Financial Planning

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.

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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:
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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

How Trusts Can Help You Control Who Gets What [VIDEO]

A lot of people think trusts are only for the super-wealthy which is not entirely true. A trust can benefit anyone who wants to manage how they leave their money to their family. The trust can give you control over who gets what and when, how they get it, and why.

A trust can benefit anyone who wants to manage how they leave their money to their family.

Create Containers for Your Assets

Trusts are like containers you can put things into. You the grantor can place assets like your house, life insurance policies, investments and other possessions into a trust. These assets become property of the trust and are managed by your trustee.

Pick Someone You Can Trust

You appoint a trustee to ensure your wishes are carried out. As grantor, you decide who receives the assets inside your trust. Typically, your spouse, your children, grandchildren and charities of your choice are the beneficiaries who receive the assets held in trust.

Some trusts are designed to manage who receives your assets and others may offer tax planning benefits

Decide Where Your Money Will Go

When you create a trust you determine how the funds inside your trust will be used and when they will be dispersed. For example, you may want to use assets in your trust to jump-start your children’s careers when they are 25 or supplement their retirement when they turn 60. You may want to pay college tuition expenses for your grandchildren or provide annual scholarships to your Alma Mater. Your appointed trustee ensures everything is managed according to your instructions.

There Are Many Kinds of Trusts

It’s important to know there are different kinds of trust for different purposes. Some are designed to manage who receives your assets and others may offer tax planning benefits.

Here are some examples:

  • Living Trust
  • Special Needs Trust
  • Marital Trust
  • Credit Shelter Trust
  • Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust
  • Charitable Remainder Trust
  • Qualified Personal Residential Trust

Make sure you work with financial experts so that your trust is properly structured to carry out your specific intentions. A trust can offer you and your family many financial advantages. You’ll want to talk with  an estate planning attorney find out how you can create a lasting legacy for those you love the most.

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

Why You Need a Will and How to Create One [VIDEO]

Many people are not sure if they need a will because they don’t think they actually have an estate or they simply procrastinate in getting the document drafted. If you are wondering whether you have an estate or not, you most likely do. Simply put, if you own anything you have an estate. So, if you have any assets held outside qualified accounts (i.e. savings accounts, a house, cars, etc.) or have people you care about and/or rely on you (i.e. children, a spouse, etc.), you should have a will. The problem is most adults in America do not have a will. In fact, 58% of American adults don’t have one! So, here’s what you need to do to avoid being part of the 58%.

58% of adults in America do not have a will!

What is a Will?

A will is a legal document that defines who is going to take care of your children and outlines what to do with your assets when you’re gone. If you die without a will the state will decide who will inherit your assets. Having a will allows you, not the government, to control your assets after your death.

What is Involved in Creating a Will?

To do it right, I suggest working with a lawyer to make sure your will is structured properly so that it is valid and enforceable.

Here is a checklist of things to address:

• Name A Guardian: If your children are minors make sure you name a guardian for your kids.

• List of Assets Make a list of all your assets and where they are.

• Determine Values: Determine the values of your real estate, insurance policies, investments, business ownership, personal possessions and anything else that has economic or sentimental value to you or your family.

• Who Will Get Your Stuff?: Decide who will receive these assets and when (Typically your surviving spouse will be your primary beneficiary).

• Provide Instructions: Provide instructions on how and when to distribute assets to your children, grandchildren, and the Charities of your choice.

• Executor or trustee: Name an executor or trustee to oversee and carry out your instructions.

• Power of Attorney/Medical Directive: Grant the power of attorney to someone you trust to make health care and financial decisions if you are not able to make these decisions yourself.

• Update Regularly: Update your will every three years to make sure it fits your present situation and conforms to current state laws. This way you know your family, your loved ones, and your assets are all protected.

TIP: Update your will every 3 years to make sure it fits your present situation and conforms to current state laws.

When you have people who you care about and who count on you it’s best to prepare for the unexpected. So, if you don’t have a will in place now is the time to get going. If you do have a will but haven’t reviewed it in some time you may need to make updates.

Get Organized!

Getting all your stuff in order is one of the first steps you’ll need to take in order to prepare your will. The video below shows the online system we use to help our clients get organized. It helps gather the information you need to give your attorney so they can create your will. As a thank you for reading this post, I am offering free access to this great system to help you get started. Simply send me your email request at sweiss@weiss-financial.com and I’ll get you up and running quickly.

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

3 Important Financial Tasks To Do May

While you are making plans for that memorial day cook out, schedule some time this month to take care of these important tasks to help keep your financial life on track.

#1 Check Your Credit Score

It’s a good idea to check your credit score several times throughout the year. You want to make sure you there aren’t any errors which may have caused your credit score to take a hit or you haven’t been the victim of fraud. I recommend using CreditKarma.com to check your credit score for free. You will need to sign up and answer several security questions to get access to your information but in my opinion it’s the best spot to go.

TIP: Go to CreditKarma.com to get your credit score for free!

#2 Check Your Credit Report

Your credit report is different from your credit score. The credit score is a numerical value based on information you can find in your credit report. The report will show you the record of your financial activity that’s available to creditors. You can get a copy of your report for free from AnnualCreditReport.com. Check the report for any errors or unusual activity. If you do find anything inaccurate or suspicious you’ll want to contact the agency that released the report to try and get that cleaned up. Keep in mind that there are 3 credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. Each agency is required to provide 1 free report every year. So, the smart move is to request your free report from one agency this month, then 4 months later request from another agency. If you spread the reporting out throughout the year you’ll will do a much better job of staying on top of any credit issues than if you get them all at once.

Tip: Go to AnnualCreditReport.com to get your free credit reports!

#3 Check Your Beneficiary Designations

This is one of the most overlooked financial tasks. Not sure what a beneficiary designation is? The designated beneficiary is the person selected by an owner of a retirement account to inherit the retirement account balance. Oftentimes people select their beneficiary (or ignore it completely) when they open their accounts but never go back to update that information over time. You want to be sure your money will go to the right people should something happen to you. That can change over time due to births, deaths, divorce, etc. So, be sure to check any insurance policies, 401(k)s, IRAs and other retirement plans and make sure the people listed to inherit your assets are in fact the people you still want the to get your money. If you haven’t even selected anyone, now is the time to it. By making the selection your assets will go to the right people, avoid probate and be less of a headache for those you care about when you are not around.

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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

7 Tips to a Financially Secure Retirement

If you haven’t retired already, at some point you’ll probably want to. Financial security in retirement doesn’t just happen. It takes planning, commitment and money. You’ll need enough money to potentially live on for at least 20 years, probably more. With the average life expectancy in the U.S. at nearly 80 and growing (1), you’ll want to be sure you can maintain the lifestyle you envision throughout your retirement years.

To help you focus on what you should be doing to succeed, here are 7 planning tips:

1. Make Saving a Habit

If you are already saving every month, awesome! Keep going! If you’re not, start now. The sooner you start the more time your money has to grow.

2. Know Your Retirement Expenses

This is much easier to do the closer you get to retirement. A twenty or thirty year old may have no idea what those numbers will eventually be. If that is you, concentrate more on the other tips. For those of you with retirement in your sightline, figure you will need AT LEAST 70% of your pre-retirement income to live comfortably. Knowing what you need is the key to getting what you need. The key to a secure retirement is to have a clearly defined goal.

3. Participate in your 401(k) or 403(b)

If your employer offers a 401(k) plan or 403(b) plan sign up and aim to contribute to the maximum. Over time, compound interest and tax deferrals can make a huge difference in the amount you accumulate for retirement.

4. Invest Wisely

Diversify your savings to reduce risk (i.e. don’t put it all on black!). In a nutshell, risk simply means how much money could you potentially lose with your investments. To check your current tolerance for risk use our free tool. It will give you something called your Risk Number™ which is a great starting place to see how much risk you can emotionally handle. You can then compare that to the Risk Number™ of your current portfolio and see if they match up or if you potentially need to make changes. Keep in mind, your investment mix may need to change over time due to age, goals, and circumstances, so it’s always a good idea to monitor your risk tolerance and portfolio allocation. Remember, financial knowledge and financial security go hand in hand.

5. Check Your Social Security Benefits

Social Security benefits provide supplemental income to you and your spouse during retirement. If you are counting on social security to bail you out, think again. Social Security provides enough for you to live around the poverty line. Check the Social Security website to see how much the government will pay you every month.

6. Ask Questions

The more you know, the better your chances of enjoying financial security in your retirement years. Talk with your accountant or financial advisor. Better yet, book a meeting with me right now! Ask questions and get good advice. Build a plan, and stick with it.

7. Make Planning for Your Retirement a Priority

Use our retirement check-up tool to find out if you are on the right track. It’s never too early or too late to start saving for your future. However, the longer you wait or leave things to chance, the less likely you will live a financially secure retirement.

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” -Alan Lakein

If you know anyone that could benefit from this advice, feel free to share this video with them. Good luck on your journey toward a financially secure retirement.

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

3 Important Financial Tasks To Do in April

#1 Finish Your Taxes

For 2016 the deadline to submit your tax return is April 18th. The reason for this is that typically Washington, D.C. celebrates Emancipation Day on April 16th, the day President Abraham Lincoln signed into law a bill ending slavery in Washington, D.C. This year, however, the 16th falls on Saturday, so Emancipation day is being celebrated on April 15th and the tax filing deadline is pushed to April 18th.

Nevertheless, by April you should have your tax return completed. If not, and you can’t make the deadline for filing, April 18th is also the deadline for filing a six month extension Just keep in mind, if you owe money you will still need to pay your taxes by April 18th even if you file for an extension.

#2 Update Your W-4 Withholding

Once you’ve completed your tax return you may need to update your withholding allowance on your W-4. What’s your withholding allowance? According to Investopedia it is “the employee-claimed exemptions on the tax form W-4 that employers use to determine how much of an employee’s pay to subtract from his or her paycheck to remit to the tax authorities 1.” The more allowances you claim, the less income tax will be withheld from your paycheck.

How do you know if you need to update your withholding allowances? Well, are you getting money back? Do you owe any money? Either way if those are large numbers you should consider changing the number of allowances you are claiming on your W-4. Speak to your tax preparer to help you figure out what changes you should make.

#3 Spring Cleaning

It’s great that Spring and Taxes go hand in hand because it gives you the opportunity to purge once you’ve completed your return. You’ll want to shred documents you no longer need and file those you do. Better yet, start using an online filing system like FileThis to help you automatically aggregate all your electronic documents. This way you don’t have to deal with paper at all!

Wondering how long you need to keep your documents? Here’s the basic rule: Keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. For more details on how long to keep your documents, read this post on the IRS website.

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