FINANCIAL FOCUS – Five Tips for Women Business Owners

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Women are an integral part of the workforce, but they have had to overcome many obstacles along the way. Of course, challenges still remain, but women’s success in the working world is worth commemorating – which will happen on American Business Women’s Day Sept. 22. Are you a woman considering “setting up shop” on your own?  If so, here are five tips to consider:

  • Balance your goals. It’s possible – perhaps even likely – that your business goals will conflict with your personal financial goals. After all, if you’re purchasing new equipment or services for your business, you’ve got less money – at least for the time being – to put away for your own retirement or your children’s education. Hopefully, your investment in your business will pay off in greater income, but, in any case, you will need to balance your personal and professional goals.
  • Create a retirement plan. As mentioned above, your ability to contribute to a retirement plan may be affected by the amount you put into your business – but that certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a retirement plan. In fact, for your future financial security, it’s essential that you launch such a plan. Fortunately, small-business owners have a choice of plans, including an “owner-only” 401(k), SEP-IRA and SIMPLE IRA. Although the various plans have different requirements and contribution limits, they all offer tax-deferred earnings, which means your money has the opportunity to grow faster than if it were placed in a vehicle on which you paid taxes every year. (Taxes are due upon withdrawal, and withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ may be subject to a 10% IRS penalty.) Plus, your contributions to a retirement plan may be tax deductible.
  • Arrange for “backup.” Virtually all working women are familiar with the conflict between their careers and their roles as caregivers. Women are still more likely than men to drop out of the workforce for an extended period of time to care for young children or elderly parents. And your caregiving responsibilities won’t end just because you are now a business owner. Consequently, you need to have someone you trust available to step in for you when your family obligations call you away from work.
  • Design a succession plan. When you want to retire, would you like to keep the business in your family? If so, you’ll need to create a succession plan that works for you and whomever you’d like to take control. Such a plan can be complex, so you will need to work with your legal and tax advisors – and you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to work out the details.
  • Build an emergency fund. Maintaining an adequate cash flow will always be a key task – one that involves your sales, billing cycles, inventory and other elements of your business. One way you can help yourself avoid troubles is to maintain an emergency fund consisting of a few months’ worth of your business expenses. You’ll want to keep this fund in a liquid, low-risk account.

Running your own business can be extremely rewarding, but it’s never going to be an easy road. However, with perseverance and careful planning, you can smooth out some of the bumps along the way — and give yourself reason to celebrate American Business Women’s Day.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Protect Three Key Goals With Life Insurance

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September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. And “awareness” is an appropriate designation, because many people remain unaware of the many ways in which life insurance can help families meet their key financial goals. Here are three of the biggest of these objectives, as seen through the eyes of a hypothetical couple, Jim and Joan:

  • Pay off mortgage – Jim and Joan have a 30-year mortgage. If one of them dies well before that mortgage is paid off, could the other one afford to keep making payments to remain in the house with the children? It might be quite difficult – many families absolutely need two incomes to pay a mortgage, along with all the other costs of living. At the very least, the death of either Jim or Joan would likely put an enormous financial strain on the surviving spouse. But with the proceeds of a life insurance policy, the survivor could continue making the house payments – or possibly even pay the mortgage off completely, depending on the size of the policy and other financial considerations.
  • Educate children – Higher education is important to Jim and Joan, and they’d like to see both of their young children eventually go to college. Of course, college is expensive: For the 2016-17 school year, the average cost (tuition, fees, room and board) was about $20,000 for in-state students at public universities and more than $45,000 for private schools, according to the College Board. And these costs are likely to continue climbing. Jim and Joan have started putting money away in a tax-advantaged 529 savings plan, but if something were to happen to one of them, the surviving spouse might be hard pressed to continue these savings at the same level – or at any level. But the proceeds of a life insurance death benefit could be enough to fund some, or perhaps all, of the college costs for Jim and Joan’s children.
  • Provide for family’s future – Jim and Joan’s future income is their most valuable asset as they continue working. However, an unexpected death could leave this dual-income family with a single income that may not cover all financial obligations and retirement contributions – or even preserve the family’s current lifestyle. Life insurance could help cover these needs. Plus, the death benefit to the family may be tax-free.

Clearly, a life insurance policy could allow Jim or Joan to continue on with life, despite, of course, the devastating emotional loss of a partner. But how much insurance should they own? You might read that most people need a death benefit of seven to 10 times their annual income. This might be a good starting point, but everyone’s situation is different. You should consider all factors – including liabilities, income replacement, final expenses and education – to get an accurate picture of how much insurance is appropriate. A financial professional can help you with this calculation.

During Life Insurance Awareness Month, take some to time review your insurance situation. You may already have some life insurance, but it’s a good idea to review your coverage to make certain the amount and type of insurance is still appropriate for your needs.  As we’ve seen, the right coverage can make a huge difference in the lives of your loved ones.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Brighten Your Grandchildren’s Financial Future

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Mother’s Day and Father’s Day may get more attention, but National Grandparents Day, observed on Sept. 10, has gained in popularity. If you’re a grandparent, you might expect to receive some nice cards, but if you want to make the day especially meaningful, you may want to consider giving some long-lasting financial gifts to your grandchildren.

What might come to mind first, of course, is helping your grandchildren pay for college. You can choose from several college savings vehicles, but you may be especially interested in a 529 savings plan. With a 529 plan, your earnings accumulate tax free, provided they are used for qualified higher education expenses, such as tuition, books, and room and board. (Keep in mind that 529 plan distributions not used for qualified expenses may be subject to federal and state income taxes and a 10% IRS penalty on the earnings.) You may be eligible for a state income tax incentive for contributing to a 529 plan. Check with your tax advisor regarding these incentives, as well as all tax-related issues pertaining to 529 plans.

One benefit of using a 529 plan is contribution limits are quite generous. Plus, a 529 plan is flexible: If your grandchild decides against college, you can transfer the plan to another beneficiary.

Generally, a 529 plan owned by a grandparent won’t be reported as an asset on the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), but withdrawals from the plan are treated as untaxed income to the beneficiary (i.e., your grandchild) — and that has a big impact on financial aid, a much bigger impact than if the plan was listed as a parental asset. Beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year, however, FAFSA now requires families to report income from two years before the school year starts, rather than income from the prior calendar year. Consequently, it might be beneficial, from a financial aid standpoint, for you, as a grandparent, to start paying for college expenses from a 529 plan in the year in which your grandchild becomes a junior. Contact a financial aid professional about the potential financial aid impact of any gifts you’re considering.

A 529 plan isn’t the only financial gift you could give to your grandchildren. You might also consider giving them shares of stock, possibly held in a custodial account, usually known as an UTMA or UGMA account. One possible drawback: You only control a custodial account until your grandchildren reach the age of majority, at which time they can use the money for whatever they want, whereas distributions from a 529 savings plan must be used for qualified higher education expenses.

Still, your grandchildren might be particularly interested in owning the stocks contained in the custodial account – most young people enjoy owning shares of companies that make familiar products. And to further interest your grandchildren in a lifetime of investing, you may want to show them how a particular stock you’ve owned for decades has grown over time. Naturally, you’ll also want to let them know that stocks can move up and down in the short term, and there are no guarantees of profits – but the long-term growth potential of stocks is still a compelling story.

You’d probably do whatever you could for your grandchildren – and with a smart financial gift, you can make a big difference in their lives.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Are You a “Hardworking” Investor?

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Next week, we observe Labor Day, a celebration of the American worker. You work hard your whole life with the hope that your efforts will ultimately allow you to achieve your financial goals, such as a comfortable retirement. But for that to happen, you may need to apply some of the lessons of the workplace to your efforts as an investor.

So, what are these lessons? Here are a few to consider:

  • Be consistent. The most successful workers are the ones who show up, day after day, and strive to overcome the inevitable obstacles that crop up. As an investor, you, too, need to be consistent in your habits – which means you should keep investing in all types of markets. If you take a “time out” every time the market drops, you might end up missing opportunities when the next rally begins.
  • Be flexible. When good workers see that something is not going well, they change what they’re doing. And when you invest, you also may need to make adjustments. If an investment has consistently underperformed, or if you have too many others very similar to it, or if it just doesn’t meet your needs anymore, you may be better off by selling it and using the proceeds to invest elsewhere. This doesn’t mean you should constantly be buying and selling — in fact, you’ll likely be better off by purchasing quality investments and holding them for the long term. But you need to be flexible enough to make the appropriate moves at the appropriate times.
  • Be informed. The best workers are those who regularly update their skills and acquire knowledge that helps them do their jobs better. As an investor, you should also keep learning – about the investment world in general and about new opportunities for you to explore. And you should always understand what you are investing in – and why. Even if you work with a financial professional, you need to inform yourself about every aspect of your investment portfolio – after all, it’s your money and your future.
  • Be farsighted. Good workers not only know what they’re doing – they also can visualize the desired outcome of each task. And, of course, people who are in charge of a particular endeavor, or who are responsible for the fortunes of a business, have a clear view of what they want to accomplish, even if the achievement of that goal is many years in the future. When you invest, you also need to see where you want to go. If you can constantly keep in mind your long-term goals – such as the type of retirement lifestyle you desire – you will likely find it easier to stick with an investment strategy that’s appropriate for your needs and risk tolerance. Conversely, if you lose sight of your destination, you might be more prone to taking short-term detours, which could work against you.

Labor Day reminds us to appreciate the skills and dedication of all workers – and as an investor, you can put these same attributes to good use.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Stay Calm on the Investment “Roller Coaster”

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Unless you live near an amusement park that does a lot of advertising, you probably didn’t know that Aug. 16 is National Roller Coaster Day. Actual roller coasters provide people with thrills. But as an investor, how can you stay calm on the “roller coaster” of the financial markets?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Know what’s in front of you. If you’ve ever ridden a roller coaster in the dark, you may find it scarier than if you boarded it in daylight – after all, it can be unsettling not to know where you’re going. The same can be said about investing: If you have no idea what’s in front of you, you might find the journey unnerving – and if that happens, you could make panicky decisions, which are usually bad ones. So prepare for the inevitable market volatility – it’s a normal part of the investment landscape.
  • Buckle up. When you’re on a roller coaster, you need to buckle your seat belt or use a restraint. You want to have the excitement of the ride, but you certainly don’t want to take unnecessary risks. And you can enjoy some of the excitement of investing without incurring more risk than you are comfortable with, too. One way to lower your risk level is to diversify across a range of investments – stocks, bonds, government securities, and so on. That way, if a market downturn primarily affects just one type of investment, you’ll have some protection. However, although diversification can reduce the impact of volatility on your portfolio, it can’t protect against all losses or guarantee a profit.
  • Choose a strategy for the journey. Different people have different ways of handling a roller coaster ride. Some like to throw their hands up, enjoying the feeling of abandon, while others hold on tightly to the bar in front of them. When you invest, you also need a strategy that works for you, and the best one may be the simplest: Buy quality investments and hold them for the long term. How long is “long term”? It could be 10, 20, 30 years or more. Famed investor Warren Buffet says his favorite holding period is “forever.” If you’ve chosen a mix of quality investments appropriate for your risk tolerance, you may be able to hold them until either your goals change or the investments themselves undergo some transformation.
  • Stay for the whole “ride.” When you hop on a roller coaster, you’ve got no choice – you’re staying until the ride is over. As an investor, though, you can exit the investment world whenever you like. But if you take a “time out” from investing every time the market drops, you risk still being out of the market when it rallies – and the early stages of a rally are often when the biggest gains occur. Furthermore, if you keep investing during a “down” market, you’ll be buying shares when their price has dropped, which means your dollars can go further – and you’ll be following one of the basic rules of investing: “Buy low.”

You can’t take out all the twists and turns of the investment road, but by following the above suggestions, you can help make the ride less stressful – and possibly more rewarding.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – How Can The Sandwich Generation Relieve Financial Stress?

financial-stress-

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Don’t worry too much if you haven’t heard, but April is National Stress Awareness Month. Of course, stress can present emotional and physical challenges to all of us, but if you belong to the “sandwich generation” – that is, you may be caring for aging parents while still supporting your own children – you may be facing some financial stress as well. What can you do to relieve it?

For one thing, be aware that you’re certainly not alone. About one in seven middle-aged adults is providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child, according to the Pew Research Center.

Still, knowing that you have plenty of company won’t provide you with solutions for your own situation. So consider the following:

 

  • Suggest “downsizing.” Are your parents still paying a costly mortgage on a house that’s now too big for them? You might want to encourage them to think about downsizing. They may be emotionally attached to their home, but they might benefit substantially if they moved someplace that’s less expensive.

 

  • Talk to parents about their income sources. Are your parents maximizing their Social Security payments? Are they following a sensible withdrawal strategy for their IRA, 401(k) or other retirement accounts? You may want to recommend that they work with a qualified financial professional.

 

  • Discuss all legal arrangements. Be aware of your parents’ estate plans and the status of important legal documents – will, living trust, power of attorney, health care directive, and so on. When the time arises for any of these arrangements to take effect, you don’t want to face any unpleasant – and possibly costly – surprises.

 

  • Find out about health care. Try to learn about your parents’ health insurance coverage. And have they done anything to protect themselves from the potentially catastrophic costs of long-term care, such as an extended nursing home stay? You may not be able to do a great deal for them in these areas, but at the least, you may be able to get them to take some positive action on their own behalf.

 

  • Don’t ignore your own retirement savings. Even if you can afford to provide some financial support to your parents, don’t shortchange yourself when it comes to yourown retirement savings. You don’t get a “do-over” when it comes to putting away money for retirement, so contribute as much as you can afford to your IRA and your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan.

 

  • Prioritize your investment choices.If you would like to help your children go to college, you might want to consider a college savings vehicle. Still, you may need to prioritize your investments. After all, your children will likely have a variety of options – such as loans and scholarships – to help them pay for school, and they may also be able to reduce costs substantially by going to a community college their first two years. But you are basically “up against the clock” when it comes to saving for retirement, so you’ll want to take that into account when allocating your investment dollars.

 

Belonging to the sandwich generation can certainly produce feelings of anxiety. But by following the above suggestions, you may be able to reduce some of this stress. And by doing so, you can help your parents, your children – and yourself.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Time for Some Financial Spring Cleaning

spring-cleaning-for-your-finances1

Spring is in the air, even if it’s not quite there on the calendar. This year, as you shake off the cobwebs from winter and start tidying up around your home and yard, why not also do some financial spring cleaning?

Actually, you can apply several traditional spring cleaning techniques to your financial situation. Here are a few ideas:

  • Look for damage. Damage to your home’s siding, shingles and foundation can eventually degrade the structure of your home. Your investment portfolio is also a structure of a sort, and it, too, can be damaged. Specifically, you may have deliberately constructed your portfolio with an investment mix – stocks, fixed-income vehicles, cash instruments, etc. – that’s appropriate for your goals and risk tolerance. But over time, your portfolio can evolve in unexpected ways. For example, your stocks may have grown so much in value that they now take up a larger percentage of your holdings than you had intended, possibly subjecting you to a higher degree of risk. If this happens, you may need to rebalance your portfolio.
  • Get rid of “clutter.” As you look around your home, do you see three mops or four nonfunctional televisions or a stack of magazines from the 1990s? If these items no longer have value, you could get rid of them and clear up some living space. As an investor, you also might have “clutter” – in the form of investments that no longer meet your needs. If you sold these investments, you could use the proceeds to fill gaps in your portfolio.
  • Consolidate. Do you keep your lawnmower in a shed, a rake in your garage, and your gardening tools in the basement? When working on your outdoor tasks, you might find it more efficient to have all these items in one location. You could also have your investments scattered about – an IRA here, a new 401(k) there, and an older 401(k) someplace else. But if you consolidated all your investments in one place, you might cut down on paperwork and fees, and you wouldn’t risk losing track of an asset (which actually happens more than you might think). Even more importantly, when you have all your investments with one provider, you’ll be better positioned to follow a single, centralized investment strategy.
  • Prepare for a rainy day. As part of your outdoor spring cleaning, you may want to look at your gutters and downspouts to make sure they are clear and in good repair, so that they can move rainwater away from your home. Your financial goals need protection, too, so you’ll want to ensure you have adequate life and disability insurance.
  • Seal leaks. In your home inspection this spring, you may want to investigate doors and windows for leaks and drafts. Your investment portfolio might have some “leaks” also. Are investment-related taxes siphoning off more of your earnings than you realize? A financial professional can offer you recommendations for appropriate tax-advantaged investments.

This spring, when you’re cleaning your physical surroundings, take some time to also tidy up your financial environment. You may be pleased with the results.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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