Retirement Planning Strategies - October 2017

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OCTOBER 2017

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Your Future Is Not a Budget Item A s I’m sure many of you are aware, Congress recently negotiated a deal with President Trump to push back budget negotiations

HOW TO PLAN FOR UNEXPECTED CHANGE

When a RIF occurs, the first step is always to offer an early out to qualified employees. Ask yourself if you’re willing to take an early out. If not, you may want to wait until round two, when buyouts are added to sweeten the pot. Only after these steps do involuntary cuts occur. Nobody gets an anvil dropped on their head out of the blue, even if the office gossip makes it feel that way. If you do take an early out, the next question you need to ask yourself is “Will I still need to work?” If so, how much do you need to earn? Set up these contingencies early, and you’ll be taking a more active role in your planning. Nobody wants to go to work one day thinking everything is fine and be contemplating an early out the next. You don’t need to act like the sky is falling, but watching the clouds is still worthwhile. Whenever I speak with clients, we are always developing plans for the future. When you’re a government employee, it can certainly feel like your future is up to the whims of policy makers, but you have

a lot more power than you think. These conversations come up every October, and they’ll return when the new budget deadline arrives again. Almost always, the looming deadline causes more concern and anxiety than anything that happens after it passes. If you’ve been a federal employee long enough, you know that policy change and administrative turnover is simply a fact of life. You’ve probably made it through more budget negotiations than you even realize. When you’ve made it through contentious Congress debates, government shutdowns, and decades of a party turnover at every level of government, you shouldn’t let a regular budget negotiation keep you up at night. What you should do is keep your eye toward the future. Annual meetings, proactive thinking, and understanding your benefits and options will leave you on solid ground no matter what happens when Congress hashes out the budget. – Ann Vanderslice

three months beyond the standard October 1 deadline. Budget discussions always bring with them plenty of office scuttlebutt and watercooler talk. Looming budget cuts are a little bit like something that’s also been in the news recently: hurricanes. Everyone is wondering if there will be a reduction in force (RIF) in their agencies and if they’ll end up caught in the eye of the storm. can have on a government agency, and it’s important to understand what the worst- case scenario is for your situation. That being said, the worst-case scenario rarely ends up happening, and there’s plenty you can do to mitigate its impact. If you plan for the worst and do everything you can to control the factors over which you have some agency (sorry for the pun), suddenly the situation doesn’t seem so scary. Creating your own options leaves you less at the mercy of forces that you cannot affect. Now, I don’t want to understate the impact that budget deals and new fiscal years

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Before It Starts 4 WAYS YOU MAY BE ABLE TO PREVENT DEMENTIA

From the moment you wake up in the morning, it feels like a dense fog fills your head. When you drag yourself out of bed and go to make yourself a plate of eggs and toast, it suddenly seems like a much more complicated task than before. You lose track of time, and the smell of smoke enters your nostrils. Frantically turning the burner off, it occurs to you that you can’t remember the day of the week. According to Time Magazine, 47 million people around the world live with some type of dementia. Typically, as we age, we’re told that all we can do is hope for the best and bide our time until there’s a cure, but recent research by the Alzheimer’s Research Center paints a different picture. A set of simple

lifestyle changes may be the key to staving off cognitive decline as we get older.

been linked to heart health are the DASH diet (dashdiet.org) and the Mediterranean diet. Frequent social engagement may help keep your brain sharp. Make efforts to speak face to face with someone you’re close to as often as you can. Try to make new friends, volunteer, join a club or social group, get to know your neighbors, or connect with people over social media. Mental stimulation may also be important to brain health as we age. Study something new to you, such as a foreign language or a musical instrument. Make reading books and newspapers part of your regular routine. Try doing crossword or sudoku puzzles. It’s not difficult to find an activity you enjoy that will also help keep your brain active.

Regular exercise has been shown to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s by up to 50 percent, according to Help Guide, and it can even slow the onset of already-present cognitive decline. Walk or swim for about 150 minutes each week, along with two to three sessions of moderate resistance training, as well as balance and coordination exercises. Check out eldergym.com for more info on staying active as you age. Heart-healthy eating may also protect the brain. Limit your intake of sugar and saturated fats and eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Replace butter and margarine with olive or canola oil. Two diets that have

Is Semi-Retirement Right for You? THERE’S NO RIGHT WAY TO RETIRE Some folks anticipate the end of their working days with breathless excitement. For others, an entirely empty calendar causes more anxiety than it does anticipation. When you end your career as a federal employee, you should be able to fill your days however you see fit, even if that includes taking on another job part-time or on a freelance basis. More people are opting for semi-retirement every year, successfully balancing a little extra work (and income) with family time and hobbies.

The nice thing about working after you retire from your primary career is that you can do it on your own terms. Maybe you’ll enjoy working a few hours per week, or maybe you’ve always wanted to sell the fruits of your creative labor. Now is the time to give these pursuits a shot. Plenty of us find intrinsic value in working, especially when we get to decide what that work is, and you don’t need to lose that value because you reach a certain age. If you are considering semi-retirement, you should still plan as if you are going to fully retire. Semi-retirement pursuits rarely

yield a significant amount of money, and you don’t want to be forced to pivot back into full-time employment due to improper planning. It should also be noted that taking on a little work during retirement will still allow you to keep the full benefits you earned during your tenure as a federal employee. No matter how you choose to retire, proper financial planning is crucial to ensuring you get the most out of your days. If that involves traveling the world and spending time with the grandkids, great. But if you feel awkward about wanting to work after

your primary career ends, you shouldn’t. After all, retirement is about doing what you’ve always wanted.

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A Slam-Dunk Look at Success Phil Knight’s “Shoe Dog”

“We wanted Nike to be the world’s best sports and fitness company. Once you say that, you have a focus. You don’t end up making wing tips or sponsoring the next Rolling Stones world tour.” –Phil Knight When an entrepreneur or company becomes massively successful, it’s easy to construct a narrative that makes that success seem like destiny. They look back on the past with rose-colored glasses, interpreting every decision as a stepping stone on their way to eventual victory. Of course, real success stories are never this linear. Honest accounts of what it takes to dominate an industry are hard to come by, which makes Nike CEO Phil Knight’s “Shoe Dog” a refreshing change of pace from the standard business memoir. If there’s one word that best describes “Shoe Dog,” it’s “candid.” Knight gives equal space to his successes, failings, and insecurities. He also isn’t afraid to admit when luck was the deciding factor. Take the story of famous

Nike swoosh, for example. These days, it’s universally regarded as one of the greatest logos ever conceived. Knight could easily claim that he saw its brilliance from the get-go, but that’s not what happened. When an art student came up with the design — for the meager price of $35 — Knight’s response was, “It’ll have to do.” That’s not to say that Knight isn’t a visionary in many ways. In the early days of Nike, Knight hustled to an extreme degree. Even when he was selling track shoes out of his trunk, his belief never wavered. Signing Michael Jordan in 1984 revolutionized not just the athletic shoe industry, but celebrity sponsorship in general. He surrounded

himself with smart, capable people, expanded sensibly, and never lost sight of his vision. If you want a book that gives you simple, cliché takeaways about how to become massively successful, “Shoe Dog” is not the book for you. If, instead, you crave what Bill Gates calls an “honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like,” then you should check it out. With a personal perspective, suspense, and more than a few wild anecdotes, “Shoe Dog” soars in a way few business books manage to. But, then again, that’s what Knight’s shoes have always promised to help athletes do.

Train Your

BRAIN!

AND BARLEY SOUP SAUSAGE It’s a great time of year to warm up with a cup of soup, and this comforting, guilt-free dish comes together in a flash.

INGREDIENTS

Recipe courtesy of CookingLight.com.

• 2 cups water • 1 (141/2-ounce) can

• 1/4 cup uncooked quick- cooking barley • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh baby spinach

• Cooking spray • 6 ounces turkey breakfast sausage • 21/2 cups frozen bell pepper stir-fry 1. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sausage; DIRECTIONS

Italian-style stewed tomatoes, undrained and chopped

mixture to a boil over high heat; cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in spinach; cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts.

2. While sausage cooks, place stir-fry and 2 cups water in a blender; process until smooth. 3. Add stir-fry puree, tomatoes, and barley to sausage in pan. Bring

cook 3 minutes or until browned. Remove from heat.

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issue INSIDE THIS Your Future Is Not a Budget Item PAGE 1

Can You Prevent Dementia Before It Starts? PAGE 2

Is Semi-Retirement Right for You? PAGE 2 A Slam-Dunk Look at Success PAGE 3

Sausage and Barley Soup PAGE 3

The Origins of Fear PAGE 4

Which Fears Are Instinctual, and Which Are Learned? THE ORIGINS OF FEAR

Where does fear come from? As the jack-o’-lanterns show their grinning, glowing faces and skeletons, cobwebs, and gravestones adorn yards around the neighborhood, it’s a question hanging in many of our minds. When you recoil from the giant mechanical spider suspended above your neighbor’s garage, is that fear instinctual, or is it learned? According to the Association for Psychological Science, there are only two fears we inherit at birth: the fear of falling and the fear of loud sounds.

A 1960 study, conducted by psychologists Gibson and Walk for Cornell University, sought to investigate depth perception in human and animal species. They suspended a sheet of transparent plexiglass about 4 feet off the ground and covered one half of it with a checkerboard-pattern cloth, creating a simulated cliff. Infants, both human and animal, were then encouraged by their caregivers, usually their mothers, to crawl off the “cliff” onto the clear half of the platform. Both avoided stepping over what they perceived as a sharp drop, and pre- crawling-age infants showed heightened cardiac distress on the “suspended” side.

Coupled with this innate fear of plummeting to the ground is something called the Moro reflex, one of several involuntary reflexes healthy newborn infants have at birth. Often called the “startle reflex,” it occurs when a baby is startled by a loud sound or movement, especially a falling motion. The reflex usually triggers the newborn to lift and spread their arms as if grasping for support, followed by crying. Though the Moro reflex usually disappears at around 5 to 6 months of age, our instinctive aversion to sudden loud noises stays with us throughout our lives.

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