Posts tagged with "retirement"

Piggy Bank illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Financial Future

Securing Your Financial Future

Mark Williams, CEO Brokers International

When it comes to securing your financial future, the best time to start planning is today. There are a lot of tools and products available to help put a plan together, but they all have one thing in common: the earlier you take advantage of them, the better off you’ll be.

Studies have shown that younger individuals, particularly millennials, tend to prefer savings over retirement accounts. Whether that’s because they lived through the Great Recession and saw what happened to older generations whose retirement strategies were rooted in the stock market, a lack of financial literacy, or something else altogether, the fact remains that younger generations have a more conservative mindset regarding financial planning and investing.

Many people put off retirement planning until retirement itself moves more into focus. But to maximize the impact of your efforts to plan for a secure financial future, start as early as you can. Here’s where you should start.

Workplace 401(k)s

For many people in the workforce, a 401(k) is offered through their employer. Saving money for the future in a tax-advantaged vehicle is a wise move, but for those whose companies offer a 401(k) match, it’s a no-brainer to maximize that source of free money. Due to the power of compound interest, even a small regular contribution makes a major difference over time.

Consider this example. If you invest $50 a month into a 401(k), at an average 7% annual rate of return, that investment adds up. After 15 years, you’ll have invested $9,000, but it will be worth over $15,000. That same $50 a month after 30 years will amount to $18,000 out of your pocket, but it will have grown to nearly $57,000. And if you invest just $50 a month for 45 years, that $27,000 investment will be worth just under $171,500. (You may not get 7% every year, but as an illustration, the value is clear.)

Annuities

Planning for your financial future can be difficult when you may not even have a view of that horizon. You don’t know what your life will look like, what your financial needs will be, and what resources will be available to you once you are no longer working.

Annuities provide a great response to the uncertainty of long-range financial planning. It’s the only financial product available that guarantees an income stream for life — once you turn on that income stream, it’s fixed. Fluctuations in interest rates or the marketplace won’t affect it. An annuity will provide you with a paycheck every single month until the day you die — and some products even allow you to extend that benefit to your spouse or children.

Life Insurance

This is the big one, but many people overlook life insurance because they won’t be able to take advantage of it themselves. But ask yourself, at any stage of life, if you don’t make it home one day, who relies on you to provide financially? More than anything, insurance is a form of safety and protection, for you and for those you love. It’s critically important for someone who is married with children to have life insurance in case of tragedy, to be able to help cover debts, provide a future source of income and even allow space for grief without financial anxiety.

But even for single young professionals, just starting off their careers, life insurance should be a primary consideration in financial planning.

Consider a young, single, 23-year-old individual who may not have anyone who depends on their income. Why would that person want to purchase a life insurance policy in that situation? In part, because they don’t know what their situation will be like in 1, 5 or 10 years, and a 20- or 30-year term life insurance policy will provide financial safeguards for some of the possibilities that may arise. Additionally, there’s a popular saying in the insurance industry: money pays for life insurance, but health buys it. When you are young and healthy, you’ll never be able to get a life insurance policy as cheaply as you can at that point.

Just as you never know if or when your circumstances may change and you’ll find yourself wanting a life insurance policy to protect the financial interests of someone you married five years after initially deciding not to purchase a policy, you may also receive a diagnosis in that same five-year period that makes life insurance impossible (or prohibitively out of reach).

If you buy life insurance when you’re young and healthy, you can take advantage of the best rates possible and provide a blanket of financial security for your loved ones.

Plan Ahead

Financial planning isn’t a lot of fun for most people, but it is necessary. Whether you are aiming for a specific short- to a mid-range financial goal or turning your eye toward your eventual retirement, it pays to start thinking about securing your financial future as early as possible. The cost of doing so when you are young is comparatively lower than if you wait 10, 20, or 30 years to make some of the same decisions.

If you’re young, take advantage of your long time horizon and plan accordingly. If you’re older and already feeling close to retirement, you may not have taken advantage of the power of compound interest but it’s still not too late to reallocate some of your assets and shore up your financial situation as much as possible.

For anyone, I would strongly recommend seeking out the advice and experience of a financial professional — they will understand all of your available options and know best how to construct a strategic plan to help you reach your goals.

graph via Mina Tocalini for use by 360 Magazine

Four Retirement Risks that Could Undermind Your Planning

Few things feel better than to finally arrive at retirement confident about all the planning and saving you did to cause it to happen. It was decades in the making, but now it’s here, and you have years left of life to enjoy without having to worry about work. Unfortunately, you may not be out of the financial woods yet. A number of risks to your retirement strategy can still lurk even as you appear to have safely arrived at your post-work destination. Some of the most common ones include:

A Significant Market Drop Shortly Before or Early In Your Retirement

We all know that what the market gives, the market can take away. But a sudden market drop right when you are reaching retirement can be especially devastating. You have less time to make a comeback, especially when you are starting to withdraw from those accounts at the same time the market is giving you fits. Think of it this way. If you have $1 million, and take a 10 percent loss, that’s a $100,000 drop, taking you to $900,000. Now let’s say the market rebounds 10 percent. That means you recover only $90,000 of the $100,000. And if you had withdrawn some of the money to live on, you will recover even less. One way to at least partially avert this risk is to begin moving some of your portfolio into more conservative investments as you near retirement age. When you were relatively young and in the accumulation phase of investing, you could afford to take some risks. But now your investment strategy needs to focus more on keeping what you have.

Inflation that Reduces Your Spending Power over Time

 Even when it seems like you have enough money in retirement, it’s possible you don’t if you’ve failed to factor in for inflation. Let’s take a look at that $1 million again and say that each year you plan to withdraw 4 percent, or $40,000, for living expenses. That $40,000 won’t have the same spending power in year 10 of retirement as it did in year one. That’s why it’s important to account for inflation as you are creating your financial plan and trying to determine how much money you need for retirement.

Unexpected Medical and/or Long-Term Care Expenses

 As you age, health problems can emerge that could quickly drain your money as you pay for hospitalizations, expensive prescriptions, and numerous visits to specialists. At some point, you could require long-term care, which comes with a staggering price tag. The average cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is $7,756 a month, according to the Genworth annual cost of care survey. Genworth also reports that seven out of 10 people will require long-term care in their lifetimes. One option for planning for this is to purchase long-term care insurance, but there are other routes to explore as well.

Outliving your Assets

 People are living longer than ever, which is great, but longevity increases the odds that you could outlive your money. If you are calculating that you just need enough money for a 10 or 20-year retirement, you could be in for a surprise. For example, more than one in three 65-year-old women will live to be 90. For 65-year-old men, it’s more than one in five. Of course, many will live beyond 90. It’s best to expect a long life and plan your finances accordingly.

Conclusion

While all of these factors pose a significant risk to your retirement, a financial professional should be able to help you create a plan that will reduce some of your exposure. Retirement should be a time of enjoyment, not a time to fret over every dollar and how tomorrow could bring unpleasant surprises.

elderly illustration by 360 Magazine

How Do You Know That You’re Ready For Retirement?

It’s Not Just The Finances.

An intriguing find once emerged from a RAND Corp. survey on Americans and their working conditions. It turned out that 40 percent of employees that are age 65 and older had previously retired, but something lured them back to the working world.

In some cases, financial troubles might have been the cause. But often the reason is that people neglect an important component in their retirement planning. They don’t think about what they will do with their extra time, or how they will give their life the meaning and purpose that work had provided, says Patti Hart, co-author with her husband, Milledge, of The Resolutionist: Welcome to the Anti-Retirement Movement.

“Money is certainly important, but it’s not the only thing that determines whether your retirement is a success,” she says. “It may be that you are financially ready to retire, but are a long way from being emotionally ready.”

The Harts offer tips for figuring out when to retire and for making sure you’re successful when you do:

  • Know your catalysts. Identify milestones or signs that will let you know you are ready to embark on a new post-work life, Milledge Hart says. Yes, that could be when you’ve accumulated a certain amount of savings. But it might also be related to when your spouse quits their job, or when your children graduate college and head out on their own. Maybe your plan is to work until your health gives out. “Knowing your catalysts can mean the difference between successfully transitioning to a fulfilled life after your career is over, or boomeranging back to the full-time workforce simply because you didn’t know why you quit to begin with,” he says.
  • Plan ahead to avoid separation anxiety from work. For many people, moving from the excitement and fulfillment of a career to the quietness of retirement is too much, Patti Hart says. They develop a form of “separation anxiety,” longing for their old way of life rather than venturing boldly into the new one. “You need to make a plan for what you want to do in your new post-career life so you aren’t floundering when you get there,” she says.
  • Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. At work, people are thrown into uncomfortable situations and have no choice but to face them head on. In retirement, it’s easier to avoid discomfort, but doing so diminishes your confidence, and you miss out on opportunities for personal growth and fun, Milledge Hart says. “It would seem counterintuitive to think that being uncomfortable brings happiness, but it does,” he says. “Go at life as if it’s an adventure – because it is. When you accomplish something you didn’t think you could, you get a jolt of endorphins that drives you to your next challenge.”
  • Learn to be your own best friend. Even when people want to try a new hobby or activity, they sometimes are afraid to do it alone. “In retirement, you might not have the social network you once did,” Patti Hart says. “You may long for a good friend you can rely on.” But if you think about it, she says, you already have that friend–yourself. So as you prepare for retirement, be ready to go solo on occasion. “When you get to this stage, you will often find that some things on your list are on your list alone,” she says. “No one in your universe shares your interest or has the time to join you. That’s all right. If you are going to continue to grow, you need to sometimes feel like you did something completely on your own.”

“Don’t convince yourself that in retirement you are going to be destined to a life of watching evening game shows and baking pies, unless of course that is what you love to do,” Milledge Hart says. “My advice is nothing is off limits, so reach for the stars. Look forward rather than backward, and embrace the new you.”

About Patti and Milledge Hart

Patti and Milledge Hart, co-authors of The Resolutionist: Welcome to the Anti-Retirement Movement have spent more than 30 years as executive leaders in numerous technology and investment banking businesses. Today, in what they refer to as the “Resolutionist,” rather than retirement, phase of their lives, they are applying their resources and skills in new ways to advance philanthropic and corporate activities around the globe.

Money & Relationship illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Money Issues × Relationships

Are Money Issues Ruining Your Relationship?

Read on for 5 tips to resolve them.

The COVID-19 pandemic has played havoc with families’ finances through lost jobs, squeezed budgets, increased debt, and missed payments.

Money and the decisions spouses make with it are one of the main sources of stress among couples, and sometimes money issues end relationships or cause divorce. But differences can be solved or managed if couples learn to listen to each other and work as a team to formulate a sensible plan, says financial planner Aaron Leak, the founder of ECL Private Wealth Management. 

“No matter how long you have been together, financial issues can wreak havoc on a committed relationship,” Leak says. “When couples don’t agree about spending and saving habits, it causes arguments and resentment.

“But understanding what you’re fighting about and why helps you and your partner come up with solutions. By being transparent and honest with each other about your finances, you can not only prevent arguments that strain your relationship, but you will strengthen it.”

Leak offers these tips for couples to address and resolve financial issues:

  • Understand your money styles. Think of some extreme examples of money styles in your circle. Like your friend, the foodie, who won’t touch a bottle of wine that costs less than $75. Or your sister who constantly surfs Amazon. Or your mom who washes aluminum foil, then folds and reuses it. Everyone has a money style, and it’s helpful to talk about it without any name-calling or labeling involved. Understanding your partner’s spending habits often involves a deep dive into money fears, scarcity memories and childhood traumas. Come up with a spending plan that works for both of you.
  • Decide how to divvy up the bills and save for future goals. You can both put all your earnings in a joint account and pay everything out of that. Or you can split bills down the middle and keep the rest of your own earnings for yourselves. Once you have decided how the bills get paid, you need to devise a plan for saving for your long-term goals. Remember that you need to work closely together as life changes arise – such as one of you losing a job or cutting back on hours to care for a parent. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that contingency plans are always advisable.
  • Create personal spending allowances that stay personal. Having some personal money that’s designated just for you each month can really help how you feel about your relationship. It can also help avoid relationship-ruining behavior like “financial infidelity,” when one spouse hides money or purchases from the other. The personal spending allowance gives each partner the chance to spend their money however they wish, no questions asked.
  • Face and eliminate undesirable debt. Couples should employ a strategy to pay off debt, such as paying off the higher-interest debt first or paying off the smallest loans first (the snowball method). Payments on credit cards, car loans, and student loans can devour monthly budgets, so the sooner they are paid off, the better.
  • Set a budget you can live with. One of the best ways to keep in sync with your partner financially is to have a budget as part of your overall plan. The budget includes your household bills, your personal spending allowance, your debt-paying strategy, and your monthly budget for long-term goals like retirement.

“Relationships take consistent work in order to be happy and successful, and money management is a big part of it,” Leak says. “The best way to be sure you and your spouse are staying on the same page financially is to talk honestly and without judgment.”

About Aaron Leak

Aaron Leak has 16 years of experience in the financial industry and is the founder of ECL Private Wealth Management. He holds Series 7, 6, 63 and 66 licenses as well as life, health, and property and casualty insurance licenses.

Has COVID Clouded Your Retirement Picture? 3 Tips To Plan Clearly

Some people planning for retirement may do most of the right things in terms of saving and investing. But they don’t have a crystal ball and cannot foresee exactly how much money they will need in their non-working years – or for how long.

That uncertainty – magnified by the financial effects of COVID-19 – is one reason why it’s important to always keep the distant future in mind when planning and to consider all options that address those potential needs, says John Smallwood, president of Smallwood Wealth Management and author of It’s Your Wealth – Keep It: The Definitive Guide to Growing, Protecting, Enjoying, and Passing On Your Wealth.

“Too often, people are siloed in their view of their financial plan rather than focusing on the big picture,” Smallwood says. “Sometimes, it’s because they believe in a pitch that one magic product or investment is going to save their retirement.

“The pandemic causes some people to look for fast solutions, but there is no magic wand that you can wave and save your financial plan. The ‘magic’ that is going to help you is to put multiple products and multiple strategies together in an integrated way that is unique to you.”

Smallwood says those either starting or reevaluating a financial plan should consider these points:

  • Avoid cookie-cutter solutions. Because every person’s circumstances are different, a one-size-fits-all approach in financial planning doesn’t make sense for the future retiree, Smallwood says. “Whether it’s a mutual fund, insurance policy, annuity, a stock option, 401(k), or something else, the truth is that banking entirely on a single product or type of investment is setting you up for financial failure,” Smallwood says. “There are always popular products being pushed, but cookie-cutter solutions don’t take into account that every client has different financial pressures. Single products are often focused tightly on rate of return, but they don’t look at everything that’s happening in a person’s life or at erosion principles, which are actually taking away more wealth than is being accumulated in many cases.”
  • Know how to minimize market volatility. Smallwood says having measurable goals and a realistic view are important to success with a financial strategy. And part of that strategy includes understanding and minimizing the impact of market volatility on your money. “One way to make a sense of it all is to know the difference between average rate of return, sequence of returns, and actual return,” he says. “Average rate of return is over the life of an investment. Sequence of returns is the order in which your investments provide you with a return. Actual return is the actual amount of money gained or lost during a quarter or year compared to the initial value of an investment.”
  • Don’t get caught up in chasing returns. “Financial success does not come from chasing returns or selecting a magic product or asset class,” Smallwood says. “It comes from having a balanced plan, and then stress-testing that plan for weak areas to see how taxes, feeds, inflation, medical expenses, market volatility, college expenses and other variables can impact wealth potential. People who chase returns typically buy an asset class, or they buy a fund based on its past performance. If it doesn’t do well, they sell it, and they buy the next hot-performing fund. That’s how they fall into the trap that keeps eroding their wealth.”

“To be successful with your retirement plan,” Smallwood says, “you need to keep an open mind, understand your uniqueness, and not follow the crowd in terms of what are the right solutions for you.”

About John L. Smallwood, CFP®

John L. Smallwood is a senior wealth advisor (www.johnlsmallwood.com) and president of Smallwood Wealth Management and affiliated companies, providing investment consulting and financial plan design for corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and professionals. He is the author of It’s Your Wealth – Keep It: The Definitive Guide To Growing, Protecting, Enjoying, And Passing On Your Wealth, and a previous book, Five Ways Your Wealth is Under Attack.

old people for 360 Magazine

5 Things Retirees Will Wish They Had Known Sooner

Many people planning for retirement anticipate those post-working years eagerly, ready to veg out after a life of toil. Others plan with greater anxiety, unsure whether they even have an identity without their jobs. But it may be that retirement these days is far different from what both points of view envision.

“We all have made decisions based on the information we had at the time, but later realized we would have planned differently if we knew then what we know now,” says Patti Hart, co-author with her husband, Milledge, of The Resolutionist: Welcome to the Anti-Retirement Movement. “That’s definitely true when it comes to planning for retirement.”

The Harts don’t even think of themselves as retirees, but as “resolutionists,” constantly challenging themselves to improve. “I’m busier now than I’ve ever been,” Milledge Hart says. “I’m using this time to be a better me than I could when my days were structured and my time was spoken for.” With that said, the Harts share five things future retirees may wish they had known sooner:

Retirement isn’t what it used to be. Most people’s vision of retirement is built on what the people around them did, but that vision is outdated. “Many of us watched our parents or grandparents settle into a quiet, nondescript life,” Milledge Hart says. “We’ve seen the stereotypical portrayal of aging and irrelevant ‘retirees’ on TV shows and in the movies.” But many retirees today are much more vibrant than those stereotypes and have no intention of sitting quietly on a front porch while the world passes them by.

People have more time in this phase of life than previous generations. Anyone who expects retirement to be a few short years tacked on to the end of their working life could be in for an awakening. In actuality, this period could last 20 to 30 years or more. The average 65-year-old man can expect to live another 18 years and the average 65-year-old woman nearly 21 more years, according to the Social Security Administration. And those, remember, are averages. “Some people could spend more years in their post-career life than they did building their career,” Patti Hart says. “Knowing and understanding what that means will help you plan better.”

It’s important to constantly prepare for the next phase. The Harts acknowledge they should have been planning earlier than they did. Instead, time slipped by. “The horizon is closer than it looks,” Milledge Hart says. So, when should you get serious about planning for those post-career years? “Right now would be a good time,” he says. “But definitely, the sooner the better.”

Retirees need to redefine their metrics. The Harts say it’s important for people to redefine how they measure success in this phase of life because it’s different from how they likely measured success in their career days. “The goals are likely to be more qualitative than quantitative,” Patti Hart says. “For example, one of our metrics one year was to enhance our celebrations. We found that many holidays and special events were filled with unnecessary stress and were too materially focused. We decided to eliminate event-driven gift giving.” That simple change, she says, improved their lives substantially.

Being a resolutionist is fun. If someone had told the Harts when they were in their 30s that their “retirement” years would be filled with so much fun, laughter, and fulfillment, they would have been skeptical. “We laugh more now than we’ve laughed at any other stage in our life,” Milledge Hart says. “This phase is instilled with so much adventure, and it’s a feeling that comes from within rather than the happiness of achieving a certain stock price.”

“I wish I had known sooner that I could say goodbye to the corporate world and still be interesting and relevant,” Patti Hart says. “I wish I had known that retirement is yours to define. I successfully defined my role in the business world, but it didn’t dawn on me that I could also reinvent retirement. I don’t know why. It seems perfectly obvious now.”

About Patti and Milledge Hart

Patti and Milledge Hart, co-authors of The Resolutionist: Welcome to the Anti-Retirement Movement, spent more than 30 years as executive leaders in numerous technology and investment banking businesses. Today, in what they refer to as the “Resolutionist” – rather than retirement – phase of their lives, they are applying their resources and skills in new ways to advance philanthropic and corporate activities around the globe.

Mina Tocalini, 360 magazine

Retirement Planning Starts With Taxes

There is a lot to understand when it comes to paying taxes and many Americans have to take it upon themselves to learn the ins and outs of taxes. One aspect many do not account for is the higher tax rate paid once in retirement.

The insurance company Nationwide surveyed retirees and found that over one-third didn’t take into account how taxes could affect their income during retirement. Less than half said they know how to leverage their financial accounts to minimize their tax burden.

“One of the greatest disruptors of wealth and its potential is taxation,” says John Smallwood, president of Smallwood Wealth Management and author of It’s Your Wealth – Keep It: The Definitive Guide to Growing, Protecting, Enjoying, and Passing On Your Wealth. “Most financial strategies are missing the fundamentals, leaving you to pay much more in taxes than you should over your lifetime.

“There are some fundamental concepts of taxes that apply to the financial planning process. The goal is to have multiple sources of retirement income that balance out taxes and fees. That way, if one or more of the sources dries up, or if tax law changes a source or two, then the impact on your portfolio will be minimal.”

Smallwood highlights four important items related to taxes that he sees are important to know when creating a retirement plan. Tax deferral strategies are one way. This is all based on the concept of moving from a higher tax bracket that you’re in right now to a lower one in the future. But Smallwood cautions, “The tax rate in the future may not be in your favor. If you defer and don’t end up in a lower tax bracket, you can lose. You might end up paying more than if you had not deferred.”

Smallwood also stresses the importance of looking at qualified plans as specific rules and penalties apply when you withdraw from tax-deferred retirement accounts. Withdrawing before age 59½ brings a 10% penalty. At 70½, there are required minimum distributions (RMDs). “With RMDs, there is a 50% penalty for not withdrawing the right amount of money.” he says. “Plus, depending on the account, you have to pay taxes according to your bracket.”

But once you’re ready to make an offer, you can choose one with the best rates and terms. According to the people at Lowermybills.com, “Like all things connected to home buying and mortgage rates, do your research.” and that “If you find a rate you are comfortable with, and it gets you the mortgage payment in your price range, it might be a good idea to decide to lock in the interest rate.”

Another strategy Smallwood emphasizes is compound taxes. He says that in regards to tax strategy, this is the most important parts of a wealth plan. “For example, a 45-year-old with a savings rate of 6% and putting away $51,000 per year could accumulate a healthy balance of $2.5 million by age 65,” Smallwood says. “But with compound taxation, money is eroding all the time. Each year that an account grows, the investor’s tax liability grows along with it. Interest earnings, along with dividends and capital gains, get larger over time as the investment gains in value. If the gains the first year include $30,000 worth of interest but at the 30% tax bracket, then you’ll have to pay $9,000 more in taxes.”

Lastly, systematic withdrawals can significantly reduce the tax impact on an investment portfolio if done correctly. “Let’s say, late in 1989, you placed a lump sum of $100,000 in an S&P 500 index fund with a good track record,” Smallwood says. “Instead of leaving the funds in the account, however, you took $6,000 from the account each year and repositioned those assets elsewhere. After 20 years, the fund balance would have reached $243,191, an annual gain of 7.92% that exceeds the return earned by leaving the funds in the account. Why? Because taking those withdrawals undercuts the impact of compounded taxes. Over time, the tax obligation would be $30,451, or $13,622 less than leaving the money in the account.”

All of this can come across as overwhelming, especially if money and taxes aren’t something you are well versed in. However, starting to learn about these tactics before you hit retirement can be beneficial, even if you are far from this age.

Smallwood says, “Good retirement planning includes all the possible tax implications and gives you options. Organizing income sources so that they hit your tax return the right way should be a deliberate strategy every year.”

Six-Time World Champ Comes out of Retirement

A former six-time World Boxing champion from Miami is making a highly anticipated comeback to the sport at the ripe age of 40 years old, as part of a mission to reclaim the title once hers and raise the caliber of women’s professional boxing.

Puerto Rico-born Melissa Hernandez has been living in Miami for the last nine years, building a name for herself as one of the region’s most reputable boxing instructors—teaching a hardened class of fitness enthusiasts at the Continuum on South Beach Sporting Club for the last three years. As someone who is self-confessed as Married to Boxing, Hernandez now yearns for gold again, since retiring from the sport in 2016 and while keeping a watchful eye on the women rising up the ranks with utmost contempt for whom she considers as not that great.”

Last year, Melissa re-laced her gloves and returned to her New York gym to resume training at Gleason’s in Brooklyn, where she sparred at the height of her career. While considering Miami her home, she regularly travels to New York to train with her eye on the prize, after recently becoming the number one contender for the World WBC Welterweight Title, currently held by American fighter, Jessica McCaskill. With her new Las Vegas-based manager and promotor in New York behind her, Melissa is determined to de-throne the reigning champion when boxing resumes in the wake of COVID-19.

I decided to retire in 2016 after winning all the titles in my weight class because the purse that came with the glory was ridiculously low says Melissa when asked why she threw in the towel. “I decided to return to the sport because I’ve seen how competitively weak the field has now become and I want to change that. I love working with my classes at the Continuum Sporting Club in Miami Beach and I’ve seen the passion and hard-working talent that comes from Miami as a city with a strong boxing history. I like pushing the envelope and my body and mind feels just as able as I was ten years ago.”

Melissa moved from Puerto Rico to the Bronx in New York with her family in 1984. Melissa’s mother was as scientist and father a psychologist and she attended the Bronx Community College, but dropped out to pursue her love for the arts and a career in film, video and photography after an internship at the Whitney Museum at the age of 15 years old. Melissa wanted to be an editor in film but ended up in the fashion business working for the likes of Patagonia and The GAP in New York City for four years until she was 22 years old.

Melissa admired fellow Puerto Rican boxer, Héctor Camacho, and began hanging-out with friends at a local boxing gym in the Bronx. In 2002 at 22 years old, Melissa started sparring with a trainer who saw tremendous potential and encouraged her to train for participation in the prestigious New York Golden Gloves boxing tournament at Madison Square Garden where she lost in the final. Melissa grew to enjoy her time in the ring and realized she was made for boxing.

After fighting at the USA Boxing Nationals as an amateur, Melissa became certified by USA Boxing in 2003 to train amateur boxers, but was determined to continue with her own career in Florida where she was scouted by a number of trainers. Melissa continued to hone her boxing skills for a year before moving back to New York City, where she continued her training in the Bronx at The Webster Police Athletic League Center. Melissa won the New York Golden Gloves tournament over two consecutive years in 2004 and 2005 and turned pro in the winter of 2005 under the mentorship of trainer Belinda Laracuente. Melissa began training as a professional at the renowned Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn and fought her first WBA Junior Welterweight World Title fight against Kelsey Jeffries in 2006. In the same year, Melissa claimed her first title and became the WIBA Super Bantamweight World Champion after beating Lisa Brown in Edmonton, Canada. By 2008, Melissa became the top ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world and would travel the globe defending her titles and claiming many more along the way, before moving to Florida in 2011 where she would train at the world famous 5th Street Gym in Miami Beach.

After winning six World Boxing titles over a ten-year period, Melissa decided to hang up her gloves in 2016, citing how female boxers were financially being treated unfairly. Over the next several years, Melissa would concentrate on being a successful boxing instructor, teaching at local gyms throughout Miami and building her individual client base for one-on-one instruction. Melissa’s elite talent as a boxing instructor was spotted by a fellow trainer who introduced her to the Continuum Sporting Club in Miami Beach, where Melissa would become immensely popular among the residents and homeowners at the luxury beachfront community.

Last year, Melissa resumed her training at Gleason’s Gym in New York City in her quest to reclaim the WBC Welterweight title that she hopes will be planned for later this year, after winning her first comeback fight in Louisiana in 2019. Known as Melissa “HuracanShark” Hernandez, her previous titles include: WIBA Super Bantamweight, GBU Lightweight World Title, WIBA Lightweight World Title, WIBA Super Featherweight World Title, WBA Intercontinental Featherweight Title, WIBA Interim Lightweight Title, IBS Light Welterweight World Title, WBC Featherweight World Title and UBF Super Lightweight World Title.

While age 40 is considered old for women’s boxing, this doesn’t deter Melissa, who wants to continue fighting for another two years until she claims the one or more titles she vows to bring home to Miami. Her long-term plans are to open her own boxing studio while continuing to paint and discover new art galleries in her spare time. Melissa lives in Miami Beach, Florida and is currently single.

DOOR COUNTY

By Robin Mosley × Vaughn Lowery

In Door County, Wisconsin you can expect a luxurious stay where you’ll get the best of both worlds — nature and an artisanal experience featuring exceptional food and beverage options, as well as artistic features. Door County has always been a welcoming place to visitors since the beginning of its inception. 

Historically, it’s been home to Native American tribes such as the Potawatomi, the Winnebago, the Ojibwe, the Sauk, the Menominee and the Ottawa. European settlers also were a part of the Door County community. But the peninsula has always had residents with many dating back 12,000 years ago. This is to say, Door County, Wisconsin is welcoming to people from all walks of life.

Book a stay at Glidden Lodge Beach Resort in Sturgeon Bay. The property has everything you need to enjoy your stay as a family, a group of friends and as a solo traveler. Their one, two- and three-bedroom units all offer stunning views of Lake Michigan and beachfront access. Other properties in Door County include bed and breakfasts, campgrounds, cottages and houses, hotels, log cabins, resorts and wheelchair accessible lodging to fit your needs. 

Your stay can begin at Sturgeon Bay, where you can visit an array of museums, nature sites and rustic food businesses such as Sturgeon Ship Bay canal, Potawatomi State Park and the preserves. 

If you are looking to shop and dine, then Door County’s historic shopping districts have an array of dining and beverage options. One such place is Renard’s Cheese, a family owned, and operated business ran by third generation cheesemakers. You can then follow that up with a stop at Door County Candy, which will satisfy your sweet tooth with handcrafted chocolates and treats. 

After if you’re interested in the art scene, then check out the Margaret Lockwood Gallery, featuring Lockwood’s award-winning abstract paintings, which highlights the beauty and landscapes of Door County; or go see incredible art from over 198 artists spanning drawing, printmaking, and photography mediums at Miller Art Museum. After enjoying a fully packed day, you can finish your day off with dinner at Crate Restaurant with some of the best food — a mix of fresh seafood, steaks and high-quality sushi.

Sister Bay is known for Seaquist Orchards where the cherries are tart, and apples are crisp. With over 1,000 acres of cherries and 30 acres of apples and acres of apricots and pears, you’ll be around nothing but beautiful nature and artisan treats. To keep the orchard experience going, have brunch at Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant, where the goats grazing on grass the roof in the summer will fit the bill. 

The Norwegian and Moravian roots of Ephraim are part of its modern life. At the Ephraim Historical Foundation, you can learn about the Moravian religious community, founded by the Reverend Andreas Iverson as well as see some of its historic sites such as The Moravian Church, the Pioneer Schoolhouse and the Anderson Store. The Hardy Gallery is located on Ephraim’s historic Anderson Dock and features local and regional artists. The Blue Dolphin House and BDH Studio contains a gallery located in an 1860s renovated farmhouse surrounded by pine trees and a beautiful garden. 

Ellison Bay has an artsy vibe. The Clearing Folk School founded by architect Jens Jensen is a 128-acre school surrounded by forests and meadows which overlook the Green Bay shoreline. All year round, the school provides classes and workshops following folk traditions of fine crafts and natural sciences. From painting, writing, quilting, birding, wood carving, rustic furniture making and more, you will have an incredible time. Before your departure, you should stop by Rob Williams Studio to witness unconventional landscape paintings.

If you’re looking for old Swedish traditions, you should stroll down the marina, play in the parks and beaches and dine on the finest goods in Fish Creek. Fish Creek has the largest single store retailer of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, The Oilere. Or you can visit the Swedish-American bakery, Fika Bakery & Cafe and Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery & Market, where during the summer you can purchase freshly picked Montmorency cherries. Around dinnertime, the Fish Boil at Rowley’s Bay Resort in Ellison Bay serves freshly caught Lake Michigan whitefish that is cooked over an open fire. Finally, end your evening under the beautiful night sky at Northern Sky Theater located in Peninsula State Park.

To end your time in Door County you can look at the waterfront in Egg Harbor. You can also visit the Cappaert Contemporary Gallery, or the Plum Bottom Gallery where you’ll see handcrafted porcelain and stoneware first-hand. Harbor Ridge Winery is a great place that makes award-winning wines in a fun atmosphere. Then head next door to Wisconsin Cheese Masters which sells only the finest Wisconsin produced cheeses. Finally, have dinner at Glacier Ledge which celebrates cheese through their small plate menu. 

There’s a lot to do in Door County and anyone who’s looking to enjoy nature, art and artisanal goods will find every part of this trip worth their time. This location would be great for anyone who prefers a more elegant and rustic stay. For more information on what Door County could provide, visit www.doorcounty.com

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True Religion Appoints Interim CEO

On November 1, True Religion announced that its board of directors has appointed board member Chelsea A. Grayson as its interim chief executive officer, following former CEO John Ermatinger’s decision to retire from the company. As a result of that appointment, Ms. Grayson will step down as the chair of the Audit Committee but will continue to serve on True Religion’s board of directors.

“As a board member for the past year, Chelsea has been instrumental in helping True Religion evolve the brand,” said Gene Davis, chair of the True Religion board, “We are fortunate to have someone of Chelsea’s caliber and experience step up to lead the company as we continue to innovate our products and customer experience. In addition, we would also like to recognize and thank John for his incredible leadership and dedication to the brand.”

Ms. Grayson said, “As a Los Angeles native, I am honored to have been chosen to lead an iconic brand like Los Angeles-based True Religion. I look forward to continuing the momentum started with recent initiatives like adding Bella Hadid as a millennial face of the brand and our partnership with global sports juggernaut, Manchester United.”

While Ms. Grayson serves as interim CEO, True Religion intends to conduct a process to identify a permanent CEO.

Before joining True Religion’s board of directors last year, Chelsea Grayson was the CEO and a board member of American Apparel. She also sits on the board of directors of Delta Dental of California (where she is a member of the Nominating & Corporate Governance Committee), and the advisory board of Marca Global.