Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Archive for the ‘Finance’ Category

Tips On How . . .

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. . . to make plans to make your money last

are on tap for 2 p.m. Thursday in the 2nd floor theater.

Then it’s on to Thirsty Thursday’s happy hour

beginning at 3 p.m. in the bistro

before tottering by Lou Malnati’s pizza-tasting table

in the dining room at 5 o’clock.

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Some Pets Not for the Nervous

We’ve all read about or seen on TV some out-of-the-norm animals us humans claim as pets – reptiles, raptors, farmyard critters, jungle denizens, insects, you name ‘em. Some folks claim they’re “comfort” beasts and take them on vacations, airlines flights and trips to the supermarket. If this keeps up, I’m thinking of getting myself a comfort crocodile.

We have had a diverse set of animals over the years.  My sister killed one of them. It wasn’t my pet. I’m not comfortable enough to turn my back on spiders. This was a spider – a black widow. A couple of my kids spotted it under a stairwell and argued about its identity. To stop the arguing, my wife got a jar and went and captured it. Sure enough, it was a full-blooded black widow, the first poisonous creature we could call our own.

The kids popped a popsicle stick into the jar to give it something to crawl on and tossed in live flies, dead moths, tidbits of meat and even some hard-boiled yolk. It prospered somehow and even took the time to produce a couple of wisps of a web between the stick and sides of the jar.

My sister came to visit on a weekend and, when the kids showed her our latest pet, her reaction was natural. She went screaming back out the front door and said she wasn’t returning “until that thing is flushed down the toilet.”

She finally was talked back to earth when the boys assured her the beast was contained tightly in a well-screwed-down Mason jar and tucked high on a window sill where she could watch it to make sure it didn’t get close to her. Curiosity overcame her cowardice the next day as she began asking questions about the care and feeding of a black widow spider. One of the boys swatted a fly and joined his brother as they gave her a short course on the housing and handling of their pet.

They unscrewed the top of the jar and were about to dump in the dead fly when she got nervous and knocked the glass out of their hands. It smashed into pieces when it hit the floor and she was shrieking and scampering and scooted out of the area. The two boys got a broom and began to police the area carefully. But it was too late. In her jumping and jostling, my sister had stepped on the critter and it was ground into the linoleum.

She never apologized for the death nor did she offer to get the kids another pet spider.

It’s a good thing she wasn’t around when we had a pet caterpillar. It was rusty brown in the middle and black at both ends. We had trouble figuring out which end was its head. It spent its days in an empty fishbowl out on the back porch and we fed it lettuce. Then one day it was gone.

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

March 29, 2023 at 4:19 pm

It’s Finally Occurred To Me . . .

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. . . that the reason

people give out free advice

so easily is

because they aren’t using it.

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Be a Good Scout at Tax Time

Be prepared. This maxim emblazoned in Boy Scout lore also applies to the thorny annual chore known as “doing my taxes.” A simple system of keeping receipts and monthly statements can save you a lot of aspirin at filing time. It can also cut down on your cost of tax preparation since the less time your tax preparer has to spend on your return, the lower the bill.

Three basic items will help establish a workable record-keeping system:

—  your checkbook register,

—  a clutch of file folders for financial statements and receipts, and

—  a workbook to log any deductible expenses, such as mileage to and from medical appointments. Your tax preparer can advise you on how to make this basic program work best for you. They might suggest that you update your files monthly.

It’s always wise to call your tax accountant early because the rules keep changing. By starting early, you’ll be aware of what you’ll need to wrap up your current year’s tax filing.

Remember that banks, bosses, and brokerage houses — almost anyone paying you an income of any sort — report these transactions to the Internal Revenue Service. The agency gets all these notices and its computers try to match up the information from these sources with the information you prepare and file.

Besides staying ahead of the game by being prepared, keep in mind that the IRS makes mistakes. It’s easy to foul up a Social Security number, for example, and you might get an IRS notice based on garbled data. One tax preparer recounts often an incident in which a bank’s report to the IRS of a customer’s mortgage interest payment was read as interest income. The taxpayer was then notified by the IRS of a disparity in tax owed to the government because of this “additional income.”

Written by Cecil Scaglione

March 26, 2023 at 8:24 pm

Posted in Finance, Humor / Quote

Tagged with ,

Seems Like Just Yesterday. . .

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. . . but it was two weeks ago that

the Super Supper Shuttle launched its maiden trips.

And it’s here again this Friday.

If you haven’t marked down its schedule, do it now.

It’s free and operates on the 2nd and 4th Friday of each month

Departure from Verena at Gilbert is at

3 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 5 p.m.

Departure from restaurants is at

3:15 p.m., 3:45 p.m., 4:15 p.m., 4:45 p.m., 5:15 p.m, and final pickup at 5:45 p.m.

Be at the pickup point on time or be left behind and wait for the next one.

Restaurants this month are

Wendy’s Hamburgers,

Chili’s Grill & Bar

Texas Roadhouse

Cafe Zupas.

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When the cops arrest a mime,

do they tell him or her

that they have the right to remain silent?

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Some Things Never Change

With inflation catapulting prices to stratospheric and shoving 401(k)s into the economic mud, it’s a bit comforting to learn that some things have become cheaper.

Take the humble and ubiquitous nail.

A Wellesley College economist has drafted its history from 1695 when it cost about 12 cents, to 2020, when the price per nail was half that. The reasons are a bit convoluted and his history indicates that the price per nail almost hit 20 cents in the late 1700s and sank to a low of 2 cents during World War II.

Until the 1700s, nails were hand-forged by blacksmiths hammering a rod of iron into the proper shape. As late as the 1800s, they could make one nail a minute, compared with modern machines that spit out 2,000 nails a minute.

The first U.S. patent for cut nails – a machine cut them from a thin strip of iron – was issued in 1795. It pumped out 6,000 nails an hour. This mirrored the Industrial Revolution, which saw nail production move from blacksmith to machines progressively powered by water, steam and electricity. 

If you’re wondering why such importance is relegated to such a minor piece of hardware, you might recall how Benjamin Franklin regarded its importance:

For want of a nail, the shoe was lost

For want of a shoe, the horse was lost

For want of a horse, the rider was lost

For want of a rider, the battle was lost

For want of a battle, the kingdom of was lost

…all for want of a nail.

Nails are used to fasten one or more pieces of something together. The most common objects they are hammered into are made of wood. They also are used throughout the construction industry in concert, plaster, plastic and drywall. As proclaimed in the message above, that missing nail would have fastened a metal horseshoe to a horse’s hoof.

What once was a cut piece of metal with one end flattened into a head, has morphed into roofing nails, finishing nails, box nails, flooring nails, masonry nails, two-headed nails and screw nails, among others. But its original design, which has been documented to at least as far back as 3400 B.C. in ancient Egypt, still holds fast.

The description of nails in pennies does not spring from their cost. It denotes their length. For example, a 2-penny nail means its length covers the width of two pennies.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

March 23, 2023 at 9:44 pm

Bocce . . .

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. . . isn’t just a man’s game.

Women play it very well, too.

So sign up for Friday’s session.

The bus leaves at 11 a.m.

for the nearby courts.

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Never Go to The Grocery Store Hungry

Friends and family have plenty of advice on how to save money shopping for groceries: get less of the fatty types of meat, buy larger packages of breakfast cereal, purchase bigger eggs and get your vegetables at the farmer’s market.

A simple tip I learned all by myself years ago is to never go to the grocery store hungry. You wind up making too many impulse buys. Make a list of what you need and stick to it.

Buy only groceries at a gro­cery store. Most non-food items are more expensive than else­where.

Check the weight of prepack­aged products, such as potatoes. What’s labeled a “10-pound bag” can vary a lot in actual weight. Keep in mind that while the price of your favorite snack may not have gone up, its weight has gone down. Always check the unit price, and the sizes. Just because two containers are the same size doesn’t mean they have the same amount of goods inside.

Don’t buy the larger cuts of meat just because they’re marked on special. Check the per-pound price. You don’t have to pick up three pre-packaged pork chops if there are just two of you at home. Ask the butcher for two chops. You might get better meat buys at a local meat mar­ket. The service probably will be better since the butcher will grind up a pound and a half of lean round steak for you, or cut it into strips for a stir fry.

Check the supermarket prod­ucts on sale. When items you normally eat are offered at clearance prices, stock up by putting them in your freezer. Check the deli for sales items.

If you’re buying sugar for any reason — baking, for example — don’t buy anything pre-sweet­ened because the price for these products is much higher than the sugar.

And check the prices rung up by the cashier on the way out to make sure they’re correct.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

March 22, 2023 at 8:27 pm

Posted in Finance, News / Events

Tagged with ,

Something . . .

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. . .I never do:

I don’t stand

in front of elevator doors

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Alzheimer’s Toll Also Economic

Call it what you will: senior moments, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or any of several other descriptions of mental and memory meltdown. It still boils down to the emotionally loaded tearing down of a connection with a loved one. And it can take with it a sizeable economic loss that overwrought and overworked caregivers can easily overlook.

Adults who have paid their bills regularly as they matured will become addled by arithmetic if they fall victim to Alzheimer’s so it’s up to the family or friends near him or her to be alert to signs of faltering financial know-how. If a parent, sibling or spouse who’s handled household expenses or investment portfolios over the years begins showing signs of senior slippage, it’s time to move quickly to save the savings accumulated over the years.

Mail and bills piling up is an immediate signal of trouble.

You can conduct a simple test on your own. Go to lunch with the person and suggest you each pay for your own meal. Then observe how much difficulty he or she has figuring out what each owes, how to make change, and how much to leave as a tip. Another warning sign is the inability to recognize and address basic economic terms, such as interest, the difference between checking and savings accounts, and minimum credit-card payments.

Any of these can be signs of diminishing capabilities that can lead to increased dangers, such as a loss of credit standing and being victimized by scam artists by mail, phone, the Internet, or a knock at the door. Whether you’re in the will or not, you should take steps, or alert family members empowered to so do, to protect the slipping senior’s assets.

Recommendations should be discussed with the individual showing signs of shortcomings. He or she can be part of the process during lucid moments and outline his or her wants and likes. One simple step to take is to maintain a small checking account in his or her name so checks can be written on it to purchase Christmas gifts for the grandchildren or pay a bill. This protects the bulk of the assets while giving the person a feeling that he or she still has some financial control.

A team that includes members of the family and an attorney and financial advisor can protect both the economic and emotional, as well as the medical, needs of the person whose memory is being addled by the aging process.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

March 21, 2023 at 8:42 pm

Posted in Finance, Health

If You Haven’t . . .

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. . . gotten out of the house for a bit,

just pin a $1 bill to your collar

for The Wearin’ o’ the Green on St. Paddy’s Day.

As for me,

I’m gonna pour a wee dram o’ good ol’ Paddy Irish whiskey.

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Cut Through Long-Term-Care Costs

It may turn out that you need long-term care for only a short time, but it’s a critical health-care term in all our lives. It normally deals with the last months of your life and those around you.

Researchers agree on one thing: most people are not well-informed about long-term care and its implications for both their physical and fiscal health.

The problem grows larger as our population ages — current 65-year-olds are expected to live another quarter century — and as myths and misconceptions about this misunderstood matter grow more widespread.

Almost 70 percent of Americans are worried about paying for long-term care, according to a National Council of Aging report, compared with some 55 percent who are concerned about paying for their retirement. Four out of 10 people 65 years of age or older believe Medicare or Medigap (Medicare supplemental insurance) pays for long-term nursing-home stays, according to a Financial Planning Association study.

The reality is that Medicare will pay for a limited number of days for “short term” nursing-home care under certain circumstances. It does not pay for long-term custodial care.

Another popular myth is that Medicaid picks up the tab for long-term care. It does pick up 50 percent of the tab if you’re poor enough to qualify. In addition, your income from Social Security and any other pension must go toward the bill.

Adding more pain to the process is the confusion within the long-term-care-insurance industry. Premiums veer drunkenly in all directions.

For example, a 70-year-old person buying a comprehensive policy with a four-year benefit period, 60-day elimination period, $100 daily benefits and inflation protection can pay between $2,700 and $4,000 a year, depending on what company is chosen. The annual cost of a similar policy in another state with a lifetime-benefit term and 20-day elimination period can range from $4,600 and $5,500.

The National Council on the Aging has some tips to help you shop for long-term-health-care insurance.

The first thing to do is take your time and find a reputable independent sales person who can sell policies for several companies. Check the stability of the companies whose policies you’re considering. Then read a specimen policy contract thoroughly and make sure you understand what you’re buying. You don’t need multiple policies. One good policy is enough.

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

March 15, 2023 at 9:39 pm

Take Your Pets . . .

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. . .to the 2nd floor theater

at 2 p.m. Monday for

peticures and doggone good service

by a team of professional petcare-ist groomers .

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Seniors Straining Economic Support

The globe is heading toward a challenging population problem that could develop into a calamity. We’re aging.

There were slightly more than 900 million people – about 12 percent — around the world aged 60 years and older in 2015. This number is expected to increase to 1.4 billion by 2030. By 2050, one out of five people – 2.1 billion scattered all over the globe — will be 60 or older.

Almost 90 percent of the Japanese believe this is a problem. Only one out of four Americans think this way.

Since most of these oldsters will be out of the work force, they will have to have fashioned their own retirement plans or be supported by somebody. Most people in most countries think the government should take care of its elderly. This socialism brush could be wider than anticipated and affect how the nations of the world are governed.

This rapidly aging population is creating a mounting set of unprecedented issues, including a rapidly spreading and more diverse set of diseases, increased spending of time and money on health and long-term care, labor shortages, and steadily rising inflation chewing away at old-age income.

Adding calluses to the problem is the fact that the $2.9 trillion in Social Security reserves reported in 2020 is expected to be depleted by 2034. When that happens, benefits payments could be slashed by as much as 25 percent. This is happening because fewer workers are supporting a growing number of Social Security recipients.

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

March 12, 2023 at 8:06 pm

Posted in Finance, News / Events

Tagged with ,

Nice Quiet Week . . .

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. . . but prepare your questions

for the Town Hall meeting at

4 p.m. Tuesday in the 2nd Floor Theater

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I don’t have to be patronized

by physical-health nuts

who show off their six-packs.

I just pat my tummy

and point out I have a keg.

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Penny Earned No Longer Worth It

The penny may soon be only in our thoughts, to paraphrase an old adage.

The wisdom of producing pennies is being questioned because the coin costs more than 2 cents to produce.

Canada quit making pennies a decade ago because it was costing 1.6 cents to produce 1 cent.

This relinquishing of the penny is a reminder of the pressures being exerted to do away with cash.

British lawmakers are mulling laws that would make sure that the less-than-20 percent of their population that relies on cash will receive their change in cash

Promoters of a cashless society argue that maintaining automated teller machines (currently paid for by the banks) is costly. Retailers and other businesses report accepting cash takes more time and costs more than payments made by store card, debit card, credit card or cryptocurrency.

And don’t forget that handy-dandy contactless-payment tool in your hand – the cell phone.

The pressures for change are not going away.

Next in the line of sight of those who want to abolish coins is the nickel. Their argument sounds familiar. It costs more to make a nickel than its worth – about 7 cents.

Britain is abolishing checks slowly but surely. They originally planned to dump checks in 2018 but it’s taking a bit more time to smooth out the wrinkles caused by their demise.

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

March 5, 2023 at 6:45 pm

Got Wondering . . .

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. . . while waiting for breakfast the other morning,

where do they get the seeds

to plant for seedless watermelon?

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Inflation is a Four-Letter Word

There’s a lot of talk about inflation these days.

No one can pin point its cause nor can they really explain what it means. One generally accepted description is “Too Much Money Chasing Too Few Goods.” An economic term describes it as a general increase in prices and a fall in the purchasing power of money.

How ever you say it, it means things cost more than they used to while your money’s purchasing power has declined.

But just because the price of air fare goes up because everyone’s going on vacation doesn’t mean we’re being hit by inflation.

Money mavins are interested more in why prices rise. A rainy season can ruin a crop, boosting its price until regular seasonal supply can resume. Supply-chain breakdowns can cause sudden but short-lived surges in the price of certain products.

Those events are not to be confused with inflation.

Money supply is important, but so is the demand for money. If you lose confidence in the future of your currency, you’re likely to seek something else that will maintain its power to purchase what you need and want. Dumping dollars for gold and silver is one common practice, as is buying another country’s currency.

Like so many economic theories and multi-syllabic words, inflation is not easy to define.

When prices rise when consumers change their behavior or supply chains get snarled, that’s not inflation. But when prices climb because there’s a shift in the supply of and demand for money, that’s when inflation starts to become a problem.

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

March 4, 2023 at 7:15 pm

Posted in A Musing, Finance

Tagged with ,

A Longtime Colleague . . .

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. . . just returned from a trip to China.

I asked him what is was like

when he was over there.

He said he couldn’t complain.

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You Folks at Verena

can learn how to make in-home medical appointments

at 2 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday) 2nd floor theater.

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Not All Seniors are Senile

Our current day culture still emphasizes the glamor of youth while blowing the dust off of people considered old who function at a level somewhere between a chimpanzee in diapers and a toddler with a hearing deficiency.

This myth of diminished capacity is being eroded somewhat by the more than 70 million baby boomers moving into the aged cohort. But there’s still a great need for communication between the young and old. In underlining the seriousness of the situation, David Solie draws on the German proverb:

“Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.”

“Bodies don’t work as well when we age, so it seems reasonable to assume that brains don’t work

as well, either,” he writes in his book, “How to Say it to Seniors.” While the book was put together as a tool for consultants working with seniors, his insights also have applications for family and friends. Examples of successful seniors he cites include Verdi’s “Otello,” the founding of the Christian Science Monitor by Mary Baker Eddy, and the design and construction of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum in New York City. These achievements were attained when those individuals were aged 70 and 71.

“Our love of the biological model of aging has duped us into believing that ‘slowing down’ is synonymous with diminished capacity,” he states about the segment of population “that Tom Brokaw writes about in ‘The Greatest Generation.'” So there is no excuse for the communication gap separating children, parents, and grandparents, especially when it comes to money matters.

You should know, for example, if your parents have enough money to live on in their retirement. If they have never discussed it with you, then you can use a variety of tactics to broach the topic.

For starters, vital for everybody is the need to maintain control over their lives. So if your parents are already retired, Solie suggests you ask them for some help by explaining how they came up with their retirement plan. This can lead to exploration of both your financial situations – yours and theirs. The discussion, once opened, can expand to medical and health coverage, estate planning, and wills.

Parents can use the same strategy by asking their children for some book-keeping help to refine their retirement financial plans. Then they can both work on a program. Look over all insurance policies, tax returns, pension statements, property deeds and mortgage documents, loan papers, bank and credit-card statements, and any other pieces of the paper trail that led them to their present position.

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

February 28, 2023 at 7:53 pm