Your First Home Purchase Part I

 

by Jonathan G. Cameron, CFP®

So you’re getting ready for your first home purchase.  Congratulations! This is the first in a two-part series that should be helpful to you. Your First Home Purchase Part II is all about the criteria lenders use when evaluating your application. 

Down Payment and Qualifying for a Mortgage

In buying your first place you’ve got two main considerations: Coming up with a down payment is #1.  #2 is being able to qualify for a mortgage loan. This post assumes you're on track to save your down payment, and that you're looking into credit and mortgage qualification issues.  Specifically, you’ll learn how to get a good credit score in order to qualify for a mortgage.

Good Credit is Accurate Credit

Your first mission is to make sure that your credit report is accurate. I say project, because it may very well be just that – a mission. There are three major credit bureaus: Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. Each...

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Paying Off Student Loans

 

by  Jonathan G. Cameron, CFP®

Student loans are often top of mind for many people in the early stages of a professional career. You’ve made an investment in yourself by getting a great education, and now you’ve got to make enough money to build a life, but also to repay those loans.  The main piece of advice we give most of our clients with student loans is not about numbers. It’s about overcoming the feeling that this debt is very heavy burden. So if you’re in that camp, we have some thought to share:

Own it – These Student Loans are Your Responsibility!

Taking out these loans was ultimately your choice, so own it. You DID in fact have other options – you could have gone to a cheaper school, or stretched your education out as you worked your way through. Whatever the case, ultimately it is your signature on the loan form. Take responsibility.

Don’t Let Student Loans Tyrannize You – Make a Plan and Enjoy Life

Student loan...

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Some Thoughts on College Funding

By Glenn J. Downing, MBA, CFP®

As many of you know, I am a CFP® instructor with Zahn Associates and have been for many years.  As I write I'm reviewing the material for General Principals of Financial Planning, which I’ll be teaching again soon. Part of that course is college funding.

In the context of the material, this section teaches the time value of money calculations. For example, if the client has a newborn who absolutely will be attending Harvard at age 18, how much new annual saving is necessary assuming 5% inflation and 8% earnings? Siri tells me that the full freight now is $78,200. 

Ready for the answer? Sitting down? $18,743.42/year. Something most new parents can do, right?

I personally feel that if I have brought a child into the world, I have a responsibility to that child to give him or her the best start possible, and that includes a solid education. Yet college funding numbers look stratospheric. In this example, one year of college may...

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Life Insurance Part 1 – A Little History

by Glenn J. Downing, MBA, CFP®

The fundamental reason to buy life insurance is that someone else is depending upon you for a living.  Plain and simple.  It is risk transfer:  in exchange for premium dollars, the insurance company will make a payout at your demise.

The life insurance industry is one that responds to market demands.  In Part I of this series I’m going to give you a little history.  What kind of policy should you buy – term?  whole life?  In Part II I'll discuss the other jobs life insurance can do for you, and talk a little about underwriting. In Part III I'll examine some common reasons for procrastination.  

Yearly Renewable Term Insurance

Original insurance contracts were for one year only – term policies, in other words, which renewed each year.  As the insured ages, year-by-year the premiums would rise, reasonably enough, as one’s mortality age comes closer.  So fundamentally we...

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Life Insurance Part 3 – Why Haven't You Bought the Coverage You Know You Should Have?

by Glenn J. Downing, MBA, CFP®

If you dropped dead tomorrow your family would be in a world of hurt.  You know this.  Yet you haven't purchased life insurance.  Why not?  Before you get into it, check out Part I and Part II of this 3-part series.  

Why Haven't You Purchased Your Life Insurance?

Theory I  

You think you have enough insurance coverage through work.  Do you know how much is there?  Typically anywhere from $50K to $250K.  Is that anywhere near sufficient?  

Theory II

It isn't the product that bothers you but the process.  You put the life insurance agent/broker in the same category as a stereotypical used car salesman. He’s got greasy hair, you’re his newest best friend in the world, and he wants to know, What do I need to do to get you into a policy today? You think he’s out solely to earn a commission. You have nothing against anyone making a living, but you just don’t...

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401k Retirement Plan Basics

 

By Glenn J. Downing, MBA, CFP®

It used to be the case that you went to work for one employer and remained with that employer for the entirety of your working life.  You received a pension from that employer when you retired – in other words, you continued to get paid a lesser amount even though you’d stopped working. 

This arrangement is no longer the norm – people expect to change jobs several times during their working lives.  A 401K retirement plan suits this kind of work environment.  When you leave one employer, you can move your 401K funds into the 401K of your new employer, or over to a Traditional IRA.  In any event, the responsibility for providing a retirement income lies firmly with the worker!

How much can I contribute?

Contributions are limited by IRS regulation.  The maximum deferral that a plan participant can make in 2020 is 100% of salary up to $19,500.  If you are age 50 or older, you may be able to make an...

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Life Insurance Part 2 – Uses Of Life Insurance Policies

by Glenn J. Downing, MBA, CFP®

In Part I of this 3-part series I gave a brief history of the life insurance industry.  

Here in Part II I'll go over the main applications for life insurance policies.  Next, in Part III, I'll discuss some of the behavioral issues in obtaining coverage.  

 Uses of Life Insurance

So what are some of the uses of life insurance?  First and foremost, a death benefit to one’s survivors.  It is a risk transfer mechanism.  If you die before you've been able to financially provide for those financially dependent upon you, the life insurance policy will do so.  Other common applications:

To secure a loan

It is not uncommon for a commercial lender to require that a borrower take out a life insurance policy in the amount of the loan payable to the lender.  

For tax-free income

Many cash value policies can be structured to be over-funded in earlier years, and pay out a tax-free stream of income...

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You Knew All Year the Holidays Were Coming!

by Glenn J. Downing, MBA, CFP®

I came to financial planning as a profession in my 40’s, having made a mid-life transition from retail management.  I worked in both department stores and specialty retail and generally enjoyed the work. I always enjoyed Christmas in the stores – the music, the new fragrances, the decorations, and generally upbeat anticipatory atmosphere.  

Working Christmas in Retail

Christmas time was grueling, however.  The amount of merchandise that comes into a store through its loading dock, and then out the doors in the customers’ shopping bags, is enormous.  It is very physical work, in that all that merchandise needs to be unpacked, displayed, and stocked around the store. The associates who wait on you generally have competing priorities imposed upon them:  great customer service, while getting the new merchandise out of the bins and on the racks, and looking out for thieves. 

You knew all year this was...

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