Archive for Financial Planning

How to Save in a Hurry

Financial Planningon October 18th, 2018No Comments

Written By: Cole DeLucas

As you travel along life’s journey, different opportunities can come across your path that require pooling your resources; buying a house, taking your family on vacation, building an emergency fund, or buying a new car. And when you decide to pursue one of these opportunities, the next step is to think about what needs to be done to achieve the goal. Sometimes the timeline for the goal is long-term, but what do you do if you need to save in a hurry? In this post, we explore different quick-saving tactics to consider when you want to save for a big expense in a timely manner.

The Power of Budgeting

Consider the following two phrases…

  • “A penny saved is a penny earned.” – Benjamin Franklin
  • “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” – Dave Ramsey

In our opinion, the principles behind these phrases are the backbone to developing and staying true to a budget. In a time where saving up for that next large purchase needs to be done quickly, developing a budget can help you discover money you thought you never had. Now, that’s not to say that once you’ve mastered budgeting your money will start to grow on trees! Rather, a budget can help you see where and how changing your spending habits can make saving for that big expense a bit more realistic. Once you have identified expenses that you can reduce, place that money to the side in a consistent periodic manner until the date of the upcoming expense. You may be surprised how quickly those expenses add up! Review the following two areas of your budget to identify opportunities to free up additional cash.

Discretionary Expenses: Cutting back on some discretionary (non-essential) expenses may help you reach your savings goal more quickly. Below are a few starter expenses that, if temporarily halted, could free up cash you never thought you had:

  • Subscriptions you may not use too often (Netflix, Hulu, Apple Music, Spotify, Hello Fresh, AudioBooks, etc.)
  • Cable TV
  • An unused gym membership
  • Eating out frequently

These expenses do not need to be eliminated permanently; consider removing them from your budget for as long as it takes to reach your savings goal.

Money-Generating Ideas: Another possible avenue one may explore to create savings is to generate more money rather than cutting expenses. Have you ever re-discovered something that made you think, “when was the last time I used or wore this?” Or, have you noticed that you have some old items piling up and that are rarely being put to use? But have you ever considered selling some of your belongings? E-bay, Craigslist, Offer Up, and Let It Go are just some of many websites people use to help them declutter their garage or attic. You may also consider a yard sale, or taking things to a consignment shop to sell gently-used clothes or items.

There is an Emotional Factor, Too!

The trade-offs associated with a budget can make sticking to that plan rather difficult. As such, it’s important to believe in yourself and try to picture yourself reaching that goal and the fulfillment that it will bring to your life. Once you have saved enough for that first large expense, you will have validated that you are capable of achieving such saving goals, and you may even find that you enjoy saving money fast and develop a practice you never thought you had.

And of course, we are always here to help you plan for your short-term and long-term savings goals. Please don’t hesitate to share these goals with your Yeske Buie team so we walk with you every step of the way to help you make that goal becomes a reality.

Yeske Buie in the Media: Cash Back Considerations

Financial Planning, Yeske Buie in the Mediaon October 4th, 2018No Comments

Written By: Lauren Stansell, CFP® and Lauren Mireles, FPQPTM

Credit card companies spend billions of dollars each year marketing their cards to consumers, often using flashy commercials to advertise cash back bonuses, 0% interest rates, and other attractive qualities. But with all the options out there, how do you decide which one earns your business? While there are a number of considerations to evaluate when making this decision, for many consumers, cash back bonuses have become one of the most highly valued features. Lauren Stansell recently shared her thoughts on cash back cards with a writer from BankRate.com and was quoted in their Best Cash Back Cards of 2018 feature offering the following insight:

“Do your research! If you already have a debit card through your bank, check out what cash back cards they offer and what additional benefits you may get for being an existing customer. Then, research other options to be sure you’re picking the best option for you. Choose a card that will give you cash back on the things you regularly purchase.”

Lauren also shared the following insights with BankRate.com as best practices for using credit cards.

What are some tips for beginners using a cash back card?

  • Use credit cards to make purchases that you can pay off at the end of each month; don’t carry an ongoing balance on a credit card. Consider alternative financing options for necessary large purchases like a car.
  • Choose a cash back card that aligns with your spending needs and gives you cash back for the items you buy most frequently. Be sure to maintain your normal spending habits and stay in line with your budget; don’t start spending more money each month just to get additional cash back.
  • Start using the card for everything that gives you cash back, then, pay off the balance each month. Set up automatic monthly payments of your credit card bill so you know you’ll never make a late payment. But, don’t ignore your spending! Pay attention to what you spend and ensure you’re sticking to your budget.
  • Keep an eye out for special deals offered once you have your card. For example, my cash back rewards card often has special cash back deals for restaurants and services. I won’t go out of my way to unnecessarily spend on these items, but I often check the deals to see if any align with my normal spending. If I’m going to spend at a restaurant or on a service that is on the special list, I might as well get the extra cash back being offered.

What are some things to look for in choosing a cash back card?

  • Find online comparisons of various cash back credit cards to easily compare the features or build your own spreadsheet if that’s your preferred style of researching and comparing.
  • Be sure to keep an eye out for potential annual credit card fees and include these in your comparisons.

Why would someone want a cash back credit card over a travel rewards card or other type of credit card?

  • If you don’t travel often, a travel rewards card likely won’t be as beneficial as a cash back card. It all depends on what will give you the most reward throughout your normal course of spending.

How do you like to use your cash back rewards?

  • I have my cash back rewards deposited into my checking or savings account because Bank of America gives me an additional 10% customer bonus if I redeem my points to a Bank of America account.

The Age-30 Crisis: What About My Money?

Financial Planning, Yusuf Abugideirion October 3rd, 2018No Comments

Written By: Yusuf Abugideiri, CFP®

Daniel Levinson, a psychologist and one of the founders of the positive adult development field, suggests that “at about 28 the provisional character of the twenties is ending and life is becoming more serious…[during] the Age-Thirty Crisis, between age 28 and 32…it is not uncommon to tear up the life structure one put together to support the original dream of the twenties…and to create the basis for the next life structure.” In the subsequent years, as individuals enter the Establishment Phase, they begin to focus on what he describes as “major life investments” – work, family, friends, community activities, and values1.

As such, it’s easy to see why many young people start to “get serious” about their finances as they approach their 30th birthday; aside from the fact that Levinson refers to these transitions as “investments,” there are significant financial factors associated with each of those items. Let’s focus on the career aspect first. Individuals approaching their 30s can take themselves through an exercise in which they answer the following questions2:

  • What is my dream job?
  • What needs and values do I want to express in this job?
  • What skills do I want to use?
  • What job tasks do I want to perform?
  • How much responsibility do I want? (senior management, good team contributor)
  • What is my ideal salary?
  • Where would I like to work? (downtown in a large city, rural community, in my home)
  • Where can I get additional information about my career and lifestyle options?

The answers to these questions can affirm that an individual is in the right field (or suggest they may need to explore a new one!) and will help them calibrate their expectations about current and future earnings. Having this frame of reference in place is critical as one builds their vision for their future; going through an exercise like this after having worked for a few years can uncover new perspectives about the value one derives from their work. Once an individual is confident their career choice is a fit for their present and future needs, they can begin building a budget that meets their current lifestyle and formulating a savings plan that will fund their retirement.

As to family planning, anyone with a family knows that it requires different things from different people based on their circumstances, priorities, and values. One of the things that can be taken as a given, however, is that a growing family will cost more to support. As such, there is no better asset to accumulate than cash. Having cash on hand (above and beyond what is needed to meet monthly expenses) enables one to (1) be prepared to deal with unexpected expenses without tapping into savings or accruing debt and (2) to set funds aside to accomplish major goals (e.g. paying for a wedding, funding education expenses, or putting a down payment on a house). Building up cash reserves creates feelings of stability, security, and confidence, which are important ingredients in maintaining an optimistic outlook in the face of transition.

At Yeske Buie, we recommend connecting with a financial planner to act as a partner and walk through life’s journey with you no matter how old you are. We can help sort through the trade-offs associated with various choices and create policies to guide your actions such that they’re in alignment with your values and in service of your goals. Navigating the Age-Thirty Crisis (and the subsequent years and decades) does not have to be a task one takes on in solitude, and, with the right support system, can be the beginning of the pursuit of your Life Big® life.

 SOURCES:

  1. Young Adult Psychology
  2. Millennials and the Age 30 Transition

Job Change Checklist

Financial Planningon September 20th, 2018No Comments

Written By: Karen Simons

These days, changing jobs is a fairly commonplace. Chances are you will change jobs more than once in your career, if not several times. These job transitions can be a whirlwind, both exciting and daunting at the same time. It is a time of emotion, change in responsibilities, visibility, and decisions. Hopefully it is the job of your dreams or will make you happier or at least a bit better than your previous one. A job transition may present you with many financial choices and options. Putting your financial situation in order and being organized going forward will help you get off to a great start!  Here are some tips to help you navigate the transition.

Carefully Read Your New Job Offer

Before you make the change, be sure to get your new offer in writing, with expression of the start dates, salary and compensation, title, and benefits. From your old employer, bring your performance review information and information to keep your resume up to date, including your dates of employment, your titles and accomplishments, and referral sources. Give your soon-to-be former employer sufficient notice of departure, review your contractual obligations. Settle with your former employer all severance issues, unused vacation and sick time. These items may cover a gap in income and make your transition easier financially.

Evaluate Your Current and Future Financial Situation

A change in income and expenses could impact your future financial goals.

  • Review your living expenses and emergency funds to assure you have 3-6 months of savings to cover your expenses, particularly if you will have a gap in employment dates until the start of your new position.
  • If relocating, update your addresses with all your personal financial affiliations. Determine who is paying for the relocation expenses up front. Consider that there may be a difference in living expenses and taxes for different locations. You might also need to consider the rent vs. buy option for your housing needs. If selling a home, keep all the records on the sale of the residence and the associated cost basis. Plan for the associated commuting expenses to your new job. Will you need a new car? Will you be taking public transportation? These can affect your living expenses.
  • If you have stock options with your previous employer, affirm whether you need to exercise the options before you leave the company. Some companies require that you exercise the options after a certain amount of time or cash them out. Be aware of the taxable events that might be triggered by such actions. Determine the tax basis of the stock.
  • Reassess your cash flow and budget to reflect your new paycheck, which will likely be different from your previous one. Evaluate if you need to revise your spending or plan your savings differently. Establish a budget and prioritize or re-prioritize your spending, saving and investment goals and objectives. Determine your future ability to contribute to your goals and the tax implications of the new position.
  • Estimate your income taxes for this year and next, so you are mindful of how your circumstances may change and you can plan for it.
  • Review your established banking and investment associations to assure they are in line with your new position and you are able to receive the advice needed.

Review Your New Salary and Compensation Package

Understanding your new salary and compensation package can help ensure your financial situation is in order and keep you organized from day one of your new job.

  • Arrange for Direct Deposit of your paycheck to your bank account to assure that your wages arrive as quickly as possible and provides you with easy access. Be careful to understand the pay periods from your new employer and that you are aware of any gaps with your current automatic bill payments, withdrawals or transfers to assure they are in sync with your new payment schedule. You may need to adjust automatic bill payment dates. Arrange for auto contributions to savings accounts, pensions, and health savings accounts where appropriate.
  • Analyze those new Stock Options. You might be offered stock options or restricted stock with your new employer. This is not unusual for many tech companies and start-ups. If in your new compensation package, you are going to receive Employee Stock Options (ESOs), know that you are being given the option to exercise stock options, meaning they are giving you the chance to buy stock in the company usually at a discounted price. Be aware that there are usually vesting periods, like a waiting period, for when you can actually purchase the stock, if you choose to. Carefully review the contracts and agreements to determine the dates and vesting schedule.
  • Consider the 83(b) election for your stock options. The 83(b) election is a provision under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) which gives an employee, or the startup founder, the option to pay taxes on the total fair market value of restricted stock at the time of granting. Assuming you paid nothing for your restricted stock, you will be taxed on the value of your restricted stock as determined at grant (if a Section 83(b) election is filed), or at vesting (if no Section 83(b) election is filed), in each case at the applicable ordinary income tax rate.
  • If a bonus is part of your compensation package, consider when you will receive it, how it is determined, and how you will use that bonus. Will you save and invest it? If so, how will you invest it? Will it go to replenishing your emergency fund? Will you be using it for one-time purchases? Will you need to put it away for college expenses or child care? Will it have to last the whole year? Pre-planning for a bonus can help you achieve some of your financial goals.
  • Filling out the W-4 form can be confusing. The W-4 form is where you tell the government how much money the company should take out of your paycheck and hold for tax purposes. While many people think that getting a refund from the IRS at tax time is a good thing, most people over withhold. Over withholding is essentially giving the government an interest free loan. Ideally, you should assess the amount withheld so that at tax time you have paid your taxes, but not overpaid.
  • Review your investment strategy with your financial advisor and make updates if appropriate. Set up automatic contributions to investment accounts, giving consideration to your financial goals.

Understand Your Benefits

Be aware of your open enrollment time frames. These deadlines are usually very strict and must be met to receive your benefits. The benefit forms that must be filled out are time consuming and thought provoking, but can potentially affect your financial life and saving ability for the future. Pay careful attention to the designation of beneficiaries where available.

  • Health Care
    • Proactively manage your health insurance to avoid a lapse in coverage. Review and understand your new benefits to ascertain eligibility requirements, start dates, copay’s, coverage, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, as well as life time maximums. You might be offered health insurance as well as dental, vision and mental health coverage. Take the time to review and understand your options and the plans to be able to choose what is best for you, your spouse and your children.
  • Disability Insurance
    • Ask for details about your company’s disability policy. The most common types are short-term and long-term disability. Both are beneficial and provide income replacement if you are out of work. Short-term covers you if you are sick or injured and are unable to work for a short, specified period of time, often up to 6 months. You would usually receive a portion of your salary for that time. Long-term disability kicks in when the short-term policy ends, also offering a part of your salary with some sort of maximum benefit amount. You should understand how these policies work, and what type of disabilities or illnesses are covered. If it is not an option, you can consider purchasing the insurance on your own, to ensure protection for the unexpected.
  • Life Insurance
    • Review and assess your life insurance coverage offered from your new employer and compare it to other plans you may have. Make sure you have adequate coverage for your needs. Many company-offered policies limit you as to how much you can purchase, usually some factor times your salary. This is not always enough in many circumstances and may require you to seek additional policies.
  • Consider Taking Advantage of any Pre-Tax Benefits
    • Pre-tax benefits can affect your income tax situation, and may include retirement account contributions, health insurance premiums, Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions, Flexible Spending Account (FSA) contributions. FSAs can cover some health related expenses and childcare expenses. FSAs may require you to use them or lose them within a given time frame, and cannot be rolled over. Pre-planning on how you would use them and what expenses you can cover requires some forethought. You can only enroll in the FSA when you start a new job, during open enrollment, or if you have a life qualifying event, such as a marriage or a baby.
  • Other Benefits
    • Perhaps there are other non-salary benefits that you may receive that warrant consideration. Evaluate the relevance to you and their potential impact on your life, such as gym memberships, paternity or maternity leave, tuition reimbursement, commuting expenses. These types of benefits could enhance your life financially as well.

Consider Your Retirement Account Options

  • Retirement Accounts with Your Old Employer
    • Once you leave a job, you and your former employer stop contributing to your retirement account with that firm, and you will likely have options for how to keep those funds. You may be able to move the account from one employer to another, keep it where it is, or simply roll it over into a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. Choosing a direct rollover option, which is when your 401(k) provider sends the account funds directly to your IRA provider, alleviates the possibility of forgetting to deposit the cash into your IRA within the set time frame guidelines from the IRA and incurring penalties. Review the options for making the various moves, as some may generate penalties and taxable events. Taking the plan in cash before you are eligible may result in an additional tax and could push you into a higher tax bracket.
    • Consider your choices carefully by keeping in mind the flexibility of investment options and allocations, fees, expenses, distribution requirements, and tax treatment.
  • Retirement Accounts with Your New Employer
    • Understand your new employment retirement plans and options. Does it offer an employer match or profit sharing? What are the investment options available as well as the associated expenses? Employer matches for retirement plans can help grow your retirement plan at a quicker rate. Some employer matches have a vesting schedule. Make sure you are saving enough to get the maximum employer match. If the company automatically enrolls you in the plan, adjust your contributions so that you are saving as much as you can to get the benefits.

Other Logistics to Consider

  • Update your employment contact and address information with those who should know. Inform your family, bank, financial advisor, accountant, legal counsel of your new situation.
  • Make sure your former employer has updated contact and address information if you have relocated.
  • Bring the requisite identification to your first day of your new job.
  • Provide new benefit information to your financial advisor.
  • Analyze investment options for your retirement and investment options, adjusting asset allocations if warranted.
  • Keep an eye on all dates for enrollment of benefits and re-investment options.
  • Update your beneficiaries on your important documents and accounts (401k, pensions, IRAs).

What an exciting time! Let’s keep it that way. Changing jobs can lead to great satisfaction in your life in so many ways. Keep yourself organized and follow this financial checklist to skillfully embrace the financial impact that a job change can trigger. Working with a financial planner can help you navigate the financial complexity of a job transition. As always, we’re here to help you through all of life’s big transitions – please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Featured FinTech

Financial Planning, Yeske Buie Millennialon September 6th, 2018No Comments

Written By: Lauren Mireles, FPQPTM

FinTech, or Financial Technology, refers to the innovative use of technology to streamline financial activities including lending, investing, making payments, and more, and it has revolutionized the way our society interacts with money. Even if you don’t care for all the fancy smart phone apps, think about how ATMs replaced bank tellers, or how credit cards eased the burden of carrying cash – that’s FinTech! Over the next few months, we’d like to share with you some of the FinTech products that are catching our eye these days, and highlight them in this space we’re calling Featured FinTech. We hope you enjoy these examples and as always, we’d love to hear from you – what apps, websites, and products are on your must-use list? Let us know by leaving a comment below or emailing Mila@YeBu.com, and you may see your suggestion featured here soon!

BusyKid: Chores & Allowance Simplified

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  • What is BusyKid?
    • BusyKid is a mobile app that facilitates the electronic exchange of money between parents and kids for completed chores. The app allows parents to add chores to their child’s list, assign a chore value to each activity, and facilitate the exchange of money for a job well done. As the child accrues money for their completed chores, the app provides them with four options for spending their money: Cash Out, Gift Cards, Stock, or the “BusyKid Visa® prepaid spend card”. Parents still have approval power related the child’s allowance and spending as transactions must first be approved by the parent. This approval can be as simple as answering “yes” to a BusyKid text message.
  • How did BusyKid come into existence?
    • BusyKid first emerged in 2011  when a father of six was looking for a way to track his kids’ chores, pay them a weekly allowance, and teach them basic financial literacy skills. From this need, he created My Job Chart, which has since evolved into BusyKid to include additional security, technology, and features.
  • What do we like about BusyKid?
    • BusyKid teaches kids the imperative financial literacy skills we at Yeske Buie also promote with our Financial Literacy Program – save, spend, donate, and invest. And, we feel it does so in an interactive and “cool” way via a smartphone app.
    • The electronic exchange of money is the reality of today’s financial landscape, and BusyKid introduces this reality to kids early on. Terms like direct deposit, move money, and credit are introduced in the app at a much earlier stage than would typically be relevant.

September is College Savings Month – A Look Back at Education Planning

Financial Planningon August 23rd, 2018No Comments

Written By: Zach Bennedsen, CFP®

September – the month when summer gives way to fall, when we’re all supposed to stop wearing white, and when the NFL gets back underway. September also marks National College Savings month. As schools from Kindergarten through College begin their fall terms, now is as good a time as any to highlight the importance of preparing for college – both academically and financially.

College is a time of robust learning in all facets of life. This education spans far beyond the breadth of any curriculum and encompasses lessons learned about life, love, responsibility, and self-discovery. All of these lessons are almost impossible to put a price tag to. We can, however, put a price tag to the financial benefits of a college degree. According to collegeboard.org, the median earnings of bachelor’s degree recipients age 25 and older with no advanced degree working full time were $24,600 (67%) higher than those of high school graduates [1]. Of course, that boon to future earnings comes at a large upfront cost. In 2017-2018, the average annual cost of tuition and fees spanned from about $10,000 for in-state public college to almost $35,000 for a private school [2]! Given these astronomical (and always rising) sticker prices, the importance of saving for college cannot be stressed enough.

In honor of College Savings month, we’ve compiled a list of previous articles that we’ve published about education savings and other related topics – we hope you find these resources helpful.

For Parents

To start off, Yusuf wrote an excellent piece explaining 529 plans in 2017. He also touched on Yeske Buie’s preferred 529 plan, Utah’s my529 (formerly known as UESP). Read on to learn more about pre-paid tuition plans, 529 savings plans, and our investment strategy for education savings accounts.

Next, we share a piece that examines the balance of saving for both your child’s education and your own retirement. As the saying goes, there are no scholarships for retirement! For this reason and others, it is important to maintain a strategic balance between your retirement savings and your education savings. Read on for our full thoughts.

Yeske Buie held a Q&A session with Tony Sutphin of YesToCollege.org. In this piece, Tony shares why you should complete the FAFSA even if you don’t think you qualify for financial aid.

For Students

In this article, the Yeske Buie team provides advice for incoming college freshmen. As mentioned before, there’s a lot more to learn in college than the curriculum. The piece shares some words of wisdom that the team has gleaned over the years.

Yeske Buie knows that financial planning is not just for boomers. Do you? Here, we share our original announcement of Senior Financial Planner, Yusuf Abugideiri’s and former Yeske Buie resident Russell Kroeger’s article on a Financial Planning Framework for the Millennial Generation. Read on to learn about how this framework addresses generational worldviews, the balance between instant and delayed gratification, and collaborating authentically with millennials.

Lastly, Ryan Klemm wrote an article about post-college challenges. No, not jobs and apartment hunting, but student loan repayment. While this topic can be daunting, Ryan’s piece does an excellent job at explaining the ins and outs of student loans.

For Everyone

Inspired by the back-to-school season, we hosted a webinar where we shared our thoughts on some of the most common questions related to the education planning journey. You can watch the recording of the webinar below.

**Correction: The non-profit referenced on slide 21 is called YesToCollege.org

The Ins and Outs of Identity Theft

Cybersecurity, Financial Planningon August 7th, 2018No Comments

Written By: Ryan Rasmussen

August is Fraud Awareness Month – the perfect time to spark conversations about how vital fraud prevention is to you personally and to society as a whole. In late 2017, the credit monitoring service Equifax experienced a significant data breach. After all was said and done, 147.9 million consumers were affected, most having their Social Security Number revealed. This rupture of sensitive data has put consumers at a heightened risk for identity theft.

According to a 2018 survey by The Harris Poll, approximately 60 million Americans have been victims of identity theft. That same survey indicates nearly 15 million consumers experienced identity theft in 2017. With data breaches and phishing attacks becoming more and more common, the question on many of our Client’s minds is: what can we do to protect ourselves? In this space, we share information from industry experts on the methods that identity thieves use to steal your personal information and what you can do to make yourself a less attractive target.

How do identity thieves obtain your personal information?

Identity thieves continue to grow stronger at stealing sensitive data such as Social Security Numbers, driver’s licenses, birth dates, and credit card information. Once they have your information, they can apply for credit cards, open bank accounts, drain bank accounts, take out loans, file tax returns, apply for government benefits, and/or receive medical services. These actions can destroy your credit, cost ample amounts of money, and take countless hours to make your life whole again.

Below are the top methods identity thieves utilize to get ahold of your information according to the Center for Identity Management and Information Protection:

  • Data breaches: Major organizations are big targets for thieves because they hold massive amounts of consumer data. When data leaks from these organizations, the damage is extensive and affects millions of consumers.
  • Phishing: Scammers often use emails, telephone calls, or text messages to fool consumers into providing personal information by pretending to be someone you trust, such as a bank, the IRS, or major retailer.
  • Hacking: Computers and smartphones are at risk of being hacked. Cybercriminals can install malware that uses keyloggers and screenloggers to record your keyboard strokes and the sites you visit leaving your app logins and website passwords vulnerable.
  • Dumpster Diving: Yes, you read that right – thieves look through garbage to find bills, checks, receipts, and credit card offers containing personal information.

How can I make myself a less attractive target?

Being proactive and staying informed are great ways to stay protected against fraud. Below are twelve proactive tips to help you fight identity thieves as shared by The Federal Trade Commission and consumer.gov:

  1. Credit Freeze or Lock: Credit locking or freezing is considered the gold star in Identity Protection. As of September 21, 2018, there is no cost to freeze or unfreeze your credit file. When your credit is frozen, only the companies that have extended credit to you can view your credit.
  2. Establishing Fraud Alerts: A fraud alert notifies creditors to contact you to confirm your identity before opening new accounts. To establish fraud alerts, simply call any one of the three major credit bureaus listed below. As soon as one credit bureaus confirms your fraud alert, the others are notified to place fraud alerts, as well. These alerts are good for one year at which time they can be renewed again.
  3. Enroll in a Credit Monitoring Service: Credit monitoring services, such as IdentityForce, are great resources because they monitor your personal information in areas beyond the credit bureaus and notify you if your information is being misused.
  4. Review Your Credit Report: Reviewing your credit report ensures the information on file with the credit bureaus is accurate. Since you’re entitled to one free credit report every year from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus, request one report every four months to monitor your information throughout the entire year. To request yours, visit annualcreditreport.com. Identity monitoring services, like IdentityForce, also often provide credit monitoring services that can help you keep on top of your credit scores in between reviewing any reports.
  5. Opt Out from Receiving Pre-Approved Credit Offers: Identity thieves snatch intercept new credit card offers sent via mail. To discontinue the delivery of pre-approved credit cards, you must opt out of prescreened offers. To do this, call (888) 567-8688 or go online at https://www.optoutprescreen.com.
  6. Use a Shredder: It is the best practice to shred documents with sensitive information in them before throwing them out. If you don’t have immediate access to a shredder, you can sometimes find community shredding events in your local area.
  7. Don’t Download Unknown Software:  Avoid opening unknown attachments or using software downloads from unknown websites. These programs may include spyware or malware which act as a portal for phishers and hackers to take your information.
  8. Be Aware of Common Phishing Techniques: Watch out for emails, links, texts, phone calls or mail asking for your personal information. Never give personal information to people who contact you and ask for it.
  9. Password Protection: The most recent reports on best practices for passwords is simple – the longer the better. At Yeske Buie, it is our policy to use passwords that are 18 or more characters. Additionally, Two-Factor Authentication is a great way for implementing another security “hurdle” for phishers and hackers to have to jump over in order to obtain your information. These password management strategies can make it more difficult for hackers to crack your online account passwords and therefore make you a less desirable target.
  10. Practice Browser Safety Habits: Using encrypted sites with “https” in the URL is more secure than browsing non-encrypted sites. Be aware of the differences and take extra precaution when using non-encrypted sites.
  11. Limit Social Media Data: Don’t leave personal details, such as your birthday, place of birth, family members’ full names or addresses on your social media. Strengthen your privacy settings and be cautious about whom you accept as a connection.
  12. Secure Your Phone: Lock your phone with a password or fingerprint, turn off Bluetooth when you’re not using it, and be wary when connecting to a public Wi-Fi, and be cautious when downloading apps which could contain malware.

If you have an identity protection service, such as IdentityForce, contact them immediately to notify them and get them working on your case. We also encourage you to contact us if you learn that your information has been stolen so that we can act as an additional layer of security by monitoring your accounts for suspicious activity – as we like to say, we want to be your first call!

When it comes to the theft of personal information, the sooner you detect a problem, the sooner it can be fixed. A combination of awareness and prevention is the best way to protect yourself against identity theft. And finally, rest assured that we at Yeske Buie are always researching industry best practices and training our team so that we are doing our part in keeping your information safe.

Avoid Surprise – Get Organized!

Financial Planningon July 26th, 2018No Comments

Written By: Ryan Klemm, CFP®

Think about your answers to the following questions: Where is your Last Will and Testament? How about your auto insurance policy? Last year’s tax return? For many of us, our answers are skewed more towards “I don’t know.” And while it’s likely that, if given time, you could unearth all of these financial documents, it is also likely that this quick exercise has uncovered an opportunity for you to better organize these important documents.

WHAT DOCUMENTS TO KEEP

Making sure your financial documents are organized and readily accessible can help reduce stress, simplify any financial requests, and ensure you are adequately prepared when you need to access any important documents. When it comes to the setup of your financial organization, we suggest being mindful of the following categories:

  1. Personal Financial Management
    • Credit card statements, student/personal loan statements, mortgage information, bank account statements
  2. Investment Statements
    • Brokerage account statements, retirement account statements, stock certificates
  3. Estate Documents
    • Wills, trusts, powers of attorney, advance medical directives
  4. Legal Documents
    • Birth certificates, social security cards, passports, marriage/divorce certificates
  5. Home Documents
    • Appraisal documents, deeds, renovation receipts, lists/photos/videos of home contents
  6. Income Tax Information
    • Tax returns, charitable gift documentation, property tax information
  7. Medical Information
    • Primary care physician contact information, medical specialist information, important medical documentation, insurance cards
  8. Insurance Documents
    • Original policies and recent statements for homeowner’s, auto, umbrella, life, disability, long-term care, etc.

While the collection process may require some initial investment of your time and test your organization skills, the peace of mind in quickly knowing where everything is located will pay dividends.

HOW LONG TO KEEP THEM

The second piece to organizing your financial documents has to do with how long you should keep them. If you kept every statement or piece of information for the categories we listed, you’d probably need to dedicate an entire room just to ensure there was enough space! A general recommendation is to keep all important information (what has been listed above) for seven years or until updated. After this point, it is no longer necessary for you to hold on to the documents; they may be safely destroyed. This means that it is also important to make a habit of revisiting your organized documents on a regular schedule. You can use specific yearly events like tax preparation time, the start of daylight savings, or the start of the new year to trigger your reminder to review the information.

WHO TO TELL

The last step is to inform someone else as to where these documents are kept. This is a crucial step in case of an emergency, someone other than yourself may need to access the information. If they can’t find it, all your hard work and meticulous record keeping will be wasted!

As always, the Yeske Buie team is available to help, whether that means helping you think comprehensively about all of your financial documents, keeping an extra copy of your documents on file for safekeeping, or reminding you to update your documents regularly. Don’t hesitate to contact us if we can be of assistance.

Sailing the Financial Seas

Financial Planningon July 12th, 2018No Comments

Written By: Daniel Tripp

Ambiguity about the future seems to be at an all-time high. Technology is rapidly changing. Politics are divisive. War, disease, natural disasters, and stock market volatility fill our nightly headlines. At Yeske Buie, we have a heightened awareness to this apparent state of flux as ambiguity and how Clients respond to it is critically important to long-term financial success. In this space, we explore the research behind human behavior in the face of uncertainty and how we at Yeske Buie look to be your experienced sea captain during these times.

Defining Ambiguity in the Age of Uncertainty

The role that ambiguity plays in our lives is a topic that many in the financial planning world have been talking about lately. The Yeske Buie Financial Planning Team in San Francisco recently attended a presentation delivered by behavioral finance expert, Shachar Kariv, and the presentation provided great insights as to what science says about how humans make decisions when faced with unknown choices and how we as financial planners can better serve our Clients to help them make grounded financial decisions.

Before discussing the role a financial planner plays in navigating ambiguity, let’s look at what science says about how human beings react when faced with choices that have unknown outcomes. I’ll use myself as an example. I, like most people, am not comfortable with uncertainty. I tend to stick to the people, places, and things I know best. I am human, and a creature of habit. I have a strong bias to avoid unknowns, such that I will often choose outcomes that are known to me rather than outcomes that have the potential to be tremendously beneficial. I can’t quantify the risks or benefits of these unfamiliar choices, so I simply avoid them.

This pattern of human behavior is known as an ambiguity bias. According to behavioral finance experts, ambiguity bias is the tendency to favor choices with a known outcome, rather than “taking a chance” on an opportunity with unknown probabilities. Biologists theorize our early ancestors may have developed this bias as a protection method against their hostile and deadly evolutionary environment. If you were a bipedal ape living on an African Serengeti 1.3 million years ago, avoiding unknowns wasn’t just a matter of preferred choice, it was a matter of survival. Our brains are literally hard-wired to stick what we know at the expense of what we don’t.

Ambiguity Bias and Investing

The problem with applying this cognitive bias in the modern world, particularly as it relates to investing, is that it can lead to poor decision making and unfavorable long-term outcomes. An example of this bias is how investors tend to choose to invest their money in “safer” investments like government bonds or CDs, at the expense of investing in stocks that have higher expected returns. Because stocks are often associated with higher risk, many investors avoid including a healthy allocation of stocks in their portfolio.

Other examples of investors favoring “known” versus “unknown” investment vehicles include disproportionally favoring real estate, heavily investing in individual employer stock, or investing a single stock sector – their perceived familiarity can make them more attractive to the mind. Finally, perhaps one of the most compelling illustrations of ambiguity bias is how individuals over-allocate to home country markets at the expense of foreign investments. For example, US investors hold roughly 80% of their equity exposure in US stocks, even though the US market capitalization is only 50% of the global economy. Ambiguity bias may be one explanation for this phenomenon.

Sailing the Unknown Sea

Overcoming the ambiguity bias is an enormous part of the value financial planners can provide to Clients. One of my favorite analogies to describe how financial planners can help Clients overcome this bias is to imagine the world of investing and finance as the ocean, and your financial life as a ship on that ocean. Somewhere over the horizon is your ideal financial future, but the way to that future is full of storms, pirates, and hidden shoals. As a ship alone, you are unsure of the dangers ahead, and you’re hesitant to cross the sea. With the help of a financial planner, however, you can feel confident that you have a co-captain on your financial ship. We have studied the risks ahead, the best routes to take, and the most favorable winds to sail. We can help build your financial confidence and encourage you to overcome the tendency to stay close to familiar shores while acting as your financial compass. The list below describes six ways that Yeske Buie can help Clients navigate the sea of financial uncertainty.

  1. Bringing organization and clarity to our Clients’ financial ship
    • Whether it’s through cataloging insurance documents, monitoring account beneficiaries, keeping track of estate planning documents, or helping pay taxes, we can help bring order to our Clients’ financial lives so they can focus on other priorities.
  2. Offering accountability to help Clients follow through on financial commitments and goals
    • During our Discovery Process, for example, we help Clients prioritize goals and outline the steps necessary to achieve those goals. We then review their progress and support them as they strive to reach their desired objectives.
  3. Providing objectivity and insight into issues that help keep our Clients from making emotionally driven decisions
    • We apply analysis and experience to financial matters to assist Clients in making the best possible choices with all the information available.
  4. Proactively anticipating our Clients’ life transitions and assisting them to become financially prepared for periods of change
    • We assess the impacts of those transitions and anticipate what may be needed to manage change and thrive financially.
  5. Educating Clients to understand and evaluate complex financial topics
    • We help assess and analyze the situation at hand and we provide knowledge so Clients can feel confident that they are making objective, accurate, and reasoned financial choices.
  6. Forming a lasting partnership with our Clients by seeking to understand them as a people so they can live the best life possible
    • We work on their behalf as stewards of their money, time, and resources so they can go about their lives, knowing there is always someone there to help should they need it.

As we all know, life can be chaotic and complex – most especially in regards to finances. Here at Yeske Buie, we view our job as being a partner and a guide to help Clients navigate through turbulent financial seas. So next time you are faced with one of life’s transitions, or if you are feeling uncertain about a financial decision, know that we are here to help you manage this ambiguity, and we are available to provide the information you seek to make the best possible choices and achieve all your Live Big goals.

Money in Movies

Financial Planningon June 28th, 20182 Comments

Written By: Lauren Stansell, CFP®

Watching movies – it’s something we’ve all done and likely continue to do periodically (if not frequently). Whether watching at a drive-in theater, in the park on a summer night, at a movie theater with comfy lounge chairs, or from the comfort of your own home, movies can be a great way to spend a couple hours. And whether you prefer to watch movies alone, with your special someone, with your family, or with total strangers, movies have a unique way of bringing us together in support of or defense against a certain character or outcome.

All movies have some common characteristics –

  • Characters: Humans, robots, aliens, animals, money (yes, we said money and we’ll return to this later), and more.
  • A Plot: Straightforward, boring, thrilling, full of twists and turns, etc.
  • A Beginning, Middle, and End: And sometimes a cliffhanger that leaves you anxiously awaiting the next movie in the series.
  • And the Ending Credits: Usually with a great song you try to remember to look up and add to your playlist.

Most of these characteristics become clear as we watch the movie; the good guy achieves a goal, the bad guy perishes, the fish finds his son – it all seems to become clear as the movie unfolds. For a more complex movie, however, identifying these characteristics requires turning to the reviews to interpret hidden meanings, hidden characters, and hidden messages. Similar to the selective attention experiment done in this video, sometimes we don’t even realize everything that is happening.

With all this in mind, let’s return to the idea that money can play a role in a movie. Just like in life, money is everywhere in the cinematic universe! In some movies, money is obvious and unavoidable. For example, anyone who has watched Wolf of Wallstreet knows that money was the ultimate character in that film. For other movies, it isn’t quite as clear that money plays a role, but just like in life and relationships, it may show up as an underlying driver, motivator, or issue and is only discovered to be so upon deeper reflection.

Today, we’re sharing a list of movies that have money as a character and we include a brief note with our thoughts about the role money plays. We’ve also included links to the IMDB page for the movie if you’d like to read more about it. And now, we want your input! What movies have you seen where money was a character? Did money play an obvious role? Or was it hidden in the relationships and discussions throughout the movie? Take a look at our list and let us know what you think!

  • A Christmas Carol
    • Scrooge measures all things in terms of money, thus severing his human connection to those around him. When he learns again to connect with the world through his own humanity, he is freed from the bonds of soulless money worship (and learns to Live Big).
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
    • A massive financial loss due to theft by a money-grubbing business rival causes a man to despair that his life has any meaning or value. An angel shows him that his value to the world could never be measured by money and ultimately his many friends come to his rescue by sharing their own money.
  • The Shawshank Redemption
    • Banker goes to jail after being unjustly convicted of murdering his wife and her lover.  Uses his money skills to help fellow inmates and ultimately engineers his escape by using those same money skills to leverage the greed of the evil prison warden.
  • Jerry Maguire
    • Ambitious sports agent allows his humanity out for an instant and it gets him fired, forcing him to form his own firm and pin his hopes of financial survival, let alone success, on his one remaining client. Most famous line in the movie: “Show me the money!” Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.)
  • Pursuit of Happyness
    • Man keeps swinging for the fences in his pursuit of money and success (and “happyness”) and is thus always teetering on the precipice of ruin, eventually spending time homeless with his young son. Somehow he pieces together the resources to complete an unpaid internship which leads to success as a stock broker.
  • Office Space
    • Money becomes a character after the unhappy employees create and implement a plan to put a bug that allows them to steal $300,000 from their employer
  • Limitless
    • Money helps the main character reach his highest highs and his lowest lows.
  • Ocean’s Eleven
    • Money is the apple of the characters’ collective eye; it’s being lusted after, hunted, and chased.
  • Wall Street
    • Thinking that money is the sole measure of success in life, a young man comes under the spell of someone who has made money his god and abandoned all moral structures in his worship of Mammon. The young man eventually recovers his moral compass and helps bring down the evil money master. The most famous line in the movie: “Greed is good” (“Greed, in all of its forms — greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind”).
  • Citizen Kane
    • In his last moment, a man who has spent his entire life in pursuit of money and the power that goes with it thinks only of his lost boyhood snow sled.
  • The Italian Job
    • Money is being lusted after and used as a tool to extract revenge.
  • Double Indemnity
    • The pursuit of money leads an unhappy wife and fast-talking insurance salesman to plot a murder. At first fooling themselves that they’re doing it for love, money comes between them with disastrous results.
  • Trading Places
    • For their amusement, two brothers run an unethical experiment to determine whether financial success is a matter of nature or nurture.  The two men whose lives are manipulated as part of the experiment eventually bring the brothers down by preying on their greed.
  • The Sting
    • In order to avenge the murder of a mutual friend, two men invent a financial sting to rob the man responsible, using his greed and avarice against him.
  • The Hustler
    • Small time pool shark pursues money as a way to heal his emotional wounds, though intuitively knowing that it offers no real redemption, he ultimately fears winning as much as losing.
  • Slumdog Millionaire
    • Money provided freedom.
  • Rounders
    • Money is the cause of a character’s downfall, and, later, his savior.
  • Boiler Room
    • Money played greed; it incentivized decisions that made one side rich and the other side worse off.
  • Fast 5
    • Money is the focus of the movie’s plot; the characters plan a bank heist and literally drag a vault of money across Brazil during the final scenes.
  • The Big Short (Submitted by Mike K)
    • A group of investors bet against the US mortgage market and discover how flawed and corrupt the market is.
  • For a Few Dollars More (Submitted by Mike K)
    • Two bounty hunters with the same intentions team up to track down a Western outlaw.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that others won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Marianne Williamson