The Purpose of “Work” in the Second Half of Life

Individuals in mid-life and beyond are increasingly viewing retirement not as a time to relax, but as a time to explore their potential.  It was Abraham Maslow, a psychologist, who gave us the term, “self actualization.”  He called it man’s desire for fulfillment, “to become everything that one is capable of becoming.”

For many, the path to self-actualization is through their “work”—which should be defined as the productive activities, paid or unpaid, that gives their lives meaning and a sense of purpose.  Helen Harkness wrote that linking work to the need for meaning has been a natural evolution: (more…)

The Power of Purpose

In Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, bestselling author Daniel Pink presents some of the most compelling and useful research in the field of in human motivation.  One section, “The Good Life,” is particularly enlightening in regard to how we as individuals establish and pursue our life goals. Pink makes the point, and science confirms, “Satisfaction depends not merely on having goals, but on having the right goals.”

One of the studies that Pink cites asked a sample of soon-to-graduate college students about their life goals and then followed them early in their careers to assess their progress and well-being. The students’ goals were categorized as either “extrinsic aspirations” or “intrinsic aspirations.”  Becoming wealthy or achieving fame are examples of extrinsic motivators and labeled “profit goals.”  In contrast, learning, growing, and helping others are examples of intrinsic motivators and labeled “purpose goals.” (more…)

Wealth is a State of Mind

As more research into the reasons some grow wealthy while others do not is proving, a person’s mental attitude or state of mind is critical to financial freedom – however you define it. Like so many things in life, human beings are able to talk themselves into just about anything. So, why not talk yourself into becoming financially successful – or – rich?

In Napoleon Hill’s classic book “Think and Grow Rich,” written in 1937 during the Great Depression, he shared the principles that he used to pull himself out of poverty and to help others do the same. None of these principles deal with specific earning or investing skills, but with creating the mental attitude that creates the fertile soil of wealth building.

In an article for CNNMoney, for Money Magazine titled Trick Yourself into Getting Richer, the five authors rely heavily on the book “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” by Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahnemann, in which he “explains that human brains are of two minds: the fast, intuitive decision-maker and the slower, more analytical ponderer.” The idea is to try to “trick” oneself into thinking like a rich person. A few of the more effective tricks would be… (more…)

Teaching Kids About Money

Did you have trouble learning to handle money as an adult? Did your parents teach you about money when you were a child? What are you teaching your children about money; its value, your relationship to it; as well as how to handle it?

Parents teach their children many things, both good and bad. Behaviors and beliefs are implanted from a very young age, both consciously and unconsciously. Only by understanding your own relationship to money, can you teach your children to respect and use money for their own benefit, and the benefit of others.

A qualified finance planner can help you better understand your relationship to money, which will also help you better teach your children the value of money and how to establish a healthy relationship to money. (more…)

Why We Love Roth 401K

The evolution of our tax code has created an alphabet soup of retirement account options, making our choice of investment accounts for retirement confusing. A case in point being the difference between a Roth IRA  or 401k, and a Traditional IRA or 401k. A personal financial manager can help you understand these differences, as well as helping you decide which will be the most benefit to you and your financial goals.

What is the difference between a Roth IRA or 401k, and a Traditional IRA or 401k? Simply, contributions to a Traditional IRA or 401k are made pre-tax, reducing your current tax burden, while Roth contributions are made post-tax. However, during retirement, distributions from a traditional IRA are taxed as ordinary income while Roth account distributions are taken tax-free. Growth is tax-free in both cases – no capital gains tax or tax on investment income is assessed on assets in either plan.

The way the math works, if tax rates stay exactly the same, the Roth and the Traditional IRA/401k will end up with the same after-tax retirement benefit in the future. If tax rates go up, however, the Roth delivers higher after-tax income in retirement. In other words, when deciding among investment accounts for retirement, a Roth IRA or 401k is a wonderful hedge against higher taxes at retirement. When you consider the current fiscal crisis and the level of debt this country has built over the past decade, an environment of rising taxes is likely. By investing in a Roth plan, you can protect some of your retirement income from higher tax rates.

Roth vs. Traditional IRA/401k

  • Roth IRA contributions are limited based on income. HOWEVER…many employer 401k plans now have a Roth 401k option. These plans do not have income limitations.
  • Distributions from Roth accounts are tax free in retirement. Although you receive no tax deferral when you contribute to your plan, a Roth can be an effective strategy to hedge against higher taxes in the future. Balancing your retirement dollars between Roth and Traditional retirement plans adds a layer of diversification of future income sources and a way to hedge your retirement tax bills.
  • In a Roth account, there is no annual minimum distribution required at age 70 ½ as there is with a Traditional plan – so tax free growth can continue throughout your lifetime. This can be a terrific tax-efficient strategy for leaving assets to your kids – while still having those assets available to you during your lifetime.
  • Converting an IRA from traditional to Roth is another way to build Roth assets into your financial plan and also has no income limitations currently. However, when you convert, income taxes are due on the amount converted. A competent personal finance planner or tax advisor can help you create a conversion strategy.

Many people believe they will be in a lower tax bracket in retirement because they won’t be earning as much – concluding that a Roth plan does not make sense for them. However, unless you will be relying mostly on Social Security Income in retirement, chances are that your taxable income in retirement will be high because distributions from Traditional retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income.

A Roth IRA or 401k provides a powerful strategy to hedge your retirement tax bills and extend your tax-free growth benefit. If your employer provides a Roth option in your 401k plan, you have easy access to building your Roth retirement accounts.

At Tamarind Financial Planning, we will use our individual financial planning strategies and personal investment management techniques to help you decide whether you can benefit from a Roth, as well as exactly how to best diversify your investments for retirement.

Stay-At-Home Parent is a Valuable Job – Where are the Benefits?

dad-laundry-kidsDo you remember the 1983 movie “Mr. Mom,” in which Michael Keaton struggled with the role reversal of being a stay-at-home dad? Do you remember all the things he had to learn to run the household? It was hilariously funny to watch Keaton struggle to do all of the tasks that Teri Garr handled so effortlessly. Moms of the day could relate! The movie shone a spotlight on the value provided by the stay-at-home spouse and difficulty in replacing that person’s skills.

The role of the stay-at-home parent is an incredibly valuable job. Just imagine the cost of hiring someone, an outsider, to perform all the tasks required to efficiently run your household on a daily basis. One estimate of the value of the tasks performed by the stay-at-home parent, in 2009 dollars, was over $122,000. (more…)

Emotions and Investing – Don’t Just Feel It – Think It Through

Did you ever bet on a “Sure Thing” – and lose? Have you recently jumped on a market trend, only to miss the big return that “everyone else” seemed to enjoy? Do you sometimes “go with your gut,” only to realize you were not really making a smart choice – you simply had indigestion? How’s that tummy feeling now?

A personal finance planner is exactly what you need to help you avoid emotional responses to an irrational market.

“Yes, we live in trying times, and investors should be concerned about a feeble economy and volatile, often irrational markets. But now more than ever, we need to shunt aside emotions and approach our investments with logic and detachment, and take a long-term view,” writes Bob Frick, Senior Editor, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance in a timeless Kiplinger’s personal finance article “How to Be a Better Investor.” (more…)

How Much Money is “Enough?”

When it comes to real estate, we are told it is all about location, location, location. When it comes to money, we are told we need more, more, more. However, this begs the question, “How much is enough?” Through the use of our personal investment management strategies and individual financial planning, we can help you answer this question; for yourself and your family.

The messages we receive every day, from radio, television, and all over the internet teaches us to focus on always striving for “More.” But, how much is enough? How much is enough to eliminate the fear of running out of money? How much is enough for us to relax and be happy? (more…)

Increasing Long-Term Happiness

For many years, the prevailing theory was that individuals have a genetically determined happiness set point.

In other words, scientists believed that each person could temporarily experience more happiness (depending on circumstances, relationships, and life events), but would then slide back to his or her “pre-programmed” set point.  In fact, less than two decades ago, one researcher was quoted as saying, “It may be that trying to be happier is as futile as trying to be taller.” (more…)

3 Boosts for Your 2019 Goals

Financial planning starts with goal setting.  Here are 3 “power boosts” that I have found useful personally and in my financial planning practice.

1. SET THE RIGHT GOALS

“The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal, the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment.” – Earl Nightingale

The primary reason that we fail to achieve our goals is that we choose the wrong goals, according to author and coach Martha Beck.  We imagine situations (wealth, fame) rather than experiences and direct ourselves toward unintended consequences.  We may set a goal to make more money, thinking that wealth will offer security, but end up so focused on work that we destroy the security of our closest relationships and find that it’s not money that makes us feel secure. (more…)