Financial Planning

5 Tips to Prepare for an Unclear Future – Insurance Planning is Financial Planning

The rate at which the world is changing is faster than most people can process.  We find ourselves asking, what just happened and what does that mean? There is a constant ripple effect resulting from each change happening in the world. This affects you, your family, your close relations, the ones you love, your friends, your colleagues, etc.

In the midst of all these changes and challenges, many people sleep well at night while others are so stressed, they find it difficult to get a great night’s rest. So, what are some ways to achieve peace of mind?

  1. Start saving… today!

The amount saved is less relevant to building a habit of regularly saving. It’s this habit that will help you get ahead each month. Pay yourself first and then simply find a way to make up for it by more aggressively looking for bargains in your everyday spending. As for debt, you simply need a plan to help you manage it. Of course, if you have debt, protecting against a loss in income is super-important. Savings combined with insurance can help.

  1. Instead of thinking “what’s in it for me” think “what’s in it for us.”

When thinking about financial planning for your family, realize that it is a team effort. Learn to communicate things clearly, create a future plan together, and be clear about your mutual financial goals.

  1. In life, certain events will occur!

Life will throw many things at you. With a little planning they won’t overwhelm you. Sure there are the things you plan like buying houses and cars, or taking trips. However, there are other things that might be unexpected… You might discover you’re pregnant (surprise!). You might receive a pink slip and lose your primary source of income. As you develop a financial strategy, leverage the 3Ps – Plan, prepare, and protect to safeguard the assets you have.

  1. Think about insurance as part each major financial decision. Also, set a regular schedule to think about insurance.

Be aware that insurance will always part of the decisions you will have to make for every major life event. Having a regularly scheduled “insurance review” and revisiting all your insurance coverage for your major life events  helps ensure you have adequate protection. And when life changes occur, it’s best to include your financial planner and independent insurance agent in the discussions to get the best advice for your evolving situation.

  1. Have “go-to” people who can help you in difficult times.

Speaking of getting help… having people you trust that you can quickly reach out to in moments of uncertainty will ensure you make the best decisions and give you further peace of mind… (We’re here for you when you need us!!!)

Planning creates peace of mind!

People usually don’t like thinking about catastrophic events that could happen. People don’t like thinking about unforeseen dangers or risks to enable them to come up with a plan for each. Yet life becomes easier to manage when you consider these things and have a plan of action including insurance.

Did this article prompt a question? Reach out to us! We would love to hear from you…

Fortify a Financial Plan with Insurance

Comprehensive insurance is the cornerstone of a stable financial plan. Insurance acts as both preventative and planning measures, offering financial stability in case of tragedy. Disability, illness, accidents, and death are all unfortunate possibilities. Insurance can help alleviate costs and offer solutions for overcoming these setbacks. Insurance can also be a great retirement savings tool, invested properly.

Insurance policies are going to differ depending on the carrier, policy, and much more. Policies are as unique as the people protected. Some types of insurance are necessary or mandated by law. Others can offer more for those seeking additional protection. The following is a list of the most common types of insurance included in a policy. Are you adequately insured?

Health Insurance. For some, health insurance may be included along with an employment contract. Others may select private health insurance to cover medical expenses, prescription medication, and other associated costs. Private health insurance tends to have the highest costs for coverage. Carrier, location, and personal characteristics will all affect rates for health insurance.

Disability Insurance. For many people, the chances of becoming disabled outweigh those for death. Disability can happen in an instant and have long-term effects on income and quality of life. Disability insurance offers financial stability in case of disability. Disability insurance is often available through an employer-offered benefits program and can be purchased through a private carrier. For adequate coverage, look for policies offering at least 2/3 income replacement.

Long-Term Care Insurance. A large number of Americans rely on Medicare for long-term care options. While Medicare can offer some relief for long-term care costs, eligibility requirements make it qualifying a challenge. With the future of government assistance in a steady state of flux, obtaining additional long-term care insurance may be beneficial. Rather than exhaust personal retirement savings on nursing home, or in-home care, speak to an agent about long-term care insurance.

Life Insurance. Life insurance can help survivors cope with expenses following death. Depending on the individual or family requirements, life insurance policies can be adjusted to match. A financial advisor can help in calculating adequate coverage based on income and expenses. The right policy can pay expenses, eliminate family debts, and set tuition money away for children or family members. Whole, term, and universal life insurance policies are available depending on preference.

Auto Insurance. A must for driving legally, auto insurance policies range across the board. From policies sufficient to get behind the wheel to comprehensive auto insurance protection, auto insurance will vary by carrier. Driver history, deductible, insurance agency and more will all affect rates and coverage. Following a mishap, bare-bones coverage will leave you twisting in the wind. Obtaining adequate auto insurance can help get you back on the road following an auto mishap. Auto rates can be affordable and many discounts are available.

Homeowners Insurance. Homeowners insurance protects homes and contents from disasters both natural and caused by others. As with auto policies, home policies will vary significantly. The right policy ought to replace contents, repair damages, and shield from liability costs fast following a claim. Location, home size, property characteristics, personal possessions and more will all have bearing on the right level of home insurance protection. For those renting a home to renters, home insurance will be an important part of protecting the investment.

Additional Liability Insurance. It can happen where personal liability exceeds the amount covered in a auto, home, or other insurance policy. Ours is a litigious society; protect assets and wealth with sufficient liability insurance protection. Liability insurance may be more affordable than you think.

For an in-depth assessment regarding personal insurance requirements, speak to a financial professional. Financial professionals can make projections to ensure adequate insurance protection long into the future. The right combination of insurance policies will vary by individual. Polices and protection change depending on carrier, personal details, and much more. For more information speak to your financial professional today.

Reducing Financial Risks Through Insurance

For lively party conversation, death and disability are generally last on the list. Still, planning for potential disability and the death of a loved one can help overcome the financial challenges involved. It’s natural to want to talk about something else, yet topics related to investment risk-management are important and can have big impacts on financial plans and resources.

Planning ahead before confronting any obstacle can help with meeting it. The passing of a loved one, the need for long-term care, and disability can all take incredible tolls. Perhaps the simplest way to approach planning for them is through comprehensive disability, life, and long-term care insurance.

It’s natural to tiptoe around these topics, yet changes can happen in an instant. Rather than try and respond during the aftermath, a proactive approach can help create support for what will likely be a trying time. As part of your financial plan and risk management strategy, speak to a financial advisor about comprehensive insurance coverage.

Disability Insurance

People aged 25 to 65 are at a higher risk for disability than death, according to major studies. Lifestyles, genetics, random occurrences and much more can happen in an instant and leave people disabled temporarily, or for life. For many, disability coverage comes in the form of a company insurance policy. These policies can help with some in the case of disability, yet many lack the coverage available through privately-carried disability insurance. Income replacement and compensation for debilitating injuries are some of the advantages private insurance can offer.

According to Jack Riashi Jr. with Bloom Asset Management, disability insurance should be included as part of an insurance plan until retirement to ensure adequate resources should a disability occur. Riashi Jr, a certified financial planner, says “The number of people covered is really pretty low”. He also states more people lack coverage than carry it. For single-income homes, Riashi Jr. says preserving that income becomes exponentially important. Another important tool in preserving family income is life insurance.

Life Insurance

Life insurance is, for the majority of people speaking to an insurance agent, a difficult topic to approach. The subject is grim, and it’s an often overlooked addition to an insurance plan. For many, there will likely be loved ones left behind. Continuing financial support through life insurance can help carry them through.

Life insurance is obtainable as a term, universal, or whole-life insurance policy. To find the right life insurance policy speak to an agent. Income, age, health, and much more will steer the direction of your insurance needs. Life insurance may, in some cases, be utilized for emergency savings or as part of a retirement plan. Speak to a financial advisor before making significant changes to a life insurance policy. The right policy will vary by the person; an advisor can help find the right match for you.

Long-Term Care Insurance

Aging, injury and more can increase limits on physical capabilities. For an increasing number of Americans, long-term care is necessary some or all of the time. Medicare will likely cover a portion of expenses yet the remainder can be overwhelming. Long-term care insurance can help pay for assisted living, in-home care, and much more.

In-home care and nursing home coverage can cost tens of thousands per year, and upward. The costs can be high at any income level and for those on a fixed income, these costs can be especially challenging to meet. Speak to a financial advisor for more on the merits of a tailored long-term care insurance policy.

Approaching these topics early may increase access to insurance options and discounted rates. Speak to a financial advisor today for more on risk management through insurance for your financial plan. Come back often for more on this and other interesting topics.

Working with a Financial Planner

If you’re thinking about debt, you have company. According to the American Psychological Organization, nearly 3 out of 4 Americans think about getting out of debt on a regular basis. The number of Americans prepared for the future drops considerably, with less-than 20% of Americans feeling financially ready for retirement. With numbers like that it’s surprising only a fraction asked for help from a professional.

Financial Advisors vs Financial Planners

For professional financial advice, people often turn to financial advisors or financial planners. Often mistaken for each other, a financial planner and financial advisor have distinctly different roles. A financial advisor utilizes a broad set of financial skills offering surface-level guidance. They can help with portfolio management, estate planning, and tax preparation. A financial planner has a specific set of skills to offer targeted advice. A financial planner can help with retirement planning, smart investments, and creating personalized financial strategies.

This year, get out of the weeds. Take control of personal finances with the help of an experienced professional financial planner. If you answer yes to any of the following, you may want to think about calling a financial planner:

1. It’s challenging thinking about money

For many, just thinking about money is enough to become frustrated. Many people struggle with approaching finances at all. This is normal and happens to more people than you may think. A financial planner can step in and get things organized, and help keep things moving.

2. Managing money is mind-numbing

Effective money-management includes more than saving and spending. Each person has a different picture of the future yet one thing most will share in common is a financial vehicle for arriving there. There are a multitude of savings and investment strategies available. Find one that fits both budget and goals with the help of a financial planner.

3: It’s time for a second opinion.

People of all wealth and education levels lean on financial planners for advice and personalized guidance. From the first-time investor to the savvy business grad, a financial planner can help anyone interested in improving their financial footing. Get the most from investments. Contact a financial planner for help creating, diversifying, and utilizing savings vehicles.

Planning for the future is affordable. Financial planners utilize different pricing structures depending on the individual yet most employ a combination of three basic payment plans:

  • Flat-rate financial planning offers the advantage of flat-rate pricing for financial services.
  • Commission-based financial planning compensates planners from a percentage of investments.
  • Fee-based financial planners combine the previous payment structures to form a compensation plan.

To find the right a financial planner, start with selecting goals. Establishing an end-point gives financial planners something to help plan for. For those struggling to decide, a financial planner can help explain potential options and opportunities. It’s more than OK to ask for help planning for the future, it’s the smart thing to do. Contact a financial planner today and start working toward achievable goals today.

5 Steps for Getting out of Debt

Debt is a challenge any time of the year. Life changes, shifts in employment, and more both in and out of our control can affect our financial well-being. During the holiday season, Americans tend to pile on more debt. Travel, gifts, and more put extra strain on the bank account. Come January, many are faced with large debts and the New Year is already off to a rocky start. Stop the cycle. This year, take control and shake loose of your debt. Follow these 5 steps and eliminate debt once and for all:

1. Start Saving

It sounds simple and that’s the challenge. To start saving, create a savings goal. For most people, the best place to begin is an emergency savings fund. Most professionals recommend an account equal to a month’s income for responding to emergencies. Most Americans lack sufficient savings or any savings at all. Create a defined savings goal, and plan for making regular deposits to achieve it.

2. Stop Borrowing

It can be difficult to get out of debt if the debt continues to grow. Start getting out of debt by eliminating credit spending. During the holiday season, the urge to give can take over, leading to increased spending with credit cards and other borrowed funds. To help limit debt size, make purchases with available funds.

3. Get Organized

To pay off debt get a grasp on the number of personal debts, the debt size, and the interest rates for each. Most strategies suggest clearing debts with the highest interest rate first. The more paid toward the principal balance the faster a debt is paid. Another common strategy recommends paying off debts with the smallest balances first. As small debts are paid continue to budget for them, and roll the payments into the paying off the next debt. Becoming organized will alleviate debt-related stress and make it easier eliminate debts once and for all.

4. Get on a Budget

Will savings goals established, a limit placed on adding debt, and a clear picture of financial obligations, create a budget. A budget tracks income, obligations, and expenses. Many people are surprised to see where the money goes each month. Small amounts add up each month. Create a budget and pay off debt faster. With a budget in hand, set realistic financial goals and create a plan for achieving them.

5. Take Action

A budget will define the paths for getting out of debt. This may reveal a need for increased action. For some, debts may outweigh monthly or annual income. Others may want to get out of debt faster than the current budget schedule. With a plan for getting out of debt in-hand, take action. This can include finding additional employment, reducing the amount spent on entertainment, and much more.

Getting a firm grasp on finances, creating a plan for approaching them, and seeing that plan through can help eliminate debt. This year take control of monthly financial obligations and get out of debt.

Financial Care for Special Needs Adult Children

Caring for adult special-needs children requires constant research and attention. As parents age, continuing care for older children may be a challenge. As we age more focus on personal health takes precedence. Caring for adult special-needs children may become more challenging. Preparing for the future of care can help create a financial and family support system for your special-needs child. Create a plan with these 5 steps for ongoing special-needs care:

1: Make it a family decision.

For parents of adult special-needs children able to communicate, include them in the process. Each family will be different and finding strengths and areas where help is necessary can help. Their employment, personal financial responsibility, and a network of caregivers will all affect future planning. A clear understanding of capabilities and requirements can help in forming a plan.

2. Create a support system.

Establishing responsible legal guardianship creates support for medical and financial matters. This gives parents control over the designated party. Before appointing a guardian clearly define the role and responsibilities.

3. Plan your estate.

An estate plan will make sure special-needs children are properly cared for. A will legally ensure wishes are followed and children are cared for. Depending on the level of care required, provisions can be included to pay for caregivers and treatment. Other options including trusts can funnel inheritance while maintaining government or state benefits for your child.

4. Create a savings plan.

Save for the future with tax-advantageous savings plans for parents of special-needs children. The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) of 2014 established savings plans to help special needs children. Amounts withdrawn to pay healthcare, education, legal and other expenses are exempt from taxes. Anyone can deposit allowing family and friends to contribute.

5. Plan living arrangements.

For parents of adult special-needs children living at home, a plan for future living arrangements will be necessary. Planning ahead gives parents control over selecting appropriate and risk-free environments capable of supporting their special-needs child. Changes in employment, income, and relationships can affect future arrangements when left to chance. Establishing a legal plan will arrange for the right care in the right place.

Planning ahead gives peace of mind today and ensures ongoing care for the future for the whole family. For more on planning or for answers to questions call today.

Want to Save More? Get Out of Your Own Way

Watching a friend run a marathon recently I was struck by the lack of outward competition. The runners seemed more determined to accomplish personal goals than on overtaking one another. There are of course those at the head of the pack competing for the win, yet the majority aimed only to cross the finish line. I couldn’t help but make the comparison between achieving financial goals and completing a marathon.

Setting long-term financial goals is a long race. Those trying to sprint wind up exhausted. There is one significant difference that stands out: people choose to run a marathon yet we are all in the financial race together. The race is long and will push many to the limit. The prize for completing the race is, instead of a medal, personal financial success.

Like running a long race, obstacles will arise and there will times when digging deep will be the only way to overcome. For runners, these moments are called breaking points. My friend says in marathons, it is mile 22 where the tank feels empty. The key to getting beyond that is to visualize the goal. Seeing the shorter distance to the goal rather than the longer distance completed makes finishing the final miles a little easier.

What is mile 22 in our financial lives? Anecdotally it seems that hits around the age of 50 for both men and women. At that age, most are settled into life. Children may be part of the picture with mounting education expenses. They’ve been a part of the workforce for some time and retirement can feel closer than ever. The reality is there are still a couple of miles left to go in the race.

A 2015 Transamerica retirement survey recommends that a 50-year-old maintain a steady account balance of $117,000. For many, that may be the eye-popping moment. In a marathon, there is always the option to throw in the towel and catch a ride to the finish line. In life, the financial race is lifelong and mandatory. Symbolically, age 50 represents the point where the remaining distance is shorter yet also the hardest. The good news is you’re still in the race.

The first thing to get a hold of are any pre-existing notions about organic financial health. Financial success is something earned; the chances finances will correct and improve on their own is, well, impossible. Often the opposite it the case requiring an effective defense as well. For all those important decisions put off until later, it’s time to finally take control of personal finances. Next, make active decisions to improve stability and security for the future. Several examples include increasing retirement account payments, paying mortgage balances on-time or early, and seeking alternative funding for children’s education. A positive financial mindset will make the rest of the race possible. See the finish line and visualize to materialize.

For any questions about insurance topics that may impact personal and financial health, call today.

Simple Steps to Get Out of Debt

Debt can be stressful for anyone. Things happen each day which can change employment, financial, and living status. In other cases, spending habits, medical care, and family create additional stressors. Loans and other financial obligations will have to be met regardless. Rather than throwing in the towel, overcome debt and get back on track. Reduce and overcome debt with these 5 steps to a debt-free life:

1. Stop Borrowing

To get ahead quickly, eliminate credit spending. This goes for credit furniture, credit cards, payday loans, new vehicles and more. The first step to eliminating debt is to stop feeding the monster. Once the debt has a set total, it will be easier to figure out how to eliminate it completely.

2. Start Saving

Create an emergency fund of $1000. This fund prevents the unexpected from adding to the debt. This buffer may be a challenge to create initially but may help avoid multiple loans later on.

3. Create a Budget

Creating a budget and sticking to it tracks income and expenses. Learning where the money is coming and going will help plan a strategy for overcoming debt. Money left over after essential expenses are covered should go toward reducing overall debt. Creating an excess is possible by either increasing income or reducing expenses.

  • Increasing income. Those with the means can increase income a number of ways. Extra jobs, overtime, commission, and other avenues for increasing exist depending on career options. Get creative. Many home-based businesses allow for extra income while maintaining a regular routine.
  • Spending less. Reducing spending helps create a budget excess at the end of the month. Look at monthly expenses to find opportunities for saving. Gym memberships, entertainment subscriptions, and eating out add up. Shop smarter by comparing prices.

4. Get Organized

Organizing debt is the next step in developing a strategy. Using one of two methods, organize all debts according to size and interest rate to begin reducing them to zero. Watching loans reduce down is satisfying and motivating for reducing more.

Organize based on size. Line up debts from smallest to largest regardless of interest rate. Begin by paying the smallest off first, then roll payments into the next debt until paying the final loan.

Organize based on interest rate. Otherwise known as credit laddering, this solution has debts arranged based on interest rate, with the highest at the top. This method reduces total amount spent on interest.

Once a method is arranged, stick to it. Begin with paying one loan, and roll payments into following loans after accounts are brought to zero. Take care in closing accounts, as closing accounts completely may cause damage to credit score. These methods work for debts large and small.

5. Get Ahead

Spend any additional income on debt. At the end of the month, excess money should be placed toward debts before entertainment. Smart spending with tax returns, inheritance money, and unexpected income will help reduce debts for good. The more placed towards paying off debt, the faster it will disappear. Create a strategy for overcoming debt today.

Always a source for great information about insurance topics for health and finance. Call today with any insurance-related questions.

Straightforward Steps to Living Well

Retiring with sufficient money for living well is possible. Planning early and making the right decisions can create wealth. There is more to retirement planning than investing in the stock market. Deliberate decisions made early boost savings potential. Daily decisions matter. Plan early and the money will follow.

College or a Trade?

College graduates entering the workforce often come with college debt. College debt can exceed the tens of thousands and beyond. Loans of this magnitude affect all life decisions from buying a home to having a family and finding a career. The right job for the degree matters. Many graduates have low-paying jobs in fields other than their major. Education is expensive; a college education may cost $100,000 or more. The good news is: people drawn to other fields have alternatives.

Many professions have starting salaries under $30,000 a year. College loan payments can consume a good portion of that. Planning ahead can help manage college loan payments. A good rule of thumb is keeping total college debt below total annual income. Researching careers and salaries before committing to loans helps plan for the making payments on them later. High-paying jobs are available without 4 years of college. People interested in arts, trades, and other careers can make more than graduates with bachelor’s degrees. According to a study by Georgetown University, 28% people with associates degrees or trade equivalents earn more than university grads.

Saving Smart

A smaller amount of people have savings accounts than those who do. For many people, saving is possible with smart financial planning. Cars, homes, and other accessories consume portions of the monthly budget. Before long, entire paychecks are spent the moment received creating a cycle of loan payments.
Navigate pitfalls applying these basic rules:

  • Saving. Save 10% of earnings for retirement. For people starting after age 30: 12-15%. For parents making a choice between saving for retirement and saving for children’s college, choose retirement.
  • Living. All general living expenses receive 50% of the budget.
  • Saving. Place 20% of income into savings. Additionally, 6 month’s savings for emergencies helps overcome the unexpected.
  • Driving. Limit vehicle payments to 10% of monthly income; loans payable within 4 years.
  • Spending. The remaining 20% is available for spending,

Other savings vehicles include 401k work-programs, IRAs, and life insurance.

Budgeting Loans and Credit Cards

Many lessons came from the last economic crisis. People are much better about debt-management and loan commitments than before. Still, excessive credit-card limits savings potential for many. Credit cards carry high rates of interest, often 18% or higher. This means credit card charges totaling $5,000, paid at the minimum monthly-rate, may reach over $9,000 in payments over 3 decades. Making purchases within means helps limit credit card and loan payments. Credit and loan payments are part of a monthly budget.

Watch the Market

Stock market growth is up 12% this year, yet the tides are in constant ebb and flow. Market downturns happen, causing many to leave the market in a panic. Recovery may be hard to picture, yet time and time again the stock market recovers and improves. A 260% increase since the most-recent downturn continues this pattern. Long-term strategies for investing create solid foundations for savings. Focusing on a combination of smart stocks and bonds, rather than market trends, creates reliability. Young investors may wish to invest up to 70-80% of annual income for comfortable retirement.

Retire Smart

At retirement, making money last is important. Many people spend 30-40 years or more in retirement. Before retiring, plan on enough savings to last a lifetime. Before retiring, determine annual living expenses. This helps plan for enough for living comfortably. Each year, limit withdrawals to only 4% of available savings. Life may continue for decades, plan early and plan smart.

Speak to a Pro

Retirement planning is different for everyone. Each person has a different vision and timeline for retirement. A financial planner can help determine the best way for achieving retirement goals. It is always a good time to start planning for retirement, start today.

There are many wellness and finance topics affecting daily life. Want to see any topics featured? Send over any suggestions, and please contact an agent for any questions.

Teach Your Kids Financial Literacy!

For better or worse, kids copy their parents. In fact, they are more likely to “do as you do”, rather than “do as you say”. This can be good, or it can be eye-opening to bad personal behavior. Kids imitate more than mannerisms. What kids learn today will affect their success tomorrow. According to asset management firm T. Rowe Rate, parents with poor financial management are more likely to pass bad money-management habits on to their kids.

T.Rowe conducted a study which found parents with large credit-card balances influenced similar behavior in their millennial children. In some cases, these kids already carried over $5,000 in debt, a lot for a young person. Making matters worse, the same children had less interest in saving and none in clearing their debt. They expected parents to pay their expenses as they got older, with no plans for securing their own financial future.

Parents who exercised sound financial decision-making fared better. Often, those children grew up performing financially better than the parents. These children were also more likely to have college savings in place. The study confirmed what many already suspected: parents are a child’s largest financial influence.

According to T. Rowe, kids develop financial discipline at a very young age – well before high school. Teaching smart money matters to children at an early age creates advantages. The principles of saving and smart-decision making should be part of home life.

An allowance is a good way to introduce money management to children. An allowance can teach the principles of saving and spending. Family budgeting is another way to involve children in money matters. Vacations and other large purchases have opportunity costs. Teaching children the importance of balanced decision-making helps them later on. Without using money children can learn budgeting using allowances of time for entertainment.

Start teaching smart financial skills today. Teach kids to be financially independent right at home. Classes exist online or contact an expert. Give kids the tools to succeed later in life. Good financial skills are for everyone. Save today and enjoy tomorrow!

This and other insurance-related topics have a direct bearing on well-being. Have any insurance topics to talk about? Send them over! Call for answers to all personal insurance and business insurance questions.

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