Have You Had “The Talk”?

6a017c332c5ecb970b019aff2c523c970c-320wiYou know…. the one with your parents… or your children.

Not yet?  Procrastination is easy.   It’s something you can always do later, right?

Maybe not.

This picture isn’t a stock photo; it’s of my wife and I with my parents after we brought them from Florida to California to live with us in 2005.   This picture was taken for my mom’s 91st birthday (she’s 99 and still with us today).   Thankfully, we had been planning the financial transition for some time.  When the time came, all the ducks were lined-up. Continue reading

Target Date Funds – An Easy Answer?

6a017c332c5ecb970b019aff2c9b18970d-320wiThe problem with easy answers is that easy answers aren’t always the best.   The investment industry has many product manufacturers eager to pounce on any rising investor concern with a convenient prepackaged answer that seems to solve their most pressing problem.

Many 401(k) participants seeking an easy way to pick the funds that will let them retire on a given date have jumped on target-date funds (TDFs) as the answer.  These funds became available to investors as a qualified investment alternative under the Pension Protection Act of 2006; but, since the market losses of 2008, many have been wondering just how predictable achieving a successful retirement can be using TDFs.

What if, in 2008, you had been in a TDF with a target date of 2010 – just two years away?   According to Ibbotson, your losses could have ranged from -3.5% to -41.3%, depending on which 2010 TDF you chose.

When you think about it, a TDF isn’t much more than a “balanced fund” – I love that term; no one knows what it means – that is supposed to be continually rebalanced to a lower risk allocation as you approach retirement.   But, if that’s all it is, why not just simply create your own allocation – using professional help or some sophisticated planning software, of course – and rebalance as you go through your periodic investment reviews? Continue reading

The Secret To Saving Money on Health Insurance: Buy Smart!

6a017c332c5ecb970b0192ac851ba2970d-320wiWhile politicians continue to debate health care, many people are worried about how to afford it.

Health insurance has been a hot topic ever since costs began rising faster than inflation – certainly long before the debate began over the Healthcare Reform Act, now referred to as Obama-Care.   Today, as our population ages and health care costs continue to rise, more of us are wondering how to separate fact from fiction as the insurers continue to jockey for position in the marketplace.

This environment has lead to the creation of some myths, according to industry experts, that have left many consumers somewhat confused. Continue reading

Planning for Special Needs Children

Preschool Children SeriesFew families aren’t touched by this issue.

I myself have three grandchildren that fit this description.  According to Financial Planning magazine, more than 5% of school-age children are diagnosed with a disability of some type – seeing, hearing, talking, walking, or thinking; and, planning for their future can not only be complex, but demanding.  Indeed, many parents feel overwhelmed!

What makes it so difficult is that the planning isn’t only for the parents – it’s also for after the parents and caregivers are long-gone, which can be another 30 to 50 years! Continue reading