Rethink Your Life Plan

Traditionally, we think about our adult life in two segments: retirement and everything else leading up to retirement. Seems simple, right? Finish school, go to work, grind, grind some more, save everything you can, hit 65 years old and retire in bliss. From a planning standpoint it sounds even more simple. Get an idea what you want life to look like in retirement, ie: travel, fish every day, drive a Cadillac, and have a house in Florida; then set your retirement account up and save all your extra money towards that goal. Not only can that sound like an unsatisfying way to live, but we all know life isn’t quite so simple. I challenge you to think about your life differently and your financial planning as well.

Consider simply structuring your planning in a different manner. Instead of two buckets (right now and retirement), I like to add one more bucket and structure them by time horizon. Time horizon being how long do you have to accomplish the goal.

Bucket one

Bucket one can be easy. What do you want to accomplish in the next year to eighteen months? Is it a change of job, taking a big vacation, or simply paying off some debt? This is also the timeframe you’re your emergency fund falls in. What will that take in real numbers? Once you have that sorted out, we can now start to think about where you are putting money to accomplish that. It could simply be your checking account, or you may want to start some short term investing.

Bucket two

What does life look like in 18months to five years? Are kids on your horizon? Buying your next home? Paying off student loans? Whatever that might be, this is still a realistic timeframe to think about and set some achievable, quantifiable goals. Instead of trying to accomplish these by stashing away cash in your bank account or under your mattress, you have some real time to invest those dollars. You always hear people say, put your money to work, investing those dollars is what they mean. Time will allow you the opportunity to earn more than your bank checking account can offer you. Consider how a brokerage account can fit here.

Bucket three

Imagine what you would like to do beyond five years. This gets a little more difficult by nature. We don’t know what life is going to look like, but you might have a dream you want to shoot for. Those ideas about starting your business from a passion fall in this category. It could be buying investment property. Paying for your kids’ education. Finally, yes, retirement also falls in this category. I don’t expect you to have the exact picture of what the rest of your life will look like, but the third bucket is about those dreams and passions. In this bucket is combination of brokerage accounts and retirement accounts. You have a much longer time horizon to accomplish these goals, which will allow you more opportunities to invest those dollars and take a few more risks.


You saw it in the last paragraph, risk. What does that mean? It’s different for everyone, but generally I’m referring to your ability to handle market declines. Everyone’s tolerance is different based on your personal feelings and time horizon. It’s important to talk about risk when picking your investments. Make sure your investments align with your risk tolerance, meaning don’t buy all stocks if you are completely uncomfortable seeing day to day swings in value. You also need to align risk with your buckets. Money you need in bucket one should be in a safer place, while money in bucket three can be riskier because you have time to recover from downturns. Now, these strategies are different for those early in life than they are for those closer to retirement.

To wrap, life isn’t as simple as retirement and everything before, so why should your financial plan be. What I’ve discussed is very high level and just one idea on how to shape a plan. To figure out what will work best for you and how to pick the right investments, I always encourage talking with a professional.

Tackling Student Loans

Tackling Student Loans

One of the biggest drags on the economy is the crippling amount of student debt younger generations are carrying. It’s keeping us from taking normal life steps like buying a new car, a home, and starting a family at a younger age. Not only does it slow down the purchase of big items, there is less to spend on going out on the weekends, traveling around the world, and just buying simple extra items throughout your daily life. Think about the compounding effect of those missing dollars in the economy. That may be on a little bigger scale than we want to cover today. If you’re like me, you’re just sick of that extra monthly payment coming out of my checking account. Let’s get more knowledge around student loans and start coming up with a plan.

Knowing your number

When’s the last time you actually looked at your statement from Navient? Do you really know how much you have to pay back? You’re probably thinking, well when I took them out it was only $20-30,000 so it has to be lower than that right? The answer may surprise you, so your first step is simply to find out how much you actually owe.

Understand your repayment plan

There are many ways to pay back your loans, determined by the amount of time you want to pay them back in. The longer you go, the more you will end up paying due to accrued interest over time. That simply means, the longer you take, interest is adding up on top of your principal amount (the amount you originally took out). Choose a repayment plan that will be within your means and not cause you to miss payments. Standard repayment plans typically have you paying back debt in ten years. Graduated plans will allow you to start with lower payments, with increases every two years. The extended plan will typically push things into twenty-year period of repayment. If you can’t find a repayment plan that seems to be low enough, consider applying for an income-based repayment plan. Generally, these will allow you to automatically make payments of 10-15% of your income each month directly to your student loans. While this sounds nice, it can mean that you are repaying your loans for an extended period of your life.


Sometimes you are able to lower your overall repayment amount by refinancing your student debt. This option isn’t available to everyone but can help significantly lower interest payments. Generally speaking, you are taking all of your loans to a company like SoFi, or another refinancing company, where they will consolidate all of your loans, hopefully offer you a lower interest rate, and give you a single payment to make each month. Many companies will allow you to put in your information online to see if it would make sense for you to go down this path.

Making extra payments

Controlling your expenses and savings will help you pay off your loans faster. Set yourself a strict budget, setting aside cash for each expense if you can’t seem to control your card usage. Anytime you can make an extra payment to your student loans, make sure that it is going towards principal amount and not just interest. Some companies require you to select a specific option in your online profile to designate where extra payments go. Think about you did with your last tax return. What about that bonus from work? Are you working a side hustle? Put any extra money coming in towards that principal amount and you will be surprised how quickly you start seeing significant change.

The snowball effect

You have probably heard of the snowball effect somewhere along the line. It’s a simple concept, start by paying back your smallest loan and work towards your larger ones to build momentum and see tangible gains towards your goal. This can be effective, but I also think its important to look at which loans are causing the most interest growth. If you can consolidate and refinance, this won’t be an issue. Consider working on lowering your loan with the biggest interest payment first as an alternate to the snowball plan as the smallest loan and largest interest may not be one in the same.

Deferment and Forbearance

How many of you have had a friend tell you, “apply for deferment and pay it back later when you are making more money!” While that sounds great and simple, it’s not quite a great as it sounds. Deferment and forbearance are a way for you to put off repayment of your loans, true, but what they don’t tell you is during that time if you are not making interest payments, those loans will continue to grow, adding all those interest payments to your principal amount when your deferment period is up, leaving you with an even greater amount to pay back. Avoid this at all costs.

Half of the battle against student loans is simply understanding your enemy. Instead of the out of sight, out of mind philosophy, take an active role in tackling those student loans. Try to stay away from the stories online about how the 24 year old paid back all of their student loans in one year. Those are extremely rare situations and not typical of what a normal person can do. It can drag down your mindset and staying positive towards your progress can be a huge drive to accomplish this goal. Wondering how you are supposed to pay back your loans and take some of those life steps we talked about earlier? Check out some of Indy Wealth Solutions prior articles or contact us for a personal conversation.



What to do with your Tax Refund

We are quickly approaching that special time of year again. What time is that you ask? Tax time of course! Tax season and I have a love/hate relationship. I hate doing the paperwork to file taxes and I sure hate paying taxes, but man, I love it when I get money back in the form of a refund! Are you lucky enough to be looking forward to a tax refund check this year? If you are, lets talk about some ideas for what to do with it. No, that doesn’t mean we are going to talk about what awesome 120” TV you are going to buy or that sweet kitchen remodel that you’ve been eyeing all year. Stay with me here.


Our first stop on the not-so-fun bus ride is debt. Are you carrying some credit card balances? Maybe you have some student loans still out there. Making an extra payment to those outstanding debts can make a huge impact on the overall amount you end up paying back in the long run. Make sure those extra payments are going directly towards paying down principal amounts and not interest. Now, not all debt is the same, so if you have a home loan or car loan that is carrying a lower interest rate, say 0-5% for example, it may not make sense to use all your check on those debts. You may be able to do better with your money in another place. Which leads me to idea number two!

Retirement funds

It’s possible your money can be better used investing in the market and saving for retirement. Have you started a Roth IRA yet? If not, why not save that extra money in a place that can grow tax free, along with many other benefits. If you are under 50 years old, you are allowed to put up to $5,500 ($6500 for those over 50) into a Roth IRA account. From there you can select from thousands of investments to grow your money for the long run. Picking the right investments can help you earn more than your checking account or the interest that you pay on those low interest debts I mentioned earlier. If you don’t need the money now, put it back for your future.

Emergency Fund

Idea number three comes is hopefully something you already have established, but if you don’t, let’s talk emergency funds. What happens if you unexpectedly lose your job? Maybe you fall ill for an extended period of time or your car breaks down. Where you do you come up with the funds to cover you and your family. Most advisors recommend keeping back three to six months of your fixed living expenses back in an emergency fund for these cases. I know, not a sexy option, but a very important one.

Fun money

Have a project you have been thinking about doing at your house? What about a big trip you’ve always wanted to take? A lot of us have some ideas for things you want to do in the next few years, but we aren’t always sure where we will come up with the money to do them. Think about starting a fun money fund in a brokerage account. Like a savings account, a brokerage account allows you to put money back for later, but where it differs is the ability to choose your investments. Bank savings accounts carry an interest rate that is determined by the bank, based on what interest they can earn on your dollars. A brokerage account lets you choose stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, etc… to invest your money in. Choosing the right options for your goals will hopefully lead to earning more than your standard savings account and help you do some of the fun things you would like to accomplish.

Tax refunds can be a great tool to help stabilize your financial well being if you are smart with them and these are just a few ideas of how you can utilize yours. I know the temptation is there to blow it on a down payment for a new car or that pool you’ve always wanted to put it, but think outside the box a little bit and you may be able to make that tax refund go a lot further. Consider talking with a professional advisor to help you decide what path is right for you this tax season!

Understanding Bitcoin

It’s all over the news. Everyone is talking about Bitcoin. What is it? Where does it come from? Why is it so popular? Your neighbor, mailman, priest, and mother are all buying into the cryptocurrency and talking to you about it every chance they get! Even some exchanges are starting to allow bitcoin trading and futures contracts. But why? Some think it is a complete fad and will blow over. It’s time to break down what it is, why its popular, as well as some of the pros/cons.

Let’s talk a little history. Bitcoin came around in early 2009. It had no real value at this point as no one had made any transactions. That is until 2010 when the first Bitcoin transaction occurred, two pizzas for 10,000 Bitcoin. It quickly had a lot of ups and downs. Unfortunately, it was a great way for illegally traded goods to be bought and sold online. Why you might ask? Bitcoin transactions were virtually impossible to trace.

What is Bitcoin anyway? It’s a digital currency that can be used as a substitute for the dollar (or any other accepted currency) to purchase goods or services. They are created by a process called “mining” for a decentralized network. Basically, that means a system of computers process Bitcoin transactions by working algorithms, for which they receive a Bitcoin payment. This takes a lot of computing power, so there haven’t been a ton of miners available. Like any other currency, it has value because it has gained popularity and acceptance in exchange for goods. Gold being physical commodity gave it value through history. Until 1971, the US Dollar was backed by a gold standard, since then it has been backed by the “full faith and credit” of the US Government, giving it value. Unlike the dollar or gold, there is nothing ‘backing” Bitcoin; it is decentralized and limited, capping the total Bitcoin available. The government is still working through the best ways to track and tax Bitcoin transactions as well, making it more popular.

Are there pros to Bitcoin? There are. Since there are no personal information exchanged during a Bitcoin transaction, it becomes extremely difficult for identity theft to occur. Fees are low or non-existent in a Bitcoin transaction as well, easing international transactions across markets. It is also decentralized, meaning it isn’t controlled by the government, allowing for a more “free market” exchange of goods and services. Having a currently finite amount of Bitcoin available helps to regulate inflation as well.

There are some downsides to Bitcoin. The easiest to notice is the extreme volatility of the currency. Just recently, we have seen it hit new highs only to lose over 15% the next day. In it’s earlier days, it has lost nearly all its value in an incredibly short amount of time. On the flip side, it has made tremendous gains in a short amount of time as well. It is also susceptible to hacking. Not only have the main Bitcoin exchanges been hacked, your personal “wallet” can be hacked, allowing tech savvy criminals access to your money supply. Although every transaction is tracked, refunds of Bitcoin are difficult. Only the other person you made that transaction with can refund your specific bitcoins, opening the market for scams and frauds all over the world. As it gets more popular, it is inevitable that more government regulation will come. Once that occurs, people may lose all interest in Bitcoin, devaluing your stash. They could also outright deem it worthless and in an instant, the Bitcoin market can be gone. With more regulation, we could see high taxes or fees start to climb into the fray as well.

Right now, Bitcoin must be treated with caution. It’s still young and gaining traction with businesses and governments, but the extreme volatility doesn’t make it an ideal place to invest. We don’t know day to day, what the value will be and don’t have much in the way of predicting what will happen down the road. Just like the lottery or a casino, don’t rely on Bitcoin to be your only investment for the future. Contact a financial professional with questions about Bitcoin and if it could be a good fit for you.

Holiday Money Guide

  Holiday season is here. The sale signs are up and the Black Friday ads are flying. First things first though, don’t forget about Thanksgiving. Take a second while you are eating your turkey dinner to give thanks to those people and opportunities that have helped to get you where you are. Enjoy the time off work and spend it with those you care about most. Take that extra time to relax, but don’t nap on your finances! The holiday season always seems to be a time when we not only put on our stretchy pants, but we tend to stretch our budget too. What can you do to keep control of your money this season?

Sometimes I sound like a broken record, but start with a plan! Let’s look at it like a goal setting exercise.  Be specific, realistic, and measurable. Be specific who you are planning to gift to, what you would like to get for them, and how much you are going to spend. Being specific can control your tendency to impulse buy when you are surrounded by the Holiday “deals” stores set out, ultimately keeping us within budget.

Be realistic about your budget and how many people we are looking to give gifts to. We’d all love to buy the most amazing gift for our loved ones, but at the same time, we need to also keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. Let’s say you are planning to spend $50 per gift, $500 can be gone before you know it. Those cousins that you only see this time of year may have to be happy with a family picture or some baked goods! Don’t let holiday gifting keep you from meeting your personal financial goals for the year.

Measure your progress along the way. Take inventory of what you have already purchased, how much it cost, and how much of your budget is left. Remember when your parents taught you to balance a checkbook? Same concept here. Do not wait until you have bought all your gifts to consult your original budget. Take advantage of tools like that will allow you to create budget items like shopping and will track your purchases against that budget. You can always do it the old school way with a paper and calculator too, no one is stopping you. If half way through your list of people you’ve already spent your allotted budget, you may have to make some returns or prioritize your remaining list.

Avoid the Black Friday sale environment at all costs. Majority of the items in a black Friday sale are something you don’t even want or need, but you will buy it because it seems like a good deal in that environment. Keep yourself away from the psychological warfare stores use to prey on your wallet. On top of those random items you buy, you are more likely to eat out at a restaurant you hadn’t planned to before as well while you are out shopping.

Consider something other than the normal store-bought gift. Maybe that loved one would appreciate a new experience that you do together rather than a new shirt. Try finally doing that cooking class together you always talk about! As cousin Eddie would say, that’s a gift that keeps on giving the whole year. Charitable gifts are also a good option. A gift to the local humane society on behalf of your dog loving family member could mean the world to them. It can also be a good gift for yourself come tax time, helping to reduce those “gifts” to the government.

This season doesn’t have to break your bank. Be specific with your list, realistic with your budget, and track your progress along the way. Seems simple right!? At the end of the day, remember to reflect on this year’s accomplishments, spend some quality time with family and friends, and enjoy some time away from work. Happy Holidays!

Tips to Plan Your Next Trip


The air is starting to chill, and the sun is setting earlier. Are you starting to
dream of the beach yet? As we get closer to winter, more and more people start wishing they could get away from the cold weather. After sharing pictures of our recent trip to Italy, it left me wondering why more people don’t travel. Most of the time, it comes down to time and money, which are both controllable inputs in the vacation equation. What are some easy things you can do to start planning your next trip before it gets too cold?

If you aren’t sure where to even begin looking for places to go and how much things may cost, think about talking with a travel agent. I think we all may have a few wrong ideas about working with one. According to Jill Hiatt at Hiatt Magical Vacations, “I feel a few misconceptions would be that people feel they can’t afford to travel and that is the first thing I ask families, budget!! I can work with almost any budget for planning trips. Travel agents are free to use and we are constantly watching for deals to share with our clients! We are also available 24 hours a day when our clients are traveling. We are here to help make their trips seamless and wonderful!”  Take advantage of their expertise to get the best deals and hit all the items on your wish list. They can also make sure that you stay within your means or find a comparable destination you may not know about that falls in line with your budget better.

What’s the best way to save for the trip? Do you just stash money away in a savings account? Maybe. What if you could earn more on that cash in the time before you want to start using it. Let’s say you want to take this trip in 18 months. You could consider looking at investing some of your travel budget. If it fits in your risk tolerance and time horizon, you may be able to earn more in bond fund or CD, rather than leaving it in your checking/savings account. If you know you aren’t going to go on the trip for a longer period of time, you may be able to be more aggressive with your investment. It could be the difference in adding that extra experience on your vacation that you couldn’t afford before.

Do you use a credit card? Does it offer travel points? If not, find a card that caters to what you really enjoy spending your money on. Then use your card for expenses you know you have every month like your gas or groceries. Make sure you pay off the balance and start accumulating those points! Not sure what fits best? Check out, to start finding the right card for you. They research and categorize cards based on what you are looking to accomplish. From there they can even help start the sign-up process.

What about expensive air fare and hotel costs? If you are willing to have a layover, that can drastically reduce your cost. Often there is a flight going to another city, but has a layover in the place you really want to be. This flight could be drastically cheaper than the direct flight to your desired local.  Instead of booking hotels, check out something like Airbnb or VRBO to find lodging. We were able to book most of our stay in Italy for around $100 a night, which still seems crazy to me! There are plenty of options to bring down your cost of lodging. If working with a travel agent like Jill, packaging everything together can help to reduce your cost as well.

Taking a big trip doesn’t have to break your budget. With proper planning, you can pay for it over time before you leave, leaving you to just plan for spending money when you actually go. Your dream trip may not be such a dream after all. Touch base with a professional advisor to help you get started on your tailored plan.

What does the new DOL Fiduciary Rule mean for you?

By now you have probably heard a little bit about a new fiduciary rule that has started to take affect as of June 9th. Political and market talking heads have been discussing it for more than a year now. There are always two sides to any story so let’s clear up some of the conversation to help everyone understand just what it will mean for you.

What is a Fiduciary?

What is a fiduciary to begin with? In simple terms, it is someone who takes a position of trust with one or more people. In this case, it is someone with whom you trust to watch over your assets. You may be thinking to yourself, “well, that means any financial professional is a fiduciary, right?” Not necessarily. Prior to the change in regulation, most financial professionals were only held to a suitability standard. They were required to make sure an investment recommendation was “suitable” for you, normally based on a risk tolerance questionnaire or something along those lines. While this can make sense, it didn’t necessarily keep a financial professional from selling you an investment that earned them a higher commission. A fiduciary on the other hand, is required to put the best interest of the client ahead of their own, while factoring in things like risk tolerance, time horizon, and fees to make sure that an investment is in the best interest of the client.


The new rule that is being rolled out states that anyone advising on retirement assets is required to now follow the legal and ethical standards of a fiduciary advisor. The purpose of the change is to reduce the conflicts of interest for advisors working with retirement assets, protecting clients from being overcharged or put into bad investments that could negatively impact their retirement savings. One example would be an advisor that earns their money based on commissioned trades. That advisor then has an incentive to change investments more frequently than may be needed for a client, earning them a higher commission.

The Good

The overall idea behind the change in rules is good. Clients are trusting advisors to help them make the best choices when managing their retirement assets. We are looked to as a knowledgeable and trusted partner in their financial lives. It makes sense that advisors put the best interest of their clients first. It should help provide transparency in the way clients are charged and help create confidence that they are getting the best advice for their personal situation.

The Bad

As with any change in regulation, this rule change is not without some downside. One being it is going to cost firms a significant amount of money to maintain compliance. You may think that’s not such a bad thing because they make so much money anyway, what’s a little extra of their revenues, but that extra cost could do some harm. Think about it in terms of shipping. Say a company delivers product to big and small stores all over the country. Now, the price of gas has gone up meaning it will cost them more to ship their product out. They could raise the price of their product to offset their increased gas cost, which could put them out of competition with their competitors, or they could quit shipping to smaller stores and only focus on their large stores that sell the most product. Most likely, they will cut out the smaller stores that aren’t as cost effective for them to ship to. In our case, this could mean that smaller clients could lose access to professional advisors. Companies may say it no longer makes sense for them to work with people that have less than $100,000 for example, because the cost associated per client is more than what they earn on those smaller accounts. This idea is backed up by a U.S. Chamber of Commerce report that states service fees in retirement accounts could rise as much as 200%, up to 7 million individuals may lose access to investment advice, and 70% of insurance service providers already have or are considering exiting the market for small IRAs and small plans.

What does it mean for you?

All things being equal, it should mean that you get better advice tailored to your personal needs, without the risk of being taken advantage of in terms of commissions and fees. It will open more conversation between clients and advisors which is always a good thing. On the downside, it could change your relationship with your current advisor. It will most likely mean a little more paperwork coming your way when working with your advisor or it could prompt a change all together.


The idea of having more advisors working as fiduciaries is a good idea. I feel its is our job as advisors to make sure we are doing the best thing for clients. It’s a significant change in the industry, meant to do a lot of good. We all know that regulations always take time to sort themselves out to be the most effective for everyone, but this is a move towards making the industry better for clients. It will cause some headaches on both sides of the partnership between clients and advisors. As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.” There is plenty more to talk about in terms of the Fiduciary Rule change and Indy Wealth Solutions is here to help answer those questions.


Is Owning a Home for You?

Financials of Owning a Home

Owning a home is exciting. It’s a staple of the American dream and a rite of passage into the adult world. It seems more difficult than ever for people to take that next step to home ownership. How are you supposed to afford a home at such a large price? How are you supposed to understand all of those terms of a mortgage? Why does owning a home make sense anyway? Let’s dive in to start clearing some of these questions up.

Buying vs Renting

Have you sat down recently to consider the costs of renting a home compared to buying? I’m not just talking about the dollars to rent compared to a mortgage, which will normally surprise you how much you can afford to buy for the rent you are paying, but I’m talking about the opportunity cost in missed equity growth. How much are you paying in rent each month for an asset you will never see a return from? A house can become an asset you can take advantage of later in life. It could be an asset that helps fund your retirement. A lot of people will decide to downsize in their retirement phase because they no longer need the space. You now can use the equity you have earned in the home as an asset to help you travel or supplement an income. Renting is like that tux you get for a wedding. It doesn’t quite fit, it’s not yours to tailor, and you hope you don’t spill too much wine on it because it will cost you a lot when you give it back.

What is Equity?

Everyone always talks about the equity you can earn in a home, but what is it really? It is the fair market value of your home above what you still owe on the property. So roughly speaking, if you own a home worth $200,000 on the market now and you still owe $130,000, you would have $70,000 of equity in your home. What can you use that for? A lot of things. Most will use it for improvements to their home, like a new kitchen or bathroom, maybe even a pool. That may not be the best use of that equity as you normally won’t see that return in value for what you put into the upgrades. One possibility could be paying off other debt. Do you still have credit card debt lingering out there? What about multiple car loans? That speed boat you bought last summer? Compare the interest rates on those loans to the interest you would pay on a home equity line of credit. It could make sense to use your equity to consolidate your debt and create one payment a month at a lower interest rate. Another way to get access to your equity could be through a refinancing of your mortgage. Let’s use that same example as above. You could use a cash-out refinancing for say $150,000 that would replace your original loan with a new one, hopefully at a lower rate, and allow you to access $20,000 of the cash value of your equity in the home. Talk with an advisor to see which option would be best for you.

Saving for a Home

The idea of needing 20% of the home value as a down payment is a thing of the past. There are a lot of options for purchasing a home with less up front. Now, with that said, the more you are able to put down at the beginning, the better it will be for you in the long run. Paying more down now leads to quicker growth in equity, but more importantly, less in interest payments over the life of your mortgage. How do you start to save for that down payment? Start with the basics. Put away an extra twenty dollars each week. When you get used to living without that, gradually increase that amount. Where are you saving that money? Savings accounts are still paying relatively low interest rates so what do you do with your cash to help it grow? I would suggest considering a taxable brokerage account that would allow you to invest those funds. You don’t necessarily have to get aggressive with your investments, but even earning two percent could put you ahead of what you would earn in your bank’s savings account.

Understand your Mortgage

Much like anything else that has to do with finance, mortgages come with a lot of technical jargon that can sometimes be hard to understand. Ask for more details when you are looking at your mortgage options to find the right fit for you. Do you need a thirty-year mortgage or could you afford a fifteen-year instead? Are they offering a fixed rate or a variable rate that could fluctuate year to year? Watch for balloon payments. How much can you even afford in a monthly payment? Most advisors would recommend you don’t exceed 28% of your income before taxes. That house you really love could really squeeze your monthly budget if you aren’t careful. Know what you can afford and don’t forget to consider taxes and insurance costs as well.

Owning a home can be a great adventure and a useful tool for your financial growth. Like many other avenues, it isn’t necessarily right for everyone. Before you take the leap to own or decide you can’t afford it, talk with an advisor to help you sort through where you are.

Financial Spring Cleaning

It’s that time of year again. Time to clean and organize the house. Open the windows and let in some fresh air. Why not do the same for your finances? Just like your home, after being closed up all winter, your finances can use a quick dusting and organizing. It can feel pretty cluttered at first, but can easily be refreshed.

Reviewing last year’s budgeting and goals

Did spend more than you made? How about that emergency savings account you wanted to get established? Were you able to put anything away for that vacation you want to take? Start by reviewing how effective you were last year to put things into perspective. Sometimes it can be the rough wake up call you need to jumpstart a change. If you weren’t able to reach your goal, diagnose the issue to make sure you move in the right direction going forward. What were some targets that you hit? Continue to build on those successes and take a moment to reflect on how you accomplished them.

Checking in on your Investments

Review your company plan to see how much you contributed, how much your company contributed for you, and how did those investments perform. Hopefully, most of your growth in the account didn’t just come from new contributions. Check your portfolio against a benchmark that closely matches your asset breakdown. It doesn’t make sense to compare your moderate risk portfolio against the S&P 500 index performance. Make sure to also compare your performance against your personal rate of return expectation. What’s that? This is the return that you need to average over the long term to meet your goals. It’s possible you could only need to have a return of 5% over the long term to meet your end goal. When you see an 7% return in your portfolio, you can be happy knowing you outpaced your needed return, even if it isn’t quite as high as some other investments out there. Keep things in perspective and geared towards your personal plan.

Adjusting your tax withholding

Everyone loves getting a tax return this time of year. It’s a great boost after a long winter and holiday season that drained your funds. Have you ever thought about why you get that return? It’s actually due to overpaying taxes throughout the year. Not only does it mean you took home less throughout the year, but you gave it to the government as a short term loan! Consider adjusting the withholding on your paycheck to better align with what you would truly owe. It could be costing you more earnings and savings down the road. You could be contributing a little more towards your retirement plans or maybe starting a side investment account. You may be eligible to put that extra cash in a Roth style account that allows for tax free growth. Are you still carrying student loans? That extra money could be going towards paying down those debts and save you precious money in interest over the long term.

Set expectations for the year

Look to set some new goals that are attainable and measurable. If your goals are too drastic of a change from your previous year, you may not achieve them. On the flip side, if they are too simple, it could be too little to effect a larger change in your financial well being. A little extra saving can go a long way. For example, with an average 6% return, putting away an extra $50 each month over the next 30 years can help you have an extra $50,000 later in life. That could mean a simple goal of eating out one less night a month.

Spring cleaning never sounds fun, but it doesn’t have to be as taxing as you think. Take an hour while you are watching your favorite show on Netflix to review your previous year, set some new goals, and adjust your plan according. You never know, maybe you’ll look back and find that you achieved everything you had hoped and if nothing else, this exercise can help you carry that momentum through the rest of the year. Consider consulting with a professional planner to help make sure you are utilizing the best avenues to make your money work for you and shed light on any gaps you may not know about. Talk with Indy Wealth Solutions to get started.


Taking Control of Your Retirement

First things first, take a moment to congratulate yourself on the great milestone ahead. You’ve put in the time and had a great career. Look back at all you have accomplished up to this point and all of the hard work it took to get here. On top of all of the hard work, it takes a lot of selflessness to have done everything you have at work and in your personal life, so now it’s time to think about you.
What does retirement look like? Is it fishing trips and a vacation home? Maybe it simply means being able to spend more time with your children and grandchildren. Whatever retirement may look like for you, it will certainly take some planning to make sure you are successful and able to do the things that you have been dreaming about. Let’s talk about a few items to help you take control of your retirement.

Understand Social Security

Retirement doesn’t mean you have to automatically start drawing from Social Security. In fact, in a lot of cases, it will make more sense to hold off even as little as two years before you start drawing. Each year of deferral after age 62 will increase the amount you are able to withdraw. You can continue to defer until age 70, when you will be forced to begin taking Social Security payments. A basic example from the Social Security Agency shows that waiting until age 70 can equate to a 76% higher withdraw amount than if you were to start at age 62. You also need to consider what will be the best option if you are married. Delaying now, could mean leaving your spouse with a greater amount should you pass first. All of these numbers are based on your full retirement age, which has been increasing in recent years and is based on when you were born. Check to see when this will be for you.

Utilizing your retirement plans

What happens with your company sponsored retirement plan now that you aren’t working any longer? You have a few options to consider. You can start drawing from these plans like an annuity, which will provide you with a set amount each month or you may have the option to take a lump sum from the plan. This lump sum amount is yours to do with as you please. The option to roll the lump sum to an IRA opens you up to choosing new investments that can allow for continued growth, while also allowing you to draw income you need to sustain your lifestyle. You may also consider converting these assets to a Roth platform as well. While this is a taxable event, it could make more sense to pay taxes on those dollars now versus later when you are withdrawing the funds. Consider the known tax brackets you fall in today with the unknown of future tax situations when working through this option. Do you feel you are in a lower/higher bracket now than you may be in the future?

Replacing your income stream

One of the most important aspects of a successful retirement is planning where your income will come from to cover your expenses. Normally this is a combination of plans coming together to help you have enough to sustain yourself. It could be income from Social Security, drawing from your retirement accounts, savings accounts you have accumulated, rental property, or money from downsizing homes. In a lot of cases, individuals will find some type of part-time work consulting in their previous employment field or starting a small business they’ve always dreamed about. Finding the right strategy to utilize one of these, let alone a combination of these income streams can be extremely difficult and you can truly benefit from partnering with a professional advisor. The general rule of thumb expectation of a four percent withdrawal rate from your retirement accounts is being reconsidered by many advisors. You’ll be hard pressed to find two advisors with the same strategy, so do your due diligence to find the right fit for you.

Don’t forget about healthcare

Health care is confusing enough during your working years. Don’t forget to sign up for Medicare at 65 years old. Delaying could result in a penalty for late filing. To fill the gaps in Medicare coverage you may need to consider supplemental and prescription drug plans. On top of your normal medical coverage, think about options for paying for some type of assisted living down the road. Typical Medicare/Medicade will not cover all of your expenses for long term care or may only cover them for a short period of time. While no one wants to think about having to go down that path, it can be an extremely expensive piece to pay for out of pocket.


With our lifespans continuing to lengthen, having a proper plan is more important than ever to make sure we don’t outlive our assets. While I’ve only covered a few high level points here, there are many more in depth items to discuss. No two individuals or families are the same and as such, neither are their retirement plans. What may work for your best friend or family member, may not be the right choice for you. Indy Wealth Solutions is here to partner with you to work through these details, finding the best path for you and your family.