Archive for Financial Planning

The Astronomical Cost of Living – Bringing it Back to Earth

Financial Planningon December 13th, 2018No Comments

Written By: Zach Bennedsen, CFP®

You overhear it in restaurants, at the office, on public transit, or at family dinner—it’s on everyone’s mind: things cost so MUCH these days. Whether it’s coming from the generation ahead of you or from a generational peer, everyone wants to wax nostalgic about the cost of living “back in the day.” While the cost of living has certainly gone up, most people conveniently leave out the fact that wages have been steadily climbing as well. However, the increase in wages hasn’t always kept up with the rising cost of living, especially in certain sectors. Today we explore the country’s supposedly astronomical cost of living and see what talking points actually hold true.

The “Astronomical” Statistics

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, housing prices rose in every state between mid-2017 and mid-2018. Using the Case-Shiller index, a measure of residential real estate prices, we see that home prices have risen by over 50% since 2012. If we look specifically at San Francisco or Washington DC, the price increase has been even more drastic. Couple this with a less than stellar growth rate of real wages and you have an environment where home ownership and other financial goals, such as retirement, seem always out of reach.

Bringing it Back to Earth

The above statistics don’t exactly paint a rosy picture and can make you feel out of control of your living expenses. However, it is important to contextualize these numbers with a dose of reality—personal reality, that is. Cost of living, home prices, and wage growth figures are presented as averages for an entire nation, region, or city. They are not reported for your individual household. As such, it’s important to acknowledge that your individual situation does not have to be governed by national averages. It is true that you do not control the inflation rate. Nor do you control the housing market or the general wage growth of the country. But you do, however, have some control over your personal wage growth and your personal spending. For example, often ignored in the statistics reported by the Federal Bureau of Labor, your individual wage growth is also heavily influenced by the quality of the work you do. Similarly, you also control your investment and savings strategies, both of which can help you combat the ever-encroaching inflation rate.

When you turn away from generalities and look at your specific life, you may realize you have more control than you may think.

Live Big®

If you still feel like you can’t keep up, you may consider taking a look at your core consumption assumptions of what is “necessary”. If you often find yourself complaining about how much things cost, try to avoid spending your money on those kinds of things. If something doesn’t seem worth it to you, no one is requiring you to buy that item or pay for that experience. No one is requiring you to buy a home with a formal dining room or drive a luxury car. While society pressures us to keep up with the Joneses, we know from previous Digest articles like “Can Money But Happiness?” and “The Science of Spending” that that’s not a strategy for fulfillment. No matter where you live, there are many ways that you can find fulfillment without spending a lot of money: for inspiration, you may take a look at our Live Big list.

So, if you feel like you can’t keep up with today’s astronomical cost of living, that’s fine. No one is asking you to do that. Remember, as we always say, it’s about the size of your life, not the size of your wallet®.

ABLE: Achieving a Better Life Experience

Financial Planningon November 29th, 2018No Comments

Written By: Ryan Rasmussen

Many parents of kids with disabilities will tell you that supporting and caring for them is one of the hardest yet most rewarding things they’ve had the privilege of doing. These families have many facets of their lives to manage, and money typically is the most substantial factor weighing them down. Fortunately for these families, recent changes to  ABLE accounts will better assist them financially.

ABLE accounts were created in 2014 under the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. The primary objective for this account is to authorize a person with disabilities to establish a tax-exempt account to save for disability-related expenses without impacting eligibility for resource-based benefits. At their inception, little to no attention was directed towards the ABLE Accounts because of restrictions but due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), they are more appealing than ever.

The Benefits of ABLE Accounts

ABLE accounts can be opened for individuals that are disabled before turning age 26. Friends, family, and owners of the account can contribute after-tax dollars into the account. Investment growth within an ABLE account isn’t taxed, resulting in a quicker increase in value. Distributions from ABLE plans, including accumulated earnings, are entirely tax-free to the designated beneficiary as long as they are used to pay qualifying expenses. Some of the qualified expenses are listed below:

  • Daily living expenses
  • Education
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Costs associated with going to work
  • Expenses related to keeping a job
  • Health care
  • Assistive technology
  • Legal fees
  • Financial management fees

One of the most significant advantages of an ABLE account is that the disabled individual and their families can build savings in this account, without losing eligibility for alternative critical benefits including state-operated benefits plans, Medicaid, and Social Security Benefits, which have asset ceilings of $2,000. Furthermore, some state plans like Medi-Cal and CalFresh will provide benefits no matter the amount saved in the ABLE Accounts. In addition, asset values within the ABLE account will not affect eligibility for medical assistance through Medicaid. Social Security Benefits are permitted for individuals with ABLE accounts with a balance lower than $100,000. It’s important to note anything above $100,000 in an ABLE account will result in the loss of Social Security Benefits.

As was mentioned earlier, the TCJA made many changes to the ABLE accounts that make them more attractive and more suitable to implement, and the hope is that these changes will result in increased numbers of ABLE accounts and/or higher balances. The changes are listed below:

  • Contribution limits increased from $14,000 to $15,000 per year.
  • Employed beneficiaries not actively participating in their employer-provided retirement plan can contribute 100% of their earned income to their ABLE account.
  • ABLE account holders who work are eligible to contribute above $15,000 a year.
    • The limit is either the lesser of the Federal poverty limit ($12,060) or the individual’s overall compensation for the year.
  • ABLE beneficiaries could claim the Saver’s Credit based on the allocation of the earned income directed into their ABLE account.
  • ABLE account holders are permitted to roll over funds from a regular 529 College Savings plans to ABLE accounts tax-free up to $15,000 per year.
  • Lastly, under the PATH Act of 2015, not TCJA, individuals can choose ABLE accounts outside of the state of residency.
    • This allows individuals to have more control over investment options, expenses, and even the state-based maximum account limits.
    • This link will provide you a brief insight into each state-sponsored ABLE account.

Maximizing ABLE Account Benefits

Let’s explore situations where ABLE accounts can benefit a household with a disabled person.

  • ABLE accounts are much more affordable and easier to activate compared to its counterpart the Special Needs Trust. This is useful for families that do not have the means to create a Trust or simply a lower cost replacement for small trust.
  • Qualified Tuition Programs 529 Plans allow an annual $15,000 to be rolled over to ABLE accounts.
    • This change helps families to reallocate initially funded 529 College Savings plans for their children before receiving a child’s diagnosis into an account better fit to pay for disability expenses.

There is a useful planning strategy that coordinates ABLE accounts with Special Needs Trust. In this scenario, a family would fund the ABLE account over several years, taking advantage of tax-free growth while simultaneously funding a Special Needs Trust. The ABLE account value should not exceed $100,000 in an effort to preserve the beneficiary’s public benefits. In this scenario, a rule of thumb is to have little to no assets in the ABLE account upon the death of the disabled individual because assets within the ABLE account are likely to be recovered by Medicaid at the beneficiary’s death whereas assets in the Special Needs Trust can be bequest to surviving family members. Therefore, the ABLE would be the first savings bucket to draw down.  Once the ABLE account has been exhausted, then the family or individual would utilize the assets within the Special Needs Trust. This strategy combines the benefits of tax savings and postmortem asset control.

Families affected by disabilities continually manage areas of complexity outside the norm. More times than not, disabilities surprise families and forever change the way they operate. Sure enough, money seems to follow with every obstacle that arises. With the proper use of an ABLE account and guidance from a financial planner, money can better serve the family’s needs rather than be a burden.

The Gift of Planning

Financial Planning, Firm News & Events, Give Big, Yeske Buie in the Mediaon November 29th, 2018No Comments

Written By: Lauren Mireles, FPQPTM

Yeske Buie has long supported the Foundation for Financial Planning, the nation’s only nonprofit charity solely devoted to supporting the delivery of pro bono financial planning. We believe so strongly in the importance of the work that they do that we’ve consistently given our time, our talent, and our treasure to the organization for over a decade. Through our involvement with the Foundation, we had the privilege of meeting a young family whose life had been upended with the terrible news of a cancer diagnosis.

“Everything we worked so hard for came crashing down,” said Leslie. “We had medical decisions to make, Mike was in the hospital for months at a time… we were overwhelmed by everything.  The last thing you are thinking about is paying the bills, but they are still there, they don’t go away.”

Listening to this couple tell their story, we were indelibly drawn to help them in whatever way we could; and the Foundation’s Pro Bono for Cancer Campaign made that desire a reality.

The Pro Bono for Cancer Campaign was launched earlier this year with the goal of supporting efforts around the country to connect cancer patients and their families to free, quality financial advice. Yusuf Abugideiri, CFP®, Senior Financial Planner in our Virginia office, was matched with Mike and Leslie to help them navigate their financial challenges. This engagement included gathering their financial data, presenting a holistic plan that put all of their finances in one place, and sharing some new ideas to improve their cash-flow. In Leslie’s words, Yusuf also, “gave us answers to questions that we wouldn’t have known the answers to, and getting answers to even the smallest questions makes a huge difference.”

The experience didn’t just make a difference in Mike and Leslie’s lives, it also made a difference in Yusuf’s life. Yusuf shared the following sentiments during a presentation detailing his work with the family at the Financial Planning Association’s Annual Conference:

It’s been an honor to participate in this initiative and a privilege to work with this family. Working with Mike and Leslie made me appreciate the role I play as an objective advisor, dedicated to instilling confidence in a family faced with many difficult and sometimes overwhelming financial decisions. We provided the structure and offered our skill-set, but it was Mike and Leslie who ultimately drove the work. Not only did they display a willingness to embrace the financial planning process, but they also took significant steps during the engagement to improve their financial situation.

I am grateful for the small role I’ve played in Mike and Leslie’s story – to have been able to combine our support and reassurance with their incredible courage and diligence. It’s meant so much to me to partner with them as they navigate the continuing financial challenges brought about by Mike’s diagnosis.

As is the case with all of our Clients, we appreciate the opportunity to continue building our relationship with Mike and Leslie; hoping to be an anchor during life transitions and a sounding board for ideas and questions that arise along their journey. To repeat Yusuf’s sentiments, it is an honor and a privilege to be welcomed into the lives of Mike, Leslie, and all of our Clients. We receive such an invaluable gift by planning with each and every one of you.

To learn more about the Foundation’s Pro Bono for Cancer Campaign, we encourage you to take a few minutes to explore the following resources:

Financial Perfection vs. Financial Progress

Financial Planningon November 15th, 2018No Comments

Written By: Daniel Tripp

Winston Churchill, arguably one of the twentieth century’s greatest statesman, had many lasting and impactful aphorisms. One saying, attributable to his wit and insight, is, “Perfect is the enemy of progress!”. Churchill likely borrowed this saying from the late seventeenth century Enlightenment philosopher, Voltaire, who probably adopted the aphorism from an earlier unknown work. But regardless of its origins, here at Yeske Buie and as members of the financial planning profession, the saying’s truth and timeless wisdom resonates with us.

The reality of the world today is that we are living in an age of perfectionism. According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, “A record number of young people worldwide are suffering from serious depression or anxiety disorders. In some sections of society, there is a tendency to dismiss this trend as the product of an over-indulged, over-entitled, and over-sensitive ‘snowflake generation.’ To the contrary, there is growing evidence that the increase in psychological ill-health of young people may stem from the excessive standards that they hold for themselves and the harsh self-punishment they routinely engage in. Increasingly, young people hold irrational ideals for themselves; ideals that manifest in unrealistic expectations for academic and professional achievement, how they should look, and what they should own. Young people are seemingly internalizing a pre-eminent contemporary myth that things, including themselves, should be perfect.”1

Think about it: all around us, we’re bombarded with images of perfection. Advertising and social media tell us that we must act a certain way, hold a particular job, drive the right car, live in the right place, have the right friends, and possess the right amount of money to achieve success. That said, the idea of perfection and of having the “perfect” life is an abstraction, an impossibility in reality. What researchers are finding as a result of this chase is a subliminal but profound connection between perfectionism and procrastination.3

From a financial planning perspective, some may consider procrastination to be the enemy of financial success, just as time is its greatest ally. When we value financial perfection over financial progress, just getting started in creating a financial plan can feel overwhelming. We tell ourselves we shouldn’t start investing because the market is too high or too low. That we shouldn’t begin to save because the job we have doesn’t pay enough, we have too much debt, we’ll owe more in taxes, or we don’t have enough investment knowledge. We tell ourselves it’s not the right time to re-evaluate our insurance coverages, build or update our budget, or complete our estate plan because we’re too busy with work, family, friends, and life. In each of these cases, we feel like the perfect time to accomplish our financial goals isn’t now, and we think at some point in the future, the ideal time will come. The problem is, as we all know, there is no perfect time; life always happens.

So, what are some ways to overcome the tendency to seek perfection so you can get started on tackling your financial goals?

  1. First, recognize there is never going to be the perfect moment to get your financial life in order. The markets are always going to be in flux, there will always be competing claims on our income and time, and debt and spending will be a part of life. If you allow the apparent complexity of the topic to overwhelm you, it will. And if you wait until the perfect moment to get started, you’ll never start. When it comes to successfully managing your finances, taking small steps now can lead to huge rewards later. For example, start by taking a few minutes each week to learn more about saving and investing. Warren Buffet famously said, “The best investment you can make is in yourself. The more you learn, the more you earn.” One of our favorite books on the topic of investing is The Investment Answer by Daniel C. Goldie and Gordon S. Murra. If you’re looking for a place to get started learning more about saving and investing, this concise and approachable book provides an excellent overview.
  1. Next, get organized. Take stock of all your accounts, know your online login and passwords, and review and save important financial and personal documents in a safe and secure place. Make a list of the tasks you need to get done to bring your financial life into order. Set deadlines to achieve these tasks, and tackle each item, one at a time, piece by piece. Also, it’s a good idea to make it a habit of reviewing your bank and investment accounts as often as you feel comfortable. You don’t need to watch your accounts every day or even every week, but you should check in a couple of times a month to review statements and to look for any abnormal activity. After you’ve organized your personal and financial accounts, spend time observing and tracking your monthly cash flows. Begin to notice how you’re spending your money, and how the money flows out. As the old saying goes, “You can’t manage that which you don’t measure.” We’ve written about some excellent online tools such Mint.com that can help manage this task. Or as an alternative, you can create a simple cash flow statement using excel, or a pen and paper to track all the income you have coming in and going out.
  1. Finally, a great way to overcome feelings of perfection in your financial life is to consult a financial planner. Financial planners, through the financial planning process, offer a unique perspective on your finances that aren’t otherwise available if you try to manage all the aspects of your financial life on your own. Here at Yeske Buie, we help our Clients make sense of the complexities of the financial landscape. To overcome the tendency to seek perfection and to procrastinate, we act as ambassadors of your future financial self. We prioritize competing interests, model trade-offs, organize important documents and keep track of time-sensitive deadlines. The synergy of our relationship with our Clients allows them to make progress in overcoming financial challenges. And perhaps the most critical element a Planner can provide a Client is peace of mind, knowing, regardless of external world circumstances, that they are doing all they can to maximize the chances of achieving financial success. So next time you feel like it’s not the perfect time to address your pressing financial problem, give us a call and allow us to help you see the situation from a new perspective.

SOURCES:

  1. Hill, T. C. (2018, May 30). Perfectionism Is Increasing, and That’s Not Good News. Retrieved October 10, 2018, from https://hbr.org/2018/01/perfectionism-is-increasing-and-thats-not-good-news
  2. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/perfectionism
  3. Clear, J. (2014, March 03). No, You Shouldn’t Obsess Over Being Perfect — Especially When Starting Up. Retrieved October 18, 2018, from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/231771

I Bought a Home – Now What?

Financial Planningon November 15th, 2018No Comments

Written By: Alishia DuBois

After hours of researching the perfect neighborhood, touring who knows how many houses, and signing what feels like one hundred papers, it’s finally yours. Your very own home. The reality of this new chapter in your life can be both exciting and overwhelming. And whether it is your first home or you’ve been around the block a few times, it’s worth creating a plan to ensure your home buying decision aligns with your big-picture financial plan. The following bullet points are items for you to consider as you move along the journey of buying a home. We hope you find them informative.

  • Think About Your Long-Term Goals
    • Why did you buy the home? To raise your family? To downsize? Something else? Whatever the reason, it is important to consider how this decision matches your long-term planning goals. We believe that one of our most important roles as financial planners is to be a sounding board for our Clients as they articulate their individual goals, and to create policies to help them use their resources in ways that support these goals. We encourage you to leverage us as a resource on your home buying journey at whatever time you feel most comfortable – as we like to say, we’re great people to think with!
  • Make Sure You Understand the Full Cost of Ownership
    • The expenses that come with owning a home add up quickly – examples include property taxes, utilities, HOA fees, lawn cutting and housekeeping services, and more. Be sure to update your budget to account for these items so you can be fully aware of your anticipated monthly expenses.
  • Consider Funding a “Home Maintenance” Account
    • In addition to your emergency fund, you may consider setting up a separate “home maintenance” account for expenses like insurance, property tax, HOA dues, renovations, and repairs. Economist Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research suggests setting aside 1% of the purchase price for repairs and maintenance. That means if you buy a $375,000 home, plan to stow away $3,7501. You may not need that money for some time, but it is a good measure to take for when you do.
  • Research Additional Insurance Coverage
    • The most important insurance policies for new home buyers include homeowner’s insurance to protect your home, property and casualty insurance to protect your belongings, and umbrella insurance for broader coverage. As you think about your insurance needs, you may find it helpful to create a spreadsheet of your valuables and take pictures to match each item. While this may feel like a tedious task, having an inventory of your belongings can assist in the claim process in the event of an accident. Use your pending move as a trigger to complete this exercise by updating the file as you pack and/or unpack your belongings and purchase items for your new home. Don’t forget to keep several copies of this document in a safe place, perhaps even in the cloud, to ensure you have access to it no matter where you are.
  • Take Care of Your Investment
    • Your intentions for purchasing a new home may be to embody Chip and Joanna from HGTV’s Fixer Upper; renovate, sell, and (hopefully) make a profit. Or, your intentions may reside in finding and growing your forever home. Wherever you lie on this spectrum, purchasing a home is still an investment – and a significant one at that. As such, it is important to keep the home in good condition; not only because you invested your time and hard-earned money into it, but also because poor home maintenance can result in large expenses down the road and/or affect the listing price and leave you with less cash in your pocket if/when you decide to sell it.
  • Get (and Stay!) Organized
  • Other Housekeeping Considerations
    • Make any necessary home improvements before moving in – it can be a real pain moving all of your furniture when laying down new flooring or painting walls.
    • Do a deep clean of the home before you move in. If you plan on hiring someone to do it, check for services on websites like Angie’s List or Groupon to see if you can snag yourself a deal.
    • Update your address all of your assets and liabilities, set up utilities, and change the locks on the home.
    • Map your circuit breakers to their outlets to save time and hassle when power goes out.
    • Figure out where your shut-off valves are in case of a homeowner emergency like water pipes bursting.
    • Assemble an emergency supply kit.
    • List emergency contacts, and post them where it’s easy to see.
    • If moving to a different state, remember to register your vehicle(s) in the new state.
    • Make sure motion lights and other security lights have working bulbs.
    • Ask your neighbors about who to go to for bigger-ticket items like landscaping and exterior painting – they may not have a recommendation, but they may have someone to warn you about.
    • Throw a housewarming party – it not only gives you a set deadline to get the place in order, it will also allow you to share your excitement and hard work with the people you care about!

Remember, your team at Yeske Buie is always available to help you navigate major life transitions including the home buying process. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us – we are happy to help.

SOURCES:

  1. Just bought your first home? Here’s what to do next.
  2. New Home Checklist: 12 Things Homeowners Should Do Right Away

What is Your Retirement Vision?

Financial Planningon October 31st, 2018No Comments

Written By: Ryan Klemm, CFP®

We spend our entire adult lives working to reach the destination known as retirement: a period of life that many imagine filling with travel, relaxation or endless rounds of golf. In actuality, retirement can be one of the most challenging phases of life and one with many new unknowns. If you do not prepare for retirement both financially and personally, then you ultimately “quit” 30+ years of a known routine cold turkey. For this reason, it is important to ask the right questions and seek guidance on how to navigate this phase of life before you reach it and unfortunately, this is often an overlooked step of retirement planning. With that being said, we share three retirement FAQs to consider as you plan for retirement.

  1. How much can I safely spend from my portfolio when I retire?
    • This can easily be considered the most important question to ask, and have answered, when planning for retirement. Throughout your career, your entire financial life was based off of a regular or semi-regular paycheck, and therefore you need to identify your spending capacity once that paycheck is no longer automatically deposited into your account. Additionally, as you think about your level of spending in retirement, it’s important to understand what your cash flow will look like and to determine the safe amount that is available for withdrawal from your portfolio. Some financial outlays may drop off of your Cash Flow Statement (for example your mortgage, a portion of taxes, retirement savings, etc.) while other expenses may increase (travel, leisure activities, gifts). We implement a Safe-Spending System for our Clients during retirement that calculates a Safe-Spending Target, and when factoring in decision rules, allows for a safe amount of spending throughout the duration of one’s life.
  2. When is the best age to retire?
    • Another great question! And one that has a few objective answers and other subjective answers. The objective answer includes specific ages that signify important milestones in your path towards retirement and should therefore be factored into your decision:
      • Age 59 ½ is when you are able to take penalty-free distributions from your IRA or 401(k);
      • Age 62 is when you can take early Social Security distributions (at a reduced rate); and
      • Age 65 is when Medicare kicks in.
    • The subjective answer is also quite simple – it’s when you feel ready to! As long as you are factoring in the answer to our first question shared today. Once you have identified how much you can safely spend, and it fits into your retirement picture, then you have the freedom to select when the Golden Era begins.
  3. How do I spend my time in retirement?
    • You’ve officially decided to retire, had your retirement party at work and woke up the first morning thinking “now what?” It’s often the case that we are working towards retirement, but don’t actually think about what retirement will consist of. In a finite approach, retirement provides you with, on average, an extra 40 hours a week of unfilled time. What does that time look like? We spend years exploring this with Clients to help them prepare for the surplus of time they expect to encounter in retirement. We often use Money Quotient’s “My Ideal Week in Retirement” worksheet to help Clients paint a picture of what their weeks may look like and to determine what the priorities in their life are.

At Yeske Buie, we often spend a lifetime with our Clients working towards answering each of these incredibly important questions. We employ an investment philosophy geared towards servicing your spending needs in retirement, continually run analyses to determine the “best” financial age to retire, and exploring what your ideal retirement looks like. Enlist the help of your financial planner to ensure you have the proper planning and support needed to make retirement one of the most joyous celebrations and phases in your life.

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!


“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