Spring Cleaning of Your Financial House

Spring cleaning is the first thing that comes to my mind when I see the days getting longer and the flowers starting to sprout. Spring cleaning also applies to your financial house. Why not take an hour and review how you are doing compared to the budget you put in place last January? What? You didn’t write a formal plan for yourself for the New Year! It’s never too late to sit down and review where you stand financially. It’s not that difficult either, but it doesn’t hurt to have a coach on the sidelines helping you evaluate your next move.

For example, a good “best practice” is to (1) write down your goals and aspirations, (2) devise a plan to help you reach those goals, (3) periodically review where you stand relative to your plan and (4) engage the services of a professional to coach and counsel you on the right moves to make. As a career financial advisor, I work with very smart people every day who know what they need to do, but lack the resources to actualize their plan. That’s where I come in. As a fee-only financial advisor, my job is to provide as much or as little coaching as each client might desire. And, frankly, that’s all many clients need to feel confident and on-track with their plan. Questions? I am only a phone call away…

Retirement is just a stop along the way…

Good retirement planning is a balance of saving for tomorrow while maximizing your enjoyment of today. Are you holding out for when you’ll be retired “and you will get to do all those things you’ve been looking forward to doing?” Many financial advisors are wising up to the new reality of retirement. Retirement is in actuality an imaginary point on life’s path. People need to live their lives balancing enjoyment now and anticipation for later.

Now, this isn’t a license to ignore common-sense rules and throw caution to the wind with no thought to tomorrow (and, yes, some people actually live like this…). It is important to take time today to enjoy life while on the path. Surprisingly, many of the things people put off (taking care of relationships, postponing their overall well-being, reconnecting with old friends) cost little, provide perspective on what future retirement might look like, and can improve your health, which studies show helps improve your retirement finances.

The quickest route to a disappointing retirement is failing to contemplate, understand and experience what you’ll do when you get there. How will you know if you don’t do a little exploring now? Take a moment and speak with your financial advisor about the things you can do now to bring some perspective to your path to retirement.

Divorce American Style

The economy is on the rebound and many people are seeing the positive effects of the American economic recovery in their investment accounts. Good news…bad news! According to a study on Bloomberg.com, divorce filings fell to record lows during the Great Recession and are now on the rise. As we all know, divorces cost money. During the Recession, money was tight, assets balances were down, and many couples who would have otherwise gotten a divorce decided to consciously or unconsciously postpone their separation. With the economy on the rebound, fewer couples are deciding to stay together now that they feel they can afford to pay the bill, split their assets and support their separate lives.

If you are deciding to get divorced, take some time to do it right so that both parties come through to the other side in the best possible manner. Remember to consider all of your divorce options (i.e., mediation, collaborative law, litigation or plain old-fashioned do-it-yourself). Pull together all the information you need as efficiently as possible. Don’t just get any attorney; get a great attorney and don’t use your attorney as a therapist. Some of the professionals you should consider are: a mediator, an attorney (or two), a therapist (particularly if there are children) and a financial analyst. Building a team may seem like you are spending a lot of money upfront, but should actually save you money in the long run—well after the divorce papers are signed, filed and dusty.

Wondering where to begin on this painful topic? Check out the Foundation for Women’s Financial Education which is holding a series of workshops entitled “Second Saturdays.” These workshops are designed for women at any stage of untying the knot to help them better prepare for the complexities of divorce while avoiding common financial, legal and emotional pitfalls. Additional information can be found at WomensFinancialEducation.org