In keeping with Financial Literacy Month, our April Resource of the Month gives you a step-by-step guide on the information you can expect in your credit report, how to get a copy of your report, how to correct errors, and how to correct negative information.
Despite what the thermometer might say, spring really has arrived! April is Financial Literacy Month and this season of growth and renewal is also the perfect time to spruce up your financial future. Here are some tips on how to clean up your finances:
Evaluate your Financial Goals
Before you can move forward, you need to make sure you’re on the right track. Have you looked at your financial goals in the last six months? Are they the same as they were the last time you did? Have any major life changes happened that might shift your goals? It’s important to draw up a roadmap before you proceed any further.
Examine your budget
Your budget will give you a day-to-day framework that will keep you on track to hit your financial goals. Budget planning involves evaluating your expenses against your income; if your income doesn’t cover your spending, it may be time to re-think your budget. Evaluating your budget is only half the job — once you know what your budget should be, you have to stick with it consistently. Budgeting, like working out, should be something you make part of your regular routine. And like fitness, there are plenty of mobile apps that can help you build up your budgeting muscles. Check out the top apps of 2017 here.
Create a debt payoff plan
Your budget will benefit from paying off debt as quickly and efficiently as possible. Take a look at your accumulated debt and be sure you are making payments on time and that you are aware of high-interest debts or debts with hidden fees.
Be aware of your credit history
Do you know your credit score? Do you know how many inquiries have been made into your credit in the past six months? Both things may affect your ability to secure home or auto loans. It’s vital that you understand your credit score and history, ensure that what’s on your report is accurately reflecting your credit and payment history, and that you take steps to rebuild credit if your score is a hindrance to achieving your financial goals. You can receive a free credit report annually from each of the major agencies, and banks are increasingly offering credit report monitoring as a benefit of having an account.
Review your investments
Your investments play a major role in helping you reach your financial goals. Spring is the perfect time to review your investment portfolio to make sure you are taking the right risks relative to your retirement timeline. It’s important to remember that all investments involve risk, including the loss of principal, so it’s vital to consult with an adviser if you have any questions.
Revisit your tax planning
Tax returns submitted in April can be a great roadmap for tax planning in the spring. Did you get a very large refund? Did you owe money for taxes? Both may signify that you might benefit from changing your withholding level, which you can do by re-submitting a W4 with your employer.
Want a partner as you tackle spring cleaning your finances? The Robin S. Weingast & Associates team is here to help! Contact us today to see how we can help.
Image source: https://www.graphicstock.com/stock-image/money-growth-concept
Unless you have a crystal ball you just can’t tell what the tax rules, laws, and brackets will be when you retire. So what will happen to that IRA nest egg that hasn’t been taxed yet? How much could you lose? Tune in as Ed Slott, one of the nations most renowned CPAs, explains how taxes can take a toll on your retirement funds, and what you can do about it.
Here’s an overview of what Robin’s been reading this month:
1) Retired women and financial crises: Did you know that over 70% of nursing home residents are women and that the average daily cost of a room in a nursing home is $90,000 (it may even be higher in New York and other metro areas)? With a longer life expectancy, higher healthcare costs, and lower wages compared to their male counterparts, women need to be particularly vigilant about planning for their futures. This article details the risks and solutions that women can employ to avoid a financial crisis during retirement.
2) Working women and successful planning: Do you find yourself taking a back seat in financial planning when it comes to your husband or partner? Are you certain you have your bases covered when it comes to life insurance, child financial planning, investment planning, and retirement planning? If you’re worried you may not be an equal partner in financial planning for you and your family, here are some areas to pay attention to and tips to help you secure equal footing in your financial relationship.
3) Overcoming financial obstacles: Feel like there are too many obstacles standing in your way when it comes to financial planning? While women do face significant hurdles when it comes to financial security, it’s easy to turn obstacles into opportunities if you know what to do. We found this article particularly helpful.
If you need expert advice on how to plan for your financial future, get in touch with the Robin S. Weingast & Associates team.
As Women’s History Month winds to a close, we want to present a resource that we hope all women will find helpful 365 days a year. Increasingly, women are facing the impact of poor financial planning, so whether you are 22 or 62, this resource will give you some valuable tools to help you face your future with more financial security.
Image source: https://www.graphicstock.com/stock-image/cheerful-businesswoman-sitting-at-the-table-and-holding-money
When you think of a financial advisor do you picture a man?
Meet Juli McNeely, Financial Professional and former President of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. In her new book and on this episode “No Necktie Needed” she tells the story of how she thrived in a male-dominated industry, and how she’s inspiring her fellow advisors to educate and engage women as more and more females become primary breadwinners and decision makers.
Image credit: https://www.graphicstock.com/stock-image/two-women-taking-notes-at-a-business-presentation
With increased life expectancy, early retirement dreams, and changing population demographics, the nature of retirement has changed dramatically. But one thing remains the same: people often underestimate the need to save for this next stage of their life.
A recent analysis by the Economic Policy Institute revealed that the average couple has $5,000 saved for retirement — well below what they will need to maintain their standard of living when they stop earning a regular income.
Still need convincing that retirement saving should be a priority? Our Resource of the Month makes a compelling case for why retirement planning, with the help of a well-informed professional, is a must for everyone.
“At BASF, we don’t make the cooler, we make it cooler. We don’t make the jeans, we make them bluer,” one of the company’s TV commercials famously stated. “At BASF, we don’t make a lot of the products you buy. We make a lot of the products you buy better.”
The retirement plans marketplace has its own BASF that improves upon the work of others: Third Party Administrators or TPAs – like Robin S. Weingast & Associates. Increasingly, financial advisors are partnering with local TPA firms to help sell, design, administer and support defined contribution retirement plans. Some believe it’s a marriage made in heaven.
As a TPA, the Robin S. Weingast & Associates team works with financial advisors deliver a more comprehensive package of services to retirement plan sponsors. These services are becoming increasingly essential in an environment where the designs for retirement plans and the regulations that govern them are becoming ever more complex.
So just how can a TPA make a retirement plan better? TPAs can help guide plan sponsors on regulatory and administrative issues and consult on retirement plan designs, services, and features. Financial advisors may deliver such complementary services as objectively evaluating plan needs, providing information about investment choices, helping educate plan participants, assisting with plan design, and helping select the plan provider.
The relationship often starts with assistance from a TPA in analyzing the plan sponsor’s needs. One of the most important aspects of a successful retirement plan is its design, which can be created to achieve any number of goals. The right retirement plan design may help employees prepare to retire on time, help the business owner save more, reward key employees, give a boost to older employees or achieve a combination of goals.
Understanding what options are available and how they work can be complex and, admittedly, more than a little esoteric. That’s where an assist from a TPA may be especially valuable.
A TPA may help advisors and plan sponsors view how a specific retirement plan design is intended to work, provide options and a cost-value analysis, and provide a hypothetical projection on performance. The insights and analysis may help advisors and their clients make the right choice based on goals, budget and regulatory requirements.
For instance, if the owner of a small business is deferring $18,000 (the maximum) to a salary deferral 401(k) plan but wants to significantly boost her retirement savings, a TPA might recommend adding a Cross-Tested design. This design may allow the client’s business to enhance contributions on her behalf, minimize contributions for non-owner employees, and allow for the maximum total contribution of $54,000 for her. In addition, if the business owner is age 50 or older, she can also contribute an additional $6,000, bringing the total amount of contributions by the owner and the business to $60,000.
But what happens after the plan is in place? Many small, and even medium-sized, employers lack a dedicated, in-house specialist to administer retirement plans. Working with a local TPA may fill the need to have a retirement expert on hand, adding value to your client relationship.
Then there is the ever-changing regulatory environment. As we’ve seen in the past year, government rules and regulations often shift like the sand on a wind-swept beach. What is an advisor to do when those sands create a new dune to climb or maneuver around?
An effective TPA may help an advisor stay up to speed on regulatory changes. More important, a TPA may help advisors understand the implications of new rules and regulations and, in turn, what they mean to sponsors and participants.
That’s critical as 84 percent of sponsors say they value advisors who are proactive, MassMutual’s 2015 Winning Combination study shows*. The study also reports that it’s far better if an advisor informs a client about a new regulations and what it means than if the client has to reach out to the advisor about something that has just been introduced.
Advisors who are newer to the retirement plans marketplace may also learn more about marketing from TPAs, who often partner for prospecting and finals presentations. Working with a local TPA potentially extends an advisor’s contact network for referrals and presents opportunities to jointly market services and host local seminars.
In the past year, the percentage of retirement plans in the small-business market that engage TPAs increase to 85 percent. TPA firms are becoming an important pillar of support, especially for smaller businesses that lack the specialized resources or expertise to successfully administer a retirement plan.
At the end of the day, a The Robin S. Weingast & Associates TPA firm has the potential to help make your retirement plan service and support better.
*2016 Winning Combination Study, What retirement plan sponsors value most from financial advisors, January 2016, https://www.massmutual.com/~/media/files/rs7153_brochure.pdf
You’ve worked hard, you’ve saved well, and now you have an impressive Nest Egg for retirement. But do you also have a contingency plan in place if you become ill and need extended care? Tune in as Dr. Bob Pokorski explains how easily your Nest Egg could be drained if you don’t have all your bases covered!
Image credit: https://www.graphicstock.com/stock-image/saving-4904
Ready to make estate planning a priority for 2017? Our January 2017 Resource of the Month will help you take the first step. It’s a quick checklist of the factors you need to consider when creating an estate plan.
Ready to take the next step in estate planning? Click here to contact us for your consultation with the Robin S. Weingast & Associates team.