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The Good Life Report - Tax FAQs, Working On Your Golf Game In Winter & More

"To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone."

- Reba McEntire

SLOW COOKER SAUERKRAUT AND KIELBASA


Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 (32 oz) jar Sauerkraut, drained (rinsing is optional)
     
  • 2 lbs. Kielbasa Smoked Sausage, cut in 1 1/2" rounds
     
  • 1 lg Apple, chopped
     
  • 1 med Sweet Onion, diced
     
  • 1 Tbsp Caraway Seeds
     
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
     
  • 1 cup Apple Cider
     
  • 1 cup Water (or beer)
     
  • 2-4 Tbsp Brown Sugar (or to taste) 


Directions:

  1. Add the sauerkraut, kielbasa, apple, onion, caraway seeds, and garlic to the slow cooker crock. Stir.
     
  2. In a separate container mix together the apple cider, water, and brown sugar. Pour over the sauerkraut mixture.
     
  3. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 6-7 hours.

Recipe adapted from SimplyHappyFoodie[20]

Tax Benefit and Credits: FAQs for Retirees

Lots of questions can come up about income taxes after one has retired. Listed are answers to just a few common questions from retired taxpayers.

What types of income are taxable?
Some common types of taxable income include military retirement pay, all or part of pensions and annuities, all or part of individual retirement accounts (IRA), unemployment compensation, gambling income, bonuses and awards for outstanding work, and alimony or prizes.

What types of income are non-taxable?
A few examples of non-taxable income are veteran's benefits, disability pay for certain military or government-related incidents, worker's compensation, and cash rebates from a dealer or manufacturer of an item you purchased.

Why is my pension taxed?
It depends on how the money was put into the pension plan. For example, if all the money were contributed by the employer or the money was not taxed before going into the plan, it would be taxable. When your contribution is from already-taxed dollars, that portion of the pension is not taxed, but must be recovered over your life expectancy.

* This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax professional.

Tip adapted from IRS[21]

Working On Your Golf Game In Winter

It can be frustrating to make great strides in your golf game during the golf season only to see it come to an end due to the weather. You end up sitting inside all winter, letting your swing digress and your body lose its flexibility. 

One of the best ways to keep your golf game up to par is to work on your flexibility. Flexibility is often overlooked as one of the more important centerpieces to a well-rounded golf game. Stretching is one way to preserve flexibility as well as increase it.

Flexibility is important because it contributes to a fluid golf swing, allowing the body to turn as needed during a swing. It can even add distance to your golf clubs when improved as well as maintain distance as you age.

Focus on hip-flexor stretches as well as hamstring stretches.

You can also work on your shoulder turn by sitting in a chair and twisting your body as far as possible without risking injury. Use the chair as leverage by grabbing it to hold your turn for a few seconds, stretching your back and core muscles.
Tip adapted from GolfPracticeGuides[22]

Practicing Gratitude In The New Year

Instead of beginning the new year with a list of resolutions, start by examining the good things that are already in your life by practicing gratitude.

Psychologists have defined gratitude as a positive emotional response to receiving a benefit from someone. In positive psychology, gratitude is the human way of acknowledging the good things in life. Thankfully, gratitude is something you can learn if it does not come innately.

There are benefits to practicing gratitude, especially in times of stress and uncertainty. Gratitude invites positive emotions that can have physical benefits, through the immune and/or endocrine systems. Research shows that when we think about what we appreciate, the parasympathetic or calming part of the nervous system is triggered, which can have protective benefits for the body-including decreasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increasing oxytocin, the bonding hormone involved in relationships that make us feel good.

There are a few great ways to get started today and practice gratitude in your own life:

  • Write thank you notes
     
  • Keep a gratitude journal
     
  • Follow-up with family and friends
     
  • Give back to your family, friends, and community
     
  • Pay kindnesses forward 

Tip adapted from Psychology Today[23]

Next Stop For Your Christmas Tree: Recycling

Once your tree has brought cheer during the holiday season, you can help the environment by recycling your tree in one of several different ways. If you purchased a live-rooted tree, then you can plant it after the holidays. Otherwise, check out these recycling options.

  • Curbside service: Many municipalities offer curbside collection of Christmas trees. You will need to remove decorations and stands, and there may be restrictions on size and flocking, so be sure to check with the Environmental Services division in your town.
     
  • Drop-off centers: Right after Christmas, look for Christmas tree recycling drop-off locations. Just drop and go! The trees will likely be brought to your local landfill and chipped into mulch and compost for public use.
     
  • Nonprofits and Boy Scouts: You can call to schedule a pickup of your used Christmas tree by local nonprofits or Boy Scouts, which may require a small donation that goes to a good cause.
     
  • Yard waste pick-up: If you have yard waste pick-up in your neighborhood, you can cut up your tree into pieces that will fit into the bin.

Christmas trees are the gifts that keep on giving because they are biodegradable for recycling and reuse. 

Tip adapted from RealChristmasTrees[24]

[20] SimplyHappyFoodie.com, January 1, 2021
[21] IRS.gov, January 1, 2021
[22] GolfPracticeGuides.com, January 29, 2020
[23] PsychologyToday.com, October 10, 2020
[24] RealChristmasTrees.org, January 1, 2021