It is time that we talk about our money. No, I'm not proposing we broadcast our wealth, or lack of it, to the community. I'm suggesting we talk about how we feel about money and what it means to us. If we are single, an honest talk increases our self knowledge and points out areas that could use some improvement. If we are in a relationship, talking about money can make you happier while avoiding breakdowns, high stress and increased debt. Most of us don't know how to constructively talk about money but we can learn.
With the arrival of the new year, we receive an avalanche of global, national and local economic and market predictions. In considering how to use these predictions, you will first need to break them down to usable pieces and then decide how to apply them to your portfolio. From my review, it seems the majority of economists expect next year to be very similar to 2012. However, the probability of a US or global slowdown is relatively high and the chances for faster growth are small. Here are some ideas to consider when applying these predictions to your investments.
If you want to feel better, you need to be fit. That doesn't just mean being physically fit but also having a healthy financial life. Being financially healthy has many of the same benefits as physical fitness. You can lower your stress level, sleep better, be energized and have more control over your future. Like getting physically fit, it does take some effort to get started. If you are feeling a little nervous about your future or just want to tone up your finances, here are the steps to getting financially fit.
Paying for long term-care can decimate your finances. Typically, the options for planning to cover these expenses consist of purchasing a long-term care insurance policy or setting aside a large chunk of financial assets.
Often these options are not easy to accommodate or may not be realistic. This helps to explain why less than 10 percent of individuals have a long-term care insurance policy and others do not have enough money put aside.
Recently, some new choices to help reduce the risk of not having enough to cover long-term care expenses have become available.
However, they probably did not receive any instruction on how to manage their personal finances.
In Sarasota or Manatee counties, less than 3 percent of high school graduates have attended classes on personal finances. They risk not being knowledgeable about finances and potentially a lifetime of poor choices on loans, credit, savings and spending.
Health care is expensive. With the efforts to balance government budgets, the trend of shifting more costs to the consumer is likely to continue. Whether we are retired or planning for retirement, the numbers can be daunting.
It is no secret, having a well diversified investment portfolio can reduce the market rollercoaster effect. Without it, you are subject to the swings of a few investments.
Investments that react similarly to economic and market conditions can be grouped into class buckets. To have a diversified portfolio you must choose complimentary classes. That is they do not react the same under similar conditions.
The choice of asset classes and relative size of the buckets has been found to be the best predictor of overall portfolio performance. Getting the class and industry choices correct is about getting the strategy right. It is important to choose the right investment in each but, if you don't get the strategy right, it won't matter.
With 7,900 Baby Boomers turning 65 every day, it comes as no surprise that there
is a heightened interest in the area of long term care planning. The older we
become, the more we recognize the costs of extended care can wipe out most or
all of our nest-egg. The high cost of long term care can often be reduced using
For many, an obstacle has been the high cost of long term care insurance. A
relative newcomer to long term care planning and asset protection is becoming
the plan-of-choice for many "Boomers" and young seniors. To find out more, I
enlisted the expertise of Manatee County's foremost long term care specialist
Thomas Kenyon, with Florida Long Term Care Planners.
January is traditionally a time to revaluate and set new goals. The last year has been a rollercoaster ride for many people's financial plans and investment portfolios.
This makes it even more important to take time to make sure your goals are realistic, check where you are now and get back on track. What is the best way to get this done? Meeting face to face with a qualified financial planner is still the best way to get a personalized plan.
Municipal bonds used to be a "no brainer" for safe, insured, tax free income, that is until the companies insuring them became suspect.
In 2008, when people found out some bonds, stripped of insurance (over 60% of the municipal bonds issued), were a higher risk than anticipated. This led to a mass flight of individual investors from the market. Prices dropped and it was a great time to buy higher quality bonds. Since then, interest rates have continued to drop, the financial health of some states and cities is in doubt, pending income tax increases on dividends have been delayed and some financial commentators have warned of upcoming municipality failures. Let's look to see if municipal bonds are a good value today.
Many people invest only in US government or corporate securities because we live here and feel more comfortable.
As with other things in life, often we can achieve more if we are willing to look a little farther afield and explore the uncomfortable. The key is to understand the advantages, disadvantages and what best fits your situation.
One of the goals of a diversified investment portfolio is to lower your risk of loss while increasing returns.
When designing your portfolio, you evaluate the level of risk you can afford and are willing to take, your time horizon and desired return to achieve your goals. Using this information, you can develop a portfolio allocation for your situation. The next step is choosing individual investments. How can you choose investments and stay within your risk profile?
Getting your allocation, the "mix" of investments, determines over 90% of the performance of your portfolio.
Rightly so, this activity occupies a great amount of the investor's time and effort to assure that it matches their financial goals, risk profile and time frames. Once the allocation is determined, it is important to keep your investment mix on target to obtain the benefits. One reason is to avoid emotions from taking over your well prepared plan. How can you best accomplish this without unnecessary expense and effort?
This is the season of giving and sometimes it can be difficult to find give gifts of value for those we care about.
A gift of increased financial knowledge can help the recipient improve their life for many years. As a bonus, there are many low cost choices available.
Last week I saw a Christmas tree at a local bank. It was a promotion for their "Christmas Club". (A holiday savings plan popular in the 50s and 60s).
It reminded me that it was almost Christmas in July, a little more than halfway through the year. With the summer slowdown and half of the year gone, it is a good time to check your financial health. Here are four categories to review.
Saving - Did you have a goal to save more consistently this year? Pull out your statement and see how you are doing. If you are not where you want to be, try putting it on auto. Company sponsored savings plans work well because the contribution comes out of your paycheck before you see it. Ask your bank if they can set up a weekly or monthly transfer to a savings account.
How did your favorite sports team do last season? 2008 and early 2009 were difficult seasons for most people.
When market losses hit retirement accounts, stocks and home values, our net worth went down and it was difficult to keep working towards our goals. When a football tem has a tough year they start a rebuilding program and you can do the same. What can you do now to get back on track towards your goals? The team sets goals, such as winning a certain number of games, and looks at their assets, the players, to decide what they can accomplish. You must also be clear about your goals, assets, time horizon and risk profile. Winning teams know that having a good defense can help their offense move down the field to the goal line.
With interest rates at historical lows, you may need to dance a different step to squeeze more income out of your investments.
When market conditions are difficult, it can help to divide your income portfolio into guaranteed and variable portions. Use guaranteed income to cover basic living expenses and variable income to pay your other expenses. Looking at your resources this way, you can adjust the risks you are willing to take against the certainty of the income.
For our first step, cover your basic living expenses with low risk sources of income. Put together a complete list of your basic living expenses. These include groceries, mortgage or rent, utilities, insurance, clothing, medical, transportation and other necessities. A good blank expense form is available at www.todaysseniors.com in Money - Budgets section. See if you can cover your basic living expenses with income from Social Security, pensions or immediate annuities. If these are adequate, you can sleep well knowing your basic bills are covered. If you don't have enough guaranteed income, consider an immediate annuity, or another low risk investment to assure the basics are covered.