Resources

Just too good to keep to ourselves

Welcome to our library. We strive to provide resources so that our clients know as much as they wish when it comes to being financially savvy. And it doesn’t stop there! We are part of a larger community – including you, wherever you may be. This is where we share content and tools that are important, fun and even inspiring, with everyone. Our resource vault will help you get smart about money, find your own motivation to move forward, and laugh and breathe a bit easier along the way.

Retirement or College Tuition: Which Goal Comes First?

Published in: Blog |

Saving for retirement versus paying for college tuition?

For those of us who are parents or legal guardians of school-age children, this is one of the most loaded questions we ask ourselves during our professional lives. At The Humphreys Group, we realize the answer isn’t necessarily clear cut: Is it “either/or”? How about “both”? Additionally, underlying myths and incorrect assumptions about women’s investment abilities may influence the choices our clients consider when grappling with this question.

Our advisors have written extensively about our belief that women possess unique financial, investing and goal-setting skills. We encourage our clients to explore their life and work values, in ways that will help inform both their personal and professional long-term goals and strategies. This includes those that relate to saving for retirement and paying for college.

As you aim for success in your financial planning — specifically your own retirement, your children’s college or both — we offer these additional action steps, and recommend you continue discussing your long-term financial strategy with your advisor:

Explore multiple ways you (and your children) can pay for college

This includes savings plans (ESAs, 529 plans and others); loans (government and private sector); grants; scholarships; on-campus work-study programs and off-campus part-time employment.

Understand how you will afford retirement

Retirement lasts many years longer than the typical amount of time it takes a child or children to finish college. As the amount of money parents contribute to higher education costs continues to rise, it is increasingly important to know just how your retirement may be affected if you shift some of your savings toward paying for college.

Keep doing your math homework

Other advisors stress the importance of calculating accurate estimates of both retirement costs and higher education expenses — and doing so with your potentially college-bound children as they prepare for life after high school. Should they choose the college-route, it will help them make decisions about the schools they’ll apply to. And while they are on that path, continue to discuss finances (annually at a minimum) to help them manage any education debts they personally acquire along the way.

Make informed decisions about your priorities

Many advisors note you can save for both retirement and college. But they stress the reality that money is a somewhat finite resource for most of us; at some point, either retirement or college will naturally become a priority. Suggestions include funding 401(k) plans for employer matches and contributing the cash boost that comes from any raises toward retirement, while also establishing a college savings plan for your child to which you and other family members can contribute.

Questions about retirement and college savings are not particularly easy to answer. Financial subject matter experts have much to say on the subject, and many people wrongly assume looking out for yourself in your later years means you are selfishly putting your own well-being before your child’s. But at The Humphreys Group, we believe the answers you find and whatever strategies you develop should belong to you. They ultimately should also empower you.

Our experienced advisors are unwaveringly confident in our clients’ abilities to clarify their values and determine their priorities so that they can undertake investing behaviors that help them meet their goals. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you approach saving for retirement and paying for college with a strategy uniquely your own.

4 Healthy Ways to Teach Your Children About Money

Published in: Blog |

“It’s the root of all evil.” “It’s what makes the world go ‘round.” “It can’t buy happiness and it doesn’t grow on trees.” At some point in your life, you’ve probably heard, or said, at least one of these aphorisms during a conversation about money. In fact, many of us heard phrases like these when we were children and, as adults, many of us have repeated these same words to our offspring.

However, we at The Humphreys Group believe money talk should go far beyond pithy observations, especially when it comes to discussing and teaching our children about financial stewardship.

We know money can be an emotional issue, tied to early lessons and conversations (or the lack thereof) about it among family members. But research has shown that, by age 3, children begin to gain an understanding about the power and influence of money — so the sooner they begin their financial education is likely the better.

To instill financial stewardship in your children, we suggest starting with simple lessons and tools; for instance, a piggy bank is a tried and true “first savings account.” Providing financial lessons at an early age can also help set your children up with a secure, healthy outlook and approach to financial issues by the time they reach adulthood. Forbes writer Laura Shin outlines how lessons can evolve into more sophisticated and nuanced ones as children age; teens can engage in discussions about college costs and student loans, credit cards and debt, and investment interest.

For those wondering how to begin sharing lessons about money and money management with their children, here are some ideas, including insights culled from several subject matter experts:

1. Play Games

Finance veteran Jim Brown suggests games like “Let’s Go Shopping” and “How Much Does It Cost?”. Games not only teach children about the price of items in a spirit of fun and creativity, but also strengthen math and budgeting skills, and create opportunities for families to talk about the value of products and work.

2. Discuss Money in Everyday Conversations

Conversations related to spending, earnings, bills and other areas of daily financial life can help lessen the mystique and stress that often surround money matters, writes personal finance author Camilo Maldonado.

Teachable moments — from discussing a water bill to analyzing cell phone service, and everything in between — can also help expand your child’s understanding of living costs and increase their comfort with asking questions about money, according to CNBC’s Nicole Spector. They’ll certainly better understand there’s good reason for the saying, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”

3. Work on Budgets Together

Understanding living costs and household financial obligations is a great place to begin a conversation with children about budgets, according to Brown and other subject matter experts. Because such conversations often depend on your child’s age(s) and your and your partner’s comfort levels, parents should ultimately determine if, how and when they will expose children to their bill-paying and budget behaviors. With an older child, working to create their own budget is another hands-on way to demystify money matters and educate that child about establishing solid financial behaviors and practices.

4. Demonstrate How to Make the Most of Money

Opinions vary about whether to give children a routine allowance that increases with age and responsibilities, have them engage in what Dave Ramsey calls “commission”-style paid work or forgo allowance altogether. The decision is ultimately a parental and household one.

But other financial subject matter experts, including Maldonado and others mentioned in this post, widely agree on another point: Money children earn while living at home (including financial gifts for milestones such as birthdays and graduations, and paychecks from part-time jobs) provides great opportunities to learn how to establish beneficial habits in the areas of saving, spending, investing and donating.

At The Humphreys Group, we are well aware that many of us continue to work on developing our own best practices when it comes to money, and ensuring that our goals and values align with our investment plans and strategies. For more information on how we can help you share the lessons you’ve learned and teach your children about financial stewardship, contact us today.

Finding Balance Between Your Head, Your Heart and Your Finances

Published in: Blog |

Elephants are magnificent creatures, aren’t they? Large, loyal, united by long memories and part of complex families, they exude power and presence (and sometimes a hint of danger!)

At some point or another for most of us, our emotions — about our personal lives and our professional careers, about our family ties and individual goals — can resemble an elephant. And while many financial advisors tend to suggest their clients ignore their “elephant” when it comes to developing investment plans, we prefer another way of looking at our emotions. We value the role they play in helping to inform and guide our decisions about money. We embrace the elephant’s drive and instinct — but then we also include the “rider.”

The Rider?

Those who work with elephants know and respect the power elephants wield in the animal world. Riders embrace this knowledge and engage in calm and measured ways to develop a partnership that enables them to accomplish myriad tasks with these impressive beings. A rider also possesses the ability to think with foresight and strategy to get where she ultimately wants to go.

We first encountered the popular “elephant and rider” metaphor in the work of Jonathan Haidt, the author of “The Happiness Hypothesis”, and in the book “Switch” by Chip and Dan Heath. It resonated with us since we at The Humphreys Group believe our values and goals, which are often tied to our emotions, provide spark and direction to our financial decisions.

Furthermore, we believe our personal histories, professional experiences and future ambitions all contribute valuably to our financial planning — now and for the future. To ignore these elements negates the power and impact of important lessons we have learned, feelings we’ve embraced, values we’ve defined and goals we have set for ourselves.

Haidt and the Heath brothers observe that a rider may suffer from hesitation, slowed down by cautious thoughts and over-analysis of the issues and challenges she faces. But when she begins to work with the elephant, the result is a winning and well-balanced team — a team that combines robust energy and enthusiasm with considerate planning and direction to accomplish their goals.

We believe both your head and your heart have a place in your financial planning and investments. To discuss how we can help you can engage your unique “elephant and rider” and approach your financial future with a positive spirit — and in ways that combine emotion and strategy — contact the advisors at The Humphreys Group today.

When Your Career Conflicts With Your Values, Where Do You Turn?

Published in: Blog |

The American author, Annie Dillard, once said: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” For many of us, our careers comprise a significant portion of our time, which means our work is integral to how we live our lives day in and day out.

At The Humphreys Group, we are fueled by the work we do for our clients every day. Our advisors are inspired by a set of shared core workplace values to do their best, and we consistently encourage our clients to establish the values that guide their professional, personal and financial goals.

But what if your career no longer fits your values? What if you’ve lost a sense of purpose or direction in your work? What if you don’t feel the connection to your career that you once did? What if you lack the motivation that has driven you in the past?

Given that women today will sustain diverse professional lives and increasingly seek active retirements, this phenomenon is more common than many of us may realize. The first step toward improving the situation is to begin by examining one’s intrinsic and extrinsic goals and values.

Intrinsic values are those unique and personal factors that motivate individuals and contribute to their feelings of fulfillment at work (i.e., improving lives, creative expression, mentoring role, etc.). Conversely, extrinsic values are those that relate to the tangible rewards of employment and one’s specific workplace (pay and benefits, influencing the industry, collaboration, innovation, etc.). Having a strong understanding of your intrinsic and extrinsic values will allow you to better pinpoint what your career may (or may not) be missing, and how you can better fuel what drives your need for purpose and security.

Next, we turn to other experts who offer suggestions that help individuals explore their goals and values; develop a stronger sense of at-work purpose; clarify their career direction; and foster long-term financial security. These suggestions include:

  • Identifying your core values and determining how they influence or fit your current career and goals. This list may help.
  • Examining your organization’s values. This list may help.
  • Seeking overlap between your values and your workplace’s values. This can help you develop a plan to nurture those connections at your current job and strengthen your career goals.
  • Consider whether a workplace or career change may be necessary. Sometimes an individual’s career and goals no longer fit their values, and it’s better for all involved to re-align.

The values we have established at The Humphreys Group guide and strengthen our daily work, our company goals and our client relationships. We welcome the opportunity to help you do the same. Contact us today for assistance with developing strategies that ensure your values are supporting your goals — at work, in life and with your finances.

Why Women Are Natural Long-Term Investors

Published in: Blog |

Many of us have heard the expression, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” when faced with adjusting our attitudes to meet a long-term challenge. We at The Humphreys Group have been thinking how these words also apply to individuals and couples who aim to develop winning, long-term financial plans, and to female investors in particular.

Consider the notable lesson learned from participants in the 2018 Boston Marathon, where more women literally “went the distance” than men and gained the attention of multiple observers for doing so. Female participants — in one of the most grueling and well-known 26.2 mile races in the United States — lasted longer and finished in greater numbers when bad weather led to increasingly challenging course conditions; just 3.8 percent of women dropped from the race, compared to 5 percent of male runners.

The stamina of female marathoners did not go unnoticed. Shortly after the race, The New York Times ran an opinion piece by Lindsey Crouse, a runner and NYT senior staff editor, who asserted the idea (and added related links) that women have the capacity to withstand both physical challenges and mental stresses for long periods of time — in some cases much longer than men.

In an article for Business Insider several months later, Shana Lebowitz explored the theory that women may be more driven to complete a race as their end goal, whereas men tend to want to win a race above all else. Drawing a connection between women’s racing mindset and other areas where women exhibit an attitude that relies on mental staying power, she noted: “And the implications of this gender difference go beyond marathons, or athletic prowess.”

Backing up Lebowitz’s observation are those who’ve examined the possible relationship between gender and financial investing traits. Some writers have noted differences between women and men when it comes to money-related decisions and provide evidence that women investors exhibit marathon-like behaviors when it comes to investing: they make steady choices that will result in bigger long-term financial gains and stability, and react to setbacks with less stress and emotion that men.

Others assert that the concerns some women voice about their supposed lack of investing abilities are not strongly supported. MarketWatch emphasizes that, despite professing lower levels of confidence in their investing abilities and exhibiting more risk-averse tendencies when it comes to investing, women generally possess the characteristics of solid long-term investors.

The 2020 Boston Marathon is still months away. We can’t predict April’s weather conditions, but everyone who persists toward that finish line is a winner in our book. In the spirit of those who are preparing to travel a lengthy course — including a financial one — we encourage you to contact The Humphreys Group to see how we can help you stay on track and go the distance with your investment strategy.

To Bring Your Financial Goals to Life, Get Strategic

Published in: Blog |

Our last blog focused on suggesting that clients examine whether their priorities and goals need a reset at this point of the year. This can be challenging and emotional work, but when it comes to setting and achieving goals, the accomplished marathoner Juma Ikangaa says it best: “The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.”

We at The Humphreys Group believe in preparation; we provide clients with specific steps for reaching their goals and gaining a clearer understanding of how their financial strategy can help them do so:

  • Provide a brief description of/reason for each goal. Some suggestions include: “increase current financial security,” “build retirement savings,” “strengthen family ties,” “bolster emergency funds” “pay off debt,” “afford travel,” “fund education/personal development,” etc.
  • Assess how much time, energy and any other additional resources (such as education/training) are required to reach each goal.
  • Estimate the amount of financial earnings, savings and/or investment required to achieve each goal. Begin with a “guesstimate.” We advise that these numbers can always be refined as clients gain more information and work with their advisor to understand what it will take financially to meet their goals.
  • Assign a priority status of “A,” “B” or “C” to each goal and determine the length of time you want to commit to reaching each goal. Having a sense of how important the goal is and how long it may take to achieve can help prevent feeling overwhelmed or under pressure to reach each goal. Suggested timeline categories include: Immediate Goals and Priorities; Short-Term to Mid-Term Goals and Priorities (1 to 5 Years); and Long-Term Goals and Priorities (5 Years or Longer)
  • Consider that priorities may shift. Remember, it’s okay to press “reset” from time to time!

At The Humphreys Group, we believe that priorities and financial goals can give shape to actions, and help provide long-term calm and security in our clients’ lives. We help clients prepare for success by reviewing what meeting their goals will cost in terms of their time, attention, energy and money. Contact us today to learn how you can give life to your goals with a well-prepared financial strategy.

Beating the “Dog Days of Summer”: Do Your Priorities and Goals Need a Reset?

Published in: Blog |

We’ve reached the “dog days of summer” — the time of year when ancient Greeks observed the bright Dog Star in the skies above them, and worried that uncertain times might soon follow its appearance. The constellations have shifted slightly over millennia but, by the time August arrives, many of us are still concerned about what the coming months will bring to our lives. At The Humphreys Group, we think now is the perfect time to decide whether our priorities and goals need a reset; doing so can ensure we move forward through the remaining year with renewed purpose and focus.

Here’s a quick summary of how we help clients determine if they need to rethink their priorities and goals and reset their course for the months ahead:

Priorities

  • Career and family top many people’s lists, but we also recommend a closer analysis of other life components including: health and fitness; financial well-being; leisure opportunities; creativity and educational enrichment; self-care and community ties.
  • We ask clients to review the time and energy they spend on these aspects of their lives and how satisfied they are in doing so.
  • To support clients as they clarify their priorities, we encourage them to establish the areas of their lives where they want to spend as much or more time.

Goals

  • Once clients gain a clearer sense of where their life priorities lie, and whether they want to make adjustments to those priorities, we guide them toward attainable goals.
  • We refer to a variety of tips and strategies that begin with developing “big picture, long-term goals” (such as a five-year plan), then strive to make those goals attainable on a yearly and monthly basis.
  • We explore whether the motivation for achieving their goals is intrinsic (sparked by personal drive or dreams of satisfaction), extrinsic (expectations outside of ourselves influenced by societal, professional or familial reward) or a combination of both.
  • In each instance, we acknowledge that we are doing challenging, sometimes emotional work. We embrace both the emotional and rational aspects of setting priorities and goals as we thoroughly discuss, analyze and make projections about how clarifying priorities and attaining goals may affect each client’s future.

The world has come a long way since the star-filled nights of ancient Greece, but we can continue to take time to reflect on what lies ahead for us. We support individuals’ modern-day efforts to examine their priorities and goals, and we possess the knowledge and experience to help our clients reset them in positive and proactive ways.

Contact The Humphreys Group today for more information about the strategies we use.

How to Cope with the Emotional Impact of an Inheritance

Published in: Blog |

Many of us would like to believe otherwise, but our experience and research at The Humphreys Group shows that a person’s feelings and attitudes about money can affect their approach to financial planning. We’ve also seen how emotions may exert an even stronger influence on those who’ve received an inheritance; in response, we offer our clients several strategies to help them navigate the choices and decisions that arise from inheriting a financial gift.

  • Take time – time to grieve, to remember and to appreciate the person from whom you’ve received your inheritance. Allow yourself to adjust to new life circumstances that the person’s passing, and their gift, may cause. Don’t rush toward decisions without processing your emotions.
  • Begin to assess your financial situation when you feel emotionally ready. Review your debts, your dreams and your goals. Consider how your inheritance may help you address these.
  • Consult with trusted family members about your possible next steps. Will you use your inheritance to pay your debts down (or off)? Will you set aside funds for a child or grandchild’s education? Will you put money toward retirement? Will you direct monies toward a charity? Will you use some of the funds to travel? Explore some combination of these or other potential courses of action.
  • Work with a financial advisor to develop a long-term financial plan for making the most of your inheritance. You should also meet with your accountant and attorney to fully understand the ramifications — for instance, taxes and legal issues — related to your inheritance.
  • Resolve to review your plan, with both family members and professional advisors, on a regular basis. Checking in with these parties from time to time will help ensure that you are thoughtfully and clearly making the most of the empowering gift that an inheritance can be.

At The Humphreys Group, we realize money is an emotional issue for many people. We also know that receiving an inheritance while dealing with the passing of a loved one can heighten the emotionally-charged stakes of managing individual and/or household finances. We have the knowledge and expertise to offer assurances and strategies on how to approach financial planning in light of an inheritance. Contact our advisors today to begin the conversation.

Your Estate Plan and Your Children: What to Say and When

Published in: Blog |

We know conversations about finances and estate planning have great potential to be an “elephant in the room” for many of us, especially when it comes to conversations between aging adults and their grown children. Data from a TIAA study in 2017 showed between 75%-85% of parents and children consider financial discussions very important, but only 11% of parents and 37% of adult children were likely to initiate talk about money and estate matters.

And when families do talk about money matters? Only 9% of parents felt their conversation was very detailed, perhaps due to another statistic: 90% of parents and 70% of children said conversations about their parents’ finances and future plans happened spontaneously. However, those parents and grown children who interacted regularly and purposefully with each other to talk about their plans and wishes reported overall high levels of satisfaction about doing so.

We recommend three steps you can take to address the potential “elephant in the room”:

Step 1: Reflect

Resolve to begin detailed conversations with your children to address your financial well-being and estate plan. You should also consider what issues related to money may be challenging for you to express, as well as what kinds of responses may be difficult to handle.

It takes courage to deal with the variety of approaches, attitudes and expectations each person holds about money. Before you engage with your children, spend time thinking about your approach to and experiences with savings, spending and investing; understand how that may influence the tone and direction of your conversations.

Step 2: Prepare

Plan to talk to your children when there is ample time to calmly discuss your estate plan and any issues that may arise. Practice what you want to share, by writing it down and rehearsing. Also, be willing to ask your children even the most seemingly obvious finance-related questions. We’ve developed this list of potential questions; begin with easier topics and progress to more complex ones:

  • What have you learned from my/our example of handling finances?
  • Do you know what I/we want to do in retirement?
  • Are you interested in knowing what’s in my/our will?
  • Do you know what I/we plan to do with our property?
  • Do you know about our philanthropic goals and what we support?
  • Do you know where to find pertinent information for addressing any requirements of you?
  • Are you interested in meeting my/our financial advisor to learn more about our plans?
  • Are you aware of the things I/we pay for, today?
  • Would you be able to take those costs on if I/we weren’t able to support them anymore?
  • Do you think you’ll need my/our financial help down the road, whether it’s for smaller monthly expenses, or larger ones such as a down payment?
  • Would it matter to you if I/we used our savings for travel and leisure instead of helping with your expenses?
  • If I/we needed help paying for long-term care down the road, would you consider helping cover medical bills?

Step 3: Schedule

Agree on the time, financial topic, location and length of your discussion to help all parties remain relaxed and comfortable throughout the conversation. As a family, commit to continuing your conversations about money and estate planning — for instance, you could develop a schedule for ongoing dialogue.

During scheduled conversations with your children, revisit your financial situation and, if necessary, bring up “next topics” related to your estate plan and investments. You may also consider working with a financial advisor who can assist with keeping your conversations about finances focused and productive.

Because many of us only talk about money when we have to, money conversations usually happen in the heat of the moment or when there is pressure to make a decision. Knowing when, where and with whom you will be talking about finances, and being intentional about the conversation topic and scope, can significantly improve both short- and long-term outcomes when it comes to the parent/child dynamic.

Remember, even the smallest of elephants grows larger with time — and trying to ignore it does not help move it out of the room. Contact The Humphreys Group for further advice on how you can best talk with your children about money matters.