Financial Planning

The Ideas for Your Article in this section focus on financial planning. If you would like to use one of these articles in your news and announcements section, simply let us know the article number (in parentheses after the title). Don’t use one of our newsletters? Find out more here.

Meeting Your Financial Goals (#1019-1579)

Goals and concerns should be written down to establish specific strategies to improve your overall financial well-being. Most aspects of financial planning fall under at least one of the following five categories:

Asset protection and preservation: Do you have an appropriate amount of life insurance? Have you protected yourself against loss due to long-term care, property losses, or liability?

Disability and income protection: Is your disability protection appropriate? Was your income and spending what you expected and planned for this year? Did you use all reasonable ways to reduce your taxes?

Debt management: Have you managed your debt as expected?

Investment planning and accumulation: How did you do against your rate of return target? Were your annual contributions or withdrawals expected? Is your asset allocation appropriate? Was your portfolio income-tax efficient?

Estate planning: Do your wills and trusts match your wealth transfer wishes? Do you need and have a durable power of attorney, healthcare declaration, and living will? Are your assets titled properly, and are beneficiary designations appropriate? Have you minimized future estate taxes?

Please call if you would like help reviewing these issues and to help you focus on specific areas for improvement in the coming year.

See Me for a Free Consultation (#1019-1580)

Are you planning to pay for your children’s or grandchildren’s college educations? Do you want to spend your retirement travelling or enjoying hobbies?

Maybe you have spent time thinking about future financial concerns, or maybe not. Either way, it’s unlikely you will meet your goals and dreams without advanced planning. That’s why I would like to offer to you a free financial planning consultation.

The purpose of this consultation is to determine where you stand now and where you would like to be in the future. Of course, there is no obligation, and everything we discuss remains confidential.

I work with clients who want to plan now to finance their desired future. I start by assessing your financial position and goals, then design a plan to help you pursue those goals. I will continue to work with you to implement and monitor your plan and help you decide when changes to your plan may be needed. By keeping in touch and meeting at least once a year, together we can ensure your plan is still on track to meet your goals.

I would be delighted to help you think through your goals and start planning for your future. If you would like a free financial planning consultation, please call.

Are Your Debts Growing Too Fast? (#0719-1569)

How much debt can you safely handle without jeopardizing your financial security? To find out, total all of your net after-tax income, including: take-home pay, interest and investment income (less amounts that will be paid in taxes), bonuses, etc. Estimate your total expenses for car payments, credit cards, home-equity loans, checking account overdrafts, student loans — everything but your mortgage payment. Now, divide your total estimated installment debt by your net income. The resulting number is your debt burden, in percentage terms.

If your debt burden is in the range of 15–20% or more, you should take steps to reduce your debt to keep it to a comfortable minimum. How can you do this? By establishing a pattern of disciplined budgeting, reducing your borrowing, living within your means, and working out repayment schedules with creditors. It’s important to minimize your debt so that you don’t find yourself in financial trouble.

However, there’s another reason to reduce your debt. Debt, particularly expensive credit card debt, robs you of money that could be better used investing in future needs, such as your child’s college education or your retirement.

Please call if you need help getting your debt under control.

Financial Overview (#0719-1564)

Are you curious about how your portfolio is performing compared to the current market? If so, please call me. We can review your investment targets and discuss whether or not your investments are meeting your financial goals.

Our lives are busy and constantly changing, and occasionally your investments will need to be changed to keep up with your situation. This financial overview will help us see where you should reposition assets to continue to work toward your goals. This is your financial plan, and it should meet your needs.

Also, keep in mind that you should be regularly investing to meet your needs for the future. Even if you can only invest a small amount of money, please do it. When you are investing for the long term, you can gain tremendous benefits from compounding over time. No matter what type of financial plan we have designed for you, its success generally will depend on what you put into it.

If we haven’t recently met to assess your situation, please call. We can discuss your financial overview and your current situation, and determine if we need to make any changes.

Change Your Thinking (#0719-1565)

Einstein was a genius. That’s not really news to you; but while most people attribute his intelligence to E=MC2, I’d go with his definition of insanity. Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again — and expecting different results.

It seems obvious. No one in their right mind would do that; but think about it. Do you have a colleague or family member with whom you always argue? The one who just can’t mind his own business or must have the last word. Any interaction with this person always ends the same — unpleasantly.

Here’s Einstein’s genius: realize that your behavior is causing the problem. They irritate and you react. The result is always unpleasant, so try breaking the pattern. The next time they irritate you, don’t react.

The same premise — realizing you’re doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results — works elsewhere, too. For example, do you never have any money saved? Change your thinking. Try paying yourself first by immediately depositing a reasonable amount in your savings account when you pay your bills. Make no excuses. Think of it as a bill that must be paid.

Please call if you would like help setting up your savings plan.

Starting Is the Most Difficult Part (#0719-1566)

There is a long list of excuses many people use when asked why they don’t save money. Some say they don’t have enough to save. Others claim they are just procrastinating. Another remark is that they do not know which investments to use.

The bad habit of not saving is the underlying cause for all of these excuses. To reach your financial goals, grasp the good habit of regularly saving. The actual amount saved is not as critical as the actual act of saving.

There are several ways to make savings an automatic part of your financial plan. Automatic withdrawal from your account and payroll deductions are two common ways to begin a savings program. Once you begin saving, you may want to regularly review the amount you are investing, because your goals and income are likely to change. Thus, you will need to adjust your savings amount as needed.

Although regular investing does not assure a profit or protect against a loss, periodically increasing your regular savings amount may bring you closer to reaching your goals in a shorter amount of time.

Learning to save and invest over a long time takes patience, discipline, and commitment. Once you develop the good habit of regularly saving, it will become easier to do so. If you would like to review your current savings program or need help starting one, please call.

How Fiscally Fit Are You? (#0419-1548)

Have you thought about your own “fiscal fitness” level? Have you addressed these three major life concerns?

1. The care and education of your children
2. Your retirement years
3. Your estate (if you die today, what would happen to your family?)

The truth is that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The average American spends more time planning a family vacation than he/she does planning his/her finances. This is the single biggest frustration faced by investment professionals. How can I keep you motivated? Through gentle coaxing, harassment, or pleading?

The easiest step is financial planning. Each and every family in America should have a financial plan. You would never load your family into your car and travel to the Alaskan wilderness without a map, fuel, or checking the tires. However, that’s exactly how the majority of us approach our finances.

Ever wonder why people with personal trainers stay in shape? They’ve made a commitment to change through teamwork and coaching. Think of your financial advisor as your own fiscal fitness trainer. If you would like help becoming fiscally fit, please call.

Financial Planning for Women (#0419-1549)

Many women hold substantial wealth and are in need of solid financial planning advice. Since the roles women play are varied, many unique needs exist. However, there are several common areas of concern.

Investment planning is one area all women should consider. Selecting investments appropriate for your financial goals and situation is key to creating a plan that will help meet your needs. Consider your investment objectives and make sure your plan takes into account your financial resources, time horizon, long-term goals, and risk tolerance.
Another concern is estate planning. It doesn’t matter if a woman has inherited her husband’s estate or if she has earned her own through work or investments — all women should review the estate planning options available. Making lifetime gifts to reduce estate tax burdens, using trusts for minor children or grandchildren, or making charitable contributions are all possibilities women should understand to determine what is the best option.

Planning for retirement is another key concern. Whether a woman has her own retirement plan through an employer or inherits a spouse’s plan, she will need to make decisions about those retirement benefits.

Many concerns and questions exist for women who are considering planning their financial lives. Because no two women are alike, there is no easy answer to these questions. By seeking the advice of a trusted financial planner, women can wade through these issues and work to pursue their financial goals. Please call if you would like help with your financial plan.

Review Your Current Situation (#0419-1550)

Take a moment now to review your financial situation.

1. Has your lifestyle changed?
2. Have you added any children or grandchildren to your family?
3. Should you look into helping your parents protect their assets?
4. Has the stock market’s volatility concerned you?
5. Have you reviewed your insurance policy?
6. Has your 401(k) at work changed? Do you really understand your choices?
7. Have you planned for an estate?
8. Are you nearing your Medicare years? What will be your choices?
9. Are you nearing retirement?

Financial planning is not static; your needs and the needs of your family change often. Please call if you have any life changes that require a change to your portfolio.

Simplify Your Finances (#0419-1551)

After taking care of all the little details in your financial life, it can be difficult to find time for the big issues. Simplify the routine matters as much as possible so you have more time to concentrate on larger issues.

  • Consolidate accounts to the extent possible. If you have several bank accounts or IRAs, consider consolidating them so you have fewer accounts to review and reconcile.
  • Carry only one or two credit cards. Many stores now offer discounts to encourage you to sign up for their credit cards, but don’t bite. Not only will you have fewer cards to monitor, you will be less tempted to spend money.
  • Make savings automatic so you won’t have to remember to transfer funds or write a check every month. Sign up for your 401(k) plan at work or increase your contribution amount if you are already participating. Another alternative is to set up an investment account that authorizes the company to deduct funds from your bank account every pay period. (Keep in mind automatic investing plans, such as
    dollar-cost averaging, do not assure a profit or protect against losses in declining markets. Since such a strategy involves periodic investment, consider your financial ability and willingness to continue purchases through periods of low-price levels.)
  • Simplify your portfolio. Does your portfolio contain an assortment of investments accumulated over the years? While you want a diversified portfolio, too many investments can be difficult to monitor and track. Are you hanging onto stocks you know should be sold but can’t bear to recognize a loss to do so? Those stocks may take a long time to get back to your purchase price; and in the meantime, you may be missing opportunities in more promising areas.

Please call if you would like to discuss how you can simplify your finances.

Distractions (#0119-1533)

As your financial advisor, my job is to help people: identify their financial condition and requirements for short- and long-term goals, map a strategy, and implement a financial plan.

Easy, right? Not really! Talk about life distractions; there are many of them. I have come to discover that most of us:

  • Procrastinate about budgets and financial plans.
  • Don’t take the time to learn the basics about stocks, bonds, and alternative investments.
  • Hate the idea of sharing information with a financial advisor.
  • Know we are at risk, and worry about it all the time.

I’m certain some of you don’t fall into this category, but I’m even more certain that many do. I’m convinced this is a pervasive problem, not because we don’t know it exists, but because we don’t recognize a better alternative. As your financial advisor, I want to help you establish a process, clarity, and discipline within your financial condition; then you can probably rid yourself of a life distraction.

Teach Financial Decision-Making Every Day (#0119-1534)

Here’s what you can do today to help prepare your children to manage their finances and invest for long-term goals:

  • Include children in open discussions about family finances. Involving children in shopping for food, clothes, and gifts, paying bills each month, or saving for vacation can offer them valuable experience.
  • Help your children make budgets. Encourage children to set up personal budgets based on their own incomes, regardless how small, and on their own short- and long-term goals, no matter how frivolous.
  • Start early. Most experts agree that early childhood is an appropriate time to begin introducing children to the world of finance. As soon as they are able to understand the basic uses of money, usually around three or four years old, children are ready to learn how money is a part of daily life.
  • Save and invest. An account set up in accordance with the UGMA (Uniform Gifts to Minors Act) is an investment in a child’s future and a great way to begin teaching the investment basics to him/her.

Please call if you would like help discussing finances with your children.

Setting the Records Straight (#0119-1535)

Since most people focus on keeping accurate records for tax time, you may find it easy to procrastinate when it comes to putting other important records in order. However, organizing your records so you can locate detailed personal information before the need arises can help. Here are some suggestions:

Personal records

In general, your personal records should include the following: full legal name; Social Security number; current legal residence; date and place of birth along with birth certificate; names and addresses of spouse and children and location of death certificates (if any are deceased); location of will or trust; marriage, divorce, and/or citizenship papers; list of current and previous employers and dates of employment; education and military records; religious affiliations; memberships in organizations and awards received; and funeral requests, preferences, or prearrangements.

Financial records

Your financial records should contain information about insurance policies, bank accounts, deeds, investments, and other valuables to ensure all of your assets can be found should the need arise: sources of income and assets; Social Security and Medicare information; location of investments such as stocks, bonds, and real estate; life, health, and property insurance information with policy numbers; savings, checking, and credit union accounts; location of safe deposit box; copy of the most recent income tax return; list of liabilities, mortgages, and debt; credit card account names and numbers; items paid for by automatic electronic payments; property tax records; and location of personal items, such as jewelry or family heirlooms.

Having all this information at hand can help you make intelligent decisions now and prepare you to effectively meet challenges later on. All of this should help to ensure that if someone else needs to handle your affairs, your records are all updated and in order.

When Is a Financial Plan Complete? (#0119-1536)

I wish I had a nickel for every person who told me their financial needs were taken care of, then went on to explain they were unsure of what they owned, why they owned what they did, and what they paid for the investments they own. I also wish I had a nickel for every person who explained to me they considered themselves owner of a financial plan but defined that plan as merely “my accounts.”

I exert great effort to define a financial plan much more exhaustively. Not only do I want my clients to know what they own and why they own it, I also want the collection of investments to be merely a part of a financial plan. I am convinced that even if one does have good investments appropriate to that person’s individual needs, goals, and timeline, there still exists the possibility that the financial plan is incomplete.

A proper financial plan addresses the accumulation, preservation, and transfer of wealth. It also addresses tax-efficiency challenges and deals with one’s liabilities in addition to assets. It is as concerned with funding as it is growth. Only when the full spectrum of one’s financial needs has been considered can a plan be complete.

All investors require a complete financial plan, but beyond that, they need an understanding that the plan requires ongoing implementation and review. Please call if you would like to discuss your financial plan.

A Personalized Plan (#0119-1537)

I continue to believe that developing a personalized financial plan will serve as a road map for future decisions. Every client is different, but there are some goals more frequently expressed and uncovered through this process that may apply to you:

  • Planning for retirement or sustaining a retirement lifestyle, if already retired
  • Funding a child’s or grandchild’s education
  • Examining employee stock option issues
  • Preserving wealth through estate planning strategies

Working from the financial plan we develop together, I can help you identify potential gaps in funding your goals and review alternatives for pursuing them that might be appropriate. After considering your current situation, goals, and risk tolerance, I then recommend appropriate strategies to implement your plan.

Throughout our relationship, you will see the financial decisions you make are based on an established financial plan that allows you to stay focused on the issues and goals that matter most to you. To take the first step toward developing a financial plan, please call.

Stay in Motion (#1018-1516)

We all suffer from inertia at times. The law of inertia states that it is easier for an object or person in motion to stay in motion. Conversely, once at rest, it is easier to stay at rest.

What prevents you from meeting your financial goals, committing more time to family, or doing what you really consider important in your life? Here are a couple of possible answers:

  • To get from where you are now to where you want to be, the road seems too long.
  • You can’t find the time to begin.
  • You are so committed to immediate tasks that by day’s end, there is no energy to take steps to help pursue your goals.

As a financial advisor, I want to help you be proactive in pursuing your financial goals. I can help educate and guide you with appropriate investment strategies. Knowledge about ways to help you pursue your financial goals is necessary, but knowledge alone is not enough. I want to help you overcome inertia and take that first step. If you are seeking to accomplish your financial goals, learn from and connect with those who move forward, not those who stand still. Please call if I can help.

Keeping Clients Updated (#1018-1517)

I try to address a number of timely topics in this newsletter, including retirement planning, college funding strategies, investment alternatives, pension plans, estate planning, and more. As your financial advisor, my objective is to continue educating my clients in ways that will benefit their financial needs and goals.

I will use this section of the newsletter to keep you updated on important and timely items that may impact your current and future investment plans.

I believe in setting a financial plan early in life, updating it regularly as you go through various life phases. When pursuing your goals and objectives, you will need the financial resources to support those plans. Implementing a sound investment strategy and investing on a regular basis are important factors toward pursuing a profitable future. Keeping informed and working with a financial advisor to help guide the way are critical elements of that plan. Set reasonable expectations and monitor the results, on no less than an annual basis.

Your Road Map to Pursuing Your Financial Goals (#0718-1501)

A financial plan is very similar to a road map. Together, we figure out where you are now and where you want to go financially. While there are many routes to get to where you want to go, we figure out how to get you there in the most efficient manner possible with the least amount of risk. This is not a one-time-only planning session. I will help you review your progress periodically and we can make course corrections as you go, so you don’t get lost.

There are no “off-the-shelf” solutions for your financial concerns. What we do together is develop a financial plan that will help reduce the risks you take and give you a better chance of reaching your financial goals. It will require discipline, consistency, and follow up.

If you know someone who is looking for a disciplined approach to solving financial problems, please tell them to get in touch with me. Personal referrals are the best compliment I can receive.

Nothing Is as Good or as Bad as You Expect (#0718-1502)

This is an interesting cliché, and it may not always be true. However, when trying to plan for achieving your financial goals, I believe it is a statement to keep in mind.

It is always important to keep perspective when thinking about finances. Generally speaking, when you have short-term needs, you should not take big risks. When your financial needs are long term, you can afford to and need to take some risk. We should not be day-trading our 401(k) accounts, nor should we be investing our new home down payment money in hedge funds.

Investing is not about using some special information that only “professionals” have. Nothing can be further from the truth. I help my clients gain the knowledge that the short term is unknowable, but the long-term outlook, based on history, is good. Clients need to take appropriate risks and have appropriate expectations. Anyone looking to make a fast buck in the market is gambling. That can be entertaining but, ultimately, is a loser’s game.

Please call if you would like to discuss this further.

Setting Financial Goals (#0718-1503)

Having clearly defined financial goals will help you with your asset allocation strategy. Goals should be clear, concise, detailed, and written down. You can pursue financial goals when you have the assets available to meet an immediate financial need, want, or desire. To work toward your goal, you need a plan that considers how much you need, when you need it, and how you’re going to accumulate it.

Also, consider how important it is for you to reach your financial goal on time. Generally, the longer time frame you have to achieve a goal, the more aggressive your investment approach can be. Your asset allocation model should be built around your financial goals. If you approach setting your financial goals in this way, you will make better decisions about setting goals and ways you can invest to achieve those goals.

Your Financial Planning Journey (#0718-1504)

When planning a trip, you determine your destination, plan your route, and monitor your road map so you will remain on the correct route. When helping someone develop a financial plan, I ask about their goals and objectives, then decide what financial “route” will help them pursue those goals. If you don’t have a specific strategy to get you where you want to be, chances are high that you will never arrive.

Picture a ship setting sail from Los Angeles to Hawaii. Along the way, the ship can go off course. The navigator steps in and corrects the direction of the ship to eventually dock safely at port in Hawaii. If this ship did not have a navigator keeping an eye on the goal, the ship would wander aimlessly around the ocean and never reach its destination.

Your financial plan is similar to that ship. If you don’t have someone watching the direction of your portfolio, it may never reach your goal. In our arrangement, you are the captain, and I am the navigator of your ship. You make the decisions, but I help counsel so your investments stay on course and you work toward your financial goals.

If you would like help setting up a financial plan, please call.

The Most Perilous Financial Decade (#0418-1485)

Which decade of life could be considered the most financially dangerous? A person’s 30s, when major career and purchasing decisions are made? The 40s, when many parents are challenged by the costs of their children’s college educations? The 50s, when people suddenly realize their retirement plan is underfunded?

The answer is none of these. I think the period when people complete their education and get their first “real” job is the most financially dangerous because that is when lifetime spending patterns are established. I call this decade “The Perilous 20s.”

With a person’s first career paycheck, all of those repressed material desires are unlocked. The sporty car was only a dream a few months ago, but now requires a lease payment of “just a few hundred dollars a month.” Anyone tired of communal living in college needs a fashionable apartment with access to a pool and workout room, plus a large closet for a new wardrobe.

If these urges are acted upon, they can quickly absorb current income and cause increased debt to support that lifestyle. Many adults continue this spending pattern during their entire working lifetime, continually trading up possessions for equally larger debts.

A person’s 20s can be the most financially enriching time for those who choose to save and invest part of their income. Money invested during the 20s can enjoy the benefit of compounding over the course of a lifetime.

The tricky part is convincing today’s youth that a couple hundred dollars a month should be set aside before spending money on luxury items. Those parents who are especially helpful can jumpstart the process by helping their children establish an IRA.

Introduce Your Child to Money Management (#0118-1468)

A lot of information is available about whether or not you should give your children an allowance. Most sources don’t agree on whether it should be tied to the chores children do around the house, receiving good grades, or just because they’re part of the family. However, most agree on one particular point — you need to teach your children how to manage money, and an allowance is a great way to begin.

An allowance is an important tool for teaching children money management skills. It allows them to manage their money based on their own needs, wants, and goals. They can learn from their mistakes at a time when the consequences are minor. If you’re considering an allowance for your children, here are a few ideas:

• As soon as children begin asking money-related questions, they’re ready to receive an allowance. If your three-year-old shows an interest, buy a piggy bank and teach him/her about saving.
• Be clear on the terms. If you and your children agreed to tie the allowance to household chores, describe the chores in detail as well as any consequences for not performing those tasks.
• Help your children set up a spending and savings plan. Suggest how funds could be used more effectively. However, once you give your children an allowance, allow them to control how it will be spent.
• Pay them on time (show them you can manage money, too).

Children who learn good money-management skills while they’re young stand a better chance of becoming adults who can make sound financial decisions, avoid excessive debt, and manage income and expenses to reach their financial goals.

Who Can You Trust? (#0118-1469)

You have received my newsletter for several months now. It is a way for me to regularly communicate with you about items that may interest you in the areas of investing, insurance, and planning. As you can appreciate, my intention is to illustrate the services available through me and my company.

Frequently, the question of who to trust has risen among investors. I admit I am biased, but we have an outstanding team of professionals who have a reputation for being honest and up-front.

I hope you enjoy reading this newsletter and feel you are receiving value from it. Please tell me what you like or dislike about it. You can even tell me topics you would like to read about in the future.

A Complex Process: Financial Planning (#0118-1470)

The financial planning process starts by determining where you are now. This includes calculating your net worth, your cash flow, and your short- and long-term goals. Strategies to help you reach those goals are then developed.

A comprehensive financial plan will review:

• Cash flow
• Investments
• Income tax situation, including income and deductions
• Retirement plans
• Education funding
• Insurance coverage to determine if you have an adequate amount (not too much or too little) and you protect yourself against the appropriate risks
• Estate planning
• How your business (if you own one) impacts your personal situation

Financial planning is a complex process, requiring the coordination of all aspects of your finances. Please call if you’d like help with your financial plan.

Action Steps to Your Financial Planning Security (#0118-1471)

  • Get a fix on your finances by organizing your tax records, wills, trusts, insurance policies, mortgage documents, and other important documents to determine the full extent of your assets and liabilities.
  • Establish short- and long-term goals, such as reducing debt, increasing contributions to a retirement fund, increasing investments or savings, reevaluating insurance coverage, or planning for your children’s college educations.
  • Prepare a strategy to meet these goals by setting priorities, allocating assets, and making the trade-offs necessary to make your goals a reality. Write everything down and establish a timetable that can be realistically met.
  • Implement your strategy and stick with it. Don’t become sidetracked. Stay on top of your financial affairs.

Your financial security lies in your hands, and it is your responsibility to ensure you meet your financial goals. If you need help with any or all of these steps, please call.

Budgeting Your Way to Financial Planning Health (#0118-1472)

Getting a handle on how much money comes in and out of your household is essential to reaching your financial goals. First, you can begin by organizing your financial records to determine how much money is coming in and where it is going. Next, categorize your expenses into three groups: regular payments such as mortgage payments, essentials such as clothing that can be reduced, and nonessentials like entertainment that can be decreased or even eliminated.

Once you put each expense into its category, you can better analyze which items can be reduced so you will have more money available for saving and investing. Establish a realistic budget for your living expenses. Keep the following points in mind when doing so:

• Make the budget flexible. Nothing goes exactly as planned, and your budget should be able to deal with emergencies.
• Use consistent groupings so you can compare your budgets over time.
• Don’t try to be too precise. You don’t have to account for every dollar spent. Give everyone in your family a reasonable personal allowance and let them spend it without accounting for it.
• Your budget shouldn’t be a dreaded exercise, but a tool that helps you strive toward your financial goals. So keep it short, simple, and easy to understand and implement.

Call if you’d like help with your budget.

Debts Multiplying Too Quickly? (#0118-1473)

How much debt can you safely handle without compromising your financial security? To find out, add all your net (after-tax) income: take-home pay, interest, investment income, bonuses, etc. Then, estimate your total expenses for car payments, credit cards, home-equity loans, checking account overdrafts, student loans — everything but your mortgage payment. Now divide your total estimated installment debt payments by your net income. The resulting number is your debt burden, in percentages.

If your debt burden is in the range of 15–20% or more, you should take steps to decrease your debt to a comfortable amount. You can do this by establishing a pattern of budgeting, reducing your borrowing, living within your means, and working out repayment schedules with creditors. It’s important to minimize your debt burden so you don’t find yourself in financial trouble.

There is another reason as well. Debt, particularly costly credit card debt, denies you of money that could be better used investing in future needs, such as your children’s college educations or your retirement.

Please call if you need help getting your debt under control.

Remain on Track (#0118-1474)

Make sure you consider these strategies to keep your financial goals and objectives on track:

  • Keep an emergency fund equal to three to six months’ worth of living expenses to use in case of financial emergencies, such as losing your job or a temporary disability.
  • Track expenses to find out where your money goes. Look for ways to decrease your expenses and apply the savings to your financial goals.
  • Diversify your investment portfolio as a hedge against market volatility.
  • Use cash or cash equivalents for short-term goals, emergencies, or to diversify your portfolio. Money you’re not planning to use for years should be invested in longer-term alternatives.
  • Pay off debt, especially expensive credit card debt. Keep credit cards paid off or consider consolidating payments on a lower-interest card.
  • Review overall insurance needs to ensure you don’t carry more than you need in one area and not enough in another.
  • Pay yourself first by automatically depositing money in your investment accounts and emergency fund.
  • Take advantage of individual retirement accounts (IRAs), 401(k) plans, or other retirement, savings, or investment plans.

Call if you would like to discuss these and other measures you can take to help keep your financial goals and objectives on track.

Review Your Financial Strategies (#0118-1475)

At least annually, you should meet with your financial advisor to review your financial situation and update your financial planning strategies. Items that should be addressed during this review include:

  • Is your family budget and cash flow in line with your lifestyle and savings goals?
  • Are you saving enough for your retirement?
  • Do you have an emergency fund equal to at least three to six months’ worth of expenses?
  • Do your wills and trusts need updating?
  • Do you need to change the amount of life insurance that you carry?
  • Do you have adequate disability insurance?
  • Are you using strategies to minimize your tax liability?
  • Have you reviewed your investment portfolio recently?

Feel free to call if you’d like to set up an appointment to review your financial situation.

A Personalized Plan (#1017-1452)

I believe that developing a personalized financial plan will serve as a road map for future decisions.  Each client is unique, but there are some goals more frequently expressed and uncovered through this process that may apply to you:

  • Planning for retirement or sustaining a retirement lifestyle, if you are already retired
  • Funding children’s or grandchildren’s educations
  • Examining employee stock-option issues
  • Preserving wealth through estate-planning strategies

By working from the financial plan we develop together, I can help you identify potential gaps in funding your goals and review alternatives for pursuing them that may be appropriate for you.  After considering your current situation, long- and short-term financial goals, and tolerance for risk, I then recommend appropriate strategies to implement your plan.

Throughout our relationship, you will see the financial decisions you make are based on an established financial plan that allows you to remain focused on the issues and goals that matter the most to you.  To take the first step toward developing a financial plan, please call.

Introduce Your Children to Money Management (#0717-1436)

A lot of information is available about whether or not you should give your children an allowance. Most sources don’t agree on whether it should be tied to the chores children do around the house, receiving good grades, or just because they’re part of the family. However, most agree on one particular point — you need to teach your children how to manage money, and an allowance is a great way to begin.

An allowance is an important tool for teaching children money management skills. It allows them to manage their money based on their own needs, wants, and goals. They can learn from their mistakes at a time when the consequences are minor. If you’re considering an allowance for your children, here are a few ideas:

  • As soon as children begin asking money-related questions, they’re ready to receive an allowance. If your three-year-old shows an interest, buy a piggy bank and teach him or her about saving.
  • Be clear on the terms. If you and your children agreed to tie the allowance to household chores, describe the chores in detail as well as any consequences for not performing those tasks.
  • Help your children set up a spending and savings plan. Suggest how the funds could be used more effectively. However, once you give your children an allowance, allow them to control how it will be spent.
  • Pay them on time (show them you can manage money, too). Children who learn good money management skills while they’re young stand a better chance of becoming adults who can make sound financial decisions, avoid excessive debt, and manage income and expenses to reach their financial goals..

The Most Perilous Financial Decade (#0717-1437)

Which decade of life could be considered the most financially dangerous? A person’s 30s, when major career and purchasing decisions are made? The 40s, when many parents are challenged by the cost of their children’s college educations? The 50s, when people suddenly realize their retirement plan is underfunded?

The answer is none of these. I think the period when people complete their education and get their first “real” job is the most financially dangerous time, because that is when spending patterns that can last a lifetime are established. I call this decade “The Perilous 20s.”

With a person’s first career paycheck, all of those repressed material desires are unlocked. The sporty car was only a dream a few months ago, but now requires a lease payment of “just a few hundred dollars a month.” Anyone tired of communal living in college needs a fashionable apartment with access to a pool and workout room, plus a large closet for a new wardrobe.

If these urges are acted upon, they can quickly absorb current income and cause you to increase debt to support your lifestyle. Many adults continue this spending pattern during their entire working lifetime, continually trading up possessions for equally larger debts.

A person’s 20s can be the most financially enriching time for those who choose to save and invest part of their income. Money invested during their 20s can enjoy the benefit of compounding over the course of a lifetime.

The tricky part is convincing today’s youth that a couple hundred dollars a month should be set aside before spending money on luxury items. Those parents who are especially helpful can jumpstart the process by helping their children establish an IRA.

Is Financial Planning Really Needed? (#0717-1438)

  • Do you feel your income just vanishes and you’re left with nothing to show for it?
  • Does trying to choose from among various investment alternatives leave you confused?
  • Are you frustrated trying to figure out how well your investments are performing?
  • Have you avoided establishing college funds for your children or grandchildren because the amount you need to save seems overwhelming?
  • Do you worry your insurance policies won’t provide sufficient coverage in the event of a disaster?
  • Have you avoided establishing an estate plan?
  • Do you feel you are paying too much in taxes but aren’t aware of ways to lessen your tax bill?
  • Are you concerned you won’t have an adequate nest egg for retirement?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, the financial planning process can help assist you in overcoming these issues.

A financial advisor can help you sort through your current financial situation, develop long-term goals, and set strategies to assist in meeting those goals. The financial planning process can include your entire financial life or focus on one area of particular concern to you.

If you’d like help setting up a financial plan, feel free to call.

Stop Procrastinating (#0717-1439)

For most, procrastination is probably the leading reason they do not achieve their financial goals. Tomorrow always seems like a better time to begin that investment program. If procrastinating only lasted for a year or two, it wouldn’t be so devastating. But for many, the procrastination can last a lifetime.

In our 20s, we are just starting our adult life. Income is not that high, we have plenty of time to begin investing, and 65 sounds like an eternity away. So, we’ll just wait until we get a little older and have more income.

In our 30s, a growing family and large mortgage take all of our income. After the kids grow up a little, we’ll be able to find money for investing.

In our 40s, we are shocked to discover our children became more, not less, expensive. Every available penny is going to finance our children’s educations, and we still don’t have enough. So we have to assume large college loans.

In our 50s, we finally begin to realize the importance of investing, but we still can’t find the money to do so. Some of us are still helping to pay our children’s college, while others have been forced out of their jobs and now need to begin a new career. The money we hoped to find for investing just isn’t available.

Suddenly, we wake up to find we are already 65 years old with an extremely small nest egg that won’t fund much of a retirement. We truly regret we didn’t start investing when we were 20.

It is important to begin investing now in order to reach your financial goals. Call today so we can get started on your investment plan.

The Financial Planning Process (#0717-1440)

Financial planning is the development and implementation of a comprehensive plan to pursue financial objectives. It is a process to consolidate your financial concerns so every activity and investment can be viewed in the context of specific financial goals. Several areas, such as tax planning, estate planning, investments, risk management, retirement planning, and education planning, are encompassed in financial planning.

The process begins by defining and quantifying your financial goals and objectives. This is followed by the information gathering process where items such as investment portfolios, tax returns, insurance contracts, and fringe benefits are examined. Net worth and asset allocation statements are also prepared.

Sources of income and monthly expenditures are defined in order to identify discretionary income available for investment. Appropriate actions are then recommended.

The financial planning process is ongoing, since it changes as your personal situation changes. Changing tax laws and economic cycles must also be considered in yearly reviews.

With a financial plan covering everything from benefits provided by your employer to taxes on your estate, you will gain control of your financial destiny. Financial independence can be possible with a well-coordinated plan. Because no two financial situations are identical, you should call to request an initial consultation to discuss in which direction your plan should proceed.

Time Is Racing By (#0717-1441)

I find tremendous personal satisfaction in the fact that I help my clients take a long-term perspective of their financial goals. Retirement, college funding, first homes, and other significant goals are achieved through carefully thought-out strategies, time frames, and patience. Time seems to accelerate as we age, and we often panic when plans aren’t quickly fulfilled.

Although there are always challenges to our financial plans, we cannot lose sight of the control we can apply in our own lives to help achieve a sense of security and well-being. If your personal situation changed so much that you lost sight of your plan or you feel your plan needs a revision for any reason, call me. We can review what is going on. Remember, time is racing by.

Financial Review (#0417-1420)

If you’ve just completed your 2016 tax return, it might be a good time to review your budget, investments, and insurance policies to be sure you’re still on track to reach your financial goals.

Review your goals to see if they changed.  You may want to rethink your emergency fund to be sure you have sufficient cash for emergencies.  Review your insurance policies to ensure you have appropriate and adequate coverage for financial risks.  Review your investments and make adjustments to your allocation if it is unbalanced and cannot meet your financial goals.

If you have any questions or need help with planning and implementation, please call.

Do Your Children Mimic Your Financial Skills? (#0417-1421)

Children tend to imitate their parents.  Since people fall into one of two categories — savers or spenders — consider the implications of the following:

If you don’t handle money responsibly, you may have taught your children these habits:  1) You spend money instead of saving it. 2) You borrow money when you need it.  3) You have short-term debt and no plan to eliminate it.  4) Your insurance plan is weak.  5) Investments aren’t balanced; you have a 401(k) plan, not much in IRAs, and no investments for income prior to retirement.  6) There are no college investment plans in place for your children.  7) You are not on target to achieve retirement goals.  8) You don’t have a will or related legal documents.  9) You pay more taxes than necessary.

Here’s what your children learned from you if you handle money well:  1) You save and don’t spend all your money.  2) You save to spend, so you have money when needed.   3) Your only debt is a mortgage.  You have no car loan and pay no interest on credit card debt.  4) Your life, disability income, and long-term health care insurances are up to date.  5) Investments are diversified and balanced.  6) College investment plans are in place for each of your children.  7) You are on track to meet your retirement goals.  8) Your estate plan is updated.  9) You implement strategies to reduce your income taxes.

You are your children’s most influential teacher.  Please call if you would like help improving your money handling skills so you can better influence your children.

Financial Planning Is a Lifelong Process (#0417-1422)

As a guide to reaching your financial goals, a financial plan should contain several features, including:

  • A systematic flow of money into the plan
  • Potential returns to match the amount of risk you are willing to assume
  • Access to money when you need it
  • Minimization of taxes on the accumulation and distribution of funds
  • Protection from loss due to death and/or disability
  • Flexibility to change the plan

My approach is to help you build a strong foundation and seek to protect your financial plan from destructive economic factors.  You create wealth by maximizing the amount of money you save and invest.  You build wealth by using financial strategies that increase the return on your savings.  You maintain wealth by efficiently implementing those strategies.

Good financial planning is a lifelong process that helps guide you from dreams to actually reaching your financial goals.  Call today if you’d like help with your financial plan.

Financial Serenity (#0117-1404)

When you invest, do you envision a life of fabulous wealth?  Do you really want all the money in the world?  I would venture to guess that a vast majority would not.  However, I do know that most of us would enjoy financial independence.  By this, I mean that a person has enough money set aside and working for him/her that he/she doesn’t have to rely on any financial source beyond his/her control.

From each paycheck, pay yourself first.  Save 10% of all your earnings.  Invest on a regular basis without concern about what the market is doing.  Please call if you would like help pursuing your financial serenity.

Still Dreaming? Good! (#0117-1405)

We all reminisce about our early years when we were filled with hopes and dreams for the future.  We often say to ourselves, “If I’d only known, I could have…should have…would have…”

In today’s world of advanced health care and medicine, we can expect to live a long life.  Don’t let life slip away without making a plan to accomplish every dream.  Life never seems to become simpler or less expensive.  However, dedicating even modest resources to long-term dreams may make all the difference in ultimately realizing them for you and your family.  Whatever your age, continue to dream.  I especially encourage young people and young families to create a plan that includes many dreams.

While financial planning is often dedicated to achieving life’s practical goals, your dreams give your life its spice.  Helping you develop your “dream plans” to complement your practical plans is a role I really like sharing with you.  I am always honored to be a part of your practical life, but I am especially honored when I can help you pursue your happiest dreams.

Staying on Track (#0117-1406)

Make sure you consider these strategies to keep your financial goals and objectives on track:

  • Keep an emergency fund equal to three to six months of living expenses to tide you over in case of financial emergencies, such as losing your job or a temporary disability.
  • Track expenses to discover where your money is being spent.  Look for ways to cut your expenses, and redirect the savings to your short- and long-term financial goals.
  • Diversify your investment portfolio as a hedge against market volatility.
  • Use cash or cash equivalents for short-term goals, emergencies, or to diversify your portfolio.  Money you’re not planning to use for years should be invested in long-term alternatives.
  • Pay off debt, especially expensive credit card debt.  Keep credit cards paid off or consider consolidating payments on a lower-interest card.
  • Review overall insurance needs to make sure you’re not carrying more than you need in one area and not enough in another.
  • Pay yourself first by having money automatically deposited into your savings, investment accounts, and emergency fund.
  • Take advantage of individual retirement accounts (IRAs), 401(k) plans, or other retirement, savings, or investment plans.

Call now to discuss these and other measures you can take to help keep your financial goals and objectives on track.