Ever been on a team that is working well together?
When you're on a strong team, be it a sports team or a business team, the unique gifts and strengths of the individual members contribute to the success of the whole.
In fact, on a strong team, like say, the Seattle Seahawks, while the strengths of each individual member are obvious, it's the team working together that gets to the Super Bowl.
Let's apply this same team approach to your financial strategy.
Instead of thinking of your financial resources as isolated financial products, think of each financial product you have as a individual player on your financial team.
For example, don 't think about your bank account, 401(k), real estate, life insurance policy, certificate of deposit
(or any other product) as isolated money in "separate buckets."
Instead, consider how your different financial products might actually work together to make your financial situation stronger.
When you develop a lifetime financial strategy that factors in the strengths and weaknesses of each financial product, along with your life values, then you create a winning financial team.
Your retirement strategy should take into account your life values and needs and potential life events - both planned and unplanned.
Then, each financial tool or product should be evaluated as to how it will contribute to your financial team and enable you to achieve your goals.
Pete Carroll, the Seahawks Coach, looks for defensive players that fit his strategic vision. He bids farewell to highly capable players that don't fit his long-term goals or whose strengths don't match his needs.
Think about your financial products in the same way. Choose each financial player carefully with your retirement needs and goals in mind.
You don't have to build your financial team alone. We know Pete Carroll looks to his management and coaching staff for expertise.
And that's why I'm here. Together, we can build a winning financial team that provides you with a secure retirement.
Syndicated columnist Chuck Jaffe, in his January 26, 2015, Seattle Times column entitled, "Your Funds" recently made this statement about mutual funds:
"...But investors are pretty well versed in the evils of mutual funds. Funds can be expensive, tax inefficient, underperforming, opaque, hard-to-understand investment vehicles that seldom perform as expected no matter the market conditions.
Most investors know that, and they should."
Is this the performance you expect from your mutual funds?
I know I don't run into many individuals, families or business owners who want this type of performance from their mutual funds.
You want growth from your mutual fund. Enough growth and security to be able to retire.
Mutual funds are the common "go to" financial product. But often, they are not the best or the only product that is optimal for your financial situation. Still, it's amazing to me that this is the only financial option offered to you again and again in articles by financial "experts."
There are financial products and strategies out in the market today that will capture market growth without the risk of loss.
With today's financial products and the right financial strategy, there's no need to ever lose money or place your money in what Chuck Jaffe describes as "hard-to-understand investment vehicles that seldom perform as expected."
Choose to look and think beyond the common. It will be worth your while.
It's fun to be at the Circle of Wealth Conference. I'm enjoying connecting with friends and colleagues. And I'm in one of the few parts of the country (Florida) that is escaping the polar vortex!
I've always found flashy New Year's "resolution" lists a little suspect.
Personally, I enjoy entering the New Year quietly rather than with trumpets blazing and grand pronouncements.
And the same is true with financial goals and a lifelong plan. Your financial strategy shouldn't be full of flashy highs and scary lows.
Rather, your financial strategy needs to hum along quietly and steadily - providing you and your family with flexibility, security, sustainability, predictable growth, and freedom from financial loss (and the worry that this inevitably entails).It takes time and effort to build a lifelong financial strategy. This approach can deter folks who are focused on a quick return on their investment. It can also seem rather daunting to get started.
One of the questions my wife, Suzanne, and I ask ourselves when we want to make a change is simply, "What am I going to do differently today that will make a change in six months?"
By implementing actions each day to move ourselves forward, we cover the distance we need to reach our goals without trying to do it all in one grand leap.
Let this be the year you make progress on your financial independence. All you need to do is take that first step.
I look forward to working with you to set up an enduring financial strategy, one designed to work for you for the rest of your life.
Imagine your boss handing you your paycheck. And, as she does, she says, "By the way, you'll be taking a 10% cut next year, but don't worry, over the long-term, you'll make it up. I think."
You'd likely be appalled, angry and perhaps a little confused.
But you sign up for this same scenario when you place a portion of your hard-earned paycheck in the stock market.
You hope that your money will grow. You hope that whoever is watching over it knows what he or she is doing.
When the stock market drops, you prefer to look away, wanting to believe all the promises "that over the long-term it will come back."
Well...what if "the long-term" is too long for you? Many of the folks who lost money in 2008 are still waiting to get back to their pre-2008 investment value.
So, I ask you again, how long can you wait to recover if you lose 10% or more of your investment value?
When your money is in the stock market, you're hoping to build a secure financial foundation on money that is at risk of loss.
Why lose any of your money, at any age? With the diversity of financial instruments available today, there's no need to ever lose money.
It's that simple.
I hear a lot about "life balance."
But what about your financial balance?
Take a look at the image of two tanks. Think about where you have the majority of your money situated. Is it at risk for loss? Or is it in a financial vehicle where it is protected from loss?
If you can prevent the loss of your original principal (or capital) in the first place, then you are not continually coming from behind to try and catch up.
While it may be a smart move to risk some of your money, that you can afford to lose for large returns, the unfortunate reality is that many people place into investments money that they cannot afford to lose.
For these individuals and their families, when the loss of investment capital does occur, the results can be financially and emotionally devastating.
Where is your money?
Often, when we read about retirement planning, we are encouraged to focus on accumulating as much money as possible.
This is the basis of what's referred to as the 4% rule. It underpins a lot of retirement planning advice you'll come across.
You are supposed to save enough by the time you retire so that you can take 4% of your investments (IRA and/or 401(k)) each year as retirement
The problem is you can't use the same strategy you used for accumulation when it comes to the distribution of your money. For example, if you have $500,000, then you take 4% of $500,000, you'd have a before-tax income of $20,000 per year.
When planning for retirement you really need to consider:
1. The Source - In which financial products or investments do you have most of your money? It's critical to consider the strengths and limitations of your financial vehicles. For example, how much of your money could you convert to cash within a month?
Another question to ponder: if you want to access your financial reserves, would you face withdrawal penalties, fees, service charges, or need to rely on the sale of an asset (such as in real estate).
2. Income Reliability/Longevity - How reliable is your retirement income? Could it disappear? For example, if rental income is a part of your retirement strategy, what happens if you can't rent or renters damage your property?
3. Risk - How much of your retirement is at risk for loss? What happens if you plan to get a significant percentage of your retirement income from dividends and the stock drops and doesn't recover?
4. Impact of Taxation - Often clients don't consider the impact of taxation. The theory goes that we'll all be in a lower tax bracket in retirement so who needs to worry about this? But the reverse often happens. It's one of life's great ironies.
You end up in a higher tax bracket in retirement because you have worked hard to pay off your house, all your deductions have moved out and started their own families, and your dividend payments, 401(k) disbursements and Social Security benefits start to roll in.
You have more income and fewer deductions. The IRS is happy, happy, happy. You? Maybe not so much.
It makes sense to spend time and effort understanding how you will live when you retire. Retirement planning doesn't have to be difficult but it should be strategic.
Last Thursday, as I do every morning, I was perusing financial news and updates across a number of newspapers and online sites.
I took a look at the SigFig Analysis in the USA Today. SigFig notes that they have "over a half a million investors nationwide with total assets of 200 billion." (USA Today, June 12, 2014, Money3B).
Over the most recent 6-month period, engaged SigFig investors tracking the performance of their investments, and willing to accept moderate risk of loss, achieved a 4.32% return. Those investors willing to accept a highest risk of loss achieved a 5.08% return.
Yet these types of returns are comparable to those achievable with other financial products that achieve this level of growth but with no risk of loss.
My question to you is this: why live with the worry of the potential loss of your money?
I want to know my money will be available to me in retirement, not just hope that it will be. Why should we accept losing our money at any age for any reason?
We can get caught in the cycle of choosing high-risk investments that promise enticing rates of return. If we lose our capital or don't achieve the promised rate of return, we invest more money into another high-risk product.
We want to believe that our nerve and willingness to take risks will eventually be rewarded with a windfall that more than makes up for our losses. This approach is akin to sitting at the slot machines, feeding in dollar after dollar, waiting for the jackpot. Of course, you cannot rule out a big win. But this strategy is hardly one you want to use to anchor a lifetime financial strategy.
You don't need to hope that it will all work out if you just shut your eyes and believe. This approach may have worked for Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, but it's not a solid strategy as we move into a volatile and rapidly evolving 21st Century.
You can set yourself on a different path to financial stability and peace of mind. Choose financial products with predictable financial results AND growth as the cornerstone of your financial strategy.
And then, if you so choose, place money you can afford to lose, in the stock market or other investments.
We live in challenging times. But with knowledge and the right financial products, we can face our future with confidence.
So...today I read another article on "saving" for retirement in your 401(k): Wall Street Journal: How to Fix the 401(k)
These words are often used interchangeably BUT saving and investing are NOT the same thing.
You invest for greater growth at the risk of loss. You save for moderate growth with security, stability, accessibility and minimal risk of loss.
When you have mutual funds in a 401(k) you are INVESTING in the stock market, not SAVING in the stock market. If your money is in mutual funds it is at risk for loss.
Among its recommendations, this article talks about reducing fees and requiring people to "save" more and but does not talk about the obvious impact of poor mutual fund performance.
Look at your 401(k) statements. How long it has taken you to recover from stock market losses you experienced 2008? The greater your loss, the harder it is just to get back to your starting point.
Develop a financial strategy that combines the elements of saving AND investing. An effective financial plan will consider growth but will be built upon a foundation of security and stability.
You have two main options when you consider how you will fund your child's college education. The money will either come from 1) Your own resources and borrowing power or 2) from other resources.
Consequently, to pay for your family's college expenses without draining your retirement funds or other assets, you need to plan ahead. One of the most important ways you can reduce the cost of college is by accessing resources such as financial aid (grants, scholarships and work/study programs).
On the "good news" side of the equation, colleges are more competitive than ever before in their quest for students. Even the "prestigious" schools will compete for students, from every socio-economic background.
The baby-boomers left the halls of higher education long ago and fewer students are attending college. Many schools have empty seats to fill. Therefore, you should never assume a college is too expensive.
Colleges do need paying students but they do not expect every student and family to foot the entire bill for their education. This is especially true of private schools. All colleges have money... in the form of financial aid. And they'll pay for good students.
Actually, more than 80% of all students attending private colleges receive some sort of financial aid.
Regretfully, many families who would qualify for financial aid do not apply.
Because they assume that "they make too much money to qualify for aid."
So...to provide the best college education for your children and at the most affordable cost,it's extremely important to develop a strategic financial plan that takes into account your financial resources and needs along with a thorough understanding of the financial aid system.
When it comes to funding your child's or children's college education, it's true that there is a lot to know. And in this case, what you don't know can cost you thousands.
Planning means that you can pay for your child's college education without draining your retirement funds.
Begin now! The sooner you start planning, the more options you will have.