Below is a list of the services we most commonly provide to clients. Most clients find that they need several of these, combined in a holistic way.
How much income will you need in retirement? How much do you need to be saving every year to meet this goal? And what if you started saving later than you would have liked: Is it possible to catch up? These are the kinds of questions we address as part of a retirement planning engagement.
Planning to pay for your child’s college education (or for that of your grandchildren or even yourself!) is similar to the process of retirement planning. We need to estimate the cost of this education, taking into consideration the inflation rate for tuition and fees, and then determine how much you need to save each year in order to reach your goal. For those who wish to save for private elementary or secondary school tuition, the process works similarly, though of course you typically have less time to save.
Estate planning is not only for the wealthy. This planning makes sure that you have all the documents you need in place (will, living will (advance medical directive), power of attorney for financial decisions, power of attorney for health care decisions, trust (if appropriate)) and seeks to achieve your final wishes (including charitable wishes) in a way that minimizes taxes and fees.
What kind of life insurance do you need, if any? Do you need disability insurance or a personal liability umbrella policy? We do not sell insurance products, but we can make recommendations regarding the kinds of policies you should consider buying and can refer you to some excellent low-cost insurance providers.
Should you pay off credit card debt before you start saving for retirement (or saving for college or to buy a house)? What about student debt? How can you pay down your debt more quickly?
This decision, often an offshoot of retirement planning (see above), is perplexing to many people. If you have access to an employer-based retirement plan (401k, 403b, 457, TSP, etc.), what kinds of investments should you choose? And how much of your income should you defer each month? If you do not have access to an employer-based plan or would like to supplement it with additional savings, should you set up a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA? And how much should you try to save each year? These decisions can be even more complex for the self-employed and the employees of certain kinds of companies.
What employer benefits do you take advantage of? Most are not taxed as income, but some are. And if your employer offers a “cafeteria plan,” do you take the cash or the fringe benefit? Which is more advantageous? And what about Flex Savings Accounts and Health Savings Accounts: Do these make sense for you?
We look at cash flow whenever we want to make sure that you have enough cash to meet a particular goal: buying and paying for a new house, saving for college while meeting other expenses, or enjoying retirement at a certain standard of living. But often cash flow issues arise at a more mundane level. Many people wonder why they can’t seem to save any money at the end of the month. “Where does my paycheck go?” We can use cash flow analysis to help you get a better sense of your spending and develop a workable budget that will allow you to enjoy life while also reaching your financial goals.
Most of us feel a duty to pay taxes so that our government (state and federal) can provide services we all need (defense, Medicare, education, road repair, etc.). But no one wants to pay the Tax Man a cent more than we have to. So many financial decisions we make every day have tax consequences. Will the mortgage deduction make buying that new house more affordable than it might appear otherwise? Would it be more advantageous to make that charitable donation this year than next? Often tax optimization comes up in the context of investing. Bond interest is taxed differently than the profit that comes from selling a stock (or most stock dividends), and even that depends on how long you have owned the stock. It gets tricky! And while interest earned on most bonds is taxed at both the federal and state levels, some bonds are tax-free at the federal level and some tax-free at the state level too. Making these decisions depends on the unique situation of every client. We are not tax accountants, but we can make you aware of the tax consequences of different investing and other financial choices we make every day.
What mix of stocks, bonds, and other investments is appropriate given your financial goals and your tolerance for risk? Does your current portfolio strike the right balance? How often should you rebalance your portfolio? How often should you rethink your broader investment plan?
Life events are not a “service” per se, but are very often the occasion for clients to seek our help. “I’m getting married: how does that affect my financial goals and the plan I need to meet those goals?” “We’re having a baby: do I need to get serious about life insurance now? Is it too soon to start saving for college?” “I have just received an inheritance from Aunt Judy: should I use it to pay off my house or keep it for retirement or spend it on that trip around the world?” “My employer is offering me stock options: should I avail myself of this benefit? What are the tax implications?” “My spouse has terminal cancer: how are we going to pay the health bills? Will I be able to maintain my standard of living after my spouse dies?”
We offer workshops for community groups or companies on any of the topics listed above, and many more besides. These are for informational purposes only; we do not promote specific investment products nor do we provide advice tailored to the specific circumstances of any individual.