Club 50 eNewsletter
March 2021
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Connie Braceland
Vice President
Community Relations & Club 50
617-928-2338
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Connie's Corner
February 2021

Hello Everyone! 

Spring is almost here!  A sure sign of it, is Daylight Saving Time begins!

When you go to bed Saturday night, March 13th, don’t forget to set your clocks ahead one hour.

Spring forward, Fall back.  That’s an easy way to remember it.

Believe it or not, Daylight Saving Time has been around since 1895.  George Hudson, an entomologist from New Zealand, came up with the concept, so he would have more sunlight in the summer, for his bug hunting!

While many countries do use it, the vast majority of countries do not.  The United States first started using it in 1918, and today all of the states use it except for Arizona and Hawaii.

March is also the month that Club 50 generally starts to travel.  We usually start the Day Trips with some kind of Irish celebration.  So on March 17th, I hope you will all raise a glass,  think about each other, and pray that we will all be together again, soon.

The vaccinations are starting to roll out.  Massachusetts has not done the best job yet, but things are definitely getting better.  I hope that those of you who are eligible, have received your shot(s) or been able to schedule an appointment.  If you have not been successful scheduling your appointment, keep trying! 

The vaccines reach full efficacy in about 42 days.  (e.g., 14 days after your second vaccination, which typically occurs 28 days after your first vaccination.)

The Mass.gov website has a lot of information on Covid-19, including the vaccine, and the locations.  The state also has a 211 call line set up, which offers a call back option, so you are not holding for hours, on the phone.

The big question still remains…WHEN WILL WE BE ABLE TO TRAVEL TOGETHER???

We still don’t have an answer.  It all depends on how quickly we ALL get vaccinated. 

So again, I am asking you to hang in there!  Call each other.  As the weather gets nicer, have safe driveway visits with each other.  The only way we get through this is by staying diligent.  Continue wearing your mask, and practicing social distancing.  Schedule your vaccinations as soon as you can.

As always, if you need anything, please call me!

We WILL get through this, and until we can be “On The Road Again,” stay well! 

Connie

 

 

Watertown Business Coalition - Coffee Connect ONLINE!

WHEN: Wednesday, March 17th from 8:30am-9:30am

The Watertown Business Coalition (WBC) hosts an online forum every month for Watertown's business community to discuss the challenges of our COVID altered reality and a path back to some level of economic normalcy.

The online forum is free to Watertown residents and the Watertown Business Community!

Format will include:

- find a comfortable place in your home with a cup of coffee or tea!

- Networking breakout rooms

Let's get through these times together, Watertown!

This is a Zoom Virtual meeting, RSVP online at watertownbusinesscoalition.com, and head to events to check out more ways to connect. 

Virtual Spring Fashion Show
The Chic Boutique Virtual Show!

WHEN: Monday, March 8th from 7:00pm-8:00pm.
Contact: Amber Smith at 920-390-2022 with any questions or fashion inquiries.

The Chic Boutique will be hosting a virtual Spring Fashion Show on Monday, March 8th at 7pm CST. They will be giving away prizes during the event and you will be able to shop after the event right from their website!

To learn more, connect with the Chic Boutique Watertown on Facebook. 

March + Maple

Check out these fun, family-friendly activities during the maple sugar season in Massachusetts!

List compiled by Alice Coyle, for Wicked Local
Published March 1, 2021

Maple Days at Old Sturbridge Village

WHEN: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in March, 9:30 a.m.– 4 p.m.

Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge 

Included with standard daytime admission or Village membership

Step back in time see how maple sugaring was done in early 19th century New England. Watch the Village’s working sugar camp demonstrate the entire sugar-making process, from tapping the trees to “sugaring off,” and learn why maple sugar was more commonly used than maple syrup in early New England. Costumed historians will also cook period foods made with maple products and the potter and cooper will make maple related items. For more information visit osv.org.

Maple Happenings at Appleton Farms

WHEN: Saturday and Sundays in March, 12-4 p.m.

Appleton Farms, Hamilton & Ipswich 

Weekend maple-flavored fun at Appleton Farms continues through the end of March. Try sugar on ice, see demonstrations of maple sugaring in the Sugar Shack, sample food trucks and local craft beer vendors on site, from 12 to 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. Take home homemade maple-filled food items, right from the farmstead kitchen. Fire Pit Picnics will also continue through maple season. Tickets for hikes, walks, guided tours and fire pits must be purchased separately. Parking fee at Appleton Farms is $10 on weekends for nonmembers. All visitors will be required to follow Covid-19 guidelines, including wearing face coverings, maintaining social distance, and not visiting the property if you are experiencing symptoms. For more information visit thetrustees.org

Maple Sugaring Saturdays

WHEN: Saturdays, March 6, 13 and 20. Hour-long tours at 1, 1:15, 1:30, and 1:45 p.m.

Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, Topsfield

Member Adult: $11; Member Child: $9; Nonmember Adult: $12; Nonmember Child: $10

Learn the age-old tradition of maple sugaring during a guided tour through the sanctuary's sugar maple woodland. On our naturalist-guided tours, learn how to identify a sugar maple, observe tapping and sap collection methods, watch the sap being boiled down in the sugarhouse, and get a sweet taste of the final product. Bottles of freshly made maple syrup will be available for purchase. Tours last about an hour and run in all weather. Warm clothing including waterproof boots are recommended as the trails may be wet, muddy or snow covered. Following Covid-19 protocols are limited to 11 preregistered participants. Children under age 3 cannot be admitted. Participants are required to wear a face covering and follow social distancing guidelines. For more information visit massaudubon.org

 

Retirement Planning: The Basics

You may have a very idealistic vision of retirement — doing all of the things that you never seem to have time to do now. But how do you pursue that vision? Social Security may be around when you retire, but the benefit that you get from Uncle Sam may not provide enough income for your retirement years. To make matters worse, few employers today offer a traditional company pension plan that guarantees you a specific income at retirement. On top of that, people are living longer and must find ways to fund those additional years of retirement. Such eye-opening facts mean that today, sound retirement planning is critical.

But there's good news: Retirement planning is easier than it used to be, thanks to the many tools and resources available. Here are some basic steps to get you started.

Determine your retirement income needs

It's common to discuss desired annual retirement income as a percentage of your current income. Depending on whom you're talking to, that percentage could be anywhere from 60% to 90%, or even more. The appeal of this approach lies in its simplicity. The problem, however, is that it doesn't account for your specific situation. To determine your specific needs, you may want to estimate your annual retirement expenses.

Use your current expenses as a starting point, but note that your expenses may change dramatically by the time you retire. If you're nearing retirement, the gap between your current expenses and your retirement expenses may be small. If retirement is many years away, the gap may be significant, and projecting your future expenses may be more difficult.

Remember to take inflation into account. The average annual rate of inflation over the past 20 years has been approximately 2%.1 And keep in mind that your annual expenses may fluctuate throughout retirement. For instance, if you own a home and are paying a mortgage, your expenses will drop if the mortgage is paid off by the time you retire. Other expenses, such as health-related expenses, may increase in your later retirement years. A realistic estimate of your expenses will tell you about how much yearly income you'll need to live comfortably.

Calculate the gap

Once you have estimated your retirement income needs, take stock of your estimated future assets and income. These may come from Social Security, a retirement plan at work, a part-time job, and other sources. If estimates show that your future assets and income will fall short of what you need, the rest will have to come from additional personal retirement savings.

Figure out how much you'll need to save

By the time you retire, you'll need a nest egg that will provide you with enough income to fill the gap left by your other income sources. But exactly how much is enough? The following questions may help you find the answer:

  • At what age do you plan to retire? The younger you retire, the longer your retirement will be, and the more money you'll need to carry you through it.
  • What is your life expectancy? The longer you live, the more years of retirement you'll have to fund.
  • What rate of growth can you expect from your savings now and during retirement? Be conservative when projecting rates of return.
  • Do you expect to dip into your principal? If so, you may deplete your savings faster than if you just live off investment earnings. Build in a cushion to guard against these risks.

Build your retirement fund: Save, save, save

When you know roughly how much money you'll need, your next goal is to save that amount. First, you'll have to map out a savings plan that works for you. Assume a conservative rate of return (e.g., 5% to 6%), and then determine approximately how much you'll need to save every year between now and your retirement to reach your goal.

The next step is to put your savings plan into action. It's never too early to get started (ideally, begin saving in your 20s). To the extent possible, you may want to arrange to have certain amounts taken directly from your paycheck and automatically invested in accounts of your choice [e.g., 401(k) plans, payroll deduction savings]. This arrangement reduces the risk of impulsive or unwise spending that will threaten your savings plan — out of sight, out of mind. If possible, save more than you think you'll need to provide a cushion.

Understand your investment options

You need to understand the types of investments that are available, and decide which ones are right for you. If you don't have the time, energy, or inclination to do this yourself, hire a financial professional. He or she will explain the options that are available to you, and will assist you in selecting investments that are appropriate for your goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon. Note that many investments may involve the risk of loss of principal.

Use the right savings tools

The following are among the most common retirement savings tools, but others are also available.

Employer-sponsored retirement plans that allow employee deferrals [like 401(k), 403(b), SIMPLE, and 457(b) plans] are powerful savings tools. Your contributions come out of your salary as pre-tax contributions (reducing your current taxable income) and any investment earnings are tax deferred until withdrawn. These plans often include employer-matching contributions and should be your first choice when it comes to saving for retirement. 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) plans can also allow after-tax Roth contributions. While Roth contributions don't offer an immediate tax benefit, qualified distributions from your Roth account are free of federal, and possibly state, income tax.

IRAs, like employer-sponsored retirement plans, feature tax deferral of earnings. If you are eligible, traditional IRAs may enable you to lower your current taxable income through deductible contributions. Withdrawals, however, are taxable as ordinary income (unless you've made nondeductible contributions, in which case a portion of the withdrawals will not be taxable).

Roth IRAs don't permit tax-deductible contributions but allow you to make completely tax-free withdrawals under certain conditions. With both types, you can typically choose from a wide range of investments to fund your IRA.

Annuities are contracts issued by insurance companies. Annuities are generally funded with after-tax dollars, but their earnings are tax deferred (you pay tax on the portion of distributions that represents earnings). There is generally no annual limit on contributions to an annuity. A typical annuity provides income payments beginning at some future time, usually retirement. The payments may last for your life, for the joint life of you and a beneficiary, or for a specified number of years (guarantees are subject to the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company). Annuities may be subject to certain charges and expenses, including mortality charges, surrender charges, administrative fees, and other charges.

Note: In addition to any income taxes owed, a 10% premature distribution penalty tax may apply to taxable distributions made from employer-sponsored retirement plans, IRAs, and annuities prior to age 59½, unless an exception applies.

1 Calculated form Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2021

Chris is here to help you meet your financial goals and he can be reached at cmara@infinexgroup.com 
or (617) 928-2349.   

Infinex Investments, Inc.
located at Watertown Savings Bank

Christopher P. Mara, CLU, ChFC
Financial Advisor/Vice-President

60 Main Street,
Watertown, MA 02472
(617) 928-9000
cmara@infinexgroup.com

Investment and insurance products and services are offered through INFINEX INVESTMENTS, INC. Member FINRA/SIPC. Infinex and the bank are not affiliated. Products and services made available through Infinex are not insured by the FDIC or any other agency of the United States and are not deposits or obligations of nor guaranteed or insured by any bank or bank affiliate. These products are subject to investment risk, including the possible loss of value.

NOT FDIC-INSURED. NOT INSURED BY ANY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY. NOT GUARANTEED BY THE BANK. MAY GO DOWN IN VALUE.

 

 

Massachusetts Volunteer Group Helping Residents Book Coronavirus Vaccine Appointments

From the Boston Herald 
by Rick Sobey
Published: March 1, 2021 | Updated March 2, 2021

A group of volunteers is helping frustrated residents snag vaccine appointments by directly booking them on behalf of strangers who have been striking out during the state’s chaotic vax rollout.

The growing volunteer army — formed by a 32-year-old Somerville woman on maternity leave — has led to 450 eligible vax residents scoring appointments since last Monday. They’ve received about 1,400 requests for help after a week.

“A couple hundred volunteers is nothing in the grand scheme of things and it won’t solve the system, but the individual impact is tremendous,” said Diana Rastegayeva, who launched the helpful website called “Massachusetts COVID Vaccination Help.”

The responses from grateful people after volunteers helped them land a vaccination slot have been “powerful” and “so heartening,” she said.

A resident said they had given up on trying to get through the state website maze until the volunteers “did the impossible,” Rastegayeva said. A person called the volunteers their “guardian angel.”

“I’ve had countless people cry to me on the phone,” she said. “They’ve talked about their frustrations and their anxiety. One person talked about not sleeping for three days trying to get an appointment for their husband who has a severe respiratory condition.”

Rastegayeva, the mother of a 4-year-old and 3-month-old, started this effort after she helped her grandfather book a vaccination appointment in Florida in January. She also secured appointments through the complicated process for other family and friends who are not very tech savvy.

Rastegayeva looked into what the process was like in Massachusetts, and “realized it was even worse here.”

“How is it even possible that our rollout is worse than Florida’s?” she said. “It’s so needlessly complicated.”

Rastegayeva as a result started an email list for friends and family to give them tips and tricks on how to score an appointment. She realized that was “small potatoes” and the need was so much greater across the state. She connected with other moms in a local Facebook group who were interested in volunteering to help people get appointments, and the website was born.

“It’s truly an incredible volunteer effort,” she said. “Volunteers are working on this for dozens of hours a week, staying up late until 2 in the morning.”

The volunteer group uses a combination of automated alerts, manual refreshing, autofill apps, and “sheer persistence” to find and book vaccination appointments.

Rastegayeva has started a GoFundMe page to cover costs, such as web hosting and the automated alert services they use. The page has already raised nearly $3,000 as of Monday afternoon.

No one on the volunteer team will be making money from the effort, she said. All funds not used for direct support of the website will be donated to the Greater Boston Food Bank or similar organizations.

To get help with booking an appointment or to become a volunteer, visit www.macovidvaxhelp.com.

Massachusetts House approves extending COVID mail-in voting law through June

MSN News
by Steph Solis, for masslive.com
Published March 1, 2021

Massachusetts House lawmakers approved a bill extending the COVID-19 mail-in voting law through June, giving Beacon Hill more time to review more permanent election reforms.

The House voted on Monday to approve the bill, H. 73, extending the mail-in voting law through June 30. The proposal heads to the Senate for review.

The temporary mail-in voting law, which took effect in July, was supposed to expire at the end of 2020 but was extended until March 31, 2021 to account for upcoming special elections.

Prior to the temporary mail-in voting law, only voters who were out of town or hospitalized could vote by mail by using an absentee ballot.

House Speaker Ron Mariano issued a statement late Wednesday after debate of House rules saying he backs extending the temporary voting law.

“Since we first enacted vote by mail, it has proven to be secure and even increased voter turnout in many places,” Mariano said. “The House looks forward to making vote by mail a permanent way for residents to exercise their right to vote during and beyond the pandemic.”

The bill originated from legislation proposed by House Minority Leader Bradley Jones, a North Reading Republican, and Sen. Jason Lewis, a Winchester Democrat.

The 2020 state primary and general elections broke voter turnout records despite the COVID-19 pandemic in large part due to the law allowing voting by mail.

The state primary drew more than 1.7 million voters, breaking the 1990 record of 1.4 million. More than 3.65 million people voted in the Nov. 3 election, exceeding the record 3.3 million votes in 2016.

Several voting proposals are on the table. Rep. John Lawn and Sen. Cynthia Stone Creem proposed a bill that make mail-in voting a permanent option, as well as same-day voter registration. Sen. Becca Rausch filed a series of proposals that would make mail-in voting a permanent option, move up the state primary to June and require the state to maintain a central registry of voters.

Another bill filed by Reps. Frank Moran and Chynah Tyler would require the state to offer free bus and train rides to and from the polls on the day of a state primary or state election.

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