Year-end is my time for reflection and renewal. Business owners use it to set goals and develop a plan with benchmarks for the next year. I started applying this perspective to my personal life.
There is no gift that says “I love you” like a lower tax bill in April. Between all the holiday parties and batches of eggnog, there are some financial tasks to check off your list before Dec. 31. In addition to a gift of time, it is probably one of the more important gifts to give.
◗ Contributions to Indiana 529 plans. Time required: five minutes, 20 if you need to open an account.
I grew up in the days when Halloween was fun and safe. The only downside was that I had older brothers who made a point of trying to scare me—and they often succeeded. As an adult, I don’t need my brothers to scare me. I just need to think about the future of retirement in America.
In my much younger days, I never planned to get married and certainly didn't plan to have children. The last thing I thought I would do was to stay home with them. Yet in my 30s, I found myself married, with children and no outside employment. It wasn't what I had planned, but it was the life I was living. When I re-entered the workforce, my goal was to make enough money to pay for child care, a chauffeur and a housekeeper . I could never find the chauffeur.
My brother was visiting from China, and we got into a discussion of the stock market and the impact of high-frequency trading, or HFT.
Oh, the things we discuss after a good dinner and copious amounts of wine. Does HFT help or hurt individual investors? Is the market "rigged" against small investors?
I remember picking my oldest son up from school, when out of the blue he asked, “Mom, what’s the difference between a Roth and an IRA?” Pretty astute for a High School Freshman. One article I read described the difference as “paying taxes on the acorn or the oak tree”.
The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 had a provision that created the Roth IRA. A Roth IRA is an IRA that is subject to the same rules that apply to a traditional IRA, with the following differences:
I am in this great financial-planning book club. We read and discuss one book a year. The downside is that we have a video conference to discuss the book, instead of getting together in person, and there is no wine involved.
This year, we read and discussed "Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending," by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton. The book reflects new research (circa 2013) on the science of spending. Who knew this was an area of research?
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be able to save money effortlessly?
I am not one of those people. I struggle to keep my spending impulses under control. As I read and learned more about handling money and finances, I was able to see how my actions undermined my long-term goals, and I was able to make changes.
A recent Kiplinger article, “5 Big Problems to Solve Before You Retire,” lumped financial advisers into two camps.
“There are those who promise everything is going to be fine; you don’t have to fret about retirement, they say, because they’ll help you make more than enough money to get you through. And then there are the hand-wringers who just can’t stop with the worrying and their warnings that you’ll never have enough.”
“Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.”
—Winston Churchill, former British prime minister
Everyone needs a financial plan, but not everyone needs a financial adviser. There are times when it is OK to go it alone and other times when you could benefit from sound advice from a fiduciary adviser. There is also a difference in financial planning and retirement planning.