Category: Smart Money Tips

Medicare Open Enrollment Starts On October 15th. What Do You Need to Know?

When it comes to retirement, there seems to be a never-ending checklist of tasks to complete in order to prepare yourself for this major milestone. You need to save enough to maintain your lifestyle, invest wisely, create a withdrawal strategy, minimize your taxes, and claim your Social Security benefits. But there’s one other critical piece of retirement planning to keep in mind: signing up for Medicare. And with healthcare being one of the top five expenses in retirement, (1) your Medicare choices are some of the most important decisions you will make.

The challenge with Medicare, a federal insurance program designed for people age 65 and older, is that it often seems complicated and confusing. Since there are multiple plans and various enrollment periods, how do you make sense of all the information? Here’s a breakdown of Medicare’s Open Enrollment period and the options available to you.

WHEN IS MEDICARE OPEN ENROLLMENT?

The Medicare open enrollment period happens at the same time every year due to the changes in 2011. For coverage in 2019, open enrollment will run from October 15, 2018, to December 7, 2018. Once December 8th arrives, the enrollment period closes until the following October. During this time, current Medicare users can switch coverage or add or drop parts of their plan.

Open enrollment is not for those who have never signed up for Medicare, unless the open enrollment period also falls during your initial enrollment time, which begins three months before you turn 65 and ends three months after the month you turn 65. But if you only signed up for Medicare Parts A and B during your initial enrollment, open enrollment gives you the opportunity to make changes to your coverage.

WHAT CAN I DO DURING OPEN ENROLLMENT?

Here is an overview of the changes you can make to your Medicare plan during open enrollment:

  • If you have Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) & Medicare Part B (medical insurance), you can switch to Medicare Part C (or Medicare Advantage), which is often contracted by companies that have an agreement with Medicare. This service includes the coverage of both Plan A and Plan B (Original Medicare), as well as additional services like prescription drug coverage and private fee-for-service plans.
  • If you have Medicare Part C, you can switch it back to Original Medicare (Parts A & B).
  • You can reevaluate your Part C plan and switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan.
  • If you already have Parts A & B, you can join or drop a Part D prescription drug plan. This part of Medicare adds the prescription drug coverage for Original Medicare, private fee-for-service plans, and some Medicare cost plans.
  • You can switch your Part D prescription drug plan to a different Part D plan.

HOW MUCH WILL I PAY FOR MEDICARE?

The cost of Medicare insurance depends on a variety of factors. While many people choose Plan A, the premium for Plan B is paid automatically and costs about $134 monthly on average. The cost may vary depending on your income, whether or not you’re still working, and when you originally enrolled. Review the factors to get the best coverage.

As an example to determine cost, if you worked for more than 10 years, your monthly cost for the Plan A premium is $0 because you paid it while you worked. But the costs get higher if you worked for fewer than 10 years, climbing to $422 a month.

The Plan B premium also offers coinsurance after you’ve paid your deductible. This means that for some services you’ll pay only 20% of the total cost.

HOW CAN I IMPROVE MY COVERAGE DURING MEDICARE OPEN ENROLLMENT?

Plan C and Plan D are known as the options with the most coverage. Financially speaking, they are the most comprehensive plans. If you have either the basic Plan A or Plan B, you can improve your coverage using Medigap. This will help you pay for some of the services that are not covered by the higher coverage plans. Part C is also a prudent choice because it provides for services like dental and hearing health, which are not covered by the basic insurance plans.

As you can see, Medicare is complicated and ever-evolving, so don’t try to handle the intricacies alone. At Archer Investment Management, we provide comprehensive financial strategies for a secure future through a highly tailored and hands-on approach. We answer your questions, educate you on your opportunities, and help you prepare for every aspect of your retirement, including healthcare. If you need help evaluating your Medicare options, reviewing your insurance coverage, or just want to ask a couple of questions, we are here to help. Schedule a 15-minute get-acquainted phone call today.

About Richard

Richard Archer is a financial advisor and the President of Archer Investment Management with more than 20 years of industry experience. He specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment guidance and personalized care and attention to executives with complex compensation and families pursuing financial freedom. Along with holding a Wharton Bachelor of Science in Economics and a Texas MBA, he is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certificant and a Chartered Financial Analyst®. He combines his advanced industry education and knowledge with his genuine care for people to provide clients with an exceptional experience. To learn more about Richard, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.archerim.com.

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(1) https://www.bls.gov/opub/btn/volume-5/spending-patterns-of-older-americans.htm

Six Financial Planning Rules That Everyone With Stock Options Needs To Know

If you work for a company that offers Employee Stock Options (ESOs), you may be wondering how you should take advantage of them and whether they can help you reach your financial goals. In a previous article, we walked you through an overview of Employee Stock Options, but even if you understand how they work, you might not know how to maximize their value and how they fit into your financial plan. Here are six financial planning principles that may help you make the best decisions for your financial situation.

RULE #1: SET REALISTIC GOALS

Before you dig into the investments in your portfolio, take the time to set realistic goals for your overall financial plan. If you don’t have goals to aim for, it’s like you’re shooting at a target blindfolded. Without clear and personal goals, you could be easily swayed by unexpected circumstances and the market ups and downs. When it comes to ESOs, they are just one means to achieving your goals.

One ESO detail to keep in mind is that you will eventually want to sell the stock after exercising your options. If you have a clear financial plan and work to minimize taxes, you may be able to move significantly closer to your goals with the proceeds received from the sale of your stock.

RULE #2: CREATE A PLAN

Once you have your goals in place, your next step is to create a strategy for how you will handle your stock options over time. Map out a plan for when to sell your options, making sure you that your actions are not only tax efficient, but they also line up with your goals. For example, selling a significant portion of your stock all at once could dramatically increase your tax burden.

Along those same lines, it’s important that you accurately value your stock options. The last thing you want to do is sell, thinking that you will receive a certain amount, only to learn that your net earnings are much lower. If you were trying to reach a goal with the sale, overvaluing your stock options could hurt your long-term plans.

RULE #3: BUY AND HOLD, BUT CONSIDER DIVERSIFICATION

Because stocks historically increase in value over time, it may be wise to hold your options for a a long time. This is especially the case if you believe that your company is doing well and will continue to do so for a long time. Of course, if part of your financial plan involves selling some of your options for short-term to intermediate-term goals, that is also fine.

However, if a majority of your net worth comes from your ESOs, it may be a better idea to consider diversification. This is akin to putting all your eggs in one basket. Do you really want so much of your financial well-being tied up in one company? The general rule of thumb is to hold

no more than 10% of your portfolio in your company’s stocks and options. Your income is already tied to your company, and now a majority of your net worth could also locked in to your employer. If the company performs poorly, it will depress the stock price and you may be laid off at the same time. There goes your portfolio, your income, and your health insurance all at once. Consider selling some of your ESOs and diversifying the proceeds in something else.

RULE # 4: KNOW THE RULES OF YOUR ESOS

Depending on the type of ESO that your company offers you and the overall company option plan policies, there will be specific rules that you should be aware of. These rules may cover the rights that you have if you are fired, quit, work for a competitor, retire, become disabled, or die. In addition, the rules will explain any vesting policies, which will help you plan ahead and maximize your stock option benefits.

RULE # 5: ALWAYS CONSIDER TAXATION

It is critical that you look at your current income tax bracket and calculate how a sale of stocks will affect your current taxable income. If the sale puts you into a new bracket, you may have to pay more on the proceeds than if you had smoothed your income over time.

In addition, if you have Incentive Stock Options (ISOs), you must familiarize yourself with the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Read more here for a brief description on the different tax treatment of ISOs and Nonqualified Stock Options (NSOs). If you ignore the Alternative Minimum Tax, you may have to pay tax on your gains before you even have the money in hand. (1) This could be an unfortunate situation to find yourself in, so make sure to do your homework on the AMT as it relates to your options.

RULE #6: SEEK SOLID, PROFESSIONAL ADVICE

Stock options are a complicated asset and it can be overwhelming to determine how they fit within your overall financial plan. Because of that, it is important to seek professional advice when making ESO decisions. Make sure the professional you rely on has experience with employee stock options and can help you strategize your best moves.

At Archer Investment Management, we understand employee stock options and have experience helping clients maximize this benefit, minimize taxes, and diversify their portfolios. We’d love to help you with your employee stock options. Book an appointment online today

About Richard

Richard Archer is a financial advisor and the President of Archer Investment Management with more than twenty years of industry experience. He specializes in providing comprehensive Financial planning and investment guidance and personalized care and attention to executives with complex compensation and families pursuing financial freedom. Along with holding a Wharton Bachelor of Science in Economics and a Texas MBA, he is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certificant and a Chartered Financial Analyst®. He combines his advanced industry education and knowledge with his genuine care for people to provide clients with an exceptional experience. To learn more about Richard, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.archerim.com

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(1) https://www.mystockoptions.com/articles/index.cfm/objectID/26A61894-283B-11D4-B9070008C79F9E62/print/1/printformat/pdf

How Might Tax Reform Affect Your Estate Plan?

Whenever a financial change occurs at the government level, there is a domino effect in your personal finances. For example, the recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act affects more than just your net pay. On the surface, we know that Trump’s tax reform bill lowers tax rates for individuals and corporations, increases the child tax credit, doubles the standard deduction, and caps or eliminates several deductions. But does it have any cascading effects on your estate plan?

As the act and tax bill are still new, it’s difficult to predict with certainty what will happen, but the changes shed light on how estate planning may be affected going forward. Let’s take a look at current law, the notable changes, and what they could mean for you.

ESTATE PLANNING LAW THEN

If you’ve done any amount of estate planning, you know that taxes are an extremely important factor to take into consideration when creating a strategy. Here’s an overview of the estate tax rules prior to the new tax bill:

Estate Tax: The property in your estate is taxed before being passed on to your beneficiaries. There are various tax rates for this, extending up to 40%.

Gift Tax: When you give some of your assets as a gift while you are still alive, that is also subject to tax, up to 40%. However, you don’t have to pay any taxes on the first $15,000 you give each year. That exclusion applies individually to each person you give to.

Generation-Skipping Tax: Property transferred beyond one generation by bequest or gift is also taxed. There is an additional generation-skipping tax with, again, a top rate of 40%.

Basic Exclusion Amount: Any of these three taxes, or any combination of the three, does not apply to the first $5 million of transferred property. This exemption, called the basic exclusion amount, is indexed for inflation, so it is actually $5.6 million for 2018.

These taxes do not apply to transfers between spouses. Also, if you die without using up the entire exclusion amount, your spouse can increase their exclusion amount by whatever you had left of your exclusion. That makes the maximum exclusion possible for 2018 $11.2 million.

Tax Basis: If you give someone an asset while you are still alive, they will take on your tax basis in that property, called a carryover basis. However, if you wait until your death to transfer the asset, their tax basis will be the fair market value of the property at the time of your death, called a step-up in basis.

ESTATE PLANNING LAW NOW

And now for a look at what the tax bill has changed:

Basic Exclusion Amount: The legislation doubles the basic exclusion amount. Depending on how inflation is calculated, this would amount to around $11 million per individual or $22 million per couple. This basic exclusion amount would apply to tax years after 2017.

Estate, Gift, And Generation-Skipping Transfer Taxes: The bill will double the estate and gift tax exemption for estates of decedents dying and gifts made after Dec. 31, 2017. The basic exclusion amount would increase from $5 million to $10 million and would be indexed for inflation. After 2023, both of these taxes would be repealed. Beneficiaries would still enjoy a step-up in basis for their inherited property.

Gift Tax: The gift tax would remain, but with a top rate of 35%. There would still be an overall lifetime basic exclusion amount as mentioned above, twice the current amount. The annual exclusion would remain the same at $15,000, though it would increase with inflation.

ARE THE CHANGES PERMANENT?

Under the current law, only 0.02% of taxpayers pay federal estate taxes, so these changes do not affect a broad section of the population, but rather a few of the wealthiest Americans. (1)

Because of this, there is a chance that a future administration could repeal it or the taxes could be re-adopted at a later date. This is important to keep in mind when making plans based on these changes in the law.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOUR ESTATE PLAN

How will these changes affect you? What does this mean for your estate planning?

First of all, the doubling of the exemption amount means that you can increase your giving. It gives you more freedom to be generous and also the opportunity to remove more from your estate in case the taxes are reenacted later on.

This might also be a good opportunity for you to transfer assets from a non-exempt trust to a generation-skipping trust to take advantage of the increased generation-skipping amount. It may also affect how you handle distributions from qualified domestic trusts, as they wouldn’t be taxable after 2024.

NEXT STEPS TO TAKE

If your head is spinning from the details, remember that the changes to the tax law will likely affect different kinds of trusts and estate plans in different ways. As always, tax law is complicated and you should always work with an experienced financial professional for your estate planning needs.

Since this could only be a temporary reprieve, it is important to take advantage of the benefits quickly. At Archer Investment Management, we act as the quarterback of your financial team and coordinate with estate and tax professionals. If you want to review your current estate plan or would like us to point you to specialists at reputable firms, schedule a phone call online today!

About Richard

Richard Archer is a financial advisor and the President of Archer Investment Management with more than eighteen years of industry experience. Largely working with successful individuals and couples, he specializes in providing comprehensive investment guidance and personalized care and attention to each client. Along with holding a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a MBA, he is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certificant and a Chartered Financial Analyst®. He combines his advanced industry education and knowledge with his genuine care for people to provide clients with an exceptional experience. To learn more about Richard, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.archerim.com

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(1) http://www.wealthmanagement.com/estate-planning/estate-planning-implications-gop-tax-plan?NL=WM-17a&Issue=WM-17a_20171108_WM-17a_749&sfvc4enews=42&cl=article_1&utm_rid=CPG09000004413403&utm_campaign=11440&utm_medium=email&elq2=4ad333b7e81d4ce

The Three Things Women Need In Retirement To Be Happy

Would you rather plan a vacation or strategize your retirement? A Charles Schwab retirement survey found that Americans spend considerably more time and energy researching vacation possibilities and car purchases than planning for retirement. (1) And even if you are one of the few who has their financial ducks in a row, have you given any thought to the psychological transition that occurs when you reach this milestone? We know that money can only buy happiness if used intentionally, so let’s take a look at the three things women need to experience a fulfilling retirement.

1. THRIVING RELATIONSHIPS

Women tend to struggle with the social changes retirement brings more than men do. In fact, one study shows that 62% of women say they miss the daily social interaction they had at work, and retirement happiness for many women depends on the quality of their social life. (2) You may think that when you retire you will have all the time in the world to spend with family and friends, but the loss of your work community and routine make it difficult to maintain friendships.

To set yourself up for a happy retirement, create goals to get together with friends frequently and find ways to make new friends who are in the same season of life as you. You may meet people through volunteering, taking classes, or joining local retirement groups. It’s never too early to start investing in friendships and social ties that will help you ease into retirement.

2. OPPORTUNITIES TO GIVE

When researching the effects of giving in retirement, Merrill Lynch found that women find great happiness from helping others and giving back to their community and are more likely to define success in retirement by generosity than their financial situation. (3) Approximately 68% of women also feel that retirement is the ideal time to give back. When your working years suddenly end, and you are left wondering what your purpose is, committing yourself to volunteer work gives your days meaning. Any kind of volunteering is beneficial to your psychological wellness, whether it’s shelving books at the library, walking dogs for the local animal shelter, or even giving your time to a cause related to your career.

3. A STRATEGIC PLAN TO PURSUE PASSIONS

While retirement may conjure up images of a slow-paced life with plenty of white space on the calendar, staying busy is the key to a happy retirement. (4) A recent retirement satisfaction survey found that 76% of retirees who were involved in more than ten activities, such as volunteering, creative pursuits, caring for others, socializing, and participating in sports, were more fulfilled in retirement than those who were involved in less than four activities.

In other words, having lots of time on your hands isn’t always a good thing. Enjoy the fact that you aren’t spending the majority of your waking hours at work, but purposefully plan your time so that you aren’t left twiddling your thumbs. Before retiring, make a list of things you want to do and places you want to go. Then, map out a strategy to make them happen. It’s easy to lose your identity when you say goodbye to your career, but setting goals and venturing out into new territory will help you build a new identity and prevent feelings of depression and anxiety.

LET US HELP YOU

At Archer Investment Management, we want to see women feel optimistic about their future. We also believe in taking steps today to plan for a thriving retirement. Let us help empower you by making sure you are on the right track and are considering every aspect of your life in preparation for retirement. Click here to schedule a phone call and take the first step towards a happy retirement.

About Richard

Richard Archer is a financial advisor and the President of Archer Investment Management with more than eighteen years of industry experience. Largely working with successful individuals and couples, he specializes in providing comprehensive investment guidance and personalized care and attention to each client. Along with holding a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a MBA, he is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certificant and a Chartered Financial Analyst®. He combines his advanced industry education and knowledge with his genuine care for people to provide clients with an exceptional experience. To learn more about Richard, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.archerim.com

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(1) http://pressroom.aboutschwab.com/press-release/schwab-corporate-retirement-services-news/debt-regret-fuels-financial-stress-finds-new

(2) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2328725/Why-women-struggle-men-life-retirement-80-feel-purpose-life-quitting-work.html

(3) http://agewave.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/2015-ML-AW-Giving-in-Retirement_Americas-Longevity-Bonus.pdf

(4) https://www.tiaa.org/public/about-tiaa/news-press/press-releases/pressrelease641.html

Social Security: What You Don’t Know Could Cost You

Do you remember the game of telephone you played as a kid? The game where someone whispered a message into someone else’s ear and everyone repeated it until the final result was completely different? Well, the commonly-held assumptions about Social Security are kind of like that. The true details of the system are complicated, difficult to muddle through, and the messages that are received are often skewed.

How important is it to truly understand Social Security? Think of it this way: you’ve been contributing to Social Security your whole life, right back to your first official paycheck. Between you and your employers, you’ve doled out 12.4% of your annual income. That’s a substantial amount and one that could make your 401(k) look like chump change down the road. Don’t you want to maximize your benefits so you get every penny that’s rightfully yours? In order to do so, you need to properly understand how your benefits work. Let’s look at some common Social Security assumptions and set the record straight so you don’t leave money on the table.

1. SOCIAL SECURITY WON’T BE AROUND FOREVER

Many of us, especially those who won’t be retiring for decades, are worried that Social Security will run out of money by the time we retire. Here are the facts: Social Security trust funds have been running a surplus since 1982. Right now, the surpluses are predicted to end in 2019 and  the system will rely on incoming contributions to make up the deficit until 2034. At that point, if no changes are made, benefit payments may shrink to 75% of what many Americans are expecting. (1)

Since you can’t control the success or failure of the Social Security program, educate yourself and plan ahead. Create an account on the Social Security website so you understand your current benefits and know where you stand. There is plenty that could happen between now and 2034 that could impact the program, so don’t believe the myth that there will be no money left for you by the time you retire.

2. WHAT YOU GIVE IS WHAT YOU GET

Social Security is not a savings account per se. The taxes that everyone is paying from their paychecks are pooled and then paid out. Your contributions are supporting others and, when you retire, the money others pay into the system will support you.  

In 1960, the amount of contributing workers-to-beneficiaries was 5:1. In 2013, it was 2.8:1. So, while the number of workers paying into Social Security is decreasing, there are still more paying in than receiving benefits. As time passes and the average life expectancy of our population increases, you may need to mentally prepare for your benefits to be less than you think they will be.

3. EVERYONE CONTRIBUTES EQUALLY TO SOCIAL SECURITY

Everyone pays 6.2% out of their paychecks to fund Social Security (with their employer paying another 6.2%), to an earnings cap of $128,400. (2) So, if you earn that amount, and your neighbor earns $5 million, you will both pay the same amount into Social Security. (3) If the earnings cap were eliminated, it’s estimated that 71% of the coming Social Security shortfall would be wiped out.

4. YOU CAN ACCESS YOUR BENEFITS AT AGE 65

Social Security benefits can be claimed anytime between ages 62 and 70. However, the timing of when you choose to collect these benefits will impact the total amount of benefits you receive.  

Full retirement age (FRA) changes based on the year you were born. For those born in 1937 and earlier, FRA is 65. After 1937, two months is added each year until FRA becomes 66 for those born between 1943 and 1954. Starting in 1955, two months a year is added again until the FRA becomes 67 for those born in 1960 or later.

If you wait until you reach full retirement age to begin collecting your Social Security benefits, you will receive your full Primary Insurance Amount, which is the full benefit that you have earned.

5. YOUR BENEFIT AMOUNT DOESN’T CHANGE

For every year beyond your FRA that you delay taking benefits, the value increases by 8% until you reach age 70. There is nowhere else you can get an 8% return guaranteed by the U.S. government! If you retire early, benefits may be about 30% less, which means you could be leaving a significant amount of money on the table.

6. SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS AREN’T TAXABLE

While Social Security benefits are not normally taxed, they could be taxable if you are working or have other sources of income while you are collecting benefits. If you’re receiving Social Security benefits, any income you earn before the year in which you reach FRA reduces your Social Security benefit once it surpasses a set yearly earnings limit. For 2018, the limit is $17,040. Once you begin earning more than the limit, your Social Security benefit will be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn.

The income restrictions change in the year in which you reach FRA. That year there is a higher limit: $45,360 for 2018. Once your income exceeds that limit, your Social Security benefit will be reduced by $1 for every $3 you earn. After the year you reach FRA, though, there are no more limits. You can earn as much as you want and it has no effect on your Social Security retirement benefits.

7. YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR MIND

A shocking 38% of people incorrectly believe they can switch their claiming strategy after they’ve made their official choice. (4) This just isn’t true. According to the Social Security website, you can withdraw your claim once within 12 months after applying, but you must repay all the benefits you received during that time. (5)

8. YOUR CLAIMING STRATEGY AFFECTS YOUR EX-SPOUSE

Many people don’t realize that their ex-spouse’s claiming strategy has no bearing on their own benefits. If you are married for 10 consecutive years and haven’t remarried after your divorce, you are entitled to either your full benefit or half of your former spouse’s benefit, whichever is greater.

9. YOU CAN RECEIVE YOUR BENEFITS WHEN YOU WANT THEM

If you want your first Social Security check next week but haven’t yet applied for benefits, you are out of luck. You must file for benefits 3 to 4 months before you get your hands on your money.

AVOID A SOCIAL SECURITY HEADACHE

Social Security is a major piece of your retirement game plan. It was designed to replace 40% of an average worker’s wages, (6) and that’s money you don’t want to miss out on. There is no one-size-fits-all claiming strategy, so it’s critical to work with an experienced professional.

At Archer Investment Management, our goal is to provide comprehensive financial strategies for a secure future, including a customized Social Security plan. We work hard to educate you on your opportunities, answer your questions, and offer objective guidance. If you want to maximize your Social Security benefits and plan for a comfortable and secure retirement, schedule a 15-minute phone callto learn how we can help you.

About Richard

Richard Archer is a financial advisor and the President of Archer Investment Management with more than eighteen years of industry experience. Largely working with successful individuals and couples, he specializes in providing comprehensive investment guidance and personalized care and attention to each client. Along with holding a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a MBA, he is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certificant and a Chartered Financial Analyst®. He combines his advanced industry education and knowledge with his genuine care for people to provide clients with an exceptional experience. To learn more about Richard, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.archerim.com

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(1) https://www.fool.com/retirement/2017/04/25/9-social-security-myths-debunked.aspx

(2) https://www.ssa.gov/planners/maxtax.html

(3) https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/cbb.html

(4) http://time.com/money/4762608/social-security-strategy-retirement/

(5) https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/withdrawal.html

(6) https://www.fool.com/investing/general/2016/02/28/how-much-of-my-income-will-social-security-replace.aspx

Women and Disability: How To Protect Your Income

We already know that women face more financial hurdles than men, especially when it comes to retirement. They earn less, (1) save less, (2) live longer, (3)  and spend more time out of the workforce to care for children or other family members. (4) Unfortunately, the obstacles don’t end there. Women are more likely to face disability than their male counterparts, but only 20% of American women are aware of this looming threat. (5)

Now that we’ve got the doom and gloom out of the way, let’s look at the silver lining. If we know the facts, we can do something about them. If we prepare ahead of time, we can protect our finances from being destroyed by the hard-hitting impact of a disability.

THE REALITY OF DISABILITY

The majority of disabilities aren’t caused by risky undertakings like skydiving or accidents that occur at work. Currently, the leading cause is arthritis (which women are twice as likely to get than men), followed by back and spine problems. Together these conditions are responsible for more than one-third of all disabilities. (6)

Less than half of Americans own disability income insurance, and 61% of women have never done any research on disability coverage. (7) As a result, this lack of protection has become a significant gap in women’s financial plans. Is there a solution to this financial dilemma?

KNOW YOUR SOURCES

Income sources, that is. Now that you’re convinced you need to take disability seriously, let’s look at the steps you can take to prepare.

Disability Insurance

Employer-sponsored plans are the most common sources of disability insurance, but only about 45% of working women are covered under this benefit. (8) If your employer offers both short and long-term disability coverage, take it, but be sure you understand the ins and outs of the plan. Group coverage generally includes only a percentage of base salary (usually 50 – 60%) and excludes income from bonuses or the value of employer-paid benefits, such as health insurance, retirement plan matching or life insurance.

The majority of group plans also have other important limitations to be aware of, such as no provisions for inflation, broad definitions of disability, and integration with Social Security. Finally, it is essential to know if your company’s benefit will be subject to income taxes. If the employer pays all or part of the premium, chances are the benefit is taxable. These limits can potentially erode the value of benefits.

If you don’t have access to disability insurance through your employer, or you are self-employed (as 7.5% of working women are (9)),  you may need to look into purchasing outside disability insurance for a premium. Whatever form of insurance you have may not cover your wages completely, but it’s better than being left with nothing but your savings account.

Emergency Fund

Women are twice as likely as men to think their cash reserves would last less than one month if they experienced a disability. (10) Creating an emergency fund equal to six months of wages would establish a solid buffer that can be used, along with disability insurance, to prevent financial ruin.  

Social Security

The Social Security Administration offers two programs to assist those with disabilities. If you have a condition that falls under their definition of a disability, have worked long enough, paid into Social Security, and have not been able to work for a year or more, you might qualify for government income. Since they only offer income assistance to people with long-term, or total disabilities, you’ll need at least a year’s worth of income from other sources before you can tap into this benefit.

PROTECT YOURSELF

Money makes the world go ‘round, whether you can work or not. Plan ahead, assess your risk, and have a strategy in place for a potential disability. Remember, what you don’t know can hurt you. Start the conversation with a financial professional to today to start planning for tomorrow. If you’d like to discuss how disability income may play a role in your financial plan, click here to schedule a phone call.

About Richard

Richard Archer is a financial advisor and the President of Archer Investment Management with more than eighteen years of industry experience. Largely working with successful individuals and couples, he specializes in providing comprehensive investment guidance and personalized care and attention to each client. Along with holding a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a MBA, he is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certificant and a Chartered Financial Analyst®. He combines his advanced industry education and knowledge with his genuine care for people to provide clients with an exceptional experience. To learn more about Richard, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.archerim.com

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(1) https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat37.htm

(2) https://www.transamericacenter.org/docs/default-source/resources/women-and-retirement/tcrs2015_sr_womens_retirement_outlook.pdf

(3) Social Security Actuarial Life Table, 2016.

(4) https://www.transamericacenter.org/docs/default-source/resources/women-and-retirement/tcrs2015_sr_womens_retirement_outlook.pdf

(5) https://womenscenter.theamericancollege.edu/sites/womenscenter/files/Disability_Fact_Sheet.pdf

(6) https://womenscenter.theamericancollege.edu/sites/womenscenter/files/Disability_Fact_Sheet.pdf

(7) https://womenscenter.theamericancollege.edu/sites/womenscenter/files/Disability_Fact_Sheet.pdf

(8) https://www.news-medical.net/news/20120605/Women-more-likely-to-develop-a-disability-than-men.aspx

(9) https://www.bls.gov/spotlight/2016/self-employment-in-the-united-states/pdf/self-employment-in-the-united-states.pdf

(10) https://www.news-medical.net/news/20120605/Women-more-likely-to-develop-a-disability-than-men.aspx

Ten Questions Women Should Ask Their Financial Advisor

Different groups of people have different financial needs. Business owners need assets that are more liquid and products to lower their liability. High earners need tax-minimization strategies. In the same way, women need specific products and services that fit their circumstances and goals.

While women are more likely to be the financial decision-makers in their families, they tend to have lower financial confidence across the board, particularly in the areas of investing and financial education. A Women and Wealth Initiative study found that 56% of women increase their confidence by working with a financial advisor. (1) With so much at stake, choosing a financial advisor is not a decision to take lightly. The financial advisor you choose to handle your family’s wealth will have a significant impact on your investment strategy, the fees you pay, and your confidence in your financial future.

When embarking on your advisor search, ask potential candidates these 10 questions:

1. HOW MUCH EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE?

Experience is essential when you’re working with a professional of any kind, especially someone handling your finances. Don’t be shy about asking an advisor about their industry experience. It will give you peace of mind to know what market conditions they’ve experienced and how many years they’ve been working in the industry.

Currently, 73% of women say they are unhappy with the financial services industry because advisors do not attempt to understand them and their needs. (2) No matter how much experience an advisor has, if they don’t have a track record of working with women, they might not be best suited to help you. Search for an advisor who wants to do more than just manage your investments, but who will listen to you, take the time to understand your goals and priorities, and educate you on essential financial concepts without using jargon or sales techniques.

2. DO YOU HOLD ANY CREDENTIALS?

Credentials and education play a critical role in your advisor’s competence. There are hundreds of designations in the financial services field and some are more applicable to your needs than others. (3) Some of the most important and useful designations include Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and Masters in Business Administration (MBA).

3. WHAT FINANCIAL PLANNING SERVICES DO YOU OFFER?

Not all financial advisors can provide comprehensive financial planning. Be sure to ask a financial advisor what services they provide and whether or not they have a specialty. For example, if you have children and know that you will need help with college and financial aid planning, find an advisor who specializes in that. Or, if you are curious about socially responsible investing, don’t choose an advisor who has little experience or knowledge in that arena.

4. WHAT IS YOUR PLANNING PHILOSOPHY?

It’s important to work with an advisor who shares a similar planning and investing philosophy as you. Multiple studies show that women take less risk with their money. (4) They seek stability over chasing returns and tend to stay the course when the markets go wild. Their goal isn’t to accumulate wealth as much as it is to achieve financial peace of mind. (5) Talk with an advisor about how he or she guides clients’ investing and financial decisions so you can have confidence that your needs and investment personality align with their philosophy.

5. DO YOU HAVE MANY CLIENTS LIKE ME?

Some financial advisors specialize in serving a specific demographic or level of investable assets, so you’ll want to find this out before choosing an advisor. Women approach money differently than men, and women in different circumstances have different financial needs. Whether married, divorced, widowed, old, young, a mother, a professional, or a housewife, you should work with someone who understands you and strives to serve you the way you deserve.

You face more risks to your financial future and need someone who can create a plan that addresses those threats.

6. WHO WILL BE WORKING WITH ME?

At some firms, you may work with different financial advisors depending on your appointment time or you may initially meet with a firm partner and end up working with a junior advisor.  Other firms may pair you up with one financial advisor with whom you’ll work consistently one-on-one. This is important to know ahead of time so you can make sure you’re going to get the personal service you’re expecting.

7. HOW MUCH DO YOU CHARGE?

Financial planning and investment costs can be confusing. Too often, financial advisors don’t readily disclose their fees. Fee-only financial planners are compensated directly by their clients for the services they provide and may be paid hourly, as a retainer, a flat fee, or a percentage of assets (AUM). For more information on the differences in compensation, click here.

Many women feel underserved by the financial planning industry. As such, they are more likely to want to know how much they are paying and whether the services are worth the price. (6)

8. DO YOU RECEIVE A COMMISSION?

Some financial advisors (many are with big Walls Street firms) earn their income from sales commissions. The problem is that advisors working on commission may be inclined to sell you expensive products that you may not need or understand.

9. ARE YOU A FIDUCIARY?

An advisor who serves as a fiduciary accepts responsibility to put his clients’ interests first and foremost in all decisions. A fiduciary is supposed to avoid conflicts of interest and remain unbiased in her recommendations and advice. There are many financial advisers now who accept fiduciary responsibility, so there is no need these days to settle for less.

Only 30% of women are financially literate, according to a 2015 Standard & Poor study on global financial literacy.  (7) This lack of financial understanding leads to only 10% of women expressing a high level of confidence that they will be able to retire comfortably (8) and 40% of women are uncomfortable even talking about money. (9) These factors put women in a vulnerable position. They desperately want to learn more about money and investing, but are worried they will be taken advantage of. Working with a fiduciary can ease some of these concerns.

10. HAVE YOU EVER VIOLATED ANY STANDARDS OR LAWS?

It’s a good idea to research an advisor’s credentials and run a background check with regulatory agencies. Some advisors may have been subjected to disciplinary action if they violated any laws or if a client took action against them. You can look up an advisor’s professional history by visiting FINRA’s BrokerCheck. This database will also show you the years of experience an advisor has and the licenses and credentials he or she has.

Take your time and trust your intuition when selecting your advisor. The relationship should feel right and you should never feel pressured to make a decision quickly. An advisor should be happy to answer these questions and any others you may have about how they operate.

About Richard

Richard Archer is a financial advisor and the President of Archer Investment Management with more than eighteen years of industry experience. Largely working with successful individuals and couples, he specializes in providing comprehensive investment guidance and personalized care and attention to each client. Along with holding a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a MBA, he is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certificant and a Chartered Financial Analyst®. He combines his advanced industry education and knowledge with his genuine care for people to provide clients with an exceptional experience. To learn more about Richard, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.archerim.com

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(1) https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20151015005452/en/Women-Men-Solely-Responsible-Financial-Decisions-New

(2) http://www.etfcm.com/womenmoney/include/wadvisors-failing-woman.pdf

(3) http://www.designationcheck.com/credentials-explained

(4) https://investors-corner.bnpparibas-am.com/investment-themes/retirement/why-women-typically-take-less-investment-risk/

(5) http://blog.amcpros.com/wp-content/LPL_Financial_Whitepaper.pdf

(6) http://www.etfcm.com/womenmoney/include/wadvisors-failing-woman.pdf

(7) https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/financial-wellness-literacy-gender-gap_us_578dcf76e4b0c53d5cfabc3f

(8) http://www.transamericacenter.org/retirement-research/women-and-retirement

(9) http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/yourmoney/sc-cons-0312-marksjarvis-20150310-column.html

Why Women Face More Retirement Hurdles Than Men (and What To Do About It)

While many Americans are facing their retirement years completely unprepared, women face even more risk of outliving their savings than their male counterparts and are twice as likely to live under the poverty line in retirement. (1) As a result of this reality, only 10% of women are very confident they will be able to retire comfortably. (2) Why is there such a disparity? What are some unique retirement hurdles women face and how can they conquer them?

1. GREATER LONGEVITY

At birth, women are expected to live until 81, and men 76. (3) When saving for retirement, those five extra years could make or break your standard of living. But even with the average life expectancy being 81, one in three females could live until 90, while only one in five males will reach that milestone. (4) In the past 10 years alone, the U.S. centenarian population has grown 44%. What these numbers tell us is that women need even more resources to carry them through retirement. Women must also plan ahead for the likelihood of outliving their spouse.

How can we plan ahead to mitigate longevity risk when we don’t know how long we will live? The first step is to estimate your life expectancy, either by utilizing online calculators or by consulting with a financial professional. You may not be able to predict your exact lifespan, but you can determine an approximate range and plan accordingly. Once you calculate a few financial projections with an appropriate planning horizon, stress-test each projection for a longer lifespan. How do these estimations hold up if you live an additional two, five, or ten years? Evaluate the strength of your current strategies and decide whether or not you need to save more aggressively.

2. HIGHER HEALTH CARE & LONG-TERM CARE COSTS

Health care represents one of the largest expenses in retirement, but even more so for females. According to a study conducted by HealthView Services, women can expect to pay over $300,000 in health care costs, compared to the $260,000 average men pay. (5) These numbers are for healthy 65-year-olds, so if there are any known health concerns, that number will increase.

On top of standard healthcare expenses, an average 63% of people turning age 65 will require some form of long-term care during their lifetimes. (6) Furthermore, because of their longer life estimations, women pay significantly more for long-term care —$82,000, compared to just $29,000 for men. (7) These additional costs can eat away at your hard-earned savings very quickly.

There are two aspects to mitigating the risk of healthcare and long-term care costs. The first is to take care of your health now. Make sure you’re eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep every night. Getting regular health checkups and physicals help you detect problems early and improve your chances of living a healthier life.

Financially, you can review your options for long-term care insurance. Although policies can be expensive, they pale in comparison to long-term care costs. In 2007, the average long-term care insurance policy cost around $2,207 per year, (8) whereas long-term care can cost between $3,628 and $7,698 per month. (9) Instead of, or along with, long-term care insurance, consider starting a savings plan specifically for future healthcare needs. One option is to create a separate, high-yield savings account and contribute a specific amount every month.

By combining proactive physical care and dedicated financial preparation, you may be able to lessen the impact of healthcare expenses in your retirement years.

3. INCOME & WORKFORCE LIMITATIONS

Even in 2018, there is an income disparity between men and women. For every dollar earned by men, women earn $0.81 (10) and average annual Social Security payments are about $4,000 less for women. (11) Since women 80 and older receive an income that is 44% lower than that of men, it’s not surprising that three-quarters of the people in poverty are female. (12)

Women also spend more time out of the workforce to care for children or other family members. Not only does this impact earning power and Social Security payments, but also participation in employer-sponsored retirement plans. Females tend to contribute 7% of their income while men contribute 10%. (13) Over time, that 3% makes a considerable difference in savings.

Lower lifetime earnings often result in women claiming for Social Security benefits early, reducing the amount they receive by as much as 30%. (14) Before making Social Security claiming decisions, work with a professional who can walk you through different scenarios and help you choose the best strategy for your situation.

Finally, save early and often. Even though your income opportunities may not be as high as those of men, small amounts can add up over time. If your employer offers a retirement plan, be sure to participate and maximize your contribution rate to take advantage of any employer matching. Women tend to invest more conservatively than their male counterparts, so work with a professional to allocate your assets appropriately and determine your risk tolerance.

4. HIGHER DEBT LOADS

Women may make up 56% of higher-education students, but they hold 65% of the debt. Additionally, research shows that women pay more for the debt that they carry than men, even though they’re less likely to default. (15) As women try to pay off their debt, it limits their available assets they could be investing and putting away for retirement.

To mitigate the burden of debt, look for loan forgiveness programs that might be applicable to you and do your best to consolidate your loans. If possible, pay off the ones with the highest interest rate first and then throw all your extra cash towards the rest. Once your debt is paid off, all that money you were allocating to your payments will be available to put towards retirement savings.

5. LACK OF PLANNING

The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies tells us that only 50% of women have some sort of retirement strategy, but 78% of American workers say they would feel more confident if they had a guaranteed income investment option. (16) As women generally take less risk than men, they may struggle more to feel confident in their planning options and, as a result, avoid planning altogether.

The key is to find a financial advisor that you trust and work well with. It’s never too late to create a plan, as long as you start today.

THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT

Women may have more work cut out for them to obtain their ideal retirement, but it is not out of reach. The earlier you plan and the more aware you are of the common problems or threats women face, the greater the chance you can achieve your goals.

At Archer Investment Management, we specialize in serving the financial and planning needs of women. We understand the unique challenges they face that can make financial planning more critical than ever for them. If you are nearing retirement and are worried about your financial situation, or if you want a second look at your current plan, click here to schedule a phone call.

About Richard

Richard Archer is a financial advisor and the President of Archer Investment Management with more than eighteen years of industry experience. Largely working with successful individuals and couples, he specializes in providing comprehensive investment guidance and personalized care and attention to each client. Along with holding a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a MBA, he is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certificant and a Chartered Financial Analyst®. He combines his advanced industry education and knowledge with his genuine care for people to provide clients with an exceptional experience. To learn more about Richard, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.archerim.com

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(1) http://etf.wi.gov/news/WRS_news_012015/WRS_012015_art4.htm

(2) http://www.transamericacenter.org/retirement-research/women-and-retirement

(3) Social Security Actuarial Life Table, 2016.

(4) Key Findings and Issues. Longevity. Society of Actuaries, June 2012

(5) https://www.hvsfinancial.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Women_Retirement_Health_Care.pdf

(6) https://longtermcare.acl.gov/the-basics/

(7) Society of Actuaries, “The Impact of Retirement Risk on Women,” 2010

(8) https://longtermcare.acl.gov/costs-how-to-pay/what-is-long-term-care-insurance/long-term-care-insurance-costs.html

(9) https://longtermcare.acl.gov/costs-how-to-pay/costs-of-care.html

(10) https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat37.htm

(11)https://www.help.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Senator%20Murray%20Report%20on%20Women%20and%20the%20Retirement%20Gap1.pdf

(12) Elayne Clift.  “USA Women Moving Millions”, News Blaze, September 16, 2008.

(13) https://www.transamericacenter.org/docs/default-source/resources/women-and-retirement/tcrs2015_sr_womens_retirement_outlook.pdf

(14) https://www.cnbc.com/2015/08/11/the-biggest-social-security-mistake-women-make.html

(15) http://time.com/money/5141680/investing-finance-gender-gap-pay-inequality/ 

(16) https://www.transamericacenter.org/retirement-research/16th-annual-retirement-survey

Do You Understand Your Emotions About Money?

If you’ve ever experienced buyer’s remorse after making a big purchase or felt embarrassed about the state of your financial affairs, you know that there’s way more to money than the number in your bank account.

Have you ever let fear of failure keep you from investing, or even creating a budget? If you have, you know firsthand how much of a role emotions play in our financial lives. Psychologists refer to these emotions and beliefs we hold about money as “money scripts.” (1)

WHAT DRIVES OUR MONEY HABITS?

No matter how hard we try to make only rational and well-thought-out financial decisions, we just can’t seem to do it. This is most likely due to the emotional and psychological baggage we carry around relating to our money, otherwise known as our money scripts. Before you beat yourself up about this, understand that these scripts start forming at a very young age.

Even if we aren’t aware of it, we spend our childhood watching our parents handle money, both positively and negatively. Over time our brains are unconsciously trained to respond in similar ways. If your parents were confident and wise investors, you will likely face investing with confidence. If your parents scrimped and saved and constantly fought over expenses, you may have strong feelings of guilt when making large purchases.

The seeds of money scripts are planted in childhood and grow to influence your financial behavior as an adult. For this reason, it is incredibly important to talk to your kids about money and model healthy financial behaviors. It is also vital for you to take the time to explore and understand your money scripts and how they influence your financial behavior.

THE BAD NEWS

While some money scripts are beneficial to financial health, others, like money avoidance, money status, and money worship, can be detrimental. Unhealthy emotions and belief patterns can lead to all kinds of financial problems, such as financial infidelity, compulsive buying, pathological gambling, and financial dependence. Certain money scripts have been tied to lower levels of net worth, lower income, and higher amounts of revolving credit.

Those may sound extreme, but have you ever let panic during down markets or overconfidence when they rally veer you from your long-term investing plan? Have you ever been unable to make a decision because you were paralyzed with worry and anxiety about the future? Have you ever put off something you know is important out of embarrassment or discomfort? Have you ever wreaked havoc on your budget for the momentary high of acquiring something you really wanted? All of these responses point back to your money script.

THE GOOD NEWS

We often think that if we had more money, we wouldn’t have any problems. But we have money problems because of how we approach money, not because we don’t have enough. This is good news! We might not be able to drastically increase our income, but we can learn to control our attitudes and perceptions. Our money scripts may be ingrained from childhood, but they are not permanent. With a focused and concerted effort, they can be changed.

Do you know what the biggest indicator of success is? Emotional intelligence, or self-awareness and self-management. (2) Before you can take charge of your money scripts, you first have to identify them. One way to do this is to be aware of your emotional responses to common financial situations. How do the following things make you feel?

  • Earning money
  • Buying things
  • Saving for the future
  • Budgeting and tracking expenses
  • Making financial decisions
  • Volatile markets
  • Healthy markets
  • Meeting with a financial professional
  • Thinking about your financial future

Anything that elicits strong emotions warrants further reflection. Obviously negative emotions are not the only ones that can harm your financial life. Some positive emotions, like optimism and self-confidence, can bring about negative results if left unchecked.

HOW TO MANAGE EMOTIONAL MONEY DECISIONS

Learning to control your emotions is the key to changing your money scripts and developing healthier money habits. You can also build habits into your life that protect you financially, such as taking advantage of automatic saving and investing through your bank or employer’s retirement plan. You can schedule regular family budget meetings and enlist a friend or loved one for accountability. You can learn how you respond to emotional triggers and mandate a “cooling off” period for yourself before making any decisions.

Finally, you need to be willing to forgive yourself when you make mistakes. Leave the past in the past and move forward with the new knowledge you have gained. With discipline, self-reflection, and the help of those around you, you can reverse the money scripts that have plagued you and change the financial path for your future!

YOUR FINANCIAL PARTNER

An important resource to utilize on your journey of taking control of your finances is your financial professional, someone who can look at your situation from the outside in and help you navigate your finances without the emotional attachment you bring to the table. At Archer Investment Management, we provide comprehensive financial strategies through a highly tailored and hands-on approach. Our goal is to gain insight into your financial situation and empower you to make informed decisions. If you want the help of a professional to guide you through your financial life and overcome your money scripts, book an appointment now! 

About Richard

Richard Archer is a financial advisor and the President of Archer Investment Management with more than eighteen years of industry experience. Largely working with successful individuals and couples, he specializes in providing comprehensive investment guidance and personalized care and attention to each client. Along with holding a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a MBA, he is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certificant and a Chartered Financial Analyst®. He combines his advanced industry education and knowledge with his genuine care for people to provide clients with an exceptional experience. To learn more about Richard, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.archerim.com

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(1) https://www.onefpa.org/journal/Pages/How%20Clients%E2%80%99%20Money%20Scripts%20Predict%20Their%20Financial%20Behaviors.aspx

(2) https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2017/03/29/the-strongest-indicator-of-success-and-3-ways-to-develop-it/#5b321bf838ef

Spring Cleaning: Getting Your Finances in Order

Ah…spring is in the air. The days are getting longer, the birds are chirping, the lawn mowers are busy, and many of us are getting out the cleaning supplies to make our houses sparkle. But it might be the case that more than just your home needs to be decluttered, cleaned, and organized. Do your finances need some spring cleaning? Getting your financial life in order may seem daunting, but think of it as a way to contribute to your own financial success. Consider the following tips to get started on the path of financial organization.

1. PASSWORD MANAGEMENT

Do you have a system for keeping track of your countless usernames and passwords? You’ll save yourself some headaches if you can find a method to keep all your information in one place. Plus, you’ll have the bonus peace of mind that your information will be safeguarded. There are plenty of online password managers to choose from, but however you decide to organize your login details, be sure to regularly update your passwords to protect yourself from hackers.

2. PROTECT YOUR IDENTITY

You don’t want to mess with identity theft. Not only can it cost you financially, but it causes undue stress, affects your credit, and could take years to resolve. Other than changing your passwords frequently, being cautious about releasing your personal information, and screening your emails, consider investing in an identity protection plan or credit monitoring service. If you experience the unthinkable, the professionals can take care of all the legwork and be your advocate.

3. GO GREEN!

Are you sick of all the paper that keeps piling up on your counters? Save a tree and get rid of clutter by enrolling in paperless document delivery for all your bills and financial services. Since you’re planning to create a password management strategy, the only thing you’ll need to do to access account details is find your login information and be on your way.

4. SCAN YOUR HEART OUT

Another way to prevent the mountains of paper is to scan all your paperwork to a digital folder. This allows you to clear the files out of your home but still do your due diligence and have copies of pertinent information. If you aren’t using a cloud storage program, be sure to have a backup plan for your computer.

5. REVIEW AND REVIEW AGAIN

Do you like the idea of simplifying? Your finances might benefit from this approach. Do you have multiple bank accounts that you could consolidate? What about extra cash lying around that could be invested? Do you have rarely used credit cards? All of these things can be streamlined. Also, take a second look at your spending habits and create a budget that will help you stay on top of your finances.

6. DIG INTO YOUR ESTATE PLAN

If you’ve done all the work to create an estate plan, it would be beneficial for you to review it every 3-5 years. This will keep it up-to-date with any changes, such as divorce, beneficiary adjustments, change in trustee, or a modified financial situation.

7. SEEK PROFESSIONAL ADVICE

A financial advisor is there to be on your side, helping you find ways to maximize your finances and meet your goals. If you don’t already have a financial plan, meet with your advisor to create one that is customized to your situation. This will allow you to map out when you want to retire, how you will pay for college, what socially-responsible investments are right for you, and how to fully fund your retirement and health savings accounts. If you are ready to streamline your finances and create comprehensive financial strategies for a secure future, schedule a phone call with us today!

About Richard

Richard Archer is a financial advisor and the President of Archer Investment Management with more than eighteen years of industry experience. Largely working with successful individuals and couples, he specializes in providing comprehensive investment guidance and personalized care and attention to each client. Along with holding a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a MBA, he is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certificant and a Chartered Financial Analyst®. He combines his advanced industry education and knowledge with his genuine care for people to provide clients with an exceptional experience. To learn more about Richard, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.archerim.com