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Advisor Insights Blog

Life Insurance with Extended-Care Riders

The cost of long term care policies is trending up, up, up--if you can even qualify. Enter the hybrid policy, which is life insurance with a long term care rider. Learn about the advantages and disadvantages here!
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American Rescue Plan Makes FSAs a Little More Flexible

For those with a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA), there may be some good news on the horizon. The American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden, boosts the amount that companies can allow workers to deposit in their dependent-care FSAs for 2021. Employers can choose whether to make any modifications to their plans under these temporary rule changes but are under no obligation to do so.
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The Many Forms of Fixed Income

This short article provides a brief overview of yield strategies that extend beyond buying government bonds.
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Basics of having your affairs in order

Originally published in 2018, the message of this article is evergreen...Several areas of our lives need attention to prepare for the inevitable.
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Family money conversations: Sharing is caring!

What financial lessons have you learned along life's journey that you wished you'd learned at a much younger age? Beth asks several friends to reflect.
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DEBT: Before, near, and during retirement

Maintaining debt in retirement comes with heightened risks that financial planners ultimately cannot quantify. There are just too many unknowns. The first risk I mentioned earlier, and that is having more of your income taken up by someone else, leaving less to pay for your desired lifestyle. The other concern I have is that the habits or mindset that led to this predicament haven’t changed, and that you will slowly impoverish yourself as you deplete your resources.
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Choosing healthier living

As with the financial behaviors we discuss with our clients and their families, moderation and reasonableness are keys to sustaining results over time. Following common sense—rather than ever-changing diet fads and even USDA recommendations--should get most folks closer to that healthier look they want.
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What do I do with all of this money?

While a windfall scenario may seem unlikely to you, such things do happen, whether it's an inheritance, bonus, or surprise from another source. Many financial windfall situations end badly. Determine in advance that this won't happen to you.
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Budgeting for Beginners

Whether you prefer to work it out with pencil and paper or by computer, the main rule is to create and stick to the budget.
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CASE STUDY: Helping Lindsay and Esteban figure out their spending

By sitting down, maybe for the first time, and looking at their spending, Lindsay and Esteban have identified the most important number in their whole financial plan: their monthly spending. Whether or not they are on track for their goal, as part of the planning process they will receive recommendations that are relevant to their individual situation.
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CASE STUDY: John, Becky, and the rising cost of living

We see it time and time again in our office: A financial plan seems like it would work, but inflation takes a big bite out of your spending power over time. We've developed a case study that presents this all-too-common challenge in an easy-to-understand example.
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Hard things don't get easier

What have you put off that you could tackle today, or this year? Whether that is a tough conversation or saving for retirement, doing it now will probably be easier on you than waiting!
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Battered, but still standing

Has your life been tossed around this year? Forces outside our control can give our plans a beating, but let's make sure we stay on track.
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Retirement may cost more than you think

Our 40-something author runs the numbers on how much it may cost her to live when she's 100, if she spends like an average American. Are you ready for some eye-popping figures? Read on...
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October Is Financial Planning Month

Every stage in life--whether you're well into retirement, just starting out, or somewhere in between--involves financial decisions. Here are six areas to think about, from tax management to cash flow management and investing strategies.
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How Much Money Will You Need for Retirement?

The average American thinks they need $1.9 million to comfortably retire, according to a survey, up $200,000 over last year's results, probably due to the coronavirus pandemic. But does that number even make any sense?
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Investing happens one day at a time

The only way I can think of to start turning bad years into good years is via daily efforts. Just like reading to your kids makes a difference over time, little daily actions like brown bagging your lunch, outperforming your peers at work, or starting and sticking with a side hustle help clear the way for you to improve your situation.
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Retirement plan options for small businesses

401(k)... SIMPLE IRA... SEP IRA... What's the best choice for your business?
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Catching up on retirement savings in your 50s

For someone who’s in their 50s, one of the most important things to consider is whether you are saving enough for retirement. Most people are not, to be honest about it. I like to call this the CATCH UP DECADE. And the government even allows folks who are 50 and older to put more money into retirement accounts. Guess what they call this? Catch up contributions.
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Don't forget to pursue financial freedom in your 40s!

The biggest tradeoffs—or choices--in this decade usually revolve around paying off debt vs. saving for retirement vs. helping kids. How on earth can you do it all at the same time? You need to try.
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Am I behind on retirement savings (financial freedom)?

Whether you call it retirement or financial freedom, asking whether you’re behind in saving now can make a big difference when it’s time to answer the question, “Can I stop working?” when you’re older.
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Before You Claim Social Security

Life expectancy, marital status, and employment plans are all factors at play in your decision of when to file for Social Security.
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4 ways to escape when you can't go anywhere

You have the power to adapt to keep your spirits aloft and free during difficult times. Here are 4 approaches I've taken during COVID-19. What's working for you?
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Organizing your information

As you prepare to retire, start migrating your life toward the home front by cleaning up your physical and digital space at work. And just as if not more important, organize your important information in one place if you haven’t done so already.
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Setting up your retirement paycheck

Going from getting regular paychecks to living off a combination of monthly Social Security and pension deposits as well as investments can be a major adjustment.
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College funding options

Your children or grandchildren may benefit greatly from the college planning you do for them today. There are a variety of options, depending on your situation.
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Retirement roadblocks

Don't let lack of awareness or an ostrich approach with your head in the sand keep you from addressing all the factors as best you can for your retirement. Most people need to plan to live a long time, making inflation, portfolio composition, and health and insurance issues incredibly important to consider, alongside other factors like your retirement dreams and consistent savings.
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Eldercare choices in the COVID-19 era

Medicare may not suffice if you need extended care. Generally speaking, it will pay for no more than 35 hours a week of home health care and only up to 100 days of nursing home care after a hospitalization. It may pay for up to six months of hospice care. If you or someone you love has dementia and needs to move into an assisted living facility, Medicare may not pay their room and board.
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May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month

At the end of the day, it’s really about your risk tolerance. Current research shows that the average 20-year-old worker has more than a 25% chance of becoming disabled before they retire.
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Bills, skills, & wills: Lessons from COVID-19

What changes have you resolved to make following the COVID-19 disruption? The coronavirus caught many unprepared for its draconian social and economic impacts. We can, however, learn from looking around us and take action moving forward to limit any personal upheaval caused by sudden loss of income, death, or incapacity. And we can work to build a greater sense of security by strengthening our skills and social networks.
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Details on the Tax Deadline Extension

Other deadlines, such as the IRA contribution deadline, have also moved, but the final extension deadline stays the same.
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Federal student loan relief during the COVID-19 pandemic

All federal student loans have been placed in administrative forbearance and automatic payments are paused from March 13 to September 30, 2020. During this same time period, interest rates are being set to 0%.
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CARES Act Highlights

Here is a PDF detailing two critical features of the CARES Act, including provisions for COVID-related withdrawals from retirement accounts as well as the individual stimulus checks some taxpayers are receiving.
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What phase of retirement planning are you in?

Already retired, retiring sooner, or retiring later....The process never really stops, as it must be constantly evaluated.
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Roth IRA Conversion in the Era of COVID-19

In the face of the market downturn after the COVID-19 outbreak, you may be in a unique financial situation.
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When told to stay at home, basic home ec skills come in handy

Have you been able to dust off or acquire a skill during this time of “social distancing?” All of a sudden house cleaning, home education/teaching, menu planning, and laundry--tasks many of us have outsourced--are more wisely done at home, at least for the very short term.
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Key Provisions of the CARES Act

The $2 trillion “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security” (“CARES”) Act was signed into law this last week. The CARES Act is designed to help those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, while also providing key provisions that may benefit retirees. Here are the most important provisions.
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How much will I get from Social Security?

With Social Security providing a significant foundation of most retirees' monthly incomes, it's important to know what you can expect your benefits to look like.
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For future consideration...

We financial planners face this time perspective challenge with clients every day. Talking about future long-term care needs and just straight up aging cause many to simply freeze up.
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Retirement savings rules change

The SECURE Act makes modest changes designed to help workers save more for longer and, if they’re retired, hold on to those funds a few more years before having to pay taxes on them.
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When a Windfall Comes Your Way

When a big lump sum enhances your financial standing, you need to think about the immediate future, the near future, and the decades ahead. Many people celebrate their good fortune when they receive sudden wealth and live in the moment, only to wonder years later where that moment went.
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Ways to Fund Special Needs Trusts

Care must be taken not only in the setup of a special needs trust, but in the management of it as well. This should be a team effort. The family members involved should seek out legal and financial professionals who are well versed in this field, and the resulting trust should be a product of close collaboration.
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The SECURE Act

The RMD rules have changed, and there's no longer a maximum age for traditional IRA contributions.
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Tremendous Gains Since 2009

The lesson this long bull market has taught is simply that the bad times in the stock market may be worth enduring. Good times may replace those bad times more swiftly than anyone can anticipate.
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Retirement planning mistakes

These miscalculations can create serious challenges in retirement.
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Letter to my young savers

Good stewardship of our resources, including time and relationships as well as money, is important to achieving any sense of security and control in life.
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The best advice is quite simple

Two suggestions: One "to-do" and one "don't do."
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Can You Put Your IRA into a Trust?

You can control what happens to your IRA assets after your death. While you cannot put an IRA into a trust, using beneficiary designations may be an effective estate planning tool.
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Insurance Needs for Empty Nesters and Retirees

Do you need health, home, life, disability, and extended care coverage? Some insurance needs change at this phase of life and should be reevaluated.
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Spotting credit trouble

While knowing your credit score may be important, it may be more vital to review your credit report to correct any errors that may be hurting your score and take the necessary steps to improve your credit profile.
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Raising healthy children

The attitudes and habits formed in childhood can determine your child’s health in their adult years. Here are some ideas for parents who are looking to raise healthy children who grow up to be healthy adults.
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Inventorying your possessions

Get started by asking your insurance agent if they have an inventory checklist, which may help you remember to include items that you might otherwise overlook.
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Insurance needs when married with children

Having a family requires all types of considerations. Insurance is one of them, including: life, health, disability, home, auto, and extended care.
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Understanding long-term care

When it comes to addressing your long-term care needs, many look to select a strategy that may help them protect assets, preserve dignity, and maintain independence. If those concepts are important to you, consider your approach for long-term care.
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A Bucket Plan to Go with Your Bucket List

We commonly recommend a bucket strategy for clients. Learn more here!
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Estate planning mistakes

In my practice, I routinely see individuals and families fail to put basic safeguards into place that would help them in the event of sudden illness, death, or incapacity.
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The FIRE movement

Do you have dreams or life goals that you want to realize within 10 or 20 years, including retiring from your business or employer? Now is the best time to financially strategize for those ambitions. Whether you retire before or after age 50, an early start on your strategy might be instrumental in the pursuit of your objectives.
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The gift tax

Not all gifts are taxable. Work with a tax professional to learn about annual exclusions, lifetime exemptions, and exceptions for tuition and payment of medical bills.
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Retirement and Adult Children

While every household has their reasons to help their adult children, it’s important to keep your retirement strategy on track. It’s not only a matter of replacing the money that you are taking out of retirement accounts or investments, but you’re also losing time. The growth that may occur with investments or compound interest is a phenomenon that happens over decades. In that situation, you can replace the money you took out, but you can’t replace its potential.
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The BIG question: Will I run out of money?

What’s the best strategy to avoid running out of money in retirement? Know how much you can spend each year, and if you potentially have several decades to live, keep a good part of your nest egg invested aiming to benefit your future self.
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Teaching Your Heirs to Value Your Wealth

By involving your kids in the discussion of where the family wealth will go when you are gone, you encourage their intellectual and emotional investment in its future. Pair values, defined goals, and clear purpose with financial literacy and input from a financial or legal professional, and you will take a confident step toward making family wealth last longer.
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10 years, tremendous growth

While the last 10-plus years have seen some big ups and downs for the benchmark S&P 500, the index has never closed more than 20% below a recent peak in that span, meaning the current bull market is more than 10 years old.
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Wise Decisions with Retirement in Mind

Retire healthy. Retire financially literate. Retire with purpose.
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Saving Your Elderly Parents from Financial Fraud

The Senate Special Committee on Aging says that American elders lose $2.9 billion in fraud per year. That’s spread among 78 million Americans over the age of 65. One in five of that population has some sort of cognitive issue, a number that rises to more than half when narrowed to people 85 and older.
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A Look at HSAs

An HSA can potentially offer a pool of tax-exempt dollars for health care, a path to tax savings, and even a possible source of retirement income after age 65.
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Your Emergency Fund: How Much is Enough?

The only thing you can know about unexpected expenses is that they’re coming – for everyone. But having an emergency fund may help alleviate the stress and worry associated with a financial crisis. If your emergency savings are not where they should be, consider taking steps today to create a cushion for the future.
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The anatomy of an index

The S&P 500, as we know it today, was introduced in March 1957. It tracks the market value of about 500 large firms that are listed on the Nasdaq Composite and the New York Stock Exchange. The S&P is structured to include companies from across the sectors of the business community, in an effort to represent the breadth of the U.S. economy.
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Why do you need a will?

The law does not require a will to be drawn up by a professional, so you could create your own will, with or without using a template. If you make a mistake, however, you will not be around to correct it. When you draft a will, consider enlisting the help of a legal, tax, or financial professional who could offer you additional insight, especially if you have a large estate or a complex family situation. Remember, a will puts power in your hands.
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ABLE Accounts for loved ones with disabilities

ABLE accounts give families with children who have special needs a new way to save and invest for future needs and expenses.
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Traditional vs. Roth IRAs

A breakdown of the advantages of the two basic types of IRAs, the Traditional and the Roth.
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Lower Valuations Offer Long Term Opportunity: LPL Weekly Market Commentary

Let's look beyond the headlines.
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A Retirement Fact Sheet

The realities of retirement may surprise you. While some numbers are favorable, such as a higher standard deduction for those 65 and older, other statistics are concerning, especially as they relate to senior women.
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Putting a Price Tag on Your Health

By focusing on your health, eliminating harmful habits, and employing preventative care, you may be able to improve your self-confidence and quality of life. You may also be able to reduce expenses, enjoy more of your money, and boost your overall financial health.
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LPL Weekly Market Commentary

A historical perspective on bear markets.
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This Christmas season, plan to be generous

This Christmas season, absolutely go ahead and participate in the Angel Trees, the food drives, the Senior Santas. It’s part of the fun. But consider if you can commit to a regularly scheduled donation throughout 2019. You might be surprised by how much good you can do.
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This Christmas season, plan to be generous

This Christmas season, absolutely go ahead and participate in the Angel Trees, the food drives, the Senior Santas. It’s part of the fun. But consider if you can commit to a regularly scheduled donation throughout 2019. You might be surprised by how much good you can do.
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Tax Considerations for Retirees

Tax breaks, excludable gains, possible credits, and larger standard deductions for seniors.
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Searching for Health Coverage in the Years Before Medicare

A single retiree may pay as much as $500-1,000 per month for private health insurance. For a couple, the monthly premiums can surpass $2,000. These are ballpark figures; fortunately, seniors without pre-existing health conditions can locate some less expensive plans offering short-term coverage, albeit with high deductibles. If you find yourself in this situation, what are your options?
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Fall 2018 Newsletter

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IRS increases retirement contribution limits

Here we summarize the changes to the savings maximums on the most common retirement account types.
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Ways the middle class can make a difference for charity

Your charitable gifting can have real impact even if you don’t have a fortune.
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When a windfall comes your way

Think about what financial independence (or greater financial freedom) means to you. How do you want to spend your time? Should you continue in your present career? Should you stick with your business, or sell or transfer ownership? What kinds of near-term possibilities could this open for you? What are the concrete financial steps that could help you defer or reduce taxes in the next few years? How can risk be sensibly managed as some or all the assets are invested?
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Getting Your Personal Finances in Shape for 2019

Whether you want to accomplish in 2019 what you did not quite do in 2018, or further the positive financial trends underway in your life, now is the time to look forward and plan.
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The Sequence of Returns

As you approach and enter retirement, the "sequence of returns"--or the market's actual year to year performance--matters a lot more than it did early in your earnings years.
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The Snowball Effect

If you save consistently for long enough, your retirement account's earnings may start to exceed your contributions.
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Leaving a Legacy to Your Grandkids

A family legacy can have multiple aspects. It can include much more than heirlooms and appreciated assets. It may also include guidance, even instructions, about what to do with the gifts that are given. It should reflect the values of the giver. What are your legacy assets?
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Why Do People Put Off Saving for Retirement?

What is the point of starting today, some young adults wonder? The point can be expressed in two words: compound interest.
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Match point: Your employer contribution isn't the only number to know

Employer contributions of any size to retirement plans are commendable, to be sure, but employees should be aware that there may be little connection between the match percentage and how much they need to set aside for retirement.
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Who Is Your Trusted Contact?

If you are being exploited financially, or seem at risk of such exploitation, that person will be alerted and called to action. An old saying states that money never builds character, it only reveals it. The character and morality of your trusted contact should not waver upon assuming this responsibility. If given sensitive information about your brokerage accounts, that person should not sense an opportunity.
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Why Medicare Should Be Part of Your Retirement Planning

Medicare takes a little time to understand. As you approach age 65, familiarize yourself with its coverage options and their costs and limitations. Certain features of Medicare can affect health care costs and coverage. Some retirees may do okay with original Medicare (Parts A and B), others might find it lacking and decide to supplement original Medicare with Part C, Part D, or Medigap coverage.
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Financial planning with inflation in mind

Put $1,000 under a mattress and in 20 years, you're likely to have less real money than what you started with.
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Wealth management with memory disorders

What are the warning signs that an elder may be losing the ability to handle finances? What can adult children and grandchildren do now to make future decisions less stressful?
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Style, substance, & savings: 3 ways a work uniform can improve your life

The added benefit of projecting substance through an appropriate work uniform is that it can add actual value to your work product by giving you more time to think about important matters.
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Beware of Lifestyle Creep

The newly affluent are especially susceptible to lifestyle creep. Live well, but not extravagantly. After years of law school or time toiling at start-ups, getting hired by the right firm and making that career leap can be exhilarating – but it should not be a gateway to runaway debt.
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Set Goals as You Save & Invest

Hope is not a strategy. When you save and invest with goals in mind, you make a commitment. From that commitment, a plan or strategy emerges. In contrast, others will save a little here, invest a little there, and hope for the best.
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Financing a college education

A university education can often require financing and assuming debt. If your student does not qualify for a Pell Grant or other kinds of help, and has no scholarship offers, what do you do? You probably search for a student loan. But if your student needs to finance a college education, remember that this financial need should come second to your need to save for retirement. Your student has a chance to arrange a college loan; you do not get to arrange for a retirement loan.
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Facts About Refinancing

While refinancing is not always an answer--especially if the term is lengthened, causing you to pay more in interest--hopefully you will be able to lower the interest rate on your loan, shorten its term, or find a way to reduce your monthly payments.
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When couples should consider allowances

If your relationship contains a saver and a spender, and you often disagree about purchases, consider paying yourselves an allowance.
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6 steps to debt freedom

Having too much debt can be stressful. It can ruin relationships. Get a plan to get rid of it.
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The medical expense deduction in 2018

You may find it advantageous to itemize in 2018 using Schedule A so that you can claim medical expense deductions and take advantage of what could be the last year for the 7.5% threshold. Or, you might find that taking the newly enlarged standard deduction makes more financial sense. If you think your household will have significant medical expenses this year, it might be wise to compare the options.
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Annuities for retirement income

No investment is risk free, but an annuity may offer an intriguing investment choice for the risk averse. If you are seeking an income-producing investment that attempts to either limit or minimize risk, annuities may be worth considering.
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The value of home economy

Though the study of home economics feels dated, there's real money to be found from practicing economy in your home.
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How retirement spending changes with time

Retirees in their sixties should realize that their spending will likely decline as they age. As they try to avoid spending down their assets too quickly, they can take some comfort in knowing that in future years, they could possibly spend much less.
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Why You Want a Retirement Plan in Writing

Have you ever heard the simple suggestion to "get it in writing"? Well, there's a reason this is a good idea. It can help all parties to an agreement stay honest. It can even help you stay honest with yourself about your plans, goals, hopes, and dreams!
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Stir it up: A quick tip for a fast, healthy meal at home

When you are pressed for time or energy and your alternative is takeout (which is not faster), ask yourself what two things you have on hand that you can stir together. This minimalist approach may help you through more than one culinary emergency.
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Retirement triage: Are you a critical patient?

Rules of thumb for determining whether your retirement savings are in a state of emergency, and what to do about it.
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For Retirement, Income Matters as Much as Savings

After you retire and your monthly paycheck stops, you need a strategy to replace that cash flow. You may need to look at combination of retirement account withdrawals, private income contracts, pensions, Social Security, and/or part-time work.
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Managing student loan debt

Can you implement any of these strategies to lessen the burden of your higher education debt?
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Why You Should Have an Online Social Security Account

In logging on regularly, you may do your part to help the SSA detect and ward off criminals who could use your identity to collect or file for benefits.
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You are not alone: 4 common financial planning outcomes

More often than not, an individual or couple who goes through a financial planning process will discover that they need to make a change. Here are some typical adjustments we recommend.
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How to save money on food, Part 3 (Think novelty, not luxury)

If you struggle to rein in your grocery spending due to routine shopping at luxury grocery stores, try unleashing your imagination instead. Think about what culinary experiences you’ve really enjoyed, explore other cuisines, and practice using what you already have. Not only will your wallet thank you, but you’re likely to gain fresh satisfaction from your inspired creations.
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The importance of the Uniform Prudent Investor Act

Prudent trust management is a legal duty in almost all U.S. states. Irresponsible trust management may lead to legal trouble for a trustee.
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Keeping this correction in perspective

A few things are worth remembering at this juncture. One, Wall Street has had more good years than bad ones, as any casual glance at its history will reveal. This year may turn out well. Two, something similar happened in the mid-1990s – a long, easygoing bull run was suddenly disrupted by major volatility. That bull market kept going, though – it lasted four more years, and the S&P 500 doubled along the way. Three, this market needed to cool off.
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4 workplace scenarios, 4 reasons to save more

Lack of resources to escape a trying work situation--or just take a needed break--can enhance workplace suffering.
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Retirement considerations that have nothing to do with money

How you get around, take care of your home, and manage your time and relationships are key non-financial considerations to ponder BEFORE turning in your notice!
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Basics of having your affairs in order

Failing to take the time to review your beneficiaries on your investment and banking accounts, sit down with an attorney to draft a will, or purchase life insurance if needed can cause serious issues if an untimely death or illness strikes.
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How to save money on food: Part 2 (Planning)

Hunger emergencies cause greater than necessary spending on food. Staying ahead of hunger, which requires planning, is key to avoiding them. Here are 3 tips for doing just that!
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Do you need an umbrella?

Life is unpredictable, and legal judgments can reach long into your future (including grabbing future wages).
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How to save money on food: Part 1 (No Waste)

As a financial planner who reads widely on people’s money habits, mindfulness around food spending--including dining out, of course--seems to be a good gateway into the cultivation of better money behaviors overall. Mastering personal finance is largely about self control, and food spending is close to 100 percent in your control, almost immediately, whereas selling a car or house is more involved or perhaps impractical.
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Ways to fund special needs trusts

Care must be taken not only in the setup of a special needs trust, but in the management of it as well. This should be a team effort. The family members involved should seek out legal and financial professionals well versed in this field, and the resulting trust should be a product of close collaboration.
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The importance of equitable estate planning

Whether you have done much or little estate planning, the matter of equitable division of assets must be considered. In terms of asset transfer, what seems equal at first consideration may not prove equal in execution.
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5 strategies to keeping more of what you earn

With this recommended strategy, I compensate for common stumbling blocks in money management, including: savings, irregular expenses, and making sure bills are covered.
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How to set and pursue a big financial goal

Use these four steps to keep your New Year's resolutions on track.
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Tackling common financial resolutions

Whether it's paying down debt, spending less, or saving more, achieving many of the typical financial resolutions usually involves some sort of sacrifice. Here's an overview of ways you can make progress on these common goals.
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Examining the 2018 Social Security cost of living increase

The COLA will help retirees out, but it won't help them get ahead.
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Understanding inherited IRAs

If you inherit a small IRA, it might make sense to cash it out. But if the IRA is large, there are opportunities to stretch withdrawals (and their tax consequences) over a longer period of time.
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Retiring before 60: Useful steps for a dream

Retiring in your fifties may present you with greater financial challenges than if you retire later. While you may retire in better health, you will have to wait to collect Social Security and Medicare coverage. If early retirement is on your mind, consult a financial professional to see if your savings, your potential income streams, your insurance situation, and your ability to work part time correspond to your objective.
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College funding options

Coverdell ESAs, 529 Plans, UGMAs, UTMAs. The alphabet soup of giving your loved one the gift of education.
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3 baby steps toward paring down your food budget

While you might be intimidated by meal planning, freezer cooking, or eating too much Ramen, it's still easy to take action to reduce your food spending.
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Are there blind spots in your insurance plan?

Disability insurance, coverage for your sewer line, GAP insurance on vehicles, and flood/earthquake coverage are niche insurance offerings we don't think about every day. Most everyone is well served by reviewing their insurance coverages at least once a year, including these lesser-known types.
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Debt snowball meltdown

A debt snowball meltdown is a sad situation. Rather than continuing debt payoff with your extra monthly funds, or simply celebrating the additional financial freedom, you ponder what new payment your already-stretched paycheck can cover. When you roll a snowball too close to a campfire, it disappears. Thinking this way--how much can my paycheck handle?--is a no-fail recipe for continued financial stress and month-to-month (or even week-to-week) living.
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Health care costs cutting into retirement preparations

There is no easy answer for retirees preparing to address future health care costs. Staying active and fit may lead to health care savings over the long run, but some baby boomers and Gen Xers already have physical ailments. Barring some sort of unusual economic phenomenon or public policy shift, the question of how to pay for hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical and drug expenses after 65 will confound many of us.
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Open enrollment time? Take action on your financial regrets

American adults’ top financial regret is not saving for retirement earlier. Do you have this common regret? If you are still working and think--or know--you are behind in saving for retirement, now is an excellent time to bury some of those would-have, should-haves. Action helps cancel out regret, and fall is a great time to act.
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What to do if you get a raise

The danger of not making real choices with your money as your income (hopefully) rises over the years is that you will have inflated your lifestyle but will have no corresponding savings to support that lifestyle in retirement.
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Personal finance and the 4th dimension

Budgets—or spending plans, as financial advisors like to call them—are prepared on a spreadsheet, in personal finance software, or in a spiral notebook. Delusional as they can be even in their creation, underestimating regular spending and failing to account for irregular costs of living, rarely are these important guides brought into real time: implemented, monitored, revised.
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An estate plan or a wealth transfer strategy?

A basic estate plan is better than procrastination. A bona fide wealth transfer strategy is even better. Involving your heirs in its creation, refinement, and implementation may help you guide your wealth into the future in accordance with your goals.
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Government pensions and Social Security

When you or your spouse receives a pension from an employer that did not participate in Social Security, your benefits could be reduced.
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Meal planning for busy times

4 lessons I have learned after 3 years spent meal planning. The reward for spending a bit of time planning what you will eat is peaceful, stress-free weeknights with no stove slavery or fat bill from a quick-serve restaurant. In a house with two kids under 3 and two working professionals, that is priceless!
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Handling a financial windfall, big or small

Are you ready for unexpected money to come your way? Are you standing with your shovel, ready to put it to work? Or are you half-starved, waiting for someone else to cover your next meal?
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3 tips for college planning

My alma mater is Texas A&M, but as much as I’d like my sons to graduate as Aggies, I realize dear old dad’s wishes can’t be the only consideration. Funding a college education is a major investment, and goodness of fit and value for the money must also play a part in the decision.
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A financial bridge over life’s troubled waters

Most people think about emergency savings incorrectly, which leads to their not having any emergency savings. First, we think of emergency savings as cushions when we should really be thinking of them as bridges, bridges over dicey waters. Second, our savings are too easy to get to.
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Medicare enrollment options for 2017-18

Open enrollment, disenrollment, deadlines, and the donut hole for the upcoming year.
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Healthy lives, healthy finances

The well-to-do don’t necessarily have better personal trainers, though. It’s the personality trait of “conscientiousness” that makes a person both save for retirement and take action to ward off potential health problems. In other words, they take care of business. Put another way, a fatalistic attitude—thinking you have no control over your future—may indeed prove fatal to your health and your finances.
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Will you really be able to work longer?

Most American workers (75%) believe they will be on the job at or after age 65. That belief conflicts with fact, for only 23% of retired workers EBRI polled this year said that they had stayed on the job until they were 65 or older.
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The importance of a retirement cash stash

Investing even a few hundred dollars a month for several years can add up to significant savings that you can draw upon in retirement to supplement your Social Security and/or pension.
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Having the 'money talk' with your children

A money talk does not need to cover all the above subjects at once. You may prefer to dispense financial education in a way that is gradual and more anecdotal than implicitly instructive. Whichever way the knowledge is shared, sooner is better than later – because financially, kids have to grow up fast these days.
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Are you eating your retirement savings?

Are you overspending on food, literally gobbling down your savings for retirement and other goals? The U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests food budget guidelines at four levels of thriftiness, assuming all meals and snacks are prepared at home. The liberal plan allows $1,100 to $1,200 per month for a family of four. The thrifty plan for a family of four is $550 to $650.
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Will You Be Prepared When the Market Cools Off?

The next correction may shock investors who have been lulled into a false sense of security. You need not be among them. It will not be the end of the world or the markets. A correction, in a sense, is a reality check. It presents some good buying opportunities, and helps tame irrational exuberance. You could argue that corrections make the market healthier. In big-picture terms, the typical correction is brief. On average, the markets take 3-4 months to recover from a fall of at least 10%.
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How much is your work worth...to you?

Focusing on keeping a percentage – “a part” – of your income is more rewarding than focusing on dollar amounts. Saving $4,000 of a $40,000 income, or 10 percent, is a real accomplishment, while saving $4,000 of a $250,000 income is 1.6 percent – a.k.a., absurdly low. What I want you to do is decide how much of your income you would like to keep. Except in dire situations, to not save anything is to confer zero value on yourself and your own future.
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Get inspired toward financial independence

Enjoy your cold beer or your pink lemonade on the Fourth of July, but rather than dreading your return to work come Wednesday, decide you’ll increase your chances of financial independence by investing more in your future vacation.
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