Counting Your Retirement “Assets”

A successful retirement experience takes more than money.  As you plan for your life in retirement, your current skills, interests, values, and preferences should be given thoughtful consideration.  These characteristics will be the personal assets that you take with you into retirement to make it a successful and satisfying chapter of your life.

Skills

Think of your skills as a portfolio of abilities that you can build on throughout your lifetime.  Here are several examples:  ability to communicate effectively, ability to solve problems in creative ways, ability to visualize interior or landscape designs, ability to understand and work well with animals, ability to be an empathetic listener, ability to repair almost anything mechanical, ability to be an inspirational leader, and so on. (more…)

Invest in Yourself for a “No Rules Retirement”

The concept of retirement is undergoing a metamorphosis. Demographic, societal, and workplace trends have all converged to offer a stage of life at midlife and beyond that is much more fluid and flexible than what most of us ever imagined.  When planning for retirement, individuals are discovering that the “old rules” have been thrown out and “no rules” apply.  In fact, “retirement” has become a matter of personal definition.

For this reason, the No Rules Retirement model advocates proactive planning throughout adulthood and in all areas of life.  Retirement should not be viewed as a single event, but rather as one of the many transitions in a continuum of life experiences. (more…)

Raising Your Money Quotient

“Money Maturity does include skills, such as understanding investment options and using a budget effectively, but it goes much deeper—to the feelings, the heart, and yes, the soul.  Money Maturity helps resolve the troubling emotional conflicts around money that never seem to go away.”

George Kinder
The Seven Stages of Money Maturity (more…)

What’s Your M.Q.?

Do you know someone who is really smart, but makes really dumb decisions when it comes to money?  These individuals are likely to be successful in other endeavors, but their financial lives are out of kilter.  Here are a few examples:

  • Joan has a great job and earns a six-figure salary. Even though she gets a generous raise each year, she can’t seem to be able to save and invest for her future.
  • Three years ago, John received a large inheritance from his grandmother. If well managed, her generous gift could provide John financial security for the rest of his life.  However, he feels anything but secure.  The responsibility of financial stewardship has challenged his self-confidence and triggered anxiety attacks and depression.
  • Tina recently graduated from law school and landed a position in a top firm in San Francisco. Although she was offered a very competitive starting salary, she finds that it is inadequate to meet her living expenses, car payments, and student loan payments.  After all the sacrifices she has made to reach this career goal, she is angry and frightened about her financial outlook.
  • Tim wants to micro-manage the family budget and it is driving Karen crazy. They have been married five years, and Tim’s attention to their money matters is becoming increasingly obsessive.  To assert her independence in this relationship, Karen frequently goes on shopping sprees.
  • Ken checks the market several times a day. On down days, he is filled with anxiety about his shrinking retirement nest egg.  Recently, after several days of steady declines, the Dow precipitously dropped another 300 points.  Ken immediately called his broker and demanded that she sell every one of his investments and put the proceeds into a money market.

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The Risk Tolerance Continuum

When you are making a financial decision, do you intentionally weigh the potential risks and rewards?  Is weighing that balance more of a rational or emotional process for you? In other words, do you tend to rely more on facts or on feelings?

For example, when Karla got a promotion at the architectural firm where she is employed, she gave serious consideration to buying a new car.  She thought about the practical and emotional rewards of having a new car such as:  1) having a dependable means of transportation, 2) getting better gas mileage, 3) portraying a successful image to her clients, and 4) experiencing the pride and pleasure that comes with owning a new car (there’s nothing like that new car smell!). (more…)

Does Your Estate Plan Need a Makeover?

By: Vidhya Babu

Does Your Estate Plan Need a Makeover?You have an estate plan. In fact you just created one last year. So why would your estate plan need a makeover? Estate plans should never be rigid or concrete. Instead they should be malleable and easily adapted to meet your current situation. After all, an estate plan you created a year ago (or longer) may not reflect your current situation. In the event that something should happen to you, an out-of-date estate plan can cause contention and strife among beneficiaries.

When deciding whether your estate plan needs a makeover, ask yourself the following questions: (more…)

Financial Relationships

Our financial relationships involve connections with others that affect our financial well-being and life satisfaction.  Without a doubt, the complex circumstances and evolving dynamics of each relationship can have a profound influence (consciously and subconsciously) on the big and little decisions we make on a daily basis.

Nowhere is the influence of emotions on financial behavior more clearly illustrated than in family relationships.  In particular the needs and wants of our children and our parents can weigh heavy on our hearts and minds and undermine our objectivity.  The following questions will help you to reflect on and assess your financial responsibilities across generations: (more…)

Taking Charge of Your Life

Many of us spend our lives trying to please others or pursuing goals that others have set for us.  In contrast, the authors of Invest in Yourself, Marc Eisenson, Gerri Detweiler, and Nancy Castleman, advocate the self-designed life—the conscious choice to “invest your time and energy getting what you want and doing what you believe in—not wasting them on things you don’t really want, but think you should have.”  In fact, they wholeheartedly recommend setting the bar high, “no matter what you are aiming for in life.”

The first step to taking charge of your life is clarifying your values and priorities.  The reason this exercise in self-reflection is so powerful is because identifying what is most important to you will increase your self-understanding and strengthen your sense of autonomy.  An excellent resource to help you in this process is Values Clarification by Sidney Simon, Leland Howe, and Howard Kirschenbaum.  This book is described as “the classic guide to discovering your truest feelings, beliefs, and goals.” (more…)

Goal Setting Outside of the Box

“We should never let reality interfere with our dreams.
Reality can’t see what we can see.”  —Simon Sinek

Goals are targets—something to aim for.  They give life a sense of purpose and direction.  In addition, setting goals is a proactive way of designing your life, initiating positive change, and preparing for the future. (more…)

Review Your Financial Biography

Our attitudes and beliefs about money have their roots in value-laden messages that we have picked up along life’s journey.  These money messages are not only clothed in the words of others, but in their behaviors as well.

The authors of Wired for Wealth (Brad Klontz, Rick Kahler, and Ted Klontz) write that all of our financial actions—or inactions—make perfect sense when we understand what “money scripts” drive those behaviors.

“Money scripts are the thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes that we hold about money.  Many of our associations are hidden deeply in the unconscious mind.” (more…)