Editorial Results (free)
1. When It Rains, It Pours
- Friday, April 20, 2018
I always have an umbrella in my car. Most of the time it just takes up space and I end up pushing it aimlessly around the car to make room for other things. And there are many months of the year when an umbrella seems utterly pointless. But in Memphis, when it rains, it pours, and when that day comes I’m happy to have it.
2. How Much Are You Worth?
- Friday, April 13, 2018
Ray’s Take: What do Mike Tyson, Curt Schilling, Marvin Gaye, Francis Ford Coppola and Meat Loaf all have in common?
3. To Refinance or Not to Refinance?
- Friday, April 6, 2018
Ray’s Take: According to The American Mortgage in Historical Context, 30-year mortgages are a relatively new thing. In the time before the Great Depression, mortgages had short maturity times and usually required a very high down payment. Pre-Depression mortgages featured variable interest rates and were usually renegotiated on a yearly basis. Boy, have times changed!
4. Improving Your Credit Score
- Friday, March 30, 2018
Ray’s Take: We all have memories of preparing to take a really hard test. Up all night studying, lots of caffeine, stressing up until that very moment you sit down with the paper and pencil knowing that everything you worked so hard for depends on the answers you mark on that one piece of paper. And then you have to wait for the results. The waiting may be harder than the test itself. I think this is how many people feel about getting their credit score.
5. How Much House?
- Friday, March 23, 2018
Ray’s Take: One of my greatest joys is helping someone plan and reach his or her goal of buying a new home. Whether it’s a first home, a vacation home, a fixer-upper, new construction or an empty nesting home, buying a new home is exciting.
6. Smart Travel Planning
- Friday, March 16, 2018
Ray’s Take: It’s been a long, cold, rainy winter here in the Bluff City, and everyone is looking forward to Spring Break, sunshine, warmer weather and possibly making plans for a summer vacation.
7. A Look Back At UT’s History In NCAA Tourney
- Friday, March 16, 2018
Basketball coach Rick Barnes was fired by Texas in late March of 2015 when he refused to fire members of his coaching staff.
8. No Luck Investing
- Friday, March 9, 2018
Ray’s Take: A rabbit’s foot on a string. A silver dollar. A four-leaf clover. A lucky penny. These are all lyrics from a 1961 song by our very own Memphis legend, Elvis Presley, titled “Good Luck Charm.”
9. Trust Funds 101
- Friday, March 2, 2018
Ray’s Take: Most people have heard the expression, “He/she is a trust fund baby.” But what does that mean exactly?
Most people do not understand the basics of a trust and think they are only applicable to children or heirs of high-wealth individuals and businesses. While many times this is true, there are certain situations when a trust might serve as an integral part of your overall planning.
10. Revisiting Your Will
- Friday, February 23, 2018
Ray’s Take: The start of a new year is a great time to get out your will and really read it. If you don’t have one, call your attorney today and get one. I do not recommend that you try and do this yourself or through an online program. Most people do not have financial situations that are so specific that you won’t need a lawyer. And oftentimes self-prepared wills are not executed correctly. I have lived through too many disasters of flawed wills to go there.
11. Living By Giving
- Friday, February 16, 2018
Ray’s Take: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” This was the wisdom of Winston S. Churchill, but living a life of generosity is beneficial for you, your family and your community. Some of the most successful and powerful people in the world have tapped into the power of giving.
12. Tax Time Tips
- Friday, February 9, 2018
Ray’s Take: It’s that time of year when many people find themselves scrambling through file cabinets, sorting through stacks of papers and gathering receipts in preparation for filing their yearly tax return. If you are unhappy with the lack of organization in your tax preparation, that could be your resolution for the coming year.
13. Setting Financial Goals
- Friday, February 2, 2018
Ray’s Take: A new year for many brings with it thoughts of New Year’s resolutions. Whether it’s stopping smoking, losing weight, saving money or spending less time at work, resolutions too often feel negative or depriving. Instead of talking about “making resolutions,” we should be talking about “setting goals.”
14. Job Hopping and Your Retirement Plans
- Friday, January 26, 2018
Ray’s Take: There was a time when you worked your entire career at one company and retired with a pension and a gold watch after 40 or so years of service. But, like so many things, that picture has changed over the years. Job hopping – once a red flag on your resume – is now the norm.
15. Midlife Look at Insurance Needs
- Friday, January 19, 2018
Ray’s Take: Life insurance is an important part of most overall financial plans. Replacing the capital value of the significant providers is critical should they not be able to provide. Owning the right insurance for the right price at the right time in your life is a crucial element to your financial well-being.
16. Stash More Cash
- Friday, January 12, 2018
Ray’s Take: On the surface it seems simple. Most of us know we need to save more cash – especially to bolster an emergency fund. And yet savings are at historic lows and many are a couple of paychecks away from serious financial problems.
17. Save More This Year
- Friday, January 5, 2018
Ray’s Take: January is the time of year when many people make decisions about how they want to improve their lives in the coming year. Part of your plans for improvement should be to figure out if there are any places in your life where you can save more than you did last year (and the year before).
18. Powers of Attorney: A Big Part of the Plan
- Friday, December 29, 2017
Ray’s Take: There are multiple moving parts to a good estate plan and various powers of attorney are an important element. Power of attorney basically gives someone else the right to act on your behalf; there are two types of powers of attorney.
19. Pets in Your Estate Plan
- Friday, December 22, 2017
Ray’s Take: Most of us consider our pets part of the family. But sometimes we don't think about including them in plans for what happens after we're gone. Part of our responsibility to these dependent creatures is to make sure that their care and comfort will continue uninterrupted should we become incapable of caring for them ourselves.
20. Estate Planning For Unmarried Couples
- Friday, December 15, 2017
Ray’s Take Times change. And more couples put off getting married for numerous reasons. People are marrying at a later age and sometimes not at all. Older Americans who have been widowed or previously divorced are deciding to cohabit instead of marrying.
21. Avoid 401(k) Loans
- Friday, December 8, 2017
Ray’s Take Many employers offer 401(k) plans that grant participants the option to take out a loan. And when times are tough – or maybe you really, really want to renovate your kitchen – it’s tempting to withdraw money from your 401(k) for a loan.
22. Bridging the Gap
- Friday, December 1, 2017
Ray’s Take: After years of working, planning and saving, many retirees are well-prepared financially to stop going to work in order to earn a living. But many are less prepared for how to fill the space previously filled by work.
23. Retirement Community Revamp
- Thursday, November 23, 2017
Ray’s Take Deciding where you want to live in retirement is one of the most important questions you should ask yourself when creating your plan. Do you want to stay in the home where you are currently? Or downsize with a downstairs bedroom and no yard? Maybe a retirement community would suit you.
24. Playing It Safe
- Friday, November 17, 2017
Ray’s Take: With the rise in major hacking instances, it’s more important than ever to be safe, savvy and vigilant when it comes to online accounts. Not only were there major hacks to some of the big-box stores like Target and Home Depot, but they also happened at sites that are perceived to be much more secure. Like Experian – and the federal government. Remember the hack into the personnel database?
25. Medical Planning for Two
- Friday, November 10, 2017
Ray’s Take: Planning how you’ll handle health expenses is one of the crucial jobs for any couple when planning for retirement. While many elements of health insurance are based on the individual, it’s important to evaluate these expenses as a couple because what happens to one person inevitably affects the couple as a whole. From a financial point of view and also from a caregiver point of view.
26. Estate Planning for Blended Families
- Friday, November 3, 2017
Ray’s Take: Estate planning has undergone a lot of changes over the years, and one of the most significant doesn’t have anything to do with the tax laws. It is the change in family relationships. Chances are, you or someone you know is part of a blended family. This was once an uncommon situation, but in today’s world fully 42 percent of adults have some kind of step-relationship, according to Pew Research.
27. Maximize Your Retirement
- Friday, October 27, 2017
Ray’s Take: One day you’ll be able to take a deep breath and say you’ve made it.
All the planning and worry and strategizing has paid off, and you’re retired – or at least have the choice of whether or not you want to work. A wide array of new possibilities has become available to you. You now have the opportunity to create a life that’s determined by your interests, desires and priorities, without the constraint of having to earn a living.
28. Bookends of Retirement Planning
- Friday, October 20, 2017
Ray’s Take: Planning for your financial independence can seem overwhelming with a minefield of moving parts. Achieving the dream of a secure, comfortable retirement is much easier when you know the significant numbers involved.
29. The Magic Numbers
- Friday, October 13, 2017
Ray’s Take: Saving for retirement doesn’t just happen by accident. It takes meaningful thought, discipline, and action to create and execute a plan that will sustain you in your golden years. Yet, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, only 18 percent of U.S. workers say they are very confident of having enough money to live comfortably during their retirement years. There seems to be a big disconnect going on between knowledge and execution.
30. Let It Go: Stress, Finances Don’t Mix Well
- Friday, October 6, 2017
Ray’s Take: Worrying is a way that our brain prepares us for the next challenge or opportunity, and it’s healthy in low doses. But too many of us are consumed by worry, which creates stress. And stressful thinking can sabotage your finances. A 2015 study by the American Psychological Association found that money is the leading cause of stress for many Americans.
31. Realistic Returns
- Friday, September 29, 2017
Ray’s Take: It’s common among investors to fall into the “short-term mindset” with investments. The financial media tends to make things worse. If you do not see the returns you want on cue, you decide to move your funds around to the ones that are showing higher short-term returns.
32. Keeping Up With The Joneses Can Be a Financial Catastrophe
- Friday, September 22, 2017
Ray’s Take: There’s nothing quite like the feeling of seeing your neighbor drive up in their beautiful new car or hearing about their fabulous planned vacation. It can make you forget about every other plan or goal you’ve made for yourself. Keeping up with the Joneses can eat away at your financial dreams.
33. Create an Investment Policy Statement
- Friday, September 15, 2017
Ray’s Take: Financial professionals have long used an investment policy statement for their clients. It’s a guiding set of principles, of sorts, to help make decisions along the way. It’s an excellent tool for anyone to use to keep themselves on track when it comes to financial planning.
34. Catching Up In the Home Stretch
- Friday, September 8, 2017
Ray’s Take: There aren’t a lot of benefits to getting older, but when it comes to saving for retirement, there are a few. If you’re 50 or older and feel like you haven’t saved quite as much as you would like for your retirement plan, you could be in luck when it comes to contributions.
35. Retirement Worries to Tackle Ahead of Time
- Friday, September 1, 2017
Ray’s Take: A long, happy retirement is one of the great American dreams.
Maybe you’ve watched as friends and family have stepped into that long awaited golden time. Watched as they traded in the daily grind of working for a more leisurely lifestyle on their terms. At least, that’s what it looks like on the outside.
36. Memphis Baseball Begins 'Babe' Howard Expansion
- Saturday, August 26, 2017
The University of Memphis has broken ground on a 1,600 square-foot addition to the W.S. “Babe” Howard Training Facility attached to FedExPark, University of Memphis Athletic Director Tom Bowen announced.
37. Net Worth is Like GPS for Your Retirement
- Friday, August 25, 2017
Ray’s Take: When you have your annual physical, your physician looks at a number of your vital indicators; so does your financial planner. Net worth is the value of all assets, minus the total of all liabilities. In other words, net worth is what you own minus what you owe.
38. Memphis Baseball Begins Babe Howard Expansion
- Tuesday, August 22, 2017
The University of Memphis has broken ground on a 1,600 square-foot addition to the W.S. “Babe” Howard Training Facility attached to FedExPark, University of Memphis Athletic Director Tom Bowen announced.
39. How Many Funds Make a Good Mix?
- Friday, August 18, 2017
Ray’s Take: When it comes to building a portfolio for retirement, your goal shouldn’t be to load up with as many different types of investments as you can in the hopes that you’ll outsmart any fluctuations in the market. Diversification, like all things, has its limits.
40. Early Retirement – Can You Do It?
- Friday, August 11, 2017
Ray’s Take: Many people dream of making an early exit from the work routine, but making that dream a reality has some challenges. By retiring at, say, age 55 instead of 65, you have 10 fewer years of saving and investing for building a nest egg that has to support you through an extra 10 years of retirement. That double-whammy of fewer working years to save and more retirement years to spend is what makes early retirement tough to pull off.
41. Managing Money is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
- Friday, August 4, 2017
Ray’s Take: Training to run a marathon and creating a financial plan have a lot in common if you’re going to succeed. An overall plan includes short-term and long-term goals and the ability to stick to the plan through thick and thin. No pain, no gain. Right? And that applies to money as well as running.
42. Finding Your Best Bank – It’s Worth It
- Friday, July 28, 2017
Ray’s Take: There’s a perception that all banks are the same and offer the same services and have the same fees. That may have been true at one time, but in today’s world, it pays to investigate a broad range of financial institutions to find the one that has the best products and services geared toward your individual needs.
43. Be Boring
- Friday, July 21, 2017
Ray’s Take: Sometimes, it’s tempting to try to beat the market through the excitement of stock picking or by choosing riskier investments with the promise of a higher return. It seems like everyone has a friend of a friend with a great investment story.
44. Keys to Great Financial Planning
- Friday, July 14, 2017
Ray’s Take: It would be nice if you had a magic formula or an easy trick that made it so you never had to worry about money again, but life doesn’t work that way. You need a plan to help you reach your goals, and the plan should have multiple steps.
45. Boomerang – When Adult Children Come Home
- Friday, July 7, 2017
Ray’s Take: A changing economy, a sluggish job market and student loan debt have created a perfect storm for delaying the empty nest parents have expected, and had, in the past. According to a recent Census Bureau report, 30 percent of young adults ages 18 to 34 live with their parents. That’s a big number, and the trend is driven in part by unemployment or underemployment of millennials.
46. Estate Planning – It’s Not Just Taxes
- Friday, June 23, 2017
Ray’s Take: Many people think estate planning is only for the super wealthy, but that’s not the case. Do you have a home? Children or grandchildren? Elderly parents? Bank accounts or other assets? If you have any of these, you need an estate plan. And it’s about more than just taxes.
47. Match Game: Employer Matching Funds
- Friday, June 16, 2017
Ray’s Take: I am amazed at how many times when I ask people how much they are contributing to their 401(k) the answer comes back, “Whatever the match my company gives is – I love free money!” There’s a much better way to make that decision, but that is a topic for another column. There are a number of reasons companies offer some form of match and they may not all be charitable.
48. Retirement Paychecks – Reversing the Flow
- Friday, June 9, 2017
Ray’s Take Retirement planning doesn’t end when you stop working, and one of the biggest concerns for any retiree is running out of money. As you move into retirement, you move from the accumulation phase to the distribution phase of planning, and it has a lot of moving parts. Retirement is like a car trip, but there are no gas stations along the way. What you have in the tank is it.
49. 529 Plans – What You Should Know
- Friday, June 2, 2017
Ray’s Take This August, I will be the proud parent of college freshman. With that pride comes the bills for tuition, room and board, books, etc.
Dana and I have long believed that an education is the best gift to a child, but not at the expense of our own retirement. We started saving for college the moment we had social security numbers for our kids. With college tuition costs rising every year, saving early for education is one of the most important decisions parents can make. One vehicle for saving is the 529 plan.
50. New Rules for Emergency Funds
- Friday, May 26, 2017
Ray’s Take The old rule of thumb for an emergency savings account was three to six months of living expenses. It was created at a time when the workforce experience was more monolithic and predictable. This was when there more likely was a single breadwinner who worked at the same company their entire life and retired with a gold watch and a big send-off party.
51. Uncertain Times
- Friday, May 19, 2017
Ray’s Take We live in uncertain times. There are no guarantees; there is only planning and adapting. A sound financial plan is a great hedge against uncertain times, and the inability to predict future tax rates or the direction of the stock market should not be a deterrent to having a good financial plan.
52. Financial Spring Cleaning
- Friday, May 12, 2017
Ray’s Take: This time of year our thoughts turn to spring – and cleaning. Sprucing up our yard. Clearing out closets and other clutter. But how about our finances? Spring is a great time to take a look at debt, savings, budgets and retirement plans with an eye to getting them all in shape.
53. Financial Freedom
- Friday, May 5, 2017
Ray’s Take We have been trying to move away from using the word “retirement” and instead focus on achieving “financial freedom.” But have you ever asked yourself what financial freedom is?
54. The Optimal Retirement Age
- Friday, April 28, 2017
Ray’s Take Most of us say we want to do it – retire, that is. Given that, how do we find that perfect time to do it? Retirement at the optimal age isn’t something to be left to chance; it is something that needs to be a rational decision that takes into consideration a variety of variables. Financial variables include how much income you’ll be receiving from all sources and factoring in life expectancy and health issues. Emotional variables include considering that your spouse may have taken you for better or worse, but not for lunch.
55. Target-Date Funds and Taxes
- Friday, April 21, 2017
Ray’s Take Target-date funds are mutual funds that contain a collection of other mutual funds that are designed to invest aggressively at the beginning and, over a long time horizon, move money into progressively more conservative holdings as the target date approaches.
56. Retirement Planning Illusions
- Friday, April 14, 2017
Ray’s Take By its nature, retirement planning requires making plans without being able to know the future. When it comes to retirement planning, there’s no shortage of conventional wisdom.
57. Growth Funds for Tax Efficiency
- Friday, April 7, 2017
Ray’s Take When it comes to real return, it’s not what you make, but what you keep after taxes and inflation that counts.
Being mindful of taxes is more important than ever. Tax-efficiency in taxable portfolios is imperative, whether they’re pre-retirement accumulation accounts or retirement distribution portfolios. It’s incumbent upon investors to understand the tax implications for the various funds in their portfolios to plan the best strategy for their retirement.
58. After Losing a Loved One
- Friday, March 31, 2017
Ray’s Take The loss of a loved one can shatter your life. As you adjust to not having that person as a part of your world any longer, the painful grieving process can feel never-ending.
59. Keeping Your Information Private (and Safe)
- Friday, March 24, 2017
Ray’s Take We live in an increasingly online world. You can trade stocks, buy groceries, pay bills or order a ride, all on your computer or smartphone. Almost any financial transaction you need to make can be done in the comfort of your own home. With identity theft posing a real threat, keeping financial data private requires that consumers be proactive in the way they approach online security.
60. What’s Wrong With the 4 Percent Strategy?
- Friday, March 17, 2017
Ray’s Take: When you finally reach your retirement date, one of your first questions will be: How much of my savings can I spend?
The seat-of-the-pants guideline for retirement withdrawals has been 4 percent for many years. That’s all well and good when 10-year treasuries were yielding 6 percent. Now they are under 2.5 percent so that approach and the rule are less clear. Retirement readiness is too complex to be bound by a simple rule of thumb. Further, that rule doesn’t necessarily take into account investment expenses.
61. Keep Your Finances on Track
- Friday, March 10, 2017
Ray’s Take Not being careful about precisely where your money is going can leave you struggling to pay for necessities like groceries now and retirement later. Taking just a small amount of time to do some tasks now can lead to big financial wins all year long – and into the future.
62. Midlife Insurance Audit
- Friday, March 3, 2017
Ray’s Take Owning the right type of insurance policies at the right price at the right time of your life is a crucial element to your financial planning. Preparing for retirement is a particularly important time to do a full risk management evaluation, as you may no longer need some types of coverage you’ve had for years. You might be overpaying for others or might be inadvertently underinsured against some potential risks.
63. Overestimate Health Care Costs for a Healthier Retirement Budget
- Friday, February 24, 2017
Ray’s Take It’s not news that health care costs are increasing. Whether you’re just in the planning stages or you’ve already left the workforce, estimating your health care needs is a major cost to consider during retirement.
64. Retirement Spending Budget
- Friday, February 17, 2017
Ray’s Take How much you spend from your retirement savings from year to year is arguably the most important piece in the retirement finance puzzle.
Before developing your spending strategy, you should understand an important overarching philosophy: You can’t control financial market fluctuations. You can only control how much risk you take, how much you spend and how to adapt. When you stay invested during retirement, there will be times when market volatility makes it feel like you’ve lost control. Maintaining a plan can help rein in this feeling.
65. Exercise Care When Taking Distributions
- Friday, February 10, 2017
Ray’s Take With few exceptions, the IRS requires that investors in traditional tax-deferred accounts begin to draw them down when they reach age 70 1/2. Most people are inclined to think about required minimum distributions (RMDs) once they start having to take them. It’s a good idea to start some projections well in advance of that deadline. If you miss the deadline, the IRS will access a penalty of 50 percent of the amount you should have taken.
66. Create a Cash Flow Plan With Taxes in Mind
- Friday, February 3, 2017
Ray’s Take When you head out the door on the last day of your job, you want to know that you've made a solid plan to take care of finances during your retirement years. And, even though that regular paycheck from your employer is out of the picture, Uncle Sam will still want his share of your money. Understanding the tax repercussions of distributions from various retirement vehicles and planning accordingly ahead of time can help you be more tax efficient in your planning.
67. Incorporate Life Planning in Your Financial Plan
- Friday, January 27, 2017
Ray’s Take You may already devote considerable attention to the financial side of retirement planning: how much to save, how to invest, different ways of turning your nest egg into a reliable retirement income, etc. But have you given thought to retirement lifestyle planning?
68. Retirement Budget Busters
- Friday, January 20, 2017
Ray’s Take When you’re working, emergencies seem to happen fairly regularly. Whether it’s a new roof or a special vacation, they come up. If there’s not enough money in the emergency fund, you can always adjust the plan – earn a little extra, delay retirement, etc. But after you retire, there’s not as much margin for error.
69. Saving More – Can It Be Done?
- Friday, January 13, 2017
Ray’s Take When you’re busy focusing on living your life, it’s easy to fall into spending habits that aren’t exactly consistent with your long-term goals. Marketing departments hire some very smart people who can get you to buy things that you didn’t even know you wanted!
70. 2016 – What Can We Learn From the Big Events?
- Friday, January 6, 2017
Ray’s Take One of the most important disciplines in financial planning is the annual review. A time to look at what worked, what didn’t, what needs adjusting and what we learned. As we look back on 2016, we can learn some financial lessons from the big events of the year.
71. Fixed Costs: Overhead That May Be Costing You Too Much
- Friday, December 30, 2016
Ray’s Take There’s an old cash flow joke about having too much month at the end of the money. It’s usually more a function of spending than earning. For most people there’s a lot more control over the expenditures side of the equation than there is over the income – at least in the short run. So cutting how much you spend on extras sounds great. But how much of your spending can really be reduced or eliminated? Too much “overhead” can result in disaster.
72. Taxable or Tax-Deferred?
- Friday, December 23, 2016
Ray’s Take Tax planning is an essential part of any budgeting or investment management decision. Generally there are two types of accounts to consider: taxable and tax-deferred. But which one will work best for you? The answer is usually both, but there are definite strategies to consider when choosing.
73. Setting Financial Priorities in Your 50s and Beyond
- Friday, December 16, 2016
Ray’s Take Every phase of life has its challenges – financial and otherwise. Your education gives way to career, which is often followed by marriage and children. Next comes educating those children. It would be great if all of these phases were managed and balanced as we pass through them, but most of us have a few detours along the way.
74. Financial Recovery Regrets
- Friday, December 9, 2016
Ray’s Take When the market went into meltdown in 2008 a lot of investments and property values went south. People are recovering from losses to the value of their homes and losses in portfolios, but some still need to dig their way out. Getting out of a hole always takes a lot longer than falling in.
75. Retirement Drawdown – Which First?
- Friday, December 2, 2016
Ray’s Take It’s not what you earn, but what you keep. That old saying is true when saving for retirement, and it’s just as important – if not more so – when it comes to withdrawing money from your various retirement accounts.
76. Estate Planning for Women
- Thursday, November 24, 2016
Ray’s Take Women have special estate-planning needs that may sometimes be overlooked. Statistically, women live longer than most men and also tend to choose husbands who are older.
77. Protecting Your Parents From Financial Exploitation
- Friday, November 18, 2016
Ray’s Take Financial abuse against elderly victims is nothing new. With an aging population and more access to personal information online, it’s a crime that’s reaching epidemic proportions.
78. Splitting Your Savings – Retirement or College?
- Friday, November 11, 2016
Ray’s Take After purchasing a home, the two biggest expenses most couples encounter are saving for retirement and saving for kids’ college expenses. In a perfect world, parents would estimate how much each goal would require, make a conservative estimate about returns, and then invest enough money each month to reach those goals on target.
79. Prepping for the Next Market Correction
- Friday, November 4, 2016
Ray’s Take Stock market corrections are an inevitable part of investing. Since 1932, declines of 10 to 20 percent have occurred every two years on average. It might happen next week, three months from now, or next year.
80. Digital Assets – You Need a Plan
- Friday, October 28, 2016
Ray’s Take With all the technological changes that have happened in recent years, digital assets need to be a part of your estate plan.
From bank accounts to Facebook, PayPal and more, a good chunk of our personal and financial lives are online. What about eBooks, iTunes and frequent flyer accounts? According to a 2013 McAfee survey, the average person has roughly $35,000 worth of assets stored on digital devices. That’s a lot of digital property to be left floating around.
81. Financial Accounts and College Fees
- Friday, October 21, 2016
Ray’s Take We are now seeing total undergraduate degree costs well in excess of the cost of a new home. We could talk about whether it’s worth it, but that’s another column. Today we want to discuss ways to save for it. First thing–start immediately. You should get going the moment you have a social security number for your child. Second–run the numbers honestly. It’s not realistic to assume scholarships before potty training. A multi-faceted plan will probably work best.
82. Invest In Yourself With Vacation Days
- Friday, October 14, 2016
Ray’s Take Vacation time is an investment in your future. Studies show that many Americans leave vacation days on the table every year. We’re too stressed to take a vacation because we’re stressed by the thought of all the work that will accumulate while we’re gone and make the whole vacation worthless.
83. Spending Smart to Save
- Friday, October 7, 2016
Ray’s Take When we bring up the “B” word (budget), most people’s knee-jerk response is to think in terms of depravation – not spending. While that’s true to an extent, it’s more likely to be successful and sustainable if we slightly change our mindset from “less” spending to “different” spending.
84. Risk Management and Planning
- Friday, September 30, 2016
Ray’s Take Among the many balancing acts involved in professional financial planning is the trade-off between “certainty” and “risk.” While risk may not feel very good sometimes, given the current level of interest rates and inflation, a retirement plan without some level of risk will almost certainly leave you old and broke.
85. Estate Planning – It’s a Need
- Friday, September 23, 2016
Ray’s Take When talking about money and how it works in our lives, we often refer to the difference between wants and needs. The challenge being that when someone really wants something it can start to feel like a need.
86. Retirement Readiness – Positive Planning
- Friday, September 16, 2016
Ray’s Take At varying levels, most of us acknowledge that retirement planning is something that deserves some consideration. The challenge comes in the midst of day-to-day problems and distractions. We can lose focus or may not have a good grasp of what our focus is. It makes an often-difficult task even harder.
87. Mortgages: 15 or 30?
- Friday, September 9, 2016
Ray’s Take When thinking about mortgages, most people look at either the rate or the payment. Typically a 30-year mortgage offers lower payments but has a higher rate and more total interest cost. A 15-year mortgage offers a lower interest rate but has higher payments. Neither one is inherently right or better. When deciding on the mortgage that is best for you, take a deeper look at everything involved.
88. Retirement Planning When You’re Self-Employed
- Friday, September 2, 2016
Ray’s Take Most people who work dream of being their own boss at some point. While there are certainly some benefits, there are a good number of extra headwinds you don’t want to ignore.
89. The Money Mindset
- Friday, August 26, 2016
Ray’s Take We all have rules about how we live our lives, and we have rules about how we use our money. Whether you realize it or not, you have created certain rules around your spending, saving and giving of money.
90. Money Lessons They Don’t Teach in School
- Friday, August 19, 2016
Ray’s Take Less than half of states in the U.S. require the students at public high schools to take a personal finance class before they graduate. So, many young people learn through the “school of hard knocks” once they get out in the real world.
91. Rules Change Once You Retire
- Friday, August 12, 2016
Ray’s Take: Retirement is a time when a lot of the old financial rules get flipped on their head. Most people who retire don’t want to go back to work, and even if they did, they may not be afforded the opportunity. Wal-Mart needs only so many greeters. At this point there’s no turning back, and what money you’ve saved will be the lion’s share of what you will need to live off of.
92. Credit Card for Travel – Use Wisely
- Friday, August 5, 2016
Ray’s Take As a general rule, credit card debt is considered a bad thing. But, as with any rule of thumb, there are exceptions.
How about a travel credit card? These can be an asset as long as you take care to research them – and use them wisely. They can be a money saver, stretching your travel dollars and enhancing your travel experience, with the right research and planning.
93. Long-Term Care – Not for Everyone
- Friday, July 29, 2016
Ray’s Take With people living longer due to advances in medicine and lifestyle changes, chances are that most of us will become disabled for some time before we die and will need some long-term care. The projected numbers are at least seven in 10 Americans over age 65, and the vast majority underestimates the cost.
94. Emotions of Retirement – Are You Ready?
- Friday, July 22, 2016
Ray’s Take: How prepared are you for the emotional side of retirement?
Most of us see retirement planning as a quantitative exercise to be as certain as we can that the financial aspects are in good order. Everything else we tend to see through rose-colored glasses, envisioning it as a time when we are free to do the things we’ve been putting on hold for years. But there’s another side to retirement that few fully think through in advance.
95. Agreeing on Retirement Issues – Start Early
- Friday, July 15, 2016
Ray’s Take Communication is the key to avoiding conflict in any aspect of life. And retirement issues are no exception.
As more baby boomers prepare to retire, they’re increasingly facing complicated negotiations with spouses. Many live in dual-income households. And while each partner may have very specific ideas about when and how to retire, they often avoid discussions about retirement altogether.
96. Carrying Debt Into Retirement
- Friday, July 8, 2016
Ray’s Take: In a perfect world, when we retire, our debt should already be “retired.”
But when it comes to retirement these days, the picture is much different for the baby boomer generation than it was for their parents. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, older consumers are carrying more debt, including mortgages, credit cards and even student loans, into their retirement years. In 2013, the average household headed by someone age 55 or older had $73,211 in debt, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
97. Money and Marriage – Have This Discussion First
- Friday, July 1, 2016
Ray’s Take It may not sound very romantic, but financial compatibility really is a key ingredient in building a lasting relationship. According to a GoBankingRates.com survey, the biggest deal breaker in a relationship is overspending, followed closely by debt and financial honesty.
98. Target-Date Funds, Questions to Ask
- Friday, June 24, 2016
Ray’s take: Target-date funds have become one of the most popular retirement plan investment choices in recent years. A target-date fund is a mutual fund that automatically changes its mix of stocks, bonds and cash based on a date of planned retirement. You just determine your retirement date and choose the one closest to that date.
99. Inflation’s Impact on Your Investments
- Friday, June 17, 2016
Ray’s take: Most investors place “safety” or “guarantees” on the list to consider when evaluating any investment. Too many don’t fully consider the risk of going broke safely on that list. That’s what inflation does to you.
100. Promotions and Money: Time to Review
- Friday, June 10, 2016
Ray’s Take: Congratulations on your promotion! You just took another step on your career path. Now you should take time to be sure you are on track with your financial plan based on your new situation.