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I Have Life Insurance Through My Employer. Why Do I Need Another Policy? | Maryland Benefit Advisors

One of the perks of having a full-time job with a good company is the benefits package that comes with it. Often, those benefits include life insurance coverage, which is great. And everyone who can get life insurance at work should definitely take it, as there are many advantages to company-funded life insurance, also known as group life insurance. These advantages include:

1. Easy qualification. Often, enrollment into group life insurance is automatic. That means everyone qualifies, as there is no medical exam required. So people who have preexisting health conditions, like diabetes or previous heart attack, can get life insurance at work, and may get a better rate compared with what an individual life insurance policy might cost them.

2. Lower costs. Employers’ insurance plans tend to be paid for or subsidized by the company, giving you life insurance at a low cost or even free. You may even have the option to buy additional coverage at low rates. Costs tend to be lower for many people because with group plans, the cost per individual goes down as the plan enlarges.

3. Convenience. It’s easy to subscribe to an employer’s life insurance plan without much effort on your part and if a payment is required, it’s easily deducted from your paycheck in much the same way as your medical costs are deducted.

These are all great advantages, but are these the only considerations that matter when it comes to life insurance? The answer, of course, is no.

“Life insurance should first and foremost fit the purpose—it should meet your needs.”

Life insurance should first and foremost fit the purpose—it should meet your needs. And the primary purpose of life insurance is to care for those left behind in the event of your death. With group life insurance, it’s often set at one or two times your annual salary, or a default amount such as $25,000 or $50,000. While this sounds like a lot of money, just think of how long that would last your loved ones. What would they do once that ran out?

There are several other disadvantages to relying on group insurance alone:

1. If your job situation changes, you’ll lose your coverage. Whether the change results from being laid off, moving from full-time to part-time status or leaving the job, in most cases, an employee can’t retain their policy when they leave their job.

2. Coverage may end when you retire or reach a specific age. Many people tend to lose their insurance coverage when they continue working past a specified age or when they retire. This means losing your insurance when you need it most.

3. Your employer can change or terminate the coverage. And that can be without your consent, since the contract is between your employer and the insurer.

4. Your options are limited. This type of coverage is not tailored to your specific needs. Furthermore, you may not be able to buy as much coverage as you need, leaving you exposed.

Importance of Buying a Separate Life Insurance Policy
It’s for these reasons you should get an individual life insurance policy that you personally own, in addition to any group life insurance you have. Individual life insurance plans offer superior benefits, and regardless of your employer or employment status, they remain in place and can be tailored to meet your needs and circumstances.

Most importantly, an individual life insurance policy will fit the purpose for which you purchase it—to ensure your dependents continue to have the financial means to keep their home and lifestyle in the unfortunate event that you’re no longer there to care for them.

By Frank Medina

Originally posted by www.LifeHappens.org

You Think You Won’t Qualify for Life Insurance, but You’re Wrong | Maryland Benefit Advisors

Think you can’t qualify for life insurance? Think again.

You want to protect your loved ones for the future once you’re no longer around to provide for them. We all do. Life insurance gives you that peace of mind that your family will be taken care of after you’re gone.

However, you’re also worried that your health issues mean you won’t qualify for life insurance because it is meant for healthy people only. So what do you do?

Don’t despair—there is good life insurance out there for you! Whether you have diabetes, heart disease, mental health issues, kidney or liver problems, or almost any other health condition, you can qualify for life insurance!

Looking at the Big Picture
About 85% of consumers agree that most people need life insurance, but only 59% are actually insured, according to the 2017 Insurance Barometer Study by Life Happens and LIMRA. Why?

Let’s look at the facts. There are plenty of reasons why someone may not have life insurance or may not qualify for it, including:
• Recent heart disease
• Heart disease prior to the age of 50
• Any recent major disease (cancer, liver, kidney issues)
• Major mental health issues (such as suicide attempts)
• Kidney and/or liver disease
• Wrongly assuming they won’t qualify

Surprised by that last point? You’re not alone. Many Americans wrongly assume they won’t qualify for life insurance, and thus, never attempt to get insured. We are here to put an end to the myth that only healthy people can get life insurance.

“We are here to put an end to the myth that only healthy people can get life insurance.”

Overcoming Roadblocks
Actually, almost any health history can be insured. The right company can get you insured at an affordable rate, even if you are dealing with any of the issues I listed above.

Take a man in his late 40s, who had suffered a severe heart attack in his early 40s, and while he had been declined elsewhere, we were able to find a company that would insure him.

Another great example is mental health issues, many times consumers with mood disorder and or depression with multiple medications are not insurable. But every company’s underwriting department has unique needs to fill, so recently an individual who had been declined multiple times for mood disorder was able to secure permanent insurance because he has a steady job, and the mental health issues didn’t impact his daily living.

If you are dealing with health conditions, life insurance companies love seeing that you’re working to improve or properly maintain your health.

So if you are over 50, have had heart disease, and it has been resolved for a few years, you can qualify for life insurance.

If you control your diabetes through diet and medication, you can qualify.

If you maintain your mental health with medication and lead a normal life, you can qualify.

Basically, follow your doctor’s orders and you are much more likely to qualify. And that means being able to get financial protection with life insurance that your loved ones need and deserve.

By Sam Goldsmith

Originally posted by www.LifeHappens.org

4 Ways to Get Financially Fit in Your 40s | Maryland Benefit Advisors

Many people in their 40s are facing an uncomfortable fact: They simply aren’t where they’d hoped to be financially. Fortunately, all their life experience can help correct for past mistakes.

“There’s a different trigger moment for everybody,” says Jay Howard, financial advisor and partner at MHD Financial in San Antonio, Texas. “But regardless of when it comes, people find themselves looking down the barrel of a gun as they consider retirement.”

One challenge is that it’s impossible to advise 40-somethings based on tidy “life stage” demographics. Some are just starting families, while others are sending offspring to college. They’re married, single, divorced, and just about everything in between.

But for those still grappling with financial instability, these four principles can help in moving forward with confidence:

1. Acknowledge what you’ve done right.
It could be one great decision sandwiched in between some fails, or just a single good habit that can mitigate the impact of a host of wrongs.

Take the example of Kiera Starboard, a 46-year-old controller at a San Diego software firm. A mom to two adult sons and a teenage stepson, she always made having sufficient life insurance—both term and permanent—a priority, the result of her previous training as a financial advisor. “Even if it was tight, I made the payments,” she says. “It was a priority for my family’s sake, and for my own peace of mind.”

Unlike the 40% of Americans who have no life insurance, Starboard was protected when the unthinkable happened last August. Less than two years into her marriage, her husband, Steve, was killed while riding his motorcycle to work—one month after they purchased a small, additional life insurance policy to supplement his employer coverage.

“To have had to deal with financial stress on top of everything else, it would have been unbearable, incapacitating,” says Starboard. “My stepson and I are certainly in a much better position today than we would have been, had Steve and I not followed the advice I used to give to others.”

2. Take action to shore up the decades ahead.
For many, the hardest part can be learning to put your own long-term future first—sometimes for the first time in your life.

“I see people focusing on their kids’ college savings, and not enough on retirement or an emergency fund for themselves,” says Starboard. Many advisors point out that kids can borrow for college if necessary, but no one can borrow for retirement.

The most important step is clear, says Howard: “You must have a written financial plan, period. Because that plan will dictate what you must do to be successful for the entirely of your life.

“The financial plan is your road map,” he continues. “In it will be your portfolio requirements, your savings goals, and your insurance-related needs.”

Finally, make sure your plan takes inflation into account, commonly estimated at 3% a year. Says Howard, “Inflation is the silent assassin that eats away at your nest egg.”

3. Apply the hard-fought wisdom you’ve gained.
“Treat the numbers determined by your plan—such as monthly savings—as bills that need to be paid,” advises Howard. When money comes in, it’s easy to start thinking of a new kitchen or a trip to Tulum. “Just be patient and keep the bills paid.”

Using that wisdom also applies to the big stuff. As the executor to her husband’s estate, Starboard has held back making any major decisions. “In a prior loss, I committed to real estate transactions and other things prematurely. At the time, it really felt like the right thing to do but my grief clouded my perception. I had a painful, expensive learning lesson.”

4. Focus on your shining future—really.
Forward thinking is an essential part of your financial plan, says Howard. “Get help really envisioning what kind of retirement you want. For each aspect, really drill down. For instance, where do you want to live? Do you want to be near your grandkids? Will you have the money to go see them? How often? It’s not just financial planning, it’s life planning.”

If all that forward thinking feels presumptuous, Howard recalls the eminently quotable Yogi Berra, who once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.”

And finally, remember the simple refrain: it’s never too late.

By Erica Oh Nataren

Originally posted by www.LifeHappens.org

IRS Announces 2018 Retirement Plan Contribution Limits | Maryland Benefit Advisors

On October 19, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Notice 2017-64 announcing cost-of-living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items. The following is a summary of the limits for tax year 2018.

For 401(k), 403(b), and most 457 plans and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plans:

  • The elective deferral (contribution) limit increases to $18,500 for 2018 (from $18,000 for 2017).
  • The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over who participate in these plans remains at $6,000.

For individual retirement arrangements (IRAs):

  • The limit on annual contributions remains unchanged at $5,500 for 2018.
  • The additional catch-up contribution limit for individuals aged 50 and over is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $1,000 for 2018.

For simplified employee pension (SEP) IRAs and individual/solo 401(k) plans:

  • Elective deferrals increase to $55,000 for 2018, based on an annual compensation limit of $275,000 (up from the 2017 amounts of $54,000 and $270,000).
  • The minimum compensation that may be required for participation in a SEP remains unchanged at $600 for 2018.

For savings incentive match plan for employees (SIMPLE) IRAs:

  • The contribution limit on SIMPLE IRA retirement accounts remains unchanged at $12,500 for 2018.
  • The SIMPLE catch-up limit remains unchanged at $3,000 for 2018.

For defined benefit plans:

  • The basic limitation on the annual benefits under a defined benefit plan is increased to $220,000 for 2018 (from $215,000 for 2017).

Other changes:

  • Highly-compensated and key employee thresholds:
    • The threshold for determining “highly compensated employees” remains unchanged at $120,000 for 2018.
    • The threshold for officers who are “key employees” in a top-heavy plan remains unchanged at $175,000 for 2018.
  • Social Security cost of living adjustment: In a separate announcement, the Social Security Administration stated that the taxable wage base will increase to $128,700 for 2018, an increase of $1,500 from the 2017 taxable wage base of $127,200. Thus, with respect to higher-income employees, the maximum Social Security tax liability will increase slightly for both the employee and employer.

The chart below summarizes some of the more common adjustments to employer-sponsored retirement plans.

 

 

Originally posted by www.ThinkHR.com

3 Ways Life Insurance Can Help Maximize Your Retirement | Maryland Benefit Advisors

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who owns a permanent life insurance policy (or are thinking about getting one!) you’ve probably done it primarily to protect your loved ones. But over time, many of your financial obligations may have ended. That’s when your policy can take on a new life—as a powerful tool to make your retirement more secure and enjoyable.

Permanent life insurance can open up options for you in retirement in three unique ways:

1. It can help protect you against the risk of outliving your assets. Structured correctly, your policy can provide supplemental retirement income via policy loans and withdrawals. Having a policy to draw from can take the pressure off investment accounts if the market is sluggish, giving them time to rebound. Some policies may also provide options for long-term care benefits. At any time, you may also decide to annuitize the policy, converting it into a guaranteed lifelong income stream.

2. It can maximize a pension. While a traditional pension is fading fast in America, those who can still count on this benefit are often faced with a choice between taking a higher single life distribution, or a lower amount that covers a surviving spouse as well. Life insurance can supplement a surviving spouse’s income, enabling couples to enjoy the higher, single-life pension—together.

3. It can make leaving a legacy easy. According to The Wall Street Journal, permanent life insurance is “a fantastically useful and flexible estate-planning tool,” commonly used to pass on assets to loved ones. Policy proceeds are generally income-tax free and paid directly to your beneficiaries in a cash lump sum—avoiding probate and Uncle Sam in one pass. Your policy can also be used to pay estate taxes, ensure the continuity of a family business, or perhaps leave a legacy for a favorite charity or institution.

Having a policy to draw from can take the pressure off investment accounts if the market is sluggish, giving them time to rebound.

If you do expect your estate to be taxed, you can even establish a life insurance trust, which allows wealth to pass to your heirs outside of your estate, generally free of both estate and income taxes.

Where to start? A policy review
If you’ve had a life insurance policy for awhile, schedule a policy review with your life insurance agent or financial advisor. By the time you reach mid-life, you may have a mix of coverage—term, permanent, group or even an executive compensation package.

Your licensed insurance agent or financial advisor can help you assess your situation and adjust a current policy or structure a new policy to help you achieve your retirement planning goals.

If you have no coverage at all, there’s no better time than today to get started. Life insurance is a long-term financial tool. It can take decades to build permanent policy values to a place where you can use them toward your retirement goals. And, health profiles can change at any time. If you’re healthy, you can lock in that insurability now and look forward to years of tax-deferred (yes!) policy growth.

Retired already? The best thing you can do is meet annually with your personal advisors to ensure your plans stay on track. Market conditions and family circumstances change, so that even the best-laid plans require course adjustments over time.

By Erica Oh Nataren

Originally posted by www.LifeHappens.com

 

Life Insurance for a Family of One | Maryland Benefit Advisors

We spend a lot of time talking about how couples, families and businesses can protect their financial futures with life insurance. But what about if you are single—do you need life insurance, too?

There are those people who have no children, no one depending on their income, no ongoing financial obligations and sufficient cash to cover their final expenses. But how many of those people do you really know? And, more importantly, are you one of them?

I think it’s important, then, to illustrate how a life insurance purchase can be a smart financial move for someone who is single with no children. Asking yourself these three questions can help you get at the heart of the matter:

  • Do you provide financial support for aging parents or siblings?
  • Do you have substantial debt you wouldn’t want to pass on to surviving family members if you were to die prematurely?
  • Did family members pay for your education?

Don’t Take My Word for It

Life insurance is an excellent way to address these obligations, and in the case of tuition, reimburse family members for their support. But don’t just take my word for it. Instead, “do your own math.” This Life Insurance Needs Calculator can help you quickly understand if there is a need—a need you might not be aware of—that could be easily addressed with life insurance.

“The most important reason for

you to consider life insurance may

be the peace of mind you’ll have.”

In addition to addressing any financial obligations you might have, the current economic climate has made permanent life insurance an attractive means to help you build a secure long-term rate of return for safe money assets. The cash value in traditional life insurance can provide you with money for opportunities, emergencies and even retirement.

For young singles, keep in mind that you have youth on your side. I don’t mean to sound trite. Instead, I’d like you to think about the fact that purchasing life insurance is very affordable when you’re young and allows you to protect your insurability for when there is a future need—perhaps, in time, a spouse and children.

While all of these reasons are valid, the most important reason for you to consider life insurance may be the peace of mind you’ll have knowing that your financial obligations will be taken care of should anything happen.

By Marvin H. Feldman

Originally posted by www.LifeHappens.org

3 Ways Life Insurance Can Benefit a Charity You Love | Maryland Benefit Advisors

Would you like to make a charitable gift to help organizations or people in need; to support a specific cause; for recognition such as a naming opportunity at a school or university? Perhaps you would do it just for the tax incentives. There are any number of reasons, and life insurance can be one of the most efficient tools to achieve these purposes. So the question becomes, how does this work?

Let me list the ways.

1. Make a charity the beneficiary of an existing policy. Perhaps you have a policy you no longer need. Make the charity the beneficiary, and the policy will not be included in your estate at your death. This also allows you to retain control of both the cash value and the named beneficiary. If you want or need to change the charity named as beneficiary, you can.

2. Make a charity both the owner and beneficiary of an existing policy. This gives you both a current tax deduction along with removing the policy from your estate. Once you gift the policy, you no longer have any control over the values.

3. Purchase a new policy on your life. Life insurance is an extremely efficient way to provide a large future legacy to a charity in your name without needing to write the large checks now. The premiums are given directly to the charity which then pays the premiums on the policy. The charity also owns the cash value as an asset. I am using this concept in my own planning.

Many charities would prefer to have their money upfront, but if you cannot write that large check or don’t want to part with your cash today, a gift of life insurance is a most efficient method to leave a large legacy in your name.

By Marvin H. Feldman

Originally posted by www.LifeHappens.org

The Risk of Being Uninsured (and the Hidden Bargain in Addressing It Now) | Maryland Benefit Advisors

With all the expenses of everyday living, it’s tempting to think of insurance as just another cost. What’s harder to see is the potential cost of not buying insurance—or what’s known as “self-insuring”—and the hidden bargain of coverage.

The Important vs. the Urgent
We’ve all experienced it: the tendency to stay focused on putting out fires, while never getting ahead on the things that really matter in the long run. For most people, there are two big things that matter in the long run: their families and their ability to retire. And being properly insured is important to both those concerns.

Life Insurance: a Hidden Bargain?
It’s exceedingly rare, but we all know it can happen: someone’s unexpected death. Life insurance can prevent financial catastrophe for the loved ones left behind, if they depend on you for income or primary care—or both.

The irony is that many people pass on coverage due to perceived cost, when in fact it’s far less expensive that most people think. The 2016 Insurance Barometer Study, by Life Happens and LIMRA showed that 8 in 10 people overestimate the cost of life insurance. For instance, a healthy, 30-year-old man can purchase a 20-year, $250,000 term life insurance policy for $160 a year—about $13 a month.

Enjoy the Benefits of Life Insurance—While You’re Alive
If budget pressures aren’t an issue, consider the living benefits of permanent life insurance—that’s right, benefits you can use during your own lifetime.

Permanent life insurance policies typically have a higher premium than term life insurance policies in the early years. But unlike term insurance, it provides lifelong protection and the ability to accumulate cash value on a tax-deferred basis.

Cash values can be used in the future for any purpose you wish. If you like, you can borrow cash value for a down payment on a home, to help pay for your children’s education or to provide income for your retirement.

When you borrow money from a permanent insurance policy, you’re using the policy’s cash value as collateral and the borrowing rates tend to be relatively low. And unlike loans from most financial institutions, the loan is not dependent on credit checks or other restrictions. You ultimately must repay any loan with interest or your beneficiaries will receive a reduced death benefit and cash-surrender value.

In this way, life insurance can serve as a powerful financial cushion for you and your family throughout your life, in addition to protecting your family from day one.

Disability Insurance: For the Biggest Risk of All
The most overlooked of the major types of insurance coverage is the one that actually covers a far more common risk—the risk of becoming ill or injured and being unable to work and earn your paycheck.

How common is it? While no one knows the exact numbers, it’s estimated that 30% of American workers will become disabled for 90 days or more during their working years. The sad reality is that most American workers also cannot afford such an event. In fact, illness and injury are the top reasons for foreclosures and bankruptcies in the U.S. today. Disability insurance ensures that if you are unable to work because of illness or injury, you will continue to receive an income and make ends meet until you’re able to return to work.

It’s tempting to cross your fingers and hope misfortune skips over you. But when you look at the facts, it’s easy to see: getting proper coverage against life’s risks is not just important, but a bargain in disguise.

By Erica Oh Nataren

Originally posted by www.LifeHappens.org

3 Questions to Ask When It Comes to Life Insurance | Maryland Benefit Consultants

Your life insurance needs will ebb and flow throughout your lifetime. Buying a term policy early in your career or taking a basic employer-issued life insurance policy is a common course of action.

However, deciding how much and what type of life insurance you need at each stage of your life will serve you and your loved ones much better.

One simple thing to keep in mind throughout this process is that the more responsibility you have, the more life insurance you need. Here are a few questions to consider:

1. Who depends on me?
Of course, if you have children, a term life insurance policy that is large enough to pay off your home and debts with some money left over to support your family while your spouse or partner grieves and recalibrates the new financial situation is the option that gives everyone peace of mind.

Many times, it’s easy to overlook the other people who depend on you. The care of elderly parents or grandparents, siblings, or people in your family with special needs should also be considered carefully when deciding how much basic life insurance to buy. You can also get a working idea of how much you might need with this Life Insurance Needs Calculator.

2. How much insurance can I afford?
A term life insurance policy that covers the care of your loved ones in the event of your untimely death is an inexpensive option, if you are under 40 and in reasonably good health.

Permanent life insurance insurance is worth researching if you know you have a permanent need for life insurance, such as caring for a special needs child or sibling. It also makes sense if you’d like certain benefits beyond a guaranteed death benefit for your loved ones, like premiums that do not increase with age or changing health conditions, and a cash value that you can borrow against.

If you can afford the additional premium amount and expect your financial situation and income to remain stable long-term, whole life insurance policies offer living benefits that may outweigh the temporary pain of higher premiums.

3. How healthy am I?
People in great health who have only a little bit of wiggle room in their monthly budget may want to consider a combination of term and permanent life insurance coverage.

Your clean bill of health will keep premiums for both types of insurance lower than if you have major health issues. If you have a term life insurance policy but want more coverage, adding a permanent policy to the mix may be the ideal answer.

By adding a permanent policy with a cash-value element to your portfolio, you also open a world of options that could help add to your nest egg in retirement, start a business, or pursue a second career, among other benefits.

It is possible to have multiple policies and customize your life insurance to your changing wants and needs. Choosing a policy or combination of policies that gives you and your family the greatest potential benefit may seem tricky. So, simplifying the process by asking these three questions will set you on the right track.

By Peter Colis
Originally published by www.thinkhr.com

5 Financial Mistakes Millennials Are Making | Maryland Benefit Advisors

Even as the U.S. economy as a whole recovers from the Great Recession, Millennials (those born from the early 1980s through the early 2000s) continue to struggle with student debt and slow job growth. The lackluster economy and student debt aren’t the only things holding back Millennials from attaining financial independence and success.

Let’s take a look at five money mistakes Millennials tend to make—and see how we can correct them.

1. Avoiding a budget.

One of the most basic mistakes—not budgeting—can lead to living beyond your means. This puts pressure on your future financial plans and goals, even if you have a good eye for what things like groceries or car insurance usually cost. Doing the math and knowing if you’re breaking even or able to save more each month is crucial for building a buffer against debt. It can be as easy as starting to use a new online or mobile budgeting tool. You don’t even need to leave your desk.

2. Misusing credit cards.

According to a study by the credit-reporting agency Experian, Millennials are struggling to pay credit card bills on time, while also having one of the highest credit utilization rates of the four generations listed. Credit utilization, also known as the debt-to-credit ratio, accounts for the ratio or rate of your balance (what you owe) compared with your overall credit limit.

From the study, Millennials’ average rate is 37%, which is above the 35% or less that creditors prefer. As a result of these two factors—late payments and high credit utilization—Millennials have the lowest credit scores across all four generations. Consider a credit score as a financial report card, which means you should turn in everything on time and pay the balance in full every month.

 3. Renting forever.

It’s no secret that Millennials are not active homebuyers. Homeownership is important to consider because ultimately it costs more to rent a home than to buy one in many areas. Plus, Millennials do not build equity when they rent indefinitely. Of course, many Millennials still find themselves traveling and exploring without plans to settle down yet, but in the event that a reasonable deal on property comes up down the road, it would be wise to consider purchasing.

 4. Saving little to nothing for retirement.

Surprisingly, two in three Millennials intend to retire by age 65, but approximately 70% have not started saving for retirement, according to a 2013 survey by MainStreet.com and GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communication. Even more disconcerting is that half of all Millennials plan to draw income from Social Security, even though full payments from reserves are set to cease in 2033.

The journey to retirement begins with a single payment, then another. If you’re lucky to have an employer’s 401(k) matching plan, take full advantage of it and make above-average contributions. If not, build your own IRA, choosing a Roth or traditional IRA, and set aside a percentage of your monthly income toward it.

5. Skipping life insurance. 

Getting insurance in general may seem daunting, but it’s good to consider the various types, even ones you don’t think you need at first. Life insurance is one that might not have come up yet, but there are reasons to consider it.

One of the benefits of getting a life insurance policy early on is that it will likely cost you less now than later—life insurance is cheaper the younger and healthier you are. Plus, you have no idea if your health might change, which could make getting coverage much more expensive or even impossible later on. And remember that co-signers on any financial accounts you have may be liable for your debts should anything happen to you.

From the basic act of budgeting to considering life insurance, these actions can help ground your financial future. Saving for later in life is the foundation for having a debt-free life and securing retirement plans. As a Millennial you may still be finding your way in this economy, but you can help prevent any of these five financial mistakes from adding to your burdens.

By John Kuo
Originally published by www.lifehappens.org