Sun Post http://post.mnsun.com Local News for Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, Crystal, Golden Valley, New Hope and Robbinsdale Minnesota Tue, 31 Mar 2015 18:16:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Teen birth rates in Hennepin County declined in 2013 http://post.mnsun.com/2015/03/teen-birth-rates-in-hennepin-county-declined-in-2013/ http://post.mnsun.com/2015/03/teen-birth-rates-in-hennepin-county-declined-in-2013/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 18:16:22 +0000 http://post.mnsun.com/?p=132158 The number of Hennepin County adolescents giving birth saw a significant decline in 2013, according to a county statement.

Based on a Hennepin County study, the county saw a 15 percent dip in births by teenagers, which continued a six-year decrease that began in 2007. Hennepin County’s 2013 decrease compares to a 9 percent decline in the state of Minnesota, and a 10 percent decrease in the United States.

The county attributes this dip to successful programs that discourages young people from engaging in risky sexual behavior, or at the very least help them stay safe when they become sexually active. One such initiative is the Better Together Hennepin project, which helps young people in delaying parenthood with support such as evidence-based sex education, connection with supportive adults, accessibility to reproductive health services and other healthy youth development opportunities.

According to a 2012 report, 701 births in Hennepin County were attributed to mothers ages 15 to 19. That year, the teen birth rate was 19.6 births per 1,000, compared to the 32 births per 1,000 in 2007, marking a 41 percent decrease in five years.

“Teen parenthood is devastating to the potential of young people and leads to higher taxpayer costs,” said Hennepin County District 1 Commissioner Mike Opat in a statement. “I’m proud that Hennepin County is outperforming the rest of the state and country with these persistent declines.”

For more information on teen birth rates in Hennepin County and the Better Together Hennepin initiative, visit tinyurl.com/o93oac4.

Contact Christiaan Tarbox at christiaan.tarbox@ecm-inc.com or follow the Sun Post on Twitter @ecmsunpost.

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Why Diversify? 2014 vs. 2015 http://post.mnsun.com/2015/03/why-diversify-2014-vs-2015/ http://post.mnsun.com/2015/03/why-diversify-2014-vs-2015/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 18:01:19 +0000 http://post.mnsun.com/?guid=a7a593b70fc7e5a14ed7c80d3be00f36 Diversification gets a bad rap when almost everything falls at once (2008) or one sector vastly outpaces others (tech in the late 1990s). But a comparison of last year and this year shows how, once again, diversifying always makes sense over the long pull.

Let’s revisit the investment year of 2014: the Standard & Poor’s 500 (large-capitalization U.S. stocks) returned 13.69%, including dividends; the Russell 2000 (small-cap stocks) advanced 4.89%; and iShares MSCI EAFE (an exchange-traded fund tracking the stocks from developed nations outside North America) fell 4.82%.

These returns caused a lot of confusion and frustration among investors. If you were well diversified and allocated a third of your portfolio into each of these asset categories, you achieved a return of only 3.83% during the year.

Meanwhile, most investors use only large-cap indexes such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Nasdaq or the S&P 500 as a metric for how markets perform. After hearing how these indexes hit double-digit performance (with dividends reinvested, known as total return) during last year, some investors felt disconcerted that other parts of their portfolios suffered so much by comparison.

At the end of 2014, maybe you even wondered why you own any investments other than large-cap U.S. stocks.

Then things changed, as they will. Let’s examine investment returns during the first 12 weeks of 2015: the S&P 500 returned 1.38%, the Russell 2000 3.27% and iShares MSCI EAFE 6.08%.

So far in 2015, performance in each asset category differs inversely from last year’s showing. Large-cap domestic stocks, the best category in 2014, so far lag in 2015; international stocks, 2014’s biggest loser, is thus far the year’s biggest winner. Go figure.

A simple example reminds us of the value of diversification. Suppose that, in January, returns on stocks in the S&P 500 drop 1.73 percentage points while a diversified portfolio (with a third invested in each asset category) loses only 0.17 points. 

Let’s stretch January’s returns through a year. In this case, our large-cap portfolio suffers an annualized loss of 20.76%; a diversified portfolio (again, a third of all funds invested in each asset category) loses 2.04% during a full year.

While hardly an optimistic projection for 2015, this does illustrate the value of both diversification and investing for the long term.

The last step involves examining returns from the same investment in 2014 to 2015. Our large-cap portfolio earns 13.69% in 2014 and loses 20.76% in 2015. Our diversified portfolio makes only 3.83% in the first year but loses only 2.04% in the second.

 

After 2014

After 2015

Invest $10,000 in Large Cap Stocks

$11,369

$9,009

Invest $10,000 in Diversified Portfolio

$10,383

$10,171

Despite smaller-percentage losses and gains in both years, our equally diversified $10,000 actually returned more. Of course, who knows whether large-cap stocks will continue to decline through the rest of the year or if international stocks will keep rising.

That uncertainty only validates the point: We need to invest with a focus on the long-term, never aiming for the largest return over a short time. We must use our money to achieve the best investment performance over an extended time while minimizing the volatility of our returns.

Market history provides example after example that maintaining a well-diversified portfolio remains your best method to achieve this goal.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Lon Jefferies, CFP, MBA, is an investment advisor with the fee-only financial planning firm Net Worth Advisory Group in Sandy, Utah. You can find Lon on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Contact him at (801) 566-0740 or lon@networthadvice.com.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

 

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Diversification gets a bad rap when almost everything falls at once (2008) or one sector vastly outpaces others (tech in the late 1990s). But a comparison of last year and this year shows how, once again, diversifying always makes sense over the long pull.

Let’s revisit the investment year of 2014: the Standard & Poor’s 500 (large-capitalization U.S. stocks) returned 13.69%, including dividends; the Russell 2000 (small-cap stocks) advanced 4.89%; and iShares MSCI EAFE (an exchange-traded fund tracking the stocks from developed nations outside North America) fell 4.82%.

These returns caused a lot of confusion and frustration among investors. If you were well diversified and allocated a third of your portfolio into each of these asset categories, you achieved a return of only 3.83% during the year.

Meanwhile, most investors use only large-cap indexes such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Nasdaq or the S&P 500 as a metric for how markets perform. After hearing how these indexes hit double-digit performance (with dividends reinvested, known as total return) during last year, some investors felt disconcerted that other parts of their portfolios suffered so much by comparison.

At the end of 2014, maybe you even wondered why you own any investments other than large-cap U.S. stocks.

Then things changed, as they will. Let’s examine investment returns during the first 12 weeks of 2015: the S&P 500 returned 1.38%, the Russell 2000 3.27% and iShares MSCI EAFE 6.08%.

So far in 2015, performance in each asset category differs inversely from last year’s showing. Large-cap domestic stocks, the best category in 2014, so far lag in 2015; international stocks, 2014’s biggest loser, is thus far the year’s biggest winner. Go figure.

A simple example reminds us of the value of diversification. Suppose that, in January, returns on stocks in the S&P 500 drop 1.73 percentage points while a diversified portfolio (with a third invested in each asset category) loses only 0.17 points. 

Let’s stretch January’s returns through a year. In this case, our large-cap portfolio suffers an annualized loss of 20.76%; a diversified portfolio (again, a third of all funds invested in each asset category) loses 2.04% during a full year.

While hardly an optimistic projection for 2015, this does illustrate the value of both diversification and investing for the long term.

The last step involves examining returns from the same investment in 2014 to 2015. Our large-cap portfolio earns 13.69% in 2014 and loses 20.76% in 2015. Our diversified portfolio makes only 3.83% in the first year but loses only 2.04% in the second.

 

After 2014

After 2015

Invest $10,000 in Large Cap Stocks

$11,369

$9,009

Invest $10,000 in Diversified Portfolio

$10,383

$10,171

Despite smaller-percentage losses and gains in both years, our equally diversified $10,000 actually returned more. Of course, who knows whether large-cap stocks will continue to decline through the rest of the year or if international stocks will keep rising.

That uncertainty only validates the point: We need to invest with a focus on the long-term, never aiming for the largest return over a short time. We must use our money to achieve the best investment performance over an extended time while minimizing the volatility of our returns.

Market history provides example after example that maintaining a well-diversified portfolio remains your best method to achieve this goal.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Lon Jefferies, CFP, MBA, is an investment advisor with the fee-only financial planning firm Net Worth Advisory Group in Sandy, Utah. You can find Lon on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Contact him at (801) 566-0740 or lon@networthadvice.com.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

 

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Real Do-It-Yourself Investing http://post.mnsun.com/2015/03/real-do-it-yourself-investing/ http://post.mnsun.com/2015/03/real-do-it-yourself-investing/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 18:01:00 +0000 http://post.mnsun.com/?guid=fc22c9169acb0c057a0dfb259780d41f From home-schooling our children to shopping at Home Depot, we’re increasingly a do-it-yourself culture, bypassing professionals to save. Why pay for professionals or experts when investing? DIY can play a role when you handle your money, just maybe not the role you think.

OK, so how much do you pay for health care? Why pay anything when you can diagnose yourself or find treatments online? Such rhetorical questions ought to get you thinking about what you’re really doing with your money.

I suspect you ultimately need the medical expert. Yet when it comes to money – something planning professionals work at full-time, and sometimes more – you might believe you can budget and save better as a hobby.

As I wrote on the value of financial advisors, value comes from a focus on those things that you can actually control; markets and economies are beyond any one person’s power. Learn how to set the sails instead of trying to control the wind. And get help with the sails.

Yes, you do need to exercise care that the person you choose has your interests at heart. Maybe you just don’t trust financial advisors because you don’t know how to find the right one for you.

Here’s a questionnaire that advisors can complete for you before you even meet. Use the answers, DIY-style, to select those two or three advisors you want to meet with at the next stage. Mistakes with your money can cost you more than any fees, so select an adviser carefully.

Regarding how advisors are paid, broker-dealers buy and sell investments for clients and receive commissions as compensation. Registered investment advisors are in investment consulting, are registered either with the Securities and Exchange Commission or a state securities’ authority and may be paid via flat fees or a percent of your assets they manage. These fee-only financial advisors receive no commissions, trading fees or product reimbursements of any kind.

Among advisors’ certifications and designations:

  • A certified financial planner (CFP) must take college-level financial planning courses, log at least three years’ experience in financial planning and pass a 10-hour examination.
  • A chartered financial consultant (ChFC) studies college-level insurance, estate planning, retirement funding, investments and others subjects in financial planning.
  • A chartered financial analyst (CFA) studies security analysis, stocks, bonds, investment management and corporate finance.

Also learn to recognize the difference between investing and planning. Think of investing and structuring your portfolio’s allocation like entwining bundles to make a cable. A single strand inside each bundle represents each company in which you hold stock.

Each bundle represents companies with common characteristics – large or small companies, growth companies, U.S.-only firms and so on. Some call this asset-class investing; the three main asset classes are equities (stocks), fixed-income (bonds) and cash equivalents (money market instruments).

All the bundles together represent your well-diversified portfolio, the cable holding up your long-term goals. A good advisor can help you with both entwining the cables and supporting your long-term goals.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Larry R. Frank Sr., CFP, is a Registered Investment Adviser (California) in Roseville, Calif. He is the author of the book, Wealth Odyssey. He has an MBA with a finance concentration and B.S. cum laude in physics with which he views the world of money dynamically. He has peer-reviewed research published in the Journal of Financial Planning. http://blog.betterfinancialeducation.com/.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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From home-schooling our children to shopping at Home Depot, we’re increasingly a do-it-yourself culture, bypassing professionals to save. Why pay for professionals or experts when investing? DIY can play a role when you handle your money, just maybe not the role you think.

OK, so how much do you pay for health care? Why pay anything when you can diagnose yourself or find treatments online? Such rhetorical questions ought to get you thinking about what you’re really doing with your money.

I suspect you ultimately need the medical expert. Yet when it comes to money – something planning professionals work at full-time, and sometimes more – you might believe you can budget and save better as a hobby.

As I wrote on the value of financial advisors, value comes from a focus on those things that you can actually control; markets and economies are beyond any one person’s power. Learn how to set the sails instead of trying to control the wind. And get help with the sails.

Yes, you do need to exercise care that the person you choose has your interests at heart. Maybe you just don’t trust financial advisors because you don’t know how to find the right one for you.

Here’s a questionnaire that advisors can complete for you before you even meet. Use the answers, DIY-style, to select those two or three advisors you want to meet with at the next stage. Mistakes with your money can cost you more than any fees, so select an adviser carefully.

Regarding how advisors are paid, broker-dealers buy and sell investments for clients and receive commissions as compensation. Registered investment advisors are in investment consulting, are registered either with the Securities and Exchange Commission or a state securities’ authority and may be paid via flat fees or a percent of your assets they manage. These fee-only financial advisors receive no commissions, trading fees or product reimbursements of any kind.

Among advisors’ certifications and designations:

  • A certified financial planner (CFP) must take college-level financial planning courses, log at least three years’ experience in financial planning and pass a 10-hour examination.
  • A chartered financial consultant (ChFC) studies college-level insurance, estate planning, retirement funding, investments and others subjects in financial planning.
  • A chartered financial analyst (CFA) studies security analysis, stocks, bonds, investment management and corporate finance.

Also learn to recognize the difference between investing and planning. Think of investing and structuring your portfolio’s allocation like entwining bundles to make a cable. A single strand inside each bundle represents each company in which you hold stock.

Each bundle represents companies with common characteristics – large or small companies, growth companies, U.S.-only firms and so on. Some call this asset-class investing; the three main asset classes are equities (stocks), fixed-income (bonds) and cash equivalents (money market instruments).

All the bundles together represent your well-diversified portfolio, the cable holding up your long-term goals. A good advisor can help you with both entwining the cables and supporting your long-term goals.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Larry R. Frank Sr., CFP, is a Registered Investment Adviser (California) in Roseville, Calif. He is the author of the book, Wealth Odyssey. He has an MBA with a finance concentration and B.S. cum laude in physics with which he views the world of money dynamically. He has peer-reviewed research published in the Journal of Financial Planning. http://blog.betterfinancialeducation.com/.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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License pulled from Brooklyn Park foster care home where child died http://post.mnsun.com/2015/03/license-pulled-from-foster-care-home-where-child-died/ http://post.mnsun.com/2015/03/license-pulled-from-foster-care-home-where-child-died/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 15:30:36 +0000 http://post.mnsun.com/?p=132139 The state has revoked the foster care license issued to the home where a 6-year-old girl died after hanging from a jump rope tied to her bunk bed last December.

In an action issued March 27, the state Department of Human Services revoked the license issued to Tannise Nawaqavou along the 9200 block of Queens Gardens North in Brooklyn Park.

The child was identified by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner as Kendria Johnson on Dec. 27, 2014, at North Memorial Hospital. She was discovered hanging from a bunk bed by a jump rope at the foster care home.

The DHS had temporarily suspended the foster care license two days after Johnson’s death. No charges were filed in the case because law enforcement investigations determined there was no evidence that a crime had been committed, according to the DHS report.

Contact Gretchen Schlosser at gretchen.schlosser@ecm-inc.com.

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Focus on healthy living options and staying younger at the Longevity Expo, April 18 in Maple Grove http://post.mnsun.com/2015/03/focus-on-healthy-living-options-and-staying-younger-at-the-longevity-expo-april-18-in-maple-grove/ http://post.mnsun.com/2015/03/focus-on-healthy-living-options-and-staying-younger-at-the-longevity-expo-april-18-in-maple-grove/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 15:07:35 +0000 http://post.mnsun.com/?p=132149 Download a FREE pass for 2!]]> ExpoPhotos-TOP

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN.—Retired folk and persons considering retirement may want to take in the Longevity Expo, scheduled for April 18 at the Maple Grove Community Center. Speakers at the event, which runs from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. will cover a wide ranges of topics including how to know when to begin receiving Social Security, and how to give monetary gifts to grandchildren.

Sarah Routman, a wellness instructor at the University of Minnesota, will lead sessions about laughter yoga at 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Her morning session will be followed at 11 a.m. by certiifed financial planner Mike Miller, who will talk about the ins and outs of Social Security. Jessica Zimerley, Celine Kitzenberg and Whitney Emanual will discuss long-term care, retirement planning and grandchild gifting at 1 p.m. Kim Pastor will follow at 2 p.m. with a session on reducing stress through seven easy-to-do activities. At 3 p.m., Sharon Peterson will talk about the connection between breath, physical fitness and energy.

On Stage 2, Voni Cameron, RN, will discuss how to weather menopause without drugs at 11 a.m. Hong Kim will follow at noon with a demonstration of Qi-Gong techniques. John Morse will conduct a self-defense seminar for women at 1 p.m. At 2 p.m., Dr. Jerry Zhou will talk about hearing impairment and why people can sometimes hear, but not understand conversations. He will be followed by chiropractor Ryan W. Nolte, who will discuss kinesiology, the study of muscle movement.

Admission to the Longevity Expo is $6 for adults, or free with the donation of a non-perishable food item. Donations go to the Moms & Neighbors Food Drive. The first 100 people through the door will receive a free goodie bag. Show hours are 10 am.-5 p.m.

For more information, contact Rick Martinek, 952-238-1700, or rick@mediamaxevents.com.

LongevityExpo-Passes

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HyVee grocery plan coming before BP Planning Commission on April 8 http://post.mnsun.com/2015/03/hyvee-grocery-plan-coming-before-bp-planning-commission-on-april-8/ http://post.mnsun.com/2015/03/hyvee-grocery-plan-coming-before-bp-planning-commission-on-april-8/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 15:00:23 +0000 http://post.mnsun.com/?p=132142 Grocery shoppers from Brooklyn Park and the surrounding communities could be shopping at a HyVee grocery store off of Highway 610 as soon as fall 2016.

The Ryan Companies’ plan for the approximate 98 acres of land bounded by 93rd Avenue North, Zane Avenue and Highway 610 include retail businesses such as the HyVee grocery store and commercial, retail, office/warehouse and high-tech manufacturing facilities. The Brooklyn Park Planning Commission will consider the comprehensive plan change and rezoning at the April 8 meeting. The city council could take action as soon as April 27. (Submitted graphic)

The Ryan Companies’ plan for the approximate 98 acres of land bounded by 93rd Avenue North, Zane Avenue and Highway 610 include retail businesses such as the HyVee grocery store and commercial, retail, office/warehouse and high-tech manufacturing facilities. The Brooklyn Park Planning Commission will consider the comprehensive plan change and rezoning at the April 8 meeting. The city council could take action as soon as April 27. (Submitted graphic)

First, plans by the West Des Moines, Iowa-based retailer to build a 90,000-square-foot store with a gas station and car wash and by developer Ryan Companies must go through the Brooklyn Park Planning Commission and city council.

The required change to the city’s comprehensive plan and rezoning, based on Ryan Companies current plans to develop the Astra Village site bounded by Highway 610, Zane Avenue, 93rd Avenue and Hampshire Avenue, will come before the planning commission on April 8. The matter is expected to be considered by the city council on April 27, according to city planning director Cindy Sherman.
The approximately 98-acre site is now zoned as city center, based on earlier plans to develop the land into both housing and office, warehouse and retail businesses, Sherman said. The requested zoning change will put the land in the commercial and business park zoning categories.

Ryan Company officials have fielded a number of inquiries from businesses about the development, according to Mark Schoening, senior vice president and national retail developer. While none of those inquiries have advanced yet, the plans for the HyVee store are set and moving forward.

“Our goal is to have HyVee open in the fall of 2016,” Schoening said March 24 at a community open house about the development. Construction would begin this fall, taking about a year before the store would be open for customers.

The Brooklyn Park HyVee is the fourth store to be built in the Twin Cities area, according to Phil Hoey, director of real estate for the employee-owned company. The stores in New Hope and Oakdale are under construction and are expected to open in September. Construction on a store in Lakeville begins this spring, Hoey said.

“There will be more stores to come,” Hoey added. “We will continue to seek opportunities in the metro area and surrounding counties.”

HyVee brings both a full-service model and cost-competitive pricing, Hoey said.

“We are all about service, whether you are talking about dietitians or pharmacists to the seafood counter,” he said.

HyVee stores have specialists in each department to assist customers with choosing meat and seafood, matching cheese and wine or selecting artisan breads, along with dietitians to provide healthy eating advice and pharmacists to guide consumers with prescription medication.

The store also brings jobs, with 400 to 500 employees expected to work at the Brooklyn Park store, Hoey said.

The company has 238 stores in eight Midwestern states, including Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota, as well as stores in southern Minnesota cities for years.

Beyond HyVee, the plans include seven additional buildings on the site including commercial, retail, office and warehouse space and high-tech commercial manufacturing.

Contact Gretchen Schlosser at gretchen.schlosser@ecm-inc.com

 

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Breck student volunteer honored http://post.mnsun.com/2015/03/breck-student-volunteer-honored/ http://post.mnsun.com/2015/03/breck-student-volunteer-honored/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 13:00:48 +0000 http://post.mnsun.com/?p=131939 Golden Valley resident and Breck School junior Shivani Nookala was honored as one of Minnesota’s top two youth volunteers in 2015 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.

Nookala received a silver medallion at the March 19 presentation.

She was acknowledged for beginning an indoor, vertical community garden at her school and leading a group of 10 students who work on the garden every day to provide fresh produce to area food shelves.

In addition to her medallion, she also received $1,000 and an all-expense-paid trip in May to Washington D.C. for national recognition. During her trip, 10 of the state honorees will be named America’s top youth volunteers.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a partnership between Prudential Financial and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, is the nation’s largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service.

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Security measures continue in New Hope http://post.mnsun.com/2015/03/security-measures-continue-in-new-hope/ http://post.mnsun.com/2015/03/security-measures-continue-in-new-hope/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 13:00:26 +0000 http://post.mnsun.com/?p=131919 Following the shooting at New Hope City Hall Jan. 26, city staff and the police department has worked to ensure the safety of all who visit the facility.

Although the January incident was isolated and there is no longer a threat to the city, the council requested a police presence at every council meeting at minimum.

Beginning Feb. 9, and occurring the second and fourth Monday of each month, Police Chief Tim Fournier sits at the front dias with council members, staff and consultants. Additional security is provided by a few officers who are posted in the lobby as well.

The third Monday of every month is the council’s work session which allows time for informal discussion among council members, staff and consultants. Either Fournier or Captain Scott Slawson attends said meetings.

In addition to providing security during city council meetings, officers can be seen pulling duty during other evening commission and group meetings held at city hall.

It was said that this arrangement would continue for several weeks before being re-evaluated.

On March 16, with Fournier in attendance, the council and staff discussed security measures moving forward.

“We want to make sure everyone who attends our meetings feels safe,” said City Manager Kirk McDonald.

Although Mayor Kathi Hemken and each council member expressed that they continue to feel safe within city hall, most understood the desire and need for additional security in the aftermath of Jan. 26.

Councilmember Jonathan London did not feel the security was necessary.

“I’m not for increasing extra safety,” he said. “I don’t think having extra arms in the room will prevent anything. I would be one for going back to normalcy because unless there’s a known threat then I’m all for bringing in whatever security is necessary.”

The council agreed it was lucky to have the presence of the officers in attendance that night at that specific time, but some members did not want to leave everyone’s safety to luck.

Councilmember John Elder pointed out that Fournier typically sits in the back corner of the council chambers away from the door. Seated there he cannot see who comes through the door until they are already inside the chambers.

“Originally, I had been against increased security,” Elder said. “But I don’t want anybody who ever comes to a council meeting to ever feel like they’re not safe. If that means to have a chief or captain sit in there for the sake of the residents, I would say yes.”

Elder commended the police department’s command staff for adjusting work hours in order to provide security for meetings while avoiding overtime.

Councilmember Eric Lammle, who says he felt safe even on Jan. 26, believes some security measures should continue to be taken.

Hemken said she has received several calls from residents who have voiced appreciation of adding Fournier to the dias as it makes them feel safe.

Fournier views it as a change in seating arrangement more than anything as he often attends the council meetings anyway. He, too, believes his presence can help avoid incidents.

“If I’m going to deter someone from getting up and acting up, I’m happy to do it,” he said. “I’m at (the council’s) disposal however you want to use me.”

He is hopeful that New Hope’s incident will aid in changing city security measures throughout the nation.

“What happened was unfortunate, but I’m glad we were there,” he said. “Although such incidents are rare, our event caused a ripple effect nationwide. City governments are reassessing security protocols and assigning officers to their own council meetings. Since we cannot predict all behavior, the presence of a trained police officer not only acts as a deterrent but it provides a level of security the citizens have come to expect in public facilities.”

Fournier and his officers will continue to serve as security at city hall until further notice.

“It is the responsibility of the police department to ensure the safety and security to all who enter city hall, and I take that very seriously,” Fournier said.

Contact Gina Purcell at gina.purcell@ecm-inc.com

 
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Lowering Your 2015 Taxes http://post.mnsun.com/2015/03/lowering-your-2015-taxes/ http://post.mnsun.com/2015/03/lowering-your-2015-taxes/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 22:30:22 +0000 http://post.mnsun.com/?guid=b72e53d000822e1e92eb521e3b8643a0 With 2014 well over and the spring of 2015 looming, you may find yourself gathering all of last year’s tax information and getting ready to file your income taxes. Maybe you expect a refund or maybe you dread writing a check to Uncle Sam. If the latter, here are some tips to reduce your tax burden for 2015.

Contribute more to your 401(k). You make these contributions in your retirement plan before you pay tax on the money. This lowers the amount of your taxable income, potentially reducing the amount you may owe at tax time and increasing your retirement savings.

Contribute enough of a percentage of your pay to get your employer match. Many employers match around 5% of an employee’s pay.

Take advantage of a deductible individual retirement account contribution. If your employer doesn’t offer a plan, set up and automatically save post-tax dollars to an individual retirement account. Your contributions to a traditional IRA may be tax-deductible; withdrawals from a Roth IRA in your retirement will be tax-free.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, your total contributions to all of your traditional and Roth IRAs this year cannot be more than $5,500 ($6,500 if you’re 50 or older) or your taxable compensation for the year if your compensation was less than this dollar limit.

Generally, your deduction for the above IRAs may drop or completely disappear if you already have a workplace 401(k) available and your income exceeds certain limits.

Increase withholding. Changing the amount withheld from your paycheck can help you decrease, if not eliminate, what you owe at tax time. An IRS calculator helps you figure how much to withhold and how much of your paycheck to keep.

Events during the year may also change your marital status or the exemptions, adjustments, deductions or credits you expect to claim on your tax return. You may need to give your employer a new IRS Form W-4 to change your withholding status or number of allowances.

Make your home energy-efficient. Investing in lowering your home’s energy consumption may open up credits to in turn lower your overall tax bill.

Improvements qualifying for credits include devices to harness solar and wind energy, geothermal heat pumps and electricity-producing fuel cells. These credits often cover almost a third of the cost of installation. You can also credit up to $500 for more usual improvements such as insulation, exterior doors and windows and heating and cooling equipment.

To see if you qualify for these credits, click here.

Start or increase your charitable giving. Giving to help others not only feels good – the IRS also provides some tax breaks for charitable givers. From giving to your church to donating items to the local foundation, you can open your heart and lower your tax bill.

These breaks do come with conditions:

  • You can’t deduct contributions to specific individuals, political organizations and candidates, and you must give to a qualified organization. See IRS Publication 526, “Charitable Contributions,” for what constitutes such an organization and for income limits to claim deductions.
  • To deduct a charitable contribution, you must file IRS Form 1040 when you file your taxes, and you must itemize deductions on Schedule A.
  • If you receive a benefit because of your contribution such as merchandise, event tickets or other goods and services, you can deduct only the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Sterling Raskie, MSFS, MBA, CFP, is an independent, fee-only financial planner at Blankenship Financial Planning in New Berlin, Ill. He is an adjunct professor teaching courses in math, finance, insurance and investments. His blog is Getting Your Financial Ducks in a Row, where he writes regularly about investments, retirement savings and financial planning.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

 

 

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With 2014 well over and the spring of 2015 looming, you may find yourself gathering all of last year’s tax information and getting ready to file your income taxes. Maybe you expect a refund or maybe you dread writing a check to Uncle Sam. If the latter, here are some tips to reduce your tax burden for 2015.

Contribute more to your 401(k). You make these contributions in your retirement plan before you pay tax on the money. This lowers the amount of your taxable income, potentially reducing the amount you may owe at tax time and increasing your retirement savings.

Contribute enough of a percentage of your pay to get your employer match. Many employers match around 5% of an employee’s pay.

Take advantage of a deductible individual retirement account contribution. If your employer doesn’t offer a plan, set up and automatically save post-tax dollars to an individual retirement account. Your contributions to a traditional IRA may be tax-deductible; withdrawals from a Roth IRA in your retirement will be tax-free.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, your total contributions to all of your traditional and Roth IRAs this year cannot be more than $5,500 ($6,500 if you’re 50 or older) or your taxable compensation for the year if your compensation was less than this dollar limit.

Generally, your deduction for the above IRAs may drop or completely disappear if you already have a workplace 401(k) available and your income exceeds certain limits.

Increase withholding. Changing the amount withheld from your paycheck can help you decrease, if not eliminate, what you owe at tax time. An IRS calculator helps you figure how much to withhold and how much of your paycheck to keep.

Events during the year may also change your marital status or the exemptions, adjustments, deductions or credits you expect to claim on your tax return. You may need to give your employer a new IRS Form W-4 to change your withholding status or number of allowances.

Make your home energy-efficient. Investing in lowering your home’s energy consumption may open up credits to in turn lower your overall tax bill.

Improvements qualifying for credits include devices to harness solar and wind energy, geothermal heat pumps and electricity-producing fuel cells. These credits often cover almost a third of the cost of installation. You can also credit up to $500 for more usual improvements such as insulation, exterior doors and windows and heating and cooling equipment.

To see if you qualify for these credits, click here.

Start or increase your charitable giving. Giving to help others not only feels good – the IRS also provides some tax breaks for charitable givers. From giving to your church to donating items to the local foundation, you can open your heart and lower your tax bill.

These breaks do come with conditions:

  • You can’t deduct contributions to specific individuals, political organizations and candidates, and you must give to a qualified organization. See IRS Publication 526, “Charitable Contributions,” for what constitutes such an organization and for income limits to claim deductions.
  • To deduct a charitable contribution, you must file IRS Form 1040 when you file your taxes, and you must itemize deductions on Schedule A.
  • If you receive a benefit because of your contribution such as merchandise, event tickets or other goods and services, you can deduct only the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Sterling Raskie, MSFS, MBA, CFP, is an independent, fee-only financial planner at Blankenship Financial Planning in New Berlin, Ill. He is an adjunct professor teaching courses in math, finance, insurance and investments. His blog is Getting Your Financial Ducks in a Row, where he writes regularly about investments, retirement savings and financial planning.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

 

 

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Boosting Singles’ Benefits http://post.mnsun.com/2015/03/boosting-singles-benefits/ http://post.mnsun.com/2015/03/boosting-singles-benefits/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 22:30:10 +0000 http://post.mnsun.com/?guid=5d9b2a46c278bd1120ea7de1c72897be If you’re like most who think about how much you need for your golden years, you probably calculated based on still having a spouse. Widows, widowers and divorcees approaching retirement and about to file for Social Security, though, need to recognize filing options that can significantly increase monthly benefits.

While rules are different for surviving spouses and divorcees than for those still married, you have options as a single senior. You may be able to file for spousal or survivor benefits instead of your own.

Widows and widowers. I recently met with a widowed client who was approaching age 66, which Social Security defines as her full retirement age (FRA). She lost her husband more than 25 years ago, never remarried and didn’t know to claim her survivor benefits (based on the work record of her deceased husband) instead of her own.

A survivor may be entitled up to 100% of his or her spouse’s Social Security benefit if not remarrying before age 60. When we compared both my client’s and her late husband’s monthly benefits, we found that she qualified to collect either her benefit of $2,300 at 66 or her survivor benefit of $2,000 based on her husband’s account. (A deceased spouse’s benefit continually increases to adjust for inflation.)

Most people would choose the higher benefit – in this case, her own. But each person’s individual benefits grow if delayed until age 70; survivor benefits do not. In her situation, her own benefit increases to approximately $3,130 per month if she waits four more years to claim it.

Since she can do without the additional $300 per month, she decided to take her survivor benefits now and switch to her own larger monthly benefit when she turns 70. If she lives to 90, she will collect approximately $185,000 more in benefits using this strategy rather than just collecting her own benefits now, at her FRA.

Divorcees. You can also claim spousal benefits on your ex-spouse’s record. Divorcees’ spousal benefits are typically 50% of the full retirement benefits of the ex-spouse who qualified for such benefits. You must be at least 62 and not remarried and your marriage had to last 10 or more years.

The benefits of your ex-spouse must be higher than your own when you begin claiming yours. As with surviving spousal benefits, this claiming strategy allows you to collect some income before claiming your own full benefit at 70.

If your ex-spouse dies before you do, you may also qualify to collect his or her full survivor benefit instead of the 50% spousal benefit if, again, your marriage spanned at least 10 years. Note: If you are caring for a child younger than 16 or who is disabled, and receives benefits on the record of your former spouse, you do not need to meet the length-of-marriage rule. The child must be your former spouse’s natural or legally adopted child.

We recommend that you start this process at least three months before you want to start collecting these benefits. You will need your late or ex-spouse’s Social Security number and date of birth.

Rules for claiming Social Security benefits are very complicated, so it’s best to consult with a financial advisor or Social Security specialist to understand all options. Ask questions and do the math to make your retirement years even more golden.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Barry Glassman, CFP, is the founder and president of Glassman Wealth Services, a fee-only investment management, financial planning and wealth management firm in McLean, Va. He has been honored with just about every Top Financial Advisor Award from the financial planning industry and his peers in publications including Barron’sInvestment News, Reuters, Washingtonian and Virginia Business. Barry provides investment and financial planning commentary on WTOP radio in the Washington, DC area. He is a member of the elite CNBC Financial Advisors Council and contributing writer at CNBC.com, Forbes.com, WTOP.com, Investment News and Financial Planning. Follow Barry on Twitter at @BarryGlassman. His website is www.glassmanwealth.com.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

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If you’re like most who think about how much you need for your golden years, you probably calculated based on still having a spouse. Widows, widowers and divorcees approaching retirement and about to file for Social Security, though, need to recognize filing options that can significantly increase monthly benefits.

While rules are different for surviving spouses and divorcees than for those still married, you have options as a single senior. You may be able to file for spousal or survivor benefits instead of your own.

Widows and widowers. I recently met with a widowed client who was approaching age 66, which Social Security defines as her full retirement age (FRA). She lost her husband more than 25 years ago, never remarried and didn’t know to claim her survivor benefits (based on the work record of her deceased husband) instead of her own.

A survivor may be entitled up to 100% of his or her spouse’s Social Security benefit if not remarrying before age 60. When we compared both my client’s and her late husband’s monthly benefits, we found that she qualified to collect either her benefit of $2,300 at 66 or her survivor benefit of $2,000 based on her husband’s account. (A deceased spouse’s benefit continually increases to adjust for inflation.)

Most people would choose the higher benefit – in this case, her own. But each person’s individual benefits grow if delayed until age 70; survivor benefits do not. In her situation, her own benefit increases to approximately $3,130 per month if she waits four more years to claim it.

Since she can do without the additional $300 per month, she decided to take her survivor benefits now and switch to her own larger monthly benefit when she turns 70. If she lives to 90, she will collect approximately $185,000 more in benefits using this strategy rather than just collecting her own benefits now, at her FRA.

Divorcees. You can also claim spousal benefits on your ex-spouse’s record. Divorcees’ spousal benefits are typically 50% of the full retirement benefits of the ex-spouse who qualified for such benefits. You must be at least 62 and not remarried and your marriage had to last 10 or more years.

The benefits of your ex-spouse must be higher than your own when you begin claiming yours. As with surviving spousal benefits, this claiming strategy allows you to collect some income before claiming your own full benefit at 70.

If your ex-spouse dies before you do, you may also qualify to collect his or her full survivor benefit instead of the 50% spousal benefit if, again, your marriage spanned at least 10 years. Note: If you are caring for a child younger than 16 or who is disabled, and receives benefits on the record of your former spouse, you do not need to meet the length-of-marriage rule. The child must be your former spouse’s natural or legally adopted child.

We recommend that you start this process at least three months before you want to start collecting these benefits. You will need your late or ex-spouse’s Social Security number and date of birth.

Rules for claiming Social Security benefits are very complicated, so it’s best to consult with a financial advisor or Social Security specialist to understand all options. Ask questions and do the math to make your retirement years even more golden.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Barry Glassman, CFP, is the founder and president of Glassman Wealth Services, a fee-only investment management, financial planning and wealth management firm in McLean, Va. He has been honored with just about every Top Financial Advisor Award from the financial planning industry and his peers in publications including Barron’sInvestment News, Reuters, Washingtonian and Virginia Business. Barry provides investment and financial planning commentary on WTOP radio in the Washington, DC area. He is a member of the elite CNBC Financial Advisors Council and contributing writer at CNBC.com, Forbes.com, WTOP.com, Investment News and Financial Planning. Follow Barry on Twitter at @BarryGlassman. His website is www.glassmanwealth.com.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

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