Category Archives: For Love or Money

Love Means…Check Your Beneficiaries

philly-love-2013-photo-by-dct Love means that you should check your beneficiaries. Establish a regular time of year to do this. Between February 1-14 sounds good to me. Maybe in alternate years, but begin soon, if you don’t already do this.

What documents should you review?

Employment Related Documents

Your current company retirement plan: 401k, 403b, 457, pension, HSA, or company provided life insurance. If self employed, your SEP, Profit Sharing, SIMPLE, solo 401k, IRA, Keogh plan (for older readers), or Defined Contribution or Defined Benefit plan.

Your previous employer’s retirement plans, if not consolidated into a new Rollover account. Reminder: don’t lose track of old retirement plans! Here is one link to try if you have lost track of one.

Which payout did you select for the retirement plan, the joint and survivor or the single life payout? I knew someone whose monthly income dropped 66% after their spouse died, due to the spouse taking ‘single life payout’, on not one but two different pensions. Please schedule a robust conversation with your spouse about this, well ahead of your deadline to choose a survivor benefit. Enter the conversation with good intentions and an ear for the emotions involved as well as the numbers.

Personal Documents

Documents from the last century, related to a previous marriage, or that first IRA you opened up right out of college. (You did that, right?) Life insurance you hold that was purchased for you originally by your parents (when you were single). Life insurance purchased while in your child-rearing years. Or, now that you are single again, dig out the list of things you were going to change after the divorce was final.

Here’s a link with suggestions for finding an old life insurance plan. This article from Consumer Reports also highlights the popular site www.missingmoney.com where.  you can search for reported abandoned property. People I know have found utility deposit refunds, last employer paychecks, old bank accounts, uncashed dividend checks etc.

Transition Related Documents

Did someone else pass away and leave you assets? This could mean changes of your beneficiaries, or changes in your wills. Did you become a parent, or parents for the first time, or for the fifth time? Did you blend two families?

Was there a layoff or period of unemployment? You may wish to redirect your assets closer to home.  Was there a windfall? Did you win the lottery or get a very large bonus? Do you wish to give to charity or become a first time philanthropist?

Love means you are willing to review what would happen to your family when you are gone. Give your beloveds (and you) the gift of a review and doing some homework regularly to ensure your assets are distributed correctly. Remember, it’s great to have your intent known verbally,  but also review your beneficiaries to see that your goals and your documents match.

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Filed under Be Prepared, February Financial Task, For Love or Money, Life and Death, Uncategorized

Personal Goodwill in 2019

The “holidays” are over. Whether you call it the 12th day of Christmas, 6 January, or the Feast of the Three Kings, those days have passed.

  • Did you survive or thrive?
  • What traditions did you keep, or eliminate?
  • What are your resolutions and goals for 2019?
note notebook notes page
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

These are questions grabbing the headlines on Twitter, your local newspaper (all the sections), and perhaps your favorite podcastBut wait! What is your real goodwill for 2019? In financial terms we call it your balance sheet. For businesses, goodwill is an intangible which represents real value.

“The goodwill of a company increases its value, as qualities such as the company’s customer base, its brands, products, location, workforce and reputation demonstrate the company’s proven track record of generating income.” via Investopedia https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/010815/how-does-goodwill-increase-companys-value.asp

In a 2014 post on this subject , I urged readers to consider their true balance sheet. This goes beyond the numbers to include personal goodwill, relationships, intangible assets, and experiences.  In 2019, with the 24 second news cycle (no longer 24/7) , market volatility, increasing interest rates, and a government shutdown, I believe it is ever more important to total up our non-financial assets.

A friend recently learned her skills were worth 12% more annually in the job market, but that it would require a heavy loss of professional autonomy. She chose to keep her autonomy and turn down the position. I recently was able to attend a birthday party for a family member where 15 relatives were in attendance; we ate, we drank, and we all enjoyed the surprise live music delivered to her door. It included Happy Birthday, on the bagpipes! As some of us mostly attend funerals, it becomes a priceless family memory.

If you have beloved family members who no longer travel for any reason, you have the experiences of travels with Mom, Aunt Susy, Uncle Sergio, or attending a cousin’s outdoor wedding (cupcake tower!)


Author and her mom at Fort McHenry National Monument. Photo credit to kind tourist.

During a time of job loss, or even getting home from a doctor’s appointment, do you have friends, family or faith institutions who can help you? That goes on your true balance sheet. Do you and your children talk or spend time with other over vacations, holidays or during stressful times? That is worth a lot. For those who have furry kids, same question. For singletons with an extensive chosen family beyond your family of origin, I hope that you find humor,  comfort, and support in these relationships.

Add those to your own bank. Research tells us about how our brain enjoys them more than the acquisition of things. Experiences generate three times the memories, from the anticipation, the actual event, and then the retrospection afterwards. I have a series of #UnfortunateEvents, for example, that comprise many of my personal vacations. They are funny now… but were not at the time. (River rafting accident, drunk guy in the aisle at 30,000 feet, and crying on an expensive Venetian gondola ride to name a few).

Personal and professional resilience count on your balance sheet. Deep breathing during stressful moments counts. (For some, that would be before public speaking. I find yoga more difficult than public speaking, but that’s just me!) Being intentional about your spending adds up. Decreasing debt is important as it leads to greater financial flexibility. Financial resilience and investing in personal attributes (reliability, integrity, courage and caring for others and yourself) loom large on the true balance sheet and are important for both personal goodwill and goodwill towards others in 2019. #IRL

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Filed under 12 Days of Christmas, Financial Wellness, For Love or Money, January Financial Tasks, Self Awareness