Feng shui – another tool in the kit of life BY EMILY HEDGES CONTRIBUTING WRITER Those looking to bring greater wealth and financial abundance into their life might be surprised to learn that knowing where to declutter your home or business, a water image, or perhaps the right shade of purple could do the trick. Minnetonka resident and feng shui practitioner Hinda Abrahamson believes that connecting to financial prosperity and abundance is no accident; it’s all about understanding how the energy and placement of your home supports the practical aspects of your life. “I look at feng shui as another tool that we have in our tool kit, accumulated through experience, wisdom, and helpful guides in our lives,” she said. Abrahamson began studying feng shui in the mid-90s. She is a founding member and current president of the Feng Shui Society of the Midwest (FSIM), a Minnetonka-based professional and social organization, open to the public, serving as a community resource for the art and science of feng shui. Feng shui, pronounced “fung shway” in English, is the Chinese art of arranging buildings, objects, and environment in such a way as to achieve harmony and balance. The objective is to assist people in creating a space that supports and nurtures their needs, desires and overall well-being. FENG SHUI - TO PAGE 10
Hinda Abrahamson is photographed here with the front door of her Minnetonka home. Feng Shui practitioners like Abrahamson believe that the energy of your front door assures good feng shui Chi ﬂowing into your home.
Page 2 Mature Lifestyles â€˘ Thursday, February 21, 2013
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Mature Lifestyles • Thursday, February 21, 2013 Page 3
Long-term care insurance Offering piece of mind for future needs BY EMILY HEDGES CONTRIBUTING WRITER Former Columbia Heights Mayor Julienne Wyckoff believes in long-term care insurance. Although the 57-year-old is still healthy and working as a flight attendant, she knows from experience that now is the time to prepare. Before Wyckoff was mayor (2005-06), she served on the Columbia Heights City Council. At that time, city staff and officials were offered the chance to purchase long-term care insurance. Because she was in her late 30s, the cost to her was only $32.78 per month. “It seemed like a good investment in the future,” she said. Wyckoff took care of her mother until the end of her life, so she understands from experience how important it is to plan for the time when in-home care is needed. “She was a stubborn woman. It was a matter of pride and dignity for her to stay in her home,” said Wyckoff. “She didn’t have long-term care insurance, but she had me. As much as I miss my mother, I wouldn’t do to anybody what she did to me.” Purchasing long-term care insurance is one way Wyckoff hopes to stay in her home without depending solely on a loved one. “This is one of the routes I could take that allows me to stay in my home,” she said. “I know it’s not going to cover everything, but it will help to have someone come into my home to help me without dipping into savings or social security,” she said. Minnesotans’ biggest concern about their retirement years is losing health and needing care, according to results of the 2012 State Fair Survey of Retirement and Long-term Care. A large share of the 2,400 survey respondents also said they did not know how they would pay for long-term care. The Minnesota Department of Human Services hopes more people will follow Wyckoff’s example. Own Your Future is a state and federal initiative to promote long-term care planning. It was launched this past fall with a letter from Governor
JULIENNE WYCKHOFF Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon urging Minnesotans ages 40 to 65 to plan for the often expensive long-term care many will need as they grow older. Long-term care includes medical and non-medical care to meet health and personal care needs. It includes help with bathing, dressing and other personal care, as well as memory loss such as Alzheimer’s Disease. In 2013, AARP Minnesota will encourage its members to learn about Own Your Future, using social media, tele-town meetings, email, and direct mail. “If enough people save or purchase long-term care insurance, they reduce costs to the system, the government and taxpayers,” said Michele Kimball, AARP Minnesota state director and executive director of the Own Your Future Advisory Panel. “The purpose of Own Your Future is to encourage and enable Minnesotans to have a plan for their long-term care, including how to pay for it,” said LaRhae Knatterud, director of Aging Transformation for the Minnesota Department of Human Services. “Many people mistak-
enly believe that Medicare will cover longterm care costs but Medicare only pays for long-term care under very limited circumstances.” According to Knatterud, Own Your Future addresses the dramatic increase in the number of Minnesotans who will need long-term care by 2030 – because of the tripling of people over age 85 as the large boomer generation grows old – and the need to increase the numbers of individuals using private financing options to pay for their long-term care. Without additional private financing, the state could see significant, and unsustainable, increases in Minnesota’s public long-term care budgets in the future. “For individuals, planning for longterm care means choice of care options – including where you live – control over finances and peace of mind for the future,” said Knatterud. Own Your Future identifies 12 different financing options available to individuals, including several insurance options, savings and home equity options. For Wyckoff, long-term care insurance was the right choice. Although her premium hasn’t risen over the years, Wendy Zakariasen, LTCI specialist with New-
man Long Term Care in Richfield, explained that rates aren’t necessarily locked in. “This is meant to be similar to life insurance, but with life insurance, they’ve had 150 years to understand how to price it. Long-term care insurance is relatively new,” said Zakariasen. “They can raise rates, but they can’t raise rates on an individual, only policy series. It doesn’t happen because someone gets older or because of their health.” Zakariasen said that the process of raising rates on long-term care insurance is a lengthy process requiring extensive studies. Once an increased rate on a policy series is determined, the insurance commission of each affected state must then approve it. For Wyckoff, it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. “This will keep me independent longer. That’s so important,” said Wyckoff. “It’s like putting money into a savings account destined for an important use.” For more information on long-term care insurance and other options described in the Own Your Future initiative, go to mn.gov/ownyourfuture.
Page 4 Mature Lifestyles • Thursday, February 21, 2013
It’s a lot like scuba diving Trust is integral in ﬁnancial planning BY EMILY HEDGES CONTRIBUTING WRITER Financial advisor Jim Christian compares retirement to scuba diving. Earning income is like breathing above water. When retirement comes, you put on the mask and sink below the surface, trusting the regulator will provide air, trusting the money will be there for as long as you need it. “You must be able to trust what you’ve done with your retirement plan. That’s a big deal. It’s not a one-anddone effort. It’s an ongoing process,” said Christian, owner of Jim Christian Inc. in Lakeville. For many seniors looking towards retirement, the fear of running out of money can be as scary as the thought of running out of air. Sue Kreiter of Eagan heard about Christian from a friend who was about to retire. Her experience as a social worker with Dakota County inspired her to make sure her plans for the future were in order. “Every day I work with residents over 65 years old. I see a lot of people at the low-income level and what they are dealing with. I see what people’s choices are as they age,” said Kreiter. Scariest of all are the people she sees who are coming in for services because the money they thought would last has run out. “I see a lot of women in their 90s outliving the money they have,” she said. “They pay privately for services until they spend down their savings.” According to a 2010 poll by Allianz Life Insurance Company published by AARP, more than three in five (61 percent) of people ages 44 to 75 said they fear depleting their assets more than they fear dying.
Sue Kreiter, a social worker for Dakota County, is saving and planning now so her money doesn’t run out in retirement.
Ron Commins, vice president for wealth management at Wings Financial Advisors, an affiliate of Wings Financial Credit Union in Apple Valley, finds that good health can be a blessing and a concern for many clients. “Their thoughts inevitably turn to whether or not their good health will place them in a position where lifestyle maintenance requirements might significantly whittle down their asset base,” said Commins, who has worked in the financial services industry for more than 30 years. “This is especially true if they are a married couple, both in good health, with an age difference between the two. This
stretches out the period of need while the asset base may not be able to keep pace. The situation is compounded for those individuals who are not lucky enough to possess a traditional pension income to supplement their expenses.” Although Kreiter says she is a disciplined saver who lives within her means, she didn’t understand how to adequately calculate what she’d need in the future and how it all worked together in a retirement plan. “Sue has an interesting perspective most people don’t have because of what she does for a living. It conveys why you should make those smart money choices
when you’re young,” said Christian. “We all want to know we are saving enough money to last for an indeterminate amount of time. That’s a scary step.” Christian advises everyone to start with the P.E.R.T.I. Analysis. This involves protection, estate planning, retirement income, taxes and investments. “You need to look at all of them if you want to do comprehensive planning,” said Christian. “It’s like knowing your height and weight. You’ve got to know your numbers.” TRUST - TO PAGE 9
Mature Lifestyles • Thursday, February 21, 2013 Page 5
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Page 6 Mature Lifestyles • Thursday, February 21, 2013
Club makes investing easy and rewarding Area women ﬁnd fun, friendship in lucrative venture BY EMILY HEDGES CONTRIBUTING WRITER For many people, investing in the stock market can be mysterious and daunting. They don’t know where to begin or how to avoid losing savings during the learning curve. That’s why many Boomers are choosing to join investment clubs, a safe place to learn, grow your nest egg, and have a lot of fun in the process. “There’s safety in numbers. It takes something frightening and makes it easier,” said Lynn Ostrem, founder of the Crow River Investment Club. “Investment clubs can make saving money more fun than spending it. If I can get my hands on an extra $100, I go buy stock.” The Crow River Investment Club has members in New Hope, Minnetonka, Champlin and St. Michael. They are between the ages of 50 and 65 years old. The group meets monthly, usually over coffee, to review stocks, decide what to buy and sell, hear presentations on new ideas, and discuss the economy. When Ostrem moved to the Twin Cities, she decided to start an investment club. She took out an ad in the local newspaper for members. “The ad came out on September 11, 2001,” she recalled. “I thought it would be a waste of money, but believe it or not, we got seven new members off of that ad.” Ostrem remembers the early days of the club were difficult ones. “At the same time the country is dealing with this horrific thing of 9/11, we’re trying to start our little club,” said Ostrem. In October 2001, the group was ready to register as a partnership with the State of Minnesota. “That’s when the state government shut down for a month. We couldn’t get our bank account open. That was our rough start 12 years ago, but we’ve
Pictured (left to right) are three members of the Crow River Investment Club: Beth Silverwater, Myra Snyderman and Lynn Ostrem.
survived it.” In the beginning of the clubs, dues were $25. “We made mistakes in the beginning, but $25 a month is a cheap education,” said Ostrem. At its largest, the group had 15 members. Now four women comprise the Crow River Investment Club. “We’re lean and mean and dedicated,” said Ostrem. “We’ve been club-
own a portion of that nest egg. Whatever dues you put in and whatever you make is yours,” said Ostrem. “You get to learn something in a group. A few people can make it more interesting. Everybody takes a small piece of it. You don’t have to learn so much on your own that way.” Beth Silverwater of New Hope heard Lynn give a presentation on in-
“Investment club has made saving money more fun than spending it. If I can get my hands on an extra $100, I go buy stock,” said Ostrem. bing for so many years, we’ve grown in our sophistication.” In the investment club, each member gets a capital account and owns a percentage of the club based on the amount put in. “Even though money is co-mingled into one dollar amount, we each
vesting and wanted to know more. “I knew she was knowledgeable about investing. When I heard there were openings in the group, I immediately got in touch with her,” she said. Silverwater was excited to apply the things she learned in the club to her own personal portfolio to improve her
retirement nest egg. “The club is both a hobby and an essential part of our financial planning,” said Silverwater. “The money that my husband and I invest for ourselves is what we’ll be living on the rest of our lives.” Ostrem believes that investing is an economic necessity. “I don’t believe there will be social security for me when I’m 67, or at least not in the shape it’s in today. I don’t calculate social security into my retirement,” said Ostrem. “We’ve turned into a society that expects everyone to take care of us. People need to get in and take responsibility for retirement sooner than 50.” She would like to see more young people get involved in groups like theirs. “If a young person gets in an investment club at 25 years old and spends $25 a month, in 30 years they’re going to be a millionaire,” said Ostrem. Ostrem loves to help others start their own investment club, which is the reason she’s has offered a class on how to do it for a number of years. INVESTMENT CLUB - TO PAGE 11
Mature Lifestyles • Thursday, February 21, 2013 Page 7
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Page 8 Mature Lifestyles • Thursday, February 21, 2013
For the love of money .... Edina ﬁnancial advisors help seniors plan for decades ahead
SUSAN STILES ON MONEY: “I loved to collect it, pile it up, save it, and hide it. I was always meant to be in the money business.”
BY EMILY HEDGES CONTRIBUTING WRITER Susan Stiles loves business and managing money. The Edina-based financial advisor recalls at 11 years old sitting on her bed at midnight piling up her cash from her thriving babysitting business. When her father came in and told her to go to sleep, she said, “I know this is bad, but I just love money!” “I loved to collect it, pile it up, save it, and hide it. I was always meant to be in the money business,” said the New York native. Even then, her entrepreneurial bent was evident. Her babysitting/house cleaning business became so popular that she hired her brother and several close friends to work for her. At 13, while managing that enterprise, she worked as a hostess and bus girl at a popular, high-end restaurant where the boss soon had her locating, training and managing extra help during busy times. “Even as a little girl, all my friends came to me for financial advice and guidance,” said Stiles. “People are comfortable confiding in me. They are looking for common sense advice without judgment.” After graduating from the business school at Cornell University with a MBA in finance and accounting, it didn’t take her long to strike out on her own again. In 1999, she opened Stiles Financial Services, Inc., an independent financial consulting and wealth management firm. Every year since 2008 she was named a Five Star Wealth Advisor for best client satisfaction in the Twin Cities. “When I work with my older clients who are nearing or already in retirement, they know I can be trusted. Elderly clients can sometimes be vulnerable
Edina ﬁnancial planner Susan Stiles is passionate about educating clients on money issues and topics. and taken advantage of, particularly if they don’t have a good grasp of financial issues and topics,” said Stiles, who is passionate about education and volunteers her time toward financial and economic literacy in the Minneapolis Public Schools. “If you don’t have a strong understanding of money, how can you really know the person you’re working with has your best interest at heart?” Janel Goff of The Goff Investment Group with Benjamin F. Edwards Inc., also in Edina, shares Stiles’ commitment to education. When she started her career in finance 20 years ago, she launched a series called “Invest in yourself,” an informal gathering of clients to learn basic financial concepts. Over the years, it has evolved into an opportunity for business executives and small business owners to provide education and insight on issues
of interest, along with the opportunity to network professionally. Her love of education grew during a television stint delivering weekly economic reports for WCCO-TV. “I love the education piece of it. The most important key to financial success is to be educated,” she said. Although she has always enjoyed the market and staying on top of strategies, for Goff it’s the planning piece that keeps her in the business. “I enjoy helping people understand what they needed to be doing and what decisions they need to be making to achieve their goals,” she said. “Instead of selling them a bond, I want to help them determine if they should be investing in bonds.” She points out that financial planning is trickier these days than it was when she began her career.
“Most people don’t have pensions, and health care plans are not crossing over into the last decades of life. This makes planning even more important,” she said. Goff concentrates on helping clients plan in decades of life and how to create income flow to meet lifestyle needs. She believes that one of the biggest challenges these days is the pressure to make short-term decisions on your long-term goals. “You’re always hearing about what’s going on in the market. Decisions are made every minute. It’s created frustration in planning for financial futures,” she said. Although it can be frustrating, Goff admits she loves what she does, and she’s good at it. Like Stiles, she has earned multiple Five-Star Wealth ManMONEY - TO NEXT PAGE
Mature Lifestyles • Thursday, February 21, 2013 Page 9
JANEL GOFF ON MONEY: “One of the bigg gestt challenges these daays is the pressure to ma ake short-term decisions on your long-term goals.”” ager awards over the years. “When I started, if I wasn’t able to be successful in the planning part, I would not have stayed in this business. I love being able to meet with people and figure out income flow to meet their lifestyle needs,” said Goff. Stiles also relishes the role she plays in helping clients pile up their own money for the future. “Working as a financial advisor puts you in the role of confident. People share sensitive issues with me. We discuss their lives, dreams, goals, and disappointments. It’s a privilege,” she said. For more information on The Goff Investment Group, go to benjaminfedwards.com/goff.investment.group, or on Stiles Financial Services, go to stilesfinancial.com.
Janel Goff of The Goff Investment Group with Benjamin F. Edwards Inc., also in Edina, shares Stiles’ commitment to education. (Sun Current staff photo by Lisa Kaczke.)
Trust and financial advice FROM PAGE 4
Jim Christian is a ﬁnancial advisor based in Lakeville.
Financial advisors like Christian look at a number of factors to help calculate life expectancy and how much money clients will actually need to maintain their lifestyle into retirement. Through this process, Christian helped Kreiter fill in the missing pieces. “Jim can say there’s an X-percent chance of achieving success if you continue on the path you’re on. That’s the piece I needed,” said Kreiter. “Sue is still in the accumula-
tion phase. That’s the boring, hard part. You’re just trying to put money away. The distribution phase is where it can get anxious. That’s where mid-course corrections occur,” said Christian. Because of her financial planning with Christian, she not only expects to have money to maintain her lifestyle no matter how long she lives, but also expects to afford to do many of the things she’s always dreamed of. “I’d like to travel a bit more,
do volunteer work, especially with animal rescue, and mark off many of the things on my bucket list that I don’t have time for now,” she said. “I want to always feel confident that I can contribute without necessarily bringing home a paycheck.” For more information about Jim Christian Inc., go to www.jcretire.com. For more information on Wings Financial Advisors, go to wingsfinancial.com.
Page 10 Mature Lifestyles • Thursday, February 21, 2013
Make early retirement dreams into a reality Retirement is a goal for nearly every working adult. Long considered a time to enjoy the fruits of a life’s worth of labors, retirement has become something else entirely over the last several years, when the struggling economy has convinced many aging workers that their opportunity to safely retire may never present itself. But retirement does not have to feel like a wild goose chase with the end goal nowhere in sight. In fact, many men and women who develop a plan early on can retire early, reaping the rewards of their success at an age when many people are still wondering if they can retire at all, much less retire early. • Conduct an immediate audit of your finances. The road to early retirement begins, quite frankly, very early. If your retirement goal is to retire early, conduct an audit of your financial situation as soon as possible, even if you are a relative newcomer to the professional sector. Examine all of your debts and other liabilities, as well as your income and your potential earnings. It may be difficult to forecast potential earnings, but paint a realistic forecast with regard to your earning potential, and then use that to determine your standard of living and how much money you will need to maintain that standard upon retirement. This should give you an idea of how close or how far you are from early retirement and what you need to start doing now so early retirement can be a reality later on. • Don’t sell savings short. Men and women who retire at the traditional retirement age can count on certain benefits that early retirees aren’t eligible for. Senior discounts can decrease the cost of living for typical retirees, who can also access retirement accounts like a 401(k) or an IRA without paying a penalty. Younger retirees are not eligible for senior discounts, and accessing a retirement account before a certain age can result in a substantial penalty. So men and women whose goal is to retire early should not underestimate the value of a healthy savings account. Retiring early will require a more robust savings account than if you were to retire at a more typical age, so calculate how much more you will need to save in order to retire early. Once you have calculated that figure, ask yourself if it’s realistic that you can save that money and what effect this increased emphasis on savings may have on your quality of life between now and the day you’ve targeted for early retirement? If you cannot realistically save enough money or if you have to sacrifice too much to make early retirement happen, then you might want to reconsider this goal. • Accept sacrifices. Making sacrifices with an end goal of early retirement may be easier for younger men and women who have yet to grow accustomed to a certain standard of living. Regardless of their age, however, those who hope to retire early will need to accept that they will have to make certain sacrifices to achieve their goals. These sacrifices can be considerable, such as downgrading to a smaller home, or relatively minor, such as cancelling a cable television subscription, but for the average worker they will be necessary to make early retirement happen. The earlier you can make these sacrifices the easier they will be, as it won’t be as hard to sacrifice something you’re not used to having. In addition, the earlier you make these sacrifices the quicker you will be on the road to early retirement. • Periodically reassess how it’s going. The road to early retirement will have its peaks and valleys, so periodically reassess how your plan is going and if you need to alter the plan in any way to make early retirement a reality. This reassessment should be conducted annually, and you must be completely honest with yourself. If the plan is going off course, determine the cause and if there’s anything you can do to catch up or if you need to change your targeted retirement date. Early retirement is a goal for many people. And despite the uneasiness many people feel with regard to retirement, early retirement can become a reality for diligent men and women who develop a plan and stick to that plan in the years to come.
“You are shifting the way you’re trying to improve your ﬁnances and your business,” said Miller. “It’s not so much the placement of crystals as it is the way you change your mindset. It’s all about your intention to make a change in your life.”
Feng Shui: Finding balance FROM PAGE 1 Debbie Miller, who has worked in interior design for 32 years, is another feng shui practitioner and member of FSIM. She became fascinated by feng shui while working with a practitioner on an Asian-themed designer showcase home. She brought in a certified feng shui practitioner to make suggestions on a design scheme. “The adjustments that she was making actually changed the way the room felt. I knew I needed to learn more about that,” said Miller. She went on to complete a master’s program in feng shui. “In space planning for design clients, and in my own home, I always use feng shui. I feel it makes my life and my family’s life healthier and more balanced,” she said. “Fellow feng shui practitioners call it looking at everything with ‘feng shui eyes.’” When it comes to building a person’s abundance and wealth, Abrahamson explains that most people only pursue the “mundane” steps, such as seeking a financial planner for assistance. Feng shui offers a “metaphysical” component that looks at your environment to see how energy, colors, furniture and design of a room, can support you financially. “There may be a missing piece. If it is in the wealth area, I might say to a client, ‘Your home isn’t supporting you in wealth and abundance. Let’s do something to finish that missing piece,’” said Abrahamson. Practitioners of Western feng shui, like Abrahamson and Miller, identify areas of the home using a compass, and an energy map, called a Baqua, which they align with the front door of the home. The southeast corner of the home is associated with wealth and prosperity.
“One of the things we can do to enhance wealth or prosperity in this area involves adding wood (one of the five feng shui elements) such as healthy plants and trees, or things that support that element, like adding water,” said Miller. “Water is also an ancient symbol for wealth and abundance. Images of flowing water and fountains work well as wealth energizers.” Miller says you want to stay away from destructive elements to wood in this area, like fire or metal. You wouldn’t want a fireplace there, but if you do, there are feng shui adjustments that can be made. For Abrahamson, the wealth or abundance area of her home presented a challenge because it is the garage. The first thing she and her family did was to de-clutter and write the intentions for wealth and abundance on the wall. “We painted the back wall a gorgeous shade of red-ish purple. We then had a large storage closet built,” she said. “We painted those walls green to support the wood element. When the area was finished, we did a blessing and then hung a wind chime. Every time we drive into our garage, we are delighted with the energy of that space and know it is supporting our intentions.” The use of symbols, like wind chimes, fountains and crystals; and the use of colors, like purple, blue, and green for abundance; are used to attract chi and balance energy. Miller points out that making these physical changes impacts the way you think. “You are shifting the way you’re trying to improve your finances and your business,” she said. “It’s not so much the placement of crystals as it is the way you change your mindset. It’s all about your intention to make a change in your life.” For more information about FSIM and to find a local practitioner, go to www.fsim.org.
Mature Lifestyles • Thursday, February 21, 2013 Page 11
When was the last time you had a second opinion? CALL US FOR A NO OBLIGATION REVIEW THIS REVIEW WILL UNCOVER: Lynn Ostrem speaks at InvestEd about investment clubs. INVESTMENT CLUB - FROM PAGE 6 She estimates that over the last 12 years, she’s helped more than 100 new clubs across the country gets started. Although Ostrem and Silverwater won’t say how much money they’ve made through the club over the years, overall
they’ve done well. “We’ve beat the market,” said Ostrem. “We took a bath in 2008, but during that time we learned how to protect our money to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” For more information on the Crow River Investment Club, or starting your own club, go to bivio.com/crowriver.
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Page 12 Mature Lifestyles • Thursday, February 21, 2013
Some things just go together. Meet your perfect health care match in UCare for SeniorsSM, a Medicare health plan tailored to ﬁt the needs of Baby Boomers. UCare for Seniors lets you choose from plans that cover prescription drugs, travel, eyewear, dental, ﬁtness programs like SilverSneakers® and more. There are no co-pays for primary care visits with most plans. And you’ll get to talk to a real person 24/7 when you call customer service. It’s just what you’d expect from health care that starts with you. UCare Minnesota and UCare Wisconsin, Inc. are health plans with Medicare contracts. ©2012, UCare H2459 H4270_ 090512 CMS Accepted (09102012)
STILL MADE FOR EACH OTHER.
BEEN EXPECTING YOU.
Learn more about the beneﬁts of UCare for Seniors in our new eGuide to Medicare at ucareplans.org/eguide. Or call (toll free) 1-877-523-1518 (TTY) 1-800-688-2534, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.