Five Steps to Getting Financially Organized Before Retirement

by Jonathan G. Cameron, CFP®

Getting financially organized before retirement can be a daunting task. There are many unknowns and it can be hard to know where to begin. For that same reason people often wait too long to address retirement needs and, unfortunately, don’t achieve the financial freedom for which they long. When people get serious about retirement, many start by analyzing their investment account(s) (or lack, thereof). Ideally, they’ll meet with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional to get them on track.

Financial organization starts by identifying and prioritizing what is most important to you.  This is the beginning of a goals-based financial planning approach.

Step 1: Identify What is Most Important to You.

I start by asking clients to list what is most important to them and help them identify what they’d like to accomplish. Spending more time with family, traveling, volunteering, reading, relocating, starting a new...

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Healthcare Flexible Spending Account

by Glenn J. Downing, MBA, CFP®

Do you have a Flexible Spending Account available to you through work?  These can offer tremendous tax savings.  As you do your research, note that FSAs are of two sorts:  The Healthcare FSA and the Dependent Care FSA.  

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)

A flexible spending account (FSA) is offered as an elective benefit by many employers.  This is part one of a two-part series. Here I describe the healthcare flexible spending account. You’ll find my post on the dependent care FSA here.

The Healthcare FSA

This account allows workers to contribute, through payroll deduction, to accounts that are designated for qualifying medical or dental expenses not covered by insurance. All amounts contributed are pretax and funds are not taxed when spent on qualifying health care costs – this is a big tax advantage. The FSA owner can use the funds for deductibles, co-payments, and co-insurance for the employee’s...

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A Fresh Perspective on the Budget

 

by Jonathan G. Cameron, CFP®

All financial planning begins with cash flow planning – your budget, in other words.  Sometimes people recoil from that word - budget.  To them the word is fraught with negative connotation:  I can't spend!  Not in my budget!  I'll have to deny myself!  Life will become intolerable!

Turn this around, though.  If you have a cash flow plan, i.e budget, you have freedom within the form.  This spending plan keeps you focused on working toward achieving your financial goals. You know exactly how much you can spend on eating out this month, in other words, and still achieve your monthly savings goal to retire with an income of $X at age 67.  

Here's How to Do It

Establish and quantify financial goals

Think this through carefully: How much do I need in my emergency fund? How much debt do I have to repay? What interest rates am I being charged? How much should I accumulate in my retirement...

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The Advice Industry

by Glenn J. Downing, MBA, CFP®

In this post I’d like to give a little history and background on the advice industry. It may not grab you right off as being the most compelling reading, but please stick with it. I have some valuable points to develop.  In Part II I go into some of the changes in our regulatory environment.  

A Visit to the Stockbroker

When I was a young teen I remember going with my father to visit his stockbroker. Dad used the occasion to teach me what owning common stock means (an ownership stake in a publicly-traded company). He explained that the broker brings buyers and sellers of securities together, and facilitates trades. For this service there is a fee on each trade – a fee on both the buy and the sell, paid by the customer to the broker.

Looking back on it, Dad was explaining to me that I, the buyer, and the broker, had a conflict of interest. My interest was getting the cheapest price for the shares. The brokers interest was...

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2 Things You Need to Know About the Roth IRA

by Jonathan G. Cameron, CFP®

One of the most popular ways to save for retirement is in a Roth Individual Retirement Account.  Roth IRAs was first made available in 1997, after they were championed by former Senator William V. Roth of Delaware.

What is a Roth IRA?

Tax-wise, a Roth IRA is like a Traditional IRA in reverse. It may help to compare the two registrations.

In a Traditional IRA, as well as in a 401k, most people get tax deductions for contributing dollars up to certain limits every year. The account accumulates funds over time, perhaps generating some nice earnings, tax-deferred. When it’s time to retire, the full amount of the distribution is taxable at your marginal tax bracket at that time. Using simple math, if your tax bracket at retirement is 24% and you distribute $100 from your Traditional IRA you will get to keep $76. Remember, distributions from a Traditional IRA are fully taxable. Contributions are made before tax.

#1 A Roth IRA Has Tremendous Tax...

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Income Opportunities in Charitable Giving

by Glenn J. Downing, MBA, CFP®

The IRS tax code sets forth rules and regulations under which US taxpayers remit monies to the federal government. Our taxes, along with borrowing, supply the US government with its operating funds. The tax code also encourages certain behaviors, and discourages others. For example, it encourages charitable giving through generous tax deductions. Clearly it discourages speculation by taxing short term gains at one’s marginal tax rate rather than at the more favorable long term gains rate.  

There are Many Charitable Giving Strategies

In this blog piece I want to describe some of the charitable giving strategies available to the affluent. I as an advisor would be remiss if I didn’t bring this conversation up to a client. Is there a church or synagogue you wish to favor? A university? A specific charity? The opera guild? There are many favorable ways to give, which can also produce a guaranteed income for the giver.

Charitable...

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Financial Planning for Millennials

by Jonathan G. Cameron, CFP®

As a Millennial, you are in a unique position to start strong when it comes to your money. Financial planning for millennials looks very different than planning done for Baby Boomers, and requires special attention.

Top 3 Financial Priorities for Millennials

  • How do I pay down my student loans?
  • When do I begin saving for the future?
  • What is the best way prepare to buy a first home?

In a nutshell, these 3 are the heart of financial planning for Millennials.

Who Does Financial Planning for Millennials?

Not many financial planners take on younger clients because millennials rarely meet advisor’s investment asset minimums. In other words, who wants to work with a Millennial with no money? While this may be true in most cases, their are financial planners who specialize in helping Millennials manage their money. Look for advice-focused, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals who focus on debt payoff strategies, wealth building rather than...

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Student Loan Stress

 

by Jonathan G. Cameron, CFP®

According to CNBC, there is more than $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt, owed by 40 million borrowers, who have an average balance of $29,000. * Do you have student loan stress?

Do You Have Student Loan Stress?

Large student loan balances can be a significant cause of stress. Stress over loans can lead to resignation. “I’ll have student debt forever” is a refrain I hear from some clients. Resignation leads to denial and even inaction. Are you in this progression? Does this sound like you or someone you know? Are you a number of years out college or graduate school, yet it doesn’t seem like your loan balance is coming down?

Student Loan Stress: Don’t Deny it; Own it

Your mindset about student loans is crucial. Most importantly, own it. The loans are yours. You chose to make a strategic investment in yourself by taking on student loans. Accept this fact, and make a plan of attack to repay the loans. The #...

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Dollar Cost Averaging

by Glenn J. Downing, MBA, CFP®

Can I Time the Markets? You can certainly try.  But remember the expression:  one man's ceiling is another man's floor.  
When the stock market becomes volatile, people often wonder, Is this a good time to go in? Or should I sell out?  What they are doing is trying to time the markets – they are making educated (or emotional) guesses as to market peaks and valleys, and investing accordingly. I’d put it to you that market timing doesn’t work, at least not consistently over time.  If you look at a line graph in the first quadrant, there is nothing to say that the next data point will be above the last point, at the last point, or below the last point. Trends are real and visible, but they change.

We certainly understand the impetus behind market timing. You as an investor don’t want to put your money in on what turned out to be a high day for the year, and conversely you don’t want to have...

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Investment Frequently Asked Questions

 

Glenn J. Downing, MBA, CFP®

In what should I be invested?

We make no recommendations before completing our due diligence. Only after we have a clear picture of your risk tolerance, income needs, tax situation, time horizon, and cash flow position do we make any investment recommendation.
There’s no such thing as a perfect investment. Each investment product on the market was designed to accomplish a specific purpose and has its own risk and reward characteristics. Whether it is a managed account with mutual funds, ETFs, individual securities, bonds, annuities and insurance products, our job is to match you with the appropriate vehicle.

Will you do socially responsible investing for me?

Yes of course. There are several mutual fund companies that screen their underlying investments by various social and/or religious criteria. 

How much do I need to retire?

We can do a projection for you. For example, say you want to retire 10 years from now; you want to have an income of...

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