Author: Harrison Fant, CFP®, AIF®

Understanding (and Avoiding) Lifestyle Creep

Over the years we’ve seen plenty of research and studies claim that increases in income don’t correspond to increases in happiness. One such survey, using data from the Gallup World Poll, found that the optimal household income for emotional well being was between $60,000 and $75,000 per year. The research shows that beyond that threshold, the correlation between income and happiness flattens pretty dramatically. For many Americans – especially young professionals just getting started in their careers – this may seem like a bogus finding, but by going beyond the headlines we learn that a common reason for that drop-off in financial satisfaction is lifestyle creep.

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Mergers & Acquisitions: Marriage Edition

Of all the things we look forward to when planning to get married – from picking a venue to a honeymoon locale – one area we tend to glaze over is our finances.  Conversations about money with our significant others can oftentimes be difficult or uncomfortable, but making sure you are both on the same page about your finances is a crucial part of any relationship.  In fact, studies by SunTrust Bank and Kansas State University found that finances are the leading cause of stress in relationships and the number one reason for divorce in America.  When preparing to join finances in holy matrimony there are several things to keep in mind.

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To Roll, or Not to Roll?

When I first sit down with prospective new clients to learn about their finances, one of the most common issues we come across is how spread out investment accounts are.  We may have a brokerage account here, an IRA there and, very often, an old 401(K) or two still sitting in a previous employer’s plan.  There are plenty of reasons why a 401(K) may be left behind with a prior employer – it could have gotten lost in the shuffle of beginning a new job, it may have just seemed like too much of a hassle to move the plan, or perhaps you took the time to roll the plan into an IRA but your employer made subsequent contributions you didn’t know about.  These accounts, affectionately referred to as “orphans,” are becoming more and more common given the increasing frequency of job-hopping, especially among Millennials.  So, who do these orphan accounts belong to and more importantly, what can be done about them? 

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Are Emotions Ruling Your Portfolio?

As human beings we may not be wired to make good financial decisions. Behavioral finance points to anchoring bias and recency bias are just two of the many factors that influence our decision-making. If not properly addressed, these biases can have a negative impact on the foundation and long-term success of your financial plan, and they tend to present themselves most strongly at the tail-end of a bull market.

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