Retirement Planning Strategies- May 2019

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MAY 2019



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A Journey Out of My Comfort Zone AND INTO ANOTHER WORLD

Earlier this year, I had the chance to visit Cuba for a week to take part in a medical mission trip. “Wait,” you may be asking, “Are you a doctor as well as a financial planner?” While I’m definitely not a doctor, and I don’t have any medical experience to speak of, that didn’t stop me from contributing in whatever way I could. My role on the trip was as a team leader, so my organizational skills were put to good use. I did the trip through International Medical Relief, which is run by my old friend Shauna King. I sit on the board largely because I’ve been there since day one. Over the years, I’ve traveled to many distant locales. While I’m not providing medical and dental services directly, I like to think my efforts help the expert teams deliver care to as many people as possible. And just as exciting as the work itself is the chance to experience another culture firsthand. Never has the difference been more apparent than during our trip to Cuba. I’ve never been anywhere quite like Havana. In some ways, it’s like the city exists in two different eras. On one end of the spectrum, there are scores of old buildings

that haven’t been updated in decades. Everywhere you turn, you see laundry lines full of clothes blowing in the breeze. Despite this antiquated washing method, many people wear sparkling white shirts. How they are able to keep them so clean, I’ll never know. of other nations. As I’m sure you know, Cuba is one of the only countries that was “hermetically sealed” for a large portion of the 20th century. Ever since the Kennedy administration, there had been an embargo between the U.S. and Cuba. Today, relations with the U.S. are still tenuous, but the Chinese have significant investments there. With a decreasingly communist and increasingly capitalist China pouring money into the island, it’s impossible to predict what the coming years will bring. Although I grew up in a capitalist environment, I can still see the pros and cons of an alternative system. I consider it a positive to be somewhere free of excessive advertising. Also, it doesn’t seem like there’s much pressure for Cubans to On the other end, you have a country slowly opening up its walls to the influence

keep up with the Joneses. The negatives, however, are much more important to me. Consumer choice is minimal and Cuba is behind the times in so many ways. It’s nearly impossible to improve your station or provide a better life for future generations. While it was wonderful to step into a different country, you won’t find me pining for the end of capitalism anytime soon. More important than the differences in lifestyle, though, are the similarities that connect all humans. Meet people from anywhere, and you’ll quickly realize you have things in common. We all pine for a better life, and we all need a hand in getting there. To be able to lend that hand, if only for a week, is something I never take for granted. I urge you to ask yourself how you can make a difference in the lives of others this year. As my experience shows, it doesn’t have to relate to what you do for a living. Sometimes, you’ll even find that stepping out of your comfort zone makes the effort all the more worthwhile.

–Ann Vanderslice | 1

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