Author Archives: Carolin May

Updating your beneficiaries is important.

Estate Planning 101

It’s always a little uncomfortable to talk about death, since we all like to think we have lots of time left. In Paul Bowles’ words, we tend to “think of life as an inexhaustible well.” However, none of us are going to be around forever, and it’s a good idea to be prepared. Family members have enough to deal with when someone passes away, so a kindness you can do them today is to make sure your estate planning is in order.

Fortunately, it’s not that cumbersome. Nor is it something that only the wealthy should concern themselves with. Here are a list of mission-critical tasks that everyone can complete.

1. Designate Beneficiaries

Who should receive the money in your retirement account, if you pass away? Designate them as beneficiaries on 401k, 403b or any other retirement accounts (IRAs, Roth IRAs). This should be pretty easy to do—usually on a website, or paper form.

Not sure if you designated beneficiaries?

If you have a 401k, 403b, or TSP: ask your HR person at your company where you can locate this information.

If you have an IRA or Roth IRA: Contact the institution that holds your money and ask them.

It’s a good idea to set yourself a reminder to review this each year. Make sure that
a) all beneficiaries are still alive
b) you still want them as a beneficiary
c) their contact information is correct.
If you don’t name or update beneficiaries, it might cause problems for the person in charge of your estate. In extreme cases, the money might even go to the state. 😕

2. Draft a Will

This is the document that lays out your wishes for how you want your estate handled upon your demise. You pick the person who will act as your executor: the person who deals with the probate court if necessary, and the person that settles your debts and distributes your property to your beneficiaries. Since this is no small task, you will definitely want to appoint someone that you trust, who is task oriented and willing to handle this process.
Most importantly, if you have minor children, the will outlines and specifies who will become guardian (raise) your kids after you (and your spouse) are gone. You should keep a copy of the will in a safe place and be sure to send a copy to the person you named as your executor.
You can hire an attorney to help with your will. We also recommend online services such as legalzoom or rocketlawyer.

3. Draft a Living Will

This document is often called healthcare directive, advance directive, or healthcare power of attorney. It contains your wishes regarding your care, should you be incapacitated or in a situation where you cannot speak or make decisions for yourself. Being in a coma is a good example of this. You’ll designate a person who can instruct the doctors and make healthcare decisions for you and on your behalf. Clearly this person needs to be someone you trust and who is capable of making difficult decisions. A living will is a document you need to keep handy. Additionally, you should give a copy to the person you named as your healthcare power of attorney.

We recommend reviewing your will and beneficiaries once a year. Life changes quickly: People have kids, relationships end, your beneficiaries might move, and so on. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to update this, and it might save your family members a lot of trouble.

Now, after this serious memento mori… go hug your loved ones!

 

Blooom and its representatives do not provide legal or tax advice. This information is meant to be general in nature. You should seek the advice and counsel of a qualified attorney and/or tax expert for your own estate planning.
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Tangled up in cords.

5 Tips for Organizing Your Digital Life

It’s easy to let your digital life get out of control. Files pile up, you constantly install new apps, and it’s a hassle to keep track of all those account logins. We know organizing is a daunting task, but you don’t have to do it all at once. Why not check off one thing a day in the list below? Your digital life will be in great shape after only a week!

Benefits of Organizing

  • Saves you time and possibly money
  • Increases online security
  • Gives you peace of mind

 

Here are some ideas for how to get started.

1. Delete Unused Apps

If you have apps you only used once, or lost interest in, take a few minutes to delete them. It will free up space on your device and possibly even make it faster. More importantly, once you uninstall an app, it no longer gathers your data. Therefore, you reduce the risk of a data breach affecting you.

Alternatively, if you don’t wish to get rid of apps, group them in folders for easy access.

Don’t forget to do this on your Mac or PC, as well. (If you need instructions for this, look to techlicious.)

Benefits: Speeds up your device, increases security, minimizes distractions.

 

2. Put Your Finances in one Place

You probably have more than bank account or credit card. Rather than going to their individual websites to see your account, why not see them all at once, with a service like Mint.com? You can sort and filter your transactions to your heart’s content, create budgets, and track your spending and credit score.

Benefits: Quick overview, notifications, time savings.

 

3. Clean Your Computer and Browser

Does your browser take a long time to start up? It might be slow because using the internet accumulates files, and there might be browser extensions you forgot about. You could clean your cache and download folders manually, or just use a free program like CCleaner to tidy up your system. It removes extraneous software and browser data, which in turn reduces your online vulnerability. If you’re also worried about malware, check out the free tools recommended by the National Cyber Security Alliance.

Benefits: Speeds up your device, increases security.

 

4. Consolidate Passwords

You’ve probably heard that you’re not supposed to use the same password for different accounts, because it makes you an easy target for hackers. On the other hand, nobody can seriously be expected to remember a different login for every site they use. What’s worse, letting your browser save passwords is a security risk, too. LastPass to the rescue! It’s a password manager (and one browser extension we do recommend you keep 😉) where you only have to remember one master password. Nice!

Benefits: Increased security, less frustration.

 

5. Organize Your Retirement

Managing a retirement account is a lot of work. You can have professionals do it for you at blooom, for only $10/month! See all your retirement accounts in once place, and let the pros worry about rebalancing and trying to get you a great expense ratio. Additionally, every blooom member has unlimited access to Financial Advisors – in case you need help organizing more than just your 401k.

Benefits: Time savings, easy overview, professional advice.

Join blooom

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Women Investors

3 Reasons Why Women are the Better Investors

A Wells Fargo Investment Institute study found that women perform better than men as investors. We can probably blame testosterone, which makes men quicker to make judgments and less likely to examine facts that might prove them wrong.

So what can you do if you don’t happen to be a woman? Try to emulate the traits that give them the advantage:

1. Women are more patient

Since they tend to trade less frequently than men, they often earn higher returns for the risks they do decide to take. Men on the other hand tend to be overconfident about their investment ability. Additionally, their frequent trading carries both direct and indirect costs, which can eat away at returns. (See also: Leaving your 401k the heck alone)

2. Women are more disciplined

Women tend to stick to their investment plan, which can to lead to better results. However, male investors were six times more likely to make major changes in asset allocation, such as switching from 100 percent stocks to 100 percent bonds, or vice versa.

3. Women are more willing to learn

They are more likely to seek education and advice from investment professionals. Also, twice as many women as men said that what they need most from a financial advisor is education about investing principles and concepts.

 

Room for improvement

The one area where women lag behind is investing confidence. While this might help them make prudent decisions, it also dampens their chances at higher returns in some cases. Become a more confident investor with these tips:

Research

Visit investment websites, take an investment class, or meet with an investment professional. Learn what your employer offers. Explore individual retirement accounts, or, if applicable, your partner’s retirement benefits.

Plan

Create a budget for saving and investing. Set goals with a time horizon and risk level you’re comfortable with.

Act

Choose the asset allocation that works best for your personal financial situation. Regularly monitor and rebalance your portfolio as necessary.

 

A great place for financial advice is blooom, where members have free access to registered Financial Advisors. Send them your questions and you’re on your way to becoming the best investor you can be!

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Piggy bank with gold medal

How Blooom Uses Olympic Skills to go for the 401k Gold

In just a few days the Olympic Games will get underway: The world’s best will be going toe to toe to determine who will take home the gold. Did you know that getting a gold medal pays? For US athletes, it means $25,000 into their bank account. Not too shabby…

$25K is a great payday, but you don’t have to be a determined Olympian to optimize your finances. After all, blooom estimates that its average client saves more than $41,000 in hidden investment fees alone over their working careers*.

Lessons from Olympic athletes

Piggy bank playing hockey

Athlete: Ryan Zapolski

Discipline: Men’s Hockey

401k tip: Blocking hidden fees

 

As goalie for Team USA, Zapolski’s job is keeping the puck out of the net. The more the opponents score, the harder everyone on his team has to work to win. Likewise, when investors are incurring high fees, their investments have to work double time to make up for money that’s being taken out of the account. Just like Zapolski does with the puck, blooom works to keep hidden investment fees out of your proverbial 401k net.

Piggy bank curling

 

Athlete: Nina Roth

Discipline: Women’s Curling

401k tip: Risk tolerance

 

In curling, the goal is literally to get as close to the target as possible. The same goes for retirement. When Roth throws her curling stone, she has to make sure she throws it aggressively enough to reach the target, but not too hard—risking missing it completely. As the stone gets closer to its goal, her teammates work to direct the stone down the perfect path. When you tell blooom your glide path (years to retirement), we adjust your investments and risk accordingly, to help you hit your goals.

 

Piggy bank figure skating

 

Athlete: Nathan Chen

Discipline: Men’s Figure Skating

401k tip: Diversification

 

Chen might be known for his vaunted quad jumps, but it’s not all he does on the ice. He also skates gracefully, mixing in other moves like the camel spin, step sequence and the Salchow. Like a balanced, diversified portfolio, Chen knows it takes more than just one move (or fund) to win the gold.

Piggy bank on a skeleton

 

Athlete: Kendall Wesenberg

Discipline: Women’s Skeleton

401k Tip: Rebalancing

 

When Wesenberg is flying down a patch of ice at over 80 MPH, she knows it’s the little tweaks, like a tilt of the head or shift of the shoulders, that make the difference between winning and losing. The same goes for your 401k. While your path to retirement doesn’t move nearly as fast as the skeleton, blooom regularly makes small tweaks to your investments. This helps your 401k get on the medal podium when you cross the retirement finish line.

Piggy bank speed skating

 

Athlete: J.R. Celski

Discipline: Men’s Short Track Speed Skating

401k Tip: Getting professional help

 

Short track speed skating is riddled with obstacles and other competitors to knock you off track… or out of the race completely. Knowing how and when to react will be an important factor in Celski’s ability to win the race. Much like the chaos of the short track, the stock market goes up, down and all-around over the course of a person’s lifetime. Having a trusted partner to help you read what’s happening and make sense of it all can be the difference in making the right move or crashing out of the race.

Ready to join the team?

Get the 401k Gold

Becoming an Olympian is hard work and so is having a great 401k. Luckily for you, rocking your 401k isn’t an individual sport. Linking up your 401k to blooom is like joining the Dream Team.
U-S-A! 401k!

 

* $41,456 investment fee savings based on median blooom client 401k balance of $47,131. Assuming $5,000 annual contribution, pre-blooom investment expense ratio of .56%, post-blooom investment expense ratio of .22%, and 30 years until retirement as of January 9, 2018. Blooom is limited to the funds available in your employer sponsored retirement account. There is no guarantee blooom can or will reduce your fund expenses.

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