An Age Guide to BIG Decisions
20s I’m single and have college debt. How do I start saving? JT: Contribute to a 401k through your employer, and take advantage of every matched amount. You may feel like you have to choose between investing and student loan payments, but loan payments are required, and you wouldn’t save money if you were putting charges on your credit card while saving in a 401(k). Should I rent or buy? EB: If you buy smart, it may make sense to buy. Try to fnd a nonquirky house, in good condition, in an area where prices are trending up at least slightly. With a low interest adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) and the tax benefts, buying could be the way to go. JT: Consider renting. Life changes so fast at this age. You may get married or combine households. How much can I afford to pay for rent? EB: Stick to about 30 percent of your income, including the cost of renter’s insurance and utilities. Save the extra.
We talked with a realtor and a certifed fnancial planner for advice on making the best decisions for a secure future. Whether married, single, male or female, the time to start planning is now. SOURCES
Ellen Bland, CRS, GRI, Managing Associate, Wakefeld Reutlinger Realtors Joe Tichenor, CFP, Partner / Senior Financial Planner, ARGI
We are looking to move up in home size because our kids are getting bigger. Is it worth the expense? EB: One thing’s for sure — your kids will continue to get bigger and accumulate stuff. So yes, move, but don’t forget that you have to furnish it and keep up the college fund. Look for a house that can grow with your family — for example, a house that could handle an addition or one with a basement that can be fnished later. You should stay in it long enough to see it appreciate in value. You are probably headed in to your higher earning years, so enjoy those kiddos in your bigger home while you can. And remember, a house is frst and foremost a home, not an investment.
I am fnally able to afford a new car. Should I buy a new one or a used one? Will that affect my retirement money? JT: I am a big advocate for buying used cars. If you don’t have a lot of cash fow, you can buy used and consider purchasing an extended warranty. They can be valuable and will give you peace of mind regarding future repairs. Buying a new car can impact retirement savings. A rule of thumb is that if you can’t afford to fully fund your retirement, pay debts, and have student loans paid over a fve-year period, then don’t buy new. Once you’ve fulflled your goals, then it’s something to look at since the rest is meant to be enjoyed. Should I have a will? JT: If you’re married with children, you defnitely need to have a will. I’ve known younger clients who were widowed and didn’t have legal documents in place. You should dictate where your money goes, no matter the amount. The state won’t pass on your wishes. It’s critical that you have the documents prepared, preferably with the help of an attorney, or you can also use online forms.
By Mary Ellen Bianco Photos by Melissa Donald
40s I am divorced and need to fgure out whether to sell my current home or stay put. I have some money in my savings, but should I spend it? EB: Houses generally appreciate in value better than a condo or even a patio home. You may want to downsize because it’s too big for you. If you can afford to keep your property well maintained, stay in your house. Instead of paying monthly condo fees, use the dollars for your current house. You could meet the real love of your life at any time and want a new home together. If you move to a condo or even patio home now, you may not be there long enough to recoup the investment. Use a bit of your savings and go on a cruise. JT: If the house isn’t too big to take care of and your budget allows, you should stay. You don’t want to take money out of savings or take on too much for moving expenses, a realtor’s commission, and potential upgrades. But on the other hand, I got divorced when I was in my 30s and chose to sell my home. It’s one of the best decisions that I made. A house being too big for one person is tangible. But memories of a relationship are the non-fnancial piece of it. It can be tough to move on mentally, and perhaps a new signifcant other may fnd it challenging to live there. How much life insurance do I need? JT: Think like this: If you were no longer here on this earth, what would someone close to you miss out on or not have enough money to do? For example, you may want to provide income replacement for a spouse who doesn’t work outside the home. Or maybe your goal is to fund college for your child. You should plan ahead to help those who survive you.
2015/6 THE PERFECT ENDING
THE PERFECT ENDING 2015/6
60s Should I move into a condo or stay in my house as long as possible? EB: Stay as long as you are enjoying living in and taking care of your home. Once the burden overcomes the joy, it’s time to move. Some take up condo living, decide it’s not for them, and move back to a single-family home. Others love communal living with yoga class down the hall and a dining room, which means no more cooking! Louisville has so many retirement living options. It’s really a lifestyle decision, and the real estate solutions will fall into place. JT: It’s less of a fnancial decision than a psychological one to stay in your house. It’s what most people do. Living off of investment interest is fne, but you should consider downsizing if you’re living off of the principal. If you have health issues, pending surgeries, or it’s obvious that your retirement account is going down quickly, you shouldn’t sit on a house. Bills such as utilities and insurance should also go down and could make your money last longer. Am I prepared to retire? And when should I consider drawing Social Security? JT: It’s hard to be specifc about how much you need for retirement. Do your own math with this example: Look at total retirement expenses of $50,000 per year. With payments of $30,000 from Social Security and investments, you would need $20,000 out of savings. Multiply $20,000 by 25, and it will give you a target of $500,000. The withdrawal rate of $20,000 each year will be 4 percent of your savings. Another way to look at it is for every $10,000 a year of income that you need, you should have $250,000 in savings.
2015/6 THE PERFECT ENDING
50s I have some money to invest. Do I buy land or stocks or continue to invest in a 401(k)? JT: I get the question about buying land a lot. It’s a tough question. I feel that no one should ever buy something just to buy it. There is much responsibility, and while land can be a good investment, alot is never developed. Without a doubt, you should continue to invest in your 401(k). Max it out to IRS limits. On January 1 of the year you turn 50, a $6,000 catch-up is allowed. If you have the cash fow, $18,000 is allowed for 2015 in addition to the catch-up. Buying stocks is a great idea. If you want to retire before age 60, you should consider investing every dollar in your retirement plan, then you can start a non-qualifed investment account with stock purchases. At age 59 1/2, there are more provisions for early retirement that may allow access to the 401(k) if you leave it in penalty-free. At that age, you can access IRA money without penalty.
I have to pay for a wedding. Should I take out a home equity loan? EB: Home equity loans should be used for things that will appreciate in value and not get used up, such as an addition to your house or a down payment on investment property. Misuse of home equity loans contributed to the real estate crash of 2008. Homeowners were using their equity lines for things such as big boats, big trips, etc., based on infated house appraisals. As home prices fell, they were left upside down, owing more than their house was worth. If you must use your equity line for the wedding, make sure it is based on a realistic appraisal and you have a short-term plan for paying it off. Set up a payment plan for your child in case of divorce — i.e., they pay back 30 percent after the frst year.
70s I’m considering assisted living, a nursing home, or moving in with family. How do I choose? EB: With so many options available now, it all depends on how you and your family want to live, your income, your health, and how your decision fts into your estate planning and income. Many families are looking for houses that can accommodate growing children now and aging parents later. There is defnitely a baby boomer trend of remodeling their own home or buying or building a new one to allow them to age in place and to take care of their parents there now. If things become diffcult, an elder care attorney can be a great resource.
Do I need an estate plan and a power of attorney included in my will? JT: An estate plan should really be in place by your 30s. It becomes more elaborate as wealth accumulates. You may need more than a simple power of attorney and living will. Also include a health care power of attorney while you’re healthy and it’s not urgent. If you wait until it’s needed, it will be too late. How do I pay for supplemental health coverage? JT: Supplemental Medicare plans are almost too inexpensive to ignore. To not have supplemental insurance for what Medicare plans A and B won’t cover is somewhat risky. It’s a fairly minimal monthly amount
compared to what expenses you could be responsible for. There are plenty of resources in Kentucky such as AARP, United Health, Anthem, and Humana. KentuckyOne Health can help you choose based on whether you are dependent on medications, which doctors you use, and if you travel out of state. Be sure to consult with a fnancial adviser, estate attorney, or tax adviser regarding your specifc situation. TODAY’S WOMAN
PERFECT ENDINGS 2015/6
5 TIPS to Start Saving Money Today
By Torie Temple Photos by Melissa Donald
It takes unyielding dedication to make and stick with a budget plan. It’s comforting having a cushy little savings to fall back on for unexpected expenses, but building that savings takes discipline and self-restraint. It might also take some honesty and reevaluation of your fnances.
Angelica Williams, staff accountant at Blue & Company, provides tips on how to analyze your budget and close any holes your money could be falling through. Open a Savings Account Treat your savings as a way to separate the money you don’t want to spend out of your checking account or your pocket. “Have a savings account that is linked to your checking account, and have them both at the same bank,” says Williams. This way you can transfer funds easily between the two. “With interest rates so low for a savings account, don’t expect to make money. You can choose an account with a higher interest rate, but it will usually require a high minimum balance, which isn’t realistic for most of us,” she says. “A savings account should be opened strictly for transferring the money that you don’t need to spend into an account that isn’t as easily accessible as a checking account.” List Monthly Expenses It is important to know what your monthly expenses are. “The more money we make, the more we spend,” says Williams. We buy bigger houses and nicer cars, which leads to a higher car payment and larger utility bills. These are bills you know have to be paid each month, such as utilities, cell phone, car payment, car insurance, rent/mortgage, and cable. Compile a list of all your bills and their average monthly costs. Look to see where you can make a change. Can you lower your cell phone bill by dropping to a lower data package? Maybe you could negotiate your cable bill to a lower monthly payment or drop the service and pick up a cheaper way to watch your favorite shows such as Netfix or Hulu. Know your income, know your expenses, and know what’s left over.
2015/6 THE PERFECT ENDING
Know Due Dates The best way to list your monthly bills is to arrange them by due date. “This will give you an idea of how much money you are going to need to set aside each paycheck,” says Williams. For example, if you know your rent comes out at the beginning of the month, then you may want to withhold that money out of your paycheck the week before or split it between the last two checks of the month. That money should go from your paycheck to your savings. Cut Back Set a limit on how much you can afford to spend on fun activities and don’t go over that limit. “We can all cut back or limit the things we don’t need, such as eating out at restaurants or entertainment,” she recommends. Once the money you set aside for eating out is gone, then stick with cooking at home or packing your lunch for work. “You could also try shopping at a thrift store and canceling department store coupon emails so you won’t be tempted. You can even limit your gas expense. Set aside something like $100 for gas and don’t go over that limit. Remember to save frst: Put your desired amount into savings, then see what is left to budget for entertainment and eats.” To Credit Card or Not To Credit Card “I wouldn’t recommend a credit card because having a credit card is a gray area,” says Williams. If you know that you can be fnancially responsible and you are looking for the right credit card to apply for, then choose one that offers perks. Some credit card companies offer cardholders a percentage in cash back every time the credit card is used. Using the card daily could earn cash-back or points to be redeemed for products or travel.
3 4 5
PERFECT ENDINGS 2015/6
Assessing Your LIFE Situation By Megan S. Willman / Photo by Melissa Donald
Albert Einstein gets credit for saying that the defnition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.” I think about that every time I write “Lose weight” as my top priority for the year. (I tell myself I’m just persistent!). Recently, I asked a group of women of varying ages to assess where they stand on certain life issues. ek, licensed professional counselor and co-owner of Bridge Counseling and Wellness, lent some advice and simple tips for making positive change. How’s Your Health? Dee Dee, age 54, smiles when she says she’s “fnally got this.” Four pregnancies, periods of high stress and the ups-and-downs of life created what Dee Dee recognized as a pattern in her life. Every fve years or so, she would gain a lot of weight and then spend the next four years bringing it down. In 2010, she determined to never see that low point again. With what she describes as constant effort, Dee Dee focuses on her goal by considering whether each bite is “worth it.” Six months ago, she passed the fve-year mark and has never looked back. With established healthy eating and exercise habits, Dee Dee has built confdence and feels better than ever before. One key point for her: she has no “end date” for this goal; it’s a new lifestyle pattern.
3 Tip fr
Write a specifc goal. Instead of saying, “I need to exercise more,” say “I will exercise for 45 minutes four days a week.” Include WHY you want to make this change because it will keep you focused on the process (to feel better, be more stable, be a better parent/partner, etc.).
How about the Relationships? No surprise — this topic was high-priority for everyone. Making sure one feels connected to spouses, partners, kids, and friends is no small feat, but each of the women in this group felt confdent that she was doing her best to stay connected to loved ones. Danelle, 33, regularly calls or texts friends to check on them if they haven’t connected in a while. Christy, 40, an avid shopper, often fnds little trinkets that remind her of friends and family. She brings
2015/6 THE PERFECT ENDING
them these gifts as a chance to check-in and spend a little time together. Katie, 26, has focused on staying home more often in the evenings to spend time with her family.
3 Tip fr
It’s easy to get caught up in the hectic pace of life, trying to be everywhere for everyone. Be sure to pay attention to the journey. It may sound like a cliché, but every moment matters. Life is happening every day. To create a life of meaning, we need to give ourselves permission to be more present and take part.
Intellectual Stimulation? “Does Candy Crush count?” asks Christy. She laughs but then goes on to say that her work life gives her a great deal of challenge through extensive professional develop-
ment opportunities. Danielle not only just defended her dissertation at the University of Louisville but also attends lectures and events and watches documentaries on subjects of interest (outside of her studies and work).
3 Tip fr
Taking classes or joining a book club are always options, but there are easy ways to stimulate your brain every day. Most of us have a smartphone or computer access. Check out Reddit.com to get some daily news and tidbits. You’ll learn a little to boost your own brain waves, and you might come away with interesting goodies to share next time you’re with friends or in a meeting where there is a lull in conversation.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 12 TODAY’S WOMAN
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 10
How are the Cultural Experiences? “If you count sports as cultural, I would be a ‘10’ in this area!” says Carrie, 43. Like so many parents, Carrie spends much of her time watching her kids play sports — and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Danielle says that cultural events are a great excuse to get together with friends. Emily, 20, indicates that much of what her peer group considers culture at this stage happens on social media. Although she does “conform to the 21st century” and uses social media to stay in touch with friends, Emily says she makes a concerted effort to have face-to-face interactions with those in her life. “I like to call my friends and go to the mall, just like most girls my age do. Right now I’m really enjoying the people I work with. To have fun at work and bond with the people there is amazing. It’s like my second family.”
3 Tip fr
One possibility for increasing your cultural experiences is to check into MeetUp.com. You simply enter a location and a topic of interest, and you’ll see a variety of options in the local area. It’s a chance to learn and experience more of what our town has to offer.
How are You Being Creative? Katie says she gets in her own way when it comes to creative projects. “I have a clear vision for what I want, but it never comes out that way,” she says. Dee Dee shares that sentiment: “I took pictures off the wall last Christmas because we were going to paint. We’ll get to it eventually.” Christy expresses that her creative activities vary depending on the group of friends she’s with. A few years ago, she spent a lot time scrapbooking because she was with a group of friends who shared that interest. She rolled her eyes as she told me about the small shop of scrapbook supplies in her basement closet. Now she gives those things away to any friend whose child is doing a science project! Carrie enjoys planning parties where she gets to decorate and try new recipes. She also has something of a “part-time job” organizing dinners for the local high school football team.
3 Tip fr
Too often, what holds people back from creative endeavors is the fact that we want to be our best right at the start. Whether it’s an art project, guitar lessons, or opening a business, we all have to start somewhere. Be comfortable with the fact that you won’t automatically be where you want to be. It’s a process — enjoy each step along the way. If you perceive anything less than perfection as a failure, you’ll deprive yourself of a lot of fun and learning.
2015/6 THE PERFECT ENDING
Ready to Get Started? Do you see some areas you want to improve or change? Here are some • Select three areas that matter to you and use them as inspiration for three big goals over the next six months. • Write down specifc goals that detail what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, and why it matters to you. • Post the goals where you can see them every day: your bathroom mirror, refrigerator door, car dashboard, or a recurring reminder on your phone. • Understand that occasional failures are part of the growth process. Instead of focusing on our slip-ups, we can choose to celebrate that we are able to re-center and start again. We have a better chance of becoming refocused if we respond kindly to ourselves rather than if we berate ourselves. • Remember that no matter how focused we are on reaching a longer-term goal (such as fnishing school, getting a promotion, losing 20 pounds…) that life is what is happening now. Self-love and acceptance now, even with all our perceived shortcomings, are invaluable. If we are simply waiting for our sense of fulfllment to come when we meet our larger goal, we are missing out on our more ordinary daily wins throughout the journey. Nicole Sartini-Cprek, M.Ed., LPCC is a licensed professional counselor and co-owner of Bridge Counseling and Wellness. Bridge combines mental health counseling with supplemental services such as exercise and yoga classes. bridgemindbody.com
Assessing Your SITUATION After the Death of a Spouse March 9, 2015: Bridgett Yochum’s husband, Mike, suffered a massive heart attack one month after turning 45. The only “sign” that there was impending trouble? Mike’s feet began to burn. Soon, he was breathing erratically, and Bridgett knew there was trouble when he agreed that she should call 9-1-1. Mike passed away later that day at the hospital. March 10, 2015: Bridgett and sons Ryan and Dylan began a long road toward what she calls a “new normal.” I asked Bridgett to describe feelings she encountered as she tried to move forward.
Insanity: “I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t work for a month, couldn’t even think. I thought I was losing my mind.” Panic: “I thought I would lose everything — my job, our home. I didn’t believe anyone who said, ‘It will be all right’.” Gratitude: “If my boys weren’t around, I don’t know what I would have done.” Indignance: “Suddenly, everyone just felt so sorry for me. I got all this advice about how to be a parent and how to be a person. I lost my husband. I didn’t lose my abilities or myself! I set out to prove that I could still take care of myself and my boys.”
Frustration: “I can’t say why it mattered so much, but friends kept saying that Mike died at home. I wanted his story to be right.”
Acceptance: “It was so hard to take help from friends, but once I did, they made all the difference in the world.”
Anger: “This world is full of dead-beat dads. Why would a good one like Mike be taken away?”
Fury…then Appreciation: “I don’t remember the exact words but at some point my dad told me to ‘Get off my ass and get
back to living.’ I was so angry and hurt. I called Mom who offered her support, but I’m grateful today that he told it to me straight and shocked me back to reality.” Loss: “I still turn on the shower and crank up the radio volume. Then I cry my eyes out. I also see him. I mean, I don’t believe in ghosts, but I still “see” him in so many places I go.” Determination: “I’d like to start a grief support group for kids who’ve lost their parents. I know it would help my boys. I’m just not sure how to start one.” Empowerment: “Yes, I was thrown into a tragedy, but it gave me strength I never knew I had. There is nothing the world can give me now that I can’t survive. I’m not afraid of anything. The hardest thing I ever had to do was tell my boys their dad was gone. If I am afraid to do anything now, I think of that moment and know that I can face my fears.” TODAY’S WOMAN
PERFECT ENDINGS 2015/6
It’s Possible: Find Your Something to GIVE By Cathy Zion / Photos by Melissa Donald
Last month I was honored to receive the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award by Greater Louisville’s Association of Fundraising Professionals at its annual Philanthropy Day luncheon. I’ve been attending this sold-out luncheon for several years and am always in awe of the outpouring of love and compassion embodied in each year’s award recipients. So when I received the call that I had won, I was sure they had dialed the wrong number. No, they explained, I had actually been nominated by three wonderful organizations with which I’ve been involved — Hosparus, American Heart Association/Go Red for Women, and the Lung Association. After hanging up, still feeling a bit numb, I thought, “Why me?” I certainly haven’t contributed mega bucks to these nonprofts...not nearly as much as I’d like to. All I’ve done is what I could do — donating not just dollars but time and tenacity. Isn’t that what philanthropy is really about? It’s one person at a time using her time and talents to improve the world around her, just as these local leading ladies have done:
Huber’s Orchard and Winery, raising more than $250,000. Over the nine years, they have contributed more than $1 million to Hosparus.
undergoing treatment. To date, the charity has granted more than 20 “wishes.” (jillswish.org)
• At a recent breakfast of the Colon Cancer Prevention Project, I had the pleasure of hearing 11-year-old Kyndal Ganoe speak about her passion to raise awareness for colon cancer. This young lady spoke eloquently about a woman whom she loved and lost to colon cancer. In her loved one’s memory, Kyndal has been making blue and white striped lapel ribbons to spread the word. But Kyndal says she wants her message to go beyond awareness. She wants people to ask, “What can I do?” and to realize that everyone can do something to make a difference. For every Jill, Ann, and Kyndal, there are many others who are using their own time and talents to help nonprofts in different ways. As Kyndal said, “Everyone can do something.” Find your something. It will change your life and the lives of those around you, one person at a time.
• Southern Indiana’s Ann Bennett and her sisters wanted to show their appreciation to Hosparus for the care it provided their parents prior to their deaths. So nine years ago, they thought it would be fun to produce their own Dancing with the Stars featuring local celebrities competing for monetary votes. They added impressive silent and live auctions, and the event became the premier fundraiser in Southern Indiana. This year, more than 700 people flled
• Cancer patient Jill Conley, who Today’s Woman featured in 2013, has chronicled her six-year battle with terminal breast cancer to promote early detection. The 38-year-old founded Jill’s Wish in 2013 to help cancer patients cover the costs of basic necessities while
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill 14
2015/6 THE PERFECT ENDING
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” Charles Dickens
Why You Should Consider Giving to Cedar Lake “Philanthropy is the lifeblood of any nonproft,” says Chris Stevenson, president and CEO of Cedar Lake, an organization serving the needs of Kentuckiana adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Cedar Lake offers support services and housing to more than 260 people with disabilities and must raise upward of $1.5 million each year to do so. Much of that money goes toward helping those who cannot afford to come to Cedar Lake on their own. “If people with disabilities don’t qualify for Medicaid for some reason and don’t have family to help, they could be on the streets,” Chris says. “Many are well below the poverty level if they can even work. And more than 80 percent of people with an intellectual or developmental disability have received some form of abuse — fnancial, physical, sexual, or mental. People take advantage of these folks who are so trusting. “These individuals want to be free and live an independent life. Cedar Lake provides a safe harbor for them. Our foundation can help assist those who need it, and sometimes that’s the difference between life and death.” Nancy Hubbard has seen the difference Cedar Lake has made in the life of her daughter, Kate, who has lived at Cedar Lake for 19 years. “We’re just beyond thrilled and comforted by knowing Kate is safe Aesop and loved,” Nancy says. “We just couldn’t give her the care she needs. She has really blossomed. The caregivers really work with everybody to help them develop to their full potential.” Chris says Cedar Lake is known to be one of Kentucky’s most trusted nonprofts because of the transparency the organization shows in its operations and use of donated dollars. “We invite a lot of folks who are interested in donating to come and take tours,” he says. “It really makes a difference once they meet the people we support and our fantastic caregivers. Seeing is truly believing, and belief in our mission is what keeps us strong.” Learn more about donating to Cedar Lake at cedarlake.org.
How the Girl Scouts Change Lives Invest in girls. Change the world. That’s the mission of Girl Scouts, which holds the belief that when girls succeed, so does society. “We provide girls with a place to discover their passions, fnd their voice, and make a positive impact in their communities,” says Keshia Swan, strategic communications manager at Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana. “These girls are building a better world for all of us.” An investment in Girl Scouting is broader than a cause or a cure, she continues. It is a commitment to the next generation of self-suffcient and capable women. “We empower the next generation of leaders — leaders who will ultimately shape the country’s workforce,” Keshia says. “As women, these girls will drive innovation and move the benchmark even higher for women in leadership positions.” Funding to Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana supports the council’s six program priorities that center on the Girl Scout Leadership Experience:
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
“I have found that among its other benefts, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” Maya Angelou
• Healthy Living • Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) • Entrepreneurship • Outdoors and Environment • Arts and Culture • Taking Action All donations made to Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana supports programming for girls in the council’s service area, which includes 54 counties in Kentucky and 10 in southern Indiana. This also includes fve programming and learning centers and seven camp properties in Kentucky and Indiana. To learn more about Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana programming, visit gskentuckiana.org or stop by the Louisville Program and Learning Center at 2115 Lexington Road. THE PERFECT ENDING 2015/6
Published on Nov 20, 2015
An age guide to big decisions, where to spend your money, leaving your legacy, and much more information you need!