No One Uses Cash Anymore!

 By Glenn J. Downing, MBA, CFP®

I can now pay for a Tesla with Bitcoin.  And the Mayor of Miami wants to pay City employees in Bitcoin and allow tax payments in the same cryptocurrency.  Honestly, until I can go into Bloomingdale's and buy a shirt with Bitcoin, it doesn't much matter to me.  

And neither should it to you, if you’re in the process of getting your financial house in order.  In my world of financial planning and investment management, the basics are still the pathway to financial freedom and prosperity:  spend less than what you earn and invest the rest. 

No One Uses Cash Anymore

The rub is that many people don’t know what they spend because no one uses cash anymore.  It used to be that if a man wanted to impress a lady, he’d flash a bankroll when paying the restaurant check.  Now, she’d probably flee the table at such Neanderthal behavior:  it is the gold or platinum cards that...

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My Top Ten List of Things to Waste Money On

 

By Glenn J. Downing, MBA, CFP®

This is a really personal list.  It is complied from years of observing the human condition and reading good novels.  It is intended to be humorous, yet I’m fully aware that it might hit some raw nerves.  So for the intrepid souls out there, read on . . .

Counting down to number one, we have:

#10.  Beer

Now I enjoy a brew as much as the next guy, but why spend a lot of money on something you’re going to literally piss away?  Why not get a whisky instead?  You’ll get the same buzz and not have to keep running to the gents.

#9.  Cine Bistro

Go once if you don’t believe me, but you’re going to drop $100 on a movie and a meal for two.  How much nicer to dine at a proper restaurant and then go see a show afterwards for the same money. 

#8.  True Religion jeans

One of my daughters used to work at True Religion in Dadeland Mall.  Spending $300 for denim that is faded and...

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So Marry her Already! -or- Financial Benefits of Legal Marriage

By Glenn J. Downing, MBA, CFP®

As many of my readers know, I have been teaching the CFP® curriculum to those preparing for the exam for several years now.  Most are experienced professionals; all must have at least a bachelor’s degree; many have advanced degrees or are practicing attorneys or CPAs.  In other words, it is my privilege to teach la crème de la crème.  Still, it surprises me sometimes that even amongst this group, there is so little understanding of the financial benefits of legal marriage.  So I thought I’d blog about it.

My My My how things have changed!

Lucy and Ricky Ricardo slept in twin beds.  So did Rob and Laura Petrie.  (I Love Lucy and the Dick VanDyke Show references, for my young readers).  My my my how times have changed!  Now people hook up on television.  Who even needs a bed?  Maybe there’s a vacant stairwell, or there’s always the back seat. ...

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My Second Trip to Europe

By Glenn J. Downing, MBA, CFP®

This blog post builds upon a previous one:  No, Darling, because we can’t afford that.  I’m sharing some thoughts about teaching children to be financially responsible. 

What Was the First Trip?

My second trip?  What was the first?  My first trip to Europe I was 13, and my grandparents took me on vacation with them.  My maternal grandmother had come over from Italy at about age 5, and was raised in Connecticut, where I was born.  Her husband, my maternal grandfather, one of 16 children, was born in Connecticut, but some of the siblings were, I believe, born in Italy.  Grandpa was a successful business owner in New Haven, and they went to Europe on vacation most years.  In turn, they took each of their four grandchildren with them once – a gift I’d like to return some day.

The Deal with Dad

The second trip is the one I want to write about.  My Uncle Joe, my Dad’s...

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It's All About Guardrails

By Glenn J. Downing, MBA, CFP®

As a financial planner, I work with a lot of couples planning for retirement.  Retirement brings on a sea-change in thinking.  Up until then most people have been in an accumulative stage of money management – saving up against the day they stop working.  Come retirement, what is saved is spent down over many years.  The fundamental question:  Will I outlive my money?

Will I Outlive My Money?

With software, we can answer the question, and with some specificity.  To model the answer, though, requires good data inputs.  Those inputs include spending requirements, inflation and earnings assumptions, future medical expenses, and a host of other things, both quantitative and qualitative.  But we always begin at the beginning, which is the spending plan, aka the budget. 

We recently worked with a couple on retirement planning.  We found them to be in enviable financial shape.  But one spouse...

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No, Darling, Because We Can't Afford It

 

By Glenn J. Downing, MBA, CFP®

A friend recently suggested that I write a piece about children and money.  At first I thought myself unqualified, as I have no formal education in this area.  But then I got to thinking that, as a father and now grandfather, and since I’ve been graduated from life’s School of Hard Knocks, that I might have something useful to contribute.  Hence this effort.  This is actually Part I of a two-part series.  Part II is all about my Second Trip to Europe.  

I love children.  Always have.  I don’t like unrestrained screaming, but I do enjoy hearing children happily play.  My wife and I have two married daughters and two grandchildren, all of whom we love dearly.  But children, as they are delivered to us, are loud, messy, demanding, have appalling table manners, and think the world revolves around them.  Furthermore, they don't come with manuals.  Yet it is our job as...

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SIMPLE IRA

 

By Glenn J. Downing, MBA, CFP®

The SIMPLE IRA is the Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees. The SIMPLE allows for both employer contributions and employee deferrals. The plan is deal for employers who want to contribute something – but not a lot – to employee retirement accounts.

The is the second in a two-part series about retirement plans for the small business.  The first was about the SEP IRA.  

Who Is Covered Under the SIMPLE?

The SIMPLE is for an employer with fewer than 100 employees who earned less than $5000 in the previous year. The employer cannot have any other retirement plan – only the SIMPLE. Any employee who earned $5000 in any of the previous two years and expects to do so in the current year is eligible to participate. The plan must be established before October 1st for the current year. After Oct. 1st it will become effective for the following year.

Employer Contributions

A big part of retirement plan design has to do with...

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The Top 4 Financial Priorities for Young Professionals

by Jonathan G. Cameron, CFP®

Young professionals are expected to accomplish a lot early in life. You’re beginning to make real money. Time to get sound financial advice to establish a good foundation from someone you trust. The problem is most financial advisors focus primarily on retirement planning. When working with young professionals, I believe this is a mistake. 

Where do I start? 

With young professionals, we start the financial planning conversation with:

  • Debt payoff
  • Saving for a home down payment
  • Building an emergency fund
  • Wealth building (including retirement)

In addition, actively maintaining a budget is essential to establishing a strong financial foundation.

Most financial advisors do not spend time working with clients on the first three financial points. Why? It is likely because there isn’t a product associated with these financial needs. In other words, there is no incentive to talk about debt, home purchase, or emergency fund.

...
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7 Financial Life Hacks While Living in Miami

by Jonathan G. Cameron, CFP®

1. Create a budget.

If this sounds too obvious, I’ll say it again for reinforcement – are you maintaining a budget? Seriously. Miami is one of the flashiest cities in the world. If you don’t have a budget I’ll put it another way — Estas loco? It has been proven that our propensity to spend money in Miami is directly proportional to our physical proximity to Brickell/Downtown Miami and South Beach. A budget is by far the best way to keep track of your money. If you have a budget, you’re already way ahead.

2. Want to build up your credit score fast?

Pay your bills on time. In other words, “Do what you say you’re going to do, Miami.” Your payment history comprises 35% of your credit score. By contrast, your length of credit history accounts for only 15% of your overall score.

3. Time is your biggest asset.

Spend extra time with the people you care for most in life. This is easier said than done...

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Homestead Exemption for First Time Home Buyers

by Jonathan G. Cameron, CFP®

Congratulations! You've read Your First Home Purchase Part I and Part II and taken the advice to heart.  Now you’re a first-time home owner in Miami, FL and you’re settling into your new place. The first year of home ownership brings many changes – new commute to work, new paint on the walls, and perhaps some remodeling.  It’s an exciting season as you make your house a home, and start a new chapter in life while building personal equity.

But one thing that can get lost in the excitement is remembering to file for your Florida Homestead Exemption! Not filing for a the exemption will likely cost you money.

What is a Homestead Exemption?

A Homestead Exemption accomplishes three main things — it reduces your property tax bill, protects you from creditors, and protects a surviving spouse when the other home owner dies.

Reduce your taxes with a Homestead Exemption

Florida allows up to $50,000 in Homestead...

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