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.
Atlanta Financial Blog
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?
Reasons cited include:
– Longer life expectancy and better health – The prospect of a long life ahead can lead couples who are unhappy to envision and demand more out of life.
– Empty nest syndrome – Without the focus and buffer of children, many clients find they have grown apart and opt to separate rather than continue as a couple.
– Money troubles – If a couple isn’t united in terms of financial priorities, years of financial conflict and the prospect of retirement looming closer can cause couples to throw in the towel.
– Social and cultural changes – The decline of the stigma associated with divorce, coupled with the rise of online dating services can reduce anxiety about the process and prospects “on the other side.”
– Improvement in pay and career options for women – With advancements in the workplace, more women unhappy in their marriages feel empowered economically to make a change.
– Other causes – And of course there are the other usual causes impacting all age groups, such as addiction and infidelity.
If you find yourself part of this growing trend, what should you know?
• Get Realistic. It’s extremely important to be realistic about your financial situation, both in terms of income and expenses, and assets vs. debts. Understand that your expenses won’t drop in half just because you divorce. If you are seriously contemplating a divorce, it’s also important to understand the likely RANGE of outcomes for a settlement. Spending some money on legal consultation and working with an advisor to understand your possible outcomes and future needs is a critical step in approaching an imminent divorce with confidence.
• Don’t Rush Changes. If you believe a divorce is likely, don’t make any major financial changes prior to getting advice. If you feel burdened by debt, don’t rush to pay it off outside of a negotiated settlement. The unintended consequence may be to reduce your share of the marital estate or cause you to lose negotiating leverage.
• Do Your Homework. Understand all retirement benefits available to you and your spouse, including long-forgotten pensions, retirement accounts and Social Security benefits either of you may be entitled to.
• Don’t be House Poor. Often, especially if children are still at home, one spouse may make retaining the marital home their top priority. Have an advisor assist you with understanding what level of housing expense is sustainable long term. It is especially dangerous to use alimony to offset housing expenses you couldn’t afford otherwise. What will you do when alimony ends?
• Look Long Term. Don’t focus on a settlement that solves current cash flow problems at the expense of the long term. How will you live in retirement? If you will receive alimony, you may need to carve some of that off for savings to build investments that can sustain you when alimony (and employment) end.
• Be Tax Wise. Make sure you consider taxes in structuring your settlement and accessing funds. Rely on a financial professional to help you with this aspect of the settlement.
• Don’t Forget about Insurance. Insurance issues can be especially important. What happens to your alimony or child support if your ex-spouse becomes disabled or dies? Make sure your agreement addresses these risks.
• Get a Pre-Nup. If your marriage does end in divorce, before remarrying be sure to have a pre-nuptial agreement in place. The financial trauma of a second divorce can be extremely difficult to overcome.
While no one enters into marriage expecting to divorce, especially after a decades long relationship, often it is the right move. Remember the words of caution above. And most importantly, get excellent legal and financial advice before starting the official process and all along the way. Contact me at 770-261-5382 or email@example.com if we can help in any way.
“How did the new tax bill affect me?” was the question on everyone’s minds this tax season, and for good reason. Even though this was touted as the greatest simplification of the tax code in my lifetime, I didn’t notice any reduction in time spent preparing returns. Those of you who reviewed your returns in detail noticed that the schedules look drastically different although contain all the same information. The short answer for many is that it didn’t materially change your overall tax liability. The outliers fell into one of a few buckets…
No one enjoys thinking about what will happen after they’re gone, but we all want our families to be well cared for. Many people set up trusts to provide for their loved ones, but the trust is only as good as its trustee.Choosing a trustee is one of the more difficult decisions in creating your estate plan. Some attorneys suggest choosing several trustees to promote checks and balances, but sometimes choosing just one trustee can be difficult in light of family relationships and other factors. Choosing a trustee is a very personal and complex decision, but there are some basic guidelines one should consider.
It is that time of year again where school years are coming to a close and many parents are gearing up for a bitter-sweet high school graduation or are celebrating their child being one year closer to a hard-earned college diploma. Whatever the case may be, it is hard to deny the heavy lift education costs can be. You may not be able to shrink the bottom-line cost of attendance any further, and you surely can’t impact how fast many costs are going up, but, you can reduce the weight this line-item carries within your financial plan by remembering these 5 things: