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All posts tagged financial planning

Mike HarterOur very own Mike Harter will be hosting Ask the Financial Planner on the CMU Public Broadcasting channel on March 28th at 7:30 p.m.  If you would like to participate by asking questions, you can do so by one of the following ways:

Viewers can call in from 7:30-8:00 p.m. during the live program at 800-727-9268

Send a question on Facebook @Ask The Specialist

Tweet the production crew at @WCMU_AskThe

Visit the CMU Public Broadcasting website for more information!!

Our very own Mike Harter will be hosting the Ask the Financial Planner show on the CMU Public Broadcasting channel on March 29th at 7:30 p.m.

If you would like to participate by asking questions, you can do so the following ways:

  1. 1.  Call in and speak to our phone volunteers from 7:30pm-8pm during our live program toll-free at 1-800-727-9268

2. Email the producer, Courtney Brooks, before the show at

3. Tweet the production crew at @WCMU_AskThe

Visit for more information! has a terrific article on how to chose the right financial planner.  It is so very important to be working with someone you are comfortable with and that you are confident they understand you and your needs. 

Click here to read the article.

Call us today for any financial planning or investment management needs, we are here for you!

1. Anyone can call themselves a planner.

To avoid amateurs, hire a planner who’s earned special credentials (such as a Certified Financial Planner or Personal Financial Specialist designation) by meeting training standards or having a certain level of experience.

2. Planning is more than investing.

Not all planners offer comprehensive services. Some just give investment advice or focus on one aspect of planning, such as insurance or taxes.

3. Expand your choices.

When hiring a planner, interview at least three pros to find the one who can deliver the services you need and who’s compatible with your style.

4. Personal references are a good place to start – but not the last stop.

A reference from a friend or family member is a great way to search for a financial planner. But make sure you’ve got similar needs as the person who’s giving the referral. Go to groups like the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards and the Financial Planning Association for additional references.

5. Understand how your planner is getting paid.

The three most common set-ups are: Fee-only, fee-based, and commission-based. Fee-only planners don’t get commissions for the products they sell – fees are for the advice they give. Fee-based planners may receive commission on some products they sell, but most of their money comes from a fee you pay them. Commission-based planners are paid by the companies whose products they sell.

6. Check credentials.

Check to see if a planner’s record is tarnished by disciplinary problems or complaints. Groups that award credentials or state agencies keep tabs on planners and can provide help.

7. Get references.

Ask a planner for two or more of his clients – then follow up and call to find out how a planner performs in specific circumstances, such as during a financial crisis.

8. Express yourself.

The quality of a planner’s advice is correlated to how well he or she knows you. Make sure a planner asks questions about your finances, goals, risk tolerance and philosophy. If they don’t ask, they probably aren’t paying adequate attention.

9. Know what they’re selling.

Find out what financial products a planner sells and how much he or his firm earns for making a sale. Be wary of planners who push one product – say, one family of mutual funds or one kind of insurance – as they may not give you the unbiased or comprehensive advice you need.

10. Know yourself.

The best planner will take his cues from you. Before you hire someone, identify the financial goals you want to meet, your assets and liabilities, your risk tolerance, and investment style. Are you self-directed or do you want specialized help?

Congratulations to all the new college graduates!  Now it is time to jump into the next stage of life and here is some good advice on how to get started on the right track to success!

Repaying Student Loans

According to the College Board’s Trends in Student Aid 2010 study, almost all students who earn four-year degrees from for-profit institutions graduate with debt. Most federal loans offer grace periods before repayment must begin, but many private loans do not. If a graduate anticipates repayment difficulties, he or she should contact the lender immediately to take advantage of possible consolidation options or to work out an agreement to defer payments.

Set Up a Budget

Now is the time to put a realistic budget in place. It should include:

  • Creating an emergency fund. In these challenging economic times, the often-recommended three-month safety net may not be enough; a six-month safety net is more appropriate. A nice emergency fund can bridge the gap between unexpected job loss and a new position, as well as pay for those unanticipated car repairs or even moving expenses.
  • Building a nest egg. Although it may seem impossible to squeeze retirement savings out of a new graduate’s budget, the message is simple: start saving soon. One easy way is to contribute to an employer-sponsored 401(k), especially if there is a company match.
  • Making sure that social activities don’t break the bank. Social life cannot be eliminated entirely in an effort to save money, but it’s not a good idea to spend lots of extra cash on happy hours, dining out, or concerts. We recommend finding a budget-friendly, happy medium.

Cleaning up the Digital Footprint

Every graduate should google him- or herself. New graduates can avoid conveying a poor image on social websites like Facebook by untagging or deleting compromising photos and managing privacy settings. On the other hand, graduates should look into promoting a good image online by registering on sites that are geared to professional networking, like LinkedIn and Google Profiles.

Keeping Credit in Good Shape

The best advice is to keep credit under control by making payments on time and paying more than the minimum, if possible. Graduates should also check their credit once a year at each of the three major credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Transunion, and Experian—to ensure that they haven’t fallen victim to identity theft. Start by visiting

Develop a Plan, but be Flexible

Tell your grad to dream big when building a life plan but to expect obstacles from time to time. It is important to be flexible along the way—we never know what may be around the corner!

Contact us today to assist with getting started in the right financial path!

So you set up your retirement plan say ten or 15 years ago, it’s time for a checkup!  The sooner you can make adjustments the better, especially if you are going to have to make some big changes in your plan.  One important factor is we are living longer.  Twenty years ago statistics said the average male could expect to live to age 80 and the average female to age 85.  In recent studies, these numbers are age 88 for males and 90 for females.  Now these are just averages, a good source which allows you to enter personal variables is  One you have a better idea of your life expectancy, you can calulate how long your savings might last and determine if you will fall short. 

If there is a shortfall, then a thorough look at your portfolio is in order next.  Maybe your being too conservative for your portfolio to last the additional time.  That being said, we are not encouraging our clients to run out and load up on risky investments, but rather take a pro-active approach and find the right funds for your needs.  If it looks as if you are going to be extremely short of your needs, you may have to consider downsizing to a smaller home or taking a reverse mortgage to compensate for the shortfall.

Another item to look at is your spending habits.  You may have set up a budget at the beginning of your retirement, but ten or 15 years later, you have a much better idea of how much money you need.  It is a good reality check for people to keep tabs on what they are spending their money on.  Many people do not realize the money that is being spent on ATM fees and small items such as coffee or entertainment.

If things become tight and keeping up with your premiums for long-term-care insurance or any other insurance for that matter is becoming a problem, you may want to ask your children to help out.  It would be more economical for your children to help you pay the premiums than to allow the coverage to lapse.

Contact us today if it is time for a review of your retirement plan.