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Setting and Making Realistic Financial New Year’s Resolutions

It is almost that time of season when you will begin to ponder your new year’s resolution.  Will it be exercise?  Will it be a new diet? Or will it have something to do with improving your family finances.  Making resolutions (or goals) can be a very difficult process because it often makes you face some of your own realities like it or not.   When you decide to set goals that are realistic, I have been a big cheerleader over the years to use the S-M-A-R-T goal setting system.  Here is how it works. *S is for Specific– Be very specific about what you are trying to accomplish.  Don’t tell yourself you want to pay down debt.  Instead, give yourself a specific goal such as paying off $10,000 of debt. *M is for Measurable– Have a way to track your progress.   In the last example, make a chart for paying off $833 a month and cross it off each month ...

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Your 2013 Year End Smart Money Moves

Believe it or not, 2013 will be a footnote in the history books in just three weeks.   As you scurry around to shopping malls and local outlet stores to find presents and stocking stuffers; make sure you don’t forget important money items, that can be worth a lot more than a plate of cookies on the fireplace mantle.  We often overlook some of these items, because we simply run out of time or they just pass by us because we don’t know about them at all.  Here are some year end ideas from the Your Smart Money Moves Column. Do you have a will/living trust? If they don’t have a written one, then the state they live in will have one for them.  My guess is that you don’t want the state to decide how your parent’s assets should be distributed.    The will has many features to it, but most importantly it allows for your parents to essentially say which ...

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Personal Finance 101 – This Week: Do I need a Living Trust?

First, a Living Trust is a trust you set up to hold your property and to govern the use and distribution of your property during your lifetime, during any period when you are incapacitated, and even after your death (when it acts much like a Last Will and Testament). You can amend or revoke a Living Trust at any time during your life making it a very flexible planning tool. Due to their broad scope and flexibility, Living Trusts are often viewed as one of the most comprehensive estate planning documents. But do you really need a Living Trust? If you answer YES to any of these questions, you may want to consider one. 1. Do you own property in multiple states? After you die, your family or other legal representatives must go through the probate process in each state where you own property in your name. The time, hassle and expense of probate in multiple other states can be ...

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Personal Finance 101 – This Week: Dying Without A Will

What happens if I die without a Will? First, a little context is required. If you own any property when you die, then your surviving spouse or family will need to go through a legal process called “Probate” in order to legally wind up your affairs, pay off your debts, and transfer your remaining property to surviving family. The Probate process applies whether you have a Will or not. The only way around the Probate process is to own all of your assets through a Living Trust, but that’s a whole different story… If you have a valid Will, then the Probate process plays out according to the specific wishes in your Will, which should include details about who is responsible for administering your estate (the “Executor”), who is guardian for your minor children, who gets your assets, and whether those assets are left outright to people or in creditor protected trusts, just to name a few considerations. After that ...

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