Retirement?!? Who’s retiring now-a-days?

Whether you’re 20 or 60 or older, you hear the word retirement thrown around a lot. The younger you are the idea of retirement seems so far away and a concern for another date and time. The older you get the more you worry that you haven’t saved enough, how does social security factor in/work, and/or can I afford to retire given the state of the economy?

Retirement means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But planning for it is key to success, no matter the definition. For example, you love what you do and can’t think of ever retiring and not coming in again. Your definition of retirement may mean stop working 70 hours a week and working 20-30 hours or having the financial capability to come in/out as you please. On the other hand you may want retirement to be never coming in or talking to the office ever again. Maybe it’s something in between. Retirement is whatever you want to make it, but make sure you can define it for yourself and create a plan on how to get there.

Here’s great things to consider when creating your plan:
What is your time frame for your retirement vision?
What is the amount of risk you’re comfortable with?
What are the appropriate investment vehicles to get you there?
How does inflation factor in?
How does social security factor in?
What is the total amount you’re shooting for?
What have you done so far to save for retirement (IRA’s, 401k’s, etc)?

Does this seem a little overwhelming? Understandable, especially when you have a full time job, a family and want to sleep a few hours at night. Whether you’re an expert in numbers and problem solving, sometimes taking the time out to sit down and create a plan can just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Hiring a financial planner to guide you through the process and do the hard work for you can save you money and valuable family time. A financial planner is there to help explain where you are, help develop a picture of what you want retirement to look like, and how to get there in a way that is right for you.

If you’re curious to see how you’re doing make sure to check out Waddell & Reed’s personal retirement assessment calculator to see if you’re saving enough!

Until next time, stay sane in this crazy economy!

– Financial Lanscaper

PS. If your plan is to win the lottery to pay for “retirement,” make sure that step 1 is buy a lottery ticket. ;P


The Talk of the Town – Estate Buzz

Whether I’m at a networking event, meeting with clients, or forming a wonderful new business partnership, I’ve heard a theme recently. Estate planning is the buzzword. A few people I can understand, but so many in such a short period just has to be more than a coincidence.

I’m sure my attorney friends are tired of me bugging them asking them pesky little questions. Which to side track a bit, it is always an “it depends” kind of answer. Nothing is as straightforward as it should be when it comes to the law books.

Estate planning will mean different things to different people. It can mean a “simple” will that you print off the internet and fill in the blanks or it can be a complicated Trust situation. Every family is different. When it comes to estate planning, there is no simple answer and it, like the law, will have an “it depends” kind of answer.

Here is a short list of things to consider when planning how you want to leave your legacy behind.

1) Make sure you have an accurate, up to date inventory so there’s no grey zones. Check out Nino’s to catalog your belongings. This list not only should include physical items, but money, investments, and insurance to name a few.

2) Hire an experienced estate planning lawyer. The reason I say this is because I can speak from personal experience here. My grandfather hired a lawyer to draft his will. He was a friend of the family that dealt more with oil & mining law than estates. He made a very large mistake and almost costs the family lots of money. It eventually worked out, but it could have ended very badly. If you need a list of suggestions, please let me know and I’ll send you some good names.

3) Be open and honest with your lawyer on who you do and don’t want in your will. This will more than likely include telling the lawyer your family drama and dirty secrets. This isn’t gossip, it will help the attorney figure out the best route to take your plan from a tactical point. They’re bound my attorney/client privilege and want to do what’s in YOUR best interest. Everyone has some kind of family drama and/or secrets, so it probably won’t shock the seasoned estate attorney.

4) Make sure your financial planner is in the loop with your estate attorney. They should go to the meetings and make sure everyone is on the same page. They can also help the attorney with the financial side so you don’t forget anything. Having them work together will not only save a lot of time, it can save a lot of money when you’re considering tax implications of your estate plan. If you don’t have a financial planner, or you don’t have one that will go with you to the estate attorney, give me a call and we can fix that.

5) Be involve and follow up. Make sure to ask lots of questions until you understand. Having a good financial planner with you can really help with the jargon gap between attorney & client sometimes. If there is something the attorney or the planner need you to do, make sure you do it! Once you have a plan in place, make sure you check on it every so often as laws will change and may effect your plan.

These are just some things to consider when developing your own plan of action around your legacy.

Estate planning can be very involved, so make sure you have the right team members to win.

Until next time wonderful readers!

-Financial Landscaper

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November is Long Term Care Awareness Month

Long Term Care – what is it and why do I care?

It’s simple and complicated all at the same time, so let me tell a story near and dear to my heart because it’s my family.

My grandparents live in a small town, about an hour and half from here. They were very involved with town politics and social life. They were great business minded people and served the community well. When I visit them today and we go out, we can’t help but be greeted by 3 or 5 people, “HEY Jerry! How’s it going?!” Then I get introduced to Mr. so-n-so and his wife that went to high school, was on his city council campaign, or lived next to him growing up. Yes my grandparents, especially my grandfather, is was and will always be the social connection of his town. However, when it came to planning for their own personal future with retirement, they dropped the ball. It wasn’t for a lack of money and thought about money, it was the lack of knowing what kind of curve balls life throws at you and how to make sure you have a plan that can hit the curve ball.

Their basic plan was to rely on their investment properties throughout the town and the savings they had accumulated throughout the years. The curve ball that stroke them out the hardest is my grandmother’s health. Assuming medicare would take care of them is a common thought. However, at first the care she needed didn’t qualify for medicare. She needed personal day to day assistance for eating, going to the restroom, and so forth. It’s only when she needed skilled care could she possibly be covered under medicare and even that was limited. Most of their money is now drained and they rely heavily on my aunt and her generous husband to help fund the nursing homes they live in. I say homes because they live in different homes based off level of care needed.

I hear many stories of my parents’ friends that have to cut back at work to go and take care of their aging parents. They can’t afford to spend the money to have someone else take care of them for their daily living duties. Whether it’s preparing food to eat or helping them to the bathroom, it’s time consuming and can be mentally and physically draining doing it day in and day out.

Long Term Care Awareness Month is meant for you to be a wake up call and push you to go out and seek the knowledge you need around your golden years. It’s meant for you to understand what are the options out there between medicare, medicaid, long term care insurance, and other similar products. You should arm yourself with the knowledge of what is covered under medicare and medicaid, how to qualify and how to prepare yourself in case something isn’t covered.

This is why long term care planning is so important. As people we WANT so badly to be able to take care of ourselves and we can never imagine a time where we can’t. Either pride or shame can get in the way of asking for help when the time comes that we actually need help. Long term care planning helps you stay independent without asking family and friends for help. Family members that would be the ones taking the responsibility of the aging parent would also be grateful.

Long term care planning consists of making a game plan in case you can no longer take care of yourself. This plan goes hand in hand with what kind of legacy you want to leave.

Would you prefer in home care or a nursing home?

How are you going to pay for in home care or a nursing home?

How does medicare factor in?

Do you want to leave your children or grandchildren a legacy of wealth?

What about medicaid?

These are all just a few questions to consider.

The sooner you can sit down with a financial planner to prepare a customized plan for you, the more flexibility you’ll have and typically the cheaper it can be. There are many products out there that can help you achieve your goals of staying independent through your golden years, but sitting down with someone that can explain the differences and help guide you to the right one for you is going to be key to your long term care plan success.

Do you have any long term care stories near & dear to your heart? If so, please share!

As always, I’m looking to bring out wonderful clients to help them achieve their life’s goals. If long term care has been on your mind and you don’t even know where to start or you have lots of questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me for a meeting!

– Financial Landscaper

Holy Retirement Danger Batman!

I saw this article the other day on linkedIN about retirement. I thought it was worth sharing.

This issue of saving for retirment has always raised some questions for me to ask people.

What are your thoughts on Social Security for retirement?

Do you save for retirement, whether it’s a 401k, IRA, or some other savings account?

Do you ever really think about retiring (other then those REALLY bad days at work)?

Do you pay attention to your savings/investments?

What active planning have you done for retirement (assuming you want to retire, of course)?

O, and as always, don’t forget about taxes, Uncle Sam needs his. Do you understand taxes in retirement?

Just some questions that I know many people don’t always know or understand the answer to for themselves.

Today I found another great article while distracting myself with Yahoo! (you know you do it too). Is $4million enough for your retirement? Food for thought!

The only way to know is to ask, so make sure you’re asking the right questions and you’re getting the appropriate answers from a qualified professional!

Until next time wonderful readers!

– Financial Landscaper