Investments are the tools used most often to pursue financial goals. The major forms of investments are stocks (shares in individual companies), bonds (loans you make to companies, governments or agencies), mutual funds (shares representing your part ownership of a basket of stocks or bonds, chosen by a manager) or exchange traded funds, (shares representing your part ownership of a basket of stocks or bonds, chosen by an "index," like the Dow-Jones or S&P 500.) There are over 10,000 options between direct and indirect investments like these.
Investments are used because over time a diversified portfolio has outperformed CD's or Treasury bonds. This is not to say this always happens, or will happen during your investment horizon. With the exception of certain bonds, investments are not insured and you may lose some or all of your principal (the money you invest.) Be skeptical of anyone who guarantees a rate of return or promises results far higher than what everyone else is offering. Too-good-to-be-true usually turns out to be neither.
My role as a Certified Financial Planner® is to understand your goals and the amount of time available towards their achievement, as well as your feelings about risk, and to recommend a portfolio that will help you pursue those goals. I am affiliated with HD Vest Investment Services and HD Vest Advisory Services, which design portfolios tailored to a wide range of investment needs. Working together, I can recommend a portfolio designed to help you achieve your goals while targeting a level of risk you can live with.
Time and time again, I hear people say retirement is their number one financial concern.
When can I retire? When should I retire? Do I have enough to retire? How will I pay for healthcare until Medicare starts?What if I need long term care? What if Social Security gets cut? How do I maximize my Social Security benefits?
Depending on how old you are when we start, your goals will differ. For some people, retirement is still 25 years off and there is enough time to save money, invest in a slightly higher level of risk, and benefit from compounding. For others, with 10-15 years to go, risk avoidance moves front and center. A big loss at age 55 might be hard to overcome if you were planning to retire at age 65. And if you are rounding the bend at age 60, you might be looking for what steps you can take to fine tune your Social Security or take advantage of all your catch-up provisions before taking that giant step.
But no matter how old you are, it's never too soon to draw a road map! When would you like to retire? How much will it cost to maintain the lifestyle you have? How much is Social Security likely to be? How much more do you need? How much have you saved? How much more do you need to save? How much can you anticipate that your savings will grow? After we sit down for that conversation, we will be in a much better position to answer the questions at the start of this section.
Everyone wants their children to get the best education they can. That might mean college; or it might mean a technical degree. Some programs require graduate school. Whether you would like to help your children with all or some of their education expense, there are multiple strategies available to help parents. Some involve investments; some have special tax advantages; others are based on existing savings like US Savings Bonds or IRA Accounts. But there is a wide range of choices ranging from the type of plan, how to invest and based on the number of children in your family. I am experienced in education planning and will be happy to make your children's education part of your overall financial plan.
Finally, sometimes a spouse, a sibling, a child or another loved one may not be able to care for themselves or manage financial assets, either present or future. While this is primarily a situation calling for legal steps to provide for guardianship or conservatorship, assets need to be managed for the benefit of that loved one, and usually a trust needs to be created to receive future income or assets (for example, proceeds of a life insurance policy.) I am happy work with your attorney or recommend one in these situations.
Many people have strong feelings about charitable endeavors, including educational, health care, social services, religious, historical, recreational and many more. Of these people, many leave charitable bequests in their estate plans, while others prefer to express their generosity during their lifetimes and see their good will go to work right away. Others still give now for the tax benefit but retain control over the giving process for the rest of their lives.
Whichever route you choose, as you might expect, not only are there tax consequences, but there are also consequences to family traditions of giving. I am able to advise you how to derive the greatest personal and tax benefit from charitable donations by the timing and means of the gifts you make.
*Investment and Financial Planning Services are offered by Nathan S. Zielonka through his affiliation with H. D. Vest.