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5 Steps to Building a Successful Savings Plan

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When it comes to meeting and exceeding your financial goals, the first step is always to come up with a reasonable and achievable budgeting and savings plan. The following steps can help you get a handle on your expenses and establish a clear plan toward building your savings and meeting your financial milestones.

1. Look into your company retirement plans: saving a small amount of money per month, directly from your paycheck is an easy way to get started. Even if you only elect to save a small percentage of your salary, many companies offer a match on a percentage that you choose to save.

A Client’s Journey: The Challenging Decision to Divorce Your House When You Divorce Your Spouse

The clients we encounter and develop relationships with come from all walks of life. Each person’s story is different. As is the case with all things, not everything is as it seems from a distance. This is an important thing to be cognizant of, especially as financial advisors and planners because it is our job to identify what we can do to help people make changes in their lives that will benefit them financially, but more importantly give them a feeling of confidence and self-empowerment.

We met Jeanette at a financial independence session that we held a few years back. She was in her mid-fifties and had been divorced for two years. Jeanette confided in us that her marriage ended due to infidelity on her husband’s part and that it had been difficult to let go of the pain and anger that those circumstances caused her.

Bulls and Bears, Trade and the Fed: Advice for the Head Scratchers

As an investment advisor and partner to our clients, it is our responsibility to put stock market and investment news in proper perspective. While the media is reporting daily on market fluctuations and speculating on what might happen in the short term, it is our duty to help guide you through the ‘noise’ and stay focused on what truly matters when it comes to your financial plan and your portfolio.

It is not completely outlandish to feel a sense of uneasiness about investing in our current market climate. Unprecedented growth and increased volatility leave us wondering when the next market “crash” will occur. Political and economic influences are on the forefront, as investors scratch their heads in concern with everything from trade wars and maintaining economic allies, to inflation.

Empathic Listening and Building Trust

The Greek witch-goddess Circe gave her son Telegonus a poisoned spear to protect him on his journey to find his father Odysseus. When Telegonus finally found Odysseus he inadvertently killed his father with the magic weapon. This is similar to some of the consequences we may inadvertently incur when we try to administer well-meaning advice to someone who is coming to us for help or guidance.

I recently had this experience with a new client who came to us to discuss the challenges she faced with her finances. She was recently widowed and under an enormous amount of stress concerning her investments because her husband had handled all the family’s money. When she entered the conference room she appeared very nervous. We tried to set her at ease by playing soft music as we usually do when meeting with all our clients. We curiously watched her open her carton of statements and documents. Many of her documents were out of order and looked as if they had been filed haphazardly inside a wastepaper basket! Even before she spoke, her eyes reflected a plethora of misfit investment information, peppered with the sad assurances that her husband had instilled in her before he had suddenly passed away.

Fast Times: Evaluate Your Commitments as Often as Your iOS

All we have to do to create the future is to change the nature of our conversations, to go from blame to ownership, and from bargaining to commitment, and from problem-solving to possibility.

Peter Block, American Author

Remember the days when you were young and saved your money to buy something you really wanted? When you brought it home it was yours. You could repair it if it broke. The inner parts were relatively easy to understand. After you used it for a while it did not become obsolete; you could sell it to one of your friends, so he could enjoy it too.

Times have changed. Our cell phones now contain software that is not ours and we sign a licensing agreement to use it. We may own the shell of the phone, but we rent the technology. We don’t even wait for the phone to become obsolete. Many consumers crave the technology so much, they line up in droves for the next new upgrade.

How to Disaster Plan and Build a Financial Emergency Kit

As Hurricane Season ramps up and with Sandy only a few years down in the history books, it is important to consider what plans you and your family have in place in the event of a natural disaster. Disasters rarely give us a heads up. The best we can do in the face of disaster is have a plan and build a Financial Emergency Kit. Having these essential items safe, secure, and at the ready, in case the unthinkable occurs will save a lot of headache and heartache. There are various websites, including Homeland Security’s government webpage and the Red Cross, which can help. In this article we will go over some of the basic essentials everyone should have stored safely in case of emergency, specifically relating to your finances.

walking-sunset

Mirror Mirror, Off The Wall!

“Life is like a mirror, we get the best results when we smile!”

Looking directly into a mirror gives you one perspective of yourself. However, if you turn the mirror at a right angle to another you will discover several images of yourself. Some may appear distorted and backward, like in an amusement park fun house. Nevertheless, each one allows you to see yourself differently. Similarly, the choices available to us when making decisions with our money can appear to be hard to figure out as well. Like the right-angle mirror, we are forced to view our finances differently even though they are the same.

Whether you are a budding Millennial or an aging baby-boomer our attitude and behavior regarding money and the way we consume it is crucial.

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Planning for One

Three Steps Toward Reshaping Your Financial Plan After a Divorce

“A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.”
― 
Graham Greene, The End of the Affair

Life happens. Some of it we plan for, some of it we don’t. One transition that cannot be predicted is a divorce. Although it’s seldom in the plans, divorce ends half of marriages. For adults 50 and older the divorce rate has doubled since the 1990s. Many adults will have to divide up the saved assets that had been put aside to share in retirement. Even if both partners worked and saved well for their retirement, there is often a gap between partners when it comes to levels of earnings and wealth. This disparity can disproportionately affect women, as they may have taken time off for child-rearing or family needs. In this article, we will go over some factors to consider regarding divorce and your retirement.

Saving for Retirement as a High-Income Earner

If you are a high-income earning professional, you may need to take additional steps to ensure you are saving enough for retirement. Many investors find that maximizing their company retirement plans may not be enough. You want to make sure you are saving enough in your income-earning years to maintain a similar lifestyle in retirement. Here are some tips to get you there:

Use your HSA as a savings vehicle

Health Savings Accounts are what we call triple tax free. This means that contributions made into HSAs are not just tax deductible, but the earnings are tax-deferred and the withdrawals are tax-free as long as they are used for qualified medical expenses the scope of which is very broad.

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The Best Interest of the Client

Many unsophisticated Investors buying complex financial products commonly misunderstand their suitability in an investment portfolio.

There is a misperception that investment products promising high returns and the maximum amount of safety do not come with risk. Lifestyle risk is the chance that some investments may not reflect our needs nor synchronize with our future lifestyle. The reason is the current assumptions for our investments are too vague since we cannot possibly foresee future events that may significantly affect our lives. We must prepare to live with uncertainty. Do not be simple in your financial decisions. Not all poems rhyme and not all stories have happy endings. These include the loss of a job or a loved one or both. Investments should be pliable to adjust to the needs at different stages of life as well as meet any unforeseen events that may unfold that affect our health, career or family. Therefore, investors need to be aware that one particular investment (putting all your eggs in one basket) may not be the solution that procures a safe secure financial future.

“I took a test in Existentialism. I left all the answers blank and got 100.”

Woody Allen

Investment companies and advisors who work at these financial institutions have a responsibility to consider not only the suitability of each investor but to carefully consider the appropriate diversification of his other investments as well. Decisions an investor makes today can significantly affect his financial stability. If circumstances change, the original reasons why he purchased the product may also change. If you went to the doctor today the doctor might prescribe something for your current ailment. But the prescription will only address the needs you have now because neither you or doctor know what your needs will be twenty or thirty years from now.

space needle seattle

The Space Needle

 

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one most adaptable to change.

Charles Darwin

How much should you save? How much should you spend in retirement? How much do you leave to your children? How little do you leave? What happens if some unforeseen event happens? Is your investment portfolio safe in case of a sudden change in the world economy?

I was traveling on family business to the Emerald City, Seattle, Washington. While there I visited the 605-foot tourist trodden tower called the Space Needle which was built to celebrate the 1962 World’s Fair. As I observed the enormous edifice from the base, it appeared to gaze in soulful benediction over the sprawling city. After I stepped into the elevator it swiftly lifted me to the top floor. As I exited the doors high above the city, I walked onto the deck of the brightly lit observation turret. The sun’s rays were so bright they seemed to kiss the expansive windows as the visitors inside enjoyed the spectacular views. Near a set of elevators, a teenage attendant with red streaked hair was talking excitedly to a group of eager tourists. He spoke about the substantial sturdiness of the structure and how it was riveted into a foundation of reinforced steel and cement that can withstand a 9.1 earthquake as measured on the Richter scale. He added that the materials in the design were not only strong but also very flexible. In case of a hurricane, the tower had the special design capability to sway back and forth on very windy days even with winds of 200 miles an hour! The elevator may have to slow down during these conditions, but the structure was built resilient enough to adjust for sudden changes in the forces of nature. I thought of the many modern buildings and physical structures built in this way to withstand the daily effects of nature and weather, including our human bodies. If they were not flexible like the Space Needle structure, they would also suffer the strains of daily living causing us discomfort and pain.

To Bit or Not to Bit: What Should Investors Make of Bitcoin Mania?

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are receiving intense media coverage, prompting many investors to wonder whether these new types of electronic money deserve a place in their portfolios.

Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin emerged only in the past decade. Unlike traditional money, no paper notes or metal coins are involved. No central bank issues the currency, and no regulator or nation-state stands behind it.

Visualizing Goals for a Confident Financial Future

 “There's no scarcity of opportunity to make a living at what you love. There is only a scarcity of resolve to make it happen.”

—Wayne Dyer, author and new-age thinker


 This past year we (Walter and I) wrote a book, “The Millionaire Within”. We are proud to announce that it has been published and that it is available for sale on Amazon! We chose to write it in order to share our experiences working with clients to help them change their perceptions about money. People often seek financial consultation to gain insight into “new” investing strategies or promising stock trends for the coming year. What we know is that trying to predict an unpredictable market is as futile as spending your last dollar in the hopes that more will come out of thin air.

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What a Long Strange Trip it's Been...

Bulls and Bears

Many experts consider investing in the stock market the best way to grow wealth, especially if you are young and have a long investment time horizon. However, it can be difficult to avoid much of the daily market “noise,” and you may start to question your financial decisions. Such seemingly extreme volatility can have even the most steadfast investor feeling a little unsure on occasion. The deluge of unprecedented news and the responding economy may leave investors questioning how best to proceed. Better to hunker down and ride it out? Sell? Invest in more conservative products?

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