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Build Relationships, Not Assets

 

 It was a pleasure to be a guest on the NetworkWise Podcast, Conversations with Connors

Adam and I have been friends for over twenty years and I truly enjoyed sharing my business, networking and philanthropic endeavors with him on the show. 

I hope that this gives people a better sense of what I do and why.

NetworkWise Podcast Lawrence Sprung Topics Covered

You can also listen via Apple Podcast, for free, by clicking here: 

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

Happy Birthday! Be Sure To Review These 5 Things

Happy Birthday Be Sure To Review These Five Things

 

Using your birthday as a reminder to review and address things in your life is something we have been told to do from a very young age. As an example, I try and schedule my dermatologist and physical appointments around my birthday each year. I simply use this event as a reminder that I must take care of these things to maintain my health.

In the same vein, there are five things you should be reviewing each year financially in order to maintain your financial health. Using your birthday as a reminder for this is also a great way to make sure they get addressed.

  • Review your retirement plan contributions and see if you are in a position to increase them. Many people elect their retirement plan contribution amounts when they first start working for a company, and then hardly ever look at it again. Saving for retirement is now the responsibility of the employee, and it is important to make sure that we are doing our best to reach our goals. It would be a shame if you began contributing three percent when you started working for the company and still are today, but could afford to do more. Simply looking at and addressing this each year will allow you to make sure you are maximizing your retirement savings. 
  • Debt is something that is used when purchasing major assets, such as a home. It is vital to evaluate your debt to see if it is still working in the way you intended or if there are opportunities to put you in a better position financially. When used appropriately in a financial plan, debt can be a very useful tool. I would recommend that you look at the outstanding loans you have, and their rates and terms to see if they are still ideal for you. Would it make more sense for you to pay it off or continue the loan? Perhaps refinancing the debt would be a good move? This should be reviewed annually. 
  • Estate planning documents are key to making sure that your assets and wishes are carried out upon your death. These planning documents could include your will, trust, healthcare proxy, living will, and power of attorney. It is important to review the documents and make sure they are still relevant based upon your current circumstances. In many cases, you will find that these documents will only require updating every five to seven years, but by reviewing them each year, you will assure that they are properly addressing your current situation. 
  • Check the beneficiaries on all of your accounts. It is crucial that you make sure that your beneficiary designations are appropriately maintained. Many times, we establish our beneficiaries and never look at them again. We have encountered clients that are married with families who still have their parents named as beneficiaries. Checking them each year is a great way to make sure your financial assets will pass along to the people you want to receive them. 
  • Your financial plan should be reviewed annually to make sure it is accounting for any changes to your life circumstances or goals. In addition, it is important to review the plan in regards to the assumptions that are being utilized, such as inflation, returns, life expectancy, and savings. Once you have updated the plan, it is key to review the new outcomes and create an action plan for any items that should be addressed in the coming year. A plan is not static, but a living breathing document that needs to be updated and reviewed at least each year. 

Mitlin Financial assists our clients in addressing these five areas over the course of the year, but it is important to make sure you do address them yourself. A birthday is a great time to take a look, reflect, and make sure your financial health and wellbeing are being looked after.

Feel free to contact us, Mitlin Financial, at (844) 4-MITLIN x12 if you or someone in your family needs assistance in getting started on reviewing these areas today.

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

529 Plan, What is that?

 

College Savings

 

In 1996 the Small Business Job Protection Act created 529 Plans, also known as “qualified tuition plans”. This account which allows taxpayers a tax advantaged way to save for education expenses allocated for a designated beneficiary, after 22 years, may be the account that most know nothing about.

According to a recent survey by Edward Jones, only 29% of Americans are even aware that 529 plans are available as an education savings vehicle. One would think this is a scary statistic, but even more frightening is that only 13% of families used 529 plans in 2016-2017, according to a 2017 Sallie Mae Report. This is quite a staggering statistic, considering the rising debt being incurred by college students.

When you think about the enormous costs of sending your children to school, which according to the College Board is $46,950 for the average private four-year school, you would think that more people would be using all tools available to them to save for college. The 529 savings account can be an excellent tool to begin to save for this lofty expense. The monies saved for your respective beneficiary grows tax free as long as you use it for higher education. Keep in mind that the recently passed Tax Cuts & Jobs Act has added provisions that may allow you to also use these funds for K-12 expenses. You will want to check with your individual state, as your 529 plan may not follow the new tax law.

There is a struggle for most people to balance saving for college and for retirement at the same time. This is a fine balance that needs the attention of proper planning. Although you will not be able to borrow money for retirement, you will be able to do so for college, and you will want to have a plan in place to address both. Not having money in place for your children’s education may have an impact on your retirement down the road, but at the same time, overfunding your college savings at the expense of your retirement accounts will do the same.

The key here is to have a strategy in place that will allow you to save for both. Just like we advise clients to start saving for retirement early, it works the same way for education too. The more money you save for college early on, the less money you will have to add later on because you will benefit from the concept of compounding.

Think about it; if you start working after leaving school and start funding your retirement right away, you will be in a position to lower your retirement contributions when you have children and be able to start allocating the difference to their college funds. Depending on how many children you have and what your goals are for supporting their education, you may be able to shift this strategy back by the time your child is ten years old. Getting caught with a child at the age of eighteen and having nothing allocated for college education will, in most cases, place a strain on your financial situation.

529 plans can be a vital tool in your education funding savings strategy. I think it is disheartening that this tool is not well known and very much underused. It is vital to engage a fiduciary advisor as early on in your life as you can. This relationship will provide you with an advisor that can be in a position to guide you, advise you, and see you through the planning of your life to make sure you are financially prepared for all of the events ahead of you. This will be a relationship that will guide you through the financial ups and downs of the lives of you and your family. The goal is to make sure you are aware of the options that exist and the best ways available for you and your family to save for your financial futures.

Mitlin Financial assists our clients in addressing their college funding needs. We are here to help you instill these concepts within your own family. Feel free to contact us, Mitlin Financial, at (844) 4-MITLIN x12 if you or someone in your family needs assistance in getting started on their plan today.

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

Include A Life Plan In Your Financial Plan

Life Plan

 

Financial advisors are always preaching the importance of a financial plan, and I believe they are important too.  Mitlin Financial’s belief is that a financial plan is paramount to reaching and exceeding your financial goals.  Most people spend more time planning their family vacations than they do their financial lives.  Having a life plan is an important factor when designing and developing your financial plan, and it is frequently overlooked by financial professionals.

What is a life plan?  How does this integrate and/or affect my financial plan?  Essentially, a life plan is having a plan for what you are going to do with all the free time you will have when retired. 

As a firm, we spend a considerable amount of time having these types of discussions with clients when we begin the planning process.  This conversation continues as they approach their retirement date.  We all have different ideas as to what our ideal retirement is going to look like, or what it means to us.  In some cases, retirement may mean never working another day in their life, while others may look at retirement as the day they wake up in the morning and know they do not “have” to go to work, but may continue anyway.  Some may simply slow down and maintain a part-time job.

The fact is that most people are preparing themselves financially for retirement, but not thinking about the emotional and life fulfillment aspects of retirement.  Many of us will spend upwards of forty-plus years working, and raising a family, and we do not have time to develop hobbies and outside interests to keep us busy during retirement.  In most cases, people do not view their ideal retirement as not going to work and sitting home all day to watch television and old movies; there has to be something more meaningful than that.

When thinking of retirement, most people still want to be productive members of society.  It is for this reason that you must begin to think about a life plan as part of your financial plan.  It is imperative to think about how you will spend all of this free time that you will now have since you will no longer be going to work.  You may decide that golf, fishing, travelling, watching after your grandchildren, consulting or having part-time employment may be your life plan, and these are all great things.  It is important that you know what your plan is and refine it as time goes on.

Thinking about your life in retirement is the equivalent of using a telescope to look out and see how you would ideally like to be spending your time in retirement, and what you will need financially to support that.  Then, it is important to dial the telescope back and use a microscope to see what you can do today to help you get there.  This may mean adjusting your priorities to begin getting involved in some of those activities you plan on taking part in now so you have the knowledge, the ability, and the social circles to support your involvement.  You will also need to make sure that you are in the right financial circumstance to support it as well.  As an example, if you plan on retiring and travelling around the world sailing for a few years, you need to make sure that you have the skills and the desire to embark on that type of trip.  In addition, you need to make sure that you have the financial wherewithal to support it.

We find that those that have their life plan and retirement plan in place are the most successful at having an enjoyable retirement.  People who have addressed a retirement plan from a financial aspect- which is a minority- typically have not explored their life plan, and this is a recipe for disaster.  Imagine retiring and having the financial ability to sustain yourself for the rest of your life, but you have no idea what you are going to do with that time.  This is a major contributor to why we are seeing people working longer and later in life.  Although some of these individuals have no other choice than to work, for financial reasons, many of them continue to work because they failed to design their life plan for after work.  Not having a life plan for retirement has caused them to continue working so they can still be a productive member of society, and not someone that is sitting home doing nothing.

Mitlin Financial assists our clients in addressing both the financial and life planning they need to be successful in retirement.  We are here to help you instill these concepts within your own family.  Feel free to contact us, Mitlin Financial, at (844) 4-MITLIN x12 if you or someone in your family needs assistance in getting started on their plan today.

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

 

Finally, Consumers Are In The Driver's Seat With Financial Advisors

Pam Krueger
Pam Krueger: CEO of WealthRamp 

If you follow the news on personal finance-related matters at all, you’ve probably heard about the delay in implementing the third part of the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule. This is the rule that mandates financial advisors who offer retirement investments—no matter who they are—must act in the “best interest” of their clients. It’s a code of ethics anyone would presume is already required, even though in reality, 90% of financial advisors are not legally required to follow this basic standard. That’s because 90% of financial advisors don’t work for you. They work for the brokerage firms who pay them to sell their products.

Here’s how to know if the delay in the rule affects you

Advisors at brokerage firms sell investments and strategies that typically cost you a lot more in hidden fees and then those investments tend to underperform the benchmark indices. That also goes for insurance companies that offer retirement investments. Take a look at this graph to see how much money you can lose by overpaying to invest using a typical big brokerage firm.


Performance calculated is an assumed 7% average annual return, compounded monthly for 240 months (20 years). “7% with 1.3% “All In” Fee” assumes a 5.7% average annual return while “7% with 2.5% “All In” Fee” assumes a 4.5% average annual return. For illustrative purposes only. This is a simple example and is not indicative of an actual account or composite at Shorepine Wealth Management. Investment Products are Not FDIC Insured. No Bank Guarantee. May Lose Value. Investing involves risk. This is neither a solicitation of offers to buy securities nor an offer to sell securities. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Shorepine Wealth Management does not guarantee the validity of the data or performance calculations presented here.

Source: SHOREPINE WEALTH MANAGEMENT 

Worse than high fees and lousy advice, according to Harvard Business Review, too many, 1 in every 12 advisors at brokerage firms have complaints and serious violations on their background records.

Delaying the full implementation of a rule that protects consumers from subpar advice means clients who rely on the big name broker-advisors for serious investment advice for their retirement savings are leaving themselves wide open to conflicts of interest and more potential risk. The conflicts includes aggressive sales tactics, but most of all, these brokerage clients may not even realize when they opened their brokerage account, they also waived their legal right to sue the advisor (or his firm) if the advice turns out to be totally inappropriate and the client loses money.

“Please, excuse me from working in your best interest”

If you’re working with a salesperson or representative at a brokerage firm right now, you especially need to know about something called the “best-interest contract exemption,” or BICE. This clause sounds like some kind of joke, but it’s not. This is a contract that does exactly what it says. By signing it, you’re giving your advisor permission to sell you an investment that may not be in your best interest, and the DoL’s fiduciary rule allows brokers can ask you to sign one. It’s a loophole for brokerage firms and insurance companies and also a concession the rule is allowing for brokers who want to call themselves “fiduciaries” but still plan to do business as usual by selling investments with hefty commissions that are only “suitable” rather than “best” for their clients—adhering to the lower suitability standard instead of being a true fiduciary.

Unfortunately, this ‘best-interest contract exemption’ may give some investors a false sense of security at a time when they need to continue being just as vigilant as ever, and the fact that the rule’s implementation was delayed doesn’t change this.

Consumers don’t hear as much about the 50,000 or so independent financial advisors who aren’t salespeople or insurance agents. These are investment advisors, wealth managers or financial planners who register with the SEC and therefore, must strictly follow the higher fiduciary standard. With or without the fiduciary rule in place these independent advisors have to put your interests first, and they typically have access to every available investment product. The difference is, they work only and directly for you so it is in their best interest to find the best performing investments at the lowest possible cost.

Here’s how to put your knowledge to work right now

  1. Demand full transparency so you can easily see and understand all fees and expenses.
  2. Only choose an advisor who follows the fiduciary standard and is willing to put that oath in writing.
  3. Go over every page of the contract with your advisor before you sign any of it so you can understand what each page means as far as your rights and your advisor’s responsibilities. This will also protect you from signing any ‘best-interest contract exemption’ without being aware of it.

Consumers should always be entitled to the protections the fiduciary standard sets forth without needing a new rule or pressure to force an advisor into a fiduciary role. If a financial advisor doesn’t want to bother acting as a fiduciary, why would you bother with him?

Pam Krueger is the founder of WealthRamp, and co-host of MoneyTrack on PBS and here is a link to her full article: https://wealthramp.com/content/finally-consumers-are-driver%E2%80%99s-seat-financial-advisors

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