Another year down and now we’re into 2012. As you look back on 2011, I hope you smile more than you frown, but in either case, we can start anew. Anything not finished, put aside, can be started again. Take this year one step at a time. If you have a long to-do list that seems endless and daunting, commit to focus on one item each month. Here are some important categories to focus on:
1. life insurance - get it if you don’t have it, make a quick review of current policies. Expiration dates can sneak up on you, so be prepared. Plus, you may need to update beneficiaries for new children’s names and family who might have passed away.
2. Taxes- as you prepare for tax time, take this time to review your spending habits for the year. Does anything stand out? If you’re trying to cut costs, use this information to determine where you possibly overspent and create a new atttitude for 2012. What one expense can we change your thinking on and make a difference for this year?
3. Investments- look at your year end statement and determine your rate of return for last year. How does that compare to a common benchmark? (S&P 500, for example) If you’re paying trading costs or annual fees, what was your total cost in fees for 2011? Would it make sense to switch to a fee-based account? Do the math.
4. Debt and emergency fund-How did last year turn out? Did you pay down debt or increase it? Same with the emergency fund…if you failed on a goal you set, don’t get down on yourself. Think hard as to why your plans didn’t work and make the committment to fix those issues this year so that they don’t stand in your way again in achieveing your goals.
5. Will- Get that will in place, no matter what. Life’s uncertainties are why we have to have things like wills in place. There will never be a more convenient time, you just have to take the time to do it. Seek professional help to make it as painless as possible, here’s a suggestion: Mark DeAndrade, www.demalawfirm.com
Here’s to an even more successful and happy 2012!
I went to a local outdoor shopping center the other day, The Forum in Norcross, and was mildly surprised at the Christmas decorations already up. What really took me back was that they are playing Christmas music already too. They sure know what they’re doing. Hearing Christmas music makes me want to shop, how about you? Unfortunately, though, my poor 3 year old son doesn’t get the concept and now thinks Christmas day must be tomorrow. So confusing! Well, we all know that this is the profitable time of year for retailers and they have got to capitalize on it as much as possible. But, will it work? The war on lower prices for a slower economy is on, which lowers the bottom line, so will we really see many discounts this year? Only time will tell. Here’s an article that talks more on the topic….http://bit.ly/vF114e
So, be prepared. The retailers are waiting for you to come within hearing distance! Are you done shopping yet?
*This blog does not provide advice or specific opinion from anyone at TBCI. Please contact your financial advisor for advice for your personal situation.
I have to say that it’s been awhile since we’ve posted anything and I’d like to say it’s good to be back! It’d been nice to have some much needed time away, since the birth of my second son, but what a crazy market to return to! For those of you out there who actually pay attention to the market on a daily basis, (it’s better if you don’t, really, much less stressful), you’ve notice how a day of gains can all be given back the very next day. When it comes to401(k) accounts, a common investment people usually choose is the target fund. The target fund is the one that is listed as a year, the year you plan to retire in. The goal of the target fund is to have a mix appropriate to how long of a time period you have to invest before retiring. But, not all target funds are made alike, even if their target date is the same. It’s important to know what really is in your target fund and how it is being managed. Take a look at this article. It will break down some of the specifics to look for in target funds and how to navigate through the decisions of choosing a target fund, or using other options in your 401(k). http://on-msn.com/sEdQ0c
When it comes down to it, the target fund is a decent way to create a strategy in your 401(k), but if you have the option to have it actively managed, you will get a much better result. Many company plans are now offering the new option for active management. To find out if your company plan offers this option, check out the list on our website under the Services Tab, or email me at email@example.com.
We all hear about trusts, how the wealthy use them to secure assets for family members after they pass away or use them to take care of family members who cannot take care of themselves. But, they can also serve an important purpose with those with younger children. Nobody likes to think about it, least of all me, but if something should happen to both my husband and I, it’s my responsibility to plan ahead on who would take care of my children and who would manage the assets I leave behind for them. Separating the two responsibilities is not a matter of trusting the caretaker you’ve chosen, it’s more about allowing them to focus on the more important part of raising your children. Give the responsibilty of managing the money your children will receive to someone different and in an organized way. You can achieve this with a trust.
Now, don’t get overwhelmed, establishing a trust is a very simple process that can be included with creating or updating your wills. The important thing is to know exactly what you want to achieve with the trust.
Here is a great way to get started: this article written by Mark DeAndrade, estate planning attorney, will help you better understand the basic trust, the revocable living trust, most commonly used when planning for younger children. http://bit.ly/n7eYXq
If you would like to learn more about specific topics on estate planning, check out the website of Mark DeAndrade at www.decalaw.com. His newsletters offer plenty of helpful information.
Well, it’s official, I don’t think there is a single aspect of life these days that hasn’t gone digital. Your kids can now receive, monitor, allocate and spend their allowance all online. From this young mom, who doesn’t necessarily buy into all the technology and doing everything on the internet, I think this program is pretty cool. Maybe it’s because I really love online banking. Anyway, if you’ve got kids who are receiving an allowance now, this can be a great way to help them learn what it is to save their money. You the parent set the standard allowance rate, but can also put in special projects to give them opportunities to earn extra money by doing extra things around the house. This program uses “IOU’s” to pay the allowance due into their accounts. You can then use your credit card to pay online, where they earn a small amount of interest, or you can mark the “IOU” paid and pay them in cash. In the meantime, kids can see their money grow with interest, or allocate it into different jars; spending, saving and giving. I think it creates a great visual for kids and helps them learn the lessons of earning money. The program is called www.threejars.com. Check it out and all you parents out there who have used it before or try it now, let me know what you think!