Author: Courtney

3 Things to do BEFORE you spend your tax return

1. Create an emergency account of $1000-$2000. If you are prepared for an unexpected financial emergency, it’s a mere inconvenience. But if you are unprepared, a financial emergency can take months or years to recover. Many financial experts suggest $1000 in an emergency fund but I’ve personally had one or two emergencies exceed that.  I have $2000 in an account that I don’t think about for fear that I will find a crafty way to repurpose the funds for something other than a true emergency. An emergency fund with octane. My emergency fund is with a Credit Union. For...

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Rolling, rolling, rolling… How to do a 401(k) rollover

A few blog posts ago I spoke about retirement with a brief conversation about rollovers. I wanted rollovers to have its own, more in depth, conversation. You can rollover your employer account for two reasons, (1) You leave your job OR (2) You reach the age to withdraw without penalty (59 ½) and you are still working. For today’s blog post, let’s combine these circumstances and call them a “rollable” event. When a “rollable” event occurs, you have three options: (1) Stay in your plan; (2) Cash out; or (3) Roll your account over. Let’s talk about the first two circumstances. If you have over $5,000 (each plan’s amount might vary slightly) in your 401(k) after separation from your employer, you have the option to stay in your plan. Under $5,000 but over $1,000, your employer can roll your money into an IRA to avoid the administration costs of keeping such a small about in the company’s plan. Under $1,000, your former employer can legally “force you out” if you don’t make other arrangements. A force out is when your employer sends you your a check for your account balance minus a mandatory 20% withholding. Since we are on the subject of receiving checks from your 401(k), let’s discuss the cash out option. The cash out option is when you decide to take your money and run. You receive...

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Insurance- how to make it work for you

Insurance is  one of the few financial products that most people understand. Whether it’s car insurance, health insurance, or life insurance, the purpose is to protect against loss and transfer the risk (of financial loss) to a large company. Few know what “loss protection and risk transfer” means in real life terms. Ironically, many insurance sales agents do not understand what “loss protection and risk transfer” means, and the result is insurance “solutions” that are expensive and don’t solve a thing. When I started as a financial advisor, I learned what products paid the most commissions. Insurance was, and...

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What are these things called Mutual Funds, really?

           When it comes to investing, so many people hear, “You should invest in mutual funds.” And with out question, most people do. So many people invest in mutual funds that, today, nearly half of American households own mutual funds. This number is staggering considering that the number of households owning mutual funds was 6% in 1980. The increase is due to the increased availability and participation in retirement accounts, where mutual funds are the primary, and usually only, investment option.             With so many individuals investing in mutual funds, it should be surprising that very few mutual fund owners actually know how they work.  But it isn’t, because the working of mutual funds are clear as mud. Over the next few blog posts, I hope to unmuddy the waters. What is a mutual fund? Let’s begin with the definition of a mutual fund. Investor.gov defines mutual funds as “a company that pools money from many investors and invests the money in securities such as stocks, bonds, and short-term debt.”  The type of security that the mutual fund invests in depends on the objective of the fund. (We will discuss fund types in another post.) Each mutual fund has a ticker symbol. A ticker symbol is a unique five letter abbreviation used to identify mutual funds on the stock market. When purchasing a mutual fund, it is common to use the fund’s ticker symbol instead of...

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How would your family know your wishes if you were no longer around?

The topic of this week’s blog post is not fun. But I can assure you that it’s even less fun dealing with the emotions of a major family crisis and then adding the stress of not knowing how to begin piecing a loved one’s life together in their absence. If you organize your financial information and provide instructions for loved ones now, it can save a lot of time, frustration, and money for them later.             “But of that day and hour knoweth no man…” Matthew 24:36 KJV.  Because of this, it is so important that in the case...

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