The Lifecycle Financial Planning Approach

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The lifecycle financial planning approach places all your financial activity into distinct time periods, or stages, with retirement acting as the final phase in the financial lifecycle.

This approach is powerful as it provides you a clear framework for evaluating different decisions. Here are the 5 standard financial life stages encompassed in the lifecycle approach. Keep in mind the stated age ranges are merely guideposts, some of you will pass through stages more quickly or more slowly depending on your circumstances.

1. Early Career
Ranging in age from 25 to 35 years old, early career phase adults are starting to build a foundation for a strong financial future. You may be planning to start a family, if you have not done so already. If you do not yet own a home, you might be saving for one. At this stage, keeping income in step with expenses is a struggle, but it’s important to lay the groundwork for retirement saving now.

2. Career Development
From ages 35 to 50, earnings rise, but so do financial demands. Keeping expenses in line with income is a challenge in this stage. Many families are concerned with covering college costs and paying for ongoing expenses while also increasing the pace of saving for retirement.

3. Peak Accumulation
In this stage, from the early 50s into the early 60s, you typically reach your maximum income level. It may be a time of relative freedom as your children have graduated from college. Without college tuition and with lower expenses, you can accelerate savings rates to position yourself for a more secure retirement.

4. Pre-Retirement
About 3 to 6 years before winding down professionally, you should start restructuring assets to reduce risk and increase income. By this point, mortgages are usually paid and children are independent. This is the time to evaluate retirement income options and the tax consequences of investments.

5. Retirement
The final financial lifecycle phase occurs for people in their mid-60s and beyond. Once you stop working, your focus shifts from wealth accumulation to income preservation. In this stage, the goal is to preserve your purchasing power and enjoy your desired lifestyle. Estate planning and legacy considerations also gain importance as you age.

As we transition through each life stage, we should adjust our focus each step of the way to ensure our financial plan remains appropriate for our risk tolerance, age and goals.

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Maximizing Your Return in an Up-Down Market

grafiekomhoog_01There has been a lot of stock market volatility recently and people have been asking me what should they do with their investment portfolio. While no one has a crystal ball and everybody has their own specific situation, there are some general questions below you can ask yourself when the stock market gets a little choppier than normal.

1. Did the goal for the money change?
Maybe you’ve originally invested the money for the long term such as retirement, all of a sudden you change your mind and you actually need this money sooner. If so, then that may mean you need to change the strategy that you have for that money.

2. Did your risk appetite change?
Perhaps you started investing with a gung-ho attitude, believing you can take all the risks to get potentially higher returns. Then that changes and you don’t want to take on that level of risk anymore. This may be a reason for you to review your investment strategy and make some changes.

3. Is your money allocated in a diversified portfolio?
If you could honestly answer ‘yes’ to this question, that you know your money follows an allocation model and you are rebalancing the allocation on a regular basis, then you might not need to make any changes.

Again, everybody’s situation is different – you have different risk tolerance, different goals and different timeframe to hold on to their investments. You need to be aware of what your specific needs are when it comes to investing, do your homework and make sure you’re investing properly.

Simple Financial Tips That Can Make A Difference

tips2018 has certainly flew by and wow.. we’re going into March already? Perhaps now is a good time for us to do a stock-take on our money. Here is a couple of tips on how to keep more money in your wallet this year.

1. Don’t Do Mental Accounting When Building Your Budget
Mental accounting means the behavioural thinking of having different piles of money for different reasons. You might have a “jar” that says this is for emergencies or a vacation, and you’re putting money in there every month – at close to zero interest rate.

Then you also have a credit card debt. You mentally classify it as a different thing and pay your debt with income each month.

Financially, this doesn’t make much sense. Money is fungible, it really is all the same. You shouldn’t have a jar with money sitting in it that’s getting no interest or growth while you still have credit card debt.

The solution is to think about all your money as the same. People like to put cash in different buckets for different reasons, but that’s mental accounting and we need to overcome that hurdle.

2. Prepaying your mortgage
Some people add a little extra to their monthly payments to pay the loan off faster. This brings up a common question – is this a good use of the extra cash?

With current mortgage rates at under 4%, you should not be prepaying your mortgage. In fact, mortgages have really low interest rates and are designed for long periods of payments, and you should stick to that payment.

Prepaying it means you are giving up opportunity to use that money elsewhere – whether it’s paying off credit card debt or just investing it, putting it aside for retirement. If you’d be getting 8% returns on your long-term investments, why put your money in something that’s only 4%?

So from a financial planning standpoint, it’s not a good strategy. Nonetheless, people feel comfortable doing that. I know you want to feel like you’re paying off the house faster, but resist if you can.

3 things about your employer-provided insurance you may not know

benefitsIt is great if you are working in a company that provides you with benefits such as insurance. However, there are some limitations to employer-provided insurance that you should know. Here are 3 of them:

1. It’s a benefit, not a guarantee.

Fact is, companies are not obligated to offer life or health insurance. Just because your employer is offering it now, doesn’t mean they will in the future. A lot of companies are in cost-cutting mode, and benefits like life insurance can disappear without notice.

2. If you have it, it’s most likely not enough.

Most employer-provided life insurance coverage is one to three times your salary. So if you make $50,000, having up to $150,000 of life insurance sounds like a lot, right? But if you try to put that money to work in today’s interest rate environment, you’ll soon find out it doesn’t go very far. And if your family needs to spend $50,000 each year, what are they going to do after the third year?

3. It doesn’t protect your insurability.

Think about what would happen if your health changes while you only have employer-provided health insurance, but then they drop the coverage and you’re no longer able to get covered? Or what if you lose your job, or change jobs and the new employer doesn’t offer life or health insurance as a benefit?

Typically, employer-offered group insurance is not portable, meaning you can’t take that coverage with you when you leave a job. Buying an individual policy prevents this because it’s something you own.

The bottom line, is that it’s good to have employer-provided life insurance, but don’t ignore the greater need you may have for individual life insurance coverage too.

3 Investing Myths Holding You Back From Success

investing mythsMany of us are interested in investing but have some concerns. Here are 3 popular myths that could be holding you back from investment success.

Myth #1 You can time the market
Timing the market is close to impossible. And studies actually show that a majority of the investment return that you are going to make over time doesn’t come from buying at the right time or selling at the right time.

But rather, it comes from proper asset allocation and diversification. So stop wasting your time trying to figure out when is the right time to buy and sell, day in and day out. Instead, choose a solid investment strategy, diversify your money and hold for the long term.

Myth #2 You need a lot of money to get started
This is one myth that holds a lot of people back. They think, “I’ll wait till next year when I have more money, then I’ll be able to dump a whole lump sum into the stock market at that time.”

No, it’s very difficult to do this. Instead, start with what you have even if it’s only $50 a month or $100 a month. Figure out how you are going to invest this amount automatically into an investment portfolio. Just set it up, so that it’s happening without you even thinking about it.

Myth #3 You can start next year
Time is absolutely critical when it comes to investing. The more time you have, the less amount of money you need if you are trying to achieve a certain nest egg amount at the end (e.g. retirement).

So if you have this myth holding you back, say “No, I’m not going to start next year. I’m going to start right now.” There’s no better time than now to start and catching up can be very difficult, if at all possible.

Hope you’ll understand now how to avoid these 3 investing myths, and be able to put into place prudent investment strategies and principles that over time, will maximise your income and assets so you could achieve long-term goals such as retirement with ease.