Articles tagged with: Cornerstone Financial Group Iowa

Retiring Single

You will want to replace your income; you will also want to stay socially engaged.

About 6% of Americans 65 and older have never married. That statistic comes from a 2018 Census Bureau report, which also found that 22% of Americans aged 65-74 live alone.1

If you think you will retire alone and unmarried, you will want to pay special attention to both your financial and social qualities of life. Whether you perceive a solo retirement as liberating or challenging, it helps to be aware of how your future might differ from your present.1

Be aware that your retirement income needs may change. They can be affected by unplanned events and changes in your outlook or goals. Perhaps, a new dream or ambition emerges; you decide you want to start a business, or maybe, see more of the world. You could also end up retiring sooner than you anticipated. Developments like these could alter the “big picture” of your retirement distributions.

You may need to reinvent your social circle. Once retired, you may lose touch with the people who were a big part of your day-to-day life – the people that your business or career connected you with, including your co-workers. If you happen to retire to another community, the connections between you and your best friends or relatives might also weaken, even with social media on your side.

Ask yourself what you can do to try and strengthen your existing relationships and friendships – not just through the Internet, but in real life. Also, keep yourself open to new experiences through which you can build new friendships. Returning to a past hobby or pursuing a new one could also connect you to a new community.

An estate strategy should be a priority. Even if you have no heirs, you still have an estate, and you should have a say in how you are treated as an elder. Consider having powers of attorney in place. These are the legal forms that let you appoint another individual to act on your behalf, in case you cannot make short- or long-term financial or health care decisions.

There are four kinds of power of attorney. A general power of attorney can be written to give another person legal authority to handle a range of financial affairs for you. A special power of attorney puts limits on that legal authority. A durable power of attorney is not revocable; it stays in effect if you become incapacitated or mentally incompetent. Lastly, a health care power of attorney (which is usually durable) authorizes another person to make medical treatment decisions for you.2

In addition to powers of attorney, a will, and possibly other legal forms, you will also want to think about extended care. Not everyone ends up needing extended care, but you should consider its potential cost.

All this being said, you may find a degree of freedom that your fellow retirees envy. If you remain reasonably healthy and active, you may marvel at how many opportunities you can pursue and how many adventures you can readily have. Retiring single can be a challenge, but it can also be an open door to a new intellectually and emotionally rewarding phase of life.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email:  mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

Citations.

1 – census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2018/acs/ACS-38.pdf [10/18]

2 – notarize.com/blog/types-of-power-of-attorney [9/12/18]

Trade War Hysterics

Since hitting new all-time highs three weeks ago, the S&P 500 has fallen about 2.2% as trade negotiations with China hit a snag.  Two weeks ago, the US announced new tariffs on Chinese imports.  Then, China announced new tariffs on some US goods. Many fear a widening trade war.

Don’t get us wrong.  We want free trade, and we understand the dangers of trade wars and tariffs (which are just taxes on consumers).  At the same time, we think trade deficits themselves are not a reason for trade wars.  We all run personal trade deficits with the local grocery store and benefit from that.  Even if the entire world went to zero tariffs, the US would almost certainly still run trade deficits, even with China.

But today, the trade deficit with China is partly due to the fact that China has higher tariffs on imports than the US does – working to eliminate these lopsided tariffs is worthwhile.

In 1980, China was an impoverished nation.  Then it began adopting tools of capitalism – property rights, markets, free prices and wages.  Chinese businesses started to import the West’s technology, and growth accelerated.

Initially, China didn’t have to worry about intellectual property.  When you replace oxen with a tractor, all you have to do is buy the tractor, not reinvent the internal combustion engine.  But China has now picked, and benefited from, the lowest hanging fruit.  So, China decided to steal the R&D of firms located abroad.  Some estimates of this collective theft run into the hundreds of billions of dollars.

That’s why normal free market and free trade principles don’t neatly apply to China.

Remember President Reagan’s old story supporting free trade?  “We’re in the same boat with our trading partners,” Reagan said.  “If one partner shoots a hole in the boat, does it make sense for the other one to shoot another hole in the boat?”  The obvious answer is that it doesn’t, and so our own protectionism would hurt us.

But China hasn’t just shot a hole in the boat, they’ve become pirates.  If Tony Soprano and his cronies robbed your house, would free market principles require you to trade with them to buy those items back?  Of course not!

It’s true tariff increases will not help the US economy.  But $100 billion of tariffs spread over $14 trillion of consumer spending is not a recession inducing drag.  It’s true some business, like soybean farmers, are hurt.  But the status quo means accepting hundreds of billions in theft from companies that are at the leading edge of future growth.

Either way, if tariffs nick our economy, China’s gets hammered.  Last year we exported $180 billion in goods and services to China, which is 0.9% of our GDP.  Meanwhile, China exported $559 billion to the US, which is 4.6% of their economy.  We have enormous economic leverage that they simply can’t match.

An extended US-China trade battle means US companies will shift supply chains out of China and toward places like Singapore, Vietnam, Mexico, or “Made in the USA.”  If that happens, the Chinese economy is hurt for decades.

Anyone can invent a scenario where some sort of Smoot-Hawley-like global trade war happens.  Realistically, though, that appears very unlikely.  We’re not the only advanced country China’s piracy has victimized, and China may realize it’s more isolated than it thought.  In the end, China wants to trade with the West, not North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela.  China needs the West.  And all these trade war hysterics just aren’t warranted.

Brian S. Wesbury – Chief Economist, First Trust

Robert Stein, CFA – Deputy Chief Economist, First Trust

Consensus forecasts come from Bloomberg. This report was prepared by First Trust Advisors L.P. and reflects the current opinion of the authors.  It is based upon sources and data believed to be accurate and reliable.  Opions and forward looking statements expressed are subject to change without notice.  This information does not constitute a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any security.

This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at phone: 641-782-5577or email:  mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

 

Wise Decisions with Retirement in Mind

Certain financial & lifestyle choices may lead you toward a better future.  

Some retirees succeed at realizing the life they want; others don’t. Fate aside, it isn’t merely a matter of stock market performance or investment selection that makes the difference. There are certain dos and don’ts – some less apparent than others – that tend to encourage retirement happiness and comfort.

Retire financially literate. Some retirees don’t know how much they don’t know. They end their careers with inadequate financial knowledge, and yet, feel they can plan retirement on their own. They mistake retirement income planning for the whole of retirement planning, and gloss over longevity risk, risks to their estate, and potential health care expenses. The more you know, the more your retirement readiness improves.

Retire debt free – or close to debt free.  Who wants to retire with 10 years of mortgage payments ahead or a couple of car loans to pay off? Even if your retirement savings are substantial, what will big debts do to your retirement morale and the possibilities on your retirement horizon? On that note, refrain from loaning money to family members and friends who seem quite capable of standing on their own two feet.1

If the thought of using some of your retirement money to pay outstanding debts hits you, set that thought aside. You have dedicated that money to your future, not to bill paying. On second or third thought, other sources for the cash may be apparent.

Retire with purpose. There’s a difference between retiring and quitting. Some people can’t wait to quit their job at 62 or 65.  If only they could escape and just relax and do nothing for a few years – wouldn’t that be a nice reward? Relaxation can lead to inertia, however – and inertia can lead to restlessness, even depression. You want to retire to a dream, not away from a problem.

A retirement dream can become even more captivating when it is shared. Spouses who retire with a shared dream or with utmost respect for each other’s dreams are in a good place.

The bottom line? Retirees who know what they want to do – and go out and do it – are positively contributing to their mental health and possibly their physical health as well. If they do something that is not only vital to them, but important to others, their community can benefit as well.

Retire healthy. Smoking, drinking, overeating, a dearth of physical activity – all these can take a toll on your capacity to live life fully and enjoy retirement. It is never too late to quit smoking, stop drinking, or slim down.

Retire in a community where you feel at home. It could be where you live now; it could be a place that is hundreds or thousands of miles away, where the scenery and people are uplifting. It could be the place where your children live. If you find yourself lonely in retirement, then look for ways to connect with people who share your experiences, interests, and passions; those who encourage you and welcome you. This social interaction is one of the great, intangible retirement benefits.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at phone: 641-782-5577or email:  mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

Citations.

1 – fool.com/retirement/2019/03/24/3-things-you-should-do-in-your-40s-to-prepare-for.aspx [3/24/19]

 

Your Financial Co-Pilot

If anything happens to you, your family has someone to consult. 

If you weren’t around, what would happen to your investments? In many families, one person handles investment decisions, and spouses or children have little comprehension of what happens each week, month, or year with a portfolio.

In an emergency, this lack of knowledge can become financially paralyzing. Just as small business owners risk problems by “keeping it all in their heads,” families risk problems when only one person understands investments. 

A trusted relationship with a financial professional can be so vital. If the primary individual handling investment and portfolio management responsibilities in a family passes away, the family has a professional to consult – not a stranger they have to explain their priorities to at length, but someone who has built a bond with mom or dad and perhaps their adult children.   

You want a professional who can play a fiduciary role. Look for a financial professional who upholds a fiduciary standard. Professionals who build their businesses on a fiduciary standard tend to work on a fee basis or entirely for fees. Other financial services industry professionals earn much of their compensation from commissions linked to trades or product sales.1

Commission-based financial professionals don’t necessarily have to abide by a fiduciary standard. Sometimes, only a suitability standard must be met. The difference may seem minor, but it really isn’t. The suitability standard, which hails back to the days of cold-calling stock brokers, dictates that you should recommend investments that are “suitable” to a client. Think about the leeway that can potentially provide to a commission-based professional. In contrast, a financial professional working by a fiduciary standard always has an ethical requirement to act in a client’s best interest and to recommend investments or products that clearly correspond to that best interest. The client comes first.1

You want a professional who looks out for you. The best financial professionals earn trust through their character, ability, and candor. In handling portfolios for myriad clients, they have learned to watch for certain concerns and to be aware of certain issues that may get in the way of wealth building or wealth retention.

Many investors have built impressive and varied portfolios, but lack long-term wealth management strategies. Money has been made, but little attention has been given to tax efficiency or risk exposure.

As you near retirement age, playing defense becomes more and more important. A trusted financial professional could help you determine a risk and tax management approach with the potential to preserve your portfolio assets and your estate.

Your family will want nothing less. With a skilled financial professional around to act as a “co-pilot” for your portfolio, your loved ones will have someone to contact should the unexpected happen. When you have a professional who can step up and play a fiduciary role for you, today and tomorrow, you have a financial professional whose service and guidance can potentially add value to your financial life.

If you’re the family member in charge of investments and crucial financial matters, don’t let that knowledge disappear at your passing. A will or a trust can transfer assets, but not the acumen by which they have been accumulated. A relationship with a trusted financial professional may help to convey it to others.


Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com    

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

Citations.

1 – kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T023-C032-S014-choosing-a-financial-adviser-fiduciary-dimension.html [3/22/19]

 

Do Our Biases Affect Our Financial Choices?

Even the most seasoned investors are prone to their influence.

Investors are routinely warned about allowing their emotions to influence their decisions.  They are less routinely cautioned about letting their preconceptions and biases color their financial choices.

In a battle between the facts & our preconceptions, our preconceptions may win. If we acknowledge this tendency, we may be able to avoid some unexamined choices when it comes to personal finance; it may actually “pay” us to recognize our biases as we invest. Here are some common examples of bias creeping into our financial lives.1

Valuing outcomes of investment decisions more than the quality of those decisions. An investor thinks, “I got a great return from that decision,” instead of thinking, “that was a good decision because ______.”

How many investment decisions do we make that have a predictable outcome? Hardly any. In retrospect, it is all too easy to prize the gain from a decision over the wisdom of the decision, and to, therefore, believe that the decisions with the best outcomes were in fact the best decisions (not necessarily true).

Valuing facts we “know” & “see” more than “abstract” facts. Information that seems abstract may seem less valid or valuable than information that relates to personal experience. This is true when we consider different types of investments, the state of the markets, and the health of the economy.

Valuing the latest information most. In the investment world, the latest news is often more valuable than old news, but when the latest news is consistently good (or consistently bad), memories of previous market climate(s) may become too distant. If we are not careful, our minds may subconsciously dismiss the eventual emergence of the next bear (or bull) market.

Being overconfident. The more experienced we are at investing, the more confidence we have about our investment choices. When the market is going up and a clear majority of our investment choices work out well, this reinforces our confidence, sometimes to a point where we may start to feel we can do little wrong, thanks to the state of the market, our investing acumen, or both. This can be dangerous.

The herd mentality. You know how this goes: if everyone is doing something, they must be doing it for sound and logical reasons. The herd mentality is what leads many investors to buy high (and sell low). It can also promote panic selling. Above all, it encourages market timing – and when investors try to time the market, they frequently realize subpar returns.

Sometimes, asking ourselves what our certainty is based on and what it reflects about ourselves can be a helpful and informative step. Examining our preconceptions may help us as we invest.


Mike Moffitt may be reached at 641-782-5577 or mikem@cfgiowa.com.

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

Citations.

1 – forbes.com/sites/theyec/2018/12/14/three-psychological-biases-that-prevent-effective-financial-management [12/14/18]

 

Could Social Security Really Go Away?

That may be unlikely, but the program does face definite financial challenges. 

Will Social Security run out of money in the 2030s? You may have heard warnings about this dire scenario coming true. These warnings, however, assume that no action will be taken to address Social Security’s financial challenges between now and then.

It is true that Social Security is being strained by a gradual demographic shift. The Census Bureau says that in 2035, America will have more senior citizens than children for the first time. In that year, 21% of us will be age 65 or older.1

As this shift occurs, the ratio of workers to retirees is also changing. There were three working adults for every Social Security recipient in 1995. The ratio is projected to be 2.2 to 1 in 2035.2

Since Social Security is largely funded with payroll taxes, this presents a major dilemma.

Social Security may soon pay out more money than it takes in. That has not happened since 1982. This could become a “new normal” given the above-mentioned population and labor force changes.3

When you read a sentence stating, “Social Security could run out of money by 2035,” it is really referring to the potential depletion of the Social Security Administration’s Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) trust funds – the twin trust funds from which monthly retiree and disability payments are disbursed. Should Social Security’s net cash outflow continue unchecked, these trust funds may actually be exhausted around that time.4

Social Security is currently authorized to pay full benefits to retirees through the mid-2030s. If its shortfall continues, it will have to ask Congress for greater spending authority in order to sustain benefit payments to meet retiree expectations.4

What if Congress fails to address Social Security’s cash flow problem? If no action is taken, Social Security could elect to reduce retirement benefits at some point in the future. Its board of trustees notes one option in its latest annual report: benefits could be cut by 21%. That could help payouts continue steadily through 2092.2

No one wants to see benefits cut, so what might Congress do to address the crisis? A few ideas have emerged.

*Expose all wages to the Social Security tax or increase it at certain levels. Right now, the Social Security tax only applies to income above $132,900. Lifting this wage cap on the tax or boosting the tax above a particular income threshold would bring Social Security more revenue, specifically from higher-earning Americans.5

*Raise Social Security’s full retirement age (FRA). This is the age when people become eligible to receive unreduced retirement benefits. The Social Security reforms passed in 1983 have gradually increased the FRA from 65 to 67. Should it be reset to 69 or 70? Healthier, wealthier seniors might tolerate such a decision, but poorer and less-healthy ones might not.5

*Calculate COLAs differently. Social Security could figure its cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) using the “chained” version of the Consumer Price Index, which some economists believe more accurately measures inflation than the standard CPI. Its COLAs could be smaller as a result.5

*Stop paying Social Security benefits to the richest retirees. This would help to address a cash flow imbalance.5

Social Security could be restructured in the coming decades. Significant reforms may or may not fix its revenue problem. In the future, Social Security might not be able to offer retirees exactly what it does now, and with that in mind, you might want to reevaluate your potential sources of retirement income today.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

Citations.

1 – denverpost.com/2019/03/01/ageism-colorado-tight-labor-market/ [3/1/19]

2 – fool.com/retirement/2018/09/29/social-securitys-fast-facts-and-figures-report-hig.aspx [9/29/18]

3 – fool.com/retirement/2019/03/03/why-2019-is-the-social-security-year-weve-all-fear.aspx [3/3/19]

4 – taxfoundation.org/social-security-deficit/ [6/12/18]

5 – morningstar.com/articles/918591/will-the-big-social-security-fix-include-expansion.html [3/14/19]

 

Gradual Retirement

Not everyone retires the same way – or at the same pace.  

Are you in a hurry to retire? Not everyone is rushing to that particular finish line. According to the 2018 retirement survey from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, which gauges the outlook of American workers, 56% of those who describe themselves as “fully retired” did so before age 65, while another 14% said goodbye to the daily grind in the year they turned 65. But that still leaves a significant number – 30% of respondents – working beyond age 65, with some even indicating that they never “expect to stop working.”1    

Are financial needs shaping these responses? For some, though not everyone. Those who retired after age 65 offered a wide range of responses. Forty-seven percent of respondents indicated that they wanted to remain “active” or that they “enjoy what [they] do.” But many indicated that they couldn’t afford to retire (24%), needed to maintain health benefits (12%), or simply wanted to continue making money (56%). That latter statistic may speak to a desire for more financial independence, or a hope to spend a few extra years in the workforce, so they can continue making contributions to retirement accounts.1

“Retirement” and “work” are no longer mutually exclusive. Whatever your reasons for not retiring at the earliest opportunity, the truth is that many people enjoy good health and vitality well into their seventh decade (and beyond) and see no reason to speed their way into that phase of their life.2

Social Security will eventually become a factor, whether you retire in your sixties or wait until after you turn 70. We are sometimes cautioned that working too much in retirement may result in our Social Security benefits being taxed. Your benefits stop accumulating at that age, as do delayed retirement credits. Delaying collecting benefits until age 70 does have one big plus: your monthly deposit will be 132% of the basic monthly benefit.2

If you do want to make a gradual retirement transition, what might help you do it? First of all, work on maintaining your health. The second priority: maintain and enhance your skill set, so that your prospects for employment in your sixties are not reduced by separation from the latest technologies. Keep networking. Think about Plan B: if you are unable to continue working in your chosen career, even part time, what prospects might you have for creating income through financial decisions, self-employment, or in other lines of work? How can you reduce your monthly expenses?

Easing out of work & into retirement may be the new normal. Pessimistic analysts contend that many Americans will not be able to keep working past 65, no matter their aspirations, and that 70 is out of the question. They may be right, and many will not be able to meet that goal. That said, they may be wrong – you are part of an active, ambitious generation that has changed the world, so don’t be surprised if you also help change the definition of retirement.3

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email:  mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty.

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

Citations.

1 – transamericacenter.org/docs/default-source/retirees-survey/tcrs2018_sr_retirees_survey_financially_faring.pdf [12/18]
2 – thebalance.com/why-retire-at-70-2389048 [3/2/19]
3 – cnbc.com/2018/10/03/david-bach-disagrees-that-70-is-the-new-retirement-age.html [10/3/18]

Bad Money Habits to Break

Behaviors worth changing. 

Do bad money habits constrain your financial progress? Many people fall into the same financial behavior patterns, year after year. If you sometimes succumb to these financial tendencies, now is as good a time as any to alter your behavior.

#1: Lending money to family & friends. You may know someone who has lent a few thousand to a sister or brother, a few hundred to an old buddy, and so on. Generosity is a virtue, but personal loans can easily transform into personal financial losses for the lender. If you must loan money to a friend or family member, mention that you will charge interest and set a repayment plan with deadlines. Better yet, don’t do it at all. If your friends or relatives can’t learn to budget, why should you bail them out?

#2: Spending more than you make. Living beyond your means, living on margin, or whatever you wish to call it – it is a path toward significant debt. Wealth is seldom made by buying possessions; today’s flashy material items may become the garage sale junk of the future.

#3: Saving little or nothing. Good savers build emergency funds, have money to invest and compound, and leave the stress of living paycheck to paycheck behind. If you are not able to put extra money away, there is another way to get some: a second job. Even working 15-20 hours more per week could make a big difference.

#4: Living without a budget. You may make enough money that you don’t feel you need to budget. In truth, few of us are really that wealthy. In calculating a budget, you may find opportunities for savings and detect wasteful spending.

#5: Frivolous spending. Advertisers can make us feel as if we have sudden needs; needs we must respond to, or ones that can only be met via the purchase of a product. See their ploys for what they are. Think twice before spending impulsively.

#6: Not using cash often enough. No one can deny that the world runs on credit, but that doesn’t mean your household should. Pay with cash as often as your budget allows.

#7: Thinking you’ll win the lottery. When the headlines are filled with news of big lottery jackpots, you might be tempted to throw a few bucks at a lottery ticket. It’s important, though, to be fully aware that the odds in the lottery and other games of chance are against you. A few bucks once in a while is one thing, but a few bucks (or more) every week could possibly lead to financial and personal issues.

#8: Inadequate financial literacy. Is the financial world boring? To many people, it can seem that way. The Wall Street Journal is not exactly Rolling Stone, and The Economist is hardly light reading. You don’t have to start there, however. There are great, readable, and even, entertaining websites filled with useful financial information. Reading an article per day on these websites could help you greatly increase your financial understanding.

#9: Not contributing to retirement plans. The earlier you contribute to them, the better; the more you contribute to them, the more compounding of those invested assets you may potentially realize.

#10: DIY retirement strategy. Those who save for retirement without the help of professionals may leave themselves open to abrupt, emotional investing mistakes and other oversights. Another common tendency is to vastly underestimate the amount of money needed for the future. Few people have the time to amass the knowledge and skill set possessed by a financial services professional with years of experience. Instead of flirting with trial and error, see a professional for insight.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

Is America Prepared to Retire?

A look at some ways to get ready. 

Are Americans saving enough? Only 19% of U.S. adults describe themselves as “very confident” when asked about their savings. Worry spots include retiring without enough money saved (16%) and anxiety about having a “rainy day” emergency fund (14%). These findings come from the 2018 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. (The survey collected data from 2,017 U.S. adults.)1 

Only 41% of us keep a regular budget. If you are one of those roughly two-out-of-five Americans, you’re on the right track. While this percentage is on par with findings going back to 2007, the study also finds that while 65% of Americans are saving part of their annual income towards retirement, 29% indicate they are “not at all confident” that their savings will be enough to sustain them.1

Relatively few seek the help of a financial professional. When asked “Considering what I already know about personal finance, I could still benefit from some advice and answers to everyday financial questions from a professional,” 79% of respondents agreed with the statement. Yet only 13% indicated that they would seek out the help of some sort of financial professional if they had “financial problems related to debt.” While it isn’t surprising to think that 24% of respondents would turn to friends and family, it may be alarming to learn that 18% would choose to turn to no one at all.1

Why don’t more people seek help? After all, Americans of all incomes and savings levels certainly are free to set financial goals. They may feel embarrassed about speaking to a stranger about personal financial issues. It may also be the case that they feel like they don’t make enough money to speak to a professional, or perhaps, a financial professional is something that millionaires and billionaires have, not the average American worker. Another possibility is that they feel like they have a good handle on their financial future; they have a budget and stick to it, and they contribute to an IRA, 401(k), or have some other investments. But that 79% admission, mentioned above, indicates that a vast majority of Americans are not as confident.1

Defined goals lead to definite strategies. If you set financial objectives, you vault ahead of most Americans – at least according to these findings. A written financial strategy does not imply or guarantee wealth, of course, nor does it ensure that you will reach your goals. Yet that financial strategy does give you an understanding of the distance between your current financial situation (where you are) and where you want to be.

How much have you strategized? Retiring without a financial strategy is an enormous risk; retiring with a strategy that hasn’t been reviewed in several years is also chancy. A relationship with a financial professional can help to bring you up to date about what you need to do and provide you with more clarity and confidence when it comes to the financial future.  

Mike Moffitt may be reached at phone# 641-782-5577 or email:  mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com    

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

Citations.

1 – nfcc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/NFCC_BECU_2018-FLS_datasheet-with-key-findings_031318-002.pdf [3/13/18]

Your Emergency Fund: How Much is Enough?

An emergency fund may help alleviate the stress associated with a financial crisis.

Have you ever had one of those months? The water heater stops heating, the dishwasher stops washing, and your family ends up on a first-name basis with the nurse at urgent care. Then, as you’re driving to work, giving yourself your best, “You can make it!” pep talk, you see smoke seeping out from under your hood.

Bad things happen to the best of us, and instead of conveniently spacing themselves out, they almost always come in waves. The important thing is to have a financial life preserver, in the form of an emergency cash fund, at the ready.

Although many people agree that an emergency fund is an important resource, they’re not sure how much to save or where to keep the money. Others wonder how they can find any extra cash to sock away. One recent survey found that 29% of Americans lack any emergency savings whatsoever.1

How Much Money? When starting an emergency fund, you’ll want to set a target amount. But how much is enough? Unfortunately, there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer. The ideal amount for your emergency fund may depend on your financial situation and lifestyle. For example, if you own your home or provide for a number of dependents, you may be more likely to face financial emergencies. And if the crisis you face is a job loss or injury that affects your income, you may need to depend on your emergency fund for an extended period of time.

Coming Up with Cash. If saving several months of income seems an unreasonable goal, don’t despair. Start with a more modest target, such as saving $1,000. Build your savings at regular intervals, a bit at a time. It may help to treat the transaction like a bill you pay each month. Consider setting up an automatic monthly transfer to make self-discipline a matter of course. You may want to consider paying off any credit card debt before you begin saving.

Once you see your savings begin to build, you may be tempted to use the account for something other than an emergency. Try to budget and prepare separately for bigger expenses you know are coming. Keep your emergency money separate from your checking account so that it’s harder to dip into.

Where Do I Put It? An emergency fund should be easily accessible, which is why many people choose traditional bank savings accounts. Savings accounts typically offer modest rates of return. Certificates of Deposit may provide slightly higher returns than savings accounts, but your money will be locked away until the CD matures, which could be several months to several years.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insures bank accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs) up to $250,000 per depositor, per institution in principal and interest. CDs are time deposits offered by banks, thrift institutions, and credit unions. CDs offer a slightly higher return than a traditional bank savings account, but they also may require a higher amount of deposit. If you sell before the CD reaches maturity, you may be subject to penalties.2

Some individuals turn to money market accounts for their emergency savings. Money market funds are considered low-risk securities, but they’re not backed by the federal government like CDs, so it is possible to lose money. Depending on your particular goals and the amount you have saved, some combination of lower-risk investments may be your best choice.2

Money held in money market funds is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Money market funds seek to preserve the value of your investment at $1.00 a share. However, it is possible to lose money by investing in a money market fund. Money market mutual funds are sold by prospectus.2

Please consider the charges, risks, expenses, and investment objectives carefully before investing. A prospectus containing this and other information about the investment company can be obtained from your financial professional. Read it carefully before you invest or send money.

The only thing you can know about unexpected expenses is that they’re coming – for everyone. But having an emergency fund may help alleviate the stress and worry associated with a financial crisis. If your emergency savings are not where they should be, consider taking steps today to create a cushion for the future.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at 641-782-5577 or mikem@cfgiowa.com
www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

Citations.
1 – cnbc.com/2018/07/02/about-55-million-americans-have-no-emergency-savings.html [7/6/18]
2 – investor.vanguard.com/investing/cash-investments [12/13/18]