Archives for September 2015

Improving Your Day

How you start your day, can determine how the day will progress. Will it be a good day? Will it be rough and full of bumps and potholes? Most of us want to start the day off well and hope it stays that way, but we all know there are some unavoidable encounters that will turn our day upside down. Many of us have a routine that helps up get ready for the day. If you can boost your confidence and enthusiasm in the first hour, then it will carry you through the rest of the day.

I have compiled some suggestions from people on how they start their day. The following are some of the best I heard.

  • Some companies start their day off with a short team meeting. They only focus on the positive things that happened the day before. They have three questions that the team members answer: Is there something important that the other team members need to know? What’s the most positive thing that happened yesterday? What’s the most important thing you’re going to get done today? The meeting is conducted my standing to help show the since of urgency and to ensure that it stays short. They take no more than ten minutes to conduct the meeting.
  • I really liked this one, but not everyone has this option. Another person reported that they work from home for the first two hours. They answer emails from clients and initiate calls that need to be made. This allows them to avoid the office directions and traffic they would encounter.
  • Another person said that they take the first half hour of the day to call and check up with people who they have not talked to in the last 60 days. She also incorporated the idea of a birthday call. She would call the clients that have a birthday and wish them happy birthday. She had many positive responses.
  • The one I like the most was listing one to three difficult tasks to take on the next morning. The next day, you complete those tasks first. By getting the difficult tasks out of the way first, it leaves time to work on more pleasant tasks. These tasks most people would leave to the end, but it can leave a dark cloud over your head for the whole day. You will have more energy and be better prepared for the day.
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Have You Failed

It’s that time again. Time to put away your summer fun and return to the classroom. When you send you kids, back to school it is usually the time we think about how much they have grown and where they will be in a few more years. Are your kids (or grandkids) getting close to graduation? Are they still in elementary school? Do you know if they are going to be ready for college when the times comes? Now is the time to start planning for college. It is never too late to start a 529 Savings Plan.

I know we have talked about this before, but I bring it up again because in a recent survey conducted by the financial service firm Edward Jones, 66% of people surveyed still do not know about 529 Plans, despite them being around for almost 20 years. What is slightly up from last year is 34% could correctly identify a 529 plan from four options given to them, but still do not understand how they work.

We all know that college is increasing in cost every year. Some people are at a loss on how to pay for college. We know that loans are an option, but some people do not like to have enough debt that they will be paying off into their thirties. The 529 Plan allows families to start early. You can set up a plan for your child when they are born or any time before they are in college. The soon you start the account the more chances you will have to save.

Each state has different rules for the 529 Plan, but most have the same key features. You set up an account. It does not who sets up the account. It can be a parent, grandparent, etc. The account is similar to a retirement plan, once it is time to send your kids to college, they can withdraw money from the account to pay for fees, books, tuition, and housing. If you would like more information talk to your financial advisor, or visit: https://www.learningquest.com/content/investing_with_a_529.html.

We all know the value of a college education. Let’s be proactive and help our children develop their future. By setting up a 529 Plan, you are helping your child manage the cost that will lead them on the path to higher learning and set them up for success.

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Avoiding Probate? What Clients Should Know

When going through estate planning, there is always an inevitable question. Should I avoid probate? Let’s start by defining probate. The legal prospective of probate is, the process of clearing title to certain property when someone dies, so that ownership can be transferred to those receiving the inheritance. Probate can be costly, and avoiding it takes time and energy to accomplish the task. It is important to analyze whether this is the best choice for you.

Reducing Cost

Avoiding probate can save money. The cost associated with probate are generally attorney fee, filing fees, and compensation for personal representatives (known as executors). Some states such as California, Florida, and New York impose fee based on the value of the asset subjected to probate. However, in other states, such as Massachusetts, the cost is determines on the types of papers the court requires. It is important to understand the laws that govern assets in your state.

Reducing Complexity

Many people express the desire to simplify things for their family during the estate planning process. IF this desire is expressed it is important for them to avoid probate. This will lessen the time it will take the heirs to gain access to the assets and lessens the steps to transfer ownership of assets.

Increasing Privacy

Most paperwork filed in courts is considered public record. This means that anyone is able to view the will and information about the value of the estate. If the estate goes through probate then a notice has to go out to all interested parties. If you would like to keep the terms of your estate private, then it is a good idea to avoid probate. This allows you to disinherit certain relatives, keep certain aspects of the estate private, and determine how the estate is divided.

Avoid a Will Contest

This goes back to privacy a little. By avoid probate, you can avoid disinherited relatives from contesting the will. If the assets go into probate, a court ordered notice is sent out and assets are transferred into a trust (or something similar). Depending on the state, challenging the non-probate estates can be considerably more difficult, then if the estate went through probate.

Accepting Paperwork

Avoiding probate comes with certain administrative responsibilities. Many times, ownership of accounts need to be changed, beneficiaries need to be updated, and real estate conveyed through deeds. These tasks require time and energy. Some even have fees associated with them. This can be a burden for many people making the idea of avoid probate unattainable, but with the help of a good financial advisor, many of the burdens are eased and you are guided through the paperwork.

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Upgrading to Windows 10

Some big changes have happened to Windows. Many of you have probably seen something pop up on your computer telling you that you are eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 10. This is huge. Most upgrades we have had to pay for in the past, but Windows is trying something new. I have personally upgraded one of my computers to Windows 10, and so far, I like it, but it was a big change to get used to. For those of you who have not upgraded yet, here are some things to think about when you do finally make that transition.

Give Yourself Time

Installing a new version of Windows can take some time. I think it only took me about thirty minutes, but that was with high-speed internet and no one else using any other device at the time. The software is close to 3GB and if your connection is so-so then you will want to make sure you turn off the computers automatic sleep mode so the computer does not shut down in the middle of the download. You can do this by going to the control panel and choosing power options. This sound like a no brainer, but make sure the computer, laptop, notebook, or tablet is plugged in.

Back it Up

When you are changing anything on your computer, things can go wrong. It is good to know that if something goes wrong you can put it back to where it was. With Windows 10, there is no recovery disk. There is not a way to put it back if something goes wrong. The best way to make sure everything can be restored is to create your own recovery drive. Purchase a thumb drive that is at least 16 GB. In the search box, type in “recovery drive” without the quote marks, and it should bring up the Recovery Drive tool found in the control panel. This process will remove anything else stored on that thumb drive, so it is important to have on dedicated to just the recovery drive.

Does anything Need Upgraded

Check your software and hardware that you use with your computer and make sure it is compatible with Window 10. Once you update you may not be able to use that tool if it is not compatible.

Get Use to it

This is new and some things you will have to get used to. Windows 8 and 8.1 changed the user interface. This confused people and many people had a hard time with the upgrade because the stat button was gone. Windows 10 brings it back, but it does not work the same as Windows 7, XP, or Vista. Many of the changes are good, and with time, I think you will like them. They do require a getting to know you period.

Enjoy the New Upgrade

When you click on the new start button, a whole wealth of information is at your fingertips and only one click away instead of several. If you need to find something try searching for it with the search option. The notifications icon on the right hand side of the system tray not only give you messages from your system, but also allows access to the Action Center. I would recommend clicking the Start Button and clicking on the Get Stan the Get Stan the Get Started icon. It will give you a video that will give you a video that introduces several of the new features.

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