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Market volatility can be hard. We are paying attention and we are here to help.

We also know that sometimes the best way to stay calm is to tune out the chatter. Because of that we don’t want to flood your email with updates during volatility but want you to have the information you want, when you want and need it the most. That’s where this page comes in. Please use it for reference, and know that when we have good, relevant information we will post it here.  To schedule a call to talk about what all of this means for you, click HERE.  

Estate Planning & Unpaid Debts

August 18, 2020 BY Shanna Tingom, AAMS®

When we pass, there will be debts that are left unpaid even if we stay caught up with our financial obligations. At the very least, there will be the medical bills accrued towards the end of life and..

What Happens at Probate?


When anyone dies, their estate goes through the probate process, and this process can take anywhere from a month to up to two years. The length of time your estate remains in probate will depend on a variety of factors, including the laws of your state and the number of creditors seeking payment. A larger number of creditors, or a bigger overall claim against the estate, will prolong this period.

During probate, the estate is used to pay off death taxes and debts. If there isn't enough cash to cover these obligations, items in the estate, such as valuable works of art and real estate, may be sold to cover the remaining amounts owed. Once taxes and debts are paid, the probate process ends with the executor satisfying the terms of the will by providing heirs with their inheritances.

Which Assets are Protected?


You may be concerned that cash, or personal items, that you intend to leave to your loved ones will be liquidated and used to satisfy your debts. There are a number of ways an estate planning attorney can help you to sidestep this situation and protect the inheritances you want to leave for your spouse, children, or others.

First, it's important to know that life insurance policies, retirement funds, and similar investment tools are separate from your estate. Upon your death, the value of these accounts will be passed to the beneficiaries you name in each of the documents. Since these assets aren't named in the will, they aren't a part of the probate process.

You can also ask your estate planning lawyer to help you draft a living trust. The living trust is a private document that doesn't become a part of the probate process, so it helps protect specific assets from being liquidated. You can include real estate, personal assets, or family heirlooms in the living trust to keep them within the family and to ensure your loved ones receive what you intend to leave for them.

 

What Can You Do About Unpaid Debts?


There are some debts that will automatically pass to your spouse upon your death. Primarily, this includes loans, mortgages, and credit cards that name your spouse as a co-owner on the account. Once you die, your spouse will be responsible for taking over these financial responsibilities until they have been repaid. Typically, the only option in eliminating these debts is to write a letter to each creditor, explaining that there has been a death and asking for debt forgiveness. This type of request isn't always approved, but it can work in some cases.

If you have children in college, you can trust that their student loans won't place an extra burden on the family. Federal student loans and Parent PLUS loans are forgiven upon the death of a parent, or if the student passes away. This ensures your children won't be saddled with that debt, while they're coping with the grief of loss.

Every person's situation is different, requiring different estate planning tools. When you visit a lawyer skilled in probate and estate planning, they can tailor a plan that will take your specific concerns into account. A good estate plan will help you ensure your family and your assets are protected after you're gone. 

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Laid Off Before You're Ready To Retire?

August 4, 2020 BY Shanna Tingom, AAMS®

If you have been one of the many impacted by COVID-19 and you’re closer to retirement than some, then you should look through these tips to see what you can do to overcome this problem.

Check Your..

Check Your Savings


Check your savings account to see how much money you have.  It’s a necessary exercise to be sure you have enough in your account to last your entire retirement.  If you are not working with a financial planner, this may be an ideal time to start.  You should also verify that you have more than you need since you never know when you may face an emergency during your retirement.

Be proactive, don't be surprised when your savings gets low.  Find out if you have enough money to retire now!   Will your savings last if you live into your 90’s?  Take the time to properly look through your savings account. This way, you can avoid problems in the future.

Consider Freelance Options


Most people will try and find a job after they get laid off, but that might not be an option for you. You can always go online and look into freelance or remote jobs that you can do to make some money while looking for something stable. This way, you can at least create a flow of income without relying on your savings to survive.

Remember that the internet provides multiple ways for you to turn your hobbies or skills into freelance opportunities. For example, you can take advantage of the “gig economy” including food delivery, grocery delivery or at home call center support jobs. If you feel you still have time before you retire and you want to keep busy (and income coming in) check out the freelance world and see if you can make some money through it.

Look Into Businesses and Stock


Remember that you don't need to work at a job to make money. Depending on your financial situation, you could either create a business or purchase stock to make some money before you enter retirement. This way, you can work on the best schedule for your situation and look for ways to make money through these avenues.

Creating a business can be difficult, but can be a great opportunity if you approach it correctly and know how to market. On the other hand, stocks can help you to make money, but you do have some risks associated with them, just like with businesses. It comes down to deciding if either of those risks will be worth the potential rewards you could gain.  Again, working with a financial planner can help guide you to an appropriate financial plan.

You may face some struggles if you get laid off right before you retire, but you can still try and make the most out of the situation. This comes down to assessing your current position and then looking for ways to overcome it.  Let us know how we can help.

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Laid Off Before You're Ready To Retire?

August 4, 2020 BY Shanna Tingom, AAMS®

If you have been one of the many impacted by COVID-19 and you’re closer to retirement than some, then you should look through these tips to see what you can do to overcome this problem.

Check Your..

Check Your Savings


Check your savings account to see how much money you have.  It’s a necessary exercise to be sure you have enough in your account to last your entire retirement.  If you are not working with a financial planner, this may be an ideal time to start.  You should also verify that you have more than you need since you never know when you may face an emergency during your retirement.

Be proactive, don't be surprised when your savings gets low.  Find out if you have enough money to retire now!   Will your savings last if you live into your 90’s?  Take the time to properly look through your savings account. This way, you can avoid problems in the future.

Consider Freelance Options


Most people will try and find a job after they get laid off, but that might not be an option for you. You can always go online and look into freelance or remote jobs that you can do to make some money while looking for something stable. This way, you can at least create a flow of income without relying on your savings to survive.

Remember that the internet provides multiple ways for you to turn your hobbies or skills into freelance opportunities. For example, you can take advantage of the “gig economy” including food delivery, grocery delivery or at home call center support jobs. If you feel you still have time before you retire and you want to keep busy (and income coming in) check out the freelance world and see if you can make some money through it.

Look Into Businesses and Stock


Remember that you don't need to work at a job to make money. Depending on your financial situation, you could either create a business or purchase stock to make some money before you enter retirement. This way, you can work on the best schedule for your situation and look for ways to make money through these avenues.

Creating a business can be difficult, but can be a great opportunity if you approach it correctly and know how to market. On the other hand, stocks can help you to make money, but you do have some risks associated with them, just like with businesses. It comes down to deciding if either of those risks will be worth the potential rewards you could gain.  Again, working with a financial planner can help guide you to an appropriate financial plan.

You may face some struggles if you get laid off right before you retire, but you can still try and make the most out of the situation. This comes down to assessing your current position and then looking for ways to overcome it.  Let us know how we can help.

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UPDATE: RMD Requirements

July 28, 2020 BY Shanna Tingom, AAMS®

If you missed the news, the IRS announced that if you already took out your maximum percent for your Required Minimum Distribution, you are still in luck.  According to the IRS, you can still roll..

 

Let us know if you have any questions or if we can help you during this time.

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UPDATE: RMD Requirements

July 28, 2020 BY Shanna Tingom, AAMS®

 

If you missed the news, the IRS announced that if you already took out your maximum percent for your Required Minimum Distribution, you are still in luck.

    

According to the IRS, you can still..

If you missed the news, the IRS announced that if you already took out your maximum percent for your Required Minimum Distribution, you are still in luck.

    

According to the IRS, you can still roll over those funds and put them back into your account. That is according to the current Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act waiver.

This new waiver has been extended until the end of August. That should give you enough time to replenish your accounts before the end of this year, if you choose to.

These updates also include what will happen with your minimum and maximum distributions and rollovers concerning the COVID pandemic. It is important to note that the COVID pandemic is the main reason the CARES Act has been updated. The IRS knows there are a lot of people going through these challenging times and this may help.

Retirement Planning and More

The great thing about the new updates for the CARES Act is that it includes people who are making payments for their 401(k) and 402(b) plans to skip their RMD for right now. Yes, this also includes those who have a traditional IRA account.

This also takes into account those who turned 70 last year. Those who turned 70 last year would have to start their RMDs in April of this year. The only people the new updates do not include are the ones who have defined benefit planning.

The final thing to mention concerns those who take out an RMD under the owner's plan. He or she also has until August 31, 2020, to put the money back in.

Now, of course, there are some restrictions and requirements you still have to meet. We encourage you to research those yourself.

Four Things You Should Know About The CARES Act Of 2020

1) There is a direct payment to most taxpayers in the sum of $1200. You should have already gotten it via direct bank deposit or mail. There is talk about a second stimulus check coming soon. Several factors are working in favor of this happening. However, several factors are still unknown. We should receive word by the beginning of August if it does happen.

FYI: This will be the last stimulus check you get if it does pass.

2) Unemployment benefits will include an additional $600, but that ends this month.

3) Do you have a retirement plan, including a 401(k)? The CARES Act has updated to include a qualifying loan payment to double to $100,000 if you or a family member contracts COVID. Once again, research this one too to verify that you are included. Borrowing against your 401k is dipping into your retirement funds.


4) As mentioned above, the RMD’s for heirs and beneficiaries are on hold for this year. This includes tax-advantaged Qualified Charitable Deductions (QCDs). 

 

Let us know if you have any questions or if we can help you during this time.

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Summer Travel: Flying in the Pandemic

July 21, 2020 BY Shanna Tingom, AAMS®

 

After months of desolation at the airports, air travel has increased every week leading into the busy summer vacation season. With full flights becoming more of the norm, it is more challenging..

After months of desolation at the airports, air travel has increased every week leading into the busy summer vacation season. With full flights becoming more of the norm, it is more challenging than ever to socially distance on planes, making it important that you follow additional precautions.

Mask Up: The number one thing that you need to remember before heading to the airport is to mask up. Most airlines and airports now mandate the use of masks. It is a good idea to bring along a few different masks to switch out as necessary. If you are boarding a long flight, you should also try wearing your mask at home for a few hours prior to the trip so that you can find the type that is the most comfortable for your needs.

Go Digital: Now is the time to make sure that you are using the power of technology as much as you can. You can start by downloading your airline's app. From here, you can access flight information as well as your boarding pass. This step will eliminate having to exchange papers with airport employees. For further protection, consider downloading an electronic wallet app to pay for your purchases during the trip. For every contactless interaction that you initiate, you will lower your risk of contracting the virus.

Bring Your Own Supplies: Traveling during a pandemic necessitates that you come prepared. Do not count on the airport or airline having the supplies that you need for a safe travel experience. Hand sanitizer is your best friend during this health crisis. Be sure to keep the sanitizer accessible at all times so that you are not left without it. For example, take a small bottle with you in your purse or carry-on bag in addition to what you pack in your suitcase.

You should also bring antibacterial wipes on your journey. Although the airlines have stepped up their sanitizing efforts on their aircraft and in the boarding areas, it does not hurt to do your own quick cleaning with your supplies. When you sit down in your seat, you can use the wipes to clean the seat, the tray table, and any other area that you will touch.

Wear Glasses: One of the biggest vectors of transmission is touching your face with your hands. Many people do not even realize how much they are touching their faces because it is such a subconscious reflex. Wearing glasses may serve as a natural reminder to not touch your face. This will also further decrease the risk of being infected through the eyes.

Pack Food and Drink: As a result of the health crisis, many airlines have drastically cut their in-flight food and beverage service. Additionally, many terminal kiosks and food vendors are not operating at this time. Packing your own food is also more sanitary than consuming items that have been passed around many hands.

Be Mindful of Distance: There is not much that you can do if you are booked on a crowded flight. However, you can definitely mind your distance while in the terminal building. Even during a pandemic, passengers are crowding the boarding area to get on the plane. Do your part by standing away from the crowd and waiting until the people disperse before you board.

While you cannot put yourself in a bubble while flying, being intentional about following these tips will incrementally reduce the risk that you contract the virus and inadvertently pass it on to others.

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Risk Tolerance Vs Risk Capacity: Knowing The Difference

July 14, 2020 BY Shanna Tingom, AAMS®

The economy that we all wake up in each day under COVID-19 looks a lot different from the one that existed before the virus took hold in the United States and around the world. It has been a major..

Financial Lessons This Crisis Can Teach You

July 7, 2020 BY Shanna Tingom, AAMS®

The current economic crisis was unexpected, but it hit quickly. Within a month, the stock market lost about a third of its value. Many investors were hit particularly hard. As states largely locked..

Emergency Funds Are Necessary


First, it's extremely important to have a fund for rainy days. It will eventually rain, and having the ability to weather the storm is a necessity. This means you need to save up an old-fashioned emergency fund that can pay your bills if there is little or no income rolling in from a job. Fortunately, many Americans were able to access enhanced unemployment benefits, but this is not a given for the next financial crisis. Most experts recommend having at least three months of your basic expenses stashed away, but having even more saved might help you sleep better at night. Having six or 12 months available when necessary can alleviate a great deal of financial stress. 

Debt Adds Stress

Having debt is stressful. A mortgage can make sense because you'd have to rent otherwise, but other debts like student loan debt or credit card debt can cause stress when things are going great. If you're unable to pay those debts due to an unexpected job loss or a drop in income, your stress level will likely go up to 11 on a 10-point scale. Once things return to a sense of normalcy, you'll want to start working on your debt to provide more flexibility in your finances. 

Build Margin

In order to pay off your debts quickly and build up an emergency fund, you'll need to have margin. The same is true if you're looking to invest for long-term wealth. You simply cannot spend everything you make every month and expect to get ahead. Building margin will likely require writing out a budget and cutting back enough to start putting some money away for long-term goals. The more margin you're able to build up, the greater your level of financial flexibility will be. Over time, many people have been able to become financially independent by building high levels of margin into their household finances. 

Build Multiple Income Streams

If 100% of your income comes from a single job, you'll lose all of your income if you lose your job. This puts your financial stability largely at the whim of an employer, and an economic downturn can lead to a serious crisis in your household. Adding a side hustle or a second job can not only help you build margin, it can also help you weather an economic storm. If you can invest and start bringing in a stream of some dividend income, you'll be in better shape should you lose your job. 

Keep A Long-Term Focus


Investing during a quick market downturn can kick your blood pressure up a few points. The recent volatility in the stock market caused some people to bail. You'll want to remember that investing in the market is a long-term game. You might lose some money on paper in the short run, but you're likely to see your nest egg grow over the long haul. Selling in a down market just means you'll lock in a loss.

The current financial crisis has led to worry. The fact that it's tied to a global pandemic makes it even more frightening. Despite the deep concern in the immediate term, come up with a plan for the future. 

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Your 401k Match is Suspended. Now What?

June 30, 2020 BY Shanna Tingom, AAMS®

The recent global pandemic has caused many different types of economic fallout. It has resulted in many companies suspending the matching of their employee's 401(k) contributions. The Plan Sponsor..


Many employees are listening to what financial experts are saying about continuing to contribute to their 401(K) if their employer has suspended matching contributions. These experts explain there are certain factors that should be taken into consideration before deciding to discontinue contributions.

*Other considerations for their 401(k) savings
*The pros of continuing contributions to their 401(k) plan
*Benefits associated with no longer contributing to their 401(k) program

Continuing Employee 401(K) Contributions


Financial experts tell workers it is an added incentive for an employer to match their retirement savings contributions. They advise that even if there is no employer matching funding, a 401(k) plan remains a cost-effective method of saving for their retirement. Employees have already done all the important budgeting decisions to regularly contribute to their 401(k) plan. There is no reason to stop since an employee will continue to get immediate tax savings.

Reasons to Stop 401(k) contributions


A 401(k) is an excellent way to save for the long term. It is also important a person does what is necessary to not neglect their short-term needs. If someone does not have an emergency fund to cover their expenses from three to six months, they may need to redirect some of their 401(k) savings to create such a financial cushion. Should someone not have any emergency savings, they are in a position where they may have to take out a loan or make an early withdrawal from their 401(k) plan. The majority of plans enable participants to take a loan, but it must be paid back. If someone is significantly financially impacted by the recent pandemic, they may need to consider how much they need to use to pay their regular expenses. This may be a situation where a worker suspending their 401(k) contribution could be their best option.

Other Considerations


If a person's finances have not been impacted by the pandemic, but the suspension appears to be permanent, it's time for them to review their investment strategy. Knowing the fees associated with their 401(k) plan is important. Some of the older plans may have high fees. An employee could improve their retirement savings plan by finding a better investment vehicle elsewhere. This could involve investing in an individual retirement account (IRA). A Roth IRA is not a plan that is tax-sheltered. It does permit a person's earnings to grow tax-free. This is one of many other options available for retirement savings.

Young People


It is important younger people continue adding to their 401(k) plan even if their employers don't match their contribution. It is a good way for their money to grow with compounded interest for many years. In many situations, the suspension is going to be temporary. It is an important benefit that provides a company with a competitive advantage when it comes to employee recruitment and retention. In 2008, it is estimated that over 17 percent of companies suspended matching 401(k) contributions. In a few years, the majority of companies reinstated their matching contributions.

Matching 401(k) contributions always have been a perk a company offers its employees. It is common for employees to only contribute enough of their paycheck to their individual 401(k) plan so they can get the matching amount. It is often a 50 percent match on 6 percent of an employee's salary. Individuals close to retirement age may want to consider seeing if their company reinstates their 401(k) contributions. A younger person may want to consider looking at other retirement investment options.

 

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Don't Get Swept Up In The Recession

June 23, 2020 BY Shanna Tingom, AAMS®

 

Between February of 2020 and June of 2020 the Dow Jones Industrial Index moved violently from around 27,000 down to below 20,000 and then very quickly back to around 25,000. Anyone watching those..

Between February of 2020 and June of 2020 the Dow Jones Industrial Index moved violently from around 27,000 down to below 20,000 and then very quickly back to around 25,000. Anyone watching those market movements surely had a great amount of fear sweep over themselves regarding their retirement savings and their ability to trust the stock market to provide them with the capital appreciation that many of us used to take for granted. It has been a short window of time during which so many began to question what they could do to protect their retirement even as we start a recession.

Consider Asset Allocation

Financial experts in the news have suggested altering your asset allocation as you near retirement is a great idea.  Having a sizable portion of money in mutual funds and other stock market investments makes sense for most of one’s working life, but there comes a point when the asset allocation needs to be changed around for maximum effectiveness.

Some have switched out some of those mutual funds for other types of investments such as certificates of deposit (CDs), short-term bonds, and blue-chip stocks with high dividend yields. You may even take some money out of the market altogether and just hold it in cash. That is an option that can take some forms of risk off the table and allow you to focus more fully on your overall retirement objectives.   We suggest talking with a financial professional to be sure whatever move you make that it is part of a plan.

Have A Reliable Emergency Fund Ready To Go

Emergency funds are the building block of any great personal financial plan. Those who are retired are very much in need of this extra cash to help them get through tough times. It is a nice cushion to have to fall back on when you are unable to work any longer and are afraid of drawing out too much money from your retirement accounts.

A recession is a terrible time to make withdrawals from your accounts as you are by definition making a withdrawal at the low point in the market. You are taking a bad situation and realizing it in your portfolio. Those who have a solid emergency fund don’t have to worry about this and can just draw from those emergency funds rather than take money out of their stocks and bonds.

Look At Working Part-Time

There are a lot of part-time and gig work jobs that someone in retirement can do. The door is open wider than ever for this group of people to try out new gig jobs and perhaps turn a hobby or interest into a source of income for themselves. There are plenty of people who have decided to make this leap as they see a little extra income on the side as something that can keep them afloat while they work on getting the remainder of their financial house in order.

Just a few hundred dollars a month can help a person’s life, and that is all that someone in retirement would have to do during a recession to get through the worst of it. The work might only have to last through the recession period, and then they could move on to full retirement again. It is worth some consideration at least as it might just open some doors that you hadn’t been looking at before. 

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