Al Kushner of Superior Mutual: “Think About the Cost of Living”

Think About the Cost of Living — When you retire, you may go to the movie theater more often, frequent restaurants with friends, or take on new club memberships. Look at how you want to spend your time and then calculate the costs involved with these commitments. Also, go over basic living expenses, such as housing costs, […]

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Think About the Cost of Living — When you retire, you may go to the movie theater more often, frequent restaurants with friends, or take on new club memberships. Look at how you want to spend your time and then calculate the costs involved with these commitments. Also, go over basic living expenses, such as housing costs, gas prices and grocery bills. If you’re planning to move to a new area, check out the businesses, you might frequent and compare the cost.

As a part of my series about the “5 Things Retirees Say They Wish They Were Told Before They Began Retirement”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Al Kushner.

Al Kushner is a recognized Financial Educator, Author, Speaker and Retirement Specialist. As the Founder and President of Superior Mutual Inc, Al and his team help families and individuals preserve, protect and pass on a lasting legacy. He is a warm and gifted communicator who has a passion for helping hard working seniors keep more of what they have worked a lifetime to save.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I was born in a small city in New York called Brooklyn, but spent my formative years growing up in a smaller beach community. In college, I worked part-time for an insurance agency cold calling. After college, I wanted to go into advertising and be like Don Draper of Mad Men. Instead, I found by accident that my marketing and management background was in demand — primarily in sales positions. Since then, I have worked with several insurance companies which led me to open my agency, Superior Mutual. I’ve spent my career doing what I love. My new book, The Savvy Guide to Buying Burial Insurance, is in some ways a love story — it’s about my love of educating the public and helping them make informed choices.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Early in my sales career, while I was still single, I was the sales representative for Mutual of Omaha in Manhattan. Since it was a commission-based position, I struggled to make ends meet. I was fortunate to be living in an apartment that was rent-stabilized and saved as much as I could to buy proper clothing attire. This often involved buying suits off the rack. I picked up something affordable where I felt I couldn’t go wrong. My clients were primarily lawyers and CEO’s and first impressions were everything. Because of my thrifty ways sales sufferred. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to an image consultant who showed me the error of my ways. And after a complete makeover, I started hitting my sales numbers. The lesson is — sometimes you don’t know everything, but there’s a lot you can learn from others.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

The mistake that brings the biggest smile to my face now was that when I first quit my job and started on my entrepreneurial journey, I promised myself that I would never work for a boss again. It’s been 30+ years in, and I have no regrets since.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

So many people have helped me along the way, including Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Grant Cardone,Tony Robbins, Gary Vaynerchuk. Les Brown, Jim Rohn, Dr Wayne Dyer, Robert Kiyosaki, Stephen Covery, countless sales trainers, family members, including my wife. I wouldn’t be as successful in sales if I didn’t get the right mindset from the start. I’m incredibly grateful for all of their influences.

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

Maintain your social connections. Exercise. Be humble. Read for relaxation. Cut down on the alcohol. Don’t smoke and no caffeine. Get enough sleep. Most of all, remember to be kind to yourself. No matter whether your startup becomes a raging global success or never makes it out of your front room, you’re doing something amazing.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

Imagine yourself at your funeral and challenge yourself to go through the process and coordinate your funeral arrangements. Sometimes you have to face the thing your fear the most, your mortality.

The Covid-19 pandemic has created the need and demand to have life insurance. Now we’ve learned there is no need to meet with an agent physically. I think a hybrid model will emerge; we can meet remotely via zoom, video conference or the internet. It’s about using technology to make care easier and more effective.

There is so much opportunity in the insurance indusry today. I encourage my carriers to put themselves in their consumers’ shoes and be creative in addressing impactful change.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact nearly every aspect of one’s life. Obviously everyone’s experience is different. But in your experience, what are the 5 most common things that people wish someone told them before they retired?

Quit Smoking

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, known by its acronym in CDC, more than 16 million Americans suffer from a disease caused by smoking. Research has shown that smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and lung disease, including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. For all the above, insurance companies consider and classify smokers as high-risk clients because, as you have already seen, they have a high probability of developing life-threatening diseases. Therefore, we recommend that you stop smoking as soon as possible. By quitting for 12 months in a row, you will be able to enjoy a healthier life, save a lot of money you used to spend on cigarettes, improve your life expectancy, and reduce the cost of your insurance policy premiums.

Avoid Morbid Obesity

Many factors currently contribute to morbid obesity, such as sedentary life and excess high-calorie products available in the market. According to the CDC, obesity predisposes to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disease, stroke, cancer, etc., which indicates that many premature deaths are preventable. That is why we recommend improving your diet, exercising, and being evaluated by a doctor because diseases cause obesity, such as hypothyroidism, side effects of the intake of certain medications, among others. Anyone suffering from morbid obesity will be classified as high risk by life insurance companies, increasing the premiums’ cost. By improving your diet and exercising, you will not only enhance your lifestyle, but you will pay less for your insurance.

Control Alcohol

Without a doubt, alcohol is harmful to your health. According to statistical data from the CDC, alcoholism was responsible for the death of 1 in 10 deaths of adults of working age, that is, in individuals who were between 20 and 64 years old. According to this same entity, the effects of acute poisoning could cause sudden deaths related to accidents, violence and risky sexual behaviors that could eventually cause sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS and Hepatitis b.

In the long term, your life would be in danger because abuse can cause psychiatric problems (anxiety and depression), nervous system diseases (memory and sleep problems), high blood pressure, certain types of cancer (breast, liver, colon), liver cirrhosis among many other diseases.

It should be noted that the liver is an essential organ for human life. Its critical role includes metabolizing drugs and eliminate toxic products. It has a significant role in absorbing some vitamins and fat; it produces proteins such as those involved in blood clotting and plays a fundamental role in extracting nutrients absorbed by the digestive system from the blood.

Get Vaccinated for Hepatitis B

Diseases such as hepatitis B and alcoholism, among many others, can cause liver cirrhosis, which involves architectural damage because functional tissue is damaged by the process of chronic inflammation of the liver. This results in the appearance of fibrous tissue (scars), leading, in most cases, to an irreversible and progressive deterioration. It can be asymptomatic for many years; however, the prognosis is poor when the disease begins to manifest. According to statistical data reported by the American College of Gastroenterology, liver cirrhosis is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in working-age adults.


They are substances highly used for pain that can cause Opioid Use Disorder (diagnosed according to DMS-5 criteria) and overdose. This resulted in more than 20,000 people deaths in 2015, and heroin overdoses caused another 12,990. These substances can be highly addictive because they eliminate the pain and induce euphoria due primarily to Mu receptors’ stimulation; However, the process is much more complicated. It involves inhibition of neurons in specific brain pathways, thus causing sedation, analgesia, respiratory depression, and reinforcement for the drug’s use, among other things. Over time it can cause tolerance, that is, the need for a higher dose to achieve the same effect. Many sellers of illegal drugs use this to sell more potent substances such as fentanyl or others cheaper than those prescribed, such as heroin. The use of needles for the latter predisposes to diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis B. Fatal overdose is a common complication of substance use disorder due to respiratory depression, bradycardia, and Central Nervous System depression.

Avoiding risk factors like those mentioned above is an excellent practice for your quality of life and your financial well-being. Everything explained increases the costs of medical services and your policies. In the end, it will be an excellent investment and peace of mind.

Lets zoom in on this a bit. If you had to advise your loved ones about the 3 most important financial issues to keep in mind before they retire, what would you say? Can you give an example or share a story?

Get Life insurance

Life insurance is a very popular option to pay for burial expenses, primarily because it offers immediate protection.

Also, there are life policies specifically designed to cover final costs. Usually, they are referred to as “funeral insurance for the elderly” or “final expense life insurance.”

These are small policies designed to provide sufficient insurance to pay for burial expenses. These kinds of policies are very useful for people over 80 who are unlikely to qualify for a regular life insurance policy. The cost of a burial policy is usually affordable because the face amount is small.

Set Aside Funds

Only those who are financially disciplined should consider this option. Basically, you decide to set aside a certain amount each month until you have enough money to cover all your final expenses.

The obvious disadvantage of this option is that if you pass away without saving enough, your family will have to meet up with the remaining.

Pre-Need Agreement

This policy is a contract between you and a certain funeral home. You plan your funeral entirely with them, and they tell you the complete cost.

This policy is supported by one type of life insurance, but it is a different policy type than the one you get individually. The main difference between a pre-need policy and a single purchased policy is that the payment for a pre-need policy stops in one day.

The funeral homes that offer the pre-need police will try to make you pay the total cost within three to five years. Due to this, the monthly payment for the pre-policy payment can be expensive. They usually cost between 100 dollars and 500 dollars per month, depending on the total cost and the amount of time you give yourself to pay.

Having a Will or Living Trust

A living trust or will address legal issues related to your death, so it’s important not to miss this step.

Now, whether you go with a living will or a trust is a personal choice and will probably be determined by the complexity of your property. This article provides a great resource of the pros and cons of each.

We suggest consulting with a will or trust lawyer and let them help you decide the one that suits you most.

If you’re kind of independent, though, and want to create a will for yourself, that’s fine. Sincerely, many people successfully set up a will on their own.

A lot of resources are available online to help you draft a will. If you are good with following instructions, then the process will be simple and accurate.

If you decide to draft a will without the help of a solicitor, use at least one guide to make sure you are doing it right.

On the other hand, a Trust is much more difficult and needs to be done with the help of a professional. From the application to structure, they are very different and are regulated by different laws; therefore, professional legal assistance is recommended.

You may be wondering … Why you would need a will or trust?

It is very simple.

It would be best if you had a will or trust to strengthen legal issues related to death.

Like all other elements of your funeral, if you are not preparing for the legality, you are condemning your family to deal with them.

If you had to advise your loved ones about the 3 most important health issues to keep in mind before they retire, what would you say? Can you give an example or share a story?

As I shared before, you need to quit smoking, control morbid obesity, drink responsibly or not at all, and don’t do drugs

If you had to advise your loved ones about the 3 most important things to consider before choosing a place to live after they retire, what would you say? Can you give an example or share a story?

  • Think About the Cost of Living. When you retire, you may go to the movie theater more often, frequent restaurants with friends, or take on new club memberships. Look at how you want to spend your time and then calculate the costs involved with these commitments. Also, go over basic living expenses, such as housing costs, gas prices and grocery bills. If you’re planning to move to a new area, check out the businesses, you might frequent and compare the cost.
  • Think About the Quality of Life. If you enjoy the urban lifestyle, you might look for a place where you can easily walk to shopping centers, eateries and community events. If you long for a quiet, peaceful environment, a small town or rural area might be better suited to your preferences.
  • Determine the Tax Environment. There are seven states with no income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. New Hampshire and Tennessee don’t impose taxes on earned wages but do charge taxes on investment income and interest.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

There is an opportunity to make health a priority, especially for those who are less well-to-do financially. Baby Boomers often need the most support in our healthcare system. They are frequently disenfranchised, disconnected, and more susceptible to depression because they are alone. My passion project would work on fitness, health, and wellness across all socio-economic lines.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

How to Win Friends & Influence People: by Dale Carnegie

One of the best human relations book on the planet and its remains a bestseller even after 80 years of publication. A must read if you want to advance in life cause whatever you do you have to deal with people.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

Sometimes you have to forget what’s gone, appreciate what still remains and look forward to what’s next.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

On Facebook

On Twitter

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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