Financial Wellness @ Work

Author Archives: Michael Smith

About Michael Smith

MBA, CFP®

Michael Smith is a Resident Financial Planner at Financial Finesse with over 15 years experience in financial planning and service. His primary role is in service delivery of Ask-a-Planner Days, and the Financial Helpline.

He writes weekly on the ins and outs of daily life as a financial educator.

He has an extensive background in the full service financial services, banking, accounting, and financial planning industries. He achieved the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation in 1999 and joined Financial Finesse in April 2010.

Favorite Blogs: Darwin's Finance, Zero Hedge.

Fun Fact: Played rugby for a long time & still has all his original teeth, but has had four knee reconstructions.

Favorite Quote: "Never drink a beer you can see through." -Self

Are You On a Crash Course to Disaster?

One of the more interesting stories I’ve seen recently in the world of sports is about a guy named Rob Konrad, a former NFL player, who fell off his boat and swam 9 miles to shore.  It took him about 16 hours, he had hypothermia, and he couldn’t walk but at least he survived the ordeal. Along the way, he was circled by a shark and had to fight waves, wind and the dark in order to make it home safely.   Read more

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What to Do for 2015

I usually view “what to do at year end” and “what to do to start the new year” financial articles with great disdain (the same way I typically avoid writing “theme” blog posts for Valentine’s Day, Mothers’ & Fathers’ Day, Independence Day [is there any bigger cliché?], and any other over-played theme). However, I have spent most of my work hours early in 2015 talking to people who want to look at things they can do in the next 12 months in order to make progress toward becoming financially secure.  It’s only because I have been asked so often that I’ll cave in, become part of the crowd and write a “What To Do for 2015” suggestion list. Read more

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Where is Your “Government Waste?”

Every year, in the December/January time frame, there are a lot of articles looking back at the prior year or looking forward to the New Year.As a bit of a political junkie, I love reading stories about predictions for the coming year but one of my favorite things to see each year is a look at how the government (mis)spent enormous sums of taxpayer’s dollars. This isn’t a Democratic or a Republican issue; it’s a big organization problem.  Read more

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The Price of Inattenton

As we look back at the previous year, I have started thinking about people I’ve talked to this year who have left an impression on me. One of the more memorable people that I was able to have conversations with started with a story that was disturbing on a few levels, but has come to a relatively happy conclusion. The fun part for me was getting updates on her progress and seeing the change in her voice, posture and energy level as things got better.   Read more

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How Much Progress Can You Make Next Year?

One of the joys of being in a role where I can see a person make progress over the course of time is that I can remember where they started and see where they are now. Since they are living in it day to day, they don’t have the perspective that I do as a casual observer. It’s a lot like when my kids were younger, there were cousins we would only see once every year or two. Every time we saw them, I was shocked by how much their kids had grown and they were shocked by how much my kids had grown, but neither of us was shocked by the growth of our own children.  Read more

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Don’t Let Debt Destroy Your Marriage

Sometimes when I meet with someone to walk through their finances, I get the distinct impression that our conversation is going to have a significant impact on their life. I had one of those conversations recently with a couple who was very seriously considering separating and divorcing. One of the biggest factors in the stress and tension that is damaging their marriage is how they deal with money or…don’t deal with it.   Read more

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Why Your Choice of School Matters

I read this article about parents shouldering a massive burden for student loan debts for their children.This is currently a huge problem in the middle class.  Lower income families receive significant financial aid. Higher income families can support the cost of college out of cash flow. It’s the middle class that is getting hammered with this and it’s creating some ripple effects into other areas of life. I have talked with countless couples who are delaying retirement for 5-10 years in order to pay down student loan debt. They all hope that their employers keep them around that long and that they don’t get caught up in a downsizing or have serious medical bills like the family in the article. Read more

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Should You Take a Pension or a Lump Sum?

Within the past few weeks, I have had more than a few people ask about a prior employer offering a lump sum payout vs. leaving it in the plan and taking a monthly payout at a later date.I’m not sure if companies are making this “the lump sum season” intentionally or not, but there has been a major influx of conversations about this topic. I’m figuring for every person that is asking, there are probably many more sitting there silently and trying to make the decision on their own.  That sounds like a great reason to write a blog post.  Here is the process that I walk through with a person to help them evaluate their options when they have a lump sum opportunity. Read more

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How to Recover From a Credit Disaster

During one of my recent conversations with an employee, he was very disturbed by how much a bad credit score has impacted his life.He said that his credit score has caused his car insurance premiums to increase, he thinks it is hindering his job search (he may have a point because it is something that employers consider) and his girlfriend does not want to become his fiancée or wife until he shows significant progress in this area. So, he was very happy to have some ideas on how to make progress on repairing what was a very broken part of his financial life.   Read more

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Be Long Term Careful

One of the questions I get asked frequently by people who are on track to retire is if they should buy long term care insurance (if they don’t already own it) or if they should cancel it (if they already own it).Lately, that has been a very difficult question to answer.  Companies that offer long term care insurance are raising premiums, sometimes very substantially, and there are no guarantees that they won’t go even higher in the future.  So if you are considering purchasing a LTC policy or cancelling your existing LTC policy, what are some things that you should factor into your decision? Read more

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