Considerations for Charitable Giving

Posted September 9/19/2017
Marc Rittersporn/marc@integritt.com

In light of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, I thought the following would aid my friends and neighbors here in Martin County, Florida, and beyond in creating a simple plan to put your desire to help to action. There are many lives in need of assistance after a hurricane, such as the homeless, foster children, abandoned animals, and families with low incomes. It can be overwhelming trying to decide where you can help or even which cause to help. Just remember, you are a part of the solution, not the solution. Having a plan can help you with the overwhelming mountain of need and the desire to give. I am so humbled that there are so many of you out there contemplating how to help; please read on to learn how to do so in a way that makes the most sense for you.

Sometimes, our desire to give leads us to make commitments that are difficult to fulfill. Any endeavor worth undertaking, especially one that may affect others, deserves our careful consideration before we begin. When contemplating charitable giving, think about the following points:

• Choose Your Causes. Worthy causes abound and regularly solicit our time and money. Choose a few organizations that focus on areas that are meaningful to you, and then research what kind of help is needed.

• Budget Your Gifts. When planning your annual budget, include charitable gifts. Distributing your donations throughout the year may lessen the impact on your finances and increase your total giving.

• Plan Your Volunteer Activities. Volunteering can be a rewarding experience, especially when you’re able to see the fruits of your labor. Carefully determine the time you have available to ensure your best efforts for the cause. Avoid taking on too much.

• Review Your Plans. Just as you review your annual financial budget, review your annual time and value budget. Revise your volunteer commitments to include only those where the rewards have been the greatest for both you and your cause. Think quality rather than quantity.

Through our gifts of time and money, we may create better communities and a better world. The time spent formulating your charitable giving strategy can help you maximize the effect you have on the causes and organizations that are closet to your heart.

10 Tips for Your $ Future

Posted August 8/29/2017
Marc Rittersporn/marc@integritt.com

However much you make or save now doesn’t promise you a bright financial future. Life is unpredictable.
Follow these 10 tips to prevent you and your family from money troubles.

Follow these 10 tips to prevent you and your family from money troubles.

1. See a lawyer and make a will. If you have a will, make sure it is current and valid in your home state. You and your spouse should review each other’s will – ensuring that both of your wishes can be carried out. If you are divorced and remarried, update your beneficiary designations. Provide for guardianship of minor children, and establish education and maintenance trusts.

2. Pay off your credit cards. Almost 40% of Americans carry credit card debt. This is not good for your financial future. Create a systematic plan to pay down your balances. Don’t fall into the “0% balance transfer game” – moving debt from a higher-interest credit card to a lower-interest one. It hurts your credit score, making it harder to get loans and insurance at a good rate. You can avoid an unpleasant increase in your insurance rates by managing your credit wisely.

3. Buy term life insurance equal to six to eight times your annual income. Also consider purchasing disability insurance think of it as “paycheck insurance.” This is primarily true for younger folks who have financial obligations to cover with future income. Stay-at-home spouses need life insurance, too.
Most people don’t need a permanent policy, such as whole life or universal life, but each family’s needs are different. You should review your situation carefully with an insurance professional (preferably two or more) before making decisions.

4. Build a 3-to-6-month emergency fund. This keeps you from having to charge up your credit cards when life’s emergencies strike. In the interim, before you build up your fund, you can establish a home equity line of credit, which allows you to borrow money against your house – this can take the place of part of your emergency fund.

5. Don’t count on Social Security too much. Since projections show that Social Security is only able to pay 77% of promised benefits after 2033, you should adjust what you expect to receive, especially if you are younger than 50. Make up for this by funding your individual retirement account every year. If you don’t fund these accounts annually, you lose the opportunity to increase your tax-deferred savings. Fund an after-tax Roth IRA over a traditional IRA if you qualify.

6. If offered, contribute to your 401(k), 403(b) or other employer-sponsored saving plan. Just the same as with your IRA, these are opportunities you should take advantage of to defer funds. In addition, if you don’t participate, you lose the chance to receive any matching funds from your employer.

7. Use your company’s flexible spending plan to leverage tax advantages. A flexible spending account allows you to pay for health-care and dependent care expenses with tax-free dollars. You lose the tax advantages for that year if you don’t use your flex plan annually.

8. Buy a home if you can afford it and maintain it properly. With every mortgage payment, the equity in your property grows. You’ll have much more to show for your money spent than a box full of rental receipts. The benefits are more than financial – studies show that home ownership adds to peace of mind and improves quality of life.

9. Use broad market stock index funds to reduce risk and minimize costs. Indexes are a simple way to diversify. Most importantly, they’re cheap. If you have limited options, for example in your 401(k) plan, make sure that you diversify across a broad spectrum of investments by getting a low-cost index.

10. Don’t be over-weight in any one security, especially your employer’s stock. As a rule of thumb, keep exposure to any single stock to less than 5% of your overall portfolio. If you over-expose to a single stock and that company goes bankrupt, you lose a significant portion of your portfolio. It can happen easily. History is littered with good companies that went bad.

25 Financial Tidbits

Posted August 17th, 2017
Marc Rittersporn/ marc@integritt.com

1. People often have twice the credit they actually need. Avoid temptation by never charging more than 50% of your total credit limit.

2. Join your company’s retirement plan and try to contribute as much as you can, especially when the contribution is made from before-tax earnings.

3. Can you imagine your heirs receiving only half of your hard-earned assets? That’s what could happen if you don’t take estate planning seriously enough.

4. Life insurance provides the kind of life you would have given your family if you had lived to do it.

5. One of the greatest gifts you can give is to help pay the education costs for your grandchildren. Any gifts, regardless of how large, made to anyone for the purpose of funding education, do not incur gift taxes as long as the payment is made directly to the educational institution.

6. What is an immediate annuity? It’s a contract that pays an income that you and/or another person may never outlive.

7. Protect your health and your wealth with a health care proxy and durable power of attorney. These legal documents help ensure your wishes will be carried out if you become mentally or physically incapacitated due to accident or illness.

8. Think of financial security as lifelong accumulation—even if you only do it in small amounts.

9. Donate items you don’t need, or use, to charity. Be sure to keep your receipts. You may be entitled to an income tax deduction.

10. Buying low and selling high is a lot easier said than done!

11. Add up your current and future liabilities, such as your mortgage, education expenses, and how much you’ll need for retirement. Then, ask yourself this question: “Is my family’s future worth protecting?”

12. A shorter mortgage isn’t always better. Take a long-term mortgage, and then make additional payments when you can. If things become financially “tight,” you can stop making additional payments.

13. Protect your tangible assets. Have the right amount of homeowners and automobile insurance coverage for liability and disasters.

14. Withdrawing retirement plan assets before age 59½ may lead to a 10% penalty, while not withdrawing enough after age 70½ may lead to a 50% penalty. The moral of the story? Know when to make withdrawals.

15. When you’re buying a new or used car, don’t forget to factor in any state sales taxes. If state sales taxes are 5% and the sticker price on the car of your dreams is $20,000, that car will really cost you $21,000.

16. Reward your children for hard work—they’ll soon understand that hard work is often accompanied by rewards.

17. Organize your financial house. Set up a filing system and organize your investments and insurance policies.

18. Make sure you own disability insurance. It will help replace your income if you are unable to work due to an illness or injury.

19. Did you know that if you work while you receive Social Security benefits, your benefits might be taxed?

20. Like regular checkups with your physician, regular reviews with a financial professional are important to your financial “health.”

21. Keep your total monthly debt from exceeding 35% of your gross income.

22. If your company doesn’t have a retirement plan, be sure to contribute the maximum to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

23. Pay yourself first. As you set your budget each month, set aside money for savings and expenses first. What’s left over can be used for other purposes.

24. If you die without a will, you will leave the distribution of your assets up to someone else.

25. If you expect an income tax refund, refrain from giving yourself a pat on the back. Sure, your entire refund amount is your money. But, it’s also money that has been at work for Uncle Sam, not you. An accountant can help you establish an income tax plan that keeps your money working for you.

Half of a Whole: When You Lose a Spouse

Posted July 25th, 2017
Marc Rittersporn/ marc@integritt.com

Whether it’s sudden and unexpected or after an already lengthy ordeal, there’s nothing that can prepare you for losing your spouse. Grief and mourning affect each of us uniquely, but all widows and widowers share a painful dilemma: On the one hand, the world seems to demand rapid response to a barrage of critical questions – financial and otherwise. On the other hand, it’s usually a terrible time to be making big decisions, especially if they really can wait.

Here are some helpful handholds to hang onto if you have been recently widowed (or you know someone who has), plus preemptive steps to take if you’re reading this in happier times.

IF YOU’VE JUST BEEN WIDOWED …

Don’t decide anything you don’t have to – especially about your finances.
This may seem like odd advice from a financial advisor. Our usual role is to help people make sound money decisions and get on with their lives. The thing is, when you’re experiencing grief, it’s not just an emotion. It’s a biological process affecting your ability to make rational decisions regarding your financial interests. Even small choices can feel overwhelming, let alone the big ones. That’s why our advice at this time is to put off anything that can wait.

By the way, most financial decisions are NOT as urgent as they might seem.
This brings us to our next point. Remember, service providers, friends and family (who may also be grieving) may mean well. But their sense of urgency – and your own – may be off-kilter. Basically, unless all heck is about to break loose if you fail to act, give yourself a break and assume most financial decisions can wait.

Create the space to focus on matters that actually are urgent.
Putting long-term plans on hold also helps create space to take care of the essentials, such as making funeral arrangements, managing immediate expenses, and simply taking care of yourself and your dependents. Do make sure you’ve got enough cash flow available to make daily purchases and pay your bills, so these don’t become a source of added stress. Gather imminently critical paperwork such as any pre-planned funeral arrangements, and multiple copies of the death certificate. It’s also best to ensure your and your children’s healthcare coverage remains in place. Let everything else slide for a little while, and/or …

Lean on others, even if you don’t usually.
You don’t have to go it alone. For practical and emotional support, turn to friends, family, clergy and similar relationships. For financial and legal paperwork, contact professionals such as your financial advisor, CPA and insurance agent. Focus on relationships that help relieve your burden and avoid those that burn up your limited energy. Be cautious about forming brand new relationships at this time; unfortunately, seemingly sympathetic con artists prey on those whose defenses are down.

AFTER A LITTLE TIME HAS PASSED …

Assess where you’re at.
Once you feel ready to take on some of the mid- and long-range logistics, slow and steady remain the ways to go. It can be helpful and cleansing to start by gathering up your scattered resources. Wills and trusts, insurance policies, financial statements, personal identification, mortgages, retirement benefits, safety deposit box contents, business paperwork, military service records, club memberships … Whether on paper or online, take stock of what you’ve got.

Reach out.
Continue reaching out to others to address your evolving needs. Turn to your financial advisor for assistance in organizing your investment accounts, shifting ownerships as needed, closing or consolidating unnecessary ones, and sorting through your spouse’s retirement and work benefits. Contact your spouse’s employers to learn more. Work with a lawyer for settling the estate. Meet with an insurance specialist to revisit your healthcare coverage. Speak with your accountant about the necessary tax filings. Contact creditors about resolving any outstanding debts. Firm up your ongoing banking and bill-payment routines.

Shift your focus outward.
When it comes to lifetime transitions, each of us is on our own schedule. But eventually, the time will come when you’re ready to circle back to those larger decisions you put on hold. Again, don’t go it alone. Your financial advisor can help you take a fresh look at your finances – your earning, saving, investing and spending plans. You also may start to look at your larger wealth interests, such as your will, trusts, overall insurance coverage and more. Whether you determine everything is fine or adjustments are warranted, wait until you’re at a place in which you can make these sorts of decisions deliberately instead of in haste.

PRE-PLANNING IS AN ACT OF LOVE …

If you’re reading this piece during happier times, we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to pre-plan for when one or both of you pass away. Pre-planning can simplify or even eliminate some of the most agonizing decisions surviving family members must face during one of the worst times in their lives. As such, your wills, trusts, powers of attorney, living wills (advance directives) and pre-planned funeral arrangements may be among the most loving gifts you can give one another as a couple, especially if you have dependent children. If these key estate planning materials are not yet in place, there’s no better day than today to give each other the gift of advance planning.

How else can we help? When you’re ready to talk, please know we will be here to listen.

Recent Fed Rate Hikes in Question

Posted July 13th, 2017
Marc Rittersporn/marc@integritt.com

Over the past 27 years, the Federal Reserve has raised it key rate, the Federal Funds Rate, 35 times, each to slow down inflationary pressures and to curtail elevating price levels. The Fed increased rates aggressively and consistently in 1994 to hold off a rapidly expanding economy, lifting rates six times for the year. A decade later, the Fed raised 8 times in 2005 in order to temper a rapidly expanding housing market where easy mortgage lending had essentially gone out of control. The Fed’s most recent rate increases this year, in March and June, are the first since December 2016. The Fed also raised in December 2015.

The level of the Federal Funds rate is much lower now than it had been during previous increases, with the Fed Funds rate reaching a target of 1.00-1.25%. The Fed Fund target levels reached 4.25 in December 2005, with the target rate reaching 6% in February 1995 following six increases in 1994.

The item at question during these recent rate hikes is where inflation actually is today. The Fed has an inflation target of 2%, meaning that it wants to see inflation growth at 2%, which translates into some economic growth. The concern among analysts and economists is the fact that current inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), is running closer to 1.8%, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Some believe that if the Fed tightens too much too soon, then the rate increases could create recessionary pressures, opposite of the Fed’s intent. The CPI during the Fed increases in 2005 was 3.4% and in 1994 was 2.6%.

Some economists and entities, such as the IMF, believe that deflation, not inflation may become an issue again. Over the past twelve months, the core CPI index has actually fallen, from 1.9% to 1.7%, still below the Fed’s 2.0% inflation target. Deflationary factors are becoming more apparent throughout the economy in sectors such as finance, education, health care, and now food services and groceries.

The Tax Benefits Of Homeownership May Change – Tax Planning

Posted on June 22nd, 2017
Marc Rittersporn/marc@integritt.com

As President Trump’s tax proposals are being unveiled, homeowners are carefully following the possible effects on home ownership. The current tax code provides a number of benefits for taxpayers that own their homes rather than rent. Homeowners have the ability to deduct both mortgage interest and property tax payments from their federal income tax. The possibility of eliminating the deduction of property tax payments may alter the benefits of home ownership for some.

The tax code also allows for the exclusion of capital gains on home sales. Currently the exclusion from taxable income on the appreciation of homes when sold is $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for joint filers. In order for the exclusion to be effective, the homeowner must live in the home as their principal residence for two of the preceding five years. In addition, homeowners may not have claimed the capital gains exclusion for the sale of another home during the previous two years.

The benefit of property tax and mortgage interest deductions as well as capital gains exclusions tend to benefit higher income earners more. The deductions and exclusions available to all homeowners are essentially worth more to taxpayers in the higher income tax brackets than those in lower income tax brackets.

The difference results largely from various factors: compared with lower income homeowners, those with higher incomes face a higher marginal tax rate and typically pay more mortgage interest and property taxes. They are also more likely to itemize deductions on their tax returns rather than just taking the standard deduction.

The Evolution of Bitcoin

Posted On June 13th, 2017
Marc Rittersporn/marc@integritt.com

An emerging form of digital currency has received tremendous media coverage this past month, Bitcoin, which is essentially virtual money that is traded digitally by exchanges. Bitcoins can only be purchased and sold with legitimate currency, such as dollars or euros, making it available worldwide. The total estimated value of Bitcoins worldwide as of May 30, 2017, is over 36 billion dollars.

Bitcoins exist as software, not physical currency, and are not regulated by any country or banking authority. Even though U.S. Senate hearings disclosed that Bitcoin could be a means of exchange, it gave no assurance that it would actually become an accepted medium of exchange. Government regulations would need to be created and then enforced in order for Bitcoin to become accepted by other government entities. The currency can be traded without being tracked, thus raising the potential for illicit activity, such as involving weapons, drugs, and prostitution. Bitcoins are not illegal, but it is also not legally recognized by governments as a currency.

Since the beginning of 2017, the total market value of Bitcoins have risen over 20 billion dollars, more than doubling since January 1 2017.

Some believe that the price appreciation of Bitcoin has been a result of speculation and hasn’t been used as a store of value or as a medium of exchange to any extent. Some compare Bitcoin to the tulip craze in Holland of 1637, when speculators pushed the price of tulip bulbs to incredible levels, followed then by a collapse in the tulip bulb market.

Bitcoin has surged on speculation that perhaps one day digital money will eventually become a legitimate global currency and even replacing currencies from certain countries.

Bitcoins are mined by powerful computers that calculate complex, mathematical functions. Total Bitcoin quantity is capped at 21 million and currently there are about 12 million that exist worldwide. Circulating physical coins only represent Bitcoin and are not a store of value as is legitimate currency.

The growing mobile payment industry could be a big benefactor to the acceptance of Bitcoin as new and creative applications are being devised to accept digital currency. Bitcoin transactions are very popular among mobile users, where rather than using a credit card or cash to make a purchase, all you’d need is your phone.

Bitcoins emerged in 2008 designed by a programmer or group of programmers under the name of Nakamoto, whose real identity remains unknown. New Bitcoins can only be created by solving complex math problems embedded in the currency keeping total growth limited.

In 2014, the value of Bitcoins fell by over fifty percent following remarks by China and Norway to not recognize the digital currency as legal tender. The government of Norway ruled that Bitcoin does not qualify as real currency but rather qualifies as an asset, producing taxable capital gains. Norway said that Bitcoins don’t fall under the normal definition of money or currency.

More and more nations have been taking an official stance as the popularity of Bitcoins has evolved. The European Banking Authority has warned about the risks of trading digital money and being subject to losses where consumers are not protected by any government entity or authority.

As digital currency evolves, some believe that it will eventually be accepted as a legitimate currency. But for the time being, others believe that its time hasn’t arrived yet. Various studies have recently emerged with different opinions, such as
a Stern School of Business study conducted by David Yermack, which concluded that Bitcoin behaves more like a speculative investment than a currency and has no currency attributes at all.

Sources: Bloomberg, Reuters

Avoiding Financial Scams and Identity Theft Scams

Posted on May 15th, 2017
Marc Rittersporn/marc@integritt.com

WHO ARE THEY?
• Financial fraudsters are after your assets.
• Identity thieves steal your personal information (often to then commit financial fraud).

WHAT DO THEY WANT? YOUR MONEY AND YOUR LIFE
• Social Security Numbers, passports, driver’s licenses, and similar identifying information.
• Financial account and credit card numbers.
• Passwords (or insights about you that help them guess at weak ones).
• Your and family members’ contact information (name, address, phone, e-mail).
• Your and family members’ birth dates.
• Details about your life (interests, travel plans, relationships, your alma maters, etc.).

HOW WILL THEY GET IT? HOWEVER, THEY CAN!
• Real or virtual strong-arm theft; breaking and entering, and scams to trick you.
• Strangers, strangers posing as someone you know, or someone you do know.
• Online, by phone, in the mail or in person.
• Phishing emails and deceitful or compromised websites (tricking you into clicking on bad links or opening infected attachments).
• Malware infects your device with pranks, viruses and security breaches.

WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR? TEN RED FLAGS
1. An offer that sounds too good to be true.
2. A stranger who wants to be your real or virtual best friend.
3. When someone you know is behaving oddly via email or phone. (It may be an identity thief.)
4. Someone claiming to represent a tax agency, financial or legal firm, police department or other authority contacts you out of the blue, demanding money or information.
5. You’re feeling pressured or tricked into responding RIGHT AWAY to a threat, a temptation or a curiosity.
6. You’re prioritizing easy access over solid security (weak or absent locks and passwords).
7. You’re sharing personal information in a public venue (including social media).
8. Facts or figures aren’t adding up; bank statements, reports or other info is missing entirely.
9. Your defenses are down: You’re ill, injured, grieving, experiencing dementia or feeling blue.
10. Your gut feel is warning you: Something seems off.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? QUITE A LOT!
Online Protection
• Virus software: Install anti-malware and anti-spyware software. Keep it current!
• Passwords: Create strong, unique passwords and periodically change them.
• Extra security: Use it when available, such as two-step verification or fingerprint access.
• Phishing: Be careful about clicking links or opening attachments, especially from strangers.
• Social media: Privatize your profiles and activities so only those you allow in can see them.
• WiFi: Be extra careful using public WiFi; assume the world can see what you’re doing.

Suspicious Phone Calls
• Identify: Legitimate callers don’t call announced and entice or threaten you.
• End the call: Your best line of defense is to immediately hang up.
• Don’t cooperate: Never share your credit card number or any other sensitive information.
• Investigate: End the call and contact the alleged source directly to inquire further.
• Report: Report the suspicious number to federal authorities.

Credit and Records Management
• Watch for inconsistencies: Look for odd transactions in your financial statements.
• Watch for missing statements: In case your account has been redirected elsewhere.
• Monitor your credit reports: Request and review your free AnnualCreditReport.com.
• Consider a credit freeze: If you rarely apply for loans, you may want to freeze your credit.
• Follow up promptly: If something seems “off,” immediately change any login passwords, and promptly contact the service provider and appropriate federal authorities.

Personal Security
• Remain on guard: There is still plenty of old-fashioned theft going on.
• Secure it: Lock up your desk, files, car, mailbox and trash bins.
• Shred it: Use a shredder to destroy any paperwork you do not need to keep.
• When you’re out and about: Keep a close eye on your purse or wallet everywhere you go.
• Filling in forms: Don’t provide your Social Security Number unless actually required.
• Banking: When using an ATM machine, look for others around you or signs of tampering.

WHAT IF THEY SUCCEED? ACT PROMPTLY
• Online: Immediately change the passwords on any affected accounts.
• In general: Check in with any bank or other institution involved, and the government agency responsible for overseeing the breach: the IRS for tax fraud, or the FTC for anything else.
• Financial: If you feel your financial security has been compromised, we’ll want to hear from you as well! We’ll do all we can to help you fix the breach and minimize any damage done.

Passing on Wealth to Children

Posted on February 21st, 2017
Marc Rittersporn/marc@integritt.com

Accumulating wealth can take a lifetime, and it can be worrisome passing it on. There are values and lessons that were learned on the way, and they are valuable lessons for your children as well. When it comes to passing wealth onto children, it is good to look at how to do it effectively.

Over the next 30-40 years, approximately 30 trillion dollars will change hands from parents to children. Parents often worry about transferring wealth without repressing their kids, who they want to succeed with their own hard work. The good news is we can raise our kids to develop their own identity, value, and success, and not ruin them when the wealth changes hands.

Good planning allows us to use our money to encourage our kids to seek and plan for their own success. We can put off inheritance to them until later in life when they are already set up on their own two feet. Money is then no longer an impedance to them, but rather it is a “quality of life” booster. Many children, in fact, are so well set up in their later years that an inheritance is simply a protection from trouble or a boost to their ability to enjoy life. Wealth passed on at a later stage can end up being used as a college plan for a grandchild or a vacation property to spend more family time together. In this sense, money inherited at a more established age can be unlike giving younger children use of their parent’s money unfettered. Unfettered access can be an obstacle to healthy adults.

If you are worried about this and are committed to passing on an inheritance in a way that will not ruin your offspring, then you can commit to providing the teachings that go along with how you came to be where you are at. Take your children to work, talk to them about who you are and where you came from, and discuss all of the hard work it took to get to the financial stability you have now. Embrace hard work; do not protect your kids from it and teach them how to balance working hard with having fun in life. Let them work hard for the things they are facing in life: grades in school, athletics, extracurricular activities, and volunteering. Allow them to get jobs that teach them responsibility; just because they don’t need money doesn’t mean they can’t or shouldn’t work. There are a plethora of volunteer positions that teach responsibility and rely on expressing maturity and leadership.

There are “game plans” that use out-of-the-box financial planning strategies and tactics that will help save the adult children that have slipped past the boundaries; the ones you are still worrying about. Worrying is a proven to destroy health. Why worry when you can plan? A good plan and good information can correct and prevent a lot of mistakes.

Call me, Marc Rittersporn, Principal at Integritt Wealth Management, with any questions at 772-266-2160.

Parents Taking Care of Healthy Adult Kids

Posted on February 13th, 2017
Marc Rittersporn/marc@integritt.com
The past few decades, we have more people than ever before going to college. We also have more student loan debt and fewer jobs at lower pay for college graduates. This has transcended into a problem for the baby boomers and other parents trying to move towards retirement. The best-laid plans Of Mice and Men often go awry: the practice of children with degrees paying their student loans with good jobs out on their own is disintegrating. Instead, older parents are paying for adult children’s expenses and student loans by dipping into their retirement savings and extending their plans to work longer. This backfires, as there are now even fewer new jobs for graduates. Furthermore, Millennials that have been trained to question everything are having a hard time putting the hours in and do not have a willingness to be poor after graduating.

Our children think a college education is a key to a great job, a decent living space, and a balanced life. The reality is a college education for most people is a necessity to a decent job, but that is not the starting point. The starting point is apartment sharing and peanut butter and jelly to eat the first few years. We just are not getting them ready for working from the ground up. Many parents want their kids to have the best, whether or not they (or rather, parents) can afford it. This leads to taking out more and larger student loans. Then the big day: they graduate, and then they move home. When they move back home, they need help with student loans; they raise your electric, water, and food bills; and they have no gas or spending money to go on job interviews.

The solution for the baby boomers and others soon to retire may be lifestyle changes and teaching their children about the reality of money, both of which involve planning and education now more than ever. Many young Americans are coming out of school and are saying they needed to learn more about personal finances: how to invest, do taxes, manage monthly bills, look for a job, and negotiate salaries. Many others may need a good dose of how to apply the word “no” to their lives. No, you do not have to go to the most expensive college; no, you do not need to spend an extra $40,000 on the “away from home” college experience. Then again, we can add the word yes in here as well. Yes, you can manage your classes and a part-time job to pay for your food expenses and clothes. The key to all the above is planning ahead.

Planning can show you and your children the down- side of college and life plans. Involve your children in creating and funding financial plans for all your important expenses. Then practice with them, showing your kids how to stick to plan and make an educated financial decision.

As always please contact me with any questions you may have. 772-266-2160.