Category: Blog

Money Conversations

Published in: Blog, Get Inspired, Get Smart |

Think of a conversation about money that could have gone better.  How do you remember that experience?  Did you go into that conversation with a purpose or intention?  What would have been your ideal outcome?  Now, see the conversation from the other person’s perspective.  Did you consider their needs or fears?  Look to the other person to help reframe the conversation and shape solutions.

Stress-Free Money Conversation

Published in: Blog, Get Inspired |

Want to have stress-free, open conversations about money?  A good first step to take often starts with a reflection about how you feel about money and why.  Understanding your historical factors can help you be open in your present money conversations. It can also help in expressing why you feel a certain way about your personal finances.  Start with these three questions and then dig deeper.

  1. What was your first money memory and how do you think that memory has impacted your thinking about money?
  2. Did your parents talk to you openly about the family’s finances or were you on a need to know basis?
  3. How old were you when you learned how much your parents earned?  How did you react to this?

 

Cybersecurity Step-by-Step #10: Protect your Digital Legacy

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. 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 Ten:  Protect your Digital Legacy – Name a Digital Fiduciary in your Estate Plan

Why? Most of us have accumulated a significant amount of digital property online, including personal and financial data, email, photos, and social profiles, that will need to be managed after we die. In an effort to protect your data and your privacy, most online service providers have very strict terms of service that restrict access to your digital assets. So, when it comes to passing on your digital legacy, handing over your password list is not enough to provide a trusted confidant with the legal authority to carry out your wishes after your death.

Fortunately, a new law known as the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA) has been adopted in most states (including California). This law allows you to give legal authority to a named digital fiduciary to manage your digital legacy. (Learn more about RUFADAA.)

Consult with your estate attorney to learn how you can incorporate this new development into your estate plan. You can also consider excluding specific information or online accounts that may not be appropriate.

Once you have named a digital fiduciary, some advance preparation will make the task more manageable.

Prepare a list of your online accounts and passwords. We strongly recommend using an online password manager (See Cybersecurity Step #4) because this can be time-consuming and difficult to keep current. Don’t forget to include the passcodes to your devices!

Prepare instructions. Be sure that your wishes are clear and in a safe place where they can be found. Keep in mind that your Will becomes a public document after your death, so be sure to keep your instructions and your passwords in a separate location.

 

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.

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

Step Five: Never (ever) email sensitive information and always insist on encryption.

Step Six: Avoid using public WiFi networks.

Step Seven: Monitor your financial activity.

Step Eight:  Avoid Spear-Phishing Scams.

Step Nine: Open your online “my Social Security” account now.

To review the previous steps, visit our blog.

 

Want to Have More Effective Money Conversations? Consider These Four Tips

Published in: Blog, Get Inspired, Get Smart, Uncategorized |

Want to Have More Effective Money Conversations? Consider These Four Tips

By: Diane Bourdo, President – The Humphreys Group

 

In today’s digitally driven world, many aspects of our daily lives are easier than ever. We get answers to questions in minutes — sometimes even seconds — with the click of a button. Friends and family can stay up to date on important news (or something as simple as your morning latte order) by quickly scrolling through Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

 

And yet, with all of these advancements and countless channels at our fingertips, many of us still struggle to communicate with each other. We’re talking about real, personal communication — not text messages or emails sent through your smartphone.

 

Communication can be made even more difficult when the topic at hand is anxiety-inducing or uncomfortable. Take money, for example. In its 2017 Money Matters report, which surveyed 3,000 Americans ages 18–44, investing app Acorns revealed that 72% of respondents would rather talk about their weight than how much they had in savings.[1]

 

But the truth is, talking about money doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, when broached appropriately, money conversations can actually bring positive, life-changing results — an enjoyable retirement and a secure future for your children, to name a few. Whether it’s with your spouse, parents or children, here are four tips to help ensure your money conversations are healthy and productive:

  1. Think ahead. Proactivity is great, but it’s important to take some time to plan your approach to starting the conversation, especially if the topic is sensitive to your audience (for instance, discussing long-term care with an aging parent). Pause for a moment, be calm and think about the effects of what you’ll be presenting to the other party, including potential assumptions or perceptions. Being thoughtful about the preparation process will allow you to have more meaningful, productive dialogue.

      2. Don’t blindside the other party. Once you’ve thought through your approach and prepared appropriately, set a date and location for your conversation. Choose a time when you both will be more relaxed and comfortable. For instance, choosing to discuss finances with your spouse after a long day of work may fuel existing stress or exhaustion, which will likely derail your discussion. It also may be helpful to agree on the length of your conversation — some people are exhausted by long conversations, while others prefer to walk while talking about tough topics.

      3. Be honest about your intentions. When starting your money conversation, you should avoid catching the other person off-guard — but you also don’t want them to become defensive. State your intentions and explain why the conversation is important to you. Consider structuring your introduction like this:

 

“I feel like the way we’re handling our credit cards is creating tension between us. I would like for us to work together to find some agreement so we can deal with this issue as a team. I have an idea for a new approach that could help, and I’d like for us to really listen to each other.”

 

     4. Prepare and practice. If there are multiple money issues you need to discuss with your audience, don’t panic. Start small by broaching easier topics first, and then work up to bigger issues over time. It may help you to write down what you want to say and practice the conversation aloud to yourself or with a friend.

 

Put simply, communication, on any topic and in any form, can be hard — even when it’s with the people you trust and care about most. But if you prepare and approach the conversation in a respectful way, you can surmount money challenges and come out the other side with renewed perspective and confidence.

 

You can also enlist the help of experienced, trusted professionals, so you don’t have to start the process on your own. At The Humphreys Group, we’ve helped countless clients navigate tough money conversations and reach positive resolutions. Contact our team to learn more.

[1] 2017 Money Matters™ Report, Acorns, https://sqy7rm.media.zestyio.com/Acorns2017_MoneyMattersReport.pdf, accessed September 2018.

Oraibi Village, Arizona Hopi Nation

Published in: Blog, Get Inspired |

You have been telling people that this is the eleventh hour, 

Now you must go back and tell people that this is the hour! 

And there are things to be considered… 

 

Where are you living? 

What are you doing? 

What are your relationships?  

Are you in right relation?  

Where is your water?  

 

Know your Garden.  

It is time to speak your truth.  

Create your community.  

Be good to yourself.  

And not look outside of yourself for a leader.  

 

This could be a good time!  

 

There is a river flowing very fast.  

It is so great and fast that there are those who will be afraid.  

They will hold on to the shore.  

They will feel that they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly.  

 

Know that the river has its destination.  

The elders say that we must let go of the shore,  

push off into the middle of the river,  

keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.  

 

And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate.  

At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all, ourselves.  

For the moment that we do,  

our spiritual growth comes to a halt.  

 

The time of the lone wolf is over.  

Gather yourselves!  

Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.  

All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.  

 

We are the ones that we have been waiting for.  

 

Attributed to an unnamed Hopi Elder 

Oraibi Village, Arizona Hopi Nation 

Clouded Judgement

Published in: Blog, Get Inspired |

 Most financial advisors will tell you that emotions cloud your judgment and provoke irrational behavior.  They have no place among the pie charts and annualized returns on your financial plan and it’s best to compartmentalize your feelings and save them for your therapy appointments.  At @Humphreys-Group, we believe that the idea that emotion (and even more broadly, values) should remain separate from money and investing is a myth.

 

Cybersecurity Step-by-step #9: Open Your “my SOCIAL SECURITY” Account

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. 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 Nine:  Open your online “my Social Security” account now (Yes, we mean ASAP!)

Why Now?  A cybercriminal with your social security number and address may be able to create a “my Social Security account” in your name and potentially claim your benefits before you do.

What is a “my Social Security account”?  The Social Security Administration has shifted to an online platform. An online mySSA allows you to view your social security information, as well as apply for and manage your benefits. Now that the online platform is in place, the Social Security Administration has stopped mailing estimated benefits statements to anyone currently under age 61. So, if you are under age 61 and working, you should visit this site annually to make sure that your earnings are reported correctly.

What are the steps to set up my account?

  1. Unfreeze your credit history at Equifax: In order to verify your identity, the Social Security Administration will ask you for personal information and compare it to information retained by Equifax. You will need to temporarily lift your credit freeze at Equifax to allow the Social Security Administration to make this comparison. Simply call (800) 685-1111 and follow the prompts. (Note: you will need your PIN)
  2. Open a my Social Security Account: Visit https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/ and follow the prompts.

Visit this link to learn more about why you should set up an online Social Security Account.

 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.

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

Step Five: Never (ever) email sensitive information and always insist on encryption.

Step Six: Avoid using public WiFi networks.

Step Seven: Monitor your financial activity.

Step Eight:  Avoid Spear-Phishing Scams

 

 

 

Elephant and Rider

Published in: Blog, Get Inspired |

Most financial advisors will tell you that emotions cloud your judgment. They provoke irrational behavior and have no place among the pie charts and annualized returns on your financial plan. It’s best to compartmentalize your feelings and save them for your therapy appointments.
But in our opinion, the idea that emotion—and more broadly, values—should remain separate from money and investing is simply untrue
Expertise and empathy both have roles to play in your finances. It’s not“either/or”—that’s a false choice. Your history, current situation, and future ambitions influence every financial decision you make. Disregarding this fact is doing a disservice to your well-lived experiences.
Recently, we came across the metaphor about the elephant and its rider, which was first described in a book titled “The Happiness Hypothesis” by Jonathan Haidt and then summarized in “Switch” by Chip and Dan Heath.
The elephant represents our emotional side and its rider represents our rational side. The rider is perched atop the elephant, holds the reins and seems to be in control. However, this control is precarious because the rider is so small relative to the elephant. Anytime the elephant disagrees with the rider when deciding which direction to take, the rider loses, completely overmatched by the elephant.
Often, we think about our strong emotions in negative terms. When we sleep in, as opposed to getting to the gym before work. When we dial up an old flame at midnight. When we procrastinate. But we know there are always pros and cons to every decision we make. What about the elephant? The elephant’s weakness(i.e., our emotion and intuition) is that she can be lazy and skittish, and is often looking for a quick payoff. The elephant is usually willing to sacrifice long-term payoffs in order to get instant gratification.
But we love our elephants!
Emotions don’t always have to be bad influences. Love, compassion, sympathy, and loyalty are real strengths; our protective instincts and resolve to stand up for ourselves and others are strengths, too. And the rider? The rider’s strength is her ability to think longterm—to think beyond the moment. Her downside? She’s prone to analysis paralysis, spinning her wheels and overthinking things.
Here’s the deal: To change things, you need both types of emotions. The rider provides the planning and direction, while the elephant provides the energy. Acting alone, the reluctant elephant and wheel-spinning rider ensure that nothing changes—but when they move together, change comes easily.
The whole point of this metaphor is to illustrate the power of guiding the elephant in the right direction. If you can do that, there’s no stopping you. We focus on emotion because it is such a powerful tool to keep your financial future moving in a positive direction. Our goal is to help encourage the elephant to follow the path that you’ve laid out.

Forbes Press Quote

Published in: Blog |

The Retirement Planning Challenges In Age-Gap Relationships

By Megan Gorman

Bogie and Bacall, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Robin Wright and Clement Giraudet – A-list actors with one other thing in common: they are all in age-gap marriages. In fact, Zeta-Jones set Instagram trending recently with a picture of the moment she met her husband Michael Douglas at the Deauville Film Festival. In the photo, she gazes glowingly upon the man whom she will eventually marry, despite their 25-year age gap.

But what exactly is an “age-gap” marriage? Historically, age gap or “May-December” relationships are ones with at least an 11-year age gap between the spouses.  From Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron to Alec and Hilaria Baldwin, marriages with significant age gaps are much more common than most people realize. The increase in them among celebrities is merely a reflection of these relationships in the real world.  In fact, studies have found that 8% to 10% of all heterosexual marriages in the Western world have a 10-year or more age gap. This rate is even higher in gay and lesbian relationships.

These numbers are significant because, over the past 50 years, American life expectancy has increased. In 1960, the average lifespan was 67 years for men and 74 years for women.  In comparison, in 2017 (according to the National Center for Health Statistics) the average woman is living 81.1 years while the average man is living 76.1 years.

Increased longevity is changing the playing field of marital relationship ages. Age gap marriages have some unique issues in the area of retirement, financial and estate planning that needs to be addressed.

Psychology of Retiring

A unique aspect of an age gap relationship is the issue of when to actually retire – not surprising since the age gap could be a half-generation or more and each spouse could be at a different life stage psychologically especially when it comes to retirement.

“Couples with a large age gap also need to think beyond the obvious items and consider the psychological side of their entry point into retirement,” says Ben Flood, CFP, Bigelow Investment Advisors, LLC in Portland, Maine. “Will they retire simultaneously, or will the younger spouse continue to work for many years while the older spouse is in retirement? This can affect the dynamics of the relationship in ways that they haven’t experienced before.”

The vision of retirement must be discussed in depth in these relationships so that both spouses’ expectations are met. Working with a financial planner, attorney or other financial professionals can help navigate these issues and ensure peace of mind that the approach to retirement will result in success for both parties.

Playing the Math Game

Further, age gap couples have to realign their financial planning on issues ranging from asset allocation to distribution patterns from investment accounts. Again, it is a balance between keeping the older spouse’s interests in line with the younger spouse’s time horizon.

“If the couple bases their entire asset allocation on the older partner with a shorter time horizon, the surviving partner may have missed out on additional growth and earnings due to a more conservative allocation,” says Zachary Welborn, a financial advisor with Manske Wealth in Houston, Texas. “Investing in a way that suits both partners’ goals and time horizons is imperative.”

Further, age-gap couples really need to understand the different rules for withdrawing assets, especially with regard to Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) from retirement accounts. Typically, individuals calculate required withdrawals based on the Uniform Lifetime Table. However, the rules are different with certain age gap couples that could have some tax benefits.

“When it comes to calculating one’s IRA required minimum distribution, if your spouse is 10 or more years younger, you must use the Joint Life and Last Survivor Expectancy table to calculate your RMD,” says Diane Bourdo, CFP, at The Humphreys Group in San Francisco.  “This will result in a smaller RMD, thus lowering your taxable income.”

Longevity and Family Friction

In an age-gap marriage, one spouse (not always the older one) typically was married previously and has children. Many of these relationships have complicated family dynamics that often necessitate consideration on how to best manage the pressures from children of a previous marriage and an age gap spouse.

“Another more complicating concern is the involvement of children from a previous marriage. Often times the younger spouse accepts these children as her own but this isn’t always the case,” says Steven H. Stern, CFP at Abel Financial Management Company in Towson, Maryland. “Family communication is key in these situations to avoid future discord.”

For age gap marriages, it’s essential to have a strong estate plan which balances the longevity issues related to a younger spouse with making sure children from earlier marriages are covered.

It’s All About the Chemistry

With longevity on the rise, we will continue to see more age gap relationships flourish.  While the financial planning issues in age gap marriages present unique challenges, addressing them head-on can help establish better communication between the spouses as well as their respective families. After all, age is merely a number.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/megangorman/2018/08/17/the-retirement-planning-challenges-in-age-gap-relationships/#175f0ea42613

A Gift by Denise Levertov

Published in: Blog |

Just when you seem to yourself

nothing but a flimsy web

of questions, you are given

the questions of others to hold

in the emptiness of your hands,

songbird eggs that can still hatch

if you keep them warm,

butterflies opening and closing themselves

in your cupped palms, trusting you not to injure

their scintillant fur, their dust.

You are given the questions of others

as if they were answers

to all you ask. Yes, perhaps

this gift is your answer.

 

#headorheart