Retirement Plan Needs to Address Financial Costs and Burdens of Aging

By the time you hit age 40 you should have saved some money for your future retirement. The problem is too many people forget to protect those retirement funds from the high costs of Long-Term Care. The US Department of Health and Human Services says if you the reach the age of 65 you will have a 70% chance of needing some type extended care service. Health insurance, Medicare and supplements will only pay for a small amount of skilled services and only for 100 days. They will pay nothing toward custodial services (help with activities-of-daily living) which most people will need as they age.

Often this means crisis management. Family members become caregivers. Caregiving is hard but when a family member must be a caregiver it adds more dimensions. This usually means the responsibility falls on the lap of a daughter or daughter-in-law. They generally have their own career and family responsibilities. Not to mention the emotional hardship that ties into a family member being a caregiver.

The financial costs and burdens of aging will impact your savings and your family. Affordable LTC insurance will safeguard your assets and ease the burden that is placed on family.

There are very few true specialists in long-term care insurance. This means you should seek the help of a true Long-Term Care Specialist. This person should have at least three years’ experience in Long-Term Care Insurance, represent the major insurance companies and have at least 150 clients with Long-Term Care Insurance.

Most financial advisors and general insurance agents do not have the skills required to design an affordable plan based on your specific needs. Plus, they usually do not understand underwriting requirements which each insurance company uses to determine if they will even offer a policy to you. They generally have never experienced a claim, so they don’t have a full understanding of how these policies actually get used at the time of claim.

This is why I assist consumers nationwide using my unique process where a client views my computer screen while we speak on the phone. A number of other top specialists will do the same thing. The key here is asking many detailed questions about your health, family history, retirement plans and concerns. Most financial advisors and general insurance agents may ask only a few questions. This means the recommendations they may give you are not appropriate and may even cost you more money than it should.

Since they don’t deal exclusively in Long-Term Care planning they usually don’t understand the products and the positive impacts they can have on your loved ones. They also tend to over-insure. A true Long-Term Care Specialist will make the appropriate recommendations and consumers discover that LTC insurance is very affordable and adds a tremendous amount of peace-of-mind as you plan for your future retirements.

If you are speaking to someone about Long-Term Care Insurance be sure to ask a few questions:

How long have you been working with Long-Term Care Insurance?

According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI) no less than three years is acceptable.

How many clients do you have with LTC insurance?

No less than 100 is acceptable says the AALTCI.

How many companies do you represent?

The AALTCI says no less than three.

How many claims have you been involved with?

The more the better, keep in mind a person working three years may not have had any claims yet despite having more than 150 clients. Ideally you want a person who has experience 15+ claims.

What is your general philosophy when you design a Long-Term Care Insurance plan?

Listen to how they answer the question and make a judgement if it sounds like it is well thought out.

Here are a few warning signs you should be aware of:

1. The agent or advisor sends you quotes without asking many questions. A true Long-Term Care Specialist will spend a lot of time asking detailed health questions and family history, in addition to asking about your future (or current) retirement plans. If they only take five minutes or less you should run away.

2. The agent or advisor immediately starts talking about asset based or hybrid plans without asking you many questions. These are life insurance or annuities with riders for Long-Term Care. They can be an outstanding way to plan for some people but anyone who brings this type of solution to you without asking many questions should be avoided.

3. The agent or advisor doesn’t explain the Long-Term Care Partnership Program. Not all states have active partnership plans in place but most do. If they don’t mention it be sure to ask. If they can’t explain it move on.

4. The agent or advisor doesn’t have a website, or their website has very little information available, it is usually not a good sign. True LTC specialists will usually have a comprehensive website with many resources available for education.

5. The agent or advisor suggests you self-insure and put money in investments. For most people this places your money in too much risk, doesn’t provide tax benefits and doesn’t reduce the burden placed on family since most LTC policies have case management. It may make the advisor money but you should be more concerned how it will protect your money and reduce family burden. If they make this kind of recommendation ask them to put it in writing. Then ask how their plan would really benefit you and your family from the financial costs and burdens of aging.

Long-Term Care Insurance has become a key part of retirement planning. Seek out a specialist to help you add peace-of-mind to your plan. It is an easy and affordable way to help you have a successful future retirement.

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How To Find The Right Financial Advisor For You

Finding the right Financial Advisor for you can be a difficult task. After all how on earth do you know who to trust? And just because someone might be trustworthy do they really have all the answers to the questions that you need help with? What level of experience do they have? And more importantly are they really operating in your best interest or are they just looking out for themselves? As if these were not enough concerns you also have to worry about how ethical your advisor is. You don’t want to find yourself working with the next Bernie Madoff who runs off with all of your money or is using your valuable assets to fund his or her next big Ponzi scheme. So how do you sort through all of the options and find the right Advisor for you?

Let’s look at 3 things to pay attention to when selecting the right Financial Advisor for you and your family. First how do you know they are legitimate, second how do you know they have your best interest at heart, and third how do you know they will be a good fit for you? Let’s explore all three of these questions in some detail to help you get the help you need.

So how do you do your due diligence and make sure an Advisor you are thinking of working with is actually a legitimate Financial Advisors with verifiable experience and up to date licenses? The first place you might want to check is a web site called Broker Check. You can just search Broker Check to find the official website. This website has a free tool to research the background and experience of financial brokers, advisors and firms. Broker check can tell you instantly whether a person is registered as required by law to sell securities offer investment advice or both. Broker check also gives you a snap shot of an Advisor’s employment history, licensing information and regulatory actions, arbitrations and complaints. Wouldn’t this be good information to have before entering into a relationship with an Advisor?

Next it’s important to discern whether or not an Advisor has your best interest at heart or not. One way to help you figure this out is to ask your Advisor if he or she is acting as a Fiduciary? I know that’s a three dollar word but all it means is that they are legally obligated to put your interest ahead of their own and disclose any conflicts of interest that might interfere with that goal in advance. For example, if a Fiduciary is going to get paid a commission on a product that he/she is recommending to you they are obligated to disclose that to you before you purchase. Another helpful thing to look out for is to look for an Advisor that asks to see more than your financial statements. Before they start to work with you they should be asking to see your tax returns, your legal documents, and your insurance contracts. If the only thing they want to see or talk about are your investment statements then how can they really take your whole situation into account when making recommendations?

Finally, you should never feel any sales pressure to move forward or make a hasty decision. A professional Advisor will not use old school sales tactics to gain you as a client. You may need to meet with more than one Advisor and just see how you feel at each meeting. If you are feeling pressured or uncomfortable in any way than that is likely not the right Advisor for you. You should get a sense that the Advisor in question is asking good questions with the goal of helping you to make an educated decision about your money that feels right to you. If you are getting any kind of feedback that he/she is more interested in making a sale than doing the right thing than you should probably move on to someone else.

Certainly there are likely other factors that you could consider such as the Advisors specialty and even the proximity to your home town. However if you start off with the basics of doing your due diligence, making sure they are concerned with putting your interests first, and deciding if you have a good feeling about him/her than you are off to a great start to finding the right Financial Advisor for you. Happy Hunting!

Actions to Do If You Want Your Personal Finances to Improve

At the turn of each year, we all have our dreams and we possess new energy levels to achieve them. This individual expectation is like a cycle. Everybody wants to succeed, at least in their minds but not everybody will. Below is a list of 25 actions you should take if you want to improve your personal finance this year.

1. REVIEW THE PAST YEAR: The first thing you should do is to analyze the past year. Research has shown that of the lots that make ‘new financial resolutions’ every year, less than 10% actually get to follow those resolutions through the year. Does it not bother you that at the beginning of last year, you also made resolutions that you failed at? Why turn around in cycles every year? Take a pen and paper, sit down and review your financial activities for the past year; from your income earnings to spending. Break everything down into tiny bits and you will have a clearer picture of why some of your financial desires didn’t come to pass. It could be that your total expenditure outweighs your income.

Simple Guide: Create a ledger of credit and debit. Every of your income, no matter how little, should come to the credit side while expenditures come to the debit. Sum each side up. If your debit is over 30% of your credit, do you still wonder why that financial dream of yours was out of reach in the past year?

2. CREATE A CHECKLIST OF ALL YOUR FINANCIAL MATTERS: The second step is to create a checklist of all your financial matters, while including ‘Emergency’ as the last in the checklist. This is because emergency situations will always arise and can dent your plans, if you are not adequately prepared.

The best way to create this checklist is to break each financial matter down into months. Many people go through the year with false belief that they have everything sorted out in their heads. The more reason they fail because human beings are susceptible to memory loss. Sort them out in black and white instead, and a new level of motivation will come on you each time you look at the checklist. Alternatively, tools such as PocketGuard and Spendee can help you do this.

3. SET SPECIFIC FINANCIAL GOALS: After creating the checklist, the next step is to set your financial goals complete with specific dates. That is only when your wishes become goals since the dates act as deadlines thereby putting you on delightful pressure to beat them. Any goal without a specific date of achievement is not a goal. You are merely wishing. Sadly, this is what many people do.

By specific, I don’t mean you saying you will make a million naira in August 2018. Be more specific with date. Rather, say ‘August 30, 2018’ for instance. Then it becomes a goal that you can wake up every morning and chase around.

4. KEEP A FAITHFUL BUDGET: The failing of many people is that they are never faithful to their budget. This shows indiscipline. Learn to set and work within budget. That way, you can meet most of your financial plans and obligations. Going beyond budget will only put you in bad debt and make you miserable. If you cannot plan your budget in black and white, there are wonderful digital tools such as Wallet and Personal Capital that enables you to do this and carry your budget around in your phone. Some others like PocketGuard even alert you that you are already spending beyond budget. Take advantage of these tools for better living. One thing you must never do is to simply budget in your head.

5. SPEND WHAT IS LEFT AFTER YOU HAVE SAVED: Learn to live by this rule today. For every dime you earn, save at least 10% of it. Now, this is the difficult part: many people aren’t disciplined enough to do this. The key to achieving this is to separate your business income from your personal finance.

6. LEVERAGE ON GOOD DEBTS AND AVOID BAD DEBTS: Everybody should like debt. This is a principle of the wealthiest people in the world. They like good debt and abhor bad debt. Good debt brings you more cash flow and if well managed, sets you towards financial freedom. Bad debt on the other hand, brings you unneeded luxuries, put serious pressure on you and can make you miserable. If you must boost your personal finance in 2018, try to avoid bad debts.

Good debts are incurred towards fulfilling rewarding financial obligations like the purchase of businesses, investment and stocks or real estate; these are things that will compound your financial interests over time and make you independent. Bad debts are taken out to buy non-essential luxuries such as cars, holiday trips and best proposal dinner. These luxuries don’t compound wealth. Rather, they take what you already have. Decide which one you want.

7. PAY OFF YOUR SMALLER DEBTS FIRST: By now, you must be saying ‘but I am in debt already. My debtors are breathing down my neck’. All well and good. Make it a point of focus to liquidate your bad debts. Start by making a list of your bad debts in order of their sizes. Then settle the smaller debts first. Any debt that is fully settled should be cancelled out before moving to the next.

The logic behind this is simple. The smaller the debt, the easier it is to pay off. With each debt cancelled out, the more confident you will become of liquidating the bigger ones. This confidence brings with it desire not to keep going through the show of cancelling out debts every year. In other words, you’ll become a better manager of your finances.

8. LIVE YOUR MEANS: This must be a strange one. I have heard many people advocating that people should live below their means in order to have reasonable savings. Well, I actually believe people should live their means. If you can afford to conveniently buy out a business, why not? The key to living your means is convenience.

In measuring your convenience level at taking on situations, you must be truthful to self about your financial situation. You might be on a 100, 000.00 Naira per month wage and feel you can live in a two bedroom apartment in town. You should calculated the other supervening expenses like monthly feeding, clothing, welfare and transportation to know how much you are left with to contribute towards the means you want to live.

A simple rule I advocate is this: if a personal financial project is more than 10% of your actual income, then you might be better off living below your means.

9. AVOID HAVING ENTITLEMENT MENTALITY: As a major, nobody owes you anything in life. So quit that lazy mindset. In business as in your personal finance, you are solely responsible for the decisions you make; for your successes and failures. Once this is firmly ingrained in your mind, the zeal not to fail will become a greater motivation that pushes you towards making smart financial choices. You will learn the act of taking responsibility. The most successful entrepreneurs don’t sit down and wait for goodwill from some family members or friends. They struggle their ways through web of failure until the elusive success is captured. Then they work harder to keep the success. You should also have that mindset.

10. AVOID THE LOTTERY: This might not go down well with some lottery lovers but if you don’t have firm control of your personal finance, then stay off the lottery. People ask and I tell them lottery is business of luck based on correct punditry or guessing of a given situation. You expend money time and time again in the hope of becoming lucky and hitting the jackpot. But what if you don’t? Let us even assume you win. Have you taken stock of how much you have contributed to the lottery over the months and years and if what you won is up to your contribution? A few will be lucky to hit it big. However, a vast majority of people won’t. The wealthiest people know that waiting for some big manna from heaven is a lazy way of understanding the concept of luck. They know that luck is a deliberate effort of an individual therefore they diversify their portfolio before engaging in lottery.

11. OPERATE 3 DESIGNATED BANK ACCOUNTS: I am advocating this because most times we tend to draw from a single bank account to solve our personal financial challenges. The danger in this is that such practice is an enemy of financial planning and often runs people dry.

If you are serious about securing your financial future, then have 3 bank accounts where you save at different times. The first should be for savings and this could be your salary account. The second is for emergency while the third is for philanthropy. Since you’re working on a budget, you know which account to go to on each occasion and discipline will stop you from touching the other accounts when you have no need to.

Finance experts like Robert Kiyosaki advocate this strategy. I recommend it also.

12. TRACK YOUR NET WORTH ALWAYS: Do you really know how much you are worth? The problem is many people have a false sense of security. They believe selves to be worth more than they actually are. People who take control of their personal finances make it a habit to track their net worth always. Quit blushing over your assets. Try removing your liabilities from those assets to get an idea of how much you are really worth. Whatever remains after you have subtracted your liabilities from your assets is what you are truly worth.

13. DIVERSIFY YOUR INVESTMENT HOLDING: Diversifying will help you to minimize your investment risks. Smart working entails you have your risks spread in different sectors. If your investments in a sector fail, your investments in other areas will help to mitigate the effect of your loss. There are many reasons why you should diversify: loss of business, inflation, taxation, government policies and political instability are a few of the reasons why you should never remain in a single sector as an investor.

14. CREATE PASSIVE INCOME: This is a key to financial freedom. To build passive wealth, you must be involved in activities or buying assets that generate you more income. To boost your personal finance this year, start engaging in activities that will generate you income even when you are not seriously working. Leverage on technology and get involved in online businesses, get involved in genuine network marketing programs, invest in viable businesses and watch your income compound.

15. LEARN THE RULES OF INVESTING: That you want to diversify and create passive income does not mean you should not follow the rules of investing. The first rule of investing is that you should never invest in what you don’t understand. Get adequate knowledge before plunging your hard-earned money. The second rule is that you should never invest money you cannot afford to lose. Investment can be a risky venture, so have liquid cash you can fall back to if the investment fails.

There are other rules you should learn such as the principle of compound interest, legal framework of what you are investing in, and so on.

16. ENGAGE IN YOUR PASSION AND HAVE FUN: Some people are miserable because they are not doing what they love. Some are stuck in jobs they hate just for the salary. To do great things in life, you must be passionate and enthusiastic about what you do. I love providing business and financial solutions to people who need them. It gives me joy.

Learn to be passionate about what you do. That is when you can have fun and enjoy life to the fullest. Not loving what you do can drive you to make poor financial choices.

If you hate what you are presently doing, here is a tip: give yourself sufficient time to properly invest in what you are passionate about. Then move on.

17. EXERCISE TO KEEP YOUR MIND AND BODY IN SHAPE: Many people work few hours and they are fagged out since they don’t perform any kind of exercise. Engaging in physical exercise keeps your mind at alert and your body in great shape to take on any physical activities.

18. TAKE YOUR HEALTH VERY IMPORTANT: All your goals in life will go as far as your health permits. Your health is your number one wealth; therefore you shouldn’t be careless with your health. I have seen people who are careless about what and how they eat and drink, and are clumsy. Personally, I hate sluggishness.

19. BE FLEXIBLE AND ALWAYS ADJUST: We all want to appear to be in charge, that we have planned ahead and are ready to take hold of our financial situations. However changes will occur along the way, some of them beyond our control. The people who take biggest control of their personal finances are people who adjust to favorable evolving trends. They are spontaneous in their approach towards life. The danger of being rigid is that you are not open to new ideas and opportunities. You are stuck with your viewpoint, with your personal understanding of doing things which may be what is limiting you. The wealthiest entrepreneurs and CEOs have a trait in common. They hire the smartest people to bring new innovative ideas that they can learn from and make adequate adjustments along the way. This is how businesses succeed. This is how personal finances compound. There are times when you follow your conviction, but make sure you have taken every necessary factor into consideration.

20. WORK SMART: Have you noticed that while you are stuck in your 9-5 job for a few thousands every month, another person works few hours and earns far higher than you? The rule of the 21st century is working smart. While I loathe laziness and cannot encourage it, yet your hard work should be embedded in working smart. Think of disruptive ways you can engage the public that will generate you more income. Do you have large following on social media? You should leverage on that and promote your passion. Create reasonable awareness. The more awareness you create, the more people that need your services will seek you out. You don’t have to wait for the fat bucks to come to you so you can rent the choicest office space. Take advantage of technology and start with what you have.

21. LEVERAGE ON TECHNOLOGY AND AUTOMATE SAVINGS: This is the age of technology and everything is going digital. You cannot afford to keep living an analogue lifestyle. Get accustomed with the various available technologies that can help boost your personal finance this year. It is useless, for instance, to be carrying cash around when you can easily perform banking transactions on your mobile phone. You can automate your savings and spending so that you don’t exceed your budget. An application like PocketGuard lets you do that.

22. GET INVOLVED IN PHILANTHROPY: I believe that giving is an effective way of receiving. There is fulfillment that comes with helping people around you to be better than they were. Philanthropy is not all about giving alms to the needy. It is about doing the little things to improve the circumstances of those around you. You can engage in community service, render pro bono services to do that really need it and so on.

If you have enjoyed some excellent services from a startup, you can help that business survive by a little words of mouth marketing. Doing such little things go a long way to impact on your personal finance as you will be seen as a trustworthy person whose recommendation is genuine, and this can only be good for your business.

23. HAVE A RETIREMENT PLAN IN PLACE: Some people think retirement is working for several years in the civil service and retiring to a life of pension. Retirement is planning for a life of less stress at work, not that you stop work altogether. Even if you own chain of companies, you cannot work forever. You should give way at some point for younger, more dynamic leadership while you take on the overseer’s role. So what are your retirement plans? Do you have insurance in place? How about retirement savings account? Have you buried your finances in different investment portfolios that will generate you income in years to come?

Do you have any shares or stock holding, and more especially, do you have any real estate investment? Have you taken time to study about some government policies in your country and even study some government introduced financial incentives such as the sukuk bonds in Nigeria to know if it’s a risk worth taking?

I have seen some people go broke after retirement because of lack of adequate planning. Don’t fall into that trap of waiting for some pittance called pension from the government or whatever organization before you can survive. That is a life of misery, unless you want to live your whole life dependent on others for your basic survival.

24. HAVE A MENTOR: I believe so much in the power of imagery. You can only conceive an idea after you have built images in your mind. That is what mentor ship does to you. Whatever financial race you are in today has been won in the past by another. So make a mentor out of that person. Use their struggles and triumphs as a guide so that you can arrive faster at your destination than they did. Ask them relevant questions and get answers. There is no point making some mistakes if they can be avoided by having a mentor. We should learn to do things from a point of comfort.

25. START NOW, IT’S NEVER TOO LATE: Finally, it is never too late to start planning towards your financial independence. You can start putting in the hard work now and realize the benefits later. The danger is in not starting at all.

Tip: Remember to take stock at the end of the year to see how well you performed in boosting your personal finance.

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As human beings, we all plan in our minds to make each year the best year of our lives. Yet, many people fall short of their expectations at the end of the year simply because their financial planning were not adequate or were too over whelmed by circumstances around them that all their financial goals suddenly came to naught.

While it is okay to plan, it is much better to know the deliberate actions to take at each point in time and to be taking such actions. The article takes a look at 25 must do actions that every individual who really desires to see massive improvements in their personal finance this year.

Reinforce Your Business Plan With Sound Financial Projections

Strange as it may sound, the creation of financial projections is far more important and complex, than the actual results. More than merely the figures, it is the planning that matters. Or restated, it is the means to the end that matters here more than the end.

Without financial projections, business is like fumbling in the dark without a lamp and a map and you will not be able win investor confidence or obtain financing. Even if you are self-funding, or you have a family driven business, you need financial projections as a guide and barometer to measure your company’s performance.

You will need to consider these steps to arrive at your financial projections:

Develop your 3-5 year Sales forecast: You can make your forecast, based on past sales data, competitive comparisons, and the current economic trend. Typically it is a blend each and you should understand that your optional lenders aren’t going to believe you anyway! We all want to believe that our sales are going to skyrocket but keep in mind that your investors are going to hold you accountable in the future. Keep in mind that if you need more capital in 3 years from now, those same investors are a great source of more cash but they will measure your current progress against your initial projections.

Create an Expenses budget: These include expenses for your cost of goods, but also for your operational expenses such as equipment, payroll, rent, marketing, insurance, depreciation and so on. Typically after estimating the cost of goods, we then break down the operating expenses into broader categories such as: Sales and Marketing, Administrative and then either Research and Development or Misc. Production Costs.

Conceive a Cash Flow Statement: This refers to the flow of cash in and out of your business and reveals your liquidity, or the ability to use cash when required. (and important for lenders, the ability to pay them back!) The Cash Flow Statement is of key interest to investors and lenders as they will want to make sure that your business plan includes enough cash to keep operating.

Build your Income Projections: This refers to your financial position, resulting from revenues, and cost of goods sold, gross profit and operating expenses. The amount of income you project is important from the standpoint of long term viability but in some cases such as internet sales, sometimes growth and number of customers become equally important.

Consider your Assets and Liabilities: Assets are things you own that have value, while liabilities are the amounts you owe to others. When building your projections, you need to make sure that you have included the buildings, equipment, vehicles and such that you will need to support your business plan.

Arrive at your Break Even Analysis: A key area of interest in projections is when you are poised to make profits in your business based on a combination of fixed costs, variable costs per unit of sales, and revenue per unit of sales. This is the final phase in your business where expenses are equal to actual sales.