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.

Physical and Spiritual Resilience – Discover What Drives You

Published in: Blog |

As part of our series on resiliencies in middle age, in this blog we look at the value of Physical and Spiritual Resiliencies and offer ways to reinforce your health and mindset as the year winds down.

Nurturing your Physical Resilience means you are making the effort to keep your body strong – eating nutritionally, exercising within your abilities and staying well-rested. However, challenges in your life and at work may negatively affect your health and drain your stamina. We’re often taking care of others during our middle-age years (children, parents, extended family) and providing guidance to friends and colleagues, so be sure to take a step back from day-to-day activities and involvements to assess how well you’re taking take care of yourself. A few questions to ask:

  • Am I getting enough exercise and enough rest?
  • Am I eating foods that strengthen my body and give me energy?
  • Am I taking time to engage in activities I enjoy as a way to recharge my energy?
  • Am I allowing myself some downtime, a chance to breathe from all that’s expected of me?

To foster your Physical Resilience in the coming year, develop a plan and touch base with your support networks, including friends, family, colleagues and health professionals, in your quest to tackle stress or recover from physical issues that may be related to injuries, restless nights, seasonal illnesses or family care.

While building Physical Resilience can be a public effort, tending to your Spiritual Resilience may be a more private, personal matter (although one equally important to foster in middle age). Not necessarily religious in nature, a well-grounded outlook and attitude are as important as maintaining your bodily health.

At this point in your life you possess wisdom from lessons you’ve learned and challenges you’ve overcome at work and outside of the office. You’ve likely found the courage to handle setbacks and surprises, and nurtured a sense of purpose as you’ve grown through the years. To strengthen your Spiritual Resilience in middle age, take some time to examine the factors that drive your behaviors, attitudes and outlook in your personal and professional lives.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • What currently guides me toward a deeper sense of myself and my role in life? Examine the values, activities and relationships that currently give you focus, energy, emotional strength, stability and direction. Resolve to bolster those aspects of yourself in the coming year.
  • How can I continue to develop and maintain deeper connections in my work and my life? Learn about mindfulness or meditation techniques, reflect on rituals that are important to you – ones that help you feel safe, calm and connected to a “bigger picture” – and work to share or delegate responsibilities with others.
  • Do I practice self-forgiveness and self-discovery? Middle age is a time when individuals may grapple with unmet expectations or disappointments that can lead to undeserved self-criticism. Remember life doesn’t progress in a straight line: learn how to practice self-compassion, understand what drains you or energizes you, and give attention to activities, hobbies and other aspects of life and work that you excel at and enjoy. Pursue ways to adopt an outlook that keeps self-judgement to a minimum.

Middle age can be a particularly demanding time of life, but The Humphreys Group wants all of our clients to enter the New Year feeling their physical best and confident in their abilities to make reflective decisions in their lives, work and finances. With 2019 approaching, we are here to support your endeavors and help you explore strategies that best address who you are today as you make your plans for tomorrow.

Nurturing Emotional and Social Resilience

Published in: Blog |

As part of our series on resiliencies in middle age, in this blog we look at the value of Emotional and Social Resilience and offer some tips on how to strengthen these abilities ahead of another busy (and possibly stressful!) holiday season.

First of all, understand that Emotional Resilience – the ability to handle tough situations – is partly affected by factors we can’t control such as age and previous exposure to trauma. However, there are ways to nurture those aspects you do have some say in, and to bolster your abilities to react to stress.

Middle age presents any number of unique challenges such as aging parents, college-bound children, health concerns, job changes and financial uncertainties. Each of these can contribute to raising our stress levels, so let’s examine the factors you can work to fortify by asking a few questions:

Awareness: Does stress get to you? Some of us feel overwhelmed or immobilized in times of stress; some of us are energized and motivated by the busy and unpredictable. Think about why you have the reactions you have, and reflect on what you want to do differently. Knowing what stressful moments or phases reveal about you is the first step toward strengthening your emotional and social resilience in trying times.

Response: How do you react when stressed? Once you are aware of whether stress energizes or depletes you, explore the various reactions you have in those demanding moments. While there are many aspects of stressful situations we can’t control, we can work to control how we respond to those situations – deep breaths instead of yelling, a pause instead of rushing around, quiet speech instead of a raised voice.

Perspective: What does stress look like to you? You’ve done the work to assess what stress feels like, now explore how you view a stressful development. Is it an obstacle, a setback? Or can you see a new opportunity and a positive challenge from a difficult turn? Putting a fresh lens on your outlook can help you battle feelings of defeat and boost your ability to withstand a trying time.

Humor: Are you able to smile at the smaller frustrations you encounter? Take this step once you’ve done the serious work of understanding why and how stress affects you. While not discounting significant issues that can tax our emotions and tire us, we can find some respite from stress by maintaining a sense of humor about the “small stuff” that challenges us.

Lastly but importantly: as you nurture and grow your Emotional Resilience make sure to hone your Social Resilience by reaching out to various support networks and interacting with them during stressful times.

Support: Who helps you cope with stress at home, at work, in your community? Reflect on the strength of your relationships and continue to grow a diverse network of personal and professional connections you can lean on during stressful times. Nurture bonds with individuals or groups that listen to you and provide you with positive feedback. Seek out those with whom you can share stories or similar interests to deepen your connections; established support groups can bolster both your emotional and social resiliencies on a deeper level, especially if you’re dealing with longer-term and more complex stressors related to health, home and family life, or work.

We’ve said it before: The Humphreys Group realizes there are many ways to build and flex your resiliency muscles. By tending to various forms of resiliencies you are able to maintain a healthy perspective on stress during middle age so that you can make measured and informed decisions about your next steps in work and life – wherever they may take you in the coming year.

Strengthening Your Financial Resilience in Middle Age

Published in: Blog |

Our resilience series started by outlining how middle age is a time to grow our resiliencies. In the next few blogs, we’ll examine each of these resiliencies more closely, and offer suggestions on steps you can take to ensure you are making the most of what you’ve earned – drawing on the wisdom that comes with age and experience.

We’ll start by discussing Financial Resilience. This means you’ve started to plan for both known and unexpected financial turns that may affect your personal life, professional work, emotional well-being and physical and mental health. By developing a fiscal strategy that grows and changes as your life does, you fortify your financial resilience. But what does that entail?

Take a close look at your income, savings, budget and insurance to determine your financial resilience. We encourage our clients to begin this process by asking questions such as these to determine which areas of their financial lives may need more attention:

  • Are my income sources diverse? Realize that multiple income sources support fiscal resilience.
  • Are my income sources secure? Am I financially prepared to weather a job loss, a decrease in income(s) or an increase in debt? Understand the potential costs of these scenarios.
  • Do I understand my current debt-to-income ratio? Do I foresee any significant near-term changes to this ratio? Remember that the less debt you have, the more financially resilient you’re able to be as you age.
  • How much cash do I have available in case of an emergency? Consider how well you are able to access your savings and assets, especially in case of a financial emergency.
  • Am I living within a budget? Examine where you may be able to reduce or cut costs to ensure an increase to your long-term savings.
  • Do I have adequate insurance? Assess how well your life and/or disability insurance will protect you and any dependents in case of financial challenges due to ill health and/or loss of income.
  • Am I working with an advisor? Advisors can help clients weigh their financial planning options and make informed fiscal decisions.

You’ve worked hard and want to enjoy middle age and beyond.  The Humphreys Group advisors answer these and any other questions you may have about your fiscal plans and offer comprehensive support to clients seeking to improve their financial resilience.

Building your Resilience Muscles – in Life and Finances

Published in: Blog |

By the time we reach middle age, most of us have tapped into some form of resilience to withstand times in our personal and professional lives that have put us on edge: job changes, health scares, divorce, death and financial struggles among them. While conversations often focus on how we can bolster our Emotional resilience – our feelings about how we handle the pressures of difficulties we face – it’s important to remember that resilience comes in additional forms. Advisors at The Humphreys Group suggest paying attention to these other resiliencies and nurturing them to better manage adversities that may arise with age:

  • Physical: your body needs to be able to maintain healthy functions, and to recover quickly and fully when beset by illness. Make sure you’re not skimping on sleep, downtime or exercise that includes an emphasis on breathing (proper breathing techniques help relieve illness-triggering stress).
  • Spiritual: as you’ve gone through life no doubt you’ve developed a set of core beliefs and principles that provide you with courage and inspiration in everything you do. Stay true to what supports your sense of purpose and direction; use meditation techniques to help you focus; reserve time for rituals and traditions that are important to you, and reflect on the values and behaviors that guide you toward living your best professional and personal life.
  • Social: appreciate the strength community connections provide, especially during stressful times. Create space in your life to develop connections with local organizations and neighbors. Share stories and work together on a project that betters your community. Draw support from the people you’ve made connections with when you’re tested in work or at home. Be prepared to return that support when someone in your community needs it.
  • Vocational: not only does this mean you understand your professional strengths and talents, it also means being open to new possibilities when it comes to work and developing the not-as-strong aspects of your professional skill set. Take classes, engage in networking, have the courage to ask for the challenging project, seek mentoring opportunities or consider taking your professional life in a fresh direction.
  • Financial: plan for known developments and withstand the unexpected ones by developing a fiscal strategy that grows and changes as your life does. This way you are prepared to meet monetary challenges and ultimately enjoy the effort you’ve put into working hard, maintaining your health, living according to your principles and engaging with your community.

Next, make sure to practice these general behaviors that add strength to each of these resiliencies:

Hone a sense of optimism. Work to stay positive despite setbacks and surround yourself with people who offer positive reinforcement as you go through a difficult time.

Take charge of your personal and professional story. Reframe challenges in your work or life as a learning experiences, or as chances to do things differently than you would have expected from yourself. It takes practice to develop a mindset that views setbacks as opportunities to grow but doing so can reduce stress and help you find the positive in what at first may seem a negative situation.

Give yourself a break. The reality is that life and work can be rocky roads to travel; there are many aspects of our jobs and lives that we can’t control and must try our best not to take personally. So when faced with challenges shift your thinking from “What did I do wrong?” and “What should I have done differently?” Consider how you’ve come through adversity in the past, give yourself credit for your strength and resolve to keep moving forward.

Share what you’ve learned. Look around for ways to offer support and share lessons you’ve learned during times and after experiences that have demanded a lot from you. Being able to express gratitude and an ongoing sense of purpose after trying phases of your work or personal life offer you the chance to continue building an engaged and meaningful support system.

The Humphreys Group realizes there are many ways to build and flex your resiliency muscles. While we can recommend strategies that make the most of each “muscle,” our expertise lies in honing your financial resilience. Our advisors offer support that helps you assess your income, savings, insurance and financial plans, understand your long-term strategies and make educated investment decisions to ensure fiscal security as you age. Don’t sweat this workout as we help you bounce back from setbacks and strengthen how you make smart financial decisions.

Our Wish

Published in: Blog |

May you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.

May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.

May you receive great encouragement when new frontiers beckon.

May you respond to the call of your gift and find the courage to follow its path.

May the flame of anger free you from falsity.

May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame and may anxiety never linger about you.

May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.

May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.

May you be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.

May you experience each day as a secret gift woven around the heart of wonder.

John O’Donohue

Cybersecurity Step-by-Step #11: 2-Factor Authentication

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

Your financial well-being is our highest priority, and one of our goals for 2018 has been to walk you through the necessary steps to protect your online data. To make it more manageable, we have been 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 Eleven:  Try 2-Factor Authentication

Why? 2-Factor Authentication adds a very effective second layer of security to your online accounts. 2-Factor Authentication (known as 2FA) means that two steps are required to confirm your identity. The first step is to enter your username and password. The second step is to enter a code sent to your mobile device. (The second step can also be accomplished using email, secret questions, tokens, or verbal verification by phone.) When you use 2FA, you are protected even if your password is stolen because the password thief is unlikely to have access to the second step of the authentication. (Learn more about 2FA by watching this 2-minute YouTube video)

If you’ve never used 2-Factor Authentication, we strongly encourage you to give it a try. It sounds complicated, but it isn’t as difficult to use as it may sound. Once you’ve tried it, we believe you will be convinced that the added security is worth the small amount of hassle to set it up.

Where to begin? If you aren’t sure, start here:
1. Start with your email. Gmail, Microsoft Outlook and Yahoo all offer 2FA. These services allow you to set up 2FA to apply only when logging in from a new device, so you won’t have to type in the extra code if you are logging in from your home computer or mobile device. If you aren’t inclined to do it to protect yourself, do it to protect your loved ones! Remember that if your email gets hacked, the cybercriminals can read ALL the correspondence and gather information that others may have shared with you.

2. Bank accounts should be your next priority. After all, most cybercriminals are in it for the money. Most banks offer 2FA and will allow you to designate trusted devices so that you will only have to go through the steps when you log in from an unknown device.

3. Once you have an increased sense of confidence using 2FA, you can add 2FA to other accounts – including those held at Schwab. Consider using it with shopping accounts such as Amazon, eBay or Etsy. Go to TwoFactorAuth.org to find a list of website services that offer 2FA.
Watch for our final cybersecurity step in December – everything you ever wanted to know about ransomware!

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.
Step Ten: Protect your digital legacy.

To review the previous steps, visit our blog.

Reframing Stressful Conversations

Published in: Blog, Get Smart |

Conversations about money can be some of the most stressful ones we have in our lives, so it’s important to establish healthy patterns when it comes to discussing financial matters with a significant other. If you tend to delay or avoid challenging conversations about budgets and other money-related issues, or if your financial conversations are unsatisfying – because they occur under pressure or in a hurried “heat of the moment” – consider taking a few steps toward better outcomes. Humphreys Financial Group advisors suggest:

Be proactive.

Let your significant other know that a conversation about your finances is important to you and why. Share what you’d like to plan a time and place to talk about financial matters in a calm and straightforward way.

Start small(er).

Rest assured, money-related conversations between partners are ongoing – there will always be something to talk about if you share your lives and your financial responsibilities! As you work to establish constructive ways to talk together about finances, start by addressing less stressful topics and work toward bigger issues.

Establish conversation parameters.

Schedule begins- and end-times for your talk. Be mindful that a lengthy conversation may make your partner uncomfortable. Additionally one (or both) of you may stop listening to the other, or risk getting emotional the longer a conversation drags on.

Determine together the specific topic you’d like to address in your conversation. Moneytalk has no room for “the element of surprise.” Bringing up unexpected topics may put one (or both) of you on the defensive. Instead, you are more likely to make progress on addressing your money issues if you both know the focus of your conversation. Examples of what that might sound like: “The way we are handling our credit cards feels like it is creating tension between us and I would really like us to work together to find some common ground so we can deal with this as a team.” or “This time I have an idea for a new approach. It could be a good experience.”

Pick a neutral spot to talk. Location, location, location, as they say. Place matters, so work to ensure that where your conversation takes place won’t trigger emotions or be distracting to either of you. Some clients have even said that taking the conversation outside for a “walk and talk” helps them stay focused and calm about the topic of their discussions.

Stick to your parameters. It’s more likely you will establish successful patterns for addressing difficult financial issues if the structures you put in place continue to work for both of you.

Prepare and practice before your conversation begins.

As part of your individual preparation, write down what you want to say about the issue you’ll be discussing. Practice your part of the conversation – by yourself in front of a mirror or with a trusted friend. It helps to ensure you are clearly expressing yourself and know how you sound when you do it. That way you help move the conversation forward.

It takes courage and commitment to initiate conversations about money. But preparing ahead of time and scheduling focused discussions about your financial matters can help remove potential emotional and reactive responses from you, your partner or both of you. In the long run, you can improve how you address money issues together – a big benefit for both of you and your relationship.

 

Prepping for Conversations About Finances

Published in: Blog, Get Inspired, Get Smart |

Financial discussions with our partners and other family members – about spending habits and budgets, long-term retirement plans or other money-related concerns – are necessary but often difficult conversations. We all have been faced at one time or another with thorny issues surrounding our financial well-being, and we often put off talking about such issues until we reach a crucial point or crisis. How can you diffuse the tensions surrounding your current finances so you can talk frankly, openly and honestly as you plan for your financial future? The Humphreys Group advisors recommend stepping back to look at the big picture before you get to specific money talk:

To prepare for a conversation about finances, first examine your financial backstory by asking yourself a few questions:

What do I specifically want to achieve with this conversation? Let’s face it: you won’t be able to address all of your financial issues and concerns in a single discussion. The more focused you can be about the financial topic you’d like to discuss, and the more concrete you can be about the possible ways to resolve your issue will help you establish a foundation that enables you to address other issues on a case-by-case basis over time.

What causes me to see financial conversations as a challenge? Perhaps you assume how a finance-related conversation with your partner or other family members is going to go before it even starts. Those assumptions may cause you to begin conversations already on the defense. Resolve to handle each conversation as its own event and work to stay in the “now.” By focusing on specific goals for a specific talk you’re less likely to be influenced by your pre-conceived notions about how it will play out.

What about my finances makes me emotional? What causes me the most worry and how do my concerns affect my conversation – my tone, my words, and even my body language? If you’re aware that your stress about finances is revealed in physical and vocal ways, practice having a calm and centered approach even before you engage with another person so that you wind up being less confrontational and more communicative about your concerns.

When you begin your conversation, keep in mind a few other things:

Be curious and inquisitive of your conversation-mate(s).  Start talking by expressing your point of view and let them know you want to hear theirs before you begin tackling your shared financial issues and concerns. “I’d like to talk about” or “I need your help with something” are good ways to begin.

Acknowledge points of view that are not your own. Listen to what the other parties in your conversation have to say and don’t minimize the other party’s stance. Give them space and time to articulate their perspectives and acknowledge when something matters to them by noting “This sounds important to you.” You’ve done the homework on your own conversation style, now pay attention to their tone, word choices and body language for clues about how they’re feeling as you tackle the tough issues together.

Find places in the conversation to empathize and agree. Perhaps your key money concerns are somewhat different. Perhaps you are both focused on the same issues but are affected by them differently. Acknowledge that recognizing your shared financial concerns doesn’t mean your priorities line up about which ones to tackle first. By outlining the issues that exist and learning how each person feels about them, you can work together to prioritize which ones to address.

Breaks are allowed. If the conversation becomes too heated, agree to step away momentarily so you can center yourselves and begin again with a greater sense of calm and focus.

As with any art, conversations improve with practice. And progress often comes step-by-step. Individuals who are engaged and committed to the challenge of having difficult conversations about their finances are taking a first step to be proud of. Keep taking the steps to understand your own “financial issues backstory” and listen to what your conversation mate is saying about their money concerns so that over time you can brainstorm solutions and problem-solve together through conversations that are a little less difficult – and that ensure a mutually healthy financial future.

 

A Perspective on Family History & Financial Health

Published in: Blog, Get Smart |

Our earliest relationships with money can spark questions about how we plan for our lives and our futures. They often influence our long-term financial behaviors across a wide spectrum. For instance, based on our first few real-life experiences with budgets and financial planning, we may view money as a private and taboo subject not open to discussion. Conversely, we may feel that money is meant to be spent freely without paying much attention to a long-term “bigger picture.”

Reflecting on the kinds of conversations you currently have with yourself, your partner and your family about money can help reveal clues about how your money and financial planning patterns developed. Do you remember the first time you learned how much your parents earned? How they spent their money? Their savings patterns? How did the adults in your life talk with you about money? How have your own earning, spending and saving patterns evolved through the years?

The answers to such questions will help you discover the financial behaviors you embrace – and realize there may be some patterns you don’t wish to follow. Regardless, whatever lessons you’ve learned so far about money can be expanded upon or adjusted. For instance, if you’ve felt the stress that overspending and under-planning can cause an individual or couple, we can advise you on the steps you can take to shore up your financial health. Maybe you grew up in a household where financial discussions did not include the children; if you have children and want them to learn a sound approach toward money but are uncertain how to do this, we’ll help you find ways to open avenues of age-appropriate conversation with them that increases their financial understanding, helps them limit unforeseen spending and guides them toward establishing healthy spending patterns.

Above all remember this: your past financial experience may impact your current state but it doesn’t have to dictate your future. At The Humphreys Group, our advisors work to help you assess your financial goals and better understand the hows and whys of your money decisions. Together we explore ways you can develop the best approach for you and your family – one that makes the most sense for your unique lives and one that puts you on a healthy path toward a longer-term plan and fiscal legacy.