Gala Foods an important part of South Park
I do not know how Susan Bugbee comes and goes in her daily work and personal life, but if it includes driving a car and going to a job or any type of store to shop, I assume she needs to park. The parking lot serving our local grocery, food truck, coffee shop, and other venues is NOT a wasteland. It is typically well-used and filled with customers during the weekdays and weekends. [see “Golden Hill addresses additional park space,” Vol. 5, Issue 14].
I would appreciate it if Bugbee would stop suggesting she is speaking for the community. The grocery store itself has been [a] target for many years by those who prefer to drive outside the community and buy fancier, costlier groceries. They disdain the aesthetics of Gala more than the reality of inexpensive produce, milk and dry goods.
My family drinks more than two gallons of Lucerne milk per week, and Gala has a great bargain price, compared even to Costco, which we also frequent. We visit the store by car and on foot (last-minute pickups at dinner hour, when doing the nightly walk) at least five times [per] week on average. It’s a very important part of everyday life and a big convenience. We would be lost without Gala.
The owners have been poorly treated by many in the self-appointed cadre of the branding-obsessed South Park community. The rest of us need no brand. We know we live in South Park and value the grocery store and the parking lot and the open space and big sky it creates.
—Dee Lawton, via sduptownnews.com
Join together to fight unequal pay
This is exactly what AAUW has been fighting for, for years and years. All women need to join together to combat unequal pay [see “Closing the wage gap,” Vol. 5, Issue 14].
One of the key things is to demand transparency. Many employers don’t allow their employees to discuss their wages so the employers can easily get away with discriminating against women. I recommend that every man and woman read Lilly Ledbetter’s book, “Grace and Grit.”
—Jane Niemeier via sduptownnews.com
Manufacturing a foundation of economy
I would like to thank your magazine for running the article on Diving Unlimited International in the June 21 – July 4 edition of Uptown News [see “Diving with a good name,” Vol. 5, Issue13].
Such manufacturing businesses form a foundational segment of our economy, but are often overlooked in the popular press. I appreciate your bringing this one up from the deep, as it were!
—Heather, via email
Retiring soon? Don’t forget tax implications
By Jason Alderman
If your retirement is not far off, you’ve probably already started to estimate what your living expenses will be after the regular paychecks stop. Most would-be retirees remember to include routine expenses like housing (rent or mortgage), medical bills and prescriptions, insurance premiums, transportation – even food and entertainment.
But don’t forget to factor in taxes, which can have a substantial impact on your cost of living, depending on where you live and what your sources of retirement income will be.
Here are a few tax-related issues to consider when budgeting for retirement:
Social Security: most people can begin collecting Social Security benefits as early as age 62, albeit at significantly reduced amounts than waiting until their full retirement age (65 for those born before 1938 and gradually increasing to 67 for those born in 1960 or later).
Although many states don’t tax Social Security benefits, the federal government does. Depending on your “combined income” (adjusted gross income plus nontaxable interest earned plus half of your Social Security benefits), you could end up owing federal income tax on a portion of your benefit. It’s complicated, but basically:
•Single people whose combined income is less than $25,000 aren’t taxed on their Social Security benefit. For combined income between $25,000 and $34,000, up to 50 percent of your benefit may be taxed. Over $34,000, up to 85 percent may be taxable.
•For married couples filing jointly, benefits aren’t taxable for combined income below $32,000; benefits for income between $32,000 and $44,000 are up to 50 percent taxable; over $44,000 is up to 85 percent taxable.
•To learn more about taxation of Social Security benefits, read IRS Publication 915 at irs.gov.
Some people discover after beginning to collect a reduced Social Security benefit that they can’t make ends meet and must go back to work, which can backfire: If your annual wages exceed $15,120, you will lose $1 of Social Security benefits for every $2 you earn over that amount (investment income doesn’t count).
Rest assured, however: These benefit reductions are not completely lost: your Social Security benefit will be increased upon reaching full retirement age to account for benefits withheld due to earlier earnings.
IRA and 401(k) withdrawals: after age 59 ½, you can start withdrawing balances from your IRA without paying the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty, although exceptions are made in cases including disability, qualified first-time homebuyer distributions and certain medical expenses. However, you will pay federal (and state, if applicable) income tax on IRA withdrawals: except for Roth IRAs held at least five years, whose contributions have already been taxed.
With 401(k) plans, you can withdraw funds after age 55 without the 10 percent penalty if you are no longer employed by the company sponsoring the plan.
Other taxes: some people move to another state after retirement thinking they’ll lower their tax burden. For example, seven states do not tax personal income; however, another two tax only dividend and interest income. And five states charge no sales tax. But because other taxes and cost-of-living expenses vary significantly by community, you should only consider such moves after doing thorough research.
The Retirement Living Information Center (retirementliving.com) features breakdowns of the various kinds of taxes seniors are likely to pay, state by state, including those on income, sales, fuel, property and inheritances.
The bottom line is be sure to consult a financial advisor long before retirement to make sure you fully understand all the many tax and income implications.
—Jason Alderman directs Visa’s financial education programs. Follow him on Twitter @PracticalMoney/.
In the July 5 issue of San Diego Uptown News, we incorrectly stated the Art Happy Hour at Expressive Arts @32nd & Thorn occurred the last Friday of the month [see “Cultivating your artistic self,” Vol. 5, Issue 14]. It is currently scheduled for the fourth Friday of each month, taking into account some months have five Fridays.