SAVE FOR COLLEGE OR RETIREMENT? WHAT YOU’RE NOT TOLD

Paying for college has been the theme of this important series using a three-prong approach. First is saving for college using accounts like the 529. If you have seen any recent news on the topic, you likely have a fundamental understanding of how this account works. This step also uses other savings vehicles. The second prong is to shop for colleges that fit your needs financially, socially, and academically.

Today’s article addresses perhaps the biggest question that influences families that are college shopping: Do I fund my child’s education or my retirement? The extent to which a parent favors one answer over another drives the family’s ability to pay for college. The last step we will explore involves saving on the cost of college.

We will review the issue of funding college versus funding retirement, why it is important and the standard industry advice. Ironically, the standard falls short in helping families answer this question. Inherit problems will be highlighted with the standard advice. We will wrap up the article with examples that demonstrate why saving for retirement first may be a bad idea. As always, you should check with your team of professional advisors to see how any of the concepts, terms, or ideas apply to your situation.

Why is funding college versus retirement such an important question?

Middle-class families live on limited incomes. A middle-class family must decide what to do with these incoming dollars. Do they save or spend the funds? If they spend, what do they buy? On the flip side, for which goal does the family save? Even knowing which goal should take the top priority, the family must make decisions about which vehicle (stocks, bonds, CDs, etc.) and account (Roth, IRA, taxable, 401k, 529, etc.) to use.

Several studies on American savings and habits clearly explain the stress we experience in our financial lives. With goals that cost millions (like retirement) or $100,000 or more (like college), is it any surprise that we stress about finances? It isn’t that families plan to fail in meeting their goals; instead, they fail to plan. To meet our goals, we must face the pain of discipline now; otherwise, we will face the consequences later. With limited income and expensive goals, where does a family save extra dollars?

Standard industry advice

The financial services industry tells families to save for retirement first. After this goal is met, the family can save for college. The language most families hear is something along the lines of “You can’t borrow for retirement, but kids can borrow for college.” Let’s look at a few examples from popular financial resources.

The article from Howstuffworks.com titled “The Kids’ College Funds Can Wait. Save for Retirement First” makes several points about why parents should save for retirement first.

– As previously mentioned, there are no loans for retirement.

– Working later because you funded your child’s education isn’t a plan. Forces outside our control – like a job loss or disability – can spoil our plans.

– You may be doing a disservice to your children if they end up supporting an elderly parent. While you may have paid $100,000 for their education, you did not save the $300,000 or more required to take care of yourself. Your child may end up footing the bill.

– Roth IRAs are a reasonable vehicle for college and retirement savings.

Consider the points from a Vanguard blog post, “Save for Retirement and College.” Here, the author suggests that you prioritize retirement before any other goal. “First and foremost, pay your future self. Unlike college, you can’t take a loan for retirement.” Second place on the priority list should be paying down debt, followed by a rainy-day fund. Saving for college should take fourth place, according to this author.

Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz also chimes in on the subject in a post called “Saving for College: Understanding Your Options.” Here, Carrie answers a question from a mother who is wondering about saving for college for her three-year-old child. College costs and savings vehicle information is shared. Carrie states:

“As parents, it’s natural to want to put our children’s needs first. But you can use loans to pay for your child’s education if you have to. You can’t get a loan for retirement. So, as important as college is, our retirement should always come first. Think of it as another way of taking care of our children, by ensuring we’re financially independent once we’re no longer working.”

The last financial guru, Dave Ramsey, leads his followers in “Retirement of College Funding: Which Comes First?” by asking “What is more important—my own security at retirement or my child’s education and future? There’s a lot of emotion wrapped up in that question, which makes it easy to come to the wrong conclusion.” Simply put, in his “Baby Steps,” Dave prioritizes retirement over college for a reason. “You’ll depend on your retirement savings to live, eat, and pay for shelter—the basics. If you’re not working, that money is your only source of income.”

Are you convinced?

With the industry gurus taking the same side of the coin, it seems pretty convincing that saving for retirement should be a priority over saving for college. I was part of this crowd for years until my oldest daughter entered her sophomore year of high school. I started looking at data and noticed these articles, which pointed towards studies in which parents took money out of their retirement accounts to pay for college. The data and studies were verified.

However, two items started making me question this advice. First, I hadn’t read an article with any numbers that stated why saving for retirement over college was better. Second, I started understanding why parents pull money out of retirement accounts to help pay for college. I’m not advocating this as a smart move, but rather acknowledging an understanding of behavior. I’m in the same situation as the middle-class parents. Advice from high-income earners (likely many of the financial gurus noted above) seems to make the subject a little less relatable from an emotional standpoint. We parent, live, and make choices emotionally.

Contrarian standard

In 2015, Mark Kantrowitz, a financial aid expert, wrote an article for Time.com called “Saving for College vs. Saving for Retirement: Why the Conventional Wisdom is Wrong.” Mark did the calculations and reviewed a couple of scenarios while dispelling financial planning myths.

– You can’t take out loans for retirement. Simply put, a couple over the age of 62 who has adequate home equity may take out a reverse mortgage or reverse equity line of credit.

– In fact, borrowing money to pay for college was a bad idea. Check out the article for the data. (Exploring it in detail here would make this article too long.)

Does it ever make sense to borrow money to pay for college?

Mark’s article highlights a specific situation. “The only time borrowing for college costs is financially beneficial is when the interest rates on parent loans are lower than the equivalent long-term earnings rate on your investments. But that just doesn’t happen very often.”

Currently, Direct PLUS loans carry an interest rate of 7%. Most financial plans assume rates of return of between 5%-6.5% depending on the portfolio, planner, and timeline.

Why does the financial services industry tell parents to save for retirement first?

To start, there’s a conflict. As I noted in my Current State of Affairs post, most advisors earn a commission for selling a product or they receive compensation from the assets they manage. Few charge by the hour or charge a flat fee. These same people and institutions will help families look for ways to fund goals that don’t take money away from the generation of revenue. Looking at the conflict another way, college will be coming before retirement and is less expensive. From the advisor’s perspective, the parent or student should take out a loan. The goal is funded and the advisor isn’t paid less. The loan will be dealt with later.

Next, outside of a few individuals, the industry doesn’t know how college funding works. Savings, loans, scholarships, work-study programs, class hours taken – these all influence the cost of college. Few if any discussions or works are available about how to shop for college. Families must match the student with the best college from the beginning; this can reduce time in school and transfers, the latter of which increases costs.

The reality is that parents will likely be on the hook for at least some of the student loan debt if they haven’t saved. The federal government will allow only $27,000 in student loan debt over four years with Stafford loans ($31,000 between subsidized and unsubsidized). The rest will come from either PLUS loans, private loans, or home equity. PLUS loans require a parent to participate, and private loans usually require a cosigner. This, again, places the matter back in the parent’s lap. The solution is to make college funding part of a family’s plan to shop for and save on higher education.

How many advisors and financial service professionals work in the trenches?

Based on my experience, very few (specifically, doing things like helping families fill out the FAFSA). Personally, I enjoy volunteering twice a year at College Goal Sunday. Families bring in their information and we walk through the FAFSA. No selling, just helping kids get into school and giving information to Mom and Dad.

Beyond the conflict and lack of understanding of college funding, the industry forgets that financial planning has value to the end client only when the plan is based on the client’s own values, not what we impose on the client. If a family ranks college funding over retirement, the advisor has the responsibility to build the plan that way AND to educate the family about the tradeoff between funding college and/or retirement. With more information, the parent better understands his or her choice and the cost of his or her decision.

What do you do?

– Take a deep breath. As a parent, I want the best that I can give my children. If that means working longer or having a little less at retirement, fine. I understand the choice and cost of this decision. Most parents have the same mindset of giving the best they can to their kids. To save for retirement over college seems contrary to how we parent and makes some parents feel as though they are being selfish.

Put your advisor through the paces and see how clear the college funding portion of your plan is. If it only states saving $x’s/month, you may be in trouble. Have a young child? Your advisor must, at a minimum, use a process or method to help beyond the savings component.

– If your student is in high school, use these articles to help you understand college funding. Download this worksheet to develop a college funding snapshot. This will help you understand how much the family can afford today.

Have more questions? Call to schedule a time for us to talk at 317-805-0840.

Overconfidence with Finances and Sailing

Helping GenX parents plan for college and retirement.

317-805-0840, ncarmany@thewatermarkgrp.com

Topics:

Overconfidence With Finances and Sailing
1. How we get ourselves into trouble
2. Common financial moves
3. Get help

This post compares a day out on the water sailing to common experiences people encounter with their financial lives.  The root for many of these difficulties reflect behavioral.

Planning a Sabbatical

The Dream Life

How often do you find yourself comparing your life with those “living the dream?” We constantly fill our time with these thoughts. Buy this product and your life will dramatically improve. Take this action and your life will have no worries. One evening while watching TV or one morning while on your way to work, count how many times you hear this message.

Eventually, we buckle to this Chinese-water-torture-style marketing. Even when the messaging does not convince us to buy, we still compare our lives to those living the dream. For example, consider how our society reveres Hollywood stars, the wealthy, and the powerful. We look at them and tell ourselves, “If only I could have this, my life would be complete.” These lives play out with leisure and are full of happiness. Or at least, this is what we think.

How can you get more of these features in your life?Enter the sabbatical. Often, we associate a sabbatical with the college professor who takes time off to study or travel the world. However, many companies provide a sabbatical as an employee benefit. Charles Schwab is one example. For every five years of qualified service to the company, the employee receives one paid month off. The employee may still use his or her normal vacation during the year as well. As you can see, this allows for many possibilities.Still, most companies, primarily small ones, cannot provide this benefit, which keeps the sabbatical at bay.

How about those people who have the dream life?

Take two sailing stories, for example.

Brian Trautman and his crew produce the popular YouTube series “SV Delos” and have had many favorable life experiences. Brian was a software engineer who worked 70-hour weeks (2.) He notes in his blog, “My priorities were a lot different then and I lived to work rather than worked to live (2.)” Bitten by the sailing bug, Brian developed a four-year plan to travel the world that involved reading as many sailing blogs and as much sailing material as he could. The four-year plan included Australia as a destination and a budget to get there.

Once the sailing fund emptied, the crew had to find ways to pay for their adventures. In a popular blog post, Brian lists four of their early practices for continuing the journey.

  1. Brian would work remotely a few hours each day on IT projects (3.)
  2. The crew would work as hard as it could in the off-season, saving money to fund the next season (3.)
  3. Everyone paid his or her own way, including family and friends who visited (3.)
  4. They took advantage of moneymaking opportunities whenever and wherever they could (3.)

Brian also notes that part of the success of the Delos journey originates from the frugal nature of sailors. “… (C)ruisers are incredibly cheap. Imagine the cheapest person you know, then double their level of cheapness. Most cruisers are still even cheaper than this, and for good reason. The majority of people are trying to stretch every cruising dollar- just like you.”

The cost of this lifestyle is great, not necessarily in money terms, but in terms of opportunity by missing time spent with family and friends. Brian notes that if the journey wasn’t this way, it wouldn’t be worth it.

The second sailing story focuses on SV LaVagabonde. The crew of LaVagabonde, Riley and Elayna, are world cruisers like the crew of the Delos. To fund his adventure, Riley notes, “For eight long years, I worked offshore on oil rigs and in the mines of Western Australia, saving every dollar possible to be able to afford a halfway-decent Yacht (5.)” Riley also spent significant time studying where to buy his boat. He found that Europe was much cheaper than Australia.

Here are a few tips from Riley and Elayna to keep things moving.

  1. Research a place before you go.
  2. Let others be generous towards you. You both may enjoy it.
  3. Try to find an internet cafe or library instead of a restaurant.

For purposes of a sabbatical, not only will this help you save money if you are traveling, but it also points out the implied benefit of using the free services you may have access to use.

Today, both crews are gaining support through Patreon, a website through which fans can contribute to supporting a group in creating videos, music, and webcomics (4.) They are doing what they love and are giving back by sharing videos that have turned a sabbatical into a new way of life.

Examine the why for your sabbatical

Taking time off work is valuable in terms of preventing burnout and getting to spend time with family and friends. However, taking extended time away from work does not necessarily make for a sabbatical. Rather, it becomes an extended vacation. A sabbatical requires a cause or purpose for taking time off from work or your current life. The second differentiation between a sabbatical and a vacation is the cost. If the cost is not high, you may be justifying an extended vacation. Think again about the cost our sailors have paid in missed time with family and friends.

The purpose of a sabbatical typically shows up in a person’s core values in the form of goals and objectives. Yoursabbatical.com notes, “The most meaningful sabbaticals are planned ones – with specific goals and objectives designed to benefit both you and your company.” Do your core values show up in your reasoning for the sabbatical?

Sabbatical benefits

A workforce experiences many benefits from sabbaticals. For starters, when an employee takes a sabbatical during a recession, the company can reduce expenses while the employee takes the time to pursue a lifelong dream. Also, the company may be able to save enough money to avoid layoffs during an economic downturn (6.) While management and executives are away taking their own sabbaticals, someone will need to step into the empty role for a short period of time. There is value in creating impromptu training for the next worker who may occupy the role (6.)

Beyond the benefits to the company, sabbaticals provide an important intercultural financial practice – learning what it’s like to spend the money you saved. Unlike most Americans, who have a spending problem, those who save for decades often develop the habit of reducing their spending while still collecting cash. While such an action is noble, retirees often experience a strong urge to not spend in retirement. They forgo life-changing opportunities. The benefit of a self-funded sabbatical is that it gives you the experience of enjoying your money along the way. Later, when you cannot work or officially retire, spending the money does not become an issue. The biggest benefit involves the fact that saving and planning habits have already been settled. You get to enjoy “retirement along the way.”

How younger workers may use a sabbatical

Millennials have gained a reputation for changing jobs often. Gallup.com noted in an article last year that about 50 percent of Gen Y planned on staying at their current employer (7.). Sixty percent were open to new opportunities (7.) The article also pointed out that only 29 percent of Millennials are emotionally and behaviorally engaged with their jobs or companies.

The reasons for these frequent job changes are not discussed here but are brought up to explain the opportunity that exists in the practice of changing jobs often. The self-funded sabbatical may be a perfect opportunity for this generation to find more happiness and fulfillment while highlighting the financial behaviors discussed above. However, when planning a self-funded sabbatical, it is important to avoid missing any important benefits, like vesting (the schedule of how long an employee must work at a company before the employer’s match becomes the employee’s property) of company matching on 401(k)s. Sometimes, the vesting period lasts up to six years.

Delaying a traditional retirement may be a setback for younger workers who plan on taking several sabbaticals during their professional careers. Time away from work may result in periods of not saving money or, worse yet, dipping into savings earmarked for senior years.

However, while some non-Millennials aren’t willing to even consider the idea of a self-funded sabbatical, younger workers may be willing to take on this risk that may require working later in life. In fact, there are several benefits to working after the age of 65.

-Living longer. An Oregon State University study found that “working past age 65 could lead to longer life, while retiring early may be a risk factor for dying earlier.”

-Employer benefits. You may be able to get health insurance, paid vacations, and other traditional benefits.

– Reduced withdrawals from your portfolio. Because you are earning income, the needed withdraws from your other assets should lessen

– Social. Many people do not realize the importance of interacting with peers. This keeps our minds engaged and can increase happiness.

Mechanics of a self-funded sabbatical

Let us assume that you have completed the process of determining why you want a sabbatical and you agree that you can use this self-created benefit as you advance in your career. Now it’s time to figure out the funding. To complete this, we need a fictional case study to explain the math. Our example will not consider taxes and other important things like health insurance. This is where the benefit of working with a Certified Financial Planner may be realized.

Consider Jan, who is in her early 30’s and has been moving from job to job every few years as she climbs the corporate ladder. Currently, she makes $65,000 a year and would like to take a one-month sabbatical to help a not-for-profit take care of disadvantaged youth. Jan is considering taking this sabbatical in either 36, 48, or 60 months and is interested in determining what she needs to save each month to carry out this goal.

If Jan will need $5000 for use in 36, 48, or 60 months she will have 35, 47, or 59 months to save while she works. Jan will have access to different vehicles to save the money, like CDs, bond mutual funds, stock funds, and money market funds. Jan likes to play it safe and isn’t willing to subject her savings to variations in the stock or bond market. She will be using low-yielding instruments like CDs or money market funds. Jan can save the following amounts every month to amass her $5000.

Time to Sabbatical Required Monthly Savings

60 months-$84.75

48 months-$106.38

36 months-$142.86

If Jan has some flexibility and reasonable outlays, she should be able to accomplish her goal of saving $5000. Even if she runs a tight budget, Jan will likely be able to cut out a low-value cost to live her dream experience.

Let’s take the example a step further. Assume Jan spoke to a friend who recommended she invest the monthly contributions into moderate-risk items like bond mutual funds and a small portion into blue-chip stocks, creating a return of three percent yearly. How would Jan’s required monthly savings change?

Time to Sabbatical Required Monthly Savings Earning 3%

60 months-$ 78.75

48 months-$ 100.39

36 months-$ 136.87

As you can see, the power of compounding reduces Jan’s needed monthly contribution. The longer the time until she takes the sabbatical, the larger the benefit from letting the money work. Either savings plan will make Jan happy. The money and regular action of saving are simply the means to the end of Jan being able to work with the disadvantaged children. Both plans are doable.

On a side note, you may even be able to include some of your work benefits, like unused vacation time, to fund the sabbatical. Although this makes the calculation more complex, working it into the picture may reduce your needed monthly savings. However, you may be forgoing the use of vacation time along the way.

How does a self-funded sabbatical affect long-term savings?

Jan’s savings will put her on track for her sabbatical, but she cannot forget about the long-term picture. She will somehow need to make up the missed savings for the month when she will not be working. With moderate increases in her long-term savings (on top of the savings required to fund the sabbatical), she will be able to keep her retirement plan on track as well. Jan can increase her retirement account savings by one of the following amounts to make up for the month she will not be working.

Time Until Sabbatical Required Increase in Monthly Retirement Savings

60 months 1.69%

48 months 2.12%

36 months 2.85%

 

Next steps

If you plan on working self-funded sabbaticals into your career, make sure you follow the correct steps.

– Identify the why behind your sabbatical.

– Decide how long you want to wait before taking the sabbatical.

– Figure out your monthly savings requirement and the adjustment to your retirement savings plan.

– Start saving and investing.

– Enjoy the sabbatical.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at 317-805-0840 or ncarmany@thewatermarkgrp.com.

 

Sources:

1.h”What Are Sabbaticals?” What Are Sabbaticals? | yourSABBATICAL. YourSabbatical.com, n.d. Web. 19 June 2017. <http://yoursabbatical.com/learn/employees/>.

2. Trautman, Brian-trautman. “How do we afford to sail? (Part 1)–By Brian.” SV Delos. SV Delos, 02 Mar. 2017. Web. 19 June 2017. <http://svdelos.com/2014/01/how-do-we-afford-to-sail-part-1-by-brian/>.

  1. Trautman, Brian-trautman. “How do we afford to sail? (Part 2) -By Brian.” SV Delos. SV Delos, 02 Mar. 2017. Web. 19 June 2017. <http://svdelos.com/2014/01/how-do-we-afford-to-sail-part-2-by-brian/>.
  2. h”How can we help you?” Types of questions. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 June 2017. <https://patreon.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/204606315-What-is-Patreon->.
  3. “How I Bought The Yacht and Afford to Sail.” Sailing La Vagabonde. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 June 2017. <http://sailing-lavagabonde.com/money-money-money/>.
  4. “Facts and Figures.” Facts and Figures | yourSABBATICAL. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 June 2017. <http://yoursabbatical.com/learn/>.
  5. Gallup, Inc. “Millennials: The Job-Hopping Generation.” Gallup.com. N.p., 12 May 2016. Web. 19 June 2017. <http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/191459/millennials-job-hopping-generation.aspx>.
  6. Schlesinger, Jill. “Working past age 65 has many benefits.” Chicago Tribune. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 June 2017. <http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/success/savingsgame/tca-working-past-age-65-has-many-benefits-20160714-story.html>.

Comprehensive Planners vs Spot Checkers

Here and Now

Get good grades, go to college or trade school, and then land a high-paying job.  That is what we tell and teach our youth.  Have you gone through the same cycle?  How has it worked out? If you are like me, you have encountered many twists and turns along the way.

As I stop now and look back, I realize the disservice I have done my children through whathere-and-now I have told them. Here in this moment, I see that the finish line has been a life filled with the promise of a later, greater life at retirement.  This thinking had led to a personal longtime mantra of “working towards the later, greater version of yourself.” Am I not great now?  If not, what is stopping me from pulling that greatness forward to now, this moment?

How do we define the extent of this greatness?  Culturally, we do it by comparing incomes or net worth (in other words, to share an old favorite saying, “He who dies with the most toys wins,” a saying often heard during my childhood and adolescent years).  After completing thousands of financial plans, I see the reality of this saying. Here is the updated version: He who dies with the most toys usually has much debt, and sometimes leaves his family with an empty bag.

Fearing that they would leave family members with an empty bag while heading towards the finish line of retirement, generations before us completed anecdotal planning—what I like to refer to as Spot-Checking.  Am I saving enough for retirement? Yes, buy this mutual fund, the returns will help. Are you sure?  Ok, save more and protect your family.  Buy this permanent life insurance.  Have more stuff? Here, buy another policy.

After you buy the product, you fall into an advisor black hole, a place where you surface only after the book of business has been cycled through.  Consider the following for a moment. When did you last hear from your insurance agent?  At your policy renewal? If not then, when? How about the last time a significant event took place in your life?  Did you hear from your investment manager?  Has your estate lawyer checked in to inquire about life changes?

Chances are you spoke to one of these professionals when a major event was taking place in your life for which you needed their expertise.  Often, we do not seek this “expert” counsel until the event has already passed, limiting the effectiveness of the help.  It would be similar to watching your house burn halfway down, then deciding to call the fire department.

This planning has been going on for decades, with our parents, grandparents and continuing with most of us today.  The experts come in to address the singular issue or give peripheral solutions. The client does not know what he does not know.  On down the road, we go to the next event.

Change is in the Air

The recent ruling stemming from the Department of Labor and requiring advisors to act as time-for-changea fiduciary will change the way financial “advisors” work with client’s retirement assets.  The client (and not the product, sales agent or company) will be placed at the center of the relationship.

New companies are popping up, like the XY Planning Network, where advisors commit to putting the client first.  The Garrett Planning Network is another example.  The people working in these circles care about your financial picture and do not want to come in for a spot-checking exercise.  As proof of intent, review how your advisor gets paid.  Is it commission based? Could she win a trip for selling large volumes of product (often the case with annuities)?

Next Step

Review the last time you had a major financial event. Did it go the way you planned? What next-stepwould you change?  Could you have prepared ahead of time?  If so, what would the preparation entail?

Addressing these questions is only a small portion of the ways in which a comprehensive advisor helps. Instead of calling after the house has burned halfway to the ground, work with a comprehensive planner and install a sprinkler system in your financial house.  It will not stop a fire from happening, but it will keep the house from burning down.

Here is an example of this in my life.

Recently, I started working with a client who lost her mother. (Her dad passed away a few years ago.) Overwhelmed, she did not know where to turn.  We took care of her immediate needs by consolidating accounts, going through policies, and working with her CPA to file the estate tax returns.  The client was happy with the progress we had made in a short time.  However, she was still overwhelmed by the money, so I turned the conversation to her future.

It took time, but she was eventually able to paint a picture of a desired future, honoring the values of her parents by paying for her children’s college and paying attention to the way she spends money. We accomplished this progress by starting not with products but with what she values and why those values are important.  We even paused to see if her calendar and checkbook currently matched those values.

I went back and started crunching the numbers. As I went through her data, a loan on a 401k was found. We discussed why the loan had been taken out and how we develop behavior biases with our finances.  Since the conversation, she decided to take action by looking for ways to pay off the loan and increase her retirement savings with a recent pay raise.

As the early wrap-up of the plan implementation took place, I found unclaimed property in her name.  She put these funds towards the loan, saving her taxes and tax penalties if her employment ended. Plus, she did not have to take cash flow from her current spending.  She has fortified her plan by building momentum along the way. She is confident and living a life based on her values.

Spot On

Spot checkers who come in only to sell a product or help make an isolated investment change or portfolio tweak usually do not go the extra mile to check the unclaimed property, walk through the process of paying down a 401k loan, or having debt conversations about matching a calendar and assets to personal values. This is how a comprehensive planner helps. This is how financial wisdom is built.  The best part will be seen as her children learn from Mom’s money wisdom.

Questions or comments?  Use the contact me link to send us a message.

Where do I start the financial planning process?

Starting lineMost advisors today have clients start the planning in one of two places.  The most common approach with asset managers begins with a thirty- to sixty-minute conversation creating an outline of the investing history, philosophy, and experiences. An investor questionnaire and account paperwork soon follow.

Holistic financial planning, the second starting position, focuses on your goals.  Retiring at 65, sending three grandchildren to college, leaving a foundation, and philanthropic giving are a few examples. After understanding your goals in a ranked way, the advisor creates a funding plan for those goals.  The partnership continues with overseeing and execution of the plan.  While this approach includes more facets than the investing approach outlined above, the process still falls short.

Many of the goals become numeric representations of a resource pool instead of an understanding centering on the person’s unique needs.  Research shows that people create higher levels of happiness by focusing on living a virtuous life versus our current hedonistic tradition (1).

Knowing your core values yields the best results in creating a financial plan.  (Click here to find your core values.)  Not only will it allow a decision-making framework to develop, it will often make the decision-making process easier.  When promoting values take center stage, the correct course shows itself.  Note, though, that as people age, values change. Typically, transitions happen every two to five years.

Finally, knowing your values helps set up the two main ingredients for financial success: behaviors and managing expectations.

Behavioral finance and economics have expanded exponentially over the past ten years.  Fifteen years ago, economics classes taught that the prudent man acts in a reasonable and logical fashion.  Now we know that emotions drive most decisions and influence behavior.  Denial head inthe sandThe key to finding financially friendly behavior starts with removing as much emotion as possible by automating one’s finances.  For example, set up auto journals, transfers, and payments to important accounts. Set up mortgage payments to automatically pay more than the minimum. Emotion is removed and little recurring effort is needed to create a favorable financial setting.

Many times we prefer to not recognize changing circumstances and rising undesirable emotions. If we change our orientation to ask what the most likely outcome is, what the most desirable outcome is, and what the worst-case scenario is, we better adapt to changing environments. The element of surprise is removed, or at least reduced, lessening the impact of irrational reactions.

How does one manage the complex world of multiple accounts and taxation?

First, the focus should be on what NOT to do.  Financial planning for most people means earning the highest returns while avoiding market volatility.  Yet when these same people complete investor questionnaires, they recognize that the more return one wants, the more risk is built into the portfolio.  Also, other investors focus on avoiding taxes, leaving behind more fitting opportunities.

Establish a simple yet effective method using financial buckets to help navigate the complex financial world of today. Understanding how and when to access funds for specific events from a portfolio will not only help reduce stress, but allow you to create a better plan because you know how the bucket basics work. (Look at this series to better understand how to set up a bucketing method.)

Wrap Up

TIme for actionComplete a core values exercise to better understand what motivates you.

Examine your calendar and checkbook; can you see the core values represented in the time and money spent? If not, focus on what needs to change and align the two.

Develop goals and an action plan.

Automate your finances.

Check your progress.

Helping educators through this process supplies a high level of satisfaction.  If you have questions or concerns about your plan, contact me at ncarmany@thewatermarkgrp.com or at 317-805-0840.

 

Sources:

  1. The Pursuit of Happiness. The Pursuit of Happiness. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 June 2016. http://www.thinkadvisor.com/2011/11/28/the-pursuit-of-happiness

PURDUE CHILD CARE

If you are a new staff member or faculty member of Purdue University, this article will help you learn about child care choices near or on campus while explaining actions the university has taken in recent years to improve choices for faculty, staff, and students.

History

In 2012, Purdue conducted a Coache survey asking for feedback from faculty with respect to working for the university.  Many themes for improvement emerged from the survey, including:

-mentoring programChild care 1

-addressing research space

-not cutting benefits

Providing satisfactory child care was part of the feedback as well (4). In December of 2014, the university announced another facility opening in August of 2016, increasing full-time child care capacity by sixty-three percent (5).

Following are the current child care choices.

Ben & Maxine Miller Child Development Laboratory School

The school originally opened in 1926 as the Purdue University Nursery School to provide practice for senior students taking the course in Child Care and Management. As the university grew, so did the school, changing throughout the decades.  The facility is also a laboratory school which “provide (s) hands-on learning for Purdue students who are preparing to work with young children and families” (1). “The Ben & Maxine Miller Child Development Laboratory School was awarded the highest level in the Indiana’s Paths to QUALITY child care quality rating system” (2).

The program is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The center is open to the children (six weeks to five years old) of faculty, staff, and Purdue students, as well as to the public.

Children’s Creative Learning Centers at the Patty Jischke Early Care & Education Center

In September of 2015, Purdue established an agreement with Children’s Creative Learning Centers (CCLC) to run the Patty Jischke Early Care and Education Center (3). The school provides year-round service and extra care in helping parents navigate day-to-day challenges. The center is open to children six weeks of age to 12 years, providing full-time care or occasional backup care year-round (10).

Purdue Village Preschool

The Purdue Village Preschool is a cooperative school with classes available two, three, or five days a week. Preschool classes are for children who are at least 3 years old by the beginning of the present school year (11).

Child Care 2Each class consists of a lead instructor and one or two assistant teacher(s) depending on volunteer availability. All teachers are employees of Purdue and “must hold a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or related field with experience teaching in preschool or day care” (11).

“Children take part in a curriculum of weekly themes designed to the interests of young children. Attention is given to language development, social skills, math and reading readiness, growing awareness of the world around us, and physical development both in fine motor and large motor skills. Our program includes outdoor play on our large, accessible playground” (8).

Purdue Child Care Center

As noted earlier, the Purdue Child Care Center is expected to open in August of 2016. The center will develop with an emphasis on infant care and the provisions of care for school-age children ages six weeks to five years. Also, the center will offer before- and after-school care and a summer education program for children in kindergarten through age 12 (9).

Availability operates on a tier system, with the highest priority given to children of full benefit-eligible faculty and staff, followed by graduate and undergraduate students.

The Children’s Creative Learning Center will run the program. Teachers and teacher assistants will have at least a Child Development Associate credential (9).

Off-campus care

Should you need another alternative for child care, Purdue provides a resource to help you find a suitable facility. Click here for more information.

 

 

 

Sources:

  1. “Frequently Asked Questions.” MCDLS. Purdue University, 2016. Web. 10 May 2016. <http://www.purdue.edu/hhs/hdfs/MCDLS/enrollment/faqs_about.html>.
  2. “Licensure.” MCDLS. Purdue University, 2016. Web. 10 May 2016. <http://www.purdue.edu/hhs/hdfs/MCDLS/about_us/licensure.html>.
  3. “Purdue Child Care Center – Family Friendly – Purdue University.” Purdue Child Care Center – Family Friendly – Purdue University. Purdue University, 2015. Web. 10 May 2016. <http://www.purdue.edu/hr/familyfriendly/purdueChildcare/PCCC/index.html>.
  4. OIR Monthly Report Series. Publication no. Volume 2, Issue 5. West Lafayette: Office of Institutional Research, 2012. Print. <http://www.purdue.edu/oir/PDF%20Files/OIRAE_Briefings_Metric_Reports/Survey_Results/OIR_Monthly_Report_December_2012_COACHE.pdf>
  5. “Planned Child Care Center to Open by Fall 2016.” Purdue University. Purdue University, 1 Dec. 2014. Web. 10 May 2016. <https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/purduetoday/releases/2014/Q4/planned-child-care-center-to-open-by-fall-2016.html>.
  1. http://www.cclc.com/our-centers/west-lafayette/in/081051/
  2. http://www.purdue.edu/hr/familyfriendly/purdueChildcare/PVP/index.html
  1. Purdue University. Purdue Village Preschool FAQ’s. West Lafayette. <http://www.purdue.edu/hr/familyfriendly/purdueChildcare/PVP/PVPFAQ.pdf>

Traditional Financial Planning vs Values Based Financial Planning

I help Purdue faculty make the most of their benefits and 403(b) retirement plan.
ncarmany@thewatermarkgrp.com
317-805-0840

Build Your Financial House Mini Series

TOPICS

Like the three little pigs, financial houses may be constructed of weak straw or sticks while sturdy homes are built with bricks.

– Traditional planning focuses heavily on returns.

-Values Based Planning focuses on promoting and living in accordance with your personal values.

 

How happy are you?

I help Gen X families make the most of their benefits and retirement plan.

Contact info:
ncarmany@thewatermarkgrp.com
317-805-0480

Two kinds of happiness:
1. Moment to moment
2. The feeling that one’s life is being lived virtuously

Major themes:
1. Giving is important and good for increasing happiness
2. Spending on experiences tends to make people happier than buying things. As we can relive them over and over. We tend to become ”happier about them over time.”
3. Real life examples

Resources
http://www.thinkadvisor.com/2016/02/01/advisors-in-pursuit-of-happiness

Beyondthepurchase.org
Books
Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending- Elizabeth Dunn
Carol Graham- The Pursuit of Happiness: an Economy of Well-Being