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2015 Employee Benefits

2015 Employee Benefits

The hot hazy days of summer are fading away. The kids have gone back to school and you’re about to get the 2015 enrollment package from your employer. Yes, it most certainly is that time of year; you have to pick options for next year’s health care plans, savings plans (401k, 403b etc.) and other optional choices.

There will, no doubt, be some changes, everything will cost more and the options available to you will be confusing, boring and mind numbing. It’s no wonder that many people just “pick what they had last year” and move on to something else. With that being said, you should stand out from the crowd and take the time to understand what your options are, how they impact your life and then carefully select those best suited for your situation.

Since you are already in the mode to “plan” for next year’s benefit selections, it is a fantastic time to start or review an existing financial plan. Your company might be introducing a High Deductible Health Care Plan with a Heath Savings Account (HSA) available, there could be changes to your employer saving plans, maybe you want or should be enrolled in the long term disability plan, they might even offer discounted or free financial planning services as part of their benefits.

Studies have shown Read more..

Financial Term-a-palooza

Financial Term-a-palooza

As I’ve written in previous blog posts, the financial industry is full of confusing concepts, terms and acronyms. This week’s post is about a number of those terms that many people don’t fully understand. As with any terms or conditions focused around your hard earned money, understanding them is of critical importance.

Custody / Custodian – A “custodian” has “custody” of your investments. This one isn’t too difficult to grasp. A Custodian has “physical” possession of your assets, and is tasked with the duty of caring for them. This does not include selecting the stocks, bonds or mutual funds that make up your portfolio but does include making sure you get a statement, and ensuring your account balance on paper matches what you have in your account. Think of the custodian as the keeper of a vault that contains your assets. They are on the hook for protecting what’s in the vault.

The most common custodians have names most people recognize and include Vanguard, Fidelity, Schwab and Ameritrade to name a few. They also include some lesser advertised names including Shareholder Services of America, Trust Company of America and Trade PMR.

A certain Mr. Madoff was a “custodian” and had “custody” of his client’s funds … see why this is an important concept to fully grasp?

Discretionary Authority – Discretion / Non-Discretion – This one is a bit trickier to follow, but it is one of the most important concepts for you to comprehend.

Using the vault analogy from our custodian example:

  • Anyone who has discretionary authority has the power (authority) to add or remove items from the vault (your portfolio) without consulting you (discretion) beforehand. Typically used by financial planners (who must act in your best interest) within the mutually agreed on parameters of your Investment Policy Statement.
  • Anyone with non-discretionary authority has the same power (authority) to add or remove items from the vault but must sell you the item by obtaining your permission (non-discretion) first. Typically used by an “Advisor/Broker” (financial product sales people) and are required by law to use non-discretionary authority. You wouldn’t want a salesperson to have full run of your vault would you? It might be a pretty slick way to make a ton of commissions, wouldn’t you agree?

So to summarize the differences: Read more..

Spend 10-15% of your income … it’s recommended!

Spend 10-15% of your income … it’s recommended!

Not exactly the headline typically found on a Financial Planner’s blog, is it? It’s not a fake headline to grab attention like those found across the “news media” either. The statement is 100% factual and I actually recommend my clients “spend” as much as possible!

Hold the phone Batman … that’s absurd … ridiculous … scandalous even!

A big part of financial planning revolves around goal planning and ultimately determining the “number” needed to achieve a goal. Typically, the process includes understanding how much a person is spending today, which involves the ever dreaded “B” word … Budget. “Ugh, budgets”.

“I’m a terrible saver, but I love spending.” “I’m a great shopper, I can spend with the best of them”. A common thought is most people are somehow bad at saving money, but great at spending it. For the moment, I’ll skip the notion that a great spender already has a detailed budget in place. Instead, I’ll focus on the strengths of the inner power shopper in us all. Read more..

Gift Certificate Program

Gift Certificate Program – 2014

Today marks the release of our financial planning gift certificate program. This is a fantastic and thoughtful gift for those special people in your life. We offer our gift certificates in several options to best fit your gift giving needs. Your purchase also includes a gift certificate Sample for presenting to your gift recipient on their special day.

Gift Certificate Options

  1. A flat dollar amount to be used towards any of our services offered
  2. A select number of prepaid hours to be used towards any of our services offered
  3. Prepay the entire amount of the recipients needs (requires a pre-consultation with us to determine the scope and cost)

Additional Program Features

  • No expiration dates
  • Transferable to other family members
  • Can be used for any of our services
  • No need to redeem entire gift certificate at once
  • Lost certificates – notify us for a replacement


Contact us today and give the gift of financial planning.

Steve

IRA Contribution Reminder

The deadline to file your 2013 tax return is one month away! Here is a reminder to anyone who has either claimed a deduction for your 2013 IRA contribution or wants to make a non-deductible contribution.

The maximum amount that can be contributed for 2013 (2014 as well) is $5,500. If you are age 50 and above an additional $1,000 is allowed. This applies to both Traditional and Roth IRA’s.

Deductibility of an IRA contribution phases out at certain income levels, but a non-deductible contribution is still permitted. The ability to contribute any amounts directly to a Roth is phased out entirely at a certain income. Read more..