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Devon Schoenbohm

Devon Schoenbohm

Devon Schoenbohm is a 2012 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, with a bachelor’s degree in finance. She is an active member of the community, serving as “A Big” for the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization and ambassador for the Fox Cities Chamber.Working closely with you and your CPA, attorney and other professionals, she can help determine the most appropriate financial strategy for you and your family. Envisioning retirement is your job. Helping you get there is ours. For more information, email [email protected] or call 920-939-3851.

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Monday, 01 October 2018 01:36

Time for your pre-retiree checklist?

Like everyone, you want to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle when you retire. But a successful retirement doesn’t just happen — it requires a lot of planning. And that’s why it’s a good idea to draw up a “pre-retiree checklist.”

Such a checklist might look like this:

q Twenty years before retirement: Try to estimate a “price tag” for your retirement, incorporating a variety of factors: where you might live, how much you might travel, what activities you’ll pursue and so on. Then, assess if your retirement savings are on track to help you meet your expected costs. From this point, monitor your progress every year.

q Fifteen years before retirement: Although you’re still fairly far away from retirement, you’ll want to bring your goals and challenges into a clearer focus. For starters, try to establish a firmer target goal for the assets you’ll need during retirement.

Also, consider your legacy goals and start developing your estate plans, if you haven’t already done so. You might also explore methods of dealing with potentially enormous long-term care costs, such as an extended stay in a nursing home. Solutions to long-term care may become much more expensive later in life.

q Ten years before retirement: At this stage, in addition to reviewing your target asset and spending levels, you’ll want to get more precise about how much income you can expect as a retiree, whether through your investments or retirement accounts (such as your 401(k) and IRA), or through some type of part-time work or consulting. Maintaining an adequate income flow is extremely important, because you could spend two or three decades as a retiree, and some of your expenses — health care in particular — will likely rise during the later years. It’s important to plan for health care and long-term care, given the costs and ability to qualify for coverage later in life.

q Five years before retirement: Reevaluate your investment mix to help reduce the risk of having your portfolio vulnerable to a market downturn when you plan to retire. Generally speaking, stocks and other growth-oriented investments are more volatile than bonds and other income-producing vehicles. So, you may want to consider shifting some — but certainly not all — of your investment dollars from the “growth” portion of your portfolio to the “income” side.

q Two years before retirement: This close to retirement, you’ll want to pay particularly close attention to health care expenses, so you may want to investigate Medicare supplemental policies. You’ll also want to ensure that you have an adequate emergency fund to cope with unexpected costs, such as major home repairs.

In addition, you’ll want to think about whether you should take Social Security right away or if you can afford to wait until your monthly checks will be bigger.

q One year before retirement: Now it’s time for some key decisions: How much can you withdraw each year from your 401(k), IRA and other retirement accounts without running the risk of outliving your money? Have you lined up your health care coverage? And, finally, are you really set on retiring in a year or could you delay retirement to improve your financial picture?

This checklist isn’t exhaustive, but it can give you a good idea of the various issues you’ll need to consider on the long road to retirement. And the sooner you start planning for that journey, the better.

If you are, or will be, a caregiver for elderly parents or another close family member living with Alzheimer’s disease, you may experience some emotional stress — but you also need to be aware of the financial issues involved and what actions you can take to help address them.

You will find few “off the rack” solutions for dealing with the financial challenges associated with Alzheimer’s.

For one thing, family situations can vary greatly, both in terms of the financial resources available and in the availability and capabilities of potential caregivers.

Furthermore, depending on the stage of the disease, people living with Alzheimer’s may have a range of cognitive abilities, which will affect the level of care needed.

Here are some general suggestions that may be useful to you in your role as caregiver:

  • Consult with family members and close friends. It’s extremely hard to be a solo caregiver. By consulting with other family members or close friends, you may find that some of them have the time and ability to help.
  • Consider obtaining durable power of attorney. If you possess a durable power of attorney for finances, you can make financial decisions for the person with Alzheimer’s when he or she is no longer able. With this authority, you can help the individual living with the disease — and your entire family — avoid court actions that can take away control of financial affairs. And on a short-term basis, having durable power of attorney can help you take additional steps if needed. You’ll find it much easier to acquire durable power of attorney when the individual living with Alzheimer’s is still in the early stage of the disease and can willingly and knowingly grant you this authority.
  • Gather all necessary documents. You’ll be in a better position to help the individual living with Alzheimer’s if you have all the important financial documents — bank statements, insurance policies, wills, Social Security payment information, deeds, etc. — in one place.
  • Get professional help. You may want to consult with an attorney who can advise you on establishing appropriate arrangements, such as a living trust, which provides instructions about the estate of the person for whom you’re providing care and names a trustee to hold title to property and funds for the beneficiaries. You also might want to meet with a financial advisor, who can help identify potential resources and money-saving services. And a tax professional may be able to help you find tax deductions connected to your role as caregiver.

Finally, use your experience as a caregiver to reminder yourself of the importance of planning for your own needs. For example, a financial professional can suggest ways of preparing for the potentially huge costs of long-term care, such as those arising from an extended stay in a nursing home.

Caring for an individual living with Alzheimer’s has its challenges. But by taking the appropriate steps, you can reduce uncertainties — and possibly give yourself and your family members a greater sense of security and control.

As you know, we’ve been enjoying a long period of steadily rising stock prices. Of course, this bull market won’t last forever — and when it does start losing steam, you, as an investor, need to be prepared.

Before we look at how you can ready yourself for a new phase in the investment environment, let’s consider some facts about the current situation:

  • Length. This bull market, which began in 2009, is the second oldest in the past 100 years. And it’s about twice as long as the average bull market.
  • Strength. Since the start of this long rally, the stock market has produced an average annualized gain of 15.5 percent per year.

While these figures are impressive, they aren’t necessarily predictive — so how much longer can this bull market continue to “stampede”? No one can say for sure, but there’s no mandatory expiration date for bull markets. In fact, they don’t generally die of old age, but typically expire either because of a recession or the bursting of a bubble, such as the “” bubble of 2000 or the housing bubble of 2007. And right now, most market experts don’t see either event on the near-term horizon.

Still, this doesn’t mean you should necessarily expect an uninterrupted streak of big gains. Some signs point to greater market volatility and lower returns. To navigate this changing landscape, think about these suggestions:

  • Consider rebalancing your portfolio. If appropriate, you may want to rebalance your investment mix to ensure you have a reasonable percentage of stocks — to help provide the growth you need to achieve your goals — and enough fixed income vehicles, such as bonds, to help reduce your portfolio’s vulnerability to market volatility and potential short-term downturns.
  • Look beyond U.S. borders. At any given time, U.S. stocks may be doing well, while international stocks are slumping — and vice versa. So, when volatility hits the U.S. markets — as it surely will, at some time — you can help reduce the impact on your portfolio if you also own some international equities. Keep in mind, though, that international investments bring some specific risks, such as currency fluctuations and foreign political and economic events.
  • Develop a strategy. You may want to work with a financial professional to identify a strategy to cope with a more turbulent investment atmosphere. Such a strategy can keep you from overreacting to market downturns and possibly even help you capitalize on short-term pullbacks.

You could invest systematically by putting the same amount of money in the same investments each month. When prices go up, your investment dollars will buy fewer shares, and when prices drop, you’ll buy more shares. And the more shares you own, the greater your potential for accumulation.

However, this strategy, sometimes known as dollar cost averaging, won’t guarantee a profit or protect against all losses, and you need to be willing to keep investing when share prices are declining.

During a raging bull market, it’s not all that hard for anyone to invest successfully. But it becomes more challenging when the inevitable volatility and market downturns appear. Making the moves described above can help you keep moving toward your goals — even when the “bull” has taken a breather.

Saturday, 30 June 2018 02:29

Financial moves for empty nesters

When your children leave home and you become an empty nester, you’ll probably make several adjustments in your lifestyle. But how will your empty nest status affect your financial situation?

Everyone’s story is different, involving a range of variables. But here are a few issues to consider:

Insurance. If your kids are through school, your mortgage is nearly paid off and your spouse has accumulated a reasonable amount of money in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, you may not need life insurance to replace income or pay off debts. However, you might start thinking about other goals, such as ensuring your savings will last your lifetime or leaving a legacy to your loved ones or a charity. Life insurance may be able to help in these areas.

Downsizing. Deciding whether to downsize your living space isn’t just a financial decision — it’s also a highly personal one. Still, downsizing can offer you some potential economic benefits.

For one thing, if you still are paying off your mortgage, a move to a smaller place could free up some of your monthly cash flow, which, again, you could use to boost your retirement accounts. Furthermore, if your home has greatly appreciated in value, you might make a sizable profit by selling. (If you are single, you may be able to exclude $250,000 of the gain on the sale of your home; married couples may have $500,000 exemption. Some restrictions exist on this exemption, though, so you’ll need to consult with your tax advisor before selling.)

Estate plans. Years ago, you might have made various arrangements in a will or a living trust that dealt with taking care of your children if something should happen to you and your spouse. For example, you might have established a trust and directed it to make payments to your children at certain times and for certain purposes, such as education. But once your children are grown and have left your home, you may need to review and update your estate plans.

Keep in mind, though, that empty nester status is not always permanent.

You’ve no doubt heard about “boomerang” kids who return home after college and stay until they can afford a place of their own. If your children become “boomerangers,” even for a short while, will it greatly affect your financial situation?

Probably not. However, if your children are going to drive your car, you may want to be sure that they are listed on your car insurance. Also, if they are going to bring guests to your home, you might want to consider an “umbrella” insurance policy, which typically provides you with significantly greater liability protection than your regular homeowners’ policy. (In fact, it may be a good idea to purchase an umbrella policy even if you don’t have grown kids at home, as this coverage offers you wide-ranging protection from potentially devastating lawsuits that could arise from injuries on your property or through an auto accident in which you are involved.)

You may have mixed feelings about becoming an empty nester, but, like most people, you will adjust. And by making the right financial moves, you can get off to a good start on this new phase of your life.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018 20:40

Time for financial “spring cleaning”

The days are longer and the temperatures are warmer — so it must be spring. For many of us, that means it’s time for some spring cleaning. But why stop with sprucing up your living space? This year, consider extending the “spring cleaning” concept to your financial environment, too.

How can you tidy your finances? Here are some suggestions:

“De-clutter” your portfolio.

As you go through your home during your spring cleaning rounds, you may notice that you’ve acquired a lot of duplicate objects — do you really need five mops? Or at least some things you can no longer use, like a computer that hasn’t worked since 2010. You can create some valuable space by getting rid of these items. And the same principle can apply to your investment portfolio because over the years you may well have acquired duplicate investments that aren’t really helping you move toward your goals. You may also own some investments, which, while initially fitting in to your overall strategy, no longer do so. You could be better off by selling your “redundant” investments and using the proceeds to purchase new ones that will provide more value.

Get organized.

During your spring cleaning, one of your key goals may be to get organized. So you might want to rearrange the tools in your garage or establish a new filing system in your home office. Proper organization is also important to investors — and it goes beyond having your brokerage and 401(k) statements in nice neat piles. For example, you may have established IRAs with different financial services companies. By moving them to one provider, you may save some fees and reduce your paperwork, but, more importantly, you may find that such a move actually helps you better manage your investments. You’ll know exactly where your money is going, and it could be easier to follow a single investment strategy. Also, with all your IRAs in one place, it will be much easier for you to manage the required minimum distributions you must start taking when you turn 70. (These distributions are not required for Roth IRAs.)

Protect your family’s financial future.

When cleaning up this spring, you may notice areas of concern around protecting your home — perhaps there’s a crack in your window, or your fence is damaged or part of your chimney is crumbling. Your financial independence — and that of your family — also needs protection. Is your life insurance sufficient to pay for your mortgage, college for your kids and perhaps some retirement funds for your spouse? Do you have disability insurance that can provide you with some income if you become ill or injured and can’t work for a while? Have you considered the high costs of long-term care, such as an extended nursing home stay? A financial professional can help you determine if your insurance coverage is adequate for all these needs.

Consider putting these spring cleaning suggestions to work. They may help you keep your financial house in good shape for all the seasons yet to arrive. 

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