Data Breaches and Closing the Barn Door: Protecting Your Personal Information

2017-11-22T11:06:31+00:00

With all the data breaches that have occurred over the last couple of years it is hard to know when to actually ‘do something’ about protecting our credit. Having read a fair amount about the Equifax data breach issue over the last couple weeks I’m still somewhat skeptical of the level of protection we can actually achieve. In some respects, the actions we have at our disposal seem tantamount to “closing the barn door after the horse has run off” (thanks for that one mom!)

Data Breaches and Closing the Barn Door: Protecting Your Personal Information 2017-11-22T11:06:31+00:00

Love and Money: Proceed With Caution

2017-11-22T11:06:59+00:00

If you wanted to leave some money to your children, how would you split it between them? You could come up with numbers based upon their likely need for help. Or you could simply divide it equally…after all you love them all, well…equally. Equal distribution is probably the most common way of dividing assets. Yet, what about the situation where one of the kids is very successful financially and has no need for your money? What message does an unequal gift send? Conversely, if you were one of the children on the receiving end…what if mom and dad left all (or even most) of the money and investments to your sibling because you ‘don't need it?’ You might feel ‘less loved’, or slighted in some way, left with a nagging feeling that perhaps they really did love them a bit more than you.

Love and Money: Proceed With Caution 2017-11-22T11:06:59+00:00

Money Can’t Buy Happiness

2017-11-22T11:08:09+00:00

People tend to embrace this statement. It sounds true: surely only shallow, materialistic people would insist that money could buy happiness. To utter the thought aloud is almost like a declaration that we aren’t materialistic (and hopefully not shallow!) Scientists have long been perplexed about how to measure such a thing as happiness. Studies that examine relationships between money and happiness raise the idea that although money may not directly bring us happiness, it has the potential to. Believing that money can’t buy happiness is a bold and sweeping generalization that weakens under scrutiny. The authors of the book, Your Money or Your Life present a “fulfillment curve.” As the curve in the diagram shows, money spent to meet basic needs brings the most precipitous rise in satisfaction.

Money Can’t Buy Happiness 2017-11-22T11:08:09+00:00

Can Money Buy Happiness?

2017-08-28T17:45:49+00:00

Think of all the times you felt pleasure as the result of buying something. When I started interviewing for my first job in the investment business I bought the most expensive suit I could afford. I felt like a million bucks every time I wore that suit! Of course that led to a penchant for expensive suits but that is another issue. Money does not just buy things but also experiences. How many beautiful memories come to mind because you gave yourself permission to spend money on a new experience or adventure. I can think of so many trips we took as a family or even in younger days before having children. Those were clearly happy times. Weren’t they?

Can Money Buy Happiness? 2017-08-28T17:45:49+00:00

Why Pay Someone to Manage Your Money?

2017-11-01T10:18:42+00:00

In the past several articles, we’ve looked at the variable nature of prices. What does a gallon of milk or a hotel room cost? How much does it cost to retire? What types of financial management services are there, how much do they cost, and which one might work best for you? In that vein, why pay someone to manage your money? I recently told the story of a client who experienced immense relief upon delegating the management of her finances. Making all the decisions on her own had left her plagued with fear and anxiety. My listener exclaimed, “But my father said never to pay fees!” Such advice might be good for one person, but not so good for another. While I agreed that one should pay as little in fees as possible, my listener’s objection raised the question: What are some of the reasons to have your money managed professionally?

Why Pay Someone to Manage Your Money? 2017-11-01T10:18:42+00:00

How Much Does It Cost To Invest Your Money? Pt. 3

2017-06-30T13:53:16+00:00

Do you have any idea of the costs and fees associated with your investment accounts? The previous articles in this series have explored the difficulty of determining what things really cost. In discussing this issue with some friends, another frustrating cost question arose: “What does it cost to invest your money?” There was unanimous agreement that information about investment costs was often scarce and confusing. What fees are associated with investing? How do we find out? Many people don’t know whether or not their accounts are being managed by anyone, and whether or not they are being charged. In this article, we’ll look at those investment accounts you may have. What exactly are you paying for? How much does it cost to have your money managed for you? Some investment vehicles, specifically mutual funds and ETFs, have “expense ratios.” We’ll look at those as well as 401Ks.

How Much Does It Cost To Invest Your Money? Pt. 3 2017-06-30T13:53:16+00:00

How Much Does It Cost To Retire? Part II

2017-11-01T10:19:39+00:00

Last month’s article about prices began as a rant about the difficulty of knowing what specific items should cost and how to assess their value. In this month’s article, we’ll look at the “price” of retirement. How much does it cost? Have you saved enough? As a financial planner I want to know what something is going to cost before I say “yes.” Sometimes this can feel a little embarrassing. I’ll be the first to ask the waiter, “So how much is that swordfish special?” Did you grow up hearing, “If you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it”? I have the excuse that “it’s my job,” but I know that many people experience fear around asking. I’m not the only one who wants to know.

How Much Does It Cost To Retire? Part II 2017-11-01T10:19:39+00:00

How Much Does It Cost? Part I

2017-06-30T13:54:10+00:00

Do you know how much a half gallon of orange juice costs? Think carefully. What was once a 64-ounce container of juice is now 59 ounces. A pint of Hagen Daz is just 14 ounces (Ben & Jerry’s still has a 16 ounce “pint.”) How do you compare? Take another example, hotel rooms. I found a great place to stay in Sonoma for under $200 a night in February. This summer there was nothing under $300 at the same place. I recently purchased artwork for my office. I had no idea how much to offer, except that it had to be lower than the asking price! Plane flights, cars…ditto. Clearly, some prices do vary based on seasonal factors. Yet, is there such a thing as the “real” or best price for anything?

How Much Does It Cost? Part I 2017-06-30T13:54:10+00:00

Are You “Money Smart?”

2017-06-30T13:56:26+00:00

In their book, Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes, Gary Belski and Thomas Gilovich state: “Numerous studies over the years have demonstrated significant overconfidence in the judgments of doctors, lawyers, engineers, psychologists, and securities analysts.” According to these findings, highly educated people seem to see their “smarts” in one area as evidence that they are more knowledgeable in other areas as well. But it’s not just professionals who fall prey to this belief. It appears to be part of human nature generally to over-estimate our abilities. For instance, in rating our skills at driving, how many of us think we are “smarter than the average bear?”

Are You “Money Smart?” 2017-06-30T13:56:26+00:00

You Can’t Always Get What You Want…or, Can You?

2017-06-30T13:56:48+00:00

Consider the following scenario. You are perusing the menu at a restaurant, deciding what to order. The fresh, local salmon in a piquant sauce with sun gold tomatoes and basil has your mouth watering. It is $32. You definitely want fish, but immediately conclude that the salmon is simply “too expensive.” No, can’t do that. So you order cod, perfectly respectable, broiled – but plain – at $22. It arrives. It’s OK – but it isn’t what you really wanted. We’ve all experienced this type of automatic compromise that seems so sensible we accept it as the “right” decision. Such thinking may become an unconscious principle behind our money decisions. This is the smart thing to do. But is it? Why do we so often deny ourselves what we really want? One obvious answer is that it is about the money. Ten dollars is . . . well, ten dollars.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want…or, Can You? 2017-06-30T13:56:48+00:00

Does Anybody Know a Good Investment Guy?

2017-06-30T13:57:09+00:00

It’s the sort of thing people ask friends and acquaintances. Recently at the gym I happened to overhear a conversation that began with this question. Unfortunately, I was on my way into the shower and didn’t get to hear the answer. It’s an intriguing question. What is a “good investment guy” anyway? At some point, you may want to find some investment guidance, too. What should you be looking for?

Does Anybody Know a Good Investment Guy? 2017-06-30T13:57:09+00:00

3 Lessons I’d Teach My Daughter About Money

2017-06-30T13:58:11+00:00

Many of the women I see in my financial planning practice have been through divorce. Many are experiencing for the first time what it is like to live independently. I hear familiar themes with respect to money —phrases like, “I should have paid more attention,” and “I shouldn’t have assumed my ex-husband knew what he was doing.” Finally, it dawned on me to start asking these women what lessons they would want to pass along to younger women, including their own daughters, about money. What follows are their stories and mistakes. Every one of these women has a valuable lesson to share!

3 Lessons I’d Teach My Daughter About Money 2017-06-30T13:58:11+00:00