Is volunteering worth your time and energy?

A majority of my clients are in retirement or they will be retired within the next 5 years or so.   These relationships give me some great insight in to what retirement can be, for better or for worse.  I have found over the years that my healthiest and even more importantly, happiest clients in retirement are those who are quite busy.  I am often told that they do not know how they had the time to work as they feel even busier now and they are loving it!

Most of these busy individuals are doing some sort of volunteer work.  You have probably heard people say that as a volunteer they get more out of it than they feel the person or organization they are helping is gaining from the relationship. And if you have given some of your time and energy to someone besides yourself, you know this to be true.

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Teaching young children about money

When I read this article from The New York Times, I was very happy to see that we as a nation are starting to expose young children to money matters. Using Sesame Street and the beloved Elmo is a perfect way to interest kids in the concepts of spending, saving and sharing, without talking over their heads or losing their interest.

The Sesame Street gang also spends time talking about want versus need. My brother started to teach this concept to my nephew when he was between 3 and 4 years old, and now at 5 he truly “gets it.” It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t feel he really NEEDS that new Star Wars Lego set at times, but when asked if he really does need it, he will admit he actually just wants it.

I’m as guilty as the next person of spoiling my nieces and nephew by being more than happy to buy them anything their hearts desire. But I have learned to hold back as I have seen the consequences of this behavior in many teenagers and young adults coming out of college in to their first jobs.

I hope you find The New York Times article informative and that you begin to expose kids as young as 3 to the concepts of want versus need as well as spend, share and save. You will be setting them up for success in the long run.

What happens to your 401(k) when you leave your job?

What happens to your 401(k) when you leave your job?

Whenever you leave a job, whether it’s your choice or not, there are many details and changes competing for your attention, and it’s easy to overlook the disposition of your employer-sponsored retirement plan such as a 401(k), 403(b) or 457.

You don’t actually have to do anything, but doing nothing is usually not your best choice. Making the right choice can let you add many thousands of dollars to your retirement nest egg. Making the wrong choice can unnecessarily squander some of your savings to the tax man and deprive you of future earning power.

You may get some very general guidance from your employer. But employers are prohibited by law from giving you specific advice. The custodian of your retirement plan (Vanguard or Fidelity, for example) has little incentive to overcome a basic conflict of interest: Even though your investment options will be restricted if you leave your money where it is, that’s exactly what your custodian hopes you will do.

This is a choice you need to make on your own. Fortunately it’s neither complicated nor difficult.   In addition, you don’t have to do it immediately (although the lack of a deadline is a mixed bag if it leads you to procrastinate and then become complacent). (more…)

Suze Orman – Should you listen to her advice?

Suze Orman has become a familiar fixture on the financial beat, with many fans. Among those fans is Merriman financial advisor Cheryl Curran, who nevertheless believes Orman’s investment advice should not be followed. In the following article, she tells why.

When Suze Orman gained popularity several years ago, it was very refreshing to me to see a new face and hear an unconventional voice coming from the financial services industry.

In the still heavily-male-dominated financial industry, I have been especially pleased to see a woman’s advice accepted and taken seriously by people of all ages and in all stages of life, regardless of whether they have a lot of wealth or only a little.

I admire Suze’s wonderful ability to break down complicated products and cut through industry jargon.

However, I think investors need to be wary of the information and advice she dispenses – and the example she sets. (more…)