Blog

  • What Is A Financial Plan?

    Yes, we help our clients plan around financial assets, however, the term I have come to dislike is “financial plan”.  First of all, just saying financial plan sounds like a “snoozer”. Next, it is extremely hard to convey what a financial plan is since it is more of a service than a product.   Is it a 100-page report?  What will the outcomes of the plan be?  Will I understand it?  All of these things and more make the term financial plan something I personally dread. What Alternative Names Are Th…

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  • Book Review - The Checklist Manifesto

    Over the summer is a perfect time to reflect and improve upon long-term business practices.  One way that I like to do this is by spending some time reading.  The Checklist Manifesto by Dr. Atul Gawande has been out for almost 10 years, but the advice is timeless.Dr. Gawande is a general surgeon that has also been interested in public health policy.  The book discusses how the simple presence of a checklist can vastly improve the outcome of surgical and general hospital procedures.  No matter ho…

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  • Why Choices Are A Bad Thing!

    I will admit it, this article is written purely out of recent frustration.  After having lunch at Panera Bread, I was asked no less than 8 questions to complete a simple order.  Afterward, I had decision fatigue from the ordering process alone.  Cup or bowl; special salad dressing; try a special lemonade, chips, apple or bread; if bread, French bread or sprouted grain roll; add a cookie for a dollar; do you have a MyPaneraCard; would you like a receipt…   ENOUGH.  I’m going to skip Panera next t…

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  • Interest Rates Rising - What To Do With Your Cash?

    Most of the last decade, interest rates on savings accounts and Certificates of Deposit (CDs) have been virtually 0%.  This was a shock initially in 2009, but now it feels like the norm.  In the past few years, there have been 7 small but steady increases in the Fed Funds Rate, which has a strong connection with how much savings accounts/CDs will pay in interest.  Resulting from these increases, high-yield saving accounts, and CDs are now worth re-considering for funds held for emergency purpose…

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  • Social Security Annual Report - Should We Worry?

    On June 5th, the Board of Trustees that oversee Social Security benefits released their annual report.  As in previous years, the report continues to show a negative trajectory of the current system.   How Does The Social Security System Work for Retirees?In general, US workers and employers pay into the Social Security system annually as part of employment taxes (6.2% for employees and an additional 6.2% for employers).   That money goes into the Social Security Trust Fund and is then used to p…

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  • Summer Reading - A Worldly Perspective on Wealth and Facts

    Recently, I finished reading the book Factfulness by Hans Rosling. I found this book on Bill Gates summer reading list after he called it "one of the best books I've ever read".   In a cheerful and understandable voice, Rosling depicts how the world is indeed becoming a better place, despite news that leads us to believe otherwise.  The book clearly shows how our own negativity biases and instincts drive us to view the world much differently than it actually is.   I find that Rosling's research …

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  • Expense Ratios - A Hidden Portfolio Drag

    Cost is one of the few areas that can be controlled when investing. There is a semi-hidden cost called the expense ratio in all mutual funds and electronically trades funds (ETFs) that can have a big impact on your long-term investment results.  An expense ratio (ER) is an embedded cost that covers the internal operations of the fund.  It is not explicit on investment statements and usually overlooked by investors.  The ER is usually expressed in terms of a percentage, such as 0.2%.  This means …

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  • The Subscription Economy - Valuable in Moderation

    We are truly in the age of a subscription economy.   With so much data and information available at the touch of our hands, it seems we no longer need to own a significant number of physical objects.  Instead, we can just utilize some of the high-quality services out in the current marketplace.   I personally find this quite freeing as I don't have to have as many material belongings.  However, it is very easy to build up many subscriptions that you pay for, but no longer use.Below are some of m…

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  • Financial Organization - Simplified

    Two of the biggest ways we help clients is organization and framing financial decisions.  At BPC, we use a financial planning tool (RightCapital) which allows clients to easily track all their accounts in one location.  Right Capital can go beyond a basic budgeting tool like Mint.com and integrate live financial planning along with financial organization. If you would like to start getting organized, we are including access to RightCapital for the people on our newsletter.…

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  • Favorite Podcasts

    I will admit it, I'm a late adopter of podcasts.  Despite the fact, I have truly enjoyed adding podcasts as part of my daily driving routine and weekly lawn mowing.  If you too are late to the podcast scene, below are a few of my favorite podcast shows:How I Built This with Guy Raz - NPR - This is my favorite podcast.  Entrepreneurs share their stories of how they build their businesses, sharing the ups and downs along the way.  Startup Podcast - Gimlet Media - Alex Blumberg left NPR's Planet Mo…

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  • Don't Wait to Backup Your Irreplaceable Photos!

    If your house was on fire, what would you grab after family members and pets were safe? For many people, photos would be the next item on the list.   What about if your hard drive on your computer crashed?  Would you lose memories of children or grandchildren's birthdays?Today, it is incredibly easy to make sure that your digital photos are backed up online.  In addition, there are also services that will scan printed photos for you so they are also forever backed up for generations to come.  Be…

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  • Tax Planning - The Next Focus in Financial Planning

    The buzz words "financial planning" have become a ubiquitous part of receiving investment advice.  Unfortunately, financial planning can be completed at many different levels and the term "holistic" can drastically differ between advisory firms and advisor knowledge. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) passed in December 2017 is the first time in many years where individual tax rates have changed.  This creates additional tax planning opportunities to enhance after-tax returns.  Below are a few are…

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  • Are Your Beneficiaries Up-To-Date?

    Beneficiaries are something that we take for granted until it is too late.  There are many different examples of unfortunate situations where instead of a large 401k going to children as planned, an ex-spouse that is no longer in the picture inherits the assets.  A quick check of beneficiaries now could prevent family strife later.What is a Beneficiary?Beneficiaries are individuals or entities that will receive your assets after you pass away.   Does My Living Will Cover This?Sometimes.  A will …

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  • Discover New Websites

    Trello - Quite possibly the best project management and organizational website I have ever seen.  With a very simple interface, Trello allows users to move around virtual post-it notes to stay organized.  I have used Trello for everything from grocery lists to keeping track of my annual goals.  If you enjoy staying organized, Trello is worth a look.  (Mobile app available)Goodreads - A social based website for books.  My favorite feature of Goodreads is the ability to track books that you have r…

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  • Using 529 Accounts for Elementary and Secondary School Costs

    Among the myriad of changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) passed in December 2017, 529 plans can now be used for primary and secondary school expenses up to $10,000 per year per beneficiary.  Prior to the new law, 529 plans were explicitly used for qualifying college expenses. Importance for New York State ResidentsNew York allows an annual state tax deduction ($5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for a married couple) for contributions to the NY 529 program.  With marginal NYS income tax r…

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  • 3 Winning Traits for Professionals

    Recently, both Doug and I learned of two medical experiences that involved getting a second professional opinion.  The families are just fine now (so there is no need to worry) but it was very enlightening and we felt a strong correlation to the financial advisory industry. Below are three key components which helped immensely. Technical ExpertiseIn one instance, seeking an alternative diagnosis from another physician provided a completely new understanding of the situation.  During the initial …

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  • Decumulation Strategies - What Are You Missing?

    Congratulations!  You have finally retired after saving diligently over your whole career.  One question still remains - what is the best way to take out the money that you have saved?  The decumulation stage of retirement is arguably the most important and easiest to mess up.  With the large amount of money at risk and the emotional shift from saving to spending, it is easy to see how mistakes can be made.  There are many different strategies we use as advisors to maximize after-tax returns dur…

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  • Book Review - The Power of Moments

    We often read a lot of books in our personal time and we wanted to share a great book that was recently read.   The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip and Dan Heath.  These same best selling authors of Made to Stick and Switch created a masterpiece about how to look at life with a very different lens.I first became aware of Dan Heath at an NAPFA advisor conference several years ago.  His hour long keynote was far better than any other session I have atten…

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  • Time vs. Money - Finding a Balance

    The concept of time vs. money has come up several times recently in client meetings and continues to ensnare my thoughts.  I was also reminded of this while watching the 2011 movie In Time.  Yes, the acting may not be Oscar worthy, but the concept of directly substituting time as a currency instead of money is fascinating. After further reflection, I see the following cycle:Step 1: Use time to earn money   Step 2: Use money to create timeStep 3: RepeatInitially, money is the more important facto…

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  • Are Your Online Passwords Secure?

    How are you keeping track of your passwords for all of your online accounts? Let me guess: sticky notes, a special password notebook in your home office, or the same password for all accounts. Am I close?If you haven’t used a password manager to store secure passwords, here is a look at how they work.  Password Manager Concept Remember one very hard password to log into your password manager account. After logging into your password manager, all other passwords are stored and pre-populated whe…

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