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Are you ready to retire?

Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding whether or not you are ready to retire.

Is your nest egg adequate?

It may be obvious, but the earlier you retire, the less time you'll have to save, and the more years you'll be living off your retirement savings. The average American can expect to live past age 78.* With future medical advances likely, it's not unreasonable to assume that life expectancy will continue to increase. Is your nest egg large enough to fund 20 or more years of retirement?

When will you begin receiving Social Security benefits?

You can receive Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62. However, your benefit may be 25% to 30% less than if you waited until full retirement age (66 to 67, depending on the year you were born).

How will retirement affect your IRAs and employer retirement plans?

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Hotel Owners Turning to Sure Step to Keep Guests and Employees on Their Feet

Hotel Owners Turning to Sure Step to Keep Guests and Employees on Their Feet

Slip-and-fall injuries are a serious concern for all businesses, and the lodging industry is no exception. In fact, think about all the areas in a hotel, motel or bed-and-breakfast that have an increased potential for falls: Lobby floors and uncarpeted walkways, buffet and dining areas, kitchens, around swimming pools and saunas, locker rooms, restrooms. It’s a pretty lengthy list.

To prevent slip-and-fall accidents, more and more businesses, including hotels, are turning to a product called Sure Step, offered locally by Western New York-based Nonslip Safety Solution, to keep guests and employees on their feet. The result: Fewer potential lawsuits and/or missed work days.

Is It Wise to Trade Your Pension for a Lump Sum?

Most private employers have already replaced traditional pensions, which promise lifetime income payments in retirement, with defined contribution plans such as 401(k)s. But 15% of private-sector workers and 75% of state and local government workers still participate in traditional pensions.1 Altogether, 35% of workers say they (and/or their spouse) have pension benefits with a current or former employer.2

Many pension plan participants have the option to take their money in a lump sum when they retire. And since 2012, an increasing number of large corporate pensions have been implementing "lump-sum windows" during which vested former employees have a limited amount of time (typically 30 to 90 days) to accept or decline buyout offers.3 (Lump-sum offers to retirees already receiving pension benefits are no longer allowed.)

Start a Conversation During National Suicide Prevention Week

Start a Conversation During National Suicide Prevention Week

This week, Sept. 10-16, is National Suicide Prevention Week. For some of us, it’s a time to reflect and mourn those we have lost. And for all of us, it should also be a week filled with starting conversations, taking an active role in suicide prevention, and seeking immediate help for those suffering from depression or carrying the burden of suicidal thoughts.

“Suicidal thoughts and depression can impact anyone of any age, race or gender. It does not discriminate,” said Monica A. Farrar, a licensed mental health counselor and private clinician in Williamsville. “Far too often I meet individuals and families who feel embarrassed or ashamed to openly discuss mental illness and suicide, and that needs to end. Help is available, and it may be a simple conversation that opens the door to treatment and a far better life.”

Hitting close to home

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Funding Needed to Turn a 140-acre Forest on Grand Island Into an Iconic New Nature Preserve

Funding Needed to Turn a 140-acre Forest on Grand Island Into an Iconic New Nature Preserve

The Western New York Land Conservancy and residents of Grand Island hope to create a new 140-acre forested nature preserve along the Niagara River. That dream came closer to reality this month when funding was committed by the Niagara River Greenway Ecological Standing Committee and the Gallogly Family Foundation totaling more than $700,000. This funding will be just enough for the Land Conservancy to purchase the property and open it to the public. The Land Conservancy is hoping to raise at least another $600,000 to create an even better walking trail system, restore wildlife habitat and help maintain the preserve in the long run. 

Tax Benefits of Homeownership

Buying a home can be a major expenditure. Fortunately, federal tax benefits are available to make homeownership more affordable and less expensive. There may also be tax benefits under state law.

Mortgage interest deduction

One of the most important tax benefits of owning a home is that you may be able to deduct any mortgage interest you pay. If you itemize deductions on your federal income tax return, you can deduct the interest you pay on a loan used to buy, build, or improve your home, provided that the loan is secured by your home. Up to $1 million of such "home acquisition debt" ($500,000 if you're married and file separately) qualifies for the interest deduction.

Is Smart Beta a Smart Strategy for You?

Traditional investment indexes such as the S&P 500 are weighted based on market capitalization, the value of a company's total outstanding stock. This means the largest companies in the index may have much greater influence on index performance than smaller companies. For example, the 10 largest companies in the S&P 500 account for more than 18% of the index's performance, as opposed to about 2% for the 10 largest if every company were weighted equally.1

Funds that track market-weighted indexes may be the most direct way to participate in broad market performance, but there has been increasing interest in an alternative indexing strategy called smart beta (also known as strategic beta or factor-based investing). More than 100 smart-beta exchange-traded funds (ETFs) were launched in 2016.2

Shifting the weight