Want To Crisis-Proof Your Managers? Start With Your Relationship

By: Raleigh Mayer

"I was wrong."

"Thank you."

"I need your help."

How often do you hear (or say) those words at work?

As a manager, you are expected to have full command of technical abilities, operational expertise and strategic goal-setting. But are you equally skilled at and invested in, connecting with, motivating and appreciating your reports?

Your team is directly affected by you — how motivated, fulfilled and functional they are and whether or not they like you (yes, likability is a leadership quality and a major aspect of persuasion and influence).

When your emerging executives (because that is how junior reports think of themselves and how you should think of them) dislike, distrust or basically don't respect you, all leadership is lost. And when trust and respect are absent, disdain and dissatisfaction set in, and you may not hear about it until you are told by top management or human resources, which are the people employees go to when they don't feel they can bring their unhappiness to you.

As you might imagine, that scenario is painful, public, career-threatening and more and more common as newer professionals become more assertive and outspoken with their ambitions and expectations.

New professionals have their own criteria for success and satisfaction in the workplace and while some of those expectations may seem excessive or presumptuous (thus earning millennials the "entitlement" label), those desires and preferences actually provide management with a leadership opportunity. Interestingly, these assumptions/preferences are not necessarily new: Younger employees have always tended to be ambitious, smart and eager for opportunity, authority and promotion. However, much of that career hunger, when it went unsatisfied, was accepted. Junior professionals swallowed their impatience and tolerated the wait for longer-term gratification because that is how previous generations were raised: to obey the rules of the game.

But the difference that affects the workplace now is that most newer hires were raised differently, with more consumer goods, entertainment and information platforms and, yes, praise available to them. No wonder they expect swift reward!

For instance, consider these typical psychological requirements particular to the recently arrived talent pool:

• Needing to know not just what to do and how, but why

• Wanting to make a contribution and participate in choosing solutions

• Desiring frequent, honest and supportive feedback

So what does it take to crisis-proof a manager? How can you effectively supervise and develop — or guide a newly promoted manager to effectively supervise and develop — employees who are are anxious to do well for themselves and the organization, but may be unused to or disinclined to simply follow direction and execute tasks? 

Usually, it's by a shift from hierarchical, authoritarian style of direction to a more collaborative, partnered approach. Collaborative leadership not only serves to better engage individual team members but also demonstrates to the entire group respect and recognition of different viewpoints and solutions. Employees who feel that they are listened to, taken seriously and valued for their knowledge will feel safer, more comfortable and more confident in bringing questions, concerns and even criticism to their own supervisor rather than a third party. And that type of open, honest and direct communication is the key to crisis-proofing the relationship.

A successful manager also recognizes that when giving the team assignments, he or she should always provide a rationale and context for an assignment, both to make the work more meaningful and to open the door to additional input. Because "even the smartest person in the room doesn't always have the best ideas," according to Amy C. Edmondson, author of Teaming.

Leaders should also invite, encourage and welcome the presentation of all ideas, recommendations and criticisms and give due consideration — and when merited, approval — to those proposals.

And, to borrow from the academic environment, which many of these young adults have just left, remember that comments from a professor are often just as (if not more) appreciated than the grade itself. Students (and employees) want to know what they’ve done well, where they haven’t succeeded and how to do better.

Finally, keep in mind that all interaction and communication is personal: You, not just your role or function, are being judged every day, and those judgments matter.

Retention, performance and, just as importantly, morale, depend on the tone you set.

The antidote to crisis management is relationship management. A leader who understands, anticipates and responds to their team's ambitions and appetites for opportunity may also be contacted by human resources to share their method for success.


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Known as the "Gravitas Guru", Mayer is currently a senior fellow at the Logos Institute for Crisis Management and executive leadership, a leadership lecturer at New York University and Barnard College, and on the leadership council of the Financial Women's Association. 

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Raleigh Mayer

Raleigh Mayer, known as the “Gravitas Guru”, is an executive development consultant, coach, and speaker, specializing in presentation, communication, and leadership, including programs designed specifically for the career acceleration of female executives. Formerly a vice president and spokesperson for the New York City Marathon, Raleigh has coached and trained executive clients for more than a decade and serves a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies.  She is currently a senior fellow at the Logos Institute for Crisis Management and Executive Leadership, a leadership lecturer at New York University and Barnard College, and on the leadership council of the Financial Women’s Association.

The Importance of Leaning In with Clients

By: Marguerita M. Cheng

As the daughter of a Chinese father and American-born mother, I have been exposed to many different stereotypes in the US, Europe, and Asia. I also grew up taking in mixed messages about what it means to be a successful, professional woman.

While both my parents expressed their belief that I could achieve anything with hard work, focus, and dedication—I saw that professional women’s struggles in Asia are exacerbated. As I grew older, I saw that women are not taken seriously professionally if they are too passive, but that they can also be derailed professionally by being seen as “too ambitious,” “too expressive,” “too opinionated,” or “too individualistic.”

Finding a Way to Lean in That Felt Right to Me

While I firmly believe that women can “have it all,” and that they should consistently “lean in,” my experience gives me a slightly different perspective—one that I bring to my career as a financial planner.

Indeed, juggling my responsibilities as a daughter, wife, mother, caregiver, professional, and professional financial planner has taught me to strive for balance—not perfection.

When I started out in financial planning, it was rare for a recruited female to be successful with a toddler and an infant, not to mention one from a diverse background. I knew, and so did everyone else, that the odds were against me. But with my success, 14 years later, that perceived liability is now an asset and a source of inspiration to other young women professionals in the financial planning field.

In my professional experience, I have always valued a collaborative approach involving negotiation, mediation, and compromise rather than an autocratic approach to resolving disagreements and conflicts. Being “helpful,” or “a good listener,” or “valuing connections with clients” may be dismissed as “female” traits, but make no mistake. They do not mask weakness. In fact, I have had to stand up against the criticism of some male managers for my professional approach with clients—which puts a premium on client service—because they view it as too time-intensive.

And to be honest, the comments of those who doubted me were responsible in part for motivating me to persevere. When I lean in, I am not just leaning in for myself. We all need to do our part to break through the stereotypes.

Though men hold a disproportionate share of corporate leadership positions, “Many industries lack the inclusion and participation of people of color and women, perhaps none more egregiously than the financial services sector,” said U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), in a statement.

The key for me is to lean in—on behalf of my clients and the financial planning industry. With my clients, I work to help them achieve balance between their financial-related goals for their lives now and their hopes for secure financial futures. With what the National Journal says “may be the most chauvinistic industry in America: Wall Street,” I work to clear the career path for other women and people with diverse cultural heritages.

Here is how I am leaning in with my clients:

  • I strive to create a safe, comfortable zone for honesty and creative thinking. I pride myself on my ability to sense stress, shame, or guilt as my clients enter my office. I recognize that their time is valuable and that they are coming to me to for financial guidance. I find that women, especially, need their advisors to be able to connect with them.

They also need to know that they are heard and understood, as opposed to being lectured to or talked down to. Women want someone to work with them to understand the impact that one decision may have on other areas of their financial lives. My goal is to enable women to verbalize the dreams they have for their personal financial journey and vocalize their individual needs and concerns so they are empowered to take ownership of their financial futures.

  • I give my clients plenty of time to make sound financial decisions. Many women are often struggling to balance their careers with their family responsibilities. It isn’t so much that women procrastinate financial planning, but that they feel overwhelmed, overextended, and overworked. I provide the education, time frame, and comfortable setting that they need by asking:
  • What would you like to accomplish today?
  • What do you need from me?
  • What is on your mind?

Here is how I am leaning in to shape the chauvinistic financial planning industry:

  • Instead of sitting on the sidelines, complaining that there should be more women and more representation among diverse multicultural communities, I am a candid and passionate advocate for diversity — and I am particularly dedicated to increasing investor education and financial empowerment in multicultural and diverse communities. I served as the chair of FPA Diversity Scholarship Sub-Committee for three years and I currently co-chair the 2012 FPA Diversity Committee.
  • I mentor young women and women of diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds to pursue CFP certification. I firmly believe that role models are important, and I know that some women advisors may prefer to have a female mentor, so I make myself available to work with them.
  • I encourage financial firms that are committed to employing women to adopt more women-friendly sales training practices.
  • I challenge myself to inspire and empower those around me to believe in themselves and harness their full potential.

“A candle loses nothing when it lights another candle,” said Thomas Jefferson. So while leaning in remains an important goal of mine, my true mission is to light someone else’s candle—be it my clients, colleagues, those starting out in my profession, or the others who touch my life.

This article originally appeared on www.beinkandescent.com


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Marguerita M. Cheng is the Chief Executive Officer at Blue Ocean Global Wealth. Prior to co-founding Blue Ocean Global Wealth, she was a Financial Advisor at Ameriprise Financial and an Analyst and Editor at Towa Securities in Tokyo, Japan. She is a CFP® professional, a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠, a Retirement Income Certified Professional® and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.

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Marguerita M. Cheng

Marguerita M. Cheng is the Chief Executive Officer at Blue Ocean Global Wealth. Prior to co-founding Blue Ocean Global Wealth, she was a Financial Advisor at Ameriprise Financial and an Analyst and Editor at Towa Securities in Tokyo, Japan. Marguerita is a past spokesperson for the AARP Financial Freedom Campaign and a regular columnist for Investopedia & Kiplinger. She is a CFP® professional, a Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM, a Retirement Income Certified Professional® and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. As a Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) Ambassador, Marguerita helps educate the public, policy makers, and media about the benefits of competent, ethical financial planning. She serves as a Women’s Initiative (WIN) Advocate and subject matter expert for CFP Board, contributing to the development of examination questions for the CFP® Certification Examination. Marguerita also volunteers for CFP Board Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (DEC) hearings. She served on the Financial Planning Association (FPA) National Board of Directors from 2013 – 2015 and is a past president of the Financial Planning Association of the National Capital Area (FPA NCA) 


Rita is a recipient of the Ameriprise Financial Presidential Award for Quality of Advice and the prestigious Japanese Monbukagakusho Scholarship. In 2017, she was named the #3 Most Influential Financial Advisor in the Investopedia Top 100, a Woman to Watch by InvestmentNews, and a Top 100 Minority Business Enterprise (MBE®) by the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council (CRMSDC).


Marguerita’s mantra is “So many people spend their health to gain wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health” (A.J. Reb Materi).

The ‘stretch’ option for maximizing IRAs

By: Elliot Raphaelson

Because most employers have eliminated defined-benefit retirement plans, future retirees will depend more than ever on 401(k) plans, traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs.

To plan for a successful retirement, you must understand the fundamentals and nuances of these plans. The regulations are complex, and you cannot afford to make any mistakes. Not every financial planner is well-educated in this field. If you depend on a financial planner, make sure he/she has the required expertise. Don’t be afraid to ask a prospective planner to demonstrate it.

Before you do that, you need to educate yourself. I recommend Ed Slott’s “Retirement Decisions Guide” for 2018, available for $13 through IRAHELP.COM (or by calling 1-800-663-1340).

Regular readers of this column will recognize Slott’s name. He’s a leading expert on IRA planning, and I cite him frequently. Recently, I attended a two-day seminar for financial advisers sponsored by his company. One of the insights I came away with is the importance of designating the IRA’s beneficiaries.

One of the most important features of an IRA is the ability to extend its life as long as possible to take advantage of the associated tax advantages. Many choose to include children as beneficiaries as a way to create a “stretch” IRA.

A beneficiary who inherits and IRA will be required to make age-related withdrawals. The older an individual is, the greater the required mandatory withdrawal. Accordingly, children who are beneficiaries can stretch out the required withdrawals for a longer time frame than a spouse. If your children are in a lower tax bracket than your spouse, that would be another advantage.

A major reason why attempts to create a stretch IRA fail is that the individuals who set them up fail to name a living beneficiary. It’s that simple.

Too many people believe that IRA succession is taken care of or covered in the will or estate plan. It isn’t. Wills do not cover IRAs! The IRA passes outside the will by beneficiary designation. That designation is retained by the financial institution that maintains your IRA account.

If the financial institution you established your IRA with merged with another financial institution, your initial form establishing beneficiary designation may not have been retained by the new firm. It is your responsibility to ensure that the new financial institution has an up-to-date beneficiary designation form. If your financial institution does not have a written designation, then your estate will be the beneficiary, and your beneficiaries would lose the stretch option.

If a life event occurs that alters your choice of beneficiary, you must update your beneficiary designation forms. Changing your will is not sufficient! If you go through a divorce, and you don’t want your ex-spouse to be a beneficiary, you must update the designations. If one of your beneficiaries dies, it is likely you will want to update the designations. Again, these changes have to be made via the beneficiary form, not your will.

After you die, how can your beneficiaries maximize the use of the stretch option? Only spouse beneficiaries have the option of rolling over the inherited IRA into their own IRA. Your spouse also has the option of initially establishing an inherited IRA and subsequently rolling it over into his/her own IRA. This makes sense for beneficiaries who inherit before age 59 1/2.

Suppose a widow inherits her deceased husband’s IRA before age 59 1/2 and rolls it immediately into her own IRA. If she withdraws funds, she will be subject to a 10 percent penalty. However, if she maintains it as an inherited IRA and withdraws funds from it, the 10 percent penalty is avoided. At 59 1/2, she can roll the account over to her own IRA. Withdrawals from traditional IRAs will be subject to income taxes on both inherited IRAs and individually owned IRAs.

Inform your beneficiaries, preferably in writing, of the steps they should take to transfer the assets to their accounts, or specify a financial planner they should be communicating with. If your beneficiaries don’t transfer the accounts in a timely manner, thousands of dollars will be lost.


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A retired executive of Chase Manhattan bank, Elliot Raphaelson joined The Savings Game after decades of experience as an advisor, teacher and author in the field of personal finance. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Town & Country, Vogue, Self, Savvy and Working Woman magazines. For ten years he has worked as a certified mediator and trainer in a Florida county court.

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Elliot Raphaelson

A retired executive of Chase Manhattan Bank, Elliot Raphaelson joined The Savings Game after decades of experience as an advisor, teacher and author in the field of personal finance. He has taught courses in personal financial planning at The New School for Social Research and at the Military Academy at West Point, as well conducting seminars for Chase, Dow Jones & Co. and other corporations.

Past publications include Planning Your Financial Future (Wiley, 1982), and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, Town & Country, Vogue, Self, Savvy and Working Woman magazines. For ten years he has worked as a certified mediator and trainer in a Florida county court, where he helps resolve personal financial problems of every description.

Downsizing in Retirement

By: Allison Pearson

Do you and your partner share the same goals & expectations for the future throughout your changing life phases?

My son recently headed off to college. It was an important life transition, not just for my son, but for me and my husband as well. Seeing our child move out of the house and start a new phase of his life inspired us to evaluate our outlook for retirement – or, more accurately, how we would approach our next stage of life and how we envisioned living it.

The notion that the traditional definition of retirement is changing is no longer a revelation. It’s not even a remotely provocative concept these days.

We've all seen the headlines about how people are working longer because they're living longer, or simply because they want to remain active, engaged and productive. I'm personally very much on board with this – I plan to continue working into my "retirement" years, although not necessarily in the same capacity as what I'm doing now, or on the same full-time schedule.

In other words, I plan to downsize my career to some extent when I reach that point when I feel ready to shift some of my focus to other life goals, activities and interests. I think that's what I look forward to most in retirement, and how I define this next stage of life for me: It's a time to focus on whatever you choose to focus on, so long as you're able to maintain the lifestyle you're comfortable with financially.

"Our careers have always been the center point of our conversations about retirement, but now we are starting to consider other aspects of our plans for how we'll live in the future."

My husband and I are both in agreement that, barring any physical limitations as we get older, we intend to continue working, contributing and generally remaining active for as long as possible. Our careers have always been the center point of our conversations about retirement, but now we are starting to consider other aspects of our plans for how we'll live in the future. In other words, we're trying to develop a common vision of retirement that is both fulfilling and financially viable.

Where to Live in Retirement – The Housing Dilemma

The concept of downsizing is typically used in context with housing, of course. And as I look toward the future I (somewhat hazily) envision for myself and my husband, figuring out what will work best for us in terms of the size, cost and location of the place we call home has become a rather pressing topic. In fact, our initial conversations on the topic were my first indication that my vision of retirement was not entirely aligned with my husband's – at least when it came to housing.

Before I go into how the housing situation exposed this gap in our retirement vision, I'll give some background on the practical aspects of our downsizing dilemma.

Our situation is probably familiar to a lot of people in our stage of life. We realize it would make sense to downsize for a number of reasons – cost chief among them, but also the desire to have a smaller property to maintain. But we're also at the mercy of the ups and downs of the real estate market.

We purchased our current home 15 years ago in the midst of a classic "buyer's market" and were pleased to see it appreciate considerably since the 2008 recession as the location is very favorable and home prices in general have enjoyed a steady climb.

Now that we've reached this point and the housing market is strong, we feel we should consider selling, as it appears we're solidly in a seller's market – but are we? After all, a healthy real estate market means we have a good chance of making a profit on the sale of our current house, but as we peruse listings in the area, I was disheartened to realize that there's no way we'll find another house with a comparable value. Even the smallest houses we'd consider are now going for around what we originally bought our current house for. As it stands, we don't have the opportunity to make a profit on the sale of or current house that we could add to our retirement savings, or even make enough money so that we could have a very small mortgage or eliminate it altogether. That was eye opening!

Of course, I'm not implying that one should consider their house to be a retirement nest egg. The unpredictability of the real estate market makes that idea a very risky bet! But the Catch-22 nature of trying to buy in a seller's market is simply a complicating factor as my husband and I attempt to downsize as one of many aspects of our lives in preparation for retirement.
 

Getting back to the vision side of things, our discussions about downsizing bring to mind a time several years ago when we purchased a property in Utah. It was in a fairly remote, secluded location – more or less rural compared to where we live now.

I had always considered the Utah land to be an investment property, so it took me by surprise when I learned that my husband had always assumed that's where we would live when we retired. I told him that wasn't what I had in mind at all – I envisioned having a smaller, more manageable house but still wanted to be located in a suburban area with easy access to grocery stores and other conveniences.

"You can believe you share the same vision as your partner, when in fact you have very different ideas about what your future needs will be."

We have since sold the Utah property, but it's a good example of how you can believe you share the same vision as your partner, when in fact you have very different ideas about what your future needs will be.

How to Live in Retirement – A Shared Vision

The housing detail – while it's certainly an important one – is nonetheless a relatively tactical decision and I'm confident we'll be able to come up with a compromise that works for both of us. In fact, finding a house that's slightly more off the beaten path than I'd prefer could allow us to find something that's more affordable and gives us the financial lift we’re looking for with the sale of our current house. But we've agreed that we will not rush out and do anything unless it makes good sense. We love our home and views of the mountains and don't want to have to give that up.

Still, the fairly stark contrast between our preferences on this point opened my eyes to the larger, more philosophical question of whether we shared the same vision of retirement. In other words, not just where to live, but how to live.

Perhaps the reason it's so difficult for me and my husband – and for most couples, I assume – to find common ground when it comes to our long-term outlook is because of the uncertainty involved. Strictly from a health perspective, it's very difficult to know what we can expect to be capable of 20 or 30 years from now. It's also a rather scary and unsettling thing to think about, so the natural tendency is to block it out of your mind entirely – you can worry about it later.
 

With so much of our future unknown – and unknowable – how can we ever be sure that we're both moving toward a shared vision of retirement, or of our future together in general? For me and my husband, I think the best solution is to make retirement an ongoing conversation. It's a key piece of our future that should come into play whenever we're discussing finances, career paths, housing decisions, major purchases, and our college-aged son's financial situation and future as well.

I've written about talking with your parents about their retirement and educating your kids about money in my previous columns. And I firmly believe that communication is absolutely critical to financial success and maintaining a healthy relationship with money. It can be a difficult thing to discuss, but having honest, open conversations with your family members can help ensure everyone is better prepared for those important transitions – both expected and unexpected – in our lives.

"I firmly believe that communication is absolutely critical to financial success and maintaining a healthy relationship with money."

Your vision for retirement is a very personal thing. But when you're expecting to share the rest of your life with your partner, you want to make sure your visions are at least somewhat aligned. Keep those lines of communication open, and remember: the future is what you make it, so it pays to remain focused on your goals and prepared for the unexpected.

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Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal.

Diversification does not assure a profit or protect against loss in a declining market.

This article originally appeared on https://www.jackson.com/financialfreedomstudio/articles/2017/downsizing-in-retirement.html


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Allison Pearson currently serves as Vice President of the National Sales Desk for Jackson National Life Distributors LLC (JNLD). She is responsible for the Career Development Program, coordinating recruiting efforts and training and supporting the Sales Desk management team in strategic initiatives. Allison joined Jackson in 2002 as Director of Recruiting with Human Resources.

Walking the Tightrope of Change: When Virtue Becomes Vice

By: Laura Berger

I was ‘Structured Laura’ before Glen and I moved to Costa Rica in 2006. I thrived in the corporate environment. So, when we embarked to Central America, I thought to myself, “If I can make it in fast-paced downtown Chicago, paradise will be a piece of cake!” Nonetheless, I prepared for the trip with what I do best--read every tourist guide I could get my hands on, researched extensively, and generated a meticulous daily to-do list to complete the “project” of getting settled as efficiently as possible.

To my dismay, there were heaps of surprises. To name just a couple, the critters were the size of tea saucers and more crawly than I thought, and the downpours were like nothing I had ever seen. But the most unnerving surprise was the slow-moving, carefree way of life for the locals called Ticos. It became quickly clear that jungles aren’t made for rigid and inflexible types like me. You’ve got to be ready for anything and just let misadventures roll off your shoulders. And the more I clamored for control, the more out of control my life became. Then one day, things got so bad that I decided letting go and having no control couldn’t be any worse.

My mantra became, “Let it go.” Realizing the very tendencies that helped me get ahead in the business world were now holding me back, I adopted a more supple, free-flowing mindset. I had to pivot to prevent my virtues from becoming vices.

Not only a mere change of setting or circumstance can force us to examine whether our virtues are working for or against us. Sometimes the stress of day-to-day living can create a dust storm that clouds our connection to our virtues and distorts how they show up in our daily lives. In other cases, one of our virtues might actually be closer to a vice.

• Humility, for example, is just a stone’s throw from insecurity or self-doubt, and, if we’re not careful, can morph into meekness of resignation. Think of an employee who always credits other colleagues for his own successes or who stays quiet rather than celebrating his wins on a big project. Those who remain too quiet or too resigned may miss opportunities for personal or professional growth. If you consider humility one of your personal virtues, know that owning and celebrating your victories is not the same as bragging about them, and be confident in your decision to go after what you want.

• On the flip side of the coin, passion, though beneficial in some settings, can hamper others and compromise relationships if not controlled. If you are an enthusiastic advocate for a humanitarian cause, political ideology, or even your own career, recognize how you come across when voicing your opinions. Now, this doesn’t mean you should never speak up about your viewpoints. In fact, speaking up about what’s morally right is always admirable. However, it’s one thing to objectively stand up to sexism or racism, for example, and another thing to talk politics on a conference call. That said, even in a situation where debate is accepted—say, for example, at a dinner with friends—don’t let your passion overshadow compassion and common human decency. Simply strike a balance between voicing your own perspective and allowing those around you to do the same.

• Lastly, forward thinking, though highly effective in challenging work environments, can otherwise turn into over-planning and rigidity, as it did for me in Costa Rica. While people usually plan and schedule their lives to gain control, the amount of control we truly have is quite limited. As a result, these virtues can foment, rather than assuage, anxiety. While meticulously scheduling, prioritizing and planning tasks might serve you in the workplace, attempting to maintain that structure at home, with your spouse or kids, or on vacation, can freeze spontaneity and the joy that arises from simply enjoying whatever the present moment brings.

While flexibility is what saved me in Costa Rica, embracing versatility can help you no matter what virtue or vice you are dealing with. But, it’s about more than just going with the flow. It’s about attuning your own thoughts and actions to match the situation. This requires an awareness of yourself, the people around you, and your circumstances.

Now that you are aware of the potential dark side of some key virtues, how can you act to channel them in the right way? Check in with yourself regularly, whether through meditation, journaling, or simply stepping away for a moment of reflection. Ask yourself if what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and why you’re doing it is still serving you. If the answer is no, know that in releasing a mode of being that no longer serves you, you create space for something new—something better. After all, versatility brings great value to your life. Your ability to adapt to different situations will benefit you no matter where you work, what you do, or who you want to become.

This article originally appeared on www.psychologytoday.com


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Featured on ABC News, CNBC, Yahoo Finance, Redbook, Self, and the Miami Herald, Laura Berger is a certified executive coach and co-founder of the Berdeo Group. Her clients include leaders at JP Morgan Chase, The Walt Disney World Company, Financial Solutions Advisory Group, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She is the co-author of two books: Fall in Love Again Every Day and Radical Sabbatical.

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Laura Berger

Featured on ABC News, in CNBC, Yahoo Finance, and in Redbook, Self, and the Miami Herald, Laura Berger is a certified executive coach and co-founder of the Berdéo Group. She has counseled leaders for 15 years, maximizing their potential in the areas of Evidence based leadership, global operations management, and strategic change management. Her clients include leaders at JP Morgan Chase, Leo Burnett Worldwide, American Hospital Association, Starcom MediaVest Group, The Walt Disney World Company, Financial Solutions Advisory Group, World Business Chicago, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She is an in-demand speaker and co-author of two books: Fall in Love Again Every Day and Radical Sabbatical: Could You Say Goodbye to Everything You Know to Get Everything You Want?.

Secrets of Success: How I Learned to Make What I Was Really Worth

By: Jill Beirne Davi

When I launched a side business about five years ago coaching people about their finances, I enjoyed it so much that I barely charged -- if I charged at all -- for my services. Many of the people I was helping were in the hole -- and desperately trying to get out. Plus, I loved talking to them about their money, so it didn't feel like an even exchange. I felt ashamed asking them to pay me.

After all, I had been deep in debt once, too, so I knew what it felt like to struggle to keep costs down. In fact, it was my own experiences that led me to become a money coach. As I began to share my success story, friends and friends of friends asked me to hold workshops, and pulled me aside for private advice.

I realized that there was a demand for money coaching, so I began doing it during my free time, while keeping my day job in market research. But when I first set out to offer my services, I charged nothing. I was caught up in the classic belief that if you loved what you did, you didn't have to get paid for it.

Work, by nature, had to be hard -- or so I thought. And if it wasn't hard, then you were pulling the wool over someone's eyes. So I did a lot of free sessions, irrationally hoping that someone would be so thrilled with what they were getting that they'd donate some money. Of course, that's not how things work.

Wait ... I Can Actually Get Paid to Do This?

As I started helping more people with their budgets, I realized that I could do it all day. I enjoyed problem-solving, crunching numbers and helping folks find creative solutions to sticky financial problems without having to declare bankruptcy or ruin their credit scores.

I decided that I eventually wanted to do this as a career -- which meant that I had to figure out how I was going to, you know, make money. I was working with a life coach at the time, so I shared my aspirations with her, as well as my fear of coming off as greedy if I asked for money. Her advice was simple: Start small. Just charge a little something to gain the experience of someone paying you to do what you love.

I realized that what I offered was valuable in ways that even I didn't expect. That first private client gave me the courage to take on more paying clients. So I did. A week later I charged my first paying client $25 for an hour-long session. He laughed and said, "That's it?" I stopped offering free sessions after that.


A few months in, this client was getting great results, so I considered asking him to write a testimonial -- but I was nervous for fear of coming off as selfish. I knew that it would help me build my future business, so I bit the bullet and asked him anyway. To my relief, he agreed.

His testimonial blew me away. I knew something had shifted, but after reading it I realized there was a real ripple effect happening in him. Not only had he started watching his finances better, but his smarter decisions and newfound discipline were also having a positive effect on his personal relationships and health. When I read it, something shifted inside me too.

I realized for the first time that what I offered was valuable to people in ways that even I didn't expect. That first private client gave me the courage to take on more paying clients.

The Inner Critic Comes Out

Still, it seemed that no matter how many people I worked with, I always had the same nervousness in the beginning. The same inner monologue would loop over and over: "You're not good at this. They're going to demand their money back and tell everyone how awful you are."

Oh, yes, my inner critic is a full-on monster, and she's the reason I kept my rates ridiculously, laughably low, just so no one would get mad at me if they weren't happy with my services.

This charging low fees thing went on for a few months with a handful of clients. Then I was contacted by a woman who'd heard about me through a mutual friend. She was a woman I admired, an entrepreneur who'd started a business a few years prior.

We sat down, and I asked her about her financial situation. I felt that I could help her, and she was nearly ready to say yes -- until I shared my rates with her. Her mood changed immediately. Suddenly, she wasn't so eager.

At first I thought my rates were too high -- but it was the exact opposite. She told me that the reason she didn't want to work with me was because they were too low. "I can tell by your rates that you're not confident in your abilities," she said. "So I'm not sure this is going to work out."

After the initial shock wore off, I realized she was right. To this day, I'm grateful for her brutal honesty because it made a lightbulb go off. After that, I looked through my testimonials and interviewed past clients about what they got out of working with me. Most clients started to see results around the two-month mark, and the best clients stayed with me for three or four months. The people who didn't get great results only came to me for one or two sessions.

At the time, I was billing on an hourly basis. So I started lumping sessions together and charging a bundled price to make sure people stayed long enough to see results. Each bundle was several hundred dollars -- way more than I was charging before.
 

Next Step: Overcoming My Fears

When I first started offering bundled pricing, I was terrified. I kept playing with the numbers to make them "seem" lower, doing things like adding more sessions to justify the price.

When people would question my fees, I'd explain that most clients didn't see results unless they were willing to invest some time, and the price reflected that. But I wasn't confident enough to charge more -- and potential clients picked up on that. They'd ask if I could just do one session or try to negotiate the price. Sometimes I caved, other times I didn't out of fear that they'd run to the 11 o'clock news with their complaints.

None of my fears ever came to pass. They were and still are completely irrational.

But after landing a few clients at my new, higher rate, history repeated itself. Clients were happy. They were getting good results, writing testimonials and referring friends. I could breathe a bit easier. I felt like I had scaled a small mountain and found a spot at the top where I could rest.

A year later, I raised my rates again after calculating how much I would need to earn in order to leave my corporate job. By this point, I was devoting 20 hours a week to my "side" job, and I knew I wanted to do it full time. I remember the first, four-figure proposal I sent out to a potential client. She didn't respond for a few days, and I chewed nearly all of my nails off waiting to see if she'd say yes.

Finally, the email came: "Let's do this." I was excited (for her) and terrified (for me). The inner critic, again looking for trouble, told me the other shoe was about to drop. I held my breath for a few weeks while I worked with the client, but after we both saw that she was getting great results, I let myself relax. And the higher rate became the new normal.
 

Accepting My Real Worth

I wish I could say that realizing my worth was a one-time event, but it wasn't. It's a journey. The fear never really goes away, but I'm learning how to manage it better. Whenever I offer a new service or raise my rates, that inner critic goes berserk trying to get me to revert to what is comfortable and safe.

Realizing my worth is like climbing a mountain with many peaks. You climb a small peak, and rest for a bit. Eventually, you have to get to the next one, so you keep going -- but you're terrified the whole way. Then you reach the next peak, and the journey starts again. With every peak, however, the urge to continue gets stronger.

I didn't start off with a ton of self-worth when it came to the services I was providing -- even if I felt plenty in other areas of my life! In the beginning, I attached my value to the dollar amount I was charging. But then I focused on whether my clients were really getting results. Then I made a promise to myself that if I couldn't help them, I'd quit entirely. But as long as I was, I'd stay in the game.

It's easy to stay stuck at a lower rate in order to avoid rocking the boat. Every time I've raised my fees, it's usually been followed by a week or two of panic attacks, fearing that this time I've asked for too much. But eventually the awkward phase passes, and my rates feel like a cozy sweater again.

My hope is that, one day, I'll be able to silence that inner critic who wants to devalue my professional self. But I know I'm not that enlightened yet. Still, one of the best things about going through this experience was finally realizing my self-worth. Here are some of my top tips:

Start small. Charging something nominal is still better than charging nothing at all. Don't give your gifts away for free, which could breed resentment later.

Find encouragement. Get a coach or mentor to help you stay the course when you're feeling uncomfortable about raising your rates or asking for a higher salary.

Focus on your results. When I get into panic mode, I read the testimonials of my clients. Seeing progress in their own words takes the spotlight off myself and shines it back on my clients.

Stay attuned to your emotions. This one is more of an art. If you are starting to feel a little resentful or burned out, it may be time to up your rates or ask for a raise. The increase can help get your sanity back -- especially if you offer a client-based service.

Let your rates work their way up. You don't have to triple your rates overnight to prove a point. That may backfire. Raise them incrementally and keep close watch on the results that gives you -- and your clients. Eventually, you'll be charging what you're truly worth!

This article originally appeared on https://www.aol.com/article/finance/2014/03/07/earning-wages-really-worth-entrepreneur/20844439/


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Jill Beirne Davi is the founder of Abundant Finances, a service that helps you get yourself out of debt and start amassing abundant savings in record time (without deprivation or eating cat food for dinner). For more helpful money strategies to turn your finances around, visit abundantfinances.com. 

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Jillian Beirne

Jillian Beirne Davi is a Financial Turnaround expert and the founder of Abundant Finances, a service that helps you get yourself out of debt and start amassing abundant savings in record time (without deprivation or eating cat food for dinner).   After digging herself out of $30,000 in debt and saving tens of thousands of dollars, she decided to share her strategies with others who struggle in this area.  Turns out:  They work! The Abundant Finances community continues to grow with conscious women who are committed to making RADICAL changes in their financial lives.   For more helpful money strategies to turn your finances around, visit http://www.AbundantFinances.com and sign up for the high-content, high value FREE newsletter today!

Three Ways to Fix Your Feedback

By: Raleigh Mayer

Some Like It Hot. No, not the summer--the Billy Wilder classic film comedy.

In the final scene, Joe E. Brown's character said it best: "Nobody's perfect". So if you have recently received a performance review or employee engagement survey results, there were likely recommendations--or directives--to develop in one or more of these categories:

Executive Presence

Team Development

Strategic Communication

While we would all prefer to be flawless, personally and professionally, candid assessment or critique can lead to critical change if we are open and intentional about receiving and applying reviews. Consider three things about any criticism:

Is it true?

Can I edit, adapt, or experiment with my behaviors?

Will change create new opportunities for me and my organization?

And, if the answer to any or all of the above is yes--Call me. Before things heat up.


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Known as the "Gravitas Guru", Mayer is currently a senior fellow at the Logos Institute for Crisis Management and executive leadership, a leadership lecturer at New York University and Barnard College, and on the leadership council of the Financial Women's Association. 

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Raleigh Mayer

Raleigh Mayer, known as the “Gravitas Guru”, is an executive development consultant, coach, and speaker, specializing in presentation, communication, and leadership, including programs designed specifically for the career acceleration of female executives. Formerly a vice president and spokesperson for the New York City Marathon, Raleigh has coached and trained executive clients for more than a decade and serves a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies.  She is currently a senior fellow at the Logos Institute for Crisis Management and Executive Leadership, a leadership lecturer at New York University and Barnard College, and on the leadership council of the Financial Women’s Association.

Teach Your Children Well: Financial Literacy is the Key to Economic Success

By: Marguerita M. Cheng

Parents would not dream of raising illiterate children—why does it seem that to most parents, financial literacy is less important?

Not to me. As a Certified Financial Planner professional and mother of three, I believe that teaching children how to manage money is one of the most important responsibilities parents have.

Living in a consumer culture where delayed gratification seems like an outmoded concept, it’s’ not easy to keep kids financially grounded. However, by providing our children with firsthand experience in earning, saving, and spending their own money, they are more likely to develop a savvy sensibility and the framework necessary to manage their personal finances as adults.

Financial Literacy Is a Lasting Legacy

Financial literacy—understanding fundamental financial concepts and being able to make prudent financial decisions—will have a critical impact on many important aspects of our children’s lives, including:

  • Cash-flow management,
  • Saving,
  • Debt management,
  • Real-estate purchases and refinances,
  • Investments,
  • Investing planning for retirement and college education, and
  • Tax planning.

Additionally, individuals who are financially literate demonstrate a keen understanding of fundamental financial concepts, such as compound interest, the time value of money, use of consumer credit, diversification, tax-preferred savings vehicles, consumer rights, and more.

With student loan debt at crisis levels and many of today’‘s college graduates burdened by both high student-loan payments and a challenging job market, I encourage parents to adopt a proactive approach to the problem by raising financially literate children.

Since financial education is a natural contributor to economic success, I am passionate about helping my children understand the value of financial stewardship. I want them to be able to differentiate between needs and wants. I want to teach my children sound money-management skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Three Tips for Teaching Kids About Money

With the goal of financial literacy in mind, consider these three money-saving strategies to help teach your children how to best manage their money. They are simple and effective, even for children still in elementary school.

1. Create a financial mission statement for your family. Solicit input from your family about what each member thinks is important. Is it eating out, taking vacations, saving for college, or all of these goals? Have an open conversation with your spouse and children to encourage them to think about the meaning of money, the challenge of earning it, and the importance of saving for what they truly value.

2. Take opportunities in your daily activities to model how you make spending decisions. By discussing money-making decisions as you shop, cook, and pay bills, you provide concrete examples that your children can model. Plus, taking the kids to the grocery store and cooking dinner afterwards teaches them to apply their math skills in the real world. For example, having them bag groceries with you at the checkout shows them how much it really costs to fill up the fridge each week.

My daughter Sarina, who just graduated from high school, has worked as a swim instructor, lifeguard, and math tutor. Earning money has given her an understanding of how much she needs to work to pay for the things she wants. Working at a summer camp this year, she realized that by not taking a full hour for lunch, she could lifeguard for an extra 30 minutes and earn an additional $10 a day! The extra income benefited Sarina and the camp director, who was able to accomplish other tasks while Sarina was lifeguarding.

The value of money is not the only thing Sarina derived from her work experience. “Every teen needs to have work experience so that they know how to deal with people!” she says.

3. Allow children firsthand experience in earning, saving, and spending their own money. Allowances are great, as long as the kids actually do chores to earn the cash. Be sure to set up a savings account for them early, and consider allowing them to manage the records. Children can monitor their savings activity over the years.

By the time they become teenagers, the benefit of saving regularly over time will be apparent, because they will have some money to spend on clothes, food, and friends—and still save for college. And by the time they head off to the university of their dreams, they will be more likely to have a savvy sensibility about managing their expenses.

One of the hard parts of giving children some control over their own money is that they are sure to make some mistakes. It is important not to rescue them from every mistake! Children need the benefit of making their own decisions. By learning from their mistakes, they become adults who can manage their money well.

The Bottom Line

As 7th century Muslim sage Ali ibn Abi Talib espoused, ““There is no greater wealth than knowledge, and no greater poverty than ignorance.””

I hope you’ll consider these ideas for raising your own financially savvy children, and keep me informed of your progress. If you have any good advice on how to help your children become financially literate, please share them with me at mcheng@blueoceanglobalwealth.com.

For more information, visit www.blueoceanglobalwealth.com.

This article originally appeared on www.beinkandescent.com


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Marguerita M. Cheng is the Chief Executive Officer at Blue Ocean Global Wealth. Prior to co-founding Blue Ocean Global Wealth, she was a Financial Advisor at Ameriprise Financial and an Analyst and Editor at Towa Securities in Tokyo, Japan. She is a CFP® professional, a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠, a Retirement Income Certified Professional® and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.

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Marguerita M. Cheng

Marguerita M. Cheng is the Chief Executive Officer at Blue Ocean Global Wealth. Prior to co-founding Blue Ocean Global Wealth, she was a Financial Advisor at Ameriprise Financial and an Analyst and Editor at Towa Securities in Tokyo, Japan. Marguerita is a past spokesperson for the AARP Financial Freedom Campaign and a regular columnist for Investopedia & Kiplinger. She is a CFP® professional, a Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM, a Retirement Income Certified Professional® and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. As a Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) Ambassador, Marguerita helps educate the public, policy makers, and media about the benefits of competent, ethical financial planning. She serves as a Women’s Initiative (WIN) Advocate and subject matter expert for CFP Board, contributing to the development of examination questions for the CFP® Certification Examination. Marguerita also volunteers for CFP Board Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (DEC) hearings. She served on the Financial Planning Association (FPA) National Board of Directors from 2013 – 2015 and is a past president of the Financial Planning Association of the National Capital Area (FPA NCA) 


Rita is a recipient of the Ameriprise Financial Presidential Award for Quality of Advice and the prestigious Japanese Monbukagakusho Scholarship. In 2017, she was named the #3 Most Influential Financial Advisor in the Investopedia Top 100, a Woman to Watch by InvestmentNews, and a Top 100 Minority Business Enterprise (MBE®) by the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council (CRMSDC).


Marguerita’s mantra is “So many people spend their health to gain wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health” (A.J. Reb Materi).

Rewire Your Brain For Success

By: Laura Berger

Do you feel like bad habits and negative thought patterns are holding you back at work? The good news is that you can eliminate them by activating your brain’s delete button. Using neuroplasticity, you can rewire your brain by changing your behavior, thinking and emotions. This means that no one is doomed to be a control freak, conflict avoider or bad listener. Alas, we all have the power to reprogram how we lead and work through problems with focus, commitment and self-compassion.

But, you must first recognize and identify the unwanted thoughts linked to your negative behaviors and as they show up, remind yourself that they are false messages sent by your brain. Like any skill needing development, they can be improved when you take actionable steps to adopt positive behaviors and patterns.

Here are a few of those actionable steps, along with some of my clients' insights in their own words and suggestions for reaching your full potential:

Be less controlling. If you demand perfect results and believe that your way of doing things is the only way, it's time you started letting go. Not only does this mindset increase your workload (Hello, stress!), but it also damages relationships with colleagues and can ultimately hinder your organization's success. Ironically, the more you relinquish the need to control, the more in control you will feel (Goodbye, stress!). As one client described it in a coaching session:

“The more I relinquish control, the more I’m in control because when I do that, I am more serene, and the serenity is where my greatest power and influence resides. When I’m in that zone, I know that what I say has meaning, is relevant and is the right thing for whatever I’m dealing with. If I’m not there, what I say and how I behave is probably driven more reactively or impulsively …”

Start by challenging yourself to relinquish your need for perfection, remembering that the 80/20 rule not only applies to what your organization does, but what you do as well. By relaxing your standards on certain things, you will become open to alternative ways of doing things and will likely learn something in the process: a win-win.


Improve your listening. Listening well is critical to effective communication, fostering high performance, strong relationships and greater employee engagement. Becoming a good listener requires proactive practice in conversations and meetings. So, the next time a situation demands your attention, maintain eye contact with the speaker. As you listen to their points, remain attentive and open-minded, as judgment detracts from your listening. Do not interrupt, but rather wait for a pause to ask any clarifying questions. Share any feedback while mirroring the speaker’s sentiments and demeanor. This ensures conversational counterparts know they were heard and their thoughts are valued.

Embrace conflict. Too many of us allow our egos to cloud our judgment in workplace conflict. And we all know that running away from workplace problems only spirals already undesirable situations further south. In his book, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, Don Miguel Ruiz asserts the importance of taking nothing personally. Instead, respect others’ subjective opinions, realizing that their views don’t necessarily define us accurately. To effectively create separation between the conflict and yourself, adopt the belief, "It's not about me." As one client described it in a coaching session:

“It’s not about me. It’s not just me. I have a team … There is a bit of mindset shift that’s happening, and I want to make the best of it. The only way that’s going to happen is if I take charge and stop feeling like things are happening to me. It’s not going to be perfect and that’s okay … There are limits to how much I am going to stress myself out because of what other people may comment on or say. I am taking more control of my day-to-day and my interactions and not fearing the consequences from my boss. They are my choices, and it’s about making them in a way that honors my needs.”

With this mindset, you quickly realize just how rational, assertive and positive you can be during confrontation. So, the next time conflict knocks, leave your ego at the door, and allow growth and learning to take flight.

Be confident. Don’t waste your brain cycles on false messages that only lower your confidence. Instead, replace the negative self-perception with a positive one and focus on the skills you do have. If you’re constantly telling yourself, “I’m not deserving of a promotion,” change this belief by making a list of the work you put in every day that qualifies you for a promotion or raise. This will culminate in what I call a promotion résumé that will be ready to hand to your superiors at annual review time. If you feel you are still undeserving, think outside the box and ask your boss if you can take on new projects.

A saying credited to Thomas Edison says, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time.” To create lasting change within yourself and never look back, stay optimistic. Get excited about how empowered you will feel when you successfully act in more positive and constructive ways.

This article originally appeared on www.forbes.com


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Featured on ABC News, CNBC, Yahoo Finance, Redbook, Self, and the Miami Herald, Laura Berger is a certified executive coach and co-founder of the Berdeo Group. Her clients include leaders at JP Morgan Chase, The Walt Disney World Company, Financial Solutions Advisory Group, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She is the co-author of two books: Fall in Love Again Every Day and Radical Sabbatical.

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Laura Berger

Featured on ABC News, in CNBC, Yahoo Finance, and in Redbook, Self, and the Miami Herald, Laura Berger is a certified executive coach and co-founder of the Berdéo Group. She has counseled leaders for 15 years, maximizing their potential in the areas of Evidence based leadership, global operations management, and strategic change management. Her clients include leaders at JP Morgan Chase, Leo Burnett Worldwide, American Hospital Association, Starcom MediaVest Group, The Walt Disney World Company, Financial Solutions Advisory Group, World Business Chicago, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She is an in-demand speaker and co-author of two books: Fall in Love Again Every Day and Radical Sabbatical: Could You Say Goodbye to Everything You Know to Get Everything You Want?.

Your indispensable guide to Social Security

By: Elliot Raphaelson

There is no question that Social Security issues are important to the American public. It is not unusual for me to receive more than 100 responses from readers when I write a Social Security-related column.

Regular readers know that I frequently reference Andy Landis as a source. He has just updated his book, "Social Security: The Inside Story" (www.andylandis.biz), which I consider an indispensable resource on the topic. His book is up-to-date, comprehensive, well-organized and easy to understand. He provides numerous helpful examples. In each chapter, he includes Social Security references so readers can read the associated regulations that were discussed.

The book provides a useful overview of Social Security and chapters on retirement benefits, family benefits, survivor benefits, disability benefits and Medicare. There are references to available calculators for estimating your benefits, hints on effective filing, and a very important chapter on maximizing your benefits.

The chapter on maximizing Social Security benefits is particularly useful. Landis discusses the advantages of postponing filing for benefits up to age 70, which increases your benefits by 8 percent for every year you wait past full retirement age (FRA). Another advantage in doing so is that widow/widowers might be entitled to a larger benefit if you choose this option. Filing for widow/widower benefits only does not preclude filing for benefits based on your work record at a later time.

The chapter also discusses restricted application for "spousal only" payments. This option allows you to file for your spousal benefit after you reach your FRA, and then to file for your benefits based on your work record up to age 70. Unfortunately, many Social Security representatives do not understand this option. When I have written about this option, I have been amazed at the number of readers who write complaining about the ignorance of many Social Security Administration representatives.

Note that this option is available only to individuals who were born before January 2, 1954. And to qualify, your spouse would have to have already filed for his/her benefits. You must not have received a reduced retirement benefit or spousal payment before.

It would make sense to use this option only if your payment at age 70 is higher than your spousal payment at FRA. If you meet these qualifications, it can be a valuable tool.

Many of the options and tools discussed in this book will help you make the right decisions. You cannot depend on advice from SSA representatives. Many financial planners are far from experts in Social Security as well. I recommend that it is in your best interests to become an expert in Social Security before it is time to apply for benefits. Making the right decision can provide you with hundreds of thousands of additional benefits.

Many divorced individuals do not understand their Social Security options. If your previous marriage lasted at least 10 years, and you either have not remarried or remarried after age 60, you may have benefits you are not aware of. You can't depend on the SSA to inform you. For example, many individuals believe that because their ex-spouse remarried, it affects their benefits. This is false; it has no impact.

If your ex predeceases you, it is possible that you are entitled to larger benefits than you previously were receiving. For example, assume your ex worked until age 70 and was receiving $2,000 per month in Social Security benefits, and he/she died. If you are single, or remarried after age 60, you are entitled to whichever is greater, your ex-spouse's benefit or the benefit you are now receiving.

Landis' book covers this and other topics in great detail.

If you have any relatives approaching retirement age, one of the best gifts you can provide is a copy of this book. It can make their retirement much more prosperous. Making the right Social Security choices is critical. Making the wrong choices is expensive and difficult to undo.


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A retired executive of Chase Manhattan bank, Elliot Raphaelson joined The Savings Game after decades of experience as an advisor, teacher and author in the field of personal finance. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Town & Country, Vogue, Self, Savvy and Working Woman magazines. For ten years he has worked as a certified mediator and trainer in a Florida county court.

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Elliot Raphaelson

A retired executive of Chase Manhattan Bank, Elliot Raphaelson joined The Savings Game after decades of experience as an advisor, teacher and author in the field of personal finance. He has taught courses in personal financial planning at The New School for Social Research and at the Military Academy at West Point, as well conducting seminars for Chase, Dow Jones & Co. and other corporations.

Past publications include Planning Your Financial Future (Wiley, 1982), and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, Town & Country, Vogue, Self, Savvy and Working Woman magazines. For ten years he has worked as a certified mediator and trainer in a Florida county court, where he helps resolve personal financial problems of every description.

Using Social Media to Advance Your Career - and Your Company

By: Raleigh Mayer

The numbers speak for themselves.

LinkedIn is host to 107 million U.S. users and 332 million worldwide.Twitter boasts 232 million active users, and Facebook enjoys a whopping 1.35 billion postings.

"Positioning and promoting oneself in cyberspace can be complicated, and electronic engagement should be treated like any other business interaction, as communication is currency."

In just one year alone, online activity has doubled, from 21.5 to 41.9 billion "actions" online. In the financial industry, LinkedIn had more than 2 million members as of 2013, with two people signing up for a LinkedIn account every second.

Identity tools from business cards to email signatures now routinely include URLs for LinkedIn profiles, as well as links to Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. Individuals and organizations with minimal—or absent—electronic footprints are not only less visible but often less respected, as online visibility is no longer optional.

Whether you are building a career or a company, if you're not online, you don't exist.

"Relationships, brands and even businesses can be built by using social media," said Jennifer Openshaw, executive director of the Financial Women's Association (FWA). "It's a megaphone for extending your current content and communications more broadly and making powerful connections in seconds."

How can you leverage this new medium for you and your company?

Job searching

The world has turned upside down. Would you believe a whopping 94 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet candidates? HR leaders are now bypassing headhunters and opting for the ability to find their best candidates using smart search capabilities.

That's why those seeking new careers or positions should pay careful attention to the quality and currency of their LinkedIn profiles.

Executive search expert Stacy Musi of Chadick Ellig, a New York-based recruiting firm, said, "Every executive should have a current and descriptive LinkedIn profile that clearly articulates their personal brand and highlights their areas of greatest expertise."

But that doesn't mean you should ignore face-to-face and phone connections.

"Many searches are still filled the old-fashioned way: through real-time networking," Musi pointed out.

Alexandra Tyler, vice president of integrated campaign management for a leading financial services firm, pointed out that "keywords in your online profile enable you to be found easily in search engines by top recruiters. So be purposeful in crafting your online summary and profile to get to the top of search-engine pages."

Building a human brand

One of the failures of corporate branding is forgetting to humanize. Most marketers place ads or push out a message, when it's those companies who create a connection that can take a brand to another level.

That's why Linda Descano, managing director and global head of content and social at Citi, believes "it's key to put a human face on big corporations. This can be done through tweeting, posting, writing and then gauging the success of these initiatives."

She adds, "This is also true for individuals. You must always manage and maintain a digital brand, as this enables you to be known for what you want and simultaneously helps you to better protect your specific brand."

And that branding needs to be consistent. While Openshaw notes very different purposes and audiences between, say, LinkedIn and Facebook or Twitter and Instagram, keep in mind what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg once said: "You have one identity. The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly. Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity."

Openshaw, the author of "The Socially Savvy Advisor," points to the "convergence" of all media.

"The idea that there are clear lines between personal and professional identity has always been a myth," said Kristin Johnson, senior advisor at Logos Consulting Group. "Social media hasn't changed that, but it has cast a brighter spotlight on the interconnectedness of our personal and professional relationships, therefore putting greater responsibility on people to consider how perceptions from online identities feed into relational outcomes—both personal and professional—in the 'real,' offline world."

The 4 C’s of social communications

Indeed, positioning and promoting oneself in cyberspace can be complicated, and electronic engagement should be treated like any other business interaction, as communication is currency.

Whatever social media platforms you choose to use, be sure to keep these four C's in mind:

Be current: Keep all information, including head shots, up to date.

Be consistent: With your language, tone and profile photos (to be recognizable on each platform).

Be compelling: Every posting should be as clear, concise and clever as possible.

Be critical: Don't accept just anyone into your network; vet them appropriately.

And finally, regarding the company you keep, follow the words of wisdom of Citi's Linda Descano:

"Accepting someone via your own social media channels is an endorsement of that individual. You must ensure they're people of stature with high character who reflect your personal values. Stay true to yourself and conduct yourself online as you would offline at all times."

This article originally appeared on www.cnbc.com


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Known as the "Gravitas Guru", Mayer is currently a senior fellow at the Logos Institute for Crisis Management and executive leadership, a leadership lecturer at New York University and Barnard College, and on the leadership council of the Financial Women's Association. 

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Raleigh Mayer

Raleigh Mayer, known as the “Gravitas Guru”, is an executive development consultant, coach, and speaker, specializing in presentation, communication, and leadership, including programs designed specifically for the career acceleration of female executives. Formerly a vice president and spokesperson for the New York City Marathon, Raleigh has coached and trained executive clients for more than a decade and serves a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies.  She is currently a senior fellow at the Logos Institute for Crisis Management and Executive Leadership, a leadership lecturer at New York University and Barnard College, and on the leadership council of the Financial Women’s Association.

Empowering Women: Four Ways to Improve Your Financial Well-Being

By: Marguerita M. Cheng

As a financial planner, I look back at the generations of women who throughout American history have drawn on their intelligence, imagination, and sense of wonder to make extraordinary contributions, and I am awed.

I’m also not surprised at how far we have come.

Currently, women outnumber men in American colleges and universities. This reversal of the gender gap is a recent trend, noted in 2009, when 57 percent of bachelor degrees, 60 percent of master degrees, and 52 percent of doctoral degrees were awarded to women.

Fortunately for women, this increase in education translates into increased influence—and affluence.

Women are attaining individual wealth through corporate employment, as well as entrepreneurial pursuits. In fact, women-owned business are growing at twice the national rate, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research.

As a working professional mom of three children, I understand that women often have the best of intentions in managing their wealth, but often put themselves last.

The reality is that many financial advisors do not invest the time or energy in attempting to understand the differences in how women view wealth. While it’s not true for everyone, men tend to associate wealth with prestige or power. Women tend to associate wealth with security and peace of mind.

Here is list of strategies that I use with my female clients to help them become more engaged and empowered about their financial well-being:

1. Raise your voice. There is no such a thing as a dumb question. There is no need to talk over people or down to people. Case in point: One of my female clients approached her tax advisor about wanting to pay off her mortgage prior to retirement. Instead of letting her finish her question, he quickly responded, “Why would you think of such a dumb idea?” Fortunately, she decided to fire this gentleman, I wonder how many women have encountered such a negative experience, and stick with advisors who are not listening or paying attention to what they want for their financial futures.

2. Value all of your contributions in the household, not just the financial/economic ones. I will never forget one couple, where the wife was a highly specialized nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). She asked me why an advisor once told her that she and her husband should only buy extra life insurance for her husband. She said that I was the first financial professional to validate her many roles of mother, wife and daughter, and started crying. “At last,” she said, “I have financial peace of mind.”

3. Don’t make assumptions or generalizations. Don’t assume that all women are spenders, or that all women are conservative investors. Don’t mistake silence for lack of influence. As an example, in Japan, women usually manage the family’s finances and give their husbands an allowance.

4. Look back with pride. We gain strength and inspiration from the amazing women who came before us. We can thank them for paving the way for us to embrace our growing financial power. Let’s wield it well.

I explain to my children—two daughters and one son—that I am inspired to help women improve their financial confidence. Working with my clients in a financial planning relationship is intellectually stimulating, emotionally gratifying, and socially rewarding. The idea of financial education and empowerment is truly timeless.

This article originally appeared on www.beinkandescent.com


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Marguerita M. Cheng is the Chief Executive Officer at Blue Ocean Global Wealth. Prior to co-founding Blue Ocean Global Wealth, she was a Financial Advisor at Ameriprise Financial and an Analyst and Editor at Towa Securities in Tokyo, Japan. She is a CFP® professional, a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠, a Retirement Income Certified Professional® and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.

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Marguerita M. Cheng

Marguerita M. Cheng is the Chief Executive Officer at Blue Ocean Global Wealth. Prior to co-founding Blue Ocean Global Wealth, she was a Financial Advisor at Ameriprise Financial and an Analyst and Editor at Towa Securities in Tokyo, Japan. Marguerita is a past spokesperson for the AARP Financial Freedom Campaign and a regular columnist for Investopedia & Kiplinger. She is a CFP® professional, a Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM, a Retirement Income Certified Professional® and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. As a Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) Ambassador, Marguerita helps educate the public, policy makers, and media about the benefits of competent, ethical financial planning. She serves as a Women’s Initiative (WIN) Advocate and subject matter expert for CFP Board, contributing to the development of examination questions for the CFP® Certification Examination. Marguerita also volunteers for CFP Board Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (DEC) hearings. She served on the Financial Planning Association (FPA) National Board of Directors from 2013 – 2015 and is a past president of the Financial Planning Association of the National Capital Area (FPA NCA) 


Rita is a recipient of the Ameriprise Financial Presidential Award for Quality of Advice and the prestigious Japanese Monbukagakusho Scholarship. In 2017, she was named the #3 Most Influential Financial Advisor in the Investopedia Top 100, a Woman to Watch by InvestmentNews, and a Top 100 Minority Business Enterprise (MBE®) by the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council (CRMSDC).


Marguerita’s mantra is “So many people spend their health to gain wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health” (A.J. Reb Materi).

New versus used vehicles: How do you choose?

by Jennifer McDermott

Purchasing a vehicle is a very exciting financial milestone in anyone’s life. It’s a symbol of independence and lifestyle. The tricky question to ask yourself is: should you buy new or used? Both have their pros and cons when it comes to cost, reliability, warranty, and rates (just to name a few!), so how do you determine which will really fare best value?

Here are my tips on what you should consider when deciding whether to buy new or used.

Consider Safety and Reliability

Aside from cost, the safety and reliability of your vehicle should be at the forefront of your mind. What’s the point in investing in something that’s a) not going to last, or b) could be a detriment to your wellbeing?

The benefit of a new vehicle is that they incorporate the latest tech and safety features. For example, it is now mandatory for all cars sold in the U.S. to have some form of tire pressure monitoring, whereas older vehicles may not have these features. This is incredibly important if you’re new to the road or simply a cautious driver.

In terms of reliability, tech incorporated into new cars often have enhanced fuel efficiency, and reduced service and maintenance costs (however, it’s important to note that these can sometimes come in the form of expensive add-ons). If considering a used car, it’s also paramount that you obtain the car’s history. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Compare Loan Providers

As with any expensive purchase, you might need some extra help financing in the beginning. However, with so many auto loan providers available with varying rates and fees, it can be difficult to know where to begin. It’s a great idea to start by comparing providers to find the right financing option to suit your needs.

The next step is to consider how much the loan would cost for a new car or a used car. The average auto loan rate for a new car sits at 4.74% and 8.50% for a used car, with an average loan term of 68 months for a new vehicle and 63 for a used vehicle. If we then look at the average cost of a new vehicle ($36,400), against a used car ($19,232), when factoring in total interest, the interest for a new car only totals to $502 more than a used car. Although this is only an example, it pays to conduct a proper analysis when weighing up your options to be sure that you’re making the right decision.

Factor in Depreciation

Once you drive that brand new car out of the lot, it’s already lost value. It’s not ideal, but that’s just how it is. New cars lose their value quickly – a significant proportion within the first few years alone. If you’re worried about losing value on your investment, the good news is that with a used car, depreciation is slower. The dramatic loss has already occurred, which is what makes them a cheaper purchase in the first place.

With used cars, you don’t need to be concerned about immediate depreciation after your purchase. In terms of physical dings and dents, you’ll stress less about them with a used car, as it’s likely that the first (or even second) car-owner added some character already.

Assess Rates

When it comes to insurance rates, there are pros and cons no matter which way you look at it. If you’re considering a new car, insurance may actually be cheaper due to enhanced safety features, therefore lowering the rates. However, as it’s a newer vehicle, and therefore more desirable to thieves and vandals, insurance rates are often driven up higher.

That being said, it really does depend on the situation. For example, older vehicles are often targeted as they lack the modern anti-theft devices as featured in newer models. This makes them an easier target. However, if taking the used car route, insurance rates are usually reduced to accommodate the lower value of the vehicle.

When it comes to insurance, the amount you get covered for is ultimately up to you, to an extent. Although liability insurance is required more often than not, you can always opt for additional extras, like collision insurance, or comprehensive auto insurance, covering things like vandalism and damage not related to an in-car accident.

So, Which Route?

Deciding whether to opt for a new or a used car is sometimes a tricky decision, and there is no definitive answer. It depends entirely on the situation – the model, the make, the optional extras, the rates and fees at the time… there are so many factors. However, if you do your research, compare the options available to you, and most importantly, trust your gut, you’re sure to feel great about reaching this financial milestone!


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Jennifer McDermott is Consumer Advocate at personal finance comparison website finder.com. She has more than 12 years’ experience under her belt in the finance, lifestyle and travel industries where she’s analyzed consumer trends. Jennifer loves to uncover interesting insights and issues to help people find better.

The Equifax Breach and What to do

Equifax, one of the three major consumer credit reporting agencies, recently revealed that hackers had gained access to company data that potentially compromised sensitive information for 143 million American consumers, including Social Security numbers, addresses, names, driver’s license numbers, and credit card numbers (THAT’S NEARLY HALF THE US POPULATION).

The three main credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, maintain reports on when consumers attempt to obtain a credit card, car or even a mortgage loan, their payment history, and the amount of available credit. Some companies use one or all three of these companies when consumers seek a credit card, mortgage or other loans.

Since the personal information was stolen, along with 209,000 credit card numbers, the breach will increase the opportunity for identity theft to occur.

BE PROACTIVE

Review the Federal Trade Commission’s website on the breach HERE

Equifax has set up its own program to help people find out if they were one of the millions affected by the hack. It requires a multi-step process that takes place over the course of at least one week.

http://bit.ly/2xutn6S

Equifax will advise if it’s likely your information was hacked and then it’s your responsibility to register to get Trusted ID Premier, which provides the following security

  1. 3 Bureau Credit File Monitoring
  2. Equifax Credit Report
  3. 1MM Identity theft Insurance
  4. Social Security number scanning

The service is free for 1 year and you will not be required to provide a credit card number to be charged after the year is complete.

Equifax has an updates page at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/

Equifax will not be contacting individuals to notify them about the data breach. Check-in with your loved ones to ensure that they are also aware and protected

Six Financial To-Do’s (and Don’ts) of Wedding Planning

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by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

From choosing decorations and centerpieces, to deciding on the dream tailor-made dresses for you and your bridesmaids, weddings are one of the biggest and most memorable milestones in our lives. While wedding planning can be exciting, we don’t always take into account the financial toll “the perfect wedding” can have on the pockets of you and your significant other, but never fear, by following these six tips you can be financially savvy on your big day and long after!

1. Have the money conversation!
Sit down and discuss your goals, values, interests, and relationships. This will help to determine how finances will be prioritized and the roles and responsibilities within the marriage. Be sure to continue going on money dates and speak openly about finances, post-nuptials. If you are in need of further financial consultation, there are professionals who specifically meet with couples to go over conversations to create financial expectations within the marriages.

2. Open a savings account, specifically for money for your wedding, and develop a budget!
Save, save and save some more! First, you need to determine how much you can afford to spend on your nuptials. If you need to have a long engagement to stick to your budget, do it and understand the costs associated with what you want.

3. Don’t accumulate debt from financing your own wedding and don’t tap into your retirement savings
With money already a stress on a relationship, overspending on your big day could lead to deeper debt that will not be beneficial to the health of your marriage. I would suggest saving for your wedding, rather than borrowing. This can help you avoid paying the interest associated with loans and credit card debt. If you do not have the cash to pay either a loan or credit cards, then avoid financing your wedding with these payment methods. If you borrow from your 401(k), you must repay the loan within five years or else you would have to pay taxes on the amount that was withdrawn as well as a 10% early withdrawal penalty.

4. Save for the big things in life and look for bargains when you can!
When furnishing your home or saving for a first deposit on a home – it will be important to save and find some good deals when you can. When planning for your wedding, there a million ways to find exactly what you have been dreaming of as a little girl. There are plenty of DIY crafts you can use for favors, bridal showers, and wedding décor. Pinterest will be your best friend!

5. Meet with a financial advisor
A financial planner will put a comprehensive plan in place to help prepare you for all financial matters that may arise in your marriage. If you or your significant other are concerned about how financing your wedding will affect your financial future, sitting down with a financial expert can help you plan for your special day and all of the special days to follow.

6. Combining finances and keeping some separate
If after your money conversation, you find that you may have different goals, consider having a “Yours,” “Mine,” and “Ours” account. Have an account for shared household expenses and keep your own accounts for personal expenses and discretionary spending, so you can buy those shoes and he can buy those tickets for the game.

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Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Stacy Francis is the Founder, CEO and President of Francis Financial, Inc., a Wealth Management and Financial Planning firm. With over 18 years of experience in the financial industry, she is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™), and a Certified Estate Planning Specialist (CES™). She is the Co-Director of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ (ADFP) Greater New York Metro Chapter and a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and an honoree member of the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA). A nationally recognized financial expert, Stacy has appeared on ABC News, CNBC, CNN, PBS Nightly Business Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fine Living Network, and The O’Reilly Factor. Stacy attended the New York University Center for Finance, Law and Taxation.

How to Not Go Broke Supporting Adult Children

by David Ragland

You’ve worked hard, you’ve saved, you’ve downsized, and the nest is finally empty. Life is good. But then one of your kids loses his job. Or she starts falling further into debt. Or decides to send your grandchild to a private school he can’t afford.
Now what do you do? Is your only choice to dip into retirement to support an adult child? How do you manage the feelings of guilt and obligation versus your own needs?

Your Retirement Reality

Once the nest is empty, the kids are off the payroll, right? Or just theoretically? Because your retirement may depend on it, know that it is never too late to talk to your kids about money. Even if that “kid” is approaching middle age.
This is particularly true because during your last ten years in the workforce when you’ll most likely reach your maximum wealth-building potential and accumulate a significant portion of what you need for retirement. This is the time to put more into your 401K, downsize and reduce expenses, and really focus on reaching your retirement goals. Sure, there will be unexpected expenses, but ongoing unexpected expenses from your children shouldn’t be one of them.

Build Your Financial Support Team

But I know. You love your kids. You’ve made sacrifices for them since they were born. Shifting the dynamic can be hard when children become adults and their financial footing is still wobbly.
“These can be really difficult situations,” says Wendy Dickinson, PhD and licensed psychologist at GROW counseling in Atlanta. “When we have parents who are in a crisis because of a failure-to-launch young adult, or an adult child in a health crisis, or perhaps an adult child dealing with an addiction that becomes a bottomless money pit, one of the first things that we do is a thorough assessment. We need to determine 1) what is the goal 2) what would the parents not be able to live with and 3) to what extent the parents are willing to learn to set boundaries.”
Dickinson says that setting a goal is extremely important because it will guide the rest of the process:

  • Does the parent unit want to require the young adult to be responsible for their decisions?
  • Do they want to appropriately financially support them during a difficult time?
  • Do they want to provide for some but not all of their needs?

Essential to the process of goal setting is clear communication and a willingness for the parents to be open and vulnerable about what they are feeling and what they need.
“I always spend some time talking to parents about what they could NOT live with – it’s really helpful in establishing a threshold of behavior. For example, would they not be able to live with their grandchildren being hungry? Or their kids/grandchildren not having the medical attention they need? Sometimes parents will say they are not going to pay for anything, except unlimited counseling if their son/daughter is willing to participate with a goal of getting better. I find there are usually exceptions to what parents are willing to pay for, and in the process of setting boundaries it’s important to be clear about these exceptions upfront if possible.”
Finally, Dickinson says, the parent unit needs to learn to set boundaries. This can be a challenging because boundary setting has most likely been difficult for these parents during their child-rearing years. “Much could be written about navigating the process of boundary setting, but regarding the topic of money, I specifically think it’s important to be clear, consistent and compassionate,” says Dickinson.
“Clear and consistent relate to the goal-setting process and learning how to have difficult money conversations. The compassion that is critical is in separating the feeling from the behavior. It’s OK to empathize with your child even if you are standing firm on the financial support. Often parents interpret ‘boundary setting’ to mean they have to be cold, stoic, or disconnected. Rather you, as the parent, are the biggest cheerleaders for your kids – your encouragement can be the very thing that pushes them to take a risk and realize that with a little work they are able to achieve financial autonomy.”

Rounding out the Team

In addition to finding a counselor who can provide guidance and recommend strategies, you can also lean on your financial planner, accountant and/or attorney. You want a team that has your back especially as you get older. They need to understand your goals and your challenges — including your children’s financial situations — and be there to help you draw the line. They may need to play the bad guy and that’s OK.
You may also want to talk to your financial planner about including your adult child in a meeting so they can see the realities of your budget, as well as the benefits of a financial plan. And unless you can really afford it, don’t distribute an inheritance before you die. We’re all living longer and the expenses associated with aging continue to rise. You may need that money.
The challenges of family and money are nothing new, but how you deal with it can be. Communication is key as is finding the support you need to stay focused on what’s best for your situation. And know that regardless of how old your children are, it’s never too late.

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David Ragland

David Ragland is a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®), Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®) and Chief Executive Officer of IRC Wealth, a private asset management company based in Atlanta. Holding both a BBA and a Master’s degree in Accounting from the University of Georgia, David began his career in the tax division of Ernst & Young. He then served as CFO for several companies, gaining experience in taking companies public and propelling them on to the INC 500 List of Fastest Growing Companies. A vibrant, energetic speaker, best-selling author of Wealth Made Simple (yes, really), businessman and Ironman triathlete, David Ragland understands and articulates the core ingredients that motivate, energize and push people across their personal finish lines.

Instead of Spending, Teenagers Can Turn to Saving

by Samantha Cueto

When Should Teens Start a Savings Account?

As soon as a teenager begins to spend the money that they earn, they should start considering opening a savings account. According to an ING Direct study, a surprisingly large percentage of teenagers amounting to approximately 83% admit they are clueless when it comes to how they should be spending their money.

How Teenagers can Earn Money for Their Savings Account

Around 35% of teenagers attain jobs, according to a graph from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is a moderate percentage considering how most teenagers focus on educational classes or internships for their resumes during the summer. Teenagers can attain their money inside homes through some of these popular options:

  • Some teens can receive small allowances each week, in return for completing chores throughout the house. Yet there are fewer parents who have been giving their teenagers money, and may even consider the prospect of chores as something that is more of a responsibility rather than an optional task nowadays. Therefore, this option may not be the easiest opportunity to earn money, and can only depend on what a parent’s perspective of allowance is.
  • Teens can babysit or tutor their neighborhood’s children, if there are any parents actively searching for either a babysitter or tutor. Teens who enjoy being in the presence of young children may find this option the most appealing, but it does require knowledge on the academic subjects the child may be having trouble with, and how to take care of children in general.

Teens who desire to work outside of a home can consider other viable jobs to earn money, such as:

  • Some retail stores or fast-food restaurants are willing to hire any teenagers vying for the occupation. Teens can learn some basic skills such as how to operate a cash register or how supplies can be properly stored. Retail stores and fast-food restaurants offer small salaries and a daily schedule that can help any teen become slightly more organized.
  • Any small tasks teens can complete around their local neighborhood can help them earn some extra cash. Some conventional examples do include, but are not limited to: washing neighbors’ cars, mowing a neighbor’s lawn, and offering cool refreshments to anyone passing by that may look dehydrated. This option does not earn as much money for a teenager than the other aforementioned ones, and are more of temporary solutions.

Teenagers who earn the money from these jobs end up spending it rather than saving. Teenagers who are interested in their future should open a savings account to pay for their dream college and the expenses that eventually come when they reach adulthood, such as purchasing an apartment or paying their bills.

Why Teenagers Should Open Savings Accounts with Their Banks

Once a teenager signs up for a saving account with their chosen bank, they can begin depositing the money they earn into their account. A savings account can even limit the number of withdrawals to six per month, which can keep teenagers on a reasonable budget instead of splurging most of their money on shopping sprees. Savings accounts also come with interest rates.
An interest rate can be beneficial to a teen if they earn it correctly. Savings accounts add a certain amount of money to the current balance if it has been deposited there for a certain period of time. The amount of interest a teenager can earn in their account depends on how much money they have deposited into their account, the bank they created a savings account with, and the general interest rate of that aforementioned bank. A teenager must also keep in mind that they would have to pay a fee if they do not maintain a minimum balance on their account that some banks can require, but not all.
A teenager who has just commenced the process of searching for the right bank may be encountering some trouble. There are hundreds of different banks offering several different options that can be overwhelmingly confusing to a teenager. Not all of these banks offer the best deals or have a teenager’s interests in mind, but there are three options that have been narrowed down so a teenager can begin their search:

  • Capital One 360 Savings Account is a superb option for a teenager because there is no minimum balance or deposit that can come with most banks. Teenagers can also find their Automatic Savings Plan extremely helpful, which transfers money automatically to the account and can be adjusted or stopped at any time. The interest rate is only 0.75% per year, which may sound small but will have money growing in no time.
  • The Barclay Dream Account is an online banking account option that will earn the most interest. If deposits are made continuously for six consecutive months, there will be a 2.5% bonus on the interest earned. If no money has gone through withdrawal for six consecutive months, another 2.5% bonus will also be added on the interest earned. It also promises no monthly service fees have to be paid and there is no minimum deposit number to open the account.
  • All of Ally Bank’s accounts can be opened as a custodial account, meaning that a parent will have control over the account until the child they’re saving for becomes 18. In-trust accounts can also be opened, meaning the income can be split between a parent and their child once the child reaches legal age as well. Ally Bank doesn’t require a minimum balance when opening an account and no fees have to be paid monthly. The interest rates vary depending on which account a teenager and their parents decide to choose. CDs, or certificates of deposit, are also a viable choice in Ally Bank.

Samantha Cueto is a teenager herself. She is a rising sophomore at Dominican Academy in Manhattan.

Is it a Good Idea to Close Credit Cards I don't Use?

by Rebecca Eve Selkowe, J.D

3 myths about your credit score:

I never really talked much about credit scores before, but that is starting to change now as I’m realizing how much unnecessary worry, concern, and confusion swirls around them.

So first things first. Your credit score is one credit bureau’s opinion of how likely you are to be able to repay the money you borrow.

Annnd… we’re done here!

[drops mic.]

Heh.

Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that – what factors go into it, what it means, how to have a good one – and based on what I hear from my very smart, very educated clients, a lot of mystery, too!  Here are the top three myths about your credit score, debunked.

Myth #1: If I never use my credit card, I’ll have good credit. WRONG. Your credit score is based on large part on how good you are with credit.  If you don’t actually use credit, no one will know if you’re good at it.  So if you don’t use a credit card, you won’t have bad credit, but your score definitely won’t be as high as it could (and, if you’re financially responsible enough to respect credit cards enough to fear them, as high as it should) probably be.

Myth #2: I should close any credit cards I don’t use. I hear this all the time. I scream “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!” and start lifting things up and smashing them.  Okay I don’t really do this… but I want to.  Unlike in, ahem, other areas of our lives, when it comes to your credit score, size matters! Your score is based on part on how much credit you have available to you AND on the length of your credit history (how long you’ve been using a particular account). Closing cards reduces the amount of credit you have.  Closing your oldest card shortens your credit history.  New accounts, bad.  Old accounts, good.  HULK SMASH!

Myth #3: My credit score is the same as my credit report.  NOPE.  Your score is BASED on your report.  You can get your credit report for free each year, but it will not include your credit score.  You definitely want to make sure you’re on top of that report to make sure everything in it is accurate.  You can get your score for free, too, but you may have to do some finagling.  Your score is useful, but the report is even more useful.

There you go. Three myths about your credit score. Pop quiz next week! :)

If you have your head buried in the sand about YOUR credit score, it’s time to get it out. Good, bad, ugly, you have to know that number.  You may be surprised, you may be devastated, but you know that saying “start where you are?”  That’s you and your credit score.

So go check it.

Did these surprise you? Did you know these already? Are you all, tell me something I don’t know? What other questions did this raise for you?

Should I be zeroing out my credit card every month?

by Rebecca Eve Selkowe, J.D

The best way to use your credit card is to pay the balance in full every month – that way, you don’t have credit card debt and you don’t pay interest. However, if you are using your credit card all the time, the balance will never be $0.

(It’s very confusing.)

Credit cards work on a “statement cycle” and a “grace period.” The easiest way to understand what this means is to use an example. Let’s say your Visa bill is due on the 20th of every month, and your statement cycle ends on the 23rd. Let’s say it’s February. How do you know what to pay this month?

Everything you charged from December 24 to January 23 (and anything you hadn’t completely paid off up to that point) makes up your January statement balance. That January statement balance will be due on or before February 20. If you pay the entire January statement balance sometime between January 23 and February 20, you won’t pay any interest. WOO HOO!

BUT! If you used the card in February, you’re still going to see a balance on the card when you pay it on the 20th. Not to fear… on February 23 that statement cycle will close and everything you charged from January 24 to February 23 will be due on or before March 20!

What You Need to Know About Credit

You sit down in your mortgage broker's office because you can’t stand the news. Your credit is so bad you will not be able to secure a loan to buy the dream home you just bid on. Can you imagine? After months of taking time off work to run from one open house to the next, you forgot to check your credit report to make sure your credit was in order. What independent credit reporting agencies say about you and your credit can and will make the difference between your ability to buy a car, a house, or even a simple pair of shoes.

Your credit report contains everything about your credit history, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. Details you would never dream of sharing with even your closest of friends are listed neatly for all creditors to see. Your last residence, your employment history, your bill payment history, how many credit cards you have, how much you owe, and how much access to credit you already have are just a few of the juicy details contained within your report.

So what hurts your credit? Paying bills late, defaults on loans, too many credit cards, canceling your credit cards, large balances, medical bills that were lost in an insurance shuffle can all end up creating black marks on your credit report.

Many major life events, such as marriage and divorce, purchasing a home, or having a child are also financial changes that involve and can affect your credit.

Even worse, many credit files contain inaccuracies that can harm your credit rating. Just as reviewing your credit card statement can reveal charges you did not make, reviewing your credit report can reveal activity on accounts you don't use or new accounts you did not open, alerting you to the possibility of identity theft.

Few Savvy Ladies know that they can fight an improper charge on their credit card. The Fair Credit Billing Act, which was passed in 1974, makes sure the law is on your side. In fact, your credit card company is required to investigate and either correct the mistake or explain why the bill is correct within 90 days. They must acknowledge your complaint within 30 days.

Make sure to put your complaint in writing and send it via certified mail to "Billing Inquiries," which is listed on the back of your card statement. According to the law, your dispute letter must include your name, address, account number and a description of the problem. Visit Bankrate.com for a sample dispute letter to help you on your way. The deadline for notifying your credit card company of a billing error is 60 days from the date the bill was mailed to you. Keep in mind that the 60-day clock starts ticking on the day your issuer mails your billing statement, not the date you receive it. So by the time you receive your bill, you actually have 50-odd days to get a dispute letter back to your card issuer.

Request your free credit report online or by calling 1-877-322-8228. You can also contact any of the following “big three” credit reporting agencies: EquifaxExperian, or TransUnion.