Is Making Money Costing You Money?

The vast majority of people will do anything to make a few extra dollars, but at what cost? Many individuals are dedicating valuable time towards gig jobs that may not produce marketable skills.

A gig job is commonly defined as a flexible, temporary job that provides compensation for the completion of a set task. The individual is generally an independent contractor and common examples include babysitting, driving for Lyft or Uber, and delivering groceries over Shipt.

As with any employment decision, it is important to examine the costs and benefits associated with committing to a gig job. Unless reviewed cautiously, they can have a negative overall impact on an individual's long-term earnings potential.

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The IRS Just Offered You a Raise

It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then the IRS has some good news to share. For the first time in 6 years, retirement savers have just been given a “raise” for the 2019 calendar year. Thanks to persistently low levels of inflation, maximum contribution limits for various retirement accounts haven’t budged since 2013.

That’s finally changing, providing some relief for anyone looking to sock away as much savings as they can leading up to retirement. While the increases may appear relatively small at first glance, every little bit helps as the vast majority of Americans find themselves behind when it comes to saving for retirement.

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The Insurance No One Wants to Buy, and No One Wants to Sell

 

Adequate insurance coverage is essential to good financial planning. This typically will include our property, health and life. Insurance for these risks is generally straightforward, standardized and accessible. However, when it comes to long-term care insurance, it’s hard to know if we even need it in the first place. If we do … Will we be approved for coverage? Will it be worth the years of premiums? Will the insurance company be around in the future? Will the coverage be relevant when the time comes that we need to use it?

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Shark Tank: Playing the Home Game Edition

 

With few exceptions, devotees of the business reality show Shark Tank almost always harbor a secret desire to sit side by side doing deals with the likes of Mark Cuban, Daymond John, Barbara Corcoran, and Kevin O'Leary (aka Mr. Wonderful). These guys make it look so easy; cherry picking the best of the best all the while lounging comfortably in a studio set made to resemble your typical living room.

What most of us fail to appreciate however, is the show's producers have already sifted through thousands of truly awful pitches before curating the 3 or 4 worthy of making their way into each episode. While the end result makes for compelling TV, the practiced observer sees there's also a bit of financial slight of hand that cleverly obscures a textbook case of survivor bias. That is, the tendency to overestimate the odds of investment success by drawing a circle around a pre-selected subset of the original data pool and then declaring whatever happens to fall inside the lines as the intended "bullseye".

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Social Security: Now or Later?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) released on October 11, 2018 its planned changes for calendar year 2019.  Not surprisingly, to both current beneficiaries and those weighing the pros and cons of starting to collect, the item of greatest interest is the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) planned for the year ahead. More than 67 million Americans will be affected.

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A MEGA Roth Savings Opportunity Hiding Within Your 401(k)

Looking to enhance your retirement savings beyond maxing out contributions to your employer provided retirement account? Hidden deep within your 401(k) plan rules, may be an opportunity to take advantage of one of the best strategies to come along in years. It’s been dubbed the "Mega Backdoor Roth," and with a name like that, it has to be good, right?

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The Best Retirement Account You Aren't Using

Investors are used to struggling with the Traditional vs Roth retirement question - Do I take the tax savings now or will it be more advantageous to take it later? However, imagine a savings account that provides a tax deduction at the time of contribution, tax-deferred growth inside the account AND tax-free withdrawals.

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Can You Live The Life You Want Without Worrying About Money?

Coming soon to a commercial break near you, is a new advertising campaign from the CFP Board that aims to shed light on the higher emotional well-being consumers achieve when engaging with a certified financial planner. You may have seen their previous T.V. spot from a couple of years ago which featured a professional DJ throwing on a suit and convincing prospective clients that he was a trustworthy financial advisor.

That campaign slogan was “if they’re not a CFP pro, you just don’t know.” It was a clever public service announcement pointing to something we’ve written about here before - the importance of understanding where your financial advice is coming from, and whether or not it’s in your best interest.

The latest promotion pivots from pointing out the danger of working with just any “advisor,” to showcasing the potential benefits of engaging in financial planning work. Yet, what seems to get glossed over in all of the excitement to spread the word, as often happens when advisors attempt to describe their services, is a good explanation of what exactly financial planning is in the first place.

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Who Says Money Can't Buy Happiness?

As a financial advisor, most of my career has been focused on strategies to help individuals save, invest and protect their money. The point of accumulating wealth is primarily to assist clients’ in reaching their aspirations, hopes and dreams. With so much time centered on growing wealth, little was dedicated to the other side of the equation – spending it. However, what is the point of working so hard to have “enough” if we don't use it to spend in ways that make us happy? A few years ago, I came across the book Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending. The authors are two behavioral science professors who suggest there may be opportunities to derive greater happiness by changing the ways we spend our money. More money doesn't always lead to more happiness. However, how you choose to spend can have an impact. They outline five key principals which can result in money actually buying happiness.

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Financial Planning for Older Adults

 

When Greg Brandt’s father decided the time had come to replace his aging navy blue Buick Park Avenue, the 87 year-old did what any conscientious consumer would do; he scheduled a visit to the local auto mall in Lansing, MI and test drove vehicles that seemed like suitable candidates to meet his budget and transportation needs (1). At each of the dealerships the young salesmen were polite and quite eager to demonstrate the superior qualities unique to their particular brand and model. By the time Greg’s father returned home later that evening, the octogenarian proudly announced he had made a down payment and executed a purchase agreement to trade in the old Buick and take delivery of a new vehicle from the factory manufactured to his specifications. By all accounts, it seemed like a successful outing.

The problems arose several weeks later when it became evident the retired professor had placed factory orders for 3 separate vehicles with 3 different dealers…and made substantial down payments for each. While the auto dealers demonstrated remarkable understanding in helping to unwind the mess, it wasn’t entirely a painless process for anyone.

For most of us, knowing exactly when it might be time to step in and assist an aging parent manage their financial affairs isn’t always quite so obvious. It can be equally as challenging for the person requiring assistance to know when it's the right time to ask for help. Nobody really likes to think about the onset of diminished financial capacity (either for ourselves or for those we are closest to). However, simply ignoring red flags can not only extract a financial toll on a retirement nest egg, it also can impose an emotional toll on family members and loved ones.

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