Category: Blog

What is Financial Life Planning?

Published in: Blog, Conversation Circle, Get Smart |

Most financial advisors will tell you that emotions and investing are two things best kept in isolation. Emotions cloud your judgment, they say. Emotions provoke irrational behavior and have no place among the pie charts and annualized returns on your financial plan. Best to compartmentalize your feelings and save them for your therapy appointments.  We believe that the idea you’re your emotions should remain separate from money and investing is a myth.

As advisors, we believe that expertise and empathy both have a role to play in money matters. Anyone who focuses on one at the expense of the other is presenting a false choice.  Further, we have seen that self-reflection leads to self-knowledge, which leads to self-confidence, which in turn leads to better decisions and timely implementation.  It’s not just about feeling good. That’s important, of course, and we want as much of that for ourselves and our clients as possible. But we’ve also seen that embracing our emotional sides and having those pivotal conversations leads to better financial outcomes.

Financial life planning is a holistic process that puts your interests first and focuses on increasing your sense of financial well-being and life satisfaction.  Initially, this process will help you clarify your values, priorities, circumstances and aspirations; and then guide you in defining and designing your unique version of the “rich life.”  Not only that, financial life planning will increase your understanding of the habits and attitudes that will facilitate your financial and life goals and support successful life transitions.

Because of the unpredictability of life and the complexity of financial markets, it is important to work with a financial advisor who will help you to achieve your financial and life goals.  And, it is essential to select an advisor who will take the time to truly get to know you and to understand your concerns and your dreams.

We encourage you to consider working with a financial advisor who shares this philosophy and who is willing to tackle these issues with you.  There are a range of “discovery” methods and tools that advisors use to frame the process and the discussion.  We are big fans of Money Quotient, a non-profit that offers financial advisors tools and training to help and inspire clients to look inward to maximize resources and live purposeful lives.  You can find such an advisor here – check it out!

www.moneyquotient.org/advisor-search/

 

What is a Conversation Circle, Anyway?

Published in: Blog, Conversation Circle |

In most aspects of our lives, when we need to make a decision we often turn to trusted friends and family. They listen as we sort through the details, they share their experiences and wisdom, and together we look for outcomes that are in alignment with our goals and values. Research indicates that women in particular rely on these conversations to build the knowledge and understanding they need to have make decisions confidently. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to have these important conversations about money and financial decisions with our usual confidants.
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Myth #2: Emotion and personal values should be kept separate from money and investing

Published in: Blog, Financial Myth Busting Series, Get Smart |

 

Most financial advisors will tell you that emotions and investing are two things best kept in isolation. Emotions cloud your judgment, they say. Emotions provoke irrational behavior and have no place among the pie charts and annualized returns on your financial plan. Best to compartmentalize your feelings and save them for your therapy appointments.

We might be surprising our peers in the industry when we say this, but here goes: the idea you’re your emotions should remain separate from money and investing is a myth.

This myth is partially derived from the conventional wisdom that thinking and feeling are two separate processes implemented by different regions of the brain. It shouldn’t be difficult to detach yourself from your emotions if you just turn off that part of your mind for a few minutes, right? Well, modern neuroscience research has shown that those areas in our brain are actually highly interconnected by neurons that translate both cognitive and emotional messages.[1] For this reason, it’s nearly impossible to completely disentangle our thoughts and feelings, try as we might. One pair of researchers highlighted a common experience that emphasizes this point: you may justify a car purchase by claiming you got a good deal, when the determining factor may truly have been that you liked how the car made you feel.[2]
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Trade Wars 101: Get the scoop from Schwab’s Chief Investment Strategist

Published in: Blog, Get Smart |

The headlines are filled with warnings and predictions – ranging from alarmist to sanguine – about the trade war that’s heating up between the US and China.

Liz Ann Sonders, Schwab’s Chief Investment Strategist does a great job of walking through the key points and providing some perspective.

https://www.schwab.com/resource-center/insights/content/trade-mistakes-will-trade-spat-turn-into-trade-war

 

How to Find and Vet Your Financial Advisor

Published in: Blog, Financial Myth Busting Series, Get Smart |

Thinking about working with a financial advisor?  Finding the right advisor, who’s services and approach match your needs, can take some time, patience and persistence.   Here’s a place to start, NAPFA, the professional organization for fee-only financial advisors where you can “find and advisor” and get a list of important questions to ask.  As you begin, think about what type of financial advice you need, that is, what you want to delegate and what you wish to keep in-house. Most importantly, find and work with advisors who support and respect you.

 

 

Conversation Circle Harvest – March 29, 2018 Circle

Being Brave: Navigating Money Talk With Loved Ones

Why did we title this conversation “Being Brave?” Financial services giant TIAA conducted a study in March 2017, to get parents’ and adult children’s thoughts on money conversations. Although 75-85% of both parents and children consider financial conversations to be very important, only 11% of parents and 37% of adult children say they’re likely to initiate a conversation about any financial topic. And what usually happens when families do talk about money? According to the study they are overly generalized and happen spontaneously, at the spur of the moment. This is where the bravery comes in. Tackling a money conversation with loved ones is uncommon and we usually don’t see it modelled in our culture.  But there is a reason to persist. When families do have financial conversations, the outcome is usually positive: about half of the parents who talked with their children frequently about their future financial plans felt proud about how those conversations went – as they should. These parents also reported feeling happy and uplifted.  It’s not easy, it’s not our cultural norm, and it takes courage.  But the benefit is that the bond between loved ones can be strengthened and the level of support among family members reinforced.
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Cybersecurity: Step-by-Step #4

Published in: Blog, Cybersecurity Step-by-Step, Get Smart |

Your financial well-being is our highest priority, and one of our goals for 2018 is to walk you through the necessary steps to protect your online data. We can imagine that although you would rather do almost anything else, you are as concerned as we are about keeping your data safe. To make it more manageable, we are sending you one new action item every month. If you missed the previous steps, we have listed them below with a link to the detail so that you can easily catch up.

Step Four:  Use unique passwords on every site (and try a password manager)

Why?  The technology to hack and crack passwords has advanced and if you are using the same password for multiple sites, it could become the keys to your kingdom.

We hate them too, but until the need for passwords is replaced for good, we all have to dedicate precious time and memory to this security hassle. And to make matters worse, websites are requiring even longer and more complicated passwords, making them nearly impossible to remember.

Well, we have a solution! Consider using a password manager. They are relatively easy to use and a significant timesaver. We are familiar with Dashlane, LastPass and Keychain Access (for Macs), but there are several others that are highly rated.  Follow this link to a Consumer Reports article that provides everything you need to know about password managers.

Visit this link for more information about why strong, unique passwords matter.

List of Previous Steps:

Step One: Place a freeze on your credit history at the top three credit agencies.

Step Two: Update the operating software on your computers, tablets and smartphones, and continue to update as new patches become available.

Step Three: File your tax returns as early as possible.

Recent Market Volatility

Published in: Blog, Get Smart |

The first quarter of 2018 has been a stark reminder that volatility is a reality that investors can’t avoid, particularly when it comes to the equity markets.  You’ve heard us say it before, but it bears repeating when times are tough:  volatility is a normal part of investing and remaining calm during big (or even small) market declines is an important ingredient for long term investment success.  We hope the attached article provides some helpful perspective for the next rocky patch.

Dimensional – Recent Market Volatility

Simple ≠ Simplistic 

Published in: Blog, Financial Myth Busting Series, Get Smart, Uncategorized |

 

We hear a lot of talk about men vs. women as investors, and we don’t have a shortage of perspectives, based on our years of working with women, helping them get smarter about money.  In our experience, women view investing as a way to accomplish a goal, rather than as a game. In doing so women sidestep the seduction of accruing bragging rights.  Moreover, even from the start, women are money smart. They often serve as the de facto family CFO, have budding or demanding careers, or gain valuable experience via volunteer work.

What tends to bog down the process – for men and women alike – is that the world of investing is filled with jargon and unnecessary complication. This is by design: for decades, the financial services industry has used complexity as a sales tool by framing investments as challenging instruments, then offering themselves as gatekeepers to those instruments.

Our message to you?  Don’t let yourself become enticed by complexity. By keeping it simple and manageable we can stop procrastinating, make real progress, and achieve great investment results.  One caveat:  though a solution may be simple, it may not be easy.  But attacking complex challenges with unnecessarily complex solutions will distract us, dilute our focus and even foster magical thinking.  Simple may be difficult or it may be easy – but it is always going to lead to better financial outcomes.

 

New to Investing? Start at the Beginning and Keep It Simple

Published in: Blog, Financial Myth Busting Series, Get Smart |

When you do a simple Google image search of the word “investor,” you are instantly overwhelmed by photos of men in suits and ties, peering seriously at stock charts, pointing at computer screens together, and even holding handfuls of money. To the extent that women are included, they are usually standing behind their male partner gently offering emotional support. The message is loud and clear:  the world generally considers men to be the more skilled and knowledgeable gender when it comes to investing.

We dispelled the myth that men are better investors than women.  In fact, the opposite is true.  The data shows that women earn better investment results.  Why?  As women, we usually conduct more research before investing, maintain a long-term perspective more often, and tend to view investing less as a game to be won, and more as a means to accomplish our goals. But what if you are new to investing?

In our experience, in spite of what they may say, women are already money smart. We often serve as the de facto family CFO, have budding or demanding careers, or gain valuable experience via volunteer work. This is a great starting point for learning more and in doing so, building confidence.  We also know that the world of investing is filled with jargon and unnecessary complication.

Over the years, we’ve stood arm-in-arm with many women as they’ve faced the steep end of their individual learning curve. We know that women’s behavioral tendencies, combined with a willingness to learn, make for great results. Many women surprise themselves by just how good they are at “money stuff.”

Our advice for how to get started? By focusing on a short-list of investment principles, you can achieve excellent investment results. Curate your investment resources and don’t get distracted by dazzle and jargon.  Vanguard, a mutual fund company that has long advocated for individual investors, is a great place to start.