April 21st 2020 – Budget Series – Post #6 of 6

Taking Charge of Your Financial Life
Delegating responsibilities to others may lead to problems down the road.
Provided by Regina Quirk

When you are putting together a household, it isn’t unusual to delegate responsibilities. One spouse or partner may take on the laundry, while another takes on the shopping. You might also decide which one of you vacuums and which one of you dusts. This is a perfectly fine way to divvy up household tasks and chores.

One household task it’s valuable for both partners to take part in, however, is your shared financial life. It’s important, regardless of your level of wealth or stage of life. Counting on one spouse or partner to handle all financial decisions can create a gap for the other partner. Should the one in charge of the money separate, become severely disabled, or pass away, that may leave the other partner in a bind. A situation like that is probably difficult enough without adding additional stress.

A study conducted in April 2018 surveyed 1,662 American couples, covering households where one partner has primary budgeting responsibility as well as couples where the responsibility is shared evenly. For the latter, 87% of respondents indicated that they were “confident” in taking full responsibility, should it become necessary. For the former, only 52% of those partners who were not actively involved indicated that same confidence.1

Begin the conversation. If you are the partner who isn’t steering the household finances, ask yourself why. It may be that you have preconceived notions about how difficult it might be to educate yourself to make informed decisions. Maybe you know how to do it, but you would simply rather not be bothered. It’s also possible that you recognize that your spouse or partner has a particular expertise in these matters and doesn’t need your help.

Regardless of the reason, it’s probably a good idea that you should at least be able to hop into the driver’s seat, should misfortune strike your household. In that unfortunate circumstance, you should feel confident that whatever the reason or the duration, you won’t have any unnecessary concerns about managing your household’s finances.

For example, what if you have insurance that covers extended care, in case of a severe injury that causes your spouse or partner to be away from work for an indefinite period? How will you be certain that the claim is made? Who will make sure the bills get paid? The job will fall to you.

Getting involved. The good news is that through communication, regular conversations, and a little effort, you can probably learn what you need to know in order to help yourself in these situations. Part of this, too, may be meeting and getting to know the financial professional who works for your household.

If it’s your first time, start simple. You may find worksheets helpful in guiding you on how to plan out a monthly household budget. There’s software that may help, but a budget doesn’t need to involve anything more than pen and paper, if you prefer. You’ll find several worksheets available online. You will also want to talk with your spouse or partner about the monthly budget they use, as it will likely be helpful if you are both on the same page – perhaps, literally.2

The more knowledge you have, the more confident you can become. Starting the conversation is just the first step. It may take you some time to become comfortable in taking a greater role in the decision-making, but when you do, you may feel more confident if the responsibility ever falls solely to you.

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities offered through Registered Representatives of Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a brokerdealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser. Strategic Financial, and Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. are not affiliated.

Citations.

1 – nytimes.com/2019/03/01/business/retirement-finances-couples.html [3/1/19]
2 – thebalance.com/basic-monthly-budget-worksheet-1289585 [3/12/19]

April 17th 2020 – Budget Series – Post #5

Budget post 5 of 6 –
How many times have you been tempted to snag a quick $50 (or more) from your Emergency Fund with good intentions of replacing it later? 🤔🤔
Having an Emergency Fund puts you in a financial position to not be thrown off budget when the surprise expenses of life arise – like a blown tire 🚗, that unexpected root canal or crown 🦷, blown water heater 💦, or the money your college student suddenly needs for new books or college swag 📓.
Your household should deem what your “emergency expenses” could entail. To some, the college student scenario above is not an emergency. To others, that is something they would consider using their Emergency Funds for. Ideally, people use this earmarked money for medical fund reserves and unexpected repairs on home or auto. Like the image says, “sudden sizable expenses.”

April 15th 2020 – Budget Series – Post #4

Budget post 4 of 6 – a great article with 11 REAL ways to improve your financial life! Budgeting is not a “set it and forget it” thing… it is something you consciously work through in every phase of life. 👶👦👨👨‍🦳👴
We’d like to expand with a few more little known tips:
– Check your credit at least once a year. Check your CHILDREN’S credit at least once a year…fraudsters can get personal data and open accounts in minor’s names and you might never even know! 🤯
1️⃣ out of every 3️⃣ American Households owes at least $16,048 in credit card debt! This article talks about the snowball or avalanche method – keep paying down high interest debt first. It is possible! 1

– 44% of Americans say that money is their #1 cause of stress. (even more than relationships – 25% and work – 18%…) And chances are since the COVID19 pandemic, that statistic has climbed higher. This article says, “Money talks – so talk about money!” Sweeping it under the rug and ignoring finances will only cause you more heartache down the road 🧹; step up to the challenge and leverage the team of passionate people in your corner at Strategic Financial. 2

Don’t forget to access the Budgeting Worksheet link in Post 2 below!

References:

1- https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/26/money-is-more-stressful-than-work-or-relationships.html

2- https://www.magnifymoney.com/blog/news/u-s-credit-card-debt-by-the-numbers628618371/

April 14th 2020 – Budget Series – Post #3

Be Specific…

April 9th 2020 – Budget Series – Post #2

Sample Budget Worksheet – Word Doc

Budget post 2 of 6 – 🤩 Today we’re sharing a Budget Worksheet! Click the link above to access the worksheet!
Budgeting seems like a simple recommendation, but many people become overwhelmed by the idea of tracking every trace of money they earn and spend. 👛
Do not overthink it – start simple and build from there. A budget is a living, breathing document that changes very often – sometimes even hour by hour. It will never be perfected or finished.
The template we have chosen is a very comprehensive document. It outlines many areas people would often overlook, and then be surprised by when the bill comes – like pet care, pool maintenance, and even lessons/club fees for your kids. Again, this is just one resource you can use – there are thousands of templates and apps – find what works for you.
The MOST IMPORTANT thing to do immediately is to label essential versus nonessential expenditures. That is the core of your budget that will likely remain very steady. Essential could include expenses like your mortgage, groceries, transportation costs, etc. and nonessential could include things like entertainment (streaming services, subscription boxes, etc.), landscaping, cleaning services, etc. We cannot, and will not, tell you what you put in your essential category. That is for you and your household to decide together. You should ask serious questions like, “Can we live without this?” or “Is this bettering our life or cluttering it?” 🤔
Once you see your income and expenses on paper, it could be easier to see how small changes can make a big difference. It will also allow your advisor to ask probing questions and lead effective discussions around your habits and attitudes towards money. These discussions are just the tip of the iceberg in a client/advisor relationship.
Even some of our longtime clients struggle with knowing how much money they NEED versus how much they THINK they need. We hope this simple activity will bring enlightenment and clarity to you and your loved ones. 🙏

April 8th 2020 – Budget Series – Post #1

We’re kicking off our series on BUDGETING today! 🥳

Interestingly enough, I read an article on CNBC today that said many Americans are still “failing at financial literacy” so this is good timing…

We are going to share tips, articles, and worksheets to help you take control of your household finances. The resources we provide are simply “best practices” to adopt. We cast no judgement on where you are, or where you want to be financially. EVERY PERSON is unique, and EVERY PERSON deserves access to simple tools and basic advice that we will share on our social media pages.

We commend you for joining us and taking these small steps to GET STARTED or CONTINUOUSLY IMPROVE!

Please share – if we can help just one person, this journey will be worth it! 🙏

February 2020

 

Regina Quirk featured in Advisor Spotlight with partner Horizon Investments

30-year industry veteran Regina Quirk, co-owner of Strategic Financial in Norwell, MA, has always been a problem solver who loves people.  From the moment you meet her, her energy, warmth, and compassion for her clients are palpable.  Horizon sat down with Regina to explore what is unique about her approach.

(Click the link above to read more!)

January 2020

What Should You Do With Your Tax Refund?

A few possibilities to consider.

Presented by Regina Quirk

Will you be receiving a tax refund this year?

If so, you might want to think about the destiny of that money. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Start (or add to) an emergency fund. Do you have a dedicated rainy day fund? Consider setting this money aside for a tight spot you may find yourself in at another time.
  • Invest in yourself. You could put the money toward education, career training, or personal improvement.
  • Use it for a down payment on a vehicle or real property. Real property may represent a better financial choice, but updating your vehicle may have merit – cars do wear out.
  • Put it into a retirement account. If you haven’t maximized your contributions this year or have a chance to get an employer match, it may be worth considering.
  • Pay down debt. Almost always a wise move.
  • Get your home ready for the market. Spruce up the yard, exterior, or interior of your residence, or hire professional who can assist you with staging it.
  • Improve your home with energy-saving appliances. Or windows, or weather-stripping, or solar panels – just to name a few options.
  • Create your own food bank. What if a hurricane or an earthquake hits? Where would your food and water come from? Emergency food stores are worth considering.
  • See a doctor, optometrist, dentist or physical therapist. If you have not been able to see these professionals due to your insurance situation or your personal cash flow, why not do it now?
  • Pay for a getaway you have been dreaming about. If you are debt-free and feel financially confident, perhaps you should consider rewarding yourself with travel?
  • Pay it forward. Your refund could turn into a charitable contribution (deductible on next year’s federal tax return, if you itemize deductions.)

 

By carefully considering how to use your refund in advance, you may be able to avoid asking yourself, later, that age-old question …

“Where did it all go?”

Regina Quirk may be reached at 781.878.4063 or regina@strategicnorwell.com

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. 
This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice. 
All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

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October 2019

End-of-the-Year Money Moves

Here are some things you might consider before saying goodbye to 2019. 

What has changed for you in 2019? Did you start a new job or leave a job behind? Did you retire? Did you start a family? If notable changes occurred in your personal or professional life, then you will want to review your finances before this year ends and 2020 begins.Even if your 2019 has been relatively uneventful, the end of the year is still a good time to get cracking and see where you can manage your tax bill and/or build a little more wealth.

Keep in mind this article is for informational purposes only and is not a replacement for real-life advice. Please consult your tax, legal and accounting professionals before modifying your tax strategy.

Do you practice tax-loss harvesting? That is the art of taking capital losses (selling securities worth less than what you first paid for them) to offset your short-term capital gains. You might want to consider this move, which may lower your taxable income. It should be made with the guidance of a financial professional you trust.1

In fact, you could even take it a step further. Consider that up to $3,000 of capital losses in excess of capital gains can be deducted from ordinary income, and any remaining capital losses above that can be carried forward to offset capital gains in upcoming years. When you live in a high-tax state, this is one way to defer tax.1

Do you want to itemize deductions? You may just want to take the standard deduction for 2019, which has ballooned to $12,200 for single filers and $24,400 for joint filers because of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act. If you do think it might be better for you to itemize, now would be a good time to get the receipts and assorted paperwork together. While many miscellaneous deductions have disappeared, some key deductions are still around: the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, now capped at $10,000; the mortgage interest deduction; the deduction for charitable contributions, which now has a higher limit of 60% of adjusted gross income; and the medical expense deduction.2,3

Could you ramp up 401(k) or 403(b) contributions? Contribution to these retirement plans may lower your yearly gross income. If you lower your gross income enough, you might be able to qualify for other tax credits or breaks available to those under certain income limits. Note that contributions to Roth 401(k)s and Roth 403(b)s are made with after-tax rather than pre-tax dollars, so contributions to those accounts are not deductible and will not lower your taxable income for the year.4,5

Are you thinking of gifting? How about donating to a qualified charity or non-profit organization before 2019 ends? Your gift may qualify as a tax deduction. You must itemize deductions using Schedule A to claim a deduction for a charitable gift.4,5

While we’re on the topic of estate strategy, why not take a moment to review your beneficiary designations? If you haven’t reviewed them for a decade or more (which is all too common), double-check to see that these assets will go where you want them to go, should you pass away. Lastly, look at your will to see that it remains valid and up-to-date.

Can you take advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit? The AOTC allows individuals whose modified adjusted gross income is $80,000 or less (and joint filers with MAGI of $160,000 or less) a chance to claim a credit of up to $2,500 for qualified college expenses. Phase-outs kick in above those MAGI levels.6

See that you have withheld the right amount. If you discover that you have withheld too little on your W-4 form so far, you may need to adjust your withholding before the year ends.

What can you do before ringing in the New Year? Talk with a financial or tax professional now rather than in February or March. Little year-end moves might help you improve your short-term and long-term financial situation.

Regina Quirk may be reached at 781-878-4063 or regina@strategicnorwell.com

www.strategicnorwell.com

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Registered Representative, Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisor Representative, Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Strategic Financial Services and Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. Are not affiliated.

Citations.

1 – investopedia.com/articles/taxes/08/tax-loss-harvesting.asp [2/26/19]

2 – nerdwallet.com/blog/taxes/itemize-take-standard-deduction/ [9/6/19]

3 – investopedia.com/articles/retirement/06/addroths.asp [7/28/19]

4 – investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/041315/tips-charitable-contributions-limits-and-taxes.asp [6/5/19]

5 – marketwatch.com/story/how-the-new-tax-law-creates-a-perfect-storm-for-roth-ira-conversions-2018-03-26 [2/24/19]

6 – irs.gov/newsroom/american-opportunity-tax-credit-questions-and-answers [6/28/19]

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September 2019

Why Having a Financial Professional Matters

A good professional provides important guidance and insight through the years.

What kind of role can a financial professional play for an investor?

The answer: a very important one. While the value of such a relationship is hard to quantify, the intangible benefits may be significant and long-lasting.There are certain investors who turn to a financial professional with one goal in mind: the “alpha” objective of beating the market, quarter after quarter. Even Wall Street money managers fail at that task – and they fail routinely. At some point, these investors realize that their financial professional has no control over what happens in the market. They come to understand the real value of the relationship, which is about strategy, coaching, and understanding.

A good financial professional can help an investor interpret today’s financial climate, determine objectives, and assess progress toward those goals. Alone, an investor may be challenged to do any of this effectively. Moreover, an uncoached investor may make self-defeating decisions. Today’s steady stream of instant information can prompt emotional behavior and blunders. No investor is infallible. Investors can feel that way during a great market year, when every decision seems to work out well. Overconfidence can set in, and the reality that the market has occasional bad years can be forgotten.

This is when irrational exuberance creeps in. A sudden Wall Street shock may lead an investor to sell low today, buy high tomorrow, and attempt to time the market. Market timing may be a factor in the following divergence: according to investment research firm DALBAR, U.S. stocks gained 10% a year on average from 1988-2018, yet the average equity investor’s portfolio returned just 4.1% annually in that period.1       

A good financial professional helps an investor commit to staying on track. Through subtle or overt coaching, the investor learns to take short-term ups and downs in stride and focus on the long term. A strategy is put in place, based on a defined investment policy and target asset allocations with an eye on major financial goals. The client’s best interest is paramount. As the investor-professional relationship unfolds, the investor begins to notice the intangible ways the professional provides value. Insight and knowledge inform investment selection and portfolio construction. The professional explains the subtleties of investment classes and how potential risk often relates to potential reward.

Perhaps most importantly, the professional helps the client get past the “noise” and “buzz” of the financial markets to see what is really important to his or her financial life.The investor gains a new level of understanding, a context for all the investing and saving. The effort to build wealth and retire well is not merely focused on “success,” but also on significance.This is the value a financial professional brings to the table. You cannot quantify it in dollar terms, but you can certainly appreciate it over time.

Regina Quirk may be reached at 781.878.4063 or regina@strategicnorwell.com 

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Registered Representative, Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisor Representative, Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Strategic Financial Services and Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. are not affiliated.

 
Citations.
1 – cnbc.com/2019/07/31/youre-making-big-financial-mistakes-and-its-your-brains-fault.html [7/31/2019]