Financial Planning

JULY: 3 Things To Do This Month To Help Keep Your Financial Life On Track

Like maintaining a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a healthy financial life requires ongoing maintenance. It’s much easier to stay on track if you break the necessary tasks down into smaller more manageable tasks. So, here are three quick personal finance tips to help you stay on track this month:

TIP #1

Run a Retirement Plan Projection

Run a retirement plan projection so that you know where you are and what you need to do to get closer to your goals. You should do this once a year to see if you are heading in the right direction. For a quick calculation of what you need to be saving for retirement you can use this calculator at CNNMoney. If you need a more thorough calculation you should consider work with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®). They’ll have access to more sophisticated software and will look at your entire financial life. If you are already working with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) you will want to revisit their projections at your annual review to account for changes in your finances.

TIP #2

Increase Your 401(k) Plan Contributions

For most people, setting a goal to max out your 401(k) or 403(b) plan contributions should be key. At minimum, shoot for at least contributing enough to get your company match. If you’re saving in a 401(k) or 403(b) and aren’t already on track to max it out, increase your contributions by 1%. Re-evaluate in 6 months and increase your contributions by another 1% until you ultimately max it out.

TIP #3

Review Your Investment Strategy

Has anything changed over the last 6 months that would cause you to have to make changes? Births? deaths? New goals? If so, review your plan or speak to your CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) to help you make smart choices.


Sources:

  1. http://www.learnvest.com/knowledge-center/your-january-2016-financial-to-dos/
  2. http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/12/02/your-end-of-year-financial-checklist
  3. http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/01/04/your-financial-to-dos-for-every-month-in-2013/#14fe6d3d41d4

Smart Strategies for Sticking With Your Financial Resolutions This Year

Have you already forgotten about your New Year’s resolutions? Like many of us, we start the new year with good intentions. The question is, how do we keep our New Year’s resolutions from faltering? Often, our New Year’s resolutions fail because there is only an end in mind – a clear goal, but no concrete steps toward realizing it. Mapping out the incremental steps can make the goal seem more achievable.

Here are my 6 tips for making and keeping your financial resolutions this year:

TIP# 1
MAXIMIZE YOUR PLAN CONTRIBUTIONS

Contribution limits are set by the federal government each year so be sure to find out what the limits are for your retirement plan. If you will be 50 or older you’ll be able to make an additional catch-up contribution. Here’s a link to our key financial data report for 2017 which includes the dollar amounts for contribution limits: 2017 Key Financial Data.

TIP #2
SET UP AUTOMATIC CONTRIBUTIONS

There are two excellent reasons for doing this. One, time is on your side – in fact, time may be the greatest ally you have when it comes to succeeding as a retirement saver and an investor. An early start means more years of compounding for your invested assets. It also gives you more time to recover from a market downturn. Two, scheduling regular account contributions makes saving for retirement a given in your life.

TIP #3
REVIEW & REDUCE YOUR DEBT

Look at your debts, one by one. You may be able to renegotiate the terms of loans and interest rates with lenders and credit card firms. See if you can cut down the number of debts you have – either attack the one with the highest interest rate first or the smallest balance first, then repeat with the remaining debts.

TIP #4
REBALANCE YOUR PORTFOLIO

Many investors go years without rebalancing, which can be problematic. Rebalancing is crucial for the smart investor.

TIP #5
SOLIDIFY SOME RETIREMENT VARIABLES

Accumulating assets for retirement is great;  doing so with a planned retirement age and an estimated retirement budget is even better. The older you get, the less hazy those variables start to become. See if you can define the “when” of retirement this year – that may make the “how” and “how much” clearer as well.

TIP #6
SOLIDIFY YOUR COLLEGE PLANNING

If your child has now reached his or her teens, see if you can get a ballpark figure on the cost of attending local and out-of-state colleges. Even better, inquire about their financial aid packages and any relevant scholarships and grants. If you have college savings built up, you can work with those numbers and determine how those savings need to grow in the next few years.

Good luck with your financial resolutions. If you need help feel free to reach out, or download a copy of my free eBook, The Pre-Retirement Toolkit.


Sources:

  1. This material was prepared in part by MarketingPro, Inc.

3 Smart Financial Tasks to Start Off The New Year Right

Here are 3 things to do in January to help keep your financial life on track this year:

TASK #1

Set Up Your Budget

Set up your budget for the new year. Review your spending habits from the previous year and create a saving and spending plan for the current year. You can use online tools to help with this. I use http://bit.ly/FirstStepCashManagement when working with clients but you also check out http://www.YouNeedABudget.com or http://www.Mint.com

TASK #2

Get A Credit Report

Get a copy of your credit report. You should be checking this three times throughout the year. You are entitled to one free report every year from all three agencies Experian, Transunion, Equifax. So, spread out your requests over the year. Pick one agency to obtain report from now. You want to look for anything that doesn’t seem right on the report and take action if you need to. Go to http://www.annualcreditreport.com

TASK #3

Review Retirement Plan Contributions

If you aren’t already maxing out your retirement plan contributions consider increasing the amount you contribute by 1% this month. Since you’ll be looking at your budget this month make sure you work savings into your plan. Keep increasing your contribution by 1% every 6 months until you’ve at least reached the 10% mark.


Sources:

  1. http://www.learnvest.com/knowledge-center/your-january-2016-financial-to-dos/
  2. http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/12/02/your-end-of-year-financial-checklist
  3. http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/01/04/your-financial-to-dos-for-every-month-in-2013/#14fe6d3d41d4

3 Things To-Do in December to Keep Your Financial Life On Track

Here are 3 great year end tasks you should seriously considering doing this month:

TIP #1

Review Your Accounts

The end of the year is a great time to take a look at all your investment accounts to determine if you need to rebalance in the new year. Over time your portfolio can deviate from your intended allocation due to market fluctuations. If you are working with and advisor they will most likely be doing this for you.

TIP #2

Tax-Loss Harvest

Determine if you should do any tax-loss harvesting. What’s that? Tax-loss harvesting is the practice of selling a security that has experienced a loss. By realizing, or “harvesting” a loss, investors are able to offset taxes on both gains and income. In your taxable accounts, if you sold any capital assets for a gain this year, now may be a good time to sell off some of your investment dogs so that you can offset those gains with losses. If you are working with an advisor they can help with this. TIP: Your accountant can help you determine if you should take any capital gains or losses

TIP #3

Reflect on the Year

Take this month to reflect on your financial life this year. What went right and what went wrong? Make note of the good things and try to keep that going. For the things that didn’t work out see if there is any room for improvement next year.


Sources:

  1. http://www.learnvest.com/knowledge-center/your-january-2016-financial-to-dos/
  2. http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/12/02/your-end-of-year-financial-checklist
  3. http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/01/04/your-financial-to-dos-for-every-month-in-2013/#14fe6d3d41d4

5 Smart End-of-the-Year Money Moves You Could Make Right Now

As the year comes to a close, here are 5 things you can do to help keep your financial life on track:

Ask yourself these 5 questions and then take action!

Question #1

What has changed for you in 2016?

Did you start a new job or leave a job behind? Did you retire? Did you start a family? If notable changes occurred in your personal or professional life, then you will want to review your finances before this year ends and the new year begins. Even if this year has been relatively uneventful, the end of the year is still a good time to get cracking and see where you can plan to save some taxes and/or build a little more wealth.

Question #2

Do You Practice Tax-Loss Harvesting?

Tax-loss harvesting is the art of taking capital losses (selling securities worth less than what you first paid for them) to offset your short-term capital gains. If you fall into one of the upper tax brackets, you might want to consider this move, which directly lowers your taxable income. Keep in mind this strategy should be made with the guidance of a financial professional you trust.(1)

Question #3

Do You Itemize Deductions?

If you do itemize deductions, great! Now would be a good time to get the receipts and assorted paperwork together. Besides a possible mortgage interest deduction, you might be able to take a state sales tax deduction, a student loan interest deduction, a military-related deduction, a deduction for the amount of estate tax paid on inherited IRA assets, an energy-saving deduction. There are so many deductions you can potentially claim, now is the time to meet with your tax professional to strategize to claim as many as you can.

Question #4

Are You Thinking of Gifting?

How about donating to a charity or some other kind of 501(c)(3) non-profit organization before 2016 ends? In most cases, these gifts are partly tax-deductible. Keep in mind, you must itemize deductions using Schedule A to claim a deduction for a charitable gift.(2)

Question #5

What Can You Do Before You Ring in The New Year?

Talk with a financial or tax professional now rather than in February or March. Little year-end moves might help you improve your short-term and long-term financial situation.


Sources:

  1. fool.com/retirement/2016/11/09/1-smart-tax-move-to-make-before-the-end-of-2016.aspx
  2. irs.gov/taxtopics/tc506.html
  3. This material was prepared, in part, by MarketingPro, Inc.

What We Learned at Schwab IMPACT 2016 That Impacts YOUR Financial Life

Every year we trek to the Schwab IMPACT conference to learn the latest developments in financial planning and investment management so we can better serve you.

Day 1&2: The Election PLUS Tips For Your Kids 18+

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The Market & The 2016 Presidential Election

Greg Valliere, Schwab’s Chief Political Strategist had this to say:

  • If Trump wins the markets may not respond favorably
  • On the flipside, if Hillary wins there may not be much in the way of volatility
  • Valliere anticipates Hillary winning by a 5-7 point lead spread
  • However, if Hillary wins by a wider margin we could see strong volatility along with potential changes to the house (not good historically for the markets)

Tips for Your Kids Heading To College

  • Consider having them sign Power of Attorney form (POA) before going off to school since you may not have access to their accounts.
  • Fill out the HIPAA release form at the college your child is attending. If something were to happen to your child the college could then release the information to you.

Day 3: Malcolm Gladwell PLUS Balancing Retirement & College Saving

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Insights from Malcolm Gladwell

This year was packed with thought provoking commentaries from the likes of Malcolm Gladwell and political insight from Greg Valliere, Ian Bremmer, Alan Simpson and Robert Reich, plus MUCH more.
For those of you that don’t know, Malcolm Gladwell is the author of the Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers.
He coined the phrase “Tipping Point” which is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.

The Internet of Things

In his session he predicted that the internet of things is going to be as big as the industrial revolution. That’s a bold statement, but one to take notice of. We are beginning to see products like Amazon Dash, which is a Wi-Fi connected device that reorders your favorite product with the press of a button.The growth of internet connected “things” is expect to accelerated.

Playing Basketball vs. Playing Soccer

Gladwell also discussed how our country and economy has traditionally focused on making the best people even better. He illustrated that we operate like a basketball team. For a basketball team to be great, you really only need a few amazing players. It doesn’t matter how weak the rest of the team is so long as you have a few great players. And, if you work on making your best players even better, the team as a whole usually improves.
Soccer on the other hand requires that ALL players work together. Studies have shown that soccer scores can increase dramatically when time and energy is invested in coaching the weakest players on the team not the strongest players like in basketball.

Malcolm’s Advice: Improve The Weak Links

In the new world order, Gladwell suggests we invest in what he calls the weak links. He went on to explain that the best way to improve our economy is to invest in the weakest links.

College Planning vs. Retirement Planning

The balance between saving for college AND saving for retirement is difficult for most families. A study by JP Morgan reveals some useful guidance:

  • Only 0.3% of college student receive enough grants and scholarships to cover ALL costs
  • You need to to start saving now and seriously consider a 529 savings plan
  • The most important thing is to be saving for retirement
  • Saving for retirement should come BEFORE saving for college
  • The JP Morgan study says that saving 15% of what you make is the optimal number

Saving 15% is a great rule of thumb, however your situation could be different. What you need will depend on things like how much you have already saved, if are you planning on moving during retirement, if you will you work, or if you will receive an inheritance. So, there are lots of factors to consider which is where we can assist. At Weiss Financial Group we help figure out how much you NEED to save, how much you CAN save, and WHERE to invest the money.

For the Latest LIVE Videos Don’t Forget to Like Our Facebook Page 

I am live Wednesdays at noon answering your questions and providing smart tips.

Check it out here: http://bit.ly/WFGFacebook

3 Things You MUST Think About When Changing Jobs

Fall seems to be the time of year many people either willingly decide to change jobs or are forced to due to downsizings or restructuring. If you are changing jobs, here are the top financial considerations:
jobchanges-thumbnail

SWITCHING FROM ONE JOB TO ANOTHER CAN LITERALLY PAY OFF

Data from payroll processing giant ADP confirms that statement. In the first quarter of 2016, the average job hopper realized a 6% pay boost!

That’s a pretty significant jump in pay, so it’s definitely something to consider. We all get comfortable in our jobs, but as you can see it may pay to look elsewhere. You never know what opportunity may be out there for you if you are not looking.

Nevertheless, before you make that leap, be sure you address these matters:

CONSIDERATION #1

HEALTH CARE

How quickly can you arrange health coverage?

If you already pay for your own health insurance, this will not be an issue. If you had coverage at your old job you will need to figure out how to replace it.

If you were enrolled in an employer-sponsored health plan, you need to find out when the coverage from your previous job ends – and, if applicable, when coverage under your new employer’s health plan begins.

If the interval between jobs is prolonged, and COBRA will not cover you for the entirety of it, you may want to check whether you can obtain coverage from your alumni association, your guild or union, or AARP.

If you are leaving a career to start a business, confer with an insurance professional to search for a good group health plan.

CONSIDERATION #2

YOUR RETIREMENT SAVINGS

What Happens With Your Retirement Savings?

You will likely have four options regarding the money you have saved up in your workplace retirement plan: you can leave the money in the plan, roll it over into an IRA (this is the option we help with at Weiss Financial Group), transfer the assets into the retirement plan at your new job, or cash it out.

Keep in mind that the last option will be taxable and may incur a 10% early withdrawal penalty if you are not yet 59 1/2.

Here is a link to another blog post that goes into greater detail about what to do with your retirement account when you leave your job: 4 Options for Your 401(k) When You Leave Your Job

CONSIDERATION #3

YOUR CASH FLOW

Can you manage your cash flow effectively between one job & the next?

First, you’ll need to truly understand if you can make this work. I suggest taking pencil to paper and filling out a cash flow worksheet to figure out what your needs are.

Here is a link to our cash flow worksheet to make things easier for you: http://bit.ly/CashFlowWorksheet

Use can also online tools to help with this. We use first step cash management with our clients. In my opinion this is the best cashflow planning strategy available. If you are interested, as a thank you for watching the video and reading this post I will give you free access. Simply send a private message request to the Weiss Financial Group Facebook page and I’ll get you set up.

This all makes the case for having an emergency fund in place. Do you have one? Take a look at this blog post I wrote: How Big Should Your Emergency Fund Be?.

Finally, I recommend postponing big purchases, and avoid running up large credit card debts you will regret later.

BOTTOM LINE

  • Make sure you keep your household money needs top of mind
  • Make sure you address your insurance needs
  • Strive to keep saving for your future at your new workplace

Sources

  1. qz.com/666915/when-to-switch-jobs-to-get-the-biggest-salary-increase/
  2. money.cnn.com/2016/04/12/news/economy/millennials-change-jobs-frequently/
  3. healthcare.gov/quick-guide/dates-and-deadlines/
  4. lifereimagined.aarp.org/stories/14481-Financial-Checklist-for-Job-Changers
  5. This material was prepared, in part, by MarketingPro, Inc.

What is Financial Planning and How Can it Help You? [VIDEO]

You may have heard the phrase “Financial Planning” before but what exactly does it mean?

Process NOT Product

Simply put, Financial Planning is about building and maintaining wealth through an on-going process, it’s not just about investing or purchasing financial products.

Goals and Values

It’s about understanding all the goals you have for your money. And, it’s about understanding what matters most to you in life and figuring out how your wealth relates to your values.

Your Entire Financial Life

The Financial Planning process looks at the entirety of your financial life to figure out how everything can work together optimally specifically for you and your situation. You’ll look at things like your:

  • Assets
  • Liabilities
  • Investments
  • Income
  • Taxes
  • Insurance

 

The problem is, people typically people deal with these things in individual silos, not really understanding how they affect one another. The financial process brings everything together in a clear, concise, actionable plan so you can take the steps necessary to can achieve your financial goals.

Let’s take a look at some of the things a Financial Planner can help you with:

  • Saving For Retirement
  • Handling an Inheritance
  • Preparing for Marriage
  • Dealing With Divorce
  • Planning for a Child
  • Facing a Financial Crisis
  • Caring for Aging Parents
  • Coping With A Death
  • Funding Education

On-Going Process

Keep in mind that Financial planning is an ongoing process. Your planner should help you make smart decisions about your money at every stage of your life so you can ultimately live a better financial life.

If you want to get going on your own, and learn more about implementing the financial planning process into your life right now, download a copy of my free report “8 Steps to Organize & Optimize Your Financial Life”: http://bit.ly/OrganizeAndOptimize.

It’s a great way to start your journey toward living a better financial life.

July: 3 Simple Tasks to Improve Your Financial Life [VIDEO]

TASK #1: Run a Retirement Plan Projection

Run a retirement plan projection so that you know where you are and what you need to do to get closer to YOUR goals. You should do this once a year to see if you are heading in the right direction. Use our free Retirement Check-Up Wizard here to get a general idea of where you stand with your retirement plans. If you want a more thorough calculation you should work with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. They’ll have access to more sophisticated software and will look at your entire financial life. If you are working with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ you will want to revisit their projections at your annual review to account for changes in your financial life.

TASK #2: Increase Your 401(k) Plan Contributions

For most people, setting a goal to max out your 401(k) or 403(b) plan contributions should be key. If you’re saving in a 401(k) or 403(b) and aren’t already on track to max it out, increase your contributions by 1%. Re-evaluate in 6 months and increase your contributions by another 1% until you ultimately max it out.

TASK #3: Review Your Investment Strategy

Has anything changed over the last 6 months that would cause you to have to make changes? Births? deaths? New goals? If so, review your plan or speak to your CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ to help you make smart choices

For more financial planning tips, download my free report: “8 Steps to Organize and Optimize Your Financial Life”. Thanks for reading!

Sources:

  1. http://www.learnvest.com/knowledge-center/your-january-2016-financial-to-dos/
  2. http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/12/02/your-end-of-year-financial-checklist
  3. http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/01/04/your-financial-to-dos-for-every-month-in-2013/#14fe6d3d41d4

 

3 Helpful Financial Tips For June [VIDEO]

#1 Finish Your FAFSA

If you have kids going to college in September your FAFSA is due by the end of the month. You Should have submitted it already (particularly if you watched the financial planning To-Do’s for March), but if you’ve waited until the last minute make sure you get it in soon.

#2 Meet With Your Planner

Schedule a meeting with your certified financial planner if you didn’t meet at the beginning of the year. The halfway point is a great time to check in and see how you are doing and if your planner has any advice on how to make improvements. If you are going to meet with someone for the first time make sure you meet with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) designation is a professional certification mark for financial planners granted by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board). To receive authorization to use the designation, the candidate must meet education, examination, experience and ethics requirements.

#3 Check Your Budget

Time to check in on your budget! It’s been a little over six months since the start of the year. How are you doing? Do you need to make any adjustments?

Tools like First Step Cash Management can help you proactively plan and monitor your cash flow.

Organize&OptimizeCoverFor more financial planning tips, download my free report: “8 Steps to Organize and Optimize Your Financial Life”. Thanks for reading!

Sources:
1. http://www.learnvest.com/knowledge-center/your-january-2016-financial-to-dos/
2. http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/12/02/your-end-of-year-financial-checklist
3. http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/01/04/your-financial-to-dos-for-every-month-in-2013/#14fe6d3d41d4