Organizing Your Financial Documents

shj122716_organizing_financial_documents_blog_imageWhen it comes to important documents, some people are detailed filers and others are “organized pilers”. You know where your documents are, but does anybody else? In an emergency or the event of your incapacity, could your adult children or designated Power of Attorney quickly find the documents and information that they need? Whether you choose to go electronic or stick with paper, there are a couple of steps to follow to organize your financial documents.

Stay Protected
If you make the shift to paperless with your documents, be sure that your home network is secure and that the documents and your personal computer are password protected. Be sure to quickly update the password that is automatically assigned to you during a new internet installation. Periodically update your antivirus software and make sure you have a firewall. If you receive account statements and notifications electronically, consider changing your password every six months to a year, and never access your financial information on a public network! When storing documents electronically, you can either save them locally on your computer or research websites that offer services to store and organize your important documents in one place.

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New Year, New Goals: Evaluate Your Finances and Make a Plan for 2017

shj121916_new_years_resolution_blog_image2016 has been a whirlwind of a year, but hopefully not on your finances. Life changes and with it come new expenses or new financial goals. It’s important to regularly check in on your finances to ensure you are staying on track. What better time than the new year?

Here are 5 things to review as we move into 2017:

Income and expenses
The key to managing a spending plan is knowing how much money is coming in and how much is going out. As we head into the new year, review your pay stubs, earnings reports and other sources of income and crunch some numbers. Once you’ve figured out your income, do the same with your expenses.

Try out an online budget tool or use online banking to automatically categorize your expenses so you can see where you are spending the most. Pull up your budget from last year to see what may have changed and adjust as needed. Remember to be realistic about how much you will spend, not how much you want to spend.

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The Future of Retail: 3 Predictions for What’s to Come

shj120616_retail_future_in_america_blog1 in 3 online retail transactions happen on a mobile phone (source). Consumers are flocking to the convenience of online shopping. For example, Amazon Prime gives consumers free two-day shipping on purchases and some apps provide same day delivery of items.

We’ve seen major retailers, Sports Authority for example, experience difficulty when faced with online competition. Will this trend continue or will brick and mortar find a way to survive? With the prevalence of online shopping, what will retail look like in the future?

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Should I Consider a Partial Roth Conversion?

shj113016_roth_conversionsIn a world filled with IRAs, 401(k)s, and brokerage accounts, what is the appeal of a Roth IRA? Unlike a traditional IRA, when funds are withdrawn from a Roth IRA account they are tax free because taxes have already been paid on the money at the time contributions were made. With the traditional IRA, funds are contributed pre-tax so when money is withdrawn from the account it is taxable at ordinary income rates. So the question becomes, pay tax now or later?

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If A Significant Other Isn’t Truthful About Finances

photo-1443130128240-22fb98ca70a4Many of us are well aware of the emotional strain caused by infidelity in a relationship, but not as many are aware of the emotional strain caused by financial infidelity. However, this seems to be a growing problem in the United States. The National Foundation for Financial Education® (NEFE®) conducted a poll in early 2016, digging into the details of the presence of financial infidelity in households across the nation. “Among U.S. adults, 42 percent admit to financial infidelity compared to 33 percent just two years ago. The survey also finds that when financial deceptions occur, 75 percent say there is an effect on the relationship.” (Source)

You may be asking yourself, “What exactly qualifies as financial infidelity?” Financial infidelity has been defined as “…the secretive act of spending money, possessing credit and credit cards, holding secret accounts or stashes of money, borrowing money, or otherwise incurring debt unknown or unwilling to one’s spouse, partner, or significant other. Financial infidelity in a relationship may also include any financial decision(s) made by a partner that may effect, burden, strain or set back the financial planning of the relationship.” (Source)

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3 Steps to Take Immediately After You Discover Your Identity was Stolen

shj110716_stolen_identity_blog_image-2Identity theft is much more common than any of us would like to think. In 2014, 32 data records were lost or stolen every second! (source) We have written about how to protect yourself in the past and recommend reading it again if it’s been a while. That said, sometimes no amount of protection can completely prevent identity theft.

Here are the first 3 things you should do if you suspect your identity has been stolen:

Lock down Your Account(s)
No matter how you discover your stolen identity, through a phone call from your bank or a database breach, the very first thing you need to do is lock down your problem account(s). Contact your financial institution and ask to either lock or close the account. You can usually roll the funds into another account or create a new one. Continue reading

Retirement Plans for Small Businesses

shj_small_business_retirement_plans_blog_imageSmall business owners have several options for choosing the right retirement plan. When deciding which plan is best, factors you should consider are how many employees you have and how are they paid? How much do you want to contribute to the plan for yourself or your partners, as business owners, as well as for your employees? Do you want to use the plan to attract future employees or for its tax advantages? Three retirement plans to consider are a SEP IRA, Simple IRA, and 401(k). Continue reading