Open for Enrollment

Open Enrollment Options.

Open Enrollment

Annual “Open Enrollment” selections, elections and options are typically around October and November of every year.  Most employees carryover the same options year after year, sometimes this is a big mistake, they’re leaving money on the table and that is not how the game is played.  Much like you would review every line of tax deductions for expenses and credits at tax time, the same should be done to ensure annual elections are “optimized”.  Everyone wants to get the most for their money, with that in mind making a decision for the entire year can be tricky.  It’s necessary to consider everything from frequency doctor visits, dental visits, eye care, prescriptions, relocating or even if you don’t go to the doctor much more than preventative care and checkups here and there.

Consider everything from possible savings by reducing coverage, adding life insurance amounts, and of course the possible tax advantages of an FSA or HSA to help offset those wonderful co-pays and deductibles.  I always wondered who came up with the “co-pay”, like really, a $10. co-pay?!?! Why? It’s always been a pain to make sure you have $10. or $15. in my pocket just for the co-pay!

-Miles.

 

Life Insurance, The Essentials Interview

Life Insurance, The Essentials Interview

Life Insurance Essential Interview with Kissy Ariza, Life Insurance Rep.

I met with Kissy Ariza, a very personable and knowledgeable, high energy local NY area life insurance representative to ask some popular questions about getting life insurance.  Many folks already understand the importance of having life insurance of some kind, somewhere with some company.  Most of us even remember the “insurance man” who used to come around from time to time, and our parents bought whatever policies they could afford.   Not so much in our busy lives today.  Hence, there are a lot of misgivings and out right un-truths out there about insurance.  One thing however is for sure, a good ironclad policy is a key part of any good personal financial planning.

Kissy Ariza was able to dispel some common misconceptions, verify some known truths and even offer some serious take away information.  In this interview she gave some invaluable points that make it easy to understand why life insurance is such a big deal and necessary part of your finance arsenal.

-Miles.

Valentine’s Day Don’t Break the BANK

Valentine’s Day Don’t Break the BANK

Don’t Go Breaking the Bank for Valentine’s Day

Stay Focused for Valentine's Day
Stay Focused for Valentine’s Day

5 Ways to go Non-Traditional for Valentine’s Day and Show Your Love

Valentine’s day isn’t the go for it all break the bank to show your love day.  However, it is a good time to start making real moves to solidify your relationship goals by building the foundation of a relationship, finances.  No matter what you’re gonna have to make a showing of love with flowers, cards or candy. Just don’t get lost by becoming a retailer’s dream, instead, I have 5 things to focus on that are non traditional, yet great moves for solidifying a relationship that’s moving forward.

-Miles.

Young Money Investing

Young Money Investing

Young Money. Raising Investors…

Little investors can make big decisions too.
Little investors can make big decisions too.

Getting started early is a key aspect to success in almost every endeavor, and there’s no difference when it comes to building a foundation for a good understanding of finances.  Much like cigarette manufacturers took notice to focus on teens and early age kids, banks have started to the same except with a more positive focus.  Get children involved early, make in popular and chic and you’ve built a foundation that may last the rest of the lives.

As parents and guardians we often recite the saying “We want to provide better for our children than what we had”, in the area of personal finance and economics the opportunity is there to do just that.  For me I hadn’t opened a bank account or had a credit card until I was an adult and by then the marketers of the retail world had shaped my conscious consumer mind.  It would take me a long, long time just to get eh basics of how to operate and manage a bank account, credit cards and other finance tools effectively.  Lots of lost money in fees, late fees, interest and the total misunderstanding of some basic rules for the money road ahead.  Not that it would be anyone’s fault but my own, but it just wasn’t typical culture in my household to handle and deal with financial tools. It was always a far off thing and I didn’t even notice banks until I was a young adult.

Today’s environment isn’t quite the same as when i came up, the world is quickly moving further and further into a cashless society where you login to pay bills and check balances regularly.  Payments are made electronically various bank accounts are linked together making easy to move and manage finances and phishing scam email steadily come in asking for access to accounts from far away heirs to estates and kingdoms.  In preparing your children to thrive in today’s environment, a solid foundation in finance has become far more important to their individual prosperity.  Everything from simply managing a bank account to understanding the reasoning why to not pay just the minimum balance, or default makes the difference between getting going right out of college or involuntarily living at home until they are 35.

A greater number of banks now offer juvenile and custodial accounts to help young adults and children get started than ever before with saving accounts, online access, checking accounts and even brokerage accounts for investing in their own future.  Oftentimes there are special programs and guides that focus on everything ranging from saving for college to buying a new car.  Depending on the bank you can link your child’s account for funding, have remote access to control spending and even set up automatic allowances.  Automatic allowances? Yes, basically direct deposit and you can do it every 2 weeks just like your paycheck.  Having these sort of accounts gets them started early with setting up accounts online to make payments for recurring bills such as cell phones (since children seem to have phones these days, not in my day!), even paying for school lunch, they can buy bus passes, travel and do whatever you may find yourself holding their hand doing.  Getting started early on with understanding their balance available to them, penalties for overextending themselves and how to avoid doing so, and just getting a good understanding of how these things work.

Kids understand gains and profits more than you probably think.
Kids understand gains and profits more than you probably think.

Recently, I contacted my investment broker to open a custodial account for my youngest son, although I had set up traditional bank accounts as a norm for all of my children while in their preteens I hadn’t given an investment account much thought.  As it turns out, this is a great idea.  There’s nothing like learning while actually doing and participating.  And, and enthusiastic student makes for easier teaching as well.  Once you get past explaining how companies sell shares to the public, how shares are valued, start using the terminology and put things into perspective that they can understand the light bulb comes on and super bright too.  The side benefit comes from whatever you aren’t too well versed on gets refreshed or you just end up learning some new things as well.  Opening a brokerage account, looking at stocks and getting an idea of how to buy them.  Even without buying stocks, just looking up companies that they know and understand will draw their interest as they compare which companies are larger or better for whatever reason.  Companies like Sony for the PlayStation, Microsoft for the Xbox, McDonald’s, Foot Locker for popular shoes, Gamestop for gaming, Kellogg and General Mills for the cereals (kids love to eat!!), EA Sports for the games and the list just goes on of what companies they know and can tell you about these companies.  A quick review of how becoming a shareholding investor makes them own a piece of the company and they should have a sense of pride in ownership of something they may hold so high and know so well.  This makes it easier to embrace the practice of evaluating the merits of the companies and reasons to keep stocks, understanding dividends and how investing can allow them to make money from good and well calculated decisions –all without doing chores!  I know my son cannot wait to see his first dividends, it could be ten cents, it won’t matter because in his mind he did nothing, (as far as physical work is concerned) and got paid.  This could change everything, starting at a young age.

Surely, getting them started young and deeply interested to what they understand has immeasurable benefit for them later on in life. Understanding credit, banking, interest rates, investing, returns, insurance, healthcare costs, small business and consumer economics will lay the foundation for their prosperity.  No matter which direction they take in life whether to become a veterinarian, a politician or a barber your children will definitely need to make financial decisions that their overall success will hinge upon.  So get on it now or you’ll never get to use their room as a walk in closet because they’ll be home even though they have a good paying job.

Adult Children at Home
Adult Children at Home

For some info and ideas on banks that offer youth checking and savings accounts check out:

Well Fargo Youth and Teen Accounts

USAA FSB Youth Accounts. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Fidelity Youth and Custodial Accounts

Scottrade Custodial Accounts

Just to name a few, however, if you already have a bank account try there first or go to a local credit union as they offer very terms for youth accounts.  For the brokerage accounts, again try yours if you have one or you can try one of the few above.  Most are pretty good in their own right, consider the details as of course there are some special rules and laws that apply to custodial accounts, none of which however that will preclude anyone from getting started.  Also consider, most of these custodial accounts are out of reach and are protected from certain entities should you find yourself in financial straits, and that is something that should always be considered in my opinion.

Banking and savings can start small, and adds up over time.
Banking and savings can start small, and adds up over time.

Another way to get the children involved to make them aware of any 529 plan accounts and let them actually see money being saved for college, they can also make contributions to 529 plans from allowances and any earning from their own work as well as gifts, (you know the birthday card with $50. in it) yeah, drop that in there too.  Although 529 plansare more or less mutual funds, it gets the conversation going there too.

Kids Can find investing exciting when it's relevant
Kids Can find investing exciting when it’s relevant

Lastly, try not to be intimidated by any lack of major funds on your part, not opening an account because you don’t have much would be a big mistake.  No matter how small, it’s important to get started understanding these things early and practicing them too.  Most 529 plans and Custodial IRA’s will let you open an account with $50. if you set up an auto draft deposit from you bank once a month, and in the worst case scenario you can suspend the deposits but he account remains.  You can fund a typical brokerage account with $25. if you need to and by whatever stock you can afford, and there are no ongoing fees to keep it open and hold the shares for you.

A world of opportunity just waiting.

 

-Miles.