Financial Trends to Look Out For in 2019

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David, Karen, and Bret are joined by Jim and Fran from Del-Val Insurance as they discuss current financial trends heading into 2019 such as extreme market volatility, which could cause uncertainty heading into the new year.

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I’d like welcome in David Bezar to begin the conversation. It\’s going to be rapid fire today.

We have a lot going on.

We have an impactful discussion, filled with an incredible amount of information. I want to welcome you in and give you an opportunity, as I know you always do, to say thanks. You have a lot to be thankful for.

We know our audience is growing. We call them the Thrive army, and it’s great to hear that the feedback has been spectacular.

So that was exciting and that\’s what really drives Bret, Karen, myself, and our team members. We also have Jim and Fran in for the discussion today, as well. We all get excited and we feel all very, very blessed that we get to do what we do. We don\’t have to do it, but we get to do it. I think that\’s a really cool element of our business. To see the impact that we ultimately have on people, it\’s just, it\’s tremendous. So very thankful. We are really looking forward to heading into 2019 on nothing but a positive note.

Well said. Karen Bezar is going to join us in the opening segment. I will let all our audience know that as David mentioned, Fran Salerno and Jim Muelbronner from Del-Val Insurance are with us today. They are a great partner with us. You\’ve seen, perhaps, or heard us talk about the potential to save up to 40%. It\’s reality. We\’re going to give you another example of that with Fran and Jim as the show the roles on.

Karen, let\’s get to you

Thank you. So, I\’m going to chat a little bit about one of my favorite topics, Social Security. I recently met with a couple. I\’m going to give some questions that people have asked when we meet with them the first time, along with the second time. And when I met with this couple, who were a very lovely couple, the funny thing was that the gentleman that I met with was planning on taking Social Security early and his wife kept saying, \”I think there\’s a reason you don\’t want to do that.\” So, I\’m going to go into that a little bit, and at the end he\’s said, \”Why don\’t we learn this? Why doesn\’t anybody tell us this?\”

Well, that\’s what we\’re doing. Come to one of our workshops. Go to meetthrivefinancial.comor we\’ll give you the dates soon. This is all information that we share a little bit in the workshops, but you definitely get detailed information when you meet with us.

Just as a reminder, Social Security benefits are based on the highest 35 years of an individual\’s earnings, but a person who works for at least 10 years will generally qualify for some benefits. This is an area that some people have been surprised to learn this information when they come meet with us. I would just say, unfortunately it seems to be more often people who have come in at 55, or around 60, have been laid off from their jobs.

Remember Social Security is based on your highest 35 years of your earnings.

If you had a statement in your hand when you came to meet with us and it says this is going to be your benefit, what the Social Security Administration is assuming, is that you\’re going to continue earning that high income. So if you\’re at a point in your life at age 60 and you\’re earning one of your highest annual incomes ever, remember that will change things moving into retirement if you don\’t get another job that\’s going to give you the same amount of income. Does that makes some sense to you?

Yeah, that makes sense.

So that\’s one thing that people are sometimes surprised to find out. That\’s information we can shed light on.

And I think that\’s true anywhere on the spectrum. If you\’re 55 and you stop working today, or you\’re 55 and you decide to become self-employed tomorrow, your highest year would end whatever it was up to that point.

Right. Unless you happen to catch up and make more money, but that\’s something that people need to be aware of. What happens to my benefit if I claim early?

This is what happens if you claim early, meaning 62. If you start your benefit early, your benefits are reduced permanently. Your benefit is reduced about 0.5% for each month you start your social security before your full retirement age.

So here is an example, if your full retirement age is 67 and you sign up for social security when you are 62, you would only get about 70% of your full benefit for the rest of your life. That\’s a big deal.

What we know statistically, Joe, is that 50% of people who file for social security benefits do it at age 62 and sometimes it\’s based on bad information, right? It\’s based more on emotion more so than actual facts. People think those funds are going to run out, that they\’re being borrowed from, they\’re being squandered, but that\’s not really the case. We shed light on that in the workshops.

Right. People also aren’t usually aware that if you start claiming your Social Security check benefit early, it\’s going to have an effect if you have a spouse that maybe makes a certain amount of income.

So, you can get Social Security, retirement, or survivor benefits, and work at the same time. However, if you claim your benefit before full retirement age and you make more than the social security annual earnings limit, Social Security is going to reduce your benefit by $1 for every $2 you earn above the annual limit. I\’m trying to read it quickly, but this is only a benefit reduction in the short run. Once you reach your full retirement age, then they\’re going to stop that reduction in your benefit.

Here’s what I think the important message is in all of that. It\’s very easy, and your statistic that you pointed out David supports it, but it\’s very easy to make the wrong decision out of our own ignorance of not knowing. And I would say we actually think perhaps we\’re making the right decision.

Yeah, that may be the case. The easiest thing for people to do, Joe, is just go to our website at You can request a Social Security maximization report, which will give you the math and the information to make the best Social Security claiming decision available. It\’s a very easy process.

Thank you Karen. Bret, I’ll jump your way and I bring you into the conversation. What\’s on your agenda today for discussion?

I love this time of year Krause, because we see all these articles that come out telling people make sure you make your contribution to your IRA, make sure you do this, make sure you do that in terms of people putting money away to get your tax breaks that are out there. But what I have passion about, and why I love the fourth quarter, is a lot of times we get an opportunity to sit down with our clients and prospects. It\’s really where we go full court press as it relates to that forward tax planning.

We\’re now here with a few weeks left in the year for you to do some things from a tax planning perspective. What we\’re going to be speaking about Krause, is actually about pulling money out of funds.

We encourage people, when it’s possible, to delay your social security benefits. It allows for people to be as tax efficient as possible for the longest period of time as they enter retirement.

A great example of this is that we had a client in last week that we had actually met in the spring, and they were self-managing their own assets. They had a couple pensions within the household. They had a couple social security checks, and they were actually already taking their required minimum distributions because they were over the age of 70 and a half.

So, in this particular couple\’s situation, their modified adjusted gross income was approximately about $190,000. We talked about some of the pleasant changes to Medicare, which weren\’t going to be a lot of big increases. We talked about that over the past month with the announcement that Medicare was only going to go up a little bit, but when a couple has that level of income, they are facing the first Medicare surcharge level. There\’s nothing, almost nothing that they can do to avoid it.

Sometimes we educate people about a qualified charitable distribution. We call them QCDs.

Again, these are ways to just be creative from a tax standpoint. But with these people\’s particular situation where they are already paying that first Medicare surcharge level, we actually encouraged them to pull more money out of their IRA than what was necessitated and here\’s how; Again, you go against the grain. Conventional wisdom says, never touch your IRA 401k until you\’re the age of 70 and a half and now the government\’s forcing me to start taking money out whether I like it or not.

In these guys situation, they don\’t necessarily need that money. But what we need to understand, as we chronologically mature, is that the percentage of our retirement assets that we need to pull out on an annual basis incrementally goes up every year.

For example, it\’s about 3.6% at the age of 70. At the age of 85, it\’s almost 7.5%. Over a 15-year time period it\’s gone up about 4% over time. If we think about that, at the age of 70, for every million dollars that I have inside of a 401K IRA, I have to pull out $36,000 whether I want it or not. At the age of 85, I need to pull out $75,000 whether I want it, or not.

So, given these particular client\’s situation, knowing that Medicare surcharge kicks in at $170,000. They\’re only seeing a small surcharge at that level, knowing that the next surcharge level does not kick in until $214,000.


What that meant, and what we had decided to do was we said, \”You know what? Let\’s go pull out an extra $18,000, out of my IRA. I really don\’t need the money.\”

And here\’s why. They were in the same 22% marginal tax bracket for this calendar year, 2018. Now, if we didn\’t touch that distribution until next year, 2019, they\’re going to be in that same 22% marginal tax rate. But here is the difference. When we took out that additional contribution, it still kept them in the same surcharge level they were in before. It\’s at $170,000, and you don\’t trigger that next surcharge level until $214,000. That is a $44,000 gap before you would trigger what they would be that next surcharge.

Again, for those of you who may not be familiar with what a Medicare surcharge is, Medicare is means based testing. The income that shows up on that tax return will dictate how much we\’re going to pay for Medicare for both husband, wife, or anybody that is in that household. We\’re recommending, whether it\’s taxes this year or taxes next year, that they\’re going to be in the exact same tax bracket. But, knowing the one thing that does change is each year as you chronologically mature, you have to pull out a little bit of extra money.

We may not have seen it this year like we have in the decade past, just because the stock market has stayed relatively volatile, but who knows where it\’s going to end by the end of the year.

If you go back last year, for example, the market went up 20%. So, if you did nothing year over year from December of \’17 to December of \’18, the stock market, the S&P 500, went up approximately 20%.

So, even if the government said you only had to take out that same 3.6%, now it\’s 3.6% of a 20% higher number. So, it\’s knowing that the market\’s going to go up and the market\’s also going to go down over time. It\’s just understanding how to navigate all these different puzzle pieces, which is what we take pride in.

When you start to make changes that create significant savings, it creates other opportunities to fuel dollars into your retirement.

You said it, and that\’s half of it. The other half of it is, “how can I be proactive in this calendar year to help me out for next year, and the years to come?” Just knowing what\’s coming is important. People say, \”You just have to come in and meet these guys because they put the puzzle pieces together like no one has previously.,\” and that\’s what we get fired up about.

I get passionate, because I just shared with that person how they can do this, or how we can do that. And it may not even be a transaction.

It\’s just sharing with people from a tax standpoint the thought of “why didn’t your advisor didn\’t share that with you?” How come your accountant then didn\’t share that with you, again of what makes the most sense.

And again, that\’s why we have fun out in the community doing these workshops. It\’s why we provide these continued education classes of saying, \”What did I hear tonight that I did understand, or I did not completely understand? But I\’m intrigued. I\’m intrigued enough to just have a conversation, especially if it\’s complimentary,\” and that\’s what we\’re all about. We\’re advocates, educators out there in the community.

When people come in and they hear everything that we do, they\’re like, \”Wow. No one\’s ever done this before,\” and these people that we had just met, they say, \”I see the value because I\’ve been working with my advisor for the past 30 years. While I still like them, I\’m not having the same conversation I\’m having with you guys as I\’m having with them.\”  All of a sudden, maybe there\’s now an opportunity for you to be the general or a second general in part of the solution.

It\’s the time of year where you shouldn\’t sit stagnant.

There are so many times where you don\’t worry about making that contribution to that IRA until March or April. When we start talking about taking distributions, one of the things that we share with people is how they can take long-term capital gains. Whether it be from a house, from stock, or whether it\’s a stock option.

Maybe it makes sense for me to take a distribution from my 401k IRA, my 457 plan, my union annuity, whatever that case may be. When does it make sense for me to actually pull out more money than I may necessarily need, in order to set myself up for success in the future? What we know is these tax rates have gone down, and they\’re down for the next eight years. How can I be proactive and take advantage of that in the today to prepare for what\’s coming? What we don\’t know, is what it\’s going to look like come 2025 into 2026.

If you have questions about what we just went through, do not hesitate to get in touch with us. Whether you want to meet us at a workshop, call us at 800-516-5861, or visit us at

Here\’s what I know. It\’s okay to not know. Once you become self-aware to the point that you don\’t know, then you need to get educated so you can make decisions as you move forward.

We talked quickly about Del-Val Insurancebeing part of the conversation today. Fran Salerno, and Jim Muelbronner are with us.

I\’m always fascinated, every time I hear the radio commercial on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT that references save up to 40%. because when I hear the commercial, I already know the reality of that statement to be accurate. And let me welcome you into the discussion, Jim and Fran.

Jim, I\’ll start with you. Thank you so much for not only what you do, but for being a contributor in the discussion today.

It’s great to be here. I\’m fired up today Krause, I have to tell you.

feel free to go ahead and let the passion run.

Let me tell you why I\’m fired up. I think last time we were talked was around, Halloween. So it was I think the 27th of October. I put our contact information out on there, and we received a bunch of responses. I have two case studies here of people that simply sent us their auto and homeowners insurance information, and how we were able to help them. The numbers are right around 40% as your piece says.

So, the first case study here is a guy from Northeast Philly, it\’s actually a family. Three drivers, three cars, a home, an umbrella policy. With their current carrier, they\’re paying around $5,500 a year for all the pieces of business. We were able to run rate for them and save them over $2,000 a year on that package.

In math terms, that’s very close to 40%

Well, it\’s $2,000. That\’s more important than a percentage.

It definitely is, it\’s 40%.

The other one I have here is a fellow from New Jersey. Now, as far as full disclosure goes, we were not able to help this fellow. They had an at fault accident, and it was a little less premium. So the savings we provided weren\’t substantial enough. So we\’re not miracle workers. We try to be, but we can\’t help everybody. But when we can, as with the first one there, we\’re saving them $2,000.

Listen, here\’s one thing that I\’ve learned in 18 months being with Bret, Karen, and David; take a chance of at least providing the information, so you can see how much saving there is based on what you do. I\’ve learned that we make too many decisions that are wrong decisions out of our own ignorance all the time.

What these two case studies that I have did is they just scanned in their information, their declarations page, which is a page or two for each policy. An auto, homeowner\’s, umbrella, rental properties, or it could be a business policy. Just scan a couple pages into your scanner and email them to us at [email protected]. Or you can call us at 215-354-0122. Fran or I will be glad to speak with you.

So these folks sent us their declarations pages. We went back and forth, got some personal information, basically just dates of birth and driver\’s license numbers. With that, we were able to run rates within a day and I can\’t tell you how excited the one fellow was to save $2,000.

That’s great, honestly

And it\’s simple thing.

Fran, let me ask you to join in on the conversation as the other partner of Del-Val Insurance.

Providing savings that helps people get into their retirement or helps them have more disposable dollars, comes from that same passion that you share with Jim and you share with everybody here. The ability to be able to educate people and that leads to a better decision for all of us.

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One of the things we\’re most thankful for is we have the ability to educate, and help people along the way just like Thrive Financial.

I know in the past we\’ve concentrated a lot on the personal lines, but we also write commercial insurance. So, I wanted to mention that today. I had a case last week with a printing company, a fairly large printing company and another case where they were paying over 20 some thousand in premium. We had a conversation over the phone with the couple. I went out and visited the client, put together a plan for them. We were able to save him over $6,000 on his premium. So not only can we help people with their personal lines, but if you\’re out there, have a small business, medium sized business, or large business, we can handle those types of risks too.

Generally, like with both our personal lines and commercial lines, we don\’t always get the case as Jim gave you an example of someone we couldn\’t save.

But our records that we\’ve kept over the last three years, 80% of the people that contact us, we are able to help them in some way. So we can hang our hat on that. Knowing that if you call us, there\’s a pretty good chance we\’re going to save you money.

There\’s a lot of conversation and details that have to go into that and again, significant savings. Just for clarity, it\’s not, \”Okay you saved me $6,000, but now my coverage is not what I need.\” I want to make sure that people understand that.

Yeah and that\’s one of the things. Coverage to us is the most important thing. We look at your coverages and we go over things to make sure the client understands their coverages. A lot of times there are a lot of different coverages, and a lot of clients not even sure what their coverages are. We try to go over, educate, and 9 out of 10 times we\’re increasing coverages. We\’re not the type of company that slashes coverages to slash prices. After a consultation with us, you\’re leaving with the same or better coverage, that\’s for sure.

From your data, 80% of the time over the past three years, what percentage of the clients that you see, typically, get a quote?

There are those that get quotes every year, and then there are people that get quotes every 20 years, or never get a quote.

I mean, that\’s the reason for the question. It\’s a huge encouragement that you should be mindful of your financial plan, and insurance is definitely a foundation of that plan. It probably makes it in your best interest just to get a quote once a year, at least, right?

Yes. Getting quotes often is great, but it\’s important to who you get quotes with. We\’re an independent broker. We represent 12 different package, auto, and homeowners carriers. If You call us or email us, you\’re getting 12 quotes essentially in one outreach.

And you guys kind of fine tune it down to what\’s going to be best for them?

Yes. We have 12 companies, because not every company is best everywhere. Depending on your demographics, credit, loss history, and all those things, one company can be a lot better than another.

I think it\’s an example of the down of the negative of it being so easy to just log on and try and get an insurance quote. Because I need to buy insurance without having an expert, without having somebody looking out for you. It’s easy to make mistakes in that case.

Fran will tell you that some companies like certain industries, certain businesses, and that type of thing. Choices are extremely important when you\’re getting quotes for insurance.


dvigi.comis the website, Del-Val Insurance is the name. Fran Salerno, Jim Muelbronner joining us. Thank you so much. Well done. I\’m glad to have you. I\’m thankful for you to be partners as well.

Thank you.


Save up to 40%, and it is real. So, do yourself a favor, get in touch with Fran or Jim next week, and see if they can help you out.

David Bezar is along for our final segment. I spent a lot of time over the last week and a half listening to other financial programs. I spent a lot of time reading different articles from USA Today, from Newsweek, and I\’m starting to do my due diligence in terms of trying to understand what you\’re talking about. I keep finding so many different ways that we can potentially flunk our retirement before we get to the actual time that we will retire. That to me, is one of the great reasons I\’m thankful for being here, just because of the information that you provide is really spot on.

Thank you. We really appreciate that Joe and again, it\’s just something that we have a passion for and it\’s a mission. It\’s interesting you bring that up because I was watching CNN this weekend. I caught a show on CNN that just kind of grabbed my attention and the topic was Facebook. I mean they were really talking about Facebook, and the responsibilities of Facebook, or the lack of responsibility of Facebook. But one of the guest speakers made a comment that really resonated strongly with me, and this is what he said, \”What we have today is we have a lot of data, but we\’re losing our wisdom.\”

I really thought that was a very powerful statement.

Today, like you had mentioned, it\’s easy to go on the internet, it\’s easy to go look at Newsweek or whatever financial publication is out there, and you\’re never going to be starving for information. It\’s out there, right? There is just a ton of data, and for the typical consumer out there, it\’s really tough to decipher what\’s right and what\’s wrong.

What we do here at Thrive and with our partners, is we try to kind of sift through all of that information and bring to our people that we want to serve the best choices for their situation. We present the real information, not the noise, but the real information. Educate that person up so that they can make that decision for the people are smart and people really genuinely are smart and if they\’re provided clear information, they can pick between what\’s right and what\’s wrong for them.

What we pride ourselves in is we take that illusion that they call high finance, and we just kind of bring it down into a normal conversation.

We just talk, and then we bring the facts and figures into the equation. we show a before and an after, and we explain the math behind the before and behind the after. Then we just present that and say, \”Which of these plans best suits you and your family?\”

It makes it a really easy process. It makes it a very empowering process because our people are involved in the decision making. We\’re not talking at them, we\’re talking with them in that conversation. So, to bring that a little further to light, I want to talk about one topic that we cover in our workshop that is very relevant, and I caught an article this weekend similar to you about this particular topic that we cover.

There\’s this financial formula that the predominant number of financial planners still use today. Consumers have been somewhat educated that it\’s a good formula to utilize when planning retirement, called the 4% rule. So, I\’m going to give you a little history behind it. I\’m sure a lot of our audience has heard of the 4 % rule before.

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The 4% rule was commissioned by a company called Morningstar.

Morningstar is a rating company that gives out tons and tons of information related to investments, mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, bonds, and so forth. As that type of a company, they wanted to come up with an idea of what was the best withdrawal rate for retirees to be able to withdraw money out of their retirement accounts, and make sure that that money lasts at least 30 years of retirement.

So, after a lot of work, this gentleman by the name of Bill Bengen, he was a financial planner, who graduated from MIT. He came up through this formula that  4% was the optimal percentage rate to withdraw retirement assets. Now that was back in 1994. Okay?

Now the article that I\’m looking at right here is a recent article by one of the very popular financial pundits out there. I won\’t say a name, but we have a bunch of them out there. We\’ve got the Dave Ramseys of the world, the Howard Clarks of the world, the Suze Ormans of the world, and these are people who really make their living by touting information and kind of their position on how things go.

What really aggravates me about those folks is they give very general information, and they give very specific answers without really knowing.

So, if it\’s a call-in show, or it\’s a write in, or in an email or something, a person will describe a piece of their financial picture. Then, instantly one of these financial pundits will reply with a very detailed answer. For us to make a recommendation, similar to that, put us on the same level as a doctor. Expect without an MRI, without a CAT scan, without a blood test, without an EKG. how do you really make a recommendation to a patient if you haven\’t gone through all that type of testing?

That\’s what I see these financial pundits do, and a lot of these articles are written in the same way that they\’ll just basically give a blanket answer and you\’ll see people actually go deploy that answer. That’s not necessarily the best thing, usually not the best thing.

So as an example, this article is actually touting that the 4% rule, the golden rule in financial formulas, is still relevant today, 2018. It\’s the best rule, it\’s the only rule, it\’s the thing that people getting ready for retirement should follow financially.

So, here\’s what\’s interesting about that. Morningstar took it upon themselves to revise that number, have that whole research data process, and have them go through it again.

They put Bill Bengen back into the equation. This was 2013. After extensive evaluation, taking into consideration conditions like a volatile market, a much more conservative mix by investors to stocks and bond allocations, rising interest rates, and advisors charging more than they used to charge because not as many people were investing after the stock market crash.

What came out of that analysis, is that the 4% rule no longer is the 4% rule. It\’s now the 2.8 percent role and that\’s Morningstar, with the original founder, going through that process to come up with what formula works. This financial article is still saying in 2018 the 4% rule works.

If you think about that logically, that\’s like getting in an airplane, and basing your assumption that you\’ve got enough fuel to go from LaGuardia to an airport in Paris and you\’re going to make it and land safely. Then you find out that the fuel gauge was calibrated incorrectly, and with the new calibration you\’re going to land in the ocean, not at the airport.

I don\’t want it to be too severe, but that\’s really kind of what it. It\’s a crash plan that if you use the 4% rule as the rule to figure out whether your assets are going to last long.

So, it’s something as simple as that, right? Somebody sitting on a Saturday morning, picking up the newspaper, and reading an article from one of these financial pundits that says, \”The 4% rule is still the golden rule,\” and they based the next 30 years of the retirement off of that. Pulling out money on a monthly basis on that formula, we know sitting here based upon that that\’s a crash plan, right? Their assets will run out before they do. Which, if you\’ve tried, I imagine there can\’t be anything worse financially for a couple in the later years to run out of money.

We run a report as part of our Thrive Retirement Roadmap Review called the money tree stress analysis. Here’s the other interesting thing I\’ll just cover very quickly. What\’s also not considered in this plan is things like unexpected, possible, not probable events. One that we know is definitely probable is the passing of a spouse, right? If you\’re a married couple, somebody\’s going to pass before the other person, unless it\’s something tragic, obviously. That\’s going to trigger some economic things that need to be considered in a financial plan when you\’re withdrawing money.

Number two is kind of more severe market corrections. This volatility that we\’re seeing is really a pretty good precursor.

If people are not paying attention today, it\’s going to be like another 2008, 2009 situation which really wiped out a lot of people from a retirement standpoint.

Then, lastly, is a medical crisis. Things popping up in our later years, our early eighties, our mid-eighties, such as dementia, Alzheimer\’s, or a stroke where that\’s going to impact us and cause us to spend down assets at a much faster pace. Those are things that we take into consideration when we run that money tree stress analysis, and we can tell you what percent probability that your assets will last, based on a 0-100% scale.

As we enter getting closer to the new year, there is one of those financial things that people should do. If you\’re worried about health, it\’s always good to get a blood test, a chest x-ray, an EKG. Well, running a stress analysis is really an important element. Karen talked about social security, not making that mistake of taking it too soon, and kind of maximizing out that benefit. Also, running your taxes, and making sure you make a decision before the end of the year so that when it comes time to file in April, you don\’t go, \”Oh, I missed that.\” You could say, \”I had the information, made the decision, and was actually allowed to deploy that strategy.\”

So that\’s our encouragement. Pay attention, don\’t just jump on this information. Get it validated, make sure you got the right rules in place and go from there.

I almost think that it is impossible for anyone to be self-managed. There\’s no way to understand every implication.

I agree, and you can end up lucky. But you could have probably done better, right? So if you\’re a person that\’s okay to settle, you can maybe get it done. I can\’t say it\’s the best way to go, but if you\’re looking to optimize, it\’s worth the time and energy to go through that complimentary consultation.

Thank you for your input in the last segment there David, we appreciate it greatly, as usual. As we wind down today, special thanks to Fran Salerno and Jim Muelbronner from Del-Val Insurancefor being with us today. On behalf of Bret Elam, on behalf of Karen Bezar, and on behalf of David Bezar, I\’m Joe Krause. See you next time everyone. And be sure to get in contact with us at if you any type of questions or concerns that we could help you with!


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