Tag: express yourself

The Advantages of Downsizing in Retirement

Published in: Resources |

When you were young and just starting out on your career path, it’s quite possible that you dreamed of owning a large home on a sprawling property. Plenty of bedrooms for the children you would have one day. A multi-car garage. A garden, or maybe a pool in the backyard.

But as you inch closer to retirement, chances are thoughts of downsizing have begun to swirl around your mind. In addition to the obvious challenge of maintaining a large property, there are several other considerations, such as taxes and insurance. Additionally, large multi-bedroom properties that were once filled with children, playdates, sleepovers, and birthday parties might feel a little empty once children have grown up and left home.

From the obvious to the unexpected, here are four factors that make downsizing a smart retirement move.

Cost

To begin with, smaller properties are usually less expensive than large ones. Of course, if you traded in a large rural country home in Nevada for a small apartment in San Francisco, this would likely not be the case, but if you decided to stay in the same town or city and simply moved into a smaller dwelling, you can bet that your housing expenses would decrease. This carries over to maintenance tasks as well, such as cleaning, painting and mowing.

Renting in particular can also be a smart choice cost-wise, as it prevents you from having to worry about expenses like upkeep, insurance and property taxes, which are the landlord’s responsibility.

Accessibility

As we age, activities that were once easy (for example, climbing the stairs) might be a bit more difficult to manage. Smaller homes are usually easier to get around, as they are more often a single level. Additionally, for retirees who don’t like to rely on a car or don’t enjoy driving, downsizing to an apartment located close to restaurants, retail or grocery stores, and other amenities may alleviate some stress.

Flexibility

One major perk of renting in particular is that it provides more flexibility. If you’ve always dreamed of living in Hawaii, but aren’t sure you’ll be able to handle the year-round heat, you can sample the location without committing to home-ownership or a mortgage. If you end up missing the seasons, instead of having to search for a realtor and put your house on the market, all you have to do is wait for your lease to be up!

Organization

While many retirees probably aren’t moving to a smaller dwelling to get their life organized, a surprising joy of downsizing can be just that. Downsizing means less storage space, and less storage space means you will be forced to seriously consider your belongings. Do you really need (or want) three different sets of China? What about that broken treadmill that you’ve been planning to “get fixed” for the last six years? Marie Kondo your belongings and stop carrying around all of that extra baggage (literally!)

In addition to taking some stress off of you and your home, decreasing your clutter is a true gift for your children. One of the most unpleasant aspects of dealing with the loss of a loved one is getting their affairs in order, belongings included. Just think how much easier you will make it on them if you downsize your belongings ahead of time!

Get prepared with The Humphreys Group

At The Humphreys Group, we work with women in transition, including those prepping for retirement, to create tailored long-term financial plans that suit their individual goals and personal vision. Are you planning your retirement? Considering selling your house and looking for an apartment? No matter what your personal situation is, our team is happy to provide a second opinion. Reach out to schedule a chat!

 

 

 

Better Days Ahead: Everyday Vitality by Dr. Samantha Boardman

Published in: Resources |

The tail-end of the pandemic has stretched out much longer than any of us had imagined and we are all in different phases of re-emergence. As we check in with each of our clients, we are noticing a common theme of depletion, a sense of lassitude, and a dragging weariness that we are all striving to overcome.

Luckily, we have found inspiration over the summer, and now into the fall, in the recently published book, Everyday Vitality by Samantha Boardman, MD.

Everyday Vitality is based on the premise that, contrary to popular belief, happiness is not the opposite of depression. Vitality is. What exactly is vitality? It’s that positive feeling of aliveness and energy that lies at the core of well-being. It allows us to bend rather than break and, importantly, to spring back.  Although the book was written in advance of the pandemic, the premise is perfectly timed to give us a much-needed boost.

In her book, Dr. Boardman shows us how to find strength within our stress and how to transform full days into more fulfilling ones. Drawing from scientific research and her own clinical experience, she shares strategies for cultivating vitality. That’s what we love about this book. It’s full of practical actions that seem do-able. Her approach is refreshing because she encourages us to go beyond self-reflection and self-care and engage outwardly with our surroundings, our community, and our passions.

Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Think Again has this to say:

“An insightful, uplifting read about how to bring more liveliness into our lives. Whereas most psychiatrists focus on alleviating mental illness, Samantha Boardman cares deeply about promoting mental health too. She combines an impressive command of science with deep empathy for her patients. If you’re depressed, burned out, or languishing, this book is brimming with practical ideas—and even if you’re flourishing, it’s full of valuable reminders for sustaining energy and well-being.”

If you want to learn more, we encourage you to pick up a copy of the book or to visit Dr. Boardman’s website that is filled with interesting perspectives and some fun quizzes.

And here’s a “preview of coming attractions”: In November we’ll be hosting two virtual conversation circles to explore some of the ideas in her book. We’re especially excited to talk about her concrete strategies for each of the three components of vitality: connection, challenge and community. Keep an eye on your inbox for our invitation in the next week or so. We’d love to have you join us!

 

How To Broach Difficult Money Conversations With Aging Parents

Published in: Resources |

Throughout childhood, we get used to turning to our parents for advice. My friend and I are fighting, what should I do? I’m struggling in Spanish class, how can I turn things around?

As we get older, the advice we ask for may change, but we continue to turn to them, just the same. If I take out student loans with a 3.7% interest rate, how much will I owe? Can I afford a new car?

But what happens when your parents start to get older and need to rely on you, instead? Going from the advice-seeker to the advice-giver may feel uncomfortable, but it’s a role reversal that many of us will be forced to make in our lifetime.

Discussing finances with our aging parents can be particularly uncomfortable for a handful of reasons. For starters, open discussions about money have historically been viewed as taboo and many people feel uncomfortable even broaching the subject. Furthermore, adult children might feel invasive mentioning money to their parents.

A GOBankingRates survey found that a whopping 73% of Americans haven’t had serious financial talks with their parents, with over half reporting that they don’t think these conversations need to happen “until their parents retire, start to have health issues, show signs they need help or actually ask for help.”

In truth, the earlier these conversations happen, the better. Financial conversations are some of the most important ones you can have with your parents as they grow older, and the sooner the line of communication is opened up, the more time you and they will have to prepare.

If your parents have always been fairly open about money and you have a good relationship with them, there’s no reason to dance around the point. Be respectful, but be direct. However, if you’re nervous about how they might respond, here are four tips to broach the topic in a subtle and respectful way.

Start with a broader topic

Instead of coming right out and asking about their life’s savings, you could open up the conversation by asking about a topic such as retirement. Do you have an idea of what your retirement will look like? Will you plan to move? Downsize? Get the discussion going and warm them up. Quite possibly, the conversation will naturally flow from retirement plans, hopes and dreams into logistics and finances.

Offer a lending hand

Another way to crack the door open on money conversations is to offer your help. It can be something simple like offering to do yard work for them once a week or taking their car into the shop, but it will allow you a closer look into their day-to-day lives while getting them comfortable with the idea of accepting your help. Once they have gotten used to accepting help with smaller tasks, they’ll likely be more open to the idea of you helping out in other areas of life, for example, with taxes or with filling out Medicare paperwork.

Rely on siblings

You never want to make your parent feel ganged up on, but if you have siblings it is okay to lean on each other, bounce ideas back and forth, and come up with a game-plan together.

Talk about yourself

Not to make things all about you, but it can be exceedingly helpful to use yourself as an example when trying to open the floor to a difficult conversation. You could mention that you have recently opened up a new retirement account and then ask them how they saved up for retirement. You could mention that you’ve been thinking about creating a will and ask if they have any advice for you based off of their personal experiences.

Financial Planning with The Humphreys Group

Sometimes the trickiest part of money talks is just getting the conversation started. The Humphreys Group provides expertise to help women navigate difficult transitions such as taking care of aging parents, and our passion is helping clients take control of their financial lives. If you’re interested in continuing the discussion with The Humphreys Group, reach out to our team today.

Fall Reading with The Humphreys Group

Published in: Resources |

 

The past year and a half have been filled with more plot twists than most novels. This week, The Humphreys Group team members are sharing some of their current favorite books that have been curing everything from wanderlust to screen fatigue.

 

Diane Bourdo, CFP®, President

The Great Alone by Tim Voors

As an avid hiker, I’m always on the lookout for long-distance hiking and adventure tales – now more than ever! The Great Alone is Tim Voors’ account of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail start to finish (Mexico to Canada). A 44-year old Dutchman, he leaves his family for 6 months to hike all 4,286 miles of the PCT. His account is full of zany fellow hikers, treacherous climbs, and sublime vistas. There’s also a good dose of reflection, lessons learned, hard won insights – and his artwork. In addition to his watercolors, the book is full of great photographs that will put you right on the trail next to him. It’s a fun and engaging read!

 

 

 

Lexi Olian, CFP®, Director of Financial Planning

Everyday Vitality by Samantha Boardman, MD

Based on research and clinical experience, this book is full of practical strategies for cultivating vitality. Author Dr. Samantha Boardman’s approach is refreshing because she encourages us to go beyond self-reflection and self-care and engage outwardly with our surroundings, our community, and our passions.

 

 

Hallie Kraus, CFP®, CRPC®, Financial Planner

Let’s Talk About Hard Things by Anna Sale

One of my favorite podcasts is Anna Sale’s Death, Sex and Money, so when Sale’s first book came out earlier this year, I knew I had to read it. Let’s Talk About Hard Things is what it sounds like: an invitation to navigate fraught topics in a thoughtful and generous way. But rather than offering a formal guidebook, she weaves lessons from her podcast, academic research, and anecdotes from her own life to demonstrate how tough conversations offer us solace, pull us out of isolation, and deepen connection and understanding. If the pandemic has given you time to ruminate about that conversation that you’ve been putting off, this will give you the inspiration to do so.

 

 

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

After spending much of the last year isolated from others, many of us have developed a deeper appreciation for our loved ones, and if you’re looking for a poignant and beautiful family story, I recommend Michelle Zauner’s memoir, Crying in H Mart. Zauner, the daughter of an American father and Korean mother, had a tumultuous childhood punctured by clashes with her parents. But when her mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer, she describes in heart wrenching detail how she cared for her mother, how they both worked to heal their relationship, and how she channeled her grief into reclaiming the food and history of her Korean heritage. Their story is proof that it’s possible to reset even the thorniest of family relationships. (Just make sure to have tissues handy.)

 

 

Liz Paxton, Director of Operations

Beyond the Sand and Sea by Ty McCormick

Refugees are much in the news at the moment and I am taking a deeper dive with Beyond the Sand and Sea by Ty McCormick, an editor at Foreign Affairs magazine. Ty traces the journey of a family fleeing the civil war in Somalia and ultimately making their way to the USA. But not before several family members spend over a decade in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. Dadaab has the dubious distinction of being the world’s largest refugee camp, with 200,000 mostly Somali refugees. Against all odds, the son, Asad, wins a scholarship to study literature at Princeton once he has made it to the States. The book provides inspiration and a “pinprick of light” in the darkness that characterizes most of what we read about the refugee crises.

 

On All Fronts by Clarissa Ward

Like many of us, I was glued to CNN during the recent evacuation from Afghanistan and I watched a lot of Clarissa Ward’s coverage. I thought she was pretty tough and kick-ass so I’m reading her memoir On All Fronts to get an inside look at how she got where she is and what makes her tick. Born of privilege, she forged a path that has seen her reporting from some of the world’s hotspots: Syria, Beirut, Libya & Afghanistan, to name a few. She doesn’t shy away from reporting it as she sees it and has gained great respect in the tight knit world of international conflict correspondents.

 

 

Katie Kneuker, Operations Associate

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The book that has been my go-to when I need to take a screen break has been, The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. This thriller is a great option when you’ve realized you spent 8+ hours staring at a computer screen for work or just binge-watched the latest show on Netflix.

 

Would you like to continue the conversation about your favorite reads? Consider joining us for one of our Conversation Circles, where we have authentic conversations about everything from our core values, to our experiences, to personal finance beyond the numbers.

 

Get On Top Of Holiday Expenses

Published in: Resources |

 

Happy holidays! Ok, ok, we know it’s only September. But the holiday season has a sneaky way of creeping up on us – before we know it we’ll be setting ice skating dates and baking cookies for neighbors. It also has a way of sneaking up on our bank accounts. Hey, they don’t call it the most expensive (er, wonderful) time of the year for nothing.

Even with the light at the end of the COVID tunnel getting closer, we’re not out of the woods quite yet, and after the rocky year and a half or so that we’ve had, it makes sense to feel both excited (we might actually get to spend the holidays in person with our friends and families!) and a little nervous (how are we supposed to afford all of those holiday gifts?) Even though the holiday celebrations are a few months out, it might take some of the weight off your shoulders to do a bit of planning ahead of time.

Here are some ideas for creating and sticking to a budget, cutting down on costs, and planning ahead during the upcoming holiday season.

Plan early

Let’s begin with our favorite topic: The Budget. We’re not talking about your gifting budget (we’ll get to that in a moment) but rather your overall budget. Before you even think about the holiday dress you “need” or that perfect gift for your partner, check in with your finances.

Many of us were affected financially by the pandemic and you’re not alone if you’re feeling like pennies are still a bit pinched. Based on your personal cash flow, come up with a reasonable amount of money in total that you are comfortable putting towards holiday related expenses. Be sure to factor in decorations, food, holiday travel, entertaining, gifts, and charitable giving. Because you’re planning early on, you have the advantage of being able to set money aside bit by bit to cover these expenses, making the financial burden feel more manageable.

The holiday gift budget

Now for the gift budget. Start by grabbing a sheet of paper or opening a blank Google doc and writing down the names of each person on your gift list. Next, set a spending limit for each person and write that down next to their name. Now, add up the amounts in the money column. Things add up quickly, don’t they?

If your number seems too high, break down where you could potentially cut back a bit. Instead of buying each of your best friends a $20 gift, you could buy ornaments in bulk and decorate them. Bake cookies instead of buying Starbucks gift cards. Knit your neighbor a scarf.

You could also broach the subject with family members. Chances are, some of them are feeling the same way you are about budgeting for the holidays, and they’d probably be grateful at the idea of a gift exchange or a spending cap.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that it’s the thought that counts. Your friends and family members will appreciate the effort you made, regardless of whether a gift cost $10 or $100.

Cut costs on holiday activities

If your family has a tradition to splurge on a night out to watch the Nutcracker, we’re not going to tell you not to go, but be mindful of using “the holiday season” as an excuse to splurge.

There are also a host of free or inexpensive holiday activities to take advantage of, such as cozy nights in watching festive movies, walking around the neighborhood to take in the twinkle lights, or sledding!

Book your travel early on

The holiday season is one of the busiest and most expensive times to travel during a normal year. Coming off of the pandemic with an increasing number of passengers being fully vaccinated, coupled with countries rolling back border restrictions, it’s safe to say we can expect a travel surge this winter. If you haven’t already, book any travel accommodations as soon as possible. That includes hotels, rental cars, and plane, train, or bus tickets.

Take advantage of your credit card perks

Do you get double the points for every dollar you spend? Do you rack up airline miles? Take advantage by putting holiday expenses on your credit card. Maybe your gift purchases will end up paying for your holiday plane ticket to mom and dad’s!

Bonus tip: steer clear of opening up store credit cards. Especially leading up to the holidays, it seems as though every store at the mall is offering up one gimmick or another to convince you that you need a new credit card. Just say no.

As the holidays approach, get in touch with The Humphreys Group for a second opinion on your financial picture.

Hit Reset On Your Finances This Fall

Published in: Resources |

As children, fall signified more of a beginning than an end. Sure, the days of summer vacation were behind us, but we geared up with new backpacks, too-stiff jeans, sharp colored pencils and granola bars, and headed back to the classroom for another year of learning.

As an adult, your summers of complete freedom are likely long gone, but fall is still a great opportunity to sit back, reflect, and hit the reset button. Here are four of our top tips to reset and refocus on your finances this fall.

  1. Familiarize yourself with your numbers.

Summer can be expensive, from vacations to rooftop brunches to wedding season. Be honest, when was the last time you looked at the books or crunched the numbers? Take the time to review your accounts, go over your summer spending, and revisit your budget.

  1. Set new goals.

New season, new goals. Part of treating fall as a time to reset includes assessing your goals, and maybe creating a few new ones. As you refocus, take note of how you’re feeling, what you want to accomplish, and what it’s going to take to get you there. Do you dream of buying a new car? Are you hoping to take a family vacation over the holidays? Do you want to increase your monthly 401K contribution? Jot those new goals down and set about making them a reality!

  1. Give your savings a name.

Saving up for something can be tricky. On the one hand, you know it’s something you really want or need, but on the other, it can be easy to veer off course. Maybe you’re saving for a down payment on a house, but your best friend is getting married next week. You have all of this money saved up – what harm could it do to dip into a little bit of it for your friend’s wedding gift? And so it goes.

A tip to make saving up for something specific a little bit easier? Give it a name. Most banks allow you to name your accounts, so, using the same example, if you are saving for a home, open a specific account and name it accordingly. It doesn’t matter what you call it, – chez moi, home is where the heart is, down payment – seeing your goal spelled out in front of you each time you make a deposit or a withdrawal is a great way to keep your end game front and center in your mind.

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others.

A final tip (which stretches far beyond your finances) is to stop comparing yourself to others. Social media has a way of making us feel inadequate during any month, but especially coming off of a season of seemingly never-ending travels from friends and strangers alike (plates of pasta near the colosseum, yoga retreats in Indonesia, and backpacking trips in Big Sur, we’re looking at you…) it’s easy to feel down on yourself. Instead of a) sulking, or b) buying the first all-inclusive cruise package that flashes across your computer screen, take the time to reflect on everything you did do over the summer. Maybe you didn’t travel to Costa Rica and try surfing, but you did spend quality time with your kids while putting away money for your kitchen remodel. Refocus your intention and shift your perspective.

We understand that everyone handles change differently, and the changing of seasons is no exception. No matter where your focus lies this fall, whether it’s on securing a raise at work, saving up for a summer home, or reaching a financial milestone, The Humphreys Group team is by your side.

 

The Art of Personal Power

Published in: Resources |

What exactly is personal power, you ask?

So often, when we think of power, we think of people who we deem influential; celebrities, authors, politicians, CEOs…

Personal power, however, is different. According to Psychology Today, “personal power is more of an attitude or state of mind than an attempt to maneuver or control others. It is based on competence, vision, positive personal qualities, and service.”

So, what does personal power look like in a person? Well for starters, it might seem quiet. People with intact personal power probably aren’t boasting about it to others, but rather quite the opposite. They are likely people who you view as confident, comfortable in their own skin, respectful and respectable. They don’t need to drag others down to feel good about themself. They might be your neighbor, your boss, your babysitter, your Uber driver…what about you?

You’re probably wondering by now, “how can I attain this mystical personal power?” First, let us make clear that we all have personal power already. Whether or not we’re making the most of it is a different story. Luckily, there are several ways that you can work towards enhancing and strengthening your own personal power. Here are a handful of them.

  1. Do what you want.

Life is too short to get caught up in what you “should be” doing. Instead, do what makes you happy. Of course, from time to time we all have to do things we don’t want to do, but don’t make a habit of living a certain way just because others deem it the right way to live. Maybe that means entertaining a hobby that your spouse finds boring, or eating dessert every now and again just because it tastes good and you want to. Whatever it is, don’t apologize for it, just enjoy it.

  1. Value yourself.

So often, we get wrapped up in what we see as our faults. We beat ourselves up for being too slow at work, too stressed on the weekends, too this, too that. We are constantly holding ourselves to impossibly high standards, and then tearing ourselves down when we don’t reach them. Stop doing that. You are worthy, you are deserving of kindness and love, you are human, you are allowed to make mistakes.

  1. Forgive yourself.

On a similar note, it’s important to forgive yourself. We all mess up, but it doesn’t do anybody any good to hold a grudge, especially if the grudge is against yourself. Learn from your mistakes and try to improve, but be kind to yourself like you would a loved one.

  1. Speak up and communicate effectively.

Communication is powerful. If you care about something, don’t sit back and stay quiet out of fear. Too often, our fear of saying the wrong thing leads us to remain silent. This extends to nonverbal communication, as well. Let your actions reflect your beliefs.

  1. Express yourself.

At The Humphreys Group, we’ll never dissuade you from leaning into your emotions. While conventional wisdom leads us to believe that thinking and feeling are two separate processes guided by different regions of the brain, modern neuroscience research has shown that they are actually highly interconnected, making it nearly impossible to completely disentangle thoughts from feelings. It might make you feel vulnerable, but strength is often born from vulnerability, so allow yourself to feel.

  1. Live your values.

While core values look different for each of us, one thing we all have in common is that when we live our values, we are much more likely to feel aligned, fulfilled and at peace with ourselves, resulting in a stronger sense of personal power.

At the end of the day, personal power is not about controlling others, it’s about building an internal power that acts as your guiding strength as you set out to live the life you want. Reach out to The Humphreys Group if you’d like to learn more about aligning your values, goals and finances in order to fuel your personal power.