In honor of the upcoming holidays, I want to share a story I read online last year. It was about a wife you couldn’t figure out what to get her husband for Christmas. They can be so hard to shop for! During their son’s wrestling match, her husband couldn’t stop talking about the poor conditions of the other team’s shoes and uniforms. Their equipment was is such bad repair that there were holes in them and the sizes were all too small. She could tell how terrible he felt about it, and so she decided to take action.
On Christmas morning, her husband found a white envelope with his name on it and a letter with a picture inside. The picture was of the team from the wrestling match with new uniforms and shoes. The letter explained that for his Christmas gift, his wife spent what she normally would have spent on his gifts and bought the team all new equipment. It brought her whole family to tears; of course they were happy tears. And so tradition continued, and it was the family’s favorite gift to open every Christmas morning. Their children would run to their tree every Christmas and look for the white envelope. (Side note, what a valuable lesson for their children and the parents too.)
What they felt went so much farther than the quick joy they got from their material gifts each year. It wasn’t a fleeting emotion, it went beyond that and lasted all year long. It ends the year on such a high note which then gets carried into the New Year. They know they are giving above and beyond what is expected of them, and to think about it, what isn’t even expected of them. Instead of feeling selfish and receive, they feel joy for giving. And what is amazing, it makes them so grateful for what they already have. How many of us always want the next best thing, the newest iPhone, the more expensive handbag, or the luxury car? I’m guilty of this, but now I know when I’m doing this exact thing. I’m able to realize and appreciate everything I have instead of being dragged down by the “keeping up with the Jones’s syndrome”. Not to mention how exhausting it can be to never be satisfied.
So I have decided to join in on the action, and I am telling my husband to give to someone in need what he would usually gift to me. He is going to send our sponsor child in Argentina the amount of money he would spend on a gift for me. The gift will mean so much more to Adiel and his family than it would ever mean to me.
Now I am going to challenge you, sorry if you didn’t see that coming. I am asking you if you can spare one gift, just one gift, and instead give to a charity, a child, or someone else in need. If you need help deciding, just send me an email. We can have a lot of fun picking! I am going to ask you to do two more things, because I want this to be a huge movement, bigger than just you, my amazing readers. Please send this posting to at least 3 people so they will do the same. And since I am a numbers girl, who loves tracking, we need to have a way to see how many people do this. Please like this page so I can keep a running total of how many people we can get to go without so someone else can have a joyous holiday season.
Let’s give to those who don’t have as much as us, and rejoice in what we do have!
Jessica Weaver, CFP®, CDFA™, CFS®
Happy Thanksgiving! And in honor of the holiday, I want to focus on being thankful for where you are in your life right now. No matter how much farther you want to be, you've still worked so hard to get here. I'm sure you're like me who have had setbacks along the way. Those setbacks can be so frustrating and exhausting, and I’m sure there are times when you want to just stop. You might be about to break through to the next level, when something happens and you feel all that ground you’ve covered, is lost. I felt this same way when I had to bring my dog, Duke, to the vet late one night. We had another scare with his back, and if you don't know the story, here is Duke's history.
In August of last year, my husband, Duke, and I were at my parent’s house when Duke got a herniated disc in his back. He is a Dotson, and the breed has a bad history with Degenerative Disc Disease. He instantly became paralyzed in the back half of his small body. It was such a scary moment when he started dragging himself away because he was in so much pain and had no idea what to do. Luckily there were four of us there to rush him to the animal hospital close by. They did rush surgery on his back, and removed so much fluid around his disc, that they said they've never seen anything like it before. After a few days he gained some feeling back in his legs, and after a week he started to gain some movement as well. These were all good signs the surgery went well.
My husband and I were so committed to getting Duke back to the all-star self that he is, we researched nonstop how to help him. We started him at physical therapy twice a week and then once a week on an underwater treadmill. He also goes to a chiropractor once a month to make sure everything is properly aligned. He does exercises twice a day for his meals, and we got him walking about half a mile a day. Duke was doing great, although he sometimes walks like a drunk pirate or a penguin. He also isn't allowed to do stairs, climb up or down anything, or jump up or down anything. Even after doing all of these preventative measures, his back still acted up. One night my husband went to feed him, and when he touched his back, Duke yelped and lost his bladder. We rushed him to the vet, and they think he aggravated his back and it was badly inflamed. So Duke went on crate rest for three weeks, with pain killers, anti-inflammatory, and muscle relaxers. No walks, exercises, or play time, which is very hard for a 3 year old Dotson as you can imagine.
As upsetting as we were with poor duke's injury, I started thinking how much worse it would have been if we didn't do all that we did. What if we didn't get his muscles strong again, and got him walking properly? So I'm challenging you to look at whatever set back you've had recently and think how much further back you'd be if you didn't put in all that hard work and all those long hours. Maybe your 401(k) isn't as big as you'd hope, but at least you have a 401(k). More importantly, you're aware of your 401(k), which is the first step to getting it back on track. Or maybe you’re back on the dating scene after your divorce, and haven’t had much luck. But at least you are out there trying, which is such a huge step and not a relaxing one in the least. Wherever you are in your life, be proud of it. It took a lot to get here.
It’s not all mimosas and butterflies when you are going through a new life transition, and sometimes you might feel completely blind and alone. You’ll have setbacks and side steps, and everything in between. But it is during those tough times, when you find you’re strength to break through and keep going. Besides, if it was effortless, then everyone would be doing it. So be thankful for how far you've come, and appreciate where you are right now. Even if you have miles more to go, think of how many miles you've already conquered. As the Joyce Meyer says, “I’m not where I need to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be.” Amen to that sister!
It’s hard to be in the present and to be thankful for right now. I'm guilty of always looking for the next thing, the next event instead of enjoying right now. And if you're guilty of this too, do not fret. Janet Matts, an executive and personal coach, and I are hosting an event on February 9th called Learning to Love the 3 Ms: Mindful Money Management. Janet is going to focus on being present and fully engaged in the now, while I will go through being aware of your current financial situation. We will do some meditation exercises that involve chocolate, you can't beat that! The night is all about knowing where you are today because you can't plan for the future until you know where you stand currently. So take today to enjoy the present, be thankful for where you are now, and get excited for where you are going. And always remember it is about the journey, so make sure to celebrate the small victories along the way.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family! And enjoy every moment of this Holiday weekend, you deserve it!
Jessica Weaver, CFP®, CDFA™, CFS®
The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete, it is not a statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision, and it does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Jessica Weaver and not necessarily those of Raymond James.
Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions or services of Janet Matts or Mindful Finances. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, Certified Financial Planner™ and CFP® in the U.S.
How would you define a successful marriage? Better yet, what does it take to make it all the way? You and I have heard that 50% of marriages end in divorce, and now there is the new Grey Divorce is that is taking steam. Grey divorce is when a marriage ends after the age of 50, (even if you don’t have grey hair yet). It is always amazing to meet couples who have been together 30 years, 50 years, and 60 plus years. To go through the different stages of life together, and to create goals early on that you actually make it to many years later. I’m sorry, but I think that is simple amazing. And it isn’t all kicks and giggles, is it? It is hard work, a lot of respect, and guess what………..compromise. Or at least that is what I’m guessing.
So instead of researching all the marriage advice online, I decided to go to the experts, Aileen & Joseph, who have been married for a whopping 65 years today! We have worked with them for several years, and I have found a new admiration for them as a couple. Besides the research I’ve found (make sure your pet approves of your significant other), didn’t prove to be very helpful. Aileen was kind enough to take me through their years together: from being newlyweds to creating a family together, and now to enjoying their grandchildren. And when I asked if they had arguments over money, her first reaction was a big laugh. She explained of course they did, “money was an issue because there was so little of it.” Huh, that does make sense!
Even though Aileen and Joseph are both Italian that is where their similarities end. They are only 2 months a part in age; however, Aileen’s parents were born in the US while Joseph’s were born in Italy. She explained how this was like being raised a generation a part versus only a few months a part. Joseph was one of 9 children, and Aileen was one of 3. They grew up in the heart of the depression, which automatically makes someone more of a saver than a spender. Living through that time, teaches you to save, and to save especially when you don’t have the money. Nowadays, we are so inclined to just put it on our credit cards, that saving up for a TV or car isn’t even a thought. It is easier to put it on the credit card then to be patient and work towards a goal. As Aileen said, “It’s not about how much money you make, it’s about how much you keep.” I told you she is someone to admire, such a wise woman!
Mark your calendar!
January 10th Partnering for Prosperity Webinar
January 28th Divorce & Alive Again Workshop
February 9th Learn to Love the 3 Ms: Mindful Money Management
Aileen was always the appeaser whereas Joseph was the stricter parent. When the children needed new clothes or shoes, Aileen wanted to give them the nicer brand. This is where the majority of their disagreements came into play, sound familiar mom and dad? It is a hard balance with your children’s needs and wants. You want to give them the world, I don’t have children, but I can only imagine based on how much I give to my dog. However, you can’t give and give if it’s detrimental to your family’s finances. Teaching your children to save up for the bigger ticket items can help, and it teaches them such a valuable lesson. Maybe you will match whatever they save up or match their amount by a certain percent. It will hold your children accountable and show them the value of saving towards a goal. Imagine the gratification they will feel when they hit their goal. I’m sure that satisfaction will last so much longer than if you bought it immediately for them.
Another topic of conversation surrounded the idea of Aileen being at home with the children instead of working. She really wanted to work where as her husband wanted her to raise their children like his mother had. I’m positive this comes up in more marriages than I’ve thought, whether it’s the husband or the wife to be at home with the children. Most families these days need both spouses to work just to afford basic living expenses, especially in New Jersey. Joe worked two jobs so Aileen would be home raising the children. Nevertheless, Aileen went back as soon as she could, even if it was part time. Aileen started at a small sales company, and that enabled her to be there to get the children off to school and back before they got home. The extra cash flow allowed them to buy a dishwasher and an air conditioning unit, such luxuries back then! Aileen now knows it was the best thing for her family, and she might not have known it at the time but trusting Joe allowed her to focus on her children first and then her career.
I now believe the key must be trust, and trusting your spouse when you are terrified or don’t know what to do. Being able to verbalize your fears, especially about money, allows you and your spouse to have a conversation to address them instead of fighting about them. We need to compromise, and then trust that our compromise is to better our family. To not be scared because if you have a true partner with your spouse, they will be right there with you to take the next step. Today is Aileen and Joseph’s 65th Wedding Anniversary, and I want to wish them the happiest anniversary with many more wonderful years to come.
Tonight when you have a drink, please do a CHEERS to Joe & Aileen!
Jessica Weaver, CFP®, CDFA™, CFS®
This information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Opinions expressed are those of Jessica Weaver and Aileen and are not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Aileen and Joseph are not affiliated with Raymond James.
Are you recently divorced or separated and feel completely alone? You sense the death of a friendship, a partnership, and the failure of a marriage. You are not alone, and I want you to know this. The other day I was speaking with a client who runs a divorce support group, and we started talking about the many emotions and traumatic moments you encounter before, during, and after your divorce. During her own experience, she felt lost, overwhelmed, alone, and like a failure. She was lost as to how she got to this point in her marriage, overwhelmed by the entire divorce process, and alone from losing her partner in life. The person she used to ask questions to or go to for advice has become a different person, who is no longer her leg of support. Some weeks she couldn’t even get through the day to day tasks of getting out of bed or taking care of her children. Unfortunately, none of those duties take a backseat when you’re in the midst of a divorce. When her lawyer asked her for something, she had to try and focus everything she had to get it done and on time, so she wouldn’t raise her attorney’s bill. If her family’s daily routine was too much at times, the divorce stuff was downright unbearable.
And she wasn’t the only one affected by the separation and pending marital division. Her children had to get used to a whole new schedule, time with dad and time with mom at two different places. One would forget a report for school at the one house, and she would have to figure out how to get it and get it on time. She was a stay at home mom, so all day she would dwell on what went wrong, how did they get to this place, and how is she ever going to get through this and in one piece. Your extended family will probably take sides and tell you things you never wanted to hear. As I’ve heard from other divorced women, your family, both children and extended, are thrown off a cliff.
After speaking with her, I started calling other women who have been through a divorce to find out their experiences. It is so important to share your lows and highs with other women so they can see the light at the end of the tunnel. You may feel like you have no one to bounce ideas off of or to go to for advice. The person you used to lean on is now somehow a different person. And at times it gets so ugly, you can’t believe this is a person you spent so many years with and created a family with. It all comes down to a business deal in the end, all the memories built, all the good times shared, and the goals accomplished or yet to be accomplished. It feels like a death, a loss, a failure. I know, my grandmother went through it, along with my two aunts, my two uncles, and my best friend. No matter how prepared you are for it, even if it is your decision, it still feels traumatic and ominous.
The most common response I heard was how overwhelmed they were with the divorce process and also just with their day to day lives. Some found creating small goals that are obtainable and with a time frame help to break down the entire picture to something more manageable. A checklist of sorts can help start this process, and to make sure nothing gets overlooked. As I say, even a small mistake (or overlooked task) with money, can be a costly mistake. Now there are checklists all over the website you can use, I even have some that can be personalized to your situation, but what I really wanted to create is a breakthrough program called Weaving Wise Wealthy Women. You are now Suddenly Single. When was the last time you had to make a major decision on your own or plan for a major life event by yourself? I don’t want you to feel you are on your own, treading water and trying to stay afloat. Weaving Wise Wealthy Women is something to help break you from the downward spiral of the daunting and drama filled divorce process. I want to help bring the focus back to yourself to rebuild your life.
Do you feel yourself going into a deeper financial hole? Or you aren’t being the best influence for your children? Maybe you aren’t certain if you are making the right decision financially for you and your children. Too many women said they felt trapped emotionally and financially by their divorce. You shouldn’t feel trapped by your emotions or finances. I don’t want your future to “happen” because you thought you had no other options available. So start the process now and click below to get the 10 Ways to Regain Control of Your Life to Provide a Better One for Your Children.
Jessica Weaver, CFP®, CDFA™, CFS®
Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services Inc., member FINRA/SIPC.
The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Jessica Weaver and do not necessarily those of Raymond James.
The other night I called my husband to see what he wanted for dinner, and he asked where I was coming from. I said I stopped by to see our nephew on the way home from work (had to get my snuggles in like any aunt). Eric said he didn’t know I was stopping by for a quick play date, and to that I explained: I told you about three times today ALONE what my plan was. Now to his credit, he worked about 36 hours in overtime within the past two weeks so his brain was a little fried. Even though I had texts to prove he knew what I was doing after work, it was past the point of getting through, which I’m pretty sure you’ve experienced with the man in your life as well.
I started wondering why is it that men seem to be, consciously or unconsciously, oblivious to our schedules and communications with them. Luckily, a client and friend sent me a video about men’s brains and women’s brains. Shout out to Candy, who shared the very funny video that I recommend you watch IMMEDIATELY after reading this. The video is done by Mark Gungor, who is a Senior Pastor of Celebration Church in Wisconsin, and his website is markgungor.com. The video has nothing to do with religion, and is all about comparing how men think versus how women think.
Mark starts by explaining how a man’s brain is set up, that they have a “box” for everything: every issue, every person, every experience. There is a box for you, for your children, for his ex-spouse, and the mother in law box is in the basement of his brain, of course. Sorry mom, I’m pretty sure you aren’t in the basement of Eric’s brain but I’ll double check! So when a man is thinking he can only open one box, and only one box, at a time. You CANNOT let one box touch another box. Very carefully take out your 401(k) box, do not let it touch your mother in law box, and then put it away like you would a full glass of $800 bourbon. This must be why men are never able to multitask, try talking to my husband when the Sopranos is on. And he’s only seen every episode about 15 times (and I’m low balling).
You might ask, how is our brain different? Good question! For women, everything in their brains are connected. Money is connected to the car, the children are connected to your vacuum, and so on. It is like a highway with some topics speeding down, others are stuck in traffic, while the rest are in an accident. I have to say this explains why I could be focusing so much on one thing at work when all of a sudden I need to figure out a gift for a birthday a 2 months away. Or I’m cleaning my house and the need to schedule an appointment with a client pops into my mind. Our brains are powered by emotions as Mark points out, and an emotion is how we remember people and events so well. Once an event is connected to an emotion, you are gold. You will remember how you felt on that day, thus instilling the memory into your brain.
Have you ever observed a man watching endless TV or playing on their video games for endless hours? You probable are thinking how they can just sit around when there are, literally, hundreds of chores left to do. Well Mark has your answer, and it is called the Nothing Box. You might say you would like a Nothing Box, but you can’t because you are a woman, sorry. When men are stressed they pull out their nothing box, and only their nothing box, since men can only have one box out at a time. So when you ask your man what they are thinking and their response is nothing, this is why!
The nothing box is the exact opposite of our reaction to stress. Our brains, unfortunately, start going into overdrive and thus they start steaming. Men see the steam first, and their instinct is to run, which is what they tend to do. It is usually better for my husband to hide out during these times, he will leave our cute Dotson behind to help lower the stress level at least. The problem with the flee response is it only adds to our stress or steam altitudes. My advice to men: please don’t lay a bomb such as a last minute guy’s poker game night at your house when there is no food, the house is a mess, and the children have homework to do, and then run from your wife. This is called a ticking time bomb!
Now that you know why we think differently from men, how can we use this new found knowledge to better our relationships? I do not have the answer to that, but what I do know is it can be applied to issues of money in your relationship. In some way, you might disagree on how much to spend, save, or even make when it comes to your money. And unfortunately, money issues are one of the biggest problems in marriages. Have you been in a heated argument or discussion (to put it nicely) with your significant other about this month’s bills? Or how much to spend on your children’s clothes? Sometimes you might not agree so instead you avoid the topic completely, which isn’t a lasting solution either. The more you sidestep the topic, the bigger the problem will become. It won’t go away because you shun it. You can’t escape debt if you never address the issue and you’ll never get to retirement if you don’t face the current roadblocks. How much nicer would it be for you and your spouse if you look head on at a problem or issue and tackle it together? You can then have fun on your date night or talk about a more pleasant topic when you do have a spare minute to spend together.
I do not want your finances to be one of the problems in your marriage, and I have created a series to address this money hindrance. Think about how you would feel if both you and your significant other are on the same page with your money and your goals? Would that leave more energy for date night, movies, or time with your children? Maybe you can focus on other important items like working out, cleaning your garage, or pursuing a hobby. The first step in the program is to find out both your money personality. Click the link below to get your Money Personality Assessment now:
Jessica Weaver, CFP®, CDFA™, CFS®
Any opinions are those of Jessica Weaver and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice.
Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize, or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or collection or use of information regarding any website’s users and/or members.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and CFP® in the U.S.
WHAT WORKS FOR YOU, THE INDIVIDUAL TAXPAYER
The general rule has always been to defer income and accelerate expenses, but there are times when this just doesn’t work. Coming up with the right mix can be challenging but opportunistic as well. As you get closer to year-end the picture becomes a bit clearer. Remember, individuals are cash basis taxpayers, so it’s too late after December 31st to take advantage of most strategies.
Your first step is to compare your current year tax situation to last years. Is there anything that can be done to move you to a lower tax bracket or shield you from the other taxes; the alternative minimum tax (AMT), net investment income tax (NII), the additional Medicare tax or the higher tax bracket for capital gains?
A few tools in my proverbial toolbox to help keep your income under the thresholds that cause these other taxes to kick in are:
These tools help lower your adjusted gross income (AGI). Lowering AGI yields big benefits since AGI is used in calculating limits and phase outs of certain deductions, exemptions and credits available in the calculation of your tax bill. Once lost, they may be gone for good.
My favorite tool is the ROTH conversion. You convert traditional IRA funds to a ROTH IRA account and pay the tax on the amount converted currently. This is a great strategy when you have a decline in income in a given year. And if you find that it was a mistake, you can get a “do-over” or reprieve. You can reconvert the amount by the due date of your return and have no tax consequences. It’s just like it never happened.
Don’t forget to look at how your 2016 current year tax strategies may affect your 2017 tax bill. You may have some control over taking income in one year or the next. For instance, take a bonus on January 1st of the next year instead of December 31st of this year. And which year would be best to sell those appreciated assets, cash in those U.S. savings bonds or take a lump sum as opposed to an installment contract on property you sell.
Bunching deductions in one year versus another can also lower your tax bill. If you don’t have the cash, you can pay with a credit card and still take the deduction. For example, if you don’t quite have enough deductions to itemize, you can make two-year’s worth of deductions in one and then take the standard deduction the following year. Here are some things you can do:
Surprises when it comes to taxes are rarely a good thing. And there are enough calculations, tables and worksheets to make your head spin. You don’t need an exorcist. You need a CPA to lead you through the maze. We’re here to help with your tax planning as you need us.
Featuring Guest Blogger
Darlene Shaffer, CPA/ABV/CFF, CVA
BEDARD, KUROWICKI & CO., CPA’S, PC
908-782-7900; ext. 110
Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions or services of Darlene Shaffer or Bedard, Kurowicki & Co. Raymond James and its advisors do not offer tax advice. Unless certain criteria are met, Roth IRA owners must be 59 ½ or older and have held the IRA for five years before tax free withdrawals are permitted. Additionally, each converted amount may be subject to its own five-year holding period. Converting a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA has tax implications. Investors should consult a tax advisor before deciding to do a conversion. The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete.