BY JULIA ANDERSON
My public television co-host Pat Boyle (right in photo) and I were talking today about how new topics continually pop up for our show, Smart Money.
Today, we taped three new shows on three great topics: When retirement comes earlier than expected, why getting your Social Security payment electronically is a good idea and how to keep your divorce costs down.
Three diverse subjects added to a long list of diverse topics at Smart Money in the past four years. Our interviews are online, set up by the crew at MACC TVCTV public television in Beaverton, Ore. We sign on and bingo, we look as good as the talking heads on national television.
In the past six months, we have done a lot of coverage related to the virus shutdown – How to ace an online interview, email scams aimed a lonely women stuck at home and temporary changes in mandated withdrawals from tax-deferred savings accounts. (These shows have not yet aired on YouTube.)
Last month, we taped a show trashing Tom Selleck and his TV pitch for reverse mortgages. Our view is that the negatives of a reserve mortgage far outweigh the pluses.
Even though you may not live in the Portland, Oregon metro area, you still can check out Smart Money shows by going to YouTube.
Here are a few links.
Do's and don'ts of raising cash in a hurry: click here
Managing your money in a pandemic: click here
Business turnaround tips: click here
Seniors, taxes and RMDs: click here
Reverse mortgages: click here
Stimulus money in the pandemic: click here
BY JULIA ANDERSON
The financial advice industry is licking its chops over a Bloomberg forecast that American women could see their household financial assets triple in value over the next decade!
Baby Boomer women will be outliving their spouses at an increasing rate as they age into their late 70s and 80s, which means they inherit his tax-deferred retirement savings (401k and IRAs), the equity they may have accumulated in the house and other real estate they own and any other long-term assets.
Meanwhile, younger women, Bloomberg says, are becoming “more financially savvy.” Their net worth is increasing as they put more income into long-term retirement savings. Generally, younger women are smarter about saving, investing, and spending money, the report said.
We are talking about a huge wealth gain, which at first glance may seem over-the-top. Today, Bloomberg estimated that women control about $10 trillion in U.S. household financial assets – savings, investments, real estate etc. By 2030 that total will jump to $30 trillion. That’s trillion with a T!!
Here at sixtyandsingle.com, we have preached that women must prepare for a time when they will be financially on their own. Even if you turn to an outside consultant to manage your money, your own financially literacy is key to doing it successfully.
Steps you can take now:
1. Talk with your spouse about your financial future without him. What will it look like?
2. Determine your net worth by subtracting your total assets from your debt.
3. Make sure you both understand the long-term estate planning strategy.
4. What income can you count on your later years? The answers are there.
5. Will there be estate taxes at his death. How do you transfer his IRA account without paying taxes? Should you pay off the mortgage? All questions worth asking.
6. How do you know if you have a good (honest) investment adviser?
Tips for hiring a financial adviser (if you need one):
As we said, the financial industry wants to manage your money and charge you a fee for doing that management. Just make sure you are earning more from your investment savings than they are. Here are questions to ask:
- How are you paid? A flat fee for service based on total assets, a commission on investment product sales, or all of the above?
- Can you manage my assets for 1 percent or less in fees? If not, why not?
- What is the strength of the company you work for?
- Will you put your proposals in writing?
These basic questions will get you on the right track with the person you are entrusting with your financial well-being. Do not hire or continue to use a financial adviser just because they are nice!!!
Regrettably, only 15 to 20 percent of America’s financial advisers are women, Barron's said in its report. The industry would do well to make itself more attractive to women, especially since women tend to outperform men as money managers, Barron’s said.
Meanwhile, talking to a spouse about your financial future without them is a difficult conversation to have but worth the peace of mind for both of you. According to Bloomberg, a lot of money is at stake. You may be worth more in your later years than you think.
"I get angry about things, then go on and work." - Toni Morrison, author, (1931-2019)
By JULIA ANDERSON
Women have lost more jobs than men during the coronavirus pandemic. This is a serious financial setback for women, for household income and for the U.S economy.
The reasons are clear -- women work in female dominated sectors -- retailing, education and health care. Many more own their own businesses that have been closed for months.
Self-employment at beauty salons, spas, restaurants, bakeries, daycare centers and retail shops has given women the flexibility to make money and manage the kids. Work at schools, clinics and hospitals offered the same home-work dynamics.
But pandemic schools closures meant the kids came home. Someone had to be there for them, helping with online school, social distancing "play-dates" and meals. A double-whammy for women.
More of the same. The Wall Street Journal reports that many women won’t be back working at 100 percent for a long time – a year or two. Continued virus infections, layoffs and workplace closures coupled with school closures that have kids at home have created big challenges for women, especially single moms.
This has implications for the economy: High unemployment, reduced family income, less consumer spending. When will many of these jobs come back? We don’t know.
Federal stimulus programs have helped, extending unemployment benefits for self-employed workers has helped. But this aid expires in July and there are doubts about what programs should be continued and how they should be continued.
Meanwhile, the longer women remain out of the workforce the harder it could be to return. Skills atrophy or at least some employers may think that, said the Journal report.
What can women do?
Advocate for yourself with your employer if you are off the job or working from home. Stay in touch, either way. Ask for a schedule that works for you from home. Negotiate to set work-from-home expectations --- kids, hours, job performance. . Advocate for returning to the workplace even part-time.
Reset your personal and professional success goals. What one small step can you take to reach a work goal, today? What tiny victory have you achieved in the past week? What ways can you go easy on yourself during this difficult time?
Learn to live on a single-income: Cut expenses, develop an expense budget, avoid high-cost debt, talk about the stress and look for new options.
click here for the WSJ story.
Conclusion: Women have lost a lot of jobs in the pandemic. Getting back to those jobs will take time…. Maybe a year or two. It is going to be a marathon, not a 6k race.
Pacing is everything. But women will come out of this stronger, smarter and determined to move ahead personally, and financially.
"The three immutable facts: You own stuff. You will die. Someone will get that stuff." - Jane Bryant Quinn, financial writer
BY JULIA ANDERSON
After a yearlong saga, I am celebrating this week that I signed and have had notarized legal documents that should serve me the rest of my life – a will and a living trust.
With the onset of the virus shutdown coupled with daily news about the mounting virus deaths of people my age, the urgency to get something done reached near panic for me. What if I got the virus, were whisked off to a covid-19 unit never to return. I would die without goodbyes or a written legal plan for settling my estate, my burial wishes or who gets what when. My old will was woefully out of date. Yikes!
Following months of effort, the documents were ready to sign but because of the virus shutdown, going to an office was not an option. I could wait or my attorney offered to have a “signing” in the empty parking lot of a local retail shopping center, I said with joy, “Let’s do it!”
Two staff from her office showed up in one car with the documents, we arrived in our pickup. The truck tailgate made a perfect outdoor desk for signing seven pieces of paper ferried one at a time from the lawyer’s vehicle to the truck tailgate, then back.
We all wore masks. They wore gloves, as well. I brought my own blue pen so there would be no transfer of virus molecules from me to them. We periodically used spray disinfectant.
At my age (73), I have accumulated assets in a retirement account and an inherited stock portfolio plus 20 years of equity in my house. I also own a rental house.
My husband and I have a pre-nuptial agreement that gives all of his assets to his kids at his death and my separate assets to my two sons and grandson free and clear at my death.
My mother, bless her, showed me the way by setting up a pass-through will and Living Trust for her own estate naming a bank as her co-trustee. The plan worked well in the final years of her life and kept down the stress level after her death when the bank trust department settled her estate. I would like to do the same.
It took longer than anticipated for my plan to come together but I’ve come to realize that estate planning attorneys work at a different pace. In my attorney’s life this past 12 months there was an illness (hers) and a death (her father’s) that meant delays. Bottom line: I am happy with the result and thankful for the hours she put in to crafting my documents. Could I have done this myself? Maybe.
So, what have I got? I have a signed and notarized Revocable Trust or what most people call a Living Trust. What is it? A living trust is a legal entity set up through a will and trust documents that allows the trust to “own” my assets --- retirement/investment accounts, bank accounts and real estate. It also can include jewelry and furniture. As the grantor, I transferred ownership of my assets to the trust, but I continue to manage these assets just as before.
For a thorough and easy-to-understand explanation of trusts, click here.
What are the benefits of a living trust? They save time and money in settling your estate when you die. They offer more legal protection than a simple will if challenged in court and protect your privacy. They also can be used to manage your affairs before you die by turning that work over to a bank trust department. The bank charges a fee, usually a percentage of total assets to provide these services.
In my mother’s case, she turned to her local bank trust department to pay her bills, manage her farm and take care of her assets in the last years of her life when she could no longer do so because of declining health. She died one month from her 99th birthday.
My trust does more than that. It settles my estate but also sets up follow-through trusts for my children and grandchild after I am gone. My plan is to give them professionally managed financial support for at least 10 years after my death.
There are downsides – the bank trust department will charge a management fee for this service and tends to handle investment assets more conservatively than I would. That could mean less income.
My estate is hardly big enough for trust departments to want to manage but I am doing it for these reasons:
In addition to the will and trust documents, I am attaching a Tangible Asset List spelling out who gets my jewelry, my furniture, and my poster of the Big Loop Rodeo. My husband gets our jointly owned vehicles and the right to go on living in my house if he wants. My trust continues to pay the property taxes and insurance, he would pay household expenses such as the power bill and trash pickup.
Most people probably don’t need a Living Trust. A will does the job for 95 percent of us. But the sad fact is that only 55 percent of adult Americans have gone to the trouble of even writing a will. That leaves heirs to pick up the pieces after they die. It leaves them to argue over who’s in charge, over money, real estate, and the stuff inside the house. I have reported and written about many cases where the death of a parent triggers ugly fights among siblings, stepchildren, and grandchildren.
Financial abuse -- not likely in my case -- can become a temptation for children or grandchildren who may convince themselves that they deserve an early inheritance. A living trust avoids that by putting a bank trust department in charge in your final years. Trust departments are legally required to make monthly or quarterly reports to heirs and to those with Power of Attorney for your affairs.
In my mother’s case, all she had to worry about was playing bingo and getting her hair done at the care center. She kept her eye on things, followed the stock market and had regular chats with her bank trust officer. She did the right thing for all of us.
I hope to do the same.
9 Reasons Why you Should consider a Living Trust, Kiplinger, click here
Abusive trust tax evasion schemes Q&A from the IRS click here
nolo.com Do it yourself living trust. click here.
daveramsey.com click here
LegalZoom click here
“Without a doubt, without hesitation, I choose gardening over the gym. I can’t stand going to the gym. It doesn’t appeal to me. Give me gardening every time.” – Mary Berry of the Great British Bake Off
BY JULIA ANDERSON
Even though I grew up on a farm, I didn’t put a seed in the dirt until grown and married. A patch of exposed soil six inches wide and a few feet long out of an apartment sliding door gave me my first green thumb inspiration.
Flower seeds from a packet purchased at the grocery store rewarded me that summer with colorful blossoms and bouquets That was in 1969. They were zinnias.
I have been gardening since. Sticking with the basics, I grow beans – pole beans and bush beans. The other usuals include zucchini, some kind of lettuce, carrots, kale and spinach. Last year, I threw in nasturtiums for color. They were a visual color riot AND EDIBLE.
They make a return visit this year, along with zinnas.
Everyone is writing about the appeal of gardening while quarantined at home during the Great 2020 Virus Outbreak. The New York Times, the Seattle-Times, Wall Street Journal and others all have produced lovely pieces written for people who might be sticking their first seed in the ground.
Beginners as well as those of us already in love with gardening have been flooding online seed companies with orders. Garden supply retailers (deemed essential businesses) are seeing robust sales, two and three times that of a normal season.
Here are my tips for starting a garden on a budget:
Make a Plan: Where will your garden be? How big? Is there an open spot in your yard or along the side of the house? Is there room for a garden box on the patio or a flowerpot on the apartment balcony? All you need is some dirt, sunlight for at least half the day and water (once or twice a week).
Understand the work and time required: Taking care of a garden or even a flower in a pot requires attention (time). Plants need sun and regular watering (but not over-watering) to do well. Plants also need weeding and occasional pruning.
Make sure you (and your family) are willing to regularly put time tending the plants once it begins to grow.
Put together a budget: What do you have on hand, what do you need? A basic “garden” should not cost more than $20 in seed, plus a few tools. A scratching tool, trowel and maybe a shovel to dig up the soil are the basics. Tools could add another $50 to the upfront costs. But I’ve used kitchen forks and spoons to work up and plant in small pots.
A patch of dirt or a medium-sized planter box in direct sun more than half the day.
A trowel and a scratching tool for working up the dirt, planting and keeping weeds at bay.
A shovel, if you dig up a larger patch alongside your house or in the yard. Maybe a heavy rake and a hoe, so you can weed without bending over.
Additional needs and ideas: Bamboo or wooden sticks for pole beans to climb on, cuttings from perennial flowers from a neighbor’s yard with permission. Annuals die at the end of each growing season. Perennials return.
Seeds, not starts: Packets of seed typically cost $2 to $4. Seedling starts, already sprouted and growing, are more expensive. Try starting your own seeds inside using shallow tin cans placed near a sunny window.
Seeds packets are available at many grocery stores and at ag retail stores, both considered essential businesses during the stay-at-home quarantine. Keep in mind that the cheapest seed is not always best in terms of germination and plant performance during the growing season.
What to plant: If you have a small area (planter box or flowerpot) go with a packet of climbing Blue Lake pole beans, since they don’t need much space and will grow upward on a wooden pole or two. Or how about a cherry tomato plant (best purchased as a plant) that will reward you all summer. Stick in a few cucumber seeds at the edge of the planter. They hang out and trail down.
Throw in some nasturtiums for color, if you’ve got room. They are edible and look great on a plate. Lettuce from seed would be my next choice.
If you have a larger planting area put in bush beans (green and yellow), kale, spinach and more lettuce. Zucchini plants have never let me down for their dramatic size and production. Love’m.
TO REVIEW: Hopefully, you already own basic garden tools, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money. If not, start with a scratching tool and a trowel. (Or use a spoon from the kitchen). Buy a few packets of seed at about $2 a packet. Go with the basics: climbing pole beans, a cherry tomato plant, and a packet of mixed lettuce.
For me gardening is everything. It clears my head and restores my soul. I get physical exercise while creating beauty. I walk around my garden and yard at the end of the day and give thanks for the miracle of life. Mornings, I stroll outside (when it's not raining) with a bowl of cereal while looking at plants, shrubs and thinking about what comes next.
A quote from actor Helen Mirren reminds me of what gardening is all about -- “Gardening is learning, learning, learning. That's the fun... you’re always learning.”
"A beginner's guide to starting a coronavirus victory garden," Seattle Times, click here.
"In Lockdown, Discovering Gardening's Restorative Powers," -WSJ, click here.
"How to start a vegetable garden on the cheap," - Living on the Cheap, click here.
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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