Tag Archives: Financial planning

5 Things to Consider When One Spouse Retires Before the Other

26 May

shutterstock_202991146While all couples talk about the big picture of saving for retirement, not all consider the ramifications of what happens when one spouse retires before the other. Sometimes that reality reflects an age difference, other times one person wants to keep working for income or health coverage reasons. If you retire years before your spouse or partner does, you may want to consider how your lifestyle might change as well as your household finances.

#1: How will retiring affect your identity?

If you are one of those people who derives a great deal of pride and sense of self from your profession, leaving that career for life around the house may feel odd. Who are you now? Who will you become next? Can you retire and still be who you were? Hopefully, your spouse recognizes that you may have to entertain these questions. They may prompt some soul-searching, even enough to affect a relationship.

#2: How much down time do you want?

That is worth discussing with your spouse or partner. If you absolutely hate your job, you may want weeks, months, or years of relaxation after leaving it. You can figure out what to do next in good time. Alternately, you may see every day of retirement as a day for achievement; a day to get something done or connect with someone new. Your significant other should know whether you prefer an active, ambitious retirement or a more relaxed one.

#3: How will household chores or caregiving be handled?

Picture your loved one arising at 6:30am on a January morning, bundling up, heading for work and navigating inclement weather, all as you sleep in. Your spouse or partner may grow a bit envious of your retirement freedom. One way to offset that envy is to assume more of the everyday chores around the house.

For many baby boomers, caregiving is also a daily event. When one spouse or partner retires, that can rebalance the caregiving “equation.” One or more individuals have to provide 100% of the eldercare needed, and retirement can make shared percentages more equitable or allow a greater role for a son or daughter in that caregiving. Some people even retire to become a caregiver to Mom or Dad.

#4: Do you have kids living at home?

Adult children? Right now, in this country, every fifth young adult is living with his or her parents. With so many new college graduates having to accept part-time or low-paying service industry jobs, and with education loan debt averaging roughly $30,000 per indebted graduate, this situation will persist for years and, perhaps, even become a new normal.1

#5: You and your loved ones may find yourself on different timetables.

Maybe your spouse or partner works from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in a high-stress job. Maybe your children attend school on roughly the same schedule. How do they get to and from those places? Probably through a rush-hour commute, either in a car or amid the crowds lined up for mass transit. If you have abandoned the daily grind, you may have an enthusiasm and a chattiness in the evening that they lack. Maybe they just want to unwind at 6:30pm, but you might be anxious to reconnect with them after a day alone at home.

Talk about retirement before you retire. What should your daily life look like? What are the most important things you want out of the retirement experience? How do your answers to those questions align or contrast with the answers of your best friend? As you retire, make sure that your spouse or partner knows your point of view, and be sure to respect his or hers in the bargain.

Julie Newcomb, a Certified Financial Planner™ in Orange County, CA, specializes in financial planning for women.  As a wife, mom and business owner, Julie understands the pressures and challenges most women feel on a daily basis as they juggle many important priorities. Julie’s favorite thing about her job is the ability to give women peace of mind when they entrust her with their finances. To learn more about Julie Newcomb Financial, go to julienewcomb.com.

  

Souces:

1 – chicagotribune.com/business/success/savingsgame/tca-boomerang-children-affecting-parents-retirement-plans-20160413-story.html [4/13/16]

 

The 5 Chapters of Retirement

27 Feb

Julie Newcomb 1

Even if you still have 30 years left until retirement, you’ve probably already started imagining what your retirement might look like. Whether those thoughts are filled with dreams or dread, it’s natural to wonder about the next chapter in your journey.

  • What will life without the demands of a job look and feel like?
  • What type of lifestyle will I be able to afford?
  • Will I be healthy & wealthy enough to travel?

The journey to and through retirement occurs gradually, like successive chapters in a book. Each chapter has its own things to consider. While the journey is different for everyone, here’s a preview.

Chapter 1: The Fifties

At this stage of life, retirement becomes less like a far-off dream and more like a forthcoming reality. You begin to think about when you can retire, and about taking the right steps to retire comfortably.

By one measure, men have their peak earning years in their mid-fifties. Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows the median male worker earning 127% of his initial salary at that time. The peak earning years for women are harder to statistically gauge, as some women leave the paid workforce for years-long intervals. In inflation-adjusted terms, earnings actually peak earlier in life. PayScale estimates that on average, pay growth for women flattens at age 39 (at a median salary of $60,000), and at age 48 for men (at a median salary of $95,000). So by the fifties, many people are receiving raises to keep up with the cost of living, but essentially earning the equivalent of what they made a decade or more ago.1,2

During your fifties, you may contend with “lifestyle creep” – the phenomenon of your household expenses growing along with your pay raises. These increased expenses may include housing costs, education costs, healthcare costs, even eldercare costs. Despite these financial strains, the inflow of new money into retirement accounts must not cease; your retirement plan assets should not be drawn down through loans or withdrawn too early.

Chapter 2: The Early Sixties

The anticipation builds at this point; you start to think about the process of retiring and the precise financial and lifestyle steps involved. You also begin to think about the near future – not only what you will do next, but how you will do it.

According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, the average American man now retires at age 64, the average American woman at age 62. So the reality is that the early sixties coincide with retirement for many people. This reality is worth noting in light of the difference between Americans’ envisioned and actual retirement ages. Last April, a Gallup poll asked pre-retirees when they expected to leave the workforce: 37% saw themselves working past 65, 32% before 65, and 24% at 65. The same poll asked older, retired Americans when they had stopped working full-time, and 67% of those respondents said they had done so before 65.3,4

You may have to act on your plans to volunteer or start an encore career earlier than you think. If you do not have a set plan for the next chapter, a phased retirement may give you more of an opportunity to determine one.

This is also a time to dial down risk in your portfolio, especially if a bear market occurs right before you retire. You have little time to recover from a downturn.

Chapter 3: The Start of Retired Life

The first year or so of retirement is akin to a “honeymoon phase” – you have the time and perhaps the money to pursue all kinds of dreams. The key is not to spend wildly. Lifestyle creep also affects new retirees; free time often means more chances to spend money.

The good news is that you may spend less than you think. Transportation, insurance, housing, clothing and food costs may all decline. The common view is that you will need to live on 80% of your end salary for a comfortable retirement, but in a 2014 T. Rowe Price survey of retirees, the average respondent was living on 66% of his or her pre-retirement income. Eighty-five percent of those retirees said they were maintaining their standard of living with less money.5

Chapter 4: The Mid-Sixties thru Late Seventies

This is when some people get a little restless. It is also when some people find their retirement savings growing disturbingly smaller. You may get bored with all-leisure, all-the-time and want to volunteer or work on your own terms, health permitting. You may want to adjust your retirement income strategy or see if new streams of income can be arranged.

Chapter 5: Eight & Afterward

The last chapter of retirement is one frequently characterized by the sharing of legacies and life lessons, a new perspective on the process of living and aging, and deeper engagement (or reengagement) with children and grandchildren. This is also the time when you should think about your financial legacy, and review or update your estate plan so that when you leave this world, things are in good order and your wishes are followed.

Before and during your retirement, it is wise to keep in touch with a financial professional who can guide and consult you when questions about income, investments, wealth protection, and wealth transfer arise.

Julie Newcomb, a Certified Financial Planner™ in Orange County, CA, specializes in financial planning for women.  As a wife, mom and business owner, Julie understands the pressures and challenges most women feel on a daily basis as they juggle many important priorities. Julie’s favorite thing about her job is the ability to give women peace of mind when they entrust her with their finances. To learn more about Julie Newcomb Financial, go to julienewcomb.com. 

Sources:

1 – marketwatch.com/story/peak-earnings-for-men-come-in-their-early-50s-2015-06-18 [6/18/15]

2 – fastcompany.com/3025564/how-to-be-a-success-at-everything/when-are-your-high-earning-years-how-much-you-should-make- [1/30/14]

3 – crr.bc.edu/briefs/the-average-retirement-age-an-update/ [3/15]

4 – gallup.com/poll/182939/americans-settling-older-retirement-age.aspx [4/29/15]

5 – news.investors.com/investing/073014-711065-people-adjust-to-lower-income-in-retirement.htm [7/30/14]

Are You a Victim of the Retirement Savings Gender Gap?

5 Jan

shutterstock_108591956You may or may not be surprised to hear that there is a gender gap when it comes to retirement savings between men and women.

 In fact

  • The median IRA/workplace retirement savings balance for a 45-year-old woman is $43,446.
  • The median IRA/workplace retirement savings balance for a 45-year-old man is $63,875.

Obviously, you cannot retire on that. The 2015 edition of Financial Finesse’s annual survey, The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy, gauged the additional amount of savings that the median 45-year-old male employee and the median 45-year-old female employee would need to replace 70% of pre-retirement income and pay for estimated medical expenses (long term care not included.) It found a 26% disparity:

  • The median male employee saver needed $212,256 to reach that goal
  • The median female employee needed $268,404.1

A gap in some aspects of financial literacy was also notable.

  • Just 67% of pre-retiree women responded that they had a general knowledge of investment classes compared to 84% of their male peers.
  • While 78% of men surveyed said that they had an emergency fund, merely 67% of women did.
  • Just 34% of women were confident about the way their portfolios were allocated, versus 48% of men.2

Is the solution to simply work longer?

Some women hope to keep working into their seventies, but that may not happen. Earlier in this decade, MetLife studied “leading edge” baby boomers born in 1946 as they turned 66 in 2012. It found that 52% were already retired, and 43% had claimed Social Security earlier than they anticipated.3

How can women plan to address this?

  1. Find out where you stand in terms of savings now. A simple retirement planning calculator (there are many available online) can help you see how much more you need to save, per year and over the course of your career.
  2. Save enough to get the match. If your employer will match a percentage of your retirement plan contributions per paycheck, strive to contribute enough to your plan each paycheck so that the match occurs.
  3. Ask about automatic escalation. Some workplace retirement plans have this option, through which you can boost your retirement contributions by 1% a year. This is a nice “autopilot” way to promote larger retirement nest eggs.
  4. Make tax efficiency one of your goals. Consult a financial professional about this, for there are potential advantages to having your money in taxable, tax-deferred, and tax-exempt accounts. For example, when you contribute to a traditional IRA or a typical employer-sponsored retirement plan, you make tax-deferred contributions. This lowers your taxable income today, although the distributions from those accounts will be taxable in retirement. You defer after-tax dollars into Roth IRAs; those dollars are taxable today, but you will eventually get tax-free growth and tax-free withdrawals if you follow IRS rules. Taxable investment accounts may seem less preferable, but they too can potentially help you pursue financial goals.4
  5. Determine an appropriate “glide path.” Many financial professionals caution retirement savers to gradually reduce the risk in their portfolio as they age – to “glide” from a portfolio mainly invested in equities to one less invested in them. (Some retirement plan accounts will actually adjust your investment mix for you as you age.) Glide paths are different for everyone, however. If you really need to accelerate your retirement savings effort, then you may need to accept more risk in your portfolio in exchange for the possibility of greater returns. (Again, this is a good topic for a conversation with a financial professional.)   

In some ways, women are narrowing the retirement saving gender gap. Financial Finesse found that 4.2% more women had adopted an investment strategy in the 2015 survey compared to the 2012 edition, and 2% more had done a basic retirement savings projection.  In passing, it also noted that the percentage of women who said they were on track to meet their retirement savings goal rose 4.2% from 2012 to 2014.2

Julie Newcomb, a Certified Financial Planner™ in Orange County, CA, specializes in financial planning for women.  As a wife, mom and business owner, Julie understands the pressures and challenges most women feel on a daily basis as they juggle many important priorities. Julie’s favorite thing about her job is the ability to give women peace of mind when they entrust her with their finances. To learn more about Julie Newcomb Financial, go to julienewcomb.com. 

Sources:.

1 – 2015_Gender_Gap_report_final_brief_v2.pdf [12/3/15]

2 – forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2015/09/17/the-unexpected-news-about-women-men-and-retirement/ [9/17/15]

3 – metlife.com/mmi/research/oldest-boomers.html#graphic [12/3/15]

4 – nerdwallet.com/blog/advisorvoices/prioritize-key-retirement-savings-steps/ [12/1/15]

 

Are You Prepared for Long Term Care Costs?

30 Oct

Long-term CareAs the average life span increases, so do your odds that you’ll need to utilize long term care in the future. But, how can you plan for it? How do you pay for it?  

 Strategic insurance choices should always play a role when you’re planning for retirement. Having the right insurance to cover unforeseen, and often large, expenses can really take the stress off. However, as medical costs skyrocket the price of long term care insurance is really going up as well. If you are a baby boomer and you have kept your eye on it for a few years, chances are you have noticed much costlier premiums for LTC coverage today compared to several years ago. For example, in 2015 the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance found that married 60-year-olds would pay $2,170 annually to get a total of $328,000 of coverage.1

As CNBC notes, about three-quarters of the insurers that sold LTC policies ten years ago have stopped doing so. Demand for LTC coverage will only grow as more baby boomers retire – and in light of that, insurance providers have introduced new options for those who want to LTC coverage.1

Hybrid LTC products have emerged. Some insurers are structuring “cash rich” whole life insurance policies so you can tap part of the death benefit while living to pay for long term care. You can use up to $330 a day of the death benefit under such policies, with no reduction to the cash value. Other insurance products are being marketed featuring similar potential benefits.2

This option often costs a few hundred dollars more per year – not bad given that level annual premiums on a whole life policy with a half-million or million-dollar payout often come to several thousand dollars. The policyholder becomes eligible for the LTC coverage when he or she is judged to require assistance with two or more of six daily living activities (dressing, bathing, eating, etc.) or is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or some other kind of cognitive deficiency.2

This way, you can get what you want from one insurance policy rather than having to pay for two. Contrast that with a situation in which you buy a discrete LTC policy but die without requiring any long term care, with the premiums on that policy paid for nothing.

The basics of securing LTC coverage applies to these policies. As with a standard LTC policy, the earlier you start paying premiums for one of these hybrid insurance products, the lower the premiums will likely be. You must pass medical underwriting to qualify for coverage. The encouraging news here is that some people who are not healthy enough to qualify for a standalone LTC insurance policy may qualify for a hybrid policy.3

These hybrid LTC products usually require lump sum funding. An initial premium payment of $50,000 is common. Sometimes installment payments can be arranged in smaller lump sums over the course of a few years or a decade. For a high net worth individual or couple, this is no major hurdle, especially since appreciated assets from other life insurance products can be transferred into a hybrid product through a 1035 exchange.1,3

Are these hybrid policies just mediocre compromises? They have detractors as well as fans, and the detractors cite the fact that a stand alone LTC policy generally offers greater LTC coverage per premium dollar paid than a hybrid policy. They also cite their two sets of fees, per their two forms of insurance coverage. While it is possible to deduct the cost of premiums paid on a conventional LTC policy, hybrid policies allow no such opportunity.3

Paying a lump sum premium at the inauguration of the policy has both an upside and a downside. You will not contend with potential premium increases over time, as owners of stock LTC policies often do; on the other hand, the return on the insurance product may be locked into today’s (minimal) interest rates.

Another reality is that many middle-class seniors have little or no need to go out and buy a life insurance policy. Their heirs will not face inheritance taxes, because their estates aren’t large enough to exceed the federal estate tax exemption. Moreover, their children may be adults and financially stable themselves; a large death benefit for these heirs is nice, but the opportunity cost of paying the life insurance premiums may be significant.4

Cash value life insurance can be a crucial element in estate planning for those with large or complex estates, however – and if some of its death benefit can be directed toward long term care for the policyholder, it may prove even more useful than commonly assumed.

Julie Newcomb, a Certified Financial Planner™ in Orange County, CA, specializes in financial planning for women.  As a wife, mom and business owner, Julie understands the pressures and challenges most women feel on a daily basis as they juggle many important priorities. Julie’s favorite thing about her job is the ability to give women peace of mind when they entrust her with their finances. To learn more about Julie Newcomb Financial, go to julienewcomb.com.

Sources:

1 – cnbc.com/2015/08/07/fer-more-products-that-cover-long-term-care-costs.html [8/7/15]

2 – consumerreports.org/cro/news/2015/04/get-long-term-care-from-whole-life-insurance/index.htm [4/16/15]

3 – tinyurl.com/o3ty2j3 [5/4/14]

4 – marketwatch.com/story/hedging-your-bets-on-long-term-care-2013-11-06 [11/6/13]

 

6 Keys Lessons for Long-Term Investing

30 Sep

Stock MarketInvesting your hard-earned dollars can be complicated and feel scary at times. The safest and most liquid options, say, putting it in the bank, offer such little return that it feels like you’re actually losing money. The truth is, it’s important to keep the long-term in perspective when investing for financial growth and take to heart tried and true lessons.

Lesson #1: Shut out most of the “noise.” News outlets take the temperature of global markets five days a week (and even on the weekends), and fundamental indicators serve as barometers of the economy each month. The longer you invest, the more you learn to ride through the turbulence caused by all the breaking news alerts and short-term statistical variations. While the day trader sells or buys in reaction to immediate economic or market news, the buy-and-hold investor waits for selloffs, corrections and bear markets to pass.

Lesson #2: Decide how much volatility you can stomach. Volatility (also known as market risk) is measured in shorthand as the standard deviation for the S&P 500. Across 1926-2014, the yearly total return for the S&P averaged 10.2%. If you want to be very casual about it, you could simply say that stocks go up about 10% a year – but that discounts some pronounced volatility. The S&P had a standard deviation of 20.2 from its mean total return in this time frame, which means that if you add or subtract 20.2 from 10.2, you get the range of the index’s yearly total return that could be expected 67% of the time. So in any given year from 1926-2014, there was a 67% chance that the yearly total return of the S&P might vary from +30.4% to -10.0%. Some investors dislike putting up with that kind of volatility, others more or less embrace it.1

Lesson #3: Take liquidity into consideration. The older you get, the more you appreciate being able to quickly access your money. A family emergency might require you to tap into your investment accounts. An early retirement might prompt you to withdraw from retirement funds sooner than you anticipate. If you have a fair amount of your savings in illiquid investments, you have a problem – those dollars are “locked up” and you cannot access those assets without paying penalties. In a similar vein, there are some investments that are harder to sell than others.

Lesson #4: Rebalance your portfolio. To the novice investor, rebalancing when the market is hot may seem illogical. If your portfolio is disproportionately weighted in equities, is that a problem? It could be.

Across a sustained bull market, it is common to see your level of risk rise parallel to your return. When equities return more than other asset classes, they end up representing an increasingly large percentage of your portfolio’s total assets. Correspondingly, your cash allocation shrinks as well.

The closer you get to retirement, the less risk you will likely want to assume. Even if you are strongly committed to growth investing, approaching retirement while taking on more risk than you feel comfortable with is problematic, as is approaching retirement with an inadequate cash position. Rebalancing a portfolio restores the original asset allocation, realigning it with your long-term risk tolerance and investment strategy. It may seem counterproductive to sell “winners” and buy “losers” as an effect of rebalancing, but as you do so, remember that you are also saying goodbye to some assets that may have peaked while saying hello to others that you may be buying at the right time.

Lesson #5: Learn not to get too attached to certain types of investments. Sometimes an investor will succumb to familiarity bias, which is the rejection of diversification for familiar investments. Why does he or she have 13% of the portfolio invested in just two Dow components? The investor just likes what those firms stand for, or has worked for them. The inherent problem is that the performance of those companies exerts a measurable influence on the overall portfolio performance.

Sometimes you see people invest heavily in sectors that include their own industry or career field. An investor works for an oil company, so he or she gets heavily into the energy sector. When energy companies go through a rough patch, that investor’s portfolio may be in for a rough ride.

Lesson #6: Practice patience. Even if you prefer a tactical asset allocation strategy over the standard buy-and-hold approach, time teaches you how quickly the markets rebound from downturns and why you should stay invested even through systemic shocks. The pursuit of your long-term financial objectives should not falter – your future and your quality of life may depend on realizing them.

Sources:
1 -fc.standardandpoors.com/sites/client/generic/axa/axa4/Article.vm?topic=5991&siteContent=8088 [6/4/15]

When is the Ideal Time to Retire?

26 Jun

Older Couple on BenchWhen it comes to planning your retirement, no one has the luxury of “knowing what tomorrow holds,” so we’re left to dream and work toward our ideal retirement scenario. But, do we (YOU) really want to retire at 65? Is there a new “normal”?

According to the latest annual retirement survey from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, which gauges the outlook of American workers, 51% of us plan to work part-time once retired. Moreover, 64% of workers 60 and older wanted to work at least a little after 65 and 18% had no intention of retiring.1

Are financial needs shaping these responses? Not entirely. While 61% of all those polled in the Transamerica survey cited income and employer-sponsored health benefits as major reasons to stay employed in the “third act” of life, 34% of respondents said they wanted to keep working because they enjoy their occupation or like the social and mental engagement of the workplace.1

It seems “retirement” and “work” are no longer mutually exclusive. Not all of us have sufficiently large retirement nest eggs, so we strive to stay employed – to let our savings compound a little more, and to leave us with fewer years of retirement to fund.

We want to keep working into our mid-sixties because of two other realities as well. If you are a baby boomer and you retire before age 66 (or 67, in the case of those born 1960 and later), your monthly Social Security benefits will be smaller than if you had worked until full retirement age. Additionally, we can qualify for Medicare at age 65.2,3

We are sometimes cautioned that working too much in retirement may result in our Social Security benefits being taxed – but is there really such a thing as “too much” retirement income?

Income aside, there is another question we all face as retirement approaches.

How much control will we have over our retirement transition? In the Transamerica survey, 41% of respondents saw themselves making a gradual entry into retirement, shifting from full-time employment to part-time employment or another kind of work in their sixties.1

Is that thinking realistic? It may or may not be. A recent Gallup survey of retirees found that 67% had left the workforce before age 65; just 18% had managed to work longer. Recent research from the Employee Benefit Retirement Institute fielded roughly the same results: 14% of retirees kept working after 65 and about half had been forced to stop working earlier than they planned due to layoffs, health issues or eldercare responsibilities.3

If you do want to make a gradual retirement transition, what might help you do it?

  1. Work on maintaining your health.
  2. Maintain and enhance your skill set, so that your prospects for employment in your sixties are not reduced by separation from the latest technologies.
  3. Keep networking.
  4. Think about Plan B: if you are unable to continue working in your chosen career even part-time, what prospects might you have for creating income through financial decisions, self-employment or in other lines of work? How can you reduce your monthly expenses?

Easing out of work & into retirement may be the new normal. Pessimistic analysts contend that many baby boomers will not be able to keep working past 65, no matter their aspirations. They may be wrong – just as this active, ambitious generation has changed America, it may also change the definition of retirement.

Sources:

1 – forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2015/05/05/why-the-new-retirement-involves-working-past-65/ [5/5/15]

2 – ssa.gov/retire2/agereduction.htm [6/11/15]

3 – money.usnews.com/money/blogs/planning-to-retire/2015/05/22/how-to-pick-the-optimal-retirement-age [5/22/15]

Julie Newcomb, a Certified Financial Planner™ in Orange County, CA, specializes in financial planning for women.  As a wife, mom and business owner, Julie understands the pressures and challenges most women feel on a daily basis as they juggle many important priorities. Julie’s favorite thing about her job is the ability to give women peace of mind when they entrust her with their finances. To learn more about Julie Newcomb Financial, go to julienewcomb.com.

 

A Loving Way to Say Goodbye

30 Oct

When a loved one passes unexpectedly, the grieving family member or friend is often thrown into a complicated process of sorting through their loved ones affairs. This can make an already difficult time feel very overwhelming! So, one of the most thoughtful gifts you can give to your loved ones is to prepare your affairs in advance and make it a point to update them annually.

Some of these documents are legal ones that protect your finances and last wishes when or if you are unable to express them yourself. Others are the roadmap to understanding the current state of your assets, liabilities and insurance policies. Lastly, providing contact information and a list of important passwords greatly simplifies the process for reviewing and closing affairs appropriately.

END OF LIFE PLANNING DOCUMENTS:

  • Durable Power of Attorney for Finances
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
  • Living Trust
  • Living Will
  • Last Will and Testament
  • Insurance Documents

ASSETS AND LIABILITIES:

  • Real Estate/Mortgages
  • Savings Accounts/Plans
  • Checking Accounts
  • Investment Accounts
  • Life Insurance
  • Pension/Retirement Benefits
  • Outstanding Loans
  • Other

LIST OF PEOPLE TO CONTACT AND WHERE THEY CAN BE REACHED:

  •  Anyone named in your will
  • Beneficiaries of your:
  • IRA
  • Annuity
  • Life Insurance
  • Other
  • Your Attorney
  • Your Financial Advisor
  • Your Executor/Trustee

PASSWORDS

  • Email Accounts
  • Bank Accounts
  • Credit Cards
  • Social Media Accounts
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn

Julie Newcomb, a Certified Financial Planner™ in Orange County, CA, specializes in financial planning for women.  As a wife, mom and business owner, Julie understands the pressures and challenges most women feel on a daily basis as they juggle many important priorities. Julie’s favorite thing about her job is the ability to give women peace of mind when they entrust her with their finances. To learn more about Julie Newcomb Financial, go to julienewcomb.com.

Do You have TRUST Issues?

29 Sep

There are certain things in life that people tend to procrastinate on until shutterstock_173181080something unpleasant happens that forces them to act. Visiting the dentist, vehicle maintenance—these things just don’t seem to make it to the top of the to-do list.

Setting up a trust falls into this same category—and I get it— who wants to contemplate their mortality? However, the cost and headache that awaits your loved ones should you pass unexpectedly makes it well worth the effort.

So, what is a trust and what does it do?

A trust is a document that outlines what you want to happen with the assets held in trust for your beneficiaries.

Why is it important?

From a financial perspective, it is important for reducing estate taxes, protecting your property and avoiding probate. From an emotional perspective, it minimizes the family conflict that might ensue following your death if there is not proper instruction on your end-of-life wishes and the allocation of your assets.

Now that we have that short tutorial out of the way, I want to share with you from personal experience some lessons learned and mistakes to avoid when setting up a trust.

The Scenario

I recently worked with a client as she navigated through the process of being a co-trustee with her brother. Prior to this instance, my client and her brother were not close, as they lived in different states and were 10 years apart in age. However, as a byproduct of the situation, their relationship deteriorated to the point of animosity.

Potential Challenges

#1 Naming co-trustees

Pro: Having co-trustees can create inherent accountability. To avoid the interpersonal conflict that can occur among co-trustees you can name a neutral party, such as a financial institution, instead. There is typically an expense for this service, but it can be worthwhile in the long run to keep the peace during an already emotional time.

Con: You need to take into consideration the physical location, disposition and availability of each individual when choosing co-trustees. When the co-trustees have differing opinions or goals, it can quickly result in a stalemate. In this digital age, distance might not sound like a big deal, but the paperwork involved with carrying out trusts can be very time-consuming and necessitates original signatures, making the process a logistical challenge.

#2 Getting very specific

Pro: Being specific with the language in your trust can be very important as it guarantees that your wishes will get carried out regardless of your ability to communicate them effectively in the future.

Con: In this instance, the client who set up the trust specified that she wanted to remain home until she passed. However, with her health conditions at end-of-life, she would have been better cared for in a nursing home setting. But since the co-trustees could not agree, their hands were tied.

Sometimes the person(s) who is best to handle the financial end of things is not the right person to handle health care decisions. To avoid this issue, you may consider appointing a separate, single individual as your Health Care Power of Attorney. This should be someone whom you trust to make important healthcare decisions when you are no longer capable.

#3 Naming the trust as your IRA beneficiary instead of individuals

Pro: This can be a wise move when the individual(s) set to inherit the money is a minor child or someone who can’t be trusted with the money. By naming the trust as the beneficiary, you can put safeguards and specific instructions in place or defer distribution.

Con: When you name a single trust as the beneficiary of the IRA instead of individuals, the beneficiaries of the trust have to all agree on the timing and method of distribution. This can be difficult to coordinate between multiple people as it often involves selling property, setting up financial accounts and signing stacks of documents. In the example above, one of the beneficiaries wanted the money right away while another wanted to delay the process due to some legal matters. Because the trust was named rather than individuals, that option was not available to them.

Lessons Learned

It can be tempting to make an emotional choice in regard to whom you select as your trustee because you don’t want to “favor” one individual. However, it is important to remember that naming someone a trustee is not really a “gift”—it involves a lot of time and legwork. With that being said, it’s helpful to involve the person you will be naming as trustee from the beginning so they know what will be expected of them.

Lastly (but really firstly), select experienced, professional counsel to advise you on the pros and cons based on your individual situation. If you don’t already work with an attorney you trust, almost all attorneys will give you a free hour-long consultation. You may also want to consider involving a financial planner to review your trust and help you get creative when making equitable distributions for your beneficiaries. You can avoid making emotional decisions when putting together your trust by working with professionals who can advise you along the way.

Julie Newcomb, a Certified Financial Planner™ in Orange County, CA, specializes in financial planning for women.  As a wife, mom and business owner, Julie understands the pressures and challenges most women feel on a daily basis as they juggle many important priorities. Julie’s favorite thing about her job is the ability to give women peace of mind when they entrust her with their finances. To learn more about Julie Newcomb Financial, go to julienewcomb.com.

Why it Can Actually Pay to Change Jobs

1 Sep

Job Finance Article

The do’s and don’ts seem to be constantly changing when it comes to landing a job and cultivating your perfect career. Striking that perfect balance of longevity with a company and well-rounded experience can be a challenge. While loyalty to a company may have its pluses, you may not be doing yourself any favors when it comes to your salary. Findings suggest that changing jobs more frequently is actually financially savvy.

Remember 5% annual raises? You don’t see them much anymore. In fact, when the respected HR firm Buck Consultants released its 2013 employee compensation forecast, it projected that “the median salary increase in 2013 will be 3%” and that “the new normal for salary increases will settle at this 3% level.”1

Chances are, your most recent raise was on the order of 2-3%. While you are keeping up with consumer prices at that rate, you may not be making up for any financial steps you took backward as a result of the recession. Even the all-stars at your firm may be getting just a 5-6% yearly raise.

Why does jumping ship so often mean a jump in pay? As a senior hiring manager who has worked with Intuit and other Fortune 500 firms in the San Francisco Bay Area recently commented to Forbes, “I would often see resumes that only had a few years at each company. I found that the people who had switched companies usually commanded a higher salary.”2

“The problem with staying at a company forever,” she reflected, “is [that] you start with a base salary and usually annual raises are based on a percentage of your current salary. There is often a limit to how high your manager can bump you up … however, if you move to another company, you start fresh and can usually command a higher base salary to hire you.”2

In fact, Forbes contributor Cameron Keng notes that “staying employed at the same company for over two years on average is going to make you earn less over your lifetime by about 50% or more.”2

How does he reach this conclusion? He plots out a 10-year graph in which an employee starts at a salary of $100,000, assuming 3% annual raises and a “conservative” 10% increase in pay per job change. After 10 years at one employer and a decade of 3% raises, the extreme loyalist is earning $130,000. In contrast, a more opportunistic worker who changes jobs four times and works for five employers in those ten years will be earning about $170,000 a decade on.2

If you want change, when should you make your move? U.S. News & World Report recently addressed that question in its Jobs in 2020 web special. It cited several circumstances that might call for a job change:

  • You’ve worked for the same company for 10 years or longer
  • Your skill set is underappreciated
  • You find yourself battling your co-workers
  • Or your goals differ from the company’s goals.

If you’ve just come back from a vacation or wrapped up a major project, it might be a good time to make a change. If a fiscal year is just ending for your employer, this might be another prime time.3

On the other hand, there are bad times to change jobs, and USN&WR also noted some of those.

  • You’re overworked, having interpersonal issues at the office or just bored. You don’t want to overreact; restructuring your workday or work tasks may offer a solution.
  • A major life event, long vacation or house hunt is just ahead, a job change may not be ideal or smart.
  • If you sense that the economy (or your industry) is in line for a downturn
  • You’ve been at your job for less than a year.
  • Lastly, a job search that coincides with the holiday season may be more prolonged than you anticipate; HR officers and managers may be more available (and less stressed) when mid-January rolls around.3

If you love what you do and are good at it, you may see no reason to change jobs. Alternately, you might reason that you could excel and love your work even more in a new environment. Consider the above-mentioned factors (and others) if you are looking for greener grass.

Julie Newcomb, a Certified Financial Planner™ in Orange County, CA, specializes in financial planning for women.  As a wife, mom and business owner, Julie understands the pressures and challenges most women feel on a daily basis as they juggle many important priorities. Julie’s favorite thing about her job is the ability to give women peace of mind when they entrust her with their finances. To learn more about Julie Newcomb Financial, go to julienewcomb.com.

Sources:

1 – tlnt.com/2012/11/08/remember-those-3-salary-increases-now-theyre-the-new-normal/ [11/8/12]

2 – forbes.com/sites/cameronkeng/2014/06/22/employees-that-stay-in-companies-longer-than-2-years-get-paid-50-less/2/ [6/22/14]

3 – money.usnews.com/money/careers/slideshows/the-10-best-times-to-switch-jobs [3/12/14]