The Best Ways to Budget for Groceries


If you don’t have a grocery budget or a shopping plan, you could find yourself spending far more on groceries than you can afford. Grocery budgeting does not require that you eat inexpensive noodle soup for every meal, nor does it require that you cut out fresh produce from your diet. Watch your spending and shop strategically to minimize your costs and maximize what you get.

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Data and information is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended for solicitation or trading purposes. Please consult your tax and legal advisors regarding your individual situation.

Posted by Troy Barrow, LUTCF – Troy is an independent Agent practicing professionally for six years and is the owner of Arlington Insurance Planning Services, licensed in the States of New York and New Jersey. You may contact Troy at 646 580-5189 or


What’s more important, Time? or Timing?

Image         Why Is Time So Important When it Comes to Saving?

 A $1 million nest egg by age 65 — it’s a nice thought, but such a nest egg will not happen magically. Accumulating assets for retirement takes time and discipline. What are the keys to retirement security? First, it’s important to understand that your savings accumulation success  depends on having a firm financial foundation in place, so in addition to accumulating assets you should have plans in place to protect or replace funds due to advents of risk, like disability or even loss of life. 

Most successful retirement funds are built by making regular payments over time. Simply put, the sooner you begin to save for future financial needs, the better.

 Can You Afford Not to Save?

Time can be one of your most powerful accumulation allies. To illustrate this point, consider the following hypothetical example. Your objective is to accumulate $1 million for retirement by age 65. If you are 25, you will need to make at the beginning of each year an annual contribution of about $6,100, assuming a 6% return. That’s about $500 per month. However, if you wait until age 45, you will need to save over $25,000 a year or approximately $2,100 per month to reach your goal. (This is a hypothetical illustration and is not intended to project the future performance of any particular product.) Although this example is basic, it proves a valuable point: postponing saving until later in the game will force you to dramatically increase your saving habits. This is a difficult task, even for the most disciplined people.

 Where Do You Begin Building a Retirement Portfolio?

Pay yourself first. If you do not currently participate, the first place to begin accumulating savings for retirement is your employer-sponsored qualified retirement plan (401(k), 403(b), etc.). Utilizing your employer-sponsored qualified retirement plan presents a tremendous opportunity for you to get a jump on retirement. Some employers will match employee contributions on a dollar-for-dollar basis, while others may contribute a smaller percentage. Either way, taking advantage of the current tax deductions and the ongoing tax-deferred compounding of earnings makes smart investment sense.

 You can also invest up to $5,5001 in an IRA in 2013. If you’re 50 or older, that amount is $6,500 for 2013. If you do not currently participate in your employer’s qualified retirement plan and if you meet certain income limits, your contributions to a traditional IRA are usually fully tax deductible. This deduction will reduce your taxable income and your current income tax bill. Alternatively, the Roth IRA may be the right choice for your retirement funding. Some advantages of a Roth IRA include:

 • Tax-free accumulation and an entirely tax-free distribution, provided that five years have passed since the first year in which a contribution was made, and you are over the age of 59 ½

• Eligibility for contributions at a higher earned income level compared to traditional IRAs

• No mandatory withdrawals during your lifetime

• The ability to continue making contributions after age 70 ½ if you’re still earning income

• IRS penalty-free withdrawals in a variety of circumstances (same with traditional IRA)

• The ability to contribute to the Roth IRA even if you already participate in an employer-sponsored plan

 If you do participate in your employer’s qualified retirement plan, your deduction for your IRA contribution may be reduced or eliminated depending on your annual adjusted gross income. Even if your contributions are not deductible, you should still consider making a yearly contribution because the money earned in the account compounds tax-deferred.

Typically, withdrawals of earnings will occur in retirement, when you will probably be in a lower tax bracket. Depending on the type of IRA, withdrawals may be taxable and, if you are under age 59 ½, may be subject to a 10% tax penalty.

 How Do I Start Funding for Retirement?

Consult your advisor or if you’re in NY or NJ, find and contact us if you don’t currently have one and make the first step towards your future financial security.


Information provided has been prepared from sources and data we believe to be accurate, but we make no representation as to its accuracy or completeness. Data and information is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended for solicitation or trading purposes. Please consult your tax and legal advisors regarding your individual situation.


Posted by Troy Barrow, LUTCF – Troy is an independent Agent practicing professionally for six years and is the owner of Arlington Insurance Planning Services, licensed in the States of New York and New Jersey. You may contact Troy at 646 580-5189 or

Husbands, Wives, and Retirement

Retirement — The Dream: After a lifetime of hard work — raising the kids, sweating out the bills, and building a stable and secure life — you and your spouse will be able to enjoy your golden years doing the things you’ve always dreamed about.

Retirement — The Reality: It might be years of fun and leisure, but retirement can also be a time of financial difficulties, compounded by illness and loneliness.

An overly harsh view? Perhaps, but it’s prudent to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. That’s why married couples need to arrange for their own (and each other’s) retirement security as early as possible. Much of this preparation has to do with recognizing the need to “send money ahead” to fund a comfortable retirement. But there’s more. Couples of all ages need to map out an understanding of the three possible stages of retirement.

Three Stages of Retirement
Stage 1 — Life as a healthy, retired couple. This is the ideal, the retirement dream that most couples envision. If they’ve planned well, they’ll have the money to do everything they’ve dreamed about doing. Unfortunately, “dreaming” is about as far as retirement planning goes for too many people.

Stage 2 — Living with a prolonged illness — possibly a series of them, as health deteriorates in later years. When one partner’s health begins to fail, the other becomes the caregiver. Worse, medical bills begin to soar. Without adequate medical insurance, the financial strain can be devastating.

Stage 3 — One partner dies, possibly leaving the survivor in a financially threatened position, unless proper plans have been made.

Planning Is the Key
The key to coping with the potential financial difficulties of retirement is early planning. If you and your spouse are aware of and prepared for these three stages of retirement, you shouldn’t run the risk of outliving your retirement funds. When the two of you consider retirement, also consider the financial aspects. Whether you’re just starting out on a life together or shopping for that perfect condo on the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll want to consider the following:

• Draft a will with your attorney and keep it current. It’s the starting point for all retirement planning.
• Take time to map out a retirement game plan together. Identify common goals and determine the methods for achieving them. The closer you are to retirement, the more specific your plans should be.
• Share information and responsibilities. Make sure both of you know where all the financial records are and how to access them.
• Send dollars ahead. Know the benefits of your pension and retirement plans, and Social Security. Then begin to build up a supplemental fund of your own. Take charge of your own retirement — a large portion of retirement funds may need to come from personal savings.
• Plan to properly conserve your estate. A will can only go so far. Estate taxes may erode a substantial part of your lifetime legacy — plan ahead to make sure your heirs receive what they deserve.
• Prepare for all possibilities. Life insurance, long-term care insurance and disability insurance (during working years) can be excellent ways to protect the retirement dreams you have.
• Have trusted professionals. It’s important to develop relationships with experts in several areas — legal, tax, insurance, and financial professionals are the people who can help you map out and fund your retirement plan.

For information on how insurance and other financial products can be used to protect your retirement dreams, please contact Troy Barrow, Arlington Insurance Planning Services, at (646) 580-5189 or

Working Women, Look to the future…

Successful Professional Woman

Working Women:

Make Sure the Future Is Taken Care Of…

We all find it hard to plan for the long term, yet women face some unique challenges when it comes to planning for the future. Everyone needs to address the reality of living longer – and spending more years in retirement – but females tend to live even longer than their male counterparts. On top of that, there are valid reasons why some women may not be in a position to properly prepare for their financial future. To begin with, many women are still employed in settings that don’t offer retirement plans to employees. Also, many women leave the workforce to take care of their family for some time. They may have to work even harder and longer later in life to make up for the resulting “gaps” in income and pension coverage.

Make Saving for Retirement a Priority

The importance of preparing for the financial future applies whether you’re a single or married woman. The good news is that it’s never too late – or too early – to begin. If you are currently working, see how much you can afford to set aside each month. It is important not to fall into the trap of postponing retirement planning or leaving it solely up to a spouse.

Any financial planning decisions also should take into consideration what would happen in the event of divorce or widowhood. Although no one likes to think about these possibilities, the odds tell us that we must. According to the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, nearly 30% of older (65+) single women – those who were never married or were divorced or widowed – are poor or near poor.[1]

 Timing Is Everything

There are all kinds of financial products on the market that can help you accumulate funds for the future. One very important and popular product is fixed annuities, which also offer tax-deferred growth. Fixed annuities are popular in helping women address their needs. There are several solid reasons for this choice.

Fixed annuities are flexible, tax-deferred vehicles that can be used to help achieve long-term financial goals and provide a source of retirement income. There are several distinct advantages to investing in fixed annuities. With a deferred fixed annuity, the money you put in accumulates tax-deferred, which means that taxes are paid only when you withdraw the money, not as your earnings grow. (Any withdrawals made prior to age 59 ½ may be subject to a 10% IRS penalty tax.)  This may allow your money to accumulate much faster than it might in a comparable, currently taxable investment.

In addition, a fixed annuity can provide you with flexibility. With many fixed annuities, you can add to your policy as your finances permit, and you can even arrange for systematic contributions to be deducted directly from your checking account. Lastly, many fixed annuities offer a guaranteed death benefit feature that may allow the annuity proceeds to be passed on to your loved ones outside of your estate. Similar to this in some regards is the use of permanent life insurance which offers many similar benefits which can add versatility to your game plan in dealing with the current and future economic climate.

Take Control of Your Future retirement in reach

Fixed annuities are designed to help you accumulate money for your retirement, but they can also help meet your needs during many stages of your life. For women – who are at greater risk for poverty during their retirement years – it is especially crucial to start planning now. Fixed annuities can help provide the peace of mind and security you need for the future – so you can concentrate on today.

For more information on how fixed annuities and life insurance can help you prepare for your retirement, please contact Troy Barrow, Arlington Insurance Planning Services at (646) 580-5189 or

[1] Impact of Retirement Risk on Women, Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement in conjunction with the Society of Actuaries, October, 2006.

Who’s afraid of the big bad annuity?

Annuities are a scary subject in our industry. Producers are scared about compliance and suitability rules. Carriers are scared about the impacts to their capital. Consumers are scared about getting burned because financial celebrities say annuities are evil. Yikes!

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