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THERE CAN BE OPPORTUNITY IN CRISIS If You Make a Plan to Find It
As I write this newsletter at the beginning of April, we have no way of knowing what might change by the time it reaches your hands. But what we do know is that the current state of the world is something important to talk about, no matter where we are on its timeline. When a mandated home-quarantine occurs, it stirs an interesting reaction in people. Being told we “can’t” do certain things makes us feel like we need to do something. But how do we draw the line between a thoughtful, measured response and an instinctual, emotional reaction? When control is taken away, our natural instinct is to try to regain that control. We respond by wanting to be productive when circumstances make that more difficult. It’s hard to see when you’re stuck in the middle of it, but opportunities often arise from crisis events like the one we’re currently facing. People are pursuing hobbies and passions that they’ve always wanted to do but maybe never had the time for. Others are discovering new trades and making plans to better prepare for their futures because current events have brought so much to light.
For example, if the current state of the economy has caused you to reconsider retiring soon, then you’re going to start looking at other aspects of your life where you can regain control. Now is an excellent time to assess your current plans and strategies and see if there’s anything that needs to be modified as a result of this change. In fact, this is a good practice for everyone right now because opportunities are knocking. Most Americans are going to receive a stimulus payment of $1,200. If you’re a retired employee, a federal employee, or someone who doesn’t depend on this payment for necessary expenses, you have a great opportunity to use it to plan for your future. Consider putting that payment into a Roth investement retirement account. It might not be a lot of money, but it’s money that you don’t need to pay taxes on or need to live on, so it presents an opportunity to create a positive impact on your future during a time when that prospect is a rare commodity. There’s a lot we could be negative about right now, but if history has taught us anything, it’s that we must find ways to
move forward. It’s important to honor those who’ve lost their lives, and we can honor them by working to create positivity in the world they’ve left behind. There are always ways to turn lemons into lemonade. The best way to do so is to look at your situation, analyze it, and form a measured response instead of an emotional reaction. It’s time to take responsibility for the things we haven’t been prepared for and do everything we can to prepare for them in the future. Life looks much brighter when we have that kind of outlook. At Retirement Planning Strategies, we’re still working with clients every day. Our office may not be open for in-person appointments, but through the miracle of technology, we’re able to connect with clients, hold meetings, and answer any questions you might have about the best choices you can make for yourself. We can still access your accounts and your plans and be there for you every step of the way as you navigate these unusual times. Above all else, our goal is to support you. That’s certainly something we still have control over, and we plan to keep it that way. –Ann Vanderslice
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Don’s Breathtaking Retirement
PHOTOGRAPHING THE UNTOUCHED CORNERS OF OUR WORLD
Don Grall worked as a pharmacist for nearly 40
years before retiring. He and his wife, Janet, have always been avid travelers with good saving habits to supplement their hobby, but Don decided to go back to work part time for some reassurance. “I took the dead-of-night shift, which was great because that meant I could spend my days doing other things I loved,” Don says. But during his last year working the night shift, Don was held up at gunpoint on three separate
people things they haven’t seen before. So I make a point of going to places that aren’t on most people’s top 10 travel lists.”
As it has for many, COVID-19 threw a wrench in their recent travel plans. Luckily, Don has become really adept at finding beauty in his backyard. “Our house borders the Pike National Forest, so every day, I’ve been hiking through it and getting a full plate of photography. We even have wildlife that visits our backyard, including bears.” Landscape photography has become Don’s passion. “It’s really special because most people don’t see it for what it is,” he explains. “It’s a lot more than being in the right place at the right time. About 90% of capturing the perfect shot is about tuning in to what’s going on between your ears. You have to understand the light and composition of the moment and know your camera and photography concepts very well. You could have a dozen photographers in the same place at the same time, taking the same photo, and only one of them could emerge with an outstanding shot. I love photography because it’s taught me how to see the world as the beautiful place that it is.”
occasions. “When you’ve had a gun pointed at your chest, you gain some perspective,” he admits. “Life is too short, and enough was enough.” Now, he and his wife fill their days with travel so Don can do as much kayaking and nature photography as possible. Don’s love for photography arose from his passion for kayaking. “Back when I started in the ‘70s, very few people were into the sport,” he says. “It was so new that I had to make a lot of my equipment. I built my kayak, and Janet sewed waterproof gear for me.” He’s since kayaked rivers all across the U.S., South America, and beyond. That means he’s had the opportunity to photograph some incredible places too. “Kayaking wilderness rivers gives you access to places that most people have never seen,” he explains. “It only made sense to start snapping pictures of these untouched parts of the world.”
Opportunity is really what you make of it, and Don makes the most of every moment, no matter how close or far he’s able to travel.
He and Janet have visited over 45 U.S. national parks and have explored the wilderness of dozens of countries like Iceland, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Argentina, the South Georgia Islands, and the Falkland Islands. They’ve even stepped foot on Antarctica to chase down emperor penguins. But they’ve never been to a lot of common travel locations, like Hawaii. That may seem strange to some, but to Don, it makes perfect sense. “My goal with photography is to show
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging communities across the U.S. to practice social distancing. This will help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19. It also means that social interactions will be minimal. In addition to impacting many industries and businesses, this has significant impacts on families and friends who can no longer visit each other in person. Luckily, the technology we have today allows us to stay in touch while still practicing social responsibility. SPRUCE UP EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES. Hopping on the phone or your laptop to video chat is a great way to reach out and catch up with loved ones. While folding laundry or doing other mundane chores, give a friend or your parents a call to idly chat; it can make your tedious tasks much more enjoyable. Video calls are also beneficial if, for example, you’re missing your daily workouts with a friend. Hop on a video chat to practice yoga, cardio, or other simple exercise routines together. LET YOUR KIDS CHAT WITH FRIENDS. Kids can benefit from video chatting by staying in touch with their friends while school and other activities are canceled. Letting your kids connect to social media is a pretty big step, so consider signing them up for Yoursphere or Kidzworld, kid-friendly networks that let How to Stay in Touch With Family and Friends WHILE FOLLOWING SOCIAL DISTANCING GUIDELINES
them keep in touch with their friends while you can monitor their activity. Get in touch with other parents to set up virtual playdates over video chats for your kids. They can even watch a movie or TV show together. HOST A MOVIE NIGHT. Speaking of movies, Netflix developed a unique way for people to watch movies and shows together: Netflix Party. If you have a desktop or laptop with a Chrome browser, visit NetflixParty.com to download the application. Once downloaded, open the movie or TV series you’d like to watch, create or join a “party,” then relax and enjoy the show while chatting with friends. These are only a few examples of how we can stay in touch during these concerning times. Talk with your family and friends and see what other creative ideas you can come up with together. Even though you may be apart from loved ones right now, virtual communication has never been easier or more plentiful.
BRAIN! Train Your
Inspired by AllRecipes.com
• 2 eggs, beaten • 1 cup sour cream • 3 cups rhubarb stalks, diced • 1/4 cup butter, softened
• 2 1/4 cups white sugar, divided • 1 tsp baking soda • 1/2 tsp salt • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1. Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch baking dish. 2. In a large bowl, combine 1 1/4 cups sugar, baking soda, salt, and 2 cups flour. 3. Stir in eggs and sour cream until smooth. 4. Fold in rhubarb and add mixture to the prepared baking dish. 5. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup sugar and butter until smooth. 6. Stir in 1/4 cup flour until mixture is crumbly. 7. Sprinkle mixture on top of cake batter and bake for 45 minutes. 8. Let cake cool for 5–10 minutes and serve.
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issue INSIDE THIS
The Positive Impact of Having a Plan PAGE 1 Retired Life Through Don’s Lens PAGE 2 Technology Saves the Day PAGE 3 Bird-Watching for Beginners PAGE 4
BIRD-WATCHING FOR BEGINNERS
Bird-watching is like a lifelong scavenger hunt that you can play anywhere on Earth. The activity provides a mixture of science, travel, and beauty, and it’s a chance to get outside for adventure and quiet reflection. The month of May is a great time to go birding because rising temperatures prompt spring migration and nesting. So if you’re eager to begin bird-watching, there’s no better time than now. Here are some tips to get started. EDUCATE YOURSELF Thousands of species of birds span all corners of the globe. That’s why finding them is an exciting prospect — and there’s truly no end to the hunt! Start by researching birds that are native to your location. Purchase a field guide with pictures of each bird and maps of their range and use it to figure out where different birds live. From there, it’s easy to pick your first spotting goal. You can gain knowledge and get extra incentive by watching a few birding documentaries. GEAR UP One of the best things about birding is that you don’t need a lot of equipment.
As long as you’ve got your field guide and comfortable walking shoes, the only other thing you’ll need is a pair of binoculars. And they don’t need to be fancy. As long as they can zoom in on faraway trees and perches, they’ll work. You can always upgrade later.
GO EXPLORING Your very first birding excursion is
important because you don’t want to be overwhelmed or underwhelmed. So, use your field guide to focus in on a single bird and then go find it. It may be local, or you can plan a trip to a specific bird’s natural habitat. Stay focused and don’t get distracted by other species. The thrill that comes with spotting your first bird will keep you coming back to find more. Bird-watching is a wonderful hobby because it’s easy to get started and can last a lifetime. As long as you can walk, drive, or look out a window, you can be a birder. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and find some birds!
Why May Is the Best Month to Start
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