Financial Wellness @ Work

Small Changes Now Can Mean Big Long Term Results

In a conversation I had recently with an employee of a large healthcare company, the topic of retirement planning and investing merged together. She had recently started her job and wanted to be sure that she got off to a good start. Her prior employer had no financial wellness benefits provided so this was her first conversation with a financial planner. The conversation was very revealing about her views of herself, the world of investing and the level of financial knowledge that many people who work in financial services business assume that individuals have when they walk in for a conversation. Read more

Passing On Your Money Skills

Working as a financial planner gave me the opportunity to meet so many people and to hear their amazing stories as to how they became wealthy. Most came from humble means, from former refugees who did not speak English, to former teenage moms, to those that grew up in foster care. Their stories are an inspiration.   Read more

How New Online Tools Will Save One Woman Tens of Thousands of Dollars Per Year

Last week, I wrote about my three favorite online investment services. This week, I’ll show you an example of how a couple of those tools saved a friend’s mother tens of thousands of dollars. When I spoke to my friend, his mother had just retired with a $1 million portfolio and he wanted to know how she should invest it for retirement. Since we can’t provide specific investment advice at Financial Finesse, this was a rare opportunity for me to be more hands-on. Here’s what we did: Read more

3 Tools That Can Make Your Investing Simpler and Cheaper

Last week, we discussed the three keys to successful investing being properly diversified, minimizing costs, and re-balancing periodically. Over the last few years, we’ve seen the emergence of online automated investment services (often called “robo-advisors”) that aim to make these steps even easier. After reviewing the various options, there are three in particular that I really like. Here’s a comparison of how each of them can help you with the three steps and what type of person they might each be best suited for: Read more

Three Investment Terms You Should Know

Have you ever noticed how different words mean different things to different people? The other day I was talking with a helpline caller who was looking for a way to invest their retirement funds such that they couldn’t lose money and could draw an income from it in the future. When I mentioned the word “annuity,” they immediately had a negative reaction as they were lead to believe all annuities were bad, which seemed ironic considering that’s exactly what they just described they were looking for. When it comes to investment terminology, not understanding the meaning of a word can be a financial mistake. Here are three investment terms that are frequently used but often misunderstood: Read more

Do You Understand Your Advisor’s Recommendations?

I recently spoke to a friend who wanted to ask my opinion about her current financial advisor. Knowing that I have a slight addiction to chocolate, she offered me her homemade Godiva Hot Chocolate with a chocolate coated bottom for my trouble. Of course I would have offered my opinion at no cost, but who am I to turn down her homemade hot cocoa? As I listened, she started to describe how she was referred to him though a family friend so she did not feel the need to do a background check or ask him questions about how he gets paid. She took it on faith that if her family member recommended him then she would be fine.  Read more

All You Need To Know About Investing In 3 Simple Steps

Whenever I talk to people about investing, I find that most people fall into one of two groups. One group feels that investing is too complicated for them so they want to hire a professional to manage their money for them. The other group is make up of active investors who try to time the market with statements like “I think the market is too high to get in right now” or “I’m going to wait for prices to come down before I buy” and/or pick stocks or actively managed funds that they think will outperform the market. The problem is that there’s no evidence that market timing or even actively picking stocks really works (unless monkeys or cats are doing the picking). If the vast majority of professional money managers continue to underperform the market with these methods, do you really think you can in your spare time? Read more

Why Your Advisor May Want You to Take Social Security Early

Earlier this year, I took a call from Carl who is getting ready to retire within the next few years. His advisor was suggesting that upon retirement, Carl rollover his 401(k) to an IRA and start collecting his Social Security benefit at age 62. Carl wasn’t so sure so he wanted a second opinion. Carl and I talked for a while and determined that it might make more sense for him to draw down his retirement account and allow his Social Security benefit to collect delayed creditsRead more

How To Tell If You Are Getting Advice Or A Sales Pitch

I recently spoke with a friend who has been talking to advisors about retirement planning. Since I am always curious about the client-advisor experience, I asked her what she was told. After hearing her, I told her that she was not getting advice. She was getting a sales pitch.  Read more

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the New Student Loan Forgiveness Program

I recently received a panicked call from a friend of mine who had just graduated from graduate school with $120k of student loan debt. Since she had trouble making the payments, she signed up with the new “Pay As You Earn” student loan forgiveness program. Then she got an ugly surprise… Read more

Financial Finesse’s unbiased financial planning blog wins Gold for "Blog of the Year" in the 2014 Best in Biz Awards!