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Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Crafting the Marriage Journey in Later Life: A Manual for Older Adults

Guest Blog by Nicole Rubin

Tying the knot later in life has its unique challenges and blessings. This guide offers a well-rounded approach to maneuvering the various aspects of senior marriage, from fostering emotional intimacy to making well-informed choices in finance and healthcare. In this article, we focus on building a gratifying and secure life together, embracing this new phase with both wisdom and joy.

Foster Emotional Resilience

Emotional resilience forms the cornerstone of any lasting relationship, more so when the couple is in their golden years. Compassion and acceptance are virtues that become even more meaningful with age. For example, managing expectations. Acknowledge that both of you bring a wealth of experiences, and sometimes, emotional baggage into the relationship. Maturity can be your ally here, helping you navigate conflicts and differences with grace.

Prioritize Shared Experiences

It becomes increasingly important to invest in activities that you both enjoy. Perhaps it's as simple as reading a book together or as engaging as traveling to a place neither of you has been before. Whatever the activity, it serves as a way to deepen your relationship. For instance, joining a community club through sites like Meetup can not only be fulfilling but also opens doors to socialize as a couple. Another example could be learning a new skill together, like cooking or dancing, which not only enriches your lives but also strengthens your emotional connection.

Evaluate Housing Options

When it comes to choosing where to live, researching home prices or rentals in your target area is a step that you can’t afford to skip. For example, if you’re interested in finding a rental to live closer to family, research housing prices in their vicinity. If you’re both avid travelers, you might want to consider downsizing to a smaller home, which could free up funds for your adventures.

Navigate Financial Conversations

Understanding the financial landscape is crucial when entering a late-life marriage. Money discussions should not be taboo. For many, this may involve blending assets or discussing retirement plans. Take time to consult with a financial advisor to ensure both of you are on the same page. For example, if one partner has more assets than the other, it’s important to discuss how to handle these in a manner that is fair and agreeable to both.

Organize Digital Records

Next, there's the often-overlooked aspect of managing your digital life. Thanks to mobile scanning apps, you can scan a document quickly, thereby making record-keeping easier than ever. An example of this is storing your medical records digitally, so they're always easily accessible.

Optimize Health Coverage

Your health is an invaluable asset. Therefore, reviewing your existing health coverage options should be on your priority list. Whether you're switching to a joint health insurance policy or maintaining individual ones, ensure that you're adequately covered. For example, if one partner has specific medical needs, make sure those are accounted for in whichever policy you choose.

Engage in Legal Planning

Legal matters, particularly concerning your estate and healthcare decisions, should not be overlooked. It’s advisable to consult with an attorney to make sure all your bases are covered. For instance, drafting a living will can help ensure your healthcare wishes are respected. Similarly, making your spouse the executor of your estate can help prevent potential legal tussles among family members.

Start a Business Together

Embarking on a business venture as a senior couple can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor, turning years of experience into a profitable enterprise. It's a chance to work together, leverage your accumulated wisdom, and create a legacy that embodies your shared values and passions. Forming an LLC offers several benefits including limited personal liability, less administrative paperwork, and tax advantages. You can form a limited liability company through ZenBusiness or hire an attorney.

Establish Life Milestones

Setting shared life goals can give you both something to strive for in this new chapter. Whether it’s a goal to travel to new places or to spend more time with family, having a shared vision can add a layer of cohesion and purpose to your relationship. These goals can serve as a roadmap, guiding you and your partner through the adventure that your later years will surely be.

Navigating marriage as a senior couple offers a unique blend of challenges and opportunities. It requires an integrated approach that melds emotional resilience with practical wisdom. By harmoniously blending these elements, senior couples can face this new chapter fortified with a sense of purpose and well-being.

About the Author

Nicole Rubin worked in the health insurance industry for years, spending the majority of her time fielding questions from people concerning their coverage and medical bills. She created Insureabilities to provide up-to-date information on the state of health insurance in the U.S.

Guest Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Thursday, January 18, 2024

5 Ways to Stick to Your New Year's Resolution

The quest to fulfill New Year's resolutions is an admirable endeavor, but the path to success often has its challenges. In this blog, we will dive into essential strategies to help you enhance your resolution journey.

  1. Surround yourself with the right people

Surrounding yourself with individuals who genuinely support and encourage your goals can make a huge difference in your journey towards achievement. A strong support network serves as a source of motivation during challenging times, offering both emotional and practical assistance. Whether it's friends, family, or like-minded individuals sharing similar aspirations, having a community that understands your vision provides a sense of accountability and camaraderie. These allies not only celebrate your victories but can also offer guidance and empathy when faced with setbacks.

  1. Embrace progress, not perfection

Embracing progress over perfection is a powerful mindset that fosters sustainable growth and self-compassion. Striving for perfection can often lead to discouragement and a sense of failure, making your journey to success more difficult. Celebrating small victories creates a positive atmosphere, motivating you to persist in your resolution journey. Embracing progress acknowledges setbacks as a natural part of growth, promoting a realistic and sustainable approach. This mindset values the journey, making the resolution experience not only achievable but also fulfilling.

  1. Journal your progress

Journaling is a great tool to use when aiming to achieve New Year's resolutions. It provides a tangible record of your journey, offering insights into successes and challenges. By documenting experiences and achievements, you gain a clearer understanding of your goals. Journaling fosters self-reflection, helping you identify patterns and celebrate milestones. Revisiting your journal during setbacks serves as motivation, showcasing progress and reinforcing your commitment. Whether digital or traditional, the practice becomes a valuable companion, guiding you with mindfulness and purpose.

  1. Break down big resolutions into smaller steps

Breaking down big resolutions into small, manageable steps is a game-changer in achieving New Year's goals. This approach transforms overwhelming aspirations into bite-sized tasks, making the journey more attainable. Setting realistic milestones and tracking progress step by step fosters a sense of achievement and motivation. This incremental strategy not only propels individuals forward but also instills confidence, turning larger objectives into a series of achievable victories.

5. Embrace setbacks

In the pursuit of New Year's resolutions, the ability to learn from setbacks and turn challenges into comebacks is a transformative skill. Setbacks are not roadblocks but rather opportunities for growth. By approaching obstacles with a mindset of learning and adaptation, individuals can learn valuable lessons from each experience. Understanding the root causes of setbacks allows for strategic adjustments and enhances problem-solving skills. Moreover, turning challenges into comebacks instills a sense of determination and perseverance. It's not about avoiding difficulties but navigating through them with a new and fresh perspective. 

Remember, resolutions are not just about end results but the transformative process that unfolds along the way. Embrace the journey with a mindset that values progress over perfection, and you'll discover the resilience and determination needed to achieve your aspirations. Whether building a support system, recording your progress, or navigating setbacks with grace, these strategies collectively guide you towards a successful New Year's resolution. Here's to a year of growth, resilience, and the successful realization of your goals!

Brought to you by Tara Schumann, Digital Media Specialist for The Society of Certified Senior Advisors.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Improve Your Health — Without Hitting the Gym

Going to the gym for an hour can’t compensate for sitting the rest of the day. What you do (or don’t do) throughout your waking time has a big impact on health.

We’ve been led to believe that if we hit the gym a few days a week, we can rest assured we’re doing okay on the exercise front. Not so, according to new research. The low-effort movements that you do throughout the day (think shopping for groceries, taking the stairs, tapping a foot to music, etc.) provide big benefits. 

These activities burn calories, a concept known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT. Every physical activity outside of eating, sleeping, or sports-like exercise counts. 

The body burns calories in three major ways:
  • Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is how much energy you expend in a comfortable temperature after fasting 12 hours. In non-athletes, it accounts for 60 to 70% of energy expenditure. It’s how much your body needs to circulate blood, breathe, and maintain other vital functions.
  • Diet-induced thermogenesis is the energy needed to digest, absorb, and store food in the body. It makes up 10-12% of the energy expended in a non-athlete.
  • Physical activity is everything your body does to move, maintain posture, and contract muscles. It accounts for 6 to 10% of energy expenditure and can be further broken down into deliberate exercise and NEAT.

How to Add NEAT to Your Routine

  • Take the stairs
  • Park farther away than you need to
  • Walk or cycle to your destination
  • Do household chores
  • Do yard work
  • Stand up more than you sit
  • Take walking breaks
  • Dance to a video
  • Stand up and sit down 10 times

Don’t be fooled into thinking that such a small fraction of energy use must have a correspondingly small impact on your well-being. People in Blue Zones, where longevity is at its peak, have been found to do a lot of NEAT activity and almost no gym exercise or sports. In fact, NEAT has been linked most strongly with longevity and body weight management. There is a strong link between the overall time spent sitting down and the risk of dying early.

“Metabolic syndrome, poor blood sugar management, and type 2 diabetes are all related to large amounts of seated time, independent of how much someone exercises,” says Kelsey Graham, a professor in the Exercise Science Department of San Diego Mesa College and owner/founder of KBG Wellness.

The average adult spends nine to 10 hours per day seated, according to the National Institutes of Health. Alarmingly, scientists have found higher levels of triglycerides, blood sugar, and C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation, in the blood of people who are very sedentary. 

“It's those heart health markers that are really concerning for people who are studying this,” says Sabrena Jo, director of science and research content for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). It doesn’t take long for the damage to start. After merely a single day of inactivity, HDL or good cholesterol begins to dip.

But don’t your gym visits counteract these effects? “Thirty- or 60-minute workouts can't make up for the long unbroken periods of sedentary activities in terms of cardiometabolic health,” says Jo, while acknowledging that it will be “quite a mental shift" for Americans to accept that sweating it out for an hour isn’t enough. 

“Regular light movement is just as important for health as regimented exercise,” says Kelsey Graham, a professor in the Exercise Science Department of San Diego Mesa College and owner/founder of KBG Wellness.

NEAT Burns Calories

Dr. James Levine, an endocrinologist who pioneered research on NEAT while at the Mayo Clinic and now heads the nonprofit Foundation Ipsen, has been studying how NEAT movement affects our energy use, or how many calories we burn. 

Levine notes that sitting at a computer uses 5 to 7% more calories than lying down, but if he gets up to fold and iron clothes, that number goes up to 15%. “It all changes the moment I start to walk,” he says. Casually walking at the speed you might take while shopping can double your metabolic rate. Even chewing gum will burn about 20 calories an hour. 

While there are no guidelines yet on how much NEAT exercise is optimal, experts suggest standing or walking every 30 minutes for five minutes or more will bring positive benefits. You don’t have to do jumping jacks (although that will work); more modest exercise, like going to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, will do. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Your 2023 Taxes

Tax season is here. We’ve got the numbers seniors need to know for 2023 limits and deductions. 

January signals a new start … and a fresh tax season. Bah humbug! But you can prepare by going through the 2023 tax brackets, where income bumped up significantly due to inflation. You may also be able to find deductions in the SECURE 2.0 Act and Inflation Reduction Act.

Income Tax Brackets

Let’s start with the basics. Tax brackets for earned income stayed the same while qualifying income got higher to keep in line with the inflation we saw, particularly at the beginning of last year. Those married filing separately share brackets with single filers.

Tax Rate Single Filers Married Filing Jointly Heads of Household
10% Less than $11,000 Less than $22,000 Less than $15,700
12% $11,000 - $44,725 $22,000 - $89,450 $15,700 - $59,850
22% $44,726 - $95,375 $89,451 - $190,750 $59,851 - $95,350
24% $95,376 - $182,100 $190,751 - $364,200 $95,351 - $182,100
32% $182,100 - $231,250 $364,200 - $462,500 $182,100 - $231,250
35% $231,251 - $578,125 $462,501 - $693,750 $231,251 - $578,100
37% $578,126 and up $693,751 and up $578,101 and up
                     Source: Internal Revenue Service

Long-term capital gains (on assets you own longer than a year) tax brackets stayed the same, while income to qualify for each went up. Married people filing individually have the same rate as singles.

Tax Rate Single Filers Married Filing Jointly Heads of Household
0% Less than $44,625 Less than $89,250 Less than $59,750
15% $44,626 – $492,300 $89,251 – $553,850 $59,751 – $523,050
20% Over $492,300 Over $553,850 Over $523,050
                     Source: Internal Revenue Service

Changes Coming in 2026

Several estate and income tax provisions will sunset after 2025 unless Congress moves to extend them. Keep these in mind as you do your tax planning for the next few years. The lifetime estate and gift tax exemption will be cut approximately in half for estates (affecting high net-worth people), while it’s not clear what will happen to the gift tax exemption. 

Income tax brackets are expected to change for nearly all levels except the bottom two. What is now 22% will become 25%, 24% will become 28%, 32% will change to 33%, 35% will stay the same and 37% will become 39%.

Standard deductions will revert back to lower levels, encouraging more tax filers to itemize. 
The mortgage interest deduction limit will bump back up to $1 million. Read a full list of projected changes and talk over possible changes to your portfolio with your financial advisor and/or tax professional. 

The standard deduction amount went up across all categories. Singles may claim $13,850, married couples filing jointly get $27,700, and heads of households qualify for $20,800. Add $1,850 if you’re at least 65 or blind, and $3,700 if both of those apply to you. 

Online Sellers

Many older adults get extra income by online or small-scale selling, and they can breathe a sigh of relief. The IRS decided not to implement new rules this year requiring third-party settlement networks such as PayPal, Venmo, and Square Stubhub to send out Form 1099-K to clients who were paid more than $600 for goods and services. The reporting limit remains $20,000 for 2023. 

Retirement Savings Rules

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) now start at age 73 for those who turned 72 in 2022. Your broker can help you determine the correct amount to withdraw from traditional IRAs, 401(k)s and other workplace plans. Seniors who turned 73 in 2023 must take a withdrawal by April 1, although if you are still working you can usually put off taking the withdrawal from the retirement plan at your current employer. 

The government lowered the penalty for folks who fail to take their RMD, although it’s still significant. The tax for such a lapse is now 25% (down from 50%) of the missing amount. Fix your mistake promptly and they’ll lower that to 10%.

Still saving for retirement? The amounts you can tuck away have gone up. New limits on contributions for traditional IRAs and Roth accounts are $6,500, with an additional $1,000 added for people 50 and older. Roth IRA income limits are less than $153,000 for single filers and under $228,000 for people married, filing jointly. Check here for details.

Alternative Minimum Tax

If you may wind up paying the alternative minimum tax, you’ll be happy to know income limits have gone up for 2023. Single filers and heads of household must make at least $81,300, and married couples filing jointly start at $126,500. For specifics, check here.

Other changes from 2023 include residential clean energy credit, energy-efficient home improvement credit, and a clean vehicle credit. Additionally, older adults who are still working can take advantage of bumps in amounts they can add to retirement savings

That’s a lot of good news that should translate to more and bigger tax refunds when you file. 


This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional financial advice from a qualified financial advisor.

Monday, January 8, 2024

Should You Buy a Second Home?

Seniors in the market for a vacation property have a lot to consider before making the leap, from location and cost to financing and use. Here’s the lowdown.

For many older adults, part of the American dream is owning a second home. A recent Ameriprise Financial survey of financial advisors found an estimated two out of three high net worth clients (those with more than $1 million in investable wealth) own a second home, and a third of their clients who don’t are interested in having one in the future.

Part of the reason the number is so high, of course, are the many years prior to March 2022 when interest rates, and thus mortgages, were at historic lows. Most buyers could afford to use the property as a vacation home.

Why Have a Second Home?

“The data uncovered that the vast majority (81%) of affluent clients primarily use second homes as a vacation destination or a place to get away from the stresses of everyday life,” said Marcy Keckler, senior vice president of financial advice strategy at Ameriprise Financial. “Other common reasons were better weather (49%), rental income (41%), and having a venue for gatherings (25%) with family and friends.”

A third of those surveyed had an ulterior motive for the purchase; they will move into their second home when they retire. 

“There can be an advantage to purchasing a second home before you’re done working so that you can pay off the mortgage before you officially retire,” Keckler said. “This strategy can make it easier to weather future economic downturns by eliminating or reducing a significant monthly expense.” 

Seniors Financing a Vacation Home

If you can pay cash for that home on the lake, more power to you. You’ll have a more competitive offer. You may be able to borrow against investments. “Ask your advisor to help you weigh the pros and cons of different financing options, as well as how the additional outlay might affect your progress toward other important financial goals,” says Kathryn Thompson, a Merrill Financial Advisor in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

But if you will be financing, prepare to meet more stringent underwriting requirements and contribute a heftier downpayment than with your primary home. Additionally, mortgages for second homes usually run 0.5% to 0.75% higher, although in some cases they may actually be less than listed rates if the home is not rented out.

You’ll want to check your credit score, since a number below 640 will likely put you out of the running for traditional financing. However, if you have a lot of equity in your first home, you may be able to use it to buy your second.
  • A cash-out refinance is when you get a new mortgage on your home. Most lenders will finance up to 85% of the value of your home. But you’ll have closing costs and the interest is figured at today’s rates.
  • A home equity loan or HELOC uses your home as collateral to generate a second mortgage. Home equity loans are generally distributed as fixed-rate, lump sum loans. HELOCs, which have variable rates, are more often paid out for expenses over time. Both of these options may enable you to draw 85 to 90% of your home’s equity.

Be aware that to meet most lender requirements to be classified as a vacation home you’ll have to keep it for your personal use and enjoyment at least six months of the year. It must be a single unit, and if you do short-term rentals, it can’t be managed by a property management company. It also must be at least 50 miles away from your primary residence. Check with individual lenders to verify their rules.

Is Owning Another Home Right for You?

Consider all the implications of owning a second home before you buy. Would it be cheaper to rent a place and not have to worry if the air conditioner needs to be replaced or a tornado comes through? If you envision years of family gatherings, talk to your children first. They may prefer a ski vacation over a place on the water in Florida, for example. Will they want to come visit often?

Don’t forget that another home comes with its own headaches no matter where it is located. Things break and wear out. Expenses for HOAs, property taxes and the like go up. You may decide you need to update, and who’s going to take care of the lawn?

Make sure to visit the area several times before you commit. Go in the off season to experience the worst weather. Eat at the local restaurants, shop and stay for a while to see if you’re bored or enthralled. Would you have more fun choosing different areas to visit, making rental a lot more fun than being tied to one spot?

Renting Out a Second Home

One way to defray some of the costs of another house is to rent it out part of the year. First make sure the community and/or town doesn’t have restrictions against renters. Talk to a local real estate agent about what similar places are renting for.

You may be able to deduct operating expenses, depreciation and repairs, mortgage interest, and property taxes, depending on how you are renting the home out. Talk to your tax professional about deductions and the guidelines around them.

More people in the home will mean more headaches and more wear and tear on the place, including furnishings. You’ll need a reliable cleaner and someone to manage for you, unless you want to take on that considerable job. Management may cost about 10 to 12% of what you bring in. Additionally, you may find that the season when you want most to be at your vacation home is the same one when most of your rental profits can be made. 

Whatever you decide, be sure and consult financial, tax and real estate professionals before making up your mind. While real estate tends to appreciate over time, there are eras and situations when that has not occurred. Do your homework before you commit, and you may just find your dream (second) home.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Seniors With Too Many Emails: Help Has Arrived!

Are you embarrassed about the number of unread and old emails in your Gmail inbox? Read on to discover ways to organize, delete, and unsubscribe from emails to take back control.

Email can be a quick, effective way to transfer files, keep in touch with the people we love, and share information. But the truth is that many of you have inboxes stuffed with thousands of unread and old messages that you don’t need to keep. It winds up costing you every month for unneeded data storage. And you may not even want to open your inbox because it’s stuffed with junk mail.

How to Organize in Gmail

Most people use Gmail accounts for their email, so we’ll concentrate on it.

Gmail uses labels instead of folders. You can put more than one label on an email, so they’re super flexible. You can even add color to labels to make it easier for old eyes to distinguish them quickly. Label and group every email you are keeping, and it will be a snap to find them again. 

Gmail Add-ons and Extensions

The Inbox Pause add-on lets you put a hold on new emails until you want to receive them. If you feel overwhelmed by constant emails coming in, just turn it on.

The Chrome extension Checker Plus for Gmail sends notifications of new emails instantly to your browser. That way, you can read and delete email without having to open it somewhere else, and you can use the text-to-speech engine to listen to emails instead of using them.

Auto Text Expander allows you to use 4G artificial intelligence to avoid repetitive tasks. It will generate emails and chats that you can use again and again.

Apps for Email

There are many apps to help you organize your email. Most are free with an enhanced version you must pony up for.

  • Spark keeps your inbox clean.
  • Shift organizes and streamlines all your apps.
  • unenrolls you from spam email.
  • FollowUpThen offers help dealing with your inbox. 
  • IFTTT A play on “if this, then that” it will automate actions for your emails.
Use more than one email address, then use the feature to group them all together, called Multiple Inboxes. Multiple inboxes will allow you to look at all of your inboxes in one place. 

Use the archive feature to hide emails you don’t need. You can still find them again by clicking on the All Mail label in the menu on the left.

Make unread emails easier to find by always having them go to the top by changing a single setting. In the Inbox tab, change it from Default to Unread First.

If you’d like to keep your brain sharp by learning something new, take a stab at memorizing all of Gmail’s keyboard shortcuts. There are 11 shortcuts to allow you to quickly do things like archive, report as spam, or put type in bold.

Use dots in your Gmail addresses. Hot tip: Gmail doesn’t distinguish between 
So you can give different addresses to different people and companies instead of creating different inboxes. Google will still be aware of the difference, so you can create filters by assigning them different-colored labels and Google will sort them automatically.

You can create email aliases by using a “+” sign after your Gmail username and then a descriptive word or two. For example:
This way it becomes easy to filter emails from different senders. A bonus is that you can tell who has leaked your email if you suddenly get hit with spam. Just create a unique address each time you sign up for email ads online. 

You can customize your inbox by view and type. For example, you can make all of your starred emails show up first or let Google algorithms decide which email you want to see first. Change to compact view to see more emails on your screen at the same time. As a final step, you’ll want to click Settings, Inbox type, and then Customize. Google displays a tab for Primary (person-to-person conversations and those that don’t show up in another tab), a Social tab for conversations from your social networks, and a Promotions tab for advertising.

Put hashtags inside the body of your email to further make it easy to retrieve and organize emails at a higher level. You can add them anywhere within the body, but it’s a lot less distracting if you insert them at the end of your communication. For instance, you could insert #gastrodelights, #favoriterecipe, #eggs. 

For explanations on how to do any of the above gmail handling tips and tricks, click the link. 

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Best Organizations for Seniors Donating to Veterans

It’s always the right season to give back to our men and women in uniform and their families. Senior Spirit has found some worthy organizations you can feel proud to support. 

Americans have been fighting and dying for their country ever since there was a United States. Most of us will never have to deal with the pain of losing friends and comrades to enemy fire or suffering a wound during combat. 

We won’t have to be separated from our family, sometimes for several repeated tours of combat, or face the daunting proposition of integrating back into civilian life with a missing leg, arm, or more. Our service members give to their country while knowing they may have to make the ultimate sacrifice. Surely older adults with disposable funds and/or time should take a hard look at giving back to these courageous men and women.

Multiple Organizations Serve Veterans

Stalwart organizations such as the Red Cross and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) remain worthy recipients of your money. But a multitude of newer groups have sprouted to serve very specific needs of our men and women in uniform. 

Tax-Efficient Donating 

Take a moment to consult your tax and/or financial advisor before making your charitable donations. He or she will best be able to help you make a plan for tax-efficient donations.  One or more of the following strategies may enable you to give more and save on taxes: 
  • Donate appreciated securities
  • Combine cash and securities 
  • Create a donor-advised fund
  • Offset alternative minimum taxes
  • Offset capital gains by rebalancing
  • Create a multi-year approach
  • Offset costs of Roth conversions
  • Complement a donor-advised fund with your private foundation, charitable remainder trust or charitable lead trust

One such organization is Homes for our Troops, a nonprofit that has already built hundreds of homes for injured troops and is in the process of constructing dozens more. The homes exceed Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance standards, and feature lower counters, roll-in showers, wider hallways and doorways, and much more for veterans in wheelchairs. Interested seniors can even help build the homes. Homes for our Troops continues their support after veterans move in, providing a financial advisor for three years along with a mentoring program. 

Another worthy group is Everyone for Veterans (E4V). Started in 2008 by a dentist who wanted to give back to vets in her own community, E4V helps veterans and their spouses who are experiencing financial hardship by offering comprehensive dental care. Only 8% of those using VA health care qualify for help with dental services, resulting in pain, embarrassment, and the loss of teeth. The group is always looking to expand with the help of dentists willing to offer their services pro bono. 

You might not immediately realize that Puppies Behind Bars is dedicated to having prisoners train labrador retrievers for use as service dogs by injured veterans. (Dogs may also become service dogs for first responders, police department dogs and explosive-detection canines). It’s a win-win-win situation as inmates, the dogs, and veterans benefit. Inmates live with their dog for two years, teaching it more than 90 commands while contributing to society instead of the reverse. 

The group is proud of providing top-notch canines for 25 years. They offer follow-up support for five years to make sure their dogs provide exceptional service and that their owners understand how to integrate the canine into their life and work. Puppies Behind Bars operates in the New York City area. If you live nearby, you may also be able to help out by socializing a dog overnight in your home. 

Picking an Organization

There are literally hundreds of organizations providing help for veterans across the US. Most offer great value and utilize funds wisely. But any time you prepare to donate, it’s only smart to check out the organization. How, you may wonder, do I do that?

Enter Charity Navigator, a trusted resource dedicated to making you an informed and impactful donor. Charity Navigator gives organizations a percentile ranking based on their evaluation. It also provides a complete list of donor resources to educate and inform about topics ranging from giving and taxes to avoiding fraud

Another tried-and-true resource is CharityWatch. An independent watchdog, CharityWatch deep-dives to discover how efficiently each organization uses donations. The group also works to expose nonprofits that abuse the system. It also offers helpful tools to avoid giving to bogus organizations and scammers.

Service members are always on duty around the world to protect the US. There are many ways to give back to them for their years of dedicated service and the sacrifices they make on the battlefield. 


This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional financial advice from a qualified financial advisor.

Famous & 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

Find out which celebrities are turning 65 this month!

Image Source: Wikipedia

January 10 - Chandra Cheeseborough, sprinter  

Chandra Cheesborough earned her place in history by becoming only the second athlete (the other was Paavo Nurmi who competed 60 years earlier) to bring home gold in two different Olympic running events held on the same day. It was the 1984 Games, and Cheesborough became the first woman to win in two relays, which were held less than an hour apart! 

As you might expect, her stellar achievement was predicated on an extraordinary running career that pushed her into the international spotlight at the age of 16 when she won two golds at the 1975 Pan American Games, including setting a new American record of 22.77 seconds in the 200m race. 

A year later, Cheesborough burned up the track at the US Olympic trials by coming in second at the 100m in a blazing 11.3 seconds. She took sixth place in the event at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. She also ranks No. 10 of all time for her time of 49.05 while earning a silver medal in the 400m at the Los Angeles Olympics. 

Cheeseborough retired from her career to become head coach for men and women at her alma mater, Tennessee State, leading the Tigerbelles to six Ohio Valley Conference championships. She was an assistant coach for America’s 2008 Olympic team and coached sprinters and hurdlers headed to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. 

Image Source: Wikipedia

January 13 - Alan Taylor, television and film director, screenwriter, and TV producer

With a career spanning decades, Alan Taylor may be most familiar to you for his work in television, which includes well-known series such as “The Sopranos”, “Sex and the City”, “Mad Men” and “Game of Thrones”. Less familiar may be the films he directed, which include “Palookaville”, “Thor: The Dark World”, “Terminator Genisys” and “The Many Saints of Newark”. 

Taylor grew up in Canada and spent his first college years studying history at the University of Toronto, later transferring to Columbia University before studying film at New York University. Fun fact: one of his instructors was Martin Scorsese. 

Taylor is a resident of Brooklyn, where he lives with wife Nicki Lederman, a talented make-up artist. The pair have three children. As eminent as Taylor is, it’s fun to check out his sister, Anna Domino, who’s an indie rock musician.

Image Source: Wikipedia

January 22 - Linda Blair, actress

Who can forget the head-spinning, terrifying performance of Linda Blair in the iconic 1973 horror film “The Exorcist”?! The actor’s portrayal of Regan MacNeil won her a Golden Globe Award and a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards. Blair went on to become a scream queen and sex symbol.

Her career in the limelight began as a virtual toddler; at age five she was posing for Sears, JC Penney and Macy’s catalogs. By age nine, she was a regular on the soap opera “Hidden Faces”. At 11, she had a part in a film, followed by a bit part in a comedy a year later. But 1972 was the big year; Blair won the role in “The Exorcist” from 600 other applicants. 

While her performance won critical acclaim, some viewers could not separate the part from the actor. She got dissed for appearing in a “blasphemous” film and even received death threats. The studio sent her out on an international press tour at the age of 14 to show the world that she was just a “normal teenager”. 

Today, the vegan actor continues to perform while advocating for her animal charity organization, the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation Rescue and Wellness Center.

Image Source: Wikipedia

January 27 - Chris Collinsworth, NFL wide receiver and TV sportscaster

Spending his entire eight-season pro career with the Cincinnati Bengals NFL team, Collinsworth capped his achievements by catching a trio of passes for 40 yards in Super Bowl XXIII, his last time to walk out on the gridiron as a player. He could leave with his head held high and a record of 417 receptions for a total of 6,698 yards and 36 touchdowns over 107 games. 

The 6’5” Collinsworth could often use his height and speed to his advantage in games. He was always an athletic kid (his dad, Lincoln, was a standout basketball player and was part of the team that won the 1958 national championship for Kentucky) and competed in a number of sports in high school. In his senior year, Collinsworth was dubbed a high school All-American quarterback as well as winning a 100-yard dash at the 3A state championship meet. 

The Florida Gators recruited him out of high school to be a quarterback who would strengthen their running game. Ironically, Collinsworth passed for 99 yards and a touchdown in his first college outing, tying a record for longest touchdown pass in NCAA history. The next year, he got moved to wide receiver, where he found new enthusiasm and talent. Collinsworth spent the last game of his college career earning MVP honors at the 1980 Tangerine Bowl. 

His winning ways didn’t stop there. He transitioned quickly to broadcasting and appeared on a slew of sports shows with the biggest names in the business. Collinsworth was selected as a commentator at the 1980 Beijing Summer Olympics for NBC and has won 17 Sports Emmy Awards. No slouch at business, he is the majority owner of Pro Football Focus.


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