You may have heard that the Social Security Administration officially announced that Social Security recipients will receive a 1.6% cost-of-living (COLA) adjustment for 2020. Those increased payments will start in January 2020. The purpose of the COLA is to help the purchasing power of Social Security benefits keep pace with inflation. Congress first enacted the COLA provision as part of the 1972 Social Security Amendments, with automatic annual COLAs began in 1975. Before that, benefits were increased only when Congress enacted special legislation.
Atlanta Financial Blog
4 Financial Lessons I Learned from my Puppy
Life has recently become more exciting (and frustrating and tiring) as we have welcomed a new addition to our household – Ollie, a Great Pyrenees/Border Collie/Who-Knows-What-Else mix. Since its been 6 years since we brought Tucker home, the first lesson learned was how quickly you forget how much work a puppy is. The second lesson – and most shocking one – is how much difference the breed makes when it comes to training. Tucker is a Shetland Sheepdog, a breed known for being smart and eager to please. And among an incredibly easy-to-train breed, Tucker stands out as possibly the poster child for a compliant, well-mannered dog. Like most parents with an “easy” first child, I of course came to believe his faultless manners were due to my superior training. So, when we fell in love with sweet Ollie in the rescue cage in the middle of PetSmart, I found myself thinking how much Tucker would love a playmate, and “How hard can this be anyway?”
Anyone who understands the history and breeding of Great Pyrenees would be laughing right now at my naivete. Great Pyrenees were bred to guard livestock in the mountains without human supervision. They are “independent” (i.e., follow instructions only if and when it pleases them), nocturnal, roamers and barkers. Training techniques that worked beautifully and quickly with Tucker made no impression on Ollie. Realizing we were in over our heads, we brought in a professional– an amazing trainer named Megan who took Ollie home with her during a two-week trip we took. He came home a changed dog and we were thrilled! But in no time, he was sliding back into his “independent” ways. Clearly we didn’t command his respect the way Megan did. So, it was time for us to go back to Megan for “owner training.” We learned all the mistakes we were making and are trying hard to correct them. Ollie still doesn’t jump to attention when he gets a command from us like he does for Megan, but we are making progress. As I write this blog, I am thankful that he is chewing a bone contentedly on the living room rug, not a shoe or piece of cabinet molding.
What does any of this have to do with our financial lives?
It occurred to me yesterday that many of the same principles we are learning and using in raising Ollie would help all of us be more successful in our financial lives. The parallel was especially driven home to me as I was reviewing a presentation given by a financial “professional” for a young friend of ours. A 35- page PowerPoint full of complex financial concepts with colorful graphs and lots of hypothetical illustrations, you had to dig deep to figure out that this 24-year-old (with no dependents) was being asked to purchase a large and expensive whole life insurance policy. What could he (and all of us) learn from Ollie and from this presentation?
- Do Your Research – A Sheltie and a Great Pyrenees are not the same dog; neither is an “investment” in a life insurance policy and an investment in a mutual fund, and you need to understand the role each plays.
- Ask for Help – Know when you are out of your league and bring in a professional – we researched dog trainers and believe we found one of the best in the city, and at a price that didn’t break the bank. Do the same for your finances.
- Keep It Simple – We have to keep our commands simple and consistent for Ollie to understand and obey. If you don’t understand your financial plan, get clarity. If your advisor can’t explain things in a way you can understand, it might be time for a simpler plan or a different advisor.
- Do Your Part – Even the best constructed plan requires your active participation (we needed training, not just Ollie). Work hand-in-hand with your advisor to be sure you are doing your part to put – and keep – you on the path to success. Great plans that aren’t implemented are worth nothing.
How interesting that success is so many aspects of our life boil down to a few common principles – whether it’s with our work, our home life, our finances or our pets! If you find some of these lessons resonate with you, and you think we might be able to apply them together to improve your financial life, we are always ready to help. And stay tuned in the future for more lessons from “Life with Ollie!”
The holidays are the perfect time to express our thanks for your business and to think about those less fortunate. Please join us for our 11th Annual Holiday Open House and Toys for Tots Collection on Thursday, December 12, 2019, 11:30 am – 1:30 pm at our office – 5901-B Peachtree Dunwoody Road, Suite 275, Atlanta, GA 30328. Lunch will be served.
All of us at Atlanta Financial want to congratulate Harrison Fant on recently passing his five year anniversary at Atlanta Financial in September. Since joining AFA in 2014, Harrison has rapidly ascended through the different positions to his current position as Wealth Manager. Harrison has a unique combination of technical financial planning skills and the ability to present those complex concepts in easily understandable ways to all of his clients.
In working with my retired or soon-to-be retired clients, perhaps the most frequent question I am asked is “What is the best way to withdraw from my investment and retirement accounts in retirement in order to provide me my desired retirement income?” I believe they ask me this question because many of them have investments in a mix of different accounts with varying tax characteristics such as taxable investment accounts, IRAs, 401k or retirement plan accounts, Roth IRAs, and possibly real estate investments such as rental property. In addition to that, they may also have retirement income coming in from multiple sources and at different times such as Social Security income, pension income, and deferred compensation. If you are interested in increasing what you can spend in retirement and reducing the impact taxes have on your retirement nest egg, it is important to have a multi-year retirement income plan that takes into account the impact taxes will have on both your retirement income sources, and the withdrawals you take from your different investment and retirement accounts.