“Fall” into your Employer Benefits Package

  Although it may not yet feel like fall outside, we are approaching the last quarter of 2016 and the time when employer benefits open enrollment occurs for the coming year.  Before that benefits package hits your mail/email, here are a few things to consider in advance and discuss with your advisor.   Are you covered by a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP)? An HDHP is defined as having a deductible of at least $1,300 for Singles or $2,600 for families.  If your health plan qualifies, you are eligible to contribute pre-tax money to a Health Savings Account (HSA), up to $3,400 for Singles in 2017, or $6,750 for families per year.  By contributing pre-tax money, you reduce your current taxable income, but more importantly, when the money is withdrawn from the HSA for qualified medical expenses, it comes out tax-free.   There is currently no other investment vehicle in which pre-tax money goes in and tax-free money comes out. The ideal situation is to maximize contributions to the HSA each year you are eligible (by having a high deductible health Read on! →

Why you should get to know your insurance agent!

When was the last time you met with your Property & Casualty Insurance agent? Here’s why you should get to know them. For many of us, our insurance agent is a name on an insurance card, the person we would call if we were ever involved in an accident or if we had a claim to file. The reason we need to get to know our agent is so that they can get to know us and therefore ensure that we are insured appropriately. I recently spent about an hour in my insurance agent’s office to complete a thorough review of my insurance coverage. A higher than anticipated homeowner’s invoice is what prompted me to initiate this session. The agent’s office was more than willing to meet and discuss the policy in detail. We reviewed all the details of our home, including square footage, floor coverings (hardwood, carpet, tile), upgrades to kitchens and bathrooms, outdoor improvements (screened porches, outdoor kitchens), as well as the basics of how many bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. were in the house.  After about 50 detailed questions, Read on! →

The Best Gift for Your Family

The holidays provide an opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends. As you enjoy the company of your loved ones this holiday season, take a moment to reflect on the planning that should be done to prepare for the unexpected and protect your family. If something happened to you, would your loved ones be taken care of? Have you had open family discussions about income protection in the event of job loss, disability, or death? Do you plan to leave an inheritance, and who will be in charge of the execution of your estate? What if you have a health issue, do you have proper Health Care Powers of Attorney in place, and is your family aware of what role they have been designated to play? Remember, part of the process of implementing your financial plan involves informing your loved ones of your decisions to ensure proper execution of your wishes and avoid family turmoil in the future. What better time than when surrounded by family and friends to remind us to review our coverages/documents and to have Read on! →

Don’t Leave the “What-Ifs” to Chance

If you are like most individuals, once you put your home and automobile insurance coverage in place you rarely, if ever tune in to the subtle, periodic changes your insurance company makes to the coverage parameters and the associated costs.  These typically include inflationary adjustments to reflect increases in home values and mandates by state regulatory agencies.  If you are more diligent, you proactively work with your property and casualty agent to adjust coverages for such things as home improvements, fine jewelry and art purchases and you might even assess deductibles from time-to-time.  While adding coverage for tangible assets may be obvious, what might not be as clear is a trend by insurance companies to change deductibles from specific dollar amounts to a percentage of your home value. The Basics Overall, both auto and homeowner’s deductibles have been climbing in recent years. While auto deductibles are now often $500 to $1,000, homeowners have moved toward $1,000 to $2,500 a claim from the $250 or $500 that once was common.  Traditional dollar based deductibles are still the norm but State Farm 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! →