Spring has sprung, with the usual high winds and accompanying dust.  Stay grounded and don’t get blown away!

Review of Market during First Quarter of 2011
The market has continued its upward march after a good year in 2010.  The overall US stock market appreciated 6.9%1, International stocks gained 4.3%2 and the overall bond market went up 0.5%3, even though interest rates have risen slightly (the 10 year Treasury has increased 0.12% since the end of the year4).  All of this has been despite a wall of worry due to the turmoil in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Tunisia,the Japanese earthquake/tsunami and the ongoing European debt crisis. Back home the unemployment rate is trickling down (8.8%), but as a nation we still need to get serious about our debt and deficit levels.  Overall the US population has been steadily reducing their personal debt levels.

Tax Time Again
Tax day is almost upon us, so make your last minute IRA contributions for 2010.  They have to be received by the custodian on or before April 18 (yes it is the 18th, due to a holiday in Washington DC, so we have an extra weekend to get our taxes prepared this year!).  The IRA contribution limit is $5,000; the catch-up provision for those over 50 increases it to $6,000.  The IRA contribution limit stays the same for 2011.  The 401K, 403b and the Federal TSP limits stay the same for 2011 ($16,500 and $22,000 for those 50 and over).

Retirement is not all about Money
We all plan to retire someday, working and saving hard for the future, but when thebig day arrives are we really ready?  During our working lives we are running around constantly, and a lot of times do not have time to think, so the thought of retirement is appealing and especially looking forward to doing the things we enjoy all the time or even doing nothing.  But filling our days with pursuing our favorite pastimes couldget really boring over the next 30 plus years.

A lot of us get social interaction from our jobs (especially men), and when the formal job ends, do we have the network established to interact with other human beings?

In retirement, we need to plan for having some “meaning” to our lives, which could entail working part-time, volunteering, interacting with family and friends, taking up new activities or hobbies or even starting a new business!  Some people find “meaning” by travelling to different countries to absorb new cultures and foods.  So there is more to the after-work-life than playing 18 holes of golf every day!

I find it interesting that most of my retired clients seem to be very busy, and almost tougher to make appointments with than the pre-retirees!

Federal Benefits going Electronic
The Treasury recently announced that all federal benefit and non-tax payments will be paid electronically by March 1, 2013. This change will impact people who are about to apply for federal benefits (like Social Security) and the more than 10 million people who are already receiving benefits by paper check.   Americans in or near retirement need to know that they must sign up to receive payments by direct deposit or to a Direct Express® Debit MasterCard® card account before the official deadlines.  For more information, visit www.GoDirect.com.

Personal Notes
We did manage to get to Crested Butte, Colorado for Spring Break.  The snow was great, especially after 4 inches fell while we were there, so we had fun on the slopes.We tested out Roberta’s new snowshoes and Michael tested out his snowboard on the ramps and rails, without breaking anything!  Roberta is getting fit for her next triathlon.  We will be going to Salt Lake City for the NAPFA National Conference, and on the way home Roberta will compete in the St. George Triathlon.  Not to be outdone, I have donned my bike helmet and we are planning on entering the Santa Fe Century next month.  Before you faint, I have to qualify that by saying we will ride either 25 or 50 miles, not the 100!   Volunteering for the Jump-Start Your Retirement Plan Days phone-athon event in January was fulfilling as usual.

Please contact me for a review meeting if needed.  As I continue to welcome new clients, please feel free to pass this newsletter on as seems appropriate.   My websiteat www.MadeyskiFP.com has information for those interested in my financial planning services.

 1Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI)
 2Vanguard Total International Stock Index Inv (VGTSX)
 3Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND)