Advisors Management Group

Mapping Out Your Future with a Financial Plan
Just like a map or a GPS is needed for someone driving a car on a long trip, a financial plan is useful for anyone wondering about their financial future.  A financial plan lets us know if we are heading in the right direction, for example north instead of south.  Much like a long journey, life will have many twists, turns and a few unexpected bumps in the road.  However, with a well-planned route, we can have a clear idea of whether we are heading in the direction of our destination. What is a Financial Plan? A financial plan is a document that evaluates cash flow, assets, goals, and brings the information together in a document that predicts how much money and income you will have in the future. This document will be used to determine if your current strategy will accomplish your goals, or if you need a different one. Who can benefit from a financial plan? Financial plans are useful for people of all ages. A financial plan looks at money that is coming in (wages for most people), assets that you have saved so far, and what you are currently saving. This along with other factors helps to plan a path for your financial future.  This could be saving for a large purchase, paying off debt, or saving for the future (children’s education or retirement).  Financial plans are also helpful for people already in retirement as they can be used to help identify a strategy for creating retirement income, spending down assets, or planning to leave them to heirs. To prepare a financial plan your financial planner will need to gather some information from you. You will likely need to bring the following: Recent paystubs Last year’s tax return Statements for any retirement or investment accounts that you have Information on any pensions that you may have Social Security Statements (get yours at ssa.gov/myaccount ) More complex plans may require information about insurance and/or legal work Your planner will ask some questions to get to know you and find out what is important to you. A good planner will be interested in not just how much money you have, but also in what you would like to accomplish with your money. This conversation along with the data you bring to your appointment will help your planner to craft a financial plan that is specific to your goals. Your planning process will likely consist of several meetings. Costs are generally dependent on the complexity of your plan, and it is even possible that your advisor will provide some basic planning at no cost. Life will continue to change over time, for this reason it is important to revisit your financial plan with your advisor every so often to account for any detours or bumps along the road of life.  Financial plans are working documents that need to be adjusted as circumstances change. You should expect to update your financial plan several times during your working years. Generally, this will be every few years or when a major life change occurs. If you would like to find out more about having your personal financial plan prepared, contact us to set up your no obligation consultation today. Kate Pederson Investment Advisor Representative & Tax Preparer  Kate joined Advisors Management Group in December 2017. Prior to joining the firm, she worked in manufacturing and healthcare during her career as a financial analyst. Advisors Management Group, Inc. is a registered investment adviser whose principal office is located in Wisconsin.   Opinions expressed are those of AMG and are subject to change, not guaranteed, and should not be considered recommendations to buy or sell any security.  Past performance is no guarantee of future returns, and investing involves multiple risks, including, but not limited to, the risk of permanent losses.  Please do not send orders via e-mail as they are not binding and cannot be acted upon.  Please be advised it remains the responsibility of our clients to inform AMG of any changes in their investment objectives and/or financial situation.  This commentary is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to AMG’s investment advisory/management services.  Any subsequent, direct communication by AMG  with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides.  A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available for your review upon request.
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22 Oct 2017

Advisors Management Group

How to Create an Early Holiday Shopping Budget

Taking just a little time now (even just an hour) can save you a lot of stress, money and time later on when you'd rather enjoy the holiday season. If that gets your attention, keep reading for a few easy, important tips to get organized now for a successful shopping season later. Dig out last year's shopping list. In today's digital age, "digging out" last year's shopping list is hopefully as easy as opening a saved file on your computer, tablet or smartphone. Take a look at who you shopped for last year and how much you spent. This can refresh your memory, help create a budget for this year and kick-start your new shopping list. Create a budget. Knowing how much you spent on gifts last year is helpful, but you should also survey this year's financial situation to see how much you can afford to spend. If you have a savings account for holiday shopping, check the balance. Also see what expenses are coming up and make sure you have a cushion for emergencies. When creating a budget for the holidays, give yourself a spending limit for gifts and don't forget to account for entertaining and party hosting, decorations and travel costs. For even more control over your budget, you can narrow down a budget per person on your shopping list. If this is sounding like more lists than you know how to manage, you'll want to check out the next tip. Download a holiday planning app. Technology saves the day again: There are several helpful (and free) apps to help you plan, budget and organize the holiday season. Santa's Bag is a popular iOS app that gives you an easy and colorful platform for budgeting, planning and checking off the items on your list. You can create a total budget amount and an amount per person, and the app will automatically update your budgets when you tell it how much you spent. The app allows you to enter everything from your gift ideas to whether an item has been purchased and even wrapped. For Android users, Christmas Gift List is a similar solution with the ability to track all your shopping, keep an overall and per person budget, and even archive lists so you can check back on previous years. Prioritize your shopping. After you start your list, you might notice there are a few gifts that are more specific than others. Your wife might be hoping for a new cashmere sweater, but your daughter has that specific new smartphone in mind – plus, she'd love it in that hard-to-find color. For gifts that will fly off the shelves early, make a priority to get these first. Of course, waiting for the week of Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday will give you the best chance of finding a deal, but you may want to keep an eye out for savings starting now. Note which gifts on your list need early attention and which ones are more generic or flexible that can wait until later. Subscribe to stores and coupon websites. Now is the perfect time to get on the email lists of the stores where you know you'll do most of your shopping. You'll be first to know when they have flash sales or free shipping days. You can also follow the accounts of your favorite shops on social media for exclusive sales and promotions. Subscribe to coupon and cash back websites and sign up for alerts now, and you'll have all the best deals hitting your inbox directly – the perfect solution when you need an idea for the sibling who has everything. See, that wasn't too hard. Now that you spent a little time getting organized for the holidays, you can go back to enjoying fall. Here's one last tip: Stock up on heavily discounted candy the day after Halloween and use it for delicious holiday dessert recipes next month.  Source: Money.USNews.com

22 Aug 2017

Advisors Management Group

8 Back to School Financial Tips

According to the Huntington Bank Backpack Index, the cost of school supplies increased 88% from 2007 to 2016, and their recently released 2017 report anticipates increases of 1.0% for elementary and 4.6% for middle schoolers this coming school year. Even so, there are reasons that parents can feel good about back-to-school shopping: 1.  It’s an exciting time of year, and parents can share in their children’s enthusiasm. 2.  It’s a chance to spend time with your kids while teaching them smart shopping habits. 3.  It’s an opportunity for what I call “painless savings:” if you consistently watch your spending on “the small stuff” like school supplies, groceries, and clothing, over time you can significantly increase in your overall savings. To maximize the learning experience, involve your kids in the back-to-school shopping process. Start by reading this article with them. Together, identify your spending goals and decide where you’ll do your shopping. Discuss a strategy for spending on “extra” things that are not on the shopping list. For example, when your child can’t live without a new tablet, even though you think her current one is fine, who gets final say? Here are 8 more tips your family can consider during this back-to-school season: 1.  Visit your local brick and mortar retailers. Stores such as Staples, Office Depot, and Walmart offer competitive bargains versus internet-only retailers. Look for specials and door busters, but try not to let good prices lure you into spending on things you don’t need. Also, don't forget about local discount retailers who have low pricing year-round, such as Dollar Store or Five Below. 2.  Shop during your state’s sales-tax holiday. Many states offer a shopping day or weekend during which they waive state sales tax. On these days, you can avoid state and local taxes, which can approach 10% in some states. 3.  Use store coupons and rewards programs. Before heading to a retailer, check your mailbox for weekly coupons and store websites for printable coupons. Art supply stores such as Michaels often have coupons in the Sunday paper. Or simply download them onto your smart phone. These can mean big savings on your more expensive items. Coupons may even be available to pick up “in store;” so don’t forget to ask once you’re there. You can also sign up for a store loyalty program where you can earn rewards points toward future purchases. 4.  Combine your deals. If you find a great sale at your local retailer, shop during a sales tax exemption period, use some coupons, and earn rewards points, you have just hit the grand slam of savings! If you pay with a credit card that gives you cash back, you can save even more—just don’t let those credit card balances run up and accrue interest charges. 5.  Online shopping is still the biggest timesaver, and we all know time is money. In addition to Amazon, there are other web-based competitors such as Oriental Trading Company and eBay. If your family feels that time is your scarcest resource, searching for deals online may still be your best way to save both time and money. 6.  Consider taking advantage of any pre-packaged, school supplies program offered by your school district. This usually involves paying online for a tailored packet of school supplies that is delivered to the school, ready for use. These programs can offer competitive pricing and save you the time and effort of shopping online or driving to the store. 7.  Buy used textbooks or download digital textbooks. If buying used books makes you cringe because you're concerned about the quality of the retailer, be assured that both Barnes and Noble and Amazon are dominant in this space. But for really deep values, you may want to look at other providers—just do some research on these lesser-known retailers before sending them your money. 8.  The best way to save may be not to spend at all; you may already have on hand some of the things on your shopping list. Look around your house before you shop. I’m a big believer in the power of spending less on the small stuff whenever you can in order to accrue big savings in the long run. I’ve written more about this idea of “painless savings” in Countdown To Financial Freedom. The earlier in life that young people begin to apply this saving strategy, the more they will benefit in terms of the compounding growth potential of the money they are able to save. That is how the back-to-school shopping process can positively influence your children’s financial education and their future net worth. And that is something we can all feel good about! Source: Forbes.com


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