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13 Sure Ways to Be Broke But Cool… Forever

11 Jan

Broke But CoolYou know all those personal finance experts who always talk about saving, budgeting, living within your means and being financially independent? They often give advice that although has a desirable future outcome assumes that you save up for stuff, live within your means and are financially responsible. How boring! You only live once. Instead, read below how to be broke but cool.

  1. Keep up with the Joneses. Number one rule for being cool is making awesome impression. If your neighbors or friends get something new, you should definitely follow suit. Actually, think if you can get something bigger and better.
  2. Finance everything. You can’t afford it? No problem! That’s what credit is for! You are not buying a $30,000 car but committing to only $300 a month payment. For only 5 years. You can totally do this. Why wait to buy the stuff you really want when you can have it now. After all, you have a huge credit limit for a reason.
  3. Pay the minimum. When the credit card bills come in, don’t waste all your cash to repay them. There is this really cool concept of minimum payment. It is designed with your comfort in mind so you don’t have to use up all your cash and instead can spend it on some really nice stuff. Oh, and ignore that part about how it will take you 38 years to repay the balance if you only pay the minimum. That’s there just for informational purposes. No biggie.
  4. Stay in debt. There is no need to try and get out of debt when almost everyone in the US has debt.  You are in good company. And interest? Well, just focus on that daily interest percentage that your credit card company has listed for you on the statement. When you look at it that way, it doesn’t seem so bad.
  5. Buy the biggest house. Buying the biggest and most expensive house you can barely afford is a great way to be cool and broke.  Make sure you have the most lavish décor, high end everything and remodel as soon as possible. You can finance all of that. If you are lucky, your house may even go up in value so you can borrow against the equity and have some more spending money. Now how cool is that?
  6. Buy a new car. And do that often. There is nothing like that new car smell. A new car makes you feel and look great. Your car is one of the first things people notice about you so make sure it is fancy so you can make a good impression. Ignore them if people tell you that a car is one of the fastest depreciating assets. They must be jealous of your coolness!
  7. Don’t save. Why tie up your cash in a savings account when you could put it to better use? Financial advisors always talk about emergency fund. Do you really need that when you can use a credit card in case of an emergency?
  8. Don’t have insurance. Another favorite of financial advisors and all those personal finance folks. After paying for your big house, new car and cool new toys, life insurance just costs too much. Plus what are the chances you die anyways?
  9. Follow the latest trends. In fashion, cars, furniture, appliances and gadgets, the trends change all the time. And there is a good reason for it. After all, they are developed after countless hours of research by the consumer goods companies. So by all means, follow the trends! Even if that means renewing your wardrobe and cell phone every season, changing your car every two years and remodeling your kitchen every five years. Remember, that’s what credit is for and trendy is cool!
  10. Go on expensive vacations. You work so hard. You deserve it! And you have a huge credit limit on your new card. So why not treat yourself to that exotic vacation you have been thinking about. Make sure you choose the best. Go for luxury whenever you can. Think about the cool pictures you can show! You would really like that 5 star resort in the Caribbean.
  11. Don’t think about retirement. Retirement is for old people! You are way too young to think about that. You have plenty of time. You can think about that later. Plus towards the end of your career you will be making much more than today so it only makes sense to start then. Don’t get depressed thinking about getting old. Instead, enjoy your awesome life now.
  12. Wait to invest. Same logic as above applies here. Why waste precious dollars today for something that impacts your long-term future? Ok, maybe there is a merit to doing that but you can always start tomorrow. Or next year.
  13. Get regular “shopping therapy”. You didn’t know that “shopping therapy” is a scientific term? If you are sad, tired, or bored, go shopping. Coming home with something new will instantly cheer you up and make you feel better. Do it regularly and consistently for best results.

So, live by the above principles and you are guaranteed to look your best, make the best impression and always immediately get what you want. You will know that you have enjoyed life to the fullest and you are guaranteed to be the person everyone envies and wants to be like.

Who cares about not having savings, not being able to retire, living paycheck to paycheck and being broke when you are that cool!

How to Keep Your Financial New Years Resolutions

3 Jan

how to keep your new years resolutionsThe new year is here! Usually that means being excited about the new beginning and setting goals to improve our lives. Very often New Year’s resolutions revolve around physical health but a large percentage of resolutions relate to personal finance. Getting out of debt, reducing expenses or increasing savings are some of the most common goals. And while setting goals is easy, most people find it difficult to stick to their resolutions and end up abandoning their goals within the first couple of months of the year.

So what can you do to stick to your resolutions?

First, give yourself credit. Before you start thinking about what your financial goals for 2013 are, take the time to acknowledge what you accomplished in 2012. Evaluating your financial accomplishments from the past year will help motivate you and make it easier for you to move forward towards your new goals.

Be realistic. Just like with any goal, you need a certain dose of realism to succeed. You can always make a resolution to save $1,000 a month but if all you can manage to save, even after cutting expenses to bare minimum is $700, you are better off aiming at a realistic target. Otherwise you are setting yourself up for failure.

Be accountable. Whether it is to your spouse, significant other, or just a friend, you will find yourself feeling more motivated to stick to your goals if you have shared them and if you communicate how you are doing.  

Start small. If your goal is to reduce discretionary expenses, do not try to stop eating out altogether. Instead start by eating out only once a week and progressively reduce the number of times you eat out even further.

Beware of budgets. Yes you read this right. Whether your goal is to save more, pay off debt or increase your retirement contributions, chances are you will have to take a hard look at your income and expenses equation. Very often you will reach the conclusion that you can succeed by setting a budget. But budgets are too restrictive and very often do more harm than good.  (See What do diets and budgets have in common?). Instead, create a spending plan, focus on tracking expenses and use your past spending habits to understand your financial behaviors. Then determine what aspects you can improve and how.

And finally, the best tools are within you. With the right mix of determination, patience, resilience, and adaptability you will stick to your financial new year’s resolutions and may even surprise yourself with what you can achieve.

 

 

The Parents Dilemma – Saving for College or Retirement

30 Jul

Should we save for college or should we save for retirement?

Whether your little ones are in diapers or about to head off to college, if you are a parent you have probably asked yourself this question over and over.

The hefty price tag of higher education seems to be increasing every year. According to the College Board, the average fees for four years at a private college is now more than $150,000 — including $38,589 for the 2012-13 school year. Even going to your state’s university, it costs close to half that total at an average of $17,131 a year. As a result most graduates have amassed significant amounts of student loan debt by the time they enter the workforce. You don’t want that for your children. You want to give them the best start in life, right?  After all, good parents are selfless and ready to sacrifice anything for the wellbeing of their babies.

Most experts agree than when it comes to deciding between saving for college or retirement, just wanting the best for our little ones should not be the deciding factor as emotional reasoning should not be applied to this all important decision. This is of course not to say that you should not save for college. It is essential to approach the college saving decision rationally, and carefully balance saving for college with working towards the remainder of your family’s financial goals such as being debt free and being 100% certain that you are going to be able to retire comfortably and when you want.

As parents we learn to juggle so much and here are a few considerations to keep in mind while balancing college and retirement savings.

When in doubt, choose retirement. Reasons are simple and not necessarily selfish. Unlike college education, loans, scholarships and financial aid are not available to finance retirement. As a parent, you might think your most important financial duty is to pay for your children’s education. You’d be wrong. Saving enough money for your own retirement is even more crucial.   Your Family Bank® is a concept that might allow you to a accomplish both. You can have a plan to safely and securely plan for college and have a tax-free source of retirement income simply by redirecting your current spending.  In addition, if you fail to save enough and are not able to retire comfortably, you may in your old age become a burden on those same children whom you tried to protect from being overwhelmed with debt.

Start early. Remember your best friends – time and compound interest. Give them a chance to do their magic by starting saving for college early. If you open a college fund when your child is born and invest $100 every month until it is time to pay tuition bills, assuming a 5% return on investment, in 18 years, the balance will be $35,000. While this may not be enough to cover all college expenses, it is at least something to get started.  It all depends on how much of the total higher education expenses you have decided you are going to cover.

Set expectations and communicate them with your children. This is a very personal decision and it depends on both your financial situation and your parental approach but however much you are going to contribute, make sure you set the expectations and communicate them to your children so they know what to expect. You may decide that you are going to pay for undergraduate degrees only and anything in addition (Master’s, MBA, Professional degree) your child will have to finance on their own. Perhaps you only cover tuition and encourage a part-time job or loans to finance the rest. Instill the right values in your children, encourage them to recognize the value of education and strive to be the best. There are plenty of merit based scholarships for students with good grades and high scores on standardized tests.

Get grandparents and relatives involved. Leverage the thoughtfulness and generosity of grandparents and relatives and suggest that instead of buying toys and cute new outfits for holidays and birthdays they contribute some or all of the money they ordinarily spend to the child’s college fund. Again, this is a personal decision and it depends on values and priorities but even if could get a few relatives on board, with time and compound interest on your side, you may be able to help cover a semester or two.

Consider the tax implications. Even if you end up financing some of the education expenses with loans, remember that there is a student loan tax deduction. You may deduct up to $2,500 per year in the interest paid on student loans if your modified adjusted gross income is less than $70,000 if you are single or less that $145,000 if you are married filing jointly. This deduction can be taken for the life of the loan.

Also, you may be able to take two federal tax credits – the American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Credit – in the years you pay tuition.  Make sure you work with your tax professional to see if those apply to you.

Have a customized plan in place. College savings and retirement savings are not mutually exclusive and do not have to become the parental catch 22. Many factors play a role – when do you expect to retire, when are your children expected to head off to college, how many do you have, and are they likely to attend expensive private schools or the state college. With the average American paying $0.56-$0.64 of every dollar they earn on interest expense and taxes, it can be a challenge.  Your Family Bank® is one possibility that can allow you to plan for college and have a tax-free source of income during your retirement years.  Many times you can put this plan in place by spending no more than you are already spending now.  We do this by redirecting money normally lost to debt, interest and taxes back into your bank and ensure that your dollar gains a positive rate of return every day.  There are so many strategies to consider and the good news is that with the right financial plan in place it is possible to do both and strike a balance.

And at the end, you may be able to admire your Ivy League graduates without having to move in with them.

Video

Lowering Social Security Taxes – Timothy Mobley

18 Jun

The government defines provisional income as your total income including tax exempt income plushalf of your Social Security benefits. Timothy Mobley with The Baron Group walks you through this subject on provisional income and lowering social security taxes.

Video

New VA Aid and Attendance Pension Amounts 2012 – Timothy Mobley

18 Jun

Tim Mobley with the Baron Group provides and update on new veterans aid and attendance pension amounts for 2012. The Department of Veterans Affairs has had minimal success in promoting this program and most Veterans have never heard of this benefit or don’t know how to access it. Tim brings some valuable education through this video

Timothy Mobley is an Advocate for Veterans and resides in Monroe, LA. He has done numerous fundraising and charity events with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Lance Armstrong Cancer foundation, and the Challenged Athlete Foundation.

Market Linked CD – Is it the right choice?

7 Jun

Here is a question that is on the mind of many investors these days: ” How about market linked CDs? I would like to stay away from the equities market but somehow still benefit from any potential upside in securities while getting FDIC protection. Are equity linked CDs the right choice for me?”

The most appropriate answer really is: “It depends…”

Below, I will explain the advantages and disadvantages of market linked CDs and in which circumstances we at The Baron Group, LLC usually recommend investing in market-linked CDs.

Market-linked CDs (also referred to as market-indexed or equity-linked CDs) are certificates of deposit based on one or more asset classes such as securities or market indices. By purchasing a market-linked CD the investor participates in the growth of the underlying security or index while preserving the characteristics of a traditional CD, Including protection against market decline. When market-linked CD is held to maturity its principal is protected and the investor receives interest based on the performance of the underlying asset class during the term of the CD or on redemption date. In other words, they combine the upside potential of the equity market while providing the traditional security of a bank CD. The best of both worlds! Especially in the current tumultuous economic environment of very low interest rates and volatile stock market returns.

Here are a few specific benefits:

Protected Growth

Market linked CDs provide the potential for capital appreciation based on the performance of an underlying asset or basket of assets with complete protection of the original deposit, when held to maturity. So basically, the value can go up with the market but cannot go down. It is important to remember that if the market-linked CD issued by an FDIC insured Bank (those are the only ones I recommend anyways), the FDIC insures the original deposit if the issuing bank becomes insolvent.

Performance

Market Linked CDs have the potential to earn greater returns than traditional fixed income instruments over the same duration. This performance is generated by the assets the CD is linked to and the payoff structure used. Market Linked CDs can be designed for growth strategies, income strategies or a combination of both.

Diversification

Diversification is achieved through these main characteristics:

Asset Class: Market linked CDs can be linked to a wide variety of underlying asset classes such as equities, commodities, currencies, market indices, fixed income, inflation and more.

Geography: Exposure can be achieved to foreign and emerging markets without the additional currency risks of direct equity investment.

Customization: Market Linked CDs can be structured with various levels of complexity to accommodate specific investment needs that could be difficult to replicate by independent investors.

With the above benefits is mind, we need to also consider the risks of MLCDs.

Liquidity

If the CD is redeemed prior to maturity, the principal will not be protected and the investor may realize a loss, even if the underlying asset has appreciated.

Therefore, I always recommend purchasing market-linked CDs only if the intent is to hold these CDs to maturity.

Performance/Market Risk

The performance of Market Linked CDs is based on the performance of the underlying asset(s) with respect to the type of payoff structure. Generally, a Market Linked CD’s – possessive performance may be less than investing directly in the same underlying asset(s). Clients are at risk of underperforming a traditional fixed income instrument if the asset(s) used to determine the performance of the MLCD devalue over the life of the CD.

Tax Considerations

Just like any certificate of deposit, market linked CDs’ returns are considered interest for tax purposes, therefore the tax rate may be higher than the capital gains rate. However, the investor typically does not have tax liabilities if the market linked CD is purchased in a qualified account like an IRA.

So, back to the original question – is a market-linked CD the right choice for me?

While anyone can invest in MLCDs and they are an excellent compliment to any well-balanced portfolio, there are a few specific types of investors who may benefit from market linked CDs the most. Generally speaking if you are retired, a baby boomer, a family who would not want to see their children’s college fund diminish in value, or if you are any conservative, risk averse investor, then a market linked CD may be the right option for you.

However, just like with any other investment decision, your individual overall investment goals need to be evaluated in order to determine the most effective investment strategy. Although certain general rules apply, there is never a “one size fits all” answer when it comes to investing. Your adviser will help you determine the most favorable strategy in your particular case, shop around for the best combination of rates, minimum deposit requirements, maturity dates, and early withdrawal provisions. With a carefully designed investment strategy, tailored to your individual tolerance for risk, you are best equipped to reach your financial goals.

Best of luck!!

Video

Lowering Social Security Taxes

12 Mar

The government defines provisional income as your total income including tax exempt income plushalf of your Social Security benefits. Timothy Mobley with The Baron Group walks you through this subject on provisional income and lowering social security taxes

Timothy Mobley and Baron Group focus on Helping Families transition into long-term healthcare environments

17 Nov

We have been doing business in Louisiana since 2004.  We offer a full range of products to meet the needs of our clients.  Our focus is helping families transitioning into long-term healthcare environments, whether that is home healthcare, assisted living, memory care, or a nursing home, and we do it from a legal and financial prospective.

As the local advocate, we specialize in educating VETERANS and SURVIVING SPOUSES of the benefits available through the VETERANS AID & ATTENDANCE PENSION and to the general qualifying criteria.

 

WE DO NOT CHARGE for this service.

 

Our knowledge in this specialized area allows us to assist with any necessary planning that can be done so that you are consistent with the general qualifying criteria.  We then refer you to AMERIVETS where all Attorneys are fully accredited by the VA’s general council.

 

We do not apply to the VA for you:  We do not approve or deny your case and we offer no legal advice or opinion:

 

Our commitment to you…

 

  • Provide a comprehensive and professional approach to educating you of the benefits of Title 38 and the general qualifying criteria.

 

  • Be knowledgeable, trustworthy, credible, and professional.

 

  • Access to VA accredited attorneys that can provide full representation of VETERANS as it pertains to Title 38.

 

  • To communicate with you in a timely and accurate manner

 

Creating Financial Leverage Through Long Care Term Insurance

10 Nov

The Baron Group and Tim Mobley specialize in asset based life and long term care insurance for seniors.

Many seniors cannot cope with the idea of paying regular premiums to cover their long-term care (LTC) risk.

Fortunately there are alternatives. With a single premium payment one can buy
a long-term care benefit that’s linked to a life insurance policy or a fixed annuity.

The principle is to take money out of existing emergency funds and use it to buy either a deferred fixed annuity or a life insurance policy with a linked long-term care
benefit. With the deferred annuity, seniors can get competitive growth on their money plus LTC benefits if needed. If not, the money is there for their heirs upon death.

It’s important to consider the following benefits says Timothy Mobley:

  • Replacing multiple regular premiums with one lump sum payment.
  • Creating a tax free inheritance.
  • Avoiding the perceived loss of premiums  for not ever needing LTC.
  • Building equity by accruing tax deferred interest until you money is withdrawn.
  • Preserving money not used for LTC for heirs by leveraging that money to increase your estate.

 

 

Tim Mobley – The Baron Group – Veteran Assistance Programs

10 Nov

Timothy Mobley and the Baron group educate America’s veterans and the care professionals who work hard to meet the care needs of our veterans.
These entitlements are far too important to disregard and Tim Mobley’s goal is to educate, counsel and help to bring the pension to each and every qualifying veteran. The Baron group specializes in these kind of services.

Many of our nation’s Veterans may qualify for the Non-Service Connected Disability Pension with benefits under Title 38. The great thing about this pension is that the money can be used to offset their care expenses.

Not too long ago care providers and veterans had little or no knowledge of this pension and how to access it and over the last 4 years public and industry awareness has grown.

Unfortunately much of what the care industry and the general public know about the pension may be misleading or false.

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