Tag: Financial Planning

Goal Setting with Intention in 2020

Published in: Resources |

In a recent blog post, we provided a warm-up to help you discover how you feel — consciously or not — about setting new year’s resolutions. Here’s the exercise again in case you missed it:

Try completing the sentences quickly; fill in the blanks with the first word or words that come to mind.

  1. I think goal setting is…
  2. In the past, my experience with goal setting has been…
  3. I think the greatest value of planning is…
  4. The most success I have experienced in setting and achieving a goal was when…
  5. I find it difficult to set goals when…
  6. What I want to avoid in the future is…
  7. The person who has been the best role model for me in defining and pursuing a meaningful life is…

What emotions and thoughts came up? How do you feel about goal setting for 2020?

Excited? Motivated? Wary? Jaded? Cynical?

Often, we view having strong emotions as being a negative quality: For instance, when we sleep in instead of going to the gym before work, when we reach out to an ex, when we procrastinate… But emotions don’t always have to be bad influences. Love, compassion, sympathy, and loyalty are real strengths; our protective instincts and resolve to stand up for ourselves and others are strengths, too.

So, to show how you can embrace both your emotional side and analytical, rational side when goal setting this year, we’d like to introduce you to a favorite analogy of ours: the elephant and the rider.

The Elephant and the Rider

The elephant and the rider is first described in “The Happiness Hypothesis” by Jonathan Haidt and summarized in “Switch” by Chip and Dan Heath.

Our emotional side is an elephant, and our rational side its rider. The rider is perched atop the elephant, holding the reins and seeming to be in control. But this control is precarious because the rider is so small relative to the elephant. Anytime the elephant disagrees with the rider as to which to direction to take, the rider will lose, completely overmatched.

But here’s the deal: we need (and are) both the rider and the elephant. The point is not to squelch one or the other. To change things in 2020, you need both — the rider for the planning and direction, and the elephant for the energy and passion. A reluctant elephant and wheel-spinning rider will guarantee that nothing changes. But when they move together, change comes easily.

The whole point of this metaphor is to illustrate the power of guiding the elephant in the right direction. If you can do that, there’s no stopping you. We focus on emotion because it is such a powerful tool to keep you moving in a positive direction.

What Would an Enriched 2020 Look Like for You?

This year, as you define your ambitions for 2020, we encourage you to utilize both your emotional side and rational side — both your elephant and your rider. Just like how emotions and expertise both have a place in money matters, they both have a place in your goal setting.

If you’d like to learn more about goal setting and planning out your 2020, we invite you to subscribe to our newsletter or to participate in an upcoming Conversation Circle.

Wishing you a safe, warm holiday season, and happy holidays from all of us at The Humphreys Group!

Reflecting on 2019: How Women Rewrote the Rules

Published in: Resources |

Over a year ago, the team at The Humphreys Group sat down and concretely asked ourselves:

  • If we made women’s unique strengths, concerns, and preferences the financial norm, what would we see?
  • What would happen if we flipped the narrative? What if we designed the world of personal finance, using the strengths and preferences of women as our starting points?
  • What if those strengths and preferences were seen as the advantage that they are, rather than something the status quo needs to somehow accommodate or tolerate?
  • If we were to create a financial services firm that was designed for and addressed the needs of women, what would it look like?
  • What would it look like to “do money” like a woman?

In asking ourselves these questions, my colleague Hallie Kraus and I came up with the book, “Rewriting the Rules: Telling Truths About Women and Money.” In it, we identified 10 myths that have permeated our society for way too long. These are:

1. Men are better investors than women.

2. Emotions and personal values should be kept separate from money and investing.

3. Women are more risk-averse than men.

4. Women lack confidence when it comes to money.

5. Women are less interested in investing.

6. Women are less knowledgeable about math and investing.

7. Women need extra help understanding their finances.

8. Women can’t save because they spend money irresponsibly.

9. Women will save enough for retirement if they set up a 401(k) and play by the rules.

10. We should focus our time on fixing the gender income gap, not the wealth gap.

After defining these harmful myths, we dispelled them. We rewrote the rules:

1. Women possess all the qualities needed for long-term investment success.

2. Empathy and expertise both have a place in money matters.

3. Women have a healthy appetite for investment risk, but they’re more mindful about what the dangers are before diving in.

4. Women take time to reach well-informed decisions regarding finances.

5. Women are more ready than ever to carve out their place in the world of investing.

6. Mathematical expertise is not an innate characteristic; it’s a skill set that improves with effort and practice.

7. Women are taking initiative, proving they do not need to be coddled and cajoled into understanding their finances.

8. Women are powerful consumers with ample spending power, and we need to treat them as such.

9. 401(k)s won’t cover everything — women need to diversify their retirement portfolio.

10. The income gap is not the only thing hampering women’s financial mobility. Another alarming disparity is the wealth gap. And we need to fix it.

The financial services industry was built by and for men, and the institutions that created the status quo have excluded women from the conversation. We must start talking about women and money in an unapologetic and unabashed way — women already possess the financial knowledge and confidence to succeed.

For our part at The Humphreys Group, we will continue to address the challenges our clients face, encourage them to venture outside their comfort zone, and empower them to recognize the strengths they already possess, in finance and beyond.

We invite you to help us change the conversation. You can get your free copy of the book “Rewriting the Rules: Telling Truths About Women and Money” at humphreysgroup.com/women-money-myths.

The Year of You: How to Set Your Goals, Your Way

Published in: Resources |

Fireworks light up the sky. Glasses clink as the New Year’s Eve ball drops in Time Square. Family and friends toast, wishing each other another happy new year and promising each other that this will be their best year yet.

But among the endless confetti, balloons, and champagne (or sparkling grape juice), you can’t help but wonder: Will it be your best year yet? Will you actually follow through with your lofty New Year’s resolutions this time?

And you might have not even come up with your 2020 goals yet — or don’t even plan to. With all the hubbub and pressure that comes with New Year’s resolutions, you may choose not to participate at all: only 40 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, the Washington Post reports. Some of the most common — and yet very general — resolutions out there every year are eat healthier, pick up a new skill or hobby, exercise more, read more books, save more (and spend less) money, get organized, and practice self care. And by February, around 80 percent of people have failed to stick to theirs, according to the New York Times.

How Do You View Planning and Goal Setting?

At The Humphreys Group, we understand how emotions can deeply affect how we view money and goal setting. That’s why we recommend taking a personal inventory on your attitudes and beliefs toward goal setting before sitting down to write your New Year’s resolutions.

Here’s an exercise to try before coming up with your resolutions this year. Try completing the sentences quickly; fill in the blanks with the first word or words that come to mind.

  1. I think goal setting is…
  2. In the past, my experience with goal setting has been…
  3. I think the greatest value of planning is…
  4. The most success I have experienced in setting and achieving a goal was when…
  5. I find it difficult to set goals when…
  6. What I want to avoid in the future is…
  7. The person who has been the best role model for me in defining and pursuing a meaningful life is…

Now that you’ve looked at your views toward goal setting, try to get started on creating your resolutions.

Actionable Steps to Getting Your Finances in Order

If getting your finances in order is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, here are some tips from CNBC.

  1. Review what you spent in 2019. Schedule a “Personal Inventory Day” (PID) to review your credit card and bank statements.
  2. Set flexible but clear goals.
  3. Get inspired by resources like money-related subreddits or private personal finance Facebook groups.
  4. Write everything down, whether it’s about your savings account balance or how you’re feeling about your spending.

Wishing You a Happy New Year from The Humphreys Group

New Year’s Eve can come with a lot of pressure and expectation, but don’t let the arbitrary date get to you. Take time to sit down and clarify your values, hopes, and views. This will help you come up with specific goals that are personal to you and that can be broken down into actionable steps.

If you’re like to talk more about goal setting or financial planning, reach out to us today.

When Difficult Conversations Come up at Thanksgiving

Published in: Resources |

Thanksgiving can bring a sense of gratitude, happiness… and stress: Judgmental aunts. Nosy cousins. Prying grandmas. Boastful cousins. Jealous brothers. Successful sisters. Uncomfortable in-laws.

When you bring your extended family all around the same dinner table, things can get heated. Difficult topics can come up: money, politics, religion, relationships, career choices, academic success, your appearance, your favorite sports team, the turkey being slightly undercooked… Things can blow up to a screaming match that brings you to packing up your things and doing the five-hour drive home that very night.

Talking about any of these topics — especially money — can be challenging during the holidays, especially when you hear your relative’s voice laden with judgment as heavy as the gravy on the dinner table: “You spend how much on Christmas presents? You’re taking out a business loan? You’re sending your kid to that expensive art school?”

When you don’t see eye to eye with family members, it can be hard to stay even keeled during the holidays. But this can be the perfect opportunity to bring up difficult money topics. It may seem counterintuitive, considering how tense things can get around the Thanksgiving dinner table, but it’s best to have difficult conversations in person and when everyone involved is there.

For instance, maybe you and your siblings need to talk about long-term care options for your parents, and how much they will cost. As tough as these conversations can be, you need to have them eventually, and the holidays can be a good time to have them.

4 Tips on Effective Money Conversations

Talking about difficult topics takes courage — and preparation. Here are four tips for effective money conversations this Thanksgiving.

1. Be proactive.

By being proactive, and planning a conversation when you have time to talk things through calmly, you are a significant step ahead.

2. Don’t blindside the other person. Set a time, a topic and the length of time.

Pick a time when you both will be more relaxed and comfortable. Agree on how long you will talk. Some people are exhausted by long conversations, while others need to walk while talking about stressful topics.

3. Plainly tell them your intention regarding the conversation.

You don’t want to catch the other person off guard, but you also don’t want them to be on guard, arming themselves for battle. Tell them your intention and why the conversation is important to you.

4. Start small, prepare and practice.

Start with easier topics and work up to the bigger issues. Write down what you want to say and practice with yourself or with a friend.

Conversation Openers

If you’re wondering, “Okay, great, but how do I even begin the conversation?” try one of these conversation openers that Judy Ringer, conflict and communications skills trainer, recommends:

“I have something I’d like to discuss with you that I think will help us work together more effectively.”

“I’d like to talk about _____ with you, but first I’d like to get your point of view.”

“I need your help with what just happened. Do you have a few minutes to talk?”

“I need your help with something. Can we talk about it (soon)?” If the person says, “Sure, let me get back to you,” follow up with them.

“I think we have different perceptions about _____. I’d like to hear your thinking on this.”

“I’d like to talk about _____. I think we may have different ideas about how to _____.”

“I’d like to see if we might reach a better understanding about _____. I really want to hear your feelings about this and share my perspectives as well.”

Taking the Next Step

After having the first conversation, here are some tips on how to continue navigating money conversations with loved ones.

Commit to having family financial conversations now.

Talking now can help bring families together. Communication between family members can support your family’s financial goals.

Ask detailed questions and make sure loved ones know where important financial information can be found.

Don’t be afraid to ask even the most seemingly obvious questions. Family members should also learn the location of — and know how to access — important documents, along with keys to safety deposit boxes or other storage facilities.

Ensure your goals and values are understood.

A family meeting can ensure that your family not only understands your wishes, but also knows precisely how they should be honored.

Continue the conversation with regular, ongoing dialogue.

Family financial conversations are not one-time events. You should revisit your financial situation with your family regularly.

Get help from a professional.

A financial advisor can help arrange and provide assistance for a family meeting to help ensure peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

Attend One of Our Conversation Circles

At The Humphreys Group, we’ve discussed having difficult money conversations at our Conversation Circles in San Francisco. Our circles consist of a group of 12-15 women sitting together and talking about money and everything that goes with it — from our successes and fears to stories, behaviors and legacies we’ve adopted over the years.

Talking about money remains taboo, and the Circle provides safety and intention that supports a thoughtful discussion in which we can share and gain insights from other women.

As we reflect this Thanksgiving, we’re so grateful for the network of women who’ve attended our Conversation Circles over the years. We continue to be inspired by the impact that a group of women, talking together, can create. If you’re interested in attending one of our Conversation Circles, contact us today. And from all of us at The Humphreys Group, we wish you a happy Thanksgiving.

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.

Understanding the Relationship between Gender and Philanthropy

Published in: Resources |

Women are making strides in charitable giving. What’s equally exciting is that they are doing it on their terms, in ways that are helping to reimagine and redefine their place and participation in the world of philanthropy.

Notable highlights from a 2016 Fidelity Charitable study of 3,254 “millennials” (born 1980-2000) and “Baby Boomers” (born 1946-64)* explored a variety of different behaviors and outlooks between the two generations, but also found that women of both generations shared several traits that differed from their male counterparts. When it comes to giving, women in both age groups:

  • View giving as a key part of their lives and are more likely to do it
  • Lead giving and volunteering efforts within their families and among their networks
  • Are more spontaneous, engaged and emphatic about their giving
  • Seek more information, and do so more often, about tax strategies and benefits related to giving
  • Prefer to be informed by experts rather than peers or family members
  • Exhibit more confidence than men when it comes to budgeting for giving, determining the causes they wish to support, and specifying amounts to give to those causes

*(Note: those born between 1965-1979, or “Generation X,” were not included in the study.)

Researchers from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University-Indianapolis, which has long examined gender as it relates to giving patterns, behaviors and satisfaction, also acknowledge women’s growing influence and power in philanthropy. This may be due, in part, to overall growth in female incomes, wealth and education levels; this growth has enabled more women to become increasingly interested in, informed about and involved with giving. That’s a trend that seems to be ongoing, with more research about it to come — in fact, it’s worth noting that their most recent study focuses on the intersection of race, giving and gender.

While we’re pleased about this positive outlook, we also realize that beginning to engage in charitable giving may feel like a daunting endeavor. We agree with other experts who say that taking some strategic first steps toward increasing one’s knowledge, confidence and participation in philanthropy can be empowering.

Women who want to commit to becoming donors should consider:

  • Researching the causes, organizations and/or initiatives that interest them, align with their values, and may stand out as priorities for their charitable giving funds.
  • Creating a “philanthropy budget” by earmarking specific amounts or assets, including cash, savings or monthly bank deduction(s), to contribute toward philanthropy.
  • Speaking with an investment professional to review charitable giving basics such as where, when, how much and what kinds of giving to begin with. An experienced advisor can also provide information about the tax ramifications of giving.

The future of women’s involvement in philanthropy is a bright one filled with fresh possibilities, and we welcome the opportunity to explore that future with you. Contact us today to discuss how we can help make charitable giving a part of your overall financial planning strategy.

The Emotions of Giving: How to Reconcile the Cost of Kindness

Published in: Resources |

November is a month for giving thanks in the U.S., but it’s also become a month devoted to giving on a much broader scale. Throughout the next several weeks, many of us will explore ways to help service organizations in our communities, or take action to volunteer at non-profits that benefit from our unpaid labor because they can expand the services they provide during year-end holidays. Many of us also contribute financially to causes that matter to us — some of us for the first time, others because of longstanding traditions that involve financial gifts to people and places that matter to us.

The numbers of organizations and causes to which we can contribute our hours, abilities and money continues to grow; we know our giving is more helpful than not. And yet, sometimes, when we’re trying to hold fast to the notion that it’s better to give than to receive, we feel unsettled and uneasy about the time, effort and money we are putting forth.

Let’s face it: sometimes giving is difficult.

At The Humphreys Group, we acknowledge that giving, much like investing, can be an emotional process with complex and complicated ties to past lessons and experiences in our lives. We don’t stop there, however. Instead, we encourage our clients to do the work that can help them reconcile what we call the “cost of kindness.” We invite those who struggle with giving to:

  • Explore memories of giving experiences that may have been challenging for them — for instance, if there were occasions it felt like a duty or obligation — and give voice to the range of emotions that such experiences prompted at the time.
  • Examine whether their giving behaviors fell short of the results they envisioned — for instance, that their dollars didn’t go far enough, weren’t acknowledged or weren’t used in the best of ways — and led to feelings of disappointment, frustration, sadness or anger.
  • Urge them to recognize possible conflicts that giving might have caused. For instance, “over-giving”— choosing to give more financially than one could actually afford.

It’s well-documented that people feel better and can heighten their capacities to express empathy for others when they give naturally, voluntarily and from the heart — as well as within their means and in alignment with their values. For those who want to commit to giving but who need to find perspective on the emotions that surround their giving, we emphasize that reflecting on past giving behaviors and the feelings that resulted can offer fresh perspectives and inform any future giving endeavors.

As we begin to give thanks for another year, we welcome the opportunity to help you assess what you’ve gained and what you’ve given — and how you might continue giving in the future. Contact us today to begin the discussion.

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.