Books

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Make Your Legacy Tangible

make your legacy tangibleEstate planning is about much more than the tangible elements of life insurance and trusts, or investment accounts and wills. That’s because your money and possessions are not the only representations of your life. What about your beliefs and wisdom, your personal experiences and family stories? These are your legacy. They are the most valuable assets you can pass on to your loved ones and community. So, how do you make your legacy tangible?

“The challenge with character and intellectual assets is giving them the same kind of physicality that financial assets are given,” explains Laura Roser, author of Your Meaning Legacy. “Legacy vehicles are the physical structures that enable you to pass on your non-financial assets.”

One simple way to pass on your legacy is to write a heartfelt letter. You can also create short videos or audio recordings in which you share family traditions, memories and other stories. For those feeling especially ambitious, it has become easier than ever to create biographies, memoirs and other specialty books.

Regardless of how simple or elaborate you choose to be, you’ll want to include these items in your estate plan along with instructions for how they are to be shared and preserved. Remember, too, you don’t have to wait until your death to share them.

Sharing your life stories today can benefit you and your family in multiple ways. For example, a 2006 study from Emory University shows that children who know and understand their family’s history exhibit strong self-esteem and a belief that they can influence events and outcomes in their lives. Additional benefits, according to Roser, include decreasing depression in older adults, connecting with family, and increasing the likelihood of a successful wealth transfer.

Charitable giving can also include a legacy letter, video or other vehicle that shares personal wisdom and values. Your thoughts and insights will make the gift all the more meaningful to the recipient. A college student who benefits from your scholarship will also benefit from knowing why you gave. Nonprofit employees will appreciate knowing funds to continue their work came from someone with shared beliefs and values.

Just like the drafting of important financial papers, documenting your non-financial assets should be done before it becomes urgent or too late. Why not start right now?

Ideas to Help Make Your Legacy Tangible

  • Pick a photo from your past and write a description of what was happening, how you felt when it was taken.
  • Record a two-minute video about your wedding day, the day your child was born or a family tradition.
  • Create a “Top 10” list (of things for which you are grateful, of mistakes you’ve made and learned from, or of actions you believe create a well-lived life).
  • Write a letter to your family telling them you love them and what you consider to be their greatest gifts.
By |July 30th, 2018|Books, Client Stories, Estate Planning|

Money Habits for Living the Life You Want

Rachel Cruze has been speaking to people about the dangers of debt and the importance of budgeting since the age of fifteen. Growing up as Dave Ramsey’s daughter, she uses that experience and knowledge to educate others. Her book Love Your Life, Not Theirs: 7 Money Habits for Living the Life You Want is a worthy read. It starts out strong with its main point and first habit to establish – quit the comparisons – and specifically addresses the envy of others that social media creates.

The other six money habits are laid out clearly: steer clear of debt, make a plan for your money, talk about money (even when it’s hard), save like you mean it, think before you spend, and give a little… until you can give a lot. Cruze’s views on budgets are adaptable for people of all incomes. She breaks down the basics of budgeting simply, making it easy to follow. If you’re new to money management, or if your money management isn’t working, it is a great introduction to help you figure out where you need to adjust.

The first section has a somewhat philosophical tone, covering an emotional habit rather than a financial one. The pace quickens in the following sections, and Cruze does a great job covering sensitive subjects like debt and loans in a direct but inoffensive way. This line, in particular, resonated with me: “There is no such thing as good debt and bad debt. It’s just debt. At the end of the day, you still owe someone something.”

There were a few critical omissions in the budget section that are worth noting. Medical expenses had only a vague reference under “miscellaneous,” and insurance (not including car) was considered a luxury along with cable and eating out. Despite these oversights, I recommend this book to everyone.

I felt I was in a good place with my money management, yet I still found the book highly motivating and helpful. It’s a quick read, and Cruze makes recommendations to websites and other books for those who want to delve deeper into subjects she briefly covers.

Written by Tobi McCann
By |June 4th, 2018|Books|

Influence Change for Personal Success

Lupe CamargoBuilding a foundation for a strong financial life begins with good habits. But what if you don’t have those habits, despite all the efforts to fully fund that 401K, grow that rainy day fund, or become debt free? With almost half the year behind us, how many are disappointed that the New Year’s resolutions lost steam along the way? How can you influence change for personal success?

The authors of Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success offer ways to change our unproductive behavior cycles. Based upon research in a number of psychological and medical fields, they show that traditional will-power is not necessarily the answer and that people are often affected in their behaviors by more subtle influences.

If we’re blind to what influences our choices, we have unseen forces working against us as we strive to move forward. Identifying and understanding those forces can help us turn the tables.

For change to occur, we need both the motivation and the ability to create it. Motivation and ability need to be applied to each of the following three categories (which, according to the authors, creates six sources of influence that drive our behaviors to either change or resist change):

  • Personal: what you do to change (or what you avoid)
  • Social: others who help or hinder your change
  • Structural: elements of your environment that can influence or block change

The authors of Change Anything suggest you design a plan that is adjusted to fit your personality, your situation, your weaknesses and your tendencies. Become a social scientist. Study yourself as the subject, and experiment with what works. Make it homegrown. You know you best.

 

By |June 19th, 2017|Books|

Tidy Up Your Finances

Camargo-WEBMany of us feel an urge to tidy up our homes and offices this time of year. Yet, this “spring cleaning” tradition may become obsolete, if Marie Kondo has her way. The organization consultant has captivated the world with her “KonMari Method” and best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Kondo’s promise? If you properly declutter once, you’ll never have to do it again.

Literally millions of readers have attested to the effectiveness and “magic” of Kondo’s method, as well as the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire. But what does all this have to do with your personal finances?

“Tidying isn’t just a physical thing, it’s an emotional thing. You face things around you, and you face your inner self,” Kondo said. Her decluttering method hinges on keeping only those material items that “spark joy” inside you when you hold or use them and letting go of those items that do not.

When you tidy your home, she recently told CNNMoney, you hone your judgment skills. After people shed clothes and items that don’t give them joy, they also become more cognizant of what does give them joy and more deliberate in how they shop and spend their money.

Even if you’re not interested in undertaking a full decluttering and organizing of your life, you can apply the KonMari Method to review and update your budget and financial plan. Just as Kondo asserts tidying is both physical and emotional, I have often discussed with clients that financial planning is both a physical and emotional process.

While you can’t throw out the electric bill if paying it does not spark joy, you can focus your thoughts on the things you enjoy as a result of buying that electricity. Do the ways you spend your hard-earned income day-to-day and the goals you are working toward long-term spark personal joy? If not, let’s meet and discuss how we can tidy up your financial plan and help you revive your motivation.

By |April 20th, 2016|Books, Current Affairs, Financial Planning|