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Insights


Consumption and Lifestyle - the Fulcrum

Third Quarter 2019|Jim Williams| One of the most pertinent subjects that we address in the practice of financial planning is lifestyle (level of spending, primarily on consumption). It is of central importance to the planning process since the relationship between spending and resources available is the ultimate key to long-term financial security. At a fundamental level, savings is the difference between what we produce and what we consume; assuming the production is greater than the consumption.

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The Value of Waiting - Social Security

Second Quarter 2018|Jim Williams| In considering claiming strategies for Social Security, one can consider many factors, including other resources, age, age of spouse, level of benefit, spouses own benefits, health, estate desires, tax effects, effects on Medicare Premiums, etc. One of the most common processes is to try to predict one's life span in order to maximize the total benefit over that interval. This method boils down to the following general rule: If you live long, it pays to wait; if you live short, it pays to not wait. Problem is, we don't know, for the most part, whether we will live long or short. Also, other considerations may outweigh simple maximization.

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Equifax - Oh Dear

Third Quarter 2017|Jim Williams| The breach of the Equifax credit reporting database that occurred several months ago exposed the personal information of almost half of the US population. This event has raised the risk level on personal privacy; exposure of personally identifiable information and identity theft. While it may seem that much personal information is already exposed in a number of ways, and that efforts to minimize exposure may be futile, we believe strongly that it is prudent to take all reasonable measures to maintain information security.

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Reverse Mortgages

Third Quarter 2016|Jim Williams| We have begun to reconsider the use of reverse mortgages. This has been an "against the grain" exercise since we have always preferred to leave the home equity in our plans for clients so that even at an advanced age and out of money, the client would still have the equity in their home to fall back on as a last resort. The availability and continued evolution of reverse mortgages, or Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM's), have prompted us to refine our thinking on this issue. The conventional wisdom has been that reverse mortgages are for use as a last-resort. Last resort situations can still be a reason to take out a HECM, but other uses may make the HECM attractive as well.

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Technology - Convenience versus Security

Second Quarter 2015|Jim Williams| The transition from paper documents to electronic documents is but one piece of the technology landscape. The changes brought about through networking, first local, then through the internet have been really astounding. The internet extends the user's reach around the world, and extends the user's access to information and services beyond the wildest dreams of even 25 years ago. The good news is that you may be able to reach around the world. The bad news is that criminals around the world may be able to reach you. Incidence of cyber-crime is increasing, and criminals are getting more sophisticated and reaching out from farther away. Here are some thoughts on security we think are worth considering.

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Positives of Aging

Fourth Quarter 2014|Jim Williams| As we age, we experience a constant and continuous and increasing series of losses. Some of the losses, like loss of a parent or sibling or a spouse, are substantial and significant. Some losses are pretty minor, but in aggregate, become substantial. Gradual loss of physical strength and endurance, loss of recuperative powers, and lower energy levels are minor on a daily basis, but cumulatively represent fairly large transitions. Each of us can formulate his or her own approach to dealing with aging. This can run the gamut from denial to acceptance, from passivity to frantic exercise; from withdrawal to energetic engagement. I think a large part of how we approach aging is based on how we frame and understand the aging process.

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