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retirement planning

Emotional Investing and the Consequences of Behavioral Biases

Holding money and plant

We all experience distractions in the media, uncertainty in the markets, or pressure to buy and sell from friends, colleagues, and so-called financial gurus. All these factors can directly challenge an investor’s ability to make consistent, rational and logical investment decisions. This barrage of information coupled with inherent behavioral biases can make investing a challenge for most people. How you behave and react to the information available will play an important role in your financial success.

Family Estate Planning Discussions

family silhouette sunsetMy family, like many other families, is very busy; between children, work and home, there are many chores and activities that must be fulfilled every day. To conquer all these responsibilities, we divide many of them up. We trust each other to ensure that they are responsibly managing their duty. This works well because we have limited time and different skill sets. One of my responsibilities is managing the family finances.

Recently, my wife, Stephanie and I had a conversation revolving around our personal planning. It went something like this:

Stephanie: What happens if you die?

Bob: Don’t worry, everything is in order.

Stephanie: What does that mean?

Bob: We have our estate planning documents, there is more than enough insurance and everything for the business succession has been planned.

Stephanie: What do I need to know or do?

Bob: Ugh, well that is complicated.

Finding Peace of Mind When Planning for Retirement

Walking on the beachWhy do people get anxious about planning for retirement? The anxiety comes from different places—it can be the complexity of the planning process, the uncertainty of the outcomes, or the different parts that have to come together in order to make a cohesive plan work.
Then there’s the fear of making a mistake. In our experience in working with clients, this is the most common cause of anxiety. There are no do-overs when it comes to retirement planning. That fact can often place significant pressure on individuals and raise their anxiety about the entire process.

Global Investing: Protection and Opportunity


If anyone were to have invested for the first time in 2013 and they had opted for a globally diversified stock portfolio, then they are likely scratching their heads as to why their advisor isn’t making some changes to where the current opportunities seem to be. But for anyone else, such as those who had stock investments during the 2000’s or prior, then the reasoning to remain globally diversified is quite clear.

How ESG investing helps investors align their portfolios with their values

Backyard copyThe money you invest does more than work for your financial future, it supports the businesses and companies you choose to invest in.

Investors are recognizing the connection between how they invest and what values they want to promote and quite often these investors find the companies in their investment or retirement portfolios don’t align with their own values.

New Jersey Tax Changes that may Affect You and Your Families

Over the past year, you may have noticed our state has been at a standstill with road construction. This was due to a lack of funding over a standoff between Governor Chris Christie and democratic leaders in congress. In late September, a deal was struck that will replenish the state’s Transportation Trust Fund, bringing road and rail projects back underway by increasing New Jersey’s gas tax 23 cents per gallon.

The compromise was not all about tax hikes though. The offset to the gas tax hike is the gradual phasing out of the estate tax, a tax ease on retirement income, an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor, and a tax deduction for veterans. The total tab of the tax cuts, according to the governor’s office, would be $1.4 billion once fully implemented in 2021.

The estate tax has been a source of grief for residents of the Garden State and the plan is to phase it out over the course of the next year and a quarter. Beginning on January 1, 2017 the threshold will rise from $675,000 to $2 million and eliminate it altogether after Jan. 1, 2018.

What does this mean for those living in NJ? There are a few things you should consider; transportation expenses, retirement income impact, and estate planning. If your fuel expense is a significant part of your budget, you should expect an increase to this expense by about 10-15%. If you are retired or near retirement, some of you will get a little help on your tax bill. The income threshold for taxing retirement income will increase from $15,000 to $50,000 for individuals and from $20,000 to $100,000 for couples. In regards to estate planning, some families may need to review their documents. It would be advisable to review the following:

1. Wills and revocable trusts
2. Life Insurance Trusts
3. Durable Power of Attorney (gift provisions might warrant reconsideration)
4. Title to Assets

As always, we will conduct a plan review with each of our clients and make adjustments, as necessary, based on changes in the tax code and what it may do to your financial picture as a whole. It is important to note that these changes will impact every family differently and we will be discussing it with each of our clients on an individual basis.


Presidential Elections and the Stock Market

Next Month, AmericAns will head to the polls to elect the next President of the United States.

While the outcome is unknown, one thing is for certain: There will be a steady stream of opinions from pundits and prognosticators about how the election will impact the stock market. As we explain below, investors would be well‑served to avoid the temptation to make significant changes to a long‑term investment plan based upon these sorts of predictions.

Retired? What to do with all of that time

TimeWhen you are planning for retirement you may have all your ducks in a row. Many of the financial obligations of your life have been paid off; home and college. You have a nest egg to pay for living expenses and medical costs, an estate plan to ensure your family is protected when you pass, insurance so you are not a burden to your loved ones in your most elder years. You are free to live the life you desire.

Having a strong plan is critical to living a financially secure retirement, but have you considered and planned for your time when you retire? It can be a crucial yet often overlooked part of the planning process. For those who have not considered what their days, weeks and months will look like, it can make for a strained transition to your next phase of life.

Taking the Road Less Traveled

Two roads diverged"Two roads diverged in a wood,and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

Robert Frost, excerpt from The Road Not Taken

I was reading an article recently from Financial Advisor Magazine that identified the regrets many people have for not taking more risks in life. “Among the top regrets were: not following their dreams, not taking risks with their careers, not taking risks with their lives in general, and not being gutsy enough in the choices they made.”i

Teaching your Children Financial Life Lessons

Life LessonBecause April is Financial Literacy Month, we want to take this opportunity to address a topic that’s important to many of our clients—helping children grow into financially responsible adults.

You can find plenty of financial education geared toward children and young adults with a simple Google search. Much of this information is good but overlooks many of the realities of our financial lives.

I’d like to start with these realities, then share some resources we recommend where you and your children can start to build your financial literacy.

The Impact of Stress on Financial Decisions

Stress affects everyone. Not even the most resilient and disciplined among us are free from the impact of stress on our daily lives. Balancing the demands of work, family, friends, and community while keeping stress to a minimum can be a challenge even during the best of times. Significant life events -such as an unexpected death, divorce or illness – are major disruptors that can push your stress-level into the red. Stress, and the increased anxiety that accompanies it, can have negative impacts on your body and your mind. While stress may be unavoidable at times, how you respond to it will determine how it ultimately affects your life. Stress-related symptoms can impact your decision making, and learning to understand and manage stress properly can help you make thoughtful and prudent financial decisions during life’s tumultuous times.

The Rules of Engagement: Finding the right advisor

When it comes to choosing a financial advisor it is important to follow some rules before making your decision.

There is a commercial that airs on prime time television, which is put out by the Certified Financial Planning® Board. The commercial depicts a man with dread locks and tattoos and body piercings -- the type of stylings one would not typically associate with a financial planner. He then underwent a makeover, on the dime of the CFP® board. At the end he was clean shaven, short haired, in a suit covering his tattoos and his piercings were gone. He looked like your average financial advisor and that’s exactly the point that the CFP® board was trying to make. This man was a DJ by trade and the CFP® Board cleaned him up, taught him a few financial catchphrases and brought fifteen different people in to meet with him and determine whether or not they’d like to work with him as their advisor. All but one of those people hired him.

The Smart Money's on Capitalism

Dow ImageI believe in Capitalism. It is the backbone of the financial markets. It provides resiliency to the American economy that has endured for decades, through periods of boom and bust. This foundation of our financial system is formed by the achievements of American business—thousands of companies, both large and small—that solve problems, invent solutions, and promote innovation to help improve people’s lives.