By Bertram Financial
Most financial plans today are nothing more than sales gimmicks to get you to buy a certain product or service. Your plan needs to be coordinated with all aspects of your financial life; tax planning, cash flow management (including retirement income), investment positioning, and estate preservation.
Dream RetirementJan 04, 2022
New Years Resolutions and the Balance Wheel
So, the time for New Year's resolutions is here. Everybody is talking about New Year's resolutions.
Now, while most New Year's resolutions fail, I think it is important to always have goals and be striving for something at any point in time of our life and in different areas in our life.
The reason most goals fall is that we try to do too much. We're trying to, you know, maybe instead of trying to lose 20 pounds, we have to cut it back and do 5, but once you get 5 you can get 10, and once you get 10 you can get 15.
It's cutting it back into smaller chunks and really making it so that not only do we have a goal, but we have an attainable way to get there, and we also have to be prepared for setbacks along the way.
Gifts For You – New Webinars with Special Guests
Do you know the 12 Days of Christmas actually starts on Christmas Day?
So really, we're still celebrating the Christmas season and with that thought, we want to roll out some special Christmas gifts to you and your family and friends.
We have recently partnered with a best-selling author, PBS host, Tom Hegna.
He was seen by millions of homes on his PBS special for years and he has written multiple books on retirement.
We are proud to partner with him on two new webinars created as a gift to you this Christmas season.
View the full blog here.
Hope. As I reflect on Christmas, and the meaning of Christmas, hope is a word that keeps resonating with me.
Maybe that's because there's a lot of areas in life right now that maybe feel hopeless or where we need help.
Check out this week's article to hear more 👇
3 Unique Gift Ideas
The countdown to Christmas has begun. Do you have your Christmas shopping done? I know it's said that it's more blessed to give than to receive, but sometimes it feels challenging to figure out what gift is right. Christmas is only a couple of weeks away. I cannot believe it. December is flying by! While you might be thinking of a few year-end things you need to do financially, more than likely, shopping and getting ready for Christmas is what's on your mind. So, I wanted to share today a few Christmas gift ideas that maybe you hadn't thought about, unique gifts for those hard-to-get people or ideas if you are tired of buying that are going to be put inside and not used.
Long Term Care Awareness
This week I thought we would take the time to talk about the three biggest misconceptions we, as financial advisors, see around long term care. Just because it’s in a trust does not mean it’s protected from long term care.
The biggest thing we want to reiterate as we close National Long Term Care Awareness money is that you can smartly protect yourself and, smartly self-insure with one of the win-win-win type policies.
Happy Thanksgiving - Do You Need An Indian?
What's the best way for you to invest to get the harvest you want?
Maybe you are working and saving now to prepare for retirement in the future. You need to know what seeds to plant and how to care for them to bring you the retirement harvest to meet your needs.
Maybe you are almost at retirement and you're just trying to figure out how to make sure that your harvest is enough, that your retirement income is enough to be able to do what you want to do to have that.
Either way, you're probably looking for that financial security that you're going to have enough not just to survive, but you live your dreams!
View the full article here.
New Opportunity for Lazy Money
With the economic concerns, people want to make sure they have money available to them, and yet they’re being penalized by doing it. Really, they are losing money safely.
You may earn enough to buy a candy bar if that’s about it.
And all of those accounts, CDs, savings, and money markets, you’re also being taxed on anything you do earn. That may seem irrelevant because you’re not making much, but when you add in that and you add in the inflation woes, the truth is you’re really losing money safely.
So if you have a CD or a money market or savings account, or a brokerage account that is trying to be very conservative and you are making less than 3% then this is for you.
ESTATE TAX CHANGES AND BENEFICIARY MISTAKES
Before I get into talking about the estate tax changes, I just want to take a minute and kind of define the term beneficiary.
Often when we think about a beneficiary, we just think about who’s going to get the money when we’re gone.
But if you really think about it, the meaning of beneficiary is who is benefiting from …
Who’s the beneficiary of what you have worked hard for and saved for?
Hopefully, the first beneficiary is you!
You’ve spent the time, the energy, the money, working in your career, or building a business, or running the farm. The point is, you’ve spent that time to build up what you have, and so the beneficiary of everything, first and foremost, should be you.
But if we continue that in that thought when we think about setting up beneficiaries.
Who do you want to benefit from your hard work, your sweat, and tears, your diligence and saving?
Personally, I want my kids to benefit from my work. I also want the beneficiaries to also be my kids in Haiti. They’re benefiting from our hard work, not just mine, but other people that are donating to them.
So when you think of a beneficiary, it’s who’s benefiting from it and you, of course, should be the first beneficiary.
How the $3.5 Trillion Bill Affects Your Retirement
You've probably already heard lots of talk about the $3.5 trillion spending bill being talked about in Washington right now, and you might have wondered how it's going to impact you.
Risks and How To Protect Your Money & Retirement Income - Part 2
There's a lot of risk in retirement for sure, and sometimes you're tricked into thinking you are safe or that something you're invested in is safe or protected when it's not.
You don't want to be tricked with your retirement.
Make sure that you are protected and that your retirement accounts are protected from all the risks that are out there.
Risks and How To Protect Your Money and Retirement Income
When we talk about risk to your retirement, oftentimes people just think in terms of market risk, and while that is actually a big risk, there are really four different big types of risks and each one of these types includes multiple risks.
For instance, you have equity risk, which is the risk most of us think or you might say stock market risk.
But in equity risk, you also have currency risk and business risk.
Does Indexing Work?
There is an indexing strategy where no matter if the market is up or if the market is down, you win.
So what is indexing? Does it work as an investment strategy? How does it work?
Let’s first define two ways of indexing.
Is Life Insurance Expensive?
In honor of National Life Insurance Awareness Month, I want to spend some time today talking about the different types of life insurance and a few of the different reasons why we might want to use each type
Success is defined in many ways, but I would say for someone to be successful, one of the traits that they have to have is a good work ethic.
If they’re not committed and don’t have a good work ethic, no matter which way you define success, you’re probably not going to be successful.
So how do you know if you’re successful financially? If you’re if your money is successful?
I would say it has to have a good work ethic, but what we’re seeing is too often people have lazy money.
Information Equals Power and Sophistication
Is financial education important? How do you know your financial advisor is good?
We all know people who are book smart and common-sense stupid.
People that have all kinds of knowledge in general who you feel like they could tell you the dictionary word by word, but yet when it comes to the normal common-sense things, they can’t apply it.
So having all of the knowledge and information in the world doesn’t do us any good unless we know how to apply it and how to make it make sense for us in our situations.
Truthfully, I’d rather have somebody who is street-smart with me rather than someone who is just book-smart.
The thing about being book-smart is that they can’t apply it. The same is true for every other area of our
life, including our financial life.
Professional Management Equals Better Returns
We’re continuing our series on common portfolio wisdom where we’re examining things that have often been said and looking at it to see if it’s really true or a half-truth.
What we’re covering today is whether professional management always equals better returns.
A professional singer is always going to be better than me. We think because we have professional management, we’re going to get better returns.
But the fact of the matter is that that doesn’t always work.
There are always different market strategies like modern portfolio theory or all these different tactical management strategies and they all do well in certain markets, but the truth is that it doesn’t really matter.
It’s market trends that matter.
More Risks Equals More Returns
More risk equals more returns. This is another piece of common portfolio wisdom that we often hear from people. But is it true?
I’m not even sure it’s a half-truth, to be honest with you.
It’s really about taking the right risk because oftentimes more risk equals more losses, not necessarily more return.
Truthfully, the key to long-term investing is to avoid big losses. If you lose 30%, you have to make 43% to get back.
If you only lost 20%, you would be ahead with the lower return.
Timing Is Not the Key...Time In The Market Is
When it comes to investing in the market, you might have heard it said that timing isn’t the key, but time in the market is. We’re going to continue our series on common portfolio wisdom and talk about this.
Let’s take some time to break out these two different ideas of that.
A 5 Star Rating Equals A Good Fund
A five-star rating equals a good mutual fund. You’ve probably heard that before or might even have gone through your portfolio to see what rating your funds are and judge the strength of it based on the stars.
But is that really an accurate factor to look at?
The rating is based on a couple of things.
It is based on the quality of the management and the consistency, it judges a fund over a period of time.
Four Aspects of Your Financial Life
Tax planning, cash flow management, investment positioning, and estate preservation are four aspects of your financial life.
And while in some ways they are separate, they are all together. Everything needs to be coordinated in your financial life to really get you to where you want to go to make sure you have the financial security you’re looking for because each one of these things affects the other.
Mid-Year Market Update
It’s already July and we’re midway through 2021 so we just had a great call with our portfolio manager, Guy to talk about where the market is headed.
We’ve hit some new highs since last year when we saw some very quick market lows. The market has rebounded quickly and we’ve hit some highs this year.
The question on everyone’s mind is, “Where is it going?”
We’ve had a volatile couple of days, summer can sometimes be slower, and so on this call, we did a nice update with Guy talking about where we see the market going, where he sees the opportunity and moving forward, why it’s important to have both the human element and technology element when it comes to someone manage your money.
Retirement income planning is really important for you to have a financially secure and confident retirement. You want to know that you’re going to get that check in your mailbox, or in this day and age, deposited into your bank account every month like clockwork.
Mid-Year Tax Planning Tips
Common Portfolio Wisdom
Stocks always outperform other investments.
Is that true or not? It’s kind of one of those common portfolio wisdom things that everyone has heard and kind of takes to heart.
But the fact is, it’s really a half-truth. We live in a world where there’s unfortunately a lot of half-truths, and this is one of them.
Estate Planning Basics
This week we had a great guest on our First Friday, Peter Osman about estate planning, the different documents, the different
strategies, and some of the tools he uses.
Here’s the thing with estate planning; it is about maintaining control. If you want to always make sure you are in control of what happens to your situation, your health, your wealth, then it’s important to do estate planning. That is the only way that you can remain in control.
Above everything else, all that estate planning does is lets you remain in control of your health and your wealth.
Women and Wealth Week
We just held a week-long session called Women and Wealth Week where we discussed all the different ways that women can become involved, educated, and take part in the financials in their life. From sharing resources to having discussions with various industry professionals, the Women and Wealth Week served as a way for women to connect and get a handle on where they stand in their personal life at relates to finances, including retirement and money management.
Women, Money, Power
Whether we are intimidated or overwhelmed by it, whether we’re intrigued by it or pursue it, each one of us has a different financial personality. And with each financial personality, there’s also a different way that you need to be able to interact with an advisor.
Women and Retirement
Alianz conducted a study about Women, Money, and Power entitled Financially Smart, Financially Strong.
Power of Attorney – The Most Important Document
Why do you need a power of attorney? Let’s imagine that you have the choice of investing in two different accounts, one will turn your $50,000 into $100,000 in two years, the other will turn $50,000 into $75,000. But there is a catch… The $75,000 you can access anytime you want, but the $100,000, well if you need it, you can’t get it. Which one would you choose?
See, the most important word when it comes to your investment is not growth, is not safety, is not returns. It’s none of that. It’s access. It’s, “Do you have the access to your money when you need it the most?”
First Friday - All About Real Estate
Today we’re talking all about real estate. If you Google real estate right now you may find all kinds of things about the current housing market, how crazy it is, and how we are in this real estate bubble.
The main point that I want to bring up with all of this real estate craziness is that we need to know our current situation. We can control only what we can control and you know it's kind of one of those things that I can't worry about.
It makes me think of the Serenity prayer, right?
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
I think it's true that what I always think with that is we can't change what's going on outside.
We can't change the fact that there might be a housing bubble or that the stock market might crash.
What we can control is our situation.
Read more here:
Green Money: The Best Kept Secret In The Financial World
This week we are continuing our talk about investing safely with green money. As we continue to look at the different colors of money, this week we’ll cover green money, which includes fixed index annuities, IULs, and how you can have the best of both red and yellow money with this green money strategy which will help you with investing safely.
Let’s just imagine that you’re going to be taking a trip to Las Vegas and you get the option when you’re in these casinos to play some BlackJack.
Right now, there’s some of you who are like, “Oh my gosh, I would never gamble anything, I don’t want to play at all.”
There are others who plan to be there all the time.
And then there’s probably those of us in the middle who don’t really like to lose money, but it would be kind of fun to play and participate.
So what if I told you that there’s a BlackJack table where for every $10 bet you make if you win, you get $5 instead of the full $10, but anytime you lose, you don’t lose any money.
Now I don’t know about you, but I played that blackjack table all day long because I know I can’t lose. Yes, I might make only half as much on the upside of the bet, but I’m never going to take a downside loss. Well, that’s kind of what green money is like, which is what we’ll be talking about.
Read the full article here: https://bertramfinancial.com/green-money-the-best-kept-secret-in-the-financial-world/
Stock Market Investments: Red Money
This week we are continuing our talk about different stock market investments as we talk about red money, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, and more.
When I was a kid, I loved going on rides at fairs or amusement parks, the more spinning or going upside down, the better! I use to think that the adults that sat on the side just didn’t know how to have fun! But then I became an adult and the older I get, the less spinning I can handle! How about you?
Just like our tolerance for rides changes over time, so does our risk tolerance.
Read the full article here: https://bertramfinancial.com/stock-market-investments/
Investment Vehicles: What Is Yellow Money?
This week we’re talking about different investment vehicles. Part of that will be discussing the Colors of Money strategy what yellow money is.
My son Asa is really into playing Fortnite. You may have heard of this video game if you have any grandchildren who like to play. In this game, and like many other games, there are different worlds. This really got me thinking about how this is similar to our Colors of Money strategy. When we look at investing and retirement and we go through the Colors of Money, we are deciding where we want to “play” or in what “world” we want our money to be.
Often I will have someone ask me what the different investment choices are for them.
The fact is, there are hundreds, if not thousands different investment options.
Read the full article here: https://bertramfinancial.com/investment-vehicles-what-is-yellow-money/
401K Rollover Options
Our topic today is 401K rollover options. Recently, I’ve had quite a few people ask me, “How can I roll my 401K?” “Should I roll my 401K?” “When can I do it?” When talking about 401k rollovers, I can’t help but think of a song… Five bears in the bed and the little one said
“I’m crowded, roll over” So they all rolled over, and one fell out.
Now you might think what a silly song, but the more I think about it, it does apply. Sometimes you leave a job and leave your 401k, and then you might work at another job and leave it and before long you have all these 401ks sitting all over the place, your investment portfolio is crowded. It’s hard to be coordinated and it’s very easy for something to fall off the bed! Whether it’s just not coordinated with the rest of it your accounts or you forget you even have it! That’s probably not the best planning! But you also don’t want to roll over and lose anything. So should you roll a 401k or not?
See the full post here: https://bertramfinancial.com/401k-rollover-options/
Health Insurance Options
Welcome to our First Friday event where we’ll be talking about Health Insurance Options with Jim Crump of US Health Advisors. Oftentimes, there can be so many different health insurance options that it can be rather confusing.
Shifting Into Retirement
As people get closer to retirement, it is time to make a transition. One of those is shifting into retirement mode from active investing mode. Investment positioning can greatly affect cash flow management (aka income), especially for someone who's getting close to or in retirement. As people get closer to retirement they don't want to see those big losses.
Read this week's full blog here: https://bertramfinancial.com/shifting-into-retirement/
Building An Investment Portfolio
The simple truth is not all portfolios are not created equal. Understanding how your investment portfolio is positioned and how it can affect every other area in your financial life is really important. This goes beyond simple asset allocation, it not only involves the mix of asset categories but the what investments make up those categories in your portfolio and why.
Read this week's full blog here: https://bertramfinancial.com/building-an-investment-portfolio/
Market Update: March 2021
We have seen recent gyrations in the stock market and the bond, but nobody really pays attention to the bond market, although we should. Today we’re speaking with Mike of United Asset Strategies, and the cool thing about Mike is as good as they are on the stock equity side, they have even deeper, stronger knowledge on the fixed income or bond side.
Market volatility shakes people’s financial peace so we want to address this.
See the latest post and more information here: Market Update
Does Gold & Silver Have A Place Inside My Portfolio?
During our First Friday LIVE this past week I spoke with Ryan Long, President of National Gold Consultants in Monticello, Minnesota. We focused on gold and silver and if they might have a place inside your investment portfolio.
Why might you be interested in gold and silver as a form of investment? One thing to consider is that it is wealth insurance. When you consider traditional investments, they’re something that you trade and take out. With gold and silver, it is more of a long-term strategy. If you decide to invest this way, you’re investing for the long haul to get that protection.
I think an important thing that we keep in mind is that because gold and silver is wealth insurance it needs to be coordinated. What do I mean by that? We need to make sure that this type of investment makes sense in your overall strategy.
You can read the full blog here.
When Should I Take Social Security?
That's a question we hear often, and you may not like the answer so much. My answer is it depends.
When I say that, I often think of my kids where they ask me something all the time and the answer is often maybe.
“Mom, can we go here?” “Mom, can I do this one?” Asking something all the time where my answer often is maybe. We'll see what the day brings. We'll see if you get your work done. We'll see if you listen. Maybe is dependent upon what they do.
When we go to take social security, it depends is very much like the maybe answer. It depends on when you retire. What are your goals? There is no one perfect time that I can say that everybody should take social security.
How Can I Create Income In Retirement?
When it comes to retirement, one of the biggest challenges we have to face is how to create retirement income.
When you're working for years, one of the things that you get every couple weeks, or every month is a paycheck, right?
You become very used to that paycheck and in retirement, we're not getting that paycheck anymore, which can be scary for some of us.
Then it becomes a question of, “How do we recreate that?” How do we make sure that you’re getting a paycheck in retirement?
To see the full blog, and many other free resources, visit our website.
Tax Credits To Help Communities
Join Michelle Bertram, owner of Bertram Financial, as she discusses Tax Credits to Help Communities in 2021 with Todd Mardis. Listen to learn more about how you can take advantage of new tax credits in 2021 to help your business and communities.
State of the Market In 2021
What type of risk do you have? Are you really diversified? What type of correlation you have? How is that going to get you to meet your goals?
Listen as Michelle speaks with Jiorden Sanchez of United Asset Strategies and they discuss the state of the Market going into 2021 and how the current climate could affect your investment strategy moving forward.
What Is An Annuity?
Should I Sell?
I was just on a phone call this week reviewing a client’s portfolio and the question they asked was, “Should I sell?”
Considering all of the craziness of 2020, most accounts ended up with a gain at the end of the year. Even with the crazy downturn in the stock market in March, we saw a quick recovery, and most accounts that were in any type of growth ended the year with a gain.
Do I Need An Advisor?
Maybe you have handled all your finances up until now. You saved for retirement and now you’re wondering, do I need an advisor? Maybe this is something I don’t want to do by myself anymore.
The question becomes if I do need an advisor, what kind of advisor do I need? Is it important that they are fiduciary? What about a fee-only advisor? How do I even know who to work with?
Life's A Daring Adventure, and I'm Not Done Yet
What’s gone on in the last year? Maybe your life over the last year, your life up until this point, especially if you’re in retirement or you’re almost ready to retire, review the things we review, what you like, review what you didn’t like, take time to really examine and think about who you are and what you want to do going forward.
Is there something, is there a dream that you have that you push down and that you kind of neglected forever because you’ve been so busy with other things that you want to bring back to light? Take some time to review that.
Life is a daring adventure. I think no more daring than this year. And I guess too, no matter what happens in the next few days, weeks, months, you know, take care of yourself and do the things that you’re passionate about.
End of Year Planning
Welcome to our First Friday series that we’re doing on the First Friday of the month at 12:30 pm CST. We’re going to be LIVE on Facebook and talking about a different topic each time and this month the topic is “End of Year Planning.”
I know that this is a conversation that is on a lot of people’s minds right now, so I thought this topic would be timely in December and look forward to 2021. Many people right now are asking what they should be doing with regards to end of year planning, so we’re going to cover a couple of things today.
Tax Planning and Investing
I want to talk today about tax planning and how it relates to investing. In our financial life, there are really four quadrants.
There is the tax planning quadrant, then we have cash flow, which includes retirement income, investment planning, and then estate preservation. What happens a lot is people will focus on whatever area they’re in, investing for example, but the fact is whatever you do with investments can affect the other areas of your financial life. It can affect your income and it definitely can affect your taxes.
The Secrets of Investing: The Good and Bad of Mutual Funds
Today we’re talking about a topic that I think is going to be very interesting to most of you. Almost everybody that I’ve met or talked to has mutual funds or ETFs now or has had them.
I think they’ve thought that it’s the best way to invest, to be diversified. I kind of call it the diversification pixie dust. They think, “I have all these funds so I’m diversified,” but there’s a lot of inefficiencies with them.
On the flip side, bond funds. As much as there are inefficiencies in the mutual fund market, the bond funds are probably even more inefficient.
The bond market is very inefficient, especially versus the equity market or the stock market. And the reason for that is because there are just so many different issuances of different bonds that are out there.
The Election and The Market
Let’s talk about the election and the market. As you know, the market experiences quite a bit of volatility around election time and we’re here to talk post-election and what that will look like for your investments.
Welcome to our First Friday series, hosted the first Friday of each month by Michelle Bertram. Today she is speaking with Guy Riccardi, Portfolio Manager for United Asset Strategies.