Average is not good enough … Our goal at Family Investment Center is excellence. We find excellent investment products and supervise an excellent service package. We maintain a library of excellent research materials and financial planning resources. We also demand top safety and security for our clients.
We won’t settle for average. We continually seek top managers or securities and meld them into superior custom portfolios. Each palette of investments is carefully tailored to personal or family goals. We enlist excellent managers, research, resources, and effort for our clients. Don’t settle for average. You deserve excellence.
Please search our blog posts for answers to common investment questions, and we look forward to sharing our knowledge and experience with you first-hand.
401(k) Investing is a Valuable Tool, Yet Underutilized
One of the most widely overlooked investment vehicles today is the 401(k). Surprisingly, two-thirds of all Americans don’t contribute at all in a 401(k) or other retirement account available through their workplace, and that number could shift even more if Congress stops auto-enrollment. 401(k) investing is a remarkable tool, yet often overlooked as an important part of planning for retirement.
According to tax records gathered during the most recent U.S. census, only 14 percent of employers offer a company-sponsored 401(k) plan. However, the majority of Americans work for larger companies which do offer these plans. Ben Steverman covers this topic in a Bloomberg article this year, saying bigger companies are the most likely candidates for offering a 401(k) plan and around 79 percent of Americans work for large companies.
“Four out of five workers are employed by companies that offer a 401(k) or similar plan, but many workers aren’t using them - either because they’re not eligible or because they aren’t signing up,” Steverman says.
These workplace plans create an environment where employees can build up their investments on a tax-advantaged basis. Unfortunately, too many Americans feel that it’s not worth the effort to get involved, probably because in order to get the most out of the plan, the money is tied up for a span of time and a penalty is assessed if the employee withdraws from it early.
Another possible reason for why so many workers aren’t getting involved in 401(k) investing is because they’re not willing to send incremental dollars to a long-term retirement plan, especially those who earn low wages.
People who change jobs often or who work part-time are also less likely to be eligible to participate in a workplace retirement plan. Many companies require employees to work for months or a year before they become eligible to participate in a plan, thus complicating the issue further.
Making investment decisions is difficult for many people. They’re intimidated by the choices that have to be made, so they don’t make any choices. Also, the cost of many plans can be high, which has been widely scrutinized in the media, drawing even more negative feelings out of workers, further complicating their savings plans.
Many companies that offer a 401(k) plan will automatically enroll their workers, as it costs the worker nothing. However, Wall Street believes this practice creates an unfair advantage against the products they sell. Unfortunately, Wall Street has the ear of many lawmakers in the Capitol, which is why there is a real threat that auto-enrollment could be wiped out.
At Family Investment Center, we can assist you in overcoming any fear, intimidation, or trepidation about investing your hard-earned money. Contact us today and let’s discuss your financial goals and how to accomplish them.
Maybe the New York Stock Exchange comes to mind when you think of investing and investments. But you’re faced with investment decisions every day. Being aware of these choices can ease worries and help lay the groundwork for a profitable future.
Dan Danford, chief executive officer of Family Investment Center in St. Joseph, offers these tips:
- Be mindful about money. You’re faced with hundreds of decisions every week. Don’t automatically respond. Think it over first.
- Make wise buying decisions. Look for the differences between price and value in making a purchase.
- Make wise use of any debt. Some things are good to finance, while others are terrible. Buying a house at three or four percent interest is a good investment.
- Keep track of net worth. Make a list of what is owned and what is owed for tracking purposes. It’s easy to do on a monthly basis.
- Credit cards should be used for convenience alone. Pay off cards at the end of each month.
- Use tax-savings vehicles, like college savings plans for students or retirement plans, as much as possible.
- Keep learning. There are nuggets that can be picked up by reading. The lessons parents learned may not necessarily apply today. Many innovations are being created daily.
- Ensure that student loans are in sync with career opportunities. Make automatic arrangements to make monthly payments.
- Stay healthy. It’s a whole lot cheaper to belong to a health club than seeing a doctor all the time.
- Choose the right mate. What your mate does for a living can have a huge influence on your finances.
Ray Scherer - St. Joseph News Press / Tomfoolery Magazine
Investment Advice for Making the Most of Your Tax Refund
You’ve likely already received a nice refund on your tax return. If you’re like most people, your wheels have started turning. Do you add a few days onto your summer vacation or finally splurge on that new furniture you’ve been eyeing? Few want to consider investment advice that starts with not spending your entire refund, but you may find that you’re happier in the long run investing into a solid retirement fund.
There’s more than one way to invest, though, and it is important to carefully think about your options before you plan your strategy for handling a small windfall that comes in the form of a tax refund.
Why would you want to think about investing some of your refund, rather than spending it all on entertainment, luxury items or home improvement? The average refund enjoyed by Americans is $3,000, an amount that may seem perfect for a good, guilt-free splurge. It’s sizable, but not life-changing, so it may be easy to justify buying yourself a treat.
However, with the average rate of return that the stock market delivers, you could potentially turn $3,000 into $50,000 in 30 years because investment growth and compounding interest.
You could choose from an index, like the S&P 500 or the Dow, but you can also invest in a mix of blue-chip stocks and enjoy solid returns over the course of your investment time. What matters most, of course, is that you don’t go out and spend all of your refund, but invest a portion instead.
At Family Investment Center, Dan Danford, CEO, has a three-part strategy for making the most of your tax refund, or any other small fortune that comes your way. Take a look at these steps for what could be a more satisfying approach to tax refunds:
Blow it: Whether it’s a weekend trip or a great pair of shoes, you should get to spend part of your refund on something that improves your quality of life. Making memories and enjoying a treat are great ways to invest in your satisfaction. Danford believes that many financial plans fail simply because they fail to include some joy and some fun into the mix.
Mow it: Part of your refund should go to maintenance that protects your investments, such as your home or your car. Maybe you have a leaky roof or a fence that needs repaired, or maybe you need to upgrade to a vehicle that is more reliable. These are also important ways to spend your money and are a good option for a portion of your refund.
Grow it: Take part of your refund and invest it in your retirement savings or a college fund. Even a small amount invested will multiply over time and can yield impressive growth. Don’t limit your investments to traditional accounts, though. Danford suggests that taxpayers receiving a refund also consider investments that could further their career, like a college class, or experiences that might widen their horizons.
A balanced approach to investing is always best, and we believe that you’ll have the most satisfying results if you get to enjoy spending some of your money and enjoy watching some of it multiply over time. Make an appointment with us today at Family Investment Center. We welcome you to enjoy jargon-free but experience-based conversation around our table.
Avoid Retirement Planning Missteps and Plan Your Exclusive Freedom Tour
If you’re intimidated by retirement planning, you share a similarity with a great many Americans. However, this intimidation leads to the first big mistake – not planning at all.
“I’ll get to my planning for retirement later,” many people say to themselves. You may think you’ve got decades ahead of you before you have to start worrying about it. Don’t fall victim to this thinking.
Another mistake many people make in retirement planning is that they have a faulty vision of what they’ll be able to spend in retirement. A survey conducted by Fidelity Investments reveals that more than 10 percent of Baby Boomers think they can withdraw 10 to 12 percent of their income on an annual basis. Following that line of thinking can drain a retirement account within a decade.
Everyone’s vision of retirement is unique, as are the strategies one must use to plan for their retirement. A common denominator in all scenarios is that an accurate forecast for retirement relies on how old you are today, how much money you’re saving and how you’re investing it.
This means that if two people have the same vision of living on a golf course in Arizona during retirement, they could have vastly different prospects for reaching that goal. If one of them has a few thousand dollars in the bank while the other has hundreds of thousands, the retirement planning is going to be just as disparate.
To get into the right mindset for reasonable retirement expectations, you have to stop thinking about retirement as a single event; it’s actually a long, extensive event. There are 70,000 people in America right now who have reached the age of 100. Not many of them will tell you they thought they’d reach that milestone.
Think of your retirement as a freedom tour, a series of events that you are free to choose to do during your years of retirement. Here are a few tips for a successful retirement freedom tour:
· Think about your retirement in terms of a theme or idea
· It takes expertise to plan this theme, which some might consider a “tour”
· Planning for the tour begins months before the excursion takes off
· All stops along the way are planned
· There will be emergency stops, so have money set aside for them (think medical emergencies)
· Working together with family and investment advisors provides for a smoother tour
The snapshot of your tour is going to differ from others’ snapshots, which means you can’t rely on someone else’s investment strategy to make yours become a reality. Work with an investment advisor to make sure you’re not making mistakes that could keep you from enjoying retirement.
At Family Investment Center, we love assisting our clients in retirement planning. In fact, we form relationships that have followed through to the next generation of our clients’ families. Let us help you plan your tour.
Solid Strategies for Building Wealth ... Avoid These Mental Pitfalls
Careful and diligent planning over time is a reliable strategy for building wealth, but did you know that your mind may be working against you and your long-term plans? There are a number of mistakes that people make in their financial decisions that can throw off their wealth strategies. Here’s a quick guide to ways that your mind can trick you into making poor financial decisions:
Anchoring: Don’t fall into the trap of relying too much on the first piece of information you learn about something. For instance, pretend you are interested in hiring a housecleaning service and you begin to call around to check rates. The first company you call quotes you $75 per hour. The second company gives you a rate of $90 per hour.
You may dismiss the second company because they are charging $15 more per hour and go with the first company instead. In fact, though, the going rate in your community is $60 per hour, but you overpaid because of the anchoring fallacy.
How do you get past anchoring if you don’t have endless hours to call cleaning companies and compare every rate out there? Some experts recommend that, instead of trying to get a true average rate, you estimate how many hours you’d have to work to cover the cost of a service or product, or what else you will have to give up to purchase it. This might help you get a truer sense of your cost.
One particularly strong anchor in investing is a stock’s price. Investors tend to keep their purchase price at the forefront when making trading decisions. For example, if you buy a stock at $10 per share and it’s currently trading at $8 per share, you may hesitate selling the stock because it’s lower than your initial purchase price. But what if the stock was overvalued when you bought it? Anchoring is often responsible for investors selling winners too soon or holding losers for too long.
Availability Heuristic: In this financial misstep, you pay more attention to more publicized events over those that are most likely to actually happen. For instance, you may have an outsized anticipation of winning the lottery because instances of lottery winners shown on the news stand out in your mind.
This concept carries over to other areas in life, too. You may have sweated a little on a trans-Atlantic flight, but probably not on your drive to the grocery store. Despite the fact that traffic accidents are far more likely than a plane crash, you brain latches on to news stories you’ve seen about flights that ended in crisis.
Likewise, an investor tends to overreact to the “talking heads” on the radio or television who warn of doom and gloom in the markets.
Hedonic Adaptation: When you purchase something new, you often feel a rush of satisfaction and excitement. In some cases, such as with a new car or a dream home, you may feel unable to contain yourself as you bask in the glow of acquisition. Even a new pair of shoes or a weekend trip can make you feel like you could never ask for anything more.
The trouble is, you always do, and it’s keeping you from building wealth. The hedonic adaptation principle says that no acquisition is capable of satisfying you forever. What’s more, you become less willing to go back to your previous lifestyle, even though your new purchase isn’t satisfying you like it did when it was new.
Overconfidence: Overestimating your own ability, at choosing investments, for example, can be detrimental to your financial strategy. If you don’t have the time, expertise and experience to handle an investment portfolio, consider hiring an investment advisor to help.
Hindsight: We’ve all heard it: “hindsight is 20/20.” When analyzing past events, it’s easy to hinge on information that hadn’t been available at the time, believing that the event was predictable (and perhaps preventable) when it really wasn’t. For example, after a stock market crash, you suddenly think of many reasons why youshould have adjusted your portfolio more conservatively, when in reality, there was no way of knowing it was coming. (Interestingly, hindsight can lead to overconfidence, as well.)
Building wealth over time takes a lot of discipline, but it also takes an awareness of the tricks your mind might play on you as you make financial decisions. No matter how solid your wealth strategies are, be careful that you aren’t derailing your goals by buying into these fallacies.
To learn more practical ways to think about building wealth, make an appointment to talk with the advisors at Family Investment Center. Always commission-free and client-focused, we help you develop strategies that are clear-minded and designed to help you plan for a solid future.
Dan Danford Explains 5 Surprising Investing Myths in “Money is Freedom” Podcast Episode
Much of our financial knowledge comes from trusted sources – friends, coworkers, colleagues, family members. But a lot of this information requires a serious update. In fact, it may be holding you back from the success you want.
Today, ask yourself this: Are you believing the five common myths (mistakes) about DIY money management? These mistakes include relying on the “special knowledge trap,” “soapbox time” and “vacuum investing.”
Listen to this brief, jargon-free and value-packed podcast today. It might change your thoughts on DIY investing, and, more importantly, it might change your future.
Listen to the “DIY Mistake” here on Sound Cloud:
Listen to Dan Danford on “Money is Freedom” on iTunes.
Recent Numbers on Investing for Women Show Increasing “Clout”
The numbers of male clients to female clients at investment firms began to even out during 2016, says a recent CNBC article. Why? Because the number of women who have reached millionaire status is also climbing. In fact, it’s believed that in the next 13 to 15 years, as much as 66 percent of wealth in the U.S. will be owned by women. How do these numbers affect investing for women?
According to the article titled “For Women, Retirement Can Be a Serious Challenge,” wealthy women are emerging now in stronger numbers. Approximately 45 percent of millionaires in the U.S. are female, says the article. During the next 14 to 15 years, females will be responsible for at least 66 percent of the country’s wealth. As a reflection of these numbers, it’s no surprise that women are currently the chief money makers in nearly half of U.S. households.
What’s the Challenge?
The numbers are encouraging, yet unique challenges remain for women in investing. As of 2015, women earned roughly 80 percent of what men were paid. This means when retirement comes around, women will draw less in Social Security benefits.
Many women choose to shift focus away from their careers during top-earning years to turn more attention to raising children, meaning less money goes into their retirement accounts. Some work part-time for a season to raise their families, which often makes them ineligible for employer-sponsored retirement programs.
In addition, with 63 million women earning wages today, only 45 percent are enrolled in retirement savings accounts. Of those that are enrolled, they average 50 percent less in their accounts than their male counterparts.
Another challenge, say experts, is that women who reach the age of 65 will live, on average, another 20.5 years. This means many of them will need more money in their retirement accounts than anticipated to live comfortably. Ultimately, too many women may be underfunded in their retirement accounts.
Addressing the Challenges
Investments can be a challenge, even for those who consider studying financial and investment news an enjoyable hobby. That’s why bringing an advisor into the plan can create a number of advantages.
An advisor can put together a plan considering all your information, including your insurance policies, your tax returns and banking records, information about mortgages and loans and all the investment records on your retirement accounts. Your advisor will help you create a strategy, which includes prioritizing expenses in categories such as wants and needs. This will help you devise a savings plan that matches your goals for retirement.
If debt is a concern, an advisor can assist you here as well. You might be surprised to learn that some debt can actually be used as leverage to increase your success. Contrary to some popular thought, not all debt is a hindrance to reaching your goals.
One of the most important things a good investment advisor will do is help you establish your goals and an investment plan that will help you reach those goals – despite media headlines, emotions and market shifts.
A final note: When you look for an advisor, find one that operates as a fiduciary. When you partner with a fiduciary, you have an advisor that puts your interests first. Also, a “fee-only” advisor will never take a commission on an investment they recommend. This is how Family Investment Center has operated from the start. Contact us today and find out more about what makes us so unique.
Do You Know What to Look for in Portfolio Management Fees?
The Beatles said in their hit song, “Money,” that the “best things in life are free,” and they definitely have a point. However, when it comes to managing your money, paying fees to a portfolio management professional can help that money grow, and it’s certainly worth it.
However, due to industry complexities and varying degrees of customer “service,” investment management fees can often be obscure. This can lead to mistrust and poor decisions on behalf of the investors. While the most trustworthy investment advisors use fee structures that are completely transparent, following the tips in a “fee triangle” can assist you in understanding exactly what you’re paying for.
Don't be the victim of unfair or elevated pricing schemes. You can avoid this by shining the light in the right places.
The first layer of fees is often tied to local investment management fees. This is usually a percentage of the portfolio size, AKA assets under management or AUM. Your investment advisor, broker, bank, or trust company or department will charge this first layer of fees.
Portfolio manager fees are the second layer, and although they’re the most common, they’re often less obvious. These are fees that the underlying managers of the mutual funds, hedge funds, exchange traded funds, unit trusts, REITs and other managed products charge to manage the fund. It’s how the manager of the underlying investment is paid. Although it’s difficult to rid your portfolio of these altogether (unless you buy only individual stocks), your advisor should aim to find investments that minimize your expenses while maximizing your investment potential.
Transaction fees are the most insidious of all these fees, which are often hidden from you in trades. For instance, if you buy a thousand shares of stock, a trade fee or commission may be paid on that trade, which should be reported on a trade confirmation. However, you may not see it if your custodian reports the trade at “net” prices. Even scarier is that there is often a huge disparity among the level of transaction fees that are charged to clients.
Not all investment portfolios will include all three fees. Some might only have one or two. A stockbroker might have a recommendation for you, and if you follow through on that, they will take their payment through a commission. If a mutual fund is recommended, there could be a sales commission involved, as well as ongoing portfolio manager fees, which means you could be getting hit with all three layers of fees.
Remember - it’s the total fees that matter to performance, not the particular fee scheme. Investment performance should be tied to broad market averages, not individual stocks and bonds. There are too many instances out there today where investors are getting hammered by layered fees, most often in the hidden fees.
At Family Investment Center, we remain totally transparent about our fee structure and communicate it clearly. We never take a commission – the only way we get paid is through a percentage of assets under management. That way, there’s a direct incentive for us to keep clients’ expenses low and their balances growing over time. We follow core investment principles and practices that go above and beyond the definition of a fiduciary. Contact us today and let’s discuss how we approach portfolio management differently.
Why Fiduciaries are Looking Out for Your Investments … and Your Future
Money. It’s a lot of things, but most importantly, it’s a tool. When it comes to investments, money is a tool that helps people reach their goals. Maybe that goal is to have freedom in retirement, or to go to school, or to travel. Perhaps money is the tool that assists a family legacy. Regardless of the goal, making smart investment decisions can leverage your tools and make those goals a reality.
The investment process can be made difficult by the massive volume of information available today through sources that include television, books, magazines and the Internet. Sorting through all of it can lead to confusion andpoor decision making that can have a negative impact on investments and end goals, which is why it truly pays to have an expert on your side in the form of a fiduciary.
A good investment advisor will explain these complexities in layers, presenting the easiest-to-absorb information first. Some investors are more comfortable taking a hands-off approach and letting their advisor take control. Others have a more vested interest and want to drill down on specifics, which often require a custom dashboard that simplifies the important and complex points.
Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center, is often quoted as saying his firm can provide as much depth as a client wants.
“I’m glad to answer questions and provide detail,” Danford said. “However, just because we follow all the details doesn’t mean clients need or want all that information to get to their goals. We tailor our conversations toward each individual’s preferences. A fiduciary can follow a client’s path through life; looking out for their best interests and helping them achieve their goals along the way.”
For an investment advisor operating as a fiduciary, these end goals might include establishing a fund for a child’s college account, for example. Ultimately, the child graduates from college utilizing that fund, and go on to establish a career and perhaps even begins to save for their own child’s college fund.
Danford says investment advisors feel a special kind of attachment when their client reaches their goals. The relationship that a good investment advisory team forms with a client and their family can span for years – and is often marked by life events and milestones along the journey.
“There is a wonderful sense of friendship and camaraderie among our team and the clients we help,” he says. “In that regard, our clients’ stories, their phone calls, or visits to our office remind us that we are creating brighter futures for families each day.”
Additionally, Danford seeks to remind investors that fiduciaries offer their services based on fees only - not commissions. This allows them to truly focus on the outcomes of the client’s portfolio, rather than their own benefit. This is especially important today when pending national industry changes mean many firms will say they are client-focused - but may not have true experience in this area. (Note: A 2015 report from the White House and Department of Labor indicates investors lose roughly $17 billion a year due to brokers offering conflicted advice. Read more about the report here.)
At Family Investment Center, we have always operated as a fiduciary and always in a commission-free, jargon-free and client-focused setting. Schedule a meeting with us today.
Focusing on Investment Strategies
Feel like it’s too late to start on your investment future? Think again. There’s no hard and fast rule set on exactly when to start or build up your investment strategies. Although getting an earlier start reaps better results over the long term, it’s not too late to start.
Do you need to move past a feeling of intimidation? Compare it to this analogy: do you need to know how to build a car in order to drive it? To combat intimidation, remember there is nothing wrong with taking interest in how investments work, but you can leave the expertise to your investment advisor, a person who has the experience and knowledge to help you develop a goal-focused and personalized investment strategy.
Smart investment strategies are those that work for you personally, not for your friends, family, and associates. Unfortunately, too many investors get caught up in the advice they get from these individuals, all of whom are well meaning, but want to pass off investment advice that worked for them. It’s okay to listen and learn, but don’t be swayed by strategies meant for a person in a completely different situation.
Many decisions are based on emotion, but investment decisions based on emotion can be financially detrimental. Additionally, when you bring other peoples’ emotions into the equation, it quickly can turn into a poor decision for your financial future. Reacting to these heightened emotional situations usually results in actions that can negatively affect your finances. Instead, consider maintaining a calm, “big-picture” focus.
According to Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center, there are some rules to follow regarding investment strategies that will help you fight drama and stick to a long-term plan (of course, these can vary person-to-person, so be sure to speak with an advisor regarding specifics):
· Don’t quickly respond financially to political or economic news
· Use payroll deductions for savings and retirement accounts
· Use mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs)
· Gauge performance at five-year (or longer) intervals
· Benchmark at broad market averages
· Performance only matters in reference to similar investments
· Increase your savings amount every year
In conclusion, Danford said one of the biggest flaws he sees with do-it-yourself investing is that people don’t set aside enough time for personal finance issues.
“Reading The Wall Street Journal once a week or visiting for five minutes on the phone with your broker isn’t enough,” he says. “If you want to do it right, dedicate one full evening a week or a few hours each weekend. If you can’t do that, then you need professional help.”
Professional advice is good idea for any investment strategy. Find a good fiduciary advisor, like those at Family Investment Center, who can listen to your ideas and concerns and help you move toward a clear plan in a commission-free environment. (In fact, this is our sole focus, every day.) Come find out why we’re a little bit different when it comes to investments … and why our clients like it that way.
Investment Advice for the Middle Class
If you are like most middle class investors, it may seem as if there are a million things that separate you from millionaires. In reality, the way the middle class and the wealthy handle investments can be quite similar; investment advice can be founded on the same principles – and the same misperceptions.
One misperception about wealthy investors is that they are geniuses when it comes to the stock market. Some investors believe they “play” the market every day and take great risks, but enjoy massive rewards. Typically, this isn’t true on many levels. Most experts agree, not many successful investors “play” the stock market. Instead, they focus on consistency over time and planned risk. Additionally, less than one percent of millionaires make daily trades on the market. Instead, they’re likely doing what you might consider for your own investments – thinking long-term and owning a variety of investments for the purpose of diversification.
In fact, the heart of wealth management science, according to Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center, “is the idea of a thoughtful long-term diversification. This scientific basis for portfolio theory won a 1990 Nobel Prize in Economics.” Danford explains that, in essence, an investor’s risk is reduced and performance of investments is enhanced when investors own a wide variety of investments.
If you’re getting investment advice from friends, family, or colleagues telling you that you should put your money in government bonds and bank deposits, this may not align with the strategies of professionals who work with both the wealthy and the middle class. Putting your money in these “safe” places offers low interest rates, but if you consider inflation and taxes, your investment there is nothing more than a shelter where compound interest doesn’t stand a chance.
Wealthy investors seem to understand the difference between price and value. Dr. Tom Stanley’s book titled The Millionaire Mind brings up an issue that many investors fall victim to: they don’t make enough distinctions between price and value. Millionaires tend to look at investment products through the lens of a long-term situation. For instance, Stanley offers up the analogy that they’re purchasing their furniture and shoes based on the lifetime cost of ownership. Are they buying better quality products? Yes. But they last longer than the cheap stuff. When you put yourself in that mindset for your investments, you’re on the right path.
Finally, if you’re a DIYer when it comes to your investments, rethink what your efforts are actually getting you. You might spend hours studying various investments, shopping around to find something that is only marginally better than the previous product you researched. Let an investment advisor who has experience working with a variety of investments help guide you with your investing strategy.
At Family Investment Center, we believe in practical, jargon-free and client-focused service – and always within a commission-free environment. Contact us today to learn more.
How Will 401(k) Investing Change in the New Year?
The 401(k) plan is among the strongest investment tools for many working Americans, especially those whose employer does not offer a pension plan, but will match contributions (up to a specific percent) to the company-sponsored 401(k). When you invest in a 401(k), which utilizes the stock market and other products, you are investing for your future. It’s important to stay informed of the rules that govern your 401(k) investing as they change each year.
The IRS limits your 401(k) contribution and those limits are subject to change annually. The company you work for also limits how much they match on the amount you contribute. The current IRS limit on employee elective deferrals is $18,000. This will continue into 2017, but keep your eyes on 2018 as that deferral amount could go up.
For those of you who are 50 or over, you can make what the IRS refers to as “catch-up” contributions, which allow you to put an extra $6,000 a year into your traditional and safe harbor 401(k) investing plans, or $3,000 extra into your SIMPLE 401(k) plan. When the IRS makes changes to these catch-up contribution limits, it’s generally tied to a cost-of-living adjustment.
Another change impacting a number of people relates to 2017 IRA income limits. Employees who have a 401(k) account through their work can make tax-deductible contributions to a traditional IRA. For example, employees earning up to $62,000 a year are allowed to deduct from income tax IRA contributions of up to $5,500. Unfortunately, if you earn between $62,000 and $72,000 (in 2017), that phases out.
Workers making less than $118,000 can make Roth IRA contributions in 2017, which allows for tax-free withdrawals in retirement. Roth contribution limits phase out for those making $118,000 to $133,000 (in 2017).
It can be challenging to keep tabs on all the rules, regulations, perks, and privileges available to you in your retirement plan investing. This is why it is important to include a professional advisor to keep you informed on the decisions that impact your investments. At Family Investment Center, we’re ready to assist you in these important decisions and more. Contact us today and see why our commission-free environment remains the investment “home” of so many families and individuals.
Survey Says Few Small Business Owners are Planning Adequately
Small business owners are seemingly tireless entrepreneurs when it comes to building and maintaining a business, but they often forget to plan for their exit strategy. A survey by BMO Wealth Management confirms that startlingly few small business owners are planning for retirement adequately.
The survey by BMO found that 75 percent of the owners between ages 18 and 64 had not saved more than $100,000 for retirement. The good news is that nearly 40 percent of business owners age 45 to 64 had at least started an IRA and nearly 30 percent had established a 401(k). For many entrepreneurs and small business owners, their way of planning for retirement is to invest in their business and sell it when the time is right. Essentially, the business becomes their retirement plan.
In some cases, the business owner will wish to keep the business alive. Therefore, they transfer ownership to a family member and get a share of the future wealth in return, which helps to support their retirement. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work out as planned. Different management methods, a jarring transition between owners, and/or the unpredictability of the market can wreak havoc on a business, potentially leaving the retiree with little or nothing for their retirement.
A number of business owners will say that if their planning for retirement hits any snags, they’ll simply delay retirement. While this seems like a fair way to approach retirement, plans made while relatively young and healthy can turn quite suddenly as we age and our health begins to fail. For example, a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute reveals that nearly 55 percent of people surveyed said they retired earlier than expected due to health issues.
What steps can you take in planning for retirement that can help protect your investments?
· Diversify: Putting a set amount of money per month in a variety of investments is a smart move because you’re spreading out your wealth in several directions. As the market ebbs and flows, you’ll see the advantages of a diversified portfolio. Talk to your investment advisor about popular options, like an IRA or 401(k).
· Specialize: Ask your investment advisor about retirement plans that are specifically for small businesses. For instance, a SEP-IRA, solo 401(k), or SIMPLE IRA.
· Know What You Need: How many of your current expenses are lumped into your business dealings? You’re won’t have that luxury when you retire, so crunch the numbers to get an accurate estimate of what you’ll need on a monthly basis when you retire.
If you’re like most small business owners, you have few hours in the day to research retirement vehicles on your own. Talk to a fee-only professional advisor like our team at Family Investment Center. Since our founding, we’ve maintained a client-first, client-focused philosophy. Today, we welcome you at our table to learn more about what makes us truly unique among investment advisor teams.
Investing Strategies in a Time of Uncertainty
The election is officially over and inauguration is just weeks away. Many Americans were surprised at the results as our nation begins a journey with a controversial president. Many investors are beginning to take a second or third look at their investing strategies and preparing for this change.
Actually, many investment professionals may share the viewpoint to stay the course and not change investment portfolios in any drastic way. Refraining from reacting impulsively — while maintaining a focus on your long-term retirement investment plan — may help lead you toward new confidence as presidential changes officially unfold. Note: While analysts seemed wrong about the predicted election outcome, U.S. economic strength was actually improving leading up to the vote. Policies and changes to come, say some analysts, could actually lead to even more economic growth. If this trend continues into 2017, investment options could improve and market levels could return to “typical.”
It’s also important to realize that it’s not unusual for emotions to run high as markets move. Most investors won’t need to access the money they have in investments for at least a decade, which means even if market volatility affects your balances, there is plenty of time for a rebound. Besides, experts have noted that other economic factors remain strong and will carry most investors through the volatility.
If you are nearing your projected retirement date and want to make some changes, ask a professional commission-free investment advisor for help. If you haven’t yet talked to an investment advisor, now is the time. Talking with your advisor about your plan is a great way to review your situation, make adjustments as needed and regain some of that confidence you had before election night.
Historically, when considering long-term investing strategies, the stock market has demonstrated success as a way to build up a nest egg. The ebb and flow of the market is less dramatic when you look at its movement over decades. Even during recessions, such as 2008, the market historically has recovered.
At Family Investment Center, we offer a consistent, commission-free and jargon-free atmosphere for addressing all of your questions and concerns. Contact us today and find out why our team has been interviewed by sources like The Wall Street Journal, Forbes andU.S. News and World Report for our slightly “unconventional” approach.
Experts Suggest Investment Advice May be Best Left to the Professionals
Most people who invest money and are purposeful about their retirement plans believe they have the basics of investing down. They may even consult with well-meaning friends and family when they are seeking outside guidance. However, some of the most common mistakes in investing may be related to taking investment advice from someone other than a professional – along with not keeping up with investing innovations and relying on outdated information. Read on for some other challenges that may be holding you back from the success you want.
Some investing mistakes date back to early family experiences. Ideas about money are often shaped by what a person saw and heard growing up. In reality, what many people are taught growing up is very different now as the landscape of investing has changed, particularly in the financial products, services and fees under which investors operate today. These family experiences may mean an investor follows and seeks advice from friends, neighbors, coworkers and family members; but these people are not likely to carry professional investment experience. Seeking advice this way can also lead to a strong emotional connection instead of a neutral, strategic approach to investing – and this can cost an investor significantly over time.
Another common investing mistake can be connected to changing an investment strategy when feelings or emotions change. Today, you may want to ask yourself, “Is my investing driven by feelings and emotions?” This can manifest from watching media headlines and wanting to make quick changes rather than staying the course through the natural ups and downs of the markets.
It’s human nature to follow the crowd. However, when it comes to investments, giving in to that urge to follow the crowd can lead to investment setbacks. Everyone’s situation is different. What amounts to an excellent decision for one person might be a wrong move for the next, depending on life situations and goals. Most investors with long-term success are operating on a consistent plan that is tailored to their situation, not everyone else’s. Also note that many professional investment advisors suggest caution around making decisions for short-term gains in favor of long-term growth. It’s vitally important to stick to a long-term plan, even and perhaps especially during times when the market is volatile.
Performance is an easy metric to measure, but it’s not the one that matters most. Value and convenience, both of which are metrics more subjective and harder to measure than performance, carry just as much weight as pure performance.
Some people fail to reach success because they think the investments are boring. Investment advisors reject that notion; they see investing as a path to key lifestyle benefits that are definitely not boring. They also know that it’s one of the biggest reasons people fail – or a reason they never get started. A visit to an investment advisor who truly cares about helping clients should not be boring, but instead, should help you feel excited and confident about the direction you’re headed.
At Family Investment Center, we have observed investors time and time again come in with reservations and leave with a sense of confidence they didn’t know they could have toward their long-term goals for investing. We know that many people have an outdated view of money practices, and we are here to listen. Contact us today and let’s get started with a plan that makes sense for your situation.
Listen to jargon-free insights from the Money is Freedom podcast, produced by Dan Danford, founder/CEO of Family Investment Center, at Sound Cloud and iTunes. Enjoy more about advice from friends and family on the episode titled “Free Advice is Poor Advice.” https://soundcloud.com/money-is-freedom/102-free-advice
For many it’s a labor of love. For others, it’s overwhelming to think about what it takes to start and finish the writing of a book. This is something Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center, knows quite well. Danford will relay the experiences he gathered while writing his book, “Stuck in the Middle” at two KC-area Lunch and Learn Events.
Danford, who has worked for decades in investing, wrote the book to highlight the mistakes investors make that jeopardize their financial success. The book also offers tips on how to fix those mistakes. The 20 chapters in the book cover everything from how paying off a mortgage can hurt retirement, investment mistakes endorsed by the media, the stock market (why/how it’s not a casino), how banks are for managing cash (not investing) and many other topics.
Danford says the book is a valuable way to share insights and knowledge gained across his career. He began his career in business in 1984 as a bank trust officer, where he was responsible for managing tax-qualified retirement plans and IRAs. He has since visited with thousands of people who are planning for retirement. He is now sharing his knowledge in the book that asks the question “What if your middle class background is holding you back from the financial success you want?”
Danford will speak at two “Lunch and Learn” events with the topic – “What’s your truth? Using your story to write a book, and using that book to grow your business.”
The events are:
· Friday, December 9, at the Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce office, 634 NW Englewood Rd, Kansas City, MO. Click here for more information. 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
· Tuesday, December 13, at the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce, 3003 Frederick Avenue, St. Joseph, MO. Click here for more information. 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Danford will also share information about investing that he covers in his book, largely written for middle class investors. Danford said he has been surprised, quite often, at the mistakes he encounters, which are mostly ideas that conflict with what professional investors know to be true today. He said many people haven’t kept up with innovations in investing, which could lead them to decisions based on outdated information.
“For many investors, their ideas about money come from early family experiences, which leave a powerful imprint on them that makes change difficult to achieve. However, it’s easy to see that the world we live in today is far different from what our parents experienced at the same point in their lives. Everything from fees to financial products and services – they’ve all evolved, and investors need to evolve as well,” says Danford.
Listen to insights on “Money is Freedom,” a new podcast available on iTunes and Sound Cloud.
As the U.S. Department of Labor fiduciary rule moves closer into the spotlight, more investment firms are making changes to shift their service to a “nonconflicted” setting – meaning they will no longer charge commissions on products they sell to investors.
A few months prior to the Department of Labor rule, the White House released their own report outlining the millions of dollars in lost potential revenues investors could see if they receive conflicted advice in a commission-based setting. By the start of 2018, financial brokers who sell retirement products must become "fiduciaries" and act in clients' best interests, instead of choosing products that line brokers' own pockets. Some national entities are putting changes into place, now.
Recent headlines have outlined challenges with this process. What should you know?
1) Family Investment Center has always – and will always – operate in a commission-free, client-focused and nonconflicted setting. It’s how we have always believed your interests as an investor are best served. These changes nationwide mean business as usual for us.
2) Some firms will begin to use terms like “nonconflicted” and fee-only as they make the shift over to these models … but this doesn’t mean they have a genuine client-focused perspective.
3) National responses to the fiduciary rule will be varied. LPL Financial Holdings Inc., the largest independent broker dealerand registered investment advisor in the UnitedStates, is exploring a potential sale – according to an articlein Financial Advisor – as it lowers commissions on high-feeinvestment offerings and looks at higher regulatory costs. Inanother example, Merrill Lynch is among the first to institutechanges and stop its commission for its IRA business. This could trigger brokers who rely on commissions to go elsewhere – as well as push a surge of other giant firms to do the same.
We welcome any discussion or questions as the biggest shift in the investment industry has seen in decades begins to take shape … and we’re proud to say we’ve been helping families reach their goals in a nonconflicted setting since the first day we opened our doors.
Investment Strategies for the Year’s End
We’re in the final quarter of 2016. That means it’s time to start looking at your investments as the year winds down and where you are in meeting your retirement goals. Here are some top things you need to look at:
Put your investments back into balance. Different types of investments will perform differently over time. Diversification of investments is key, but even the most diverse portfolios will have products that do better or worse than anticipated. To reach your original intended asset allocation, you may need to rebalance.
If you monitor you asset classes, you’ll find that in any given year, their returns could knock your portfolio out of balance. For instance, let’s say you want your portfolio to include 20 percent of your assets in real estate and commodities, 30 percent in bonds, and 50 percent in stocks. By now, your investments have been in place long enough that the economy could have shifted those percentages drastically. Now may be a good time to make changes and adjust them to help you meet your goals.
Has your W-4 been reviewed lately? If you’ve had major life changes this year, it’s a good idea to take another look at your W-4. For instance, as you age, your tax situation will change. Or, perhaps you’ve had children who have grown and left the nest – this will need to be reflected in your dependents status. Maybe you’ve re- married, which will also need to be updated. When you make these changes, you can free up more money for investments like your 401(k) and your IRAs. It’s all about compound interest, and even a year’s worth of investments can make a difference.
We know it’s not wise to make investments decisions under duress. However, when the stock market is volatile, risk becomes a factor worth investigating. Some investors will protect themselves with larger cash allocations, which can be beneficial because this gives you something to work with if the market performs strongly.
Are you maximizing your contributions? Workingtoward maxing out right now is a good idea, especially if it’s a deductible retirement plan contribution. It can help reduce current taxable income, which reduces the associated income tax come April.
At Family Investment Center, we can help you maintain confidence (and joy) as 2016 draws to a close. Why not make today the day? Contact us and let’s talk.
If you think you’ve heard every investment advisor start-up story, think again. The story of Family Investment Center reflects a passion to be true to their core values and remain steadfast in a client-first approach (even when no one else was doing it).
Dan Danford, founder of Family Investment Center, had 15 years’ experience as a bank trust officer before striking out on his own, establishing Family Investment Center in 1998, just in time for a big technology boom. He had a “million dollar idea” to marry the safety of fiduciary investing with the benefits of a client-focused, commission-free atmosphere and the perks of a tech-friendly world. Nearly 20 years later, Danford and his team continue to bring investment services that cater to each individual client.
Danford’s solid background working with investments coupled with his desire to avoid the sales-driven mentality – a driver for many professionals in the investment field today – brought him to an important question: “What do I need to prosper?” It’s that question that drove a philosophical change from seller to buyer, and it “rocked our marketplace,” Danford said.
He began working for clients under a textbook approach to investing and analyzing portfolios. Ultimately, what he lays in front of clients is a plan that they would devise if they knew as much about investing as Danford does. In fact, it’s a plan that he uses for his own family’s investments.
Here are the five key concepts applied by the Family Investment Center team to each individual:
· World class managers and products
· Total transparency at every level
· Portfolios that are tailored to fit individual needs
· Deliberate diversification
· Ongoing monitoring and evaluation
At Family Investment Center, commissions have never been accepted (and never will be) for any investment product. The only source of revenue is a modest management fee charged to clients. Another key difference is jargon-free conversations. The Family Investment Center team of professionals are competent, confident, have excellent communication skills and make clients comfortable talking about their ideas.
The families that partner with Family Investment Center enjoy extra safety measures, including custodial, professional liability, and employee dishonesty insurance, plus ERISA bonding. Family fee schedules are scaled for large portfolios, and the investment products selected are already scaled for large portfolios as well.
Family Investment Center has always believed that investing really isn’t about the money itself - but rather how a person can share that wealth with those they love. Even so, it’s a team where investment advice offered comes from a place of logic – not emotion - which is crucial to succeeding in the investment space.
Find out all the reasons Family Investment Center maintains a unique approach - and why the team is interviewed by sources like the Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and World Report, Forbes, and many others. Visit www.familyinvestmentcenter.com today - or listen to the podcast “Money is Freedom” at Sound Cloud and iTunes.
Make the Most of Your 401(k) Investing Opportunities
If you are like the majority of investors investing through a 401(k), you are doing so through your employer’s sponsored plan. The recent T. Rowe Price benchmarking report can help you can gain some insights into practices that other 401(k) investors have used to make the most of their 401(k) investment options. We want to highlight a few of those findings.
1. Sign up. (Yes, it’s simple, but some people don’t). One of the practices many respondents said they take advantage of is auto-enrollment. This has been on the increase over the last few years, and it’s a benefit to the employee who might otherwise choose not to enroll and forfeit the company’s matching donations.
2. Put more money in. Raising your contribution rate can make a big impact. The maximum amount you can contribute per year is $18,000. However, if you’re 50 or older, you can invest a maximum of $24,000. Meeting that maximum amount every year can help you enjoy more freedom in retirement. However, the report from T. Rowe Price also shows that many people are saving too little or nothing at all. In fact, the average deferral rate is around seven percent, which is less than half the 15 percent that many experts recommend. More alarming is the fact that roughly a third of workers are putting nothing into their company’s 401(k) investing program.
3. Don’t say “next year I will” or “when I pay down my debt.”Many responded to the survey that they have too many outstanding debts to put money towards retirement. In waiting to invest until later, though, you will lose out on the benefits of compound interest and risk the possibility of not having enough saved for your retirement. Taking a hard look at expenditures will often reveal money that could be going to your retirement.
4. Don’t let yourself become overly perplexed at natural market ebb and flow. Despite market changes, many successful people maintain a simple, consistent approach and don’t let their emotions get too much attention. They also work with a professional investment advisor so they can set aside fears and move forward with confidence.
At Family Investment Center, we know each person has their unique investment challenges and goals. If you’re part of that one-third of workers who are putting off investing for retirement, or setting aside too little, we can assist you in building a strategy that will set you on the right path toward the freedom you want. Our investment advisors have experience working with individuals and families of all ages. Plus, we don’t use complex jargon and we have always been – and will always be – commission free and client-focused. Let’s talk.
Retirement Planning Isn’t Rocket Science … But There Are Basic Tools
Today 60 percent of Americans are confident in their retirement planning, according to a survey from financial services team, TIAA. These are Americans who feel confident that their savings are adequate and that when retirement time comes, they’ll have enough to live comfortably. But are these people fooling themselves?
Experts say less than half of Americans know how much they’ve saved for retirement. Only around 35 percent have calculated where and how much their income will be per month during retirement. Furthermore, they say many underestimate how much they will need to live comfortably in retirement. In fact, experts say now that you and/or your spouse may need to plan for 30 combined years of retirement living.
However, rather than placing your entire focus on a dollar amount, consider that compound growth over time is the blueprint. A mix that includes bonds or bond funds, stocks or stock funds and other tools is a common trend among successful investors. They set up their strategy and stick with it over time – and although this sounds very simple, it’s actually a classic investment principle.
Also consider that there will be fees. You pay a fee for almost every service, because you’re using someone’s tools. However, when these fees take the form of commission, you may not be receiving unbiased information. As this topic continues to gain momentum, especially in light of the pending Fiduciary Rule, be aware that many investment companies may use these phrases. Look for one with experience in this type of environment.
Like any service you take into your world, explore all aspects of any investment. Long-term compounding is impaired by high fees. Tax-favored products aren’t appropriate for IRA or retirement accounts, which are already tax favored. Avoid layers of fees and take advantage of volume pricing whenever available. Remember, too, that if an investment offers a high return and you can’t see the risk, there is still risk -- whether you see it or not.
Feeling unsure or overwhelmed? Contact Family Investment Center and let’s talk, together. We believe “money is freedom and freedom is fun” because we’ve worked with many different types of investors successfully over the years. We’ve done it all in a commission-free setting and we have our own unique approach. Call us today and find out why different is a good thing.
Investment Strategies: Making a Mortgage Work in Your Favor
A little simple math can reveal some cost savings when it comes to paying more per month on your mortgage, but is it really worth it in the long run? Some homeowners implement conventional investment strategies to save thousands of dollars, but few ask what the outcome could be if that extra money were placed instead into investments.
Here’s the scenario from Dan Danford’s recent podcast “The Happy Side of Mortgages”: A homeowner has a $100,000 mortgage with a 30 year term at a rate of four percent. That equates to a total of $71,871 in interest paid over those 360 payments. However, if that homeowner were to put an extra $100 a month paying $577 instead of $477, they would pay $49,408 in interest and the home would be paid off in 21 years instead of 30. Who wouldn’t want to save $22,000 in interest? This concept represents the money-saving approach.
“I think people love doing this because they can make a small move and see a big result,” said Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center. “Pay an extra $100 each month and save $22,000. It’s a money-saver approach and it’s so simple that almost everyone can understand it. Let’s ignore for a minute that they made 259 payments ($25,900) to save $22,000 in interest!”
Danford explains that purchasing a home has long been an investment vehicle for Americans. Over time, the amount of money owed on the home goes down, but the value goes up until it becomes the largest portion of the family’s nest egg.
“It’s the mortgage that makes this work,” he said. “Without that loan, owning real estate isn’t nearly as lucrative.”
The reason, Danford said, is that without a loan, you have to have all the cash up front, which most people don’t. However, owning the property outright means that the returns are much smaller because the homeowner is essentially waiting for the property value to rise.
“With a mortgage,” Danford said, “you are using other people’s money to enhance your wealth. This is called leverage, and it is the magic behind real estate investing.”
The Money-Making Approach:
It stands to reason that a homeowner should take advantage of low interest mortgages and take the longest possible term when they buy because it creates cash flow flexibility. However, Danford recommends that instead of sending an extra principal payment each month, investors could consider taking that extra money and put it into a growth-oriented investment, such as a mutual fund or a target date fund – both can be stronger choices over time than paying extra on the monthly mortgage payment. Even if an investment portfolio earns just six percent over time, the gain could reach $30,000 when an investor puts money set aside for an “extra” mortgage payment into investments instead. If the portfolio earns 10 percent, the investor’s earnings over time could reach $86,000. In this scenario, the potential portfolio gains beat the money saved from extra house payments by $60,000.
“Find a good fiduciary advisor to help today,” Danford advises. “Not next week or next month, or “when I get some money.” Do it today. You surely fall into one of two categories: you know what you need, and a professional can help you get better, or you don’t know what you need, which is an even stronger case for getting help.”
Get more information about unconventional and commission-free investment strategies by contacting the Family Investment Center team today.
Why Did the Top One Percent of Rich Americans Have a 3.73 Gain Last Year?
The top one percent of wealthy Americans saw a 12-month gain of 3.73 over the past year, whereas the bottom one percent of investors saw a negative 3.32 percent return, according to CNN Money. The difference? It’s all in how they invest. What wealth management tips can you take away from this?
One classic investment success strategy focuses on spreading out their investments, which means if one stock isn’t doing well, it’s not going to significantly impact the entire portfolio. Lower gains are sometimes seen when an investor places the majority of investments in single stocks, such as major companies like Apple or Ford or Bank of America, making your investment gains or losses highly dependent on the performance of that company.
More specifically, the top five percent of investors have less than 40 percent of their investments in a single stock. The bottom five percent have around 70 percent of their investments in a single stock, making them more vulnerable to market volatility. CNN’s report shows the volatility of a wealthy investors’ portfolio is around 15 percent, whereas the bottom investors work with volatility in the 33 percent range.
How Can You Invest Like the Wealthy?
As an investor, you want to plan for long-term gains, which means you will want to spread the risk among your investments. Many young investors will put a higher percentage of investments in stocks that are more susceptible to volatility; sometimes they can see tremendous gains. But this can be risky when you face downturns. However, when balanced with other investments, the outcome can level out successfully over the long-term.
When it comes to wealth management, many experts warn against gambling on the market. It is also important to remain emotionally neutral about your investments while sticking with your investing goals, which must also evolve over time. This means you may have to ride out a poor economy when it comes along, instead of making rash decisions based on fear about the market. You may also have to avoid the advice of family and friends. Although well-meaning, they’re typically not experienced professional investment advisors. Work with a professional; the outcomes are too important.
Don’t believe the myth that “it’s too late” to start investing more strategically. A professional investment advisor – especially one that’s commission-free, a.k.a. non-conflicted advice – can help you with your investment strategies at any life stage. Start where you are, and don’t look back.
Family Investment Center has developed a culture of quality for our clients. We approach each individual situation for what it is – meaning every client gets a personalized approach to wealth management. Contact us today and find out what makes us unique enough to be interviewed by publications including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and U.S. News and World Report.
Think Long-Term When You Establish Your Investment Strategies
If there is a theme common among those who have successful investment portfolios it is that they have established goals and been intentional about their investment strategies to help them meet those goals. Successful investors also share the attributes of patience and discipline.
Discipline: Avoid the media stream …
A large variety of books about how to invest are published every year. Television, radio and podcasts are full of experts talking about exactly what you need to do to get rich – yet many of them are providing a one-size-fits-all solution that might not be a good fit for every person.
It takes discipline to work through all the information and find sound advice that fits your situation, and in many cases, that decision is aided with the help of a trusted advisor that works as a fiduciary to assist you in managing your investments.
Discipline also comes into play when the market turns volatile. It takes tremendous discipline to stick to your investments, stick to your goals and not become a victim of panic. This is probably one of the toughest components of following your investment strategies because market fluctuations can cause a sense of unease that older investors know quite well from market collapses in the late 80s, early 2000s and in 2008. Talk to your advisor when your panic level is at full tilt and voice your concerns. (And listen to their advice).
Patience: How does it apply to investing?
Smart investors are patient. They know that their investment strategies are built on long-term goals that minimize risk while maximizing returns. They know that the market will ebb and flow. They’ll see years where the gains are strong, interspersed with years that are down when recessions hit.
Having the patience to ride this wave will almost always lead to a positive outcome. The timing can be troubling, especially for investors who see market drops just prior to retirement, but history shows that using the market to make gains works – in the long term.
Why? Investors who have established short-term goals for big gains can fall victim to what’s known as “playing the market.” They absorb all the information they can, pick a “hot” stock and sink a large percentage of their money into it. Do they hit sometimes? Yes. Is it a smart way to invest your hard earned money? No, because it’s a gamble. People who look for short-term gains are investors without the patience to realize the attributes of investing for the long term.
At Family Investment Center,our clients come to us with a range of emotions, plans, goals, strategies and attitudes about investing. We know how to communicate with each of our diverse clients who are in various stages of the investment process. We can guide you toward patience and be discipline in your investment strategies. Plus, we’ve always been commission-free, since our founding. Read more today about Our Story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fo0tC-Mvvus&feature=youtu.be
What are Your Options for Investing for College?
It’s a question many parents have considered – should you dip into your retirement savings or put off saving for retirement in favor of investing for college for your kids? It’s a valid question because so many graduates are coming out of college with staggering debt. In fact, student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt. However, what impact will investing for college have on your ability to retire comfortably?
As a parent you have a desire to put your children first. You may believe that means investing for college before investing for retirement however, from a financial standpoint, when you put your retirement savings first you’re in effect putting your children first as well. Here’s why: If you compromise your ability to financially take care of yourself in retirement, that means you’re leaving it for your kids to do it for you, which is a financial burden that you pass on to your children.
There are also tax consequences to consider should you decide to dip into your retirement savings for your kids’ college tuition, room and board. For instance, tapping into your 401(k) could come with penalties, including early withdrawal penalties. If you’re simply taking a loan out of your 401(k), you pay it back, but with interest plus fees. Any failure to pay back that loan will result in income taxes as well as early withdrawal penalties. Some parents find it beneficial to take money from a traditional IRA for qualifying education expenses, but this too has income tax stipulations.
Many students are eligible for some type of financial aid. However, many types of aid are based on the parents’ income. Should you pull money out of a retirement account to help pay for college, that money, which is not considered income as it sits in a retirement account, is now in your checking account, which is considered income. This will make it appear that you are making more money per year than you actually are, which could negatively impact the ability for your children to receive financial aid.
There are options for your child to help pay for college, but those same options aren’t available to help you pay for your retirement. Social Security benefits and Medicare may be available when you retire, but other options are in your hands with much more potential revenue. Also keep this basic concept in mind … retirement savings are all about compounding interest and growth over time, which is compromised when you dip into those savings.
Talk to your investment advisor about options for getting your kids through college that will not leave you scrambling to refund your retirement accounts. Family Investment Center has experience with many families who’ve traveled this road, and we’re ready to listen to your unique concerns today. Contact us and let’s talk about how you can get your children through college without sacrificing your own dreams and goals.
Strategic Investing for Retirement Might Mean Sitting That Game
Many investors today are tempted to play the stock market. When this happens, investors can lose their money because they become too emotionally invested in “hot” stocks that they think are about to take off and make them rich. Investing for retirement in a strategic way means that you don’t play the market. You can, however, look at important metrics about the S&P 500 and other indexes to get a good idea of the position of the market.
It’s easy to see if the largest companies in America are making money by analyzing the S&P 500 stock index. However, don’t get so caught up in the data that you believe that a broadly diversified retirement portfolio will keep up with the metrics you’re watching on the S&P 500. Experience has proven that while measuring various metrics can offer a decent picture of the overall economy, when it comes to measuring the performance of a diversified portfolio, it simply doesn’t offer much accuracy.
The top performing asset class in a portfolio will not accurately represent what’s happening throughout a diversified portfolio, and that’s the nature of diversification. It’s possible that your best performers are also high risk, which means they could take a dive just as easily as they could rally. Another thing you have to consider is that when the market is in its bull phase, your portfolio over a five- or 10-year period will almost always trail behind the overall S&P 500.
However, when you look at the market over the life of the average investment portfolio, which is around 35 years, you’re looking at an average of 11.1 percent return on the broadly diversified portfolio. Having said that, most investment advisors will tell you that you shouldn’t have expectations of seeing past performance occur again exactly as it did. Take, for instance, that the worst one-year loss in the S&P 500 large cap index was 43.34 percent compared to 30.3 percent for the diversified portfolio.
What we know from the first seven months of the year is that the action in the market has been the definition of volatile, yet has climbed quite steadily, recently reaching record highs. The climb is thought to have been aided by higher valuations, which means there is likely to be more volatility throughout the remainder of the year.
Some investors are so wary of the market that they prefer to put their money in places that might be safe, but certainly won’t perform well enough to see much of any compound interest occur. If you are a risk-averse investor, talk to an investment advisor that can help you choose products that fit your comfort level and also help you reach your investment goals.
Family Investment Center can help you determine a route to successful investing that is the right fit for you. Regardless of where you are in your life, we have experienced advisors ready to assist you. Contact us today and let’s get started.
Quitting Your Job: You Should Know What to do With Your 401(k)
Are you considering leaving your job? According to Investopedia, the average worker will change jobs seven times across their career. There are things you need to know about how that decision will impact your 401(k) investing, so make sure you do your research before you put in that two-week notice.
Just as important as being committed and accountable in your final weeks at your current job is your attention to your financial matters – namely, your 401(k) investing goals. Will you cash it out? Will you roll it over to an IRA? Will you transfer it into your next employer’s 401(k) plan? Here is a look at some of your choices:
While total job shifts may average at seven, your changes within your current job are likely to shift even more. There are choices to make in terms of what you do with your work-sponsored 401(k).
Maybe you are looking at rolling that money into an individual retirement account (IRA), which some advisors will default to when a job switch is on the horizon. One reason is because some 401(k) plans have high fees and limited mutual fund options. A second reason is consolidation, meaning instead of having all your past retirement accounts in different places, you’ll have the assets gathered into one account. Also, when opening your IRA with a company like Charles Schwab, Fidelity, or Vanguard, you have many more investment options.
Some employer-sponsored retirement plans are low-cost and offer strong investment choices; if so, it could make sense to stay with them. However, you might have an administrative fee, which over time can affect your net investment return, so be sure you know exactly what you’re paying.
Age, Taxes and Cashing Out
You may love your job and have no intention of quitting at age 65. Remember that once you hit age 70.5, you’ll be required to begin withdrawing from your traditional IRA. However, you can continue putting money into many types of employer-sponsored plans.
If you plan to roll over your investments, its important to keep pre-tax and tax deferred investments separate. For instance, create different accounts for your tax-deferred 401(k) and your Roth IRA.
A mistake that many people make when quitting a job is to cash out their 401(k). As is the case, many young employees see these dollars as something of a windfall, and they jump on it. However, this comes with regular federal and state income tax, plus a 10 percent tax penalty if you’re under the age of 59.5.
The advisors at Family Investment Center can assist you in your transition from one job to another. Our team can evaluate your position, taking your goals into account, and offer guidance that will boost your confidence. Contact us today if change is on your horizon.
Valuable Wealth Management Advice for High-Net-Worth Investors
If you are a high-net-worth individual you may follow different philosophies than the mainstream. If you’re in this segment, what wealth management tips should you be following?
Asset protection is at the top of the list. The average investor may not require a multi-million dollar insurance blanket, but it’s something every high-net-worth individual should consider. A liability protection trust may be important in protecting your assets. You should also conduct personal liability reviews that can reveal vulnerabilities you need to be aware of.
Don’t let all your hard work fail via succession. Unfortunately, roughly 70 percent of family businesses that are transferred to adult children fail within 10 years. Passing on your “empire” can result in a lot of family strain and stress. While blood is thicker than water, succession and the money and responsibilities that come with it can challenge the old adage. Try to plan the transfer at least a decade before it happens, as a long-term plan can reduce the risk of failure.
Just because your accounts are deeply endowed doesn’t mean they’re immune to negligence. Be wary of hedge funds, private equity, and venture capital investments, as these are common underperforming products that often offer as much or more risk as reward. Don’t focus on chasing after performance; instead, focus on working with a fiduciary investment advisor that has transparent fees and strong, long-term plans for success who can help you set a solid investing plan.
The average investor will often sink as much money as possible into tax-deferred products. However, for the high-net-worth individual, this may not be the best method because it could lead to paying high taxes when you retire. Tax sheltering might seem to make sense up front, but upon retirement, assets distributed from tax-deferred accounts are taxed when withdrawn, which could lead to issues upon retirement. One thing to consider is leaving some of your investments in taxable accounts.
Remember that retirement is a long-term venture. Be prepared to enter the life of a non-professional who no longer leads the day-to-day activities required of an executive, CEO, or president of a company. Regardless of whether you’re in the high-net-worth group or not, retirement is a big shift and can take a year or more of adjustment. (After all, you may have worked 40-plus years. It’ll take one or more to get used to not reporting to the office every day.) Here’s a final note on this topic: the happiest retirees seem to keep a schedule of connecting with the people they enjoy most, rather than a schedule that’s packed full of travel.
Family Investment Center is ready to come alongside you and build your confidence as you move toward the retirement picture you’ve got in mind. Contact our team today and find out what a commission-free, experience-driven atmosphere looks like.
What’s the One Thing Women Lack When it Comes to Investing?
There are a number of parables that hint at the vast differences between males and females. When it comes to investing, though, doesn’t compound interest affect everyone the same regardless of their gender? The truth is, smart strategies for investing for women do differ somewhat.
In fact, a recent CNBC article explains in one word the number one element women may lack when it comes to maximizing their investment success: confidence.
What does that lesser level of confidence look like? Here’s a summary:
· American women are 44 percent less likely than American men to think of themselves as financially educated, according to Hewlett's and Moffitt's study cited in the article.
· In their 20s, when retirement planning can make a huge difference, more women defer this task than men.
· More women than men claim Social Security benefits early, reducing their overall income potential from it.
· Overall, more women look to their husbands more often for investment decisions, even though studies have indicated that they could be better than men at making investment decisions.
In addition to different levels of confidence, analysts believe men and women have behavioral differences that can have an impact on their investments. For instance, females are more prone to thinking about details as they plan, compared to men who focus more on the big picture. In many ways, while men are focused on goals, they may not be as focused on how to actually get to those goals as are women who plan out each detail that can help them achieve success. Others believe boys may hear more investment-based language at home as children than girls, and have differing attitudes toward it as they grow into adults.
Another common issue that deserves more attention is that while women are focused on details, they often see inequality when it comes to pay, which becomes a challenge as they often live longer than men. Women statistically have an 86.6 percent chance of living to the age of 65, whereas males have an 84.3 percent chance, according to the Social Security Administration. However, with Social Security maximization strategies, and by working with a professional advisor, women can review, contemplate, and act on the options that lie within this complex system.
While men and women may have different challenges, there are ways to approach each one that makes financial sense. Family Investment Center can help you plan your investment strategies and can also assist the entire family with sound advice that comes from years of experience. Start working toward a stronger financial future by talking with us today about investments that make sense for you and your family.
Investing for Retirement Includes Options for the Self-Employed
Just because you own a small business or are self-employed doesn’t mean you don’t have options when it comes to investing for retirement. There are actually a number of options out there for you. Here are a few popular options to consider if you are self-employed:
1. Traditional IRA
The American Benefits Council says 80 percent of full-time workers have access to 401(k)s. But for those who are self-employed and are looking at investing for retirement, the most popular option is the traditional IRA. While this is not an option specifically directed toward self-employed people, it’s definitely a good way to get rolling on a retirement savings plan. You can put a maximum of $5,500 in your IRA every year, unless you are 50 or older, when you can then contribute $6,500 (2016).
One of the perks with investing in a traditional IRA is that you may be able to deduct the full amount of the contribution on your tax return, depending on your income and whether or not you have access to a work-sponsored retirement plan. But like with a 401(k), you will have to pay income tax on the money you withdraw in retirement.
2. Roth IRA
The Roth IRA is also a consideration. Unlike with a traditional IRA, contributions to a Roth IRA are not tax-deductible. That might seem like a drawback, but you have to consider that when you begin withdrawing money out of the Roth IRA in retirement, you won’t have to pay any taxes because you already did so.
Another benefit for young investors funding a Roth IRA is that their tax burden may be lower now than in retirement or later in their careers. They have the benefit of time, allowing those early investments to compound for decades. You can’t deduct Roth contributions, but you don’t have to pay taxes on the money when you withdraw it as long as you are at least 59.5 years old and have had the account for at least five years.
3. SEP IRA
Another option for the self-employed is to save in a simplified employee pension (SEP). With a SEP, you can contribute as much 25 percent or $53,000 (2016), whichever is less. The contributions are tax deductible, but you will pay taxes on the money when you withdraw it in retirement.
4. Individual 401(k)
Similar to a SEP IRA is an individual, or solo, 401(k). This type of plan requires slightly more administrative work than a SEP IRA, but self-employed individuals may be able to contribute more over time.
In this type of plan, the business owner wears two hats: one as employee and another as employer, so contributions to the plan can be made for each. Elective deferrals (as employee) are limited to 100 percent of income up to $18,000, or $24,000 if age 50 or older (2016), whichever is lesser. Additionally, employer non-elective contributions may be made up to 25 percent of compensation or $53,000, whichever is lesser.
Schedule an appointment to talk to an investment advisor at Family Investment Center. We will take the time to thoroughly explain all of your options for investing for retirement. Once you know you have options, you’ve got more confidence … and that can impact your business in so many ways.
Danford’s Free Podcast Offers Expert Investment Advice
“Money is Freedom” is a new podcast series by Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center. The latest podcast in his series, “Free Advice is Poor Advice,” covers how too many investors take advice from friends, relatives and colleagues (or FRCs for short) for their investing strategies.
While on the outside it might seem to make sense to take advice from someone who has experience with investments, the advice often doesn’t take into full account an individual’s unique situation. In essence, what might have worked for a colleague or family member may not work for you.
“FRCs only tell you half the investment story,” Danford said, “the good half. They have little knowledge about your financial situation.”
Danford founded Family Investment Center in 1989. He and his team are licensed and certified to give investment advice, unlike friends, relatives and colleagues who don’t possess the same insights that investment advisors have gleaned over years of experience and specialized education courses.
“Money is Freedom – Season 1” is the title of Danford’s two-part podcast where he discusses the importance of establishing an investment portfolio using the right tools.
The blueprint of any investment project, Danford explains, is based on compound growth over time, and this should involve a variety of investment vehicles that take into account risk, reward, fees and taxes.
“You put in little amounts (of money) fairly painlessly,” Danford said, “and over time, compound growth grows them into something pretty spectacular.”
However, as an investor, you need to be wary of fees, but not so wary that you avoid pulling in third parties to assist you in your investments. It’s important to realize that everybody involved in your investment project is getting paid through layers of fees. Sales and distribution fees, Danford said, are the highest, which is why he urges you to look into this aspect of your investment projects.
The more personalized the service, the higher fees you’ll pay. Again, if the services are of value, you shouldn’t be offended by these fees.
“It’s fine to pay fees for convenience,” Danford said. “Some people get so wrapped up in fees they stop thinking about what they are getting in return for those fees. Sometimes what you’re getting is convenience – everything in one place.”
The “Money is Freedom” podcast is Danford’s sounding board to voice his experiences that he has gained after decades in the investment industry. As a fee-only advisor, Danford and his team act as fiduciaries and never take a commission on a product they sell to clients. It’s this objective stance that makes the advice he offers through his podcast all the more valuable as you educate yourself on investing.
Take some time to listen to Dan’s podcast which is offered through SoundCloud free of charge and share it with your friends. For a more comprehensive strategy, contact Family Investment Center and speak to an investment advisor. We’re ready to assist you with your earnings and build a stronger financial future for you and your family.
Planning Retirement Now Means More Years Than Ever
Ahh … retirement approaches. You’re nearly 65 years old. Did you know you have another 20 years or more to potentially support your lifestyle? Today, a man at age 65 can expect to reach age 84. Women age 65 can expect to see their 86 birthday. Of course, this isn’t bad news, but many near-retirees aren’t saving enough money to live comfortably in retirement with a longer life expectancy. When planning for retirement, there are a number of factors to consider, including saving enough to last your lifetime. Here are some surprising statistics:
The Insured Retirement Institute reported that only 55 percent of Baby Boomers are putting aside money independently for their retirement. The same report shows that 42 percent of those who are saving have less than $100,000 put away. For a person expecting to live 20 years in retirement, that equates to living off of around $7,000 a year, assuming a 4% annual investment return.
Are you expecting Social Security benefits to get you through day-to-day life throughout your retirement? While this is a reliable revenue stream for retirees, it only accounts for an average 40 percent of your income during retirement. Unfortunately, around 65 percent of people on Social Security count it as their major source of income. Furthermore, Boomers that are eyeing retirement in the near future say this is also going to be their major source of income once they quit working.
Considering that the average monthly income from Social Security is just over $1,300, people will need additional income for retirement. Rather than retire at 65, which is often the projected retirement date for many Americans, many people are now aiming to retire at 70 or older, due to the fact that they are behind in saving for retirement.
If you’re getting close to the age at which you want to retire and you’re not confident in the amount of money you’ve invested, working a few extra years to grow your nest egg can be a good plan. If you are 50 or older, you’re allowed to contribute a little more to your 401(k) and IRA.
Another option in planning retirement is to delay your Social Security benefits. For instance, you are eligible to get your full retirement payments at age 66 or 67, depending on your birthdate, but if you wait until you’re 70, your benefit will grow by eight percent per year until you’re 70. That could mean a significant jump in your monthly budget.
There are a number of ways you can successfully start planning for retirement, but among the most important is to talk to an investment advisor about your goals. Working with an experienced investment professional means you can move ahead with confidence that your success in retirement looks how you want it to look. Contact Family Investment Center today and schedule a meeting with one of our advisors. We’ve been client-focused and commission-free since our founding, and it shows in our work and in our relationships.
Tips for Investing for Women
In the U.S. today, 83 percent of women aren’t saving enough to retire comfortably, according to research from Aon Hewitt. When it comes to investing for women, there are a handful of factors that can come into play, but it doesn’t mean there is no solution.
Statistics show that women live longer than men and will need more money in retirement to cover a longer lifespan. Because of this longer lifespan, the Aon Hewitt study found that women will need about 11.5 times their final pay to retire comfortably, while men will need 10.6 times their final pay.
Another factor that affects women is that there is often pay inequality. That inequality may mean that men can retire at age 65 while women will have to work an extra four years to meet 100 percent of their income needs in retirement.
Women may also leave their careers to focus on more life/work balance with children, which means they may have some years to make up in regard to investment contributions and pay increases.
What can women do to improve their investment portfolio? Here are a few tips:
· Save More.
To reach a retirement goal, budgeting must include putting a higher percentage of your salary into investments. Statistics show that women put an average 7.5 percent of their salary toward a 401(k). Men, on the other hand, contribute an average of 8.7 percent. Investment advisors often recommend contributing as much or more than your employers match, when possible.
· Don’t be Intimidated.
While women tend to be better planners than men, many avoid investment talk. Being intimidated by financial jargon can often lead to inactivity. There is usually a simple explanation behind the jargon, so seek it out, or find an advisor that doesn’t talk over your head. Additionally, women may carry more guilt or anxiety by feeling swayed by family members. By letting these feelings go, it’s easier to see that providing for retirement is actually a great way to help provide for the people who matter most.
· Get Help.
This is good advice for anyone, regardless of gender or age. Getting assistance from an experienced investment advisor can put you in a better position. Investment advisors spend time and energy researching investment-related trends, laws and products and they can help you understand the financial jargon.
· Find a Fiduciary.
The best advice about your investments might come from a person who is a fiduciary. This is a person who has the duty to put your best interests first. Seek out an advisor that is fee-only (commission-free) to ensure that the financial advice you receive remains unbiased and unconflicted. In fact, a White House report states that investors who obtain conflicted advice collectively may lose around $17 billion a year.
Family Investment Center offers a team of fee-only advisors who specialize in investments, including developing strategies for women. Contact us today and let’s get started on your personal investment strategy.
Planning Retirement With the Help of a Trusted Advisor Gives You Confidence
Let’s face it. Tasks that involve math, planning for the future, delayed returns and lots of details may not always be high on anyone’s to-do list. However, planning for retirement doesn’t really have to be that daunting a task or intimidating. Planning retirement with a trusted advisor can take the fear and trepidation out of the process.
In essence, planning for retirement involves estimating what you’ll need in the future when you settle into the role of a retiree. It can be as frustrating as trying to figure out what your utility bills will be 20 or 30 years from now, but it’s something that has to be considered, and it’s why the best retirement plans are worked out with a professional advisor.
Research shows that people typically spend less in retirement than they do while they’re working. However, there will be some areas where you will be spending more. Don’t forget to factor in inflation when planning your retirement budget, as well, as it can take an extra bite out of your retirement savings. Let’s take a look at areas where you can expect some changes:
Health insurance costs will go up. If you’ve ever had a discussion about this with elderly family or friends, you’re already aware that healthcare costs increase due to increased health issues and the frequency at which older people visit their doctors. It’s a fact of life that most of us will face more health issues as we age. The Government Accountability Office says that health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs will rise in retirement. Be ready to account for this while planning retirement strategies.
Other insurance will go down. One thing that will help to counteract the added expenditures on healthcare is the money you put into other insurance areas, such as life and disability coverage. Your need for life insurance is less dramatic because you’re not at a stage in your life where you need to replace income.
Your taxes may go down. Unless you have income coming from other sources, there is a good chance the government will not tax your entire Social Security income. You will, however, pay income tax on your 401(k) distributions and your traditional (not Roth) IRAs. Be sure to talk to your tax advisor and investment advisor about taxes, as each individual case will vary.
Investing money to put toward retirement is reduced. You might still have a portfolio to manage, but very few retirees will be putting anything into their retirement accounts once they stop working. You might have been socking away 10 to 20 percent of your income into retirement accounts for decades, but this will likely end or be lower, freeing up some of your budget in retirement.
Family Investment Center knows there are a multitude of areas to consider when planning retirement, and we can assist you in researching every one of them. Contact us today and find out why our experience and our outlook make us so unique in the investment industry.
Investing for Families Involves Careful Planning
Investing for yourself is one thing, but investing for families can be a complex issue. The stakes are high and the information and headlines can lead to anxiety or confusion. What steps should you consider to find success in your retirement?
First, know that many of the mistakes you make can be fixed. It begins with writing down your goals, which is the way most successful ventures often begin. This will help you see where you’ve erred and pave a path to something more tangible – a plan you can stick to and have confidence in.
There are things you can control and others you can’t. You’re likely investing a set amount into your 401(k) with every paycheck, which means you’ll know exactly what’s going in, but the problem comes with predicting what the market will do, so you won’t know exactly what the account will look like in 12 months or 10 years. What we do control is how much we’re able to save every year. Do you plan to max out your IRA contributions this year? That’s a goal completely within your control, and something you can have confidence in. Markets will go up and down, and in the long-term, your dedication to your goals will pay off.
You might think you’re too far behind to get started, but it’s never too late. There are a variety of reasons Americans aren’t saving for retirement, but regardless of the hang-ups, there is no investment too small or too late. Getting started with an investment plan can ease you into a retirement strategy that will provide positive results. Work with an investment advisor to assist you in creating a budget that will allow for an increase in investment savings over time, whether it’s a 401(k) or an IRA. Start small and work your way into a plan that will prepare you for a comfortable retirement.
Investing for families should not involve short-term returns. Investors looking for short-term returns are often viewed as “playing” the market. Your goals should be focused on long-term results that come from a well-diversified portfolio. As you age, your investment advisor will likely recommend gradually shifting the investments away from higher-risk products to lower risk. While the returns might be lower, so will the losses you experience when the market goes through volatile periods.
Family Investment Center knows families must consider many things when developing an investment strategy, and we’re ready to help you develop your plan. Contact us today and schedule a time to talk. Professional investment advice in a client-focused atmosphere is what we provide every day, so you can do what you enjoy with confidence.
Recent media headlines have generated discussion about the U.S. Department of Labor’s pending rule about fiduciary responsibility. The topic is being shared both nationally and globally, from The White House to major news sources – and it could completely change the face of investing. As an investor, what should you look for in light of recent information about conflicted advice? And as an advisor, how is success in investing conveyed and measured? This whitepaper looks at these important points in light of pending changes to fiduciary rules and responsibilities.
When it comes to money, why is Family Investment Center doing things differently? What types of people are successful with this unconventional, commission-free investment approach? Why do we say “Money is freedom, and freedom is fun?” View this introductory video to hear the story (and to see if your goals mean you’re a good fit to be part of the story).
A Quick Summary of Social Security Maximization Alongside “File And Suspend”
Prior to April 29, when “file and suspend” was still an election option by the bi-partisan Act of Congress, a great deal of conversation circulated around how retirees took their Social Security benefits. Even after the recent changes, Social Security maximization remains a legitimate strategy, and you and your spouse can still make decisions that could add thousands of dollars to your yearly income in retirement.
While the “file and suspend” strategy has recently been eliminated, many investment advisors are educating their clients on something called “restricted application.” First, let’s discuss the three options you have before restricted application.
1. First, you can gain access to your benefits at age 62, but there will be a penalty of up to 25 percent.
2. Second, you can wait until you have reached full retirement age, which depends on your date of birth, and incur no penalty.
3.Third, you can wait to claim benefits up to age 70 and see an additional eight percent in your monthly benefits for every year you delay after reaching full retirement age.
Since Obama signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2016 on November 2, 2015, the fourth paragraph addressing the “restricted application” option is now limited to filers who were at least age 62 at the end of 2016. Individuals born after 1953 no longer get that option. Another change is that a spouse can no longer draw unless their spouse is drawing.
So the scenario would be something like this: the spouse, aged 62 or older, starts claiming benefits while the other spouse waits until age 70 to begin receiving their benefits, but does claim spousal benefits, thus realizing a Social Security maximization situation.
To put the situation to actual numbers, let’s say that the wife at full retirement would receive $2,000 a month in Social Security benefits while the husband would receive $2,400. The husband can file to use the “restricted application,” which means he can claim his spousal benefits, which is half of his wife’s full benefits ($1,000). At age 70, he begins pulling down his full benefits plus the increased amount for having waited. In the long run, say a 30-year retirement, this scenario can produce significant extra income.
It’s important to remember that this scenario may not begin to pay off until the 12th year of retirement, which means considering this option will require you to talk it over with your investment advisor and plan accordingly for those first dozen years of retirement. Furthermore, you’ll have to consider how you’ll work with your other sources of income, which would be pensions, IRAs, 401(k)s, annuities, and other investments and savings. It’s a delicate balance that requires careful planning.
Consider seeking out an investment advisor that operates under a fee-only model. When you choose a fee-only advisor, you don’t run the risk of receiving conflicted interest, which is what can occur when you choose an advisor that makes a commission on the products they sell to you.
Family Investment Center has operated under the fee-only model since our founding in 1998. Contact us today and let’s discuss what matters most to you, because that’s what matters most to us.
5 Mistakes to Avoid in Planning for Retirement
One of the biggest challenges regarding planning for retirement is that even though a person might be investing, they may not be engaged in the planning process and can make mistakes that can cost them in retirement. Let’s take a look at some tips to consider and mistakes to avoid.
Don’t let yourself get locked into “middle class” thinking. As the old statement reminds us, what you think you’ll become. A simple element that sets the wealthy apart from the middle class is that the wealthy allow their thoughts to move past the middle. The wealthy also turn to a professional investment advisor to keep them focused on what matters most, realizing that experienced professionals can handle the complexities of investing so that they can stay focused on what they do best.
Don’t take huge risks with your portfolio. Thinking long-term is the goal here. People who are looking to make large, short-term returns are gambling with their savings. An investment advisor helping you plan for retirement can help you as you near retirement, gradually shifting more of your portfolio from stocks to more conservative assets like bonds, if you have been on an aggressive track.
Maximize your retirement account funding. As retirement looms, most investors begin to get a clearer picture of what they’ll need to retire comfortably. Many will find that their current savings doesn’t match what they’ll need in retirement. Setting aside a healthy portion of your income to retirement accounts could be crucial, especially in the final decade of your career. Once you turn 50, you’re allowed you to put a little extra in your 401(k) and IRAs, so take advantage of that, if possible.
Don’t tell yourself it’s too late or that you can’t make changes now. Even if you’re within a couple of years from retirement, a professional investment advisor can likely reveal opportunities and steps you didn’t know existed. Eliminate the “it’s too late” philosophy.
Avoid investment advice that comes with hidden costs. Some investors aren’t aware that their advisor may be receiving commission on the products they offer, which could contribute to conflicted or biased advice. Today, on a national scope, it’s become increasingly clear that investors may see higher returns over time when they work with a commission-free (or “fee-only”) investment firm. To find a fee-only advisor near you, start with the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, or NAPFA (www.napfa.org).
Family Investment Center is poised and ready to help you plan for your retirement. Our team of commission-free advisors is uniquely positioned to assist investors of all types, from those who are just starting to forge their own path to retirement to those who are already enjoying retirement. Contact us today and let’s get started.
Six Quick Tips on How to Plan for Retirement
When an investment advisor is asked for tips on how to plan for retirement, one of the things they usually say is, “Start saving and investing as early as possible.” But don’t panic if you’re in your 40s and still haven’t amassed much of a retirement fund; it’s not too late to get the ball rolling. Here are a few important tips for retirement planning while you’re in your 40s:
1. Don’t get too involved in the education savings trap. Many 40-plus-year-olds have kids that are getting close to entering college. Most parents want to help them out with their tuition and fees. However, don’t put that before your retirement savings. People who put off investing for retirement for their children’s education may unintentionally put their children in a position where they end up funding their parents’ retirement.
2. Take advantage of your employer-sponsored retirement plan. Maybe you want to see those few extra dollars in your paycheck every two weeks, but when you are planning for retirement, it’s important not to skip out on your 401(k) or other retirement plan. Many companies will offer an employer match, which helps your investment dollars grow faster. If you don’t contribute at least what your employer is willing to match, you’re essentially leaving free money on the table.
3. Don’t fear volatile markets. They are normal. You might still make risky investments in your 40s, but tempering your portfolio with more conservative options as well could help you recover faster when the market takes a natural dip (and it will, but consistency is still a key strategy).
4. Think about aiming for the 20 percent goal. This means that 20 percent of your income would go toward investments. If you’re able, consider maxing out your 401(k) and your IRAs every year. Because you’re in your 40s, you’ll need to boost your investments as much as possible so you’re better prepared for impending retirement.
5. Think about the possibility of putting off retirement for a few years. This could be a consideration if you think your nest egg may be too small to live comfortably without a steady income. Furthermore, you can put off taking your Social Security benefits. This will enable you to pull down more per month later in life.
6. Carefully estimate how much you will need in retirement, and don’t forget to factor in inflation. When you know what the goal is, you’ll have a more accurate number to budget around. Consider working with a professional advisor team to help estimate this number – many have complex tools that can help you come up with a more accurate estimate than you can develop on your own.
The Family Investment Center team works with individuals and families in a variety of life situations. It’s our job to know how to help you stay focused on your goals and how to make the most of the opportunities and tools that are available. As a commission-free, fee-only investment advisory team, we put your needs first. Contact us today to find out why our philosophy and our approach makes us a little bit different (and why that’s a good thing).
Young NFL players (and other professional athletes) often come up fast and many lack the tools they need to manage their newfound wealth. With the average career spanning 3.3 years at its prime, it’s easy to see why so many athletes leave the game after mismanaging their funds and find themselves in a tough situation a couple of years later. What investment strategies can we learn from their mistakes?
The average professional basketball player will earn around $5.15 million a year. Baseball players can pull in around $3.2 million on average, and the NFL professionals make around $1.9 million a year. Think about what you would do if you were handed all the money you were ever going to make in just a few short years – would you make some extravagant purchases? That’s what often happens with professional athletes.
Don’t forget there is a “later”. Investors, whether they’re a professional football player or a 9-5 office employee, should think long-term. It is important to look for guidance from an investment advisor who can put you on an investment strategy that takes into account your income and your goals for the future. Most people can agree that they would rather have something to look forward to rather than shift their goals downward later in life – and a professional advisor can help you stay focused on what comes later.
Preserve a percentage of your income toward investments and stick with it. Some investment advisors for professional athletes suggest that those who didn’t make the first round in the draft should live on a certain flat amount, and whatever is left over should go toward investments. The goal here is to preserve what they have now and watch it accumulate over time. Even if you don’t play professional sports, this is important advice. Starting early and consistently working toward your investment goals can help you build a solid retirement fund.
Don’t let yourself be too heavily swayed by well-meaning friends and family. Many tales of professional athletes’ financial troubles can be linked to having a friend or family member “help” them make decisions about money. Not only does this put personal relationships at risk, but it also means that a critical level of professional experience, education, and guidance may be left out of the equation altogether. It can also mean emotional connections are allowed too much influence on decisions. While it can be difficult to say “no, thank you” to those close to you, remember that you can help those you love in many more ways, both now and later on, if a professional advisor is helping you maximize your investment potential.
Investment strategies differ for each individual due to factors like wealth, risk tolerance, and age of each investor. By working with an investment advisor, you’ll likely have a better chance at finding solutions that fit your unique situation. As with any professional, reviewing credentials is also important. You may want to start by finding an advisor who is truly commission-free through the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (www.napfa.org).
The advisors at Family Investment Center know that everyone’s situation is different, which is why we offer customized and client-focused solutions. Dan Danford, founder of Family Investment Center, is an NFL Players Association Registered Financial Advisor, but he is also experienced in offering guidance to individuals of all types, from new investors to retired individuals. Contact us today and let us help you identify and go after what’s truly important to you.
By Laura Holthaus, Chief Compliance Officer and
Are you a woman who invests? You likely have your own unique set of ideas and knowledge you’re operating from as you work toward your goals. Below are three unconventional tips for women investors, based upon our successes at Family Investment Center:
1. Put yourself first – and then let go of the guilt. Many women are perpetual caregivers. Before you give money to your favorite charity or even to your child’s college tuition fund,
make sure your own finances are in line first. In the future, it may cost your loved ones a great deal more to help care for your needs as you age than you anticipate, meaning that investing in your own retirement isn’t selfish, but instead wise.
2. Don’t focus on paying off your mortgage. Instead of making an extra payment toward your mortgage each month, consider putting that money toward a goal of opening your own business or going straight into your retirement account. Especially with mortgage rates as low as they are, it may not make sense to pay down the mortgage when you could instead be investing the extra sum of money, potentially making higher market returns. In the long term,
this could add up to huge savings.
3. Don’t try to do it yourself. Women are naturally good at D-I-Y projects, but managing your own investments may not be in your best interest. Experienced investment advisors work hard to help you reach your financial goals. Many advisors have advanced degrees and specialized credentials in key areas of investment management. In fact, one habit of the world’s wealthiest people is that they work with a professional investment advisor. This also frees you up to stay focused on other important areas of your life.
Today, reach out to our team at Family Investment Center. We’ve been offering commission-free, nonconflicted advice to individuals and families since we opened in 1998. We’ve been interviewed for our approach by publications including the Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and World Report and Forbes – and we believe your unique needs come first.
In January 2017, the investment industry will change. This video explains how investment brokers will be prohibited from having conflicts of interest in the products and services they sell to investors. Essentially, brokers who gain a commission on the products they sell offer conflicted services, leading to $17 billion lost every year in potential revenues in retirement accounts. Family Investment Center opened in 1998 with a fee-only business model, which means we never take a commission on the products and services we offer our clients. Watch our video for more information on this topic.
Investment Strategies for the 401(k) and IRA
There can be a lot to think about when it comes to retirement, including investment strategies that will maximize the potential for what you’ve worked so hard to save up. One of the most frequently asked questions among prospective retirees today is in regard to rolling a 401(k) to an IRA. Whether this is in your best interest or not depends on your unique situation. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re considering this strategy:
How will the rollover affect your taxes? Many people believe they will be heavily taxed if they roll over their entire 401(k) into an IRA, but if you complete a direct rollover to a traditional IRA, there are no tax consequences until you start withdrawing from the IRA later. Just be sure the rollover check is made payable to the new custodian and you’ll avoid a large tax bill.
What are the benefits of rolling over into an IRA? Rolling your money into an IRA can give you more investment options, including options that are more conservative or more aggressive.
You may not have to be retired to do this. If you are 59 ½, you should be able to roll over the vested portion of your 401(k) to an IRA without consequence. This can help you prepare for retirement while still working for your company and contributing to your 401(k).
If you should pass before your spouse, you would want them to be taken care of instead of having to make difficult financial decisions while grieving. This is another reason why you should consider moving your employer-sponsored retirement plan to an IRA ahead of time, so it is taken care of for your spouse.
Why would I keep my investments in a 401(k)? You may be perfectly happy with your current custodian and have access to great investment options with low fees. This is an example of how staying put can make sense. There isn’t a one size fits all strategy.
Making investment decisions can be complex and talking to an advisor about your investment strategies can prove valuable as you develop your retirement plan. Consider choosing a trusted professional that can provide objective advice and will not be swayed by commissions on products they sell.
Family Investment Center is ready to assist you in your pursuit of your goals for retirement and to help identify the means to reach those goals. Contact us today and let’s get started. You may be surprised by the ways our experience can help guide your investment strategies.
Get Investment Planning Assistance From a Trusted Advisor
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about investment planning is usually money. However, investment planning isn’t only about money – it’s also about prioritizing, setting goals and planning how to reach them, and optimizing your lifestyle for a better future.
Many people will probably agree that they feel somewhat controlled by money. However, by committing to an investment plan for a better future, you’re living out this simple (but often overlooked) principle:act now and enjoy the rewards later. If you haven’t lately given some thoughtful consideration to the reasons why you invest, take a moment and consider these points:
Is it time to ask yourself again, “Why am I saving money?” This is a question that can take you from a situation where saving money may be stressful to a point where you feel it has a higher purpose. For example, saving money to pay off high-interest debt and then opening an IRA or getting involved in an employer-sponsored 401(k) can be stressful if you only think about the steps now. However, if you think about the life you want to live in retirement, you’ll likely feel much more motivated.
Start setting life goals. Revisit them if you have them already established. Nick Murray, a well-known investment and financial planning expert, outlines five goals that can help investors stay the course. Not all of them will apply to everyone, but one or more of these reasons may resonate with you:
· Being comfortable in retirement.
· Providing financial assistance for offspring.
· Gifting to favorite charities.
· Providing educational assistance to grandchildren.
· Providing care for aging parents.
As you can see, none of these are necessarily money goals. Rather, they are people-focused goals that can help motivate you in your investment planning for the future.
Remember, your goals aren’t impossible. All you have to do is work backwards from each goal and know that you need to implement specific steps to save, make careful investment choices, put together a manageable spending plan, and consider working toward making automatic investments so you won’t miss the money that’s going into them. (You’ll also want to check in with your investment advisor from time to time, realizing they’re handling the details for you.)
Don’t get stuck on the math – it’s more about the mind. Everyone has a different amount in their mind for what they think they’ll need for the things in life that make them comfortable in retirement. However, investing well is also about behavior, which involves habits that are sometimes hard to break. Learning to control - or at least recognize - certain behaviors will help you to live the life you want to live.
Family Investment Center is here to help you every step of the journey. Since 1998, we’ve operated in a commission-free, nonconflicted environment. Contact us today and we’ll explain more about how we can assist you with our unique philosophy toward wealth and success.
Here’s a simple but thought-provoking question: If you were the recipient of an unexpected sum of money, what would you do with it? Whether it’s your tax refund, an inheritance, or numerous other reasons, unexpected windfalls happen. Knowing how to maximize them can open the door to a bright future, and Family Investment Center has helped many clients and families with this same question. Read on for some tips you can use:
1. Blow It
That’s right – treat yourself to something. We’re not talking about a shopping spree, but just a little indulgence that gives you the feeling of reward. Perhaps it’s a nice dinner or a new set of books or a nice jacket you’ve had your eye on for some time now. Give yourself a break and make a purchase that might not normally be something you would buy.
2. Mow It
The front lawn always looks manicured and lovely after a fresh trim, but it doesn’t stay that way for long before you have to mow it again. Your investments are similar in that they need some care, like a little extra cash in the emergency account, paying down debt, or taking a fresh look at the family budget. It’s all maintenance that needs to be looked at on occasion. Now is the perfect time for that.
One example of this might be an investment in energy saving measures. The average American drops more than $1,300 a year on the electric bill alone, which is why putting some money toward lowering utility bills makes perfect sense. For a small investment you can have an energy audit performed at your residence and determine how you can spend a little less on energy costs and a little more on your investments. (The little savings across several months or years really do add up.)
3. Grow It
Whether it’s growing your retirement account or college savings account, or making an investment in yourself, you can do it with an unexpected sum of money. Take a class, upgrade your wardrobe, and earn a certificate that can qualify you for more pay, for example. Ask yourself what you need to be ready to use this money as a springboard. It can be complicated and somewhat emotion-filled to make investment or future decisions on your own, so consider seeking guidance for this decision from a professional investment advisor. (Note: this is one of the top habits of wealthy people.) You wouldn’t try to fix a plumbing problem yourself or be your own attorney. Working with a professional who is experienced in investment management takes the stress off your shoulders and can maximize your potential for success, too. This is especially true when working with a fee-only (commission-free) advisor, because they have your best interests in mind, rather than their next sales commission.
Family Investment Center has professional investment advisors ready to answer your questions and help you take your next steps toward positive life changes. Our goal at Family Investment Center is excellence across every situation, all in a commission-free setting.
Read more about managing unexpected money, including your tax return, at: http://www.newspressnow.com/news/local_news/article_c8727d75-e8da-5e0a-85f8-ec01aeed9e46.html
You Don’t Have to be a Genius to Succeed
With March Madness still fresh in many peoples’ minds, employees and neighbors across the nation are contemplating the success of their respective bracket pools. Have you ever noticed that the winner is likely the person with the least knowledge of college basketball? Filling out that bracket without a single flaw is very unlikely.
The bracket success for March Madness can be equated somewhat to investment advice where the market is involved; it’s impossible to know exactly which stocks are going to be a winner, but strong investment knowledge and investment experience with classic investment principles, such as consistency, typically hold fast.
So as an investor, what should you do? Focus on what you can control rather than factors you can’t. Here are a few additional perspectives about March Madness to consider, if you’re done analyzing your own brackets:
Taking Control: You do Have Some Options
Teams are seeded in the bracket, which offers clues as to which teams have the best chance of success. However, when it comes to stocks, professionals look more to risk to reward ratios. For instance, some stocks are considered farther along on the safe scale, meaning you can put your money there and have less chance of failure and little chance of big growth, opting instead for slow and steady. Other aspects to consider, where control is concerned, are that you can pick investments with proper diversification, minimal taxes, and low fees. An experienced professional can show you options you likely didn’t even know existed. It’s their job to know these things.
Don’t Play the Market With Your Money
Unlike the action and fun you have while watching the NCAA tournament, watching the market with such expectations is not a good thing. In fact, people who “play” the market usually think of it in the short term rather than the long term. Experts suggest that investors are more successful when they think more long-term with their investments and let the market rise and fall without making decisions based on emotion.
Nothing is a Sure Bet
Teams have to evolve year after year to compete in their divisions against teams that are also evolving. The same could be said of mutual fund managers who will see successes in some stock options one year and never expect that to happen exactly the same way in the next four quarters. When things change, don’t overreact. Market fluctuations are completely normal.
Don’t always believe the employee who boasts about their skill in picking the winning teams the year before. Maybe they picked low-seeded teams hoping for a big upset and actually got those upsets. The same can be said for investment advice from well-meaning friends using examples of similarly risky investments that wound up hitting, once. Instead, get investment advice from qualified, experienced advisors who are commission-free (so they can provide you with unbiased advice).
At Family Investment Center we offer a personalized approach that can help ease the feelings of mystery and the fear associated with volatile markets. Schedule a meeting with us and start investing for your future with more confidence today.
Some Strategies Hold Strong Over Time and Market Dips
Should we read about investment suggestions from an 85-year-old from Omaha, Nebraska? If he’s a self-made billionaire (worth more than $65 billion) and he has earned the nickname of the Oracle of Omaha due to his investment decisions, then the answer could be yes. Warren Buffett offers tips for long-term investing that could provide food for thought as you develop your own investment strategies.
Don’t try to time the markets. People who try to time the stock market are effectively “playing” the market. The stock market isn’t a game and nobody knows exactly what it’s going to do. Instead, consult an investment advisor to assess your risk tolerance and develop a well-diversified mix of investments to weather the market storms.
Start young. Starting an investment portfolio at a young age is an ideal situation due to compounded returns on your investments. The longer you have money earning returns, the more that initial nest egg grows.
Don’t panic when the market dips. The market ebbs and flows, it dips and rises. This occurs more drastically in volatile times than others, which can cause anxiety. What you want to remember is that the shares you hold now might be worth less tomorrow when the market takes a hit, but you still have those shares and they will look better when the market rallies. The mistake people make is that they make investment decisions out of panic instead of focusing on the long term. Making decisions based on emotions can be detrimental to a portfolio.
Don’t believe the doomsayers. There is plenty of political pandering going on right now as presidential hopefuls use fear tactics to get your vote. Even in non-major election years you’ll hear pundits talking about America’s poor economy. Don’t believe them. Buffett said it himself in a video interview on CNBC – “The country will grow in value over time.” It’s all about the long-term investment, and over time, your investments can grow.
To make the most of your investments, talk to a professional about your life goals and what you expect in retirement, and let your trusted advisor guide you through the process and help you understand your options. Consider choosing an advisor that follows the fee-only business model. This way, you’ll know you’re with a professional that isn’t motivated by commission instead of focusing on your best interest. Family Investment Center has always operated under a commission-free model and we’re ready to help you move forward in a non-conflicted environment.
Talk to Your Advisor About Investing for College
The rising cost of earning a higher education continues to be a hotly debated issue. For decades, college costs have risen faster than the rate of inflation. However, the benefits of going to college and obtaining that degree are still clear for most people; the college graduate earns on average nearly twice as much as the high school graduate. Investing for college is a goal for many parents, yet many wonder the best way to do so. A few of the most popular options are:
1. 529 Plans: Just as with any investment, an adviser will encourage diversification in your portfolio. For instance, some 529 plans will offer options that are age-based. For investors willing to invest aggressively, it’s advisable to do so when your child is young and decrease the investment risk as they get closer to college. The investments inside a 529 plan can be a mix of cash, bonds and stocks, just like a traditional retirement plan, making proper diversification possible. Contributions to a 529 are state income-tax deductible and withdrawals are tax-free as long as they’re used for qualified education expenses. Another perk is that the beneficiary of the account may be changed at any time to any member of the beneficiary’s family.
2. Bank Accounts: If you’re geared more toward safety of principal, you might consider using bonds or bank certificates of deposit, which the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. insures. You have options when investing for college. However, do be aware that safety often comes with a price, as bank interest historically hasn’t kept pace with many other types of investments, or even just with the inflation rate.
3. Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA): The Coverdell Education Savings Account allows for tax-free withdrawals for qualified expenses, and this expands to expenses related to kindergarten, elementary, junior high and high school – not just to college. Some advisors like the Coverdell investment because it offers a wider variety of options for diversification, instead of just a small palette of funds to choose from.
4. Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA): An UTMA account can house investments of numerous types, making it an attractive option to many investors. Income earned and capital gains in the account are taxed annually, but the first $1,050 is tax-exempt and the next $1,050 is taxed at the child’s tax rate. Anything over $2,100 is taxed at the parents’ rate. When the child turns 18 or 21 (depending on the state), the account becomes his or hers and there are no restrictions on withdrawals; the funds don’t have to be used for education.
This is not a complete list of options, and each option is accompanied by a list of pros and cons. Establishing a satisfactory amount of savings for your child’s college education isn’t an easy task, so it’s important to speak with an advisor about which option is best for you. Family Investment Center has a team ready to assist you in planning the investments that meet your goals. We can advise you on how to evolve your portfolio as the markets change and as your child matures into a young adult. Contact us today and let’s talk about your next steps.