5 Online Security Best Practices to Consider

security Sep 26, 2020

Now that you may be spending more time at home and online, knowing how to keep your sensitive information and conversations safe has become even more important. 

Are you following the best practices for protecting your financial details (and other sensitive data)? 

Here are five steps you may want to take.

Use a password manager. Do you struggle to remember which version of your favorite password goes with which site? Eliminate this frustration while improving your security by doing some research and choosing an expert-approved program. What makes these programs safe from hackers? They heavily encrypt your data.

Choose Password phrases over one word password. Having a phrase is much more difficult to hack than a simple one word password. Adding symbols (if it's allowed) and numeric, upper case and lower case letters adds to the complexity.

Consider a VPN subscription. A virtual private network keeps your data secure and your activity private when...

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Discussing Financial Milestones as a parent

communication Sep 16, 2020

It can sometimes feel awkward or challenging to talk about money and the future, especially with your children. 

But if you want to help minimize stress for everyone, you may want to prioritize certain conversations.

Whether your kids are adults, teens or younger, here are a few big financial topics to keep in mind as you work to set the right expectations.

Taxes

Since parents can claim their children as dependents on their taxes, it’s important to discuss this tax credit as your children grow older and begin to earn their own money. Specifically, you can prepare your children for the date when they’ll no longer qualify as dependents. 

Big Expenses 

Education: Parents who want to help pay for college and offset the burden of student loans can talk to their kids about savings, budgeting and what schools make the most sense. 

Weddings: Many parents pay for their children’s weddings in part or in full. Sooner rather than later, it may...

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What to Know About New Retirement Rules - CARES ACT

retirement Sep 02, 2020

Are you familiar with the new provisions about retirement accounts from the SECURE Act and coronavirus relief bill?

Some of these changes may affect how you make retirement decisions in the coming weeks and months.

These new rules don’t apply to everyone and it’s important to reach out to discuss your situation before making any big changes, but if you need a quick recap of a few key details, take a look:

401(k) Distributions

  • Per the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, qualified participants younger than 59½ won’t pay the usual 10% penalty on up to $100,000 in early distributions from their 401(k) in 2020. 

  • You’ll still owe income taxes on your distributions, but you can spread the payments over the next three years. 

  • If you take an early distribution due to the coronavirus and redeposit all or part of the total amount within three years, the repayment amount each year won’t count toward your annual...
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3 Misconceptions About 401(k) Fees

401(k) Aug 12, 2020

If you have a 401(k), 403(b) or 457 plan, you may be losing money to overpriced investments and hidden costs. The good news? If you understand the fees you’re paying, you may be able to lower them. 

If you haven’t looked closely at the details of your plan lately, now is a good time for a checkup.

Here are a few misconceptions and details to keep in mind when it comes to employer-sponsored retirement plan fees.

Misconception 1: My plan doesn’t have any fees.

All plans have fees. Investment management fees pay financial professionals to manage the investments available through the plan, such as mutual funds. Administrative fees pay for tasks such as issuing statements, running the employees’ account management website and providing customer service.

Misconception 2: My employer pays my plan’s fees.

While the costs may be shared, it's likely that most employees are paying for the bulk of the fees associated with their account. Note: Your...

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How to Balance Your Financial Goals

goals Jul 08, 2020

When it comes to your finances, it can seem impossible to manage everything at once. 

And you’ll probably face competing priorities at some point: Should you save for retirement or contribute more to your child’s college fund? Should you pay off any outstanding debt or save for a bigger house?

Coming up with the right strategy can be challenging, but here are a few things to think about:

College and Retirement

Are your children going to college soon? How much longer do you anticipate staying in the workforce (and do you have enough to retire)? These are just a couple of the questions to consider before allocating money to a 529 college savings plan or doubling down on your 401(k).

Managing Debt

If you have any high-interest rate debt (say from student loans or credit cards), sit down and calculate how much more interest your debt will accumulate. Then compare that amount with how much you’ll earn from any investments you’re considering. This may not be a...

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Ideas for Effective Charitable Giving

Uncategorized Jun 04, 2020

Maybe you’re in a position to pitch in and make a difference, but you’re wondering about the best ways to do so.

A smart giving strategy may not only provide greater resources for worthy causes, but also possibly lower your tax bill.

If you’re thinking about your favorite local businesses, your employees, or your community at large, here are a few ways you might make an impact while keeping your own finances streamlined.

Support Your Community

Want to make an immediate impact? Consider leaving a generous tip for your grocery or takeout delivery person, donating to the local food bank, or continuing to extend some support to anyone on your payroll (think landscapers, babysitters and personal assistants) even if their services are on hold. 

Pick a Global or Nationwide Cause

Think about the causes close to your heart and look into the best way to support them, be it by sending an online donation or helping them secure the supplies they need. Be sure to keep...

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Maintaining a Healthy Financial Mindset

Uncategorized May 06, 2020

You’ve worked hard to build a safety net and plan carefully for the future, but that doesn’t mean your preparations are set in stone. As we’ve learned over the last few months, things can change when you least expect them to.

By cultivating a healthy approach to uncertainty and your finances in general, you can continue to make the right decisions for you and your family. 

Do you have questions? Reach out anytime. And for now, here are a few ways to help maintain a balanced mindset. 

Declutter Where You Can

In the same way you probably streamlined your home workspace, you can put your financial life in order, as well. Organize all your physical and digital documents, save what you need to save and delete or shred what you don’t. This simple act can help you feel more in control. 

Check In With Your Budget

Even if you’re comfortable and haven’t experienced any major setbacks, it’s smart to know where your money is going and to...

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Smart Money lessons to teach your kids

children Jan 25, 2019

Every parent wants to raise their kids to be self-sufficient adults who feel empowered to achieve anything they want in life. One way to set children up for success is to be honest with them about financial topics and teach them money management skills starting at a young age.

The Early Years

When your kids are young, talk openly about money rather than painting it as a taboo subject. You may also choose to give them a weekly or monthly allowance so they have a hands-on way of learning about spending, budgeting and saving. Encouraging children to think carefully about their purchases can instill smart habits that will come in handy later on.

Leaving the Nest

College tuition is a major expense to plan for, so start discussing different strategies once your kids reach high school. Research scholarships together, learn about student loan options and be clear about what you will and won't help with. Graduating with as little debt as possible should be the goal, so if this means they'll...

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How to create a budget you'll actually stick to

Uncategorized Jan 25, 2019

Creating the perfect budgeting system isn’t easy, but the more you view money management as an ongoing practice rather than a yearly or quarterly event, the more likely you are to succeed. 

Get started by outlining your current expenses as well as your short- and long-term goals and then consider embracing these three practical tips.

1. Adjust Your Mindset

Many people feel like they’re failing at budgeting if they fall short of a savings target or forget to log a few expenses. The reality is that your situation will always fluctuate, so instead of getting bogged down by dollars and cents, establish a realistic range for each spending category and strive for balance over time.  

Occasionally you might miss your mark. Instead of feeling discouraged and giving up, keep focusing on your big picture goals -- like paying off your debt or building a retirement fund -- and allow for some flexibility to get there. 

2. Identify Your Style

If the idea of opening...

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What does ideal spending look like?

budgeting Jan 25, 2019

Are you ready to become an ideal spender?

If you spend too much, you’ll find yourself in debt. Spend too little, and you’re not maximizing your financial potential. So how do you know if you’re spending just the right amount? And, if you need to make a change, how should you go about it?

Underspending

If you have a significant revolving balance in your checking account, you might want to think about ways to make your money work harder. Adding just a few more dollars a week to your retirement fund or a high-interest savings account can yield greater benefits in the future.

Tip: Chronic underspenders may also simply be out of touch with their finances and thus unsure of what they can reasonably spend. Need a more accurate point of view? Sit down and take a close look at your accounts and expenses.

Overspending

Not having a budget or not sticking to the one you’ve made can easily lead to overspending. If you find yourself in this category, take the time to...

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