Center Stories: Bob Ingram, Financial Planner

Contributed by: Robert Ingram Robert Ingram

Money and finances can be very emotional topics and they can certainly seem confusing in today’s busy and complex world.  We all may have different emotions when it comes to money, emotions that shape how we manage our finances.  To me, financial planning is not just numbers on a spreadsheet or a group of investments in an account.  It is your own evolving roadmap to help guide you in making confident decisions in the face of uncertainties, concerns, or even exuberance.  A strong financial planning relationship is about helping you develop your life goals, truly understanding your personal situation and priorities, and taking steps to make the most of your resources to help achieve your goals.

I hope the video helps you get to know a little more about me and how I work with clients here at The Center.  If I can be a resource for you, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Robert Ingram is a Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.®

WEBINAR IN REVIEW: Mitigating the Tax Bite of Investment Returns

No one likes to pay taxes and your investment decisions are often associated with a related tax cost. This webinar takes a broad look at potential strategies and their tax cost or benefit.

Highlights from Mitigating the Tax Bite of Investment Returns:

  • Minute 1:00: A look at the new 2018 tax brackets – what do you project for your tax bracket in 2018?
  • Minute 2:45: A discussion of tax buckets
  • Minute 5:40: Popular investment strategies for taxable investments including municipal bond investing, cost basis elections, and concentrated stock positions
  • Minute 13:25: Managing taxes from your retirement accounts
  • Minute 17:45: Coordinating your investments with charitable giving strategies including qualified charitable distributions and donor advised funds which may become more popular with the new tax law
  • Minute 23:55: Melissa discusses planning to give investments to your heirs in a way that is considerate of taxes
  • Minute 26:10: Understanding the loss of the miscellaneous itemized deduction for investment advisory fees and a checklist to consider if affected
  • Minute 28:30: An introduction to the concept of tax alpha which is defined as “the outperformance that an investor can achieve by taking advantage of all the available tax-saving strategies” (source: CNBC)

Remember to review some of our favorite tax blogs from the past, including:

Melissa Joy, CFP®, CDFA® is Partner and Director of Investments at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® In 2013, Melissa was honored by Financial Advisor magazine in the Research All Star List for the third consecutive year. In addition to her contributions to Money Centered blogs, she writes investment updates at The Center and is regularly quoted in national media publications including The Chicago Tribune, Investment News, and Morningstar Advisor.


Financial Advisor magazine's inaugural Research All Star List is based on job function of the person evaluated, fund selections and evaluation process used, study of rejected fund examples, and evaluation of challenges faced in the job and actions taken to overcome those challenges. Evaluations are independently conducted by Financial Advisor Magazine.

Caregiver Work/Life Balance

Contributed by: Sandra Adams, CFP® Sandy Adams

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According to the AARP, of the over 40 million Americans acting as a caregiver for a loved one over the age of 50, 6 in 10 of them are doing so while still trying to earn a living. As we have written about previously, caregiving can take a tremendous financial toll on family members and can cause real issues with caregivers’ own retirement planning. In talking to caregiver clients, it’s not just the financial implications of being a working caregiver that become the biggest issue...it’s the overall impact on one’s life.

How can a working caregiver have a balanced life with so many roles and responsibilities? 

  1. Take advantage of any paid caregiver time off or flexibility that you may have with your job.  Make sure you have open and honest conversations with your employer about what is going on in your life and your caregiving duties so that they can help you make your job and caregiver duties work for you.
  2. Seek out community resources and information that will help connect you with needed services - you don’t have to do it all alone!  Agencies, community and faith-based are available to help you meet your loved one’s needs and allow you to continue to have a career.
  3. Seek the help of professionals that you can delegate responsibilities for financial planning, investments, bill paying, taxes, care management, etc.
  4. Determine your eligibility for various programs that could give you more support and receive all the benefits to which your loved one is entitled at BenefitsCheckUp.org.
  5. Keep yourself organized. Coordinate and organize your time, activities and paperwork.  Find a system that works for you (paper, electronic, etc.).  i.e., schedule appointments all on the same day, at the end or beginning of days to make things work better with your work and family schedule.
  6. Find time for yourself.  As a caregiver, if you don’t have time to enjoy time for yourself and de-stress, things will only become more chaotic, stressful and out-of-balance.  Find our Working Caregiver Bill of Rights here.  After all, if you aren’t taken care of, you can’t take care of the one you love!

As impossible as it often seems, there is a way to have some balance in your life if you are a working caregiver.  It takes careful planning, organization, communication, and use of resources.  If you are a working caregiver and would like assistance in planning for your balanced life, give us a call.  We are always happy to help!

Sandra Adams, CFP® is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.


Opinions expressed are those of Sandra Adams and are not necessarily those of Raymond James. All opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.

Explaining the What is the “Restore” Option for Pensions, Part 3 of a 3 Part Series on Pensions

Contributed by: Nick Defenthaler, CFP® Nick Defenthaler

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Selecting your pension benefit option as you near retirement could quite possibly be the largest financial decision you ever make.  If you’ve received a breakdown of the various ways you can elect to have your pension benefits paid and you’re feeling overwhelmed, you are certainly not alone!  In many cases, employers give you the option to select from upwards of 30 different options that have various survivor benefits, lump-sum payouts, Social Security bridge payments and more.  Is your head spinning yet? 

One of the more appealing pension options that our team is seeing more and more of is the “restore” option.  The restore feature of a pension is a way to protect the person receiving the pension if their spouse dies before them.  If that were the case, the restore option allows the retiree to “step-up” to the higher single/straight life payment.  Similar to the survivor benefit, the restore option is another layer of “insurance” to protect the retiree from being locked into a permanently reduced pension benefit if their spouse pre-deceases them. 

Let’s take a look at an example of the restore feature:

Tom (age 61) is retiring from XYZ Company in several months.  Tom would like to evaluate his pension options to see which payment would be best for him and his wife Judy (age 60).  Tom has narrowed it down to 3 options:

Option 1:

  • $45,000/yr single/straight life (no survivor benefit)
    • Payment would cease upon Tom’s passing – $0 to Judy

Option 2:

  • $41,000/yr 50% survivor option
    • Judy would receive a $20,500/yr benefit during her lifetime if Tom pre-deceases her

 Option 3:

  • $40,200/yr 50% survivor option with “restore” feature
    •  Judy would receive a $20,500/yr benefit during her lifetime if Tom pre-deceases her
    • Tom would step-up to a $45,000/yr benefit (straight/single life benefit figure) if Judy pre-deceases him

The more Tom and Judy have discussed their overall financial plan; they are not comfortable selecting the single/straight life option and risking Judy not receiving a continuation of benefits if Tom pre-deceases her.  However, because Judy has had some health issues in the past, they feel the 50% restore payment option makes more sense for their situation because it is very possible that Judy will die before Tom.  They are comfortable with an $800/yr reduction in payment to have the “insurance” of Tom stepping up to the higher single/straight life option if he survives Judy. 

While the restore option for Tom and Judy seems to make perfect sense, there truly is no a “one size fits all” pension option that works for everyone.  Every situation is very unique and it’s important that you evaluate your entire financial picture and other sources of retirement income to determine which pension option is right for you and your family.

Click to see part 1 of pension blogs How to Choose a Survivor Benefit for Your Pension and part 2 What You Need to Know About Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation or PBGC

Nick Defenthaler, CFP® is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Nick works closely with Center clients and is also the Director of The Center’s Financial Planning Department. He is also a frequent contributor to the firm’s blogs and educational webinars.


The information contained in this blog does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Nick Defenthaler, CFP© and not necessarily those of Raymond James. This is a hypothetical example for illustration purpose only and does not represent an actual investment. This is a hypothetical example for illustration purpose only and does not represent an actual investment. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation. 

What are Time-Weighted and Dollar-Weighted Returns?

Contributed by: Center Investment Department The Center

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Monitoring investment performance is pretty important.  It can help identify positive or negative investment decisions and help determine whether your investment goals are on track.  For many investors, reading investment performance statements can be very confusing.  Your rate of return on one statement may look different from another.  The truth is that those differences can largely be attributed to the way the rate of return is calculated.  There are two basic performance calculation methods: the time-weighted rate of return (TWRR) and dollar-weighted rate of return (DWRR).

Key Differences

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Each method is designed to measure different scenarios.  The time-weighted rate of return calculation method (top of diagram) was originally developed so fund managers could measure the performance of their portfolios independent of an investor’s actions.  It isolates the manager’s specific performance from investor timing of contributions and withdrawals. TWRR depends only on the length of time money has been in the portfolio and not on the size of the investment – hence the term “time-weighted.”  Performance is broken down into smaller pieces when cash flows occur and then linked together so the cash flow itself doesn’t have an impact on the return calculated. This way if an investor were to make a large deposit halfway through the year, the performance of the second half of the year doesn’t hold more weight than the first half. The opposite would be true for withdrawals.

In contrast, the dollar-weighted rate of return calculation method (also referred to as money-weighted return) measures the size and timing of cash flows, in addition to the investment performance of the funds chosen by the investor. Periods in which more money is invested contribute more heavily to the overall return – hence the term “dollar-weighted.”  Investors are rewarded more for larger investments made during periods of greater price appreciation or penalized less for negative returns that occur when a lower amount of money is invested.  The internal rate of return is synonymous with the dollar-weighted rate of return, but the term is typically used in corporate finance to predict the rate of growth a project is expected to generate.  It is the rate of return that equates the present value of costs and benefits of an investment.  You often see internal rate of return calculations used for private equity investments or when determining the viability of investing in a project.

Which Method Should You Monitor?

Dollar-weighted returns can be thought of as investor-centric because they do not isolate the portfolio’s underlying performance from an investor’s luck and timing. This is what is shown on Raymond James statements because it is a more helpful representation of what the investor actually experienced during the time period.

The information contained in this blog does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of professionals of the Investment Department at The Center For Financial Planning, Inc. and not necessarily those of Raymond James. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected. Future investment performance cannot be guaranteed, investment yields will fluctuate with market conditions. Every investor's situation is unique and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.

The Center Feels Honored to be Considered One of the Healthiest in the State

Contributed by: Gerri Harmer Gerri Harmer

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The room was buzzing all night. We felt blessed to be invited to the Governor’s Fitness Award Gala and very humbled by our fellow nominees. We were excited to attend as one of the three nominees in the Healthy Workplace – small business category.

Al Kaline and Senator Stabenow were honored for the Vern Seefeldt Lifetime Achievement and the John Dingell Outstanding Public Official. They did not compare to a 20-year-old boy who pitches with one hand, a female army pilot who is making it her mission to help veterans coming home, and a 102-year-old veteran who challenged Lila Lazarus and Lt. Governor Brian Pauley to a pushup challenge onstage and won.

There were many amazing and courageous stories of overcoming obstacles, accomplishing great feats and positively influencing others. Race directors, communities and people coming together for the purpose of living healthier lives. We learned Michigan is ranked 35th in the health and wellness arena. We can do better. Those honored are leading the way to get us moving again.  We left ready to put on our tennies and bring everyone with us. We hope you’ll join the movement.

Read more about the winners and their inspiring stories here.

Gerri Harmer is a Client Service Manager at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.®


Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website's users and/or members. Raymond James is not affiliated with the Governor's Fitness Award Gala.

The Mystery Surrounding Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Contributed by: Kali Hassinger, CFP® Kali Hassinger

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The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program started in 2007, and in the fall of 2017, the first round of borrowers became eligible for possible loan forgiveness.  This program, however, has been the subject of confusion and frustration by those who were hoping to qualify, and, in some cases, planning for the reprieve of student loan forgiveness.  So confusing that the recent federal spending plan earmarked $350 million to help those who would have been eligible to receive loan forgiveness but may have unknowingly enrolled in the wrong repayment plan.  The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) rules are stringent and require that the qualifying conditions are met for a period of 120 monthly payments, or 10 years!  Even for those who followed all of the rules and have been submitting the correct documents,

If you are hoping to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, you'll want to be sure that your loans and repayment plan are eligible under the program. 

Listed below are some of the requirements that you should be sure are in order.

1. You must work full time for a qualifying Employer in a qualifying role.

  • Most jobs working for a state, local, or federal government qualify.
  • Non-profit employers that qualify as tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) are eligible.

*Even if you think your employer and role qualify, you should complete and submit the Public Service Forgiveness Employment Certification Form on an annual basis and every time you switch employers

It can be accessed online:  https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/public-service-employment-certification-form.pdf 

2. Only Direct Loans are eligible for Public Student Loan Forgiveness.  There are four types of Direct Federal Student Loans:

  • Direct Subsidized – These loans are for undergraduate students who demonstrate a financial need.  The U.S. Department of Education pays the accrued interest while you're still in school, for the first six months after you graduate, and during periods of deferment.
  • Direct Unsubsidized – These loans are for undergraduate and graduate students, but financial need isn't required to qualify.  These loans accrue interest while you're in school and during periods of deferment. 
  • Direct PLUS Loans – These loans are for graduate students and parents of undergraduate students.
  • -Direct Consolidation Loans – This loan allows you to combine all of your eligible federal student loans into a single loan.

3. You must be enrolled in an income-based federal repayment plan.  The required payments are based on what is deemed to be your "Discretionary" income in comparison to the current poverty level, and payments are updated on an annual basis.

  • Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR Plan) – Monthly payments are usually 15% of your discretionary income, but they can be as low as 10%.  Loan terms can be 20 or 25 years.
  • Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR Plan) – Payments under this plan are the lesser of 20% of your monthly discretionary income or your monthly payment on a 12-year repayment term with an income factor calculation.  Loan terms under this plan are 25 years.
  • Pay as you Earn Repayment Plan (PAYE Plan) – Monthly payments are limited to 10% of your discretionary income.  To qualify, you must have a partial financial hardship.  The loan term is 20 years.
  • Revised Pay as your Earn Repayment Plan (REPAYE Plan) – Under this plan, your monthly payments are equal to 10% of your discretionary income. Undergraduate loans have a 20-year term, and graduate loans have a 25-year term.

If you've gotten through this list and you think you still may qualify, there are a couple of additional items that you'll want to keep in mind. 

  • The 120 qualifying payments don't need to paid consecutively. That means if you work for a non-qualifying employer for a bit, you won't lose credit for past payments that qualified.
  • The income-based payment amounts are affected by your Adjusted Gross Income on your tax return.  If you are married and file taxes separately to keep your payments low, this strategy could increase your family's tax obligation. 
  • If your income-based payments are suppressed low enough, they may be less than the amount of interest that accrues.  If you leave the plan or no longer qualify for the repayment plan, the unpaid interest is capitalized and added to your loan's principal balance.
  • Making additional and early payments won't help you in the PSLF program.  The program requires monthly payments, and you can only receive credit for one payment per month.  If you do want to make additional payments, contact your loan servicer to be sure that the extra amount is credited to cover future monthly payments. 

Even with all of the variables that we've covered, some additional rules and qualifications can be incorporated into the program.  It's especially important to check with FedLoan Servicing throughout the process and at least on an annual basis.  Be sure that you are weighing all of the pros and cons of the program, and as with any financial strategy, staying organized is essential!

Kali Hassinger, CFP® is an Associate Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.®


Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website's users and/or members. The information contained in this blog does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Kali Hassinger, CFP© and not necessarily those of Raymond James. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. This material is being provided for information purposes only. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Every investor's situation is unique and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.

Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website's users and/or members.

Charitable Giving Reminder Due to New Tax Law

Contributed by: Timothy Wyman, CFP®, JD Tim Wyman

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Are you making charitable contributions in 2018? 

There are three parties to every charitable gift; the charity, you, and the tax man. Due to the increased standard deduction, many folks will NOT receive an income tax benefit when making direct contributions to charities.  For those over the age of 70.5, consideration should be given to making charitable contributions via your IRA. For those under the age of 70.5 you should consider “bunching” your contributions into one year; a donor-advised fund can be quite useful. 

If we have not had an opportunity to discuss either of these strategies, and you expect to make charitable contributions, please feel free to contact our team to discuss your options in making tax-efficient charitable contributions.   

Here are two links to articles outlining the QCD strategy. 

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Timothy Wyman, CFP®, JD is the Managing Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® and is a contributor to national media and publications such as Forbes and The Wall Street Journal and has appeared on Good Morning America Weekend Edition and WDIV Channel 4. A leader in his profession, Tim served on the National Board of Directors for the 28,000 member Financial Planning Association™ (FPA®), mentored many CFP® practitioners and is a frequent speaker to organizations and businesses on various financial planning topics.


The information contained in this blog does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Timothy Wyman, CFP©, JD and not necessarily those of Raymond James. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. This material is being provided for information purposes only. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Every investor's situation is unique and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.

WEBINAR IN REVIEW: Retirement Income Planning: How Will You Get Paid in Retirement?

Contributed by: Nick Defenthaler, CFP® Nick Defenthaler

One of most common questions I hear from clients as they approach retirement is, “How do I actually get paid when I’m no longer working?” It’s a question that I feel we as planners can sometimes take for granted.  Because we are helping hundreds of clients throughout the year with their retirement income strategy, we can sometimes forget that this simple question is often the cause of many sleepless nights for soon-to-be retirees.   

Saving money throughout your career can be simple, but certainly not easy. Prudent and consistent saving requires a tremendous amount of discipline. However, if you elect the proper asset allocation in your 401k and you’re a quality saver, in most cases, accumulating really doesn’t have to be all that difficult.  However, when it comes time to take money out of the various accounts you’ve accumulated over time or have to make monumental financial decisions surrounding items such as Social Security or which pension option to elect, the conversation changes. In many cases, this is a stage in life where we frequently see those who have been “do it yourselfers” reach out to us for professional guidance. 

The first step in crafting a retirement income strategy is having a firm grip on your own personal spending goal in retirement. From there, we’ll sit down together and evaluate the fixed income sources that you have at your disposal. Most often these sources include your pension, Social Security, annuity income or even part-time employment income. Once we have a better sense of the fixed payments you’ll be receiving throughout the year, we’ll take a look at the various investable assets you’ve accumulated to determine where the “gap” needs to be filled from an income standpoint and determine if that figure is reasonable considering your own projected retirement time horizon. Finally, we need to dive into the tax ramifications of your income sources and portfolio income. If you have multiple investment or retirement accounts, it’s critical to evaluate the tax ramifications each account possesses. 

Make sure you listen to the replay of our webinar “Retirement Income Planning: How Much Will You Get Paid In Retirement?” for additional tips and information on how you might consider structuring your own tax-efficient retirement income strategy.

Nick Defenthaler, CFP® is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Nick works closely with Center clients and is also the Director of The Center’s Financial Planning Department. He is also a frequent contributor to the firm’s blogs and educational webinars.


The information contained in this blog does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Nick Defenthaler and not necessarily those of Raymond James. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. This material is being provided for information purposes only. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Every investor's situation is unique and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.

Spring Cleaning Financial Checklist

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Spring has sprung even if it still feels like winter! Everything needs a bit of a dust off, even your money. If you're in the mood to shore things up, here are some ways to get started. Note: If this is all a bit Greek for you, working with a financial planner might be a good idea. Center for Financial Planning is here to help you reach your financial goals.

Goal Setting & Housekeeping

  • Review your current financial goals to see if there's anything you can check off as "achieved".
  • Think about emerging opportunities or frustrations and formulate a goal that you can record. Maybe it's to save up for a new house or pay off a debt. Whatever it is, make a note and set up an achievable plan with a realistic target date to get it done.
  • Don't fall victim to cyber hacks. Review your passwords and security practice to safeguard your accounts.
  • Shred the excess. If you've accumulated paperwork you no longer need, shred and recycle the waste.

Cash Flow & Savings

  • Is your checkbook balanced? Is it time to revisit your personal or family budget? Take this time to see if things are going as planned year to date.
  • Review your loans. With rising interest rates, paying down high interest or rising interest loan account is a good idea. Consider triaging your extra loan payments if you have spare funds, making sure that extra payments are made to the highest interest notes first.
  • Do you have an emergency plan? Evaluate your current emergency reserves. Ideally, they would equal 6-12 months of your living expenses. If not, work on a plan to build up reserves over time.

Retirement Readiness

  • Does your retirement savings rate need a boost? If your retirement contributions need to grow with your paychecks, take this opportunity to boost them up or play catch up.
  • Map your road to retirement. If you're nearing retirement, work with your financial planner to review your retirement needs and understand the possibilities with retirement projections.

Investments

  • Allocation assessment. Has your mix of stocks and bonds drifted from your originally planned balance? Take the opportunity to trade into your preferred zone.
  • Consolidate accounts. If you're practicing diversification by location with lots of loose end accounts lying around, revisit and organize your accounts to make things less complicated.
  • Put some cash to work. If you have extra funds available, consider setting up a monthly-automated investment distribution or making a deposit to your investment accounts to boost your base.

Insurance

  • Bridge your gaps. Have you meant to update your insurance with higher protection for a property or are you just not sure if your coverage is enough? Review your current coverages to make sure your current accounts are priced right with protection to meet your needs.
  • Get your money. If items like health care or day care reimbursements have been piling up, submit them to avoid delays and access your funds.
  • Establish a Health Savings Account. If you are a participant in a high deductible insurance plan, evaluate your options and consider contributing to an HSA. These funds have great tax advantages and can be very handy in retirement.

Taxes

  • You just filed your taxes, hopefully, what should be done differently next year? Spend a bit of time doing a recap of lessons learned and plan accordingly for the coming year.
  • If you got a big refund or unfortunately had a big payment on April 15, review your withholding, estimates, etc. Avoid sending unnecessary money to the IRS or paying a penalty for funds you owed with some forecasting. 
  • Hire a professional. If you've been on the DIY plan but you're in over your head, this is a good time to reach out to a professional to determine if hiring a CPA or tax preparer is right for you.

Estate & Charitable Planning

  • Make sure your documents are relevant. Has estate planning been on your "to do" list for a while? Whether you need to update documents, change your plan, or you're just getting started, commit to tending to these items.
  • Review your beneficiary designations. It might have been a while since you looked at beneficiary designations on retirement accounts or insurance policies. Make sure they're up-to-date and consistent with your current needs.
  • Plan your charitable giving for this year. The 2017 tax bill may have changed the most desirable way to give. Look into bundling your gifts: donor advised funds or qualified charitable distributions if appropriate.

Kids & Education

  • Start your college saving plan. If you have been stressing about college costs rather than doing something about it, look into 529's or request an education analysis from your financial planner.
  • Use the summer break for financial skill building. If your teenagers have summer jobs, your college-bound student doesn't know how to balance a checkbook, or your elementary-aged kid wants to open a lemonade stand, make the most of the summer with some money smart activities for your children.

Did I miss something or do you have a favorite spring financial cleaning tip? Let me know at Melissa.Joy@centerfinplan.com

Melissa Joy, CFP®, CDFA® is Partner and Director of Investments at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® In 2013, Melissa was honored by Financial Advisor magazine in the Research All Star List for the third consecutive year. In addition to her contributions to Money Centered blogs, she writes investment updates at The Center and is regularly quoted in national media publications including The Chicago Tribune, Investment News, and Morningstar Advisor.


Financial Advisor magazine's inaugural Research All Star List is based on job function of the person evaluated, fund selections and evaluation process used, study of rejected fund examples, and evaluation of challenges faced in the job and actions taken to overcome those challenges. Evaluations are independently conducted by Financial Advisor Magazine.

The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete, it is not a statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision, and it does not constitute a recommendation. Opinions expressed in the blog are those of Melissa Joy and are not necessarily those of Raymond James. All opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected. Raymond James and its advisors do not offer tax or legal advice. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.