Tips for Wise Giving

  1. Find your passion and focus your giving. Think about two or three areas or
    causes you want to support and make this your philanthropic mission.  Not only
    will your gifts have more impact, but you will also find your giving more satisfying.
  2. Know your charity. Charities have an obligation to provide detailed information to interested donors.  Request written literature and a copy of the charity’s latest annual report which should include a list of the board of directors, a mission statement, and the most recent audited financial statements.

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Don’t Let Small Numbers Distract You From the Big Picture

Even though it’s all about dollars and cents, the financial industry runs on percentages; dollar signs are few and far between. The use of percentages is an understandable, and helpful, convention when communicating financial information. After all, a headline saying “Company A’s Net Jumps by 16%” is more helpful than one that reads “Company A’s Net Jumps to $1.02 billion.” Providing percentages rather than dollars also allows investors to compare apples to apples: You can readily discern that an investment that has gained 8% during the past 10 years has been a better bet than one that has gained half as much.

Yet dealing in percentages, especially relatively small ones like inflation rates, expense ratios, and long-term annualized returns, can also distract from important information that factors into your financial plan. Those small and innocuous-looking percentage figures, when translated into dollar terms and compounded over many years, can make a huge difference between success and failure. (more…)

Money and Life Satisfaction

The word satisfaction describes a feeling of fulfillment or contentment. Its meaning is relative and often dependent on personal definitions of success as applied to specific areas of life.

The first step to evaluating your own life satisfaction is to think about what is most important to you. Be as candid as you can with yourself and try to disregard “messages” – from society, parents, partners, peers, or colleagues – that tell you what your priorities should be. This is a time to listen to your own heart. What do YOU value most and what do YOU want to achieve in each facet of life? Whatever you identify should then become the basis for establishing your life goals. (more…)

Tune Out the Noise

There’s a reason that investors tend to only hear about “looming” market doom or “imminent” market growth. While many news outlets have incentive to draw viewer attention with wildly bullish or bearish predictions, these sensationalized views may be a distraction to a sound investment approach. When tempted to make a radical change to your investment portfolio based on these headlines, it is important to recall some basic fundamentals to keep your plan on track.

Drown out the noise. Market movements are notoriously difficult to predict. The media outlets that scream the loudest are not always the most accurate. The fallout from attempting to time the market in response to one of these predictions can be dangerous to your portfolio. (more…)

Tools for Building Your Financial Resilience

In your financial life, as in all other areas of life, it is important to nurture your resilience—your ability to recover from loss, disappointment, and difficult circumstances.

From a practical perspective, financial resilience involves laying a foundation of economic protection.  From an emotional perspective, financial resilience involves increasing your confidence in your ability to prepare for and deal with life transitions and financial setbacks. (more…)

Risk, Not Volatility, Is the Real Enemy

What would you do if your investments lost 10% in a single day? A) Add more money to my account. B) Hold steady with what I’ve got. C) Yank my money; I wouldn’t be able to stand any more losses.

If investors buy the right investments but sell them at the wrong time because they can’t handle the price fluctuations, they may have been better off avoiding those investments in the first place. Most investors are poor judges of their own risk tolerance, feeling more risk-resilient in up markets and more risk-averse after market losses. However, focusing on an investor’s response to short-term losses inappropriately confuses risk and volatility. Understanding the difference between the two and focusing on the former is a potential way to make sure you reach your financial goals. (more…)

Your Financial Destiny

Do you feel “in charge” of your financial life?  Or, do you feel like you are being swept along by a set of personal and financial circumstances that are beyond your control? Do you take responsibility for making your own financial decisions, or do you acquiesce to the plans and opinions of others?  Does fear, denial, or complacency keep you from taking a proactive approach in your money matters?

The person who should be in charge of your financial life is YOU!  The degree of power you feel you have in shaping your financial life is both objective and subjective in nature, and is determined, in part, by your sense of locus of control. (more…)

Picking Winners and Losers – It’s Anyone’s Guess


When you lay out the returns of a variety of asset classes over time it’s hard to find any meaningful patterns. The chart below shows the returns on 10 different asset classes over time and it’s quickly evident that what was the star of last year rarely shines the brightest the following year.

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Insurance: Planning for the Risks in Life

“We devote much of our lives to making and living out our long-range plans.  We go to school, have children, plant gardens, and save for the future with the expectation that we’ll see the fruits of our efforts.  Probably for our benefit, the working out of these plans is full of surprises, often pleasant ones.  It’s part of what makes life interesting and worthwhile.  Some of the surprises, though, bring bad news, even tragedy.”

Richard E. Vodra, CFP®
Enough Money!: How to Create and
Manage Financial Success in Your Life (more…)

Estate Planning Update: Make Sure to Address Social

By: Vidhya Babu

Think twice before guffawing over the idea of addressing social media in your will. Not only can it make life easier for your survivors, a social media will is recommended by the United States Government.

After, or in anticipation of, any lifetime change, we suggest clients review their estate plans. The sale or purchase of a business, a windfall, divorce and marriage are all reasons to update your plan. Ultimately, your estate plan carries on your wishes when you pass away, and if you have personal, musical or other interests online, giving directions and naming an administrator of your online identity is important. (more…)