Consider the Needs of Caregivers

If you have ever been in the role of caregiver to a sick family member, whether for a short period of time or for a long drawn out decline, you know it takes a huge toll on your own life and that of your family.  Caregiving can be an all-consuming task depending on the level of intervention needed.  Many times it forces the caregiver to completely rearrange their lives, taking unpaid leave from work, turning down promotions, stepping away from social engagements, spiritual interactions and even exercise to concentrate fully on caring for their family member. For many caregivers, they have no other options, either because of their sense of “doing what’s right” or because financially they cannot afford paid caregiving.  Statistics show forty-two percent of U.S. workers have provided care for an aging relative or friend in the past five years.1   One of the problems resulting for caregivers is they can quickly become isolated in this role, neglecting themselves, many times to the point of significant illnesses of their own.    Because caregiving can be so all-consuming, it also makes Read on! →

Meaningful conversations for the holidays

With Thanksgiving Day only one week away and the streets abuzz with holiday spirit, it is easy to get consumed by the busyness of the holidays. We encourage you this season, amidst the shopping shuffle and the corporate holiday parties, to pause. Take time this year to reflect on the people and the relationships that are most important to you. Every family is different and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to a family’s situation – whether family members are estranged or everyone is “thick as thieves,” take the opportunity this year to have meaningful conversations with your loved ones. Reflect on memories – appreciate the tough moments that have made your relationships stronger and be grateful for the memories that make you laugh. Most importantly though, share your thoughts and feelings with the ones you love, because we never know how short life might be. As you enjoy the company of family and friends during the holidays, pause for a moment to consider the following: 1.  If something happens to me, will my loved ones be taken care of? While Read on! →

What really drives our financial decisions? – November 2013 Newsletter

All of us like to think we are rational beings, weighing the pros and cons of a situation and then making a well-informed decision.  What we sometimes don’t realize is there are forces at work in our subconscious which can sway us toward irrationality at precisely the wrong time.  However, if we take the time to examine what those forces are and how they affect our decision-making, we should be able to recognize and avoid some of the misdirection in our lives. Behavioral finance is a study in both finance and human behavior and seeks to understand how people make financial decisions, what factors influence them, and how to help them make better decisions.  These forces, or biases can skew our decision-making and act in such subtle ways that we may not even know they are at work.  Biases in the financial realm are particularly fascinating, as they can move entire markets or simply prevent one individual from taking the next critical step in securing their financial future.  These may be deep-rooted in our family history, cultural or religious based, Read on! →

Post-election Reflection

Interestingly, the electorate seemed to move to a more moderate posture with the election of Chris Christie in New Jersey and Andy McAuliffe in Virginia.  While the Tea Party has been prominent and in focus over the past several months the party was unable to elevate their favored candidates to the Governor’s mansion.  Investments are similar.  Companies, sectors and countries make headline news, garnering favor or getting harshly criticized for periods of time only to swing up and down, revert to the mean and have a more moderate impact on long term returns. Locally, Charlotte elected four democratic at-large candidates and a democratic mayor.  Democrats now hold a super majority and will influence the way Charlotte spends its tax dollars.  Regardless of state and national trends, Charlotte leaders will react to local influences.  They will debate, tax and spend as their constituents demand and our community will change accordingly.  If effective, they will balance their constituent wants with community needs. Like a political leader’s constituents, investment decisions are often influenced by personal wants.  Similarly, impulse, fear and greed (Tea Party Read on! →

Does Money Buy Happiness?

It is certainly fair to assume money buys happiness up to a point. We need money to cover our basic needs such as food, water and shelter. Having enough money to pay bills reduces stress and in turn increases a person’s overall well-being. Even having extra money to cover fun activities, extracurriculars, and travel will bring an individual more joy. But is there a point where one’s level of happiness levels off? Studies have shown that Americans’ levels of happiness increase as their income rises to $75,000 a year. However, beyond that, the impact of a higher income on happiness plateaus. Beyond our financial resources, it is evident that relationships, a sense of community and purpose, and our experiences all contribute to our overall well-being.  Because so many moving pieces factor into our level of happiness, it is crucial to first figure out what makes us happy and from there make financial decisions that support our values and goals. Achieving optimal levels of happiness is much more likely when we align our decisions with our values. Maybe you most value Read on! →