Family Values – Protecting Your Loved Ones

Today’s families often find themselves in a flurry of activity that revolves around work, the home, and growing children. Day-to-day family life also means paying the bills, buying groceries and clothes, and spending vacation time with family and friends. It’s all a part of the life many of us take for granted. Sometimes, in our quieter moments, we may envision a future when we can finally sit back and relax, away from all the rush.

Unfortunately, life may sometimes bring with it an unexpected twist. Because many families today depend on two incomes to maintain a standard of living, the tragic death of a spouse can dramatically change everything. Even with single-income families, the at-home spouse may provide incalculable services such as maintaining the home and rearing the children.

If one income suddenly stops, the impact on your family`s finances and lifestyle could be devastating. This is where life insurance can be of great value. Adequate insurance can help replace the income of a spouse or provide additional income so your children will be adequately cared for and family life will continue to run on course.

To underscore this point, look at the income in real dollars if both you and your spouse work. What would the extent of that lost income cost your family? The other side of the problem is how much cash would it take to replace all that the “non-working” spouse contributes to your family? Things become even more complicated if you have a child with special needs. If your non-working spouse is providing care for that child, who will handle those duties in the event of your spouse’s death? Insurance may help ensure the child continues receiving the proper care.

Consequently, the larger point to be emphasized is the importance of continuing to work with a financial professional who is knowledgeable about insurance, who values his or her relationship with you, and who will make recommendations that are in your best interest. Annual insurance reviews are the best way to ensure that your comprehensive insurance program is fulfilling the objective of protecting your financial security.

How Crime-Resistant Is Your Business?

Crime and violence seem to be everywhere – on the nightly news, in the movies, on television programs, maybe even at a business down the street from you. You probably never think it will find its way to your company. Unfortunately, crime is often random in occurrence and there’s no way of knowing who will be the next victim. Regardless of the type of business you own, workplace security is essential.

Crime-proofing your business is not as complicated as it sounds. There are many different options from which to choose, enabling you to find something that works best for your needs. Here are just a few ideas:

  1. Quality Doors and Locks

    The number one precaution is to have a metal or solid wood door and cylinder locks that resist kicking, drilling, and beating. Some lock manufacturers offer the added benefit of keys that can only be duplicated on specially designed machines, which are not available at standard key shops and hardware stores.

  2. Remote Control Locks

    To protect your office and employees during the day, as well as at night, you may want to consider a remote control lock. While their features vary, the general purpose is to let you decide who should be admitted. A video camera displays the visitor.

  3. Video Surveillance Cameras

    Cameras can help catch criminals in the act, ultimately aiding in identification. They are available in both stationary or mobile models.

  4. Proper Identification and Security Personnel

    The addition of security personnel can help minimize the threat of burglary, especially for companies with large facilities and grounds. Companies with many employees may find great benefit in adding a security/employee check-in system, which can include identification badges.

  5. Office Safes

    If you purchase an office safe, make sure it is big enough, so it can’t be easily carried off by burglars. You may want to bypass purchasing a safe with a manual combination lock, since employees may not always take the time to re-scramble it after they close the door. Safes with electronic keypads eliminate this hassle, making them less likely to be left unlocked.

  6. Heat and Motion Detectors

    These detectors monitor changes in heat and/or motion, and respond with an alarm or bright lights. While they can be highly effective, they are not a good idea if you have a workplace watchdog that might trigger the detector.

If you are going to invest in an alarm system, the best choice is one that directly alerts a private security agency or local police station. However, an alarm that rings on the property can also help by either scaring off a burglar or attracting the attention of someone nearby.

No matter what steps you take to safeguard your business, they should always be accompanied by the proper crime insurance.

Cash Flow Alternatives for Achieving Life’s Goals

One of life’s ongoing challenges is developing effective strategies for achieving your goals and wishes within the confines of your particular financial circumstances. Each stage of your life can create new financial challenges like sending your child to college, remodeling your home, caring for an elderly relative, or starting your own business.

Even when your overall financial situation appears relatively secure, your available cash flow may be constrained. Should you be faced with such a dilemma, here are some alternative sources of cash that may assist you in financing your various life stage goals:

IRA Distributions

You can take distributions from your traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA) at anytime. However, you will have to pay income taxes on these distributions. In addition, if you are under age 59, your distributions may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty.

There are no penalty taxes incurred on early distributions due to disability, for medical care expenses to the extent allowable as a tax deduction, or if the withdrawal is part of a series of equal periodic payments based on your life expectancy. Also, bear in mind that by taking premature distributions, you are sacrificing the benefits of tax deferral and may put your retirement goals at risk.

Borrowing from Your 401(k) Plan

Some plans may allow you to take an income tax-free loan from your 401(k). Interest rates are generally comparable to those of commercial loans. However, failure to repay the loan within a specified period of time (typically five years) may lead to penalties and potentially void the tax-deferred status you enjoy under the plan.

If you terminate your employment, your employer may demand repayment within 60 days, and you might owe taxes and penalties on the unpaid balance. Perhaps most important, borrowing from your 401(k) can defeat the plan’s ultimate purpose building tax-deferred savings to help provide retirement income.

Life Insurance Policy Loans

If you own a cash value life insurance policy, in most instances, you can borrow against the policy’s cash value. In actuality, a policy loan is a loan in which an interest is also charged on the outstanding balance.. Additionally, if the policy lapses while the loan was still outstanding, then the policy owner would receive a Form 1099R from the insurance company, which could create a taxable event for the policy owner.

You need not promise to repay a policy loan (although you may repay it). However, if it is not repaid prior to your death, it will be deducted from the death benefit proceeds of the policy. It is important to consider the potential effects this may have on your beneficiaries.

Equity Loans

If you are a homeowner, you may be able to access a significant portion of the equity on your principal residence through a combination of first and second mortgages and equity loans. Rates on such loans are traditionally low. However, keep in mind that home equity is not a limitless pot of gold that can be dipped into at will; it needs to be refilled, and refilled with interest, within a specified period of time.

You must always remember that you are ultimately putting your home on the line, for the loan’s purpose. Therefore, you should cautiously use such funds. For instance, it may be considered unwise to trade off the equity in your house, which is a tangible, long-term asset, for the sake of items that are easily consumed, such as vacations, clothing, or jewelry.

Bank Loans

Borrowing from a bank is always an alternative, especially if your credit history is good, you meet certain financial requirements, and your intended use of the borrowed funds will help you achieve a well-defined goal. Loans for education or to start up a business are fairly common. However, when considering loans from a bank, it is important to be sure you can meet the monthly loan payments.

Credit Cards

The ever-increasing availability of credit card loans has resulted in a tempting, yet expensive, borrowing option. Credit cards can be a good source of quick cash when you are certain you will be able to promptly repay the loan. However, because credit card loans often carry very high interest rates and finance charges, they can be unnecessarily expensive.

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