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

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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A New Tool in the College Selection Game

With one daughter in college and two boys following her down that path over the next decade, the whole concept of “bang for your buck” regarding college costs hits rather close to home right now. Every parent would be pleased to learn that their child got accepted into Ivy League schools. Fewer would be pleased when the tuition payments came due!  And after graduation, when the total cost of the education was known and a child with a liberal arts degree went into a job market that isn’t currently rewarding, that type of degree from there would be even less joy.   Read more

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Do You Need Some Financial Flossing?

Recently I was talking with one of my coworkers and I said the following about something at work “It’s like flossing…I know I need to do it, and I do, but I try to find ways to postpone it as long as possible!” He thought it sounded like a blog topic about the financial lives of so many people, so here we are! What are some things that we KNOW we need to do financially, but they are so “not fun” that we either don’t do them or we keep putting them off indefinitely? Read more

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Be the Pilot, Not the Engineer

One of my colleagues is hopelessly stuck in the years BC (“before children” as he explains) with his cultural references. He made a reference to the movie “Airplane” (acting as if it were a relatively new movie) and as we discussed the absurd premise of the movie, he made an interesting observation. “If I had to fly a plane, I’d rather be getting directions from a pilot than the engineer who built the plane.”  His point was that a pilot knows how to focus on what is necessary to keep the plane flying whereas the engineer may get bogged down in the details of how the plane works.  That’s how far too many people feel about their financial lives after they attend a class or read a book about finances.  Read more

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Surprising Info About “The Rich”

I love facts that challenge the conventional wisdom.  That’s why this article from US News & World Report was so enjoyable to read.  The “8 Biggest Myths About The Rich” were all things that I’ve heard people say when making assumptions about people with means.  Here’s my take on some of the myths and what I’ve seen in my career with investors most would call rich. Read more

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A Comeback Story

America loves an underdog.  I see it in sports all the time, and there are countless movies that end with the little guy triumphing over the big bad guy.As a society, we love to see someone prevailing against the odds.  I saw this article about companies that were left for dead but rebounded to find success again and it reminded me of how much we love a comeback tale in particular. Read more

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