Time for some financial spring cleaning

Spring is in the air, even if it’s not quite there on the calendar. This year as you shake off the cobwebs from winter and start tidying up around your home and yard, why not also do some financial spring cleaning? Actually, you can apply several traditional spring cleaning techniques to your financial situation. Here are a few ideas:
— Look for damage. Damage to your home’s siding, shingles and foundation can eventually degrade the structure of your home.

What’s smarter — Paying off debts or investing?

If you’re just starting out in your career, you will need to be prepared to face some financial challenges along the way. But here’s one that’s not unpleasant: choosing what to do with some extra disposable income. When this happens, what should you do with the money? Your decisions could make a real difference in your ability to achieve your important financial goals. Under what circumstances might you receive some “found” money?

Reed Wilcox

Vote for smart investment moves

The presidential election is little more than a month away. Like all elections, this one has generated considerable interest, and, as a citizen, you may well be following it closely. But as an investor, how much should you be concerned about the outcome? Probably not as much as you might think. Historically, the financial markets have done well — and done poorly — under both Democratic and Republican administrations.

Reed Wilcox

What can investors learn from roller coaster rides?

If you have an interest in looking up obscure holidays and celebrations, you know Aug. 16 was National Roller Coaster Day. As you know, a roller coaster is used as a metaphor for many areas of life — including the financial markets. As an investor, what can you learn from this thrill ride?

Reed Wilcox

Be aware of challenges to managing retirement income

When you retire, will your cost of living decline? Some of your expenses may indeed drop, but others won’t. Plus, you may have some new ones to consider. So, all in all, it’s a good idea to think about ways to boost your retirement savings now, before you’re retired. And once you do retire, you’ll need to be adept at managing your income.

Reed Wilcox

What can golf teach you about retirement planning?

If you’re a golfer, you know the joys (and occasional frustrations) of the game. But you might not realize that some of the lessons you learn on the links can carry over to other areas of your life — such as retirement planning.

Reed Wilcox

Don’t keep family in the dark about your plans

You might work diligently at building a financial roadmap for your retirement years and a comprehensive estate plan. But you can’t just create these strategies — you also have to communicate them. Specifically, you need to inform your spouse and your grown children what you have in mind for the future — because the more they know, the fewer the surprises that await them down the road. Let’s start with your spouse. Ideally, of course, you and your spouse should have already communicated about your respective ideas for retirement and have come to an agreement on the big issues, such as when you both plan to retire, where you’ll live during retirement, and what you want to do as retirees (volunteer, travel, work part-time and so on).

Reed Wilcox

A 529 Plan can help with those college bills

We’re at the end of another school year. If you have younger kids, you might be thinking about summer camps and other activities. But in the not-too-distant future, your children will be facing a bigger transition as they head off to college. Will you be financially prepared for that day? A college education is a good investment — college graduates earn, on average, $1 million more over their lifetimes than high school graduates, according to a study by Georgetown University — but a bachelor’s degree doesn’t come cheap.

Reed Wilcox

Should you change your investment mix over time?

To be successful at investing, some people think they need to “get in on the ground floor” of the next “big thing.” However, instead of waiting for that one “hot” stock that may never come along, consider creating an asset allocation — a mix of investments — that’s appropriate for your needs, goals and risk tolerance. But once you have such a mix, should you keep it intact forever, or will you need to make some changes? And if so, when? To begin with, why is asset allocation important? Different types of investments — growth stocks, income-producing stocks, international stocks, bonds, government securities, real estate investment trusts, and so on — have unique characteristics, so they rarely rise or fall at the same time.

Financial Focus: What to look for from a financial advisor

There’s a lot to know about investing, so it’s a good idea to get some professional help. But with so many financial advisors out there, how can you choose one that’s right for you? You may have to interview several prospective financial advisors before deciding on one. When you talk to them, see if you can get a sense of how they might work with you. Specifically, try to answer the following questions:

Does this financial advisor …

… Understand you?