Belts and Budgets

1269613009money-belt Ahh, the holidays.  That time of year when spirits are lifted and offenses are forgiven.  When the smell of wassail and a freshly cut Fraser fir wafts through the home.  And, of course, it’s a time when both belts and budgets are stretched, almost as if it’s tradition.  I try never to ask of you something that I’ve not struggled with and asked of myself.  So it is with humility that I offer this prescription for a merrier Christmas and happier New Year regarding belts and budgets:

Eat and spend less.

Deep, huh?  Actually, it is.  Most of the mechanics of successful money and life management are embarrassingly simple; it is WE—you and me—who are hard to manage.  This stuff may be simple, but it’s certainly not easy.

The first question we should ask is, “Am I a natural?”  Do I have an innate proclivity for success in the realms of food and financial-based consumption?  Some people are blessed with a body that can incur a high-caloric blitzkrieg and not seem worse for doing so, but that’s a tiny minority.  For the rest of us, we must reach a mathematical equilibrium in which we’re expending a proportionate amount of the calories we take in.  Then, each of us has a physiological disposition that either makes it harder or easier to reach a comfortable and healthy balance.  That last component is what makes dieting a challenge—many of the variables are unseen.

Budgeting has a similar set of variables.  Money comes in and money goes out.  The primary objective is to spend less than you take in, and the “physiological disposition” equivalent in personal finance is the amount, frequency and variability in the level of income.  It is, necessarily, easier for a family with one monthly paycheck and a set of monthly bills to manage household cash flow than it is for a two-income family with self-employed individuals responsible for the income.  But regardless of the level of complexity, believe me when I tell you that there are natural budgeters—those who have a tendency to spend less than they take in—and those with a predisposition for over-consumption.  Hopefully you’re one.  (Frankly, I’m not.  It’s work.)

The first step towards managing each of these topics well, especially around the holidays when the challenge is exacerbated, is to know where we are weakest.  For food consumption, behold the “French Fry Rule”:  Know the extent of your will power.  For me, I’ve learned that I AM capable of saying NO when the server asks me, “Would you like French fries with that?”  But once the fries are on my plate, I will, invariably, eat them!  Know where (and also when) your will power is strong and weak, and play to your strengths.

When it comes to financial overindulgence, consider “The Four Forms of Money Rule”:  There are four primary forms of money—cash, checks, debit cards and credit cards—and each of us is most responsible with one and least responsible with one.  Personally, I am least responsible with cash.  If cash is in my pocket, much like if French Fries are on my plate, I’m going to dispose of it!

The key to success in both healthy budgeting and eating is to KNOW YOURSELF.  Don’t allow yourself to deceive…yourself.  Be honest and give yourself a fighting chance by playing to your strengths and avoiding your weaknesses.  And when you start to hear that lie in your head, pouting that you’re depriving yourself of a well-deserved treat, remind “it” that the balance and comfort you’ll feel when the temptation has passed is a far more desirable than the momentary indulgence.  As my good friend, Pat Goodman, tells me, “You must not only want what you want; you must want what your wants lead to!”

And if you think I’m asking too much of you, check out Leo Babauta’s blog post entitled, “The Case Against Buying Christmas Presents.”  I’m not necessarily suggesting you go that far, but Leo shares some great wisdom in here that speaks to the underlying causes of holiday-specific excess in spending and takes it to another level.

Pogo Stick Retirement Planning (for Younger Generations)

Pogo stick
While most of my career has been spent advising the Depression Baby and Baby Boomer generations, I have a real heart for younger generations… which, for those of you who know me personally, should come as no surprise.  After all, I’m a Gen-Xer myself.  I’m married (ten years this April) with two energetic boys, ages 5 and almost 7, so I’m right in the thick of it with many of my peers who have built their careers and financial lives in a decade that has delivered the highest level of stock market and real estate volatility since the Great Depression.  And while the complexity in planning for 30- and 40-somethings is often not as great as those who’ve traveled further down life’s winding path, there is no denying that our planning needs range the broadest spectrum imaginable in personal finance.

Some of these topics, such as retirement, appear almost beyond the grasp of younger generations because the variables are so many and the timeline so long.  Indeed, for those closer to the front-end of our retirement journey, we’re faced with a daunting task indeed.  The retirement planning “three-legged stool”—once consisting of a corporate pension, a Social Security retirement benefit and personal savings (savings, 401ks & IRAs) is now the retirement pogo stick!  It’s on us—you and me—to fund our own retirements.  Further complicating matters, doctors suggest that the quantity of life for Gen X and Yer's may far exceed that of our parents and grandparents.  We’re likely to live a long time, but the quality of life—to the degree that it is improved by cash flow—is in question because of the burden of saving.

Last week, I focused on two retirement planning “silver bullets” for hopeful Boomer retirees (Part I & Part II) who may fear that a decade of economic uncertainty has put their goal for a comfortable retirement out of reach.  Here’s how the two concepts I shared are applied to younger generations:

MOVE: The disparity in cost of living across our great country is so vast that it’s almost unfathomable.  I encouraged those on the home stretch of retirement that one could take a failing financial scenario in Parkton, MD—a typical northeast suburban environment—and transplant it in Knoxville, TN, where the same exact home equity and retirement savings would allow them to live happily ever after… financially speaking.  The advantage YOU have is that you can make a decision NOW to take advantage of this geographic arbitrage in advance.  You can CHOOSE to live in a higher cost-of-living area now while keeping an eye on another area to which you might like to transition later in life to give your plan for financial independence a turbo boost.  (Check out the cost-of-living in your area and dream about others with this tool: www.bestplaces.net.) 

WORK: The second silver bullet for near retirees is to transition from a higher-paying job that feels like a grind to a job that they love for less pay, fully recognizing that both medically and financially speaking, we’re really all better off working indefinitely.  The bad news for Baby Boomersis that many grew up with a more utopian view of retirement… that they’d work for “X” number of years and then cast off the chains of employment to spend their latter years in the lap of leisure, if not luxury.  We, however, should simply never buy this lie propagated by the behemoth financial industry, preferring to dangle the carrot of unencumbered bliss on our horizon so that we’d stay on the hamster wheel of hording in the accounts they manage for fees and commissions.  We should EXPECT that we’ll be working indefinitely, and, facing that reality, we should work tirelessly to seek and find that career that doesn’t feel like work.  We can be financially independent as early as our 30s, not because we’ve saved a few million bucks by then (although that wouldn’t hurt), but because we’re working because we WANT to, not because we HAVE to.

What younger generations have lost is the hope that we’ll be able to rely on someone or something else to take care of us financially in our later phases of life.  What we have gained is the freedom and flexibility to pursue a life that is uniquely ours.  Enjoy every minute of it!

 

Retirement Planning Silver Bullets, Part Deux

4609495055_4bf73981e6 In Part One of this two part blog series, we discussed the amazing leverage that can be gained, even in the case of an apparently floundering retirement scenario, when moving from a higher cost-of-living area to one that is lower.  But I fully recognize that while many will see this as an exciting retirement adventure, some would view it as a life-ending transition due to their attachment to their current geography, especially if they’re near family.  You do still have another option, and much as silver bullet #1 was summed up in one word—MOVE—so too is #2—WORK.

It’s not what you think.  If you’re one of the many who’ve dutifully labored for a lifetime, largely motivated by the vision of a day at some point in the future when you’d be able to dance your way out of your office, never to return, I’m not intending to obliterate that daydream.  In fact, the only way this second silver bullet will work is if you’re able to find—or create—a vocation that gives you as much or more joy than being fully retired.  And this isn’t just advice coming from your financial planner, but also your doctor, as Anne Tergesen discovered in her 2005 BusinessWeek cover story entitled, “Live Long and Prosper. Seriously.”  She quotes Dr. Jochanan Stessman, head of the geriatric and rehabilitation department of Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center as saying, “There’s a strong argument for continuing to work throughout life.”  

This doesn’t mean you have to work full-time; nor does it mean that you should be doing work that drains you.  This is your license to create your dream job and begin to plan a phase of life we’ll call pseudo-retirement.  You’re working enough to keep your mind and body functioning at high levels with enough income to reduce your need to tap your nest egg.  Let’s look at this in the context of our hypothetical retiree from Bullets, Part One:

  • Age of couple:                  62
  • Assets
    • Home:                    $500,000o
    • Nest Egg:               $800,000
  • Liabilities
    • Mortgage:              $200,000
  • Income need:                    $100,000
  • Income
    • Social Security:    $18,000
    • Nest Egg @ 4%:     $32,000o
    • Total:                      $50,000

This couple is currently making $175,000 of income, but they’re burned out and want to retire ASAP.  Unfortunately, if they take their early Social Security Benefit at their current ages and rely on their nest egg to fund the remainder of their $100,000 income need, they’ll be pulling 10.3% out of their nest egg—an unsustainable withdrawal amount that could sink their retirement ship before it even sets sail.  Here’s the recommended course of action:

  1. At Age 62…
  • Begin a plan the dream job, while adding $50,000 of their $75,000 of excess income to their nest egg
  • Pay down mortgage with $15,000/year of excess annual incomec. Ensure that nest egg is invested with capital preservation as the primary objective—assume 5% rate of return

        2.  At age 66…

  •  Transition to dream job, accepting lower pay—$100,000—for full-time jobs they fully enjoy
  • Stop saving for retirement, but allow Social Security to continue to grow
  • Mortgage has been paid down to $94,093. Cease extra principal payments
  • Allow the nest egg—now $1,187,911—to grow, conservatively invested to earn 5% per year

         3.  At age 70…

  •  Scale back to part-time work at dream job
  • Mortgage balance now $31,062
  • Take Social Security benefit = $30,927; income $50,000 (Total = $80,927)
  • Nest egg = $1,436,620; Addt’l income need = $19,073 or 1.3%

         4.  At age 72…

  •  Mortgage paid off, reducing income need by $19,000/year
  • Social Security benefit = $32,176 (2% inflation/ year)
  • Nest egg = $1,583,873 (4% = $63,354)
  • Income need = $81,000
  • Current income (SS + 4% nest egg) = $95,530 ($14,530 surplus to be re-invested)

The purpose of retirement is not necessarily to NOT work, but to work because you want to, not because you have to.  For Baby Boomers fearful that their dreams for a fulfilling retirement have been dashed by the market and faulty assumptions, these two Retirement Planning Silver Bullets can be made to work… but it requires YOU to take this analysis from the hypothetical realm to reality.  This analysis has been largely focused on those either in retirement or headed in that direction within the next 10 years.  My next post will show younger generations how to apply these concepts to create a fulfillment plan that begins today!

Retirement Planning Silver Bullets, Part I (of 2)

Moving truck A recent Wall Street Journal article by Karen Damato entitled, “Retiring in 10 years? Uh-Oh,” addressed a justified fear striking the hearts of millions of prospective retirees: that they won’t be able to afford to retire.  The article is well founded and focuses largely on the investment aspects of retirement planning—the schizophrenic battle in retirement nest eggs to seek growth to make up for past losses while attempting to adequately ensure capital preservation.  The focus of this first of two posts is to provide you with one of the most powerful things you can do, OUTSIDE of your investment portfolio, to improve your retirement plan: MOVE.

If you are already retired or planning to be so within the next 10 years, as the WSJ article clearly articulates, you cannot solely rely on compounded portfolio growth to save you.  Additionally, you may find yourself on the wrong end of the real estate bubble with substantially diminished equity in your home and more debt than can be floated without a salary (and a dwindling desire to perpetuate that salary).  What’s left? MOVE, to a lower cost of living area.

This maneuver is especially compelling when contrasting the highest cost of living areas with the lowest.  According to www.bestplaces.net, an online resource estimating the cost of living in areas across the country, the median home price in Chevy Chase Village, a DC suburb in Maryland, is $1,022,570 and the cost of living is 166% higher than the U.S. average!  Whereas, the median home price in the Great Recession bludgeoned, Detroit, is $65,440, with a cost of living 23.30% lower than the U.S. average.

But if that comparison appears all too convenient and unrealistic, consider this contrast: Baltimore suburb, Parkton, MD, boasts a median home price of $444,350 and a cost of living 54% higher than the U.S. average.  Meanwhile, Knoxville, TN, the engaging home of the University of Tennessee, has a median home price of $125,930 and a cost of living 15% lower than the national average… and it doesn’t snow as much.

Let’s picture a prospective couple in Parkton, trying to figure out their plan for retirement:

In Parkton

  • Home now worth $500,000o
  • $200,000 — mortgage (from college costs and home improvements when house was worth $600,000 and rising)
  • Need $100,000 of income to cover annual expenses
    • Mortgage principal and interest payment ($200k loan @ 5% for 15years) = $19k per year
    • Income need less mortgage = $81,000o
  • Took pension lump-sum offer, invested in 401k, total retirement assets of $800,000o
  • Social Security plus 4% withdrawal from retirement accounts = $50,000 (50% of estimated need)

In Knoxville

  • Comparable home purchased for $200,000—mortgage free
  • $100,000 additional net proceeds from home sale added to retirement nest egg, now $900,000
  • According to cost of living ratio, $45,360 income in Knoxville would feel like $81,000 in Parkton
  • Social Security plus 4% withdrawal from retirement accounts = $54,000 (119% of estimated need)

If you find yourself in a retirement planning pickle, I’m not suggesting you read this and put a for sale sign in your yard.  COST of living should not be confused with QUALITY of living, and if your geography and proximity to friends and family is where you derive the most joy, it’s not my suggestion that you have a financial duty to uproot.  But, if you’ve reached a retirement plan dead-end and find yourself without options and a yearning for a refreshing change of pace, there is no question that transplanting your financial life to a lower cost of living area can transform a bleak retirement plan into one that is quite comfortable.

Part Two (of two) of Retirement Planning Silver Bullets will be released on Friday, December 10th.

Gifting: The Pressure is OFF

A-christmas-story-ralphie-santa We’re now in the midst of Hanukkah and Christmas will be here in a few short weeks.  The Season of Giving, right?  And with all of the great things about this season also comes gifting stress.  You know how it works…You get together with someone this time of year for lunch or coffee and they come bearing gifts.  You immediately feel like a putz because you didn’t get one, so as soon as you leave, you head to the mall and buy them a gift…out of guilt.

Or, your children spend the entire month of December hearing about all the presents that their friends at school are going to get.  They start listing out the aggregate of ALL the gifts they’ve been hearing about at school on a daily basis and you are burdened by the thought that your child might be hanging his or her head at the lunch table when all the kids are discussing what they got.  So, you get them…everything.

You have a new boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancé or spouse and this is your first holiday season together, so you decide that you’re going to show them you know how to do it right.  And, you’re scared to death that they are going to outspend you, so you make sure that they don’t…out of fear.

Fear and guilt are not good motivators.   Thoughtful, heartfelt impulsion, on the other hand, is a great way to gift.  So, if you’re a last minute gift buyer like me, I suggest that you sit down and think about who you feel impelled to give a gift to, and then actually apply a budget to each gift – a guideline on how much you want to spend.  NEVER use credit to pay for a gift, because then you start the New Year off with a lower net worth than you had the day after Thanksgiving.  If you free yourself from giving out of guilt or fear, you’ll enjoy the season all the more.

What It’s NOT and What It IS

Humblepie_medium I’m convinced that men posses a tendency that occasionally, but predictably, propels a misnomer out of our mouths to demonstrate our obtuseness and invite a hefty slice of Thanksgiving-sized humble pie, lest our egos inflate beyond a manageable size.  Recently I was invited, in the presence of my wife and a few other couples, to join a group of men on an outing designed to reset our testosterone levels—something having to do with cards and viewing a football game on an over-sized television.

My eyes lit up, until I received a loving nudge from my bride reminding me that she was already committed that night and had asked me to manage the home front.  Not begrudgingly—because, indeed, I love the opportunity to get some quality time with my two adventurous boys, ages 5 and 6—I innocently responded that I was not able to join the guys because, “I’m babysitting that night.”  As it turns out, fathers are apparently not supposed to refer to watching their own children as “babysitting.”  Ahhhhh.  Lesson learned!

Words are important.  Words are powerful.  They can stop tears from running down the face of a little one and bind two people together for life, but they can also deflate a person’s will and manipulate.  Two of the terms in my vocational realm that are so often misused are “Financial Planning” and “Financial Advising.”  What is the first thing that comes to your mind when I ask, “What is financial planning/advising?”  My guess is that 65% of people assume the term is synonymous with the sale or management of investments by a stockbroker.  The other 30% probably think that it is the pursuit of finding the right insurance coverage.

It may be generous to assume that 5% of people have been painted an accurate picture of what true financial planning or advising really is.  One thing that makes accurate discernment so difficult regarding this terminology is that financial planning does, indeed, include investment planning and insurance planning.  But if the advice stops there, it’s not genuine financial planning.  The primary reason that financial planning has been viewed in such a modular fashion is that the behemoth financial industry realized, before financial planning even became a thing, that couching product sales in the appearance of sound planning and advice was good business.  But, at the end of the day, financial planning with a brokerage firm inevitably leads almost solely to the sale of brokerage products; with banks, banking products; and with insurance companies, insurance products.  Below you’ll find a glossary with more complete definitions of the fundamental tenets of true financial planning and advice; what it’s NOT and what it IS:

  • Investment planning—Is NOT merely the sale of stocks, bonds and mutual funds; it IS determining how all of the assets in your life—including stocks, bonds and mutual funds, but also real estate, commodities and entrepreneurial ventures—intersect with life and move you closer to your goals and objectives.
  • Insurance planning—Is NOT just about buying prescribed insurance products; it IS learning how to manage risk first through risk avoidance, risk reduction and risk assumption before transferring risk through insurance products.
  • Cash flow/budget planning—Is NOT just for the under-resourced living paycheck-to-paycheck; it IS the engine of every household’s sound financial plan, just as it is for every successful business.
  • Tax planning—Is NOT having your tax return prepared or jamming your numbers through Turbo Tax; it IS planning for the present, but also the mid-term and the long-term regarding payroll taxes, income tax, capital gains tax, tax deferral, gift tax, inheritance tax and estate tax.
  • Education planning—Is NOT sloughing a random chunk of money every month into an education savings plan to assuage your guilt that you’re too busy keeping your own financial house in order to apply much thought to the cost of your children’s education; it IS first developing a Family Education Policy (here’s how much mom and dad are willing to pay and the terms you need to meet to receive that help) and then establishing a deliberate plan to meet those goals, some of which should be saved in a 529 education savings plan.
  • Retirement planning—Is NOT slaving away at a job you don’t love so that you can shelve as much of your income as humanly possible in a 401k and IRAs to which you’ll look for financial salvation in a retirement that can’t come soon enough; it IS, first and foremost, finding a career that you can enjoy indefinitely so that you are always employable (the BEST insurance against running out of income in retirement), saving effectively for financial independence while also allocating dollars to enjoying life today and in the mid-term.
  • Estate planning—Is NOT sleeping through an expensive meeting with an attorney to have documents drafted that you don’t understand; it IS examining the impact that you’d like to leave on this earth and implementing tangible plans—yes, through wills, powers of attorney, advance directives and occasionally other trusts, but also—designed to create a legacy, no matter your age.

Speak well.  Plan well.  Live well!

Being The B.E.S.T.

My greatest reward in writing The Financial Crossroads has been the opportunity to work with and learn from my co-author, Jim Stovall.  With no disrespect intended to Jim’s colleagues on the speaking circuit, Jim is one of the only “motivational speakers” who has caught my ear.  That is especially because he’s not one who has made a career out of mere celebrity and motivating slogans.  Jim’s never stopped doing the things that made him one of the nation’s great success stories.  He continues to write books of varying genres at a pace unknown in the publishing realm and he runs the Narrative Television Network.  In short, Jim’s not cashing in on some former success; he’s living out his success story and sharing it with us along the way.  So it is with great pleasure that I feature a guest blog post from Jim for this week:

Being the B.E.S.T.

by Jim Stovall

Stovall-JimIn our society, we revere those who are the best at what they do. Chants of “We’re #1” are heard frequently. You will never hear, “We’re #2,” or “We’re not great, but we’re better than we were last year.” If we want to be the BEST at whatever we do, we’ve got to break it down into its individual components.

“B” is for Balance. It is the element that keeps our lives stable. We’ve all heard about superstar athletes, multi-millionaires, and movie stars who wreck their health or family relationships in their quest for greatness. No matter how much we achieve in one area of our life, if we lose the overall perspective that we are many-faceted beings, we can never be successful.

If we want to have balance in our lives, we are going to have to be proactive. Most of us plan our workday. We have things we are going to try to do, things we really need to do, and the ever-present list of “things we better do today, or there will be no tomorrow!” But how many of us really plan—with the same degree of diligence—our family time, recreation time, exercise, etc?

Several years ago, my wife Crystal and I began a tradition. We take the week between Christmas and New Year and focus on the things we have done in the previous twelve months and those we hope to do in the twelve months to come. We plan our leisure time and focus on where we are in each area of our lives. While I have certainly not reached the levels I want to in every area of my life, this practice has brought a degree of balance to me that I had never known before.  Most of us spend all of our time, effort, and energy on professional and business pursuits, and the other areas of our lives get whatever is left over or—in too many cases—they get shoved completely aside.

Balance means investing in yourself in every area of your life.

“E” is for Enthusiasm. This is the first thing we receive when we enter this world as the doctor slaps us on the backside, and the last thing we give up before they close the coffin lid. I have had the privilege of interviewing superstars from the worlds of entertainment, sports, and politics. The one thing that each of these individuals has in common is a tremendous passion or enthusiasm for what they do. If you don’t feel that kind of daily passion, as you pursue your life goals, you need to either get a new career or a new attitude about the career you currently have.

I remember interviewing Katharine Hepburn. When I asked her what she would have done with her life had she not pursued show business, she replied, “If they did not pay me to be an actress, I would have to find another way to support my acting habit. I have an innate need to do what I do.” 

This type of enthusiasm will bring you an Academy Award or whatever is the highest honor in your field.

“S” is for Single-mindedness. This is the ability to focus on one thing at a time. This does not mean we are one-dimensional in our lives. It simply means, when we are working, we work; when we are playing, we play; and any other task we choose to undertake receives our total attention and focus.

We spend far too much time living in the past, worrying about things that cannot be changed or living in the future, planning for eventualities that may never come. If we will live in the moment, we will find that mistakes of the past and frets of the future simply fade away.

If something is worth investing your time in right now, it deserves all of your attention.

“T” is for Tenacity. This is the one element that will always result in eventual success. As a blind person myself, I could hit a baseball thrown by the best pitcher in the major league if you would let me keep trying until I succeed. The immortal message from Winston Churchill echoes down through the years, “Never, never, never, never, never give in.”

The whole world belongs to the man or woman who realizes that the game is not over until you quit; and when it comes to your dreams and goals, remember that it is always too soon to quit.

Jim Stovall 

Money and Health

Check out this life changing quote from Charles Caleb Colton: “The poorest man would not part with health for money, but the richest would gladly part with all their money for health.” Especially important to note is that Colton eventually killed himself rather than undergo a dreaded operation.  So he wasn’t necessarily philosophizing from a position of comfort, but communicating a realization through which he was living.  Do you ever choose money over health?  I know I have.

Indeed the management of our own health is both more difficult—and more important—than the management of our money.  And to the degree that it is possible and within our control, we are well served to do everything we can to preserve our health.  Nonetheless, there are so many things in life and health over which we simply don’t and can’t exercise control.  While hopefully you’ve picked up from Jim Stovall’s and my communication that we don’t recommend that you immediately hand over your premium dollars to an insurance company to transfer every risk over which you lack control, there most certainly are occasions that call for the wise use of insurance products to keep devastating health impairments from also sending us into financial ruin.  

My friend and co-author of The Financial Crossroads, Jim Stovall, shares a few examples of those instances in his “Timeless Truth” from Crossroads’ ninth chapter entitled “Money and Health”:

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Timeless Truth


Wrong-Medical-Bills  
With rampant credit card overspending, the sub-prime housing crisis, and ridiculous long term automobile leases, most people assume poor spending habits cause personal bankruptcy.  In reality, the number one cause of bankruptcy in our society today is medical bills.  

For most people, it is not a matter of if but when you will need major medical coverage.  And if you’re one of the lucky ones who never uses your health insurance, HOORAY!  I would be very pleased to pay the fire insurance premium on my house and never use it.

If you are earning part or all of the income for a young family dependent upon your ability to work, you need to realize that you’re more likely to become disabled than to die.  Most people understand life insurance is important, but they don’t realize that disability insurance is critical. 

Finally, there is a flaw in the way people look at long term care between them and their spouse.  There is a serious danger I like to call the second spouse syndrome.  People who fall victim to the second spouse syndrome assume they will be able to take care of each other in old age.  In most cases, one spouse does not have the ability to take care of the other and, obviously, at some point one of you is going to pass away, leaving the other one alone.  

The second danger in second spouse syndrome assumes that one nest egg will be adequate to take care of both spouses.  Too often, a spouse dies at the end of a long debilitating illness.  It is not unusual for that spouse to deplete a sizable nest egg in the last several months of life, leaving the second spouse destitute when it comes to their long term care needs.

None of us want to think about the issues represented by health, disability, and long term care insurance; however, if you don’t face it as a statistical exercise now, you will face it as a daily reality later.

You will work very hard to earn, save, invest, and manage your resources.  Make sure that one of life’s inevitable bumps in the road doesn’t derail you and your family financially. 

– Jim Stovall

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Vacation Blues in 90 Seconds or Less

I’m on vacation this week, so last week, my buddy and media mogul, the venerable, Ben Lewis, and I laid down a quick 90 second video blog to help you best enjoy YOUR summer vacation this year, and the next, and the year after that…  I hope you enjoy it!