Cabbage and Apple Farro Toss
This crunchy combination of cabbage, apples, and bacon mixed with ancient grain farro is a delicious side that can be on your table in less than 30 minutes
- 3 cups shredded green cabbage
- 1 apple, cored and chopped
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 3 slices bacon, chopped
- 2 cups cooked farro, wild rice blend, or barley
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
- Salt and black pepper
- Step 1
- Step 2
221 calories; total fat 8g; saturated fat 3g; polyunsaturated fat 1g; monounsaturated fat 3g; cholesterol 13mg; sodium 249mg; potassium 154mg; carbohydrates 29g; fiber 6g; sugar 6g; protein 7g; trans fatty acidg; vitamin a 58IU; vitamin c 15mg; thiamin mg; riboflavinmg; niacin equivalents 1mg; vitamin b6mg; folate 19mcg; vitamin b12mcg; calcium 35mg; iron 1mg.
Fresh Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
There's something especially comforting about homemade tomato soup with grilled cheese. To jazz things up, we've paired a fresh tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons!
By Colleen Weeden
- 2 pounds cherry tomatoes
- 1 small sweet yellow onion, cut up
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
- 6 small ciabatta buns, split
- 1 ½ cups shredded Gruyère cheese (6 oz.)
- Toppings, such as coarse ground black pepper, heavy cream, and/or agave syrup (optional)
- Step 1
- Step 2
- Step 3
- Step 4
If tomatoes are out of season, you can substitute two 14.5-oz. cans whole tomatoes, drained, for the fresh tomatoes in this soup.
370 calories; total fat 20g; saturated fat 7g; polyunsaturated fat 2g; monounsaturated fat 9g; cholesterol 31mg; sodium 508mg; potassium 463mg; carbohydrates 33g; fiber 3g; sugar 4g; protein 15g; trans fatty acidg; vitamin a 363IU; vitamin c 22mg; thiamin mg; riboflavin mg; niacin equivalents 1mg; vitamin b6mg; folate 28mcg; vitamin b12mcg; calcium 337mg; iron 2mg.
All recipes courtesy of BH&G
What to Consider When You're Offered an Early Retirement Package
Will you have enough money to stop working?
by Adam Shell, AARP, August 28, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic, which has kept many workers home, was a kind of test drive for retirement: You learned what it's like to stay out of the office for long periods of time. But many companies are hurting because of the economic turmoil from the coronavirus, and if you're 50 and older, and your employer needs to cut costs, they may be looking at cutting you from the payroll.
Sooner or later, you may be staring at an early retirement package. As enticing as taking the deal might seem, it's a decision that should be made only after analyzing it carefully. What the early retirement decision boils down to is: “Can I afford to do it?” says Brad Hindman, CFP (Certified Financial Planner), a financial advisor at Wells Fargo Advisors.
Do the math
Most early retirement packages include salary severance (such as receiving one or two weeks’ pay for each year of service); extended health insurance coverage; and pension-related payout. But just because you're offered an early retirement package, it doesn't mean you have to retire if you take it.
Your first question is whether you'd consider working after taking your company's early retirement offer. Taking a voluntary buyout when you plan to keep working is a far different decision than if you're considering retirement. “Is this the end of the road … where I stop working, or do I take the buyout and keep working?” is an important question to answer, says Rob Leiphart, CFP, vice president of financial planning at RB Capital Management. After all, if you have a new job lined up, you'll still be collecting a paycheck after the buyout, and you could put some extra savings in the bank. If your job prospects are good, taking early retirement can be a win-win.
But the number-crunching gets more difficult when your future job prospects are poor, or you're planning on using the voluntary buyout as an off-ramp from work.
How close are you to retirement?
The older you are — and the closer the early retirement package offer is to your planned retirement date — the better, says Nick Foulks, director of advising at Great Waters Financial. Let's say you're 63 1/2 when you get a buyout offer. Assuming you've got adequate savings, a well-stocked 401(k) or IRA retirement plan, and no large debts or upcoming big-ticket purchases, you're “within the window” to accept the buyout.
Why? Because you're just 18 months away from being eligible for Medicare health insurance at age 65. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives workers the right to continue their employer-based health coverage for up to 18 months, even if their termination is involuntary, and most early retirement packages offer COBRA benefits. Although you have to pay for COBRA out of your own pocket, the coverage will act as a bridge to age 65 when your Medicare coverage kicks in.
It's not cheap. You'll be charged 102 percent of your employer's cost for health insurance. (Employers usually pay a large share of employees’ health insurance premiums). A better, potentially cheaper option to acquire health coverage is joining your spouse's plan, if he or she is employed and has a plan at work. You can also shop for your own private plan through the federal government-run Health Insurance Marketplace. But don't roll the dice and try to go without health care. “It is essential to have access to affordable health care,” says Philip Herzberg, CFP, a client advisor with the Lubitz Financial Group. That's even more true if you're single or the sole breadwinner in your household.
How will you make ends meet?
Retiring works best when you have enough sources of income to pay your monthly bills, well, forever. “How will you replace your paycheck?” says Foulks. “Your paycheck may stop, but the bills don't."
Now's the time to do an expense audit and figure out what your monthly costs are now and what they will be in the future. Are there any big-ticket purchases that you still need to fund, such as college tuition? Any big outstanding debts?
Once you gather your expense numbers, see if you've got enough income or assets to cover it all. Combine your balances from all your different accounts, including savings, retirement plans, other pensions, the buyout offer, Social Security and any other sources, to calculate how large an income stream you can generate. Keep in mind that most retirement plans, like a 401(k), penalize you if you make withdrawals before age 59 1/2. Now's also the time to figure out which accounts to pull from first and how to draw down your savings in the most tax-efficient way.
As a general rule, you'll want to replace 80 percent of your income in retirement, says Wells Fargo's Hindman: “If you made $5,000 a month after taxes when you were working, where will that money come from in retirement?” If you don't have enough assets to make up the income gap, think about what compromises you're going to have to make.
Analyze whether the buyout terms are rich enough to allow you to leave your job and bridge the income gap until retirement age of 65 or until you get a new job. If not, you might be better off not taking it. A severance payment of six months to a year might give you enough time for a new job; for most people, a month or two of severance won't.
Even if you do get a large severance payment, don't get blinded by a big check. It's there to tide you over until you get a new job, or to help pay your expenses in retirement. “A lot of people get a one-time lump sum of $100,000 and get excited over the lure of a shiny big number,” says Leiphart. “They treat it like gambling winnings. Instead, they should use the lump sum to seed their future. Often, it gets spent and never gets time to germinate.”
And don't forget that any lump sum you receive will be subject to taxes. If the lump sum comes near the end of the year, after you've already earned a large part of your salary, it could also push you into a higher tax bracket and cost you even more in taxes, Hindman cautions. If possible, try to get your employer to spread out your payout over multiple tax years to reduce your tax bill.
Is it too risky to take a buyout?
You can't let magical thinking or the size of a buyout blind you to the realities of your situation, Foulks says. You need to know if your combined savings and Social Security will let you manage your lifestyle without a 9-to-5 job. “You don't have a magic wand to make money appear,” Foulks says.
The state of the economy and job market are two other wild cards to consider when deciding whether to take an early retirement package, Hindman warns. “One risk is if you don't take the buyout and you end up getting terminated at a later date anyway,” Hindman says. “The second gamble is if you take the early retirement package with the intent of getting another job, and you don't get it."
Could You Be Worrying Too Much About Financial Security Due to the Pandemic?
Hard facts and statistics to ease your mind
by Kimberly Lankford, AARP, August 10, 2020
It may seem as if we’re living through an unprecedented time of multifaceted challenges. We have the COVID-19 pandemic. The near-shutdown of the economy and its ripple effects on jobs, savings and the ability to pay for basic needs. Racial tensions. An election season like none other.
All of these developments add up to extraordinary uncertainty. And hardly anything unsettles prognosticators, decisionmakers and the rest of us as much as uncertainty.
But there’s reason for optimism. Look to the past and you can see that societies and economies recover from traumas such as these. The following facts can put today’s hard financial times into historical perspective — and maybe even put you at ease.
If you are worried that the U.S. economy will never recover:
- know that the 1918 influenza epidemic “left almost no discernible mark on the aggregate U.S. economy,” according to a recent paper.
The Spanish flu’s impact on the economy was “mostly modest and temporary,” report coauthors Carola Frydman and Efraim Benmelech, professors at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased by 10.5 percent in 1918 and 30.5 percent in 1919. The economy even expanded modestly in 1919, as a result of war-related industrial activity. While conditions are different today, the coauthors point out that a global pandemic doesn’t inevitably lead to a grave economic recession or depression.
If your gut tells you that things will only get worse, know that your gut is a terrible economic forecaster. When the University of Michigan’s decades-old Index of Consumer Sentiment hit bottom during the Great Recession, that measure of consumer confidence was at its lowest point in 28 years. But only four months later, the economy began its longest expansion in modern U.S. history.
If you are worried that so many neighborhood businesses are closing:
- know that two-thirds of small businesses started between 1994 and 2009 shut down within 10 years.
Think the economy is undergoing a vast dieout? It’s just business as usual, so to speak. That surprisingly high rate of small-business shutdowns has changed little over time, according to the Small Business Administration.
An April 2020 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research showed that 41.4 percent of businesses had temporarily closed because of COVID-19; only 1.8 percent were permanently closed because of the pandemic. Overall, more than 90 percent of business owners thought it was at least somewhat likely that they would be open on December 31, 2020.
If you are worried that so many big companies are going out of business:
- know that only 63 percent of companies that started trading publicly between 2000 and 2009 survived for five years.
Even before COVID-19, large companies have been opening and closing at a fast pace. Most new ones tend to rely more on intangible assets such as databases and proprietary algorithms, notes a 2016 paper by two business-school professors. These idea based companies can become global players relatively quickly, but they can fail quickly, too, says co-author Anup Srivastava, an accounting professor at the University of Calgary in Alberta. Tech companies aren’t the only ones at risk of being displaced by younger competitors — think of Blockbuster giving way to Netflix, or the disappearance of Woolworth’s as Walmart grew.
Srivastava adds that the number of publicly traded companies in the U.S. fell from about 7,500 in 1997 to 4,000 by early 2020, even while unemployment was down and the economy was growing.
If you are worried that your retirement savings will never recover:
- know that Fidelity Investments’ 401(k) customers who stayed in the market during the 2008 downturn saw their account balances rise, on average, from $79,000 that year to $360,000 by the end of 2019.
Although people who got out of stock funds in 2008 reentered the market and continued to save, their average balance performed worse, per Fidelity, rising only to $276,000 by 2019. “Saving for retirement is a marathon, not a sprint,” says Eliza Badeau, Fidelity’s director of workplace investing. “It’s important to maintain a long-term approach and not make changes based on short-term events,” she explains. “Consistently contributing to your savings, maintaining the right balance of stocks, bonds and cash, and avoiding tapping your savings — unless absolutely necessary — are some of the key aspects to keeping your savings on track.”
If you are worried that your home’s value is at risk of collapsing:
- know that housing prices have been at or near all-time highs since November 2016, according to the Case-Shiller index, despite the housing meltdown of eight years earlier.
This widely followed measure of U.S. home prices — cocreated by Nobel laureate Robert Shiller — hit a then-record high in 2007, just before the housing bubble burst. Declining for the next five years, the index looked unlikely to recover. But after falling 26 percent from its peak, it began marching back up in 2012. And by February 2020, it had surpassed its pre-bust high by 16.6 percent.
Cris deRitis, deputy chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, expects home prices to decline modestly this year and fall in 2021 as the government’s support to households and small businesses expires and the foreclosure moratorium ends. “Despite these negative forces, the lower and mid-tier segments of the housing market should recover reasonably well, given demand,” he notes.
If you are worried that you’ve lost your job, or you think you might lose it:
- know that in the months after the Great Recession, the peak unemployment rate for workers 55 and older was 26 percent lower than for the overall population.
In good times and bad, the jobless rate for older workers tends to be lower than that for all workers. In the wake of the downturn a decade ago, unemployment peaked at 10 percent overall but at 7.4 percent for workers 55-plus. Even though the jobless rate for people 55 and older was 11.8 percent in May 2020, it was still slightly lower than the overall rate.
After the Great Recession, it did take some workers in their 50s and 60s longer than younger workers to find a job, points out Catherine Collinson, CEO of the nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. “Some people gave up, but don’t give up,” she says. “Things will improve.” After the Great Recession, she adds, surveys found that people who accepted some job after being laid off — even if they were under-employed — tended to fare better in the long run than did those who remained unemployed. “Maybe they took a job that was beneath their skills and experience,” she says, “but by virtue of bringing in income and staying in the workforce, that helped them financially and helped them improve their prospects when the employment market picked back
If you are worried that nobody will hire you:
- know that people founding a business at age 50 are nearly twice as likely to succeed as those who are 30.
A recent study by MIT and Northwestern University professors and a U.S. Census Bureau economist showed that the most successful entrepreneurs are middle-aged and older, primarily because of their experience, industry knowledge, financial resources and social networks. Chances of success (defined as a sale of the business or a public stock offering) increased with age until 60.
“An increasing number of people over 50 will shift careers or start their own business. That is exactly what happened after 9/11 and during the Great Recession,” says Kerry Hannon, a career strategist and the author of Never Too Old to Get Rich: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting a Business Mid-Life. In fact, the percentage of new entrepreneurs who were ages 55 to 64 grew from 14.8 percent in 1996 to 25.8 percent in 2018, reports the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. “This kind of life event that we are currently experiencing can be a huge motivator to try something new,” Hannon notes.
Hope for Your Stocks
If the market is making you nervous, keep these facts in mind:
- Since World War II, following the onset of a bear market, stocks have recovered to their previous levels in an average of 4.3 years, according to the Charles Schwab brokerage.
- Reinvesting dividends during the 10 biggest declines between 1950 and 2019 would have led to regaining portfolio losses within 2 1/2 years, notes investment firm Towneley Capital Management.
- The best year ever for stocks was 1933. “Often the highest returns come right after the biggest drops,” says James Angel, a professor at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business.
If you are worried that you won’t ever feel safe enough to go to the theater or a museum:
- know that from late 1592 to early 1594, the bubonic plague killed more than 10,000 people living in London.
It’s a fascinating bit of history: In the midst of William Shakespeare’s career, all of London’s theaters were shuttered for over a year, in an effort to halt the plague’s spread. But when theaters, including Shakespeare’s Globe, reopened, the gate receipts were huge, according to James Shapiro, an English professor at Columbia University and author of Shakespeare in a Divided America. Soon afterward, Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And he continued to write plays through a second wave of the plague in 1603, completing King Lear and Macbeth a few years later. “If Shakespeare’s [era] offers any model and consolation, it’s how quickly numbers were back to normal and people were living their lives again,” Shapiro observes. “Cities bounce back, and people crave theater.”
If you are worried that you’ll never be happy again:
- know that during December 2008, 80 percent of Americans said they were satisfied with how things were going in their personal life at the time.
How you feel about life isn’t always ruled by the economy and current events. Even during the worst of the Great Recession, 47 percent of people polled by Gallup said they were very satisfied with their life, and another 33 percent were “somewhat” satisfied.
Recent polls, mostly conducted before the death of George Floyd, showed mixed results. Seventy-two percent of people surveyed by Gallup from late April to early May said that they had experienced feelings of happiness “a lot” the previous day, up from 67 percent one month earlier.
A survey conducted in late May by the University of Chicago’s NORC found a sharp decline in people who said they were “very happy,” but an increase, to over 60 percent, in the share of Americans who said they were “pretty happy.”
“The key to finding happiness during this time is not through social distancing but rather through distance socializing,” the authors of the “World Happiness Report 2020,” an annual survey of global happiness, wrote on March 23, when cities around the world were shutting down. “Remaining socially connected with friends, colleagues and family is crucial in finding happiness during this public health crisis.”
Kimberly Lankford, a longtime columnist at Kiplinger's Personal Finance, is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life.
AICR advises you eat at least 30g of fiber from food sources. Try to eat a minimum of 3.5 cups to 5 cups of vegetables and fruits each day for overall good health and to lower your cancer risk. Try to focus on incorporating a variety of whole grains into your diet regularly.
- Vegetables and fruits supply your body with vitamins, minerals and fiber that it needs to lay the foundation in your blueprint for reducing cancer risk.
- Vegetables and fruits may help to protect you from a host of cancers – such as colorectal, esophageal, mouth, pharynx, larynx, and stomach.
- AICR’s Third Expert Report cites strong evidence that eating plenty of plant foods rich in dietary fiber reduces the risk of colorectal cancer. (Animal foods contain no dietary fiber.)
- Phytochemicals (natural substances) can protect cells from the damage that may lead to cancer.
Going plant based.
Lessen your risk for cancer by embracing more plant focused meals and snacks. Instead of eating high-calorie, ultra-processed foods like chips, cookies, candy, sugary beverages, or fried foods try eating plant foods such as berries, nuts, whole-grain cereal, or hummus. Have fun with cooking and meal prep, and find healthy substitutions for dishes you enjoy.
Set yourself up for success by gradually transitioning to a diet of focusing on plant foods. The New American Plate is a great model to help you get started. Over time, your taste preferences will change to prefer less salty, less sugary, and less fatty foods.
6 Sneaky Ways to Carve Out More “Me Time” Every Day
Corey Whelan Reader’s Digest Updated: Apr. 21, 2020
You don't need to hit a spa, library, or gym to recharge, you can practice self-care right in your own home. Here's how to sneak in me time.
How to create me time
Creating space for some dedicated “me time” is important—especially given the coronavirus pandemic. Although it’s not possible to go to the spa, library, or gym right now, that doesn’t mean you should ditch time for yourself. In fact, “me time” could be hiding in plain sight. Here’s how to sneak in few brief but meaningful moments.
Start your day with gratitude
“My whole day is about hitting the ground running, so when my alarm goes off in the a.m., I do just the opposite,” says Marni Aspen, a public relations intern. “While I’m still in bed, I get into child’s pose. I then do a series of cow-cat Poses, and end with child’s pose again. While I’m going through these good-for-my-body yoga moves, I’m giving thanks for what I have and asking for strength to get through my day. The whole production takes less than two minutes, but centers me like nothing else.” Aspen’s mere minutes of me time are probably doing more to sustain her mind, body, and soul, than she realizes. The benefits of gratitude include elevated energy levels, increased feelings of self-esteem, heightened intelligence, and a fortified immune system.
Sneak in some me-centric shopping
Even if your budget is maxed out (whose isn’t?), scrolling through online stores can be soothing—shopping releases the brain chemical dopamine, which is associated with feelings of pleasure and satisfaction, and it may even give you some great ideas for revamping outfits you already own. How about allotting extra time to do your errands, and then sneaking in some time to peruse your favorite online shop and look at things you enjoy? “You will then have me time, handily squeezed into errand time. That’s a very good trick many of us use,” confides family psychologist Barbara Greenberg, PhD. If the thought of stealing away for a few extra minutes makes you feel guilty, window-shop online while waiting for a meeting. “We all need me time—it’s our way to get replenished,” Dr. Greenberg adds. “Without it, we risk getting depleted, exhausted, depressed, or physically sick. Me time is not only good for our own well-being, it is also good for those around us, because mood is contagious. If we take good care of ourselves, those we care about are likely to feel better, as well.”
Give yourself a grown-up time out
“Your brain clutters up with ideas, thoughts, and emotions, much like your catch-all, messy kitchen junk drawer does. Me time helps clean it all out,” says psychologist and author, Leah Klungness, PhD. Klungness, a parenting expert, recommends prioritizing me time, even if you have kids underfoot who need, need, need. “Kids can learn to respect me-time rules. Setting a timer often helps,” she suggests. You might say, “I’m going to drink coffee and read the newspaper for five minutes, and then I will be available to play with you.” Setting a time limit on me time establishes a concrete beginning and end that will keep children from becoming anxious, and also teaches them about healthy boundaries in a way that they understand and respect.
Turn workout time into me time
“When do I get me time? I’d like to say when I go to the bathroom, but not even that!” says Tami De Palma, a busy wellness expert, military wife, and mom. “But, seriously, my workout time is my me time,” she explains. Whether I’m on a run, or in my basement, everybody around here knows that is when you leave Mom alone, De Palma says. Dr. Greenberg suggests keeping a pair of sneakers and a sweatshirt nearby or easily accessible. “If you have an extra bit of time, you will have everything you need for a nice walk. Take a me-time stroll. It will clear your mind,” she says. As for working out at home to get in some me time, let your kids, spouse, or roomie know that you will rewind the clock and start your entire workout over if they interrupt you. Do that a few times, and eventually, your workout time will cease being interrupted.
Take a brain-boosting “vacation”
“Whenever you find yourself having to wait for something and getting irritated, like standing on a long grocery line or sitting in a traffic jam, use that time for stealthy self-care,” suggests Tara Cousineau, PhD, a clinical psychologist and author of the forthcoming book, The Kindness Cure. “A great way to do that is by listening to an inspirational podcast or captivating audiobook that takes your mind away from the daily annoyances you have little control over. Not only will this well-spent me-time help you to relax,” Dr. Cousinea adds, “but you may also learn something new.”
Enlist a positivity pal
Sneaking in me time may take a collaborative-minded pal. “Enlist a friend, family member, or coworker as a self-care buddy, or positivity pal,” suggests Dr. Cousineau. “We tend to follow through on things more often when we’re accountable to someone else.” Try establishing a me-time plan each week or each day, and cluing in your positivity pal on your intentions. Just make sure you choose someone who not only has your best interests at heart, but who is willing to nag you a little!
Reflections Recommended Reading
- Such A Fun – Kiley Reid
- Hitting A Straight Lick With Crooked Stick – Zora Neale Hurston
- Remembrance – Rita Woods
- Everywhere You Don’t Belong – Gabriel Bump
- Real Life – Brand Taylor
- Trouble Is What I Do – Walter Moseley
- Deacon King Kong – James McBride
- These Ghosts Are Family – Maisy Card
- The City We Became – N.K. Jemison
- It’s Not All Down Hill from Here – Terry McMillan
- The Coyotes of Carthage – Steven Wright
- The House of Deep Water – Jeni McFarland
- Telephone – Percival Everett
- My Mother’s House – Francesca Momplaisir
- Lakewood – Megan Giddings
- The Vanishing Hale Brit Bennett
- How Beautiful We Were – Imbolo Mbue
- Saving Ruby King – Catherine Adel West
- Transcendent Kingdom – Yaa Gyasi
- Catherine House – Elizabeth Thomas