Financial Planning

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Consistent Saving is a Vital Habit

About 58 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in personal savings, according to a recent survey by gobankingrates.com. If we think about all the federal employees impacted by the current government shutdown, that means six out of 10 will likely experience financial difficulty due to this interruption in their incomes and lack of savings. A government shutdown is rare. Still, it is a powerful reminder to us all to be prepared for unexpected loss of income or large expenses. Consistent saving is a vital habit.

Having an emergency savings account (for things like a broken water heater, automobile repairs or unplanned medical bills) can save you a lot of anxiety. It can save you hundreds of dollars, as well, since late fees for credit cards, car loans or utility bills often run $30 or so per month. Having an emergency reserve will also help you maintain a good credit score during challenging financial times.

When speaking to young adults, I often recommend they keep $1,000 to $1,500 as a minimum target for a checking account. Adults with children or additional financial responsibilities should set a higher reserve target. The savings not only helps in an emergency, it helps you avoid monthly bank fees that can add up quickly. If you can set aside $20 per week (only about $3 a day), you will have accumulated $1,000 by the end of the year.

Once you have your emergency fund in place, you can focus on your retirement savings. Setting up an automatic deposit from your paycheck into a retirement account is one of the easiest ways to save money. That money never reaches your checking account, so it is less likely to be spent. For 401k contributions, start with 5 percent of your salary or enough to receive any company-matching contributions. After a few months, you will hardly miss the smaller amount going into your checking account.

Consistent saving is a vital habit that lasts a lifetime. Taking that first step is important. According to US Census data, the median household income was $60,336 in 2017. For a typical 40-hour work week at that income, $5 is equivalent to about 10 minutes. Wouldn’t investing just 10 minutes (or $5) a day be a worthwhile investment in yourself?

By |February 4th, 2019|Current Affairs, Financial Planning, Retirement|

End of Year Checklist

Lupe Camargo offers a financial end of year checklist for review.Where has the year gone? Throughout the year we have several ways to help lower our tax bill and save more money. Although most of the year is behind us, there is still time to take advantage of some things that can help put you ahead. Take a minute to review this end of year checklist.

Maximize retirement account contributions.

How much more can you save before year-end in your IRA or company retirement account? Traditional and Roth IRAs have a limit of $5,500 with catch-up contributions of $1000 for those over age 50. The 401K contribution limit is $18,500 with a catch-up contribution of $5,500. These extra contributions may push you into a lower tax bracket, so it’s worth evaluating.

Don’t miss your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD).

At age 70 ½ you are required to withdraw at least the required minimum distribution from your IRA or face a steep penalty. Remember the option of doing a Charitable IRA Rollover. This allows individuals to use their RMDs to make a direct transfer of up to $100,000 per year to qualified charities without incurring federal income taxes. Remember though, because taxes are not taken out when you complete a Charitable IRA Rollover, these funds may not be listed on your tax return as a charitable contribution.

Spend your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) money.

Is there money left in your company FSA? Use it before the end of the year, or lose it. Buy those glasses, or get the dental work done, before the money disappears.

Capitalize on tax-loss harvesting opportunities.

At Perspective, we regularly review portfolios for tax-loss harvesting opportunities. This helps to offset taxable capital gains you have had throughout the year by selling investments that have lost value.

Review your spending.

Are you confident you know where your money is going? Begin the process of reviewing your statements and identifying opportunities to save more. By focusing on what you can control, you can help kick off 2019 in the right direction.

By |December 3rd, 2018|Financial Planning|

Create a Vivid Written Financial Plan

How many times have you been told you’re more likely to achieve a goal if you write it down? More times than you can count? Probably. That’s because study after study has proven it to be true. Is it time to create a vivid written financial plan to achieve your goals?

Vividly describing your goals in written form is strongly associated with goal success. People who very vividly describe or picture their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals than people who don’t, according to Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, a leadership training and research firm.

“Writing things down doesn’t just help you remember, it makes your mind more efficient by helping you focus on the truly important stuff,” Murphy stresses. “And your goals absolutely should qualify as truly important stuff.”

When you take possession of something – an item or an idea – you are more committed to it. Neurologists and psychologists call this phenomenon the “endowment effect.” Thus, writing down a goal gives you ownership of that goal. It becomes “yours,” a part of you, something you want to keep and protect.

That’s just one reason why we encourage our clients to have a written financial plan. It’s a way to vividly picture where you want to go and how you will get there.

We also encourage you to revisit that plan periodically – it’s not chiseled in stone; it’s a living document that changes and adapts as you live your life.

October is National Financial Planning Month.

Charles Schwab’s 2018 Modern Wealth Index survey shows that investors with a written financial plan tend to have greater fiscal discipline and better money habits.

Unfortunately, only 25 percent of Americans have a written plan. At Perspective Financial Services, about 50 percent of our clients have a written plan. If you don’t have a written financial plan, talk with your advisor about creating one.

By |October 22nd, 2018|Advisors, Financial Planning|

Understanding Liability Insurance

Liability insurance can protect you in the event of serious injury, property damage or other economic liability. Thus, understanding liability insurance is an important piece of your personal financial plan.

One of the most common types of liability insurance is bodily injury and property damage for your auto coverage. It provides payment to others when you are the driver at fault in an accident. Arizona has minimum levels of coverage of $15,000 bodily-injury liability per person, $30,000 per incident (two or more people) and $10,000 for property damage ($15k/$30k/$10k). If someone has a $50,000 medical claim and you only have the minimum $15,000 in bodily injury coverage, they may pursue you for the remaining costs. More typical levels of coverage are $100k/$300k/$100k.

Another common type of liability protection is a vital component of homeowner’s insurance. Coverage typically starts at $100,000; however, to protect your family’s assets, $300,000 or more is advisable. If a guest or contractor slips and falls on your property, medical bills and lost wages can quickly add up to more than $100,000. Do you have a dog, pool or trampoline? Claims from these risks are common for pain and suffering, as well as for medical bills.

An umbrella liability policy is less common, though strongly recommended. Also known as a personal liability policy, it complements your auto and homeowner’s insurance by extending liability coverage where the underlying policies end. A car accident resulting in severe injuries can quickly exceed $500,000 in medical bills, property damage and lost wages, not to mention claims for pain and suffering. Any amount not covered by your auto policy could cause an action to be brought against you and your family for your personal assets (bank accounts, cars, home equity, wages). With a $1 million umbrella liability policy, you would have more sufficient coverage. In addition, the insurance company would pay for an attorney to represent you and negotiate with the other party.

More generous umbrella policies may also cover claims such as false arrest, libel or slander (such as a negative online review). Premiums for umbrella policies typically range from $250 to $500 per year for an additional $500,000 in liability protection.

By |July 1st, 2018|Financial Planning, Insurance|