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Archive for the ‘Financial Planning’ Category

Reducing Financial Risks Through Insurance

For lively party conversation, death and disability are generally last on the list. Still, planning for potential disability and the death of a loved one can help overcome the financial challenges involved. It’s natural to want to talk about something else, yet topics related to investment risk-management are important and can have big impacts on financial plans and resources.

Planning ahead before confronting any obstacle can help with meeting it. The passing of a loved one, the need for long-term care, and disability can all take incredible tolls. Perhaps the simplest way to approach planning for them is through comprehensive disability, life, and long-term care insurance.

It’s natural to tiptoe around these topics, yet changes can happen in an instant. Rather than try and respond during the aftermath, a proactive approach can help create support for what will likely be a trying time. As part of your financial plan and risk management strategy, speak to a financial advisor about comprehensive insurance coverage.

Disability Insurance

People aged 25 to 65 are at a higher risk for disability than death, according to major studies. Lifestyles, genetics, random occurrences and much more can happen in an instant and leave people disabled temporarily, or for life. For many, disability coverage comes in the form of a company insurance policy. These policies can help with some in the case of disability, yet many lack the coverage available through privately-carried disability insurance. Income replacement and compensation for debilitating injuries are some of the advantages private insurance can offer.

According to Jack Riashi Jr. with Bloom Asset Management, disability insurance should be included as part of an insurance plan until retirement to ensure adequate resources should a disability occur. Riashi Jr, a certified financial planner, says “The number of people covered is really pretty low”. He also states more people lack coverage than carry it. For single-income homes, Riashi Jr. says preserving that income becomes exponentially important. Another important tool in preserving family income is life insurance.

Life Insurance

Life insurance is, for the majority of people speaking to an insurance agent, a difficult topic to approach. The subject is grim, and it’s an often overlooked addition to an insurance plan. For many, there will likely be loved ones left behind. Continuing financial support through life insurance can help carry them through.

Life insurance is obtainable as a term, universal, or whole-life insurance policy. To find the right life insurance policy speak to an agent. Income, age, health, and much more will steer the direction of your insurance needs. Life insurance may, in some cases, be utilized for emergency savings or as part of a retirement plan. Speak to a financial advisor before making significant changes to a life insurance policy. The right policy will vary by the person; an advisor can help find the right match for you.

Long-Term Care Insurance

Aging, injury and more can increase limits on physical capabilities. For an increasing number of Americans, long-term care is necessary some or all of the time. Medicare will likely cover a portion of expenses yet the remainder can be overwhelming. Long-term care insurance can help pay for assisted living, in-home care, and much more.

In-home care and nursing home coverage can cost tens of thousands per year, and upward. The costs can be high at any income level and for those on a fixed income, these costs can be especially challenging to meet. Speak to a financial advisor for more on the merits of a tailored long-term care insurance policy.

Approaching these topics early may increase access to insurance options and discounted rates. Speak to a financial advisor today for more on risk management through insurance for your financial plan. Come back often for more on this and other interesting topics.

Working with a Financial Planner

If you’re thinking about debt, you have company. According to the American Psychological Organization, nearly 3 out of 4 Americans think about getting out of debt on a regular basis. The number of Americans prepared for the future drops considerably, with less-than 20% of Americans feeling financially ready for retirement. With numbers like that it’s surprising only a fraction asked for help from a professional.

Financial Advisors vs Financial Planners

For professional financial advice, people often turn to financial advisors or financial planners. Often mistaken for each other, a financial planner and financial advisor have distinctly different roles. A financial advisor utilizes a broad set of financial skills offering surface-level guidance. They can help with portfolio management, estate planning, and tax preparation. A financial planner has a specific set of skills to offer targeted advice. A financial planner can help with retirement planning, smart investments, and creating personalized financial strategies.

This year, get out of the weeds. Take control of personal finances with the help of an experienced professional financial planner. If you answer yes to any of the following, you may want to think about calling a financial planner:

1. It’s challenging thinking about money

For many, just thinking about money is enough to become frustrated. Many people struggle with approaching finances at all. This is normal and happens to more people than you may think. A financial planner can step in and get things organized, and help keep things moving.

2. Managing money is mind-numbing

Effective money-management includes more than saving and spending. Each person has a different picture of the future yet one thing most will share in common is a financial vehicle for arriving there. There are a multitude of savings and investment strategies available. Find one that fits both budget and goals with the help of a financial planner.

3: It’s time for a second opinion.

People of all wealth and education levels lean on financial planners for advice and personalized guidance. From the first-time investor to the savvy business grad, a financial planner can help anyone interested in improving their financial footing. Get the most from investments. Contact a financial planner for help creating, diversifying, and utilizing savings vehicles.

Planning for the future is affordable. Financial planners utilize different pricing structures depending on the individual yet most employ a combination of three basic payment plans:

  • Flat-rate financial planning offers the advantage of flat-rate pricing for financial services.
  • Commission-based financial planning compensates planners from a percentage of investments.
  • Fee-based financial planners combine the previous payment structures to form a compensation plan.

To find the right a financial planner, start with selecting goals. Establishing an end-point gives financial planners something to help plan for. For those struggling to decide, a financial planner can help explain potential options and opportunities. It’s more than OK to ask for help planning for the future, it’s the smart thing to do. Contact a financial planner today and start working toward achievable goals today.

5 Steps for Getting out of Debt

Debt is a challenge any time of the year. Life changes, shifts in employment, and more both in and out of our control can affect our financial well-being. During the holiday season, Americans tend to pile on more debt. Travel, gifts, and more put extra strain on the bank account. Come January, many are faced with large debts and the New Year is already off to a rocky start. Stop the cycle. This year, take control and shake loose of your debt. Follow these 5 steps and eliminate debt once and for all:

1. Start Saving

It sounds simple and that’s the challenge. To start saving, create a savings goal. For most people, the best place to begin is an emergency savings fund. Most professionals recommend an account equal to a month’s income for responding to emergencies. Most Americans lack sufficient savings or any savings at all. Create a defined savings goal, and plan for making regular deposits to achieve it.

2. Stop Borrowing

It can be difficult to get out of debt if the debt continues to grow. Start getting out of debt by eliminating credit spending. During the holiday season, the urge to give can take over, leading to increased spending with credit cards and other borrowed funds. To help limit debt size, make purchases with available funds.

3. Get Organized

To pay off debt get a grasp on the number of personal debts, the debt size, and the interest rates for each. Most strategies suggest clearing debts with the highest interest rate first. The more paid toward the principal balance the faster a debt is paid. Another common strategy recommends paying off debts with the smallest balances first. As small debts are paid continue to budget for them, and roll the payments into the paying off the next debt. Becoming organized will alleviate debt-related stress and make it easier eliminate debts once and for all.

4. Get on a Budget

Will savings goals established, a limit placed on adding debt, and a clear picture of financial obligations, create a budget. A budget tracks income, obligations, and expenses. Many people are surprised to see where the money goes each month. Small amounts add up each month. Create a budget and pay off debt faster. With a budget in hand, set realistic financial goals and create a plan for achieving them.

5. Take Action

A budget will define the paths for getting out of debt. This may reveal a need for increased action. For some, debts may outweigh monthly or annual income. Others may want to get out of debt faster than the current budget schedule. With a plan for getting out of debt in-hand, take action. This can include finding additional employment, reducing the amount spent on entertainment, and much more.

Getting a firm grasp on finances, creating a plan for approaching them, and seeing that plan through can help eliminate debt. This year take control of monthly financial obligations and get out of debt.

Financial Care for Special Needs Adult Children

Caring for adult special-needs children requires constant research and attention. As parents age, continuing care for older children may be a challenge. As we age more focus on personal health takes precedence. Caring for adult special-needs children may become more challenging. Preparing for the future of care can help create a financial and family support system for your special-needs child. Create a plan with these 5 steps for ongoing special-needs care:

1: Make it a family decision.

For parents of adult special-needs children able to communicate, include them in the process. Each family will be different and finding strengths and areas where help is necessary can help. Their employment, personal financial responsibility, and a network of caregivers will all affect future planning. A clear understanding of capabilities and requirements can help in forming a plan.

2. Create a support system.

Establishing responsible legal guardianship creates support for medical and financial matters. This gives parents control over the designated party. Before appointing a guardian clearly define the role and responsibilities.

3. Plan your estate.

An estate plan will make sure special-needs children are properly cared for. A will legally ensure wishes are followed and children are cared for. Depending on the level of care required, provisions can be included to pay for caregivers and treatment. Other options including trusts can funnel inheritance while maintaining government or state benefits for your child.

4. Create a savings plan.

Save for the future with tax-advantageous savings plans for parents of special-needs children. The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) of 2014 established savings plans to help special needs children. Amounts withdrawn to pay healthcare, education, legal and other expenses are exempt from taxes. Anyone can deposit allowing family and friends to contribute.

5. Plan living arrangements.

For parents of adult special-needs children living at home, a plan for future living arrangements will be necessary. Planning ahead gives parents control over selecting appropriate and risk-free environments capable of supporting their special-needs child. Changes in employment, income, and relationships can affect future arrangements when left to chance. Establishing a legal plan will arrange for the right care in the right place.

Planning ahead gives peace of mind today and ensures ongoing care for the future for the whole family. For more on planning or for answers to questions call today.

Want to Save More? Get Out of Your Own Way

Watching a friend run a marathon recently I was struck by the lack of outward competition. The runners seemed more determined to accomplish personal goals than on overtaking one another. There are of course those at the head of the pack competing for the win, yet the majority aimed only to cross the finish line. I couldn’t help but make the comparison between achieving financial goals and completing a marathon.

Setting long-term financial goals is a long race. Those trying to sprint wind up exhausted. There is one significant difference that stands out: people choose to run a marathon yet we are all in the financial race together. The race is long and will push many to the limit. The prize for completing the race is, instead of a medal, personal financial success.

Like running a long race, obstacles will arise and there will times when digging deep will be the only way to overcome. For runners, these moments are called breaking points. My friend says in marathons, it is mile 22 where the tank feels empty. The key to getting beyond that is to visualize the goal. Seeing the shorter distance to the goal rather than the longer distance completed makes finishing the final miles a little easier.

What is mile 22 in our financial lives? Anecdotally it seems that hits around the age of 50 for both men and women. At that age, most are settled into life. Children may be part of the picture with mounting education expenses. They’ve been a part of the workforce for some time and retirement can feel closer than ever. The reality is there are still a couple of miles left to go in the race.

A 2015 Transamerica retirement survey recommends that a 50-year-old maintain a steady account balance of $117,000. For many, that may be the eye-popping moment. In a marathon, there is always the option to throw in the towel and catch a ride to the finish line. In life, the financial race is lifelong and mandatory. Symbolically, age 50 represents the point where the remaining distance is shorter yet also the hardest. The good news is you’re still in the race.

The first thing to get a hold of are any pre-existing notions about organic financial health. Financial success is something earned; the chances finances will correct and improve on their own is, well, impossible. Often the opposite it the case requiring an effective defense as well. For all those important decisions put off until later, it’s time to finally take control of personal finances. Next, make active decisions to improve stability and security for the future. Several examples include increasing retirement account payments, paying mortgage balances on-time or early, and seeking alternative funding for children’s education. A positive financial mindset will make the rest of the race possible. See the finish line and visualize to materialize.

For any questions about insurance topics that may impact personal and financial health, call today.

Simple Steps to Get Out of Debt

Debt can be stressful for anyone. Things happen each day which can change employment, financial, and living status. In other cases, spending habits, medical care, and family create additional stressors. Loans and other financial obligations will have to be met regardless. Rather than throwing in the towel, overcome debt and get back on track. Reduce and overcome debt with these 5 steps to a debt-free life:

1. Stop Borrowing

To get ahead quickly, eliminate credit spending. This goes for credit furniture, credit cards, payday loans, new vehicles and more. The first step to eliminating debt is to stop feeding the monster. Once the debt has a set total, it will be easier to figure out how to eliminate it completely.

2. Start Saving

Create an emergency fund of $1000. This fund prevents the unexpected from adding to the debt. This buffer may be a challenge to create initially but may help avoid multiple loans later on.

3. Create a Budget

Creating a budget and sticking to it tracks income and expenses. Learning where the money is coming and going will help plan a strategy for overcoming debt. Money left over after essential expenses are covered should go toward reducing overall debt. Creating an excess is possible by either increasing income or reducing expenses.

  • Increasing income. Those with the means can increase income a number of ways. Extra jobs, overtime, commission, and other avenues for increasing exist depending on career options. Get creative. Many home-based businesses allow for extra income while maintaining a regular routine.
  • Spending less. Reducing spending helps create a budget excess at the end of the month. Look at monthly expenses to find opportunities for saving. Gym memberships, entertainment subscriptions, and eating out add up. Shop smarter by comparing prices.

4. Get Organized

Organizing debt is the next step in developing a strategy. Using one of two methods, organize all debts according to size and interest rate to begin reducing them to zero. Watching loans reduce down is satisfying and motivating for reducing more.

Organize based on size. Line up debts from smallest to largest regardless of interest rate. Begin by paying the smallest off first, then roll payments into the next debt until paying the final loan.

Organize based on interest rate. Otherwise known as credit laddering, this solution has debts arranged based on interest rate, with the highest at the top. This method reduces total amount spent on interest.

Once a method is arranged, stick to it. Begin with paying one loan, and roll payments into following loans after accounts are brought to zero. Take care in closing accounts, as closing accounts completely may cause damage to credit score. These methods work for debts large and small.

5. Get Ahead

Spend any additional income on debt. At the end of the month, excess money should be placed toward debts before entertainment. Smart spending with tax returns, inheritance money, and unexpected income will help reduce debts for good. The more placed towards paying off debt, the faster it will disappear. Create a strategy for overcoming debt today.

Always a source for great information about insurance topics for health and finance. Call today with any insurance-related questions.

Straightforward Steps to Living Well

Retiring with sufficient money for living well is possible. Planning early and making the right decisions can create wealth. There is more to retirement planning than investing in the stock market. Deliberate decisions made early boost savings potential. Daily decisions matter. Plan early and the money will follow.

College or a Trade?

College graduates entering the workforce often come with college debt. College debt can exceed the tens of thousands and beyond. Loans of this magnitude affect all life decisions from buying a home to having a family and finding a career. The right job for the degree matters. Many graduates have low-paying jobs in fields other than their major. Education is expensive; a college education may cost $100,000 or more. The good news is: people drawn to other fields have alternatives.

Many professions have starting salaries under $30,000 a year. College loan payments can consume a good portion of that. Planning ahead can help manage college loan payments. A good rule of thumb is keeping total college debt below total annual income. Researching careers and salaries before committing to loans helps plan for the making payments on them later. High-paying jobs are available without 4 years of college. People interested in arts, trades, and other careers can make more than graduates with bachelor’s degrees. According to a study by Georgetown University, 28% people with associates degrees or trade equivalents earn more than university grads.

Saving Smart

A smaller amount of people have savings accounts than those who do. For many people, saving is possible with smart financial planning. Cars, homes, and other accessories consume portions of the monthly budget. Before long, entire paychecks are spent the moment received creating a cycle of loan payments.
Navigate pitfalls applying these basic rules:

  • Saving. Save 10% of earnings for retirement. For people starting after age 30: 12-15%. For parents making a choice between saving for retirement and saving for children’s college, choose retirement.
  • Living. All general living expenses receive 50% of the budget.
  • Saving. Place 20% of income into savings. Additionally, 6 month’s savings for emergencies helps overcome the unexpected.
  • Driving. Limit vehicle payments to 10% of monthly income; loans payable within 4 years.
  • Spending. The remaining 20% is available for spending,

Other savings vehicles include 401k work-programs, IRAs, and life insurance.

Budgeting Loans and Credit Cards

Many lessons came from the last economic crisis. People are much better about debt-management and loan commitments than before. Still, excessive credit-card limits savings potential for many. Credit cards carry high rates of interest, often 18% or higher. This means credit card charges totaling $5,000, paid at the minimum monthly-rate, may reach over $9,000 in payments over 3 decades. Making purchases within means helps limit credit card and loan payments. Credit and loan payments are part of a monthly budget.

Watch the Market

Stock market growth is up 12% this year, yet the tides are in constant ebb and flow. Market downturns happen, causing many to leave the market in a panic. Recovery may be hard to picture, yet time and time again the stock market recovers and improves. A 260% increase since the most-recent downturn continues this pattern. Long-term strategies for investing create solid foundations for savings. Focusing on a combination of smart stocks and bonds, rather than market trends, creates reliability. Young investors may wish to invest up to 70-80% of annual income for comfortable retirement.

Retire Smart

At retirement, making money last is important. Many people spend 30-40 years or more in retirement. Before retiring, plan on enough savings to last a lifetime. Before retiring, determine annual living expenses. This helps plan for enough for living comfortably. Each year, limit withdrawals to only 4% of available savings. Life may continue for decades, plan early and plan smart.

Speak to a Pro

Retirement planning is different for everyone. Each person has a different vision and timeline for retirement. A financial planner can help determine the best way for achieving retirement goals. It is always a good time to start planning for retirement, start today.

There are many wellness and finance topics affecting daily life. Want to see any topics featured? Send over any suggestions, and please contact an agent for any questions.

Teach Your Kids Financial Literacy!

For better or worse, kids copy their parents. In fact, they are more likely to “do as you do”, rather than “do as you say”. This can be good, or it can be eye-opening to bad personal behavior. Kids imitate more than mannerisms. What kids learn today will affect their success tomorrow. According to asset management firm T. Rowe Rate, parents with poor financial management are more likely to pass bad money-management habits on to their kids.

T.Rowe conducted a study which found parents with large credit-card balances influenced similar behavior in their millennial children. In some cases, these kids already carried over $5,000 in debt, a lot for a young person. Making matters worse, the same children had less interest in saving and none in clearing their debt. They expected parents to pay their expenses as they got older, with no plans for securing their own financial future.

Parents who exercised sound financial decision-making fared better. Often, those children grew up performing financially better than the parents. These children were also more likely to have college savings in place. The study confirmed what many already suspected: parents are a child’s largest financial influence.

According to T. Rowe, kids develop financial discipline at a very young age – well before high school. Teaching smart money matters to children at an early age creates advantages. The principles of saving and smart-decision making should be part of home life.

An allowance is a good way to introduce money management to children. An allowance can teach the principles of saving and spending. Family budgeting is another way to involve children in money matters. Vacations and other large purchases have opportunity costs. Teaching children the importance of balanced decision-making helps them later on. Without using money children can learn budgeting using allowances of time for entertainment.

Start teaching smart financial skills today. Teach kids to be financially independent right at home. Classes exist online or contact an expert. Give kids the tools to succeed later in life. Good financial skills are for everyone. Save today and enjoy tomorrow!

This and other insurance-related topics have a direct bearing on well-being. Have any insurance topics to talk about? Send them over! Call for answers to all personal insurance and business insurance questions.

When You Should Work With a Financial Planner

Americans are stressed about debt. According to the American Psychological Organization, 72% of Americans worry about debt. Only about 18% think that they have enough money saved to last through retirement. Still, when it comes to their financial future, many people don’t ask for help. Only around 40% of those surveyed reported using a Financial Planner.

Financial Advisors Vs. Financial Planners

A Financial Planner is different from a Financial Advisor. While often casually interchanged, these titles apply to specific roles:

Financial Advisors have a wide range of financial expertise. Financial Advisors aid with investments, estate planning, and tax preparation.

Financial Planners have a specific set of financial skills. They can specialize in areas of finance such as retirement, investing, or estate planning. When you need help managing money or a financial plan, this is who to call.

Many people think that building a long-term financial plan simply means establishing goals. In reality, it is much more complex. These are a just a few instances where you may want to hire an expert:

1: You don’t like thinking about money.

If you’re the kind of person who hates talking about finances, you probably aren’t paying as much attention to yours as you should. You’re also not alone. Let’s be honest – some people don’t like discussing money because it isn’t all that fascinating. Instead of hoping things work without supervision, hire a specialist to help out.

2: Money management is overwhelming.

Money management is complex. It involves more than saving – you need to plan, budget, and prepare. College savings, retirement, investments… When the realization of how involved the process it hits, the shock can freeze you in your tracks. If you’re already behind on your savings goals, obstacles will feel larger and more difficult to surmount.

Financial Planners do the hard work for you. Financial Planners can help set goals, then break them down into specific steps. This makes the process feel much easier and far less overwhelming.

3: You want a second opinion

Here’s a secret – even the financially savvy ask for advice. Financial Planners are a great resource for professional advice and second opinions. Spending too much energy focusing on your 401(k) and neglecting something else? Even if you have a business degree it can help to have outside help. Having someone dedicated to your finances can help you discover more ways to save and invest.

The Costs for Financial Planning

Financial Planners may employ different rates for their services. In most cases, your Financial Planner will use one of the following frameworks:

  • Fee only. Fee-only financial planning refers to flat-fee pricing. Financial Planners will charge either hourly, a flat percentage, or a set monthly retainer cost.
  • Commission based. Some Financial Planners will charge a commission as payment, from earnings and investments they work on.
  • Fee-based. Fee-based Financial Planners charge both flat fees and a commission.

To best determine what financial planning services are best for you, begin by determining your needs. For simple concerns, flat fee work may be most appropriate. Ongoing investment or savings advice may require long-term help.

Talk to a few financial planners about their cost structures and fees. Before you agree to anything know exactly what services you need, and what services they offer. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help managing your money! Talk to a Financial Planner today to see how you can achieve your own financial goals.

We’re always on the lookout for great information about insurance topics that may impact your health and wallet. If you think of any insurance-related topics, be sure to reach out to us.

Young Boomers Not Saving For Rainy Days

The good news is: Americans are getting better about setting money aside for emergencies.

The bad news is: Americans still aren’t very good about saving money for emergencies.

The worst news is: Older Americans are the worst, and they should know better!

Boomers Aren’t Preparing

Recent research indicates Baby Boomers aren’t doing a great job at saving for a rainy day. A survey by Bankrate found 32% of Baby Boomers between the 53-62 did not have ANY savings set aside for an emergency. No savings at all. This is more surprising when you consider how close they are to retirement. Their age group needs to save more than any other, yet they ranked the highest of all surveyed.

Financial experts recommend a solid emergency fund. Most experts recommend an emergency fund capable of covering 3-6 months of expenses. Bankrate financial expert Greg McBride says the high percentage of young Boomers have the economic crisis to blame. According to McBride, the recent recession affected Boomers disproportionately due to investment losses and extended unemployment. The market crash affected the emergency savings funds of this group most. The survey found those aged 63 and older fared better. This group had the lowest percentage of respondents without any emergency savings. 50% of adults 63 and older replied they had at least 6 months of expenses covered in savings.

Save Now, Save for Life

The survey found 25% of all Americans don’t have any savings. On the positive side, that’s the lowest number since the survey began in 2011. Additionally, 31% of the survey respondents now have six months worth of expenditures covered in savings. This, too, is the best result since 2011.

A surprising finding of the survey was how well millennials were at financial planning. While infant boomers are more likely to have enough to cover six months of expenses or more, Millennials are more likely to have three to five months and were better at keeping emergency funds overall.

Life stages are a definite factor when it comes to saving. Fewer millennials are starting families, and more are still living with their parents – the Baby Boomers. Experts state increasing savings is an important step to safeguarding your financial future and decreasing your stress levels. This is true no matter your current age or your financial situation.

McBride says the first step to this process is easy: setting up an automated savings deposit from your current job. You have to make a choice to start saving. No one else is going to take this step for you.

We’re always on the prowl for great information on insurance topics that may impact your health and your wallet. If you have any insurance-related questions, reach out to us.