Retirement Planning vs. Life Planning

People do not retire. They are retired by others. ~Duke Ellington

Retirement is usually held up as something we all must prepare, plan and save for because it’s the ultimate, natural end-game. However, there is nothing natural about it. In fact, the concept of leaving the workforce at a certain later age and having the money to support oneself was originally a socialist idea! It was adopted by the United States government in the early 20th century as a means to force older workers out of the workforce so there would be room for younger workers. The government then sold the idea to all Americans, branding it as the reward for decades of hard work which spawned many new industries and the rise of Florida as the go-to retirement destination. Though we may think of this as completely normal, it’s only been a popular model for a couple of generations. (The New York Times has this great overview of the history of retirement.)

We’re not fans of the idea of retirement or the notion of retirement planning. It suggests the end of life as you know it or the end of life, period. It’s off in the future, some idealized “some day.” If the picture of that “some day” isn’t your own, or if you don’t find value in delayed gratification, retirement planning may be stressful, painful, or impossible. Some people give up and give in to the pitfalls and distortions of their natures, trapped by self-imposed ceilings. Many people never become aware of living like this, but others do. Each scenario is equally tragic.

We favor the idea of life planning which includes the goal of financial independence plus room to keep living and growing beyond any one financial level, life stage, or age limit set by legislators. Life planning is in the present. It’s a process powered by your intrinsic motivation rather than discipline, which is a lot more comfortable. Our approach begins at the core of who you are rather than a foundation of external factors. Life planning is about being fully alive, growing and developing, and evolving with your money.

Our goal is to help you create and practice a financial strategy that looks out for all your needs, wants, goals, and aspirations. That starts right now and keeps a healthy eye on the future. That’s using your money to support your life as it unfolds, expands, and evolves.

Age in unimportant. Good planning is about what we’re being called to do now and getting on with it.

Disclosures: The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. They do not necessarily reflect the views of LPL Financial. No strategy or process assures success or guarantees against losses.

Adventures in Middle School

As many of you know, we are developing an educational arm, Currency Camp, which will start out teaching kids to know & embrace their natures then move into much needed financial literacy skills. The first actionable step, we thought, was to talk with people we know in the financial and educational worlds to get their thoughts and advice. We were invited into a classroom right away, and it was an amazing experience.

A friend made through business networking, (2 Degrees Portland), happens to be a teacher with the Jobs for Maine Graduates program, (JMG), at Freeport Middle School.  She was about to launch into a unit on self-awareness. Our philosophy of the 7 human natures fit right in with her curriculum, so we decided to collaborate on a 4-day adventure teaching 11-14 year-olds about their superpowers. Here is a short look at some of the things we learned:

  1. No matter how much they may roll their eyes, middle schoolers are curious about themselves and life around them, and they want supportive, useful information. They’ll even go home and talk with their parents about it. They’ll even dream about it!
  2. Middle School students are as able to make the most out of a “learnable moment” as educators are able to make out of a “teachable moment.” The level of interaction, engagement, and the types of questions the students asked were unexpectedly deep & relevant.
  3. The pre-teach/discover/interact/reflect model is highly enjoyable, no matter one’s nature. We started with an overview of the natures, a developmentally-appropriate survey to discover theirs, a game that got their bodies & minds active, and finished with summaries of their experiences in their own words.
  4. This material, so far, seems to be easier for kids to grasp, accept, and integrate than for adults.

After the last day with the students, we talked about what we experienced and observed. Given that last take-away, we wondered what happens as we get older that closes our minds to new information. Is there a reason adults seem to struggle to embrace certain information while kids can easily relate to it? What does it mean for us that we seem to develop an inability to embrace deeper self-knowledge and strategies for honest, true personal evolution?

This experience has motivated us to continue to develop our educational program, Currency Camp. Though this time we focused on the 7 natures, we have plans to go back during their financial literacy units, and we expect to have our minds blown again.

 

This is your life: Ages & $tages.

Where are you in life and what does that mean for your financial plan?

There is a time to work, a time to relax, a time for joy, a time to help others, and a time to be helped by others. We all experience predictable, natural life stages, times when we’re naturally inclined to do, think, and perceive our lives in a specific way. Knowing your nature is part of knowing how to use your money to craft your best life, but understanding your life stage is, too.

Our blog this week is actually a vlog, a short video we created to show you all the life stages, what’s important when, and the true possibility of the human lifespan if we take good care of ourselves. We hope this will help you enjoy your life, every step of the way.

Camp Counselor: teens & young adults working outside the home.

Allowance: Adolescents to Young Adults

Before jumping in, take a look at the broader context and relevant details, and find your child’s nature.

Walking dogs is a great job for teens.Job & Own: from 16 to 18 it’s important for kids to do something for the world at large and get paid for it. Babysitting, mowing lawns, scooping ice cream, walking dogs- owning the responsibility of reporting on time, working diligently, having a good attitude, keeping commitments, and planning ahead are all important things to learn at this stage. Their ability to earn money and have savings is a gift made possible by your generosity, and they will need help securing that first outside job or turning a hobby into an entrepreneurial venture. Your time, connections, attitude, energy, and love are more important than your money as you help them become independent, (rather than “I-dependent”). Introduce them to the costs of more independence and consider charging them for services rendered or backing off some of their allowance. Up to now their stuff has actually been yours, and they are motivated to get a job so that they can own their own things. They’ll become more selective about their friends, clothes, activities, etc., letting go of some things and cling more dearly to others. This is a time to allow them to learn about how money works and become engaged in the ownership of money gifted to them, and if you have investments earmarked for college consider transferring unofficial ownership to them.

Suggested allowance: again, customize appropriately.

Suggested expectations: engaging with money as a source of positive energy.

 

You've done a great job, and it's time to let go of adult children. Self-Development & Leverage: there are many ways to continue to invest in our kids and ourselves. In the 19-21 stage kids learn to be interdependent because nobody can accomplish much on their own; we all need good people, and people need us to be good. Help your kids maintain interconnectedness through summer jobs, inviting them to participate in the care of their homestead through chores when they are around, and schedule these in the mornings. The more people invested in their success, the less likely they are to give up, and the more likely they are to stay connected to the value of the experience not just the price. Your kids should be involved in all factors that go into paying for school, including having a say in how assets are liquidated, how much money is borrowed, and how much of a work-load to take on in order to actually learn. If they need to borrow money it’s best to go to the bank and apply in front of someone they know; kids at this age should be able to make a case that they are a good risk, and the bank or others extending credit should be clear about their expectations. At this stage you’re really there to encourage, support, and ground your kids. As long as they know you’re there for them they can feel free to reach for the sky. The challenge at this point is to let them go and allow them to make small mistakes that help them learn without snowballing into something that can take your financial house down with it.

 

Disclosures: The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. They do not necessarily reflect the views of LPL Financial.

 

Tween Mowing Lawn

Allowance: Tweens & Teens

Before diving in, read this overview of the whole strategy for important details and review finding your child’s nature

Sponges: get creative with household chores for the kids.

Chores & Earn: from 10 through 12 kids can adhere to some routines that help the household function better. The tasks they once helped you with now become chores that are their responsibility. When children have ownership and responsibility they have things to trade; the more entrepreneurial among your family may end up doing all the work, but they might end up with all the money, too. (A good book: Lunch Money by Andrew Clements about a kid who makes a fortune off his older siblings.) In this stage you are helping them with chores that are under their purview. “Let me help you (insert chore),” or “how can I help you XYZ” are a great means to give them jump-start getting something done. A slight increase in allowance will empower and enable them to start buying the things they want, like specific clothes or shoes, that you were likely to purchase anyway.

Suggested amount: $10+, customized to your family.

Suggested expectations: their ownership of their chores should come with a new level of quality and few reminders.

 

kids on swing rideWork & Save: in early adolescence children go through another great developmental leap. From ages 13 to 15 they are far more socially aware, and often they want to buy the cool stuff or go to awesome places but don’t have the money. Now is a time to impress upon them the idea of having a financial goal and working to earn money over and above what they, and you, have come to expect. Doing more voluntarily because they have needs and desires should be encouraged. You’ll need to support creativity and expose them to more and more of your finances and financial decisions. Kids in this stage can learn to do more at home and venture outside the home to earn extra money. They are primarily interested in fitting in and being a part of a peer group, so they are beginning to respond less to what you say and pay more attention to what you do. Speak less and work along with them more. Pay them with cash and open a bank account for them to put a portion of their earnings into savings. They may ask for more work only occasionally, but you can offer opportunities to earn more money.

Suggested amounts: customize fairly according to job.

Suggested expectations: (clear communication is critical), vacuum & wash the car, clean the windows, vacuum & dust the house, watch younger siblings, mow the lawn. Outside the home: babysitting, yard work & mowing, pet-sitting, etc.

 

Disclosures: The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. They do not necessarily reflect the views of LPL Financial.

 

 

Allowance: Teaching your kids about money and value.

Teaching our kids about money and financial health is critical. According to a great article from the Wall Street Journal, despite the best intentions, we’ve been getting this all wrong. “Most children still grow up into adults who can’t properly save, spend, and budget,” and invest, leverage, and give. In other words, kids are growing up without an understanding of money as a neutral tool to help them create the lives they want and instead arrive at adulthood with financial anxiety, unable to speak about finances rationally, and unable to distinguish cultural associations and personal emotions all too often attached to money.

So what do we do? How do we instill in our children a healthy financial perspective and the ability to navigate finances with confidence?

The answer is honestly simpler than you might think. We’ve gone back to our philosophy  to create a developmentally appropriate, easy to integrate approach to teaching children about money and value, and it centers around allowance. The benefits are many: kids learn about themselves and their relationships to money & value while earning some money, and parents are able to eventually off-load some work they’d otherwise have to do themselves. The plan is customizable, and each family can determine the amount of allowance as well as specific expectations and chores.

This strategy spans from birth to age twenty-one, and we’ve broken that time into 7 distinct stages. Each stage naturally comes with its own challenges and opportunities. Your role is to identify and make the most of them. They are:

Allowance Ages & Stages

 

Need to know: before jumping in we need to introduce some necessary vocabulary. Each stage goes through three phases: Assurance Ensurance, and Insurance. These phases will look different at each stage, and your children will need you to be responsive to each one. When in Assurance, they’ll need you to be supportive and to show, tell, and model what they need to know. Each stage will demand that you give your children Assurance support for a good while in the beginning, especially when they are younger, and it requires an investment of your time more than anything else. Ensurance isn’t a word you’ll find in the dictionary, but it’s absolutely the right word to describe making sure, ensuring, your children have enough practice and anything else they need to develop a strong, healthy habit. The Insurance phase is the pay-off for you: you’ve invested in your kids up front and installed in them habits that minimize their risk of back-sliding. By the time you and your kids reach Insurance they are moving along under their own steam.

Additionally your children are born with their natures intact. In order to be the best mentor and guide you can be you’ll need to do your best to identify their natures. It’s not as though they can take our survey like adults can, so we’ve created this guide to help you identify their natures as accurately as possible as early as possible. More here…

Jumping in: birth to 3 years is characterized by discovery and massive developmental leaps, something that doesn’t come around again until early adolescence. Your children will need you to be in Assurance all of the time. [Read more.]

Play & Competition: kids from 4 to 6 are fun, playful, and naturally competitive. Playing games introduces them to rules, winning, and losing graciously. When in Assurance you’ll demonstrate the rules of fair play and sharing. [Read more.]

Help & Cooperation: by the time kids are 7 they will want to help around the house. In the 7-9 years children naturally want to please their adults and relate their value within the family to being asked to do things and go places. [Read more.]

Chores & Earn: from 10 through 12 kids can adhere to some routines that help the household function better. The tasks they once helped you with now become chores that are their responsibility. [Read more.]

Work & Save: in early adolescence children go through another great developmental leap. From ages 13 to 15 they are far more socially aware, and often they want to buy the cool stuff or go to awesome places but don’t have the money. [Read more.]

Job & Own: from 16 to 18 it’s important for kids to do something for the world at large and get paid for it. Babysitting, mowing lawns, scooping ice cream, walking dogs- owning the responsibility… [Read more.]

Self-Development & Leverage: there are many ways to continue to invest in our kids and ourselves. In the 19-21 stage kids learn to be interdependent because nobody can accomplish much on their own; [Read more.]

You’ve likely heard the saying, “it’s the journey, not the destination,” and this strategy for helping your kids evolve with their money is a wonderful journey with a fantastic destination. You and your children will appreciate and learn a great deal from this intentional, organic process, and you both win at the end: you’ve raised a kid who has healthy money habits and perspective, a kid who knows herself or himself and understands money as it relates to his/her nature.

 

Disclosures: The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. They do not necessarily reflect the views of LPL Financial.

No strategy or process assures success or guarantees against losses.

 

 

Discovery is part of learning about money & value.

Allowance: Early Childhood & Elementary Years

Before jumping in, read an overview of the whole strategy and find your child’s nature.

 

Happy baby discovers smiling as currency.Discovery & Curiosity: birth to 3 years is characterized by discovery and massive developmental leaps, something that doesn’t come around again until early adolescence. Your children will need you to be in Assurance all of the time. To teach them kindness, you’re kind, for example. You’re modeling affection, stability, sharing, compassion, and many, many other positive behaviors. In infancy this is all you do, but as children become toddlers and begin to understand cause and effect there becomes an opportunity to experiment with rewards like stickers and other little items. Money is best put into a piggy bank, first by you then by your child, and larger gifts should be set aside until they’re older.

 

Playing with money & purchasing.Play & Competition: kids from 4 to 6 are fun, playful, and naturally competitive. Playing games introduces them to rules, winning, and losing graciously. When in Assurance you’ll demonstrate the rules of fair play and sharing. You provide your kids with food, clothes, shelter, entertainment, and unconditional love, and you’ll have your own set of age-appropriate expectations such as taking care of certain physical needs, (like tying shoes or using the bathroom), communicating pleasantly, and generally conducting themselves with appropriate self-sufficiency. Introducing a weekly allowance because they are members of the family is a good idea. They aren’t yet ready to work for the money and are still learning that money is something exchanged for things they may want. You can use proxy money like marbles which represents a comfortable amount which your child can then exchange with you for real money. They can use this money to buy things or gifts, but they’ll need to be taught how to count it. In this stage you all can have a lot of fun together!

Suggested amount: $3, one to spend, one to save, and one to give.

Suggested expectations: brushing teeth, cleaning up toys, keeping room neat, making bed, clearing dishes, picking out own clothes and getting dressed.

 

Helping around the house.Help & Cooperation: by the time kids are 7 they will want to help around the house. In the 7-9 years children naturally want to please their adults and relate their value within the family to being asked to do things and go places. They will need a fair, balanced cooperative system because they keep track of value. They count the number of times they get to spend time alone with you, and the special things Dad does with Son will be noticed by Daughter. In Assurance, you’ll need to create this system. This is a good time to teach them the difference between “no” and “not right now.” Help them learn to save for the things they want and give them ways to earn money for helping out. Increase allowance slightly along with raising expectations. In this stage they begin to help you, though there is a difference between the quality of kid work and adult work, but it will improve with time!

Suggested amount: $5. However, if agreed-upon expectations aren’t met, (by not doing them, cheating, something other than doing them with understandable kid-quality), they haven’t earned their whole allowance; in this way fines are introduced.

Suggested expectations: (in addition to the above), set the table, put away clean dishes, take out trash, recycling, and/or compost, fold laundry, help prepare food, help with yard work.

 

Disclosures: The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. They do not necessarily reflect the views of LPL Financial.

 

Wealth management tools.

Building Wealth: Best In Class Tools for your Financial Evolution

Earn your success based on service to others, not at the expense of others.

~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Our goal for you is to help you feel confident in your financial plan, to be supported through your financial evolution, and to be motivated and empowered by your money and how you use it. Our role is to understand the financial system, interpret it for you free of hype and misinformation, and to make recommendations based on your best interests. We help you become aware of your blind-spots inherent to your nature so that you are able to pursue building wealth for the long-term, and for every phase of your financial journey we have available services and products to help you evolve. These are the nuts and bolts, our top-tier tools:

Planning Services

Estate Planning: We offer all levels of Estate Planning, from the most basic plans to attaching a trust to an estate, estate tax planning, and legacy planning.

Income Tax Planning: We help help you and your tax advisor  by bringing clarity to your necessary forms and statements as well as help you minimize your taxes through leveraging other aspects of your financial strategy.

Protection Planning: This includes prioritizing your insurance needs and finding the most appropriate plans and products for you.

Financial Position Analysis: There are times when you may need to know your exact financial position, like when applying for a mortgage, but don’t have information compiled in a way that shines the light on the best aspects. We help you create a complete financial picture which allows you to evaluate yourself before anyone else.

Investment Planning: This is more than determining what to invest in; investment planning takes into consideration how you should be invested and what to do with investment income. Your investment plan is influenced by your beliefs and value system as well as your overall financial vision.

Retirement Planning: Our goal for you is financial independence, and your plan begins with understanding how you live now, how you want to live with your money later, and your definition of financial independence. The following are the tools we have available:

  • 401K
  • 403B
  • Defined Benefit Plan
  • Roth IRA
  • SEP
  • Simple IRA
  • Traditional IRA

To help you pursue your next financial state we offer an array of financial products:

  • Annuities
  • ETF
  • Stocks & Bonds
  • 529 Plan
  • Mutual Funds

We also offer fee-based asset management.

Our Investment Strategy       About       Our Value       Our Vision & Mission

LPL Representative so not offer tax or legal services or advice. In certain situations we suggest you discuss your specific situation with a tax or legal advisor.

map to better finances

Your Evolution: Better Health & Greater Wealth

We are the facilitators of our own creative evolution. ~Bill Hicks

There are no shortcuts in evolution. ~Louis D. Brandeis

Bring on what’s next. ~Tom Shepard

Your financial evolution is the process aimed at taking you from your current financial level to financial independence and beyond. Along the way your smaller financial goals become mile-markers highlighting the journey. This holistic approach to financial management is designed to integrate with your life today, your plans for the next stage of your life, and the financial independence you envision. We have developed this process so that it can be accessed by anyone who wants to experience greater health and wealth regardless of their nature or financial level. Your financial evolution is collaborative, and we help guide and support you as much as provide a gratifying financial experience.

This is different than goal-setting and tracking.

First we help you understand your paradigm. This is imperative because it’s who you are at the core. You’ll know your strengths so that you can leverage them to reach your goals faster and easier, and you’ll know the potential pit-falls specific to your paradigm so that you can avoid or correct them. Your financial plan won’t demand you become someone else, but it will ask you to stretch beyond your comfort zone to develop second nature skills which become easier to use each time you evolve through the financial states.

Next we help you to accurately identify your financial level. Often due to habits, feelings, perceptions, or misinformation it is hard to truly know your level.

We’ll help you create a new understanding by envisioning your level on a y-axis:

Financial Levels

On the x-axis we help you see which state you’re experiencing within your current level.

States Y Axis

When put together you’ll have a map, what we call the Evolution Matrix.

Evolution Matrix

From there we’ll show you what comes next which includes small changes you can make in your daily life, changes to your financial strategy, or a simple shift in perception or intention.

For example, if you are currently investing but have not made the connection to your money as a source of positive energy, as creating more value, you are at level 5 state 4.

Sample Evol Matrix

What’s next is moving a space to the right. In this instance you’d become connected to the creative power of your money. Exactly how is determined collaboratively. Sometimes moving from one state to the next takes some time, and at other times it only takes a moment; sometimes the steps you take are fast, and a shift in perspective takes a good bit of time. We are your coach through each aspect, and we offer you the insights not always apparent to you when you’re in it yourself. Once you reach the seventh state your strategy becomes focused on moving up a level.

The Evolution Matrix is a somewhat imperfect illustration of your evolution. Our intention here is to show you that this is an ordered, logical process which will neutralize money, empower you to embrace your nature and break out of your rut so that you can live your best possible life. This process naturally eases financial stress, brings clarity to money and finance, and allows you and your spouse, partner, family members to have a common language for money as well as a common map to what’s next. Because many people are gravely disconnected from the system of money as well as their own finances, we’ve found that intentional financial evolution is the antidote to fearing the unknown and creates an opportunity to know, explore, and enjoy value, interests, and passions on an individual basis. And that isn’t in the far future, it’s right now.

Our role is to leverage our professional education, expertise, and services to help raise you to a higher financial level. In other words, you don’t do this alone. You can be confident when working with a team that values customizing and personalizing your financial strategy to your nature, your level, and your state so that you can live out your dreams. This is our passion.

Here’s to your evolution.

What’s next for you? Talk to us about how we can help you evolve with your money.

General Disclosure Long

Navigating Financial States: the path to greater wealth.

Everything has its wonders… and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.  ~Helen Keller

Within each financial level are seven possible states, and to get to your next level you must evolve through each state. It’s a very natural process, and because there are only seven specific states, the whole of financial evolution becomes easier, more organic. Each state has value as part of this natural progression, and we encourage you to find the value in each state even when your experiences feel less than natural; if your nature doesn’t match the state you’re in you will likely feel some discomfort. There is no need to worry because this means you are indeed evolving. Sometimes moving from one state to another takes some effort, other times it’s as simple as a shift in perspective. Here are the seven states in order:

unnamed-4

Insufficient: here you lack the resources you need to thrive. It is a reactive state which can seem chaotic and cause you to become reactive yourself, even if it is not your nature. When you are experiencing this state acceptance is crucial as it is the undeniable start of something new. This state is also very motivating: you see that you don’t have what you need to evolve, so your focus becomes finding your right pathway to the next state. To begin, write down everything that’s swirling around in your head and set it aside.

 

unnamed-6

In this state, Sufficient, you have what you need but not always when the need arises. It’s like being on a roller-coaster, and can be exhilarating or exhausting… or both. This state is also characterized by feeling and spending. It’s important to remember that you may experience your emotions without being controlled by them, and spending on things that bring you more value is not anything to feel badly about, in fact doing so will help you make your way to the next state.

 

unnamed-7

Being in the Efficient state means getting off the roller-coaster and smoothing out your resources and expenses so they become aligned. In this state your money is so well allocated there is no margin, and the task at hand is work. Here you must work toward a surplus and avoid getting stuck, despite our cultural idealization of this state, so you can move into the following state.

 

unnamed-8

This state, Proficient, you are inclined to save or reserve your surplus resources. You have not quite become connected to their power as sources of positive energy for your life which can and will multiply and magnify. Saving your money can seem like the most important financial task, and it may be tempting to remain in this state. Doing so will cause your evolution to stagnate leading to missed opportunities. When you have connected to your money fully and saved what is appropriate to save, you are ready to move on to the next state.

 

unnamed-9

This is the Productive state, where you begin to create more of what you want so you can enjoy it. The decrease in energy put into reacting, feeling, working, and saving give you more energy, time and money to invest in your passions. You are nicely connected to your resources now, and your resources are energizing, positively reinforcing your direction and intention. Though you experience more joy in this phase, there is always something next.

 

unnamed-10

In the Deductive state your resources make your life easier. You are able to use the results of your investments to free yourself from stress and burden. This state is about letting go of what weighs you down or complicates your life so you can focus on raising yourself higher, and by collaborating with others you can raise each other even higher. In some instances this state may include using unearned income to ease your expenses, leveraging your resources to reduce your expenses, or pursuing innovations.

 

unnamed-11

The Inductive state is like being inducted into a new life: you have reached the last state of evolving to a higher level. This is where you form a new vision for yourself, of what is coming next, and you are able to lead others through the same situations and experiences you’ve had up until now. This is a time of gratitude, giving to others, and helping to make the world a better place in some way that is meaningful to you. It’s also a time of  celebration and rest because a new adventure is waiting for you just over the next hill. You will reach a new level where you’ll have to move through these seven states again.

 

Your Evolution       Your Financial Advisor

The opinions voiced in this material is for general information only.

They do not necessarily reflect the views of LPL Financial.