Cla may 2011


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“CLA USA, Inc. is a financial services company with a safe and conservative approach to asset preservation philosophy. From IRA’s to surviving spouse needs...CLA USA focuses on the areas that concern you the most.”

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Cla may 2011

  1. 1. │ ASCLA LUSA │ JULY 2010 │ 1-888-404-6848 CLA A USA │ JULY 2010 │ 1-888-404-6848 U C
  2. 2. The “Imbalance” of Interest Rates and Inflation By Steve Hill, CLA USA Advance Planning SpecialistIt has been nearly 3 ½ years since the Federal Reserve Board began reducing interest rates. Ten consecutive reductionslater, we have an interest rate environment that leaves people wondering “When will it end?”Historically, very low interest rate environments havetypically been short lived. In those cases, rolling over shortterm fixed accounts is a prudent strategy that allows forhigher interest rates at maturity.This time, however, that strategy has not worked. Combinethis with the fact that the current yield curve does not re-ward the longer term investor much either, many haveasked: “Why lock into a low-yielding long term accountand miss the increase that is projected by many econo-mists?”But that is only the half of what is affecting consumers to-day. If your grocery bills seem higher lately, you are notimagining things. The cost of food is rising faster than any other period since 1974. Grocery prices increased 6.5% thefirst quarter of 2011, an annualized increase of 26% according to a report from Consumer Growth Partners. Energyprices have surged 11%, and gasoline has increased 31% in just the last 6 months. Despite what we hear from the Fed-eral Reserve, inflation is here!So, why does the Federal Reserve Chairman continue to say that inflation “remains subdued”? The answer is that he isreferring to core inflation. Core inflation is a broad measure of inflation that excludes food and energy costs. It ignoresthe very costs that many Americans are struggling to pay.These increases are hitting retirees the hardest. Social Security has not provided a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)since 2008. No COLA increases, combined with historically low interest rates over an extended period of time and ris-ing prices on items that consumers cannot do without, leaves many retirees not knowing which way to turn. They findthemselves simply borrowing from savings until things get better.But for things to get better, the economy would need to experience a broad expansion that leads to higher interest ratesacross the board that simultaneously decelerates the continued inflation on consumer goods. Unfortunately, thoseevents do not typically coincide with each other.For these economic climates, the “wait and see” strategy can deplete savings beyond recovery. Proper planning canprepare you for any of the possibilities that lie ahead. CLA agents have many solutions for these conditions, many ofwhich can provide inflation protection and higher guaranteed income that you can’t outlive.Contact CLA today to learn more about these solutions. If you have any questions regarding this article, please contact our offices to schedule an appointment with one of our agents. Our toll free number is 1-888-404-6848, Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5:00pm Central Time.
  3. 3. Salt Is Even Worse Than They Say Just a little less a day can help you live longerYou know salt is bad for you, but you may not realize just how bad it is. Fact: A diet that is high in salt is almost guaranteed toraise blood pressure. Hypertension is a leading cause of heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. And even in people with normal blood pressure, excessive salt stiffens the arteries and increases the risk for heart enlargement, heart failure and other cardiovascular and kidney diseases. The problem is that salt attracts water. A high-salt diet draws water into the bloodstream. This in- creases the volume of blood and forces the heart to pump harder. A NATIONAL THREAT Last month, the American Heart Association urged federal officials to adopt a new recommended upper limit for salt of 1,500 milligrams (mg) a day. Most Americans consume more than double that amount. Some Americans consume up to 10,000 mg daily. Also, the American Heart Association, along with health agencies in New York City and else- where, is promoting a campaign (the National Salt Reduction Initiative) to reduce the amount of salt in packaged and restaurant foods by 25% over five years. That’s a good start, but it’s far from enough. LIVE LONGER The average adult who reduces his/her salt intake to the recommended level can expect to have a reduction in systolic blood pressure (top number) of six to seven points and a reduction in diastolic pressure (bottom number) of three to four points. For patients with mild-to-moderate hypertension,that might be enough by itself to achieve healthy blood pressure. For those with higher pressure who are taking medication, alower-salt diet could allow them to take a lower dose.A study conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School and other institutions found that people with slightly elevated bloodpressure who reduced their salt intake by 25% to 30% were about 25% less likely to have a heart attack or stroke 10 to 15 yearslater than those who didn’t curtail salt. On average, the participants who achieved healthier blood pressure reduced their salt intakeby only about one teaspoon daily.HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED?To be clear, we all need some salt. It contains sodium, an electrolyte thataids in the transmission of nerve impulses, controls muscle contractionsand helps maintain healthy hydration and blood pressure. The body does-n’t make salt, so you need to get it from foods.However, no one needs more than 500 mg of sodium daily. In otherwords, the recommended amount is an upper limit. The less salt you con-sume, the better—it would be very difficult in the US to consume too littlesalt. The kidneys are very efficient at retaining sodium—a little goes along way.SALT SENSITIVITYAn even lower sodium intake is essential for those who are salt-sensitive.About 26% of Americans with normal blood pressure, and up to 58% ofthose with hypertension, exhibit rapid rises in blood pressure even whenthey have small amounts of salt. These people should try to consume lessthan 1,500 mg of sodium daily.There isn’t a test for sodium sensitivity. Those who are most likely to haveit include people 55 years old or older... African Americans... and those with metabolic syndrome, a combination of disorders thatincludes insulin resistance, a high waist circumference (central obesity) and other factors.
  4. 4. POTASSIUM HELPSOne way to reduce the effects of a high-sodium diet on blood pressure is to consume more potassium. It can lower blood pressurealmost as much as decreasing sodium.Try to get at least two times more potassium in your diet than sodium. If you take in 2,000 mg of sodium a day, aim for 4,000 mgor more of potassium. In societies with a higher potassium-to-sodium ratio—where people consume three or even four timesmore potassium than sodium—the rate of hypertension is far lower than in the US. High-potassium foods include fruits, vegetables, beans and low-fat dairy products. Examples (these are one-cup servings unless otherwise noted)... Apricots (dried) 10 halves, 407 mg Banana (raw), 594 mg Beans (baked), 752 mg Beets (cooked), 519 mg Cantaloupe, 494 mg Milk, skim, 407 mg Orange juice, 496 mg Potato (one average potato, baked), 1,081 mg Raisins ½ cup, 544 mg Spinach (cooked), 839 mg Tomato sauce, 909 mgCaution: If you have kidney disease, talk to your doctorabout the amount of potassium that is safe for you.HOW TO CUT BACKAbout 70% of the salt in our diets comes from packaged foodsand foods prepared in restaurants. A McDonald’s DoubleCheeseburger, for example, contains 1,150 mg of sodium. Atypical frozen dinner contains nearly 800 mg, and even a bowlof raisin bran might have more than 340 mg. The most effectivestrategy is to avoid processed foods and prepare low-salt meals at home.About 30% of the salt that Americans consume is added at the table or during cooking.Some people can train their taste buds to enjoy less salty foods, but many people can’t.My advice: Use potassium chloride instead of the usual sodium chloride. Differentbrands, such as NoSalt, are available. The taste is very close to regular table salt. Bonus:The potassium helps counteract the effects of sodium elsewhere in the diet. IS SEA SALT HEALTHIER? Companies promote sea salt as a healthier choice than table salt. Don’t believe it. Regular table salt is almost pure sodium chloride. Typical sea salt contains about 55% chloride, 31% sodium, 4% magnesium and 1% potassium, along with trace amounts of other min- erals. That sounds healthier than table salt, but it’s still 86% sodium chloride. The differ- ence is insignificant. EXERCISE IS NOT AN EXCUSE Many people think that they need more salt when they exercise or on hot days when they perspire heavily. The sports-drink industry has made a fortune from this widespread be- lief. It’s not true. During exercise, the body actually retains sodium in the sweat glands. The minerals that are lost in perspiration are mainly potassium and magnesium, not so- dium. You don’t need a sodium-spiked beverage to replace fluids. Just drink more water. Reprinted with the permission of: Bottom Line Publications Boardroom Inc. 281 Tresser Blvd., 8th floor Stamford, CT 06901
  5. 5. The coverage, lowerNow better Time is rates BY MORGAN RYAN, ARMDid you know that this is the besttime ever to shop for personal insurance? Rates you save money on your insurance. Companies may offer premium discounts if you take stepsare as inexpensive as they’ve ever been AND to reduce the chances of a loss. Each company sets the amount of the discounts it offers to itsThis is evident with an insurance commercial policyholders.every time you turn on the TV, radio, or internet.fangled discounts that may not have existed Perhaps the biggest discount out there is being “continuously insured with last time you shopped. Discounts can help another company” discount. That one is the biggest, and the fact is – the only company that can’t give you that discount is your current insurance company. I’ve seen that one cut 20-30% off the premium of some policies right away. As I said – best time ever to shop. Homeowners Discounts •Impact-resistant or noncombustible roofs •Automatic sprinkler systems/Fire extinguishers •Age of house •Premises in good condition •House insured to full replacement cost •Good claims experience for three consecutive years •Marking personal property with an identifying number •Multi-policy discount •Senior citizens discount
  6. 6. If you’re like me, you never wantto be sold something, but buying things can be works for the insurance company, and only sells that companies’ products. An independentquite enjoyable. Every insurance company has insurance agent works for you and has accessan “appetite” – classes of business, or groups of to all insurance companies (except captiveindividuals they like to write. There are insurance companies). The distinction between captive agents and independent agents is one of agency,they like... drivers over the age of 65, teachers,insureds with good credit, bad credit, live inthis or that zip code. Little known fact: someinsurance companiesappetite is very, verythey “like you” they’ll History doesn’t have to be repeated.more coverage for If you have always paid high premiums for minimal coverage, it is time to shop for insurance.I myself recentlyshopped my homeand auto insurance,switched, and saved big.I had been with USAAand assumed for years, they were the BEST. EST. TI ended up going with a policy from Kemper thatgave me more coverage, cut my deductible in ehalf, and cut my premium by almost 30%. 0%.I just happened to fall into their appetiteclass. The point is you have many manyoptions out there. Some of which youmay be unaware.One key to shopping for orinsurance is getting good information, so you automobile Discountscan know your options to make a good decision. •Level of Education/VocationFinding a good insurance agent to help you •Defensive driving courseswade through all your options can make a huge •Students with good gradesdifference. All I’m looking for in an insurance agent •Young driver is away at school without a caris someone who’s knowledgeable and has accessto all the insurance markets available. During •Airbags and automatic seatbeltsthis process you have to be acutely aware of the •Automatic daytime running lightsdifferences between captive and independent •Antilock brakes/ antitheft devicesinsurance agents. The difference is fairly straight •Multi-vehicle and Multi-policy discountforward, and often misunderstood: A captive •Driver age and annual mileage drivenagent (Geico, State Farm, Farmers, AllState) •Policy renewal with good claims and driving records
  7. 7. The Golden Age of the American Automobile The 60’s and TodayRemember the cars of the 60’s? Chevy Impala, Ford Galaxie 500, Plymouth Fury, Ford Mustang, and Chevy Camaro just to name afew. Style was king and horsepower was in abundance. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler controlled 95% of the US auto market.When you add American Motors (AMC) the market share increased to 97%. Foreign auto makers such as VW, Toyota and Datsun(now known as Nissan) were not “real” considerations for most Americans. Cadillac was truly the standard of the world, not Mer-cedes-Benz or Lexus. The best minds in the world worked in Detroit designing, engineering and building the best automobiles onthe planet and the American public was enjoying the bounty of riches. Remember how every new model year would change the style just enough so that it was easy to see the difference from year to year. Remember all of the Television commercials in September for the new year models. The car jingles were a big part of the new model year. Remember “See the USA in your Chevrolet”? You heard the jingles on the radio as much as TV. General Motors was the dominate force in the automobile industry. Most Americans understood that you started with a Chevrolet, then 3-4 years later as your income increased you moved up to a sporty Pontiac. Once the Pontiac was 3-4 years old and you were pro- moted to management the Oldsmobile was next. The next step was Buick known as the Doctor’s choice. The top was Cadillac when a person made it “really” big. Income in the 60’s increased for most Americans and General Motors was the choice for most with over 50% market share in every year in the 60’s. The American automobile of the 60’s was a part of the American experience as strong as it ever was and ever has been. Some may say that today’s cars just can’t compare. Let’s compare a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro SS to a 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS • Average Fuel Economy - 15 miles per gallon for the 1968 vs. 20 miles per gallon for the 2011 • Acceleration - 0-60 mph 6.0 seconds for the 1968 vs. 4.7 seconds for the 2011 • Warranty - 1 yr,/12,000 miles for the 1968 vs. 3yr/36,000 for the 2011 • Braking - 60 mph to zero, 155 ft for the 1968 vs. 110 ft for the 2011 • Price - $4,500 for the 1968 vs. $33,500 for the 2011The newer Camaro has a big advantage. The cost of the 1968Camaro is much lower, but when you factor the median Familyincome in 1968 of $8,632, compared with today of $60,088,the cost of the new Camaro is only 7% more in today’s dol-lars. The engine life of the 1968 Camaro was about 100,000miles. The new Camaro is at least 150,000 miles with nochecking the oil levels every time you fill up the gas tank asthe 1968 would need. When you add up all of the safety fea-tures and electronics of the new Camaro over the 68 yearmodel, the advantage is large.Is the new Camaro better, the answer is yes and no? The performance is clearly superior. The older Camaro is more stylish, easierto work on and it has an advantage the newer one can’t match. The memories and impact on the generation of that day, whether itwas a 68 Camaro or a 55 Bel Air that was “your” car, our grandchildren will likely have the same emotions about the classics oftoday.
  8. 8. Dealing with Aging ParentsOver the years at our seminars, I have met many people who are in their 50’s, who struggle with the changes life canbring as our parents’ age. CLA clients range from the age of 50 to 80+. For those of you in your 50’s and 60’s withparents still alive this is an issue that is real. They used to take us to school—now we take them to the doctor. Theyworried about our friends—now we worry about new people in their lives. They helped us move out of the house—now we are moving them in with us.People often ask me, “What do I do?” The truth is that there is no easy answer. Every family is different. Every situa-tion is different. Here are some things to think about: Involve your parents in the decision-making process. Listen to them, respect them, and have compassion for their situation. Work together. It’s not easy to ask for help. Monitor any activity that may pose risks to safety (i.e., cooking, driving, operating machinery). Monitor eating habits and exercise. Are they getting proper nutri- tion and hydration? Are they active or sitting at home? Find out where legal and financial paperwork is being kept and what financial and health advisors are involved with your parents. There will come a time when you need to know. Educate yourself as to available resources in your parent’s commu- nity should you need help in the future. If your parent is uncommunicative, consult a legal or financial pro- fessional to learn your options. Often, an objective third party can help calm otherwise difficult circumstances. Use the internet to educate yourself about a particular condition or disease. The more you know, the better equipped you will be. If you live long distance, call regularly. Set up a network of family, friends, and neighbors that can keep you in- formed. Discuss possible living arrangements before a crisis is upon you. Be realistic.These issues are often uncomfortable to deal with. In reality, many times they are even tough to think about. But, wemust. We owe it to our parents and ourselves to work through these issues now, when we have the opportunity. If weput it off, it might be too late.Above all, remember this. Your parents love you and you love them. If you keep this in mind it will be hard to gowrong. If you have any questions regarding this article, please contact our offices to schedule an appointment with one of our agents. Our toll free number is 1-888-404-6848, Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5:00pm Central Time. CLA does not give legal, investment or tax advice. Only an attorney can provide legal advice. You should consult with your own attor- ney to discuss your specific estate planning needs. You should always consult with your tax professional on issues related to taxes.
  9. 9. How to Make Good-for-You Fish Taste Good, TooWe all know that we should eat plenty of fish for our health, but sometimes we aren’t sure how to cook it at home so that it is trulyappealing. While researching my book The Flavors of the Florida Keys, I interviewed many chefs who specialize in cooking fish. Iasked for their advice on how to make it delicious. One thing they all told me is to get the freshest fish possible. If very fresh fish isnot available, the next best choice is fish that has been flash frozen.Also important is not to overcook it. Measure a fish fillet at its thickest part, and allow eight minutes of cooking time per inch ofthickness. The fish will continue to cook in its own heat a few minutes after it is removed from the fire. Fish is cooked when themeat just begins to flake easily with a fork and has just turned opaque rather than translucent.Easy-to-make fish recipes from the Florida Keys…HEAVENLY HOGFISH AND TOMATOES The Chefs at Hawks Cay resort on Duck Key buy their fish from the fishing captains when they return each day. One of their favorites is hogfish, a very delicate white fish, but you can substitute any type of white fish fillet, such as flounder or tilapia. ¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons butter, divided use 1½ pounds hogfish fillets (or any white fish fillet, such as flounder or tilapia) Juice from one lemon Salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 Tablespoons chopped chives 6 garlic cloves, crushed ½ cup sliced shallots ¼ cup white wine 2 cups diced tomatoes 2 Tablespoons mango cubes, pureed in a food processor, or 1 Tablespoon prepared mango puree (optional)Heat one-quarter cup of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fish, and sauté for four minutes. (If using athick fish, cook it for eight minutes per inch of thickness.) Remove to a plate, drizzle lemon juice over the fillets, and add salt andpepper to taste. Sprinkle with chopped chives. Cover with foil to keep warm.Add the remaining two tablespoons of butter to the same skillet. Add the garlic and shallots. Sauté for one minute. Add the whitewine. Cook one minute more. Add the tomatoes, and cook for two minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the mango puree.Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide the fish among four plates, and spoon the tomatoes over the top and on the side. Serves four.HORSERADISH-ENCRUSTED GROUPER This recipe was given to me by a chef from the HarborHouse Restaurant as she waited to buy fish from a local fisher-man. Any thick, firm fish fillet can be used. 1 cup mayonnaise 3 Tablespoons prepared horseradish ¼ cup flour 1½ pounds grouper fillets (or any firm fish fillets, such as mahi mahi) ¼ cup panko bread crumbs 2 Tablespoons olive oil Salt and freshly ground black pepperMix the mayonnaise and horseradish together in a bowl. Place the flour on a plate, and dip the fish into the flour and then into themayonnaise mixture, making sure all sides are coated. Place the bread crumbs on a second plate, and dip the fish into the breadcrumbs, coating all sides. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the fish. Cook for four minutes, turn and cook fourminutes more for a one-inch fillet. The fish should be golden. Remove to four dinner plates, and sprinkle with salt and pepper totaste. Serves four.
  10. 10. BASQUE-STYLE TUNA This is from Chef Jose Palomino, whose Spanish Gardens restaurant is in Islamorada. 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided use 2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced (about 6 cups) ¼ cup lemon juice Pinch of coarse sea salt 2 pounds yellowfin (ahi) tuna (or tilapia, cod or sea bass) ½ cup brandy Salt and freshly ground black pepper 11/3 cups bottled roasted red peppers, drained and slicedHeat one-half cup of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, and gently sauté 15 to 20 minutes until golden. Meanwhile, place the remaining half cup of olive oil, lemon juice and coarse sea salt in a self-seal plastic bag. Add tuna andmarinate 10 minutes, turning once during that time.When the onions are golden, add the brandy and cook for two to three minutes over high heat.When ready to serve, remove the tuna from the marinade. Heat a heavy-bottomed (cast-iron if possible) skillet over high heat.The skillet must be very hot. Add the tuna, and sear for one minute on each side for rare tuna.For medium-rare, remove the skillet from the heat and cover with a lid. Let sit for one minute or longer if desired. (If using otherfish besides tuna, cook it using the eight-minute-per-inch rule.)Salt and pepper the cooked sides to taste. Place the tuna on four plates, and spoon the onions on top. Arrange the roasted peppersover the onions. Serves four.Reprinted with the permission of: Moving? Be sure to contact our offices at 1-888-404-6848 andBottom Line Publications update your address & phone number so we may continue toBoardroom Inc. provide you the excellent service you have come to expect.281 Tresser Blvd., 8th floorStanford, CT 06901