Tag Archives: Financial Tips

6 Smart Money Moves for College Graduates

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SYB-Logo_Since1904Living expenses add up quickly once you’re out on your own, and many young adults who didn’t plan ahead are delaying major milestones like getting married or buying a home because of their financial situation. The good news is that you can have a bright financial future if you think strategically about money right out of the gate.

We recommend the following financial tips for new college graduates:

  1. Live within your means. Supporting yourself can be expensive, and you can quickly find yourself struggling financially if you don’t take time to create a budget. Calculate the amount of money you’re taking home after taxes, then figure out how much money you can afford to spend each month while contributing to your savings. Be sure to factor in recurring expenses such as student loans, monthly rent, utilities, groceries, transportation expenses and car loans.
  2. Pay bills on time. Missed payments can hurt your credit history for up to seven years and can affect your ability to get loans, the interest rates you pay and your ability to get a job or rent an apartment. Consider setting up automatic payments for regular expenses like student loans, car payments and phone bills. Take advantage of any reminders or notification features. You can also contact creditors and lenders to request a different monthly due date from the one provided by default (e.g., switching from the 1st of the month to the 15th).
  3. Avoid racking up too much debt. Understand the responsibilities and benefits of credit. Shop around for a card that best suits your needs, and spend only what you can afford to pay back. Credit is a great tool, but only if you use it responsibly.
  4. Plan for retirement.  It may seem odd since you’re just beginning your career, but now is the best time to start planning for your retirement. Contribute to retirement accounts like a Roth IRA or your employer’s 401(k), especially if there is a company match. Invest enough to qualify for your company’s full match – it’s free money that adds up to a significant chunk of change over the years. Automatic retirement contributions quickly become part of your financial lifestyle without having to think about it.
  5. Prepare for emergencies. Hardships can happen in a split second. Start an emergency fund and do your best to set aside the equivalent of three to six months’ worth of living expenses. Start saving immediately, no matter how small the amount. Make saving a part of your lifestyle with automatic payroll deductions or automatic transfers from checking to savings. Put your tax refund toward saving instead of an impulse buy.
  6. Get free help from your bank. Many banks offer personalized financial checkups to help you identify and meet your financial goals. You can also take advantage of their free digital banking tools that let you check balances, pay bills, deposit checks, monitor transaction history and track your budget.

Resource information provided by the American Bankers Association

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The Details More People Should Know About Medicare

medicareUntitled-logoBefore you enroll, take note of what the insurance does not cover and the changes ahead.

Misconceptions about Medicare coverage abound. Our national health insurance program provides seniors with some great benefits. Even so, traditional Medicare does not pay for dental care, vision care, or any real degree of long-term care. How about medicines? Again, it falls short.1

Original Medicare (Parts A & B) offers no prescription drug coverage. You may not currently take prescription medicines, but you may later, and can you imagine paying out of pocket for them? Since 2013, the prices of the 20 most-prescribed drugs for seniors have risen an average of 12% annually. Will Social Security give you a 12% cost-of-living adjustment next year?1pills

To address the issue, many seniors sign up for Part D (prescription drug) plans, which may reduce the co-pays for certain generic medicines down to $1 or $0. As private insurers provide Part D plans, the list of medicines each plan covers varies — so, carefully check the list, also called the formulary, before you enroll in one.  Keep checking it, as insurers are permitted to change it from one year to the next.1, 2

You may want a Medigap policy, considering your Part B co-payments. If you stick with original Medicare, you will routinely pay 20% of the cost of medical services and procedures covered by Part B. If you need a hip replacement or a triple bypass, you could face a five-figure co-pay. Medigap insurance (also called Medicare Supplement insurance) addresses this problem with supplemental Part B coverage. Premiums and services can vary greatly on these plans, which are sold by insurers.1

If you want dental and vision coverage (and much more), you may want a Part C plan. Around a third of Medicare beneficiaries enroll in these plans, also called Medicare glasses.jpgAdvantage programs. The typical Part C plan includes all the coverage of Medicare Parts A, B, and D, plus the dental and vision insurance that original Medicare cannot provide. Medicare Advantage plans also limit beneficiary out- of-pocket costs for the services they cover.1

Part C plans may soon offer even more benefits. They will be allowed to include services beyond normal medical insurance beginning in 2019. Starting in October, they can reveal what new perks, if any, they have chosen to offer. Some of the new benefits you might see: coverage for the cost of home health aides, adult day care, palliative care, the installation of grab bars and mobility ramps in the home, and trips to and from medical appointments. The list of potential benefits could expand further in 2020.3

Few seniors who enroll in Part C plans switch out of them. If you enroll in one, you should realize that these plans are regional rather than national – so, if you move, you may have to find another Part C plan or return to traditional Medicare, with or without Medigap coverage.1,3

The Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period is disappearing. A recently passed federal law, the 21st Century Cures Act, does away with this annual January 1-February 14 window. Beginning in 2019, there will simply be an annual Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period from January 1-March 31. During these three months, Medicare recipients will have the chance to either switch Part C plans or disenroll from a Part C plan and go back to original Medicare.4

Some Medicare Cost plans are being phased out. These plans, which offer some features of Medigap policies and some features of Medicare Advantage programs, are ending in certain counties within 15 states and in the District of Columbia. Enrollees are being left to search for new coverage.4

If you are financially challenged, you may have options. State subsidies and Medicare savings programs are available to help households handle co-payments and deductibles under original Medicare. Some non-profit groups offer pharmaceutical assistance programs (PAPs) to help Medicare beneficiaries pay less for medicines.4

Lastly, diabetics who use insulin pumps sometimes find they are better off with original Medicare as well as a Medigap policy, rather than a Part C plan. Some Medigap plans cover the entire cost of insulin. Many infusion treatments (such as chemotherapy) are also 100% covered by Medigap policies.4

Neil Byrne, JD, CPA, LLM may be reached at 502-625-2459 or Neil.Byrne@syb.com. https://www.syb.com/wealth-management-and-trust/our-team/

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This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

  1. – forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2018/07/10/avoid-these-big-medicare-mistakes-people-make [7/10/18]
  2. – money.usnews.com/money/retirement/medicare/articles/2018-06-25/prescription-drug-costs-retirees-should-expect-to-pay [6/25/18] 3 – nytimes.com/2018/07/20/health/medicare-advantage-benefits.html [7/20/18]
  3. rd.com/health/healthcare/things-medicare-wont-tell-you/ [7/6/18]

Six Tips for Wealth & Sanity

wealth sanityUntitled-logoAnd the most important tip of all? Hire a financial advisor.

Investing can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. If you have a portfolio that was built for you and use the help of a financial advisor, you shouldn’t be too worried about volatility and financial news.

Here are a few tips to help you invest wisely, and stay sane at the same time.

  1. Cut back on financial (entertainment) media. The financial news is entertaining, but the focus is on short-term trends and hype. Sure, you need to keep up with general economic and business news, but it isn’t wise to trade on every piece of information that you come across. Print media tends to be less sensational than TV programs.
  2. Stop checking your accounts online every day. If you have a properly diversified portfolio, built for you, focusing on daily changes in your account value is likely to tempt you to trade too much. Should you make frequent transactions, hoping to profit from price swings, your trading fees increase. Avoid making emotional decisions and wait for your monthly statement to arrive. As a disciplined investor, you need to tolerate volatility. This gives you more peace of mind, too.
  3. Focus on the bottom line, not individual investments. If one investment is doing well and the other is doing poorly, what should you do? The answer may surprise you. You should probably sell some of the investment that went up and buy more of the poor performer. It seems counterintuitive, but this is “buy low, sell high” in a nutshell. If you focus on the value of your portfolio as a whole, you won’t be tempted to make poor trading decisions, like selling lagging stocks out of fear.
  4. Clean old junk out of your portfolio. Do you have stocks you held for a while, just waiting for them to return to the price you bought them? A good way of knowing whether to hold certain stocks is to ask yourself whether you would buy them today as new positions. Investors often think they need to wait until the stock price comes back before selling. Cut your losses and rid your portfolio of those old underperformers. You will feel like a weight is lifted from your shoulders, and you can use that money on better prospects.
  5. Create a plan and follow the rules. One of the biggest mistakes that investors make is failing to make a disciplined plan. Choose your overall asset allocation, such as a mix of stocks and bonds, and stick to it. Check your portfolio every three months to see if your account has fluctuated away from your original plan (say, 60% stocks, 40% bonds).  If needed, make changes to bring your account back to the proper proportion.  This is called rebalancing, a fantastic risk management tool.
  6. Hire an investment advisor. Seeking the advice of a professional doesn’t mean you are not smart enough or capable enough to figure it out on your own. You’re capable of mowing the lawn, cleaning your house and doing your taxes, too. But you don’t mind paying someone else to do those tasks. There are some cases where you should never do things on your own. You don’t see people filling their own cavities, right? A professional financial advisor can help you devise your plan and offer unbiased advice about your portfolio. Who knows, you may even enjoy letting go of the reins.

Hopefully, taking a step back from your investing life gives you greater peace of mind and lets you focus more on other things like your career and family.

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Easing Into Retirement

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Untitled-logoFor many people, crossing the bridge into retirement is a big step. If you’re approaching retirement, it’s time to develop a strategy to facilitate a smooth transition from the more structured world of work to one of leisure.

After spending years building your professional career, you’ve accumulated assets along the way.

While retirement planning usually focuses on preparing for your financial future, nonfinancial matters may also need to be addressed. When retirees feel dissatisfied, it’s often the lifestyle changes that accompany retirement living that tend to create difficulties with self-esteem and identity associated with ending one’s profession.

Staying Active

One possible solution for managing these challenges may be to ease into retirement. Some individuals may welcome the opportunity to continue some form of work, such as consulting, job-sharing, mentoring, or back-up management. Mentoring, in particular, enables you to transfer a lifetime of learning and experience to a friend, relative, or younger colleague. Phased-in retirement provides an “anchor,” allowing new retirees to explore other activities while also maintaining their role at work.

Since some people may have more of an emotional reaction to the separation and disengagement from working than they expected, taking between two to five years to “decompress” may be an appropriate option.

Maintaining a Healthy Perspective

While “retirement” suggests the end of your working life, a more positive perspective to take could be that it’s the beginning of a new phase of life—when you can do all the things you never seemed able to find the time for while you were working. For example, volunteer work can allow you to make a valuable contribution to a charitable cause and meet new people. Taking courses in subjects that interest you can sharpen your intellect and help maintain your cognitive abilities. If chosen thoughtfully, these activities can be enjoyable and fulfilling.

Obviously, it’s a lot easier for a retiree to consider other pursuits if financial considerations are secondary. People may think that it costs less to live in retirement. However, it’s actually common for retirees to increase, rather than decrease, their expenditures, especially in the first few years of transition. Without working full-time, retirees may have more energy and time to enjoy entertainment, dining out, travel, and recreation.

On Spending and Inflation

During the working years, it’s common to take a certain lifestyle for granted. In retirement, however, you may need to change your priorities or consider budgeting depending on your circumstances. On the other hand, you may find that you no longer need or want to do some of the things that seemed so important when you were working.

Additionally, be sure to keep an eye on the effects of inflation after retirement. For example, an item costing $100 when you are age 65 will cost $180 at age 80, assuming a 4% inflation rate compounded annually. Therefore, it’s important that your retirement plan be not only a plan “at” retirement, but also a plan continuing “through” retirement, which may require revision on a regular basis.

If you view retirement as your opportunity for growth and exploration, you can make this transition exciting and enjoyable. Your horizons are limited only by your imagination. After all of your hard work, you’ve earned this opportunity—enjoy the freedom!

Please visit https://syb.com/wealth-management-and-trust/how-we-serve-our-clients/ira-retirement-rollovers/.  for more information.

Resource information provided by Financial Media Exchange

 

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Suddenly Single: Planning to Go It Alone

Untitled-logo trustMost of us cannot imagine the sudden loss of our spouse. Yet, difficult as it may seem to accept, U.S. Census data indicates that the overwhelming majority of married women will be on their own for a significant number of their later years. Should this happen to you, you might be thrust into economic self-survival at a time when you may feel particularly vulnerable and least able to cope. Nevertheless, serious decisions would have to be made, often having a lasting impact on your future financial well- being.

Planning for the Unimaginable

There is an unpredictable aspect of “sudden loss” in that we never quite know how we will react to certain events until they actually occur. While no one can ever be totally prepared to deal with personal trauma compounded by legal and financial matters, there are steps you can take to help you navigate through this difficult period.

The key is to find a way to help provide structure in your life at a time when structure may be disintegrating.

It Happened. . .What Do I Do?

When the initial shockwaves hit, there are matters that will require immediate attention: notification of family and friends; funeral arrangements; and contacting an attorney to review the will and handle the legal aspects of your spouse’s estate. Let your closest friends and most trusted advisors help you with some of these details and short-term decision-making, but proceed with caution regarding major financial decisions such as whether to sell your home, borrow or lend money, invest, make major purchases, and make work/career changes.

During this period, you will most likely face competing demands on your financial resources. If your spouse was the primary income earner, it may take some time to assess your financial situation. During the first few months, pay bills that need to be paid, but spend cautiously, paying attention to cash flow and liquidity.

Rebuilding After the Shockwaves

Certain timetables (e.g., timely filing of tax returns) can’t be overlooked, but much of the financial recovery process should be orchestrated to match your emotional recovery. Some of the important aspects that will have to be addressed eventually will include assessing the needs of dependent children; making housing decisions; determining your income needs; making decisions about insurance settlements; evaluating your insurance needs; and managing money on your own.

Many of these decisions may flow naturally from an appraisal of your needs (and/or desires) to participate in the workforce. Will you want to work? Will economic necessity dictate that you must work? If you are currently employed, will you stay in the same position? If you have not worked for some years, how well will your skills fit the job market? Will you need to acquire more education or enhance your technical skills?

While professional advice will be helpful, don’t allow yourself to be pressured in areas in which you need more time. Your goal should be to develop a sense of command and control concerning your financial future. Align yourself with advisors who will have the patience to work with you at your pace, advisors who will help you gain the knowledge and confidence necessary to go it alone.

Obviously, the earlier you begin to educate yourself concerning financial matters, the better prepared you will be to withstand the impact of facing sudden loss. The quality of your life may depend on your financial skills and your willingness to take responsibility for managing your own financial affairs.

If you have questions about the financial implications of divorce, email our Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, Marcia.Henderson@syb.com, for help!

Resource information provided by Financial Media Exchange.

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Remarriage: Altering Your Financial Plan to Meet Your Needs

Untitled-logo trustIn previous generations, husband’s traditionally handled the family finances. While this arrangement may have worked well during the husband’s lifetime, the consequences of the wife’s lack of involvement in the family’s finances often became clear after her spouse died. Today, more women are actively directing the outcome of their personal finances, and for good reason.

Women need to plan for a time when they may be on their own. Through divorce, widowhood, or personal choice, the odds are high that a woman will be independent at some point in her lifetime. Financial planning is essential for women throughout life, but it becomes especially important in the event of remarriage, as financial arrangements may need to be made for ex-spouses and children.

If you are in a second marriage or about to remarry, you may want to consider the following important points about managing your personal finances:

Bank Accounts. Should married couples combine their bank accounts or keep them separate? Or, perhaps combine certain accounts and keep others separate? There is no right or wrong choice—this is a personal decision. An open and honest discussion may reveal whether or not you and your spouse are financially compatible regarding spending habits, saving, investing, debt, etc. If there is a marked difference in the way you both handle money, then separating your finances may be a better plan.

Prior Debt. Will each spouse be responsible for the other’s prior debt, and if so, to what extent? Keeping the indebted spouse’s prior debt separate may help ensure that the other spouse’s property remains out of reach from creditors.

Property Acquired before Remarriage. Owning previously acquired property in your own name can prevent the risk of losing personal property to your spouse’s potential creditors. Also, doing so may have estate tax benefits. Keeping your property in your own name can help to minimize estate taxes while providing an inheritance for children from a previous marriage.

Home Ownership. Many married couples choose to title property jointly as tenants by entirety. When one spouse dies, the home passes to the surviving spouse tax-free. However, there may be estate tax consequences when the surviving spouse dies. Be sure to consult with a qualified tax professional beforehand.

Retirement. Saving for retirement is one of the major financial goals for married couples. Women, in particular, have unique concerns when planning for retirement. First, women typically live longer than men, so their retirement income needs to last longer. In addition, women often spend more time out of the workforce than men as a result of caregiving responsibilities, and therefore are less likely to have pensions and full Social Security benefits. According to the U.S. Department of Labor in 2013, when women work, they typically earn 82 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. Consequently, the gap between gender incomes makes it especially important for women to prepare for retirement.

Insurance. Disability income insurance can help replace a portion of your income in the event you are unable to work due to sustaining an injury or illness. This type of insurance provides funds that can be used for bills and expenses. Similarly, life insurance provides a death benefit that can be used by your family. Proceeds can help ensure that children from a prior or current marriage can attend college, the mortgage can be paid, and the surviving spouse has some replacement income.

Estate Planning. It is important for blended families to plan for the final disposition of assets. Trusts can be a valuable tool to minimize estate taxes and to help ensure that your assets are distributed to heirs according to your wishes. For example, at your death, your assets can pass to a trust, from which your surviving spouse will receive income without direct access to the assets. At the death of the surviving spouse, the assets can then pass to children from your current or previous marriage. This provides ongoing income for your surviving spouse and an inheritance for your children, as well. In addition, if the surviving spouse later remarries, the trust can be designed to preclude your assets from their marital or community property.

Every woman who remarries needs to balance her financial past with her financial future. By addressing the management of your personal finances as soon as possible, you can avoid disputes and build financial independence for your extended and blended families.

If you have questions about the financial implications of divorce, email our Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, Marcia.Henderson@syb.com, for help!

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7 Tips for Choosing a Financial Caregiver

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According to the National Council on Aging, almost 90 percent of the financial abuse committed against older Americans is done by someone they know. More than ever, it is imperative for seniors to select a trustworthy person to properly manage their finances and personal affairs.

Fraudsters often prey on seniors experiencing cognitive decline, limited mobility and other disabilities that require them to rely more heavily on others for help. Appointing someone you trust to handle your financial matters aids tremendously in the fight against these crimes.

In recognition of May as Older Americans Month, we want to share seven tips to help choose the right financial caregiver and prevent financial abuse:

  • When delegating financial decisions, make sure it’s someone you trust. If you are unable to facilitate financial transactions, carefully choose a trustworthy person to act as your agent in all financial matters.
  • Know who is in your home. Conduct a thorough background check on all individuals you hire for personal care or home care services. Check references and credentials before you let them into your personal space.
  • Never sign something you don’t understand. Consult with a financial advisor or attorney before signing any document that appears suspicious or unclear.
  • Understand the terms of assigning a Power of Attorney. Granting someone POA gives them the authority to act and make decisions on your behalf, including managing and having access to your bank and other financial accounts. Make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions of consenting a legal agent before you do so.
  • Always trust your instincts. Exploiters and abusers are very skilled. They can be very charming and forceful in their efforts to exploit you. Don’t be fooled – if something doesn’t feel right, it may not be.
  • Safeguard your personal information. Shred old bills, junk mail, bank statements and other personal documents you no longer need. Leaving unwanted personal documents around the house could lead to the misuse of your information. If you come across keepsake documents opt to store them in a locked cabinet or safe deposit box at your nearest bank.
  • Keep personal items out of plain sight. Lock up checkbooks, credit cards and other monetary instruments to prevent unauthorized use.Resource information provided by the American Bankers Association.

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