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May
3-5 Years From Now…

Where are you saving for your future?  Is it in stocks?  Is it in a retirement account through work?  Is it at the bank?  A lot of people like having their money at the bank because they know if they check their balance, it’s not going to suddenly be lower than the last time they looked.  With money invested in the market, there’s a possibility that could happen.  In fact, what do YOU think the market is going to look like in the next 3-5 years?  Really, there are only 3 possibilities, right?

It could go UP, it could go DOWN, or it could be FLAT.

What if you could choose to only participate in two of those three options with your own money?  That choice is obvious, right?  You would choose to grow or, worst case, stay flat (and to not lose!).

Now, if you have no money in the market (no mutual funds, stocks, 401k, IRA, etc.), then you’re giving up that potential growth, but you’re also staying away from the risk of losing.  Is there a way you could actually enjoy growth, but avoid loss?

Yes, there is!

In fact, there are multiple solutions that make this tantalizing possibility a reality.  They aren’t one of the obvious, traditional avenues of saving and investing, but they’re such powerful solutions that we believe it’s time for you to think outside the box with us!

We have created a short white paper that explains and reveals these financial strategies. Request your free copy below:


Request your copy…


 

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May
Goal Check!

Can you believe we’re already done with one-third of the year!? It’s amazing how time flies! So a question… Are you where you thought you would be at this point in the year?

Many people set goals for the year, but then never really check their progress throughout the year to see if they’ll actually reach them by the end. So check in with yourself… are you one-third of your way to hitting your goals this year? Are you 33% toward your health goals? Are you 33% toward your money goals? Have you spent the time with your loved ones that you intended? Have you invested in your personal growth like you wanted to?

If any of those answers are “no” it’s not too late to make a change now to get back on track. The main thing is that you have to decide (for-real-decide) to make the goal a priority and make the needed changes right now or another 3 or 4 months will suddenly be gone with no progress to show.

The same thing that’s true within a year applies to a decade or a lifetime. Where do you want to arrive and when do you want to get there? Look at the reality of those goals. What do you legitimately have to do to make them happen?

As one example, when do you want to retire? How much money do you want to have saved by that date? First of all, I certainly hope you have answers to those questions. Next, though, is figuring out a plan to arrive there… How much do you have saved right now? How will that money grow between now and then? Is there a gap? Are you short? OK, now this next question can be the really scary one… How many months do you have left and how much do you need to save EVERY MONTH in order to reach that goal?

Some people may need to save $1000 monthly for the next 20 years. Some may need to save $20,000 per month for the next 8 years. Take a few minutes to calculate your number…

Whatever your number is, you probably have one of two reactions – either you are starting to re-think your goals or you’re starting to re-think your current lifestyle. If you’re really passionate about a particular goal – whether money or anything else – you won’t shrink your goal, you’ll find a way to fight to make it happen, even if that means making some sacrifices now.

For right now, let’s refocus on this year. What adjustments or changes will you make starting today to move the direction that you said you wanted to go? Here are a few ideas to make it happen…

For personal or family growth: Schedule a specific time for that activity and stick with it as if it was your work schedule, cut back on entertainment or time-wasting activities that don’t serve advancing you to where you want to go.

For saving money: Find where you can cut back spending (we’ve talked about that in previous posts) or maybe look for a way to generate extra money (overtime at work, a side business, etc.), and then make time to actually implement a strategy for what you’ll do with the extra cash-on-hand (we’re here to help with that!).

For health goals: First, don’t try to catch up on weeks or months of no progress all at once. Give yourself a goal by the end of the week. Nothing crazy, though – if you overdo it, you’ll quit in a week or two and that doesn’t help. Set a schedule. Decide on some food and exercise disciplines you can stick with for the next two months (if you do, it’s easy to continue after that).

Whatever you need to do, do it! You are building your future and every day counts.

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Are you looking forward to your tax refund? What are you planning to do with it? It seems the only consolation for having to go through the hassle of filing taxes is that you receive a chunk of money back at the end. Now the first thing to keep in mind is that this is your money that the government was holding onto that now they are giving back to you. It’s not a gift or a prize of some sort.

Now that you suddenly have money in hand that’s outside of your normal budget, a lot of businesses are going to try to convince you to spend your refund with them. I strongly encourage you, though, to divert it to savings instead. The IRS estimates the average tax return for 2019 will be $3,000. Think about the long term – if you take $3,000 now and put it into savings, and then do it again next year, and so on, over the next 10 years that’s an extra $30,000 of previously unplanned savings (plus if you put it in the right place, you can potentially end up much further ahead in the long run). On the other hand, if you spend it now, what will you really have to show for it in the long run? Upgrading some toys now doesn’t leave you with a growing retirement nestegg.

Human nature is hard to overcome. If your habit is that you use that money to splurge, maybe you can make an adjustment this year – enjoy some of it now, but save most of it for the future…say spend $500 and save $2,500. We’re talking about your future, here. You owe it to your future self and your family to plan ahead. If you struggle to save monthly, this could be a way to finally save like you say you want to and know you need to.

Wanting to implement this saving idea is awesome. Taking some kind of action (even imperfect action) is good, but knowing where you can maximize your money takes guidance from an expert. In our business, we decided to tear down all the barriers that keep the middle class from receiving the strategies that wealthy people use. We do not charge you any fees at any point in the process and we do research among some of the top companies in the industry to find the right fit for you. Reach out and we’ll set a time to talk through your situation.

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Do you know what tax bracket you’re in? Do you know what your tax bracket will be in 20 years? I know for most of us, taxes aren’t a fun topic. We only deal with them when we’re forced to. But, stick with me for a moment…this is actually about your savings.

Every year, us good citizens give Uncle Sam a slice of what we earn. That is unlikely to change, but what does change is how those taxes are structured and that affects how big a slice we are expected to hand over. It’s easy to know where things stand right now, but when you’re saving for retirement, you have to consider how taxes might change between now and when you start using your saved funds.

Contrary to what many people believe, your IRA, 401(k) and other retirement accounts are not tax-free, they’re tax-deferred. This means the money grows without paying tax along the way, but any money you withdraw will be taxed according to whatever the tax laws are AT THAT TIME. If you’re in a higher tax bracket later, you’ll pay more then than you would now. If tax rates are raised, again, you may be paying more then than now. The problem is, there’s no way to know what future generations of Congress may define.

There are accounts that are tax-advantaged, meaning you pay tax on your income now and then use it to invest in these strategies. In these accounts, your money can grow tax-free and then when you use the funds they are also tax-free as long as you stay within the IRS rules. Maybe you should consider shifting some (or all) of your 401(k) contribution toward tax-advantaged strategies to diversify your portfolio across tax categories, not only across investment vehicles.

If you have questions, reach out to us. We teach people what options they have and guide them to actually implement solutions that work to meet their goals and needs. Don’t wait until you get a tax bill you don’t like to start looking at your situation.

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At the end of last last year, we talked a lot about saving, starting with an emergency fund and then moving forward into thinking long term. But I have an interesting question to ask…have you ever thought of insurance as a part of your emergency fund or saving strategy?

First let me give the high-level, overall saving strategy we advise people to follow… You must have some cash available at home – what if a natural disaster knocked out all of the electricity so you couldn’t use a credit card or withdraw anything from the bank? It’s a good idea to have at least a few hundred dollars that you have access to at all times. After that, you need at least a few thousand dollars, ideally 3-6 months of your expenses (in an account that can grow to keep up with inflation), that’s designated for your emergency fund – if you lost your job, this is what you might start tapping into so you don’t run up your credit card balance. This needs to be liquid funds that you can access within a day or two. And finally, you want to build long-term savings that’s growing for your retirement, and don’t touch it until then.

Now, let’s consider what insurance is in general… Insurance transfers some risk from you to an insurance company. You pay them a small amount ongoing, and they agree to pay a large amount IF certain circumstances arise. The idea is that if something happens that is covered by insurance, it doesn’t ruin you financially – in that moment they pick up the bulk of the responsibility. There are many kinds of insurance that cover all kinds of areas of life. Some insurance coverage is required by law, some kinds are very important to have, others are a good idea, and others are basically a total waste of money.

So back to my question, could insurance be part of your overall emergency strategy? You don’t want to sacrifice building your savings in order to pay for an insurance that is unlikely to ever give you a benefit. But some insurance coverages could be a very smart move, especially if there’s an indication that you will likely face the circumstance that it covers. It’s also important to point out that it’s very important for you to understand what an insurance policy does do and what it doesn’t do. Some people get burned because they think they’re covered for something, but they misunderstood what the policy actually does or that thing isn’t actually part of the contract. Be informed and don’t make assumptions.

Insurance isn’t saving, but they go hand-in-hand. If you have the right coverage when a situation happens, it could save you a huge amount of money at that point. You’ll have to balance your actual saving strategy with what protection you want to put in place, but make sure you protect the things you should. You also should review your insurance coverage periodically to see if what you have is still a good fit and if there might even be a better product or better rate available to you now.

Have questions? Comment below or message us and we’ll do our best to help.

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As the new year approaches, many people look back and think about what they have and haven’t accomplished in this year. Has my life advanced how I expected? Have I accomplished the goals I set out to hit? Almost certainly there is a mix of good and bad as we reflect.

Then we shift our focus to what we want to be different in the coming year. It’s a time to make changes, to set a new course, to grow to the next level. At that point, when someone is serious about making changes, they set New Year Resolutions. Always at the top of these lists are resolutions about money and health.

A “resolution” is a firm decision. It’s not something you should take lightly. It’s not just a want or a hope or “wouldn’t it be nice?”. If you’re really deciding, then you need a real action plan to make it happen. An example you hear every year is related to health. Gyms are packed at the beginning of January, but by the time February rolls around, the crowd is gone and things are back to normal. People like the idea of being in shape, but they don’t have a lasting plan that they’ll stick with to actually get there.

Since with this page we’re here to help you with money, let’s talk money… First of all, you can’t close your eyes to the problem. Be real with yourself. How much are you saving? Are you saving enough so that you will FOR SURE have enough money to enjoy the retirement lifestyle you want to live? If there’s any doubt at all, then we need to sit together and create a real plan that will work.

If you know you need to save $1000 per month, but you currently don’t do anything, then that’s not a realistic place to start at this moment. Start with $300 per month (just $10 per day). Most people waste $10 per day without even thinking about it – coffee, snacks, parking, unused subscriptions, etc. Be mindful of waste, find adjustments that will free up that money and shift it to savings. As you get used to $300, then bump it up to $500, then bump it up again…

So why do you need us? Our specialty is helping you develop a saving habit, growing your money, protecting what you care about most and even minimizing your taxes along the way. We don’t charge you anything to do all of this for you, so why wouldn’t you take advantage of free expertise? Oh, and we highly value doing the right thing for every one of our clients – seeking out the best solution for you. We’re working to build a lasting reputation in this community and will give you the very best we can give.

Don’t wait until January to begin your plan. Start now. Build some momentum before we even hit the new year. Schedule an appointment: https://calendly.com/financialfoundation/appointment and let’s do this together!

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December
Saving for Growth

Why don’t people save as much as they should? Or really, let’s keep it personal… don’t you wish YOU had more saved right now? The story for most people is about cash flow – either not having enough income to cover expenses or spending too much to have anything left over. Do you fall in one of these camps?

The main real problem is that people aren’t really aware of how truly important it is to save and plan for the future. As life happens and needs keep popping up, it’s easy to put off the long-term saving or even saving up an emergency fund. In the US, 65% of people save little or nothing and the average 401(k) balance is only about $98,000. How are we going to retire on that!?

Saving can’t be just stashing money under your mattress (or nearly the same thing – in a bank account earning 0.1%). You are working hard for money, but you have to also put money to work for you. When you put money to work, it doesn’t take vacations and can work around the clock, no matter what the weather is.

When you think about investing your money to put it to work, do you get a panicky feeling about not knowing how to? Or have you stayed away because you can’t stand the thought of losing money when the market drops? In our last post, we teased the possibility of a strategy that gives both GROWTH and SAFETY. There are actually several options to achieve that, and we have to consider each person’s situation before giving actual advice, but think about it…never losing! You put money in and it can’t disappear when the market turns negative. But unlike a bank account, you actually can see growth when the market grows. This growth isn’t guaranteed, but historically the US market has grown – sure there have been setbacks, but overall it goes up over time (at a rate significantly higher than your typical bank account interest). But also remember that with this strategy, any time you’re not growing, it means the market is negative for everyone else – they’re losing, but you aren’t.

The most important thing is that you decide to save. Yes, really, decide! Even doing something small is better than nothing. The second step is getting a handle on your cash flow (we can help you you with that). And the third step is to make a smart move forward to actually get started saving (and we can definitely help you with that!).

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November
Financial Balance

I’m going to assume for a moment that you have made some adjustments and you’re on track to build your emergency fund (there’s just over a month to go to reach $1000 by the end of the year). So what else should you be setting your sights on? There are many big things in life to plan for… education, wedding, retirement, home purchase, etc. Each of these is a significant financial commitment and requires that you save, invest and strategize correctly. There are also many things that might come along to protect your family against… medical expenses, untimely death, etc.

Your financial life is a balance between handling your responsibilities, building toward your goals and protecting against setbacks. You need to consider all three in your planning. Your financial foundation can’t stay small if you have big dreams, so you must go for growth. If you only focus on growth, however, what if the market turns against you or you suddenly are injured and have large ongoing medical expenses? Everything you were building could be wiped out. Can you find a good balance that includes all three – the safety of not losing, real growth potential and protection just in case?

Believe it or not, YES! That’s exactly the situation we help clients create for their families. There are solutions in the industry today that let you craft a beautiful balance in a simple, understandable package. You don’t need a finance degree or sophisticated tools to keep these plans working for you for years into the future.

You’re probably wondering what this solution is… Well, we can’t give individualized advice here, but we’d love to have a conversation to look into your options. Schedule a quick call (https://calendly.com/financialfoundation/phone15) and we’ll go from there.

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November
Black Friday is Not an Emergency

How is your progress on saving an emergency fund? Your assignment is to have $1000 saved at the end of the year, and let me make this clear… Black Friday is not an emergency!

As the holidays approach, retailers are doing their best to whip us all into a shopping frenzy. Never-before-seen savings on certain items make us feel like we HAVE TO buy them right now. We head into a store with one or two specific targets in mind, but then walk out with 7 or 8 items because, “hey, I’m already here and it’s on sale…” But keep in mind that some things really are on sale, while others only look like they’re on sale. Don’t get caught up in the hype!

What if you can take a step back and evaluate what you REALLY DO NEED? If you can’t resist diving into the fray of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all of the other deal-o-ramas, you should first make lists, set a budget and then find a way to keep yourself disciplined. Who are the specific people you’re shopping for? Are there meaningful gift options that don’t cost much? Are there items where you can find off-brand versions or last-year’s model that are still good, but less expensive? How much can you actually afford to spend (not charging everything on a credit card and paying it off for a year)? What if you left your cards at home and only brought the amount of cash you budgeted? Or maybe use a debit card, but first make sure there’s only the amount you want to spend in the account at the time of the shopping trip (by transferring the rest to savings before and then back after)?

And for children… kids don’t need much to play – they’ll invent fun out of whatever is laying around, so expensive gifts probably aren’t necessary. Kids spend too much time stationary and experiences can create memories that last a lifetime, so instead of game systems and other electronics maybe consider a camp, trip, art activity classes, membership to an activity group or sports team, etc. If it’s a significant cost, pool a group of family or friends together to make it happen.

We’re heading into a wonderful time of the year and it’s good to be generous. But please keep the bigger picture in mind. Make sure that along the way you’re still building your future, and the start is your $1000 emergency fund.

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November
Hidden Spending

Did you start to implement the last saving idea we shared? Please share your progress… If not, please decide to take action. Your future self will thank you

Here’s another saving idea you can implement starting today. The more of these ideas you implement, the more momentum you’ll gain!

Think about all the subscriptions you have… TV, music, store clubs, gym, monthly clothing or makeup boxes, magazines, professional services, etc. Are any of those monthly payments going to waste? You have them just in case, but in reality you never use them? Are you overpaying for something where, with a little research, you could reduce your cost? Do you maybe have multiple subscriptions that overlap in purpose and one could be cancelled?

Many people start a subscription and then over time don’t really think about it any more. At first, it may have been exciting, maybe indispensable, but things change. Maybe you don’t have the same need or desire any more. Take a look at your subscriptions and see what you can cancel or cut back on. Since you were used to those payments already, take the difference and channel it into savings for yourself.

Again, the first goal is to build a $1000 emergency fund. Can you accomplish that by the end of December? Take steps now to make November and December the time when you truly develop a healthy saving habit!

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