Concerned About Your Future?

Happy New Year! Another year of opportunities and dangers will present themselves periodically as we progress through 2022. This is called “life”. 

Don’t be like everyone else and fall for the old adage of “life happens”. A better philosophy of life is “life planned”. Many people simply create resolutions for the new year and hope for the best. This is not planning, this is wishful thinking and relying on fate, which may not render the desired results.

President Abraham Lincoln is credited with one of my favorite quotes about the future: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” A powerful statement by a great leader such as President Lincoln should be given proper deference and thought. Under the stress of the Civil War, and the loss of a son, Lincoln continued to rely on his personal philosophies to keep him focused on the future of our country.

If a country can be run with such an approach, surely, we can manage our personal lives with the same principle. One of my yearend tasks is to spend time alone, thinking about the current status of my life and where I wish to be at the end of the next year. It has been said that people will spend more time planning a vacation than planning their life. You can change this rote approach to life and start today by planning your future using a methodology that has served me well.

First, find a quiet place to simply think. This would ideally be a location that doesn’t allow phones, discourages talking and has resources to help you find answers to questions that may arise. Sounds like your local library, doesn’t it? Yes, this is where I spend my time thinking about the future for my future goals. There is no better place than a library to offer you the solitude required to bring out your best thoughts and allow a space for creative planning.

Second, think with ink. I know, we are in the 21st century and everybody has a smartphone, laptop or some other gadget to electronically record their thoughts. However, the brain functions, and remembers, differently when you use your hand for writing on paper rather than typing on a keyboard. Start with a strategic review of the past year. Did I accomplish my goals as intended? Is there work still to required to achieve an important goal? These are important results that give rise to your brain contemplating your future.

Record your thoughts on paper and simply read what you wrote. Are you proud of your progress? If so, celebrate in some form that you truly enjoy. If not, ask yourself if the goal was clear enough, empowering enough and challenging enough to require your greatest time, talent and treasure to achieve. Perhaps you will carry over an unfinished goal to 2022? This would not be the recognition of defeat but a reframing of the goal in a new light with additional information learned in 2021. Don’t listen to defeatist talk but rather give yourself the right to be positive in thinking and your outcomes will improve.

Lastly, write your completed goals for 2022 in your planner, on a piece of paper or wherever you can see them on a daily basis. The importance of referencing your goals often is to keep them top of mind. Everyday your mind goes to work on the matters you deem important by evaluating and analyzing what you feed it. If you are focusing on your big, hairy, audacious goals for a bigger, better, bolder you, that is what your brain will work to bring in to existence.

This is a new year, a new you and new opportunities for growth. Be the 1% of people who develop measurable, challenging goals that cause you to grow to achieve the objective by writing them down in a manner that can be reviewed frequently during the year. As an added bonus, why not listen to positive, powerful podcasts during the year to keep you on track? I recommend our podcast, “Live a Life by Design”, which is available wherever you listen to podcasts.

There are few concerns for your future when you are actively creating it. This is your year to realize greatness within you. Invest in yourself. Become who you wish to be – a bigger, better and bolder YOU!

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More Than Numbers

Your personal physician gives you honest and candid information to help improve your physical health. A Certified Financial PlannerTM professional provides you the same type of consultation about your financial health. You are more than a number to a wealth advisor. Your family’s current financial state, future security and transition of assets are the focal points to a sound financial plan.

The basic level of fiscal management is the utilization of your annual household income in a manner that provides for your needs today while saving for your future. In a utopian world, we could simply spend all that we earn, and the retirement phase of life would be funded by someone else. The problem with this thought is that the “someone else” is you!

By applying guidance of cash flow management, your family will enjoy a lifestyle that creates happiness today. The physiological needs such as food, shelter and clothing are the very primal items that help your family simply survive. By appropriately allocating your resources to allow for current living needs and accommodating for your future will instill confidence in your capabilities.

While working through life, you become clearer on what you seek after your career. It is vital that you properly fund your retirement or the pleasure you see in all those vacation posters will evade you. Time value of money is an accounting concept that states, “a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow.” To maximize the probabilities of accumulating sufficient capital to fund retirement, it is critical to work with a wealth advisor to, first, determine what is the target amount of funds you should save and, second, what is the most efficient approach to saving these funds.

This approach is illustrated with our older daughter’s lifestyle. Our daughter is working in her first career position after graduating with her master’s degree. While helping her with a budget for this new paradigm she is living in, I will never forget her comment of “Wow! It takes too much money to live the way I wish.” After I realized she was being serious, I started the “dad talk” and reminisced about 1987, my first year out of college and working in my career. As her eyes rolled, I could literally hear her think – “Not another “back in the old days” story.”

After a brief discussion, I gave her the secret formula to accumulating wealth for the future while living a happy life today. In remarkably simple terms, invest 10% of your earnings for the future, give 10% away to qualified charities and/or church, invest 10% in yourself through education and other skill-building programs and, lastly, live on the remaining 70%. When she received her first performance bonus, she was so excited! The amount of money she earned was more than she had imagined. Immediately, she began talking about a new car or furniture for her townhouse. I interjected the 10/10/10/70 formula she is currently using to help her live an abundant life. After convincing her that she may not wish to expand her lifestyle with funds that are not consistent, she did something that made my chest swell with fatherly pride – she invested the money in her future

Do not assume that a Certified Financial PlannerTM professional only works with investments. Many of us possess expertise in behavioral finance and other psychological functions of wealth. Just like your doctor, we examine your total picture and provide advice and coaching to reach your highest goals in life in a manner that you choose. With a short conversation, you will discover that a wealth advisor is far more than numbers – you will find a lifelong advisor and friend.

It is an honor to share stories, tax laws and other financial information with you each week. Most importantly, it is critical that each of us share the blessings we possess with those in need. This Christmas Season focus your energy and resources on others and you will receive the most valuable gift on this planet – joy! 

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Change — The Most difficult Task To Accomplish

Life happens with – or without – our consent! One of the most problematic areas of life is managing the fast-paced world of ever-changing financial, tax and estate information. In the past two weeks, the United States Congress has proposed more than ten bills, between the Senate and the House of Representatives, to increase tax revenue for the United States of America. Some of these proposed bills would impact your family. Others will impact families with greater wealth. Too often elected officials feel that they must act, whether it is a good outcome or bad one, to give the appearance of working for their electorate. Change is one outcome of working in our government and the impact is real.

As a CERTIFIED FINANACIAL PLANNERTM professional, one of the areas of control we bring to our clients is change. Of course, life is going to change almost daily. However, when you have a plan of action, with an expert in the field of planning guiding you through the maze of change, your probability of achieving your intended outcomes is much higher. Our role is to help you understand the impact of the changes on your personal life and finances. Frequently, you are subjected to changes without your knowledge. Consider inflationary impact on your investments.

One need only watch a few minutes of network television news daily to know her life is being impacted in positive and negative ways. Inflation has risen to 5.4% in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, and may not have reached its peak. How does this affect your life? Think about the different consumer goods you purchase in a typical week. How much has gasoline, milk, bread and medications increased in the past year? Has your income maintained the pace of this increased cost of living? In most instances, the answer to this question is “no”.

What you need is to formulate a plan that considers inflation as a pressure on your family’s budget. One of the economic factors that is pertinacious is inflation. This challenge to the value of a dollar is always a factor in planning. The bigger question is how much will inflation be in 2022, 2023 and 2024? If I knew the answer to this quandary, well, I would be on an island in the Caribbean sipping on an iced tea while watching the sun set. Oh, back to reality.

One mitigating approach to combatting the negative impact of inflation is to invest in assets that are inflation resistant. For example, you wouldn’t wish to buy a 30-year U.S. Treasury Bond while inflation is rising. The impact of inflation on the value of the security is considerably negative. However, you may wish to analyze your portfolio for investments in stocks that are more growth oriented to overcome the inflationary pressure you are experiencing.

Another area of change for which we have no control is the loss of a spouse or other family member. This type of change, we refer to as familial change, is difficult for most families to navigate, particularly when the person was a breadwinner for the family. What do you do now? It is critical that you seek the appropriate counseling from a licensed therapist or group to deal with grief. The next step would be to regain control of your finances. Seek out a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional to help gain clarity of focus and to manage the change to your best outcomes. When you meet with someone to discuss your personal finances, it takes a tremendous amount of trust. The good news is that you will gain significant optimism from the assistance that will empower you with confidence that life is back to your design.

Change will be present in our lives forever. However, you have the power to determine if the changes control you or you control the effects of the changes. One powerful tool in maintaining your control is to have a plan. Contact a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional to help you gain control of your financial life. See you on the jogging trail! 

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Primed and Ready to Spend

For the past year-and-a-half, scientists raced to develop effective COVID-19 vaccines and governments and companies worked to make vaccines available. Today, seven vaccines are approved in 176 countries. More than 2 billion doses have been administered, and about 14 percent of the world’s population has been vaccinated. It’s a remarkable achievement.

While there is a lot of work left to do, the Centers for Disease Control offered new and more lenient guidance for fully-vaccinated people in May, and restrictions across the country are being lifted. The result has been a surge in social activities we used to take for granted. According to the latest Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index:

“…Americans’ reemergence is moving full steam ahead. A majority have dined in a restaurant or visited friends and relatives in the past week – and these numbers continue to climb each week…At the same time, Americans are reporting small improvements to their mental and emotional health.”

One unexpected side effect of the pandemic is Americans spent less and saved more than normal. As a result, credit card balances are lower and personal finances have improved.

You know what they say about money burning a hole in your pocket.

Americans are ready to spend some of their savings. While some remain reluctant to venture far from home, others are ready to travel. The 2021 Summer Travel Index showed:

  • 63% of survey participants planned to take a trip in the next three months
  • 74% planned to travel in the United States
  • 13% will travel abroad
  • 29% have weekend jaunts planned 
  • 28% will be traveling for 10 or more days

People who aren’t ready to travel are spending, too. Morning Consult asked Americans what they were excited about doing as the economy reopens and found that 46% were ‘very excited’ to return to a ‘normal’ routine. The list of activities includes eating at a restaurant, socializing, attending parties or weddings, going to the movies, visiting amusement parks or museums, and attending concerts and sporting events.

While having extra money inspires many people to splurge, it’s important to keep a level head. Spending has risen sharply during 2021. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, spending increased:

  • 20.6% in January
  • 14.7% in February
  • 27.7% in March
  • 14.9% in April

While the idea of ‘revenge spending’ may be appealing, very few household budgets can withstand sustained increases in spending without significant increases in income. So, as you break free from pandemic restrictions, it may help to keep some basic principles in mind:

  1. Decide which savings habits you’d like to keep. During the pandemic, Americans saved a lot of money. The average household saved about $245 by not going out to eat, $1,400 by not vacationing, and almost $5,700 by not making major purchases, according to the Covid-19 & Finances Survey. Consider whether and how much to continue saving.
  2. Be aware of how much you are spending. When people have extra money saved, it’s just fine to splurge on something fun, especially after a long stretch of missing out on traditional everyday activities. Decide the amount to spend and then track how much has been spent. 
  3. Eliminate things that are not needed. During the last year, many people prioritized spending differently. Optional expenses, like dry cleaning, house cleaning, commuting, and happy hours, were eliminated. In some cases, the result was an increase in savings. Review your financial priorities to see if they have changed. 

Many people experienced financial insecurity during the pandemic lockdown. As a result, emergency savings accounts and other types of saving have become more important. If your financial priorities have shifted, be sure to talk to a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. Spending less and saving more may help you build wealth and improve financial security.

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Planning Ideas for Life Transitions

Life has a funny way of creating stressful activities for us. During the span from birth to death, we experience many different situations that require the best in us at the worst of times. Consider the change in life caused by divorce. Many people face this difficult event and do so without proper advice and consultation from a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. This could spell disaster for the person.

A divorce requires a marital balance sheet from the litigating couple with appropriate titles of the assets disclosed to the court. In many families, one of the two parties has a significantly higher employer plan account such as a 401(k) plan and the other party may be entitled to a portion of this account during property settlement. The best method of transitioning this asset to the other party is through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. This document, when properly prepared within the IRS regulations, allows the receiving party to accept the funds on a tax-deferred basis in the same manner the account owner held the funds.

The primary issue of this type of transfer is that the recipient of the funds must pay tax to remove funds from the receiving IRA. This may trigger additional penalties, depending upon the age of the recipient, and significant taxes. 

A better approach to property settlement is to allocate taxable and tax-deferred assets in a ratio that allows the receiving party to access needed cash for the transition of life without incurring penalties and taxes. The receipt of assets in a divorce are not taxable to the transferee party or deductible by the transferring party.

We believe it is a win-win for the divorcing couple to amicably allocate the assets in a manner that allows each party to continue life with the least amount of disruption. Further, you should request your attorney engage a Certified Financial Planner™ professional to assist in cash flow and income tax planning before the documents for property settlement are prepared. This approach saves the individual money, time and frustration in the process of getting on with life.

Another transition in life is the passing of a spouse. This is a different approach than the separation of a couple by divorce. It is necessary that proper titling of assets and structure of the estate be performed. Changes are being considered by Congress and the president that will require reconsideration of existing estate planning documents. For example, the estate exemption may be lowered considerably from its current amount of $11,700,000. Many families that previously assumed their assets would pass to their beneficiaries tax-free may find themselves with a rather large tax burden.

Benjamin Franklin stated it best, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” If Mr. Franklin, and his heirs, would not be offended, I offer to include in his eloquent statement “…and changes in the tax laws of the United States.” 

Key points for your consideration are: 1) consult a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional if considering a divorce; 2) if in divorce at the present, seek an analysis of the types of assets owned by the married couple; and 3) prepare a plan for post-transition that will allow you to minimize taxes and maximize cash flow so that you may achieve a lifestyle of your choosing.

Life may present you challenges but you don’t have to face them alone. Contact a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional to help you plan for the best outcomes in your life. See you on the jogging trail!

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Timeline To Retirement

When making lifetime decisions it is critical that adequate time and consideration be given to the issue. Life has a way of paying us dividends based on the planning for events that we wish to occur. By reading this article, you will be more prepared to reach your desired results in life.

First, think about the desired outcome you seek. If you decide to retire, at some point in the future, it is integral to the level of success of this goal to plan accordingly. By initiating this process of systematic saving in your 20’s, the probability of success is higher than if you wait until you are age 60 to begin. 

We highly recommend that anyone planning to retire, in the next five years, give significant thought and planning to the design of this period of life. For example, will you travel, buy a second home, make substantial gifts to grandchildren or charity? These are worthy endeavors. However, to reach your goal you must plan for these expenditures.

Second, review your lifestyle needs. Oh, I didn’t define the difference between a need and a want. These two types of lifestyle goals are very different. Our brains are wired for gratification. I call this the “monkey” brain. We can’t seem to keep this “brain” focused on the important tasks in life because we are battling an insatiable hunger for fun and immediate responses. So many people have been trapped in poorly experienced retirements because of this phenomenon. 

To plan for long-term results that provide for your needs and wants, you must engage your “sage” brain which is the thought process that makes humans unique from animals. Your “sage” brain says, “When I start my first job, I will save 10% of my net earnings for my future.” The battle starts and “monkey” brain sees every toy that you have ever wished for and couldn’t afford. “Don’t worry about the future, live for today,” says “monkey” brain. You must be focused in the early years of life to create a future that is substantial.

Lastly, start today planning for your future. If you wish to live a life by design, it takes planning and soul searching. Retirement is a phase of life than can be tremendously enjoyable when planned accordingly. Seek out a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® to help you create your dream for the future. You will be glad you did!

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Millennial Perspective: Steps to Protect Your Financial Health

Way, way back at the beginning of the Common Era, Epictetus offered some advice that remains relevant today:

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

In 2020, a lot changed – and Millennials are reacting. We’re adapting to pandemic conditions, hoping for economic improvement, positioning for financial market uncertainty, and coping with a lot of stress from the unknown. 

One way to address stress is to take positive action by conducting a year-end review of your financial plan. That may not sound like it will reduce your stress but taking control of something you can control may really help. You’ll be able to start the next year with confidence, knowing exactly what you need to do to protect your financial health today and tomorrow. 

These three steps can help you get started

1. Assess your work and income situation

Coronavirus has rapidly changed the business landscape. Some companies are at a standstill while others are busier than ever. Last year, Gartner Research reported:

“Dramatic changes in customer demand are putting organizations under huge stress: Sharp declines in demand present serious financial challenges to many businesses, while those facing demand surges and resource shortage risk disappointing and disengaging customers.”

Think about your industry and your company. Will coronavirus have a short- or longer-term impact? How could your income be affected? If it could be affected, are there steps you need take to reduce income risk? What are they?

2. Review your spending and expenses

There is never a bad time to review spending and expenses. This allows you to make sure your spending plan is working for you and is ready for the future. If your income will be significantly different in the near future, your spending plan may change. 

Typically, a spending plan keeps spending and saving aligned with income. If your income will be lower in the future, you may need to reduce the amount you spend and save. If your income increases, you may be able to increase the amount you spend and save. 

If you cannot find a way to align income and spending, talking to a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ may be a helpful option. They should be able to review your spending and expenses from a professional standpoint to help you set the best course of action.

3. Evaluate your financial plans

It’s important to review your current financial plan to see whether and how progress toward your financial goals will be affected by changes in spending and saving. Sometimes, looking at current spending and saving decisions through the lens of your financial goals can help you decide how to modify your plans. 

For instance, when income falls, some people choose to save less, knowing it will push their financial goals further into the future. Others decide to spend less so they stay on track to reach their goals. Often, people decide on a combination of reduced spending and reduced saving. The choices you make will depend on your circumstances. 

2020, and 2021 so far, have been years for the record books, often in unwelcome ways. The way you react to what has happened may significantly affect your financial health and well-being over the short-term and your ability to reach your financial goals over the long-term. Do not be afraid to seek help from a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ to better understand what your financial health looks like.

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Elections Have Consequences

No, I am not referring to the presidential election. I am concerned about your financial future! You have opportunities, during times of disruption in life, to make decisions that will forever impact your family’s security. I am referring to retirement plan, life insurance and Individual Retirement Account elections.

For example, many of our clients are participants in the Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System (OTRS). When counseling these outstanding educators and administrators about their future, we provide guidance on the appropriate decisions that must be addressed. One of those decisions is to receive a larger current monthly benefit payment or to consider your spouse’s needs should you predecease him or her. It is difficult to make decisions when all of the facts are not known. Our role is to model different scenarios that will help them consider the probabilities of certain acts occurring in the lives of the couple.

Once an election has been filed with the OTRS, you are barred from changing the election for spousal survivor benefits. What a tragedy if your family were subjected to a considerable decrease in financial security at a time when you need it most. This is an important decision that should not be made without consultation of an experienced retirement planning specialist.

Another election is the use of your lifetime assets for immediate cash flow needs. This year has been different for all of us. Congress and the president have given individuals, under the age of 59½, the option of taking funds from their IRA without incurring a premature distribution penalty of 10% of the amount received. Although this relief granted IRA owners is generous, your lifetime retirement assets should be the last resort for purposes of funding an immediate need. For example, you may incur federal and state income taxes on the distribution amount which may be taxed, at a minimum, for a total of 20%. There are many other options where interest rates are lower than this percentage.

One of the most damaging elections one can commit is failing to review beneficiary designations. Let me explain with a story. One of our clients had divorced his long-term spouse and remarried. When experiencing a life change such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, change of a career, etc., it is important to be aware of the collateral impact of other factors in life. In this instance, our client was asked, on several occasions, to provide us copies of all of his beneficiary designations for his retirement plan, life insurance, bank accounts and other joint tenancy property so that we may confirm their current status.

Citing his understanding of estate law and, now much bravado over his finances, he failed to bring us the beneficiary statements for review. Unfortunately, he suffered a terminal heart attack after a year of marriage to his second wife. While administering his estate, his son, the successor trustee of the decedent’s trust, discovered a shocking document! His father had not changed the beneficiary designation on a substantial life insurance policy. The sadness and desperation in the voice of this man was evident. I recommended he consult with the trust’s attorney but informed him, under federal and Oklahoma law, the beneficiary designation will stand counter to any verbal wishes or intentions of his father.

There is a happy ending to the story. Well, happy for the decedent’s first wife. The assets he attempted to shield from her during the divorce awarded her upon his death. Our newest client was a lady that we had known for many years that just inherited $2,000,000 tax free! Just like a fable in a children’s novel, there are always happy endings. The question is, will you be the one that is happy? See a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional to help you create a happy ending to your future security story.

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The Importance of Year-End Tax Planning

This is an optimal time to review your potential income tax liability for 2020. Most individual filers under U.S. jurisdiction are calendar-year, cash-basis taxpayers. This means that many of the options to lower your tax liability for 2020 are eliminated simply by the passage of the year. Just like Cinderella in the historic Disney movie of the same name, your world immediately changes for tax filing purposes at the stroke of midnight on December 31 each year.

A few simple strategies you should consider before the end of the year are presented in this article. First, review your withholding on your year-to-date pay stub to determine if adequate amounts have been withheld. This is a simple fix if you need additional withholding before the end of the year. Provide your employer or Human Resource Department a new Form W-4 to reflect your additional or less withholdings. Also, consider that you may experience a refund for federal taxes and owe a balance for state taxes. To mitigate this issue, provide your employer with a Form W-4 specific to each tax agency. This would be accomplished by conspicuously marking one of the Forms W-4 with “Oklahoma Only” or the name of your appropriate state at the bottom of the form below your signature. 

Another area of planning that is simple, yet considerably effective, is your deferral to your retirement plan, Health Savings Account or IRC Section 125 “Cafeteria Plan” to lower your current federal and Oklahoma taxable incomes for withholding purposes. Remember, most plans provide a matching component for your employer-retirement account that aids in the growth of your retirement assets without consideration of market activity. 

If you are utilizing a cafeteria plan for pre-tax qualified medical expenses, consider making an appointment with your medical providers to determine if you could schedule any procedures before the end of the year to mitigate the need for paying more deductible after the start of a new year. Many families have met, or are close to meeting, their insurance deductible by this time of year. Don’t allow this opportunity to pass if you are needing a medical procedure. Be proactive and seek out your medical providers’ attention to complete the procedure prior to December 31. The keys to success is to complete the procedure and the billing date of the procedure is properly noted in 2020.

Personal strategies such as increasing your tax deductible charitable donations may help you reduce your current year tax liabilities. Review your current level of itemized deductions and see if you can “bunch” your deductions every other year to allow you to itemize when you can exceed the standard deduction. By itemizing your deductions you may save additional state income taxes, depending upon your particular state’s law.

If you are wishing to reduce your estate by making inter vivos gifts to heirs, consider completing the gifts prior to yearend. You can gift each heir or donee $15,000 without the requirement of filing an annual gift tax return (Form 709). This is good news for both the donor and the donee. The donor will reduce their gross estate by the amount of the gift, provided the person lives for three years beyond the date of the gift, and the recipient owes no tax on the receipt of the gift. This is a win/win!

What happens if someone gifts you $1,000,000? Do you owe taxes on the gift? No! Isn’t the U.S. Tax Code a beautiful thing? As a recipient of a gift, of any size, where the intent of the donor was to transfer property or cash to you, without the requirement for reciprocal value or services, you will not owe income tax on the gift. I know what you’re thinking. You may have found a reason to eat Thanksgiving Dinner with your estranged, but rich, Uncle Charlie to discuss this important strategy for lowering his estate. Enjoy the giblet gravy!

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Three T’s of Successful Retirement Planning

Making a major life decision is not to be approached in a haphazard manner. Many people underestimate the impact of retirement on their lives and have “buyer’s remorse” once the process is complete. How can you experience a more positive and proactive outcome to retiring? Simply follow the “3 T’s” outlined below and you will gain tremendous confidence and control over your new phase of life.

Establish a Team

The first “T” is to establish a team. Many aspects of life allow you only one opportunity to get things right and this is one of them. Financial, estate, cash flow and tax considerations must be addressed in the process of planning to retire. Often clients come to our office for a meeting about their retirement and certain elections chosen by the individual are irrevocable. Elections in the format in which you will receive your retirement benefits, Medicare and Social Security Benefits and other critical lifestyle choices may have lifelong ramifications. You should consider assembling a team consisting of, at a minimum, a CPA, a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner, an estate planning attorney and your spouse or significant other. Why do you wish to include your spouse/significant other? Do you know how your relationship may be changed by each of you spending the majority of your day together? It is critical that you listen and coordinate your plans for retirement with your team.

Timing

The second “T” is timing. When is the best time to retire? How can you maximize retirement income by electing benefits offered by your employer, SSA Benefits and other support income during your retirement years? The key to properly timing your approach to launch into this next phase of life is to understand the qualitative issues and work to resolve them to your benefit with similar gusto as you do your quantitative needs. Emphasis is generally given the monetary issues of retirement only to realize your plan failed to consider the importance of emotional issues about the changing lifestyle you may find yourself. Work with your wealth advisor to determine if you have addressed all facets of retirement and the timing is in your best interest.

Transition

The third and final “T” is for transition. Successful individuals that transition smoothly to and enjoy retirement are those that understand their time is more valuable than their wealth. Purpose is required of each of us to live a fulfilling life. Why would you wish to devote most of your early life to work and career only to be miserable after your leave employment? That, to me, is not success. However, the person who understands that she has talents, time and treasure to devote to others may find a more rewarding experience in the retirement phase. Consider your plans to travel, join civic groups, devote your time to education in other fields of interest, etc. You must understand that with today’s medical advancements, you may spend as many years in retirement as you did in your career. With that in your mind, wouldn’t you feel more confident knowing that you addressed the Three T’s of Retirement Planning?

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