"Better to trust the man who is frequently in error than the one who is never in doubt."
-- Eric Sevareid, New York Times commentator and reporter, (1912-1992)
By JULIA ANDERSON
Let’s say you are leaving your full-time job and taking your 401(k) nest egg with you. Are you going to manage it yourself or will you turn to an investment professional?
If you think you need professional advice, here are questions to ask a financial planner/adviser before giving them your life savings. Treat this process like a research project. Take your time. Don’t be uncomfortable asking the uncomfortable questions. It’s your money, your future and your retirement.
Nine questions to ask when choosing or re-evaluating a financial adviser
- How do you get paid? A commission on product sales, fee per transaction, or both? Ask for details.
- Can you manage my assets for a 1 percent or less management fee?
- What’s your background and experience?
- What’s the strength of the company you work for or with?
- What do your clients say about you? Ask for references.
- What are your checks and balances regarding risk vs. earnings reward?
- Will you put your investment proposals in writing?
- What are the potential pitfalls of the investment products you are offering?
- What do other professionals say about you?
Ask yourself what your gut-level comfort is with this adviser. Do you come away feeling good about what you’ve learned, where you’re headed when you meet with him/her?
Don’t hire or continue to use a financial adviser just because they are nice. Do the math at least a couple of times a year. How are your investments doing in comparison to the performance of the S&P 500 (the 500 largest publicly traded U.S.-based companies)?
If the S&P is up by 15 percent year-over-year but your holdings are up only 7 percent in the same time frame then you need to be asking some tough questions. You might do better on your own or by switching advisers.
Studies show that women, while good at budgeting, bill paying and saving, may be less confident when it comes to investing and managing long-term savings. Get in the game, learn the basics. Make sure you are getting the best performance from your investments --- with or without an advisor.
By JULIA ANDERSON
Because of planned and unplanned travel, I have been away from sixtyandsingle.com. The unplanned trip took me to Thailand for a month earlier in the year because of my younger son’s life-threatening bacterial infection.
It was an emergency mission that ended well with him making a good recovery after three weeks in a Thai hospital hooked to an IV-line pumping antibiotics into his body. We were there to support him emotionally, and financially. It's what parents do when kids are in trouble.
It could easily have ended badly. One in three people who contract these fast-moving bacterial infections die. Because he was young and the bacteria seemed most interested in his outer skin layers rather than muscle, he survived. Once out of the hospital, we stayed with him for another two weeks to make sure his recovery continued. From all this, we learned a great deal about Thailand and appreciate why its beaches, charming people and great cuisine attract travelers from around the globe. Thai restaurants in the states are great, but second best to the fabulous dishes we enjoyed while in-country.
Did anyone say, coconut milkshake?!
Interestingly, Thailand has an excellent health care system, especially if you have the money to pay for it at the higher end. A hospital stay for our son that would have cost a quarter of a million dollars or more in the states, came in at about $20,000. We see why people travel to Thailand for medical and dental procedures. They get excellent health care services at a big discount and have a vacation while at it.
Within a month of returning from Thailand, we launched our long-planned Great Motorcycle Adventure with Ken leaving for a solo ride ocean-to-ocean West to East on his BMW K 1600 GTL touring motorcycle. He made the trip in less than three weeks using a southern route (California, southern Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee to North Carolina) with stops along the way to stay with friends and family. A nephew lives in Charlotte, N.C., which made it easy for me to fly east to join Ken there.
After putting his toe in Atlantic, he and I began our journey west. Sitting on the bike behind Ken works great for me. I describe the experience as similar to downhill skiing and riding a horse. As a passenger, you must concentrate on the road ahead, lean into curves. That’s while getting the thrill of speed, of wind in your face and being outdoors.
As the passenger, I could enjoy the countryside in ways that don’t happen in a car – winding leafy country roads in Virginia and Tennessee, gorgeous farmland and attractive small towns in Kentucky, Missouri and Kansas and the wide-open country of the Rockies in Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho.
It was a thrilling trip made better by finding the graveyard head stones of my great-great Crabtree grandparents on my mother’s side in Virginia, findng the birthplace in Tennessee of my great-grandmother Orlena Kyle Anderson on my dad’s side and her husband’s headstone (my great-grandfather Moses Anderson) in the Wills Cemetery outside Peculiar, Mo. (near Kansas City)
As one of my Facebook friends remarked about my trip posts, “You have family and friends (living and dead) all over the country.”
I am a lucky woman. My son is on his feet back in the states and working. Our motorcycle ride was a thrilling life-time experience that came off without bad weather or mishap. I am thankful that I have my health and enough resources to pull it all off. Onward!!
I meet women all the time who face job and money transitions and who want to do them right. It’s about building confidence and taking charge of the future. This is your money. No one cares more than you do!
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