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Monday, August 15, 2016

How Millennials Can Get Off to a Good Financial Start

It is now more important than ever to start saving and accumulating your wealth from a young age. With Millennials just starting out in the workplace, there is ample time to start planning a steady and successful financial future. These principles will allow you to get off to a running start in your fiscal life:

Reduce your student loan debt: College is more expensive than ever, and you may be saddled with student debt. Don’t freak out. Instead, think long-term and try to wipe out your debt while saving at the same time. In a few years, you might find yourself surprised at how much freer you feel.

Start saving for retirement: Every penny counts. It may sound corny, but starting a few years earlier than your peers and keeping up-to-date on your funds will put you far ahead of the game. A big decision is whether or not you’ll want to go with a traditional or Roth IRA. Most companies offer the traditional, but the Roth is an alternative that has been growing in recent years since it allows you to withdraw earnings tax-free.*

Watch your credit score: This is something you can begin work on from a young age. Credit plays a large factor in qualifying for a loan and the interest rate that comes along with said loan. Taking steps earlier to maintain a good credit score, such as paying credit card bills on time, will only serve to benefit you in the long run.

Invest regularly: Interest rates may generally seem low and not worth putting money towards, but the money can still add up over time (especially when compounded annually). After all, saving is almost always a safer strategy than saving.

*To qualify for the tax free penalty free withdrawal of earnings, a Roth IRA must be in place for at least five tax years, and the distribution must take place after age 59 ½ or due to death, disability, or a first time home purchase (up to $10,000 lifetime maximum).  Before taking any specific action, be sure to consult with your tax professional.

 

 

 


Posted by: David Shober at 11:27 AM
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Monday, August 15, 2016

Comprehensive Financial Planning

Financial planning is not about money.

That phrase sounds counterintuitive, right?

The fact is that financial planning is not just about money. It is about the fusion of lifestyle choices and fiscal responsibility, wedded together to create the best possible impact for your specific life. Financial planning is holistic and takes care of your potential needs. It has to be tailored directly to you, because your life is unlike any other.

Real, comprehensive financial planners do not sell a product- they sell a process. Getting a plan made for your future is great, but it will not be nearly as effective as if it was refined specifically for you year upon year. Planning ahead is long-term and requires a financial planner who knows you as well as you know yourself.

Wealth Strategies Group is a source of sound, comprehensive financial planning. Our Lifestyle Protection Process™ is effective because it focuses on your life goals, not on the sale of financial products. We grow along with you and adjust to any unforeseen circumstances or a change in your objectives.

Lifestyles change. Why shouldn’t your financial plan?


Posted by: Patrick Carroll at 11:23 AM
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Friday, May 06, 2016

Money Concerns for Those Remarrying

Some of us will marry again in retirement. How many of us will thoroughly understand the financial implications that may come with tying the knot later in life? Many baby boomers and seniors will consider financial factors as they enter into marriage, but that consideration may be all too brief.  There are significant money issues to keep in mind when marrying after 50, and they may be important enough to warrant a chat with a financial professional.

You might consider a prenuptial agreement. A prenup may not be the most romantic gesture, but it could be a very wise move from both a financial and estate planning standpoint. The greater your net worth is, the more financial sense it may make. If you remarry in a community property state (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin), all the money that you and your spouse will earn during your marriage will be considered community property. The same goes for any real property that you happen to purchase with those earnings. Additionally, these states often regard extensively comingled separate property as community property, unless property documentation or evidence exists to clarify separate origin or status.   A prenuptial agreement makes part or all of this community property the separate property of one spouse or the other. In case of a divorce, a prenup could help you protect your income, your IRA or workplace retirement plan savings, even the appreciation of your business during the length of your marriage (provided you started your business before the marriage began). The goal is to make financial matters transparent and easy to handle should the marriage sour.

You should know about each other’s debts. How much debt does your future spouse carry? How much do you owe? Learning about this may seem like prying, but in some states, married couples may be held jointly liable for debts. If you have a poor credit history (or have overcome one), your future spouse should know. Better to speak up now than to find out when you apply for a home loan or business loan later. In most instances, laws in the nine community property states define debts incurred during a marriage as debts shared by the married couple.

You should review your estate planning. Affluent individuals who remarry have often done some degree of estate planning, or at least have made some beneficiary decisions. Remarriage is as much of a life event as a first marriage, and it calls for a review of those decisions and choices. In the event of one spouse’s passing, what assets should the other spouse receive? What assets should be left to children from a previous marriage? Grandchildren? Siblings? Former spouses? Charities and causes? Some or all of these questions may need new answers. Also, your adult children may assume that your new marriage will hurt their inheritance.

Are you a homeowner planning to remarry? Your home is probably titled in the name of your family. If you add your new spouse to the title, you may be opening the door to a major estate planning issue. Joint ownership could mean that the surviving spouse will inherit the property, with the ability to pass it on to his or her children, not yours. One legal option is to keep the title to your home in your name while giving your new spouse occupancy rights that terminate if he or she dies, moves into an eldercare facility or divorces you. Should any of those three circumstances occur, your children remain in line to inherit the property at your death.


Posted by: Patrick Carroll at 3:42 PM
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Friday, May 06, 2016

Beware the Ransomware Threat

It may sound like something out of a movie, but cybercriminals are actually holding business as well as household files for ransom.  Hackers are using ransomware to hijack computers and hold files hotage in exchange for payment.  Malware programs such as CryptoWall, CryptoLocker and CoinVault spring into action when you unsuspectingly click on a link in an email, encrypting all the data on your hard drive in seconds.  A “ransom note” appears on your screen informing you that you will need to pay $500, or more, to access your files again.  If you fail to pay, your files will be destroyed.

Worldwide, more than a million computer users have been threatened by ransomware, including a county sheriff’s department in Tennessee. 

If your files are held hostage, should you pay the ransom?  The Department of Homeland Security and most computer security analysts say no, because it may be pointless.  By the time you get the note, your files may be destroyed or encrypted so deeply that you will never be able to read them again.

How do you guard against a ransomware attack?  Back up your data frequently – and make sure the storage volumes are not connected to your computer. Second, make sure your anti-virus software is renewed and kept up to date.  And, most importantly, never click on a mysterious link or attachment.  Ransomware is a kind of cyberterrorism – don’t become the next victim.  


Posted by: Patrick Carroll at 3:14 PM
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