Tag: financial decisions

How to Make the Most of Your Charitable Gifts, Emotionally and Financially

Published in: Resources |

It’s that time of the year again.

Once the clock strikes midnight on Halloween, many businesses go full holiday mode:

Suddenly, you’re inundated with joyful Christmas music — in every store, in every restaurant, during every cab ride. Holiday lights envelop the trees, your office building, your entire neighborhood. Commercials on the radio and letters in the mail urge you to donate to their charities. Family members text you insisting for your holiday wish list. And to top it off, you can’t seem to escape the never-ending stream of holiday movies about the joy of giving.

If this somewhat insincere push for joy, cheeriness and gratitude from organizations, media, family and friends makes you feel overwhelmed, anxious and/or guilty, you’re not alone. Giving — whether it’s financial or nonfinancial — can bring up a lot of uncomfortable emotions. For instance, you might feel:

  • guilty when you are gifted money, unexpected gifts, opportunities or someone’s time;
  • stressed when being expected to keep up with your family’s giving traditions;
  • annoyed about not knowing where your donation dollars are going at a charity;
  • or ashamed when you can’t give as much as you want to a charity.

At The Humphreys Group, what we have seen is that when our money and values are out of alignment, we are less happy, less conscious of and less engaged with our own financial management. So how can we make sure that our values and giving are in harmony? We can’t accomplish everything in a blog post, but here are a few steps you can take:

Assess how you feel about receiving.

Think back to a time when you received something. It can be money, opportunity, an object or someone’s time. What was that memory and how did you feel about it at the time? You might not realize it, but our ability to give is in large part determined by our ability to receive. It’s important to understand how we feel about receiving generosity because this often affects how we feel about giving. As researcher Brené Brown says in her book The Gifts of Imperfection, “Until we can receive with an open heart, we’re never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.”

Think about how your family handled giving.

Your family home is where your roots of giving reside — even if you work hard today to operate from a different set of values and behaviors. Looking back to your childhood, what do you remember learning about giving? What habits and money messages around giving (and receiving) have you inherited from your family? What examples or what kinds of giving can you recall? Generosity can take on many forms:

  • Was there generosity among family members? Gift giving or exchanges of favors?
  • Was there a tradition of taking in wayward cousins or stray animals?
  • Were childhood friends invited to dinner?
  • Was there money to pay for grandchildren’s college?
  • Was there tradition of helping strangers or volunteering?
  • Can you think of an example of an enjoyable giving experience you had? Why did it feel good?
  • Now, what did you discover about how your own giving practices are similar or different from your parents?
  • What do you think motivated your parents to give and how is that similar or different from what motivates you?

Not all giving comes from generosity; some comes from guilt, obligation, need or even anger. Even giving to your very favorite charity can feel fraught. If we give too much, our financial foundation can become shaky. If we give for the wrong reasons, our financial landscape may become clouded with resentment, neediness, expectation or disappointment.

Reflect on where you might stop, start or continue giving.

  • Who or what are you currently giving to that you are happy with? Don’t forget things like caring for your mother, taking care of the neighbor’s kids, tutoring a child, handling the fundraising for the football team or being available to a friend that’s having a hard time.
  • Have you had a giving experience that was challenging, that turn out well, or caused conflicts?
  • What kinds of giving would you like to increase and where would you like to trim? If you feel you are giving too much of your time, perhaps you have more tangible things to give. Or, if you are feeling like you are writing too many checks, maybe you’ll find giving time is more rewarding.

Research the organization you’re giving to.

Rating sites like Guidestar.org, CharityNavigator.org or the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance assess criteria such as how transparent a nonprofit is about its finances and how much of its budget goes toward programs. The organization you’re giving to should be able to provide information and documentation to confirm it’s a registered 501(c)(3), according to CNBC. You can also use the tax-exempt organization search tool on the IRS website.

Other financial steps you can take:

As well as asking yourself these questions and researching the charities you’re giving to, there are also several strategies you can do to ensure your charitable giving dollars go farther for both you and the charity. Some year-end strategies for charitable giving include:

  • bunching your donations;
  • donating appreciated stock instead of cash;
  • using a donor-advised fund;
  • making a qualified charitable distribution from an IRA;
  • and investing in a charitable gift annuity.

Creating intention around your giving.

In the days coming up to the holidays, give yourself time to reflect on these questions and create intention around your giving going forward.

At The Humphreys Group, we also make sure to ask ourselves these questions. We often make contributions to nonprofit organizations on behalf of our clients to celebrate milestones in their lives, in addition to making an annual year-end holiday donation in honor of all our clients. The organization we choose reflects our vision and values, and our commitment to women’s issues. Past recipients have included She’s the First, Girls Who Code, The Girl Scouts of Northern California, San Francisco Safe House and Raphael House.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to emotionally and financially make the most out of your charitable giving, contact us today.

Dealing with Debt: How to Get and Stay on Track

Published in: Resources |

A new house. A college education. A vacation. A car. Home expenses. Life costs. Personal indulgences … they all add up, don’t they? For most Americans, twenty-first century living means dealing with debt. As consumer and household debts continue to rise in a trend that shows little sign of slowing, we advise our clients to make time to understand the extent of their debts, and to develop a plan to handle their unique financial circumstances.

What does your debt look like, and how can you stay on track when it comes to paying it down?

Understanding Debt: Two Sides of the Same Shiny Coin

There’s “good” debt — when you borrow to pay for something that will increase in value more than the cost of the loan. Examples include carrying a home mortgage, paying for school (typically higher education and job training), starting a business or investing in real estate. And there’s “bad” debt — borrowing to buy something that begins to decrease in value the moment you purchase it, such as a car or personal items. The kinds of debts you carry — and how you pay them off — influence your future ability to borrow.

Whether you’ve just begun your professional career and adult life, or have accrued decades of work and personal expenses and experiences, it helps to assess where you stand on how much you owe — and to whom. A few reminders when it comes to avoiding “bad” debt:

  • Resolve to create a household emergency fund that will enable you to cover unexpected expenses. Be your own lender.
  • Use a debit card for purchases, or pay off credit card balances monthly.
  • Observe caution when taking out loans. A loan approval means you can borrow money — it does not mean that you should.
  • Obtain medical insurance. It may be stating the obvious, but it’s a worthy reminder that healthcare costs rise quickly if you lack any kind of coverage.
  • Buy a car you can afford. Experts advise that, before you begin visiting dealers, conduct online research to calculate the cost of a vehicle, have enough money saved to initially pay 20 percent down, and limit auto financing to four years.

Addressing Debt: Strategies for Success, Reasons for Concern

Whether due to the price of higher education and job training, credit card spending or other buying behaviors, most adults carry some level of debt. To manage the debt you have, we recommend the following:

  • Make a list of what you owe, and to whom you owe it. Be sure to include the interest rate(s) you are paying — they add up.
  • Develop a plan regarding how you will pay down your debt.
  • If necessary, enlist a credit counseling service to aid your efforts to stick to your plan or explore debt management. Note: Debt management differs from credit counseling, so be wary of debt management companies with misleading promises.
  • Beware the temptation to file for bankruptcy if your financial health takes a turn for the worse. Declaring bankruptcy generally doesn’t relieve student loans, child support, income tax liability or court-ordered payments. It can also have a long-term negative impact on your credit.

Speaking of credit, a key part of managing debt is ensuring you’ve got a healthy FICO score. FICO stands for the Fair Isaac Corporation, the company that created software that calculates how likely debtors are to pay back lenders. It makes sense: financial lenders want to be compensated for the risks they take by lending money.

FICO scores range from 300 to 850. If you have a low number, it means you are a high-risk borrower and you will likely pay more to borrow money from a lender. A caveat: you may also have a low score because you have very little credit history, and creditors may consider you a “risky” borrower because they don’t know yet if you responsibly pay your debts. A FICO score below 630 is good, but we advise improving it before making any purchases that require financing. A score higher than 720 is considered great.

If you determine that part of dealing with your debt means improving your FICO score, we suggest taking these steps:

  • Get your credit report. Three major U.S. companies provide credit reports to consumers, and they are all required to provide one free report each year: Experian, Transunion and Equifax. Stagger your requests for credit reports, and you will be able to receive a free report every four months. (Note: Equifax experienced a massive data breach in 2017 that remains unresolved for millions of affected consumers, but they continue to provide credit monitoring services. Consult with your financial advisory team to determine which report-request makes sense based on your current situation, and whether or not you were affected by the breach.)
  • Clear up report mistakes or problems. Mistakes get made, and discrepancies and other issues arise. The most important thing is to take action to correct them. Start with the credit bureau’s step-by-step guides on addressing financial issues. Also, document all your correspondence and keep receipts for your payments.
  • Make more than minimum payments. A history of minimum payments is not a good risk indicator to lenders.
  • Maintain a balance of less than 50 percent of your limit on each credit card.
  • Don’t get caught in the balance transfer game. Read the fine print closely: even if it says the rate will be only 0 percent or 1.99 percent, credit card companies charge a fee and interest (as much as 4 percent) on the entire balance up front.
  • Resist the urge to close a credit card account once the balance has been paid off. The ratio of debt to the amount of credit available affects a consumer’s FICO score.

Debt seems to increasingly be a fact of life for U.S. consumers, but it doesn’t have to overwhelm an individual or family’s goals for ensuring their long-term financial security. Contact us today to discuss how we can work together to deal with debt and get on track toward managing it.

Investing with Intention: Why Discipline Beats Bravado

Published in: Resources |

Look up the word “intention,” and you’ll find a number of synonyms: Aim. Purpose. Objective. Goal. Target. End. Design. Plan. Resolution. Ambition. Desire. Idea. Dream. Aspiration. Hope.

The sense of determination inherent in each of these words strikes a powerful chord with us, and resonates with the work we do as a wealth management firm.

We believe it’s vital to have a disciplined investment philosophy and crucial to follow basic best practices; investing with intention is a journey. At The Humphreys Group, we begin by reviewing and discussing the wide world of investment objectives, risk and strategies with each client — expanding their knowledge, ensuring they are informed and ascertaining the best strategy or strategies that will work for them. Some areas we cover:

Investing 101: We remind clients they are buying assets for their potential to increase in value, provide income or do both. This means they need to expect fluctuations in returns, volatility, and cycles of depreciation and appreciation; long-term goals such as retirement, buying a home or paying for college are investments that often weather such cycles.

Stocks vs. Bonds: Stocks mean clients own shares of a company, and those shares will increase or decrease in value based on how well the company performs. Bonds are considered less risky than stocks; they are a form of a loan to a company and investors’ payoff comes in the form of company interest payments on those bonds.

Asset Allocation: Multiple factors contribute to how a client approaches asset allocation. We recommend that, when making decisions about where and how much to invest, clients should take into account their unique views on their risk tolerance and risk capacity levels, financial goals, financial timetables, required income and tax considerations. We also remind them to consider the variety of external factors that have the potential to affect investments, such as: market volatility, short- and long-term risk, inflation and purchasing power.

As we build collaborative relationships with our clients, we continue to help them assess their strengths, challenges, skills, values and goals. We do this by encouraging and engaging them in ongoing ways—including publications, events, Conversation Circles and the extensive day-to-day financial advisory services we provide. And we counsel that investing with intention has the following behaviors:

  • Begin investing early
  • Know your risk level
  • Create a plan that can grow and evolve with your needs, values and goals
  • Avoid high fees and expenses
  • Invest regularly and automatically
  • Remain in the market and act with discipline, rather than participate as a “market timer”
  • Diversify your investments to mitigate risk
  • Maintain a balanced stock portfolio
  • Don’t invest in financial products or instruments you don’t understand

“Live less out of habit and more out of intent.” We aren’t certain who wrote these words, but they ring true when it comes to examining the array of investment-strategy options available in the twenty-first century. They are also words we strive to live by in every interaction with our clients.

We pride ourselves on providing comprehensive financial advisory expertise to women. We consider their assets and investments, and also take into account the values, skills, experiences and goals our clients have gathered throughout their lives. Our holistic approach is infused with expertise and intention; we seek to ensure that the fiscal plans we develop with our clients enable each one of them to achieve sustained professional and personal success on their terms.

Contact us today to continue to converse about investing with intention.

Retirement or College Tuition: Which Goal Comes First?

Published in: Resources |

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: Resources |

“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.

Why Women Are Natural Long-Term Investors

Published in: Resources |

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: Resources |

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: Resources |

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: Resources |

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: Resources |

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.