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Could this tablet replace laptops?

Techno Talk

Will Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 replace your laptop? That’s the $1 million question. Microsoft officials say it absolutely can — and they’re right.

The Surface Pro 3 is Microsoft’s newest tablet. The device has a bigger screen than its predecessors (12 inches), is more powerful and comes with better accessories.

There are five models, ranging in storage (64 GB to 512 GB), power (Intel i3, i5 and i7 Processors) and price ($799 to $1,949).

If you really want to replace a laptop, you’re looking at any of the four best models (which start at $999).

At these levels, the insides of the Surface Pro 3 are essentially the same as what’s inside a MacBook Air. For all practical purposes, the Surface Pro 3 is simply a laptop with a detachable keyboard.

Start saving today for tomorrow’s college bills

Scott-Johnson---HeadAnother school year is drawing to a close. If you have young children, you might be planning for their summer activities.
But you also might want to look even farther into the future — to the day when your kids say “goodbye” to their local schools and “hello” to their college dormitories. When that day arrives, will you be financially prepared to pay for the high costs of higher education?
Consider this: For the 2013–2014 academic year, the average cost (tuition, fees, room and board) was $18,391 for an in-state student at a four-year public college or university, and $40,917 for a private school, according to the College Board. And these costs may well be considerably higher by the time your children enter college.
Of course, these are just the “sticker” prices; some families pay less, thanks to grants and tax benefits, such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit. Still, you may encounter some hefty college bills down the road.
But college is still a good investment in your child’s future. Over an adult’s working life, an individual with a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn, on average, nearly $1 million more than someone with only a high school diploma, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. So you’re saving for a good cause.
Unfortunately, you may not be saving enough — or you might not be making the most of your savings. To save for college, more parents use a general savings account than any other method, according to Sallie Mae’s How America Saves for College 2014 study. These types of accounts carry two significant drawbacks: They typically earn tiny returns and they offer no tax advantages.
However, you do you have some attractive college-funding vehicles available, one of which is a 529 plan. Your 529 plan earnings accumulate tax free, provided they are used for qualified higher education expenses. (529 plan distributions not used for qualified expenses may be subject to federal and state income tax and a 10% IRS penalty.) Furthermore, your 529 plan contributions may be deductible from your state taxes. But 529 plans vary, so be sure to check with your tax advisor regarding deductibility.
A 529 plan offers other benefits, too. For one thing, the lifetime contribution limits for 529 plans are quite generous; while these limits vary by state, some plans allow contributions well in excess of $200,000. And a 529 plan is flexible: If your child decides against college or vocational school, you can transfer the unused funds to another family member, tax and penalty free.
While a 529 plan is a popular choice for college savings, it is not the only option available. You also might want to consider a Coverdell Education Savings Account, which, like a 529 plan, can generate tax-free earnings if the money is used for higher education expenses. You can typically only put in a maximum of $2,000 per year to a Coverdell account, but it does offer more flexibility in investment choices than a 529 plan
.
Your children may be young today, but, before you know it, they’ll be packing their bags for college. So, no matter which college savings vehicles you choose, put them to work soon.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor. Scott Johnson, CFP, is a financial advisor with Edward Jones, 8146 W. 111th St., Palos Hills, 974-1965. Edward Jones does not provide legal advice. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones financial advisor.

Prepare for health care costs during retirement

Scott-Johnson---HeadAs you save and invest for retirement, what are your ultimate goals? Do you plan on traveling the world? Purchasing a vacation home? Pursuing your hobbies? People often think and plan for these costs. Yet, too often, many of us overlook what potentially could be a major expense during our retirement years: health care. By preparing for these costs, you can help yourself enjoy the retirement lifestyle you’ve envisioned.
Many of us may ignore the impact of health care costs because we just assume Medicare will pay for everything. But that’s not the case. In estimating health care costs during retirement, you may find that $4,000 to $6,000 per year per person for traditional medical expenses is a good starting point, although the amount varies by individual. Furthermore, this figure does not include the costs of long-term care, which can be considerable. To illustrate: The national average for home health aide services is nearly $45,000 per year, and a private room in a nursing home is nearly $84,000 per year, according to a recent survey by Genworth, a financial security company.
So what can you do to help cope with these costs? Here are a few suggestions:
• Estimate your costs. Try to estimate what your out-of-pocket health care costs might be, based on your health, your age at retirement, whatever supplemental insurance you may carry and other factors.
• Know the key dates. Things can change in your life, but try to identify, as closely as possible, the age at which you plan to retire. This will help you spot any coverage gaps before you become eligible for Medicare at age 65. Also, be aware of the seven-month window for enrolling in Medicare, beginning three months before your 65th birthday.
• Review your insurance options. Medicare-approved insurance companies offer some other parts to Medicare, including Part D, which covers prescription drugs; Medigap, which covers gaps in Parts A and B (in-hospital expenses, doctor services, outpatient care and some preventive services); and Part C (also known as Medicare Advantage, which is designed to replace Parts A, B, Medigap and, potentially, part D). You have several options for Part D, Medigap and Medicare Advantage, each with varying coverage and costs, so choose the plans that best fit your needs. (To learn more about Medicare and supplemental insurance, go to www.medicare.gov.)
• Develop a long-term care strategy. To meet long-term care costs, you could self-insure or purchase insurance coverage. To learn about long-term care insurance solutions, contact your financial advisor.
• Invest for growth and rising income. Health care costs typically rise as you move further into retirement, so make sure that a reasonable portion of your assets is allocated to investments with the potential for both growth and rising income.
• Think about health care directives. If you were to become incapacitated, you might be unable to make health care decisions — and these decisions may affect not only your quality of life but also your financial situation, and that of your family. Talk to your legal advisor about establishing a health care directive, which allows you to name someone to make choices on your behalf.
Health care costs during your retirement may be unavoidable. But by anticipating these costs, you can put yourself in a position to deal with them — and that’s a healthy place to be.

  Scott Johnson, CFP, is a financial advisor with Edward Jones, 8146 W. 111th St., Palos Hills, 974-1965. Edward Jones does not provide legal advice. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones financial advisor.

Mini-heart monitor a new medical wonder

It’s a third smaller than a pencil-thin triple-A battery, 1 mini monitormonitors heart rhythm continuously for up to three years and was recently implanted in a patient for only the second time in Illinois by a physician at Advocate Christ Medical Center.
  Called an “implantable loop recorder,” the device can be pushed through a small puncture hole in the skin and positioned at a 45-degree angle on the rib cage over the heart in a procedure that takes less than 10 minutes and requires little or no sedation other than a local anesthetic at the site of the puncture, said Jeffrey Neiger, MD, a cardiologist who specializes in electrophysiology and who performed Christ Medical Center’s first implantation of the device. “Patients do not even feel it’s there.” he said.
  The mini-monitor is proving most effective for patients who experience episodes of syncope (fainting spells) or who have suffered a cryptogenic stroke (stroke with no identifiable cause), because a heart rhythm abnormality that could be causing these problems might only be detectable during an extended monitoring period, Dr. Neiger explained.
  “Until now, monitors were limited. The external holter monitor, which has to be worn and records heart rhythm through electrodes placed on the skin, is bulky, sometimes irritating to the skin and provides data for only 24 to, perhaps, 72 hours at best. Another external monitor, called an event monitor, is worn for up to a month. And, the older, implantable monitor is about as large as a pack of gum, heavier than the newer model, and requires a lengthier procedure to implant,” Neiger said.
  “For a person who experiences only a few episodes of syncope during a 12-month period, a few days, even a month’s worth, of heart monitoring may not prove sufficient to pinpoint the problem,” he said.
  The mini-monitor wirelessly signals a small unit, about the size of a land-line phone handset, which is simply plugged into an outlet in the patient’s home. The unit then uses the cellular phone network to send the patient’s heart rhythm information to a computer server for later downloading and review by the patient’s physician. The unit can be programmed to send an alarm when an adverse heart rhythm is detected.
  The system’s use of wireless, cellular networks also ensures that the heart-monitoring data being recorded and sent is of higher quality than what the older monitors can provide, Neiger said.
  Christ Medical Center was only the second institution in the state to implant the new heart monitor after its approval by the federal Food and Drug Administration earlier this year, Neiger said, adding that the device took him only about 10 minutes to insert and position in his first patient. “I anticipate eventually being able to perform the procedure in about five minutes,” he said.
  Because of the ease in implanting the new device, its convenience to patients and its ability to collect heart data during a several-year period, Neiger anticipates that, one day, physicians in a hospital emergency department may be able to implant these mini-monitors when a patient arrives for treatment following a syncope episode.
  “For patients who have experienced a stroke with no immediate, attributable cause, these new monitors should prove especially important,” he stated. “Up to 30 percent of patients who have suffered a cryptogenic stroke have been later diagnosed with A-fib (atrial fibrillation, a condition that causes abnormal heart rhythms).”
  Neiger added that the device is made to continue monitoring even when a patient travels internationally.
— Advocate Christ Medical Hospital

Improve your own investment environment

Scott-Johnson---HeadOn April 22, we celebrate Earth Day — a day devoted to education and action on environmental issues. As a citizen of the world, you may have a keen interest in protecting your physical surroundings. And as someone trying to reach long-term financial goals, such as a comfortable retirement, you’re probably also interested in improving your investment environment.
So here are a few suggestions:
• Respond to environmental factors. Over the past few years, we’ve had a favorable investment climate, marked by low inflation, low interest rates and generally strong corporate profits. And investors who have taken advantage of this positive environment have, for the most part, been rewarded. But things can change, so it’s always a good idea to understand the current investment environment, as it may affect your investment choices. For example, if it seems likely that long-term interest rates are going to rise significantly, you might need to review your long-term bond holdings, as their price would be negatively affected by a rise in rates.
• Nurture your investments. One area of environmentalism involves planting seeds or saplings and nurturing them to maturity. You can do the same thing with investments — and a good way to nurture them is to give them time to grow in all investment climates. But how long should you hold these investments? You might heed the advice of Warren Buffett, one of the world’s most famous investors, who says this about his investment company: “Our favorite holding period is forever.” It takes patience to follow the buy-and-hold strategy favored by Mr. Buffett — and it also requires the discipline necessary to keep investing through the inevitable downturns you will encounter. But over the long term, your perseverance may well be rewarded.
• Avoid “toxic” investment strategies. Unfortunately, many human activities are bad for the environment. Similarly, some investment strategies are “toxic” for your prospects of success. Consider the pursuit of “hot” stocks. They sound inviting, but, by the time you hear about them, they may have lost their sizzle — and in any case, they might not be right for your needs. Here’s another “poisonous” investment strategy: trying to “time” the market. If you’re always jumping in and out of the market, looking for “low” points to buy and “high” points to sell, you’ll probably be wrong most of the time — because nobody can accurately predict highs and lows. Even more importantly, you may find yourself out of the market during the beginning of a rally, which is when the biggest gains tend to occur.
• Diversify your “species” of investments. Drawing inspiration from Earth Day, the United Nations has designated 2011–2020 as the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity. And, just as preserving the diversification of species is important for life on Earth, the diversification of your investment portfolio is essential for its health. By owning a variety of investments — stocks, bonds, government securities, certificates of deposit and so on — you can help protect yourself from downturns that primarily affect just one asset class. (Keep in mind, though, that while diversification can reduce the effects of volatility on your holdings, it can’t guarantee profits or protect against loss.)
Earth Day happens just once a year — but the lessons of environmentalism can help you, as an investor, for all the days and years ahead.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.
Scott Johnson, CFP, is a financial advisor with Edward Jones, 8146 W. 111th St., Palos Hills, 974-1965. Edward Jones does not provide legal advice. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones financial advisor.