Blogs The Emptiness of Money Without a Purpose“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there” – Cheshire Cat to Alice in WonderlandImagine yourself climbing the so-called ladder of success. Now, I have a question for you to ponder, perhaps one of the most important questions you could ask of yourself:How would you know when you’ve arrived? After all, if you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will take you there.Or would you just keep senselessly climbing, possibly missing out on experiencing…true wealth, those things which are priceless?It’s only when one defines for themselves the purpose of their money that they can know for certain when they’ve climbed enough. The benefits are virtually without end. When you know the purpose of your money you can:Objectively and confidently know when it’s time to move on to the Act 2 of your life (retirement), instead of it always being…“next year.” Some day is no day;Avoid falling prey to the “last time.” My deceased stepfather passionately wanted to visit Israel until one day…he couldn’t. Next year was always a “better time.” There is going to be a day for us all when those things we wish to experience…will be gone. There is coming a “last time” for all of us;Throw yourself with reckless abandon into those charitable activities that thrill your heart;Leave a lasting-legacy in the lives of those nearest and dearest to you, sharing what you’ve discovered over many years so that they might leverage that priceless wisdom;Become a grandchild’s greatest fan, sitting in the stands and cheering them on as they throw a football for a touchdown, further than you might have dreamt in your wildest dreams; andthe list goes on and on.Contact us now at 866-826-2605 to schedule your no cost or obligation Initial Discovery Conference so we might together discover…the true purpose of your wealth. It will only change the rest of your life! Volatility – Friend or Foe?Sometimes, those things that appear to foreshadow a sky that appears to be falling may actually be the very ingredients that are necessary to unleash unimaginable opportunity. History is brimming with examples.Using the S&P 500 Index as the standard for the U.S. stock market, on March 24, 2000, the market began trending downward after a sizable run up in technology stocks, many of them companies that made nothing. It would go on to be known as “the tech bubble.”By the time the sell-off was over, the market had dropped 49 percent (without taking into account the reinvestment of dividends), bottoming out on October 09, 2002. The volatility throughout the ride made many of the most seasoned investors queasy. What followed however, was a five-year bull market, hitting its high point on October 09, 2007 and gaining 101 percent, from trough to peak.This was followed by the great recession, a time that felt like the global financial system was about to implode. From the October 09, 2007 peak, the market nosedived by 57 percent, bottoming out March 09, 2009 amidst plenty of volatility. Panic in many circles was in charge. Many liquidated their holdings with devastating losses, vowing to never dip their toe in the market again, at worst, while others decided to pull out and wait until a sustainable bull market emerged, as if they could time the market. In hindsight, that may have been one of the worst investment decisions they could have made, as stocks began a multi-year bull market, rising 295 percent by the end of 2017. Volatility, the range of price change a security experiences over a given period of time, for patient investors (not speculators), produces opportunity for them to buy stock in a solid company when the price is very low and the stock is “on sale,” and then wait for cumulative growth down the road.Just like when traveling by air over a great distance, the flight may experience turbulence (volatility), but we arrive safely at our destination. Market volatility, like turbulence, simply needs to be understood for what it is and then leveraged. It’s the price investors pay to experience long term out performance.To discover how we might effectively serve you in reaching your desired financial goals, despite the uncertainty of volatility along the way, call our office now at (928) 639-3828 for your complimentary no obligation Initial Discovery Conference. Retiring Early…Blessing or Curse?In the minds of many, you’re experiencing a charmed financial life. You’re a successful entrepreneur with plenty of discretionary cash flow, enabling you to regularly invest an amount which you feel should enable you to be financially independent and retire at an early age, say 40.Is it all smooth sailing? Perhaps there are some risks you ought to first be considering. Here are some thoughts to carefully ponder so your early retirement might become a positive event and not one regretted:If you’re in a committed relationship, how do your plans for an early retirement line up with those of your life-partner, or will you be “flying solo” until he/she is ready to retire also (assuming they’re still around)?Generally, Americans are living longer, therefore, it may take more wealth in retirement than you first thought, so you don’t run out of money before you run out of life.The amount of money you can confidently withdraw in retirement may be much smaller than you figured, requiring you to accumulate much more than first thought.While inflation has been quite tame for some time now, there’s no assurance that it won’t gain steam in the years ahead. Retiring quite early, creates the potential for a vibrant full life for many more years, prospectively accompanied with a daunting and ongoing rise in expenses.Stocks may provide more modest returns than they historically have, again, potentially requiring a greater amount to be regularly invested pre-retirement, before pulling the retirement trigger.These are some of the concerns that our clients face every day and every year as they get ready for their Second Act. It is our job, our ambition, our mission, to assist you in creating those goals and achieving them. It all begins with a conversation. Call us at 866-826-2605 and we can begin putting you on that path. Making Sure That You and Your Life-Partner Are on the Same Retirement Page“You Want to do What Now?” As Freedman Crossett Financial Services has continued to mature over the years and with it the people we serve, an eye-opening revelation has occurred to my business partner, Cindy, and I: Some of our soon to be retired clients, most of them with partners, want to experience their retirement years in very different ways and, in some cases, leaving one of the partners feeling as though they’ve been blind-sided.This can have profound implications on several levels: financially, relationally, physically, and emotionally, so the importance of addressing this sooner rather than later cannot be overstated.What age will each work to? What destinations will be on their bucket lists? Which of these are the greater priorities? How long will they go for? Will one or both work part time? And, if so, how many hours each week? Will they downsize? Where will they live after retiring? Will there be a focus on working with non-profits?These and so many more considerations demand careful, thorough and brutally honest introspection and then, candid, respectful communication with each other and almost certainly, some give and take. The Pew Research Center in Factank – News in the Numbers dated March 9, 2017 in an article titled ‘Led by Baby Boomers, divorce rates climb for America’s 50+ population,’ cite that the so-called “gray divorce” rate for those 50+ has doubled since the 1990's. And for those age 65+, it’s tripled.Reasons for uncoupling vary, but couples finding themselves on different pages as their retirement approaches, is one such cause. I can understand them determining that, after all, they’re not getting any younger and life is short. They know there’s a last time for everything, so there’s a sense of urgency. The answer isn’t to have one of them cave in to the other either, for that will only breed a festering resentment and a degree of discomfort that is hard to put into words.My stepfather, for years, talked about one day visiting Israel. But every year it was the same story: It’s not “the right time” my mother would reason. On and on it went until one day he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. He never did get to visit Israel. If you wait for the so-called “right time” for anything, you’ll never partake, because life continues to happen, and the excuses start to pile up.Please contact us today to set up your no cost or obligation conference to see what options are available for you and your life partner. Knowledge is Power? No, it’s not! If something you now believe to be true were a lie, when would you want to know? Presumably, the sooner the better. It was the English author Sir Francis Bacon who first penned the quote that knowledge is power. Sorry Sir Francis. You’re dead wrong and the belief in the reliability of it has led many people astray, lost in a sea of disappointment at the very least, dismally ill-equipped to enter the Act 2 (retirement) of their lives. For real power to be experienced, it must be effective, not simply efficient. Being efficient means doing the right thing. Being effective means doing the right things right. The differences between the two are breathtaking. For example, writing on the various themes in the book my business partner Cindy Crossett and I are co-authoring is efficient. We believe in the rightness of every one of those themes. But if that’s all we did and left it at that, it would be nothing more than impotent, lifeless information, words on a page. It would be our opinions amongst many others. On the other hand, if we explain our positions and provide a useful, practical, and relevant basis for their application, that’s real power.There are several foundational, strategic, and tactical characteristics that must be present for information to be effective (life-changing) and not merely efficient (interesting information). Here are some of them:You should find the content relevant and useful to your personal life purpose;You must possess a “beginner’s mind,” one that is a virtual clean slate, a starting over and one that doesn’t need to be right; andYou must will your mind to be deliberate and focused, providing a quiet and secure sanctuary to process the information as it’s received; a place that no one and nothing can penetrate (mine is on my daily walks).For knowledge acquired to be useful, for it to be permanently life-transforming, there must exist a carefully coordinated practical plan of action that subordinates the efficient to the effective, the material mind to the infinite mind, and one not simply based on facts or historical accounts on a page. That’s planning with the head. What’s missing, is the heart. For the next season of your life to truly be the best years of your life, you’ll need much more of the heart and much less of the head.Call us NOW to set up your no cost or obligation conference to discover how investing with taxes in mind year round can help you: 866-826-2605. Financial Planning May Be More Than a One-Person Experience In some intimate relationships, married or otherwise, one of the partners may possess a degree of financial insight while the other does not and is not even interested in gaining. If the one lacking the expertise were to be the first to pass away, there may not be an issue with the ongoing financial well-being of the survivor. Reverse that order however and there may be a very different financial future for the surviving partner.Oh sure, if there are adult children, he or she could consider turning to them for counsel, but that raises a host of other issues:Do they really want to disclose their affairs to their children? Many parents don’t.Might that ignite jealousies amongst the siblings?Might a daughter or son act in ways which are at odds with the best interests of the parent? Some do.Out of fear, the survivor could also simply put the money in their local bank where they imagine it’s safe, potentially costing them dearly in lost potential investment returns over their remaining years.Then there are the problems associated with aging as one’s mental capacity diminishes with time, exposing them to financial exploitation, a large and growing epidemic. All of this to say, that while both partners in an intimate relationship are alive and well, it makes sense for both of them to enter a relationship on some level with a trusted financial advisor, regardless of the capabilities of each individual. It just might be the legacy the survivor remembers most often and is thankful for every day, for the rest of their life.Call us NOW to set up a no cost or obligation conference to see if we might be the option your life-partner would be comfortable with should he or she survive you. Never Buy an Annuity! Really? Never?Someone asked me the other day “I recently read that annuities are a terrible thing to own. What are your thoughts?”I answered saying to suggest that something may be a terrible idea when it comes to retirement planning and would never be an effective and important addition to a client’s overall retirement planning strategy is quite a narrow statement. Never is a very long time!I went on to share that when the author of that referred to article made their assertion, it would have been a good thing to know the type of annuity that was being referred to, because annuities come in many different flavors and colors and solve very different challenges. Does that mean that a form of annuity should be used in every client case? Clearly not. Does it mean that a specific annuity type should be considered as a strategy in a good number of cases? Absolutely yes. So just what are the different forms of annuities and what are some of the challenges they might solve?Let’s go through the basics.Single Premium Immediate Annuity - As the name implies, this annuity requires one deposit, followed by a guaranteed income for the life of one or two persons and begins immediately or within 1 year. This can be useful if the income is meant to cover fixed annual expenses or perhaps a vacation fund where the certainty of receiving a defined amount is not in question and is required for a period of time or life, regardless of stock market conditions or account balances. As with all things in life, there is no free lunch here either. In exchange for the guarantee the annuity issuer makes (subject to the issuer’s ability to pay), there is a trade-off. Specifically, in return for the guarantee, the funds used to purchase the Single Premium Annuity are forfeited to the issuer. In effect, access to the money is exchanged for income certainty, once again, subject to the issuer’s ability to pay. Variable Annuity – This investment vehicle can be funded with either a single deposit or a series of deposits (subject to the contracts terms and conditions). The funds are invested from amongst a variety of investments the plan offers. The account value is dependent on the sub-accounts performance. These types of contracts carry with them, in addition to the operating expenses of the funds, annual policy expenses and a policy fee. Any investment gains enjoyed are tax deferred until distributions are made and are then taxed as ordinary income until all the gain in the contract has been withdrawn. Fixed Indexed Annuity – This annuity can be funded with either a single deposit or a series of deposits (subject to the contracts terms and conditions). The growth of the account is based on the stock market index it is bench-marked against. The unique feature of this annuity is that when the index goes into the negative the account does not share in that negative performance. However, because the account does not share in the downside it does not participate in all of the upside. Just as annuities generally come in many different flavors, so do the availability of riders and investment choices differ from issuer to issuer. We believe this much to be true – annuities can play an effective role both leading up to and in the Act 2 of a person’s life and should be carefully considered instead of dismissing them altogether. The time you invest with a knowledgeable advisor in this area may reap an abundant and compelling return. Contact us today to set up your no cost or obligation review of an annuity you may already own or are considering acquiring. Want to Energize Your Long-Term Investment Results? Just Read This! My recent reading of H.R.1 (yup, cover to cover), more commonly known as The New Tax Act, parallels the sheer determination of pursuing anything that requires one to get through a litany of what seems like never ending mind numbing information. By the way, as I ploughed through the hundreds of pages, I wondered just how many in the financial advisory community, to say nothing of those in the United States Congress, have read it?While one can debate how beneficial tax wise (or not) the legislation is going to be for the United States taxpayer as a whole, this blog is not going to take up any partisan view whatsoever but instead, is simply going to state that which is beyond both debate and one’s political views. This is the place where every investor can win, no matter the eventual beneficiaries of H.R.1. Let’s dive in:Regardless of the new tax act and what top marginal tax bracket you will end up in (it’s still 7 brackets), as an investor, it’s what you keep after taxes that’s important and not what you earn. In fact, the longer the duration one chooses to look at, the greater the tax costs if ignored. One such strategy to be considered is referred to as tax loss harvesting and is best employed when approached as a year-round initiative. To do so only at year-end, is to miss out on the opportunities that presented themselves intra-year, and they can be sizable.You’ve likely heard the term asset allocation as a diversification strategy. A term that may be new to you is asset location, a tax strategy most investors can employ and speaks to how differing assets ought to be held. For example, tax inefficient assets, like managed futures for example, are not managed with the investor’s tax exposure in mind and therefore, should ideally be held in tax deferred accounts, like IRA’s, 401(k)’s, etc. Tax efficient assets, like municipal bonds and tax-managed equity accounts, ought to ideally be held in taxable account form, like Trusts, joint accounts and the like, because the tax implications of holding assets like those are typically negligible. There you are, two ideas that have the potential of putting more money in your pockets than you otherwise might have and you didn’t need to read The New Tax Act to benefit from either.Call us NOW to set up your no cost or obligation conference to discover how investing with taxes in mind year round can help you: 866-826-2605.