Financial Symmetry: Balancing Today with Retirement

When considering retirement, do you wonder what financial opportunities you may be missing? Busy lives take over and years pass without taking advantage. In this retirement podcast, the Financial Symmetry advisors unveil financial opportunities, to help you balance enjoying today so you are ready to retire later. By day, they are fiduciary fee-only financial advisors who answer questions about tax savings, investment decisions, and how to save more. If you’ve been putting off your financial to-do list or are just not sure what you’ve been missing, subscribe to the show and learn more at Financial Symmetry is a Raleigh Financial Advisor. Proudly serving clients in the Triangle of North Carolina for over 20 years.
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
Financial Symmetry: Balancing Today with Retirement











All Episodes
Now displaying: Page 6
Sep 23, 2019

Many of you are inching closer to retirement and the decisions you make now will have a big impact on your retirement lifestyle. It’s time to start thinking ahead and seriously consider your retirement strategy. Are you concentrating on the best ways to save to set up for the life you want in retirement?

This is why we have created a pre-retirement checklist with 8 key wealth builder areas for you to consider. Listen in now to discover what you need to think about now that you are rounding the final stretch in this race to retirement. 

Your pre-retirement checklist

  1. How will you spend your time in retirement? Explore what you might enjoy doing and give it some practice. Try to structure a calendar of your average week. How might you allocate your time? How will you challenge yourself? What new skills will you learn?
  2. How will your income change? What will it take for you to retire? How much will you need and where will that money come from? Most people have a combination of 6 sources of income to provide for their retirement which includes: social security, pensions, deferred compensation, withdrawing from savings, part-time work, and passive income.
  3. What will your retirement lifestyle be like? The more you spend the more income you’ll need and the less you spend the less income you’ll need. Think about how much you plan to spend and how will you spend it. 
  4. What is your current net worth? In retirement, your accounts will no longer grow and they may start to fall in value. Take an inventory of what accounts you have. Are they pre-tax or post-tax? Do you have an HSA? Brokerage accounts? Annuities? Where do you stand financially? Lay it all out on paper so that you can decide what you need to do next. 
  5. Tax diversification is as important as investment diversification in retirement. How tax-efficient are your savings? A 401K conversion is a great way to save in taxes. You should also consider what your tax bracket will be in retirement. 
  6. What is your investment strategy? How do your emotions play a role in investing? What is your risk capacity? What is your risk tolerance? You will need to understand when and how much you will need from your investments and have the appropriate asset allocation. Know what your expected returns will be. This will help you understand how long your portfolio will last you.
  7. Healthcare can be the deciding factor for how and when you retire. If you are planning to retire before the age of 65 you’ll want to factor in healthcare costs. How will you bridge the gap until Medicare kicks in? Will you take COBRA or use your state’s health insurance exchange? You should also consider whether you want to get long-term care insurance. 
  8. Do an annual review of your estate. Block off some time each year to check if your estate plan still reflects your wishes. 

Are you in your catch-up years?

Your 50’s are often referred to as the catch-up years when it comes to retirement planning. There are lots of opportunities to think about as you approach retirement. Successful retirees look at all of these considerations as they make decisions. The decisions you make now can have a major impact on your retirement lifestyle. Use this pre-retirement checklist to help you begin to plan your retirement strategy.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:27] Are you on the final stretch to retirement?
  • [6:33] How will you spend your time in retirement?
  • [7:37] How much income will you need?
  • [11:35] What is your net worth?
  • [14:24] What is your investment strategy?
  • [20:11] What kind of insurance do you have?
  • [23:45] Do an estate review

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play


Sep 9, 2019

Are you looking for money and/or time-saving tips now that the summer is over and the kids are back to school? Summer can always feel expensive with summer camps, vacations, and then back to school shopping. With fall approaching and the kids back in school, we put together a list of ways you can save time and money to make this year better than the rest.

Time-saving tips

  1. Look at how you spend your time at home and see what you can contract out. Can you hire someone to clean or cut the yard? The more you can hire out the more quality time you’ll have with your family.
  2. Back to school means back to fundraising. If you have a volunteer requirement at your kids’ school get the volunteer hours in early. You could also see if the grandparents would be willing to volunteer. It’s a great way for them to get involved in their grandkids' lives. You can also check if you can donate goods rather than time. 
  3. Online grocery shopping saves lots of time. Oftentimes online shopping will save you money as well since there is less impulse buying. Another bonus is your kids won’t be asking for sugary snacks. Have you tried online shopping?
  4. Try meal planning. Some people use traditional meal planning using pen and paper, but you can also utilize services like Clean Eats or Donavon's Dish. These services will save plenty of time while still managing to feed the family a healthy meal. Have you tried using a meal planning service or a subscription service?
  5. Get the kids to help. Kids can pitch in from a young age. They can help set the table, make a salad, sweep up or wash the dishes. You may get pushback at the beginning, but after making dinner chores a regular habit they will feel proud of their hard work. 
  6. Skip the carpool line. The morning and afternoon carpool line can suck up to an hour out of your day! You can utilize before or after school programs to help you get more out of your time at work. Another idea is to have local grandparents help pick the kids up after school. 
  7. Strategically work from home. You can skip additional time in the car by occasionally working from home. This may not work out for the whole day. But you could come home after lunch and work before having to go pick up the kids for their after school activities. 

Money-saving tips

  1. Think about the holidays now. Consider how much you want to spend and create a budget. Do you want to travel? Plan out the travel in advance so that you know what you are going to spend. You can use an Amazon Wishlist to help you plan the gift-giving. Make sure to start saving for the holidays now.
  2. Reassess your monthly expenses. Fall is a great time to think about your expenses. If you have any decrease in your monthly expenses you can think about increasing your savings. Up your 401K contributions or max out your Roth. It always helps to have an automatic draft to savings. Focus on putting more toward long-term goals rather than short-term. 

What do you do to save time and money at home? Have you started any new routines this school year? What is working for you? Let us know your money and time-saving tricks. Send us an email at or

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:47] Look at how you spend your time at home
  • [4:08] Back to school means back to fundraising
  • [7:37] Meal planning
  • [11:38] Skip the carpool line
  • [13:02] Strategically work from home
  • [15:15] Think about the holidays now
  • [16:27] Reassess your monthly expenses

Connect with Allison Berger

Connect With Chad and Mike


This podcast is property of Financial Symmetry Inc. The hosts and guests of the show do not render or offer to render personalized investment or tax advice through this podcast. This production is for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial, tax, investment, or legal advice. Listeners should consult with appropriate advisors for advice specific to your situation.


Aug 26, 2019

How do you make financial decisions? Are you intentional with your money?

Short Youtube recap here:

Most people have trouble articulating their framework for making financial decisions. It begins with finding a healthy balance between spending and saving. After these short-term decisions, examining your longer-term goals will have more meaning. So in this episode, we asked Cameron Hendricks to join us to help you understand how to create an intentional framework to make the right financial decisions for you and your family. 

There are only 5 ways to use your money in the short-term

When planning to use your money, you need to consider what your options are and whether you are facing short-term or long-term decisions. Many people will be surprised to discover that there are only 5 ways to use your money in the short-term. 

  1. Lifestyle
  2. Give it away
  3. Pay taxes 
  4. Pay debt
  5. Save

Each one of these short-term ways to use money impacts the other. Think about your spending as a pie chart. If your lifestyle expenses increase then one of the other options has to decrease. If you increase your savings then another option has to give. 

You can start your planning by considering your long-term goals

Making intentional decisions means your short-term decisions should be driven by your long-term goals. It’s a good idea to start with long-term planning and work your way back to your short-term goals. There are 6 items to think of working towards from a long-term perspective. 

  1. Financial independence - are you looking to retire or leave your job with its security?
  2. Charitable giving - this is more than just short-term charitable giving. You will need to have a process to achieve a higher goal.
  3. Freedom from debt - how much do you pay toward your debt? Pay down your miscellaneous debt first before tackling the mortgage.
  4. Lifestyle desires - this could include a second home or a boat
  5. Family needs - Many people want to save for their children’s college but also feel the need to help their elder parents.
  6. Starting a business - This takes planning and capital.

Find ways to simplify your financial decisions

Many people think that financial planning has to be complicated. But actually the more simple you can make your planning the better. Complexity gives a comforting impression of control while simplicity is hard to distinguish from cluelessness. You may seem like you are missing out on things when you plan simply, but it’s really about understanding the flow of money. Understand how your cash flow looks now and how it will impact the long-term financial decisions. You know there will be trouble ahead if you haven’t planned for the long-term. 

Create a financial framework to plan your financial decisions

Financial decisions can seem daunting but if you have an intentional decision framework to help you walk through your financial choices then your choices will be more clear. We all have the temptation to spend, especially if we get a lump-sum payment or a bonus from work. But we need to find a way to balance our short-term satisfaction with delayed gratification. When you layout your long-term financial plans you can then start planning how to spend your money in the short-term. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:27] What are your options?
  • [5:44] Find ways to automate
  • [10:40] There are 6 items to think of from a long-term perspective
  • [14:35] What should you do with a large one-time increase in income?

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Cameron Hendricks

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play


Aug 12, 2019

The Mega Backdoor Roth IRA could be the secret weapon you have yet to use in your retirement saving strategy. If you consider yourself a super saver, looking for alternative ways to save tax efficiently, this could be a great option. This strategy is of most interest to those maxing out all other tax-efficient savings accounts. Including standard employee 401k contributions, Roth IRA, 529, and HSA. In this episode, you'll see why we call this the secret weapon for super savers, as we breakdown who the Mega Backdoor Roth is for, why you might be interested in it, and how it compares to other IRAs.

Who should take advantage of the Mega Backdoor Roth IRA?

In order to take advantage of the Mega Backdoor Roth IRA, you first have to have access to a 401k that allows after-tax contributions. These are contributions on top of your regular $19k allowable contributions to a 401k in 2019. Hence the "Mega" moniker. So if you are already maxing out your 401K, Roth IRA, 529, and HSA contributions then the Mega Backdoor Roth IRA could be a great extra additional savings opportunity. Many get confused as to why it's called a Mega Backdoor Roth IRA when we are talking about your 401k. Good question. The name derives from where the money will be after you complete the consolidation process.

You're now seeing more larger companies and solo 401ks allow for "in-service" distributions. Meaning, you could withdraw portions of your 401k savings, while still employed. The real benefit with this savings strategy, is when you can save the extra after-tax contributions and then roll them to a Roth IRA in the same year. Meaning, you could get a larger amount in to a tax-free savings account to grow for years to come.

What’s so great about the Mega Backdoor Roth?

If done correctly, the Mega Backdoor Roth can allow you to contribute up to 6X what you can contribute to a regular Roth IRA. With a regular Roth IRA, you can contribute only $6,000 per year in 2019. The Mega Backdoor Roth allows you to contribute up to $37,000 extra each year on top of your normal employee 401k contributions.

Many people don’t know this, but the limit for 401K contributions is $56,000 or $62,000 and for those over 50. Many people assume that the limit is only $19,000. But this $19,000 limit is for pretax contributions. You can actually contribute up to $37,000 more after taxes are withheld (depending on your employer match amount). You can ask your employer if they contribute to after-tax contributions. If you aren’t sure then you should contact your HR department. They may not even know about the Mega Backdoor Roth, but if you communicate with them you could get it started in your company.

What is the difference between the Mega Backdoor Roth and the regular backdoor Roth?

If your income for a married couple is over $203,000 then you are ineligible to contribute to a typical Roth IRA. Instead, you can implement the Backdoor Roth IRA strategy. But this strategy has multiple steps to assure it's done correctly which we wrote about in a previous post. To be a good candidate for this strategy, you need to first move existing pretax accounts to an existing 401K, if you have one. The next step is to contribute $6000 to a regular non-deductible IRA. After completing this, you can convert the non-deductible IRA to a Roth IRA. The issue with the Backdoor Roth is that you can only contribute $6,000 per year.

The Mega Backdoor Roth allows you to contribute much more and would be a provision of your 401k account. Essentially, is the amount above your normal employee contributions ($19k in 2019; or $25k if over age 50) plus your employer match contributions. It’s important to consider all of your options to see if the Mega Backdoor Roth is right for your circumstances.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:27] Who is the Mega Backdoor Roth for?
  • [4:31] What is the difference between the Mega Backdoor Roth and the regular backdoor Roth?
  • [12:33] How do you know if you can take advantage of the Mega Backdoor Roth?
  • [17:59] What are the risks?

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Jul 29, 2019

How do you pick the books you read? Do you get book recommendations from friends or are you in a book group? Do you use an Amazon Wishlist or social media to help you discover what you want to read next? In today’s episode, we have some book recommendations for you to consider. We try to bring you a variety of genres ranging from finance to self-help, to fiction. Check out our favorite books of the year and let us know which ones you have read or plan to read. 

Digital Minimalism

Digital Minimalism might be the book for you if you are addicted to your smartphone or tablet. If you feel the need to constantly check your notifications you might want to check this book out. The idea behind Digital Minimalism is to help reduce the time you spend attached to yan electronic device. It discusses the psychology surrounding our need to constantly check those notifications and offers tips to scale back your tech usage. If you enjoy this book you also might enjoy Cal Newport’s other book called Deep Work.

Chop Wood Carry Water 

Chop Wood Carry Water is a quick, 110-page read that offers life lessons that are learned by a kid who wants to become a samurai warrior (think Karate Kid). This book is about learning to appreciate the process behind the mundane work you have to do in life. The thesis is that if you can focus on doing the boring everyday work with excellence then you can make great things happen. The book encourages you to take each challenge you face not as a test but as an opportunity to learn and grow. 


Redemption is a work of fiction by David Baldacci which is a mystery-thriller. The main character is a Baldacci favorite, Amos Decker. Redemption makes for an exciting beach or vacation read. Like binge-watching a tv series, you’ll want to rush through it quickly to discover how it ends. 


The book Principles is another self-help book written by Ray Dalio. It is essentially laying out his 5 step process for building success. He encourages readers on how to deal with setbacks and continue to move forward. These are the 5 steps that he covers in the book:

  • Step 1 - instead of feeling frustrated and overwhelmed see pain as nature’s reminder that there is something important to learn. 
  • Step 2 - potential problems are actually potential improvements
  • Step 3 - diagnose problems to get to their root cause
  • Step 4 - design a plan
  • Step 5 - push through to completion

Books we haven’t read yet but plan to

We also have several books on our wishlist or that we plan to read soon. Mike is looking forward to reading Personal Financial Planning for Executives and Entrepreneurs to help him provide the best service possible for his clients. The Happiness Advantage is another book Mike would like to read that redefines success and happiness. 

Chad is looking forward to reading Messy Marketplace which is about buying companies. He thinks this will help him serve his clients who are in the process of selling businesses. The Family Board Meeting is a book that encourages people to enjoy the experiences they have with their children. The Algebra of Happiness and 30 Lessons for Living are 2 more books that he’d like to read.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:17] Digital Minimalism
  • [6:05] Chop Wood Carry Water
  • [10:54] Redemption
  • [13:38] Principles
  • [16:01] Books we plan to read

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Jul 15, 2019

Most people know little or nothing about sequence of returns risk. The subject doesn’t make for the most interesting topic for cocktail party discussions. Some refer to it as your biggest retirement risk. Reason being, sequence of returns risk can have a major impact on how long your hard-earned savings will last through retirement. This week's episode we dive in to examples of how you could be affected and steps you could use to fight against it.

Dollar-weighted returns vs time-weighted returns

Many people aren’t familiar with the difference between dollar-weighted returns and time-weighted returns. Dollar-weighted returns are the actual returns you get. The dollar-weighted return is a more accurate representation of your actual return. A time-weighted return impacts your cash flow. A time-weighted return assumes you don’t contribute or withdraw any money during a period of time. If you put a lot of money in the bottom of the stock market and pull the money out at the top of the stock market then you will have a better dollar rated return than a time-weighted return. 

An example of sequence of returns risk

Let’s consider a couple that is 60 years old with a million dollars who just retired. In the first example, they earn 8% each year over the next 30 years. They withdraw at 6% which leads them to the ideal scenario and after 30 years in which they end at zero dollars. Their money ran out just as they did. The second example takes the same couple but rather than earning 8% each year they had great returns of 25% for the first 2 years, then they averaged 8% and then the last 2 years they averaged 0%. This scenario left the couple with a million dollars at the end of 30 years. The last scenario has the couple experience a bad market the first few years then 8% returns and then a great market at the end. This scenario leads the couple to run out of money. Although all of these examples had the same average return the end results were completely different. The first few years have a big impact on your long term success. 

Why did Chad and Mike end up with different balances at the end of their careers?

Chad and Mike work for the same amount of years, they make the same pay and save the same amount each year. One of them begins their career before the other and they retire at different times. The last years before retirement Mike experienced poor returns. Chad had poor returns when he was just starting out. This is an example of a good sequence of returns for Chad and a bad sequence of returns for Mike. The difference ended up being a $300,000 difference between Chad and Mike’s final balance. When you are younger your balance isn’t that big so how the market performs doesn’t matter as much. When you are older it is important to your balance sheet that the market rate of returns are high.

What strategies can you implement to protect yourself from the sequence of returns risk?

  1. Diversification is important. Think about a globally diversified portfolio. U.S. stocks, international stocks, large and small cap investments. 
  2. Consider your asset allocation. The time right before and right after you retire is not a time to take on a lot of stock risk.
  3. Adjust your spending based on portfolio performance.
  4. Adjust the amount of stock you own based on market valuations. If the market is expensive you should own less in stocks, if the market is cheap you can own more.
  5. Don’t get nervous and go to cash and bonds. Stocks are a good hedge against rising costs of inflation. Remember that people are living longer, you may need that money to stretch farther than you thought.

Outline of This Episode

  • [4:27] What constitutes good or bad returns?
  • [8:56] The first few years have a big impact on your long term success
  • [11:15] Why did Chad and Mike end up with different balances at the end of their careers?
  • [14:23] What strategies can you implement to protect yourself from the sequence of returns risk?

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play


Jul 1, 2019

Often in social conversations, it’s not uncommon to hear us say, “That reminds me of a scene in the movie…” to emphasize a point. Movies have a powerful way of presenting memorable situations where real life decisions and money intersect. Given the financial lens we view the world through, these financial themes jump off the screen to us.

So in today’s episode, we put on our movie critic hats and have some fun discussing lessons we’ve spotted in films that we all can learn from. Some are obvious but in others, you have to dig a bit deeper. Allison Berger joins us in this fun-filled episode to discover financial influences in the best and worst that Hollywood has to offer.

Financial references from the best and worst Hollywood films

Many times, the large financial outcomes in life are a result of a lot of little decisions along the way in emotionally-charged environments. The circumstances range from pressure-filled decisions amidst a tragedy to pre-conceived notions of long-held family belief systems around money. Some can seem more cliche, like always have a plan B or pay attention to the small print, but paying attention to the emotions that lead to these moments can provide the most intriguing insights. Other messages reinforce strong values that help position you for long-term success, like the benefit of hard work and having an open mind.

Here’s a summary of the movies we discussed:

Gone Girl – This is an intense 2014 thriller with loads of money themes. The movie begins during the 2008 financial crisis and the featured couple loses their jobs. A twisted and circuitous journey ensues from there.

Money themes: This couple could benefit from better financial communication. Strangely, a financial advisor wasn’t around to help (wink, wink). Separately, she keeps all her money in a money belt after she goes on the run. This is a terrible idea! It’s no wonder her money gets stolen as you should never keep all of your money in one place, even when on the run. Finally, do your best to set yourself up so you are not forced to rely on someone else financially.

Edge of Tomorrow – Tom Cruise stars in this 2014 Sci-Fi film. He plays a public relations guy thrown into the battle who gets stuck in a time loop.

Financial lessons: You may not see a financial theme here but we can’t help but think about what we might do financially if we could do yesterday over again with the knowledge that we have today. There are so many uncertainties when dealing with investing which is why balance is so important. When you have a process to help you deal with all the options that are out there. We all have 20/20 hindsight but this movie can be a great thought exercise. What would you learn from today? Would you invest more? Spend differently? Or maybe create an automatic savings plan to make sure you’re saving?

Crazy Rich Asians– This 2018 film is rich with money themes. It is basically set in a rich fantasyland in Singapore.

Financial themes: Money alone will not make you happy, it’s the experiences money buys that can provide lasting happiness. Related, it’s dangerous to have your identity attached to money. Communicating openly with your partner about finances can prevent larger emotional disagreements along the line. Even further, the pressure of misplaced expectations around money can be problematic between spouses. This is why it’s important to choose your spouse wisely as research shows in The Next Millionaire Next Door.

Miracle – This is a family-friendly 2004 Disney movie. Miracle is the story of an Olympic hockey team before Olympians were allowed to be professionals in their fields.

Money lessons: The movie shows the value of hard work without money attached. At the end of the film, it showed what each character’s career was after their hockey career. This movie holds powerful lessons to show kids not to rely on one thing, especially a sport, to provide income for the rest of their lives.

Be sure and listen to the rest for the our takeaways from 3 other movies, including one in Allison’s favorite classic series of movies.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Allison Berger

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Jun 17, 2019

Nobody likes to talk about the 2 certainties of life: death and taxes. So much so that we delay important decisions on how to deal with our assets for our heirs. On this episode, Cameron Hendricks and Grayson Blazek join in to discuss specifics on how to handle accounts and property, filing taxes and how to better prepare for passing on your estate to your loved ones. Find out how to handle all of this now to save your loved ones added stress during a difficult time.

Ensure that your loved ones are prepared to understand your financial life

To ensure that others are prepared for your own passing, make sure that your loved ones understand your financial life as a whole. This will make your passing a much smoother process. It is important to ensure your will is readily available and is up to date. Another way to be prepared is to have your assets properly titled. It's also important to periodically check all of your accounts’ beneficiaries to ensure that you have the right beneficiaries named and that you don’t have too many. The more information that you provide up front will really help along the way.

How to help your loved ones prepare for your passing

Taxes can be confusing enough, but doing the taxes of for the deceased is even more challenging. This is why it is so important to ensure that your loved ones have all the information that they need to prepare your final tax return during this time. Before making someone an executor of your estate it is important to talk to them and give them all of the information that they may need. This will make sure that everything transitions as smoothly as possible. If you are the executor of the estate make sure that you know where all of these income sources are. The more information that you provide up front will really help along the way.

How to prepare taxes for the deceased

Preparing taxes for the deceased isn’t as complicated as you may think. A person that has passed is called the decedent. Whether you are the surviving spouse or the child of a parent that has recently passed someone will need to work through a couple of tax returns for the decedent. You will have to fill out the final 1040. It is similar to every other tax return that you have filled out. You can continue to file as married filing jointly if you don’t remarry within the year and you will include any income received. The second form you may encounter is the estate income tax return. The last tax form you may need is the gift tax return. Listen to this episode to hear Cameron Hendricks and Grayson Blazek provide their expertise on preparing taxes for the deceased.

What are some common financial questions people ask about death?

There is a myth that people think everything is going to be taxed upon death, but that is untrue. Life insurance is not taxed and 401K’s and IRA’s will not be taxed in the way you think. When passing wealth to your heirs think about whether they are ready to be heirs. You can set up a testamentary trust and create rules around the trust to prepare your heirs for receiving an inheritance. You want to make sure to have an estate plan. The default estate plan will certainly not be what you actually want. Remember, you won’t be around to clarify your wishes so make sure you clearly state your intentions.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:47] Ensure that your loved ones are prepared to understand your financial life
  • [7:17] What kind of income tax return will you need?
  • [18:28] The estate income tax return
  • [21:48] How to handle the 709
  • [26:58] What are the common questions people ask?

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Grayson Blazek

Connect with Cameron Hendricks

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Jun 3, 2019

You may have seen more news stories mentioning Opportunity Zones of late, but there are still plenty of questions surrounding this part of the latest tax reform. Today we're discussing the ins and outs of investing in Opportunity Zones to help you understand how, in the right circumstances, they could help you save thousands on your taxes. We’ll discuss what opportunity zones are, why they were created, what the tax benefits are and how to spot the risks involved when investing in opportunity zones.

What are opportunity zones under the new tax law?

The new tax law was created to spur economic investment in low-income areas throughout the U.S. by providing individual investors with tax incentives for investing in impoverished communities. The low-income areas are called opportunity zones and are identified by governors of each state. Although it was rolled out in 2017 it wasn’t until recently that the IRS updated investors on how the program is actually going to work. This program is geared toward long-term private investors with a high net worth. There are 3 benefits to the tax side of this law: tax deferral, tax reduction, and tax elimination for an investment held for more than 10 years. The primary purpose of the reform is to help economically distressed communities and in turn, it can help you save thousands in taxes. Find out how by listening to this episode of Financial Symmetry.

What are the benefits of the new tax reform law?

Under the new tax reform law, you can defer capital gain tax from the sale of real estate, a business, or stock. You can also reduce your taxes on something you recently sold and even completely eliminate taxes by reinvesting.

Here’s an example:

You sell something and earn a million in capital gain. Normally you would pay $240,000 in taxes on that capital gain. Now with the opportunity zones if you reinvest your capital gains into a qualified opportunity zone fund within 180 days you get to defer the capital gain tax on the million dollar sale. So instead of paying those $240,000 in taxes in 2019, you won’t have to pay that until 2026. Then in 2026 if you continue to hold that investment in the opportunity zone then you only pay tax on $850,000 of the million dollar original capital gain. So you’ll save about $36,000 there. But the biggest benefit overall for the program is that if you put that money into a new investment for 10 years or more you’ll pay no capital gains tax on the original investment.

What can you do to do to take advantage of the new tax reform?

To invest in opportunity zones and save on capital gains taxes you can invest in a qualified opportunity fund. A qualified opportunity fund is a corporation or partnership that is created for the purpose of investing in qualified opportunity zone property and holds at least 90% of its assets in qualified opportunity zones. The typical investment options are real estate, such as multi-unit apartment buildings, or a business located in a qualified opportunity zone.

You have to spend 100% of the purchase price in the first 30 months. So if you purchase a property for $800,000 then you have to spend another $800,000 within 30 months. The idea is that you are substantially improving the property for the amount that it is valued at. If you buy a business the same rules apply. You have to improve it somehow for that purchase amount. Remember, this is not an investment in the stock market, there is a higher degree of research involved.

What are the different risks involved?

There are different risks involved in taking advantage of the new tax reform law. As with all investing situations, attention to detail is key. Here are some of the risks with this type of investment.

  • What happens if there is a political change? If Congress changes its course over the next few years they could overturn this law.
  • You are invested in a limited partnership so you have to pay fees to the managers of the funds. They may charge 2% or you may pay a percentage of the profit. The fees involved may eliminate the tax benefits completely.
  • The money isn’t liquid. You have to hold it in the investment for at least 10 years and you won’t receive the benefits if you pull out early.
  • You’ll have to be an accredited investor.
  • You must not only buy but improve the property.
  • The 180-day rule may spur some people to rush into an investment rather than do their research into the options.

Many people don’t take advantage of things because they don’t know about it. We’re here to give you ideas and strategies that you may not be aware of. The overall goal of the new tax law is a great cause but the investment options are still pretty new. This was just an overview of rules and regulations, so do your own research. Don’t let taxes decide your investment decisions. Remember a bad investment is still a bad investment no matter what the tax benefits are.

Outline of This Episode

  • [4:07] How should the tax strategy be implemented
  • [9:19] What do you need to do to take advantage of the new tax reform?
  • [12:03] There are 3 benefits to the tax side
  • [13:45] What are the risks involved?
  • [20:27] What are other alternatives for capital gains?

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

May 20, 2019

Rolling over your 401K is a complicated process so we brought in a few experts that have helped our clients rollover hundreds of 401K’s. Understanding the unexpected roadblocks surrounding a 401K rollover is a vital step in making the best decisions with your money. So listen to this episode to hear steps of how to properly rollover a 401K quickly and efficiently.

How to rollover a 401K?

Maybe you just left a job or maybe you need an in-service rollover but you are at the point that you need to rollover your 401K. So how do you do it? Unfortunately, there isn’t only one way. It depends on the type of account you have and where you want the money to go. If you have a brokerage account linked to your 401K it will make the task a bit easier. Brokerage links give you the opportunity to invest in funds at a lower cost. If you have just quit or left your job you need to ensure that all of your contributions and your employer contributions have settled before you move your 401K or you will have to redo the process again once it does settle.

How do you tackle the 401K rollover paperwork?

401K rollover paperwork can be quite daunting. Nowadays there are many forms that you can fill out online, but there are still actual papers that must be completed in person. The paperwork can be a bit confusing and overwhelming, but it is important to fill everything out correctly. Even if you mis-check just one box they won’t process your rollover and you’ll have to start the process all over again. Oftentimes you may need your spouse to sign, a notary to sign, and you’ll also need your plan administrator to sign. Sometimes finding the plan administrator can be tricky. If you know the right people to call the paperwork really doesn’t take much time. It can take a few days or even a few weeks to complete the paperwork. If you feel daunted by all the paperwork you might want to consider hiring a professional to help you out.

What are some problems that can arise with a 401K rollover?

It's important to reduce your risk of being out of the market. You want to ensure that your money is out of the market for as little time as possible. Pay careful attention to the timing and ensure that you have all your ducks in a row first. This means that you need to have the accounts where the money is going set up beforehand. If you have a brokerage link you can reduce the time out of the market. You’ll also want to double check where your allocations are in case you need to change those settings. There are many steps involved in moving your 401K and you may have to contact different service representatives to get all of your questions answered.

How can you reduce your risk?

Having your money pulled out of the market for any amount of time can be costly. If there is a way to expedite getting your check you’ll want to do it. Think about it, if you have your money out of the market and it goes up a few points you’ll be losing out trying to get it all back in. Getting the money back in as quickly as possible is important. Having a brokerage account linked to your 401K can give you the opportunity to invest in funds at a lower cost. Listen to the experts, Heather and Angela, to help you understand how to rollover a 401K to make your transition run as smoothly as possible.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:27] How do I rollover my 401K is one of the most frequent questions
  • [6:16] How do you tackle the paperwork?
  • [7:24] How much time does it take?
  • [11:03] What are some problems that can arise?
  • [17:05] Where does the money go?
  • [27:07] What can go wrong?

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Heather Gudac and Angela Keeley-White

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

May 6, 2019

What does your financial future look like? Do you feel it is secure and well planned out or are you just winging it? Winging it is a great idea for a Sunday afternoon drive or deciding to what to eat for dinner, but winging your financial future is a dangerous decision that will put your future stability at stake. Learn why people decide to wing it and what you should be doing instead, on this episode of the Financial Symmetry show.

Short video recap here:

What are the numbers and why are people winging their financial future?

We love numbers on this show. They help to illustrate the point we are trying to make and sometimes they are truly shocking.

  • 75% of Americans are winging it when it comes to their financial future
  • Less than half of Americans cannot cover a $1000 emergency
  • Most people feel they make about $1200 worth of financial mistakes per year
  • 4 out of 10 Americans simply guess how much they will need to retire.

Why do people do this to themselves? Why do they choose to leave their financial future up to chance? I think there are 3 main reasons.

  1. They don’t want to pay for professional advice.
  2. They can’t afford professional advice (or think they can’t afford it).
  3. They think they can handle the work themselves

Are you letting overconfidence power your financial decision making?

Are you overconfident about your ability to handle your finances? 57% of adults feel more confident today than they felt 3 years ago about their finances. Do you feel a bit overconfident due to the recent success of the financial markets? Overconfidence is a villain when it comes to good decision making. Usually the more intelligent you are the more overconfident you are. Mark Twain had a powerful quote that sums up overconfidence well, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” A great way to ensure that you aren’t being too overconfident in your financial decisions is to hire a financial advisor. Having an objective 3rd party view of things can really help you keep things in perspective.

Is your confirmation bias affecting your financial future?

The internet is starting to play a major role in creating greater confirmation bias. People tend to follow their own views and they will seek out news that confirms what they already think about something. If someone has a negative worldview and they read an article about how the market will be crashing they will nod their heads and think, yes this is the truth. To combat confirmation bias think of the acronym WRAP from the book Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath.

  • Widen your options
  • Reality test your assumptions
  • Attain distance before deciding
  • Prepare to be wrong

Recency bias can affect your thinking about the future

People think they know more than they do about how the future will unfold. More often than not, the future will surprise us. Our conclusions about the future are often based on our emotions. They can also be affected by recency bias. Recency bias is a bias based on the fact that people tend to think that what happened to them recently will happen to them in the future. This can be seen frequently with finances for instance, if you have received a big bonus, or especially when it comes to stocks. Are you allowing recency bias to affect your financial future?

Outline of This Episode

  • [5:27] Overconfidence can spoil your financial decisions
  • [11:15] Are you allowing confirmation bias to affect your financial future?
  • [13:46] Recency bias affects many financial decisions

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Apr 22, 2019

Financial advice has long been a male dominated industry.  Women represent 51% of the US population, but only 23% of CFP® professionals are women and this percentage has stagnated over the past decade.  Why is there a feminine famine in financial planning?  Today we’ve invited Allison Berger and Grace Kvantas back on the show to discuss the 6 main challenges that prevent women from becoming financial advisors. As we shed light on these topics, we share ways we are fighting against these stigmas.  We also celebrate Grace as the latest partner of Financial Symmetry. Listen to this episode to hear why there aren’t many women in financial planning but also why that should change.

See show notes here:

Why did Grace become a financial advisor?

Grace is a rarity among women in the field.  She knew that she wanted to become a financial advisor at the age of 15.  Her dad was a CFP® and it was at that young age that she realized that she was taught money lessons at home that many others never received.  She wanted to help others learn what her dad had taught her. In college, she learned so much more about finance, but she still didn’t understand the depth of what one learns as a CFP®.  It was only on the job that she began to understand all that a financial advisor really does.  Listen to this episode to hear about Grace’s journey to becoming a CFP®.

What does it take to become a CFP®?

Many people don’t know the difference between a financial advisor and a CFP®.  The CFP® designation is the standard of excellence in financial planning.  Becoming a CFP® takes a bit of work. You must have a bachelor’s degree and take the coursework first prior to taking the CFP exam. Candidates also need to have 3 years of qualifying experience or 2 years working directly with CFP professionals. After obtaining the CFP designation, Certified Financial Planners must maintain continuing education.

Why is financial planning a great field for women?

Now is a fantastic time to become a financial advisor. The average age of financial planners is over 50 and ⅓ of advisors are projected to retire within the next 10 years.  Women are uniquely positioned to excel as financial advisors in the years ahead.  Listen to this episode to hear why 72% of women who pursue the CFP® designation report high levels of career satisfaction.

Why aren’t more women in financial planning?

We walk through the CFP Board whitepaper detailing recommendations to increase the number of women CFP® professionals and the reasons women are not pursuing this career path.

  1. You can’t be what you can’t see.  Financial planning is not top of mind as a career path for many women. Grace and Allison discuss their efforts to increase awareness and encourage others to consider financial planning.
  2. There are misperceptions about the work.  Most think that this career path is very math heavy. Make no mistake, the CFP® exam and coursework require math skills and you will use math every day in this field.  However, math is only one tool in the process toward helping clients reach their goals.  Successful financial advisors also require the ability to build relationships and counsel clients as life changes.
  3. Women’s own behaviors may be holding them back. This phenomenon was detailed in Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In,” which we discussed in Episode 73.  Women may not feel as comfortable taking the career risk this industry may require.  This is a multi-faceted issue but learning more about the inner workings of the career can help break down these barriers.
  4. Gender discrimination and bias exist in the field.  Unfortunately, there are still biases and many women don’t feel welcome in the industry.  Both Allison and Grace are sometimes asked if they are someone’s wife or secretary.  The good old boys’ network is still alive and well in financial planning, but this is changing, and it is easier than ever to connect with other women on this journey.
  5. Work/Life Balance is not an issue.  When asked to respond to the statement, “Financial planning offers good work/life balance,” only nine percent of Men and 10 percent of women disagreed.  Contrary to popular belief, work-life balance is no longer a predominantly women’s issue.
  6. There are not enough female role models. Grace and Allison are working to change that.  Listen to this episode to find out where to turn for helpful advice and encouragement.

Resources & People Mentioned

  • WIN CFP - The CFP Board’s women’s initiative

Connect with Grace Kvantas and Allison Berger

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Apr 8, 2019

You've just sold your business. Or maybe you received an inheritance. Making decisions on how to handle the lump sum proceeds can be paralyzing. We all have that fear of making a mistake with the money and when the stakes are high, the fear is heightened. You might be wondering how wise it is to invest a big chunk of money with the markets near all time highs. When dealing with a lump sum, there is more to consider than just investment decisions. Listen to this episode to hear about the things you may not have thought about when considering your lump sum investment options.

You have 3 options when you come into a large sum of money

You may have received an inheritance, sold a business, or received stock options or restricted stock. However you received the money, there are really only three things you can do with it. You can spend it, pay down debt, or invest it. In fact, spending a portion of your newfound wealth to treat yourself is a good first step. Then take a step back and analyze your new financial picture. How have your goals changed? Is retirement now just around the corner? How will you need to invest to accomplish your new objectives? Many people are quick to want to pay off all debt. But first analyze the kind of debt you have before rushing to pay it all off. Paying off credit card debt is generally a good idea, but you might want to rethink paying off your mortgage. Before you make any decisions on what to do with the money you should take some time and consider all of your options carefully.

Analyze the tax implications

When receiving a lump sum of money, it is important to estimate the tax burden that comes with it. You don’t want to spend all of the money and then discover that you owe a large amount in taxes. No one likes to pay penalties so it is important to do some tax planning first. Take a comprehensive view of your tax strategies with a professional to help you consider all the options. There are many strategies you can consider to help ease the tax burden. A donor-advised fund is a great choice for the charitably inclined. Are their retirement accounts (SEP-IRA, 401k, Roth IRA, HSA's)  you haven't been maxing prior to the lump sum? Could front-loading a 529 account be right for you? What's your plan for health insurance and how will the premium tax credit affect you? You also want to consider the timing to ensure that your strategies are used in the same calendar year that you receive the lump sum.

What are some lump sum investment options?

We would all love to have a crystal ball to tell us the perfect time and place to invest our money. Instead, we ask questions like, should you invest it all at once? Should you invest in small increments over time? Or do what too many people do, and don’t do anything. Vanguard had an article which analyzed these lump sum investment options from a historical perspective. It turned out that about two-thirds of the time it was better to invest all at once. But, if you were prone to sell if experiencing a big loss in first few months, then investing over the next year may be best. Bottom line was that if you wait too long, you could end up regretting it. We all have that fear of making a mistake, but that fear of missing out in a rising market compounds the difficulty of long-term decision making. Understand that your decisions won’t be perfect but at the end of the day, it's all about the big picture. Think about your investment strategy. What assets make the most sense for your goals? Implementing a customized strategy for your specific desires will give you the comfort of being able to sleep at night, knowing you have a plan in place.

Outline of This Episode

  • [3:27] What are your options if you come into a large sum of money?
  • [7:53] Analyze the tax implications
  • [10:55] How to invest the lump sum
  • [16:08] Update your estate documents
  • [20:05] What is your cash flow?

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Mar 25, 2019

Have you checked out the new federal tax forms? You probably don’t want to wait until the last minute to prepare your taxes this year. With the new tax code here you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to get familiar with the new federal tax forms. But before you get started you need to arm yourself with as much information as you can about the new tax code. That’s why today we brought our very own tax extraordinaire, Grayson Blazek to share his extensive knowledge of the new federal tax forms. Listen to this episode as Grayson helps us understand what the new tax forms look like, what’s changed, how to save and be more efficient on taxes, and what planning opportunities there are to prepare for next year.

What’s different on the new federal tax forms?

Well, that time of year is here again, everyone’s favorite season: tax season! You may have heard that there are many new changes this year to the 1040. The idea behind the new federal tax form is to simplify the tax filing process. The new 1040 is touted as a postcard, while not exactly postcard sized, it is down from 79 lines to 23. Although there are only 23 lines on the new tax form there are several addendums which utilize a building block approach. There might be a touch of confusion for the first few years, but the new tax forms should be pretty easy to get used to. Listen as Grayson explains the new federal tax forms and takes us on a tour of the new 1040.

Here is the lowdown on the new schedules 1-6

  • Schedule 1 is similar to lines 10-36 of the old 1040. It is used to report extra income items like rental income and real estate and other above the line deductions.
  • Schedule 2 generally covers the old lines 45-47. It is used for the alternative minimum tax. You may not even see this one since most people won’t come across it.
  • Schedule 3 replaces lines 48-55 on the previous tax form. Schedule 3 covers child tax credits and dependent care credits.
  • Schedule 4 is a replacement for lines 57-63 and covers self-employment.
  • Schedule 5 is used for estimated tax payments and amounts paid with extensions
  • Schedule 6 is the 3rd party designee.

Besides the new federal tax forms, what else has changed?

Obviously, the changes in the tax code are not only in the format. There are several other changes made as well. They eliminated personal exemptions which were $4500 per taxpayer on the 2017 return as well as dependents. The child tax credit used to be $1000 per child but has been increased to $2000 per child. The income threshold has been increased. There has also been a substantial change to standard and itemized deductions. And it is estimated that the number of people that will itemize their deductions will lower from 20% to 5%. Although there are fewer deductions your overall tax burden may be similar. Listen to this episode to hear what else has changed with the new tax code.

What are the planning opportunities?

When preparing your taxes each year you have the opportunity to reflect on what you could have done to decrease your overall tax burden and what you can do in the future to ease your tax burden. Consider whether you should be taking advantage of your retirement savings accounts or health savings accounts. You can also think about your deductions and how efficiently you can space your charitable deductions. Decide whether you could donate every other year to get past the new threshold for itemized deductions. A donor-advised fund is a great tool to use when planning for your taxes. There are many other planning opportunities to consider so listen in to discover how you can begin planning next year’s taxes.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:47] A tour of the new 1040
  • [7:01] Besides the form what else has changed?
  • [9:31] Changes to the schedule A were the main overhaul
  • [14:26] How has the overall tax rate changed?
  • [18:17] What are the planning opportunities?
  • [27:20] What has changed with the qualified business income deduction?

Connect with Grayson Blazek

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Mar 11, 2019

It wasn't that long ago that the most popular television show in America was named "Who wants to be a Millionaire?" Before that, in the 1980s, we were enamored with "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." There's something about the idea of becoming a Millionaire that fascinates us. But what is it about the wealthy that sets them apart from the rest of the population? How are their choices different from the average investor? If you've ever read Thomas J. Stanley’s The Millionaire Next Door, you might have a bit of an idea. We recently read The Next Millionaire Next Door by Dr. Stanley's daughter, Dr. Sarah Stanley Fallow, to learn about new insights into the minds of the next generation of millionaires. If you're curious about the strategies, discipline, and characteristics of millionaires and how they may have changed over the past 20 years, you'll want to listen to this episode.

See the full show notes here:

What does today’s millionaire look like?

It may be surprising to find out that wealthy people are just like you and me. Most millionaires that were surveyed drive practical cars like Toyotas, Hondas, and Fords that are about 3 years old. Remember millionaire is a term that describes wealth, not income. Your income is what you have today, and wealth is what you have tomorrow. In the U.S. in 2018 there were 11 million households with a net wealth greater than a million dollars. The book separated the wealthy into 3 groups, under accumulators of wealth (UAW’s), average accumulators of wealth (AAW’s), and prodigious accumulators of wealth (PAW’s).

What Are the Most Common Characteristics of the Wealthy?

There are 5 important characteristics of the wealthy.

  1. Wealthy people are well-disciplined.
  2. Millionaires are resilient and can persevere.
  3. Rich people are honest with others.
  4. Millionaires understand how to get along with others and work well with others.
  5. 90% surveyed were married and had a supportive spouse. (Divorce decreases wealth by 70%!)

Do you have these characteristics of rich people?

What are some success factors that lead to wealth?

There were many interesting findings of the characteristics of millionaires in the book. Not surprisingly, education was critical to the success of most millionaires. 93% of those surveyed had a college degree and 60% had a graduate degree. What may be surprising to some, is that attending a private school or even a top-rated school was not important. The ability to focus is a key factor in the success of the wealthy. Another important characteristic mentioned, is the ability to track spending. The vast majority understand where their money goes.

These are the least important success factors of the wealthy.

  1. Attending private school
  2. Attending a top-rated college
  3. Graduating at the top of the class
  4. Undertaking an internship in college

How do millionaires spend their time?

It sounds like wealthy people spend their time just as carefully as they spend their money. Wealthy people work more than the average American. They work about 38 hours a week on average, whereas the rest of Americans average 32 hours a week. Millionaires read more too. Books build a framework of knowledge for you to look back upon and analyze. Wealthy spend much less time on social media than the average Joe. They average only 2 hours a week and other Americans average 14 hours a week. Rich people also exercise more and spend more time caring for their family. How do you compare to the millionaires around you?

Outline of This Episode

  • [6:07] What are the different groups of millionaires?
  • [6:29]What are some characteristics of the wealthy?
  • [14:08] What are some success factors that lead to wealth?
  • [18:52] How do millionaires spend their time?
  • [22:06] Where is rich people's money invested?
  • [26:08] What is Chad’s takeaway from the book?

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Feb 25, 2019

Money and relationships don’t always go hand in hand. Making you wonder if you and your partner are speaking the same financial language. If money is causing stress in your relationship, you are not alone. 31% of couples say that the biggest cause of stress in their relationship is money. We want to help you communicate better with your partner about money. On this episode, Allison Berger joins us to discuss four common financial disagreements in couples. Listen in to learn how to better your relationship with your partner and with money.

You spent how much on that?

Does one person in your relationship spend more than the other? Oftentimes one partner feels that the other spends too much. This is so common since opposites attract in relationships. Our partners help to balance us out. So what can you do if you feel that your partner spends too much? Communication is key. It is important to be on the same team and make sure that you have the same financial goals. You can create a financial plan to keep you in check and keep you both on the same page. This way you can see if you are meeting your financial goals. Having a financial advisor can also be a great way to get a 3rd party’s view on the situation. The advisor can help take an objective opinion when there are arguments about spending that arise.

Saving and investing takes coordination

One spouse generally enjoys security more than the other and the other prefers to spend more money. When you have a financial plan in place, you can coordinate how best to save and invest for your specific objectives. Paying yourself first is a great first step. Automating your savings makes life so much easier. One way to easily increase your savings is by doing so when your income goes up. You can simply increase your 401K contribution whenever you get a raise. Another way to save more is to look for opportunities to increase your savings. If you pay off a car you can use the money you used to pay each month for savings instead.

Deciding on how much risk to take with Investments

The most common question we hear centers around people wondering if they will have enough? To best answer this question, the amount of risk in your strategy will play a tremendous role. Everyone has a different risk tolerance when it comes to investing. Sometimes one partner prefers to take risky investments and the other prefers to play it safe. Once again communication is key to understanding how your partner feels about investing. First, you should think about what your financial goals are as a couple. Open communication and education can help you understand each other’s feelings about risk tolerance. Learning about investments can also help you feel more comfortable about investing.

Differing philosophies on debt

Debt can be an unnerving issue for some causing some to lose sleep at night. Understanding your feelings on debt as well as your partner’s feelings can help defuse arguments before they even pop up. People have different feelings about money based on past experiences. Often our concerns about money manifest in childhood. Learning both why you and your partner feel the way you do about money can help you better communicate your needs and come up with a financial plan that you can both agree upon.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:27] The biggest cause of arguments in relationships is money
  • [3:22] What are the biggest disagreements with couples related to money?
  • [6:12] Does one person in the relationship think the other is too spendy?
  • [12:14] How much to save and invest and how much to spend?
  • [17:33] What is the best practice on the difference in risk in investment strategy?
  • [21:18] There can be a lot of emotions around debt

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Feb 11, 2019

Our listeners and clients often ask: Is now a good time to invest? Or what should I invest in? We give feedback on both these questions in our 2019 Investment Outlook episode. Be sure to check out the show notes for this episode in particular as we provide detailed charts to help demonstrate our discussion. If you are curious as to whether now is the time to jump into the stock market, what role bonds play in your portfolio, or what the experts say about the future of the markets then you'll want to listen to this episode.

2008 Review

After logging strong returns in 2017, global equity markets delivered negative returns in US dollar terms in 2018.  Common news stories in 2018 included reports on global economic growth, corporate earnings, record low unemployment in the US, the implementation of Brexit, US trade wars, and a flattening US Treasury yield curve. 

Many are still wondering why should we invest overseas given returns in the US have been so strong?  Investors should remember that non-US stocks help provide valuable diversification benefits, and that recent performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.  It is worth noting that if we look at the past 20 years going back to 1999, US equity markets have only outperformed in 10 of those years—the same expected by chance. We can examine the potential opportunity cost associated with failing to diversify globally by reflecting on the period in global markets from 2000­-2009, commonly known as the “lost decade” among US investors. While the S&P 500 recorded its worst ever 10-year cumulative total return of –9.1%, the MSCI World ex USA Index returned 17.5%, and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index returned 154.3%. In periods such as this, investors were rewarded for holding a globally diversified portfolio.


Are there risks today to invest in the stock market?  Yes.  Have their been risks in the past?  Yes.  Through all these risks the global stock market has gone from $1 to $59 from 1970 to 2017

History has found certain periods have resulted in higher returns than others.  Part of this can be explained by starting valuation.  Valuation is one of the best indicators of long-term returns (i.e. 10 years), but it is a horrible short-term timing strategy.  One popular valuation metric we’ve discussed in the past is the cyclically-adjusted price-to-earnings (CAPE) ratio.  Instead of dividing price by the past 12 months of earnings, the CAPE ratio divides price by the average inflation-adjusted earnings of the past ten years.  The idea is to smooth out the good and bad years created by the business cycle.

Is the CAPE Ratio a good predictor of future returns?  According to a study by Research Affiliates titled CAPE Fear:  Why CAPE Naysayers are Wrong, starting CAPE Ratio has between a 48% to 91% correlation to future 10-year returns across 12 countries.  So yes, starting valuations do matter over the subsequent 10-year period.

In addition, below Exhibit 4 is the average future 10-year real return based on starting US CAPE Ratio. As of December 31, 2018, below are the current CAPE ratios of the major equity markets:

  • US Stock Market = 29
  • MSCI EAFE (int’l developed) = 15.5
  • MSCI Emerging = 12.5


As noted in our recent blog, Crystal Balls and CAPE, when one market (US or foreign) was trading at a material premium (such as today), the other market stock market outperformed over the subsequent 10-year period.

What is the purpose of bonds in your portfolio?

Our belief is that high quality bonds in your portfolio provide the following benefits:

  • Balance – diversification from equities
  • Safety – capital preservation
  • Income – interest payments

Bond returns are largely driven by the term and credit quality of a bond.  Long-term bonds experience bigger price movements for a given change in interest rates.  Investor are expected to be compensated for taking that extra risk as a result.  The same can be said for lower credit quality bonds such as high yield bonds.  As the current time the spreads – the gap between the yield on credit and Treasuries – have remained narrow by historical standards.  For bond investors, that means the compensation for taking on credit risk is relatively low, and the upside from here could be quite limited.

Future returns of bonds are highly correlated to the starting yield. Therefore, as of 12/31/2018 the yield on the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index was approximately 3.28% which is depicted in the exhibit below.  Therefore, over the next 7-10 years investors can expect returns similar to starting yield levels. Overall, bond yields have increased over the last couple years, but remain low compared to historical levels.

How about Cash?

The Federal Reserve raised rates four times in 2018 and nine total adjustments over the past four years.  The benchmark interest rate is in a range of 2.25% to 2.5%.  The benefit of this is many investors have seen higher returns from their bank accounts but borrowing costs have also increased.  What will the Federal Reserve do next?  I have no idea, but below are the current market/Fed expectations as of December 31, 2018.  You’ll notice the Federal Reserve and market is not expecting material rate increases from this point forward.


To summarize, with low returns expected for US stocks and bonds many investors allocated primarily to US stocks will be disappointed with returns over the next ten years.  As a result, individuals may need to either work longer or spend less than expected to reach their financial goals.

For current savers a market decline should be viewed positively as it allows them to buy stocks at cheaper prices.  For existing or soon-to-be-retirees it is important to understand your risk capacity and risk tolerance and adjust your asset allocation accordingly.  You’ll need equity for long-term growth, but it is important to have high-quality bonds for current spending.

What can you do about potential lower returns?  First, focus on what you can control (spending, taxes, estate planning, etc.) and your long-term financial plan.  If you don’t have a financial plan in place, it’s the perfect time to contact a fee-only financial planner such as Financial Symmetry.  Second, implement a long-term, disciplined investment strategy.  And no, buying the mutual fund/ETF/stock that has done the best over the last three years is not a strategy.  If you don’t have a disciplined strategy or want to learn more about our process click here to download our white paper.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:37] Is now a good time to invest in the stock market?
  • [4:41] How do you evaluate when the best time to invest is?
  • [12:22] What is the purpose of bonds in your portfolio?
  • [16:53] What is the role of cash in a portfolio?
  • [18:20] What do the experts say?
  • [20:35] How do you prepare for lower returns?

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Feb 1, 2019

What are the habits of successful investors? You may think that there are big differences between successful and unsuccessful investors. In the book Atomic Habits, by James Clear, he identifies the small habits that lead to success in life, these habits apply to investors just like anyone else. We all have intentions of doing the right thing, but there is a big gap between intention and action. Only about half of our intentions turn into actions. Join us on this episode to find out what sets successful investors apart from the rest of us.

See the Full Show Notes Here:

Small Habits Make a Lifetime of Difference

  1. Successful investors bridge the knowledge and action gap. They understand delayed gratification. Successful investors realize that small changes compound over time. The difference between success and failure is that the cost of good habits is in the present and the cost of bad ones is in the future. If you can delay your gratification to the future it will benefit you greatly down the road. This is true for exercise, eating well, saving, and investing.Successful investors don’t let emotions derail their strategy. In fact, successful investors find a way to deal with the boredom when most people don’t because the greatest threat to success is not failure, but boredom.
  2. Successful investors minimize the valleys of disappointment. These are the times when you don’t feel like you’re going anywhere. It’s a hallmark of any compounding process: the most powerful outcomes are delayed. Most people know that delaying gratification is the wise approach and all of us want the benefits of good habits, but those benefits are seldom top-of-mind at the decisive moment. For successful investors, that’s not the case.
  3. Successful investors possess the ability to implement their intentions. When one says they are going to do something, it’s not a general idea. The successful investor creates a specific plan with an actionable timeframe.
  4. Successful investors know how to track their habits. We all know that life is a balancing act. It is hard enough to balance work and family life. If you throw in exercise and fun then investing can quickly take a backseat. Tracking your habits can allow you to recover quicker after a time of difficulty. A good investor can compare their investing with planting a tree. You don’t go out and check on your tree daily to look for growth. Simply set up a system for care and watch it grow over time.
  5. Successful investors practice self-control. Self-control can be challenging in times of uncertainty. Luckily there are plenty of ways to automate investing. Hiring a professional is another way to help you practice self-control. You don’t have to try and be an expert at everything, put your investments on autopilot or ask for help.
  6. Successful investors refine and reflect on their strategy. Small changes can greatly improve your success at investing. When you make small changes it makes you more aware of your mistakes and opens paths to improvement. Small improvements now can lead to major improvements in the future.

Are you ready to implement these habits for success?

Making small changes can really make the difference in your life. When you bridge the gap between your intentions and actions you begin to change your habits and start on a path to success. Implementing these strategies can help to make you a better investor and they can be applied to many other areas of your life as well. Listen to this episode of Financial Symmetry to hear how you can create successful habits as an investor and these can bleed over to other areas of your life.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:27] Half of all intentions actually turn into action
  • [5:45] Understand delayed gratification
  • [7:18] Minimize the valleys of disappointment
  • [11:00] Implement intentions
  • [13:14] Habit tracking
  • [15:20] Controlling your self-control
  • [19:11] Refine and reflect
  • [21:57] A recap of the 6 habits

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Jan 14, 2019

If asked, most people are hopeful they will have a happy retirement. They're just not sure they are taking all the necessary steps to get there. We all have those moments in our busy lives where we stop and ponder, am I doing what I need to enjoy retirement? But then our busyness continues and takes over any productive changes we considered. As financial advisors, we work with people in all phases of life and often chat with retirees that have walked this path. The happiest of them agree, there are 4 main areas that contribute to their happiness. If you want to prepare for a happy retirement then listen to this episode to hear 4 secrets to a happy retirement.

Happy retirees take their health seriously

The happiest retirees are able to move their bodies so that they can remain active. Physical exercise has the benefit of getting the endorphins going and creating joy. Staying active is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle as you age. You can’t wait until you retire to become active or it will be too late. Part of creating a healthy body is by moving more now. Even though it can be a challenge to find the time to create a healthy exercise habit, this is an important part of ensuring that your body will work the way you want as you age. Are you doing what you can now to make sure your body will still function the way you want in your golden years?

Happy retirees have enough money because they had a financial plan

Happy retirees have enough money to retire with and are financially independent. Are you doing everything you can to ensure that you will have a comfortable retirement? What savings rates do you need to have to have a comfortable retirement? How do you know that your money won’t run out when you retire? There are so many questions about money and retirement. A financial advisor can help ease your concerns about finances in retirement.

Having enough money means you will have less stress. A financial plan will help you make sure that you are saving enough. This may be obvious to some, but the fact is, only 35% of pre-retirees have a written financial plan. If you are unsure if you are saving enough now is the time to meet with a professional that can give you peace of mind. We recommend finding a fee-only financial planner to help you make sure you are doing all that you can to have the savings you need so that you won’t have to worry your way through retirement.

A strong sense of purpose can ensure a happy retirement

You need not only have a financial plan but a personal plan as well. If you have a strong sense of purpose that drives you this will help you to spend your retirement in a fulfilling way. Volunteering your time is a great way to further your knowledge and pass on your wisdom. Creating a life of purpose doesn’t just ensure that you aren’t sitting at home watching tv all day, it can result in leaving a legacy behind. What are your retirement plans? Are you planning to retire to something rather than away from something?

Relationships are important to a happy retirement

Happy retirees have friends. The happiest retirees interviewed have stated that they have a sufficient amount of friendships. Those with fewer friends are 3 times less likely to be happy. Are you developing friendships right now that will transcend the test of time? Creating friendships through common interests is a great way to ensure that you will have a number of friendships when you finally leave the work world behind. So how are you doing in these 4 areas? Do you feel like you are setting yourself up for a happy retirement?

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:17] Happy retirees take their health and wealth seriously
  • [4:52] Happy retirees have enough money to retire on and are financially independent
  • [9:22] Happy retirees have a strong sense of purpose
  • [13:03] The importance of friendships

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Jan 1, 2019

2018 gave us a December to remember, with the S&P 500 index losing 9% for the month, locking in the worst December performance since 1931.

From peak to the most recent bottom, the S&P 500 has fallen more than 20%, marking the first bear market since 2008-09. Now the bear market is here, are you prepared to deal with it?

This most recent drop has given us all a scare. Does the drop have you worried? 

Did you prepare for the bear market beforehand?

Preparing for stock market drops prior to experiencing one, helps you digest results when it occurs. It doesn't change the fact that disciplined investing is difficult. And while you'll never be excited about stock market declines, you can be prepared. 

On this episode, we clue you in on the tricks for surviving a bear market. You’ll learn what a bear market is, the questions people typically ask when the markets drop, how to prepare for a bear market, and how to recognize a bargain when you see one. The markets are always changing, are you ready for what’s ahead? Listen to this episode to help you weather the storms that bear markets bring.

What do people ask when the markets drop?

In long and strong bull markets, overconfidence is plentiful as positive returns inflate our perception of our investing skill-sets. But when the markets drop, we are quick to question our investment strategy. People ask themselves:

  • Should I be doing something different?
  • Should I be buying?
  • Should I be selling?
  • Should I buy cryptocurrency or gold?

We feel the need to act when we see our nest egg evaporating. The biggest question people ask is: what do I need to do to preserve my money? If you feel like you need to sell and go to cash then you could be taking to much risk. Risk tolerance can be thrown out the window when things are going well. It’s when things go south, you learn your true risk tolerance levels. A poor decision in a bear market can often take years or even decades to recover from. Listen to this episode to help you learn how to make the right decisions in a bear market.

What is a bear market?

A bear market occurs when there’s a drop of 20% in a particular stock market. This differs from a recession which is declared after there are 2 consecutive quarters of negative GDP. Many people think there must be a recession to have a bear market, but not every bear market results in a recession. However, they do tend to work together. There’s about a 50/50 chance of having a bear market coincide with a recession. As painful, as bear markets can feel, they do happen much quicker than bull markets. The average length of your typical bear market is 1.4 years, contrasted with an average bull market at 4.5 years.

How can you prepare for a bear market?

Bear markets can be scary to watch and unfortunately, the news channels cover them constantly. People pay more attention to bear markets since they are sensationalized by the news media. The most important thing to remember is to follow your strategy. If you feel like you need to get out immediately and go to cash then you are likely taking too much risk. Unfortunately, we can’t follow our intellect and instinct when it comes to investing. Our instincts influence us to stop the bleeding and sell stocks to hold more cash. The problem with that strategy is big up days occur very close to big down days. So when volatility spikes, your time in the market matters than trying to time the market.

How do you recognize a bargain?

The silver lining of a bear market, is the buying opportunity they create. For many investors that are steadily saving in their investment accounts, bear markets present bargains for higher long-term returns. But how do you know the best time to invest more in stock? How do you ensure that you are not buying too early?  Studies show the best strategy is to invest a lump sum upon receiving, as your average long-term returns are higher with stocks vs. other alternatives. Our emotions tell a different story. Catching a falling knife is a risky game.  This is where personal circumstances matter most. What does your future income, spending and savings rates look like? When will you need your savings? Answering questions like these gives you a head start on the best choices for your life. Because “knowing” what will happen in the short-term is a fool’s game. Understanding the historical context can help, if it gives you the confidence to begin and stay invested through potential worsening conditions.

Warren Buffet once said, “widespread fear is your friend as an investor because it serves up bargain purchases. Personal fear is your enemy and it will also be unwarranted.”

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:27] What do people ask when the markets drop?
  • [5:48] What is a bear market in stocks?
  • [10:22] How can you prepare for a bear market?
  • [16:10] How do you recognize a bargain?
  • [20:36] 5 Points to remember in a bear market

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Dec 17, 2018

Welcome to Financial Symmetry, the podcast to help you discover financial opportunities that you may be missing as well as to warn you about many financial mistakes that you can make. We are here to help you improve your life through finances. Finances are so complicated which is why we are here to help you answer questions about your daily financial life. We are here to give helpful hints and education rather than financial advice. On this episode, we discuss our top 4 most popular podcasts of 2018. Listen to this episode to hear what our top 4 most popular podcasts were, as well as many of our favorite podcasts.

Our most popular podcasts are quite diverse

Our 4th most popular podcast aired relatively recently and we discussed why you should bother diversifying your portfolio with international stocks. On that episode, we highlighted why the U.S. has done so well and why you would want to have a mediocre portfolio by mixing it up with international stocks. We discussed the risks of investing internationally as well as our tendency toward home country bias. Episode 67 discussed the long-term benefits and how they can shine through our short-sighted viewpoints. Have you listened to the Why Bother Diversifying episode?

What investment decision process should you implement?

Episode 52 was the 3rd most popular podcast of 2018. The markets had just dropped when this one aired which makes everyone nervous. It’s important to remember that the markets frequently fluctuate. We often forget the rough times in the financial world which is why it is so important to have an investment plan. An investment plan isn’t there for the easy times when all is well, it’s there to help you through the hard times. That episode mentioned how to get through the emotional part of investing. We love to give you a glimpse behind the curtain so to speak so that you can see our own details and strategy that we use here at Financial Symmetry. Do you have a financial plan in place?

5 Easy ways to improve your financial decisions

I’m glad this was the 2nd most popular episode in 2018. It discussed how we often act against our own best judgment. We tend to place more value in small rewards now rather than larger rewards in the future. This episode included easy steps that anyone can implement to improve their financial situation. We talked about small wins, automation, accountability, and how to have a bigger awareness of spending. Check out episode 60 to find out how to improve your financial decisions.

The top episode took us by surprise

We were surprised by the number one episode of 2018. Episode 61 was our most downloaded episode. This one aired in June and discussed how to plan a more enjoyable vacation. We love encouraging experiences over things. Experiences create lasting memories and things are easily forgotten. Check out episode 61 if you are planning your next vacation. Find out which episode didn’t make it into the final 4 as well as which podcasts we really enjoy listening to on this episode of Financial Symmetry.

Outline of This Episode

  • [3:27] What are our top 4 podcasts of 2018?
  • [4:42] Why bother diversifying with international stocks
  • [7:04] What investment decision process should you implement
  • [10:25] 5 Easy ways to improve your financial decisions
  • [15:20] Planning a more enjoyable summer vacation
  • [17:58] What is the one that didn’t make it
  • [19:28] Some other podcasts you might enjoy

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Dec 3, 2018

Working moms face a difficult balance. People often feel that most women have a choice whether to work outside the home, but the reality is, 65% of families need both parents to work. Women in the workforce is a family issue, not simply a women’s issue, so this episode is useful for more than just women. Allison and Grace join us again to dive into the topics of gender bias, women in the workforce, and they provide helpful strategies and resources to help anyone that is struggling with how to balance it all.

Women face both internal and external gender bias

Studies have found that as women achieve more success in the workplace they lose their likeability. This can make it a challenge for women who want to chase success. Even directly out of college women seem to start out behind men as they begin their careers. Only 7% of women negotiate their first salary whereas 57% of men do. Men are often rewarded for their drive and ambition while those same traits in women are considered self-serving and greedy. In Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, she gives useful advice on how to make the most of your career and motherhood. Discover how to overcome your own gender bias on this episode of Financial Symmetry.

What is truly essential to you?

Working moms aren’t the only ones that seek the perfect work-life balance. But is work-life balance a myth? One way to bring more balance into your life is to consider what is truly essential to you. Once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all then you can make your highest contribution to the things that really matter. The book Essentialism by Greg McKeown inspires readers to prioritize what they really need. This book can help you reconsider what is essential in your life. How can you reconsider what is important to you? Listen to this episode to hear more about this book and other resources for working moms.

How do successful women spend their time?

Some people seem to be so great at managing their time. What Laura Vanderkam discovered is that when you focus on what matters to you then you will make time for what you want. She emphasizes that time is elastic and you can stretch it to get what you need out of life if you prioritize what is important to you. We are all given the same amount of time in a week, it’s how we use our time that counts. Successful women get paid for the quality of work that they do, not the hours that they put in. How do you prioritize your schedule and make time for what you really want?

Discover resources for working moms

As you come back to work after having a child your life changes immensely while that of your husband doesn’t change much at all. Even though men often take time off of work, they are not faced with the same kinds of difficult decisions that women face. When returning to work you have to consider how much you will miss your kids when you go back. You have to decide whether you should you stop your career and stay at home or continue to work. Those that normally cheer you on now question all of your decisions. Listen to this episode of Financial Symmetry to find some fantastic resources for working moms.

Outline of This Episode

  • [3:49] There are gender biases both internally and externally
  • [12:45] What is essential to you?
  • [17:12] How do you strike a balance with your spouse?
  • [23:50] Can you achieve more by doing less?
  • [30:10] How do successful women make the most of their time?

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Grace and Allison

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Nov 19, 2018

As the holidays near, visions of new tax savings dance in our heads.  But knowing how to spot them is what really matters. With all the new tax law changes, Will Holt joins us again to guide you through seven tax opportunities you can take advantage of before year-end. Some of these tips can save you thousands of dollars, so listen in to see how you they may benefit your personal situation.

7 Tax Opportunities to Take Advantage Of

1. Tax Harvesting (Loss or Gain) – This hasn’t changed with the new tax law, but depending on your tax bracket, that percentage of tax you pay may have. If you’re facing a significant amount of capital gains or expect large capital gain distributions, with the rough October performance, you may want to consider tax loss harvesting. This allows you to offset some of those gains and even go a step further, by using $3,000 of net losses against your income. It may seem counterintuitive to sell at a loss, but it could be an opportunity to offset high taxes. If you are in the new 12% federal tax bracket and lower, realizing more gains could be an opportunity instead, as these could be realized at 0%. But knowing your tax rate and all expected income is required. Discuss with a professional to know for sure.

2. Max Retirement Contributions – Understanding how close you are to the max of your retirement accounts, could present extra tax-advantaged savings at the end of the year. Maxing your 401K contribution is the first place to check. If you get a big year-end bonus, this could be a good trigger. Don’t forget your HSA, as this account provides a triple threat of tax savings (tax deduction, tax deferral, tax-free withdrawals).

3. Convert a Roth IRA? – Doing a Roth conversion can help you stay in your tax bracket by moving an IRA into a Roth. With the new lower tax rates, this could be an opportunity to lower the inevitable tax you were going to pay on this savings. Additionally, you will be taking money out of a tax-deferred account and moving it into a tax-free account. This is a good option for early retirees with large taxable accounts. But you’ll need to be more precise going forward, as the opportunity to recharacterize if you overshoot is gone.

4. Bunching Charitable Contributions – The new tax law has increased the standard deduction for individuals to $12,000 and for married couples from $12,000 to $24,000. This means around 90% of people will now be taking the standard deduction according to the Tax Policy Center. If you forecast your itemized deductions could be higher than the standard amount, consider bunching your charitable contributions into 2-year bundles. One way to do that is by using a bunching tool called a donor-advised fund.  The donor-advised fund allows for more flexibility in taking the deduction now, but still allowing for spreading contributions throughout the year. For more information about donor-advised funds, refer to episode 59 for more details.

5. Look at a Qualified Charitable Distribution Early in the Year – One of the opportunities, that hasn’t changed but is getting more attention, is the QCD or qualified charitable distribution. To enjoy this opportunity you are required to be age 70.5 and older as you can designate a portion of your required annual distribution directly to a charity. This takes some precision and should be targeted for earlier in the year when the RMD still needs to be taken as it must come directly out of an IRA and go directly to the charity of your choice.

6. 20% Deduction for Qualified Business Income – If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur the qualified business income deduction will be of interest. What’s come to be called the QBI deduction, or 199A deduction, is used for any business that is not a C corporation. If you have self-employed income or are an S Corporation, you can receive a deduction of 20% on your profit. However, there are income limitations. After you listen to this tip you’ll want to sit down with your tax professional and plan your taxes. We wrote a more detailed article on potential savings with QBI here.

7. Watch the Tax Torpedos – To truly understand your own tax planning, you have to watch specific income thresholds. We refer to these as tax torpedos. For example, if receiving a premium tax credit for health insurance, you could lose your entire subsidy if you surpass the income limitations by even $1. These are set according to the amount of family members (up to 4). A great example of why tax planning matters throughout the year as well. We discuss other important income thresholds dealing with the medicare premium surcharges, child tax credit cutoffs, and roth IRA limits.

As you prepare for the holiday season, make sure you take a second look at your tax planning. By watching out for these financial opportunities, you could end up saving yourself thousands of dollars in taxes. It’s important to have a multi-year tax strategy and always consider the big picture, not just what is happening now.  Being financially smart means considering all aspects of your financial life.  This time of  year, that begins with looking for ways take advantage of new tax laws for your personal situation.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:47] Tax loss harvesting
  • [6:51] Retirement accounts tax savings
  • [9:00] The Roth conversion
  • [12:09] The new tax law increased the standard deduction
  • [15:36] Qualified charitable distribution
  • [19:43] The qualified business income deduction
  • [22:37] Specific thresholds to look out for

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Will Holt

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Nov 5, 2018

If you've paid any attention to financial news recently, then you didn't have to look far, as stock market noise was at a peak. Media headlines were filled with phrases like: epic turmoil, getting crushed and no place to hide.

Emotionally charged words that make you feel like you need to do something to prevent losing more of your nest egg. But following our instincts when investing, can lead to dangerous outcomes.

In times like this, we need a strategy to give us proper perspective. On this episode of the Financial Symmetry podcast, we’ll discuss why market fluctuations are incredibly normal and provide techniques to help you cope with short-term volatility and keep your focus on long-term goals instead. If you’re getting nervous about the direction the market is taking, you’ll want to listen for steps to confront the inevitable next occurrence.

How to Deal with the Emotional Roller Coaster of Investing

When listening to financial news it's important to remember that the media’s ultimate job is to sell advertisements. It's not their job to help you see the long-term picture or help you reach your financial goals. Easier said than done when markets around the world experience a 10-15% drops.

But if we back up, history provides a different perspective. Market volatility is reliably normal, but it can still make you feel nervous. To truly understand the ups and downs, take a look at the chart below from the Capital Group. There have been 12 full-blown bear markets since 1945. A 5% or more decline in the market typically occurs 3 times a year. And a 20% drop usually occurs about every 4 years. The past 10 years have actually been the anomaly. It is important to remember that a bear market isn’t a bad thing.

It’s actually a great time to reassess your investment plan and evaluate your risk tolerance.

Fight Stock Market Noise with Facts

With breaking news coming at us as quick as we want it with social media, it's even harder to block out the noise. Whether tweets or 24 hour cable news, today's financial news is near immediate compared to 30 years ago when you may not hear it until the next day.

In Jason Zweig's book, Your Money and Your Brain, he provides some powerful questions to prevent your feelings from overwhelming the facts. Instead of listening and reacting to the financial news du jour, stop to pause and think about if anything else has changed in your financial picture, other than price of your investment. 

  • Consider if your reasons for investing in that investment is still valid? 
  • If I liked this investment enough to buy it at a much higher price, shouldn't I like it even more now that the price is lower? 
  • What other evidence do I need to evaluate in order to tell whether this is really bad news?
  • Has this investment ever gone down this much before?
  • If so, would I have done better if I had sold out-or if I had bought more?

What Should you Do Next?

To successfully navigate a bear market, you have a long-term strategy in place. Cliche? Sure, but considering where you are in life now is instructive in developing your treatment plan for market short-term sickness.

If you're in your 20’s and 30’s don’t worry, there is still plenty of time. Investment choices still matter at these ages, but not nearly as much as your actual savings amounts. Choose and stick with an investment plan so you can steadily take advantage of the drop in stock prices, a fantastic long-term sale.

If in your 50's and 60's, it's much more important to focus on your overall investment strategy. How does your asset allocation match your retirement timeline? For many in this walk of life, investment returns will be larger than your annual savings amounts. You'll also be facing the sequence of return risk which can eat a big portion of your retirement without a strategy.

Professional help at this point, can help you respond accordingly to market events and more importantly, act as an accountability partner. Having a buffer between your emotions and the markets may be the most important financial decision you can make. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:17] Examples of fearful headlines in the news this month
  • [4:01] Why you should not be worried about market fluctuations
  • [7:32] Stick to your strategy and investment plan
  • [12:26] What are your emotions telling you to do?
  • [18:26] What should you do next?
  • [23:45] Fight fear with facts
  • [29:04] Next time on Financial Symmetry. . .

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Oct 22, 2018

October is here so time to gather around the campfire. With Halloween around the corner, we are highlighting a few spooky financial stories that have scary circumstances. These feelings typically bleed in to stock markets as well. October is often wrongly characterized as the worst month for people to invest. Primarily because people remember the big historical market drops that happen during October.  But scary moves for your portfolio aren't the only thing to fear in your financial planning. For all our listeners who love movies, you're in for a treat. We've picked 5 spooky financial stories that pair up with some classic Halloween movies. Listen in for some truly terrifying financial stories.

Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Remember Jack Nicholson’s classic movie, The Shining?  "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Finding a work-life balance is difficult for so many of us. We had a client that saved diligently over a hard-working career. While building an impressive savings for retirement, he put off vacations, opting for promotions up the corporate ladder. But once he was finally ready to retire and enjoy his savings, he was diagnosed with a nebulous nerve condition that required daily care and limited physical motor functions preventing him from enjoying his hard earned savings. While we can't prevent crippling medical conditions, we can build in balance to our financial plans. Understanding how your savings and spending will transform throughout your life helps you make more confident decisions while enjoying time with those most important to you.

Seeing Something Others Can’t

“I see dead people.” A now infamous quote from The Sixth Sense. This is because Haley Jo Osmond's character can see things others can’t.  Similar scenarios occur when life is full of busyness that blinds us to opportunities that could make a noticeable long-term differences. Instead, by surrounding yourself with people who can spot things you can't see, you set yourself up for new opportunities to bolster your financial progress. The back-door Roth provides a great example. You may think you make too much money to enjoy the benefits of a Roth IRA, but maybe you didn't have enough time to fully understand and follow through with it.

How to Avoid the Blair Witch Scenario

The Blair Witch Project is a frightening scenario about a group of friends that wander into the woods without a plan. They lose their map and this leads them into trouble. Don’t let this be you. If you don’t have a plan you can swerve off course and lose your way to retirement. Many pre-retirees lose sleep over not having enough money because they didn’t set spending limits. You need to have a plan in place and know how much you can afford to spend and how much to save. Do you have a specific and customized plan for your life and your retirement?

Nightmares that Bring Confusion

Some employees are confused about how best to handle employee income incentives. This is much like the people in Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas who are confused when Christmas comes to Halloween TownMany employees don’t have the time or expertise of how best to deal with RSUs, ESPPs, and Stock Options. Partly due to the tough decisions of when to exercise, sell or hold. So many tend to hold, where positions build and concentration risk grows. This is breeding ground for nightmare scenarios of holding too long and not diversifying. Listen to this episode to learn how to deal with the familiarity bias and ensure that all your financial eggs are not in one basket.

Don’t Neglect to Invest in your Human Capital

Ghostbusters 2 is a classic tale of reinvention. The Ghostbusters are forced to reinvent themselves after their business goes bust at the end of the first movie. But their is beauty in their resilience and how they trust in their expertise. This is a good metaphor for our own lives. It is important to invest in your own human capital and have the resilience to face negative events that can happen in your own life. If you continually improve your knowledge you will be able to bounce back from challenges and change the trajectory of your life. Investing in yourself will always bring a high return on your investment.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:57] Not being able to see the forest for the trees
  • [7:16] Seeing something others can’t
  • [12:21] How to avoid the Blair Witch scenario
  • [17:50] The nightmares that bring confusion
  • [22:11] The neglect to invest in human capital

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

1 « Previous 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Next » 9