Category Archives: General Interest

John Hancock Hopes You’ll Trade Activity Data For Insurance Discounts

You don't need to run a marathon — or wear a gorilla suit — to get a discount on John Hancock's new life insurance program. But at least one of them may help.You don’t need to run a marathon — or wear a gorilla suit — to get a discount on John Hancock’s new life insurance program. But at least one of them may help.
Rick Rycroft/AP

Would you lead a more active lifestyle if it meant lower life insurance premiums? Insurer John Hancock and Vitality, a global wellness firm, are hoping the answer is yes. But there is a condition: They get to track your activity.

The practice is already employed in Australia, Europe, Singapore and South Africa, where Vitality is based.

The companies announced the new plan Wednesday and posted a video on John Hancock’s website.

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How Retirees Should Approach Interest Rate Hikes

It’s difficult to predict whether or not interest rates will rise this year. If you’re retired and risk-averse, then you’re probably not living high on the hog from a savings standpoint. Did you know that the average savings yield in the first quarter of 2015 was a measly 0.09%? For someone in retirement, that won’t be enough income to live off of. Actually, for most retirees it wouldn’t even be enough to go out for a nice dinner once per year. According to Swiss Re (a Swiss insurance company), since 2008 approximately a half-trillion dollars has been lost in interest income due to low interest rates.

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Understanding The Longevity Calculation!

Image result for Long equations

We all know that Americans are living longer than in generations past and that this impacts retirement planning.  An ongoing debate rages about how much money is needed for retirement, at what age we should start taking social security benefits, and when or if we should retire at all.

How long we will live is, of course, a great unknown.  Many clients don’t like thinking about it, but it has a tremendous impact on how we should plan and how much needs to be saved.  Yet even though we likely haven’t considered exactly how long we will live, companies that manage retirement dollars have and so has the government which oversees our social security payouts.  And guess what, they may have it all wrong.

First, some statistics on longevity in America which may surprise you.

  • Since 1900, the average life expectancy has increased by 31 years, so the average American can now expect to live past age 78.
  • The number of Americans 100 or older has risen by an astounding 2,200% since 1950.  More than 53,000 centenarians call the United States home.
  • 47% of baby boomers are at risk of outliving their retirement savings.

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Health Insurance Premiums Will Go Up In 2016, But By How Much?

An analysis shows the monthly premiums for many people with Obamacare policies will not much change in 2016. But the high increases of some policies are drawing fire.

Some health insurance companies are asking for big price increases next year, and that has again riled critics of the federal health care law. But early analysis shows those steep hikes may not affect the majority of consumers.

The numbers released last week came out of a June 1 deadline, under the Affordable Care Act, that requires insurance companies to tell government regulators when they’re requesting price hikes of more than 10 percent. Some officials opposed to the law, like Sen. Steve Daines, a Republican from Montana, decried the increases.

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Raising Graduation Rates With Questionable Quick Fixes

Off the Books

What’s in a number?

To many, 81 percent is a success story. It’s the nation’s all-time-high rate for high school graduation in 2013, the most recent year of federal data.

But the NPR Ed Team and reporters from member stations around the country have been digging into that number and found it’s more complicated.

Not all the news here is good.

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Here’s How Inflation Has Eroded American Workers’ Overtime Eligibility

Sheila Abramson serves customers of Langer's Delicatessen in Los Angeles in 2013.

Sheila Abramson serves customers of Langer’s Delicatessen in Los Angeles in 2013.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

President Obama is once again poised to go it alone on labor policy, this time on overtime. The Labor Department is expected in the coming weeks to release a rule making millions more Americans eligible for overtime work — currently, all workers earning below $455 a week, or $23,660 a year, are guaranteed time-and-a-half pay for working more than 40 hours a week. The law may raise that as high as $52,000,Politico reports.

The rule would also change the regulations outlining which employees earning above that threshold are eligible — currently, employers can exempt some employees above that threshold if those workers could be considered “white collar.”

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This Summer, The Cafeteria Comes To The Kids

Kids this summer are eating up the "chow bus"

(LA Johnson/NPR)

“Chow bus! Chow bus! Chow bus!” chants Gunner Fischer, 3, as a custom-painted school bus rounds the corner and rumbles toward his apartment complex in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

About 21 million students nationwide eat free and reduced-price meals throughout the school year, but getting those same kids fed during the summer is a challenge. Only a fraction of those make it to schools or community centers for summer meals.

So some school districts are getting creative in the way they’re using USDA funds: Murfreesboro City Schools is taking the cafeteria to the kids. The district calls it the Combating Hunger on Wheels Bus — or the CHOW bus.

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Out Of The Classroom And Into The Woods

Children enjoying outdoor education.

(Philby Illustration/Corbis)

Kids in the U.S. are spending less time outside. Even in kindergarten, recess is being cut back. But in the small town of Quechee, Vt., a teacher is bucking that trend: One day a week, she takes her students outside — for the entire school day.

It’s called Forest Monday.

Eliza Minnucci got the idea after watching a documentary about a forest school in Switzerland where kids spend all day, every day, out in the woods.

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An Irreplaceable Replacement, This Sub Gets The Job Done

Substitute teacher Josephine Brewington receives the substitute teacher of the year award.

Substitute teacher Josephine Brewington receives the substitute teacher of the year award.
Courtesy of Kelly Services

One of the toughest jobs in education is the substitute teacher. The pay is low, schedules are unpredictable and respect can be hard to come by. But because the average teacher missed 11 days of school in 2012-2013, a sub like Josephine Brewington ends up playing a crucial role.

And this week — Brewington was rewarded for her efforts — winning the 2015 Substitute Teacher of the Year award.

For the last six years, Brewington, 50, has taught inside every kind of classroom in the Beech Grove City Schools system outside Indianapolis.

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Pressure To Act Unethically Looms Over Wall Street, Survey Finds

Stock prices

Alan Schein Photography/Corbis

A new survey of financial professionals tends to confirm the widely held belief that the financial industry has an ethics problem.

Among the more than 1,200 financial professionals in the U.S. and Britain who were surveyed, about half the respondents believe their competitors in the industry have behaved unethically or illegally to gain an advantage in the market.

Ann Tenbrunsel, one of the authors of the study, says that perception, even if it’s just a suspicion, does not bode well for the industry.

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