Monthly Financial Planning Resolutions

The New Year is always a good time to think about your financial goals and objectives for the year ahead and beyond. But don’t feel as though you have to do everything at once. Instead of the annual ritual of overdoing New Year’s resolutions and making grandiose plans (then backsliding or giving up after a few months), why not resolve to take a series of small steps throughout the year?

During the next 12 months on our blog, we will share 12 quick, easy things you can do to help you stay on track with your financial goals. Just one thing per month — 12 proactive tasks for 12 months in 2012.

In January, resolve to call your advisor if you’ve recently had or are planning any major life changes that may impact your investment planning.

Marriage, divorce, a career change, the birth of a child, returning to school, a new car purchase and many other life events can impact your finances – both in the short term and the long term. Take just a moment to contemplate recent changes or ones you see on the horizon, and let us know what’s new. With a brief review of your investment plan, we can help ensure you stay on track with your financial goals.

Here’s a preview for the year ahead. Don’t worry, we’ll provide you with more detail when the time comes.

In February, resolve to spend a few hours organizing your personal files and documents.

In March, resolve to talk to your children or grandchildren about the importance of saving and investing.

In April, resolve to review your life, home and auto insurance policies to ensure they meet your current needs.

In May, resolve to spend a few hours volunteering your time to a charitable organization or worthy cause.

In June, resolve to assess your need for disability insurance.

In July, resolve to create or update your will.

In August, resolve to call a family meeting to discuss your estate plan/will, and follow it up with a fun event like a dinner or outing.

In September, resolve to review and, if needed, update all beneficiary information for your accounts and policies.

In October,resolve to create a budget for holiday spending.

In November, resolve to call your financial and tax advisor to discuss any questions you may have about your 2012 income tax filing.

In December, resolve to review your financial plan to see if the goals you’ve set are still on track and important to you.

By |January 18th, 2012|Current Affairs, Financial Planning, Uncategorized|

Is it Time to Roll Over Your Retirement Accounts?

How many retirement accounts do you have? If you’ve changed jobs a few times throughout your career, you could have several accounts housed in different employers’ plans.

While it is certainly acceptable to leave money in an old plan, in some cases it may be a better idea to consolidate your assets. (If your account value is less than $5,000, your former employer can cash you out of the plan, making it imperative to have a back-up destination for those assets.) Having your retirement portfolio in one place can make it easier to track performance and make changes, which help ensure proper asset allocation of your portfolio.

Be sure to first compare the investment options of your old and new plans — and/or any IRA option you are considering — and their associated fees. Were you able to properly diversify your assets in your old plan?  If your investment choices were limited, you may want to move your money. Are the investment fees in your old plan higher or lower than in your new plan? If you were paying more for the investments in your old plan, it could help save you money to move your assets.

Is it time to roll over your retirement accounts?

Your investment advisor or financial planner can help you find the answers to these questions and decide if a rollover makes sense in your situation.

Initiating a rollover is easy. First, check your current plan rules to confirm that rollovers are permissible (the vast majority of workplace retirement plans accommodate rollovers). Next, simply contact the financial institution that will house your account. They will either have you fill out a form or have a representative help you through the process.

Be sure to understand the difference between a rollover and a distribution. A rollover allows you to transfer your money from one qualified retirement account to another without incurring any tax consequences. A “qualified” account can be either your new employer’s plan or a rollover IRA.

A distribution is essentially a withdrawal from your account. If you request a distribution, the account administrator is required by law to withhold 20 percent of your account balance to pay federal taxes. State taxes, if applicable, are also due. If you are under age 59½, you could be subject to an additional 10 percent federal early-withdrawal penalty. You can roll over assets from a distribution within 60 days of receipt and reclaim those tax withholdings. If you wait longer than 60 days, a rollover is not permissible.

Portions of this article were provided through the Financial Planning Association, the membership organization for the financial planning community (through McGraw-Hill Financial Communications), and is brought to you by Perspective Financial Services, a local member of FPA.
Required Attribution: Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by McGraw-Hill Financial Communications or its sources, neither McGraw-Hill Financial Communications nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall McGraw-Hill Financial Communications be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber’s or others’ use of the content. © 2011 McGraw-Hill Financial Communications. All rights reserved.
By |December 13th, 2011|Investing, Retirement, Taxes, Uncategorized|

Leadership, Perseverance, Hope

Last month, I attended the Schwab IMPACT conference for investment advisors in San Francisco. This invitation-only financial-industry conference brings together independent investment advisors with influential presenters, exhibitors and experts to learn about and collaborate on key issues and best practices. It was my extreme honor to speak on a panel about building and managing an advisory business.

Photo Caption: Investment Advisor Mike McCann (left) with U.S. Navy Captain Mark Kelly at the Schwab IMPACT conference, November 2011

In addition to continuing education sessions, I had the pleasure of sitting in on inspiring keynote presentations by Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Maria Bartiromo, anchor of CNBC’s Closing Bell and host/managing editor of the nationally syndicated Wall Street Journal Report; and Charles Schwab, founder and chairman of the Charles Schwab Corporation. Their insights on the economy, global events and the future were enlightening.

American hero, U.S. Navy Captain Mark Kelly also was a keynote speaker at IMPACT. Kelly served in the Persian Gulf and flew in dozens of missions during Operation Desert Storm. During his tenure with NASA, Kelly  was an astronaut on four space shuttle missions, including one as the leader of Discovery and another as the commander of the final flight aboard Endeavour in May of this year. He spoke, in part, about the importance of thinking individually and dangers of falling into a “group think” mentality. “None of us is as dumb as all of us,” Kelly said, quoting a popular NASA saying.

He is married to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was the target of an assassination attempt in January 2011. Regarding Giffords’ surprise return to Congress in August 2011, Kelly asked, “Have you ever packed for your wife for a trip? This is the most risky thing I’ve ever done.”

Kelly’s overall message of leadership, perseverance and hope was both humbling and uplifting. He believes America must continue to be a leading presence in the world, sharing our values of freedom, family, community and self-reliance for the betterment of all humankind.

By |December 6th, 2011|Advisors, Company News, Current Affairs, Uncategorized|

Decide Where Your Arizona Tax Dollars are Spent

by Andrew Mark, CPA

While no one likes paying taxes, it can be more palatable when you can designate where the money goes. Arizona offers a number of dollar-for-dollar credits you can take on your income-tax return. It doesn’t matter if you owe money or get a refund; but you must have Arizona taxes to offset the credits. If you’re married and think your tax bill to Arizona will be $2,200 for the year, for example, here’s a way to designate how all of it will be spent.

  1. Public schools. You can donate up to $400 ($200 for singles) to any public or charter school in Arizona for after-school activities. These must be received by the end of the year.
  2. Private school tuition organizations. Give up to $1,000 ($500 single) to a tuition organization that awards scholarships for children in Arizona private schools. Donations can be made up to April 15 of the next year.
  3. Working poor. Donate up to $400 ($200 single) to any Arizona-registered charity that helps the poor (organization must be approved by the Department of Revenue). You must also itemize your deductions on your Arizona form to claim this credit and the charity must receive your money by December 31.
  4. Military family relief. You can contribute $400 ($200 single) to benefit Arizona service members and their families. The assistance goes to those who are deployed or to the families of those injured or killed. The credit is capped at $1 million annually so it’s important to get this money in as early as possible. Any money received after $1 million is reached (usually sometime in December) is returned.

As with all tax advice you should seek confirmation from your own advisor that this will work for you.

By |November 9th, 2011|Charitable Giving, Taxes, Uncategorized|