To work or not to work in retirement. That is a question

Lately, I tend to have two types of people coming in. Those who want to storm out of their job and never darken the door of that business again, and those who want to work for ever. As with all financial planning decisions, you should carefully understand the ramifications of your choices and do what is best for you and your family. Work for many of us is part of our identity. In fact, studies show that retiring from work is the second most stressful thing to happen to us. Right behind the death of a spouse. Work provides connections, meaning, and money. Before completely giving it up, decide if you are working because you must, or because you want to. Do you have enough outside activities t

Free Steak Dinners

You know you have reached a “certain” age when you start getting mail from AARP and dinner invitations for a FREE STEAK DINNER. Generally, these invitations are from investment and insurance advisors but occasionally they come from funeral homes selling pre-paid funeral services. I don’t have any issues with AARP. Their magazine is filled with useful information and I will take any discount I can get! A dollar off a movie means I can spend more on candy! But you should be cautious on the hidden costs of free steak dinners seminars from advisors. Generally, these are ways for advisors to get in front of qualified prospects. That alone is not a bad idea. Advisors want to demonstrate to multipl

Senior Living Options

It seems that on every corner there is a new senior living building being erected. As baby boomers need more assistance while the age is driving this boom. And just like baby boomer changed America’s landscape in the 1960’s and 1970’s, their needs and tastes are changing how we live in later years. No longer do you just have to go to a horrible nursing home where they line you up in your wheelchairs in the hall. But with change comes confusion, let’s define the new housing standards Independent Living: You have your own apartment with a small kitchen. Meals in a main dining hall will generally be provided and you can eat there or make your own food in your apartment. The facility will have

You better THINK...about your estate plan

We lost an amazing artist last month with the passing of Aretha Franklin. But it was shocking to me that she died without an estate plan or even a basic will. And she had been ill for some time. Many people are reluctant to make estate plans because they don’t want to face the reality that they will someday die. Howard Hughes, the famous millionaire recluse, hated three things: the government, his family, and lawyers. His lack of planning meant those three got most of the money. In fact, it took 34 years to settle his estate. I am sure some lawyers made a lot of money probating his estate. Most of us do not have large estates but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do some planning. First, under

What is a “Fiduciary”?

There has been a lot of talk in the financial world about the Department of Labor's (DOL) Fiduciary rule. The term fiduciary refers to someone acting in the best interest of someone else. You would expect your lawyer to be working for you and acting in your best interest. You would expect your CPA to be putting your best interests ahead of their own. It would stand to reason that your financial professionals are acting in your best interest as well. People are shocked to learn that not all financial professionals have to act in their clients best interests. Recent actions by the DOL were attempting to regulate and codify the rules for investment professionals but the current administration w

Cyber protecting your investment accounts

I recently returned from a conference where one of the sessions was on cyber fraud. By the end of the session I was curled up in a fetal position sucking my thumb. Is there anything these thieves won’t try? Apparently not. And now that they easy methods of stealing your identity are used up, they are going after your investment accounts. And the methods they are using are ingenious. First, there is spoofing. This is where you get an email and it looks like it is from your trusted bank or other financial firm. You are instructed to login. It then launches viruses unto your computer that can steal your credentials. You just gave them the keys to the kingdom. I actually got one of these the ver

Party likes its 1999

I miss Prince. I remember when his song “I’m gonna party like it’s 1999” came out in 1983. I was just starting college and we played it at every party. The year 1999 seemed so far away, I couldn’t even imagine something so far in the future. Fast forward to the actual year 1999 and I worked in an office, overlooking Times Square. Pretty cool for a kid from Romeo. And it seemed like the stock market WAS partying all the time. The returns for the past five years had been 37%, 22%,33%,28%, and 20%. People started to say smart things like, “It’s different this time” and “Companies don’t have to ACTUALLY have earnings” to be profitable. It was a frustrating time for me as an advisor because clien

Your Financial Fire Drill

As we enter the eighth year of economic expansion it is hard to know exactly what to expect from the stock market and how it will impact someone personally. However, I like to worry about what one can control instead of what one cannot control. We personally cannot control the direction of the stock market or what is going to happen in the economy. What can we control? Debt and spending. Your unsecured debt monthly payments should be less than 12% of your household income and combined with housing it should be less than 36% of your income. The closer you are to retirement the lower that credit card debt service should be. Take a look at your overall spending. How much of it is discretionary?

Planning for Special Needs Children

Parents of over 56 million individuals with disabilities depend on a combination of government benefits and using their own assets to care and support their adult children. It can be difficult to care for adult children with disabilities because that person is only allowed to have $2,000 in total assets. Careful planning is required. Thankfully, there have been some recent changes to the laws that allow parents and other caring people to set aside funds for the care of that individual. In that past, it meant expensive trusts, but now even parents with modest means can save some money for the future care of their child. Michigan now has launched an ABLE account (Achieving a Better Life Experi

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