Talk to your children (and parents) about shared financial future

It’s Thanksgiving week. And if you’re fortunate, you can look around your Thanksgiving table and see several generations of your family. Of course, as you know, many types of cohesiveness are involved in knitting a family together. But one connection that Gary Coonfrequently gets ignored, at least in terms of family dialogue, is the financial linkage between parents and their children on one hand, and these same parents and their parents on the other. So if you find yourself in this “sandwich” group, it may be worth considering your financial position.
If your children are very young, you might want to start by emphasizing the importance of three separate concepts: saving, spending and sharing. If you give them an allowance, or if you pay them to do some minor tasks around the household, you can encourage them to put the money in three separate containers. The “spending” jar is for them to use as they choose, the “saving” jar is to be put in some type of savings or investment account and the “sharing” jar is to be used for contributions to charitable causes. You can extend the spending, saving and sharing themes by encouraging your kids to spend wisely, watch how their savings grow and feel pride in the work done by the charitable groups their dollars support.


Improve your financial picture during ‘open enrollment’

Late fall marks the beginning of the holiday season, which probably means that you’ll have a lot going on over the next couple of months. However, busy as you are, you’ll want to take the time to review your Gary Coonemployee benefits package, since November also is a popular month for employers to offer open enrollment. And the decisions you make now could have a big impact on your financial outlook for years to come.

So, if you are in an open enrollment period, here are some steps you may want to take:
Boost your 401(k) contributions. It’s almost always a good idea to put in as much as you can, up to the contribution limit, in your 401(k) or similar retirement plan. After all, you typically contribute pre-tax dollars, so the more you put in, the lower your taxable income. Also, your money can grow on a tax-deferred basis, which means it has the potential to grow faster than an investment for which you paid taxes every year. At the very least, contribute enough to earn your employer’s match, if one is offered. For example, if you work for an organization that will match 50 percent of everything you put in up to, say, 6 percent of your salary, then you should contribute 6 percent of your salary — which is like getting a three percent raise.


Work toward your own financial Independence Day

On July 4, we shoot fireworks, attend picnics, watch parades and otherwise celebrate our nation’s independence and the many freedoms we enjoy. But as you go through life, you’ll find out how important it is to work towards another type of freedom — financial freedom. That’s why you need to put strategies in place to help you work towards your own Financial Independence Day.Gary Coon
And there’s no way to “sugar-coat” this task, because it will be challenging. In recent years, a combination of factors — including depressed housing prices, rising health care costs, frozen or eliminated pension plans and the financial market plunge of 2008 and early 2009 — has made it more difficult for many of us to accumulate the resources we’ll need to enjoy the retirement lifestyle we’ve envisioned. In fact, the average American family faces a 37 percent shortfall in the income they will need in retirement, according to a recent report by consulting firm McKinsey & Company.


Explore options when purchasing bonds

As an investor, you may find that bonds can be a valuable part of your holdings. But there’s more than one way to own bonds, so you’ll want to be familiar with the various investment vehicles available — because the Gary Coonmore you know, the better the choices you’ll be able to make.
So, let’s look at three popular ways of owning bonds:
Individual bonds —When you buy an individual bond, you will receive predictable interest payments. And when your bond matures, you’ll get the original principal back, unless the issuer defaults, which is not common in cases of “investment grade” bonds. However, the value of your bond — the price you could get for it if you sold it on the open market before it matured — will fluctuate over time, primarily in response to interest rates. (When market rates go up, the value of your bond drops, and vice versa.) In general, you’ll pay at least $5,000 for an individual bond, though that amount may vary. Consequently, while this approach gives you more control, it can be more time consuming and require a larger investment in order to build a diverse fixed-income portfolio.


Investing beyond short-term CDs

Many people depend on certificates of deposit (CDs) to provide extra income. Yet CD rates have been fairly low for a while. In recent months, in fact, one-year CDs were paying about 0.5%, two-year CDs topped out at around 1%, and five-year CDs paid in the 2% Gary Coonto 2. 3% range. Those rates are scanty enough, but they can seem even lower in an economic environment marked by rising food and gas prices.
Before you consider alternatives, keep in mind that CDs still offer a key advantage: safety of principal. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) typically insures CDs up to $250,000. And since CDs are relatively short-term in nature, you don’t have to worry about locking away that money for long periods of time. So there can be a place for CDs in the fixed-income portion of your portfolio.


Call ahead to give soldiers a ‘bright and loud’ welcome home

We ran a Sound Off letter from Kent Johnson a couple of weeks back, and I would like to make mention of it again. It’s a fantastic new program established by Port Clinton Police Chief Rob Hickman and Fire Chief Kent Johnson. They want to establish a program to honor local soldiers and sailors returning from deployment overseas.
“In many circles, there seems to be a better understanding of the sacrifices made by the men and women who serve in the United States Armed Forces,” said Johnson in his letter. “Service men and women still receive applause walking through airports, even though 9/11 was 10 years ago. Chief Hickman and I have been trying to obtain a list of individual service members from the City of Port Clinton currently serving our country.”
It hasn’t been easy. The two chiefs want to give these brave men and women a proper welcome. All they need is 24-hour notice and they will provide a “Bright and Loud” escort from the city limits to the home or meeting place of the returning soldier, sailor, Marine or airman. So, if you have a son, daughter, brother, sister, aunt or uncle who is returning from service overseas, contact Kent at 419-734-3430 and they would be “honored” to announce the return of another American Hero.
One example might be Ben Michael Ihnat of Port Clinton who is seen here receiving his Combat Infantry Badge for being present in a forward area under enemy fire actively engaged in ground combat.


Mitten tree is up and ready for donations

Our Mitten Tree is now up and ready to accept decorations. Every year for the past 25 years (at least), we have collected gloves, mittens, scarves, hats and anything else we can fit on our tree to help keep needy heads, hands and hearts warm this winter. The Holiday Bureau will pick them up in early December for distribution. So, please bring in your contributions to our Mitten Tree to our office in the Beacon Place Business Center on Ohio 53 near the Goodwill Store.


Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas

First of all, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas. This is always a fun time for me because of all the young people we have gotten to know over the years who return home for the John Schaffnerholidays. It is always a big kick to say hello and catch up.

At last report, the Salvation Army was running a bit short on its goal of garnering $55,000 for this holiday season. So, Mayor Debbie Hymore-Tester rolled up her sleeves and challenged Toledo Mayor Mike Bell to a fundraising challenge. It takes place from 4 to 6 p.m. today (Thursday, Dec. 22) at Bassett’s Market! We already know that Mayor Bell raised $167 in two hours of ringing the bell. So, our challenge is to beat that with Mayor Debbie!


More than 400 items collected on Mitten Tree

We did it — we broke the 400 mark for donations to our Mitten Tree! We collected 182 pairs of gloves and mittens, 130 hats and 101 scarves for a total of 413 items to help keep heads, hands and hearts warm this winter. The John Schaffnergood folks at the Salvation Army picked up the last load last Friday so our tree is now empty. Once again, we had many hand-made items this year so there is no doubt that our donors really put a lot of time and heart into this wonder Christmas tradition. Thanks to one and all.

Tonight there will be a little bit more on the line when Port Clinton plays at Oak Harbor in boys’ basketball. There will be a special drawing during the second quarter and at halftime, some lucky contestant will have a chance to make a lay-up, a free throw, a 3-point shot and a half-court shot to win a free 2-year lease on a Ford Escape from Tri Motor Sales in Oak Harbor. If you get this on Wednesday or early Thursday, you might want to call Tri Motors to register at 1-800-336-2931.


Spread the warmth with Mitten Tree donation

The Beacon’s annual Mitten Tree is beginning to fill up with Christmas decorations. Every year for the past 25 years (at least), we have collected gloves, mittens, scarves, hats and anything else we can fit on our tree to help keep needy heads, hands and hearts John Schaffnerwarm this winter. The Holiday Bureau will pick them up in early December for distribution. So, please bring contributions to the Mitten Tree to our office in the Beacon Place Business Center on Ohio 53 near the Goodwill Store.

Ryan Francis, the brother of local Chiropractor Dr. Kevin Francis, is in the military in Afghanistan. He is training Afghan troops there. He tells us that the Afghan soldiers are in need of clean socks, underwear and T-shirts. They are only issued one per person. They are also required to provide their own footwear. So, Dr. Francis has set up a collection box at his office at 122 W. Second St. in downtown Port Clinton across from the Post Office.

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