Are Inflationary Prices Here To Stay?

Have you been feeling the impacts of inflation over the last 6-9 months? As many of us are starting to spend more money again on things we had been accustomed to pre-Covid, you are likely noticing that costs related to dining, travel, gas, and more have been on the rise. Over the last few months, we’ve been talking a great deal about inflation and the impact it is having on us all. 

As you may have been seeing in the headlines of CNBC and The Wall Street Journal, higher prices seem like they are here to stay when it comes to Uber and Lyft, FedEx and UPS, and even the dollar store. Last week we even saw US Crude Oil hitting a record high since 2014, reaching over $80 a barrel. We’re not the only ones talking about it- A CNBC article noted that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen cautioned that inflationary pressures hitting the US economy could last a while. 

As we focus on this data and the likelihood of a longer term inflationary impact, how are you feeling about it? Some of you may be not panicking over the increased dollar here or there, but others are certainly feeling the impacts. What’s important to remember during a time like this is to not get overwhelmed, but to adjust your financial plan and budget. Revisit your wants versus your needs and decide what is a priority for you and your family. Since it now costs more to fill your tank with gas, maybe you can scale back on some of your take-out meals. In the event your spending habits change as a result of inflation, it’s key to align your budget with your cash flows and monthly expenses. If you have questions about how to realign your budget and spending habits with your financial goals and current economic situation, email us at info@shermanwealth.com or schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation here.

10 Important Things To Discuss Before Marriage

7thingsbeforemarriage

10 Things to Discuss Before the Big Day

You are excited, in love, and planning the wedding of your dreams. Probably the only money questions on your mind are the down payments for the caterers and the florists!

Yet – whether your wedding reflects a minimalist sensibility or is a no-holds-barred extravaganza – it’s better to have a good understanding of each other’s finances before the “I Do’s”. This is a time when procrastination could cost you a bundle, even if neither one of you currently have a lot of assets.

Getting married is more than just substituting the word “ours” for “yours” and “mine”.  It’s combining your finances, histories, dreams, aspirations, possessions – even your music – and making all of that “ours too. Since a significant part of those dreams and aspirations involve money, having multiple financial conversations before marriage (or right after, if you’re newlyweds!) can help you start married life on a firmer footing, with regard to financial goals.

Here are a few conversations that will get your marriage off to a smoother financial start:

1) Views on money. How we feel about money is often very emotional and very personal. Our family’s views on money can have a big impact on the way we see finances. In some families money may not be talked about. In others, one partner may hide money or spending from the other. While we might not consciously have these same behaviors, our upbringing will have an impact on how we feel about money and how we save, spend, and budget.

The best way to address unconscious – and sometimes conflicting – money behaviors is to start by recognizing how you each feel about money. Then you can take a practical approach and implement the best strategies from the past and incorporate them into your new relationship. This will also give you a chance to address any not-so-beneficial attitudes and behaviors and work to consciously change them.

2) Spending/Saving Habits. Chances are the two of you don’t spend and save money the same way. The interesting thing about spending and saving habits is that they give insight into priorities, both financial and otherwise because we tend to spend money on things we feel are most important and scoff at spending on things we see as unimportant.  Some people value saving more than anything and could be considered “tightwads”. Other people have a “live for today” attitude and spend whatever they have available, saving nothing or little for later. Most of us find ourselves somewhere in the middle.

Not agreeing on spending priorities can lead to serious conflicts down the line. While there is no right and wrong answer regarding priorities and habits, it’s valuable to know and understand each other’s habits earlier rather than later.

3) Divvying Up the Bills. This is an important conversation about how you will manage your money together. Will you have separate or joint accounts? Who will be responsible for paying the bills and investing for long term goals? A realistic understanding both of your current incomes and current debts is important so you can create a realistic budget based on your combined income and expenses.

4) Credit History. No one likes to talk about credit ratings because they highlight past mistakes and spending habits. Yet it’s essential to know and discuss your credit histories. This can help you talk about past money mistakes, current debt loads, and how to address any issues that are lurking. Having this conversation now will also help if you’re planning to borrow money for a large purchase, such as a home or car; credit history will effect how much you’ll pay in interest for loans, as well as how much it will cost for things like insurance. Many companies even pull credit for potential job applicants. When it comes to credit, it’s best not to have surprises down the road, so have the conversation now.

5) Risk Tolerance and Financial Goals. Couples often have very strong – and differing – feelings about risk and money that are deeply rooted in past experiences.  Your family may have gone through periods of unemployment, for instance, or  you may have grown up taking financial security for granted. One of your parents may have owned a business and you saw it go bankrupt,  so you might be very conservative with your money and not want to take unnecessary chances. Or perhaps they invested in a business that was a huge success.

Everyone brings a different level of comfort when it comes to risk tolerance and it’s important to understand your partner’s because it has an impact on spending and savings habits – everything from where you invest to how much money you want to set aside. Money provides a level of security that can be very powerful and risk tolerance is directly linked to that feeling of security.

6) Ongoing Financial Obligations. If this is a second marriage, are there child support or alimony payments that need to be considered in the budget process? If so, how much and how long will the obligations need to be fulfilled. Caring for elderly parents might also be a long term expense you will be facing as a couple.

7) Net Worth. When it’s a first marriage, often neither partner has much in the way of assets, but if one partner has more than the other, are you going to want a pre-nuptial agreement? When discussing net worth it is valuable to discuss not only current net worth, but also aspiring net worth. What household income level are you both hoping to achieve. Will reaching those aspirations include additional education? Will it mean switching jobs several times early in your career? Will it mean working 80 hours a week for decades? As a couple, understanding financial expectations and future net worth aspirations will help you plan a life together that will meet both of your needs, financially and emotionally.

8) Family Plans. The family size you hope to have will also have a big impact on your financial needs. Children, as wonderful as they are, are very expensive to raise. Do you both want to have children and, if so, one child or several children? Discussions about how the children will be raised and educated are also valuable from a financial perspective. Will one of you stay home to raise the children? Will you pay for day care? How far apart should the children be? Each of these answers will have a significant financial impact to the family budget.

9) Combining Physical and Financial Assets. Particularly with couples getting married later, both partners will have accumulated possessions that now need to be combined. This can be as simple as which sofa and bedroom set to keep, or more complicated when multiple homes, retirement accounts, and other investments are brought into the mix. Discussing whether property, accounts, and debt should be left in individual names or held jointly is also an important conversation to have.

10) Wills, Trusts, and Life Insurance. When you’re getting married, you don’t really want to think about death. Yet wills, trusts, and life insurance need to be updated soon after you say, “I Do.” This is true especially if you have assets or children. The process of obtaining a will or trust is fairly straightforward; it’s the discussions that lead up to it that provide the most value. Both of you should have a good understanding of what you have and what you want to happen, should the unthinkable occur.

Financial advisors can be a real asset, when it comes to pre-marital financial discussions. They can help you determine when it is best to hold assets jointly or separately. Assistance with budgeting and planning for long term goals will help you create a strong financial plan. Advisors can also guide you in building a strategy for reaching financial milestones.

So, if you’re getting married (or just got married), congratulations! And while these discussions may not be the most romantic ones you’re having, they do have the ability to bring you closer together. Planning together and sharing your dreams will give you better insight into the mind and heart of the person you’ve fallen in love with and allow you to become stronger partners when it comes to reaching your goals as a couple, emotional as well as financial.

***

The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.
If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please Contact Us.

Financial Checklist for Newlyweds

Just tied the knot? Or getting ready for the big day? Well, no matter the situation, you are about to take the next step with your partner and should probably start thinking about next steps for your financial future. 

Below we will list some newlywed topics to think about when taking those next steps with your significant other.

  1. Changing Your Name 

Changing your name is a big step. But whatever you decide, you’ll need to make your new name legal as one of the first tasks of married life. If you do decide to change your name, it’s important hen changing your name, 

    2. Combining Your Money

Once you’ve taken care of any necessary name changes, it’s time to make some decisions about how your new household will merge and manage finances. It is important to communicate to understand who will be assuming responsibility for certain things and who will be contributing to the finances. 

    3. Think About Combining Insurance Plans

When discussing merging finances, remember insurance. Now that you are married, consider adding your spouse to your insurance plan to make it cheaper for the both of you. 

   4. Deicide Who Your Beneficiaries Are

Now that you are married, you probably will want to update the beneficiaries on all of your accounts, such as 401(K)’s, IRA’s , and bank accounts.

  5. Smooth Out Property Titles 

Now that you are married, are you moving in together? Did you purchase a house? Make sure to put each-other on the title of the house to represent that you both have ownership.

  6. Budgeting 

Communication is key. We have long talked about the importance of communicating with a spouse, especially when it comes to budgeting and spending. If you and your significant other are not on the same page when it comes to budgeting and spending, you may not be headed towards a solid financial future. 

While these are only a few of the topics you should incorporate into your financial conversations, the best place to start is establishing strong line communication. Communication is key in understanding each other’s views and building a strong foundation together. We recently recorded a podcast with psychotherapist and consultant, David Pearl, discussing how to have uncomfortable and oftentimes difficult money conversations with your spouse. For any questions or direction on your newlywed financial situation, reach out to us at info@shermanwealth.com or schedule a complimentary 30-minute meeting here.

Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Relationships?

COVID-19 has impacted our lives in so many ways. Work, relationships and finances have been taken for a whirlwind by widespread job loss and stay-at-home orders. 

Due to the global pandemic, relationships have shifted: Couples and singles alike are focusing increasingly on financial stability and transparency.

In a recent Personal Capital survey conducted by The Harris Poll*, nearly 2 in 3 Americans (61%) told us that the COVID-19 pandemic has made financial stability in a partner more important to them.

Financial stress affects couples in different ways. According to our survey, however, men feel the impact of financial stress in a relationship slightly more than women. They have also noticed that they are talking more about money with their partner, and — either in conversation or in private — they’re more likely to have contemplated a prenup. However, they don’t value financial stability as much as women do.

As a third party and fiduciary advisor, we can help drive a a big-picture money discussion, helping find a balance and strategy that both parties are comfortable with. 

We recently published a podcast with psychotherapist David Pearl about tips and ways to have those uncomfortable conversations with your significant other. In all, personal finance is just that — personal. When discussing it with a partner, it can feel vulnerable, and you can feel anxious or uneasy. However, don’t let those feelings distract you from having a productive and transparent conversation. Consider discussing with a financial advisor to help spark those conversations and find a happy medium when it comes to your finances. If you and your partner would like to discuss with us, please book a complimentary 30-minute consultation here. 

It’s Time to Re-Visit Your Life Insurance Options

As the new year is quickly approaching, end of the year planning is ramping up. While many are getting their finances in order for 2021, I want to bring light to a topic that you may have given little attention to: life insurance.  If you haven’t already, now is the time to reach out to a trusted professional to find out what your options are when it comes to life insurance. 

Each year, you should get an annual health checkup with your doctor to make sure you’re in good shape physically. The same thinking applies to your life insurance policies. You may find that you have adequate coverage, but it’s always important to revisit it each year. Your financial advisor or insurance provider can help you decide what type of strategy you should pursue when it comes to your life insurance policy. 

I recently revisited my life insurance policy and realized some things had changed since I had purchased it. Life insurance rates had gone down, there were better options, and my health had remained the same, if not better. By revisiting my policy, I was able to save money, as well as add on more life insurance. 

Keep in mind the importance of life insurance and remember to check in with your agent or other trusted professional at least once a year to see if you can benefit from a reassessment. In some instances, you may be able to pay less for a similar policy or obtain a policy with a higher value for the same cost or less based on the current rates. If you have any questions, please reach out to us at info@shermanwealth.com or sign up for a complimentary 30-minute consultation here.

Do you Need Financial Therapy to Deal with Money Stress and Budget Fights with a Spouse?

Do you fight about money with your spouse or significant other? Do you have trouble following a budget – assuming you even have one? If so, you might want to consider seeking financial therapy, coaching, or a financial advisor.  

What is financial therapy?

Think of it like psychotherapy. But instead of improving your state of mind it seeks to improve the state of your money. In essence, it’s supposed to help you behave differently, and for the better, when it comes to how you handle your money.

Do you need coaching, not therapy?

Given the year we’ve had with the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to massive layoffs and economic turmoil, it’s not a surprise that money issues may have caused fights between you and your significant other. In some of these scenarios, financial coaching is the way to go. In times that are economically tough, it’s important to tighten up your budget and learn ways to strategically stabilize your financial life. 

Consider meeting with a financial advisor. Here at Sherman Wealth, we challenge our clients to think differently about their money and coach them towards positive financial outcomes. We help our clients avoid making decisions persuaded by behavioral and investment biases, such as selling and buying mutual funds and stocks at the wrong times. Financial coaching will help you learn bucket strategies for savings, the importance of budgeting and ways to strategically build your wealth. If your finances are having a negative impact on your health and relationships, it is key to seek help from a professional in the field. Talking with a financial advisor can help you work through some of those miscommunications and misconceptions towards a positive outcome. 

Where to find help

If you believe a financial coach is best for your situation, please reach out to us at info@shermanwealth.com or sign up for a free 30-minute consultation on our site. Our team is happy to help you get your finances on track and get you to a place where you are feeling positive about your financial life. 

How Much Retirement Savings Is Enough? Why Couples May Disagree

As couples combine their finances and think about their financial future, its common for the conversation to be uncomfortable or tricky. While one individual in the relationship might think about money one way, the other party could think about it completely different. Just know, it’s normal and okay to have different background and approaches to money, but that communication is key in coming to a solid compromise and understanding. 

The first step is communication. When discussing your finances, it’s important to communicate and feel open about discussing an often uncomfortable topic such as money. 

The Wall Street Journal highlighted an issue that can get overlooked in retirement planning: the financial burdens that women, in particular, face late in life.

A survey last year by the National Council on Aging and Ipsos, a polling and data firm, found that fully half (51%) of women age 60 and older are worried about outliving their savings. In the same survey, almost six in 10 women (59%) said they are worried about losing their independence.

According to the survey, women, of course, typically live longer than men—about five years, on average—and are more likely to live their final years alone. In 2019, almost half (44%) of women age 75 and older in the U.S. lived alone, according to the Administration on Aging. 

As you can see from the survey data reference above, both men and women often have different expectations on how much money they need for their future, which is normal. Again, make sure to communicate and research with your partner to insure both individuals are comfortable with their finances and savings. Of course, a good financial adviser also can make a difference. But the most important step is to talk about retirement and how your finances might play out before you get there. If you have any questions, or want to discuss retirement with us, please schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation.

 

Financial Advice For Parents

kids-earning-money-with-chore-chart-e1581111178885

Raising a child in today’s world can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. As a parent of four children ranging from ages 5 to 16, I can attest to just how expensive kids can be. Besides just the essentials like food and clothes, there are club teams, tutors, dance lessons and so much more. With each additional family member comes new financial considerations and expenses. The importance of planning for these costs before they arise is a key reason why many financial advisors are targeting young families and helping them successfully navigate how to cover their children’s expenses without compromising their own financial security. Here are a few top takeaways from some of these advisors:

SAVING FOR COLLEGE

With a high school junior in our house, it won’t be long before we are paying that dreaded college tuition bill. And, due to the ballooning costs of higher education, this bill is not likely to be a small one! If possible, new parents should try to start saving as soon as they can for their child’s college tuition.The earlier you start saving, the better prepared you’ll be. If you save $500 a month at birth, you should have around $190,000 saved by the time that child reaches 18 (assuming an annual return of 6%). However, if you don’t start until your son or daughter is 10, you’ll only have around $60,000 by the time they graduate high school. Setting up a state-sponsored 529 college savings plan, allows parents to invest money and then withdraw it tax-free, so long as the funds are used for certain education expenses. However, as you prepare for your children’s future, make sure that you remain focused on your retirement saving as well. There are lots of ways to pay for college, but you can only use the resources you’ve accumulated for your own retirement.   

CHILDCARE AND HEALTH CARE

When our first child was born, my husband and I were both working, and trying to find affordable childcare was not easy. Childcare is one of the biggest expenses new parents will face, especially if both parents work. In some cases, one parent will decide to leave their job and take care of the child themselves, especially if the cost of childcare is more than one parent is making. This is exactly what happened when our second child was born, since it was no longer cost effective to pay for childcare for two children with my salary.   

Meanwhile, childbirth and adoption count as qualifying events that allow parents to make changes to their employee benefits outside of the open enrollment period at work. For example, new parents can expect to see their medical expenses rise and those who have access to a flexible savings account and health savings account at work should use them since the money put into an FSA or HSA avoids federal taxation. In some cases, employers offer a Dependent Care FSA, which can be used for costs picked up from a nanny, babysitter or childcare center.

When it comes to health insurance, if both parents work, you should examine which plan will cost less to add the child to. Most doctor visits in the first couple of years are considered wellness visits, which are typically free or very low-cost in most health-care plans today. But, you should look into which plan is most cost-effective in the event of a trip to the emergency room or having to see a specialist – even with good insurance, the price tag of a broken bone is a lot more than you might think!

LIFE INSURANCE

Even though it’s not something most people like to think about, preparing for death is of utmost importance when becoming a parent. Your financial advisor should be able to run various calculations to figure out the amount of protection you would need. Many families make the mistake of only getting life insurance for the main earner, experts say, but both parents should be covered. Many people think that since stay-at-home parent isn’t actually earning anything, they don’t need insurance. However, when it comes to life insurance, you need to evaluate what it would cost to have someone else take care of your children if something were to happen to that parent.  

It is also extremely important to put together estate planning documents, including a will and health-care directives, as well as discussing appointing a guardian in the event of an unexpected life event. When we found out we were expecting our first child, it forced us to have some difficult conversations about who we would want to take of our child and how our assets would be distributed if something happened to us. It’s also important to revisit those questions each time you add another child to your family or if there is another major change to your assets. The guardians you might have written in your will when you were 25 might not be the same guardians you would choose when you are 45. None of these decisions are easy ones, but they are vital to preparing for your life as a parent.

EMERGENCY SAVINGS

With all the additional expenses new parents can face, from diapers to a larger home and mortgage, it’s more important than ever to have a safety net for those unexpected costs. Having children is a good reason to have a bigger emergency fund, simply because there are now more people who are dependent on you financially. Aside from the random home and car repairs that always seem to pop up when you least expect them, now add braces, sports equipment and teenage social lives to the mix. Having some money from each paycheck deposited directly into an account that you don’t touch is an easy way to make sure you are creating an ample emergency fund should you need it.  

There are so many wonderful aspects of being a parent, but it is definitely a costly undertaking. Seeking some financial guidance before you become a parent is always a good idea, but it’s never too late to start planning for your future with a family. If you have any questions about saving for college, choosing the right health plan, putting together your estate documents or anything else related to your financial goals or plans, please contact us.  We offer a free 30-minute introductory consultation and would love to hear from you!  Check out our other blogs for more financial advice and tips.

 

Top 5 Pieces of Financial Advice

advice resized

As we are all adjusting to the new norm that the coronavirus pandemic has created in our world, we are also learning pieces of advice that we could share from this experience. When going through an economic crisis, it’s important to keep some tips at top-of-mind to help you navigate the bumpy waters. In a CNBC Select Article, we found 5 great pieces of financial advice that we want to share with you to put in your financial repertoire.

First and foremost, try not to accumulate credit card debt. Racking up credit card debt can have very negative long term consequences, so it’s important that you pay the full balance on time. When you do not pay the full balance on time, your card will quickly accumulate interest, which often can get so high that it’s hard to pay off. 

According to recent Federal Reserve data released in September, the average interest rate for all credit card accounts is 14.87%. Among accounts assessed interest, or accounts with outstanding finance charges, the average interest rate rises to 16.88%. But for consumers with credit scores below 670, interest rates can near 30%, CNBC Select reports.

Next, make sure you don’t buy things you can’t afford. Although this one seems obvious, it’s much more common than you think. Avoid overspending and spending on things you can live without. Start putting that extra money into savings accounts where you can be accruing interest and earning money. 

Third, invest the year’s expenses or anything saved after you have the year’s expenses saved? Before the pandemic, many people were saying how you should have several months of rent and expenses in a savings account for a rainy day, but as we have seen the economic hardships the coronavirus has inflicted upon our society, we are suggesting to save about a year’s worth of expenses before investing it elsewhere. 

Fourth, start to think like a savvy businessman or woman. Learn to negotiate. Especially in the world we are living in today, make sure you are constantly looking for deals and inquiring about credit card versus cash options. Oftentimes, places will charge you less if you pay in cash. So, before swiping that card, make sure you think about all your options. 

Lastly, buy in bulk. With Amazon becoming increasingly popular and making it possible to get what you need in a matter of hours, take advantage of deals and places you can buy in bulk. If you can save a few dollars here and there, take advantage of it. It’s important to be a smart shopper, especially when buying something pricey, such as groceries for a large family. 

By implementing some of these basic money management tips into your daily routine, you will find yourself becoming a more savvy shopper and saving more money. It is especially important during an economic recession to take these concepts into consideration and make the most of your finances. If you have any questions on other ways you can maximize your financial portfolio and find places in your budget where you can save money, please reach out to us at info@shermanwealth.com or visit our site at www.shermanwealth.com. Check out our other blog posts for more financial advice and tips! 

 

The Best Credit Cards For Grocery Shopping In 2020

106194180-1571693438225gettyimages-1128053940

As the corona-virus pandemic has put a halt on restaurant dining, Americans have found themselves cooking at home more and in turn, spending more money on grocery shopping. When increasing your spend in a certain category, it’s important to think about how you can maximize these purchases and your budget by building rewards. You may want to consider a rewards credit card that can help you earn over $100 a year on your groceries. 

We read an interesting article from CNBC select that discussed the best credit cards to apply for if your grocery spending has increased or is a large chunk of your monthly budget. The average American spends about $5,174 a year, or roughly $431 a month, on groceries, according to a sample budget based on the latest spending data available from the location intelligence firm Esri. That’s more than Americans spend on dining out, which comes to about $3,675 annually. 

The best grocery rewards cards offer up to 6% cash back at supermarkets. While they usually exclude wholesale clubs such as Costco and BJ’s, and big box stores like Target and Walmart, you can still take advantage of these rates at Whole Foods, Krogers and other big name grocers.

CNBC Select analyzed 26 popular rewards cards using an average American’s annual budget and digging into each card’s perks and drawbacks to find the best grocery store rewards cards based on your spending habits. 

Here are CNBC Select’s top picks for credit cards offering supermarket rewards

If you find that your grocery bill takes up a large portion of your monthly budget, take a look at these credit cards, to see if you could capitalize on your spending. Additionally, no matter where you spend the majority of your money, whether it’s travel or dining, make sure you look into credit cards that are the best fit for you. If you have any questions on your portfolio or credit cards to maximize your spending, please reach out to us at info@shermanwealth.com