Personal Finance

And Just Like That

Today is my 40th birthday. The ‘BIG 4-0’  is what they called it when I was growing up, although today that level of intensity seems to have been pushed back a decade. Nevertheless, it feels like a big milestone and seems an opportune time to take stock of my accomplishments so far and to determine…

What It’s All About

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It has all the good characteristics of Christmas – family, food, tradition, and celebration – with none of the stress – gift buying, gift wrapping, house decorating, and toys that require ‘moderate assembly’. I also love the idea of a day dedicated to being grateful. Gratitude is scientifically shown to…

In the Weeds

I’ve been too busy to write lately, and I miss writing. All at once, five new families are coming on board as clients, and a few more are close to making a decision. We are holding year-end tax planning meetings with clients. Often these meetings result in action to be taken, such as opening new…

Moms Are Cool

I’ve always wanted to do pro bono financial planning work, but never found the right opportunity. Local FPA chapters will host walk-in clinics which were never my thing. I developed a financial literacy program during my active years in the Junior League, but I wasn’t involved in launching or teaching the courses. I have taken…

Other People’s Money

My dad tells this story about his Finance 101 class in college in the 1970’s. The finance professor walks up to the chalkboard and writes ‘O – P – M’. He points to the acronym with the chalk and circles it while telling his students that the first rule of finance is to use “Other…

Should You Consider a DAF?

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of conversations about donor-advised funds (DAFs). DAFs are like mini private foundations, allowing an investor to take a charitable deduction upfront, invest the funds to grow tax-free, and distribute donations to charitable organizations in future years. When funded with appreciated securities instead of cash, an investor receives the double…

Retirement Planning for the Gig Economy

You may have never heard of it, but there is a feature in the tax code that allows an employee in the gig economy to set up a personal 401(k) plan. It is called a Solo 401(k), although in reality, it is no different than a traditional 401(k) plan except that there is only one…

Buy Buy Buy!

It’s that time of year again. Can you feel it? The pressure to buy things – gifts, decorations, food, wine. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday – they all have deals you must be sure not to miss. Even if you keep the price of each gift reasonable, you are expected to get a…

More Money, More Problems?

On a long car trip this weekend, we found ourselves scanning through FM radio stations. Somewhere in east Texas, the 1996 ballad “Mo Money Mo Problems” from the late hip-hop artist Notorious B.I.G. began playing. If you don’t know the song, here is the chorus: I don’t know what they want from me It’s like…

Yield Curve Inversion in the Mortgage Market

Mortgage rates are at their lowest levels in three years. A mortgage refinance boom is underway. As yields on long-term U.S. Treasuries have come down, so have mortgage rates. The 30-year fixed rate reached almost 5.0% in November 2018. It fell to 3.90% last week. According to the Mortgage Banker’s Association, refinance rates are 180%…