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Tag: financial plan

Financially Savvy Investor

These days, most people can’t afford to reach their financial goals – like retirement – on their employment income alone.  The cost of living is simply too high.  That’s why investing is so important: Because it allows you the opportunity to put your money to work for you.  Through investing, you can potentially grow your money and seize opportunities for additional income. 

But it’s not enough to simply throw your money at the stock market.  You must invest wisely if you’re to reach your financial goals.  You must be a financially savvy investor. 

To help, we’ve created a special infographic called Four Steps to Becoming a Savvy Investor.  Please take a minute to look it over.  These steps are all very simple to understand, but they’re critically important.  If you have any questions about them, or if you need any help applying them, please contact us for further information. 

We hope you find this infographic helpful.  Again, please contact us if there is anything we can do to help you invest for your future. 

Twenty-Nine Things to Do on February 29th

It’s a leap year!  That means we have twenty-nine days to enjoy in February instead of the usual twenty-eight.  But the question is, what should we do with the extra day?  

Most people will probably treat the 29th like any other day.  But as financial advisors, we have a suggestion.  Why not use the extra day to do something that gets you closer to your financial goals?  

Need some ideas?  We’re happy to provide.  Here are twenty-nine things you can do on February 29th.  Of course, a few may not apply to you.  Some you may have already done.  But most are very simple, and all can make a difference in your financial health.  Our advice?  Pick just one or two of these and get them done.  You’ll be glad you did!

So, without further ado, here are:

Twenty-Nine Things to Do on February 29th

  1. Contribute to your IRA for 2019 if you haven’t already.  The maximum amount is $6,000, or $7,000 if you are over the age of 50.1
  2. Review your 401(k).  Are you contributing the full amount available – or at least enough to take advantage of any employer matching?  For 2020, the maximum contribution amount is $19,500.2
  3. Review the investments in your 401(k) account.  Read the prospectus for each fund if you haven’t already.  Ask yourself: Do you understand these investments?  Do you know why you’ve chosen them?  Are you certain they are right for you?
  4. Ask an outside professional for a second opinion on your 401(k).
  5. Ask a CPA to review whether you can make your 401(k) more tax efficient.  
  6. Review your monthly expenses.  Is there anything you can eliminate?  For example, do you really need Hulu and Netflix when you only use one?
  7. Review your New Year’s resolutions.  Are you doing what you need to do to achieve them?  
  8. Review your long-term goals.  Do you feel like you are on track to reaching them, or do they seem further away than ever?
  9. Review your various insurance policies.  Have any expired?  Are there gaps in your coverage?  
  10. Review your Will to make sure it’s up to date, especially in terms of who your beneficiaries are.  
  11. Name contingent beneficiaries on your Will if you haven’t done so already.  
  12. Review your Power of Attorney to make sure it is up to date.
  13. Review your Advanced Medical Directives to make sure they are up to date.  
  14. Conduct a household inventory.  Make a list of your possessions and document them with photos.  This can be invaluable if you ever need to file an insurance claim.  Keep one copy at home, and another in a separate, secure location, like a bank safety deposit box.  
  15. Make sure you know where each of the documents mentioned above are located.  Then, have a conversation with your family so that they know where to find them, too.
  16. Consider purchasing a high quality, fireproof safe to store your important documents in.
  17. Start a rainy-day fund for unexpected expenses or emergencies.  Ideally, your fund should have enough to cover three to six months’ worth of living expenses.  
  18. Consider signing up for an automatic savings plan, where a fixed amount of your income is automatically deposited into your account every month.
  19. Consider signing up for any automatic bill-pay and direct deposit services available to you.  They can make managing your cashflow much simpler and easier.  
  20. Balance your checkbook if you still write checks by hand!
  21. Create a Disaster Preparedness Kit for your home.*  While it may not seem like this has anything to do with finance, it does.  Should a natural disaster ever happen, the safer and more prepared you are, the less financially impacted you will be.  
  22. Create a plan for what to do in the event of a disaster and share it with your family.  
  23. Choose an out-of-town emergency contact.
  24. Share your emergency contact information with any financial professionals you work with, so they can always get in touch with you during a crisis.  
  25. If you haven’t already, get started on your taxes!  
  26. If you haven’t already, learn your Full Retirement Age.**  This is the age at which you can claim Social Security benefits without any reduction.
  27. Make a list of your top retirement concerns and questions.  Speak with a professional to get the answers and solutions you need.     
  28. Create or update your bucket list!  What do you dream of doing in life?  Where do you dream of going?  Write it all down, and then post it where you can see it every day.  Why?  Because a dream in your head is just a fantasy.  But a dream on paper is the beginning of a plan.
  29. As soon as you’re done with whatever you decided to do, go treat yourself.  It’s Saturday night!

*For more information on building a Disaster Preparedness Kit, visit www.ready.gov/kit

**To learn your Full Retirement Age, visit: https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/retirechart.html

1 “Traditional and Roth IRAs,” Internal Revenue Service, https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/traditional-and-roth-iras

2 “401(k) contribution limit increases,” Internal Revenue Service, https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/401k-contribution-limit-increases-to-19500-for-2020-catch-up-limit-rises-to-6500

Things Most Advisors Don’t Tell You #4

Recently, we decided to share some non-financial lessons we’ve learned in a series of articles called, “Things Most Advisors Don’t Tell You.”  There are many habits and behaviors that, while not directly related to finance, can spell the difference between reaching your goals or not.  But in our experience, people rarely hear about these things from their financial advisor.    

Let’s look at:

Things Most Advisors Don’t Tell You #4:
Financial harmony in the home

Ever heard the saying, “No man is an island”?  It means no one is so self-sufficient that they don’t benefit from the help and comfort of others.  It also means that no one is so isolated that their actions affect only them.  The decisions we make – including those related to our financial goals – always have an impact on other people.  

One of the saddest and most common obstacles people must overcome is a lack of financial harmony in the home.  This can happen when two or more persons (usually spouses, but not always) have:

  • Competing goals
  • Different attitudes about money
  • An unequal relationship
  • A lack of communication

According to one study, finances are “the leading cause of stress in a relationship.”1  Often, the cause of that stress is no one’s fault.  Maybe one spouse lost their job, or a partner is up to their neck in medical bills.  But sometimes, that stress is entirely avoidable.  

For example, let’s take a hypothetical couple, Bob and Betty, and go through some common scenarios.

Competing goals.  Betty wants to start a business, but Bob wants to travel.  How do they allocate the time and money it takes for each to do what they want?

Different attitudes about money.  Bob is a natural risk-taker and prefers to invest in riskier assets that offer potentially higher rewards, so they have more money to do all the things they want in life.  Betty is more conservative and wants to ensure they never lose their hard-earned savings, so their family will always be protected.  Neither approach is necessarily wrong, but how do they create a balance so both can sleep well at night?

An unequal relationship.  The classic example here is when one person in a relationship “handles the finances” and the other…doesn’t.  This could mean, for example, that one decides where every dollar goes while the other has no input.  Or, it could mean that one pays all the bills and balances all the checks, while the other spends impulsively.  How do Bob and Betty leverage boththeir skillsets while balancing the workload and ensuring both have an equal voice?  (Often, this problem is the main culprit behind financial disharmony.)  

A lack of communication.  This one stems from – and worsens – the others.  Bob and Betty have different goals – and they don’t talk about it.  Which means no planning and no prioritization, just competition for limited time and resources.  Bob and Betty have different attitudes about money – and they don’t talk about it, which means each one’s habits stresses the other one out.  Bob and Betty have an unequal relationship – and they don’t talk about it.  Which means one of them will always feel overworked, unappreciated, and unheard.  

Maybe even un-loved.  

Any of these situations can destroy financial harmony in the home, and when that happens, it makes reaching both individual and family goals so much harder and less pleasant.  In many cases, it means some family members never even get to try.  That’s why financial harmony is so important.  Because when you have it, loved ones work together, each lending their talents and experiences so that everyone gets to achieve what they want in life.  

None of this, of course, is meant to suggest that you don’t have financial harmony in your home.  We simply want to show how important it is, not only for a family’s financial success, but for their sheer happiness, too.  But what if you don’t have financial harmony in the home?  What’s the solution?

Well, we are not relationship counselors, and there’s no way to cover this entire subject the way it deserves in just one article.  But in our experience, there are two simple steps you can take.  The first is to work with an experienced financial advisor who can help create a plan for your entire family.  A good advisor can help put your entire picture in view, so everyone can understand the “what, when, where, why, and how” of working towards your goals in life.   

The second is even more important, and you’ve probably already guessed it: Communicate.  Have a discussion with your family about goals, feelings, and opinions about money.  When you’re all “reading from the same sheet music,” the result can be glorious music instead of strident cacophony.  

We hope you enjoyed this article.  Our next will be the second-to-last in this series.  Want a hint as to what it’s about?  Here it is: Why working towards your goals is like driving in an unfamiliar city – and how to make the ride go much smoother.  

1 “Fighting with your spouse? It’s probably about this,” CNBC, February 4, 2015.  https://www.cnbc.com/2015/02/04/money-is-the-leading-cause-of-stress-in-relationships.html 

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