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The Beyond 6 Seconds Podcast: Larry Sprung – Founder of Mitlin Financial and advocate for suicide prevention

I recently had the opportunity to be a guest on the Beyond 6 Seconds Podcast hosted by Carolyn Kiell.  We had a fantastic conversation about how I entered the financial services business and why I am such an advocate for suicide prevention. 

On this episode, Larry discusses the critical events in his life that shaped his career and advocacy:  

  • How his mother’s long battle with breast cancer led him to a career helping people plan for critical financial events in their lives, and
  • How the loss of his brother-in-law to suicide led Larry to become involved with AFSP and, along with his wife Denise, raise more than $1,000,000 for the organization through the Keith Milano Memorial Fund. The fund was created at AFSP in memory of Larry and Denise’s brother-in-law and brother, respectively.

Larry also talks about some of the important work that AFSP is doing to help people “Seize the Awkward” by having potentially life-saving conversations with the people in their lives who may be suicidal, and AFSP’s Project 2025, which aims to lower the suicide rate by 20% by the year 2025.

You can also find more information about AFSP’s work at www.afsp.org and the Seize the Awkward campaign at www.seizetheawkward.org .

 

Beyond 6 Seconds Podcast Lawrence Sprung

Disclaimer: This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.  Past performance is not indicitive of future results.

The Financial and Non-Financial Aspects of College Planning

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The topic of college planning has entered my home in full force. My oldest, who is currently a tenth grader, has embarked on his search for college. I know many of you think this is quite early to begin this, but being his dad is a planner I am sure it is not much of a surprise. Just like we talk about having a plan in place for your financial future to guide you, it is important for the student to have a plan in place for their educational and eventual career as well.

I have found over the years that there are two components to assisting a family through the college planning process, the financial and non-financial. Many wealth managers have a tendency to help families accumulate the assets they will potentially need for their child future education and stop there. I think it is as important to assist the family through the non-financial part too. Let’s delve a bit deeper into these two very different aspects of the college process.

The financial aspects of planning for college are fairly straightforward and include a great deal of assumptions in order to save enough for our children’s education. As a family, it is wise to determine what you plan on contributing to their education. Do you plan on paying for all their undergrad and graduate school regardless of where they attend or at what cost? Do you plan on paying the equivalent of the cost for a State university and anything above that is on your child? These will help you to determine what your expected cost will be in today’s dollars. You then will need to factor in inflation in the cost of school, the return you believe you will be able to achieve on your investments, and how long you have until they will need the money. This will lead you to discern how much you will need to save on an ongoing basis to fund that goal. Like any financial plan, it is important to revisit your goals, objectives and progress each year to make sure you are staying on course.

The non-financial aspects of college are typically a more difficult hurdle for families to overcome. In most cases, we as parents have not been in college for eighteen plus years and things have changed. How do we make sure our children are looking at, visiting, and ultimately applying the best schools for them? In my experience, people typically will spend more time researching everything they need to know surrounding a new car purchase than they will the higher education options their children are considering. Considering the education will cost anywhere between two to six times the price of the car, this needs to change. Not to mention the fact that the education your child receives will be the basis for their entire future moving forward.

We, as parents, really need to spend more time helping our young ones find the “right fit” for their education. I think it goes without saying that a university does not qualify as a “right fit” simply because they have a great football team and/or fantastic weather. My family decided that we needed assistance in this area for my son and we hired a college advisor, Hans Hanson of College Logic. This has been an excellent decision for us and he has already helped our son immensely. Currently, we have a list of sixteen schools with a goal of visiting each one by the end of his sophomore year. After only a few visits, he is starting to see what he likes and does not like about the schools on his list. Through the use of the advisor we have allowed my son to take ownership of the process and have discussions with us about his findings. Ultimately, by having a plan and his advisor to walk him through the process, we feel that our son will truly find a university that is the “right fit” for him and will put him on a path for success following his college years.

College planning is an involved process that contains financial and non-financial aspects that need to be addressed for the benefit of the student. The university your child attends should be a stepping stone to their educational, vocational and financial future which needs you to dedicate time and attention to determine fit. We would be happy to speak with you regarding getting your family on the right track for higher education from both the financial and non-financial aspects. In addition, we are pleased to share our experiences with hiring a college advisor and how it has helped us with this process immensely. Feel free to contact us, Mitlin Financial, at (844) 4-MITLIN x12 if you or someone you know needs assistance in this area.

This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

The Many Reasons Not to Look at your Life Insurance Policies

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Henry Montag, CFP®: The TOLI Center East

It’s unpleasant, I don’t understand it, I don’t want to deal with a life Insurance salesman. But if you don’t your life Insurance policy may expire before you do.     If you’re like most people you think of life Insurance as a ‘Buy & Hold’ asset that requires no active management, when in reality a life policy is a ‘Buy & Manage’ asset, just like your stock and bond portfolio. You wouldn’t buy stocks and bonds and then place your investment portfolio in the bottom left hand drawer and not look at it for the next 10-15+ years. But that’s what many purchasers of policies do. Problem is if you purchased a life policy over the last 25+ years, there’s a 55% chance that the policy wasn’t guaranteed to last for the rest of your life.  

This is meaningful because interest rates went from a high of 18% in the mid 1980’s to the current rate of 2-3%. This reduced sustained interest rate coupled with neglect over the last 25+ years has caused 23% of those existing non- guaranteed policies to expire years earlier than anticipated (American Bar Association, Flagship book  ”The Life Insurance Policy Crisis”( Jan 2017)).

You may ask, how could that have happened? I paid all of the bills I received from the life Insurance Company on time, and in full. Yes you did but those premium bills haven’t changed over the last 20+ years when interest rates were much higher. As interest rates decreased, the premiums you paid should have been increased to make up for the reduced earnings in your cash value account. Why didn’t the Insurance Company send notices to ask me to pay a higher premium? It’s not their responsibility as managing your policy premium is the responsibility of the owner of the policy. The Insurer’s responsibility is to merely provide you with a death benefit and an annual statement/ bill. Yes, the Insurer could have done a better job of advising their customers of the danger of their policy expiring earlier than anticipated, but perhaps that’s intentional as the insurance company profits when a policy expires prematurely, because the insurer keeps all the premiums and never has to pay out a death claim.

So as a result of the reduced interest rates, the policy not being guaranteed, nor properly managed, an insufficient amount of premium was paid which resulted in an increasing number of individual’s life coverage beginning to expire years earlier than anticipated and requiring a significantly higher premium to keep the coverage in force to one’s life expectancy. (WSJ cover story Sept 2018).

In order to prevent becoming one of the statistics yourself, it is suggested that you meet with an independent experienced fee based life Insurance consultant and go over each policy to make certain you’re getting the most value for your premium dollars. Secondly to determine how long each policy will last, and compare that to how long you want the policy to last.  

Since the maximum guarantee period for a Term policy is age 80, 5-7 years earlier than normal life expectancy for a male. Anyone Insured with a term policy shouldn’t allow the conversion privilege that permits them to convert the term policy to a policy lasting to life expectancy, without any evidence of insurability, slip by. Depending on the Insurer the conversion feature expires between 65 -75.

Once an overall assessment where you compare what you think you have to what you actually have, is made you can resolve the problem and provide the tax free death benefit you intended for your beneficiaries. Keep in mind, the earlier you take the first step the more options you’ll have available and the less costly it will be. I’m happy to have a conversation and share my 35+ years’ experience as an independent CFP® and author so feel free to get in touch as I’m a good resource.

Henry Montag CFP®, in practice since 1976 in L.I N.Y has authored articles and acted as a source for NYSBA Senior Lawyer, NYSSCPA Tax Stringer, Tax Facts, Bloomberg’s Estates Gift & Trust Journal, Trusts & Estate Magazine, & The WSJ. Guest appearances for Wall Street Week, Fox Business News & News 12.

Has provided CPE & CLE credits to NYSBA, ABA, AICPA, NYSSCPA, & EPC. He co-authored an American Bar Association Flagship publication; Jan 2017, ’The Advisors & Trustees Guide to Managing Risk & Avoiding a Client Crisis’’.

Planning as a Process with Larry Sprung on the Money Savage Podcast

I recently had the opportunity to be a guest on the Money Savage Podcast with George Grombacher.  This podcast gave me the opportunity to discuss how planning is a process and not a one time event.  I hope you find this episode interesting and of value. 

In today's conversation, George and I discuss the following:

1) One of the driving factors that led me to enter the field of Wealth Management

2) How financial education plays a role in your life

3) The importance of planning for your family and buisness

4) My one difference making tip

Money Savage Podcast Larry Sprung

 

 This podacst represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

 

 

Where did my tax refund go?

 

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Does your family rely on your tax refund every year? Do you use your tax refund for a family vacation or use it to pay your real estate taxes for the year? This year is going to be an interesting year for taxpayers who rely on receiving their refund each year, because they may not get one. I bet that got your attention and interest to continue reading.

It is going to be more important than ever to sit down with your CPA and review your year-end tax planning, especially if you have not already. The IRS updated their payroll tax deduction tables earlier this year to better reflect the correct amount of tax withholdings for taxpayers. The new tables reflect the changes in the standard deduction, repeal of personal exemptions and changes in tax rates and brackets. What this means is you may be getting more each week in your paycheck, but at the expense of not over-withholding like you have in the past.

Those of you who have been used to receiving tax refunds each year were receiving them because you withheld more taxes from your weekly paychecks than you needed to. When you file your taxes it is determined how much tax you owe and what you have paid in over the course of the year. Whether the difference is positive or negative will dictate if you get a refund or need to pay. Those that have overpaid taxes over the course of the year will receive a refund and people who have underpaid will owe. Be careful if you are not paying enough into the system during the course of the year as this may cause additional penalties as well.

The ideal scenario would be: your taxes owed and what has been paid wash each other out. Keep in mind, although you may love that refund, you simply provided the government with an interest free loan for the majority of the year.

So why are things different this year? The payroll tax tables have been redrafted to reflect, as closely as possible, the actual taxes owed by the taxpayer. This has increased the amount you are receiving each pay period from your employer and lowered the amount of taxes you are paying into the system. Therefore, when it comes to filing your taxes early next year there is a good chance that you will not be getting the refund you have been accustomed to in previous years because you have received this money all throughout the year.

We see this year, because it is the first year with the new tables, as being a challenge for many CPA’s who work with clients that are unaware of these changes. I can just imagine their clients, who are used to receiving a several thousand dollar refund each year, reaction when they are told their refund is a couple of hundred dollars or worse yet that they owe tax. This is not going to be a pleasant conversation and one that is going to take the CPA time to explain and educate the client. It is not the CPA’s fault, nor did their client pay more in tax (not necessarily the case in all situations) but it was simply a situation where the client received more money all throughout the year.

It is highly suggested that you consult with your CPA now, before their busy season kicks in, and have the conversation so you know where you stand for the year. This will allow you to plan better over the next few months and make decisions that may allow you to improve your tax situation. It also will provide you a few months to make changes to your withholdings if it makes sense for you.

Planning is key and having the right people on your team is just as important. Mitlin Financial assists our clients in having these conversations with their tax advisors and look to help them plan appropriately. We would be more than happy to assist you with any questions that you may have on this topic, including recommending the right tax advisor for you. Feel free to contact us, Mitlin Financial, at (844) 4-MITLIN x12 if you or someone you know needs assistance in planning for their taxes.

This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

 

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