6 Tips for a Powerful Financial & Fitness Year

6 Tips for a Powerful Financial & Fitness Year

Co-written with Dan Kleckner, Co-Owner of Kutting Edge Fitness

 

Merriman’s Finance Tips

Tip #1 – Build up at least three months’ worth of emergency cash

When you have unexpected expenses, like those associated with a job loss or a major house repair, an emergency fund can help fill the gap so you don’t have to turn to credit cards or withdraw from a retirement account. Holding three months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund at the bank is a good start. You should increase this fund over time as your income and living expenses grow. (more…)

In a Relationship? Have You Discussed These Topics?

In a Relationship? Have You Discussed These Topics?

Getting married can be one of the happiest moments in a person’s life. I know this firsthand as my wedding was just a few months ago and the word incredible would be an understatement. But to go along with all the great times, there are also important, sometimes difficult changes that two individuals must make when they get married. As a Wealth Advisor, I’ve seen the tension and distrust that money can bring if couples aren’t on the same page. I want to equip you and your significant other with questions and considerations to set you up for a long, happy life together. (more…)

What is the Right 529 Plan for College Savings?

What is the Right 529 Plan for College Savings?

As the parent of two young children, college planning is certainly on my mind, even at just 3-years and 6-months-old. While there are multiple options when saving for college, I’ve created 529 plans for my kids, which provide several benefits.

This post examines 529 plans and their benefits, followed by a description of how I’ve chosen to invest my 529 accounts. (more…)

#goals

#goals

Many people in your life – from your fourth-grade teacher, to your parents, to your employer – have likely touted the benefits of setting goals for your future. You may have written down you would go to medical school and be a doctor, or get married and have children or buy your first home by 25. We create life plans and vision boards that project where we would like to be at some point in our future. And then often, they collect dust. They get pushed to the bottom of a stack of junk mail on your counter and you lose motivation.

As wealth advisors, we start with your personal goals. During our discovery meetings with clients, we spend time learning what’s important to them around money. Helping clients live fully requires understanding the values behind the goals, and without that, the numbers can feel meaningless. (more…)

Pay Yourself First: Reverse Budgeting

Pay Yourself First: Reverse Budgeting

In this article, we discuss the Smiths’ and the Jones’ different lifestyle spending needs, and the annual savings necessary to maintain their lifestyle in retirement. Let’s walk through the steps these families should take each year to help them stay on track to achieve their goals.

1. Determine the cost of your annual lifestyle spending needs, and how much of that will continue into retirement.

  • Smiths – They currently earn $150,000 a year. After excluding retirement savings and expenses that wouldn’t continue into retirement, such as the cost of commuting to work, they determine that their annual spending is $90,000.
  • Joneses – They currently earn $500,000 a year. After backing out retirement savings and expenses that wouldn’t continue into retirement, this couple finds their annual spending is $250,000. This higher spending need is in part due to living in an expensive city and having a mortgage on their home and vacation property. About 10 years ago, this couple’s income was $175,000, with spending needs of $115,000.

Take-away: To determine your lifestyle spending needs, you need to exclude retirement savings and expenses that wouldn’t continue into retirement. Expenses that remain include utilities, taxes, food, entertainment, travel, etc. Many households carry a mortgage for the first 10-15 years into retirement. If you don’t think you’ll pay off your mortgage by the time you retire, make sure to include this housing cost in your spending estimate. You need to be aware of how much your lifestyle spending changes over time to make sure it’s sustainable in retirement. It’s far easier to spend more money than to cut back on your lifestyle. (more…)