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.


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?



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. 


Strategies to protect your wealth at every stage of your life [INFOGRAPHIC]

Steve Branton / Jun 20, 2018 / Financial Planning / Retirement Planning

“How do I protect what I already have?”

It’s a wealth management question we hear every day.

After all, you’ve worked hard to gain what you have. You’d hate to see it frittered away.

Finalizing your wealth protection strategy is best accomplished when you and your financial advisor build a plan that reflects your risk tolerance and long-term financial goals. At the same time, there are things you can do to put yourself on the best possible path before that meeting. Thats where this article comes in.

Today I want to discuss the strategies you can use, loosely based on your age. We see folks every day that have addressed these issues at all ages; some are proactive twenty-somethings, others are later to the game, and some are addressing them at retirement.


Saving for College: The Guide to 529 Plans for 2018

Mosaic / Jun 12, 2018 / Financial Planning / Saving, Budgeting and Debt Management / Kids and Money

A 529 plan can be a powerful tool to help fund a family’s education goals for their children. These plans have excellent value, and with the new changes made to them under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), families have greater flexibility in funding their educational savings need.

This guide goes into the nuts and bolts of 529s, including their benefits, limitations, and variety. Ready? Lets dive into the details.



Savings Plans for College, and When to Start Saving

Mosaic / May 31, 2018 / Financial Planning / Saving, Budgeting and Debt Management / Kids and Money

For many families—even those with significant savings and means—the cost of college has become daunting. According to FinAid, the nation’s current student debt amount is rising at a rate of $2,698.30 per second.

CollegeBoard reports that the average cost of tuition and fees with room and board is now $20,770 per year for public, four-year in-state school and $46,950 for private nonprofit four-year school—and these figures continue to grow faster than the rate of inflation.

This has caused families and their students to stretch all financial means available, sometimes without fully understanding their options.

Independent nonprofit organization The Institute for College Access and Success, reports on the wide range of average debt by state in their Project on Student Debt, and their other published data sets report that private loan borrowing is increasing, asserting that almost half of all private loan borrowers (by Stafford Loan Usage) could be using more affordable federal loans.

If you are unable to fully fund a college student’s education with your own resources, how can you best avoid having to take on overwhelming debt?


Bay Area home renovation in the works? What to know before you begin

Steve Branton / May 3, 2018 / Financial Planning / SF Bay Area

The region around San Francisco is one of the highest-priced home markets in the world, and it costs more to renovate here, too. However, your renovations can also have a much higher payoff when it’s time to sell your home.

Renovation can be a wonderful experience that elevates the value of your property and your enjoyment of your home for as long as you’re in it... It can also become a nightmarish drain on your finances that drags on for months or even years.

Of course, as with life, there are no guarantees of success when you decide to renovate or remodel your Bay Area home, but a bit of knowledge and planning will help make the process as smooth and beneficial as possible. 


5 Credentials to Know When Choosing a Financial Planner

Norm Boone / Apr 24, 2018 / Financial Planning

Finding financial advice is as easy as asking the guy in the cubicle beside yours what he thinks the next hot stock will be. Unfortunately, your cubicle mate might not be the most reliable source for financial guidance—and frankly, a lot of “professional” advice can be just as dubious.

It can be difficult to know where to turn for trustworthy financial planning advice, especially since there is no single licensing requirement in order for someone to call themselves a financial advisor.

Lets look at 5 top terms to know when searching for a financial planner.


7 Resources for Researching Financial Planning Firms

Norm Boone / Apr 3, 2018 / Financial Planning

Choosing a financial planner is one of the most important financial decisions you will make. Many factors should inform your choice, including how much you have to invest, your financial goals, the type of planner you are most comfortable with, and the history of the financial planning firms you’re considering.

When you’re ready to research a financial planning firm’s history, here are 7 resources that can help.


Ask an advisor: What are my options for an emergency fund?

Kevin Gahagan / Mar 16, 2018 / Financial Planning

Regardless of your personal circumstances, having some of your assets in a readily-available reserve is prudent planning.

No one can predict the future, so it’s best to plan in case of emergency or market downturn. 

So what are your options for an emergency fund? What about for a liquidity reserve? And how do the two differ? 


What is holistic financial planning?

Norm Boone / Feb 16, 2018 / Financial Planning

When you’re trying to lose weight, you quickly learn that no single health change is going to get the job done.

If you focus on nutrition but forgo exercise, you won’t reach your goal. (You might reach it, but you are not likely to maintain it or improve upon it.)

Likewise, you can exercise aggressively, but if you don’t get enough sleep or fail to drink enough water, your weight loss efforts will be thwarted.

All aspects of your physical health have to get attention, working together holistically, to help you achieve your ultimate goal.

At Mosaic, we believe financial planning works similarly.


How to use the ADV to evaluate a financial planning firm

Norm Boone / Dec 26, 2017 / Financial Planning

Looking for a financial planner? I’ve got the ultimate pro tip to help you evaluate a financial planning firm.

Before you entrust your money to an investment advisor, you should learn everything you can about the firm or individual and how they do business. Fortunately, many resources can help you evaluate a financial advisor, including the SEC-required document Uniform Application for Investment Adviser Registration and Report by Exempt Reporting Advisers—the ADV for short. 

Here’s how to leverage this incredibly useful information.


Efficient Ways to Give to Charities

Mary Ballin / Dec 14, 2017 / Financial Planning / Charitable Giving

As an advisor, what method of charitable giving would I recommend?

The most effective practice depends entirely on your situation, and on your intent. To help guide your decision, here’s a breakdown of some different ways to give to charities, along with pros and cons of each, including tax considerations.


New ebook! Financial health for every stage of your relationship

Sabrina Lowell / Dec 12, 2017 / Financial Planning / Couples and Money

Love and money

You’re in a relationship; it has shaped the course of your life. Regardless of what stage your relationship is in, you’ll have to deal with money. Doing so can promote open communication, trust around money habits, and can lead to a positive experience around money conversations for both partners.


Life is short: Build a milestone fund as a targeted savings account

Sheila Schroeder / Oct 25, 2017 / Financial Planning

My uncle died yesterday. He was 88. His funeral is in Tokyo, this weekend, and Im going.  Funerals are important. So, too, are weddings, baby showers, birthdays, holidays, graduations, family reunions...  All of these events are about celebrating life: past, present or future. They mark the high and low points in our lives.

My milestone fund ensures I’ll be able to fly across the world for my uncle's funeral in a few days, and I wont be dipping into my emergency fund or accruing sudden credit card debt I cant immediately cover in order to pay for it.

This article discusses 4 steps to build your own milestone fund, so you’ll never miss life’s important moments.

We've also got an infographic featuring tips for using targeted savings accounts to help you decide whether this tactic may work for your needs.