Money in Cash? Make Sure you’re Getting the Best Rate

Sherman Wealth Management | Fee Only Fiduciary

While the stock market has been steadily climbing for the past few years, a surprising number of people are keeping a surprising amount of money in cash. And while everyone is going to have a certain amount of cash allocation, what’s even more surprising is how many people are losing out on maximizing the interest rates for those assets.

Advisors typically recommend holding 3%-5% of your assets in cash – for emergencies, short term savings goals, a new home or a vacation, or simply as a hedge against volatility.  Yet, according to the latest Capgemini World Wealth Report, high-net-worth Americans are currently holding more than 23% of their assets in cash.

Treasury yields are climbing

Why would investors prefer cash over a booming stock market? Studies, like this one, have shown that “cash on hand” – the balance of one’s checking and savings accounts – is a better predictor of happiness and life satisfaction than income or investments. Put simply, people like having “money in the bank.”

There’s no reason for that “money in the bank” to be earning zero though, particularly when there are many FDIC-insured, highly-rated, savings account options that may be yielding a higher interest rate on your savings than your current bank or investment firm’s savings options.

Short terms saving rates generally follow moves by the Federal Reserve and, as indicated by the chart to the right, short term interest rates, as reflected in short term Treasury yields, are rising. But is your bank raising your interest rates too or are they pocketing the difference and profiting? While the percentages seem small, there is actually a significant difference between earning .05% and 1.5%: the difference between earning $5 and $150 on a $10,000 savings account.

Put simply, if your cash is in a zero percent interest account, it’s no better than putting it under your mattress. You’re losing money, both in lost interest and because inflation can reduce the value of your savings.

Do you know if  your own savings account’s interest is keeping pace with rising interest rates? If not, check with your advisor to make sure you are maximizing your money’s earning power. If you’re not, consider shopping for a higher rate. Cash should be an asset class, but it shouldn’t earn zero.

If you’re not sure, we’re always available for a free consultation to see if you’re getting the best rates and you’re maximizing the earning power of your cash reserves.

 

Want to Get More “Financially Fit” in 2018? Set Savings Goals Now

Sorting

One of the most important elements of a good financial plan is regular saving. Unfortunately, it is one of the biggest stumbling blocks as well, with 57% of Americans reporting they had less than $1000 in savings in a 2017 survey. To make matters worse, 1 in 3 American has no retirement account, and only 1 in 4 Americans has over $100,000 in their retirement account.

These are concerning figures, particularly now. As interest rates keep rising – short term treasuries at their highest in nine years – and the market continues its climbing streak, you’re missing out if you are not putting savings to work for you.

Why aren’t more people saving when, according to a recent you.gov survey, “saving more money” was the 4th most popular New Year’s resolution for 2018?

One factor our clients have cited that kept them from saving in the past is discouragement due to past failures. The solution is to make sure your goals are SMART goals: goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and linked to a Timetable.

It is important to set Specific and Relevant immediate, short, and long-term savings goals that you can visualize – like a beach vacation, a bigger home, or a child’s graduation ceremony. Tying savings goals to images that align with your life and your values can make them more emotionally compelling and easier to keep in mind.

Equally critical is to make your goals Measurable and set a Timetable: how much you are planning to save each month, or by a certain date. Don’t set figures or dates that are impossible; make sure they are Attainable as well.

Just like physical fitness, financial fitness is best achieved by setting specific, achievable, and measurable goals. A defined goal, whether it’s “save 5% of each paycheck” or “add extra hours to save for a vacation,” gives you a much better shot at success rather than a simple “I should be saving more.”

A huge part of good financial planning is goal setting. A good financial planner can help you calculate the long-term benefits of saving more and on a regular sustainable basis. It’s particularly important that your financial planner is a fee-only Fiduciary: that means there will be no “additional charges” or investment recommendations with commissions for the broker that could throw off your savings calculations.

And if you’d like help defining financial goals and evaluating whether you are saving enough to achieve them, please feel free to contact me for a free introductory call. We are always on call to help you realize your highest financial potential.

Mortgage Strategies for Self-Employed Home Buyers

Morgages for self-employed applicants

Being your own boss is a great feeling with many benefits, but those benefits do not include a fast track to a great mortgage. Gone are the days of the easy mortgages, the no-income-verification loans, and The Big Short. In fact, qualifying for a mortgage may rank as one of the biggest challenges you face as someone who is self-employed.

And if that weren’t stressful enough, with recent signals from the Fed that mortgage rates may be rising in 2018, you probably want to act quickly to pre-qualify if you’re considering a move.

As a self-employed business owner who just bought a new home for our growing family, I can testify that the mortgage process is not for the faint-hearted. Every time I completed a lender’s checklist they come back to me for more information. This was not my first mortgage but the time and energy it took this time around was beyond what I expected – and I’m a credit-worthy borrower and financial pro with a background in the mortgage world.

So what’s the best way to prepare? To understand the issues, think like a bank. In deciding to lend you hundreds of thousands of dollars, the bank wants to know, first and foremost, that you will be able to pay them back – steadily, regularly, over time.

Here are 3 of the biggest hurdles you may have to overcome:

SHOW YOU MEET THE INCOME REQUIREMENTS

The first thing a potential lender asks to see is your W-2 form, the document that shows salaried workers’ annual wages and withheld taxes. Business owners and independent contractors are unlikely to have W2s, and instead need to present their full tax returns, including profit & loss and deductions & depreciation, as well as their own income.

Not only are lenders not likely to be expert at understanding your business and your cash flow, but the salary you show on paper may be deceptively low. That’s because most business owners invest a sizable chunk “back into the business” when they’re getting started as well as taking deductions for travel, leased vehicles, and purchases of computers, office supplies, and even their phone.

Getting ready: If you’re thinking about buying a house, consult a financial planner, your accountant, or a trusted mortgage professional (we’ve suggested a few below) about how much to accurately deduct – or not – this year to show sufficient income and an acceptable debt-to-income ratio.

HAVE ALL THE PAPERWORK

Having paperwork that tells the full story can make all the difference, so now is the perfect time to prepare a file with the documents you’ve already collected for the IRS. Remember, though, that this year’s tax returns and records may not be enough to show your business has been steadily growing. Be prepared with records from previous years, and bonus points for data about how your sector has been doing as well.

Getting ready: Keeping good records is key so if you haven’t already started, get started now, and see what you can put together for previous years.

MAKE SENSE OF COMPLEXITY

Every company and every consultant is unique and it may be hard to reconcile your business’ specific challenges and trajectory with the solid predictability a mortgage lender is looking for. You may want to bring a trusted accountant or financial or business advisor to the meeting with the lender – someone who knows your business well and can explain its structure, operations, and cash flow in context. If your advisor can’t be there, ask them to write a brief document explaining your data. Consider also requesting profit-and-loss statements prepared without personal expenses to show the difference between reported income and actual income.

Getting ready: be prepared to explain what your numbers mean in context and turn to a trusted advisor, if possible, who can translate your numbers for the lender and help them understand you’re a good candidate.

AVOID CREDIT SCORE SURPRISES

You wouldn’t be the first, or last, person to find discrepancies in your credit score. Correct any discrepancies and make sure it’s correctly updated before applying for a mortgage. And – obviously – pay off any outstanding debt.

Getting ready: get credit reports from the major agencies and make sure that they are accurate.

 

If you’re in the market for a new home, let us help you and guide you through the process. With the fed signaling a rate hike, we are happy to schedule a call with you for a free analysis of how that may affect your purchasing power.

We are well versed in the latest options from different lenders that may be most appropriate for your situation and have online tools to help you look at your overall financial situation to determine how much of a mortgage it makes sense for you to take on. We also have resources and experts we can refer you to, or, if you already have a mortgage professional, we will work with them to determine how much your can afford.

And we have experience: I’m pleased to report that, after what seemed like a never ending process, I succeeded in getting a mortgage with very favorable terms and – most importantly – we love our new home.

Don’t be daunted by the challenges involved with getting a mortgage when you’re working for yourself. With the right preparation and the right help, you too can make your dream home a reality!

Here are three resources trusted referral partners in the Washington area:

(As a fee-only financial planner, we have no financial vested interest in referrals. We just want to make sure you have the best advice possible!)

Jody H. Eichenblatt, Senior Mortgage Consultant at Prosperity Home Mortgage

Michael Parsons, Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist (CMPS) at Apex Home Loans

James Schneider, Loan Officer at Eagle Creek Mortgage

Todd Sheinin, Chief Operating Officer at Homespire Mortgage

CJ Kemp, Loan Officer SunTrust Mortgage, Inc

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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.  They are for information purposes only. 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.

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