Author: Cathy C. Miller, MBA, CFP®, CRPS®, CDFA™

Marriage-Killing Money Issues

Divorce can be one of the most painful transitions an individual or family can experience. And once the litigation is done, family members often continue to suffer.  Adults often experience a decline in their physical and emotional well being, with a heightened rate of stress-induced illnesses, depression and a loss of identity and social connections¹. Children often suffer in less obvious ways, with educational and adjustment problems in early childhood, and emotional problems related to the divorce increasing in young adulthood². Many couples fight hard for their marriage and family, but simply aren’t able to overcome their differences. What are the top causes they report for ending their marriage? Most of us know…

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Is a Health Savings Account (HSA) Right for Me?

At AFA, we hear our clients express concerns about two financial challenges more often than any others:
• Will I be ready to retire with the lifestyle I want?
• What can I do to protect myself from rising health care costs now and in the future?

Did you realize there is a single vehicle that can help you make progress in both areas? It’s called a health savings account (HSA), which is a government-regulated savings account that combines many of the tax benefits of a Flexible Spending Account and a 401(k), including:
• Your contributions to the plan are pre-tax (if offered through your employer) or tax-deductible (if established on your own). If funded through your employer’s plan, you also don’t pay FICA on the contributions, putting an extra 7.65% back in your pocket.
• Withdrawals for qualified medical expenses are tax-free (more about that below).
• The balance in your plan (that you don’t spend for medical expenses) grows tax-deferred and can be rolled over from year to year, supplementing other retirement savings.

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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?”

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My Divorce is Final – Can I Afford to Stay in my Home?

One of the most emotional decisions you may face following your divorce is whether to stay in your current home or not. When confronted with so many other changes, many people going through divorce decide NOT to change their housing, since it seems like one of the few things they can still control. For some, that can be a big mistake. Since housing costs may be your single largest expense, getting this decision “right” can have a huge impact on you and your family’s financial well-being in this next phase of your life. How can you decide if hanging on to the marital home is a mistake?

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CAN Money Buy Happiness?

For most of our lives many of us have heard the old adage “Money can’t buy happiness.” And we can all think of numerous examples of individuals where this certainly seems to be true – whether among the powerful and famous, or within our own family or group of friends. But is that really true? Research over the last few decades suggests “NO!” In fact, many studies show that in one sense money can buy happiness. But it’s not the amount of money we have, but rather how we SPEND our money that can indeed increase our happiness – although perhaps not in the way Madison Avenue or Amazon Prime would like us to think. First, let’s address the skeptics among you who feel sure that if you simply had MORE money you would indeed be happier. Statistics show that certainly isn’t true, since 70% of all lottery winners or those with a sudden financial windfall end up bankrupt within a few years.1 Carl Jung, famous psychologist, said in fact that the keys to happiness were five things.

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Gray Divorce Is Rising. What Could That Mean For You?

“Gray Divorce,” or divorce among couples 50 or over, has risen dramatically over the last few decades, more than doubling since 1990 according to a Pew Research Center report. During this same time period, the divorce rate overall has fallen. So why are we seeing such a spike in the divorce rate for older Americans?

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