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.

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.


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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.


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401(k) Investing at Age 50 and Over

Preparing for Retirement With 401(k) Investing


Once you hit the big 5-0, there are some financial advantages that can be beneficial for everyone who hits this milestone, including some tax breaks and perks where your retirement investments, like 401(k) investing, are concerned.

As of 2017, you can contribute $18,000 a year to your 401(k). However, once you hit the age of 50, you can put an extra $6,000 into your 401(k) each year. These are referred to as “catch-up” contributions, which can offer people with less time until retirement to contribute more to their plan.

If you’re turning 50 or have already hit that milestone, it can be beneficial for you to take advantage of that extra $6,000 investment. There are also advantages for business owners who have yet to establish their retirement investments. For example, say a couple in their mid-50s wants to finally get the ball rolling on their retirement accounts. They can open a self-employed 401(k), which is also referred to as an individual or solo 401(k), and sink the full regular contribution plus the “catch-up” $6,000 into this account.

For those who would rather go with an IRA investment, there are some options here as well. While traditional 401(k) contributions are tax-deductible, any withdrawals from the 401(k) are taxed as income. A traditional IRA works similarly, but the maximum annual contribution is $5,500, with an extra $1,000 “catch-up” contribution. With a Roth IRA, however, no deduction may be taken for contributions, but then withdrawals in retirement are not taxable. IRAs can be extremely advantageous for extra savings, especially when used in conjunction with employer-sponsored plans. 

According to a recent Forbes article, 50 percent of investors age 50 to 69 took full advantage of catch-up contributions in 2015. For those putting their investments into a Roth IRA, 45 percent did the same.  


The rules are different depending on the type of plan to which you’re contributing, so be sure to ask an advisor for the applicable rules. Aging into 50 and beyond can be an exciting and rewarding time. At Family Investment Center, we know a lot about the various ways that age has advantages when it comes to investing. Come in and talk to us today about your investment goals. If you’ve yet to establish a strategy, we’ll discuss the options available to you and get you started on the right path.


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Investing for Retirement: What’s in Your Buckets?

Taking a Fresh Mental Approach to Investing for Retirement


Mental buckets of money. It sounds like an odd idea at first, but when you consider all the investments contained in savings and retirement portfolios, thinking in terms of “buckets of money” can actually help deconstruct a complex situation into something more manageable when strategically investing for retirement.

During our working years, we look forward to that paycheck that comes every two weeks or once a month. We plan around that check; taking into account our rent or mortgage, food, clothes, entertainment and savings. Even if our investment accounts are plentiful, when it comes to retirement, we need to mentally adjust to the fact that the regular check is no longer coming in. Call it “mental accounting.”

Morningstar recently published an article on the subject of mental accounting, where Michael Kitces, director of wealth management for Pinnacle Advisory Group, touched on the fact that there are different ways to sort and separate the different “buckets” of money. It’s essentially the way people categorize their money and how they think about their assets and income sources. Some researchers have narrowed these categories down into three main buckets: current income (paychecks), current assets (money used for current needs), and the future bucket for everything else, including retirement accounts.

What’s interesting, as the article explains, is that as humans we have feelings that often don’t line up with logic, or what is actually happening. Take, for instance, the fact that British researchers found when they looked at people’s happiness, the happiest were the ones with a comfortable amount of money in the first bucket, regardless of what was in the third bucket.

The goal for those people is to have cash on hand rather than savings for the future. Investing for retirement requires a different mindset when it comes to that third bucket. Interestingly, people with plenty of money in their retirement accounts will often stress in retirement because they don’t have that regular paycheck coming in to fill the first bucket. This is why it’s important to do the mental accounting.

Financial advisors will often focus heavily on investing in the retirement bucket, taking much of the importance off the money their clients have in a checking account. However, to appease that need to have a constant influx of cash to the checking account, advisors might recommend an annuity. Interestingly, the source quoted in Morningstar said less than one percent of people actually follow through with this advice.

One of the reasons people don’t adopt the annuity method is because if they do, they don’t really have the opportunity to improve their lifestyle from where it is right now, as it removes a lot of the flexibility of other investment accounts.

At Family Investment Center, we’re experts at helping people understand what they need to reach their goals. Investing for retirement, in all its complexities, is an important topic that deserves the attention of people who make it their life’s work. Contact us today and let’s start some mental accounting that will make you comfortable with your position today and in the future.

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Retirement Planning Means Having a “Financial Purpose”

How Establishing Goals Can Improve Your Retirement Planning Strategies


Retirement planning should really be about planning with a purpose in mind. Many people avoid this crucial planning stage because the numbers confuse them and the whole process may seem daunting. However, money is more than a number; when you attach a goal to it, the planning process become less confusing.

Rather than thinking about dollars, try thinking about what you want your wealth to do for you in retirement. And remember – your goals will probably change, even in your golden years, which means you have to be flexible in your planning.

In fact, a recent Kiplinger article titled “To Make a Financial Plan, You Need a Financial Purpose” reminds readers of key questions to ask now, and to revisit often. As you embark on retirement planning goals, keep the following questions in mind:

·         Which relationships are important enough that you will be willing to provide (financially) for them?

·         Do you have health concerns?

·         What lifestyle do you envision in retirement?

·         What is your idea of a happy and healthy retirement?

·         What hobbies would you like to pursue in retirement?

Answering these questions will help you round out more concrete ideas of what your future will look like and also give you an idea of how much money you will need in retirement. Here are some other questions to explore:

What will you do in retirement? Everyone has different ideas about that, which is why every plan has to be just as unique. For instance, do you plan to continue working part time into your 70s? If the answer is yes, your planning will differ from the person who plans to never work again after the day they retire. Do you want to travel extensively or just stay local and enjoy your family and friends? Again, the traveler will have to make extra room in their budget for the expense of traveling.

When will you quit your career? Do you have a set date that you’ve been looking forward to for years, or are you going to step down when you have saved enough money to retire and have enough for the goals you’ve set for yourself during those years?


Where you plan to retire will also have an impact in how you plan your investments. Are you planning to downsize your current living situation or upgrade to something less modest? Maybe you want to move to a different city in a different state or live with nearby family. The way you answer the question of “where” will also change how you approach your investments.

Getting an objective viewpoint from a qualified professional can go a long way in making the decisions that will put you on the road to reaching your goals. An investment advisor has the expertise to help you invest money in a way that is as unique as your goals. However, be sure to seek out the assistance of a fiduciary. When your investment advisor operates as a fiduciary, they will work for your best interests, not theirs. Instead of pushing products that pay them a commission, a fiduciary will only make recommendations that match your goals.

At Family Investment Center, we’ve looked out for our clients’ best interests since day one. We’ll listen to your plans for retirement and help you choose investments that provide you with confidence toward your future.


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Retirement Planning: Your Strategy Should be Unique to You

Avoid Retirement Planning Missteps and Plan Your Exclusive Freedom Tour



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

·         All stops along the way are planned

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

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

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

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

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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.

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An Investment Portfolio That Aligns With Your Values

Customizing Your Investment Portfolio for Social Responsibility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Social Security Cost of Living Increase in 2016?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Read more here about the recent
PR Web announcement:


Sept. 17, 2015: PR Web

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

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

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Social Security Maximization: What’s Happened Since 1940?


Interesting Tips for Social Security Maximization for Your Retirement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Planning for Retirement


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.  

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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.

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2,700 Rules: Planning Your Retirement and Social Security


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Investing for Retirement – Late in the Game?

Steps to Take Now for Investing for Retirement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Planning for Retirement


What do Successful People Underestimate When Planning for Retirement?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Investing for Retirement: Are You Avoiding These Common Misperceptions?


Troubling Statistics Circulate Regarding Investing for Retirement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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Investing for Women: Does Gender Really Matter?

Why Investing for Women Deserves a Closer Look


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Read Danford’s full Kansas City Star blog here:

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Twenty-Somethings and Investing: 10 Simple Financial Rules


When’s the right time to think about investing?

Today. Right now.

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

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


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Simple Ways to Invest Today

Easy Planning Decisions That Can Lead to a Better Future

b2ap3_thumbnail_Financial-Planning-2.jpgInvesting, in essence, is about planning for the future. While making financial planning or investment decisions, laying the groundwork can start with some basic questions and basic adjustments that you can implement today.

How should I approach the process? Investment planning involves thinking about what you want out of life, what’s most important to you, and what you’re willing to do to get there. Many first-time investors have a tough time figuring out where their money should go: how much should be in checking and savings and how much should go to a retirement account like an IRA or a 401(k). The equation is going to be different for everyone, but a starting point may be to allot around 35 percent of your income on housing and utilities, 10-15 percent on savings, and then plan out the rest of your budget from there.

Where should I place my priorities? When it comes to paying for a roof over your head, it’s a given that you will have that expense. You should have the same thinking when it comes to paying yourself for the years you want to enjoy down the road. This may mean altering your spending. For instance, if you’re buying a $4 Starbucks coffee every morning before work, that equates to $20 a week and $80 a month. If that money were invested, by the time you’re retired, that coffee could have been traded to help purchase a vacation condo.

How do I budget properly? Investment planning is part of the classic principle of living on a budget so you know where the dollars are going (rather than wondering why they’re gone). Once you know where your money is going, you can take the necessary steps to patch the holes and start putting more in investments from which you will reap rewards later.

What options do I have in retirement investments? A few popular retirement options include employer-sponsored 401(k) accounts, many of which have the perk of an employer match. With 401(k)s, you contribute through your working years and you often have the option to borrow against your 401(k), although that’s not advised. There is also the traditional or Roth IRA to consider. As of 2015, you can put up to $5,500 per year ($6,500 if you’re 50 or older) in these accounts and, depending on your income, there is a chance you will be eligible to use traditional IRA contributions as a tax deduction. There is a wide range of other investment choices to choose from depending on your goals for retirement. It can be difficult to know which type of account is best, so working with a professional investment advisor can help these choices seem much less complex.

Family Investment Center is ready to walk you through every step of the investment planning process, whether you’re just getting started on your investment journey or if you’ve got millions in investments and need guidance on next steps. As a fee-only investment advisory firm, our team can focus on what matters most to you – rather than trying to earn commissions. Contact us to today and let’s get started.

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Planning for Retirement: What Entrepreneurs Can Consider

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Let’s Talk About Your New Start in 2015 (With an Investment Advisor)


Now that your 2015 resolutions and plans have started to take shape (or maybe shake out), are you including investment goals as part of your plans for the upcoming year?

Unfortunately, most resolutions are an attempt at self-improvement, but less than ten percent of people actually follow through with their goals. This is evident at your local fitness club, which is bursting at the seams during the first part of January. By February, the place is less crowded. Don’t make the same mistake with your investment goals. Here are some points to consider as you get started:

What are you worth? It’s a loaded question, but an important one. Let’s make it easier: calculate your net worth by looking at all your assets and liabilities. This will help you get a clearer picture of where to begin setting your goals for the coming year.

Setting priorities is not that difficult; sticking to them is. You’ll need to begin your planning by prioritizing spending and saving. For people looking to increase their investments in the coming year or years, this involves changing habits, which is why so many people fail at their resolutions – they aren’t ready to accept these changes. (If it were easy, everyone would follow through.) For people who seek the advice of professional investment advisors, the chances of making good on a goal can increase dramatically.

Automation can also assist you in sticking to your goals. For instance, you may be enrolled in your company’s
401(k) plan, which automatically takes money out of your check before it’s deposited into your checking and/or savings account. There is so little required of you; all you need to do to increase the amount you want to put into your retirement account and the company takes care of the rest. For those of you who are 50 or older, you can take advantage of “catch-up contributions,” which allow you to put more than the maximum amount into your 401(k) every year.

You may want to consider if you’re putting all your investment hopes and dreams into your 401(k);
investment advisors are also keen to point out the value of IRAs and other investment tools. You can contribute to a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, or both. There are parameters limiting how much you can contribute, but investment advisors will be able to assist you with this.

Navigating the pathways you’ll find when it comes to investments is difficult, but not for professional, experienced investment advisors. Come to
Family Investment Center and let us help you map out your New Year’s investment resolutions.

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Financial Planning for College: Are You Making the Right Decisions Early?

b2ap3_thumbnail_College-Tuition-3.jpgAnyone with older children will tell you how fast kids go from wearing diapers to sporting their first backpack full of college textbooks. For those of you wanting to help your children finance college, if it’s still early in the game for you, it’s time to start thinking about financial strategies for planning your child’s college career. If it’s not early in your child’s school career, it still may be time to put some strategies in place to help offset the costs of higher education.

If you’re considering starting early or waiting 10 or so years before establishing a
college savings account, consider that a person who socks away $100 a month into a mutual fund for college expenses during the first year of their child’s life could build up several thousand dollars more than someone who puts it off for a decade. The sooner you start saving money, regardless of how little it is, the more opportunity you’ll have to make that money grow.

College costs aren’t going down. In fact, student debt overall is surpassing that of credit card debt in America. Many state legislators are working to control costs, but at some point, it comes down to you and your kids making financial decisions that will impact their student debt load and, perhaps more importantly, your ability to retire comfortably.

Obviously, saving modest amounts of money every month for your child’s college education makes sense because students racked with debt tend to get a later start on just about everything in life: they put off buying houses, cars, starting a family, and investing for their own retirement. However, advisors offering
financial planning for college will tell you not to sacrifice your own retirement for your child’s college.

For parents who put the bulk of their savings into a college fund and not as much into their retirement savings, many find out later in life how difficult this makes retirement financially. While the student comes out of college debt free, they could end up supporting the parent(s) because they have limited resources to live on after retirement. In turn, this can negatively impact your child’s ability to save for retirement. Financial planning for college doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing situation; you don’t have to choose between retirement or college savings.

There are avenues available to you that offer a tax benefit, such as the Section 529 plan, which allows family members to set aside money for college tuition. Not only does it offer a tax benefit for those making the investment, but it also provides long-term growth opportunity for the student. You can also invest in an education savings account. By putting away a maximum of $2,000 a year, these education savings accounts can add up over time to help offset the high tuition costs.

Financial planning for college is difficult for most parents to undertake on their own, especially when also considering retirement planning -- which is why many people choose to consult with a professional investment advisor.
Family Investment Center professionals have assisted many families in planning their investments for college so they can feel more confident toward both higher education and retirement. Contact us today and get started on a plan that will benefit you and your kids.

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401(k) Confusion Got You Down? Contact an Investment Advisor


b2ap3_thumbnail_401K-1.jpgFeeling restless at work? You’re not alone. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers are switching jobs every 4.4 years on average. USA Today recently highlighted the situation, stating that for people who take advantage of their company’s 401(k), there may be as many as six different options when a job switch approaches. The situation of 401(k) confusion looks to continue, as the next generation of workers – the Millennials – are predicted to spend three years or less at a job.

You likely already know you have options when it comes to the money you have in your 401(k). Some employers will let you leave it there without making future contributions. Rather than having multiple accounts, you can take that money and transfer it to your plan at your new place of employment. Few
investment advisors would suggest that you cash out your 401(k) due to tax implications, but that is also an option (that may also come with penalties). Finally, you can convert to an in-plan Roth or make a total Roth conversion.

If you make 401(k) contributions automatically through your paycheck, the decision on what you will do with your account when you quit or retire will be a very important decision. For instance, for the person who is under the age of 59.5 and decides to pull out of their 401(k), they will incur a 10 percent tax penalty. Worse yet, the loss on potential gains should that money have been left in the market could be thousands of dollars.

One of the big advantages of leaving your money in the company plan is that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 protects it. When you move that money to an IRA, it’s only protected at the state level with creditor protection. This can differ per state, so ask your financial advisor what’s going on in your state.

There are also advantages of rolling your money over to an IRA. For instance, you generally have more choices for investments in an IRA, and there may be more protections for them than what you’ll find in a 401(k) during bad economic times, such as the recession in 2008.  Also, an IRA allows for simplification through consolidation.  If you have multiple plans from past employers, you may roll them all over to one IRA account instead of having accounts with multiple custodians. 

When it comes to estate planning, IRAs are easier to manage because you can actually create different accounts, including “stretch” IRAs. You have more flexibility with an IRA in that you can take distributions whenever you want. You can gain some added benefits with Roth IRA than you can with the Roth 401(k), which is another topic you should discuss with your financial advisor. 

The best-laid plans are often made constructed with the guidance of a professional advisor.
Family Investment Center has advisors with years of experience in advising clients about 401(k)s and IRAs. To end the confusion or speculation about what you need to do when you leave a job, contact the professionals at the Family Investment Center today.

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

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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.

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You Can Take the Emotion and Fear Out of Financial Planning for Retirement

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Financial-Planning-1.jpgEven people who never procrastinate may suddenly find other things to do when the subject of financial planning, especially retirement planning, comes up. Developing a strategy for a point in your life that is still decades away is just too easy to put off for most people. Plus, the intricacies found in the planning process can be intimidating, especially for people who have math anxiety or are afraid of making the wrong decision. Here are some tips to help guide you as you move forward:

Don’t focus too much on market fluctuations. If history has taught us anything, it’s that the economy will ebb and flow, and investments follow that trend. However, many advisors will tell you that being fearful or overly risk-averse creates a situation where money situated in a savings account doesn’t reach the potential it could have with wise investing.

The sooner you start the process, the sooner you can sidestep your anxiety about financial planning for retirement and the brighter your retirement will look. Remind yourself that when you’re looking at the big picture, you’re involved in an ongoing process -- your goals could, and perhaps should, change from time to time.

Another way to approach the process is to look at the finish line. How do you want to live in retirement? Do you expect to have the same comforts then as you do now? Start with a number based on what you’re earning now and how much you’re spending every month to get by. Armed with this number, you can start the process of determining exactly how much money you may want to invest out of every paycheck so that you can maintain the same lifestyle in retirement. Professional advisors can help you look at things like inflation and cost of living estimates to create an even clearer picture.

Of course, there can be many technical decisions to be made, and this is where some investors feel intimidated and fearful. Investment advisors need to be part of your planning strategy for this reason. They know which strategies and tools that can significantly improve your financial outlook – resources you might not have known existed. For example, did you know you may have a significant amount of control over taxes related to investments? An investment advisor can guide you through the process every year to make sure you’re not missing out on earnings and that you’re minimizing your tax liability.

For people who have moved past their fears toward financial planning and their
fear of retirement planning, it’s often after their first visit to an investment advisor that the wheels of change really begin to turn. They suddenly gain an extra team member, one that sheds light on all the fine details and can provide the guidance that proves exceedingly valuable.

As your financial situation changes and as you move closer and closer to your retirement date, your financial advisor will be with you every step of the way to help you make the changes that impact your ability to stay in line with your goals.

When you sit down with an advisor at
Family Investment Center, you’ll be met with an experienced professional whose primary focus is investment management. Our team can help offer you the peace of mind and confidence you may not be able to obtain on your own. Plus, we aren’t commission-driven, but operate on a client-first, fee-only philosophy. Contact us today to get started.

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Dan Danford Featured Speaks About Math and Anxiety in Wall Street Journal

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Money-1.jpgDan Danford, founder and CEO of Family Investment Center, was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal’s column “Voices,” which features contributions by professional wealth managers. Danford focused on the subject of emotions and money, and the math anxiety people often face when it comes to investments. He notes in the article that many forms of anxiety toward investing are grounded in early math experiences or a lack of knowledge about the tools professional advisors can use. This can result in fear investing and hold many Americans back. 

Humans are inherently emotional, which can be a barrier to making good decisions about finances and investing. Unfortunately, many people don’t take the time to learn finance basics and instead rely on instinct (emotions) to guide them. Keep in mind that many times, making the right decisions involves getting the “big” things right, which starts with having the right emotions when it comes to money.

To overcome and work through
emotions toward money, temper the investment information you get online and through television and magazines with sage advice from people who know about wise investment strategies. Rather than deal with your math anxiety (or investment anxiety) by studying what leaders have to say about investing, start first by looking at where you’re spending your money. Here are some other suggestions:

Is overspending at the root of your math anxiety and impacting your investing? You are likely contributing to the nearly $200 billion (the amount goes up every year and could hit $300 billion by 2016) people spend annually on products bought online. An attachment to things can significantly impact a person’s behaviors and attitudes toward money, and can keep them from moving forward and seeking guidance from a professional investment manager.  

Or…are you holding onto your money in harmful ways? Being overly risk-averse may be at the source of your anxiety toward investing. Instead of putting money to work in stocks and bonds, it could be resting in a savings account that is not growing. When you talk to an investment advisor, you can start to understand that your anxiety about investments can be faced head-on -- and likely will be calmed when you learn more about the professional tools and experience advisors put into each task.

Another form of money anxiety is displayed in the desire to “be everything to everyone.” Some investors face anxiety about providing for children’s futures and even grandchildren, yet they also have very real concerns about their own parents as they age (as well as their own retirement needs). It can be overwhelming, but working with professional tools like Social Security maximization software and other investment calculators can bring clarity and help you with your direction. Professional investment managers are trained in making the most of these tools and can help take some of that anxiety off your plate. (After all, it’s what they do every day!)

Parting ways with your emotions toward money, and instead putting your trust in a professional advisor, can make all the difference to you and your family in 2015. Reach out to our experienced team at
Family Investment Center. We bring nine advanced degrees or certificates to the table and we are focused on your goals (while offering top investment tools and discernment).

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Planning for Kids’ College: Say Yes to Starting Early

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b2ap3_thumbnail_College-Tuition-3.jpgDid you know students are leaving college with an average student loan debt of $27,000? New parents today are looking at that number and shaking their heads in defeat. Some are inspired to start a savings account for their child’s tuition, but they could be running the risk of shorting themselves in their own retirement savings.

Planning for kids’ college so that they can graduate debt-free is a noble task. It takes a good amount of hard work, preparation, and an ability to manage money and investments. The earlier you start socking away money in tools like an Education Savings Account, or ESA, the better start to higher education your child could have. If you’re familiar with an IRA, then you already know how an ESA works. However, with an ESA, you can only contribute $2,000 per year per child into the accounts. This tax-advantaged fund allows any earnings to go untaxed, unlike regular savings or investment accounts.

If your child is older and you want to invest more than $2,000 per year, you can choose the 529 plan. The state or educational institution you plan to send your child to operates this educational savings plan, although some states (Missouri included) allow state tax advantages for contributions to any state’s 529 plan. Named after Section 529 of the IRS code, you can use this plan for costs related to college across the nation. In fact, almost every state now operates a 529 plan.

You should know that before you start a savings account for your child’s college education, you should have your own finances in order. Don’t jump into this unless you are already out of debt. Some professional investment advisors suggest putting 15 percent of your income into a retirement fund for yourself. You’re not being selfish by putting your retirement plans first.  If you short your retirement fund, it could mean expenses far beyond
student loan debt for your children as they work to support you through your golden years.

Remember, student loans are generally low-interest. Advisors might suggest that it makes more sense for your child to come out of school with some debt rather than leaving yourself short on income during retirement. (Your child has more earning years left than you would at retirement, and your child may end up paying more money than a student loan to help arrange for your expenses if you outlive your retirement fund!)

Here’s another tip to consider -- private college isn’t for everyone, especially if you have a child in high school and you’ve got a smaller egg saved for their tuition. Grants and scholarships to local or community-based institutions may be more readily available at a non-private school. While it seems simple, advisors also suggest that you pick a school that is more affordable and offers tuition that lines up with your child’s anticipated income. Some parents successfully invest in two years at a community college where tuition is usually much cheaper than a public four-year institution, thus cutting expenses virtually in half.

It may be helpful to know that many students will work part-time to help pay for the essentials at college, and their academics don’t suffer. (In fact, some do better while arranging their schedules around work and school). 

Planning for kids’ college is something that can be filled with emotion, anxiety, and anticipation. Consider working with a professional investment advisor who is on your side.  You can talk openly about your goals, and investment advisors are trained to help you decide which type of account is best and to help you take advantage of tax and growth opportunities you may not know about. Come to
Family Investment Center and see what we have in our toolkit to help you build confidence in saving toward your child’s higher education.

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Financial Planning for College … As Student Loan Debt Hits $1 Trillion Mark


Tuition costs have consistently risen above that of the consumer price index for decades, which means planning for future college costs is more important than ever. With the average cost of college tuition over a four-year period hitting $38,000 last year, it’s easy to see why student loan debt has surpassed that of credit card debt and hit the $1 trillion mark.

Despite state efforts to control tuition at state schools, there isn’t any relief in sight for children today who won’t be attending college for another 15 to 20 years. By that time, tuition is expected to hit nearly $100,000 for four year’s worth of school. What can you do now to keep from jeopardizing your retirement fund, yet still give your young children a chance at higher education?

For many Americans, the answer may be the 529 plan. If you’re unfamiliar with this plan, it is an education investment tool families can use to set aside funds for future college costs. The name comes from the Internal Revenue Service code, Section 529, which was created in 1996. Just about every state offers the plan, which gives families tax benefits and works much like a 401(k) or IRA.

When you enroll in your state’s 529 plan for financial planning for college, you are getting unsurpassed state income tax breaks. You can’t deduct these contributions from your federal tax return, but your investment will grow tax deferred over time.

Many who use this tool for financial planning for college enjoy the low maintenance. For instance, after you’ve chosen your plan, all you have to do is complete the simple enrollment form and make your monthly contributions (you can decide on how often you contribute). The plan handles the ongoing investment, not you. In many cases, the state treasurer’s office or a third party investment company is hired to manage the program.

You do have the option to move your investments around, which means you can change your 529 option as you please (there might be stipulations in your state that allow only one alteration per every 12 months). You can even change the beneficiary of the account at any time.

Another benefit to this financial planning for college option, especially for families intending on sending their child to a costly private institution, is that you can stow away large sums. Many plans don’t have limitations at all.

Talk to your
investment advisor about which plan is best for you. Generally, most advisers will go against the prepaid type of 529 plans because you never know where the child will end up going to college. A better option is to enter into the savings plan.

If this process intimidates you, talk to a professional investment advisor. At
Family Investment Center, we’re well-versed and experienced on the subject of saving for college education. We can walk you through several scenarios that can help reduce the impact on your retirement savings while helping you reach your goal of giving your children or grandchildren the distinct advantage of a college education.

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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!

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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.  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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


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Job Change and Investing: You Can’t Have One Without the Other

People change careers more often than you might think – between three to seven times, depending on which expert you ask. What we know about changing careers is that it can be a really stressful event if you aren’t in a good spot financially, to get you through the transition. Job change and investing can be uttered in the same breath because in this ever-changing job climate, having a cushion to land on is essential.

If you’ve been working toward it for a while, a career change is something you’ve orchestrated and sometimes, painstakingly, planned. You cannot only land on your feet in the transition, but you will likely also come out on top because you’ve prepared ahead of time. However, this isn’t the case for most individuals. The recession was a good example of how
job change and investing is deserving of a second look.

For the people who got left behind in the recession, they had an average job search length of five to seven months before they found something. Questions to ponder include: Can you survive that long without a paycheck? What are you doing now to cover yourself should that ever happen to you?

Financial advisors refer to your reserve fund as a “cash cushion.” Some things to consider to make your cash cushion a little fluffier include easing back on your charitable contributions and your 401(k) contributions. You might also consider stopping putting money into savings bonds and reducing your income tax withholding. All these cutbacks can help build up your cushion and can also be very temporary in scope.

For people who don’t have the luxury of making preparations, keep an open mind about any employment possibility that comes your way, even if it doesn’t pay what you are worth. You’ll need any income you can generate while you search for that “perfect” job. (As many people have experienced, it’s somehow easier to find a better-paying job when you’re already working in another position elsewhere.)

While you’re watching your bottom line, don’t forget about your health. If you’ve lost your job, you’ve probably lost your health insurance as well. Find the cheapest way to get adequate coverage. Married people should look into their working spouse’s health insurance plan and join it if the costs are reasonable.

However, don’t raid your 401(k) when you switch jobs. The tax collision for committing such an act is harsh. Other habits to consider if you’re in a position where you haven’t left the job yet is to simply reduce spending while increasing savings. It sounds straightforward and logical, but it’s something people sometimes overlook.

If you’re considering a life change, talk to the professionals at
Family Investment Center. We have the expertise to guide you through next steps that can help protect your future when you’re in a time of transition. When it comes to job change and investing, we can help you build a strategy that will have all your bases covered.

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What do Millionaires Say About Wealth Management for Families?


The U.S. Trust is a valuable resource for information about how families in the U.S. are dealing with investments and wealth management. Its recent study, “Insights on Wealth and Worth,” reveals the risks to wealth management.

The study looked at families with $3 million or more in investments and revealed that changes in the family dynamic are the greatest risk to those investments. For instance, when the breadwinner in the family becomes disabled, that can negatively affect wealth management for families. Divorce, obviously, is disruptive to finances, as is death, addiction, and medical emergencies. 

With nearly 2 million U.S. households with $3 million or more in investments, there are plenty of situations from which to gain insights. For instance, the study reveals that only one percent of those surveyed are engaged in a financial strategy that will help care for their aging parents. What more people should be doing is gathering all the information that will be needed if the parent(s) should die or become mentally unable to function. This information should include passwords for online accounts, names and numbers for advisors, and the location(s) of financial accounts (as an aside, this is one huge advantage of consolidating accounts to as few places as possible).

Despite the considerable funds these families have amassed, around 35 percent of them said they don’t have a good understanding of how to wisely use credit to invest, pay taxes, pay for education, or buy real estate.

Around 50 percent of the youngest group of millionaires surveyed are of the second or third generation walking into wealth. Unfortunately, many parents aren’t speaking to their children about how they are supposed to handle their wealth. Only 25 percent said they had discussed their financial situation with their kids, which can lead to a loss of wealth later when the children start making the decisions.

How do the rich interact with the markets? Around 20 percent of them have around 25 percent of their investment portfolio tied up in cash positions. However, the
Millennials in the study are looking at private equity and hedge funds more frequently than any other investment.

We can only hope to have a rich person in the family and the study proves why: around 60 percent of those surveyed said they have provided financial support to family members, including extended family. It’s not always a win/win situation though, as around 40 percent of the rich said the situation negatively affected their financial goals. Perhaps they would have been less affected if they had a strategy for such a situation; only three percent said they actually had plans in place for giving money to family.

You can look at the investment behaviors of wealthy families and glean some takeaways, but also consider getting the type of assistance that many of them receive from a professional investment advisor.

Family Investment Center offers investment advisors who can help you develop a strategy for your future, both short-term and long-term. With the foundational tools and techniques derived from experience like banking – but paired with the opportunity provided by investing - Family Investment Center could be the right match for your family’s situation.


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Financial Planning Prior to Marriage: Can an Investment Advisor Help?


Marriage is a matter of the heart, but this emotional event is backed by some logical though about finances for most couples who succeed and fulfill financial goals.

You’ve probably spent at least a few months planning your wedding – but have you given the same amount of thought to your financial plan? According to MassMutual’s survey on marriage and finances, couples spend less than 20 hours a year on financial planning discussions. Around 30 percent of those surveyed said they had anxious feelings about discussing future finances.

If you don’t think financial planning is an issue to be discussed in the midst of wedding planning, consider this fact: most divorces have a financial catalyst behind them. At some point in your marriage, there will likely be a disagreement about money, so it’s best to get on the same page from the start.

Some couples need guidance in the financial planning conversation, which is why calling a professional advisor from the get-go is great advice. With a list of items in front of you, you can plainly see the questions and challenges and address them one at a time. For example, an advisor can help you understand options for areas like student loan debt or credit card debt so that you can set out on the right foot. 

Some advisors may recommend that you consider disability and/or life insurance to keep you covered should one or both of you lose your job or die unexpectedly. You will also need to establish powers of attorney duties for healthcare issues. (Some families have faced very serious consequences when these issues aren’t ironed out before they occur).

financial advisors can also help guide you in areas like checking accounts. You may want to talk about if each of you should have your own personal account that you use for personal spending, and if you should share a joint account for expenditures you share, like a car payment, mortgage, and utilities. But keep in mind that investments can pay off much larger over time than checking accounts with large balances. It sounds simple, but many people miss this truth.

Everyone has a different approach to money and it was probably ingrained as children as they watched their parents spend and save. Discuss your family history regarding finances and develop an understanding of where your mate is coming from. No doubt this could bring some emotions and attitudes toward money into play – and our professional team at Family Investment Center is uniquely experienced in areas like emotions and money.

To get a head start on your financial future, visit
Family Investment Center and find out how we can answer your questions. Together, we’ll walk you through your options for success.


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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.

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Five Financial Planning Habits That Work

b2ap3_thumbnail_Financial-Planning-for-Doctors-2.jpgMost of us aren’t fortunate enough to inherit millions of dollars. Our investments are made up of years of appropriate strategies that maximize what we can put toward investment accounts. With some careful planning, you can look forward to living well in retirement.

Financial planning will likely involve a strategy built around consistently adding a percentage of your income to accounts that make your money work for itself. Knowing exactly where to put your hard-earned cash is the tricky part, which is why you should seek out the advice of a professional investment advisor. However, there are a few tips to follow to keep yourself on the right track.

1. Decide Where You Want to Be
Think about where you want your investments to be when you reach a certain age. Maybe your goal is to have $1 million built up by the time you’re 65. Perhaps you want to work around short-term goals that help you keep your eye on the prize. Either way, studies show that when you set goals and keep them in mind, you’re more apt to reach those goals.

2. Live Modestly Now to Boost Your Future Finances
Millionaires reveal some startling truths about how they came into that kind of money and it’s all about living modestly. If you are able to tone down your yearning for the latest and greatest gadgets and stick to an entertainment budget that doesn’t get in the way of your investment plans, you’re well on your way. Some millionaires are socking away a good majority of their annual salaries in investments and living like a middle class worker.

3. Smart Financial Planning Includes Rethinking Your Expenditures
What is the first thing you do on payday? Do you think about how you’re going to spend the check on fun stuff all week and then rush out of work on payday and do just that? Smart financial planning includes putting money into your investments first, paying your bills second, and then looking at small purchases that can come out of your entertainment budget. If your salary is modest right now and you think you have nothing to put toward investments, just remember that there is no amount too small when you’re getting started.

4. Start Retirement Planning Young
Retirement may seem like a lifetime away, but it comes around pretty quickly, especially for people who haven’t prepared for it. However, even if you’re in your 20s, you should know that your retirement planning now is going to make your 30s, 40s and 50s a lot easier on you. Even $150 or $200 a month in investments can make a huge difference later.

5. Choose an Investment Advisor You Can Trust
While you’re busy with your career and your life, there are trusted professionals making a career out of placing your money in places that can help earn a return and put you in a stronger financial position. Seek out an
investment advisor, preferably a fee-only advisor, who will work in your best interests.

Family Investment Center today and find out how we can assist you.

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The Surprising Benefits of a Living Trust

b2ap3_thumbnail_Living-Trust-1.jpgAre you under the impression that revocable trusts offer some sort of asset protection? That may be a naïve way of thinking, because we know that the grantors can access the assets of a trust. With the traditional trust, the only thing the people for whom the trust is established are left with is an expectation that those funds will be accessible to them at some point in the future.

Some types of accounts for your family, like a
living trust, may offer tax benefits and provide protection from creditors as the money passes from one generation to the next. In some scenarios, the beneficiary will get discretionary income through the trust but are barred from taking principal distributions. Depending on the type of trust and how the governing document is written, exceptions can be placed on distributions, like stating that the beneficiary is able to make distributions from the trust for medical and/or educational purposes. 

One of the protections in the living trust occurs when a beneficiary has become subject to a creditor’s claim. Should this occur, the trust’s discretionary funds will not be made available to the beneficiary until after the claim is resolved.

The way a living trust operates differs by state. In some states, the trust must terminate 21 years after the last person named in the trust passes away. However, if you live in South Dakota, Delaware, Nevada, Alaska or New Hampshire, you aren’t held to this rule.

In some situations, the beneficiary and the trust grantor live in separate states, of which one that has more favorable laws regarding the trust and one with less favorable. One way to take advantage of the laws in the more favorable state is to include a provision that allows the beneficiary the power to maintain the trust in their jurisdiction (where laws are more favorable) without obtaining court approval. So, when the trust grantors die, the beneficiary can move the trust into their home state and gain more advantages. Another way to transfer the trust over to the favorable state is for the grantors to have assets, including property, within that state.

Some might question why a person establishing the trust wouldn’t name a beneficiary as a trustee to help manage the trust. There are several possible reasons for this, but most compelling of which is that if the beneficiary doesn’t reside in a state that has no Rule Against Perpetuities, the assets in the trust will ultimately have to be dispersed to beneficiaries, which means all tax benefits would be lost. Another good reason not to make a family member a trustee is because most people don’t possess the inclination to properly manage a trust.

When it comes to investments, regardless of whether it’s a living trust or a retirement plan, it pays to consult with
professional advisors  who work with these issues full time. Investment advisors know about the various tax codes and laws in each state that govern a family’s assets. Family Investment Center is staffed with experienced, knowledgeable professionals. Contact us today and find out how we can help answer your questions and give you some peace of mind.

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