Author: Dr. Daniel Levine

Behavior Builds Wealth

Wealth is built on behavior, not on the amount of income a person earns. Stories about NFL football players or Hollywood stars receiving huge paychecks are often accompanied by follow-up stories that tell the tragedy of wasted resources. While wealth is also often associated with advanced education or sizable inheritances, it is the behavior of the individual that determines whether or not wealth is retained. Wealth is more appropriately attributed to a commitment of basic financial planning and practices. “Take a minute to look at your goals, look at your performance, and see if your behavior matches your goals.” Kenneth H. Blanchard, American author and management expert. The first step is to determine how you’re spending your income. It may seem silly at first, but keeping a log of how you spend your monthly funds could be a tremendous eye-opener. Take an accounting of every penny and you might find you are regularly buying items you don’t need, and the aggregate amount you could save and invest might advance your financial strength significantly. For example, we’ve all seen articles about the excesses of buying a daily Starbucks coffee. $4 twice a day adds up to $160 a month and almost $2,000 a year. Did this get your attention? It’s the same with having lunch out every day. A $10 lunch costs $200 a month which adds up to $2,400...

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Will Your Retirement Nest Egg Last as Long as You Do?

Are you really prepared for retirement? Truly prepared to transition from your monthly paycheck to living only on your savings?     One of the biggest issues facing retirees in the U.S. today is that many of us are living longer. You wouldn’t think this was a problem, but living is expensive and getting more expensive every year.     Healthcare and medications are constantly increasing Basic living expenses are costing more as inflation pushes prices higher A bag of groceries used to cost $10 and now costs $30 The price of a cup of coffee and a newspaper is ridiculous Prices keep rising, and they are unlikely to stop. As time goes by, especially as a retiree living on a fixed income, you’ll need more money every year to stay ahead of the inexorable advance of inflation and remain financially secure, feel good about your life’s situation, meet your responsibilities, and be a blessing to your family and others. The life expectancy for men of 65 is presently 84.3 years, and for a woman at 65, the average life expectancy is 86.6. Frankly, these numbers are ephemeral because with the advances in medical technology and pharmaceuticals, many people will live into their 90s and we’re likely to witness a surprising increase in the number of centenarians, of which you could very well be one! This is great news...

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Start Your Estate Plan with These 4 Tips

One area many investors overlook is estate planning. Proper estate planning is an essential component of your financial plan because it can help your loved ones avoid a difficult and expensive process once you pass away. Here are four easy steps to help you plan for the distribution of your assets by creating and maintaining an estate plan that provides your heirs with financial confidence. 1. Make an Inventory Before you can make a plan, you have to know exactly what you have. Take some time to document your holdings. This will include your home, other real estate you may own, vehicles, jewelry, and any other personal property that has monetary value. Make a list of your bank, brokerage, and retirement accounts, noting the funds held by each. Also document all insurance policies, and note their cash values and death benefits. It’s also important to list all your liabilities, such as mortgages and any lines of credit or other debt that needs to be resolved. 2. Conceptualize Your Plan It’s always best to work with an experienced professional such as a financial planner or attorney. Be prepared for your first meeting by knowing the answers to these important questions: a. If you become incapacitated or pass away, who do you want to manage your estate or its distribution? b. Who do you select as your heir or heirs, and...

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The Blueprint for Your Investment Success

Being a successful investor is not an easy accomplishment, requiring knowledge, experience, and the wisdom to know when to enter a trade, how the trade will affect the rest of your portfolio, and when to exit. This is simplistic, of course, but one sign of a successful investor is having a plan of what to do and when. Plans that achieve the best results have an underlying structure. We call this the Investment Policy Statement. Imagine yourself building a house without a set of blueprints. On a section of barren land you would dig a foundation for a house whose square footage you didn’t know, pour concrete and set studs for the wooden framework you haven’t designed, add walls with windows and doors … all according to a mental plan in your head. Can it be done? Yes, but can it be done well? Would results be more compatible if you had first created blueprints? Similarly, investing your financial resources can be greatly expedited and more secure once you’ve developed your investment policy statement (IPS). The main purpose of your IPS is to help serve your financial analysis process with a specific set of rules that guide your decision-making. Here are the components of a good investment policy statement: 1. Identify the person responsible for creating the investment policy, executing the policy, monitoring the policy’s results, and making changes...

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Eye On Retirement? Focus On Your Exit Plan!

If you’re thinking about someday selling your business, as most owners are, you need to plan ahead and start your process early. It often takes a long time to find the right buyer for your business. You should always be thinking about exit planning. Some owners think they can sell their business within a few months, but the chance of that happening would be miraculous. Other business owners think a 3 – 5 year window is a reasonable range of time to plan the exit of their business, but this is also very shortsighted. What’s even more astonishing is that about 70% of business owners surveyed do not have an exit plan. Instead of getting a sales check, business owners may be getting a reality check. As early as possible, business owners should begin picturing exactly what they want when it comes time to exit their business. Do they plan to close their business, sell it to a third-party, sell it to an insider, or stay in business part-time or remain as an advisor? Owners should also bring together their team of professionals…their accountant, attorney, and business broker, quarterbacked by their financial planner, to make sure everyone is focused on the same outcome. If you want to sell your business, you should be looking to maximize the value of your business years ahead…in fact, as soon as you purchase...

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