Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cohabitation and Living Arrangements, What are the rules for love!

While experts say couples living together should have the same discussions about living arrangements as married couples, they advise unmarried individuals co-habiting take extra financial protections.
Before moving in together, couples should determine if they have shared lifestyles, calculate a budget and agree on who pays from what expenses, says Anna Behnam, an advisor for Ameriprise Financial. Leave emotion out of the decision-making process. “Have a black and white discussion for how you’re going to manage your assets and expenses.”
It’s also important for couples to have an exit plan in case the relationship sours, recommends Randy Kessler, founding partner of Kessler & Solomiany. “You are an individual, even in a relationship.” Agree on the terms of cohabitation and have legal agreements about anything owned together, like houses or cars: any name not on the asset means that person doesn’t’ have a legal right to it.
Experts offer the following tips to establish financial guidelines and budgets for couples getting ready to live together.
“The couples that partner together and discuss their finances are better able to meet their long term goals,” says Sandy Vaughn, financial solutions advisor and assistant vice president at Merrill Edge. Get everything out in the open.
Each party should divulge any assets, debts including credit cards and student loans, credit reports and FICO scores. It’s also a good idea to exchange net worth statements, says Tracy Stewart, certified public accountant and personal financial specialist in College Station, Texas. “Even if you’re not getting married, full disclosure is important because if the couple’s in a serious relationship and they want the relationship to thrive, open communication is key. No secrets, no surprises.”
Once a financial picture is established, decide who will pay for what. “If you make more or less than your partner, you have to be very open and clear and listen to each other,” says Stewart. Don’t be shy about talking about having the higher-earner pay more in rent, but make sure everyone is comfortable with any agreements. “Otherwise, look for a cheaper place that you can both afford 50/50. The one who makes more will be able to save more.”
Experts advise having monthly conversations about bills and goals. Once staying on budget becomes a habit or lifestyle, the talks can become less frequent.
Find a New Home
Both renting and buying comes with legal obligations.  
Be on the title, not the debt. “If you’re buying a house, it’s OK to put your name on the title but not the debt,” says Kessler. A person doesn’t have to be on the title to co-sign a mortgage. The mortgage is an obligation to repay a loan and co-signing a loan doesn’t provide entitlement to a property. “If you’re buying a house together, have an understanding of what happens to it if you break up and put it in writing,” says Kessler. Anyone making payment should keep good records of what they spend on the house and mortgage.
“Sharing assets is a different relationship—you’re making a financial and legal commitment to each other,” says Behnam. “Set up the title properly and consult an attorney on that. Have a will in place so your share of the house goes to whomever you choose.”
Decide if you want your name on the lease. “[Having your name on] a lease gives you the right to be there and the obligation to pay,” says Kessler. If one name isn’t on the lease, that person can be evicted in the event of a break up.
Have extra savings. If both are contributing to the mortgage or rent, this money can cover your partner’s share if he or she stops paying for some reason, says Stewart. “If you have an emergency fund, you can carry yourself forward if you can’t move that fast or don’t want to move that fast. It gives you flexibility.”
Create a Household Budget
Track household expenses in a spreadsheet and decide who’s paying for what, says Stewart. Be accurate with spending and base a budget on the prior 12 months—don’t forget to include restaurants, vacations and extraneous expenses. “Make sure you’re on top of the bills and that the mortgage and rent is paid on time,” says Stewart.
Track Purchases
While breaking a lease may be easy, says Behnam, it’s hard to divide up joint purchases, whether they’re assets owned outright like furniture or emotional assets like pets.
“Keep a record of what you’ve bought,” says Kessler. “Keep the receipts for things you might fight about—couches, TVs and dogs.” Writing that something is a gift gives the recipient full rights to it if a breakup occurs.
For items purchased together, decide who keeps it before or during the purchase, says Behnam. “Don’t start itemizing household assets but have an understanding. If there’s a breakup, there’s going to be enough fighting so don’t make it about a TV or sofa.”
Don’t Pay for Partner’s Debts
“Before you get married, you shouldn’t be responsible for paying someone else’s debt,” says Vaughn. “Co-signing loans doesn’t ever turn out well. If a bank isn’t going to give someone a loan, you should say no also because you’ll put yourself in a bad situation.” Having a joint credit card could negatively impact one party’s finances or credit if the relationship turns sour.
Kessler warns about paying the other person’s tuition since only one person will reap the benefits of the training and degree. “Unless you’re going to be married, don’t bail each other out,” he adds
Keep Accounts and Credit Cards Separate
Having separate checking accounts is the safest and cleanest way to split finances in the event of a breakup.
For couples with a joint account for household expenses, Behnam suggests each person only deposits what he or she is responsible for at the beginning of the month.
“It’s not about how much you love the other person, it’s about protecting yourself,” says Kessler.
For help with a scheduled plan or assistance with managing financial goals send me an email, I would be happy to assist you and your partner.
A special thanks to Fox Business for the research on Money and Cohabitation.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Planning Your Way to Success, What are your Career Goals

Successful people have goals, but even if you have a career or are already in a professional position, you may struggle on occasion with progressing along a path upwards in your career. It can be easy to feel suffocated, confined, or lacking direction when it comes to navigating through a career. To keep from veering off track, it is helpful to set up career goals. Career goals will represent objectives, benchmarks, and milestones in your career. Let’s take a look at some beneficial career goal examples to set you up for success with your chosen field. 

Can you schedule your career? Are there specific achievements you need to achieve in your 20s/30s/40s/50s to accomplish your dreams? Yes and no.

How to Set A Career Goal

Before you set a career goal, there are few things that you should know about goals, as they are set on various levels.
  1. First, decide what you want to do, accomplish, or be in life.
  2. Secondly, split your larger goal into smaller and more achievable goals or targets that you have to achieve.  This will make accomplishing your goal easier to manage and will help streamline the process into reaching your ultimate goal.
  3. Finally, you will want to formulate and develop a proper plan for your goal.  It can be best to establish a step by step plan that will enable you to start working towards achieving it.

6 Career Goal Examples

Increase Performance Metrics:  Certain industries and companies use performance metrics when they evaluate an employee’s performance, productivity, and effectiveness levels.  Metric numbers generally measure things such as customer satisfaction, organization performance, employee competence, and cost management.  Metrics are usually measured on a weekly basis, but they can be measured daily as well.  A good career goal could be to increase your performance metrics, which will help show the value that you bring as an employee to the organization or company that you are working for.
Earn a Promotion:  It is always a good feeling to get promoted, and a promotion involves careful planning, commitment, and execution on your part as an employee.  For instance, you may need to: do additional work, take on more projects, develop relationships with other department members, and update your resume.  A promotion will generally be a long term goal that you can work towards overtime.
Earn a Management Position:  After you have been working with a company or business for awhile, you might have an itch to advance in your position.  If your career goal is to earn a management or an executive position, your goal could range from lasting 6 months, to 5 to 10 years depending on the field that you are in.  This type of career goal can require a series of short term goals to help you reach the position you desire.
Start a Business:  A lot of people associate success with branching out on their own, and a viable career goal, in that case, can be to start your own business or open your own practice to become your own boss.  Many people, generally between the ages of 18 and 34 have the desire to start a business if they have not already started one.  When opening your own business, it can be helpful to outline a series of short term goals that can help you get to where you need to be.
Get a Job:  For many people, especially in this economy, an example of a career goal might be obtaining employment and finding a career.  If you are looking to find employment, there are plenty of short term goals that you can develop that can be completed before you reach your final goal of obtaining a career.  Remember to be patient in trying to find a job, as it can be a long but rewarding process.
Earn A Degree or Certificate:  Earning a degree or a certificate is a great step into jump starting you career goals and putting you on a path towards success.  Most careers require that the person has specific knowledge, education, or a specific degree when it comes to furthering or advancing in their career.  Once you are able to obtain proper education, you can look to increasing your career goal options.

More Career Goal Examples

  • Switch jobs to one that you know you will enjoy more.
  • Identify personal boundaries at work and know what you should do to make your day more productive and manageable.
  • Communicate more effectively at work.
  • Feel happier and more positive during your workday.
  • Develop more friendships at work and try to be less competitive.
  • Double your sales or productivity, depending on your job.
  • Pick up and learn a new skill.
  • Set your eye on a specific award at work and go for it.
  • Be more organized with your daily goals.
  • De-clutter your work space and keep yourself organized throughout the week.
  • Partner up with another person to increase productivity.
  • Find a mentor or become a mentor.
  • Be known as an expert in a certain field or area.
  • Manage your clients better and more efficiently.
  • Create a website, promotional material, or social media page for your business.
  • Improve company profitability by a certain percentage.
  • Delegate work and tasks more effectively to increase your own productivity.
  • Send thank you notes to staff, clients, and managers.
  • Take a vacation and log off from work to fresh your mind.
  • Learn how to network better and attend networking events.
  • Learn how to reduce work hours without compromising productivity.
  • Go after the career of your dreams to find work in a field that does not feel like a job.
  • Stop micromanaging your staff.
  • career goals examplesReduce personal or business expenses by a certain percentage.
  • Join Toastmasters to improve your presentation and speaking skills.
  • Delete old emails and old files from computer to make yourself more organized.
  • Learn how to say “NO” politely at work.
  • Learn how to under-promise and over-deliver with clients or managers to surprise them.
  • Develop relationships with coworkers and clients to make work seem more enjoyable.
  • Become more creative and break out of your rut.
  • Build a personal brand or an online website or blog.
  • Do things that will make you feel more energized at work.
  • Ask for a raise.
  • Update your resume and cover letter.
  • Send out a certain number of resumes each day to potential employers if you are looking for a job.
  • Ask your boss for more responsibility or more clients at work.
  • Ask to be trained more for skills in a new department.

Tips for Setting A Career Goal

  1. Know your strengths and weaknesses.  There are probably certain areas of life where you can better excel professional than others.
  2. Know what you overall goal is for your career.  Ask yourself questions such as, “Where do I want to be in “X” number of years?”  This will help you know where your life is going and how it will intersect with your career.  There may be other goals that you will be interested in pursuing with time, so develop a time frame for your goal.
  3. Know the steps you will need to take to achieve your goal in “X” amount of time.  Consider any road blocks you may face and think about how you will overcome them.
  4. Be sure to measure the progress of your goal each week or month.  This will help keep you motivated and provide you with a sense of accomplishment.

Plan Accordingly

A career is one of the most important things in your life, and with the properly planned career and career goals, you will be able to achieve what you want from your career in the most efficient way possible. 
Contact us for help in defining your career goals. I will be excited to learn of what the future holds for you!

Thanks to udemy and their blog of the amazing research!

Monday, February 8, 2016

My Credit Score Valentine, What You Should Discover Early On About The Person Your Dating!

"Your credit report is your financial report card and your credit score is your grade. Together, they show if you've got your life together," said Chantel Chapman, Financial Fitness Coach with Mogo. "Let's say you're in a relationship with someone and you want to buy a house together. If your credit rocks and theirs sucks, that might not bode well for your future together. And sure, you're probably not-and you shouldn't be-picking a partner based on their net worth, but it is important to be aligned with someone who has habits and goals that are on your level."
As Mogo explored ways to talk to their largely millennial audience about financial fitness, they discovered fascinating parallels between relationships and money, and decided to explore the connection further. Partially inspired by recent Federal Reserve Board research examining the link between credit trustworthiness and trustworthiness in relationships Mogo launched a survey in December 2015. They asked questions such as "Do you know your significant other's credit score?" and "If you found out your partner had bad credit, what would you do?"

Key survey findings:
  • 67% of replies claimed to favour an awesome credit score over model good looks
  • 50% of people in a loving relationship admit to NOT knowing their partner's credit score
  • Finding out that a significant other is scoring low isn't a deal breaker: 87% of respondents said they would actively encourage their partner to fix it
  • 40% of respondents think you should know your partner's credit score before you move in together:
    • 20% think you should know before buying a home
    • 15% think you should know before getting married
    • 2% think you should know before having sex
  • 6% of respondents said you should ask your date about their credit score during the first few dates
Tips on how to bring up the "credit talk" while dating
Chantel Chapman, Mogo's Financial Fitness Coach, advises that those in the dating scene should have the talk early rather than wait too long. She offers these additional tips for having the "credit talk":
Before you have the talk, start looking for signs that indicate that your partner might not be on top of their credit. Things such as: they're really disorganized, they're forgetful about dates and deadlines, they get a lot of phone calls that they don't answer in front of you, among others. If you notice these things, you should probably have the talk. But either way, you should definitely have it before you combine finances/get serious.
Know that finding out your significant other has a low score is an opportunity to educate and become closer. 87% of survey respondents said they would actively encourage their partner to fix it and only 2% said it may be cause for breaking up. There's a lot of information out there; If they love you, they want to help.
Big earners may not equal great credit. Don't be afraid to ask, even if you're dating a big earner. They might make $150,000 a year, but are they responsible, and how do they handle their money?
It's not about the score… or maybe it is. You want to connect with someone who can respect your financial values. A credit score is a great indicator. Think of it as a shortcut to understanding some one's values and everyday habits.
Need more information on how to turn your credit score around? Looking for more tips on financial planning for your future? Email Me to set up a meeting to discuss how you can have the perfect score before or after you marry!
Thanks to SOURCE Mogo Finance Technology Inc for the research and information for this article.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Dating and Finances

The Right Time To Talk About It!

U.S. News asked dating and money experts which financial issues couples in long-term relationships encounter most often and to share their suggestions for tackling relationship money matters. Communication is the key factor, but as Felicia Garland, a financial advisor at Greenberg & Rapp Financial Group, Inc. in East Hanover, New Jersey, says, “There really is no right and wrong. It’s what they both feel comfortable with.”
Have an honest discussion about finances. Once you decide you’re serious about your relationship, discuss your personal financial matters, says Laurel House, dating expert and author of, “Screwing the Rules: The No-Games Guide to Love."
To start the discussion, House says to first air your financial situation and concerns. “The reason why you’re going to expose yourself first is because you need to create an environment of trust and safety,” House says. This conversation can lead you to share your career aspirations and ideal lifestyle. In many cases, it will bring a couple closer together, she explains.
If you have different opinions on how money should be spent, regular money talks may help, says Sophia Bera, founder of Gen Y Planning, a financial advisory firm. She tells her clients to set aside a scheduled time each week to have those conversations.
Garland, who has been in a relationship for eight years, says talking is the best way to work through their financial differences. “Even though our saving and spending habits are very different ... I think we are both cognizant of each other’s. We tend to communicate more and felt that it was important to communicate about it early on.”
Make a joint account for vacations and entertainment. Maintaining an account for funding expensive entertainment allows you to work together financially for a common objective. “I’ve known couples who wanted to save jointly for goals such as vacation,” Bera says. “They open a joint savings account for a goal of traveling together or [making] home renovations.”
Another option is to budget a few months in advance. Erin Thorsby, a 26-year-old who lives in the District of Columbia and has been dating her boyfriend for three years, says they use this strategy instead of opening a joint account. "We’ll say for the next couple of months we should save X amount of money," Thorsby says.
Avoid cosigning loans. Though this decision depends on the level of trust you have established with your partner, in general, experts agree that cosigning a loan is unwise because you are responsible for paying the bill if your partner can't. “I think that’s one situation that people think, ‘Oh, I just have better credit. I’m going to cosign this loan, so he can get a lower interest rate,’” Bera says. “I’ve seen that end up backfiring for people.”
Consider what makes you both comfortable when deciding who pays for date night. Thorsby and her boyfriend usually trade off paying for events. "If one of us plans something, though, that person will take the lead on that event," she says. "We don’t normally split a dinner bill." 
Garland says the couple should do what they feel comfortable with, whether it's splitting the bill or treating their significant other to dinner. “I think if they’re both comfortable sharing, each pay their own way,' Garland says. "I like to feel like I’m carrying my own weight. If it’s a significant relationship and you’re both comfortable contributing to the cost of the relationship, I think that makes perfect sense.” 
For those living together or thinking about making the move, consider these options:
1. Make a contract before moving in together. Blake Muller, a 27-year-old from Denham Springs, Louisiana, says the decision to move in together should not be made in a hurry. He and his girlfriend of two years broke up temporarily three months ago while they were living together, and he moved out.
Although they continued their relationship, they do not have plans to move back in together in the near future. "I think [living together] is a good idea," he says. "I don't know if it's the best idea. I would definitely say don't rush into things." If you’re buying a house together but not getting married yet, House advises writing a contract. 
She recommends the contract include pets, large or expensive shared personal belongings, and who receives the property in case you split up. If you are purchasing the residence, she suggests you write out who will buy the other out and how.  "While the process can be frustrating and awkward – you're essentially planning for the breakup – if the relationship does not in fact work out, it can save you financially in the end," House says.
2. Use one joint account to pay bills. Garland suggests that you set up one joint bank account, make regular deposits from your income and pay the main bills, including rent and utilities, from that pool of money. “We have a joint checking account, and we’ll put in some percentage of our income into that account and pay the bills from there,” Garland says. If you decide to merge most of your money, however, make sure to keep separate accounts for what Garland calls flush money or discretionary spending on things like weekend activities, clothes and accessories.
3. Split daily expenses down the middle, if possible. Andrew Lapin, 24, and his girlfriend of four and a half years moved in a Washington, D.C. apartment together about six months ago. He says they discussed finances seriously for the first time when they began thinking about living together. They decided to share everyday costs 50-50, from groceries to gas. They also created a Google Doc to keep track of their purchases and record more expensive transactions, though they have no set price threshold. 
If you have different approaches to money, however, Garland says to set a limit you can spend up to on a single purchase before consulting each other. “It’s a good idea to ask, ‘At what point do you want to know?’ If it’s your own money, even then you’ll want to set one, especially when one party is more of a spender,” she says.
Although finances can be difficult for many couples, they can also bring a couple closer. Susan Whitbourne, a University of Massachusetts Amherst psychology professor, says working through financial issues successfully can benefit other parts of your relationship. “If you can work out the finances," she says, "then it could be a model for how you work out other problems.”
What financial plans do you have in place for your relationship? If you need assistance in setting up accounts, or want suggestions on debt free solutions and other financial matters email me I will be happy to provide you with options on your financial matters and proactive solutions.

Thank to US News Money for these tips and research!