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So far Arrivity Financial Planning has created 15 blog entries.

The Road Ahead: It’s time to talk to your parents about…money

By Liz Behlke

When my dad was around 85 and dealing with health issues, I made some time for the two of us to have lunch together while Mom was off with friends. I told him I’d done some research that I wanted to share.

“Dad,” I said, “A while ago you told me you wanted your memorial to be a bench at the university with your name on it. Well, I called someone to find out if that’s a possibility and what the options are.”

I was a bit concerned that dad wouldn’t want to talk about his mortality, but it turns out he was grateful for the conversation. Later, I was even able to arrange for him to choose the exact spot where his bench would be installed.

Talking about the end of life is difficult, but I’m glad I did. Talking about money can be just as awkward. It’s easy to imagine an older parent feeling like you’re plotting their demise. That’s why these conversations need to happen with sensitivity. In fact, you might find that older parents have been thinking about this more than you realize. It’s important for you to understand your parents’ financial situation, for many reasons.

For starters, you’ll want to know if their money will last, or whether you may have to support them in the future. Also, depending on your parents’ assets there are things they can do while they’re still around to benefit children and grandchildren. But if you’re in the dark about your parent’s financial situation and their wishes, you’re just waiting to be surprised later.

Your parents are probably more ready than you think

If you haven’t had these discussions yet, it could be your own squeamishness that’s holding you back. It’s hard to face the fact that someday the people you love will no longer be with you. The reality is that once someone reaches their 70s and 80s, they’ve lost many friends already and they’re likely to be regular obituary readers. It tends to make them very clear eyed about the future.

Having tricky discussions with your aging parents may just be a matter of finding the right moment. Remember, it isn’t something you drop on them the day you arrive on a holiday visit. If you’ve never broached the topic before, take it slow. It’s important to respect how your parents feel, and that probably means a lot of listening at first.

If you tune into what your parents are thinking about, you may find the right opening for the money conversation. For example, if they tell you about a friend’s passing you could bring up the importance of estate planning. Or discussions about a grandchild’s college plans may be a jumping-off point for broader financial topics. It’s likely that once you open the door, you’ll all begin to feel more comfortable. But also, be sure it doesn’t become the only thing you’re talking about.

Planning together

The process of creating a financial plan can be a useful catalyst for money discussions with older parents. Tell your parents you’re working on your own financial plan and imagine how proud they’ll feel – they raised you well. This also gives you an opportunity to talk about the assumptions you can build into your plan around gifts, inheritance, and even support for your kids’ college.

Your financial plan gives you tangible and objective information to share and discuss. You can also help your parents understand the importance of having a financial plan of their own, with everything spelled out so there’s no confusion or disagreements when the time comes for family members to carry out their wishes.

My dad’s bench has been installed exactly where he wanted it, on the campus where he spent 40 years of his working life. I went by there the other day and sat for a while, thinking about how Dad would be pleased that I’m helping Mom with her finances. How I’m making sure she has a plan for her lifetime and her legacy.

Questions to ask yourself before talking to parents about money

  • What’s important to you – making sure your parents have enough money, supporting the next generation, or just knowing their wishes?
  • Are you open to hearing about their wishes, even if they don’t fully align with your expectations?
  • Are you able to include siblings in the conversation, and what role do you expect them to play?

Action Steps

  • Even if your parents aren’t ready to share the contents of their will, ask them to make sure it’s up to date and to let you know where it’s filed.
  • Talk to your parents about documenting their choice for power of attorney (POA). The individual(s) designated with POA should know where to locate all important documents in case they’re called on to make decisions on behalf of a parent.
  • As your parents begin sharing financial information with you, ask them if you can keep a record of their accounts and passwords in a safe place.
  • Your parents’ interests and values should always be at the forefront. If you’re recommending a certain action, you should be able to explain how it aligns with their wishes.

Please contact us at 206.217.2583 or info@arrivity.com if we can assist you or someone you know with financial planning.

Liz is a Late Boomer in the sandwich generation who started an independent writing and brand consulting practice after years as a senior marketing executive. She lives in Seattle, Washington. Her mother lives nearby and her daughter comes home during college breaks.

The foregoing content reflects the opinions of Liz Behlke and is subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that the statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns Securities investing involves risk, including the potential for loss of principal. There is no assurance that any investment plan or strategy will be successful.

By |2022-04-28T21:53:49+00:00April 28th, 2022|Categories: News|0 Comments

The Road Ahead: Into house and home

By Liz Behlke

One recent weekend I painted my bedroom walls a dark cobalt blue. Then I sent a photo to my cousin who said, “That’s going to be hard to paint over when you decide to sell your house.” I know. And I don’t care. The color makes me happy. My home is small and quirky and nearly 100 years old. It’s a reflection of my personality, but also my biggest investment.

There are lots of ways to think about home ownership. For some it’s an investment or a symbol of accomplishment, while for others it’s a place to set down roots and build a family. Many people see their home as an extension of their lifestyle. There’s no right way to feel about home ownership, but the more you understand what home means to you, the less likely it will make you feel trapped…or pinched.

Owning a home is both a joy and a responsibility. You can paint the rooms any shade you like, renovate and remodel, and choose fixtures that make you smile. Of course, you also have to repair leaky toilets, mow the lawn, and have the furnace inspected. I know, because I’ve done all those things. Not to mention sewing curtains, re-finishing doors, and installing shelving. But beyond being a place of your own, a home can also be a tangible financial asset. So you need to balance what you put into it with what you can get out of it.

The changing tide of home ownership

It used to be that home ownership was a rite of passage into adulthood. Things have changed in the last decade and a half. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, many people found themselves trapped in homes they couldn’t afford. They had been lured into mortgages beyond their means. When the housing bubble burst, some owed more on their homes than they were worth.

Now, some young adults are questioning the trade-off between home ownership and the freedom to travel, change jobs, or invest for the future. And with the pandemic, homes suddenly became workplaces, too. But remote work also meant that people didn’t have to live within commuting distance of the office. The little white house with a picket fence is no longer everyone’s dream – nor is it within everyone’s reach.

What kind of home to buy – and whether to buy a home at all – is a very personal decision. A home should fit your family’s needs, lifestyle, and budget. With home prices continuing to rise, it’s important to consider home ownership in the context of your overall financial situation.

Navigating your first home purchase

If you’ve never purchased a home before, there’s a lot to think about. Fortunately, there are resources available so you can study up before you take the plunge. Consider taking a homebuying class through a non-profit group or local credit union. There are also lots of resources online where you can learn the basics. And, of course, friends and family members often have great advice, too. Just remember that someone who has lived in the same place for decades may be blown away by the complexities of today’s homebuying process.

When you begin working with a mortgage loan officer and a real estate agent, keep in mind that they pocket a healthy sum of money when a home sale is finalized. So don’t be shy about asking a lot of questions and being honest about what you want. That’s what they’re there for.

Take your time – the home you buy should fit your needs as well as your financial situation. Be sure you understand all the components of the investment you’re planning to make: Balancing your down payment with monthly payments. How an amortization schedule works. The impact of insurance, taxes, and fees. And how to factor in expenses like maintenance, HOA dues, utilities – and paint for the walls.

Owning a home is a wonderful opportunity, but paying for it shouldn’t restrict you from doing other things in life that are important to you. Your financial advisor can help you factor home buying into your financial plan, whether you’re ready to buy now or you want to save for a down payment.

Questions when you’re thinking about home ownership

  • Has everyone in your household had a chance to express what kind of house they’d like?
  • Which features are you willing to trade off to get what you want in a home?
  • How will you handle home maintenance – will you do-it-yourself, or hire tradespeople?

Action Steps

  • A mortgage pre-approval can show how much home you could buy, but it’s a good idea to run that number by your financial advisor to make sure it’s consistent with your budget goals.
  • If your parents or other family members are willing to help with a down payment, be sure to let your financial advisor know so they can factor that into the budgeting.
  • Consider writing down a list of questions to ask your realtor, loan officer, and financial advisor so you feel fully informed throughout the process.

Please contact us at 206.217.2583 or info@arrivity.com if we can assist you or someone you know with financial planning.

Liz is a Late Boomer in the sandwich generation who started an independent writing and brand consulting practice after years as a senior marketing executive. She lives in Seattle, Washington. Her mother lives nearby and her daughter comes home during college breaks.

The foregoing content reflects the opinions of Liz Behlke and is subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that the statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns Securities investing involves risk, including the potential for loss of principal. There is no assurance that any investment plan or strategy will be successful.

By |2022-03-24T17:27:40+00:00March 24th, 2022|Categories: News|0 Comments

The Road Ahead: Map Life’s Adventure with a Financial Plan

By Liz Behlke

Before the whole world was carrying a GPS around in their pockets, I loved planning weekend camping trips using detailed topographical maps. I’d unfold a section of the wilderness on my kitchen table, locate a starting point, then trace alternate routes into scenic high country, waterfalls, or alpine lakes. Using the map in front of me I could choose a leisurely hike or a strenuous expedition and I’d have a pretty good idea of what kind of gear I would need for the trip.

Having the whole picture right in front of me was reassuring: I could visualize the terrain and even plot out alternate routes in case conditions on my chosen trail started to get hairy. With my topo map in my pocket, I felt confident to occasionally leave the beaten path and explore hidden vistas. Adventure is exhilarating, and even better when you have a plan.

Choose your path

A personal financial plan is rather like that topographical map. With a detailed view of the landscape, you can plot out different routes depending on where you want to go and what you’d like to see along the way. Your goals and aspirations determine the destination for your financial plan. Once you’ve plotted your route, you’ll have a good idea how you’re going to get there, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do some exploring along the way.

Why have a financial plan

It’s never a good idea to set off into the wilderness without a map. And it’s also no fun to hike only where the crowds are because you’re unsure of the path. A financial plan is a great way to plan your life journey, whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned traveler. Your financial plan helps you:

  • Prioritize your goals – like buying a house, paying off debt, or funding retirement and plan how to get there.
  • Gain a better understanding of how to structure savings, investments, and insurance to secure your future.
  • Make sure unexpected events or emergencies don’t become disasters.
  • Stay motivated because you have a plan for reaching your goals.
  • Know what kind of resources you have so you can splurge or take a calculated risk.

Your personal financial plan also helps you have more productive conversations with your spouse, partner, or family members about finances – it literally keeps you all on the same page. Money is an emotional topic, but better information and an objective planning process can help keep everyone on track.

You may ask why I still prefer a topographical map when I’m exploring the wilderness. It’s because I’ve heard about the trouble people get into when they just rely on their mobile device. I prefer to know the landscape and have a complete plan, not just get directions for which way to turn next.

If you’re not familiar with how to read a topographical map, you may need some pointers. And when it comes to financial planning, your Arrivity planner can guide you through the financial terrain that lies ahead and make sure your journey is full of the right kind of adventure.

Questions for setting goals

  • What do you want to accomplish in life regardless of your financial resources?
  • What does it mean for you to live your values? How do your goals align with your values?
  • Do you know which goals are truly yours, and which are expectations that come from those around you?

Action steps

  • Next time you want to talk to your spouse or partner about money, talk about creating a financial plan instead.
  • Write down your goals on individual cards and organize them by importance. You can do this individually or as a family.
  • To make sure your financial plan is thorough, gather all your financial statements, insurance, and asset information in one place for your planner to review.

Please contact us at 206.217.2583 or info@arrivity.com if we can assist you or someone you know with financial planning.

Liz is a Late Boomer in the sandwich generation who started an independent writing and brand consulting practice after years as a senior marketing executive. She lives in Seattle, Washington. Her mother lives nearby and her daughter comes home during college breaks.

The foregoing content reflects the opinions of Liz Behlke and is subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that the statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns Securities investing involves risk, including the potential for loss of principal. There is no assurance that any investment plan or strategy will be successful.

By |2022-03-24T17:26:04+00:00February 28th, 2022|Categories: News|0 Comments

The Road Ahead: What does risk tolerance mean?

By Liz Behlke

Are you Bunny Slope or Black Diamond?

I have to be honest, whenever I meet with my financial planner and we get to the questions about risk tolerance, I suddenly become extremely uncertain: Am I a low risk person? Highly risk tolerant? Or somewhere in between?

Most of the time I seem like a low risk individual. I drive close to the speed limit, avoid bungy jumping, and stay inside during lightning storms. On the other hand, I’m a person who walked away from a secure corporate job in my mid-50s to become happily self-employed. Risk is a complicated topic. One person’s no-go is someone else’s idea of a howling good time.

Risk tolerance and your financial strategy

It’s important for your financial planner to understand your tolerance for financial risk so they can make recommendations for your investment strategy. They’ll want to understand how comfortable you are with uncertainty. You might get a thrill out of tracking the day-to-day movements of stocks, or you could be someone who freaks out when you see minus signs on your investment statement. If your portfolio doesn’t align with your risk tolerance, it will be more challenging for you to follow your financial plan on the journey toward your financial goals.

Risk tolerance is a very personal thing that’s shaped by experience, background, and plain old temperament. Think of it like a ski resort: Ski resorts have different types of terrain, all the way from the beginner bunny hill up to double black diamond. Skiers choose their runs based on a number of factors including their personal skill level and how much of a rush they’re looking for. When I was skiing in my 20s, it was no big deal to wipe out occasionally. Now I’d rather have a relaxed day in the crisp mountain air (followed by a hot toddy in the lodge).

Risk tolerance is an assessment of comfort level. One skier may have the skills to attempt a black diamond run, but they may not enjoy the added adrenaline. Other skiers are only satisfied in the backcountry where the risk is high but so is the thrill. The key is to hit the slopes with the right equipment and a good trail map, so you can maximize fun while minimizing danger.

Your risk is personal

I like to keep all this in mind when I meet with my financial planner. When the subject of risk tolerance comes up, I know there’s no “right” answer. They’ll ask a series of questions to try to zero in on my personal comfort level – this isn’t meant to put me in a box. What it does is guide investment strategies that will help me meet my goals without losing sleep.

I’ve also realized it’s important not to over-think questions of risk tolerance because it’s only a snapshot. My financial plan can – and should – be adjusted over time based on conversations with my financial planner and my changing goals and attitudes.

For some, risk can mean opportunity, excitement, or a shot at big gains. But since life is uncertain, you also need to know how you feel about the potential for losses. Your Arrivity® planner will help you determine your risk tolerance so your personal financial plan stays on the right road.

Questions for thinking about financial risk

  • What’s your reaction when you hear about a stock market decline?
  • Where do you keep your rainy day fund, and is it enough for you?
  • When you check in on your investments, do you feel like you should be making changes, or are you just tracking long-term progress?

Action steps

  • When assessing risk, make sure you’re talking about your entire financial portfolio. Sometimes safer investments can balance more risky ones.
  • If you’re not certain about the overall risk level of your investments, you can contact Arrivity Financial Planning for a plan update.
  • If you find yourself feeling unsettled in times of excess stock market volatility, contact your financial planner before making significant changes to your portfolio.

Please contact us at 206.217.2583 or info@arrivity.com if we can assist you or someone you know with financial planning.

Liz is a Late Boomer in the sandwich generation who started an independent writing and brand consulting practice after years as a senior marketing executive. She lives in Seattle, Washington. Her mother lives nearby and her daughter comes home during college breaks.

The foregoing content reflects the opinions of Liz Behlke and is subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that the statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns Securities investing involves risk, including the potential for loss of principal. There is no assurance that any investment plan or strategy will be successful.

By |2022-03-24T17:26:53+00:00February 2nd, 2022|Categories: News|0 Comments