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Open Season: The Importance of Reviewing Your Company Benefits

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The leaves are just about done falling and the holidays are upon us. While many of us spend the next few weeks rushing around trying to fit in as many fun activities as possible, the end of the year can also be an opportunity to relax and reflect upon the choices that we've made over the course of the year. What went well? What do we want to do better next year? In regards to financial planning, one set of choices we are asked to review at the end of each year are our company benefit elections.

While it may be tempting to keep your benefits exactly the same year after year, this strategy may not be the best for your current needs. Here are some common misconceptions and overlooked benefits to consider when making your elections this year.

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The Cyber-Security Threat and Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Information

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With the recent cyber-attack on Equifax that impacted millions of individuals, it is a reminder that technology is exponentially expanding and proliferating our personal and professional lives more and more each day. While this brings its advantages and efficiencies, it also opens us up too many kinds of threats to our privacy and security.

As technology has advanced over the course of the past 40 years, the computer has shrunk from a machine that took up two rooms to a gadget we can hold in the palm of our hand. Studies have shown that as technology has improved, so have the security protocols for the internet. What this means is that as long as some fairly simple steps are taken to address chinks in your security armor, you will be in a good place to be able to avoid most, if not all digital security risks.

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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.

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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.

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Emotional Investing and the Consequences of Behavioral Biases

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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.

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