10 Necessities For A Great Retirement Location

Whether you stay put after retirement, or relocate to somewhere sunny and sandy, be sure to enjoy it!

Whether you’re in your 20’s, or late 50’s, retirement should be on your mind. Let’s face it, it’s never to early to start planning – and saving – for retirement. For those of us in our 20’s, saving for retirement seems like a lost cost considering it’s decades away. And for those of us in our late 50’s, it’s the most important thing as it soon becomes the means to our living. But for those of us that are fortunate enough to have either retired, or are on the cusp of retiring, here are 10 necessities for a great retirement location (list courtesy Yahoo! Finance):

1. Affordable Housing: Selling your current home and moving to a place where housing costs significantly less could give your nest egg a quick and significant boost.

2. Lower Taxes: Tax rates vary considerably by state, and moving to a place with lower taxes could increase your spending power. There are seven states with no income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. Additionally, New Hampshire and Tennessee tax dividend and interest income only. There are also five states that don’t levy a sales tax: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon. The taxation of Social Security and pension benefits also differs by state. However, states without these taxes often have above-average property tax rates, so it’s best to run the numbers based on the sources of your retirement income.

3. Better Weather: Many retirees choose to spend the coldest winter months in a sunnier climate or permanently relocate to a place with better weather. Approximately 30,000 seniors moved in 2011 primarily to live in a better climate.

4. Recreation and Culture: Throughout much of your life, your career dictates where you live. Retirement allows you the freedom to select a desirable place to live, whether that means surrounding yourself with golf courses, art galleries, water views, or hiking trails. In addition, many seniors use retirement as an opportunity to upgrade to what they describe as a better home, or a neighborhood with less crime, the Census Bureau found.

5. Job or Volunteer Opportunities: A part-time job or second career is increasingly becoming a part of the retirement years. If you plan to continue working, consider the health of the economy before moving to a new place, and look for cities with interesting part-time job or consulting opportunities. Many retirees also pursue volunteer work for the community and social benefits.

6. Proximity to Healthcare: Your healthcare needs are likely to increase as you age. Some 150,000 people changed residences for health reasons in 2011, typically after age 75. Any retirement spot you are considering should have health and elder-care facilities and doctors who specialize in taking care of older patients.

7. Convenient Transportation: Many retirees eventually reach a point where they can’t or no longer want to drive. When this happens, other methods of transportation are essential. Consider whether a city has public transportation options or affordable taxi or van services for seniors.

8. Amenities for Seniors: As you age, you may increasingly need assistance with errands, yard work, and household chores. Some cities have nonprofit aging-in-place communities that provide a range of services such as home maintenance, transportation, and meal services in exchange for an annual fee. You might also be interested in socializing at a senior center, using a senior citizen tuition waiver at a local college, or getting senior discounts from local retailers. Check out the perks and privileges offered to senior citizens, even if you are not yet old enough to qualify.

9. Near Family and Friends: There is no substitute for living near friends and family members. Even the coldest retirement spot can be welcoming when you can watch your grandchildren play in your backyard. Living near relatives can also save you money if your children or other relatives can give you a ride to your next doctor’s appointment or help with household chores you would otherwise pay someone to do.

10. Stay Close to Home: Most people who trade places don’t relocate far from home. The majority of retirees who moved between 2010 and 2011 stayed in the same county and state. Only 0.8 percent of senior citizens crossed state lines or relocated abroad. There are many benefits to staying put in retirement: You already know your way around town, you don’t need to make new friends unless you want to, and you now have time to rediscover all the weekday happenings you missed while you were working.



Job Opening at Ernst & Haas

Ernst & Haas Management Co. has an immediate opening for a Property Supervisor.

Ernst & Haas Management Co. is currently looking to hire a Property Supervisor to join our team.

The position will oversee and coordinate daily operations of the maintenance department and staff; maintains all  buildings and properties in proper condition. The Property Supervisor will be assigned a portfolio of properties from 30-80 depending on the unit count. This position is responsible for communicating with the property owners on a regular basis; make recommendations/assess/oversee/approve all work and expenses; point person for any problems related to the property; responsible for resolving any issues that may arise with owners and residents. The candidate must have prior experience in basic maintenance terms and concepts, strong communication and customer service skills. Must own a vehicle and be licensed to drive. A high school diploma or equivalent is required. We provide a challenging and friendly work environment, as well as competitive compensation and benefits.

If interested, please fax resume to (562) 989-9166, or email to employment@ernstandhaas.com, or mail to Ernst & Haas Management Co., 4000 Long Beach Blvd. Ste. 105, Long Beach, CA 90807, Attention: Annette Martin.


All We Need Is Love

Valentine’s Day is exactly a week away and while there’s a plethora of stuffed animals, boxed chocolates, and long-stemmed roses to purchase, consider spending this year’s day of love out on the town! Below is an extensive list of places to go, and great food to eat, this Valentine’s Day:

Valentine’s Day Dinner Special @ Panorama Grill & Lounge

February 10 – February 14

Dinner Special includes choice of soup or salad, entree, dessert, and beverage

Panorama Grill & Lounge is located at the Holiday Inn Airport, 2640 N. Lakewood Blvd. in Long Beach

For reservations, call (562) 597-4401, ext. 2390

Day of Love Jazz Concert

February 11 @ 7 p.m.

Tickets range from $40-$125

Terrace Theatre, 300 E. Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach

For more information, call (562) 436-3661

Sweetheart Sunday Brunch @ Fuego @ The Maya

February 12, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Hotel Maya, 700 Queensway Dr. in Long Beach

For more information, call (562) 435-7676

Valentine’s Weekend 2012 @ Sevilla

February 12 – February 14

Valentine’s menu will be featured for $49 per person, in addition to live music and Flamenco dance shows

Sevilla Restaurant, Tapas Bar & Club, 140 Pine Ave. in Long Beach

For more information, call (562) 495-1111

Queensview Steakhouse Valentine’s Day Special

February 14

Four-course dinner for $85 per person, in addition to live jazz music

Queensview Steakhouse,  435 Shoreline Village Dr. in Long Beach

For reservations, call (562) 432-6500

Parkers’ Lighthouse Valentine’s Day Special

February 14

Three-course dinner and shared dessert for $60 per person

Parkers’ Lighthouse,  435 Shoreline Village Dr. in Long Beach

For reservations, call (562) 432-6500

Valentine’s Day @ The Aquarium of the Pacific

February 14 @ 7:30 p.m.

Four-course meal and exhibits for $52 (adult member) and $42 (child member); and $62 (adult non-member) and $52 (child non-member)

The Aquarium of the Pacific, 100 Aquarium Way in Long Beach

For more information, call (562) 590-3100

Valentine’s Day @ The Laugh Factory

February 14 @ 8 p.m. & 10 p.m.

Sweethearts package includes 2 VIP admission tickets, VIP entry, chocolates, a bottle of Veuve Cliquout, and $200 in Laugh Factory gift certificates

The Laugh Factory, 151 S. Pine Ave. in Long Beach

For more information, call (562) 495-2244, ext. 1

Whether you take in the views from a penthouse restaurant, or laugh the night away at a comedy club, we hope your Valentine’s day is spent with those you love most!

The Most Over-Looked Tax Deductions

Children aren't the only tax deductions these days! Check out the list below of the most commonly overlooked tax deductions.

Every year, the IRS dutifully reports the most common blunders that taxpayers make on their returns. And every year, at or near the top of the “oops” list is forgetting to enter their Social Security number at the top of the tax form – or making a mistake when entering those nine digits.

But think about it for  a minute: Do you think that’s the most common mistake…or simply the easiest to notice?

One thing we know for sure is that the opportunity to make mistakes is almost unlimited, and missed deductions can be the most costly.

Yes, friends, tax time is a dangerous time. It’s all too easy to miss a trick and pay too much. The IRS estimates that millions of taxpayers overpay their taxes every year by overlooking just one of the money-savers listed below (provided by www.kiplinger.com):

1. State Sales Tax – Although all taxpayers have a shot at this write-off, it makes sense primarily for those who live in states that do not impose an income tax. You must choose between deducting state and local income taxes or state and local sales taxes. For most citizens of income-tax states, the income tax is a bigger burden than the sales tax, so the income-tax deduction is a better deal. The IRS has tables that show how much residents of various states can deduct, based on their income and state and local sales tax rates. But the tables aren’t the last word. If you purchased a vehicle, boat or airplane, you get to add the sales tax you paid to the amount shown in the IRS table for your state.

2. Reinvested Dividends – This isn’t really a tax deduction, but it is an important subtraction that can save you a bundle. If , like most investors, your mutual fund dividends are automatically used to buy extra shares, remember that each reinvestment increases your tax basis in the fund. That, in turn, reduces the taxable capital gain (or increases the tax-saving loss) when you redeem shares. Forgetting to include the reinvested dividends in your basis results in double taxation of the dividends – once when they are paid out and immediately reinvested in more shares and later when they’re included in the proceeds of the sale. Don’t make that costly mistake!

3. Out-Of-Pocket Charitable Contributions – It’s hard to overlook the big charitable gifts you made during the year, by check or payroll deduction (check your December pay stub). But the little things add up, too, and you can write off out-of-pocket costs incurred while doing work for a charity. For example, ingredients for casseroles you prepare for a nonprofit organization’s soup kitchen and stamps you buy for your school’s fundraising mailing count as a charitable contribution. Keep your receipts and if your contribution totals more than $250, you’ll need an acknowledgement from the charity documenting the services you provided. If you drove your car for charity in 2011, remember to deduct 14 cents per mile plus parking and tolls paid in your philanthropic journeys.

4. Student-Loan Interest Paid by Mom and Dad – Generally, you can only deduct mortgage or student-loan interest if you are legally required to repay the debt. But if parents pay back a child’s student loans, the IRS treats the money as if it was given to the child, who then paid the debt. So, a child who’s not claimed as a dependent can qualify to deduct up to $2,500 of student-loan interest paid by mom and dad.

5. Job-Hunting Costs – If you’re among the millions of the unemployed Americans who were looking for a job in 2011, we hope you kept track of your job-search expenses…or can reconstruct them. If you’re looking for a position in the same line of work, you can deduct job-hunting costs as miscellaneous expenses if you itemize. Such expenses can be written off only to the extent that your total miscellaneous expenses exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income. Job-hunting expenses incurred while looking for your first job don’t qualify.  Deductible job-search costs include, but aren’t limited to (1) food, lodging and transportation if your search takes you away from home overnight; (2) cab fares; (3) employment agency fees; and (4) costs of printing resumes, business cards, postage, and advertising.

6. The Cost of Moving for Your First Job – Although job-hunting expenses are not deductible when looking for your first job, moving expenses to get to that job are. And you get this write-off even if you don’t itemize. To qualify, your first job must be at least 50 miles away from your old home. If you qualify, you can deduct the cost of getting yourself and your household goods to the new area. If you drove your own car, your mileage write-off depends on when during 2011 you moved. For moves from January 1 through the end of June, the standard mileage rate is 19 cents a mile; for moves during the second half of the year, a 23.5 cents a mile rate applies. IN either case, boost your deduction by any amount you paid for parking and tolls.

7. Military Reservists’ Travel Expenses – Members of the National Guard or military  reserve may tap a deduction for travel expenses to drills or meetings. To qualify, you must travel more than 100 miles from home and be away from home overnight. If you qualify, you can deduct the cost of lodging and half the cost of your meals, plus an allowance for driving your own car to get to and from drills. For qualifying trips during January through June, 2011, the standard mileage rate is 51 cents a mile; for driving during the second half of the year, the rate is 55.5 cents a mile. In any event, add parking fees and tolls.

8. Deduction of Medicare Premiums for the Self-Employed – Folks who continue to run their own businesses after qualifying for Medicare can deduct the premiums they pay for Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D and the cost of supplemental Medicare (medigap) policies. This deduction is available whether or not you itemize and is not subject to the 7.5% of AGI test that applies to itemized medical expenses. One caveat: You can’t claim this deduction if you are eligible to be covered under an employer-subsidized health plan offered by your employer (if you have a job as well as your business) of your spouse’s employer.

9. Child-Care Credit – A credit is so much better than a deduction; it reduces your tax bill dollar for dollar. So missing one is even more painful than missing a deduction that simply reduces the amount of income that’s subject to tax. You can qualify for a tax credit worth between 20% and 35% of what you pay for child care while you work. But if your boss offers a child care reimbursement account – which allows you to pay for the child care with pre-tax dollars – that might be a better deal. If you qualify for a 20% credit but are in the 25% tax bracket, for example, the reimbursement plan is the way to go. In any case, only expenses for the care of children under age 13 count.

10. Estate Tax on Income in Respect of a Decedent – This sounds complicated, but it can save you a lot of money if you inherited an IRA from someone whose estate was big enough to be subject to the federal estate tax. Basically, you get an income-tax deduction for the amount of estate tax paid on the IRA assets you received. Let’s say you inherited a $100,000 IRA, and the fact that the money was included in your benefactor’s estate added $45,000 to the estate-tax bill. You get to deduct that $45,000 on your tax returns as you withdraw the money from the IRA. If you withdraw $50,000 in one year, for example, you get to claim a $22,500 itemized deduction on Schedule A. That would save you $6,300 in the 28% bracket.

11. State Tax Paid Last Spring – Did you owe tax when you filed your 2010 state income tax return in the spring of 2011? Then, for goodness’ sake, remember to include that amount in your state-tax deduction on your 2011 federal return, along with state income taxes withheld from your paychecks or paid via quarterly estimated payments.

12. Refinancing Points – When you buy a house, you get to deduct in one fell swoop the points paid to get your mortgage. When you refinance, though, you have to deduct the points on the new loan over the life of that loan. That means you can deduct 1/30th of the points a year if it’s a 30-year mortgage. That’s $33 a year for each $1,000 of point you paid – not much, maybe, but don’t throw it away.

13. Jury Pay Turned Over to Your Employer – Many employers continue to pay employees’ full salary while they serve on jury duty, and some impose a quid pro quo: the employees have to turn over their jury pay to the company coffers. The only problem is that the IRS demands that you report those jury fees as taxable income. To even things out, you get to deduct the amount you give to your employer.

14. American Opportunity Credit – This tax credit is available for up to $2,500 of college tuition and related expenses paid during the year. The full credit is available to individuals whose modified adjusted gross income is $80,000 or less ($160,000 or less for married couples filing a joint return). The credit phased out for taxpayers with incomes above those levels. This credit is juicier than the old Hope credit – it has higher income limits and bigger tax breaks, and it covers all four years of college. And if the credit exceeds your tax liability, it can trigger a refund.

15. Deduct Those Blasted Baggage Fees – In recent years airlines have been driving passengers batty with extra fees for baggage and for making changes in their travel plans. All together, such fees add up to billions of dollars each year. If you get burned, maybe Uncle Sam will help ease the pain. If you’re self-employed and traveling on business, be sure to add those costs to your deductible travel expenses.

16. Credit for Energy-Saving Home Improvements – Although this credit has been scaled back, it still exists and might save you some money if you made energy-saving home improvements during 2011. The credit is worth 10% of the cost of qualifying energy savers including new windows and insulation. The maximum credit is $500 and, if you claimed this credit in the past, you’re probably out of luck now. That $500 is the maximum credit allowed on all tax returns from 2006-2011.

17. Additional Bonus Depreciation – Business owners can write off 100% of the cost of qualified assets placed in service during 2011. This break applies only to new assets with recovery periods of 20 years or less, such as computers, machinery, equipment, land improvements and farm buildings. So don’t miss out on this big tax benefit if you placed business assets in service during 2011.

18. Break on the Sale of Demutualized Stock – Taxpayers won an important court battle with the IRS over the issue of demutualized stock. That’s stock that a life insurance policyholder receives when the insurer switches from being a mutual company owned by policyholders to a stock company owned by stockholders. The IRS‘s longstanding position was that such stock had no tax basis, so that when the shares were sold, the taxpayer owed tax on 100% of the proceeds of the sale. But after a long legal struggle, a federal court ruled in 2009 that the IRS was wrong. The court didn’t say what the basis of the stock should be, but many experts think it’s whatever the shares were worth when they were distributed to policyholders. If you sold stock in 2011 that you received in a demutualization, be sure to claim a basis to hold down your tax bill.

19. Home-Buyer Credit – Most people think this credit expired in 2010…and it did for most homeowners. But, there’s a special rule for members of the uniformed armed services, the foreign service, or the intelligence community who were on extended duty outside the United States at least 90 days during the period after December 31, 2008, and ending before May 1, 2010. If you qualify and you bought a home before May 1, 2011, you may qualify for a tax credit worth $8,000 (for home buyers who didn’t own a home in the three years leading up to the purchase of a new home) or $6,500 (for longtime homeowners who continuously owned a home for at least five of the eight years leading up to the purchase of a new home).

So as you prepare to file your taxes this year, look over this list for any possible deductions you may have. After all, any deduction is better than none!