Teaching Children Financial Responsibility: Start Early

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Would it surprise you to know that students graduating from high school enter college with little to no knowledge about their finances, how to budget, or save for their futures? The problem has become so severe that 40% of these students wind up going into debt in order to fund their social lives and 70% of these students wind up damaging their credit ratings shortly after college graduation.

Unfortunately, it seems as though this debt will not be going away anytime soon.  The average student loan debt for the class of 2016 increased by 6% from the previous year and the financial literacy rate in the U.S. has not improved over the past three years. While college enrollment and the number of college graduates has continued to increase, financial literacy lags among these young people at record lows. Where does this disconnect come from?

Few states offer personal finance or economics courses and even fewer states test students on the financial knowledge they have acquired. It therefore comes as no surprise that American students (and we can infer American adults) have one of the lowest levels of financial literacy when compared to other countries.  While the number of student loans has increased,

  • 44% of Americans don’t have enough cash to cover a $400 emergency
  • 43% of student loan borrowers are not making payments
  • 38% of U.S. households have credit card debt
  • 33% of American adults have $0 saved for retirement

Why does it matter? How is it affecting the economy?

Students are graduating with loans they can’t afford to pay back and with minimal financial knowledge in planning for their futures. According to Student Loan Hero, Americans have over $1.48 trillion in student loan debt, which is more than double the total U.S. credit card debt of $620 billion. This debt is becoming a major barrier to home ownership. 43% of student loan borrowers are not making payments and most of these individuals do not have any savings. A lack of sound financial knowledge will affect the economy as these millennials enter the labor force burdened with student loans.

As parents, we play a vital role in educating our children about the importance of personal finances.  In the Sherman household, we are teaching our children the importance of finances on a daily basis. Our 4 year old son is learning about savings by doing chores in return for an allowance, which he saves in his piggy bank. He is learning to save and spend his money wisely.

Parents can begin educating their children at home in order to increase the financial literacy of their kids. By demonstrating wise financial habits, parents can serve as role models for their kids. Talking in an age appropriate way to your children about the dangers of debt and the importance of saving a portion of any money they earn instills financial values and lessons your child can use throughout life.  You may find that using an allowance is a way that you can teach your kids about saving and spending appropriately. Since it has been shown that kids who manage their own money have been found to demonstrate better financial habits in the future, giving your kids the opportunity to spend and save their own allowance or money earned is a good way to prepare them for later on. Even a simple trip to the store can be used as an opportunity to start the conversation about the danger of credit cards and how they should only be used in an emergency.  Educating your kids at an early age will enable them to better learn and practice sound financial habits while under your watchful eye and cause them to be less likely to make irrational decisions once they are out on their own.

kids managing money

 

This issue is not only affecting students and young adults.  Many professionals with advanced degrees have spent countless hours studying and researching information in their particular field.  Despite all of the hours spent earning their degrees, many of these people have never taken a single course in financial education and are surprisingly not prepared to deal with the important financial decisions affecting their futures.  As a result, many extremely smart and successful people are making critical financial errors which can negatively impact the amount of money they have saved upon retirement.

Beginning in 2011, studies were conducted where participants were shown a computer generated rendering of what they might look like at their age of retirement.  They were then asked to make financial decisions about whether to spend their money today or save that money for the future. In each study, those individuals who were shown pictures of their future selves allocated more than twice as much money towards their retirement accounts than those who did not see the age-progressed images.  Seeing the images gave the participants a connection with their future selves that they did not possess before. As a result, their spending/saving behavior changed dramatically because “saving is like a choice between spending money today or giving it to a stranger years from now.”

The benefits of educating your children about the importance of personal finances are undeniable, and you’ll be able to set them up for a promising future and help them prepare for retirement. Visit us online for more information about how we can help improve your financial life.

Still haven’t won the Powerball?… Now what?

Powerball

Still haven’t won the Powerball/? You may have to postpone that fantasy of buying a private island in Thailand, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be on your way to achieving your financial goals and dreams.

Here’s one way to do it – take that money you’re sinking into lottery tickets and invest it instead.

Why are so many people willing to waste hundreds of dollars on a lottery they won’t win instead of investing it in capital markets that have shown growth over time? Many reasons. For some people, the hardest part of saving and investing could be just getting started. For others, it’s not understanding the benefits of compound interest and that even small amounts add up over time. For others it may be fear of volatility and distrust or the markets from listening to too much CNBC, Fox Business, and Bloomberg!

While it’s true that markets have dipped significantly in January, market dips are a potential opportunity to buy low and earn higher returns over time. The bottom line is that, for most people, even those starting with modest amounts, keeping money in cash is generally not a winning proposition.

Here’s why:

Lets say you are contributing $250 each month ($3k/yr) to your 401k plan with a 100% company match and invest it in a diversified basket of stocks and bonds based on your risk tolerance. At the same time, you save and invest $20 a week (the cost of 10 Powerball tickets a week) in a regular investment account. Assuming historical 4.8% annual returns*, here is how your money will grow over a 20-year period (in today’s dollars) vs. saving the same amount as cash:

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*based on a diversified portfolio that assumes the following weights: 25% in the S&P 500, 10% in the Russell 2000, 15% in the MSCI EAFE, 5% in the MSCI EME, 25% in the Barclays Aggregate, 5% in the Barclays 1-3m Treasury, 5% in the Barclays Global High Yield Index, 5% in the Bloomberg Commodity Index and 5% in the NA REIT Equity REIT Index. Balanced portfolio assumes annual rebalancing. All data represents total return for stated period. Past performance is not indicative of future returns. Data are as of 12/31/15. Annualized (Ann.) return and volatility (Vol.) represents period of 12/31/99 – 12/31/15. Source: Page 59 https://www.jpmorganfunds.com/blobcontent/202/900/1158474868049_jp-littlebook.pdf

So go ahead and keep dreaming about that island! But first speak with a financial advisor about your current situation and future goals and what the best steps are to start working towards financial freedom.

And when the next Powerball comes around? Our guess is that a good financial advisor can help you find better ways to let that $2 grow for you!

 

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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.

Why Go Where Your Money’s Not Wanted?

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In the film The Shining, a ghostly bartender tells Jack “your money’s no good here,” while other ghosts are planning to do away with Jack and his family. In December it was Wells Fargo doing the “ghosting.” By urging its brokers to get rid of clients with a minimum balance of less than 65,000, Wells Fargo Advisors sent a clear message to younger investors that, going forward, their money is “no good” at Wells Fargo.

In a company statement quoted by Janet Levaux in Think Advisor, Wells Fargo, which is the most valuable financial institution in the world according to the WSJ,* said that, in 2016, “bonuses will be awarded to FAs with 75% of their client households at $250,000.”

Wells Fargo isn’t the only large institution effectively ignoring Millennials and other smaller and entry-level clients. Most of the corporate institutions prefer high-net worth clients because it creates “efficiencies of scale” and a higher profit margin on larger trades.

As frustrating as the requirement for a high minimum balance is for first time investors, it has also inspired a new breed of smaller independent RIAs, like Sherman Wealth Management (“SWM”), as well as the the new “robo-advisor” firms.

Younger, breakaway firms like SWM aren’t looking for “efficiencies” or working for sales commissions on the products we recommend. Our focus is different. We strive to help investors build a strong foundation then grow with them, not by profiting off the trades, good or bad, we recommend for them.

Where large brokerages currently see a “revenue problem,” we see a growth potential and are building long-term lasting relationships. By the time Wells Fargo and the other firms with traditional models get around to investing their time and attention in younger investors, it may just be too late. Those Millennial clients will be growing their wealth with firms that didn’t “ghost” them and, like Jack – spoiler alert! – may end up being “frozen out” of the largest wealth transfer in the history of the world as capital shifts from Boomers to Millennials.

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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.
*http://www.wsj.com/articles/wells-fargo-co-is-the-earths-most-valuable-bank-1437538216

Why You Should Consider Buying that Powerball Ticket

Powerball

If you won the Powerball today, what would you do with the $90 million dollars?

While I’m not the first to tell you that you are definitely not going to win the Powerball – you have a 20 times greater  chance of having identical triplets – it’s a great idea to think about what you would do with the 90 million dollars if you did win.

Here’s why: your answer is a great way to understand what you truly care about in life.

What’s the first thing you thought of? Was it “retire and live on a boat in Hawaii?” “Quit my job and become a deejay?” “Book a ride to the Space Station?” Or even just “Stop worrying about how to pay for my kids’ college?”

Your answer – however crazy or however normal –  is a window into what’s really important to you and a great way of evaluating your current financial strategy. Is upgrading your home a potential goal? Have you budgeted enough for your passions? Should you start saving more for more travel and adventure? Have you looked into 529 plans?

As a Financial Advisor, I would advise that you not waste that $2 when it would be better spent collecting compound interest. I would ask you whether you’d already contributed to your 401K plan, your emergency fund, and your other long or short term savings goals. Then I would suggest that if you really wanted to play Powerball, that you re-allocate that $2 from another area –  skipping the caramel latte this morning, for instance, or biking to work tomorrow to save on gas – so that the $2 is amortized.

But I would also tell you to keep dreaming, because those things you are dreaming about are a great way to evaluate whether your current savings and investment goals are tailor-made to help you achieve the life you really want, the life you’d lead if there was nothing standing in your way.

So consider it: if you won $90 million dollars, what’s the first thing you’d do? Now call your financial advisor and take the first step to actually making that happen.

p.s. – If you want to see what your chances of winning actually are, click here to try the LA Times’ Powerball Simulator!

 

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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.

Do You Share These 4 Habits of the Wealthy?

Wealthy Habits

In his book “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits Of Wealthy Individuals,” author Thomas Corley outlines what he learned when he surveyed both wealthy and struggling Americans about their habits and attitudes.

Here are a few “rich habits” he identified that are worth integrating into your professional, financial, and even personal life, to help you on the road to achieving your own goals.

The Wealthy are Goal-Oriented

Corley found that 67% of the wealthy people he surveyed put their goals in writing, 62% of them focus on their goals every day, and a whopping 81% keep a to-do list.

It’s hard to reach your goals if you’re not focused on them and they’re not your top priority, and it can be daunting to have too many goals (one reason so few people are able to keep their New Year’s Resolutions.)

A more productive approach is to prioritize one important goal, create a plan of actionable steps that help you accomplish that goal, then add those steps, tasks and habits to your daily to-do list. These three simple steps will give your increased focus and will help you move closer to that goal.

Once you’ve incorporated them in your daily routine, identify a second goal and follow the same plan. The key to success is taking it one step at a time!

The Wealthy Use Downtime Wisely

At the end of your workday, do you like to relax with Netflix, video games, or YouTube? According to Corley’s data, 66% of the wealthy said that they watch less than an hour of television a day, 63% spend less than an hour a day on the Internet unless it is job-related, an impressive 79% say they read career and educational material each day, and an equally impressive 63% said “I listen to audio books during the commute to work.”

While we all like to relax and recharge with entertaining media, that time can never be recovered for things that help you become a stronger, more successful individual like reading, networking, exercising, or volunteering for a cause you believe in.

Time is the great equalizer: we all have 24 hours a day. What you choose to do with that time can either help you to reach your financial and life goals, or distract you from it, so choose wisely!

The Wealthy Invest in Their Future

Corley’s research also showed that the wealthy live within their means, pay themselves first, and don’t overspend.

Building wealth is not accomplished by upgrading to each new electronic gadget, leasing the newest model car, and living in an extravagant home. The wealthy, according to Corley, spend less than they earn, own and maintain their cars for many years, and save a significant portion of their income. While saving money and living modestly is not as sexy as a flashy smartphone, it will go a lot further toward providing a comfortable future.

Living within your means also includes not carrying credit card balances or heavy debt. When you are carrying debt, what you earn today is paying for yesterday’s expenses. Living within your means while saving and investing a portion of your income lets you invest in tomorrow, rather than yesterday, while learning to be satisfied with what you have today.

The Wealthy are Willing to Take Risks

Another fascinating finding of Corley’s research is that 63% of the wealthy people he interviewed said they that they had taken risks in search of wealth, while only 6% of the struggling Americans he interviewed said that they had taken risks.

For many, fear of failure is a great de-motivator and can be paralyzing. When you do not fully understand something, whether it’s a challenge, a potential project, an investment, or even a social problem, it can be easier to do nothing than to act. But without risk, there is often no reward.

What Corley discovered is that, instead, rather than fearing failure, the wealthy consider failure to be part of the process and – most importantly – an opportunity to learn.

How can you face risk without fear so that you can seize potential opportunities? Educating yourself is the key step. Researching the investment, the project, or the choice, and learning about the options and risks, help keep fear and anxiety about the unknown from clouding your decision-making process.

Even with the best preparation though, choices don’t turn out as envisioned. When that happens, take a page from the wealthy: learning from those failures and experiences will lead to more opportunities and better choices down the road!

Are Your Own Habits Setting You Up for Success?

While following each of these habits may not make you rich, they will certainly help you get into a success mind-set. 68% of the Americans on Forbes billionaire list consider themselves to be “self-made billionaires,” which means that they worked hard to reach their own professional and financial goals. The true route to financial success is through discipline and steady habits that grow your net worth over time.

Do you already share these four habits of the wealthy? If so, congratulations on your focus and your commitment to success. If not, try adopting one – or all four – of these important habits and see if it doesn’t get you closer to achieving your own goals!

 

With over a decade’s worth of experience in financial services, Brad Sherman is committed to helping his clients pursue their financial goals. Contact Brad today to learn more about how you can better pursue yours.

Learn more about our Financial Advisor services.

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Finding Financial Independence

Financial Independence

Financial Independence has become the goal for many who struggle with the overwhelming task of funding a long term retirement strategy that is so far away. In a world where jobs are constantly changing, skills need continual updating and stability is hard to find, many are rethinking how retirement is viewed. Instead of thinking of retirement as a destination 30 or 40 years from now that must be funded with a huge cash reserve, thinking of creating financial independence through passive income streams feels more attainable.

If financial independence is a strategy that will provide ongoing income there are several things that must be accomplished to make this a reality. Here are some tips and ideas on creating passive income.

What Is Passive Income

Creating a passive income stream, looks at investment opportunities through the lens of providing ongoing income, rather than accumulating large amounts of investments that will be withdrawn at some point in the future. The traditional passive income streams were social security and pension plans which would pay a set amount of money each month until you die. With these passive income streams additional work was not required and the funds would last until you died, ensuring you would never outlive the money.

Today those traditional passive income streams like pensions cannot be relied on. This has left workers with 401ks and IRAs as the funding options for retirement. These are great options, but with jobs changing and the average worker going through a dozen or more jobs in a career, even this is not enough to provide ongoing security. This has required Millennials to be more creative when they think about savings, investing and preparing for an uncertain future.

Having an investment portfolio that can provide a monthly income stream, a business that produces ongoing income, rental property, part time work or freelancing are all options for ongoing income. In the beginning these options require work and forethought but over time they can produce a passive income stream that can provide much higher levels of security.

Keys to Building Passive Income

Start Early

As with all investments the more time a plan has to work and develop the better it will work for you. If you have a hobby you are passionate about that you can build into a viable business, starting now will give you decades to build the business into an operation that requires less of your time and attention. This income can then provide as a respite if you have employment gaps throughout your career. With both nontraditional and traditional investments alike, starting early will reap the highest level of benefits and income.

Watch Spending

Living frugally became a buzzword a few years back as it became more mainstream. Living within your means will always provide money that can be invested in your future, instead of paying for yesterday’s spending. The other advantage to frugal living is that you need less passive income to maintain your quality of life. As your income increases throughout your career, keeping your spending in tact will be rewarded with more investments that can be directed toward passive income opportunities.

Keep Your Eyes Open for Opportunities

Passive income requires creativity with investments. It means thinking in terms of multiple streams of income and investment options that will grow during your working years and then produce income when you need it. Many opportunities do not produce passive income immediately, but will over time.

When you look at adding activities to your life that are more fulfilling, investment opportunities will present themselves. This might be a chance to earn a second income doing something you love. It might mean nontraditional ways of earning money. Thinking outside the box is the key. One friend buys fireworks when they really inexpensive, before the season and then sells them during the holidays where fireworks are popular (4th of July and New Year’s being the two best holidays). This gives him a boost of several thousand dollars a few times a year. He then takes those earnings and invests them to build a portfolio of passive income that he can later use. Income and investment opportunities are everywhere when you are looking for them.

Be Patient

While we get used to instant gratification, the best things in life take both our time and energy. They do not always work out like we planned but they are worth our time and effort because in the end they pay off. Investments are the same way. When looking for passive income streams be willing to look at the long term benefits and dedicate the time necessary to grow your investments in a strategic way.

It is a lot less overwhelming to think in terms of establishing an income stream of $3,000 to $4,000 a month, than to think in terms of needing to save a million dollars for a comfortable retirement. Changing the way you look at investments might be just what you need to get started on your way to financial independence.

Learn more about our Retirement Planning services.

Related Reading:

Four Things Entrepreneurs Can do Now to Save for Retirement 

YOLO (You Only Live Once) so you Need a Retirement Goal

Your 401K Program: A Little Savings Now Goes a Long Way

How Much Money do you Need for Retirement These Days?

The Benefits of Saving Early for Retirement

Advantages of Participating in Your Workplace Retirement Plan

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