Category : financial wellness

Millennials Drink Your Coffee

Coffee Is Not The Enemy of Your Retirement

Can you think of starting your day without a cup of your freshly brewed coffee? I bet you can’t!

I can’t either. I love coffee. So … apparently do you. In spades.

But, take a minute and think…. is getting that morning buzz more important than creating your retirement nest egg? According to some recent research, coffee is the enemy of your retirement.

I’m sorry. It simply isn’t.

The Right Steps Don’t Discriminate Against Coffee

In my last post, I lamented the clickbait financial wisdom exclaiming how if we just gave up our latte, we’d be rich. Little did I know at the time that Acorn had based an entire survey question around the dreaded cup of coffee.

In their Money Matters survey, the findings reveal that 41% of millennials – my generation – spend more money on coffee than investing in our future. (1.)

The SAME survey of 1,911 Millennials (914 of the respondents were 24-35 vs. 18-23) also found that Retirement (at more than 40% of respondents) was the group’s top financial concern. It outpaced Daily Expenses and Debt.

Then I found this Forbes Fake News Fact Check gem bolstering the Millennial cause. Could Millennials actually be better at saving for retirement than previous generations? The article references an American Enterprise Institute study where, in 2015, Millennials reported that they first began saving for retirement at age 23, versus age 28 for Generation X and age 34 for Baby Boomers.

If you believe the anti-coffee hype, apparently my generation isn’t thinking rationally about saving for our retirement. That might be true, but we’d be placing the blame on the wrong thing.

The Right Steps Include Paying Yourself First

Just to set things straight, our advisor team doesn’t warn clients about the evils of coffee.

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Spend Your Tax Refund Yet? Stop! How To Do it Right This Year

From where we sit, getting a tax refund is a sin. But we all sin a little, right? And most don’t know that paying the U.S. Government more than you should in taxes is on the wrong side of the moral compass. “Wait,” you say, “I thought giving was good.”

In this case, “overgiving” is not good. You’re essentially spotting Uncle Sam an interest-free loan. But that’s why we’re here to help!

If you’ve already overcommitted this past year, we’ve got at least 5 solid tips for what to do with that extra cheddar.

But, first the public service announcement …

1. More than $500 on your tax refund? Take a look at your W-4

Your W-4 is a form your HR department handed you when you were hired. You might recall it being this weird questionnaire that computes how much money should be withheld in your payroll taxes. I’ve known people who just phone a friend to get the number of allowances: “Johnny does 7, so that sounds good to me.”

Bad idea.

There are many online calculators available that make more sense than the actual form:

Use them. Get your number and then call your HR department to compare what they have on file. If it’s different, change the allowances you’re claiming.

One of our founders, Kevin Conard, likes to use this opportunity to encourage people to increase the amount they’re saving into their 401k. If you’re increasing the allowances you may not notice a difference in your paycheck. Solid plan.

2. Build Your Safety Net

A lot of the other tax refund tip lists have pay off debt listed first. Not going to argue exactly (I’d be contradicting some of my previous tips). But I will pitch an alternative point of view by focusing on your emergency fund with this particular “windfall.”

In my experience, psychologically, building an emergency fund can be a hard tip to grasp. Bad things happen to other people, right? Thus, no emergency fund. Then where do they go – their credit cards. See the vicious circle?

Take your tax refund and either 1.) contribute to your existing emergency fund (Go you!), or 2.) open a savings account to establish that safety net. I typically recommend an online savings account because of the likely preferential interest rates and convenience.

3. Get Rid of the Bad Mojo, i.e. DEBT

Already have a relatively robust emergency fund? Awesome. Then go after the parasite of the financial world – bad debts.

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Easy Keys to Building Wealth

The 4 Easy Keys to Building Wealth

It seems that there is a short list for everything these days. Top 10 things to never say on a first date. The 5 best foods for your toddler. Top 20 places to travel to in your lifetime. And my personal favorite – any list that has the top 10 fails!

I would like to offer yet another list. But unlike providing just the entertainment value of my favorite “Fails” list, this list will serve you in a much more life-altering way. If followed, I am confident it will change your financial future.

This list did not come out of the pages of academia but rather from my last 2 decades working in Financial Services. I have spent 20+ years sitting kneecap to kneecap with real human beings helping them shape and plan for their financial futures. I have seen the whites of my clients’ eyes amidst the dotcom bubble burst in the late 1990s and again, with many of those same clients, in the financial crisis of 2008-2009.

It often seems that the financial industry in general wants to make investing and building wealth seem more complicated than it needs to be, so I hope to simplify what you really need to know. There are many things with investing that are out of our control – the economy and the stock market to be specific.

The great thing about this list is that all 4 things are areas of your life that YOU CAN CONTROL.

I hope that by boiling the millions and millions of google search results down to just these 4 key points that maybe, just maybe, a number of people reading this article will see their lives changed for the better.

So … drumroll please for the 4 Easy Keys to Building Wealth …

#1: Spend Less Than You Make (i.e. Save Money)

This is the one I am most passionate about. I have seen first-hand countless numbers of my clients retire with more than $1 million in their portfolios – and they never made even close to six figures in their careers. They didn’t inherit it. They didn’t sell a business for millions of dollars.

The one constant was that whatever they made, they spent less than that. Simply, if their monthly take-home pay was $4,000, they only spent $3,000. They most certainly didn’t maintain balances on a credit card. And when they had to borrow money (for a home or car), they worked to pay it off as soon as possible.

I put the “spend less” attribute #1 on the list because it is the most difficult for many people.

The next 3 are much easier to follow, but the act of spending less than you make is probably the single trait that will have the most impact on your financial life – both now and in the future. Very few people have the discipline to spend less than they make. It is main reason why few people in this country are financially secure.

#2: Get Your Allocation in the Ballpark of Being Right (Stocks vs. Bonds)

Too many investors spend an inordinate amount of time stressing over the selection of individual mutual funds while simultaneously neglecting what may be the single most important decision in investment selection an investor can make in their lifetime – the balance of stock funds vs. bond funds.

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Hawaii Hammock Retirement

How to Treat Your Retirement Planning Like Spring Break

IMG_5937.JPG Every year, the activity most college students look forward to is spring break. It’s the halfway point from Christmas to summer vacation and, let’s be honest, it’s a week of freedom from exams, boring lectures, and responsibility.

Depending on how excited you are about your spring break, planning can start as early as October – finding available houses or condos, coordinating travel and learning about the local hot spots. Hopefully around that same time, the savings start, as well. Each year, college students get to spend a week away from their parents, surrounded by their closest friends on a beach – or some other Instagram-worthy destination. That’s something worth saving up a bit of extra spare change.

Unfortunately, once college has ended and you are off in the real world, spring break becomes a thing of the past. A week-long vacation where you can forget about your responsibilities and sit on a beach sipping an adult beverage is no longer a given each March.

But this year, when the weather began to warm up, I started thinking about those days and how I can relax from work and other daily stresses, and I asked…

WHY CAN’T THAT BE MY RETIREMENT?

Trick is, like spring break, retirement – and the saving for it – requires planning and the need to start saving early.

Now, I can already hear your thoughts: “I have debt I need to pay off,” or, “I’m only in my 20s, why do I need to start planning for retirement?” Trust me, I get it. At 21 years old (almost 22!) and finishing up my Master’s degree, I feel like I have a lot of other ways to spend my money than putting it towards my retirement. But I’ve learned that the longer my money has to grow, the more it can do for me in the future. That’s the power of compounding interest

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Fitness & Finances: When Help Helps the Most

Now that we’re a month into 2017, how’s that New Year’s Resolution going for you? If you’re like 80% of the population, my guess is you’ve already called it quits or will by Valentine’s Day. Let’s face it, life gets in the way. It’s not easy.

By far the most common resolutions we all hear about or set for ourselves will involve getting in shape, eating better or losing weight. All those things sound great, but take a lot of time, energy, and dedication to accomplish. And this is especially true if you’re planning to go it alone.

As someone who’s had some success prioritizing my own health and fitness into a daily routine, I see it all-too-often at my gym, especially early in the year. There’s generally two kinds of what I call the “New Year Newbies”, the tortoise or the hare. The hares start out of the gate pushing themselves way too hard. They generally end up hurting themselves or making themselves feel like such a pile of you-know-what afterward that they never want to come back. And then there are the tortoises. They got themselves to the gym but they think that’s all it takes.  Tortoises typically spend their time reading through three gossip magazines while throwing their legs in slow circles on a bike for an hour (without ever breaking a sweat). But hey, can you believe Tarek & Christina (HGTV) are getting a divorce?!…

In this story of the tortoise and the hare, neither win. Because while those people may have taken the right first step by getting themselves to the gym, they probably aren’t going to make much progress. They’ll end up like nearly everyone else when it comes to their resolutions – just another statistic. Let’s face it, this stuff takes time, patience, and a ton of mental strength. And it’s often a process that can feel like lots of small baby steps forward, followed by falling flat on your face repeatedly.

Having someone by your side (that knows what they’re doing) is the key to training.  Specifically, those that seek help from a trusted source, like a personal trainer, tend to achieve far better results than those going it alone. There are several reasons to hire a personal trainer, and it’s not just the motivation that they will charge you if you don’t show up to your work out.  Personal trainers give you individualized workouts that are more likely to provide tangible results. Personal trainers are there to supervise you, tell you when you are using the correct form so you don’t injure yourself. They also provide consistency and a sounding board when you’re not sure your training is going in the right direction (or even progressing like you want).  Trainers are trusted partners who want to see you reach your long-term physical goals.

Now, as you’d expect, herein lies our investing analogy…

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