Val Connects the Dots…Career Transitions

LoudounWOJOSeptOct2015_Page_11When I reflect on my journey and where I am today, I realize how far I have travelled. My story has many happy endings through determination, a network of support from family and friends and solid financial means.

From Navy Junior to college grad, military wife and mother, divorced mother of three, remarriage, blended family, mother of five, grandmother of five and two careers, OH MY!!

Each challenge I have faced was both life-enhancing and significant. Growing up in a Navy family, I moved nearly every year to face a new neighborhood, school and the “butterflies” of joining a new community. This lifestyle prepared me to fit in with many groups and situations. Living abroad in Italy and Germany gave me new perspectives to appreciate different cultures – that differences are to be noted and valued for their uniqueness; not viewed as being superior or inferior.

My graduations from high school in Italy and college in Virginia seemed distant as I married an Army Officer at the age of 21 and we had three children in five years. I soon realized that I needed a better way for my children and me. Considering single parenthood with three young children and re-entering the workforce after 11 years as a homemaker, I courageously took the steps to dissolve my marriage. With the weight of making a decision that would affect so many, I know that to succeed, I needed financial stability for my children. I started my first career in Information Technology as a systems analyst, based on my education; a degree from The College of William & Mary in Business Management.

Divorce means financial setbacks and many years of recovery. I was 34 and entering a new career at entry-level wages. The child support helped pay the mortgage, but the rest was on me. I labored over my monthly budget, counting each penny while sitting at the kitchen table with my ledger. I felt sure that I could make as long as there were no emergencies.

Within the year, a promotion and new position at another firm allowed some breathing room. I doubled my salary in a year and caught up with my cohorts! Being a single parent was the most difficult challenge I have ever faced – working all day then coming home to work for another five hours. Yet, I was rewarded with growing strength and confidence. I felt invincible! In another 11 years, my entrepreneur career blossomed… to be continued.

When She Is Her Money’s Keeper | Valerie P. Kaiser

LoudounJulAug2015_Page_21In previous generations, there was most likely a man at the head of the household who was responsible for making all of the family’s financial decisions. While it may be a difficult concept to grasp now, many women were not even aware of how or where the family’s savings were invested.

Fast forward to today. Woman are powerful and accomplished, earning and achieving more than before. Many women successfully handle the demands of a family, career, and household. In fact, a recent study found that 90% of women identify themselves as “chief financial officer’ of their
household. In addition, the education level attained, the earning power, and career achievements of women are greater than ever before.

Despite these triumphs, women lag behind men when it comes to taking the necessary steps to build wealth and financial security – such as investing and establishing a long-term financial plan. They also face several unique challenges throughout their lifetimes, making proactive financial planning even more important.

Whether the reason is insecurity about the subject of money, a shortage of the time necessary to organize financial matters, or a heavy reliance on others to manage longer-term finances, it is important for women to overcome these barriers and take control of their own financial future.

Understanding the importance of long-term financial goals, as well as the steps to take to help make them a reality, are the first steps to a bright financial future. You may have already discovered the importance of working with a financial professional to help you develop a personalized investment strategy. As you move through the various stages of your life, remember that your financial professional is a valuable resource who can help you regularly review and refine your personal financial needs and, as your circumstances change, recommend any adjustments to your investment strategy.

Valerie P. Kaiser, CFP®

Why a Financial Plan is so Important | Kaiser Financial Solutions

LWMJanFeb2015-smallfinal_Page_29Many of us are familiar with the expression, “failing to plan is planning to fail.” As a Certified Financial Planner®, I can assure you that—when it comes to financial goals and objectives— this old adage still rings true.

In fact, it may be more relevant than ever. As the last few years have shown, it isn’t easy for most Americans to make financial headway. With pensions in decline, interest rates near historic lows, and household incomes yet to bounce back to prerecession levels, it takes persistence and sound planning in order to get ahead.

Not sure how to begin? That’s okay—it’s easy to become overwhelmed if you think about all your needs at once. Instead, try taking it one step at a time, starting with the basics:

Build an emergency fund—No matter where you are in life, it’s important to set aside 8-10 months of living expenses. You don’t have to do it all at
once, but every dollar you save today is a dollar you won’t have to borrow if something unexpected happens.

Protect your home and family—Most of us have people who depend on us to keep a roof over their heads and food on their plates. That’s a big responsibility, but it’s one life insurance can help you meet—even if something tragic takes you away. You can start with an affordable term life
plan at first, and then add more coverage as your needs and budget grow.

Prepare for major expenses like college—As a parent or grandparent, you naturally want the best for your loved ones. Now’s the time to start a college or wedding fund so they won’t have to go into debt to make their dreams for the future come true.

Get ready for retirement—There are plenty of ways to set aside money for retirement: 401(k)s, IRAs, and fixed deferred annuities* just to name a few. But they all have one thing in common—the sooner you start, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Try to increase your contributions over time—perhaps 1% with each raise—or, if you are age 50 or older, look into some of the ‘catch-up’ provisions that may allow you to contribute even more. While the recession forced many of us to take a step back financially, it also helped refocus our attention on the things that really matter. A sound

financial plan can help us accomplish many things—but perhaps the most important is making sure we never lose sight of them again.

By Valerie Kaiser, CFP®, Agent, (CA#0F39945)
New York Life Insurance Company

Protecting The Stay-At-Home Spouse | Valerie P. Kaiser, CFP

LWMNovDec2014small_Page_10When married couples have young children, often one spouse stays home while the other works outside the home. While most parents understand the necessity of purchasing a life insurance policy on the income earner, few realize the importance of also insuring the stay-at-home spouse.

Being prepared for the unexpected.

What if the stay-at-home spouse suddenly died? The family would be devastated. While friends and family members would initially pitch in to help, eventually they would return to their regular lives. Before the surviving spouse returned to work, a caretaker for the children and home would need to be hired, presenting a potential financial hardship. Had life insurance been purchased on the stay-at-home parent, however, the family’s needs would have been protected.

Measuring the value of the stay-at-home spouse.

Despite the importance of the stay-at-home parent, there’s little research to quantify its value. In its 13th annual “Mom Salary Survey,” reports the most popular functions performed by mothers equate to $113,586 per year1 in salary. Also, it states the stay-at-home spouse works a 94-hour week, performing, among other roles, the duties of housekeeper, cook, day care teacher, driver, and psychologist.

LWMNovDec2014small_Page_11Flexible, customizable choices.

The type of policy you select depends on your needs and budget. Term life insurance provides affordable coverage for several years. In contrast, permanent life insurance offers protection for your entire life (provided premiums are paid) and accumulates cash value tax-deferred. This cash value can be accessed (loans accrue interest and reduce the policy’s cash value and death benefit). Plus, riders, available with term and permanent life insurance, enable you to customize your policy to meet and grow with your changing needs.

The loss of a parent is an emotional hardship for a family; purchasing insurance coverage for a stay-at-home spouse can help ensure that it doesn’t become a financial hardship as well.

This educational, third-party article is provided as a courtesy by Valerie Kaiser, CFP®, Agent, (CA#0F39945) New York Life Insurance Company. To learn more about the information or topics discussed, please contact Valerie Kaiser, CFP® at 703-610-4073.

Are You and Your Spouse on the Same Page? – Katie McAuliffe

well fargo imageAfter 24 years of marriage, Joe and Jane often finish each other’s sentences. So imagine how surprised they were when some differing goals emerged during a recent retirement income planning discussion with their Financial Advisor. As their advisor led the couple through an exercise designed to help them set retirement priorities, they discovered that Joe was eying a particular pocket of savings to enable his early retirement. Jane, on the other hand, viewed that same account as a fund for their children’s college education.

Such discrepancies are common, even for couples who communicate well. “When you’ve lived with someone a long time, you may assume you know what your partner is thinking,” notes Donna Peterson, Senior Vice President in Retail Retirement at Wells Fargo. “If you’re not on the same page, you could thwart each other’s objectives without knowing it,” she warns — as in the example of Joe and Jane.

Taking the Long View

Uncovering such differences and deciding how to handle them is a critical early step to building a retirement income plan for both partners. During this first stage, your Financial Advisor will ask each of you key questions, such as when you want to retire, where you’d like to live, and how you ideally would fill your days during retirement.

The answers to those three questions in particular can affect major financial decisions you make as a couple throughout your marriage, so it’s best to start discussing them well ahead of retirement. For example, if you’re in the market for a new home, decisions about how much to spend and how long you’ll stay there may change when viewed through the lens of retirement.

It may make sense to economize on a house you intend to occupy only until your children are through grammar school, or to invest more heavily in a lifelong residence. The size of the mortgage can also affect how much you contribute to retirement savings, as well as whether you enter retirement carrying debt.

Buying a home is just one choice into which retirement can factor. “Responsibilities to family, such as paying for education or caring for older relatives, can influence your plans too,” Peterson says. And just as circumstances may change, so too can your retirement income plan — but it’s important to start with as complete a vision as possible.

Starting the Conversation

Surprisingly, Peterson recommends that you and your spouse meet with your Financial Advisor to discuss your retirement goals in detail. “The most successful retirement plan conversations are generally a little spontaneous, so allow your Financial Advisor to serve as the catalyst for the discussion as well as your guide through it.”

This discussion may stretch over a few meetings, since there’s a lot of ground to cover. Your advisor will not only help you discover your ideas about retirement but also begin to educate you about issues that can affect your income plan, such as:

  • Health care costs
  • Risk tolerance
  • Market and economic realities
  • Inflation and taxes

“Very few couples have considered all these elements before consulting a professional,” says Peterson.

Your Financial Advisor can suggest ways to integrate these considerations into your joint retirement income plan. You may walk out of the session with a stronger strategy, as well as a greater understanding of your spouse’s hopes and dreams — knowledge that can make your partnership even stronger.

Wells Fargo Advisors is not a legal or tax advisor. However, its Financial Advisors will be glad to work with you, your accountant, your tax advisor and/or your lawyer to help you meet your financial goals.

This article was written by Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC and provided courtesy of Katie McAuliffe, Financial Advisor in Leesburg, VA. Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE. Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, Member SIPC, is a registered broker-dealer and a separate non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company. ©2012 Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC. All rights reserved. 0812-0078 [87568-v1] 08/12

Katie McAuliffe is a Financial Advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC., in Leesburg, VA

Tax Smart Retirement Moves

Smart investing involves choosing the right assets to meet your specific needs. It also involves holding those investments in the right types of accounts – particularly when it comes to retirement savings. When managing your retirement savings, aim for tax efficiency, recommends Bev Doolin, IRA Product Manager at Wells Fargo Advisors. “And make sure you involve your tax professional as well as your Financial Advisor in assessing the tax implications of any investing strategy you’re considering.”

You can save for retirement in a variety of accounts:

Traditional IRAs and workplace plans such as 401(k)s can lower your taxes now, but distributions will be taxed as ordinary income
  • Roth workplace plans and Roth IRAs don’t provide an immediate tax break, but you generally won’t pay tax on your distributions
  • Ordinary taxable accounts face taxes on realized gains and investment income each year.

“The various types of accounts offer different advantages, not only when making contributions but also when taking funds out,” Doolin says. “But you have to set up the accounts properly to get the benefits.”

Here are a few considerations to help you make the most of the accounts available to you:

Tax deductions. Some investors delay making a traditional IRA contribution until they know it will qualify for a tax deduction. If there’s any doubt, Doolin suggests contributing to a Roth IRA. “It’s a no-brainer,” she says. You can contribute directly to a Roth IRA if you earn less than $125,000 (single) or $183,000 (married filing taxes jointly) in 2012. Otherwise you can contribute to a traditional IRA and then convert it to a Roth. One benefit of Roth IRAs: They don’t require minimum distributions after you reach age 701/2.

Growth versus income. As a general rule, it’s wise to keep investments with strong growth potential in Roth accounts, which shield you from tax on any appreciation. Taxable accounts can also be a good option for growth stocks, as long as you hold the stocks for the long haul. The reason: The capital gains tax you’ll pay when you sell the shares is likely to be lower than the income tax you’d pay if you held them in a traditional IRA, sold them and then distributed the cash – but be sure to review such a strategy with your own accountant and Financial Advisor to make sure that would be the case for you.

Investments that regularly spin off taxable income, such as high dividend-paying stocks or bonds, are likely best kept in tax-advantage accounts. The same is likely to prove true for mutual funds with high turnover. The funds’ frequent trading tends to generate significant short term capital gains, which are distributed to shareholders. The result can be a hefty tax bill in a taxable account.

Estate Planning. A Roth IRA is the undisputed champion of accounts when it comes to passing down assets. You won’t have to take withdrawals during your lifetime, and while your heirs will have to distribute a required minimum amount each year, they generally won’t pay any tax on it. Securities in taxable accounts come in second, at least in terms of tax efficiency: The inheritors won’t have to take required minimum distributions, and they’ll pay capital gains tax only on appreciation that occurs after your death. On the other hand, if you pass a traditional IRA or 401(k) to your heirs, they will be required to take minimum annual withdrawals and pay taxes on those distributions.

Note that assets in all types of accounts are considered part of your estate, and so may trigger estate taxes. Your Financial Advisor can work with your estate attorney and tax professional to help you craft a plan for minimizing the impact of estate tax on your financial legacy.

Distribution strategy. The rule of thumb for retirement distributions is to start tapping your taxable accounts first, your traditional IRAs second and your Roth IRAs last. But that’s not always the most effective order, Doolin says: “Liquidating an asset in your taxable account might push you into a higher tax bracket, which could affect everything from the taxes you owe to the cost of your Medicare Part B premium.”

Her suggestion: Lay out a general distribution strategy that reflects your anticipated income needs, then adjust your withdrawals depending on your situation in any given year. Again, consult with your Financial Advisor and your tax professional to make sure the strategy you develop takes into account all relevant changes in tax regulations as well as your own needs.

CAR Approval Number: 0812-03283
Wells Fargo Advisors is not a legal or tax advisor.

This article was written by Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC and provided courtesy of
Katie McAuliffe, Financial Advisor in Leesburg, VA at 703-777-3803.

Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE.

Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, Member SIPC, is a registered broker-dealer and a separate non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

Financial Advisor
Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC
703-777-3803 | 800-888-3803 Fax: 703-777-2697

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