The Difference Between Privacy and Secrecy

 

Have you ever visited a doctor and neglected to share symptoms or recent issues? If so, how would you expect your doctor to give a reliable diagnosis? The same hypothetical can be applied to a financial review. It is often overwhelming to reveal one's deepest darkest financial secrets. At times it's easier to ignore poor investment decisions, bad debt, and questionable purchases. Unfortunately, ignoring some financial mistakes can lead to massive fees, penalties, and could even delay a dream retirement. In most instances, time is your ally, and getting a head start on rectifying a problem will not only save money, but possibly your sanity. Providing your advisor with the good, the bad, and the ugly of your financial situation helps to diagnose a problem, discuss a solution, and implement a plan for improvement.

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Dining at the Cafe 401(k)

As with all jobs, being an investment manager comes with some unofficial duties, including free guidance for family members regarding retirement savings. In fact, Olivia was recently helping a family member with investment choices in their employer sponsored 401(k) when she was provided a glaring reminder as to why people choose to hire professionals like us to manage it for them. Her beloved family member had chosen funds that made no sense for their goals, had high management fees, and were redundant at times. When probed about why they’d chosen these funds, Olivia was told that they had performed best in recent years, to which she firmly responded, “let me stop you there, dearest kin.”

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Get Out of (401k) Jail Free

 

Listen up jailbirds, it's time to face the cold hard facts. Many of your cherished defined contribution retirement plans (e.g. 401(k), 403(b), 457) are little more than gilded holding cells leaving you and your retirement nest egg exposed to some unpleasant truths: the investment choices are constricted and the fees (assuming you can ever figure them out) unconscionably high.

Despite the obvious handicaps that all-too-often accompanies closed architecture plan design, most participants over the age of 59 1/2 are completely unaware of special in-service distribution rules that allow tax-free rollovers to an IRA...even while you remain on the job and continue to make tax-deferred contributions. It's like the IRS baked a carbon-tipped hacksaw blade in the cake, walked it past the guards in plain sight, and then neglected to inform you the keys to freedom and choice were within your grasp. Though not widely advertised by 401(k) plan providers (who are keenly motivated to retain as many dollars in the plan for as long as possible), it's estimated more than 70% of 401(k) plans now allow in-service distributions. More importantly, that number seems to be growing.

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Don't Pay for Investment Advice!

 

Fiduciary: An individual in whom another has placed the utmost trust and confidence to manage and protect property or money. The relationship wherein one person has an obligation to act for another’s benefit. thefreedictionary

I am a fiduciary. As are my colleagues at Exchange Capital Management. What does that mean? It means a lot of things, but mostly it requires that I place the needs of clients ahead of myself. Shocking isn’t it? That in a business designed to serve the financial planning needs of others we somehow need to be reminded that our clients come first. While proud to say that the fiduciary commitment at Exchange Capital Management is imbedded in the DNA of our firm, this isn’t always the case elsewhere. But I’ll save that conversation for another day. Today I’d like to show you how you can save money by not hiring an investment advisor…an exercise that’s clearly not in my best interest.

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What Are You Saving For?

One of the many things I enjoy about being a financial advisor is how every client and interaction is different. Each issue must be uniquely reviewed and analyzed. While the overall financial planning process may differ for each individual, our team at Exchange Capital Management strives to understand our individual client’s goals. While the question, “what are your goals” seems simple, it is vital to consider the specific steps that must be implemented.

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8 Great Ways to Expand Saving Beyond Your 401k

 

If you are currently contributing the maximum annual amount to your 401k (or other employer provided retirement account), congratulations, you’re a step ahead of most Americans. In fact, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, you’re doing more in one year than close to half of all individuals age 55 and older have done in a lifetime - not saving anything in a 401k style account or IRA at all.

We’ve all seen attention grabbing statistics like this pointing to a looming “retirement apocalypse.” As a result, there’s plenty of experts offering advice revolving around how we can fix the issue (hint: save more, spend less).

But for individuals that are already making the effort to save and are looking to do more, it can be a bit overwhelming when looking for the best ways to save beyond your 401k. There are plenty of options, and like with most things when it comes to financial planning, there isn’t a clear-cut best choice that fits everyone in all situations. That said, below are 8 ways you can tuck extra cash away that will all put you in a stronger financial position no matter where you are at in your career.

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The Hidden Cost of a Free Fund

For years now, there has been a war in the investment industry, driving down fees as fund companies compete for business. At first glance, lower fees may seem like the answer to investors’ prayers. After all, keeping costs as low as possible is an important pillar to maximizing one’s invested wealth, as it is one of the few things you can control in an uncertain market. While our firm’s investment thesis agrees with this idea, we constantly remind ourselves and our clients that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

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Blindsided by Early Retirement

The age when you leave the workforce is one of the most vital factors that determine how much money you will have available in retirement. Working longer can be a good way to improve retirement security. After all, working longer not only provides more years to earn and save, it results in fewer years to rely on retirement savings. Many Americans seem to have gotten that message. According to the Center for Retirement Research, the share of workers reporting that they expect to work past age 65 rose from 16 percent in 1991 to 48 percent in 2018. However, their research also indicates that over a third of workers involuntarily retired earlier than anticipated.

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High Anxiety: 3 Things to Know in the New Bubble Economy

 

Nervous yet? I can't imagine why not. After all, aren't we living in the age of the "everything bubble?" Real estate, stock prices, crypto-currencies, credit, you name it, valuations seemingly lurch from one peak to the next...and each peak ratchets the altimeter up to a level never before seen. Like poor Daedalus escaping the bonds of captivity while watching his reckless son Icarus soar higher and closer to the sun, investors yearn for the rewards of flight and are simultaneously scared witless whenever they glance down.

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Investing in a House of Cards

 

It’s long been said that home ownership is the escalator to wealth in this country. But with residential home prices continuing to advance well beyond the high water mark set prior to the Great Recession, both existing homeowners and prospective new home buyers may be starting to wonder if the escalator more closely resembles the stairway to heaven they're hoping for, or the conveyor belt to oblivion they fear.  I wanted to know too.

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