By Mr. Free Spirit

For those of you that read the article “Straight -Talk No Chaser,” it took the US Post Office 7 weeks to forward my mail.  I decided to take a 10-month sabbatical and roam a bit, staying for a few weeks or longer in each new place so you can try on life as a local and live the adventure of a lifetime.

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As I travel around the United States subsequent to selling my home. My first thought is retirement is really a pleasure.  But, having some advanced information can be very helpful to those that are planning but don’t have a clue how to continue.  Lifestyle from the retired person will change from a financial point however, you can live your same lifestyle with a lesser income.

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Learning is a part of living and you should always watch and listen so you can be in a learning mode. I read something in www.blackmeninamerica.com that really woke me up and inspired me to provide others with the benefits of my research.

Did You Know?

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Retirement Strategies:   Did you know developing a retirement plan may give you an advantage when you are ready for retirement. Even if you have already, retired a plan will help with continued financial success.

As retirement approaches, you may feel a mix of excitement, relief, apprehension, and perhaps frustration. When embarking on retirement, often times you are asking yourself, “Do I have a plan that is working best for me?” or “Am I on course to achieving my financial goals?” My mission is to free you from all of the worry, and help you gain true peace of mind. What is important to you and you should create a personalized strategy for you and your family.  See below and determine how this fits into your retirement:

Couple on chairs on deck of cruise ship

Did you know why 20% more people tapped into their home equity in 2015?

USA Today released a report showing that in 2015 there was a 20% increase in people choosing to tap their home equity from the year prior. With so many options to get money, why are people turning to their home’s equity? The answer is simple—the economic climate has created this wonderfully perfect storm for people to take equity out of their home. This equity can be used to pay for almost anything from your son or daughters college tuition to an investment property. Understand the 3 factors that are making this one of the best and cheapest lending options for homeowners.

3 Factors That Make Home Equity Loans a Good Option

  1. Home Prices Are Rising

One reason why home equity is starting to take the U.S. by storm is because the cost of homes has risen. Home prices across the country have increased by 17% over the past three years, with San Francisco leading the pack at a whopping 50% increase. This increase in home values means that homeowners now have more equity. Instead of purchasing a new home, many homeowners are renovating their current homes through home equity loans and lines of credit. Contrary to popular belief, home equity loans don’t have to be used for home renovations. You can use them to do anything from purchasing a new car to paying your children’s college tuition.

  1. Interest Rates Remain Low (At Least for Now)

Home loan rates have dropped dramatically since 2007, making today one of the lowest rate environments in recent years. This combination of very low interest rates and increasing home prices makes now the perfect time to tap into your home equity. This won’t last forever as rates are expected to rise over the next year. Experts are projecting that by the end of 2016, home loan rates will be up to 5.1%, a 47% increase in just one year. If these experts are correct, getting home equity loan offers now will save you tons of money over the life of your loan. To take advantage of low rates over the life of your loan, make sure you take out a fixed rate home equity loan so that your interest rate does not rise with the market rates.

  1. Tax Deductible Interest

With tax season coming to a close, we all know how nice it is to get money back from Uncle Sam! If you itemize your deductions, home equity loans may be tax deductible just the same as your regular mortgage interest. Federal law allows you to deduct interest up to $100,000 in home equity ($50,000 if married and filing separately from your spouse). If you go this route on your taxes, home equity loans become even less expensive because you could potentially get back the money you paid in interest.

Rising home prices, low interest rates and possible tax benefits means there is no better time than now to take out a home equity loan. If you need cheap money to pay for your child’s college tuition, upgrade your current home, or even buy a rental property then you should consider a home equity loan. With experts predicting a rise in interest rates in the near future, there is no reason to put off a home equity loan any longer. At the very least, get home equity offers and see how much you can qualify for. It may surprise you.

Retirement Funds

If you retire at 65, retirement could easily last three decades. Some guidelines can help you develop an income stream that can potentially last your lifetime.

Review your income sources

Are you eligible for a pension or other guaranteed benefits?
If not, consider allocating some assets to purchase annuities that can provide the opportunity for monthly guaranteed income for life. Rule of thumb: match your lifetime income to essential expenses.

Did you Know???

Retirement is the FUN and it’s the best part of your life!!!!

Balance is important.  Live!  Live!  Live!

Vacations:

The new political environment may/will impact your vacation.

Therefore, with all of the new changes implemented by the Federal Government relating to passport’s some helpful information is depicted below:

What is the cost of a Passport?

Fees are payable to the U.S. Department of State are as follows: New, replacement or renewal of a passport book: $110 if age 16 and older; $80 if under the age of 16. New, replacement or renewal of a passport card: $30 if age 16 and older; $15 if under the age of 16.

Passport: How long does it take to get a passport?

Processing Times

ROUTINE SERVICE  As of Sunday, April 17, 2016, we are processing routine applications in approximately 6 weeks from the time of application.
EXPEDITED SERVICE*  As of Sunday, April 17, 2016, our expedited service commitment is to process your passport application within 8 business days from the time your application is received by a passport agency. This means you should receive your passport or denial letter within 3 weeks door-to-door**.
EXPEDITED AT AGENCY  As of Sunday, April 17, 2016, our expedited at agency service commitment is to process your passport application within 8 business days from the time your application is received by a passport agency.

*Please note that expedited service is an additional fee of $60.
** Applies when the applicant chooses two-way Express Delivery. 

Airplanes

FLYING SOMEWHERE?

Airline Seat

How to Avoid the Worst Seat on the Plane

Everyone agrees that legroom is a huge deal. But it’s not the only way that airplane seats come up short. Some won’t recline. Others are constantly bombarded with the scent of the airplane lavatory. Point is, there are many ways your seat can disappoint. Fortunately, you can steer clear of most of these seats most of the time just by learning which ones to avoid when making your seat selection. Here are the seats you should stay away from every time you travel.

The Seat with the Entertainment Box

You’ve arrived at your seat and you’re going through the process of deciding which items to put in the overhead bin, and which to stow under the seat in front of you. And that’s when you look down and realize it’s going to be an easy decision—because there is no room to stash your stuff (or stretch your legs) under the seat in front of you. Instead, there’s a metal case, an “entertainment equipment box,” taking up the entire under-seat storage area. You only have to make this seat mistake once to know those few extra inches of storage and stretching space make a huge difference.

The Seat at the Back of Any Section

Seats at the back of a section—those usually found just in front of a bank of lavatories or a galley—are the absolute best if you refuse to recline on principle, truly can’t stand having your seat kicked by the person in back of you, or if you’re simply an aficionado of discomfort. For the rest of us, these seats should be avoided whenever possible.

The Seat Next to the Main Exit Door

If leg room is your only consideration, then this might be the seat for you. But if you’re an average-height person, you may want to question the common wisdom that the seats next to the main exit door are prime real estate. Why? You’ll be giving up your arm’s-reach stowage (no seat in front of you means no under-seat storage, so you’ll need to put everything in the overhead bins during take-off and landing). You’ll also come up against‐literally—the reduced seat width that comes with the solid metal armrests needed to stow tray tables. And you will likely remain chilly for the length of the flight, since the air by the door is colder, presumably because the door has inner mechanical workings instead of insulation.

Fly enough and you’ll eventually end up in a broken seat. Maybe the seat leans at a weird angle. Or it jiggles loosely in its bolts. Perhaps the recline mechanism is jammed. Or, as seems to happen far more often than it should, the headphone jack or the seat back screen is on the fritz. Of all the bad seats to get, this one might be the true worst because it’s the one you can’t plan for. In the best-case scenario, you can draw attention to it and be re-seated, but it’s our experience that broken seats and full flights go hand in hand.

The Seat Near the Bathroom

Questionable smells aside, the seats closest to the lavatories are still among the worst in the cabin. That’s because there’s nearly always a line for the bathroom, and there’s something about being in line for the bathroom that seems to make airplane passengers take leave of their basic manners. Expect to be treated to a constant stream of passengers steadying themselves on your seat back, jiggling it back and forth—because of turbulence or simply because they’re in the middle of some complicated hamstring stretch. Prepare for getting various body parts smooshed into your shoulder as people try to accommodate two-way traffic in the aisle. And let’s not forget all the projecting-over-the-engine-noise conversations you’ll be treated to while trying to sleep.

The Tapered Window Seat

At the back of some planes there are a few rows of two. This might seem like a dream—more space, no middle seat. But … there are issues. There’s a gap between the seat and the wall of the plane, so you won’t be able to lean to sleep. If you like the feeling of a little room, it can be nice (and it’s a perk to be able to stash your stuff alongside you rather than under the seat in front). But beware: The person in the seat behind you may claim this space as their extra legroom, which could mean enduring malodorous feet wiggling in your peripheral vision for the length of your flight. And believe us when we say this can make any flight smell twice as long.

Misaligned Window Seat

The implied promise of the term “window seat” is of course that there’s a window you can actually see through. But many planes have configurations that place some seats between windows. Not only is this disappointing for anyone who likes to look out the window, it can also create complicated lighting issues, as the window in front of and behind you may peek into your row but you won’t be able to control them. So if you want a dim cabin but the person behind you prefers light, you’re either going to have to negotiate (we suggest bribing with chocolate) or invest in a good eye mask.

The Last Row

Sit in the last row of a plane and you’ll likely be treated to a custom blend of lavatory smells, seats that don’t recline, and a constant crowd of impatient bathroom aspirants waiting their turns. And when it’s time to disembark, here’s a tip: Don’t bother getting up for at least 10 minutes after the seat-belt sign dings off. By the time the aisle is clear for you to go, it will just be you and the cleaning crew.

Seats Between Different Configurations

You should be wary of being in that first row when a plane goes from four to three seats per row, or three to two. When a configuration switches to adapt to the tapering of the plane, legroom gets complicated since the optimal leg-stretch zone will be occupied by the seat anchors. Not only does it mean you may encroach on your neighbor’s space to stow and retrieve items placed under the seat, but it can lead to some pretty significant body aches if you’re twisting to reach your allotted leg room.

The Rows in Front of Exit Rows

You know all that legroom that the people have in the exit row behind you? Know that it’s partially at the expense of the row ahead. To ensure that exit rows remain clear for emergencies, the row in front of the exit row is lined with seats that don’t recline (or recline only very slightly). For safety, it makes perfect sense. What makes even more sense, though, is to try to avoid these seats when you’re choosing yours.

The Dreaded Middle Seat

The DMS, or Dreaded Middle Seat, is the true mush-pot in the seat assignment game of duck-duck-goose. On non-assignment airlines like Southwest, you can see the panic in the eyes of people in later boarding groups as they search for a seat—any seat—that’s not sandwiched between two people. On airlines with seat assignments, dreaded middle seats are always the last to be claimed, meaning the later you book, the more likely you are to have to resign yourself to battling your window and aisle seatmates for the extra few centimeters that armrest domination secures.

Bulkhead Rows

For some people, bulkhead is basically the first class of economy. But many people don’t realize its drawbacks until they’ve shelled out extra money for these coveted-but-flawed seats. As with seats by the main exit, bulkhead seats lack under-seat storage, meaning you’ll be stowing all your gear during the long stretches of time around takeoff and landing. There’s also the slightly reduced width of the seat (due to the tray-table-in-armrest configuration) to account for, and the simple fact that some find staring at a wall unpleasant. Finally, unless you’ve secured that extra space by filling it with an airline-supplied baby bassinet or a bunch of your own junk, you may find that other passengers try to use it as a cut-through to get to the opposite aisle.

So how do you avoid these worst airplane seats? Before selecting a seat, we always head to Seat Guru and look up the airline and plane to figure out which seats to avoid.

You should also check out Upgrade Points.com.  They publish a huge number of ways to save money on air travel; from tips/tricks for finding cheap airfare to the best ways to maximize credit card rewards and even fly for free.  Upgrade Points.com launched in 2016 and the site has been going strong attracting nearly 10k subscribers and industry acclaim from the likes of Huffington Post, Fortune, Tripsavvy, Vice and many more.

Did You Know?

Yacht

The United States has a large number of Black Yacht/boat clubs?

Additionally, there are Black Men and Women that are qualified Captain’s and they operate both Powered and Sail boats. A reunion of Black Boaters is being planned for 2017. I found out from Joan M Jackson, (one of the 2017 BVI Reunion Planners) about the plans for all/some of these Clubs to meet in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in 2017 for a Mega Yachting Vacation. Can you imagine how dynamic this will be? This will be a real Sailabration!

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Let’s talk about BVI and having a private Yacht!!!!

Contrary to what you may think the price per person is the same or less than a cruise ship, however you don’t have the crowd like you have on a cruise ship.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of riding the waves on a private yacht as you take in the white sand beaches and palm studded coast of the British Virgin Islands. This is where the ocean fills with opportunities of diving and snorkeling to delight in the underwater beauty. On land, complete your days with day-trip excursions where you can choose to walk among the island’s natural landscape or join the crowds in bustling towns packed with boutique and delightful restaurants.

Yacht 3Yacht 1

Did You Know??

The price of treating yourself and mate is about the same price as taking a cruise on a large ship in BVI. The people I met were from all over the United States. I didn’t know Black Men and Women were qualified as Captains on luxury Yachts. Additionally, there are Black yacht clubs in many cities around the U.S. I too was under the impression that only the major entertainers and sports figures could afford living this type of life. However, I was wrong. Some of the friends I made will last forever no matter where I live. Aug of 2016 I will again travel to BVI with a group titled “No Drama Vacation”. This group really believes vacations should be enjoyable and Drama free. As I stated before a BVI reunion is planned for 2017 and all of the Black yacht/boat clubs are invited to meet in BVI. The BVI tourist board is playing a major part of what will occur and the club representatives from the different cities are putting all of the necessary pieces together. I will provide the updates of the planning as I become aware of them, I will also be in attendance for this Sailarama.  You let me know the city you live in or near and I will provide the name of the club near you.

Black Men In America.com Administrator
Black Men In America.com is a popular website with a focus on black men. Approximately 45% of our site visitors are women. According to Alexa Internet and Ranking.com, Black Men In America.com is consistently ranked as one of the Top 10 most popular web sites (online community) on the Internet in the Ethnic/African/African-American category. Although our focus is on black men, we welcome all people, points of views and perspectives. Please do not use this site to post or transmit any unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane or indecent information of any kind, including without limitation any transmissions constituting or encouraging conduct that would constitute a criminal offense, give rise to civil liability or otherwise violate any local, state, national or international law. You alone are responsible for the material you post.
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Black Men In America.com Administrator
Black Men In America.com is a popular website with a focus on black men. Approximately 45% of our site visitors are women. According to Alexa Internet and Ranking.com, Black Men In America.com is consistently ranked as one of the Top 10 most popular web sites (online community) on the Internet in the Ethnic/African/African-American category. Although our focus is on black men, we welcome all people, points of views and perspectives. Please do not use this site to post or transmit any unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane or indecent information of any kind, including without limitation any transmissions constituting or encouraging conduct that would constitute a criminal offense, give rise to civil liability or otherwise violate any local, state, national or international law. You alone are responsible for the material you post.
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