News & Insights

Embracing Retirement by Making the Right Housing Decisions

by Ellen Li, MSBA, CFP® on 9/22/2017

As a busy financial advisor and  mother, I like to balance myself with the practice of yoga. To me, yoga is more than just the practice of body movement, it’s  also an exercise of mental discipline.  Recently one of my favorite instructors used “embrace change” as our mantra and it really resonated  with me both  professionally and personally.

At Financial Alternatives, we recently helped two clients make new housing choices in their retirement years — one client remodeled their house and redesigned the living space on the first floor to make living there safer and more comfortable. The second client decided to move to an assisted living facility. In both cases, it was a transition, a new change that our clients embraced with courage and wisdom.  Stories such as these show the importance of making the right housing decisions  during your retirement years. These decisions could  have a tremendous effect on you  both financially and emotionally.

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posted in BlogGeneralPersonal Finance

5 Steps to Take After the Equifax Breach

by Chris Jaccard, CFP®, CFA on 9/14/2017

Background

Now that some of the dust has settled on one of the worst cyber security breaches in history, we think everyone should go through the 5 steps listed below.  Why everyone?  Because there is no way to be certain if you have been affected by the Equifax breach or not.  I entered false info to test Equifax’s verification site including a last name of “test” and a SSN of “123456” only to find that it positively identified me as a person impacted by the breach.  [9/16/17 Update: Equifax’s Chief Information Officer and Chief Security Officer are “retiring” and their internal investigation continues.]

Also, please make sure everyone in your family has taken these steps including your spouse, kids in college, domestic partner, and perhaps even minor children.

Step 1: Review Your Credit Report

Use the Annual Credit Report site to review your credit report from at least one of the three listed credit reporting agencies (“CRAs”).  By law, you are allowed one copy every 12 months, so we suggest you request a report from one of the three CRAs every 4 months.  Check for rogue activity or inaccuracies, and contact the CRAs to address the issue.

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posted in BlogGeneralPersonal Finance

Thank Vanguard for Lower Investment Costs. What Makes Them Different?

by Jim Freeman, CFP® on 9/5/2017

Most investors do not know this but The Vanguard Group is radically different from all other investment firms. What makes them different is that they are owned by the funds they manage – a unique arrangement that eliminates conflicting loyalties.

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posted in BlogGeneral

New Medi-Cal Recovery Laws; another Reason Why Proper Estate Planning is Needed

by Ellen Li, MSBA, CFP® on 5/24/2017

Long –term care in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home care can be very expensive. If you don’t have substantial assets or a good long term care insurance policy, the cost of care may deplete your assets over time.

What happens then?

If you qualify for Medi-Cal, (California’s version of Medicaid), it will pay for the cost of care, subject to recovery (repayment) from the estate when the recipient dies. In the past, the aggressive recovery program  put an inordinate burden on the heirs and survivors who were sometimes  forced to sell the family home to pay the estate claim or forced to sign a “voluntary lien” which accrued at 7% annual interest.

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posted in BlogGeneralPersonal Finance

Scam Watch: Protect Yourself From Phishing Schemes

by Thao Truong on 11/4/2016

It has recently come to our attention that the clients of some of our colleagues have reported a jump in the number of phishing attempts on their investment accounts. Although we haven’t heard this from any of our clients recently, we understand that becoming a cyber-security victim can be very painful and costly.

We continually upgrade our systems and procedures to help prevent and detect unauthorized access, but hackers are getting smarter and bolder. Because security is a shared responsibility, we think our clients and others need to know what a phishing attack looks like and what steps they can take to defend themselves.

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posted in BlogGeneralPersonal Finance

A Meaningful Gift for a Young Person

by Jim Freeman, CFP® on 7/2/2015

“Why Didn’t They Teach Me This In School? 99 Personal Money Management Principles to Live By” was written by Cary Siegel for his five children in an attempt to teach them sound financial planning and money management principles.

The book is a quick read and would serve as an excellent introduction to basic financial planning and money management principles for any young person. Siegel breaks his 100 principles into the following seven lessons:

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posted in BlogGeneralPersonal Finance

Chris Jaccard Promoted to Partner

by Jim Freeman, CFP® on 3/19/2015

I am proud to announce that Chris Jaccard recently became a partner at Financial Alternatives, Inc.  Since joining the firm in June 2002, I have been impressed by Chris’ dedication to our mission of providing expert, objective wealth management services and advice to our clients.

Over the years, Chris has played key roles in several areas of the business from back office technology to advanced investment and financial planning.  And as an experienced CFP® and CFA® advisor, I value Chris’ professional expertise and his continued efforts to improve our service to clients.

While I have no thoughts of retiring any time soon, this partnership sets up Chris’s role in the future of our business – to help ensure we continue a tradition of excellent service for many years to come.  We are committed to building a firm that our clients and future generations can rely on for personalized and professional financial planning and investment management services.

Now more than ever, we believe that individuals and families are best served by independent, commission-free advisors who take an integrated approach to wealth management in order to help them achieve success in all areas of their financial lives.

posted in BlogGeneral

What is the value of the CFP® mark and why is it important?

by Chris Jaccard, CFP®, CFA on 6/17/2014

An article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal calls into question the value of the CFP® certification and other credentials through the eyes of investment advisors and wealth managers. Since the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards has stepped up enforcement of its rules over the past year, it’s easy to find critics in the advisor community. In short, they were catching advisors claiming to work on a “fee-only” basis who were actually receiving commissions and fees.

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posted in BlogGeneral

Should You Get Your Financial Advice from a Private Fiduciary or a Representative of a Publicly Traded Company?

by Jim Freeman, CFP® on 3/14/2014

John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard investments has dedicated his life to putting investors first and driving down the costs of mutual funds. In chapter 13 of his recent book, “Don’t Count On It!” he tells an interesting story of a 1958 court ruling that according to Bogle, “played a definitive role in setting the investment industry on a new course in which manager entrepreneurship in the search for personal profit would supersede manager stewardship in the search for prudent investment return for fund shareholders.”

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posted in BlogGeneralInvestments

What the King of Cyber Fraud Can Teach Us

by Chris Jaccard, CFP®, CFA on 9/1/2013

At a recent conference I attended, I learned a little about the story of Tobechi Onwuhara. Tobe spent years near the top of the FBI’s most wanted list, and after his capture in March, he pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering. In less than three years, he stole at least $44 million as the mastermind of a cybercriminal crew.

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posted in BlogGeneralPersonal Finance

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Posts are general in nature and do not constitute the rendering of legal, investment, accounting or other professional advice.