Gift Cards That Make A Difference

Traditionally, we recognize, commemorate, and celebrate special occasions, milestones, and holidays with gifts.  However, many individuals are looking for meaningful alternatives to giving and receiving more “stuff.”

If you are one of those looking for a different kind of gift, consider making a donation in the name of the individual, couple, or organization that you want to honor.  In addition, in lieu of receiving gifts, you can request a donation to a cause that is near and dear to your heart.  The concept of alternative gifts is growing in popularity, and a number of online resources are available to assist you in making this type of charitable donation. (more…)

Feeling Down About a Down Payment in the Bay Area?

By guest: Brian Lee

Is anyone surprised that Atherton is the country’s most expensive housing market? A recent Forbes article reported the town has a median home value of more than $6.7 million. Atherton also topped that list a decade ago, but back in 1998, the median home value was more than $1.4 million. These days, $1.4 million for a Peninsula home seems like a bargain.

Navigating the local housing market requires some expert help, so I’ve asked Coldwell Banker’s Brian Lee for advice. Brian is a real estate agent who serves the Half Moon Bay area and the Peninsula. (more…)

Fresh Perspective & New Resources to Guide Your Giving Decisions

Regardless of how or where we choose to give, most of us would like to feel confident that our financial donations are being used wisely.  Thanks to technology and some out-of-the-box thinkers in the social sector, we now have a bevy of new tools at our fingertips and excellent educational resources that will guide our giving in a smart and purposeful ways.

Picking a Charity

Until recently, most guidelines for charitable giving recommended that we spend time researching charities and then select from those that limit overhead to less than 20 percent of their total budgets.  However, many experts now question these criteria because expense ratios alone provide a limited perspective of a charity’s value and effectiveness. (more…)

Moms and Employment: What Works?

Would you be more likely to hire a woman who’d taken a year-long maternity leave or one who was absent for just a month? Managers faced with that decision preferred the candidate who’d taken less time off, a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology found. And that was true for female as well as male managers.

I suspect that this isn’t news to any mom who has tried to make her way back into the workforce after spending months or years ushering a newborn into babyhood. Finding some semblance of balance between paid work and motherhood is a long-running challenge for nearly everyone. (more…)

Preparing Mentally—And Financially—For Retirement

Search online for images of “retirees” and you’ll get a screen full of smiling, lightly wrinkled, gray-haired folks. Some pictures show couples strolling on the beach. Another shows women drinking tea and playing cards.

Illustrating retirement isn’t easy. Nor is envisioning how we’ll spend decades of post-work life. Without routine paid employment to structure our days and bolster our identity, who are we? For some of us—me included!—the idea of a retirement that includes bus trips to casinos and travel by RV just doesn’t resonate. (more…)

The Best Gift You Can Give Yourself: A Fiscally Friendly Holiday Season

If you’ve sighed at the sight of Christmas decorations sitting cheek and jowl with Halloween décor, you’re not alone. The holiday “season” seems to begin in October and last a full three months.

The longer the season, the more time consumers have to spend on gifts. So it’s no surprise that holiday spending has been rising steadily since 2008. In 2017, Americans were expected to shell out $967.13 each for holiday gifts, according to the National Retail Federation. Nationwide, Americans were likely to spend between $678.75 billion and $682 billion, an increase of 3.6 to 4 percent over 2016, according to the National Retail Federation. (It hasn’t yet updated those estimates with actual numbers, but you get the idea: December is a big month for gifts and giving, regardless of your religion or your income.) (more…)

Daylight Savings Time … With an Emphasis on “Savings”

If you’re lamenting the loss of brighter evenings when Daylight Savings Time begins Nov. 4, you can at least take solace in an hour of sleep.

Or perhaps you’d like to use that extra hour to do some financial housekeeping. (And honestly, you can tackle a few of these high-yield tasks any time this fall. They don’t take long to do, but come 2019, you’ll be glad you got them out of the way now.) (more…)

5 Keys to Successful Investment Management

In real estate investment, as everyone knows, the key is location, location, location. When it comes to personal investment management though, the key is plan, plan, plan. In our view, investment management can only be done well within the context of the Comprehensive Financial Planning process.

Planning is the key to achieving your financial life goals – from short-term goals such as a longed-for vacation to critical long-term goals like living a life of dignity and comfort in retirement. Along with cash flow management, investment returns are one of the engines that will power you toward your goals.

By following the 5 Keys to Successful Investment Management, you will find a sense of freedom from the anxiety of watching the markets bounce around, and you will dramatically improve your chances of achieving a retirement of dignity and comfort. (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.

The 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. (more…)

401k Fees Revealed

“Retirement plan providers have been overcharging investors for decades – creating a huge drag on returns. But new rules on fee disclosure should help drive down costs,” writes Scott Cendrowsku in a recent Fortune Magazine article, Is Your 401k Ripping You Off.

What the new 401k rules will mean to you

If you have ever wondered how much you are paying for your 401k Plan, now you will be able to find out. The new 401k rules, which will take effect on August 30, 2012, require your employer to disclose all 401k fees, including plan administration, investment management and mutual fund marketing fees. In some plans the total can top 3% of your account value annually! In the past these fees have been buried in small print documents. Now all 401k participants will receive a detailed statement disclosing all charges. (more…)