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.

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.

Estate Planning Is Essential — But Even More So for Women

Published in: Blog |

When it comes to women and estate planning, we at The Humphreys Group agree with the prevailing wisdom among financial experts: Women should be advised and empowered to develop estate plans that reflect their unique life experiences. In many cases, this means the focus of a woman’s estate plan will differ from a man’s estate plan. Let’s discuss why:

Women today lead dynamic and complex work lives. More than ever, and in all aspects of society, working women are forging ahead with their professional careers. However, many women also continue to step out of the paid workforce for periods of time — most often to care for children or other family members. Such variances in employment can potentially impact a woman’s financial well-being in ways that may include lower earnings, less money in savings and fewer profitable investments over a lifetime. This means estate planning plays an important role in ensuring every woman’s long-term economic security.

Women often live longer than their partners. It’s meaningful to keep in mind that most women who lose a partner usually take over their own financial destinies, and also ultimately determine how they will allocate their finances to other family members, taxes, charities and additional sources. Should such a situation occur, it’s helpful for a woman to be prepared and to know what to expect from her estate planning efforts.

What does estate planning that incorporates a woman’s point of view look like? We encourage you to explore the articles we’ve linked to in this blog post, in addition to considering a few takeaways:

  • Develop a will, a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care. These core documents are a good place to begin the estate planning journey. Women should make sure any estate planning-related paperwork reflects how they specifically wish to designate and delegate their personal and financial assets and, should the need arise, health care on their behalf.
  • Operate with a sense of security, confidence and planning. Advisors recommend that one should secure any information related to their estate plan for safekeeping and note that information about accounts and documents should be shared with a limited number of trusted individuals, among them a financial advisor. Further advice: Hold conversations with relevant family members about your estate plan long before the plan is enacted. Topics to address might include business succession plans, inheritances or proposed charitable giving.

We believe women are best served when they are knowledgeable about their family finances as well as in charge of their individual financial responsibilities and strategies. Contact The Humphreys Group to learn more about how estate planning can benefit you.

Diane Bourdo Speaks to Ellevate Network About Women’s Financial Empowerment

Published in: Blog |

From pop culture to the talking heads you see on nightly financial news programs, the investment world has long been characterized by a certain type of imagery. You know what we’re talking about: Men in suits spouting off tips about the next “hot stock.” Men on the trading floor, surrounded by ticker tape and loud bells.

What’s the common feature in each of these images? Men. Women are never included in these depictions, which has given way to a systemic bias, constructed since the early days of Wall Street: Women don’t — and shouldn’t — invest.

But the problem with that bias (beyond the obvious)? It simply isn’t true. A recent Fidelity Investments study showed that women investors actually outperform male investors by 0.4%. Moreover, women trade less often, react more patiently to market volatility and are less focused on achieving “social status” benchmarks, such as “beating an index.”

Yet, there is still a common perception among women that assumes the opposite. For instance, in the same Fidelity Investments Study, only 9% of women believed they could outperform men in investing. So, how can we change the conversation?

Last week, I teamed up with Ellevate to work hand-in-hand with a small group of women who were seeking financial empowerment and guidance. During the event, I shared some cornerstone financial skills and insights; guided participants through fundamental financial planning exercises; and helped them discover some inspiration that lies in the possibility of financial security.

Here are a few key points from our discussion:

Financial Planning 101

At The Humphreys Group, we have always believed in the importance of establishing financial goals that match up with your values — these are the people, priorities and ideals that matter most to you. Taking this approach allows you to gain a more holistic, big-picture view of your financial future and sets you on a more rewarding and intentional path toward achieving your goals.

After discussing this approach with the group, we broke down financial planning to a more granular level, introducing the concept of the “financial dashboard”: A top-level view of the key figures you can use to identify your level of financial wellness, including income, expenses and net worth. Today, there are plenty of convenient, digital tools you can use to keep a pulse on your financial dashboard, such as Mint, YouNeedaBudget and Tillerhq. By focusing on the basics of financial planning first, we set a strong foundation for the next segment of our discussion:

Investing 101

“Should you invest or save?” “Why invest in the first place?” We kicked off our discussion on this topic by answering some of the questions that all new investors face.

At its most basic level, investing is the process of buying an asset for the potential of it growing in value. As opposed to saving, investing gives you the valuable opportunity to grow your wealth over time — and regardless of what goals you have set for the future, it’s important to start investing early, proportional to your time horizon and tolerance for risk.

After reviewing some basic, yet essential investment principles, we discussed some critical steps all women should take to maximize their savings for one of the most important milestones they’ll face: retirement. Two basic steps include:

    • Maximizing Your Employer Match: Make sure you have a strong understanding of what your company offers, in terms of matching contributions, and how that affects your retirement goals.
    • Choose Your Retirement Accounts Wisely: Before jumping straight into some of the most typical savings vehicles, such as a 401(k) or a standard savings account, take time to research and evaluate your options. Review your potential tax liability with each account before making a final decision.

Take Control Over Your Financial Life 

Beyond the practices of financial planning and investing, there are countless other financial issues and challenges that affect our day-to-day lives. Should you pay off your debt or invest in a retirement account? Should you direct your savings toward your children’s college education or stock them away for your future retirement? What about insurance against unexpected events? Planning for future health care expenses?

The answers to these questions are different for every woman — because every financial situation is unique. Of course, there are general guidelines and principles that can help you get a better grasp on your money and empower you to make the most informed decisions.

The most important step is to simply get started. If you need a resource to help you put your best foot forward:

Check Out Rewriting the Rules: Telling Truths About Women and Money”

Our new book debunks some of the problematic myths that have held women back from financial independence, while empowering you with practical solutions and actionable tips to take control of your financial life. We encourage you to download your free copy, and let us know what you think!

If you’re ready to learn more about financial planning and investing, we also encourage you to contact our team at The Humphreys Group. We can help answer your most pressing questions, and help you set and achieve your goals through the power of focused financial planning and disciplined asset management.

3 Tips to Manage Crucial Conversations With Your Parents

Published in: Blog |

We’ve acknowledged time and again that, for many of us and for a variety of complex reasons, it’s not easy to manage crucial conversations about finances with those closest to us; we also realize that talking about aging — especially when the topics are related to health care and money matters — can be difficult. Difficult, but not impossible.

As we observed in our previous post, conversations we have these days about aging and health care must account for several stark realities: Premium costs for long-term care policies have been steadily rising for decades. These costs will continue to rise as the populous baby boomer generation retires and draws on both public and private care benefits and, in general, as more Americans live longer.

We offer the following, additional pointers to help you start talking to your parents or other aging loved ones about long-term financial plans and health care:

  • Start broadly. At The Humphreys Group, we believe in examining how the “big picture” of our lives informs our financial planning. We encourage clients to examine their attitudes, goals, dream and values — not just about money, but about how these concepts guide both their short-term and long-term decisions. We encourage them to engage in similar discussions with the aging adults in their lives. (Again, most often, this will mean parents.)
  • Get specific. Once our clients are able to better understand their aging loved one’s outlook and approach to life and work, it’s time to ask more pointed questions related to the loved one’s financial health and plans. We recommend asking questions about savings and investment plans, debt load and estate plans; whether a loved one has sought professional financial advice, and health care preferences. The goal of these exchanges is to try to understand what resources are available for aging loved ones, including what they will be able to afford when it comes to their care.
  • Keep the conversation going. As financial experts, we know life, work and health conditions are subject to change, sometimes rapidly and dramatically so. With that in mind, we suggest that those who begin to ask about their loved one’s plans for aging continue to do so. This can help gauge whether or when an aging loved one may need to seek additional advice or assistance with their finances, investments and long-term health care.

With research that shows the nation’s retirement population is growing larger, living longer and requiring sustained health-related services, we believe it’s important to learn what kinds of care older loved ones want and can afford. Financial planning plays a role in talking about aging and health care, especially since rates for many long-term care insurance policies and related services are rising in response to aging trends.

You don’t have to do it alone. Contact The Humphreys Group to learn more about the steps you can take to help a loved one plan for their potential long-term health care needs and challenges.

A Guide for Helping Your Loved One Plan for Long-Term Care

Published in: Blog |

We at The Humphreys Group realize what multiple studies show: The population of those living into older age is getting larger in the United States and will continue to do so for some time. As costs keep rising to meet the growing demand for health-related services for the elderly, there is an increasing need for aging adults and those who are close to them to plan for their long-term care.

However, we know it can be challenging to begin talking with aging loved ones about their long-term care preferences, especially when home, health and finances are involved. And so we offer the following suggestions on how to start the discussion:

  • Do your homework. Before you begin a discussion with an aging loved one — and before an aging loved one requires health assistance — acquire a basic knowledge about the many different types of longer-term health care. Also determine what types of care are available where your loved one lives, and gain a general sense of what the potential costs of such care may be. Begin to introduce the topic of long-term care into conversations as a way to prepare for specific talk about the issue.
  • Listen. Before you make any big decisions, share your questions and concerns about your aging loved one’s well-being, and have them share their wishes and concerns with you about their long-term health care. Work together to develop a concrete yet flexible strategy to address health-related issues that may arrive with age.
  • Plan. Once you have a better sense of a loved one’s long-term health care preferences, it’s time to help assess their financial circumstances. These types of costs are varied and complex, and it’s no secret they are rising and will continue to do so for the next decade or more.
  • Consider outside advice. If your loved one hasn’t already done so, it may be helpful to work with an experienced and trusted financial advisor to develop plans that can support paying for long-term care. We also recommend both you and your aging loved one keep in touch with other individuals, as well as personal and professional groups, that can provide information about long-term health care and assist in addressing physical, mental, spiritual, emotional and financial challenges that arise along the way.

We are well-aware that growing older is a dynamic process, marked with unique experiences that are as numerous and varied as those individuals living long lives. Our next blog will focus on how to begin a conversation about long-term health care. Contact The Humphreys Groups for professional guidance on how you can work with an aging loved one to help them secure and afford the kind of long-term health care they want.

How to Balance Caregiving With Your Career Aspirations

Published in: Blog |

We already know from research and day-to-day experiences that many women continue to play a primary role in caring for their children while balancing their careers. But recent studies also reveal women increasingly assume unpaid caregiving responsibilities for adults in their lives — most often for their parents. Sometimes, these caregiving responsibilities become full-time jobs themselves and cause women to put their professional career aspirations on hold so they can support their family members and loved ones.

As we work with our clients to secure their financial growth and health, we at The Humphreys Group are studying how taking on the role of “unpaid caregiver” can affect a woman’s employability and long-term finances. We’ve learned that it is particularly important for unpaid caregivers to stay diligent when developing their investment plans.

A variety of industry reports and media sources (such as these articles from The New York Times and The Atlantic) reference studies that reach similar conclusions: women’s savings, earnings, benefits and future employability are all at risk when they move from the paid workforce to take on the unpaid work of caring for an ailing parent. While some organizations are making progress toward developing policies that offer unpaid caregivers social, emotional, physical and financial support, many workplaces and current employment practices still do little to account for the time and attention that unpaid caregiving demands of working professionals.

How would you prepare if you were called upon to serve as an unpaid caregiver at some point during your working life? At The Humphreys Group, we apply a four-step strategy, steeped in our experience and knowledge, to help clients maintain their financial well-being, whatever their life circumstances. Together, we:

  • Discover what matters most to you. We learn about your values, goals and dreams, and answer any questions in a spirit of partnership that establishes clear communications about how we will work together to realize them.
  • Plan for changing life circumstances. We provide you with a comfortable, collaborative setting that enables you to keep moving forward with confidence in your financial life, as well as personally and professionally.
  • Invest with discipline and perspective. We take our responsibility to ensure each client’s well-being seriously, and use the science of capital markets to help build resilient portfolios that can weather the wide ranges of market volatility.
  • Connect in small group discussions. For many of us, talking about money and financial plans, especially with those closest to us, can be a tension-filled challenge. In small groups that meet periodically, we foster ways that help our clients feel more comfortable and gain confidence to have those conversations. Our “Insights & Outcomes” Conversation Circle series prompts women to discuss, contemplate and connect with each other about the important aspects of finance and investing that lie outside of the numbers.

We believe women should understand how taking care of their aging family members may impact their lives. If you believe you may be called upon to assume an unpaid caregiving role at some point in your career — or are already doing so — contact The Humphreys Group to start a conversation about how we can help you secure and maintain your well-being.

Mid-Year Wellness: The Credit vs. Debit Debate (Part II)

Published in: Blog |

It’s official: 2019 is nearly halfway over, which means that now is the time to pause and take stock of your total wellness. This includes your spending habits and where you stand in your progress toward your year-end goals. What methods do you actually use to make purchases? Do you favor debit cards over credit cards? Which method is “safer”?

Our Financial Planning Associate, Hallie Kraus, is tackling these questions in a new, two-part blog series. If you missed Part I of the series, click here to get up-to-speed. In Part II, Hallie explores the benefits of using a debit card to make purchases and is sharing some resources you can use to make smart spending decisions.

Now that you know the potential benefits — and risks — that come with using a credit card to make purchases, it’s time to take a look at the other side of the payment spectrum: the debit card.

When Is It Best to Use a Debit Card vs. a Credit Card?

When you want to manage your spending or avoid debt. This is, by far, the best reason to use a debit card, and it’s not insignificant. If you’re trying to reel in your expenses, or if you’re the kind of person who simply likes to have more structure to keep your expenses in line, debit cards are the way to go, simply because you’re only paying with money you already have.

Unfortunately, these days, card “skimming” has become more prevalent, in which fraudsters use small devices to steal card information in an otherwise legitimate transaction. Keep in mind that most experts discourage the use of debit cards at gas station pumps or independent ATMs, where skimmers are most likely to target.

You want to minimize fees — for you, as the consumer, and for the merchant. Using a debit card means you never risk the possibility of incurring interest, late fees or annual fees — all of which are associated with most credit cards.

Merchants, on the other hand, pay a processing fee to card issuers in order to accept both credit and debit cards. The processing fee for credit is typically a percentage of the customer’s purchase, while the processing fee for debit is lower, and often a flat fee. So, it’s actually cheaper for merchants when you, as their customer, elect to have a debit transaction — something to keep in mind if you want to do what you can to help the profit margins of your favorite businesses!

The Bottom Line

Regardless of whether you use a debit or credit card to make purchases, it’s important to keep the following tips in mind:

Monitor your transactions regularly. The sooner you report a fraudulent transaction, the better. Make it part of your routine to check your activity on a regular basis and report anything suspicious to your bank as soon as possible.

Only you know your habits and what’s best for you. Be honest with yourself about your financial strengths and weaknesses, and use that to determine which card make the most sense for your lifestyle and spending habits.

Check your credit report on at least an annual basis. You can view and download your credit report from each of the three bureaus for free once per year by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. This is yet another effective way to monitor for fraudulent activity and familiarize yourself with what makes your credit tick.

There are plenty of resources available to help you practice smart, diligent spending. When it comes to monitoring fraud, one of the best guidelines is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website, which also offers plenty of advice regarding lost or stolen credit and debit cards. If you would like to learn more about the pros and cons between debit and credit cards, check out this article by AARP and this piece by The Simple Dollar, both of which provide comprehensive and unbiased overviews of both methods.

And, as always, The Humphreys Group is here to help answer all of your personal financial planning questions. If you would like to learn more about saving and spending best practices, contact our team.