Financial Planning

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:


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 when working with clients but you also check out or


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


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.



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.



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.


  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+


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


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:


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:



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.



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



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:

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.


  • 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


  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”:

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!




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!


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 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!