Tag Archives: Family

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

New Job New State

Here is a response which some found helpful at Nerdwallet.com’s Ask AnAdvisor platform. This question was about accepting a transfer and the salary impact when changing states for your job.
Someone I know changed states recently but not their job title or responsibilities. In this person’s case, there was a new state tax withholding requirement which will impact cash flow until the next tax return is filed.

STOP.sign

Some practical points to check before seeking or accepting a locale change:

  • What are the taxes in your new town or city? In some large cities there will be three levels of income taxes.
  • Is there a local sales tax?
  • What are they paying new hires for that job function in that town or city?
  • What other factors will impact your cost of living?  Nice neighborhoods, schools, public transit

 

Other considerations for changing jobs include but are not limited to a change in your 401(k) salary deferrals (increase them if you can); the financial impact on your spouse or partner and which costs of living will change in your new place. (Housing, child care, education, transit, and for foodies – availability of organic produce or gluten-free products). Proximity to family could be important for grandparent involvement and vacations.

 

 

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Pass the Turkey and the Financial Planning Please (2018 update)

Mom, please pass the sweet potatoes; pass the turkey; pass the financial planning?

You survived Election Day, Halloween and curriculum night at school. Next up are Thanksgiving, Hanukkah (sunset of December 2nd, and  St. Nicholas Day, St. Lucia Day, school pageants, pantos, Christmas, and winter school holidays. The Super Bowl is February 3rd, and Chinese New Year is on February 5th. Will you be seeing a lot of family in the next 8-12 weeks? I reckon so.

art birds business card

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Sometimes family members you’ll see once a year; others you see more regularly and it’s your siblings that ‘pop in’ for a Turkey/Game Hen/ Tofu/Field Roast dinner. Lots can change with your parents or other family elders in a year, even six months.

2006 Christmas stamp, Ukraine, showing St. Nic...

2006 Christmas stamp, Ukraine, showing St. Nicholas and children. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Some things to consider:

  1. 1.If your relatives are asking for some help, or ruminating about how they are having trouble “keeping up with the paperwork” this year, pay attention.
  2. Listen carefully to any stories about telephone fundraising for groups you have never heard of. Be patient so you can get the entire story.
  3. Urge relatives to never give to groups they are not familiar with, or who have called them first, or groups that sound like established non-profits (but aren’t).
  4. You can help check groups out here at give.org or at Charity Navigator  or another charity evaluator organization.

Save and Invest.org has an informative PDF called Fighting Fraud 101 that you may wish to read or share this year.

Another turkey dinner topic is a family member’s health, or deaths of other loved ones. This can also be a good opportunity for you to ask some hard questions of your elders. (It is often hard for both parties, but you are doing it because you wish to respect their values as much as possible).

  1. Where is your will located?
  2. Who is your doctor and do you have a current Health Care Directive (they are different for each state-here is the WA one)  or POLST on file?
  3. Do you have a Long Term Care insurance policy and what company is it with? Did you purchase the inflation rider?
  4. What are your thoughts on “heroic measures”, “a ventilation tube”, quality of life and palliative care?

Please take the time to add a financial planning course to your holiday meals and visits this year.

Your mom and dad may thank you (perhaps not right away!) and it is time well spent.

Sun.Valley,Snowflake.Edited.

From the Roundhouse, Mt. Baldy. 2014 photo credit: Dana Twight

 

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Filed under Be Prepared, Family Lessons About Money, Learning About Finance

Conversations About Money: Vacations

What kind of vacations did you take while growing up? My family did a lot of hiking, backpacking and skiing. I’m not sure that we ever took ‘normal vacations’, but I look back on them fondly. They were full of variety.

We got to hike and backpack when you could drink the water from the trailside streams and rivers. I had my own Sierra Cup that hooked into my belt. (wish I still had it!) My parents brought eggs to hide one Easter weekend up in the Olympic Mountains and there was always coffee for them. (I did not yet imbibe.) One hike along the beach was a disaster because there was grilled steak for dinner and “someone” [not me], failed to pack the steak knives. So we ate it with our fingers. My brother and I were cool with that.

Costs of these weekend outings were generated by: gas, freeze-dried and real food, paper topographic  maps, a battered copy of Trips and Trails by Bob and Ira Spring, the occasional purchase at REI Co-op (my dad had a very low membership number), and maybe a hamburger at the XXX Root Beer Drive-In on the way back. I was a cheap date (plain hamburger-no condiments). My family didn’t drink soda back then.

The Kendall Katwalk Trail along the stretch of...

The Kendall Katwalk Trail along the stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We hiked in the real mountains, on the Pacific Crest Trail, in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, in Mt. Rainier National Park.

While in high school-I did get to a fake mountain-the Matterhorn.

Disneyland

Disneyland (Photo credit: CAHairyBear)

My high school band director entered my name for the McDonald’s All-American HS Band and I was one of the 100 musicians selected.

The band made two trips to march in parades at Disneyland and in New York City! Cost to me: free, save for the missed homework. (Oops, there was the family investment in the private music lessons-but as a teenager, I wasn’t bearing that cost.)

Like many families with children, we began to travel for athletic events. I distinctly recall the trip we took to a swim meet in Santa Clara. I was the spectator and my mother was the competitive athlete, however. (Masters Swimming!) My brother went to her swim meet in Toronto.

While many of my peers travelled to Hawaii while I was in high school,  I didn’t get there until I was over 30! (Cost of that trip: airfare for two, shared meals and entertainment, thank you gift to the owners of the time-shared condo). Loved visiting a coffee plantation on the Big Island.

big island of Hawaii

big island of Hawaii (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eventually I went to Europe when I was older. The 3-week trip was  paid up ahead of time due to our DINK status (Dual Income, No Kids).

In summary, we didn’t take extravagant vacations while growing up, we didn’t know what we were missing,  and I have some adult habits that have served me well. (see them below)

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Filed under Family Lessons About Money, History, Just for Fun

Death in the Family-More Transparency, Please

We had two deaths in my family this winter. Even though I didn’t have many official responsibilities, while responding to other family members and friends of those involved, I was struck by the sheer number of things to carry out in a short amount of time.

To quote my friend E. K.:

 …Just suppose, your spouse, your adult child or your best friend gets a big surprise, that is, out of the blue, he or she is to:
The Bedford ~  safe deposit boxes b&w1) Suddenly handle final arrangements, like a funeral? burial? cremation?
2) Figure out a three-foot stack of ‘papers’.
3) Sort out a lifetime of household ‘stuff’.’

I have created a workbook that will help you prepare for this day, which could be tomorrow, or in 25 years.

This book will also help you prepare for:

  • an overseas adventure-especially if someone else will manage your assets/residence for you
  • a sudden accident where your health care trustee needs to step in and get your bills paid, the dog taken care of and renew your prescriptions
  • any unexpected health situation where you will need help afterwards. (sudden back injury/surgery, torn ACL, hip replacement, stroke)
  • you or your parents (attention baby boomers!) prepare for a move or the end of life.

There are sections for completion on everything from household pets, to important documents, to whom to tell at work if you can’t come in the next day. We all know we should do this, but it is hard to set aside the time and create a record from scratch.

  1. For example, who knows about your small business, if something happens to you? Eight years ago, another friend of the family suffered a fatal auto accident. An owner of a test proctoring company, a computer expert had to be found-STAT, to figure out how break into her email. A scheduled test less than 48 hours later meant that someone else had to be found to give the exam. The other household member didn’t know her passwords. This was a hard task to get done while everyone was grieving their sudden loss.

2. Who will take care of and play with your cat?

Pet my tummy pleaseIf you need to “recruit” a personal representative and have this information ready for them, their job will be easier. For folks out there who have helped their parents with their finances, life planning and downsizing, what have you done to make this job easier? I’d love to hear about your successes.

If you are in Seattle, I am teaching a class on May 23rd where you will receive a copy of the workbook and we will discuss the reasoning for each section. View the class description and sign up at Brown Paper Tickets . [Update] next class is October 10th and November 7th, 2012.

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