Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Remembering to Give Back

We have a lot of ways to express this sentiment. "Don't forget where you came from," some will say. Others remark that "it takes a village to raise a child."(While neither was the first to say these things) recording artist Jim Jones said he was a product of his environment while Isaac Newton likened his findings to merely standing on the shoulders of giants.

Who we are today depends greatly on the communities and institutions that we grew up in.

It is important to give back to those communities and institutions so that others can share and grow in towards the good fortune we have been offered. Colleges and universities are particularly good at this, with some schools raising billions to support their students, staff and mission. Many community organizations, on the other hand, have far fewer resources to start with, relying on minimal, or even volunteer staff to bring in grants and individual donations.

With many different causes begging for our attention, it can be difficult to really plan charitable giving. It can be difficult to pick out a charity to give to if you want to make it a part of your regular budget, or when a special need arises, we may not have the funds available to give. While the ultra-wealthy may set up their own foundation to have more clarity and control over their giving, that is not a practical option for most people. It is not possible, however, for almost anyone to have access to an account with similar benefits as a private foundation while remaining cost effective down to amounts as low as $5,000.

Donor-Advised Funds are an increasingly popular way to plan charitable giving. This is an account which essentially acts as a private foundation for any individual. These allow the account owner to make a gift to the fund, and allocate the final recipients later. Gifts can be made on a one time or recurring basis, and can consist of cash or tradeable securities. Whenever you desire to donate, you have an account specifically designated to give from.

Donor-Advised Funds have many benefits beyond simplifying charitable giving. The tax advantages of donating appreciated stock are immense. Not only do you avoid paying capital gains tax on the sale of the stock, you get an income deduction for the amount of the donation. This reduces the cost of giving to the donor, and increases the value of gifts to the charity! Not all charities are set up to accept stock transfers, but the Donor-Advised Fund can take the stock, and disburse cash to the charity. As the Donor-Advised Fund is a distinct entity, it can be named as beneficiary of other accounts, insurance policies and in your will. This makes it a valuable part of estate planning if a charitable legacy is important to you.

There are a few ways to open an account like this. The Jackson Community Foundation is set up to allow gifts like this, or if you prefer more visability and control, brokerages like Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade custody this type of account as well. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions about setting up your own little foundation!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New Purrrrr.... A Meow Site

We have a new/meow website!

You'll notice new pictures and a new look. We're just trying to shake things up a bit. And we've
added some pics of cats-- just because. Because they're cute. Because they're fun. Because we can.

What do cats have to do with financial advice? Nothing, but maybe you'll click on www.newPurr.com just to see the little furry creatures. When you do, you'll learn a little about us.

New Perspectives, Inc. is my baby. I gave birth to this financial advisory business in 1993. I saw a need for women in this testosterone-heavy business, so I started a fee-only money management business on a wing and a prayer. Twenty plus years later, we're going strong with around 140 clients and $70 million dollars under management.

I've stayed committed to a business that focuses on client service and sound investment principles. And I've added some wonderful staff along the way who believe in this approach. Ryder, Jackie and Susan are champs! They perform efficiently. They are people of integrity, and they are just plain fun to be around! I couldn't ask for a better group to take care of our clients.

But I have to say, it's easy to take care of our clients. Rarely a day goes by when we don't marvel at the wonderful people who come our way. Our clients are just the best!

So, take a look at our new "look," and tell us what you think. Jackie and I are trying to figure out how to use Photoshop so we can look a little younger... and thinner! And you can still find us at www.newPER.com, but, yes, we did register the NewPurr site, too! Because we can!

Monday, June 02, 2014

avoiding mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. In much of life, we learn the most by making our own mistakes and figuring our way out of them. When it comes to your money, however, mistakes can get very, very expensive. Here are a few mistakes that are very costly, but easy to avoid.

  1. Not getting started early. At an oft-quoted 7% annual return, your money will double roughly every 10 years. That means that your money will quadruple in twenty years, or increase 8- and 16-fold over 30 and 40 years. If you are saving for retirement at 65, putting money away at age 25 is twice as effective as waiting until age 35 and four times as effective as waiting until 45!
  2. Getting into high fee products. Fees take a haircut right off the top of your accounts. So-called "Loads" on some mutual funds may take around 5.5% of your initial investment - which needs 6% returns to recover! Variable annuities and riders on them also rob your account and performance. Surrender charges of up to 10% keep you locked into restrictive products for up to 10 years and annual fees easily top 2% for even the most basic line. With fee only advisors, discount brokers and services like Betterment, there is no need to pay much at all to get your investments on track.
  3. Not understanding debts. Debt is a double edged sword - it can be incredibly useful and sometimes the only way to afford something, but the extra cost of interest can sometimes become a unsustainable burden on its own. Keep your eye on interest rates - a 4-5% mortgage is some of the cheapest money available and it may not be worth it to pay off if your extra cash could be be earning more invested elsewhere. Introductory credit card rates may be attractive, but if they are hiding a high regular rate, make sure that balance is low as possible before interest kicks in.

While you may learn from making financial mistakes - they are much better avoided completely. A little time with a calculator and a knowledgabe financial advisor can show you how much these mistakes could end up costing you. It's better to see the risk of a hypothetical mistake before you actually make it!