their insurance agents. Such deals may include reduced rates for good driving or bundling coverage.

While Cleary Insurance, Inc. cannot control insurance pricing, we can help you explore options for lowering rates without sacrificing essential coverage.

Contact us today to review your unique auto insurance policy.

The content of this News Brief is of general interest and is not intended to apply to specific circumstances. It should not be regarded as legal advice and not be relied upon as such. In relation to any particular problem which they may have, readers are advised to seek specific advice. © 2023 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved

Saving for Retirement

Presented by: Matthew A. Clayson

saving for retirement glass jars with money

Saving for retirement is better than spending every dollar you earn, but just putting money aside probably won’t get you where you want to be. That’s why investing may be a crucial component of any retirement plan. It takes the money you earn from work and allows it to go to work for you.

A successful retirement investment strategy often touches on the following principles:

  • Start early
  • Invest more aggressively to start
  • Diversify investment risk
  • Keep fees low
  • Transition into safer investments over time

Whether you’re investing on your own through an IRA, through your employer with a 401(k), or both, here’s what you need to know about laying out an investment strategy that will hopefully get you from where you are now to a comfortable retirement.

Start early with your retirement investment plan

If you’re earning income from a job, you can open a traditional or Roth IRA. Minors can start saving through a custodial account that a parent has control over until they turn 18 or 21, depending on the type of plan and what state they live in.

Let’s say that when you’re 25, you start saving for retirement by investing $100/month and assume a moderate average annual return of 5 percent. By the time you’re 55, you’ll have about $80,000.

If you don’t start saving for retirement until you’re 35, you’ll have to invest $200/month to earn the same amount by age 55 at the same return. If you only invest $100 a month, you’ll have to earn an 11 percent rate of return to end up with the same amount by age 55.

Invest more aggressively to start

It’s important not to panic and change your investment strategy if this happens, experts note. Rather, it may be a great time to stay invested and invest more so you can follow the adage “buy low, sell high.”

In other words, when stocks plummet, you can likely buy them on the cheap. Over time, assuming the market rebounds, you’ll have the opportunity to experience investment growth that people who withdrew from their investments missed out on.

But just because an investment entails risk doesn’t mean it will pay off. The type of risk you want to take is a calculated, time-tested one. Over more than a century, betting on the U.S. economy by investing in the stock and bond markets has proven rewarding. However, putting all of your money into a single company, no matter how well it appears to be doing, is the type of risk many people don’t want to take.

Diversify investment risk

All investing carries risk: You might lose money. Investments are not guaranteed to increase in value and are not FDIC insured.

Not investing also carries risk: Your money may lose value to inflation over time, and without putting your money to work through stock and bond markets or other financial vehicles, it can be challenging to accumulate enough for retirement.

Mutual funds provide an easy way to invest in a professionally managed portfolio consisting of dozens or even hundreds or stocks, bonds, and other securities. Mutual funds can be a great choice for people who don’t have the time, interest, or know-how to invest in individual stocks and bonds.

Exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, and index funds are similar to mutual funds in many ways, but they usually aim to copy the performance of a market index, such as the S&P 500® Index. Owning shares of mutual funds or ETFs is a little like having an investment manager working for you who requires little of your time or money.

Keep investment fees low when saving for retirement

Almost all investments have fees. For mutual funds, you might pay a commission to buy or sell a fund, an ongoing fee called an expense ratio for the fund’s management, or a sales charge. For ETFs, you’ll pay an expense ratio and possibly a commission.

ETFs are usually passively managed, meaning you’ll pay a lower expense ratio to own them; mutual funds can be actively or passively managed.

Why are fees so important? In the same way that investment returns compound over time, the effect of fees on your portfolio compounds over time. The higher your fees, the less money you have to invest, and the lower your net returns tend to be. Further, investments with higher fees have no guarantee of outperforming investments with lower fees. That’s why it’s important to do your research or hire a trusted professional to do it for you.

Transition into safer investments over time when saving for retirement

It’s important to take enough risk to meet your goals while maintaining enough safety to feel comfortable. As you get closer to retirement age, you have less time to recover from a market downturn, which means you need more safety and less risk in your portfolio.

Bottom Line

Most savings accounts don’t pay enough interest for your nest egg to support you through several decades of retirement. Investing in a careful, risk-managed way can allow you to outpace inflation and multiply your savings over the years.

Don’t want to go it alone? A financial professional can help you create a plan for your retirement.

AI as a Self-Diagnosis Tool

AI as self diagnosis for healthcare

Artificial intelligence (AI) has contributed to significant advances across many industries. Now, many people are using it as a tool for self-diagnosis or to get answers to health-related questions.

Self-diagnosis is a growing practice, as people’s primary access point for health care information has shifted from professionals to the internet. Given the rising popularity of AI as a source of information for health-related questions, you may wonder if it’s a good resource for self-diagnosis and medical information.

Generative for Health Care

Generative AI is a type of technology that produces content such as text, images or audio. Common tools used for this purpose include OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Med-PaLM. Amid a shortage of health care workers, chatbots like these could help answer your questions. Initial tests by researchers so far suggest these AI programs are more accurate than a standard Google search.

Pros of Using

Using AI tools for medical self-diagnosis can potentially reduce costs for patients and health care providers. Possible benefits of using generative AI include the following:

  • Increased accessibility
  • Improved health literacy
  • More efficient triaging
  • Preserved anonymity

These factors can enhance patient experience and improve engagement. Additionally, chatbots are easier to use than online symptom checkers.

Cons of Using

Although generative AI has the potential to help you with medical self-diagnosis, this technology has limitations and pitfalls, such as:

  • The potential to provide false information
  • The ease of misinterpreting information
  • Ethical concerns (e.g., data privacy and bias)
  • The risk of ignoring medical advice

Therefore, some chatbots have disclaimers that they should not be used to diagnose serious conditions, provide instructions for curing conditions or manage life-threatening issues.

Considerations for Using AI for Self-diagnosis

While generative AI tools may help you quickly answer health-related questions and self-diagnose conditions, solely relying on them for information or medical assistance could be unsafe. However, these tools can be a useful resource to help you obtain accurate and timely health advice and information, as long as you understand their limitations.

Contact your doctor for the most accurate and personalized health care information and guidance.