FIC Blog

We believe in – and live by – a philosophy of excellence.

Average is not good enough … Our goal at Family Investment Center is excellence. We find excellent investment products and supervise an excellent service package. We maintain a library of excellent research materials and financial planning resources. We also demand top safety and security for our clients.

We won’t settle for average. We continually seek top managers or securities and meld them into superior custom portfolios. Each palette of investments is carefully tailored to personal or family goals. We enlist excellent managers, research, resources, and effort for our clients. Don’t settle for average. You deserve excellence.

Please search our blog posts for answers to common investment questions, and we look forward to sharing our knowledge and experience with you first-hand.

What is the Outlook on 401(k) Investing in America?

401(k) Investing is a Valuable Tool, Yet Underutilized


One of the most widely overlooked investment vehicles today is the 401(k). Surprisingly, two-thirds of all Americans don’t contribute at all in a 401(k) or other retirement account available through their workplace, and that number could shift even more if Congress stops auto-enrollment. 401(k) investing is a remarkable tool, yet often overlooked as an important part of planning for retirement.

According to tax records gathered during the most recent U.S. census, only 14 percent of employers offer a company-sponsored 401(k) plan. However, the majority of Americans work for larger companies which do offer these plans. Ben Steverman covers this topic in a Bloomberg article this year, saying bigger companies are the most likely candidates for offering a 401(k) plan and around 79 percent of Americans work for large companies.

“Four out of five workers are employed by companies that offer a 401(k) or similar plan, but many workers aren’t using them - either because they’re not eligible or because they aren’t signing up,” Steverman says.

These workplace plans create an environment where employees can build up their investments on a tax-advantaged basis. Unfortunately, too many Americans feel that it’s not worth the effort to get involved, probably because in order to get the most out of the plan, the money is tied up for a span of time and a penalty is assessed if the employee withdraws from it early.

Another possible reason for why so many workers aren’t getting involved in 401(k) investing is because they’re not willing to send incremental dollars to a long-term retirement plan, especially those who earn low wages.

People who change jobs often or who work part-time are also less likely to be eligible to participate in a workplace retirement plan. Many companies require employees to work for months or a year before they become eligible to participate in a plan, thus complicating the issue further.

Making investment decisions is difficult for many people. They’re intimidated by the choices that have to be made, so they don’t make any choices. Also, the cost of many plans can be high, which has been widely scrutinized in the media, drawing even more negative feelings out of workers, further complicating their savings plans.

Many companies that offer a 401(k) plan will automatically enroll their workers, as it costs the worker nothing. However, Wall Street believes this practice creates an unfair advantage against the products they sell. Unfortunately, Wall Street has the ear of many lawmakers in the Capitol, which is why there is a real threat that auto-enrollment could be wiped out.

At Family Investment Center, we can assist you in overcoming any fear, intimidation, or trepidation about investing your hard-earned money. Contact us today and let’s discuss your financial goals and how to accomplish them.

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Do You Need Investment Advice for a Tax Refund? (Or Any Windfall?)

Investment Advice for Making the Most of Your Tax Refund


You’ve likely already received a nice refund on your tax return. If you’re like most people, your wheels have started turning. Do you add a few days onto your summer vacation or finally splurge on that new furniture you’ve been eyeing? Few want to consider investment advice that starts with not spending your entire refund, but you may find that you’re happier in the long run investing into a solid retirement fund.


There’s more than one way to invest, though, and it is important to carefully think about your options before you plan your strategy for handling a small windfall that comes in the form of a tax refund.


Why would you want to think about investing some of your refund, rather than spending it all on entertainment, luxury items or home improvement? The average refund enjoyed by Americans is $3,000, an amount that may seem perfect for a good, guilt-free splurge. It’s sizable, but not life-changing, so it may be easy to justify buying yourself a treat.


However, with the average rate of return that the stock market delivers, you could potentially turn $3,000 into $50,000 in 30 years because investment growth and compounding interest.


You could choose from an index, like the S&P 500 or the Dow, but you can also invest in a mix of blue-chip stocks and enjoy solid returns over the course of your investment time. What matters most, of course, is that you don’t go out and spend all of your refund, but invest a portion instead.


At Family Investment Center, Dan Danford, CEO, has a three-part strategy for making the most of your tax refund, or any other small fortune that comes your way. Take a look at these steps for what could be a more satisfying approach to tax refunds:


Blow it: Whether it’s a weekend trip or a great pair of shoes, you should get to spend part of your refund on something that improves your quality of life. Making memories and enjoying a treat are great ways to invest in your satisfaction. Danford believes that many financial plans fail simply because they fail to include some joy and some fun into the mix.


Mow it: Part of your refund should go to maintenance that protects your investments, such as your home or your car. Maybe you have a leaky roof or a fence that needs repaired, or maybe you need to upgrade to a vehicle that is more reliable. These are also important ways to spend your money and are a good option for a portion of your refund.


Grow it: Take part of your refund and invest it in your retirement savings or a college fund. Even a small amount invested will multiply over time and can yield impressive growth. Don’t limit your investments to traditional accounts, though. Danford suggests that taxpayers receiving a refund also consider investments that could further their career, like a college class, or experiences that might widen their horizons.


A balanced approach to investing is always best, and we believe that you’ll have the most satisfying results if you get to enjoy spending some of your money and enjoy watching some of it multiply over time. Make an appointment with us today at Family Investment Center. We welcome you to enjoy jargon-free but experience-based conversation around our table.


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Retirement Planning: Your Strategy Should be Unique to You

Avoid Retirement Planning Missteps and Plan Your Exclusive Freedom Tour



If you’re intimidated by retirement planning, you share a similarity with a great many Americans. However, this intimidation leads to the first big mistake – not planning at all.

“I’ll get to my planning for retirement later,” many people say to themselves. You may think you’ve got decades ahead of you before you have to start worrying about it. Don’t fall victim to this thinking.

Another mistake many people make in retirement planning is that they have a faulty vision of what they’ll be able to spend in retirement. A survey conducted by Fidelity Investments reveals that more than 10 percent of Baby Boomers think they can withdraw 10 to 12 percent of their income on an annual basis. Following that line of thinking can drain a retirement account within a decade.

Everyone’s vision of retirement is unique, as are the strategies one must use to plan for their retirement. A common denominator in all scenarios is that an accurate forecast for retirement relies on how old you are today, how much money you’re saving and how you’re investing it.

This means that if two people have the same vision of living on a golf course in Arizona during retirement, they could have vastly different prospects for reaching that goal. If one of them has a few thousand dollars in the bank while the other has hundreds of thousands, the retirement planning is going to be just as disparate.

To get into the right mindset for reasonable retirement expectations, you have to stop thinking about retirement as a single event; it’s actually a long, extensive event. There are 70,000 people in America right now who have reached the age of 100. Not many of them will tell you they thought they’d reach that milestone.

Think of your retirement as a freedom tour, a series of events that you are free to choose to do during your years of retirement. Here are a few tips for a successful retirement freedom tour:


·         Think about your retirement in terms of a theme or idea

·         It takes expertise to plan this theme, which some might consider a “tour”

·         Planning for the tour begins months before the excursion takes off

·         All stops along the way are planned

·         There will be emergency stops, so have money set aside for them (think medical emergencies)

·         Working together with family and investment advisors provides for a smoother tour

The snapshot of your tour is going to differ from others’ snapshots, which means you can’t rely on someone else’s investment strategy to make yours become a reality. Work with an investment advisor to make sure you’re not making mistakes that could keep you from enjoying retirement.

At Family Investment Center, we love assisting our clients in retirement planning. In fact, we form relationships that have followed through to the next generation of our clients’ families. Let us help you plan your tour.

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Investing for Women: More Female Millionaires Working With Advisors

Recent Numbers on Investing for Women Show Increasing “Clout”


investing for womenThe numbers of male clients to female clients at investment firms began to even out during 2016, says a recent CNBC article. Why? Because the number of women who have reached millionaire status is also climbing. In fact, it’s believed that in the next 13 to 15 years, as much as 66 percent of wealth in the U.S. will be owned by women.  How do these numbers affect investing for women?

According to the article titled “For Women, Retirement Can Be a Serious Challenge,” wealthy women are emerging now in stronger numbers. Approximately 45 percent of millionaires in the U.S. are female, says the article. During the next 14 to 15 years, females will be responsible for at least 66 percent of the country’s wealth. As a reflection of these numbers, it’s no surprise that women are currently the chief money makers in nearly half of U.S. households.

What’s the Challenge?
The numbers are encouraging, yet unique challenges remain for women in investing. As of 2015, women earned roughly 80 percent of what men were paid. This means when retirement comes around, women will draw less in Social Security benefits.

Many women choose to shift focus away from their careers during top-earning years to turn more attention to raising children, meaning less money goes into their retirement accounts. Some work part-time for a season to raise their families, which often makes them ineligible for employer-sponsored  retirement programs.

In addition, with 63 million women earning wages today, only 45 percent are enrolled in retirement savings accounts. Of those that are enrolled, they average 50 percent less in their accounts than their male counterparts.

Another challenge, say experts, is that women who reach the age of 65 will live, on average, another 20.5 years. This means many of them will need more money in their retirement accounts than anticipated to live comfortably. Ultimately, too many women may be underfunded in their retirement accounts.

Addressing the Challenges
Investments can be a challenge, even for those who consider studying financial and investment news an enjoyable hobby. That’s why bringing an advisor into the plan can create a number of advantages.

An advisor can put together a plan considering all your information, including your insurance policies, your tax returns and banking records, information about mortgages and loans and all the investment records on your retirement accounts. Your advisor will help you create a strategy, which includes prioritizing expenses in categories such as wants and needs. This will help you devise a savings plan that matches your goals for retirement.

If debt is a concern, an advisor can assist you here as well. You might be surprised to learn that some debt can actually be used as leverage to increase your success. Contrary to some popular thought, not all debt is a hindrance to reaching your goals.

One of the most important things a good investment advisor will do is help you establish your goals and an investment plan that will help you reach those goals – despite media headlines, emotions and market shifts.

A final note:  When you look for an advisor, find one that operates as a fiduciary. When you partner with a fiduciary, you have an advisor that puts your interests first. Also, a “fee-only” advisor will never take a commission on an investment they recommend. This is how Family Investment Center has operated from the start. Contact us today and find out more about what makes us so unique.


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Are There Really Rules for Building Smart Investment Strategies?

Focusing on Investment Strategies

Feel like it’s too late to start on your investment future? Think again. There’s no hard and fast rule set on exactly when to start or build up your investment strategies.  Although getting an earlier start reaps better results over the long term, it’s not too late to start.

Do you need to move past a feeling of intimidation? Compare it to this analogy: do you need to know how to build a car in order to drive it? To combat intimidation, remember there is nothing wrong with taking interest in how investments work, but you can leave the expertise to your investment advisor, a person who has the experience and knowledge to help you develop a goal-focused and personalized investment strategy.

Smart investment strategies are those that work for you personally, not for your friends, family, and associates. Unfortunately, too many investors get caught up in the advice they get from these individuals, all of whom are well meaning, but want to pass off investment advice that worked for them. It’s okay to listen and learn, but don’t be swayed by strategies meant for a person in a completely different situation.

Many decisions are based on emotion, but investment decisions based on emotion can be financially detrimental. Additionally, when you bring other peoples’ emotions into the equation, it quickly can turn into a poor decision for your financial future. Reacting to these heightened emotional situations usually results in actions that can negatively affect your finances. Instead, consider maintaining a calm, “big-picture” focus.

According to Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center, there are some rules to follow regarding investment strategies that will help you fight drama and stick to a long-term plan (of course, these can vary person-to-person, so be sure to speak with an advisor regarding specifics):

·         Don’t quickly respond financially to political or economic news

·         Use payroll deductions for savings and retirement accounts

·         Use mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs)

·         Gauge performance at five-year (or longer) intervals

·         Benchmark at broad market averages

·         Performance only matters in reference to similar investments

·         Increase your savings amount every year

In conclusion, Danford said one of the biggest flaws he sees with do-it-yourself investing is that people don’t set aside enough time for personal finance issues.

“Reading The Wall Street Journal once a week or visiting for five minutes on the phone with your broker isn’t enough,” he says. “If you want to do it right, dedicate one full evening a week or a few hours each weekend. If you can’t do that, then you need professional help.”

Professional advice is good idea for any investment strategy. Find a good fiduciary advisor, like those at Family Investment Center, who can listen to your ideas and concerns and help you move toward a clear plan in a commission-free environment. (In fact, this is our sole focus, every day.) Come find out why we’re a little bit different when it comes to investments … and why our clients like it that way.


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Is the Middle Class Listening to the Wrong Investment Advice?

Investment Advice for the Middle Class


If you are like most middle class investors, it may seem as if there are a million things that separate you from millionaires. In reality, the way the middle class and the wealthy handle investments can be quite similar; investment advice can be founded on the same principles – and the same misperceptions.

One misperception about wealthy investors is that they are geniuses when it comes to the stock market. Some investors believe they “play” the market every day and take great risks, but enjoy massive rewards. Typically, this isn’t true on many levels. Most experts agree, not many successful investors “play” the stock market. Instead, they focus on consistency over time and planned risk. Additionally, less than one percent of millionaires make daily trades on the market. Instead, they’re likely doing what you might consider for your own investments – thinking long-term and owning a variety of investments for the purpose of diversification.

In fact, the heart of wealth management science, according to Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center, “is the idea of a thoughtful long-term diversification. This scientific basis for portfolio theory won a 1990 Nobel Prize in Economics.” Danford explains that, in essence, an investor’s risk is reduced and performance of investments is enhanced when investors own a wide variety of investments.

If you’re getting investment advice from friends, family, or colleagues telling you that you should put your money in government bonds and bank deposits, this may not align with the strategies of professionals who work with both the wealthy and the middle class. Putting your money in these “safe” places offers low interest rates, but if you consider inflation and taxes, your investment there is nothing more than a shelter where compound interest doesn’t stand a chance.

Wealthy investors seem to understand the difference between price and value. Dr. Tom Stanley’s book titled The Millionaire Mind brings up an issue that many investors fall victim to: they don’t make enough distinctions between price and value. Millionaires tend to look at investment products through the lens of a long-term situation. For instance, Stanley offers up the analogy that they’re purchasing their furniture and shoes based on the lifetime cost of ownership. Are they buying better quality products? Yes. But they last longer than the cheap stuff. When you put yourself in that mindset for your investments, you’re on the right path.

Finally, if you’re a DIYer when it comes to your investments, rethink what your efforts are actually getting you. You might spend hours studying various investments, shopping around to find something that is only marginally better than the previous product you researched. Let an investment advisor who has experience working with a variety of investments help guide you with your investing strategy.

At Family Investment Center, we believe in practical, jargon-free and client-focused service – and always within a commission-free environment. Contact us today to learn more.


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401(k) Investing: What’s New in 2017

How Will 401(k) Investing Change in the New Year?


The 401(k) plan is among the strongest investment tools for many working Americans, especially those whose employer does not offer a pension plan, but will match contributions (up to a specific percent) to the company-sponsored 401(k). When you invest in a 401(k), which utilizes the stock market and other products, you are investing for your future. It’s important to stay informed of the rules that govern your 401(k) investing as they change each year.

The IRS limits your 401(k) contribution and those limits are subject to change annually. The company you work for also limits how much they match on the amount you contribute. The current IRS limit on employee elective deferrals is $18,000. This will continue into 2017, but keep your eyes on 2018 as that deferral amount could go up.

For those of you who are 50 or over, you can make what the IRS refers to as “catch-up” contributions, which allow you to put an extra $6,000 a year into your traditional and safe harbor 401(k) investing plans, or $3,000 extra into your SIMPLE 401(k) plan. When the IRS makes changes to these catch-up contribution limits, it’s generally tied to a cost-of-living adjustment.

Another change impacting a number of people relates to 2017 IRA income limits.  Employees who have a 401(k) account through their work can make tax-deductible contributions to a traditional IRA. For example, employees earning up to $62,000 a year are allowed to deduct from income tax IRA contributions of up to $5,500. Unfortunately, if you earn between $62,000 and $72,000 (in 2017), that  phases out.

Workers making less than $118,000 can make Roth IRA contributions in 2017, which allows for tax-free withdrawals in retirement. Roth contribution limits phase out for those making $118,000 to $133,000 (in 2017).

It can be challenging to keep tabs on all the rules, regulations, perks, and privileges available to you in your retirement plan investing. This is why it is important to include a professional advisor to keep you informed on the decisions that impact your investments. At Family Investment Center, we’re ready to assist you in these important decisions and more. Contact us today and see why our commission-free environment remains the investment “home” of so many families and individuals.

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With the Inauguration Pending, What are Your Investing Strategies Now?

Investing Strategies in a Time of Uncertainty


The election is officially over and inauguration is just weeks away. Many Americans were surprised at the results as our nation begins a journey with a controversial president. Many investors are beginning to take a second or third look at their investing strategies and preparing for this change.

Actually, many investment professionals may share the viewpoint to stay the course and not change investment portfolios in any drastic way. Refraining from reacting impulsively — while maintaining a focus on your long-term retirement investment plan — may help lead you toward new confidence as presidential changes officially unfold.  Note: While analysts seemed wrong about the predicted election outcome, U.S. economic strength was actually improving leading up to the vote.  Policies and changes to come, say some analysts, could actually lead to even more economic growth. If this trend continues into 2017, investment options could improve and market levels could return to “typical.”

It’s also important to realize that it’s not unusual for emotions to run high as markets move. Most investors won’t need to access the money they have in investments for at least a decade, which means even if market volatility affects your balances, there is plenty of time for a rebound. Besides, experts have noted that other economic factors remain strong and will carry most investors through the volatility.

If you are nearing your projected retirement date and want to make some changes, ask a professional commission-free investment advisor for help. If you haven’t yet talked to an investment advisor, now is the time. Talking with your advisor about your plan is a great way to review your situation, make adjustments as needed and regain some of that confidence you had before election night.

Historically, when considering long-term investing strategies, the stock market has demonstrated success as a way to build up a nest egg. The ebb and flow of the market is less dramatic when you look at its movement over decades. Even during recessions, such as 2008, the market historically has recovered.

At Family Investment Center, we offer a consistent, commission-free and jargon-free atmosphere for addressing all of your questions and concerns. Contact us today and find out why our team has been interviewed by sources like The Wall Street Journal, Forbes andU.S. News and World Report for our slightly “unconventional” approach.

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Who Are You Taking Investment Advice From?

Experts Suggest Investment Advice May be Best Left to the Professionals


Most people who invest money and are purposeful about their retirement plans believe they have the basics of investing down. They may even consult with well-meaning friends and family when they are seeking outside guidance. However, some of the most common mistakes in investing may be related to taking investment advice from someone other than a professional – along with not keeping up with investing innovations and relying on outdated information. Read on for some other challenges that may be holding you back from the success you want.

Some investing mistakes date back to early family experiences. Ideas about money are often shaped by what a person saw and heard growing up. In reality, what many people are taught growing up is very different now as the landscape of investing has changed, particularly in the financial products, services and fees under which investors operate today. These family experiences may mean an investor follows and seeks advice from friends, neighbors, coworkers and family members; but these people are not likely to carry professional investment experience. Seeking advice this way can also lead to a strong emotional connection instead of a neutral, strategic approach to investing – and this can cost an investor significantly over time.

Another common investing mistake can be connected to changing an investment strategy when feelings or emotions change. Today, you may want to ask yourself, “Is my investing driven by feelings and emotions?” This can manifest from watching media headlines and wanting to make quick changes rather than staying the course through the natural ups and downs of the markets.  

It’s human nature to follow the crowd. However, when it comes to investments, giving in to that urge to follow the crowd can lead to investment setbacks. Everyone’s situation is different. What amounts to an excellent decision for one person might be a wrong move for the next, depending on life situations and goals. Most investors with long-term success are operating on a consistent plan that is tailored to their situation, not everyone else’s. Also note that many professional investment advisors suggest caution around making decisions for short-term gains in favor of long-term growth. It’s vitally important to stick to a long-term plan, even and perhaps especially during times when the market is volatile.

Performance is an easy metric to measure, but it’s not the one that matters most. Value and convenience, both of which are metrics more subjective and harder to measure than performance, carry just as much weight as pure performance.

Some people fail to reach success because they think the investments are boring. Investment advisors reject that notion; they see investing as a path to key lifestyle benefits that are definitely not boring. They also know that it’s one of the biggest reasons people fail – or a reason they never get started. A visit to an investment advisor who truly cares about helping clients should not be boring, but instead, should help you feel excited and confident about the direction you’re headed.

At Family Investment Center, we have observed investors time and time again come in with reservations and leave with a sense of confidence they didn’t know they could have toward their long-term goals for investing. We know that many people have an outdated view of money practices, and we are here to listen. Contact us today and let’s get started with a plan that makes sense for your situation.


Listen to jargon-free insights from the Money is Freedom podcast, produced by Dan Danford, founder/CEO of Family Investment Center, at Sound Cloud and iTunes. Enjoy more about advice from friends and family on the episode titled “Free Advice is Poor Advice.”


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How Are You Approaching Your Investment Strategies as 2016 Draws to a Close?

Investment Strategies for the Year’s End


We’re in the final quarter of 2016. That means it’s time to start looking at your investments as the year winds down and where you are in meeting your retirement goals. Here are some top things you need to look at:

Put your investments back into balance. Different types of investments will perform differently over time. Diversification of investments is key, but even the most diverse portfolios will have products that do better or worse than anticipated. To reach your original intended asset allocation, you may need to rebalance.

If you monitor your asset classes, you’ll find that in any given year, their returns could knock your portfolio out of balance. For instance, let’s say you want your portfolio to include 20 percent of your assets in real estate and commodities, 30 percent in bonds, and 50 percent in stocks. By now, your investments have been in place long enough that the economy could have shifted those percentages drastically. Now may be a good time to make changes and adjust them to help you meet your goals.

Has your W-4 been reviewed lately? If you’ve had major life changes this year, it’s a good idea to take another look at your W-4. For instance, as you age, your tax situation will change. Or, perhaps you’ve had children who have grown and left the nest – this will need to be reflected in your dependents status. Maybe you’ve re- married, which will also need to be updated. When you make these changes, you can free up more money for investments like your 401(k) and your IRAs. It’s all about compound interest, and even a year’s worth of investments can make a difference.

We know it’s not wise to make investments decisions under duress. However, when the stock market is volatile, risk becomes a factor worth investigating. Some investors will protect themselves with larger cash allocations, which can be beneficial because this gives you something to work with if the market performs strongly. 

Are you maximizing your contributions? Workingtoward maxing out right now is a good idea, especially if it’s a deductible retirement plan contribution. It can help reduce current taxable income, which reduces the associated income tax come April.

At Family Investment Center, we can help you maintain confidence (and joy) as 2016 draws to a close. Why not make today the day? Contact us and let’s talk.

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Insights Into 401(k) Investing in 2016

Make the Most of Your 401(k) Investing Opportunities


If you are like the majority of investors investing through a 401(k), you are doing so through your employer’s sponsored plan. The recent T. Rowe Price benchmarking report can help you can gain some insights into practices that other 401(k) investors have used to make the most of their 401(k) investment options. We want to highlight a few of those findings.


1.   Sign up. (Yes, it’s simple, but some people don’t). One of the practices many respondents said they take advantage of is auto-enrollment. This has been on the increase over the last few years, and it’s a benefit to the employee who might otherwise choose not to enroll and forfeit the company’s matching donations.

2.  Put more money in. Raising your contribution rate can make a big impact. The maximum amount you can contribute per year is $18,000. However, if you’re 50 or older, you can invest a maximum of $24,000. Meeting that maximum amount every year can help you enjoy more freedom in retirement. However, the report from T. Rowe Price also shows that many people are saving too little or nothing at all. In fact, the average deferral rate is around seven percent, which is less than half the 15 percent that many experts recommend. More alarming is the fact that roughly a third of workers are putting nothing into their company’s 401(k) investing program.

3.  Don’t say “next year I will” or “when I pay down my debt.”Many responded to the survey that they have too many outstanding debts to put money towards retirement. In waiting to invest until later, though, you will lose out on the benefits of compound interest and risk the possibility of not having enough saved for your retirement. Taking a hard look at expenditures will often reveal money that could be going to your retirement.

4.  Don’t let yourself become overly perplexed at natural market ebb and flow. Despite market changes, many successful people maintain a simple, consistent approach and don’t let their emotions get too much attention. They also work with a professional investment advisor so they can set aside fears and move forward with confidence.


At Family Investment Center, we know each person has their unique investment challenges and goals. If you’re part of that one-third of workers who are putting off investing for retirement, or setting aside too little, we can assist you in building a strategy that will set you on the right path toward the freedom you want. Our investment advisors have experience working with individuals and families of all ages. Plus, we don’t use complex jargon and we have always been – and will always be – commission free and client-focused. Let’s talk.


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Investment Strategies for Retirement

Market Volatility and Investment Strategies: How Should You React?


If you’ve been watching the market since the first day of 2016 you’ve gotten a reminder of how volatile it can be. However, given factors such as the drop in crude oil prices and fears regarding the Chinese market, it’s not a complete surprise that the market has been so volatile recently. When it comes to investment strategies for retirement, what’s the appropriate reaction to the market?

First, note that you’re not alone if you’re wondering what could happen next. According to a survey by the American College, around 60 percent of clients of retirement income certified professionals said they were “concerned” about the volatility. Let’s look at some tips for dealing with that anxiety.


·         Don’t make drastic changes. In other words, stay the course. Too many investors, including those who are in retirement, are motivated by volatility to make changes that have negative outcomes all too often. When the market drops, don’t overreact. With a properly diversified portfolio, you’re more likely to see those temporary losses bounce back when the market swings back upward.

·         Look to other resources rather than making big changes in your portfolio. For example, you might look to a low-interest home equity line of credit as a resource when the market goes south. However, before you jump into this or other options, make sure to seek guidance from an investment expert.

·         Secure guaranteed income. Some retirees can’t be flexible with their income needs. Therefore, “flooring” is an option, which basically is the process of securing enough guaranteed income sources to cover your needs. You can do this through using investment and insurance products, like bonds and annuities.  However, many insurance products come with high costs, stringent terms, surrender penalties, and pages of fine print (annuities are notorious for this), so be sure to consult an investment advisor before making a purchase.     

·         Reduce market withdrawals. Many retirees sell their investments to generate cash. However, doing this during market volatility puts you in the “sequence of returns risk,” which is not good when you sell investments right after a market downturn. You may want to avoid selling stock when markets are volatile. 

Fortunately, retirement income related to pensions aren’t as often impacted by market volatility. However, 401(k) plans and IRAs can be hugely affected by market volatility. With so many investment strategies related to the 401(k) and IRAs, it’s easy to see how anxiety is spiking right now. However, the basic investing principles – such as consistency over time and not letting emotions rule your actions – have shown their worth over time across market highs and lows.

The advisors at Family Investment Center are here to listen and help guide you. We offer an experienced team in a commission-free environment, and we can help address your anxiety and concerns about the market to help positively impact the potential of your  investments. Contact our team today and let’s start moving forward.

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Investment Strategies: What Can You Learn From Mega Sales?

Three Unique Tips for Staying on Top of Investment Strategies


By now, the smoke has cleared and the dust has settled from the busiest shopping season of the year. One of the first things that probably pops into your mind when you think of sales like Black Friday and even New Year’s Day mega-sales is the chaotic clamoring for goods at retail outlets across the U.S. However, there are investment strategies to consider that are related to the good and the bad that occurs on the nation’s biggest shopping days.

1. Show up early – and this means early research, too. Shoppers who get the goods arrive at the store early. However, the shoppers who get the best deals also did their research long before they stood in front of the store. They watched for the advertisements that suited them and made a plan for how they would target their items. But, how can this be applied to investment strategies?

·         The most successful retirement plans are hatched decades before you retire. The earlier the investment strategies are put into place, the more compound interest and investment returns can accrue. Whether you’re a shopper or an investor, the early bird gets the worm. Think it’s too late for you? Think again. An investment advisor can show you options you may not be aware of on your own.

2. Don’t immediately respond to price. The best mega-sale shoppers are attracted to the lowest price for items they really want or need, but they don’t just buy to be buying. They know in advance what the goal is and are less likely to get a great deal on something they just don’t need.

·         Smart investors act calmly. You might be surprised how many investors get excited about a specific stock and jump in at the wrong time. Smart investors aren’t swayed by passion or excitement – emotions should never drive decisions about investments.

3. Wait it out. It takes a special kind of patience to put up with the throngs of shoppers that amass on mega-sale days. Typically, the ones who come out winners are those who patiently waited for the key day, crafted a wise strategy, and were willing to stick to their plan. However, they are also smart enough to make changes when necessary.

·         Patience is a vital virtue when it comes to investing because getting the best return on your investment usually means staying with it for the long term. You create a budget that is reasonable. You save. You invest. You stick to your plan, even when the market is volatile, and you make the necessary changes as you age or as your circumstances change.

Of course, adjusting your investment strategies isn’t as simple as perusing sale flyers. You need guidance from an investment professional who puts clients first and offers unbiased advice. In fact, this is one of the habits of wealthy people – they allow professionals to help and trust their expertise. 

Family Investment Center offers a team of professional advisors who work with clients on a personal level. We won’t use industry jargon in describing your options, and because we’re commission-free, we can focus on your goals and the strategy options to get there.  Contact us today and let’s get started.



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Your Investment Portfolio and Socially Responsible Investing

More Americans Want Their Investment Portfolio to Line up With Their Values


b2ap3_thumbnail_Investing-3_20151106-213448_1.jpgToday more retirees are looking at sustainable, responsible investing in their portfolios, but they don’t want to take a loss. Striking the balance between investing in the causes you believe in and consistent, goal-oriented investment portfolio management is possible – and it’s something more Americans are considering.  Here are some surprising facts to consider:

According to data from Calvert Investments, 87 percent of people saving for retirement say they want their investments to align with their values. Furthermore, 82 percent said they look for their employee-sponsored retirement plans to include investments that are considered socially responsible.

Despite the market volatility, as many as 66 percent of people surveyed said their retirement investments linked to responsible investing will be just as good and perhaps better than the other mutual funds that don’t quite fit the “responsible investing” definition that is important to them.

Sustainable, responsible and impactful investing among investors has been a growing priority for many in recent years. There has also been an increasing number of products to support this type of investing. Many investors have used exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which keep expenses low but also support the values and ethics of the investor. The options for investors are quite varied. There are investments that can be made based on focused religious values, for example. On the other side, some investors will seek to avoid investing in stocks that go against their beliefs, such as corporations known for their carbon emissions or other polluting infractions.

Finding that balance between smart planning for retirement while expressing ethics and personal responsibility takes research and an intentional strategy. When you hire a professional investment advisor to help guide you, they can help you match your values with your investment portfolio.


Take note, however … when your investment portfolio is aimed at socially responsible products, it sometimes limits your ability to see the biggest returns because you’re limiting your options. This can increase the risks associated with investing in the market. The advisor that assists you with your investment portfolio can research to find stocks that meet your code of ethics, but also have the desirable risk levels.

Family Investment Center advisors track over 31,000 mutual funds, 20,000 common stocks, 1,700 ETFs, and dozens of investment indices. We can assist you in finding the investment options that will meet your definition of “socially responsible” while creating a well-diversified portfolio. Regardless of your ethics or feelings about social responsibility, we can identify solutions that meet your standards. Contact us today and let’s discuss your investment future.

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Do Generations Approach Investing Differently?

Investing Per the Generation: See Where You Fit In

b2ap3_thumbnail_Generation-X-1_20151028-193301_1.jpgWe’re all familiar with stereotyping tied to each generation, from Baby Boomers to Millennials. Some of these stereotypes read like horoscopes – but can all investors really all fit under the same sign? Some investment studies show there is a distinction between generations, but it’s important to note that there are many factors other than generation that affect how individuals approach investing.

Generalizing the Generations: Do You Fit Any of These Perceptions?


Boomers may fall shortThe Insured Retirement Institute found that six out of 10 survey participants hadn’t saved anything for retirement. (But, many have enjoyed some great vacations, says the survey).

Generation X – where do they stand? Many Gen-Xers are falling behind, too. Approximately two-thirds of Gen-X investors haven’t determined what they’ll need to save for retirement. Additionally, 65 percent said they think saving is more challenging for their generation than for others.

Millennials are among the savviest investors. Millennials are generally considered to be between the ages of 25 and 34. These are individuals who came up into careers where the company-sponsored 401(k) had been established previously, and this is the main source of their investment portfolio. A survey by Transamerica found that Millennials talk about retirement approximately twice as much as the older generations.

Where is each generation sitting in their retirement goals? It’s no surprise when you tie those generations to the shift from pensions/defined-benefit plans to self-funding retirement that there will be differences. Boomers are feeling the initial sting and now worried about the lack of time to catch up. The Xers are catching on and learning from the mistakes of their Boomer parents, but may lack a clear focus toward retirement.

Millennials have two generations (and many recent changes in rules) to learn from. The younger generation has to fund their own retirement, and they’re living longer and longer. Meanwhile, many know that Social Security funds are shrinking (and they’re talking about it). 

Looking More Specifically at Individuals:

Not everyone fits into a specific segment. Many finance writers like to segment the audience and talk about how each generation invests, but the truth is, not everybody meets the various profiles. One of the big complexities of personal finance is the uniqueness of each circumstance. Every person, no matter their generation or age, is different due to the following:

·         Family

·         Gender

·         Financial acumen

·         Budget

·         Education

·         Debt

·         Income

·         Risk tolerance

·         Savings

·         Health

·         Personality

·         Goals

Don’t leave anything to chance, and don’t believe everything you read about how your generation is failing or achieving. Instead, focus on the picture you’ve imagined of your own life in retirement. Then contact the commission-free team at Family Investment Center to talk about how you’ll get there. We’re motivated by your success rather than sales goals, and any generation can appreciate that.


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Can Geographical Differences Impact Investment Strategies?

How Investment Strategies Vary According to Financial Concerns



b2ap3_thumbnail_Investment-Management-1_20151021-205239_1.jpgEveryone faces unique challenges when it comes to planning for future dreams, including retirement. However, experts have pointed out that we may also face similar challenges according to where we live. A recent survey of thousands of Americans shows that there are distinctive financial geographical issues throughout the U.S. Investment strategies may vary with these concerns, but considering getting advice from a professional investment advisor should always be high on the list of priorities.

GOBankingRates asked 10,000 people what their biggest financial concerns were, and the results show that planning for retirement, saving for a home, establishing an emergency fund, building an investment portfolio and paying for higher education were among the most frequent answers. Staying with a strategy that can produce results is actually a problem for one in five Americans, the survey found.

What are some intriguing regional differences?

- Californians said they struggle with paying for higher education.
- Residents in several northeastern states said they have a difficult time planning for retirement.
- In the Midwest, Missourians say their biggest financial concern involves planning for retirement. Missourians are also graduating college with an average student debt total of nearly $25,000.

It is not uncommon for retirement planning and higher education goals to work against each other. This is often a challenge with clients focused on having a robust retirement plan while also helping their children navigate through an increasingly expensive higher education process. Unfortunately, many parents are forgoing their own retirement plans in favor of focusing investments toward paying college tuition.

College can be a priority when it comes to planning for the future of your children, but placing too much emphasis on this part of your investment portfolio while neglecting your retirement investing can leave you unprepared financially in retirement. Students can take out low interest student loans to fund their education; this is not something that’s available for your retirement. In fact, if you put too much focus on funding higher education, you can put your children in a situation where they’re funding your retirement – such as paying your medical bills and your housing expenses – because you do not have enough financial resources for your retirement years.

Interestingly, the Employee Benefit Research Institute has found that the debt senior citizens are accruing has increased by 83 percent in just one decade. While the report doesn’t indicate that higher education is at fault, there are likely many variables that weigh into this debt load, which in 2010 was $50,000 on average for senior citizens.

To strike the right balance between education and retirement, talk to a trusted investment advisor. These are professionals who can assist you in aligning your priorities and creating a consistent strategy for success. Family Investment Center professionals work with a wide variety of individuals with different goals, investment challenges, and family situations (all in a refreshing commission-free setting). Contact us today and let’s start the conversation.

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Investment Advisors Offer Key Insights During Volatile Markets

Talking to the Right Investment Advisors Calms Anxiety


b2ap3_thumbnail_Financial-Advisor-1_20151021-204011_1.jpgAnyone who follows the market knows that after five years of a bull market, a bear could be just around the corner. Recently we have seen a volatile market. Does this mean investors need to panic and rush to find safe harbors for their money? Probably not. Rather, it’s time to talk to your investment advisor about your fears and make rational decisions regarding your investments.

During times of volatility, investment advisors are often looking to provide value to clients, just as they do during bull markets. However, they also spend some time calming clients, working to reduce their anxiety. Investors have not forgotten the 2008-2009 stock market drop and many are worried that a rollercoaster market could bring on some losses similar to what they saw in the recession. A survey by Russell Investments shows that investors worry about the rollercoaster market more than they worry about running out of money for retirement.

We watched the market drop by half during the worst of the recession. However, we’ve seen it bounce back and then some. Regardless of the rebound, investors remember the pain of the loss and become anxious in a volatile market. People in retirement (or closest to it) are often the most anxious at times like we’re experiencing now, and investment advisors are here to help.

Here are things an investor should consider in times like these:

·         First, stay calm. Panic is contagious and can lead to an emotion-based decision.

·         Explain to your investment advisor exactly what is making you anxious.

·         Don’t focus on charts and graphs, because these seldom do anything to reduce anxiety.

·         Seek out books that address times like today. Warren Buffett, Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, and others all have resources that can educate you on how to process the anxiety you might be feeling now.

·         Remember that making significant changes in your investments based on emotion is often a mistake. An investment advisor can remind you that fluctuations are normal and consistency is still a key element of success.

·         Ask yourself if you need a cooling-off period where you put off making decisions about your investments. Everyone makes impulsive decisions in the heat of the moment.

·         Listen to the advice of your investment advisor; they have seen many market changes and are experienced in working with a variety of tools and scenarios.

Even experienced investors can get caught up in negative media headlines and can respond accordingly. Working with a professional investment advisor means you have the confidence of knowing someone is working toward your success from an unbiased viewpoint every day.  

Family Investment Center offers a professional team who has experienced the ebb and flow, the bull and bear and the rollercoaster effects of the market. Are you anxious about your investments? Contact us today and we’ll discuss how to move forward with clear focus and higher confidence.


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An Investment Portfolio That Aligns With Your Values

Customizing Your Investment Portfolio for Social Responsibility

b2ap3_thumbnail_Retirement-7.jpgWe’re impacted by what goes on around us. As the world changes, so too will the values of each new generation. These changes, in the investment world, include seeing investment portfolios of individuals whose values are important to them - whose values may guide their investment decisions as much as the successes of certain investment tools. A younger generation who is seeking out investment opportunities is doing so with socially responsible investing near the top of their list.

No matter what generation you’re a part of, you may want to consider the following points if you choose to make changes to your own investments:

Aligning values with your investment portfolio is possible – and many people are doing it. People who want to align their values with the activities that are important to them will typically invest in companies that share the same values. This is not a new concept, but it has been growing in activity in the last few years. The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment released a report that says this type of investment increased from $3.4 trillion in 2012 to $6.5 trillion by the beginning of 2014. Around 53 percent of Millennials, according to a survey by Spectrem Group, say social issues impact the way they invest, compared to 42 percent of Gen Xers and 41 percent of Baby Boomers.

Seek out socially responsible mutual funds. Did you know there are a wide variety of socially responsible mutual funds available to you? In fact, there are over 950 of them today, an increase from 720 in 2012. Talk to your investment advisor about the risk involved and align your risk tolerance with the right socially responsible fund.

Do a little online research before making changes. For example, you may want to take a look at the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment online. This organization will provide you with a list of sustainable and responsible mutual funds. Many other resources exist for similar information.

Be prepared for possible lower results, but do what you can to limit losses. Almost any investment will carry risk, but because socially responsible funds restrict the types of companies in which they will invest, the results might be less desirable than what a portfolio manager without restrictions might obtain. Again, work with your investment advisor to limit your risk of being tied to low-performing investments – but that still allow you to make some values-based choices.

Shape the future with shareholder activism. Those who own companies are the ones who guide them. When publicly traded, shareholders are often able to influence how the company is managed. Exercising voting rights, attending shareholder meetings, and filing shareholder resolutions are all ways that investors are able to help shape the way a company does business.

Improve your community with your investment. Some socially responsible funds will set aside a percentage of investments for credit union and nonprofit lenders that offer affordable loans to community members looking to create positive change. Information about how this occurs should be available in a fund’s prospectus.

Partner with a trained professional. Whether it’s your complete investment portfolio or just a portion that you want directed toward socially responsible funds, talk to your investment advisor about how to best proceed. Contact Family Investment Center today. We’re ready to listen to your values and your future goals.

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Social Security Cost of Living Increase in 2016?

Probably Not…Keep Planning and Know Your Options for Social Security Maximization

b2ap3_thumbnail_Retirement-5_20151019-183601_1.jpgFor nearly the past 40 years, Social Security has offered Americans a small “gift” in the form of a cost of living adjustment (except for two years). You may have heard some discussion that this coming year could mark a third year of the absence of this adjustment.  Although this is unknown, we should prepare for stagnant benefits and look at how that affects your social security maximization.

Why does this happen? Ironically, because of the inflation rate being declared “low.” The cost of living adjustment is largely connected to the nation’s rate of inflation, and experts also explore the cost of living increase based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. However, what the adjustment amounts to for some households is a little over $20 more per month, according to last year’s numbers. Not highly significant, yet still pointing to a message that is significant: counting on Social Security benefits as a retirement source of income may not be a successful strategy.

Instead, investors are encouraged to consider Social Security as a federal savings account and to consider delaying tapping into that account, past the typical age. If you start drawing benefits at age 62, you will receive a significantly reduced portion of what you could be receiving each month you wait until you’re 70.

To get a better idea of how much more you could get if you do so, let’s look at an example. If a person waits to claim their benefits until age 66 would get $1,000 a month if they waited, what happens if they start receiving benefits earlier? If they decided to start taking that money at age 62, they’d get 75 percent, or $750. The amount will grow based on a formula for each year you postpone from age 62.

At age 63, that person would pull down 80 percent, or $800 a month. At age 64, the amount goes up to 87 percent, or $870. At 65 you’re at 93 percent, or $930. For every year you wait past full retirement age, the amount per month increases by around eight percent every year. If our fictional person who gets $1,000 per month at full retirement age waits until age 70 to pull benefits from Social Security, the monthly benefit goes up to $1,320 per month. (Now that’s more significant than the absence of a cost of living adjustment.)

Couples Need to Plan Wisely
You might be eyeing the higher-earning spouse’s Social Security benefits early because it appears that you’ll get more money per month by drawing those benefits, but don’t make this mistake. The surviving spouse will get less in this scenario when one spouse passes away. Waiting until the higher earning spouse is at least 66 before drawing Social Security benefits can be a smarter option.

Singles Need to Plan Wisely Also
If working into your mid to late 60s sounds appealing to you, it will also benefit you in retirement. Working later and delaying benefits until later will also give you a higher monthly benefit. This is a strategy that can work especially well for women, as they tend to live longer.

Seek Investment Advice
Everyone’s situation is different, which is why your retirement plans deserve a look from a professional investment advisor. Our commission-free team at Family Investment Center has assisted people in every stage of life, including using tools to look at Social Security maximization scenarios. Contact us today and let’s begin planning your future.

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Danford Shares Insights over Department of Labor “Conflict of Interest” Rule; Featured in PR Web Announcement


b2ap3_thumbnail_PR-Web-1.JPGRecently Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center, shared his insights regarding the pending Department of Labor rule concerning “conflict of interest” among investors and advisors. Essentially, President Obama is calling for unbiased, non-commission driven advice for investors. Recent White House reports show investors could lose $17 billion per year in potential revenues due to conflicted advisor motives. As stated by Danford, “client-first advice is the only advice that counts.” He also shared his insight into the non-commission, fee-only philosophy Danford and his team have cultivated since the organization’s founding.

Read more here about the recent
PR Web announcement:


Sept. 17, 2015: PR Web

Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center, Expresses Surprise Over Pending U.S. Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule

President Obama directed the Department of Labor earlier this year to raise investment advice standards for brokers in charge of retirement accounts. The “conflict of interest” rule mandates that brokers, insurance agents and other financial advisors act in their clients’ best interest, but not all advising firms are on board.

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Investment Advice in Light of Recent Market Drop: Stay Calm


The Best Investment Advice is to Not Get Rattled

b2ap3_thumbnail_Keep-Calm-1.gifIn a nutshell, here’s a timely tip for all investors: Keep calm and invest on.

If you’re distracted by the recent stock market, it may be time to turn off the television and stop listening to the media who are experts at driving fear into the hearts of investors. The truth is, these “experts” don’t actually care about you or your investments – they’re simply there to talk about volatile markets. The best investment advice comes from a trusted investment advisor. What is important to know about investing in a volatile market?  Here are a few important things:


Market fluctuation is normal. Realize that there is a constant ebb and flow in the market, fluctuations that are a necessary part of investing, and they will never go away. Don’t focus on the short-term ups and downs; rather, think about your goals for the future and what you want your investments to look like five or 10 years from now.

Some investors get so rattled they jump off the roller coaster, locking in their losses and sinking any chance of seeing those investments come back. Investing is something that requires a long-term outlook, which means you have to stick with your plan and roll with the fluctuations.

There is no outsmarting the market. Investors who get involved emotionally in where they put their money are the ones who try to “play” the market, guess where it’s going and make decisions based on those emotion-based ideas. You need to forget what happened in the past while learning from mistakes and sticking to your investment plan.

Short-term approaches offer limited value. It sounds really intriguing to buy a stock at its low and sell at its high, but that rarely occurs. If you have this tactical mindset you may just be focused on getting a thrill out of the risk involved and would be in a better position if you could take a more strategic approach to investing. A more solid strategy is based on long-term goals that carefully evaluate the amount of risk.

Go with a long-term approach. Experts have highlighted that over the last 50 years, the amount of time individual investors hold on to the same stock has shrunk. What was once a five- to 10-year holding period is now down to around a year, on average. There are firms today that trade based on technical factors and momentum, and it’s not something individual investors should try to mimic. Over time, solid investment advice continues to encourage a focus on the long-term approach largely based upon diversification and patience.

Gain better control (and more confidence) by talking to an investment advisor. Knowing where to put your resources can be stressful. Talk to a professional investment advisor and get the guidance of someone who has witnessed the ups and downs of the market and has helped navigate others through the storm. Family Investment Center has professionals on our team who will listen to your goals, then give you the confidence you need to stick with your plan. We’re also commission-free, following strong fiduciary responsibility guidelines long before they were making media headlines. Contact us today and let’s get started together.

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Social Security Maximization: What’s Happened Since 1940?


Interesting Tips for Social Security Maximization for Your Retirement

b2ap3_thumbnail_Retirement-Planning-1_20150928-234110_1.jpgPresident Franklin Roosevelt signed Social Security into law 80 years ago in an effort to help Americans whose savings were depleted during the Great Depression. The program exists today embraced by some controversy or confusion, but it does continue to benefit retirees. Social Security maximization should be on the minds of every individual planning for retirement – and especially when it comes to understanding the facts and the options available.

Living longer and retiring earlier can have a double-impact on your Social Security earnings. The average American lives longer now than they did 80 years ago, but they are also choosing to retire earlier, which means receiving approximately 12 more years of Social Security benefits than decades ago. In fact, the average retirement age is 64 years of age; in 1950, it was 68 years. For some, delaying receiving benefits even just a few years can mean thousands of dollars more in potential Social Security earnings over the course of your lifetime.

Social Security has expanded. The first year benefits were paid was in 1940, and only 220,000 Americans had signed up for Social Security. At that time, spouses, widows and widowers were not eligible for these benefits. Today, there are 60 million retirees, spouses, widows and widowers receiving monthly payments through the program. Work with a professional advisor so that you’ll know all the options and the facts regarding spousal withdrawal, because it’s not as simple as it may seem.

Social Security is not dying. You may hear reference to the idea that the program will be insolvent in “X” number of years, but the truth is that even without reform from Congress, full Social Security benefits are estimated to be available through 2034, and then three-quarters of the benefits should be available through 2089.

People still depend on Social Security. While the common thinking might be that Social Security benefits are an insignificant portion of a retiree’s finances, roughly 90 percent of retirees say they depend on them to help pay their expenses. The average monthly check from Social Security is $1,221.

Taking benefits early will reduce your payment amounts. You can actually start reaping the benefits of Social Security at age 62, but you can delay taking benefits until age 70 and see your monthly benefit continues increasing until then.  The benefit will not increase any further after 70.  There are dozens of ways to file, and many special ins and outs, so consider asking for help from an advisor.

Working later and taking payments at 70 can increase your benefits. If you love your career and don’t want to leave it behind, working later in life has financial benefits. If you wait to take Social Security Benefits until you’re 70, you’ll see your benefit continue to climb until then. (There is no additional benefit for waiting to take your payments after age 70).

Connect with an investment advisor. Are you unsure how you should proceed with Social Security? It can be confusing, which is why more and more Americans are consulting with a professional investment advisor. At Family Investment Center, we have experience across all life stages, and we know about Social Security maximization because we offer an in-depth calculation tool. Contact us today, and we’ll discuss the surprising options that are available to you and what they mean for your family.

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Investing for Physicians: Four Reasons it Differs From Other Professions

Challenges of Investing for Physicians

b2ap3_thumbnail_Physicians-1.jpgThe landscape for healthcare continues to evolve. More is expected of physicians today than at any point in history. While the focus of physicians continues to be on keeping up with technology, regulations, and the health of their patients, many may be unprepared when it comes to their own personal finances. Investing for physicians follows similar strategies to other professions, but a recent survey shows physicians also have their own set of challenges.

Physicians may delay starting retirement savings. A national poll conducted by AMA Insurance reveals that only six percent of physicians said they are ahead on their investment plan for retirement. Around half said they are not prepared for retirement. Doctors spend at least ten years training to become a professional, which means they enter the workforce at a more advanced age than those in other professions. This can put them behind in their investing goals.

Physicians enter the workforce playing catch-up, typically with debt. Many physicians come out of college with staggering student loan debt, the median of which is $278,000 for private schools and $207,000 for public schools (according to the Association of American Medical Colleges). These stats show doctors could enter the workforce around $500,000 behind in real and potential losses.

Retirement accounts are underfunded. The AMA survey shows that having enough money for retirement was the number one financial concern for physicians. In fact, 40 percent said they have less than $500,000 in their retirement accounts. For those under the age of 45, the average was less than $100,000.

Other areas of estate planning need attention as well. The survey also reveals additional estate planning issues that need to be addressed. For instance, only about half of physicians polled said they had updated their will, medical directives, power of attorney and end-of-life plans. Around 35 percent said they had no estate plan. 70 percent said they do not have a long-term care coverage plan in place.

Like most professionals, physicians live busy and demanding lifestyles, but retirement planning doesn’t have to fall by the wayside of long-term goals. When it comes to investing, there are many options to consider, including seeking out an investment advisor for guidance. Letting a professional work out the details of your retirement plan means more time spent pursuing the career you love, or more time with your family, and less time worrying about your future.

At Family Investment Center, we work with people in all walks of life – from young investors to retired professionals. We have the expertise to work within the challenges of complex careers in a commission-free setting. We truly put our clients’ needs first, and have since our founding. Reach out to our team today and let’s get started.

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Planning for Retirement


In Planning for Retirement Mid-Career, Now is the Time for Action (Not Intimidation)


b2ap3_thumbnail_Retirement-Planning-4.jpgThere’s no doubt recent market swings can be a little stressful, regardless of which stage you’re in on your own journey. Talk about the individual generations and their retirement, such as Baby Boomers and the Millennials, continues to swirl across multiple media sources.  When the subject of retirement comes up, experts usually focus on how Millennials should plan for it and what Baby Boomers can do to catch up.

However, one segment that may be overlooked is those aged 35 to 49 known as Generation X (Gen Xers). They’re often mid-career and climbing toward top career income years. When planning for retirement, there are important considerations for Gen Xers.

Northwestern Mutual recently completed a study about Generation X and found that they are further behind in their retirement goals (for those who have them) than the other three broadly defined generations. They may also be more rattled by recent market fluctuations, as they haven’t had enough time in the workplace to really build up their retirement fund.

Around 66 percent of Xers are planning to work past the traditional retirement age, not because they love their work, but because they feel they won’t have enough savings to retire. Around one-third of those who responded in the study said they don’t even know how much they’ll need to have saved for their retirement, and half of them haven’t discussed planning for retirement with anyone.

If the study defines where you are in planning for retirement, consider these four tips:

·         Calculate your retirement budget. To get a better idea about how much you’ll need, picture your lifestyle in retirement and compare that to how you’re living today. Will your house be paid off by retirement and will you still be making car payments? Perhaps there will be areas where you’ll downsize, but maybe you’ll want to increase your travel budget.

·         From where will you draw your income in retirement? Most people will point to Social Security benefits as one source, but others will primarily count on employer-sponsored plans and/or IRAs. If you’re not taking part in your employer-sponsored plan, now is the time to get involved. If you’re 50 or older, Congress allows you to catch-up contributions.

·         Reminder: The dollar you earn today won’t be worth as much when you retire. Inflation means you have to account for the fact that the money you require to live on over the course of the next year will not be sufficient 20 years from now when you retire. Inflation has a significant impact, so be ready to account for that in your planning for retirement strategy.

·         As you age, you’ll incur more healthcare costs than you do today. You might be healthy right now, but health issues will generally increase as you age. Unexpected medical expenses can make a difference in your retirement plan, so be prepared by making sure your planning includes healthcare strategies.

·         Rather than feeling intimidated, start today. Take action by contacting an investment advisor today. They can help you to form a plan so that you carry less worry and more confidence, no matter your career stage. It’s never too late to take a new look at your current situation and make adjustments.

Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed when planning for retirement. Family Investment Center offers a team of professionals who can help guide every generation through the process of planning for retirement. Contact us today and let’s start a conversation about your future.

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What Choices do Parents Have in Investing for College?

Make Investing for College Work Alongside Other Investments

b2ap3_thumbnail_College-2.jpgParents are saving a little less for their children’s college. Do you fit the trend?

A recent report highlighted behaviors regarding how Americans are approaching investing for college. Sallie Mae and Ipsos collaborated on a survey and found that parents are setting aside an average of $10,040 for their kids’ college savings – a 25 percent decrease from 2014.

Cost of living increases and other unexpected expenses are the main reasons for this drop. The report shows that in 2013, Americans saved $110,188 with around $10,503 saved for college. The numbers jumped in 2014 to $115,604 and $13,408. This year, the survey finds that total savings are $98,867 and college savings are $10,040.

Interestingly, the rates aren’t consistent at different income levels. For instance, high-income individuals are seeing the same numbers in 2015 as they saw in 2014. Middle-income parents saw a noticeable drop in savings, while low-income individuals saw a slight increase.

The rise in cost of education is far outpacing the rise in cost of living; one example lies in the reality that the average four-year institution costs around $22,000 a year to attend. For some parents, a sense of panic sets in as students approach high school graduation and tough decisions have to be finalized regarding tuition and school choice. In many cases, the answer to these questions is student loans.

The thought of student loans may not seem daunting – at least at first. However, leaving college with student debt can mean putting off activities like marriage or buying a home, which may also delay setting up retirement accounts. Students leaving school with significant debt may be delayed a decade or more toward investing for their future.

However, there are also risks involved for parents who put their kids’ education costs as a higher priority than their own retirement plans. While students have access to low-interest student loans, parents may not have access to the same type of money when it’s time to retire. Parents who put off adding money to their retirement fund in favor of saving money for their kids’ education may find themselves falling short when they reach retirement years – thus passing along the financial burden to their children.

Certainly there are many questions and options, as well as media articles circulating about the pros and cons of investing for college. Talking over your options with a professional investment advisor can help you make decisions that benefit your student and your retirement plan. Get a clearer view of what you can do by reaching out to Family Investment Center and talking to our team.


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Investment Strategies: Tony Robbins Highlights Important Steps to Financial Freedom

Indexed Annuities and Structured Notes as Part of Your Investment Strategies

b2ap3_thumbnail_Advisors-4.jpgTony Robbins, the square-jawed guru of self-help who dominated the airwaves in infomercials for years, now has a best seller about investment strategies. Money, Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom came out last fall and has already garnered more than 1,500 reviews on Nearly 70 percent of readers give it five out of five stars. Financial advisors are also singing its praises. Specifically, Robbins addresses two products that he feels are an important part of investment strategies: indexed annuities and structured notes.

·         What are indexed annuities?
Indexed annuities are widely known and sold. They are essentially an insurance company investment product with a portion of stock market returns that are protected from losses.

·         The devil in the details
The logical question is – to what are they indexed? Dozens of investment indices exist and it matters which one is chosen. For example, what is the participation rate? How much of the index return will the owner accrue? Some annuities cap the return at 60 to 80 percent of the index’s growth each year. Does the growth include dividends?

·         Other questions to ponder
How long do you have to invest? What is the penalty for early redemption? What is the insurance company’s financial rating? Remember – a guarantee is only as good as the company offering it.

Many insurance companies will offer indexed annuity products, but different rules apply to each of the companies and each and every contract, and they can be extremely complicated. Investment strategies for indexed annuities should include finding an agent who fully understands (and can easily explain) all of the rules regarding indexed annuities.

Robbins also touches on structured notes, which is something corporations and other groups use to borrow money without using a banker as a middleman.

·         What are structured notes?
Structured notes are used as a package with a loan as a security, which is sold directly to investors. Cutting out the banker’s profit means the borrower gets a better deal.

·         How banks make money
Banks will judge the economy, industry sector, management, competition and any other relevant information. They decide to make a loan and make price adjustments (interest rates) to compensate for the risk involved. They demand collateral and might require life insurance of key managers.

·         The structured note buyer
The note buyer faces the same lending issues, but the consumer usually isn’t in a good position to evaluate the risks or make pricing adjustments. There are distribution fees to consider, and when involved with retail products, the higher those fees tend to be.

Call us today at Family Investment Center and find out more about creating an investment portfolio that can help you reach your financial goals. Our investment advisors follow philosophies developed in a similar way as Tony Robbins, and we’ve always been commission-free and investor-focused since our founding in 1998.

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2,700 Rules: Planning Your Retirement and Social Security


b2ap3_thumbnail_Money-Management-1.jpgAt first glance, Social Security may seem simple. You work for decades while paying into the Social Security fund, and you’re eligible to start getting some of it back when you hit 62. However, did you know there are more than 2,700 rules that loom over the federal government’s program? If your answer is “no,” planning your retirement may now seem a little more complicated.

You can be a prudent saver and investor, yet you can still make mistakes with Social Security that can cost you thousands of dollars. Everyone’s situation calls for a different take on how a smart strategy should appear. What makes sense for a retired widow or widower could be the wrong option for a retired married couple.

The following is a list of topics that are most commonly missed when planning your retirement:

·         1. Consider waiting before drawing your Social Security benefits. In many cases, if you wait until you’re 70, your payment could reach a level that’s up to 76 percent more than someone who withdraws benefits at age 62. The difference is in delayed retirement credits, which increase by eight percent plus inflation for every year you wait after your full retirement age.

·        2.  If you have the option to file two types of benefits, it is usually best not to do both at the same time. For instance, if you’re eligible for survivor benefits as well as your retirement benefits, investment experts recommend that when planning your retirement, take the smaller one first, and the larger one later.

·         3. Some retirees don’t realize they are eligible for getting a spousal or a survivor benefit and lose out on thousands of dollars. Spousal benefits for married couples are worth half the benefit of the partner’s retirement benefit. Even if you’re divorced, you could be eligible for that spousal benefit. Survivor benefits can be worth as much as 100 percent of the deceased spouse’s full retirement benefit, so it pays to stay on top of your eligibility.

·        4.  Planning your retirement includes knowing when to file. There are many opportunities and choices for filing. For example, you may not know in order for your spouse to get benefits, you may have to file for your retirement benefit first.

·        Just because you’re divorced doesn’t mean you and your former spouse get excluded from spousal benefits, but you have to have been married for at least 10 years.

Find more helpful tips about planning your retirement at Family Investment Center. Our team of professional investment advisors is ready to help guide you concerning any number of complex investment decisions, and we will provide that guidance in a way that is easy to understand. In fact, we can offer Social Security maximization tools and  unbiased, direct conversation with our experienced team. Contact us today and let’s get started exploring Social Security maximization as one piece of your retirement strategy.

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Investing for Retirement – Late in the Game?

Steps to Take Now for Investing for Retirement

b2ap3_thumbnail_Retirement-4_20150717-163043_1.jpgFor many Americans, investing for retirement can get pushed aside by other things in the early years of a career. Panic can set in, however, as later career years arrive and the realization that the time for leaving the office and setting out for the next big adventure is quickly approaching. What do you do now?

Investing for retirement, even late in the game, is still a smart move. Here are a few tips to consider as you begin planning out your investing strategy:

·         Consider delaying your Social Security benefits. You can receive your benefits at age 62, but a person who delays benefits up to eight years would see significantly higher Social Security income over a lifetime.

·         Pay down your debt while also making contributions to a retirement account. High interest debt can work against your investing strategy. Consider a consolidation plan with a lower interest rate.

·         Take advantage of your employer-sponsored 401(k). Many companies will offer a match up to a certain percentage of your salary, so don’t leave that money on the table – contribute as much as possible.

·         If you’re jumping in late in the game, you may want to invest beyond just your 401(k). Consider the tax benefits you could receive with an IRA. Furthermore, if you’re 50 or older, you can take advantage of what’s referred to as “catch-up” contributions. For instance, you can put an extra $1,000 a year above the standard limit in your IRA and you can contribute as much as $5,500 above the standard limit in your 401(k).

·         Do you know the difference between a Roth and a traditional IRA? What is good for one person might not be for the next. The differences are significant, so make sure you’re using the vehicle that will benefit you the most.

Investing for retirement can be a complex situation and one that looks different for each individual. For the best course of action, no matter the stage of your career, consider working with a trusted professional advisor for guidance.

Family Investment Center can assist you regardless of what stage of life you’re in. Whether you’re a young professional just starting their career, an established professional with a large amount of savings, or a person who is getting a late start investing for retirement, we can help. Our professional team of advisors has many years of experience assisting people in a wide variety of life situations – all in a refreshing, commission-free setting.

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Suddenly Single? Investment Considerations for the Newly Divorced or Widowed

Investment Advice Includes New Considerations

b2ap3_thumbnail_Investing-2_20150716-170817_1.jpgLosing a long-time partner, either through death or divorce, brings many changes, including financial ones. Seeking professional investment advice after becoming suddenly single is important as you maneuver through new waters. To get you started, the following are a few tips to consider:

·         Stay Updated on Financial Accounts
You likely have more than one financial account that is linked to you and your spouse, the registrations of which need to be changed. In the event of death, you’ll need to provide a death certificate to change the registration. A divorce will require you to first determine how you’ll divide the assets, which might necessitate a court order.

·         Dividing Assets: Know the Rules
If you’re splitting retirement assets, be aware that these accounts have their own rules that will apply. For instance, in the event that your spouse dies, most retirement accounts will go immediately to the beneficiary, which was named when the account was first established. Beneficiary designations take precedence over what is in estate plan documents, which makes it crucial to keep these accounts updated.

·         IRAs: Understand Penalties
In the event of death, assets often go to the surviving spouse. Most survivors will roll this money over into an IRA with their name on it, thus escaping taxes or penalties. However, it is of the utmost importance to understand the rules on distributions and taxes.  Survivors may be subject to a required minimum distribution (RMD), and early withdrawal tax penalties may still apply.  Not knowing these rules can be costly, so do your research and talk to an advisor.

·         Dividing Assets in Divorce: Don’t Try to Make Changes on Your Own
Usually in a divorce situation, the retirement assets are split up. This is often preceded by what lawyers refer to as a QDRO - qualified domestic relations order. Although IRAs are divided without penalty, this has to be ordered by the court, so don’t make the changes on your own or you could be  taxed and pay penalties

 Social Security Maximization: You Have Options
Regardless of whether you’re divorced or if you have lost your spouse in death, Social Security benefits will be there for you. In most cases, widows and ex-spouses can claim 50 percent of their spouse’s benefits. If you’re disabled and a widow or widower, you can claim benefits as early as age 50. However, you may want to consider waiting until you’re 70 before you begin taking your benefits because it can mean tens of thousands of extra dollars over your lifetime.

Family Investment Center has a professional, experienced team of advisors who know how to help guide you through life changes. Every situation is different, and we can offer unbiased, commission-free guidance on investments that is specific to your life situation. Let’s talk today.


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Planning for Retirement: What Do Successful People Underestimate?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Retirement-Planning-2.jpgA recent survey by Charles Schwab indicates that some of America’s wealthy are underestimating their expenses as they plan for retirement. According to the study, 80 percent of workers who earn $115,000 annually think they’ll only need $66,000 a year in retirement and that their current investment plans are on track for  retirement.

Survey respondents believe they are going to cut back on lavish spending and live a simpler life. However, for Americans currently making $115,000 a year, a retirement goal of $66,000 per year is actually a 43 percent reduction in annual income. This figure may leave out unexpected costs that can occur in later years, such as health care. What are other elements that individuals in upper levels of income (and those who aren’t) tend to underestimate?

Many adults assume they’ll retire at 65 but are underestimating how long they’ll live after that. Arriving at the “right” number when planning for retirement can be difficult. For many Americans, the number is 65 years of age – but if they haven’t invested enough for retirement, this may not be possible. Today, many adults in the U.S. will live ten to 15 years longer than they anticipate, especially women. Taking the time to sit down now with a professional investment advisor can mean that you have a better plan that lines up with your life expectancy and projected – and realistic – income needs.

Many workers assume what they’re contributing to their IRA or 401(k) is enough, or that they can’t start now. About half of Americans are invested in a retirement plan like an IRA or 401(k), according to a study by EBRI. Maxing out the contribution limit on these retirement plans is ideal, but many Americans fail to realize that adding to these accounts at any percentage is important for retirement planning. Did you know there are also tools that allow for a “catch up” contribution if you’re over a certain age? While nothing is guaranteed and there are always risks associated with having investments, there is great potential for reward, especially if you start early.

Many investors assume they can’t (or shouldn’t) be a little unconventional from time to time. Scores of time-worn advice circulate toward investing, and for many Americans, it can be challenging to “go against the grain.” One example is paying off a mortgage early or making double payments. By investing what you would have spent making that extra house payment, you may have the potential to achieve higher returns later – and you may be better prepared as new doors open that you didn’t anticipate.

At Family Investment Center, our team is dedicated to serving clients’ best interests first, and we’ve always operated in a commission-free setting. We are able to sit down and work with each individual in a professional, experience-driven atmosphere without cumbersome jargon. Contact our team today to learn more about what makes us unique. 

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Want to Get More From Your 401(k) Investing?


Easy Tips to Remember for 401(k) Investing

b2ap3_thumbnail_401K-2.jpgWhile pension plans have fallen by the wayside, 401(k) investing through employer-sponsored programs has grown in popularity as a part of planning for retirement. Many investment advisors would say that one important move you can make in retirement planning is to start investing in your 401(k) as early as possible. Why? The reason is compound interest and portfolio growth. The more time you let the growth build up and work for itself, the more money you are capable of accruing by the time you retire. Here are some easy tips to review and share:

Max out the employer match. If you’re enrolled in an employer-sponsored program where the employer matches a percentage of your investment, make sure you’re taking maximum advantage of that match. Investing less than what your employer will match is basically leaving money on the table.

Earned a little extra? Invest it. If you receive a bonus or windfall, consider adding it as part of your long-term investment strategy. Also consider raises an opportunity to increase your monthly investments to your 401(k). Having the money infused directly from payroll to the 401(k) account is a smart move as you don’t have to physically do anything to transfer from your checking account to an investment account. This ensures that the money is moved into your 401(k) consistently each month.

Consistency, consistency. With 401(k) investing, it is important to think long-term and to diversify. When recessions hit, there is a good chance you may see it negatively impact your balance. However, when investing for the long haul, history has shown that the ebb and flow of the economy usually allows you to recoup those losses. The best results are most often seen in accounts that are both consistent and diversified.

Don’t allow yourself easy access to the 401(k) funds. It is important that you don’t treat your 401(k) like a loan or checking account. Yes, you worked for that money and it is yours, but keep in mind your retirement goals and long-term outlook. Remember, with few exceptions, any funds you take out before age 59.5 will not only be taxed as income, but will also incur an early withdrawal tax penalty.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance with your 401(k) investing. Getting to the point where you’re truly enjoying your retirement years, due in part to your 401(k) account, is not something that everyone is equipped to plan out on their own. It may take the professional advice of an experienced advisor who knows how your investments will be taxed and how they can be leveraged as an effective tool.

Family Investment Center has offered individuals and families unbiased, commission-free advice since opening 17 years ago. In fact, we were one of the first regional firms to operate on a fee-only, commission-free environment – long before the concept became popular. Call or email our team today and find out why national publications like Forbes and the Wall Street Journal include our thoughts in articles.

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Planning for Retirement


What do Successful People Underestimate When Planning for Retirement?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Retirement-5.jpgA recent survey by Charles Schwab indicates that some of America’s wealthy are underestimating their expenses as they are planning for retirement. According to the study, 80 percent of workers who earn $115,000 annually think they’ll only need $66,000 a year in retirement and that their current investment plans are on track for retirement.

Survey respondents believe they are going to cut back on lavish spending and live a simpler life. However, for Americans currently making $115,000 a year, a retirement goal of $66,000 per year is actually a 43 percent reduction in annual income. This figure may leave out unexpected costs that can occur in later years, such as health care. What are other elements that individuals in upper levels of income (and those who aren’t) tend to underestimate?

Many adults assume they’ll retire at 65 but are underestimating how long they’ll live after that. Arriving at the “right” number when planning for retirement can be difficult. For many Americans, the number is 65 years of age – but if they haven’t invested enough for retirement, this may not be possible. Today, many adults in the U.S. will live ten to 15 years longer than they anticipate, especially women. Taking the time to sit down now with a professional investment advisor can mean that you have a better plan that lines up with your life expectancy and projected – and realistic – income needs.

Many workers assume what they’re contributing to their IRA or 401(k) is enough, or that they can’t start now. About half of Americans are invested in a retirement plan like an IRA or 401(k), according to a study by EBRI. Maxing out the contribution limit on these retirement plans is ideal, but many Americans fail to realize that adding to these accounts at any percentage is important for retirement planning. Did you know there are also tools that allow for a “catch up” contribution if you’re over a certain age? While nothing is guaranteed and there are always risks associated with having investments, there is great potential for reward, especially if you start early.

Many investors assume they can’t (or shouldn’t) be a little unconventional from time to time. Scores of time-worn advice circulate toward investing, and for many Americans, it can be challenging to “go against the grain.” One example is paying off a mortgage early or making double payments. By investing what you would have spent making that extra house payment, you may have the potential to achieve higher returns later – and you may be better prepared as new doors open that you didn’t anticipate.

At Family Investment Center, our team is dedicated to serving clients’ best interests first, and we’ve always operated in a commission-free setting. We are able to sit down and work with each individual in a professional, experience-driven atmosphere without cumbersome jargon. Contact our team today to learn more about what makes us unique. 

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Investing for Retirement: Are You Avoiding These Common Misperceptions?


Troubling Statistics Circulate Regarding Investing for Retirement

b2ap3_thumbnail_Retirement-8.jpgAmerican workers are falling short on their retirement investments, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.Why? Investing for retirement can be intimidating, so it’s a task that is often ignored or delayed to such a degree that it becomes challenging to gain the financial independence that most adults hope for by the time their career has ended. Some believe they’ll have time later in their working years to accumulate a retirement fund; others invest in children’s college or pay off a mortgage early, rather than allotting as much as possible each month toward a retirement plan.

The greatest resource a worker has is time, because in many cases, investments left to grow will generate stronger returns as the years pass. Unfortunately, too many workers procrastinate for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s the crushing student loan debt they are working to pay down. Some workers have a belief that they simply don’t have extra money for investments, or that investing is too complicated. Others believe that their current allotment toward investments will be enough, not realizing that many Americans actually live ten to 15 years longer than they anticipate. What do recent studies say about Americans’ retirement behavior?

Troubling Statistics: American Workers Have Only a Fraction Saved
Nearly 30 percent of American workers have less than $1,000 in their retirement accounts. This includes everyone from people entering their careers to workers who have a few decades of employment. The statistics, however, improve for 50-year-olds. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average savings is nearly $43,000 – but this is only a fraction of what most adults will need to live on following retirement. In total, Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research estimates that in the U.S., there is currently a $6.6 trillion shortfall in retirement savings.

Delaying Retirement Due to Debt
Debt isn’t something most retirees look forward to, nor want to carry with them into a new season of life. However, debt is a growing reality for the U.S. retiree population. A study from CESI Debt Solutions found that nearly 56 percent of retirees in America are burdened by debt. Furthermore, since 1991, the number of bankruptcies for this segment of the population has risen by 178 percent.

Many Retirees are Worried or Concerned (Rather than Excited)
Americans for Secure Retirement found in its survey that nearly 90 percent of Americans are “worried” about retirement. Their main concern is having a comfortable standard of living. In fact, the percentage of those saying they experience worry toward retirement has increased by around 15 percentage points since 2010. Some level of concern toward retirement is normal, but what can you do to keep the worry from taking over your joy at having reached this milestone?

Connecting with a Professional Advisor
Investing for retirement can be marked with confusion and over-analysis, but if you’re working with a professional investment advisor, it can be a rewarding, exciting process that leaves you feeling confident about your future. Professional advisors can help you understand the investment process and show you options that have the potential for higher returns than what you’ll find in a traditional savings account. They also know the details toward tax considerations and Social Security maximization, taking the guesswork out of investing on your own.

Family Investment Center is commission-free, which means our clients receive objective advice without any conflicts of interest. No matter where you are in your career, we have strategies that can offer you more confidence (and less worry) as you approach retirement.

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Strategic Tips of Professional Investment Advisors

What Successful Investment Advisors Know About Financial Planning

b2ap3_thumbnail_Investing-2_20150624-204657_1.jpgWhat do successful investment advisors know about investment strategies that can help you with your financial goals? Here are just a few easy tips to apply today for more confidence in your future tomorrow:

The top investment advisors you might rank among have strategies for helping grow your money, but it’s up to you to provide those funds. In other words, to truly see more bang for your buck, save more bucks. This involves budgeting more carefully and putting a higher percentage of your income toward investments. Too many Americans spend too much on things they want now, instead of putting that money to work in an investment account. Chances are, you’re able to invest more than you might think each month.

Avoid commissioned products (these advisors may not have your best interests in mind). By now, you’ve likely heard about recent White House reports warning Americans against commission-based investment advice –including the percentage of revenue that could be lost over time when working with these advisors. If you’re being directed to buy a certain investment by your advisor who receives commissions for selling it to you, it may be time to switch to a fee-only advisor. Fee-only advisors don’t take a commission and won’t be swayed by the possibility of higher profits to offer you a product that may not bring you the success you want. Nationally, fee-only advisors are connected by a willingness to serve clients’ needs first through the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (

Don’t overanalyze declines in the stock market. True, the last recession set back the plans of investors who planned to retire at that time, but historically, success comes to investors who place their focus on consistency over time. While there is no guarantee, statistics show that investing in the market in the long-term can bring stronger returns than market-timing.

No one can predict the market. If you’re making decisions based on what you think will happen to a stock in the next few months, you’re “playing” the market. This may not be a rewarding situation to be in, especially if you’re making large investments. Top investment advisors don’t “play” the market. They diversify portfolios over a variety of securities over time that have varying levels of risk.

Address your personal debt first. Pay down your high-interest credit card, for example, before investing heavily for your retirement. One situation that goes against this advice is with your 401(k) – you should consider contributing the maximum amount that your employer will match. Otherwise, put your focus on paying down high-interest debt so that you can invest more for your future. However, while it may be somewhat unconventional, depending on your mortgage rate, making double payments on your mortgage or trying to pay it off early may not be as wise if those dollars could do more for you in an investment account.

Family Investment Center offers a professional team of investment advisors who know how to communicate clearly, all in a commission-free setting. Contact us today to get started.

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Setting Emotions Aside to Invest Wisely

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What Can we Take From Krzyzewski and Apply to Your Investment Portfolio Strategy?

A Sporting Take on the Investment Portfolio

b2ap3_thumbnail_Money-1_20150529-042458_1.jpgMike Krzyzewski has held the head coach position at Duke University since the year President Reagan first stepped into office. In that time, he’s lead his teams into five successful NCAA championships, was at the helm for two gold medal wins in the Summer Olympics, and is fifth on the list of coaches with the most wins in college basketball history. How can Coach K’s winning coaching strategy apply to your investment portfolio strategy? Let’s take a look.

Think forward motion. Coach K has a knack for the man-to-man defense as well as an offense that is constantly in motion. He’s stuck to this throughout his career because it produces results – a .769 win percentage. These are the kind of results you hope to get in an investment portfolio strategy. By persistently reinvesting these “wins,” and keeping an attitude of forward motion, you can also amass a record of which you can be proud.

Deal with change. Change is something many people have trouble with, which can be a problem when it comes to an investment portfolio. How does Coach K deal with change? Most coaches don’t want to have a player for just a year and then see them advance to the pros – instead, they’d rather have that excellent player for their full four years of eligibility. Instead of going against the system, Coach K embraces the wants of the players and has successfully built teams with star players he knows will only be around for a single season. (Because that’s what some star players truly want.)

Change in the investment market is also something that happens frequently. Stocks that were hot 10 years ago shouldn’t be thought of as a “go to” stock now. Evolving with the times, and being willing to embrace new strategies or unconventional wisdom now and then, can help you reach greater success.

Coach K isn’t afraid to go deep into his bench to utilize the skills of players most others have either forgotten about or those who didn’t know they had a specific skill. These are players who are patient and will wait until the time is right before they come to the court and shine – however briefly it might be. With investments, patience is definitely a virtue. A good investment advisor will not be overly swayed by market fluctuations, but will instead keep a perspective built on consistency over time.

Professional investment advisors aren’t playing the market. They truly know how to embrace both new technology and traditional, “classic” rules of investing that remain unchanged. Not every move is going to be a winner, and while no advisor can predict the future, those who are not opposed to a certain amount of risk (but are also educated and experienced in diverse strategies) can often see the biggest successes for their clients. 

The professional investment advisors at
Family Investment Center specialize in large portfolios and operate in a commission-free environment. You’ll never see a hidden fee from our team, but you will see experience, several specialized degrees and credentials, and a loyal client base. Contact us today and find out how we can work with you to impact your family’s future.

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Investing for Women: Does Gender Really Matter?

Why Investing for Women Deserves a Closer Look


b2ap3_thumbnail_Financial-Planning-in-Your-20s-1.jpgLike taste in fashion, cars, and social outings, there are differences in the way men and women invest. While personal preference accounts for some, life situations unique to gender can also be major factors. Any strategies that involve investing for women should take into consideration some unique options available to women – and unique opportunities.

1. If you’re considering becoming an investor, or making changes to your investment plans, it may be time to consider the allocation of your portfolio. You may have read articles or resources on your own and have a general idea of how you want to proceed – or you may be experiencing reluctance because of market fluctuations. Diversifying your portfolio among many types of sectors and investments can help you achieve more success over time. Consider if this is a good time to sit down with your investment advisor to review your level of risk and make adjustments if needed.

2. Don’t be afraid to put yourself first when it comes to investing. Many women are perpetual caregivers, which can have financial consequences. Before you give money to your favorite charity or even to your child’s college fund, pay yourself first in the form of investing. In the future, it may cost your loved ones a great deal more to help care for your needs as you age than you anticipate – meaning investing in your own retirement isn’t selfish, but instead wise. Keep in mind that many seniors are living 10 to 15 years longer than they expect to live, so the need for smart investing is even greater.

Remember the rule that you’re reminded of every time you get on an airplane: if the oxygen masks fall, put yours on first, then help others with theirs. Take care of yourself first so you can help others later.

3. Take part in an employer-sponsored retirement plan if it is offered at your place of employment. Consider contributing at least as much as your employer will match. If available, also consider opening your own individual retirement account (IRA). With a careful eye on your budget and control on your spending, your investments can accumulate and help open doors to the future you want.

4. Get involved early and often. One constant challenge investment advisors report is the habit of one spouse deferring the activity to the other spouse, for many reasons. You should know where your assets are being held and how to access them. Not only will this allow you to enjoy together successes you may see, but it will also provide an extra layer of confidence and control. Some women enjoy having their own independent investments to follow and manage, in addition to shared accounts with their spouse.

Finally, regardless of gender, you may need professional help with your investments. Investment advisors carry out these tasks every day, so they can concentrate on serving clients and helping them meet their goals.
Whether it’s investing for women, for men, or for the entire family, a professional advisor may hold your key to a brighter future.

At Family Investment Center, we strive to help put clients in a more confident position -- not just for you, but also for your entire family. When you team up with a professional who has the certifications and the passion to stay in the know, you can move past the challenges that many women experience with investing.

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Family Investment Center featured in Kansas City Star blog titled “Don’t Pay Off Your Mortgage If You Plan to Enjoy Retirement”


Surprise. Conventional wisdom, when it comes to finances, could actually get in the way of progress, says Family Investment Center founder Dan Danford in a recent Kansas City Star personal finance guest blog.

Titled “Your Financial Planner: Don’t pay off your mortgage if you plan to enjoy retirement,” Danford’s guest blog highlighted the Personal Finance section of The Kansas City Star on May 13, 2015. In the piece, Danford was recruited to share some unexpected knowledge with readers as a regional investment advisor who is known for doing things a little differently. He regularly mails $2 bills to clients on their birthdays, and often uses stories to help educate and inform clients as they make decisions.

In the Kansas City Star blog, Danford encourages readers to consider what top business schools and other institutions have to say about concepts like deliberate debt and opportunity cost. “Taking money you might have spent on double mortgage payments to pay off your house early may mean higher returns later if that money were used for other things instead,” says Danford. “Sometimes going against conventional knowledge can open doors you might not have seen coming. These are classic principles taught in finance and business schools across the country, and they can also help investors succeed.”

Danford also addresses the surprising facts about how many Americans aren’t adequately saving for retirement, due to concerns like daily expenses and a lack of confidence or knowledge in the investment process. He encourages investors to work with a professional to help guide their steps. “You’re likely to see different results from a guided fishing excursion rather than fishing off your own deck and acting on your own hunch about where fish might be. Investing with the help of a professional, rather than all on your own knowledge, works the same way,” says Danford.

These approaches have opened doors for media coverage including a recent feature in The Wall Street Journal “Voices” column, where Danford explains how sharing simple, valuable insight in an uncomplicated way can help investors overcome anxiety. In some media articles, Danford recalls how his dad made him “rent” the family mower when Danford was a young boy mowing yards for income. He’s also known for being one of the first investment firms in the region to remain completely commission-free – a philosophy made popular by recent White House reports warning against hidden fees from commission-based firms, as well as mainstream books like Tony Robbins’ top-selling book MONEY: Master the Game.

Read Danford’s full Kansas City Star blog here:

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Twenty-Somethings and Investing: 10 Simple Financial Rules


When’s the right time to think about investing?

Today. Right now.

Even if you’re in your 20s and investing seems like something you’ll do later, think again. Investing right now is all about planning out the life you want to live and mapping the steps to get there. It doesn’t have to be over-complicated; working with a professional investment advisor can help take the worry out of the equation for you.

View our new video below for some straightforward tips you can put into action, today -- and move a few steps forward to the freedom you know you want down the road.


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Financial Planning and College: Getting Through the Financial Labyrinth

b2ap3_thumbnail_College-1.jpgFor many Americans, a college degree could mean a million extra dollars earned over the life of a career. However, with the student debt load surpassing that of credit card debt, it’s easy to see why the prospect of a college career can put a great amount of fear in those who are trying to figure out which financial planning steps to take.

Private or Public – College is Still Expensive
If you think applying to public schools only will keep you (or your child) out of debt,  that may not be the case.
The average four-year state school will cost $18,000 a year to attend, which means you have to consider grants and scholarships as well as starting  your savings plan early.

Don’t Rely on the Financial Aid Office to be Your Investment Advisor
Financial aid can be a confusing process, and one that leaves students with a poor understanding of the debt they will be responsible for when they leave the university. This debt is forcing more and more college graduates to put off getting married, buying a house, having children, and starting a retirement account. Financial planning isn’t usually something most young college students think about until it’s too late, which is why more colleges are offering financial planning courses to first-year students.

To get a better handle on the situation, know where your bottom line is – whether you’re helping your child with college or they’re handling it on their own. You’re probably not going to find your bottom line on your financial aid letter, unfortunately, so you’ll have to make calculations yourself. Don’t forget that nearly all schools have tuition and fees. Tuition might be $280 per credit hour, but there are also various fees attached to each credit hour that you have to factor in. And that’s only part of the equation: you also have to consider the costs for books, food, housing, and other miscellaneous expenses.

Saving Money on the First Two Years of College – It’s Possible
Community colleges saw a massive influx of students during the recession as everyone scrambled to make ends meet. Now that we’re out of the recession, saving money by attending a community college for the first two years still makes sense and it’s something that many more students are doing to offset the crushing debt that many others find themselves in once they begin earning “real” paychecks. Also note that attending a high-status school may mean thousands of dollars more in debt – and may not mean higher-paying jobs after graduation.

Experts advise families to match the student’s career goals with a school whose tuition matches their projected income. For example, maybe Harvard isn’t the most ideal choice for a student who will enter the workforce projected to earn $35,000 a year. In this case, a student might attend a community college or less prestigious university and start investing for their future early in their earning years -- instead of paying off huge loans.

Seek Out the Advice of an Investment Advisor
Saving for college while also trying to sock away money for a comfortable retirement can be a difficult task, but there are ways to do both. At
Family Investment Center, we’ve helped many families navigate these decisions and achieve more confidence toward their futures. Talk to us about what concerns you have and we’ll work together to make a plan.

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Calling All Thinkers: Family Investment Center CEO Starts New Book Club

b2ap3_thumbnail_Brand-6.jpgAmericans get together across the country every week or every few weeks either at a library, someone’s living room or a local bookstore to discuss their latest reads. Yet, there is a lot more to book clubs than just reading books, and Americans are taking note and joining clubs.

There are virtual book clubs popping up on the Internet, but the more popular choice is to host a small gathering of like-minded individuals while discussing books and any other topic that might come up, perhaps something as light as new recipes or as serious as family and business. Members get a sense of empowerment as they share their opinion about a book. They feel a sense of community, often with people they’re meeting for the first time. For some, it’s simply a break from the norm – an activity that breaks up the monotony of everyday life.

To give St. Joseph and North Kansas City residents an opportunity to get everything they can out of a book club, Family Investment Center Founder/CEO Dan Danford is hosting two new community book clubs beginning in May. The club is named You, Me and Zuck: A Community Book Club Based on Mark Zuckerberg’s Year of Books. The club seeks to bring the community together with the goal of building relationships while sharing knowledge. Zuckerberg said that he “found reading books very intellectually fulfilling. Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today. I'm looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.”

Danford said he’s looking forward to his club’s members sharing valuable insights and information with each other, starting with The End of Power by Moises Naim, which looks at former powerful leaders and the newer, smaller powers that are helping to change the landscape of leadership.

“As a business, we believe it’s part of our responsibility to interact with the community and help foster new ideas and inspiration. That’s what we do here at our company every day, and it’s natural to want to share that,” says Danford.

The “You, Me and Zuck” Book Club Titles Are:

· The first book the club will read is The End of Power by Moises Naím. The book discusses the shift in power from West to East and North to South, and from traditional power platforms like presidential houses and palaces to public squares.

· The second is from Sudhir Venkatesh, Gang Leader for a Day, a book that comes out of nearly a decade living in a notorious housing project in Chicago where gangs rule the neighborhood. Venkatesh sheds light on the “morally ambiguous, highly intricate, and often corrupt struggle to service in an urban war zone.”

· The third month of the book club features Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull. Readers will see into the mind of one of Pixar Animation Studio’s founding members and get his take on managing employees to get the most out of them.

· The fourth book on the list is The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker, who is a cognitive scientist investigating our violent past and how brutal practices are now declining in society.

· For the club’s fifth meeting, members will read On Immunity by Eula Biss. The author, who is a National Book Critics Circle Award winner, talks about her fears as a parent. She discusses fear of the medical establishment, government, and what’s in the air children breathe, the food they eat and in their vaccines.

· For the sixth and final meeting for this round of readings is The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by philosopher Thomas Kuhn. This book, published in 1962, examines the process of discovery and challenges idea of normal scientific progress.


Kansas City Meeting Dates:

May 14

June 11

July 9

August 13

September 10

October 8

St. Joseph Meeting Dates:

May 28

June 25

July 23

August 27

September 24

October 22

The first meeting in Kansas City will be held at 7p.m., Thursday, May 14, 2015, at Barnes and Noble at Zona Rosa. These gatherings will recur on the second Thursday of every month through October. St. Joseph members will attend their first meeting on Thursday, May 28, 2015, at the East Hills Library Conference Room. Meetings will recur here every fourth Thursday of the month through October.

We invite you to join us, either in-person or online and share your opinions. For more information, contact us at Family Investment Center.

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Retirement Planning and Social Security: What Questions Should You Ask?


b2ap3_thumbnail_Advisors-2.jpgIt’s something that the average American worker might have thought about for many years – how Social Security plays into a retirement strategy. Rather than jumping on benefits the day you are able to receive them, consider talking through your options with an advisor.

Once you reach age 62, which is the age at which you can start withdrawing benefits, you have a decision to make (actually, several decisions) about your Social Security. In fact, you may not know that the decisions you make for claiming your Social Security benefits could mean receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional benefits over your lifetime.

Some areas you may want to ask a professional investment advisor about include:

·         How to receive a larger, inflation adjusted lifetime payment by suspending benefits

·         The process involved in waiting to collect your benefits

·         Spouse or widow benefits, even if you’re divorced

·         How to choose options when one spouse receives benefits early and the other decides to wait until a later date

·         Benefits of discussing your choices with an advisor rather than making your Social Security decisions on your own

Should I wait?
In most cases, there is a benefit to waiting on collecting your benefits because you could see an increase of about six to eight percent for every year between 62 and 70, plus cost of living adjustments. That can add up to thousands of extra dollars you’ll receive later.

I started collecting early and want to reverse that decision.
For those of you who have already filed, it’s not too late to reverse your filing decision. For instance, let’s say you started collecting your retirement at age 62 and want to suspend the benefits until you turn 70. You can, but to change your election strategy you only have 12 months from the time you file to make a change.

What should we do if we are each eligible for benefits?
Advisors often recommend collecting from the smaller benefit early and holding on to the larger benefit for collection later. If you’re married and you each were to take your own benefits at the same time, you may lose the opportunity to draw a little now and more later.

I’m divorced. Does that mean my benefits are negated? If you were married for at least 10 years, it’s highly likely that you’re eligible for spousal benefits on the earnings of your ex-spouse. You have to be proactive with this benefit because Social Security is not allowed to give financial advice or suggest case-by-case recommendations – you must reach out to them. However, if you’ve remarried, these benefits disappear.  

I know my way around finances – shouldn’t I just make these decisions on my own and save money? The Social Security system is not just a “file and done” decision-making process. There are hundreds of options to be aware of that most people are not aware of to maximize their lifetime payments.  An advisor should help you sort through the hundreds of Social Security income claiming possibilities to help you get more lifetime income. (It’s true that some couples have seen benefit increases of $150,000 and higher over their lifetime by delaying their benefits and finding out all their options.)

In addition to investment management, Family Investment Center offers both expertise on Social Security options and access to dedicated software. We can sit down with your family and move through various scenarios so that when it’s decision-making time, you can do so with confidence. Contact us today to schedule a meeting. 

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Investment Strategies, Based on the Philosophies of Warren Buffett

b2ap3_thumbnail_Millionaire-1.jpgWhen it comes to considering someone else’s ideas about investment strategies, it’s always thought-provoking to look at what the “Oracle of Omaha”, Warren Buffett, has to say.  

When it comes to financial success, his staying power continues to be a source of conversation. Warren Buffett joined Berkshire Hathaway 50 years ago and has helped steer the company toward 20 percent annual growth since – aside from the fact that he also happens to be a billionaire and one of the richest people on Earth. He didn’t get that way by making unwise investment decisions. What advice does he offer to investors?

Don’t pay too much for an investment. Buffett is an expert on buying businesses and making a profit off of them. His advice is simple: no business, regardless of how many customers it has, is a good investment when you’ve overpaid for it. The same can be said for stocks. For investors who get caught up in the “trending stocks” that promise a massive return, remember that if you’re paying too much for it, it’s it may not ever amount to a good investment.

Don’t try to time the market. We know that historically, the market will fluctuate. We also know that it could give you a better return when you invest for the long-haul. People are often afraid of volatility, but if experts have learned anything from the ebb and flow of the market, it’s that staying in over the long-run and not making overly risky (or emotion-based) decisions is a sound investment practice.

Everybody will make a mistake or two – face yours head-on. Buffett is quick to point out mistakes he’s made, whether it was buying a company he knew might turn out poorly, or passing on a company that could have turned a massive profit for him. The key is to not dwell on mistakes – take your lumps and get on with it.

Nobody can tell you what a stock will be worth next year. Some investors have fun trying to predict the market. However, it’s always been and always will be partly a guessing game. You can’t judge a stock solely by the year it had; that’s often more of a story about the market than it is about a stock. Experienced, professional investment advisors, however, can utilize strategies and knowledge to help you reach goals you may not reach investing on your own.

“Don’t ask the barber whether you need a haircut.” This is Buffett’s way of saying if you want advice about investing, don’t ask someone who is out to sell you something. When it comes to investment strategies from third parties, consider a commission-free (“fee-only”) advisor who has nothing to gain from recommending a particular financial product. Advisors who take commissions, sometimes called “fee-based”, are making money off investors in two ways – the fee they charge to manage an investment and from commissions paid to them when they convince a client to buy a product. In contrast, a fee-only advisor is acting solely in the best interest of the client.

Family Investment Center is a fee-only investment advisor.  Our team of advisors can help guide you with your best interests at heart. We never take commissions, and we’ve always treated our clients as part of our own family. For more information about how we approach investment strategies, contact us today.

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Retirement Planning: Facts You Might Have Missed

b2ap3_thumbnail_Investing-7.jpgIt is natural to have some worries about your finances as you near retirement. Even people who have planned for decades can feel some anxiety as they question whether or not they’ve done enough to prepare themselves financially for retirement.

Retirement planning, when approached correctly, can ease these fears and assure you that you’re on the right track. One way to approach this is to think about the worst-case scenario and make provisions for it. For instance, high taxes are something that can present a worst-case scenario. You should have a fairly good grasp on your tax situation where your investments are concerned, but give it a second thought and talk it over with your investment advisor or accountant to make sure you’re not missing out on any important information that could lead to higher tax rates.

What about health issues? You might be healthy at the moment, but as we age, we see the doctor more often as health problems become more regular, and this presents added costs that we often don’t account for.

Another way to ease into the retirement state of mind is to start thinking about your savings as monthly income. Perhaps you’ve only been looking at the totals in your
401(k) and other investment accounts, but try to imagine these accounts as your new source of income and establish your monthly retirement budget based on how you’ll pull down funds from those accounts. This will help you visualize what you’ll actually be limited to on that first month when your paycheck stops coming in and you begin relying on the funds you’ve amassed for retirement.

Are you invested in bonds? Look at your bond investments because they have some level of risk associated with them. Many retirees have a strategy in their retirement planning that relies on bonds. There are things to consider before you try to sell your bonds, including interest rates and the amount of time you held the bond. These are factors that could lead to a loss, if they don’t play in your favor. 

Give your health insurance coverage another look as you plan for retirement. Voya Financial conducted a study last year that revealed how challenging healthcare costs are to retirees. In fact, the study showed that these costs were the most unexpected challenge for the newly retired. Deductibles for prescriptions, lab work, and multiple visits to doctors and specialists all add up and can represent a large out-of-pocket expense that catches up to people, even those who thought their insurance was excellent.

Professional advisors know the roadblocks retirees face and they can help you navigate obstacles long before they present themselves.
Family Investment Center is proud to offer a wide range of knowledge that our professional team has gained over the years. Contact us today to start finding out how to plan for retirement … so you can worry less and look forward to your retirement years even more.   

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Planning for Retirement: What Entrepreneurs Can Consider

b2ap3_thumbnail_Retirement-4.jpgAs an entrepreneur, when you consider retirement, you probably have a tinge of anxiety. This could keep you from considering what it takes to work on your strategy for planning for retirement. However, the earlier you start making smart investments for the day when you’re no longer in charge of your company, the higher your confidence level can be while you’re still on the job.

If you’re not working with a professional advisor yet, consider that the most successful investors know that professional investment advisors are committed to spending their own work hours helping you bring your retirement visions to life. (So you don’t have to add this complex task to your own to-do list). Here are some additional considerations to note:

Just because you don’t have a company-sponsored 401(k) program doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the tax breaks a plan like that can provide. For instance, a Solo 401(k) plan is designed for entrepreneurs. It can also offer benefits to your spouse. You can also invest in a tool like a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) that allows you to put 25 percent of your net income into it, up to a certain amount. If you’re a smaller business, you may consider beginning with a Simple IRA due to a lesser administrative burden, then shift that into a new 401(k) after a few years to help offset some plan costs. Talk to an advisor to know which plan is best for your situation.

A crucial step in planning for retirement starts with thinking about your exit strategy. As an entrepreneur, much of your net worth may be tied up in your business or businesses. Many regular employees may have the bulk of their investments in employer-sponsored 401(k) plans or IRAs. You may also be investing in funds like these, but you’ll need to place some amount of importance on making sure your transition out of the company doesn’t affect the value of what you’ve created. If you’ll be selling your business when retirement time comes, ask yourself how this sale will happen and work toward that goal.

Does your company run only because you’re there? Put a leadership team together now that maintains the value of your company even as you begin to exit. Those who may eventually take over your company will see more value in it if the leadership team is able to function without you at the helm.

As an entrepreneur, you have options for your retirement. If you’re working with a professional advisor, these options extend well beyond hoping the success of your business can carry you through … and into strategic plans that help reduce the stress of planning for this life transition. To learn more about leveraging the money you’ve earned with your success, contact our team at
Family Investment Center. Let’s start looking at your options.

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Planning for Retirement: White House Report Calls Hidden Fees a “Threat”

b2ap3_thumbnail_Retirement-5.jpgA recent report from the White House outlines some pervasive issues in investment management, and it has many Americans talking. The report addresses how investors should be wary of hidden fees and conflicts of interests when they work with professional advisors, and in fact, some findings have caused the White House to consider some of these practices “a threat” to Americans planning for retirement.

The President’s Council of Economic Advisors released a
report on February 23, 2015, called “The Effects of Conflicted Advice on Retirement Savings,” that outlines the issues and how they are hurting the middle class. The report finds that “conflicted advice leads to lower investment returns.” For example, investments people make with advisors that work on commission average roughly one percent point lower each year compared to investors working with fee-only advisors. What else does the report say?
Conflict costs you money. Shockingly, retirees who get advice from an advisor with a conflict of interest about rolling over a 401(k) balance to an IRA lose around 12 percent of the value of that balance over 30 years. With the average IRA rollover being $100,000 or more, that 12 percent loss is equivalent to $12,000.

According to a summary of the report: “…conflicted advice leads to large and economically meaningful costs for Americans’ retirement savings. Even a far more conservative estimate of the investment losses due to conflicted advice, such as half of a percentage point, would indicate annual losses of more than $8 billion.”

Know the difference between fee-only and commission-based advisors. Advisors that work on commission confuse clients with a “fee-based” advisors title. The difference is that a fee-only advisor charges you one flat fee, usually based on the overall assets of your portfolio. They aren’t motivated by commission-based sales, allowing for a more unbiased environment. In contrast, a fee-based advisor can offer you investment products for which they will make a profit. They not only charge you a fee for their services, but they can also collect a commission.

Look for advisors who act in the best interests of the client. Commission-based may direct their recommendations toward products for which they can also benefit, rather than those that are solely in the best interests of the client. This is why the report from the
Council on Economic Advisors highlighted how returns on investments made with these types of advisors may fall below what can be gained when working with an advisor who acts in their clients’ best interest (this is called a “fiduciary” standard).

Consider looking for a NAPFA advisor. The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) is an association to which many professional fee-only advisors belong. If you’re shopping for an investment advisor when
planning for retirement, this resource can be a solid place to start.

The team at Family Investment Center decided from our beginnings that working in our clients’ best interest meant never taking commission or putting any hidden fees into our business strategy. As members of NAPFA, we’re committed to bringing value to you in a straightforward way, and we’ll never take a commission for any product. We wholeheartedly believe that conflicts of interest should not exist in an industry that handles the life savings and future goals of individuals and families, and it shows in our relationships with our investors. Contact us today to find out more about what makes us unique.

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Do You Know These IRA Points for Your Investment Strategies?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Investment-Management-1.jpgYou already know you need to carefully consider your investment decisions. When it comes to investment strategies, miscalculated decisions can lead to paying more taxes than you bargained for, or possibly penalties (especially when it comes to IRAs). Here are some notes you may already know – and it doesn’t hurt to have a few reminders if you already know these investment points: 

IRAs can be a wise choice for an investment asset. However, if you’re not carefully reviewing your investment strategies where IRAs are concerned, you can pay for it in the end. Your goal should be to manage your IRAs in such a way that the after-tax value won’t haunt you later.

Once you turn 70.5 you are required to withdraw a certain amount of money from traditional IRAs every year and pay income tax on the amount withdrawn. These required minimum distributions are also called RMDs. Make sure you get the facts with your RMDs; this is not the age to try to recoup lost ground.

If you’re still working and know you need to put more toward your retirement, you have a chance to do so. It’s called catch-up contributions, and if you are 50 or older, you can start socking away an additional $1,000 in your IRA this year, which puts your max at $6,500 for 2015.

In many cases, your contributions to your tax-deferred accounts are made through your earned income at your job. However, if you’re married and your spouse doesn’t have an income, or a very small income, there are exceptions for your situation. You may be able to make contributions to separate IRAs for the maximum amount of $5,500 for each account ($6,500 if 50 or older).

Another aspect of your investments you might have missed is that different types of accounts will be placed under different tax rules and tax rates that change. It’s not advisable to predict the changes or try to plan a strategy around these changes. However, diversification where taxes are concerned can be a smart play. Talk to your investment advisor about how to play it smart and
diversify so you don’t run the risk of having all your investments tied into a high-taxed account.

You will also need to name a beneficiary, and this too, takes some thinking. With at least one-third of all marriages ending in dissolution, you need to make sure your beneficiaries are always updated.

Our team of commission-free investment advisors at Family Investment Center can be part of your next move for managing your IRA. We can help you navigate considerations like taxes, withdrawing in retirement, and diversification. Contact us today and move a little closer to your idea of retirement.

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Got a 401(k)? Four Tips That Might Help You Join the Million Dollar Club

b2ap3_thumbnail_Millionaire-1_20140804-230042_1.jpgWhile the average 401(k) balance, $91,300, may not be enough to get a person through a lengthy retirement, thousands of people are becoming millionaires thanks to their diligent work in socking money away into their 401(k) accounts.

According to Fidelity Investments, which is one of the largest providers of
401(k) plans, 72,000 clients had built their accounts up to the $1 million mark by the end of last year. What is promising about this figure is that it is twice the number Fidelity saw in 2012. Of the 401(k) millionaires sampled, nearly 10 percent had more than $2 million saved.

You may have noticed a substantial dip in your 401(k) balance when the economy went south in 2008 and 2009, but thanks to the recovery, many stocks have recovered and investors are seeing growth – which is helping to push more of them over that $1 million mark. Fidelity says that those who are millionaires had an average of 72 percent of their holdings in equity mutual funds or equities and only 12 percent in company stock. This is in line with what financial advisors talk about when diversification is the topic. Having too much of the 401(k) portfolio in company stock is most often considered a risky investment.

If you think a booming stock market is the only key to the success of an investment fund, think again. Here is what the research from Fidelity revealed about the investment habits of smart retirement planners:

·         Meeting the Employer Match

Don’t miss out on that “free” money by not putting in the maximum that your employer will match in your 401(k). For the 401(k) millionaires, meeting that match contributed to an average of $35,700 per account in 2014.

·         Contributing 10 to 15 Percent of Salary

If you can ramp up your savings to 10 or 15 percent, you’ll have a better chance at a strong retirement fund. For example, the average savings rate in 2014 was $9,670; for the millionaires, it was $21,400. Not everyone is going to have that kind of salary, but the lesson is simple – if you’re putting more away, you’ll have more for retirement.

·         Using the Catch-Up

A “catch-up” contribution allows people aged 50 and older to make a higher contribution to their plan.

·         Consistency

The best savers are those who don’t sway from their goals and don’t borrow against their retirement.

Let an investment advisor assist you in making sure your 401(k) is properly diversified and that you aren’t taking on more risk than you should.  For more information, contact Family Investment Center today.

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Financial Planning for Retirement: Five Tips That Are Easy to Overlook

b2ap3_thumbnail_Retirement-5.jpgYou’ve been looking forward to this portion of your life throughout the entire length of your career, and you don’t want anything to get in the way of a successful transition from work life to retirement. However, many individuals have experienced the pitfalls that led them to fall short of their retirement goals. What can you do to stave off similar events?

Think about it. The amount of money it takes to meet the desired standard of living will differ from one person to the next. The one constant for everyone is the need for smart
financial planning for retirement. Surprisingly, this is one of the top issues that affect a person’s retirement – many people don’t put any thought into what it will take for them to retire comfortably. To avoid this pitfall, you first need to make a budget. Figure out how much you’re spending now and what you might need to live a similar lifestyle in retirement. Then get the advice of a professional advisor who will have the knowledge, tools, and resources to help account for things like lifespan and cost of living increases.

Know the rules, or at least some of them. There are many rules attached to your retirement accounts. Do you know them? This is another mistake people make. For example, you are required to start withdrawing from your traditional IRAsand
401(k)sat age 70 ½ (“required minimum distribution”, or RMD). Should you fail to begin the required withdrawals, you run the risk of being penalized 50 percent on the amount you were required to withdraw. If you’re partnered with an investment advisor, you’ll be warned well in advance of these rules.

Watch your rollovers. When it comes to rolling or transferring money from one account to another, you could run the risk of creating unnecessary taxes for yourself if not done properly. For instance, if you withdraw from your 401(k) to roll it into your IRA, you may want the help of an advisor to ensure that it’s done properly. Filling out forms incorrectly could lead to penalties and/or unnecessary taxes.

Remember that healthcare can account for a serious chunk of your retirement funds. It can be difficult to project how much money you’ll need for your healthcare expenses throughout your retirement. You might be perfectly healthy now, but as you age, you may become more reliant on prescription medication and regular visits to specialists to manage your health. Don’t let your guard down when it comes to healthcare projections, because it could make your retirement savings fall short.

Take a careful look at how much of your retirement account is in company stock. If you’re a company executive, it’s possible that around half of your portfolio is tied to a single asset. That can be risky. Financial planning for retirement should include making sure your portfolio is well-diversified.

There are many things to consider when planning for retirement, which is why now is a good time to call
Family Investment Center and start the conversation. We have experienced investment advisors ready to assist you in planning for your retirement – and all within a commission-free, fee-only setting.

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Investing for Women: How Does it Differ From Men?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Investing-3_20141126-035835_1.jpgMen and women invest differently, says recent research – but some of the findings may surprise you. One set of statistics (shown below) regarding women and their financial stability can be especially thought-provoking. Where do you fit into the research numbers?

Statistics from the
U.S. Census Bureau show:

·         42 percent of women in the study said they aren’t financially secure

·         Around two-thirds of women said they can’t cover their basic needs

·         Of families headed by single mothers, only 18 percent are financially secure

·         Older women living in poverty outnumber older men by 50 percent

·         The annual income for older women is $14,000; for men, it’s $24,300

·         Only seven percent of women are very confident in their ability to retire comfortably

These facts may be alarming, but they also point to the unique needs and opportunities many women have when it comes to investing, such as the needs that arise from living longer than men.

One reason investing for women is different than for men is lifespan. Women, according to Census data, work an average of 27 years to men’s 40 years. However, they live about six year longer than men, which means they need more money for retirement. Social Security benefits can help women ease the shortfall, especially if they wait to start drawing down benefits until later in life (something a financial advisor can explain in more detail).

Sound investments also need to be part of the mix when you are looking at investing for women. One barrier may be an uneasiness or lack of confidence toward investing. In fact, Forbes reported on the subject recently in an article titled “Closing the Confidence Gap: Women and Investing.” The article touches on something called the “female financial paradox.” This is about women growing into an economic force, contributing $6 trillion in income across the world in the next five years. However, some women who have large sums of money sitting in a low-earning savings account say they don’t have the time to figure out how to get started on a smart investment strategy. Others say they are limited by their thought patterns toward being risk-averse or lack confidence in choosing an investment strategy. Women may also be more likely than men to preserve their wealth, which means they may give up an opportunity for higher returns from investing.

Another difference involves how men and women view the role of making investment decisions. In the Forbes article, a financial advisor at Northwestern Mutual said that women have more power and earning potential than they’ve ever have, but many are placing others in the position as head of the household and relegating investment decisions to that person, often the husband. Taking a more team-based approach on the discussions regarding investments could open more doors in the future.

One area that many women could devote more focus toward is the rate at which they participate in company retirement plans. While they are as likely as men to sign up for the plan, they are putting less into it than are men, according to a report by Aon Hewitt. Advisors often say that if you’ve got a retirement plan at your company, participate fully and take advantage of the company match – and never invest less than the company is willing to match.

Regardless of gender, talking with an investment professional with real-world experience managing investments can impact your investment behaviors and attitudes and how you’ll reach your goals. Family Investment Center has an experienced team ready to discuss strategies that fit your family. Contact us today to find out how we can work with you toward maximizing the opportunities that may already exist for you… or those that may come your way.

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