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The Financial Planning Puzzle

Unless you’ve always been healthy as an ox or avoid modern medicine, I’m sure you’ve seen more than one kind of doctor in your lifetime. This might include visits for your general health, your eyes, your heart, your allergies, etc. Why should your financial health be approached any differently?

Early Career Thoughts

Building proper financial habits are best started early on in your career. Whether it’s saving enough to capture your company match, ensuring you have adequate insurance coverage, or making the most of the additional benefits that your company offers, it is important to gather as much information as you can and to take the time needed to understand your options.

Buying Your First Home?

Buying a home can seem overwhelming. From costs and inspections to insurance and taxes, you will likely have plenty of questions along the way. Luckily, there are many professionals involved in the process that will help you through it. However, as a financial planner, I want to shed some light on a few areas that are often overlooked.

Should I Pay Down Debt or Invest?

At some point in your life (if you haven’t already) you may wonder, “should I pay down debt or invest?” Most of these situations involve student loans, credit cards, mortgages, car loans and other forms of personal debt. With these items falling into just about any stage of life, everybody should understand the basic considerations behind this decision.

What is an Emergency Fund?

Times like these show us that life does not always go as planned and that nobody can predict what events might take place tomorrow. Of course, the COVID pandemic is an outlier, but there is an infinite number of what-ifs that could cause financial stress at any moment. Even during what would be considered more “normal” circumstances, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to consider an emergency fund.

Risky Business

Perhaps the biggest struggle for investors, that I’ve witnessed, has been truly understanding the concept of risk. Of course, we all understand that “risk” in its purest form means that bad things can happen. But, much of the investing population still has a hard time taking a step back to really understand the rationality, discipline, and self-awareness that is necessary.

Tax Myths and Misunderstandings

If tax time is stressful for you, you’re not alone. Being sure that you have all the necessary documents, having to write a check to Uncle Sam, or having to switch preparers can all be overwhelming. In my experience, it seems that some of the stress may come from a misunderstanding of how taxes work in general.

Rounding Third, and Headed for Home

If you’ve been told “the market always comes back,” then you’ve been lied to. At least, a little bit. The U.S. market absolutely has recovered from past recessions, but that blanket statement assumes that we know future pullbacks will always perform the same way and does not reflect the importance of how long each recovery has taken.

Is 5 Always Greater Than 4?

If you saw two different investments, Investment A with an average 4% annual return and Investment B with an average 5% annual return, which would you assume performed better for those who had invested in them? Investment B, right? What if I told you that Investment A actually performed better? How could that be possible?

Apples and Oranges

According to the old MasterCard commercials, there are many priceless moments out there that money can’t buy. Although it’s a bit of a cliché at this point, there are still a few items in financial planning that I would say you still can’t put a price on.

The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself

Recently, I attended a presentation on behavioral finance in Indianapolis. I have a pretty good background in the topic, but find it fascinating and always learn something new. During this session, the speaker mentioned that he disagrees with the idea that poor decisions are made through either fear or greed. Specifically, he believes that these are not separate concepts and greed stems from some underlying fear. At first, I wasn’t on board with that statement, but after thinking it through, I would have to agree.

Life is a Highway

We’ve all driven on a busy highway and tried to change lanes when the cars ahead began to slow down and the next lane over was moving faster. Inevitably, the lane you just left soon passes you. Did you second-guess changing lanes and wonder if it will save you time or even make the trip longer?

It’s Your Money, Not Your Advisor’s

My last post was about the important questions and overall responsibility of your advisor to gather the right information, but let’s be honest, there are a lot of questions that you should be asking, too!

What was that Noise?

Do you hear all those voices too? No, I’m not talking about any voices in my head… I’m talking about the never-ending and ever-changing comments from “market gurus”, social media, the internet, and other media outlets. Many people, myself included, simply refer to it as “noise”.

PERSONAL Finances are Personal

I wanted to expand on a recent piece that mentioned the importance of an advisor gathering the necessary information before being able to make appropriate recommendations. Although investments (as an example) are products, keep in mind that providing financial advice is a service. While it may take some time, in order for your advisor to do their job well and provide the best service, there are a variety of questions that he or she should be asking.

Accuracy Before Ego

Something I’ve noticed throughout the industry is the expectation that advisors should always have an answer, and always have a quick one. While it is the year 2020, and technology and other advances call for speed in our everyday lives, an advisor that ALWAYS has an answer may be a red flag.

Student Loans

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been seeing more and more in the news, in magazines, and online about the “student loan crisis”. As appropriate as the term “crisis” may be, I find it shocking when I meet someone that doesn’t care about, or doesn’t even know, what their student loan situation looks like. Let me clarify.