Rules to Live By

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle” – Napoleon Hill

Justin Champion offered the following observations printed in the 4/20/16 edition of Wild We Wander.

Life is a rollercoaster; there are a lot of ups, downs and unexpected turns.  So, try to enjoy the opportunities that are always presented. 

While it may sound a lot easier said than done, here are some ways to nurture a healthy, happy life.

  1. Smile and laugh every day. Choose to make the day worth living.
  2. Let go of pain. You can always remember the past, but you only get one shot for today.
  3. You are in control of your emotions. Don’t let others tell you how to feel and don’t expect someone to change the way you feel.
  4. Stay weird. There’s only one you. Be unique. Be the black sheep. 
  5. Value experiences, not material objects. Declutter yourself and fill your mind with memories that can’t be taken away.
  6. You didn’t get here by yourself. Appreciate those around you who helped you get where you are today. 
  7. Be your biggest fan. You’re stuck with yourself so learn to love you.
  8. Enjoy your successes. You earned it.
  9. Know how to bounce back from failure. Fail early and fail often. Learn and adapt. 
  10. Do what you love and love what you do. Find a way to make your passion your life’s purpose. If you’re not sure how to do this, then keep trying.
  11. You only have one body. Your body’s a temple. Worship it and keep it healthy.
  12. Take ownership for your actions. We all make mistakes. There’s no use in blaming others. Own up and move on. 
  13. Surround yourself with others who make you feel good. If you’re in a toxic relationship, then you have the choice to get out. You deserve the right to be happy.
  14. Find a partner who makes you the best version of yourself. You deserve to be happy. The “one” will truly want this for you as well. 
  15. Never give up on your dreams. Anything is possible. You just have to believe it and keep after it even if it’s not easy.
  16. Be patient. Things take time. Rushing leads to errors. If it’s meant to happen it’ll happen.
  17. Stop talking and listen. Engage, don’t broadcast. The best conversations start with listening.
  18. Don’t let others bring you down. Believe in yourself. If you think it’s possible, then that’s all that matters.
  19. Don’t sweep problems under a rug. Ignoring problems can lead to build-ups that are set to explode. Take the time to understand what happened and why.
  20. Step out of your comfort zone. Try something new. You may like it.
  21. Know how to adjust when things don’t go your way. Things rarely end up the way you planned. Learn to be open to new ideas and opportunities.
  22. Genuine gratitude goes a long way. Take the time to make someone else’s day brighter. Positive energy spreads like wildfire.
  23. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. It doesn’t matter if you fall. Pick yourself back up and finish what you started.
  24. Live within your means. Debt will consume your happiness. If you can’t afford it, then you don’t need it.
  25. Give without expecting in return. Positive deeds always find a way back to you. Don’t expect it. It will find its way back. 
  26. Have a positive mental attitude. Negativity is a disease. Positive energy will help you through any situation you encounter.
  27. Manifest your dreams into reality. The mind is a powerful tool. If you’re driven and consistent in approach, then you’ll continue getting closer to achieving what you want.
  28. You can’t control others. We all have free will. You may not always agree with those around you (family, friends, strangers), but you have to respect their decisions.
  29. Learn from your mistakes. Your best teacher is your last mistake. Every misstep is a growth opportunity. Sulking or wallowing in self-pity won’t get you anywhere. Take the time to understand what went wrong and what you would do differently in the future.
  30. A boat floats until it sinks. As long as you’re still breathing, there’s still a chance to turn things around. Giving up should never be an option.

If you’re not doing some of the above, consider adopting them. It may help change your life for the better. 

What concepts do you live by to positively impact your life? 

Jeffrey Bellomo, Esq.

The Joy of Grandchildren

Having worked for the last 46+ years (with time off for law school, which is work in its own right), I sometimes find myself getting tired of working or find it more difficult to shake off a tough day. However, I have found a sure cure to those blues – my grandchildren.

I have two grandsons, one of whom is almost four and one who just turned one. Our four-year-old lives less than a mile from us, so we are able to spend at least one evening a week with him. What a joy! He is the most interesting person I know and always makes me laugh. His imagination is boundless. Some of our routines are hiding pennies in our bedroom (hidden in plain sight, and he always helps me find them), hiding from T-rexes and ghosts who only seem to invade our house when he is there or using a laundry basket as a forklift to lift me and my bed high into the sky, turning the bed into a boat, with our fan as the propeller (I like those last three, because they involve laying in bed), locking us in jail (the downstairs bathroom – which is OK with me, as long as I can take my Kindle to jail with me), playing in the sandbox where he promises he won’t destroy the sandcastle his Mom-Mom or I (Pop-Pop) build, and then promptly smashes them as soon as we built them, getting the special stick that’s his leaf blower and blowing the leaves in our back yard, or, last week, quite intentionally squirting me with the hose – twice, laughing the whole time. (I will remember that next summer, you stinker!) He never forgets anything, and he is always smiling or laughing when we’re together!

Our other grandson lives in Philadelphia, and with his parents and us all working, we don’t see him as much as we would like. However, we cherish our time with him. He is always so pleasant, and it is great fun watching him grow in his awareness of his surroundings and his loved ones. He loves playing peek-a-boo, and we are waiting for him to take his first real steps. Although he is still too young to show the obvious creativity of his cousin, that will come, and we look forward to the many adventures of his imagination. In the meantime, watching him learn about the world around him is priceless, and clearly, in his own age-appropriate way he is every bit as creative and curious as his older cousin. Needless to say, my time with him also brings me great joy.

In this complex and stressful world, I look at the two of them and try to see life through their eyes; very uncomplicated, full of new things to observe and learn, and the sheer fun of something as simple as playing peek-a-boo or treasure hunting for pennies. What a joy, and what a gift!

Bill Poole    

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A Medicaid In-Home Care Success Story

A few months ago, I met with a family whose husband was having a difficult time caring for himself and getting around his home.  His disease had progressed to a point where it was becoming almost impossible for him to remain in the home, but he and his wife were not ready for him to go to a nursing home.  

A friend of theirs told them about our office and the free workshops that we offer. They, along with their children, attended the workshop and came to my office to meet with me for the free consultation which accompanies attendance at the workshop.  It became very clear to me at the outset that the family was not ready to see Dad go into a nursing home yet and, certainly, Mom was not prepared mentally for that alternative.

I asked if they knew anything about the Pennsylvania Waiver Program; they had not. I explained to them that the Pennsylvania Waiver Program allows Medicaid to pay for in-home care to keep people in their homes as long as possible.  

Not only were we able to keep Dad in his home and get in-home care for him, but we were also able to protect assets for Mom, as she is only in her late 50s and hopes to have another 40 years of her life. Dad is receiving 20 hours a day of care in their home, which is being provided by a reputable in-home care agency, and Mom was also able to protect not only her house, her car, and her retirement account, but 100% of the additional $400,000 that they have accumulated.  

The family told me that they came in for the free consult with me knowing that there was nothing that I could do to help them, other than to tell them that when they are ready for Dad to go to a nursing home to give me a call. At the end of the meeting, they were ecstatic, because, in the wife’s words, I have changed their lives forever and they will be forever grateful.

It is moments like these that remind me every day why we do what we do to help families, particularly when we are able to keep them in their homes and protect assets for their loved ones.

To get started on your estate planning and/or asset protection planning join us for an upcoming workshop.  Just click here to RSVP.

Jeffrey Bellomo

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Music Soothes

“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach

You know that rush you get when the first few notes of your favorite song come through the speakers? It’s similar to an electric charge where your body just can’t help but respond. That jolt of happiness arrives because your brain releases dopamine, a “feel-good” neurotransmitter when you hear your favorite melodies. And while listening to music is a great way to lift your mood, it also brings countless other benefits. Even those who prefer silence may change their “tune” after reading this.

Music Eases Pain

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” – Bob Marley

Research has revealed that patients who listen to pleasant music report having less pain than those who either don’t listen to any music or who listen to music the listener finds unpleasant. Moreover, music can interrupt the pain signals before they even reach the brain by a reaction organized in the spinal cord. Researchers at Drexel University found that listening to pre-recorded music and participating in music therapy lessened pain, so long as the tunes were meditative, classical or of the patient’s choosing.

The Right Compositions Increase Focus

When tasks are readily understood and repetitive, listening to music can provide a huge boost in productivity. It can also increase creativity and ideation. Before pulling out the iPod, however, it’s important to note:  for this benefit to be realized, music should be played at a moderate noise level and shouldn’t contain lyrics. Consider playing ambient tunes, such as beach waves or slower melodies, or the result could be distracting.

Music Brings Better Zs

Put away the sleep-inducing meds and consider music instead. Approximately 1 in 3 Americans contend with insomnia. If you fall into this category, you may benefit from listening to classical music for 45 minutes before saying goodnight. Studies show that doing so results in significantly better sleep, even when the rest of a person’s routine remains the same.

Music Helps Improve Visual and Verbal Skills

Numerous studies report that music education at an early age helps children gain communication, verbal, and visual skills. Even at an older age, children experience a greater verbal IQ after participating in extra-curricular music classes. For younger kids, a mere one month of musical training that includes basic musical concepts, such as melody, rhythm, pitch, and voice results in a greater linguistic understanding.

Music Reduces Depression

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” – Maya Angelou

Hearing music encourages people to reconnect with the healthy part of themselves. It boosts the immune system’s effectiveness by increasing the production of the antibody immunoglobulin A and natural killer cells. When people feel healthier physically, their moods naturally elevate. Next time you’re stuck in a funk or getting ill, try turn on the radio or jam with your favorite beats for a quick upturn.

So tune into your favorite tune and reap the benefits!

This blog was adapted from

We consistently offer educational workshops about estate planning and asset protection.  Just click here for a list of titles, dates, times and location!  We hope to see you there.

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Retirement planning with long-term care

Qualified retirement plans (IRAs, 402(k)s, 403(b)s and the like) are a great way for families to be able to grow their wealth for the future and do so tax-deferred. There are numerous research articles that have proven that the tax deferral is extremely impactful when it comes to being able to accumulate wealth for a family.

Unfortunately, we often see clients who have spent their entire lives accumulating their retirement accounts but are now faced with the reality of long-term care costs.  Families of those who are going or have gone into a nursing home quickly discover that retirement plans such IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s are countable resources when it comes to long-term care and Medicaid planning. Although many states allow different ways to protect retirement plans, currently Pennsylvania is not one of them.

One of the more difficult conversations that we have to have with financial professionals who represent our clients is that when a loved one enters a nursing home the only way to be able to protect assets for the spouse or for the family is to liquidate a retirement account.  Obviously, liquidation of a retirement account is not an ideal situation because not only will it trigger immediate tax consequences, but there are also other unintended consequences such as potential increases in Medicare premiums, etc.

Of all of the things that we do at Bellomo and Associates, the concept of a retirement plan and crisis planning is probably the most difficult and toughest conversation we need to have.  It does not make logical sense to liquidate a retirement account and trigger tax consequences and other consequences that are unintended, but if a person will likely remain in a nursing home for an extended period of time, it is often the only way to preserve that asset to ensure that it is there for the spouse or loved ones.

When this conversation comes up, we often talk to the family and to the advisor about not making an emotional decision but rather a decision based on data. Certainly, there is no way to know how long a loved one will live in a nursing home, but depending on the diagnosis and prognosis for the person, we can often make an educated guess.  If it is expected that the person will live for several months to several years, we often end up liquidating the retirement account because then we are able to protect either 100% of the assets for the spouse or 50% for the family members. 

These calculations are done not only by our office but also by the accountants and financial advisors who work with our families. We are very lucky to work with many competent professionals, and often are able to take a very difficult conversation and make it simple.  Although not ideal, preserving those assets for the family and for the future is often better than trying to save a few tax dollars in the short-term and losing it all in the long term.

If you or your family member is faced with this difficult decision, please contact your professionals immediately to help guide you through that conversation.

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