Take 3: The three pros even DIY’ers need on their team

I have a neighbor who is a big do-it-yourselfer. He cleans his gutters every spring, prunes his rose bushes and replaces his front porch light.

I’m always impressed by people who fearlessly tackle any task.  But even my neighbor knows when to summon the pros. He called in contractors to install a new garage door and to repave his driveway.

If you’re a DIYer for tax returns and investment decisions, that’s great. You’re taking charge of your future. Still, it’s always wise to have a stable of professionals you can call on for expert advice. Like my neighbor, knowing when a task is beyond your ability is, truly, the hallmark of a smart DIYer.

Here are three people you’ll want to have on your team to watch your back and protect your assets. Together, they’ll give you unparalleled peace of mind. (more…)

Five Steps To Financial Freedom, Or How Any Mom Can Get Her Financial Act Together

If your “to-do” pile contains a bulging file of paperwork for your tax return, you have plenty of company. The months leading up to April 15 are when everyone gathers and reviews their W-2 forms, investment statements and donation receipts.

These first few months the year—when your finances are front and center—is the perfect opportunity to start (or continue) building financial security. There’s nothing more powerful and comforting than feeling confident about your financial future.

If you’re stuck or don’t know where to begin, these five steps will get you moving: (more…)

Don’t Call Me A Mean Mom, But … You Shouldn’t Pay The Entire College Bill

You expect your kids to go to college, of course. And if you’re like many parents, you probably expect to foot the bill for a good chunk of that education—or maybe even all of it. After all, isn’t sacrifice what “good parents” do to help their kids get ahead?

I’m going to take a slightly controversial stand here and argue for the importance of having college students shoulder some of the burden of their education. Here’s why: (more…)

Listening to the Wrong Money Messages

For many of us, managing our finances and building economic security is a nagging concern.  We know we should be making greater strides in taking control of our money matters, but nothing changes.  What keeps us from achieving the financial peace and satisfaction we desire?

One of the main obstacles to financial freedom is listening to the wrong money messages.  Our attitudes and beliefs about money have their roots in the value-laden messages 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. (more…)

Finding the right financial planner

You have decided it is time to find a financial planner. You may have even asked your CPA, your estate planning attorney or a financially savvy friend or two for a referral.

How do you evaluate those referrals or perhaps broaden your search?

Here are 5 terrific resources to guide you in your search.

The Financial Planning Association (www.fpanet.org) is the most widely recognized professional organization for Certified Financial Planners. This is the only industry site that consistently indicates any income and/or asset minimums a financial planner requires for new clients. This level of detail is helpful because some advisors do not post this information on their websites. (more…)

Financial “Street Smarts” – teaching kids practical life skills

I presented at Woodside High School’s a few years ago – talking about my career in financial planning. The kids were terrific and the staff put on an event packed full of presentations by colleges, trade and art schools and career advice from community members.

One of the other presenters is a financial aid counselor at Stanford who has started teaching a personal finance class to graduating seniors at Stanford. The curriculum requires students to create a budget based on their research of actual living costs – tax deductions from salary, health insurance, dental bills, food, rent – and assumes a salary of $45,000. (more…)

The Role of Satisfaction and Values in Designing Our Financial Lives

Satisfaction

The word “satisfaction” describes a feeling of fulfillment or contentment.  Its meaning is relative and often dependent on each person’s definition of success as applied to specific areas of life.

Therefore, in the area of finances, satisfaction is more of an emotional issue than a practical one.  That is because our sense of satisfaction is highly subjective and greatly influenced by our attitudes and beliefs.  As a result, the degree to which we feel satisfied with our financial lives is based on a unique and personal interpretation of our own financial needs and circumstances. (more…)

Ambivalent Feelings About Retirement

Retirement will trigger changes in every area of your life.  As you anticipate and prepare for this stage of life, you are likely to look forward to certain changes and to dread others.

In fact, it is not uncommon for individuals to experience many ambivalent feelings about retirement because of the significant transitions they anticipate. (more…)

The Secret to Realizing Your Dreams

In his book Getting Things Done, author David Allen wrote, “We know that the focus we hold in our minds affects what we perceive and how we perform.”

Therefore, as you visualize the lifestyle and quality of life that you would like to have in the future, always remember that the secret to realizing your dreams is to maintain that image in your mind.

In fact, the greater your understanding of what is important to you, the easier it will be to “paint a picture” in your mind of what you are working toward.  Whatever you identify and claim for yourself will become the basis for your life goals. (more…)

Successful Aging Requires “Whole Life” Planning

We often equate preparing for old age with achieving the financial security needed to sustain us throughout life.  However, a truly successful and fulfilling aging experience requires planning and preparation in all areas of life.

Financial planning is indeed important, but money alone cannot “buy” happiness, good health, meaningful relationships, and purposeful activities.  In The Late-Start Investor, John Wasik wrote:

“Instead of absorbing an obsolete view of retirement, you should consider what I call your New Prosperity.  This includes a flexible life plan that provides for your financial, vocational, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.  Unless you look at your future holistically, merely saving up a pile of money will be a meaningless act.” (more…)