Managing your finances is an important component to any financial plan. Along with the protection offered through insurance and the goal setting provided by investment choices, money management strategies help you manage your savings on a daily basis.
From mortgage payments to tax savings, we seek to help you manage your money as effectively as possible, given your personal situation.
Depending on your stage of life, chances are you’ll have a distinct approach to saving. New graduates or young couples have different needs than retirees or mid-career families. But no matter your personal situation, we can help you develop financial habits that will lay a strong foundation for your savings.
Younger individuals and couples have a number of benefits in terms of financial management. Low insurance costs and a long investment horizon, combined with few responsibilities, can make for an excellent financial base. We can help you build on these advantages, while at the same time considering a debt load that might include student loans, car payments or perhaps a mortgage.
Couples planning for a first child enter into a new level of commitment—both personally and financially. Learn how to save for a child through specialized insurance and investment products, such as a Registered Education Savings Plan.
Mid-career professionals typically have higher incomes than younger investors—but they also carry more responsibilities. From mortgage payments to a child’s education, consider a financial plan that balances your needs and obligations.
Retirees have worked hard at their careers, and now is the time for relaxation and celebration. Chances are children have moved from home, the mortgage is mostly paid off and a few investments are coming to fruition. However, income levels may have dropped after retirement. Find out how to manage your finances in a way that allows you to fully enjoy the fruits of your hard work.
In short, no matter your life stage, contact us today to learn how to balance savings and investing with your other commitments.
Tax Planning Strategies
No one likes taxes. But through the advice of a professional financial advisor, you can access products and services that help ease the burden. Charitable contributions, life insurance policies and investment products can all be useful tools in an effective tax strategy. Working together, we will consider your personal situation and design a tax plan that fits your needs.
Choose from a variety of products and services, such as:
- Income-splitting for spouses or common-law couples.
- Charitable donations, which benefits important not-for-profit work and allows donors to maximize tax credits.
- Life insurance products that build tax-advantaged capital for retirement.
- Investment products that provide for tax benefits
Contact us today to learn more about tax-planning products and services that are specifically tailored for your needs.
Preparing for succession after death is a difficult issue to discuss, but it is also an important part of any comprehensive financial plan.
We can help you and your loved ones approach succession planning in a constructive manner that ensures they avoid problems and are well cared for in the event of your death. The process involves two main considerations: life insurance and preparing a will.
Life insurance can ease the financial burden and provide security for your loved ones in the event of your death. A lump-sum payment can be used for mortgage costs or to supplement lost income, helping your successors during a difficult period. Financial confidence and stability can make it easier to cope with the loss of a loved one.
A written will provides a means to guide your loved ones through the succession process. By naming your executors and providing instructions on the distribution of your estate, your surviving loved ones avoid having to guess your wishes. Rather than provincial law determining how your assets are to be divided—a situation that can result in lengthy court proceedings—a clear, carefully considered written will provides clear instructions to your successors. Save your loved ones the stress of dealing with financial issues by planning for your succession while you are alive.
Contact us today to discuss succession planning in more detail.
Buying a home can be one of the most exciting purchases of your life—but it is also a big decision that will have a major impact on financial planning. Whether you’re looking at a one-bedroom condominium or a five-bedroom house, we will work with you to help plan a mortgage strategy that fits your needs and considers your other financial responsibilities.
From choosing the right time to buy a house to deciding whether it is even a good idea, we can help guide you through this important decision. By assessing all the costs involved - from taxes to renovations - we will work with you to determine whether taking out a mortgage makes sense for your budget.
If you are considering taking out a mortgage, contact us today to discuss how to do so in a way that best fits your situation.
As the cost of a college education continues to rise, outpacing the rate of inflation, it is becoming beyond the reach of most people unless they have planned early on. For people starting a college savings plan today, questions arise as to the best way to save. For such an important and long term goal, it pays to do some research when selecting a plan.
There are many factors to consider when selecting a college savings plan. As with any savings goal, individual factors such as time horizon, risk tolerance, investment preferences and tax situation need to be considered and weighed in order to select the most suitable savings plan. In addition, special consideration needs to be given to who will actually own the college funds as the decision is likely to impact the availability of financial aid in the future.
Traditional Savings Methods
College savers can opt for the more traditional methods of accumulating college funds such as savings accounts (CDs, money market funds), tax-free municipal bonds, U.S. Treasury securities, or mutual funds. If the time horizon is long, savers may be able to afford the higher risk of investing in vehicles that offer potentially higher returns. As the time horizon shortens, they could gradually move their funds into more conservative savings of investments.
Tax Advantaged Methods
As an incentive for families to start early with their own college savings plans, the federal tax laws provide for tax advantaged methods to pay for college expenses. The methods involve different tax rules so they can be somewhat complicated. The best approach is to seek the guidance of a qualified tax or financial professional to help determine which method is most suitable.
IRC Sec. 529 Qualified Tuition Plans
These plans are designed to help a family cover the cost of college by taking advantage of tax incentives provided through the federal tax code. The plans may vary between the individual states and educational institutions that offer them. Contributions are not tax deductible, however, the accumulation is not subject to current taxes. Also, if certain requirements are met, the distributions that pay for qualified higher education expenses are not taxable.
There are two main types of 529 Plans: a pre-paid tuition plan, and a college savings plan. Pre-paid tuition plans involve purchasing units or credits at participating educational institutions that can apply to tuition and, in some cases, living expenses. Participation in a prepaid tuition program does not guarantee a child will be accepted into a university or school. Most are sponsored by state governments and have residency requirements.
College savings plans establish an account for a student that can be used to pay eligible college expenses. Many 529 College Savings Plans offer a choice of investments including mutual funds, money market funds and fixed investment.
Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses associated with 529 College Savings Plans before investing. This information is found in the issuer’s official statement and should be read carefully before investing. The investor should also consider whether the investor’s or beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other benefits available only from that state’s 529 Plan. Any state-based benefit should be one of many appropriately weighted factors in making an investment decision. The investor should consult their financial or tax advisor before investing in any state’s 529 Plan.
Investments in the 529 College Savings Plan are subject to market risk and there is no guarantee that funds will be sufficient to cover all college costs. It is important to carefully consider how to invest in a 529 Plan, since it can impact a student’s eligibility to participate in need-based financial aid programs.
Prior to investing in a 529 Plan investors should consider whether the investor's or designated beneficiary's home state offers any state tax or other state benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors that are only available for investments in such state's qualified tuition program. Withdrawals used for qualified expenses are federally tax free. Tax treatment at the state level may vary. Please consult with your tax advisor before investing.
Coverdell Education Savings Plan
These plans enable college savers to contribute up to $2000 per year on a tax-deductible basis. The distributions from a Coverdell Plan are free from taxes if used to pay for qualified education expenses.
U.S. Savings Bonds
The interest earned from series EE and Series I savings bonds may be excluded from income if it is used to pay for qualified education expenses in the year that the bonds are redeemed. The same exclusion applies to the interest earned from these bonds that are contributed to a 529 qualified tuition program.
When saving for college, special consideration should be given to future eligibility for financial aid. Most needs based financial aid programs base eligibility on the amount of assets that are owned by the child. Generally, assets that are owned by the parents are not considered for financial aid eligibility. If assets are held in the child’s name, or in a trust for the child, they could negatively impact eligibility.
Working together, we can examine college investment options to build a customized portfolio that takes into consideration your financial goals, risk tolerance and timeline. Contact us today to find out more.
Growing a business is a difficult undertaking today as business owners must confront a myriad of tax laws and regulations while trying to effectively create products or services, manage their employees, develop and cultivate clients, and do so profitably.
Often times business owners are too absorbed in their business to tend to their own financial needs, and they may also overlook key planning considerations that could help their business grow and prosper. Also, the livelihood of a business owner can be imperilled when unexpected events occur that adversely affect the bottom line of the business.
Business Owner Needs
For many business owners, their business is their primary retirement asset. After many years of building a successful business they expect to convert it to an income for retirement by selling it. If they are relying upon the business as their sole means of retirement they run the risk that it may not attain the value needed to produce the needed income.
Businesses can fail. Businesses can lose value in certain economic cycles. The timing is not always right to sell a business. Many times the true value of the business lies in the talents and good will of the business owner who won’t be around to run the business after he retires.
Business owners today must prepare for retirement with the same level of diversification recommended for any retirement plan. Business owners have access to a number of qualified and nonqualified retirement plan options that can provide a cornerstone for their retirement income needs.
When a business partner dies, the business loses a valuable asset and could suffer in the short term. The long term issue for surviving business owners is whether the business can survive when the partner’s family members show up for their interest in the business.
For the families of business partners, the business interest is often their biggest asset and they become the rightful owner of that interest at the death of the partner. They will want to receive their share of the business, either in direct compensation or through their participation as an active partner in the business.
If the surviving partner does not have the capital to compensate the family for their share, their options are limited and not very attractive. A business succession plan can provide for the orderly transfer of the business interest from the deceased’s family to the business.
Key Employee Protection
One of the more devastating events a small business can suffer is the loss of a key employee. Often times it’s a key employee who brings a special talent to the business and is responsible for much of the success of the business owner. The loss of such a valuable asset could set the business back for a period of time, and at tremendous cost, while the business owner seeks to find a replacement, if one can be found at all.
In financial planning, we are taught that it our most valuable assets – our home, our ability to earn income, our cars – should be insured against an unexpected loss. It’s no different for business owners as the loss of a valuable business asset could imperil the business.
Buying life insurance coverage on a key employee makes good business sense. The amount of coverage should be enough to cover the costs of recruiting and paying a replacement, loss of earnings to the company, any redemption of stock or a salary continuation plan arrangement with the surviving family.
In a small business setting, it could take years to find or develop the executive talent needed to build the business to the next level. Executive talent is hard to come by, and it is even more difficult on the business when it walks out the door in pursuit of another opportunity.
When key executives are presented with a strong monetary incentive package, they are more likely to stay and utilize their talents where they feel appreciated and appropriately rewarded. Structured incentive plans can help keep key executives in place and motivate them to higher levels of performance.
Plans such as Nonqualified Deferred Compensation, Executive Bonus, and Split Dollar Life Insurance are life insurance based plans that enable the business to offer current and future benefits to their key executives in exchange for their continued service for a specified period of time.
For more information on Business Owner Planning, please contact us today.
Van Kirk Wealth Advisors, Stratos Wealth Partners and LPL Financial do not provide tax and/or legal advice or services. Please consult your tax and/or legal advisor regarding your specific situation. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuing company.