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.

6 Important Questions to Answer When Planning for Retirement

Planning for Retirement Starts by Talking About These Key Questions



We all think about that day when we’ll finally retire, but some of us are more prepared than others. It’s true, you can overthink retirement –  but for most of us, planning for retirement involves careful consideration of many factors.

Whether you began thinking of these questions years ago, or haven’t thought of them for years, each is vital in planning for retirement:

1. When Should I Take Distributions?

All qualified retirement plans have specific requirements regarding when you need to take your distributions. For example, some plans allow you to keep your benefits after you’ve retired or have been terminated from your job. If your plan expenses are low and you have other income options, allowing these funds to continue to grow could be a good idea.

2. How Are Distributions Taxed?

If you’re withdrawing early (before you turn 59.5 years old), there will be a 10% tax penalty assessed, in addition to any federal and state income tax that’s due. Some plans allow exceptions, so be sure to check with your plan administrator or advisor.

3. Can I Rollover My Distributions?

If you’re getting a large distribution via a pension or profit-sharing plan, federal law allows you to roll it to an individual retirement account (IRA). Instead of just putting this money in your bank account and getting taxed, you are “sheltered” from the tax while it’s in your IRA account. Then, when you begin taking distributions, that money is subject to income taxes.

4. What About Tax-Free Options?

While all money will be taxed, some prefer to be taxed up front, which is possible with a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k). When utilizing a Roth, you don’t get the tax break up front, but the Roth does allow for tax-deferred growth and tax-free withdrawals in retirement.

5. What About Investment Limitations?

Fortunately, when investing with an IRA, you have few limitations. You can invest in CDs, stocks, bonds, mutual funds or money market funds. However, talk to your investment advisor and make sure you have the options you need to best fit your strategy.

6. Do I Need an Advisor?

You’re not required to have an advisor assist you in planning for retirement or in managing your investments. However, paying modest fees can provide huge benefits on your investment in an advisor.

Perhaps just as valuable (if not more) is the peace of mind and confidence you can experience from not trying to D-I-Y important and life-changing investment decisions. Let’s put it this way … you wouldn’t try to fix a major plumbing problem yourself. You would hire an expert because you want the task at hand managed as effectively and efficiently as possible. And it will free up time for you to do things you enjoy. It’s similar when you hire a professional advisor (especially when you work with one who operates within a commission-free, client-focused setting).

To talk about these questions and others in a jargon-free environment, contact Family Investment Center today. Let’s sit down and determine what your kind of retirement freedom looks like and how you’ll get there.

Continue reading
197 Hits

Planning for Retirement: Decades and Differences

A Brief Summary of the Changing Seasons of Planning for Retirement


Planning for retirement looks different for everyone, and those differences widen when you consider the various decades of life. Here is a look at how retirement planning changes during different seasons of your life:

The Roaring 20s

It’s important to get started with your investments early, and compound growth is something that should entice the interest of a 20-something. Compound growth is the gain on top of your previous gains. These snowball over the years and work to your advantage.

The 401(k) is the most common investment vehicle, but you can also consider IRAs. Talk to your investment advisor to put together a plan that is the right fit for you.

30-Somethings: Here’s to You

Many investment strategies focus on buckling down when you’re in your 30s, putting away as much as possible while you’re freeing yourself of debt you might have accrued from college or from “learning the ropes” about credit in your 20s.

Some 30-somethings are heavily invested in stocks. This gives them the chance to maximize their savings. Even if the market is volatile, stocks may be a viable option, because in the long run, the ebb and flow of the market can eventually pay off.

For the 40s …

Did your salary increase while you were in your 40s? There’s a good chance your spending followed suit. It’s vital that while in your 40s, you’re not building up bad debt, which means staying disciplined and on budget is a must.

It’s in the 40s that many will begin saving for their children, and/or setting aside money for renovations to a home and other projects. However, it’s important not to borrow against your retirement savings for any kind of project. In fact, it’s in your 40s that you may begin in earnest to make bigger contributions to your retirement funds.

Hitting 50. Now What?

If you’ve taken a closer look at what you’ve saved and begun to panic that you’ll never have enough to retire at age 65, you can increase your savings rates even higher now, as once you hit age 50, many retirement accounts allow a special “catch-up” contribution.


You may consider talking with your advisor more often as you approach retirement to ensure that your investments are properly aligned with your retirement needs and goals.


Arriving at Retirement … Or Not Yet.

Hitting 60 makes retirement feel like a reality, finally. Now is the time to make final adjustments with a more accurate look at your current finances and how what your lifestyle will resemble once you aren’t working.

However, many workers choose to continue working longer, realizing they may live several years longer than originally planned. Or they choose to semi-retire, leaving a full-time position for a flexible or part-time one.

This is an important time to talk in detail with your advisor about stocks (how many to keep, what the ratio might be, etc.). Also, talk to your investment advisor about how you’ll handle your Social Security filing, because there are ways to maximize that source of income. It’s not a “signand done” kind of benefit. In fact, you may be surprised to learn of different options and the outcomes for each of your decisions related to Social Security.

At Family Investment Center, we’ve assisted clients in every stage of life with planning for retirement and the life changes that happen along that journey. Contact us today and let’s talk about what matters most to you.


Continue reading
129 Hits

How Are You Planning for Retirement?

How About Starting With a Blueprint

Like a construction project, every good plan for a solid foundation involves a blueprint with overarching principles that must be followed. To develop your blueprint when you are planning for retirement, consider these three concepts:

1. Income vs. Expenses

The majority of retirees count their income as Social Security and the savings they’ve amassed. While the pension is quickly becoming a thing of the past, current retirees might be enjoying theirs right now. Regardless of whether you’re on a pension, 401(k) or IRA, the key to income success while in retirement is to coordinate your monthly expenses with monthly income.

Choosing a system of withdrawing your savings in a way that minimizes your tax load is important, and knowing from which accounts to withdraw first can be difficult to determine.  If you’re unsure of the best strategy, be sure to ask an advisor for help.

2. Distribution

Although profit sharing, 401(k) plans, deferred compensation, IRAs and tax-sheltered annuities are all more popular today than the pension plan, many still face the decision of what to do with a pension in retirement.  There are usually two main options: annuitize the pension into monthly payments or take one lump-sum payment. For many, taking the lump-sum payment provides better long-term growth potential and flexibility, but getting a large amount of money at once can be challenging to budget for many retirees. Plus, any amount of that money that isn’t rolled into an IRA will face federal and state income taxes. 


There are also many things to consider with alternatives to an IRA rollover. Be sure to find out about investment restrictions, surrender charges (in some but not all cases), and the tax consequences of all of your options. If you’re in an employer plan that allows you to stay on after termination or retirement, your plan fees might be low, and you could have a number of investment options, which is a good thing in planning for retirement.  Ask lots of questions about all the options.  If you’re unsure, talk to an advisor.

3. Know Your Risks

Not everyone is going to have the same opinion where risk is concerned. People are living well into their 80s today, which means they need to consider more carefully how they approach investment risks as they age. What might be considered “risky” for a 60-year-old in investment planning could be “safe” for a person who has decades to go before they retire.

However, risk must also be taken into account in regard to how long you plan to be in retirement. People retiring today could have a 30-year retirement horizon, and inflation can make a huge impact on a retirement portfolio.

Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center, says, “If you’ve ever built a house, you know it's easy to get caught up in the details: lights, appliances, floor coverings and finishes. Deciding on all these things can be exhausting. Planning for retirement can feel a bit like that. But just like building a house, in retirement, the right foundation creates lasting value.” Find out more about how Family Investment Center can help you build a solid foundation by contacting us today.


Continue reading
201 Hits

Off to a Late Start? Planning for Retirement Starts Today

Planning for Retirement Later in Life


It’s no secret – many Americans aren’t financially ready for life after a career. If you are 40 or older and unprepared for retirement, what steps can you take to start planning for retirement now?

Take Advantage of “Catch Up” Opportunities

If you are 50 or older, you are allowed to make “catch up” contributions to your retirement accounts. For example, if you have a 401(k), you can contribute an extra $6,000 per year to it. Younger investors are held to the $18,000 annual contribution limit.

If you have an IRA, you’re held to $5,500 annual contribution limit, then when you’re 50 or older, you can put in an extra $1,000 per year. That might not seem like a lot of extra money, but if you make those extra contributions over the 15-year period before you retire (assuming you retire at 65), you will be able to increase your retirement nest egg substantially.

Make Approximations for the Future

Good retirement strategies are based on goals. In order to establish goals, you’ll need to crunch some numbers, which means you have to approximate how much money you’ll need in retirement to cover all your expenses. Keep in mind many people will live ten to 15 years longer than they anticipate.

Once you know how much you will need to live comfortably, you can start adjusting your investment strategy accordingly. This might require some adjustments to the way you are currently living, i.e. making cuts in expenditures so you’ll have more money to put toward investments.

Put the Hammer Down

To use an automotive term for rapidly accelerating, this is exactly what you need to do with your investment accounts if you are 40-plus and haven’t started saving for retirement. You need to do everything you can to max-out your retirement accounts, such as your employer-sponsored plan and IRA.

You may have a lot of ground to cover in a short amount of time. Make cuts where necessary, such as vacations or new cars or buying a new house, and save vigorously.

Adjust Plans as Needed

If planning for retirement has been put on the back burner for you, for whatever reason,  it doesn’t mean all is lost. If your original idea of retirement was one of fun and relaxation, you might have to consider working part-time in “retirement.” This income will help cover the shortfalls that your investments won’t cover while still allowing you to live a lifestyle that fits your comfort level.

Also, if your idea of retirement was to begin at age 65, you might consider keeping that full-time job for a few more years. This extends the life of your investments, meaning you won’t dip into them as soon as you had planned, giving you more assurances for covering costs when you do finally hang up your career for good.

At Family Investment Center, we can help you navigate these complex waters. Don’t be intimidated by the process of planning for retirement. Let us help you make crucial decisions now that will help you later.


Here’s a little more food for thought: November 2017 is Millionaire’s Month at Family Investment Center. Why are millionaires wealthy? How do they think? What do they do (or not do) that you can apply to your own life? Is there a secret? Read more on our website or listen to Money is Freedom on SoundCloud or iTunes for a special four-part series.


Continue reading
833 Hits

Planning for Retirement as a Small Business Owner

Planning For Retirement Requires Focus on Diversification


Are you a small business owner who has avoided planning for retirement? If so, you’re one of a third of respondents to a survey from Manta that said they do not have a plan in place for their retirement. Among those, 37 percent said they don’t have enough money to save for retirement. But, what’s really happening?

A number of small business owners say they’re not planning for retirement because they simply don’t make enough to open a retirement account. However, there really isn’t such a thing as “too little” to begin saving. The truth is, many small business owners are actually reinvesting in their own company instead of focusing on a retirement account. While this seems at first glance as a responsible action, it really puts the owner at risk.

Almost 20 percent of those surveyed by Manta said they’ve taken what retirement accounts they had and sunk them into their business. Doing this means the business owner is losing money due to taxes, penalties, and tax-deferred potential growth. It’s a risk that shows the owner has really invested in the growth of the business, but it comes at a high cost.

Of the survey’s respondents, 20 percent also said they don’t have retirement accounts because they plan to sell their business before retiring. However, what if the timing isn’t right? What about those business owners who had a long-term plan to retire in 2009? They are likely still working today, trying to recoup what they lost. The fact is, nobody really knows what the market will bring, so your best-laid plans can fall victim to unforeseen circumstances.

As a small business owner, here are a few important steps for you to take toward a solid retirement strategy:

·         Invest in a self-employed retirement plan, such as an individual 401(k), a SEP-IRA, or a SIMPLE IRA.

·         Create a plan for leaving the company. A succession plan can keep your business afloat in your absence, offering you a stable income.

·         Planning for retirement should include setting a tentative retirement date. Evaluate your lifestyle and talk to your investment advisor about how you can make a smooth exit that allows you to live comfortably in retirement.

Planning for retirement isn’t easy, especially when you’re passionate about your business and you want to see it succeed after you leave, or if you want to get what you feel it is worth when it’s time to sell. At Family Investment Center, we can help you navigate all the various decisions that have to be made. Contact us today and let’s begin planning for your retirement.


Continue reading
844 Hits

How Would You Rate Your Retirement Planning Abilities?

Don't Fall Behind (as most Americans do) on Retirement Planning


As much as Americans focus on money, it’s disarming to know how few are focused on their financial future. The American College of Financial Services, in its survey of respondents who are in retirement or nearing it, found that close to 75 percent failed their quiz regarding retirement planning.

Americans are living longer, which means that if you stop working at age 65, you’re no longer planning for a ten-year period where you’re not earning an income – it’s likely much longer and you need to carefully plan for the decade-plus of no income other than what’s been put in retirement savings.

Only six in every 100 people were able to “ace” the quiz, implying that they are well-prepared for their retirement years. Almost 66 percent of the people quizzed reported that they had high levels of self-knowledge regarding retirement planning, which means that in actuality, they are unaware of their real financial situation as it relates to retiring comfortably.

As with any survey, differences in demographics were revealed in the retirement survey. For example, around 35 percent of males passed the quiz compared to 17 percent of females. This is particularly disturbing given the fact that women, on average, live longer than their male counterparts, which means their retirement planning acumen needs to be on point.

Another demographic difference showed that those with higher levels of education and wealth were more likely to be prepared for retirement. People with one million dollars or more in assets were 250 percent more likely to pass the test than those with less than one million. Furthermore, only nine percent of those without a college degree passed the quiz.

The caveat here is that people who can pass a financial literacy quiz are better planners and are better prepared to meet the challenges that can occur in retirement. And while it is evident that some demographics fair better than others, it doesn’t have to be a barrier to financial preparedness in retirement. All that is needed is a trusted advisor who can assist you in developing a sound retirement plan, and your ability to stick to that plan.

When you seek out an investment advisor, you should choose a trusted, experienced professional that can offer objective and non-conflicted advice. The best way to avoid conflict is to seek out a fiduciary, because a fiduciary must act in what they believe to be your best interests. Rather than work toward boosting their income by choosing products that give them a commission, many are fee-only advisors, which means they have no reason to offer something to you that doesn’t fit your goals.

At Family Investment Center, we have always operated as fiduciaries. Our goal is to get you to think about your goals for retirement and find ways to make sure you reach those goals. Contact us today and let’s start planning your own freedom tour.

Continue reading
591 Hits

Want Out? Investing Strategies for Early Retirement

Retiring Early Requires the Right Mix of Investing Strategies and Diversification


Do you dream of an early retirement?  If you want to get out of the workforce before the traditionally targeted age of 65, your investing strategies may need to be adjusted. It may seem simple, but a quick reminder can be very beneficial. Here are some important steps to take:

Get Involved Early
It’s an overused saying but it is true: the best time to start saving is yesterday; the second-best time to start getting serious about investing for your future is today. If you want to retire early, you need to start planning as early as possible, which is why Millennials should consider strategies now that will put them in a position to make that early retirement decision in a couple of decades. The sooner you begin saving, the more compounding you’ll have working in your favor later.

If you’re making up for lost time, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Many investors pick up the intensity of their investments in mid-life. It’s important to start where you are and move forward consistently.

Establish Solid Goals
If you’re in your mid-to-late 20s, your vision of the future is likely going to alter by the time you’re in your late 30s. That’s fine, but establish your goals for retirement now so you have a plan to guide your investing strategies.

“Where should I put my money?” It’s an appropriate question, and most investment advisors will point to an IRA and an employer-matching 401(k) as excellent vehicles for early retirement. Talk to your investment advisor about diversifying your investments in a variety of types, as this will give you the best chance at growth, especially when the market is volatile.

Keep an Eye on Taxes
Being tax-efficient in your investing strategies is important for an early retirement. For instance, tax-deferred savings vehicles like 401(k)s and IRAs can help you boost your savings. If your employer offers a match on your 401(k) contributions, you're going to see your savings grow more quickly.

Healthcare Can Get Expensive
This is an area of retirement planning that you may not have thought about – your health. Maybe you haven’t been to a doctor in 15 years and any sickness you’ve had has been managed from home. Unfortunately, you’re likely going to be visiting your family practitioner more often when you hit your golden years, which will increase your cost for healthcare.

Even though you may not have medical problems now, you need to budget for costs related to healthcare because your medical issues can wipe out your savings if you’re not prepared.

At Family Investment Center, we’ve established many investing strategies for our clients who want to retire early. Every situation is different and requires a customized approach, which is why you should come in and talk to us about your retirement goals. We’ll help put you on a path where an early and comfortable retirement may actually be attainable.


Continue reading
628 Hits

Planning for Retirement: Small Business Owners Face Unique Challenges

Survey Says Few Small Business Owners are Planning Adequately


Small business owners are seemingly tireless entrepreneurs when it comes to building and maintaining a business, but they often forget to plan for their exit strategy. A survey by BMO Wealth Management confirms that startlingly few small business owners are planning for retirement adequately.

The survey by BMO found that 75 percent of the owners between ages 18 and 64 had not saved more than $100,000 for retirement. The good news is that nearly 40 percent of business owners age 45 to 64 had at least started an IRA and nearly 30 percent had established a 401(k). For many entrepreneurs and small business owners, their way of planning for retirement is to invest in their business and sell it when the time is right. Essentially, the business becomes their retirement plan.

In some cases, the business owner will wish to keep the business alive. Therefore, they transfer ownership to a family member and get a share of the future wealth in return, which helps to support their retirement. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work out as planned. Different management methods, a jarring transition between owners, and/or the unpredictability of the market can wreak havoc on a business, potentially leaving the retiree with little or nothing for their retirement.

A number of business owners will say that if their planning for retirement hits any snags, they’ll simply delay retirement. While this seems like a fair way to approach retirement, plans made while relatively young and healthy can turn quite suddenly as we age and our health begins to fail. For example, a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute reveals that nearly 55 percent of people surveyed said they retired earlier than expected due to health issues.

What steps can you take in planning for retirement that can help protect your investments?

·         Diversify: Putting a set amount of money per month in a variety of investments is a smart move because you’re spreading out your wealth in several directions. As the market ebbs and flows, you’ll see the advantages of a diversified portfolio. Talk to your investment advisor about popular options, like an IRA or 401(k).

·         Specialize: Ask your investment advisor about retirement plans that are specifically for small businesses. For instance, a SEP-IRA, solo 401(k), or SIMPLE IRA.

·         Know What You Need: How many of your current expenses are lumped into your business dealings? You’re won’t have that luxury when you retire, so crunch the numbers to get an accurate estimate of what you’ll need on a monthly basis when you retire.

If you’re like most small business owners, you have few hours in the day to research retirement vehicles on your own. Talk to a fee-only professional advisor like our team at Family Investment Center. Since our founding, we’ve maintained a client-first, client-focused philosophy. Today, we welcome you at our table to learn more about what makes us truly unique among investment advisor teams.

Continue reading
1384 Hits

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.

Continue reading
1648 Hits

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.

Continue reading
1259 Hits

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.

Continue reading
1689 Hits

Investing for Retirement: Steps Millennials (Or Anyone) Can Take Now


Today is the Right Time to Start Investing for Retirement

b2ap3_thumbnail_Retirement-10.jpgThe Millennial generation includes people who are just starting their careers – and many times, the last thing they’re thinking about is ending that career and stepping into retirement. But investing for retirement at an early age has many advantages. If you are a part of the Millennial generation (or if you’re not, but you’d like to eventually retire) here are a few tips to consider:

There is no such thing as investing too early. Your money works for itself when it grows through strategic investing, and the dollars you invest in your early 20s can multiply many times by the time you retire. When you start young, small but consistent savings can grow into several thousand dollars in potential retirement income as your investments grow over time.

Get involved in your company’s 401(k). Most companies will offer a matching amount, so make sure you’re contributing at least what your employer will match, if you can. Not trying to do this means leaving money on the table … and realizing more freedom to see your dreams become a reality when you take that last step out of your company and that first step into your retirement.

Plan for emergencies, but don’t over plan. There might be a time in your life where you’ll need access to money to get you through a three- to six-month emergency period. Whether it’s a health-related issue, relationship issue, or switching jobs or careers, you’ll need to have an emergency savings account to help cover your expenses. Beyond that, choose to invest your money rather than placing it all into savings. Investments, when made consistently and with expert guidance, have a much stronger potential for growth than a mere savings account.

Need a guideline to aim for? Invest 10 to 20 percent of each paycheck. It might sound like a lot of money, but this is a solid, strong, and likely quite productive goal as you save for retirement. Have this money taken automatically from your paycheck first before you budget your spending. (Think of it as your “freedom fund.” Or whatever it takes to remind yourself that this is going to mean having a lot of fun later in life).

Choose a trusted investment advisor to help you. When you talk to your prospective advisor, ask them for their credentials, the services they offer, how they’re paid, their philosophy, and their approach on investing. Make sure they’re willing to communicate openly and as often as you’d like. Look for someone who is commission-free so you know they’re motivated by your best interests.

You can manage student loan debt while making investments. Student loan debt reached one trillion dollars last year. This kind of debt can lead to delays in major life events for graduates, like buying a house, getting married and starting a family. However, it shouldn’t be a reason for not investing for retirement. Smart budgeting can keep you current on your student loan payments while you simultaneously put money away for retirement.

A little risk is not a bad thing. Media reports suggest that many millennials are known for conservative financial habits, but risk can be a positive element in investing, as risk is typically correlated with an appropriate reward.  Bonds and savings accounts have low rates of return, while the stock market can have a higher return in the long term if you are willing to tolerate volatility and maintain consistency over time.

Place your emotions on the back burner. You must be active in managing your assets, but that doesn’t mean reacting with emotion to what’s going on. Rather, you’re regularly monitoring your portfolio as you age. A typical scenario is for the portfolio to have more aggressive investments when you’re young and have many years of employment left, then taper off to a more conservative portfolio as you age. Consulting with your investment advisor on a regular basis is recommended to keep your emotions and attitudes toward money from becoming an obstacle to your success.

When you choose to plan your dreams with the help of Family Investment Centeradvisors, you’ll obtain valuable, unbiased information for your investment plans. Contact us today and find out how our approach to investing is different than others.  

Continue reading
1553 Hits

Planning for Retirement: Are You Making These 7 Errors?


Some Mistakes When Planning for Retirement Happen All Too Often

b2ap3_thumbnail_Retirement-9.jpgDid you know people are living longer today than ever in history? This means when planning for retirement, careful steps must be taken to ensure the money is there many years after you stop earning a regular paycheck. Planning for retirement today means the average 65-year-old should plan for another 20 years of life (and expenditures).

There are many details to consider when planning for retirement. We’ve compiled a short list of common mistakes to avoid:

1. Got a plan? Have a plan and follow it. One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to being prepared financially for retirement is failing to create a strategy. A good plan begins with considering cash flow needs now and in the future. A small percentage of prospective retirees actually configure their cash flow needs accurately.

2. Don’t mistake your retirement account for a checking account. Dipping into your 401(k) or IRA early when other resources are available is something you want to avoid. Any money you take out will impact your money’s potential to earn growth, not to mention paying income tax plus a 10 percent tax penalty when under the age of 59 ½.

3. Don’t let your aversion to risk get in the way of smart investing. The market ebbs and flows regularly. Today’s losses in diverse investments will typically bounce back. For instance, if you didn’t make any sudden moves in your 401(k) or other investment accounts during the recession, you’ve most likely seen your accounts bounce back, over and beyond where they were. Avoid over-reacting to media hype about the markets and work with a trusted advisor; they’re accustomed to market fluctuations and can help you stay on track and move forward with confidence.

4. Reminder: Inflation will impact you in retirement. The dollar you make today won’t be worth the same amount in 20 or 30 years. Are your investments keeping up with the rate of inflation? Your purchasing power may be limited if you’re not considering the inflation factor while planning for retirement. Professional investment advisors can help you estimate inflation – and thus spending – increases using both industry tools and experience, so enlist their help.

5. Emotions and investments don’t mix. People who play the market like a game often find themselves the victim of their own emotions. If you get too emotional about the stock market, you may make mistakes -- like pulling out of stocks when they are low or buying when they are high. Instead, stay focused on consistency and on your goals.

6. Are you taking advantage of your employer’s 401(k)? Take part in your company’s 401(k) plan and contribute at least up to the maximum that your company will match, if you can. Investment experts have estimated that Americans are missing out on approximately $24 billion each year collectively by not taking advantage of their company’s 401(k) plan.

7. You might be healthy now, but things can change when you age. Don’t forget about your health and how much you’ll spend on healthcare needs in your senior years. It’s a mistake that many prospective retirees make, but you don’t have to.  

These are just a few tips you should know as you plan for your retirement. Find out more by contacting Family Investment Center today. We have investment advisors on our team who devote their hours to helping you succeed, so that you can enjoy freedom and simplicity. We can help you avoid common retirement planning mistakes, and more importantly, help you carve out the picture of what the “good life” means to you and your family and the steps it takes to get there.

Continue reading
1495 Hits

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.

Continue reading
1920 Hits

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.

Continue reading
1334 Hits

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. 

Continue reading
1520 Hits

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. 

Continue reading
1423 Hits

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.

Continue reading
1828 Hits

Planning for Retirement: Can You Afford to Wait Any Longer?

6 Tips to Follow When Planning for Retirement

b2ap3_thumbnail_Retirement-Planning-3.jpgHere’s a startling statistic: According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, one-third of Americans between the ages of 35 and 44 have less than $1,000 saved for their retirement. If you feel challenged or overwhelmed with planning for retirement, it’s time to implement a few steps in the plans for your future.

1.      Save for You First
Before you can help your family, you must first help yourself. Many investment professionals suggest that you think about your retirement in more detail than planning for your children’s college education. Why? In simple terms, the costs for your children to care for you in retirement and your post retirement years can far outweigh the costs they’ll see for their college education.

2.      Increase Your Savings Toward Retirement. (Sounds simple, but many fail
Many investment advisors will recommend socking away 15 percent of your income every year to a retirement account. However, for individuals who have waited until later in life to begin planning for retirement that number may be much higher. Consider incrementally increasing the amount until you reach 20 percent.

3.      Max Out the Contributions to Your 401(k) and IRAs.
This year, if you are 50 or older, you can contribute $6,500 to your IRA. If you’re younger than 50, the maximum amount is $5,500. The amount is subject to change every year, so keep an eye on it. Furthermore, if you receive bonuses, raises, gifts, etc., it is good to put these toward your investments.

4.      Consider Delaying Social Security Benefits.
Maybe you’ve got your mind set on retiring at 65, but you could consider putting in a couple more years at work to assist your planning for retirement goals. Another thing to consider is to delay drawing your Social Security. If you can wait until you’re 70 to begin drawing down your benefits, you may receive monthly payments that are up to 75 percent higher than if you start taking them at age 62.

5.      Don’t be Afraid to Plan for Your Future at Any Age.
It can be intimidating to turn 40 or 50 and take the plunge into planning for retirement. However, considering you still have a couple of decades to build a portfolio, sit down with an investment advisor and get some advice about how to allocate your investments.

6.      Work With a Fee-Only Advisor.
A fee-only advisor is one that will not take commissions on products; instead, their ultimate objective is to help you meet your goals and acting in your best interest.  (A more client-first philosophy).

Family Investment Center is a team of fee-only investment advisors who assist individuals and families as they plan for retirement or when other life situations arise. We keep our clients’ interests at the center of our focus, and we never take a commission. We will walk you through the complex investment processes. Come in and talk to us today.

Continue reading
1541 Hits

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. 

Continue reading
1804 Hits

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.   

Continue reading
1900 Hits

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.

Continue reading
1414 Hits

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.

Continue reading
1371 Hits

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.

Continue reading
1733 Hits

Planning for Retirement: Where do You Land in the Stats?

Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE

b2ap3_thumbnail_Retirement-Planning-1.jpgPension plans are largely a thing of the past, which means many workers who want a chance at a good retirement are putting money away in 401(k) accounts. Surprisingly, only 53 percent of Americans in the civilian workforce are actually doing that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The statistics for private industry workers are worse – 48 percent are contributing regularly to a 401(k). On the upside, around 81 percent of state and local government workers are participating. The subset that suffers the most when it comes to participating in a tax-deferred account is the part-time worker and the low-income worker who don’t have an employer offering a 401(k). Financial planning for these individuals is often especially lacking.

As more Americans leave the corporate world where employer contributions in 401(k) plans are common, workers are juggling multiple jobs and not setting any money aside for retirement. By choosing an entrepreneurial path, these individuals are finding more satisfaction in their careers, but at the expense of a smart financial planning strategy.

For people engaged in financial planning for retirement, most are clued in to what they should be spending on non-essentials and what they need to be investing each paycheck. Unfortunately, the people who need to save the most could be making the biggest blunders: one statistic from the
Institute for American Values says that people earning less than $13,000 a year spend about three percent of their income on lottery tickets. If that money was put toward investments, it could add up to $87,000 over 40 years if it earned 7.2 percent per year in an investment fund.

The problem may be rooted in the classic difficulty that many Americans have toward foregoing some expenditures now, getting the big things right, and thinking now toward the
golden years of retirement. Even people who are already investing in their future are often baffled to learn they could be doing much more, and the actual number of investment options out there – pointing again to the need for professional investment management.

Investment advisors have the knowledge and experience that can help your money work for itself and take the stress of these decisions off your mind. The closer you get to retirement, the more impactful your decisions will be. Bringing in a professional to guide you along can make the path toward the retirement lifestyle you want that much clearer. 

Retirement planning isn’t easy to do on your own, which is why the professionals at Family Investment Center continue to maintain high credentials and industry knowledge.  Our team can sit down with you to talk about all the scenarios that could be in your future, in language that makes sense. We’re also commission-free, which means you get an objective opinion about where you should consider putting your money. Come see why we’ve earned the trust of so many families as they plan for retirement.

Continue reading
1622 Hits

How to Plan for Retirement: 5 Quick Tips to Help You Set Your Goals


You’ve come to the conclusion that retirement is indeed a reality. As a youth, you always thought of retirement as a distant event that was too far removed to take seriously. You’re probably starting to ask more questions about how to plan for retirement, so here are some tips to take into account. 

1. How Much are Your Socking Away?
Most investors could put more into their retirement accounts but don’t. You’re missing out on free money if you aren’t contributing the maximum amount that your employer is willing to match. Don’t get too crafty, either; if you think you’re smart by frontloading your contributions at the beginning of the year, think again, because you're missing out on the employer match. Don’t get caught up in the formulas and all the talk; concentrate on what your employer contributes and how so that you can maximize this benefit.

2. Calculate How Much You’ll Need in Retirement
This is where many investors falter because they don’t think they can accurately determine what they’ll need 20 years or less from now and how
Social Security will play into that. Take advantage of some retirement income tools, such as retirement calculators, that help you get a handle on exactly how much you’ll need when you decide to start pulling down your Social Security benefits. Keep in mind that the average life expectancy is longer than it once was, and women typically live longer than men, which is another aspect of retirement planning that people often forget. Many professional advisors offer a Social Security maximization service, so ask for it when you make an appointment.

3. Should You Get Taxed Now or Later?
This is a question that can go either way depending on your tax situation. For people who think their tax rate will be lower in retirement than it is now, the choice may be the traditional route of taking taxes out during retirement. For people who think their tax rate will be lower now than in retirement, they generally go with a tool like the Roth IRA.

4. Do You Need to Play Catch-Up?
You can put a maximum of $17,500 in your 401(k) per year as of 2014. Many Americans are finding themselves in the position where they didn’t put anything close to that in their account every year, and now that they are 50 or older, they fear they’ll never be able to retire. Fortunately, those 50 or older are allowed to bulk up their 401(k) by adding an additional $5,500 a year and another $1,000 in their IRA this year. In 2015, the maximum contribution to a 401(k) is $18,000 with a catch-up contribution of $6,000. Do some budgeting and start putting more in those accounts now so you can have a comfortable retirement.

5. See an Investment Advisor
Knowing how to plan for retirement is something few novices can do on their own effectively. Your best bet is to invest in professional advice with an advisor who knows how you can put your money to work for you. You can’t be expected to know about all the tax laws, contribution limits, and the minutiae that make a difference. At
Family Investment Center, we’ll walk you through the process so that you can enjoy a little of the freedom that comes with working with a professional advisor.


Continue reading
1746 Hits

Want the Good Life? Know the Answers for Planning Your Retirement

b2ap3_thumbnail_Retirement-5.jpgA surprising number of Americans do next to nothing to prepare for retirement. For those that do make efforts to put their money to work in investments for retirement, the process often causes confusion. According to Money Magazine, planning your retirement isn’t getting any easier – and most adults don’t have a full set of answers.

Decades ago, it was common for a worker to retire on the pension plan at their place of employment. These plans have fallen out of favor with a majority of American businesses, which means that you are having to do a lot more work on planning your retirement than the generation of workers before you.

As noted in Money Magazine, with 64 percent of households within five years of retirement, it’s more important now than ever that Americans find the answers to their questions. A financial research firm, Hearts and Wallets, did a study recently that found the percentage of households so close to retirement has jumped by 10 points in just two years. Furthermore, the research indicates that Americans believe retirement planning is the most difficult among 24 other financial tasks.

What’s the biggest obstacle to understanding retirement? For many people it’s knowing when exactly they will retire. The Hearts and Wallets study found that 61 percent of those surveyed said they didn’t know when they would retire. For nearly everybody else, planning for retirement is difficult due to not knowing how long a lifespan will be after retirement.

Another area that confuses Americans, and understandably so, is figuring out the minimum distributions from retirement accounts, deciding where to invest, and when to start investing. These are aspects of planning your retirement that could use the help of a professional investment advisor.

Hearts and Wallets didn’t touch on the mortality aspect of planning for retirement. However, due to the advancements in medical technology and ingenuity, we’re living longer. In 1950, women could expect to see age 71 whereas men were looking at 65 as their average life expectancy. Today, women can expect to live to age 81 and men to age 76. These are things to take into account for retirement that your parents or grandparents didn’t probably consider as heavily.

One of the tools you can use in your retirement planning is Social Security. While this isn’t likely going to be the bulk of your income for your retirement years, if approached correctly, you can have thousands more dollars in Social Security benefits coming to you over your lifetime.

To get the answers to your Social Security questions and to clear up confusion about your retirement planning, come to Family Investment Center where professional and experienced advisors are ready to guide you through the process. (Plus, we don’t operate on commission – instead we’re motivated by you reaching your goals!)

Continue reading
2036 Hits

Financial Planning for Retirement: How to Give Your 401(k) an Overhaul

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4


According to a recent Reuters article, corporations are “de-risking” their pension plans and looking for ways to get rid of them. They’re doing a great job of doing that, as only 35 percent of Fortune 1000 companies currently have a traditional pension plan in place. The 401(k) has emerged as one of the best investments for the future, especially since pensions are becoming a thing of the past. How can you make sure your 401(k) is doing all it can do?

Anyone not involved in the company 401(k) is likely wasting a chance at an excellent
financial planning for retirement tool. Most employers will match what you put in up to a certain percentage, which means you’re essentially getting free money. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can make the most of your plan.

1. Don't Skimp on Your Contribution
If possible, make sure you’re contributing enough to meet what your employer is matching – and to maximize it if possible. You want to take advantage of every penny worth of free money offered by the company. Even if it’s just a small amount, it adds up over time. Another rule that proves successful for many who are focused on financial planning for retirement is to increase their contribution by one percent with each passing year. This gradual progression makes it easier for you to budget without hurting too much.

2. Keep Tabs on Your Company’s Vesting Calendar
If you’re a Millennial and share the characteristic of changing jobs frequently, you could lose out on your company’s match to your 401(k). Some companies require you to work with them for years before that money they contributed is actually yours.It might be worth it to stick it out for another year at the job to make that money yours so you can carry it into your next job.

3. Make Smart Use of Your Bonus
Some jobs come with really nice bonuses that can easily be enough to live off for a month. Financial experts advise that when you get your bonus, you should max out your withholding in your 401(k) and live off the bonus instead of your full salary.

4. Upon Retirement, Don’t Withdraw Big Amounts
If you’re retiring at a relatively young age, it’s important to try not to take out more than four or five percent a year, especially if your 401(k) is your only investment. If you have other areas of income, you might be able to take out more of your 401(k). If you’re older, say 70 and older, when thinking about
your retirement keep in mind that many in your generation are living up to 15 or 20 years longer than they anticipated (naturally, that leaves a longer window to access retirement savings).

5. Consult With an Investment Advisor
If you truly want to unlock the full potential of the dollars you’ve amassed in your 401(k), it’s important to get some professional advice. Talk to an
investment advisor like our team at Family Investment Center. We are a fee-only group of experienced investment advisors who will give you objective advice focused on what retirement looks like to you. Call us today for an appointment.

Continue reading
2150 Hits

Building Wealth: How the Wealthy Plan for Retirement (and You Can Too)


More people than ever are approaching the subject of retirement living, as 10,000 individuals a day are turning 65 and would like to retire comfortably. What proactive steps to building wealth can you take now?

There is a book’s worth of lessons learned during the last economic crisis, one of which is that Americans today feel their goals of financial freedom are more unreachable than ever. Despite socking money away for retirement, many feel they’ve gambled and lost, even despite having their money in relatively secure investments.


However, there’s another school of thought to consider if you’re thinking of a fresh start toward your investment. Let’s look at the decisions wealthy people are making and how they can impact you:

1. Redefining “Wealthy”
Everybody’s perception of wealth is probably different, but many include a focus on things. People like nice things – big houses, cars, toys, and the ability to eat at a restaurant and never look at prices. While we all have differing opinions of extravagance, independence is the tie that binds. If you can redefine wealth in your mind to be more about independence and
building wealth rather than building possessions, you’ll be thinking like the wealthy.

2. Pay Attention to Retirement Accounts
One of the biggest mistakes Americans make is to wait too late to start a retirement account. Too many have the excuse that they “don’t have enough” to save or invest. Any investment advisor will tell you there is no such thing as too little when it comes to making investments to build wealth for retirement. The people most passionate about their retirement accounts might place a minimum of 15 percent of their income into those investments. What are you currently putting into your retirement account(s)?

3. The Wealthy Say “Yes” to Used
Do you really need to buy a new car every three or four years? Do you really need a new house on a regular basis? The average wealthy person will wait as long as possible before they replace an automobile or any other high-priced item. Learn from the wealthy and consider adopting more frugal ways if you want to get on a path to building wealth.

4. Put Your Money With a Trusted Investment Advisor
It’s really not a splurge to turn to a
professional investment advisor because you could see significant returns when you let a professional guide you toward smart investments. (Wealthy people generally know this; they know they can’t expect an informal analysis of investment products to put them on top.) Advisors like our team at Family Investment Center are full-time professionals, committed to investment management, and extremely diligent at working one-on-one for our clients’ needs in a commission-free setting. If you’re interested in talking about how the wealthy think about investing, contact us today and let’s get started.

Continue reading
2369 Hits

Financial Planning for Physicians: Your Retirement Needs are Unique


Education isn’t cheap, and for doctors, more education is required than in just about every other profession. The result is an average student loan debt of $170,000.

Not only are you coming out of school with more debt than your undergraduate counterparts (averaging $25,000), you could be working through a late start on your earning potential. Most doctors don’t start earning their full-scale paycheck until ten years later than those with whom they completed their undergraduate classes.

Furthermore, as a doctor, you’re at more risk for liability issues, which makes your investment plans all the more complex. Financial planning for physicians is much different than the average investor.

If you’re in the same situation as many other physicians, it’s possible that you didn’t get out of your residency and into a well-paying position until you hit the age of 30. It’s possible that your medical school total bill could reach $150,000. Even if you’re in a practice that is considered low risk, there is a 75 percent chance you could experience a malpractice suit by the time you’re 65. Another thing you probably have in common with a majority of doctors is the high cost of your own insurance, and needing to lessen the risk for your family if you were to become disabled.

In your profession, you’re constantly facing new regulatory burdens and liability issues. Trying to keep track of the tax code for physicians is one of the main reasons physicians seek assistance from third parties. With all of these aspects in front of you, it’s easy to see why investment planning for physicians is a burdensome task and why looking to a professional investment advisor is a smart choice.

Don’t make the mistake of ignoring the risks and liability issues related to asset protection. Have you looked into umbrella insurance policies that expand your liability coverage? This is something that can protect you should you get involved in a lengthy legal battle. Asset protection is another area that deserves some research; you need to be able to protect your assets from malpractice claims, litigators, and creditors.

Another common mistake physicians make is failing to put a comprehensive plan together that involves controlled spending and investing. You’ve dedicated so much of yourself into becoming a doctor and it would be easy to give in to quick-decision purchases, but don’t be tempted to forego your
financial planning.

Financial planning for physicians takes the keen eye and expertise of a professional investment advisor, such as those at
Family Investment Center. In fact, Dan Danford, our founder/CEO, is listed among the 150 Top Financial Advisors for physicians, according to Medical Economics magazine. Our team has multiple levels of education and experience toward investment management and retirement planning for physicians. Contact us today and let us help guide you – we might be just what the doctor ordered!

Continue reading
2348 Hits

Planning for Retirement: Is Gen X Investing Aggressively Enough?


How much thought have you put into your retirement accounts? Do you know how much you’ll need to have saved to live comfortably after you retire from work? As a part of Gen X you were brought up believing Social Security couldn’t be counted on, which means you’ve probably got an eye on big retirement savings if you want to live comfortably in retirement. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you are necessarily saving aggressively enough.

According to a study by the
Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, more than 80 percent of the generation of people born between 1965 and 1978 don’t think they’ll be as well off as their parents were/are in retirement. In fact, less than 15 percent say they believe they will retire comfortably one day.

While many Gen Xers say they will need to amass $1 million for their retirement, most of them aren’t saving or investing aggressively enough to reach that goal. Investment advisors say that regardless of how long you’ve waited to get your retirement plan up and running, it’s never too late to make investments that will benefit you later in life. However, the earlier in life you begin planning for retirement, the closer you’ll get to your goals. When you consider that the first Gen Xers will turn 50 next year, you can see how important it is for you to stop waiting and start investing wisely.

Transamerica’s report shows that nearly 40 percent of Gen Xers are not even thinking about their retirement investments and are waiting until closer to retirement to make decisions. Planning for retirement requires a close look at finances at all stages of life. If you pay close attention to your budgeting now, you could be in a much safer position as you reach retirement age.

One way to get yourself in a better position is to put away as much as you are allowed in your employer-sponsored retirement program. If you’ve already hit 50 and are behind on your investments, take advantage of the “catch-up” contributions you should be able to make.

Planning for retirement requires that you stay on top of your investments, which means it is good to look for assistance from a
professional investment advisor. Your advisor will walk you through your options and help you get caught up on everything you need to know, which allows you to make decisions based on facts (not hunches about what the market will do next).

Unfortunately, the eventual depletion of the Social Security Trust Fund is a definite possibility.  Nobody ever claimed to be living a life of luxury on Social Security alone, but without that option, you’re going to have to make up the difference through more aggressive saving and investing.

Family Investment Center is a great option for you if you’re looking for professional guidance. Planning for retirement isn’t an easy task, but with professionals like us on your side, you can look forward to your future more confidently.  

Continue reading
1991 Hits

Got Your Eye on a New Location for Retirement?


Tips for Planning Your Retirement With a Tropical Beach in Mind

Planning your retirement, ideally, is a life-long process that starts when you are stepping into a new career. That’s the best-case scenario. In reality, many people put it off and struggle to formulate a workable plan later in life. However, if you’re working with an investment advisor, there is a good chance the money you’ve worked hard to save will put you in a better position to have the retirement you’ve been dreaming of.

Did you know that a staggering number of Americans move to new towns for their retirement every year? According to Where to Retire Magazine, about half of the states in the nation are actively vying to become home to around 700,000 retirees who are stepping away from where they lived most of their lives. Why do towns and cities try so hard to pull them in? Because of the revenue they bring with them. For retirees, it’s easier than ever to choose from a top list of locations with select and distinct amenities they’re looking for – plus social media and tools like Skype mean they can actually relocate and still keep in touch with loved ones.

With around 10,000 people turning 65 everyday, there is no shortage of Baby Boomers needing advice on planning for retirement. If you live in a cold climate, you’re probably one of those hundreds of thousands of prospective retirees with an eye on a warmer climate. However, planning your retirement around such a move could be quite costly. You want to live in a place that has great climate, excellent healthcare facilities nearby, low crime rate, taxes that won’t drain your accounts dry and a place with plenty of events to keep you entertained in your golden years. These places don’t come cheap.

If you’ve weighed your options and figured out that the advantages of moving to a more expensive location is worth more than staying where you are currently, it might be time to start looking at your investments and making them work a little harder for you so that you can attain your retirement goals. Don’t make this move alone – choose a professional who does this for a living.

Planning for retirement, even in the late stages of your career, can take a positive change in direction quite quickly when you’re working with the right investment advisor. The process of choosing a team that caters to your needs should begin with looking for a fee-only advisor who doesn’t work on commission. You want an objective professional on your side, not someone who needs the commission or is hyper-focused on it. A
fee-only advisor will offer you products that work for you, not for their wallet.

Another point to consider: the decisions you make now about your Social Security benefits could cost you tens of thousands of dollars later in potential earned income. An investment advisor will help in planning your retirement and can inform you of information toward investing that most people probably don’t know about. Come to
Family Investment Center and find out how our experienced, credentialed professionals can assist you in mapping the steps to get you to your dream location.

Continue reading
1869 Hits

Financial Planning for Retirement: What You Need to Know About the Role of Social Security


There seems to be a constantly evolving trend where retirement investing is concerned, especially in how you can use your Social Security benefits. For example, you will see a continued decline in the percentage of your pre-retirement income that Social Security benefits replace.

Through a report by the Center for Retirement Research, we find that because women worked less in previous decades, it wasn't uncommon to see that women had not accrued enough work hours to see any Social Security benefits. Therefore, it was commonplace for Social Security to replace more than half of the pre-retirement income for a couple.

The Center’s research shows us that workers born before the onset of the Baby Boom, which started in 1947, had higher replacement rates than Baby Boomers. For each generation following, we’ll likely see that as people become eligible for Social Security benefits. “The drop in replacement rates for couples will lead to a declining role for Social Security,” reads the report. “As people are living longer but many are still retiring in their early 60s, this declining role for Social Security implies that retirees will have to rely increasingly on other sources of retirement income.”

For those who are invested in their
financial planning for retirement, it’s been known for years that counting on Social Security benefits as the main income in retirement years is risky. Therefore, investment professionals encourage strong investment habits be established over time – with the big picture in mind – in order to optimize or maximize benefits from Social Security rather than count on those benefits entirely.

Financial planning for retirement can be an intimidating process, but it starts with living by certain rules that focus on wise investments. To see the most potential for success from your earnings and your savings for retirement, an investment advisor can be the key to helping you find the happy medium between risk and consistency.

Sure, you can bring your expected Social Security benefits into the mix where your financial planning for retirement is concerned, but a bigger portion of your portfolio will likely be tied to stocks and/or other financial products that your investment advisor can recommend to you.

Doing a little research on which investment advisory firm to use will help you gain some assurance that you’re making the right choice. Start by choosing
fee-only advisors who do not work on commission. (Advisors who work on commission cannot be completely objective because they’re in a position to earn profits off of financial products that won’t necessarily be the best fit for you.)

Does thinking about Social Security and other areas or retirement planning get you a little
perplexed? Reach out to Family Investment Center
, where our fee-only advisors have the experience and expertise to guide you – and the passion for investments to help build your confidence as you lay out your plans for your future.

Continue reading
2035 Hits

National Publications Highlight Investment Management Tips from Dan Danford


Family Investment Center founder and Chief Executive Officer Dan Danford’s expertise in the investment industry is tapped on a regular basis. Take a look at some of the advice he’s provided to readers of national and regional publications:

1. Keep Your Retirement Plans Flexible
U.S. News and World Report article asked Danford for advice on a story about how much money people will need as they live beyond average life expectancy. Financial products will look different than they do now in the coming decades, which is why retirement plans need to remain flexible.

·         "Whether the time frame in which you're retired is 30 or 60 years, things will change," says Dan Danford, CEO of the Family Investment Center, a commission-free investment firm in St. Joseph, Mo. "Retirees need to maintain enough flexibility to adjust when they do. Inflation-adjusted bonds are one good example. They didn't even exist when my father retired in the mid-1980s. Exchange-traded funds are another example. What other helpful new products will come along before 2043? Without flexibility, how can you include new products when they do come along?"

2. Tax Advice for Investments is Essential
Danford points out in a
Medical Economicsarticle that effective tax planning is a must if you don’t want to get hit with surprises come tax season.


·         “Effective tax planning is done in real time,” Danford said. “It’s done with a bit of research, good record-keeping and deliberate decision-making. Retirement plans provide a good example. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are suited to sole proprietors, whereas others to partnerships or corporations. But most require some set-up and adoption before tax year-end. A bit of forethought sends dollars to retirement, not to Uncle Sam.” – February 2012

3. Look at the Bigger Picture When Looking at the Recession’s Impact on Investing
About 70 percent of Americans believe that it is more difficult to get rich now as opposed to before the recession hit. Danford tells the author of a article that investors need to look at more recent history than what has happened over the last two decades.

·         “Instead of looking back over the last 20 years,” Danford said, “we look at what happened in the last six months or year, and then project that into the future. If you’ve just been through tough times, then the prevailing attitude is that we’re going to keep going through tough times.” – November 2011


4. Look at Several Options for Saving for Kids’ College
In Lost College Savings? So Did First Kids, an article from ABC News, journalists Alice Gomstyn and Emily Friedman discuss 529 plans. Dan Danford, quoted in the article, reminds investors that contributing to a 529 may help your child's chances for financial aid when it comes time to apply to colleges.


·         "The government will always take money from your child's accounts before the parents'," said Danford, "which makes it more economical to start a 529 -- which is always in the parents' name or the grandparents' name -- than to set up a regular savings account for your child." – ABC News, April 2009

There’s nothing like demonstrated knowledge and experience when it comes to choosing an investment professional. For more information about Family Investment Center or to read more about our team’s knowledge and expertise, visit

Continue reading
2935 Hits

Financial Planning Advice: Is it Different for Women?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Saving-Money-2.jpgInteresting fact: Women have a life expectancy of about five years longer than their male counterparts, on average. This means a strategy for investing for retirement needs to compensate for those extra years. However, while women may need to plan for a longer life span, research says they have typically been less involved in the investment process than males.

While many women do actively participate in their retirement planning, a higher aversion to risk can mean earning less money on investments by the time retirement arrives. If you’re a woman who doesn’t want to follow some of these traditional patterns that may have set other women back in their retirement goals, financial planning experts offer some advice:

First, consider whether or not you’re thinking about your financial future enough – and if not, are you letting a desire to plan for others’ futures get in the way? Many financial advisors believe that saving for your retirement over investing in your child’s higher education is one example worth talking about. Why? Your college graduate might rather pay for a student loan (most are paid off in 10 years) than pay for your retirement housing and/or senior care because you spent so many years investing in their college fund rather than in your retirement savings.

Even if you don’t buy large-ticket items, you might still be spending (and not investing) more than you know. Many men have a tendency to splurge on big items; however, some women shop in small increments that build up to even larger expenditures. Controlling spending is an important step in financial planning for a better retirement.

If you are married and you are in charge of the budget and bill-paying at your house, you will have more insight into available funds. If you fill this role in your family, you will know how much more you could be adding to your investments. Consider this task as a way of determining how much closer you can get to your goals and this will make it even more rewarding.

A final note … saving versus investing. Certainly saving is a good thing, but are you putting too much into savings and not enough into investments that can grow over time?

Gender aside, starting your retirement investments now and sticking with them can be your greatest ally to a brighter retirement. You can’t be expected to know everything there is to know about investing, which is why bringing a professional investment advisor into the mix is a smart move.

One of our areas of expertise is planning for women at Family Investment Center. Our professional investment advisors may be experienced and credentialed, but they’re also down-to-earth. Contact us today.

Continue reading
2245 Hits

Financial Feud

“Family Feud is an American game show in which two families compete against each other in a contest to name the most popular responses to a survey question posed to 100 people,” according to  Using a similar premise, we have created a game called “Financial Feud”.  This version can be a single-player or multiple-player game.

In our version of Financial Feud, you will be asked a financial question and provided several options for the answer.  From these options, you will choose what you think the top response was from a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults.  Again, you will guess the response that the majority of the public answered, not necessarily the most correct response.  After all the questions have been asked, we will provide you with the correct responses.  You can also answer the survey questions yourself to see where you rate with the survey participants.

Now that we have explained the game, it’s time to play Financial Feud!  Start by having a pen and paper ready, and make two columns:  One for your guesses on the Financial Feud survey responses, and one for your own answers to the survey questions.

Question 1:  A survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults asked, “How would you grade your personal finance knowledge?”  What letter grade did most people choose?

  • A or B (above average)
  • C (average)
  • D or F (below average)

Question 2:  A survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults asked, “Do you use a budget?”  Which percentage of people answered “YES”?

  • 20%
  • 40%
  • 60%

Question 3:  A survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults asked, “Do you carry credit card debt from month to month?”  Which percentage of people answered “YES”?

  • 15%
  • 35%
  • 65%

Question 4:  A survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults asked, “Do you carry $2,500 or more in credit card debt from month to month?”  Which percentage of people answered “YES”?

  • 15%
  • 25%
  • 35%

Question 5:  A survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults asked, “Do you believe you have a sufficient amount in your emergency fund?”  Which percentage of people answered “YES”?

  • 45%
  • 65%
  • 85%

Question 6:  A survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults asked, “Do you believe you will have enough money during retirement?”  Which percentage of people answered “YES”?

  • 45%
  • 65%
  • 85%

Question 7:  A survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults asked, “Do you plan to spend less than you did last year?”  Which percentage of people answered “YES”?

  • 30%
  • 50%
  • 80%

Question 8:  A survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults asked, “Do you plan to save/invest the same amount this year as last year?”  Which percentage of people answered “YES”?

  • 30%
  • 50%
  • 80%

Question 9:  A survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults asked, “If you are having financial problems related to debt, where do you turn first?”  Who/what did most people choose?

  • The Internet
  • Friends and Family
  • Professional Services

Question 10:  A survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults asked, “Do you believe you could benefit from advice and answers to everyday financial questions from a professional?”  Which percentage of people answered “YES”?

  • 25%
  • 50%
  • 75%


Answers: 1) A or B   2) 40%   3) 35%   4) 15%   5) 85%   6) 85%   7) 30%   8) 50%   9) Friends and Family  10) 75%


Survey source: “The 2014 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey” as prepared by Harris Poll for The National Foundation for Credit Counseling


Continue reading
6728 Hits

Retirement Planning Attracts Less Attention Than Vacation Planning

b2ap3_thumbnail_Retirement-1.jpgAhh…vacation. There’s nothing like saving up and preparing for a week or two away, and then when the time comes, relaxing while letting the time pass. But interestingly enough, U.S. research shows that more people are planning for vacations throughout the year than they are planning for their own retirement.


An Edward Jones study, which surveyed more than 1,000 adults, asked what they spend more time planning for: vacation, college or retirement. Nearly 30 percent said they focused more on vacation planning and even less said they spend time planning their retirement. This is an indicator that nearly one-third of Americans are likely to live their golden years short of the dream of idyllic vacations and property rentals.

Many people who don’t plan ahead for retirement may believe common myths including not having enough to invest or not needing to be concerned with it so early in their lives. In fact, less than 10 percent of people ages 18-34 put any emphasis on retirement planning. But what if they knew that with a steady rate of return, saving $250 a month starting at age 25 could turn into a million dollars in retirement? Waiting until you’re 50 to start saving for retirement means you’ll have to dole out more than $3,000 a month to hit the same goal.

Many young people are experiencing crushing student loan debt, credit card debt, and leading lavish lifestyles, all of which leaves little room for investing. However, any financial advisor will tell you that no matter how little you put away for retirement, anything is better than nothing. The closer you become to retirement, the more anxious you may get about your lacking retirement account. Starting investing early will put you in a better financial position later. Seriously, if you think putting away $400 a month is difficult now, how do you think you can save $3,000 or more at age 50; alongside loans, debts, and other payments?

By no means does this mean you have to stop enjoying life or stop taking your annual earned vacation. It simply means that by prioritizing the way you think about your finances now, and trying to put a little more emphasis on goals for the future, you can experience even more golden sunsets at your favorite vacation destinations once your golden years arrive.

We know it takes knowledge and experience to make wise investment decisions, which is why we want you to choose a financial advisor to provide that guidance. Working with a professional investment manager can give you more peace of mind to focus on what you want or need to focus on. Consider seeking out fee-only advisors who don’t work on commissions, so that your investments receive the ongoing and long-term attention they need in your
retirement planning.

If you want unbiased advice from professionals who spend many hours each week studying investment strategies for each of their clients and accounts, visit us at
Family Investment Center. Retirement planning is one of our true areas of expertise, and we’ll always put your needs above all else so that you can hopefully enjoy vacations now and also in your retirement future.

Continue reading
2163 Hits