The Rise of ESG

Zach Schlaht / Sep 12, 2018 / Investments

Increasingly, investors want to put their money where their values are.

Environmental, Social and Governance, or ESG, has slowly morphed into a catchall for what has historically been known as socially-responsible investing (SRI). While SRI focuses on mostly negative screens such as screening out companies involved in tobacco or gambling, ESG takes it a step further by applying an analytical framework to a business’s underlying fundamentals aimed at positive things companies are doing that may help their business perform better.

Examples of ESG factors span many different issues ranging from climate change, to workers compensation and social equality, among others.

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In the News: Fancy yet Frugal Life Hacks

Mosaic / Sep 7, 2018 / Mosaic News

No one wants to look cheap, especially at an event, unless the aesthetic they’re going for is “intentionally tacky.” Similarly, no one wants to overspend. Where’s the happy medium?

When it comes to trimming spending in order to prioritize savings goals and other personal initiatives over keeping up with the Joneses, there are thrifty ways to engineer a stylish presentation without breaking the bank. 

Just ask our own Liz Revenko:

 

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Dealing with Market Risk

Norm Boone / Aug 29, 2018 / Investments

It’s fun when the investment markets go up. Your nest egg is growing and so is your net worth.

Unfortunately, markets go in cycles. They don’t always go up. In fact, the US stock market (as represented by the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, which approximates the 500 largest US companies) falls roughly once every four years. Sometimes that decline lasts for almost three years, as it did between 2000-2003. Or, it may be more intense, but only last for a year or two (2007-2009). Sometimes it’s just a week or two, if just to remind you that markets go down.

As an example, look at annual returns of the S&P 500 Index by year since 1980. Over those 37 years, eight have had negative full-year results, but every year has experienced a drop from peak to trough, many of which were pretty scary.

Even the good years have periods when negativity reigns supreme.

What is an investor to do? It seems to me there are three choices.

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Should You Let The Government Help Pay Your Advisory Fees?

Mosaic / Aug 23, 2018 / Retirement Planning / Investments

One of the many changes enacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) was the elimination of miscellaneous itemized deductions starting in 2018. This category included deductions for investment expenses which allowed you to deduct investment and custodial fees, costs-related trust administration, and other expenses, to the extent that they and other costs exceeded 2% of your adjusted gross income (AGI).

One strategy to deal with the elimination of this tax break is to deduct the investment fee for the management of your IRA directly from the IRA.

Let’s look into how this strategy plays out.

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Divorce: What are QDROs and how do they work?

Mary Ballin / Aug 21, 2018 / Financial Planning / Divorce

You may hear the acronym “QDRO” used quite a bit in the process of getting a divorce, and for good reason: a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) may play an important role in your resolution.

Finding a fair settlement utilizing a QDRO as a tool is naturally the goal, but it isn't always easy.

Don't underestimate the plan administrator's power, how QDROs are constructed, or the importance of specificity. Let's take a closer look at these and other considerations.

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Spotlight on Client Advisor Mary Ballin, CFP®, CDFA®

Mosaic / Aug 14, 2018 / Mosaic News

Over her more than fifteen years with Mosaic, Mary Ballin, CFP®, CDFA® has become known for her gracious character and talent as a close listener who respectfully meets her audience at their level.

 

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Circle Roundup: Values, Goals, and Money

Liz Revenko / Aug 7, 2018 / Women's Circles / Tax Planning

By popular request, in our recent round of Women’s Circles, we discussed how values and goals influence money decisions. One of the big takeaways was that if you don’t consciously make decisions based on what’s important to you, your sub-conscious is going to be in charge of your wallet. And you might not like where that takes you. 

The good news is that we can take advantage of new research on how our brains work—starting with being aware that goal setting happens even if we don’t set conscious goals.

This article includes some actionable ways you can tap into what you care about to set goals and increase your financial satisfaction. We also have a free worksheet to help get you started.

First things first:

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In the News: Children & Retirement

Mosaic / Aug 3, 2018 / Mosaic News

The July news roundup brings a wealth of retirement-related advice, from tips on discussing retirement with your partner to considering how inflation can impact your portfolio, and more.

The team has also been musing on children and personal finance this month, and several articles cite Mosaic on covering smart planning tips for expectant parents as well as tips for money matters that can crop up with adult children.

 

Read on for the thoughtful details:

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Estate Planning: Communication and Storage Tips

Norm Boone / Jul 31, 2018 / Estate Planning

I’ll bet many people reading this article haven’t finished their estate plan.

According to CNBC’s 2015 survey, 38% of those polled with investable assets of $1 million or more have not established an estate plan. Lots of people take the responsible step and get started on making sure things are in place in the event of their death or incapacitating illness.

Unfortunately, far too few of us actually finish the process. So many people put it off, postpone it indefinitely, or refuse to acknowledge its usefulness. Some individuals will take the time to meet with an estate planning attorney and draft their documents, but not sign them. Others will hastily change the subject to a less existential topic. A famous example of avoidance comes from legendary pop musician Prince, who died suddenly with no will in place despite his massive fortune.

But if you have loved ones and assets, and care about where those assets end up, estate planning is a must. So let’s make sure you’re not part of the aforementioned 38%.

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Divorce: 5 Money Tips for the Financially Passive Spouse

Mary Ballin / Jul 26, 2018 / Financial Planning / Divorce / Saving, Budgeting and Debt Management

Often, in many marriages, one of the spouses assumes the role of “financial lead.” This person manages the couple’s money, pays the bills, works on the taxes, and understands where all of the important papers and assets are located.

So long as the couple remains together and are happily married, this arrangement can work fine. Unfortunately when there is one spouse who doesn’t participate actively in financial decisions, they put themselves at a disadvantage in a divorce situation.

The non-financial spouse can quickly feel very vulnerable, like they are at a noticeable disadvantage. 

What happens to this spouse in the event of a divorce?

 

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Market Watch 2018 Q2 - Mosaic’s Quarterly Market Commentary

Kevin Gahagan / Jul 24, 2018 / Market Commentary

The markets have been noticeably more volatile in recent months as the economic recovery approaches its limits. Between trade wars with China, continued uncertainty on the Korean Peninsula and with Russia, and a tightened monetary policy by the United States Federal Reserve—recently joined by the European Central Bank—we are seeing the beginning of a slowdown to one of the longest economic recoveries in history. 

The new issue of Market Watch is out now. 

More insights are inside the issue, including a breakdown of current economic factors influencing the markets.

 
Click here for the full issue.
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Total Return: A Modern Approach to Retirement Income

Mosaic / Jul 19, 2018 / Retirement Planning

A common goal expressed by clients phasing into retirement is a desire to invest to generate income to live on while leaving their principal intact. Why? They probably saw it used successfully in the past.

When many of our parents invested, they lived off the interest and dividends from their portfolios, replacing bonds as they matured and leaving their stock holdings untouched.

Why is this approach, often referred to as investing for income, or income-only investing, not necessarily the best idea for modern-day portfolios? 

Why might your advisor suggest a different tactic, and what should you keep in mind when it comes to generating retirement income?

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4 Ways to Save Your Retirement from Lifestyle Creep

Sheila Schroeder / Jul 12, 2018 / Retirement Planning / Saving, Budgeting and Debt Management

As we become more financially successful, many of us may find ourselves living large without quite knowing how we got there. Sometimes we find that things we once wanted have now become “needs.” As a result, though our paychecks are bigger, so too are our expenses—and this can have a real impact on meeting our personal financial goals.

Lifestyle creep, otherwise known as lifestyle inflation, occurs when your standard of living improves as your discretionary income rises. Like ivy growing up a tree, if it gets out of control, it can choke your budget. 

Read on for 4 concepts to help you navigate the creep.

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Divorce: Taking a special needs child into account

Mary Ballin / Jul 5, 2018 / Financial Planning / Divorce / Kids and Money

Divorce is one of the most stressful life transitions a person can go through, but that stress isn’t the same for everyone. Your divorce can be significantly more stressful if children—particularly those with special needs—are involved. 

Children should always be a focal point of any divorce proceeding. But children with special needs change how a divorce should be negotiated, so let’s break down some of the unique considerations that need to be taken into account if a special needs child is part of a household that is divorcing. 

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In the News: risk, LGBTQ workplace inclusion

Mosaic / Jul 3, 2018 / Mosaic News

This month, Senior Financial Planner Steve Branton takes the Mosaic news roundup prize for appearing in two publications, discussing two very different topics.

Recent research notes that while American consumers are generally comfortable with higher levels of risk than they were in the past, they are still terrified of it. How does one navigate such a polarizing duality? 

And:

If your business prides itself on inclusion, here are several small yet impactful ways you can let your employees know that it isn't just a platitude. 

Read on for the thoughtful details:

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