College Savings 101

Paying your child's tuition can seem like a daunting task, but deliberate planning can make it possible.
By Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA®
Monday, 21 September 2020

College Savings 101

College expenses always seem to be on the rise, so tackling college savings can feel like a herculean task at times. Accumulated College Board data for the 2019-2020 academic year showed an average cost of $21,950 as an in-state student at a state school, and a massive $49,870 for a private school. A bit of math easily reveals that four years at any college or university will cost a pretty penny, especially if your children aren’t close to college age just yet. In fact, tuition is likely to continue rising at a rate of about 8 percent each year, and assuming cost trends continue, parents and prospective students will face steep tuition bills in the future.

While not all parents are able to or want to pay for their child’s entire college education, many feel it’s important to contribute at least partially if they can. With rather alarming annual increases in costs, however, parents who wish to help put their children through college need to start planning and saving now. As with any large financial burden, the more time you spend saving, the lower the financial burden is at any given time.

Women Entrepreneurs: How to Sustain Your Balancing Act

Female Business Owners Can Find Success by Focusing Their Attention on Key Areas
By Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA®
Monday, 24 August 2020

Women Entrepreneurs: How to Sustain Your Balancing Act

Being a female entrepreneur is rife with challenges. We still live in a world where women business owners are defying social expectations, struggling to be taken seriously, and confronting the difficult balance between business life and a personal life. It’s no wonder so many female entrepreneurs feel like they’re constantly hustling and still not reaching their goals while confronting the challenge to access funding as a woman-owned business, building a professional network, and overcoming the fear of failure.

If you love what you do – and you’re good at it – but you feel overwhelmed with all that’s required of you, you’re not alone. Read on for three tips designed to help you achieve more balance while creating success in your business.

Lifestyle and Retirement: The Way You Live Your Life Can Affect Your Finances

Understand the Lifestyle Factors that Could Impact Your Financial Future
By Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA®
Monday, 10 August 2020

Lifestyle and Retirement: The Way You Live Your Life Can Affect Your Finances

Is your retirement planning focused solely on dollars and cents? If so, it’s time to broaden your view.

While things like target savings goals and 401(k) balances are crucial to creating a comfortable retirement for yourself, there are some important pre-retirement considerations that have nothing to do with money at all – namely: how and where you’ll spend your new-found leisure time, and who you’ll spend it with. Not only are these important considerations for your lifestyle in retirement, where you will spend your retirement and with whom might impact your finances.

If you want to enjoy a healthy and fulfilling retirement, take the time to consider these four lifestyle factors while also understanding their potential financial impact:

  • Are you and your spouse/partner retiring at the same time?

Many couples retire at different times, either due to necessity or based on personal choice. When this happens, it’s important to plan ahead for the very real shifts that will take place in your everyday life. That’s why it’s so important to communicate with your partner and ensure you’re both on the same page. Talk about the expectations you both have for what your days will be like when the first person retires. Work out things like household chore responsibilities together and commit to navigating your “new normal” as a team. While the retiring spouse may be feeling excited at the prospect of starting a new chapter, it’s important to realize that the spouse who is still working will not be starting that particular chapter yet. Your shared life is important, but this is also a time in life to consider your individual goals and dreams. Open communication and advanced planning can help to smooth this transition.

How to Raise Non-Materialistic Children

Five Ways to Take the Lead in How Your Kids View Material Things
By Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA®
Tuesday, 21 July 2020

How to Raise Non-Materialistic Children

It is human nature for all of us to feel the need to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ from time to time, children included. As more and more kids get smartphones and their popular gaming platforms grow ever more sophisticated, their brains are being primed to want the things their peers have. These feelings can be complex, especially as a new school year is beginning, and things like new clothing, electronics and accessories are on the minds of many kids. As parents, it’s up to us to help our children mitigate these complicated feelings and avoid falling head-first into materialism.

Child psychologists and parenting experts have studied the issue of materialism in children for several decades. Below we will discuss five findings to help parents lead their children toward a non-materialistic mindset.

Tip #1: Have Frequent Money Discussions

Our children learn quite a bit at school, but money management isn’t often included. Since education systems in the United States don't require financial education, our children learn their spending habits from – you guessed it – us. If we want our children to understand the value of money, we need to talk openly about it and do so often. This includes the classic “money doesn’t grow on trees” narrative, which the Child Development Institute says will help kids learn how quickly money can disappear. In turn, this leads to establishing responsible spending habits into adulthood.

Five Tips for Raising Financially Empowered Children

Give Your Kids the Gift that Keeps on Giving
By Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA®
Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Five Tips for Raising Financially Empowered Children

So much of what we think and feel and believe about money was learned from our parents before we were even ten years old. The impact they have is so consequential that our financial habits as adults, both positive and negative, were in large part derived from their examples.

As parents, knowing and understanding the power we wield over our kids’ money stories means we have the opportunity to take intentional steps to set our children up for financial empowerment – an important ingredient in their long-term success.

As with any other aspect of parenting, there is more than one right way to do this, but the tips below are a great place to start if you hope to instill positive money habits in your children. And, although it is difficult to reverse deep-seated habits we learned during our own childhoods, leading our children through these lessons can help us to feel more financially empowered, too. 

The Impact That Financial Incompatibility Can Have in Your Romantic Relationships

Differentiating money habits may be more of a threat than you realize
By Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA®
Monday, 11 May 2020

The Impact That Financial Incompatibility Can Have in Your Romantic Relationships

When you’re dating someone new, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all. The sparks are flying, you’re enjoying your time together, you seem to have a lot in common and you start thinking about whether it could become something serious. In scary times like these, you may be even more focused on your relationship than ever before. Though your new love may check all the proverbial boxes for your ideal mate, it’s important to ask yourself whether there are any financial red flags that could amount to deal-breakers for you. With social distancing laws in place, you and your partner can take advantage of your newfound free time by reflecting inwards on what you both want from each other when it comes to money values

Now, I know what you may be thinking: you should choose a mate based on love, not money… right? Well, the answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no. Let’s dig into the topic.

The Coronavirus Lockdown Provides an Opportunity to Educate Kids About Finance

By Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA®
Wednesday, 22 April 2020

The Coronavirus Lockdown Provides an Opportunity to Educate Kids About Finance

Like many of you, I’m working from home at the moment and that means I’m spending more quality time with my 14-year-old daughter, Grace. As anyone with a teenager knows, there are inherent challenges involved with so much 24-7 togetherness! However, more than anything else, it has been gratifying to reconnect and to spend more time together than our schedules typically allow.

I decided to take this time at home with Grace as an opportunity to instill money values and teach personal finance basics while I have a “captive audience”. April is Financial Literacy Month and since financial education is completely absent from most school curriculums and scarce others, it’s important not to leave financial education up to chance.

Now, you might be thinking that this is a terrible time to be discussing money issues with your kids, with so much upheaval and uncertainty surrounding us. However, I would challenge you to flip that mindset upside down. Challenging times make for some of the best teachable moments, and there are many opportunities in our current circumstances if we look for them.

Cultivate Your Finances this Spring

Five Steps to Get Your Money Tree Blooming
By Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA®
Wednesday, 04 March 2020

Cultivate Your Finances this Spring

What do your garden and your finances have in common? As it turns out, quite a bit. Both require you to plant seeds, cultivate carefully and exercise patience before you can harvest your bounty and enjoy your prosperity.

As you begin to breathe in the fresh, clean air this spring, consider it an opportunity to freshen up your finances, too. It’s a great time to reconnect with your financial goals, cultivate new conversations and get intentional with your investment strategy. The five steps below will help you sow the seeds of financial success and ensure your investments continue to blossom.

Successful Retirement Planning: Five Crucial Components

Focus on the Fundamentals to Establish a Retirement Plan that Meets Your Needs
By Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA®
Monday, 03 February 2020

Successful Retirement Planning: Five Crucial Components

When you think of retirement planning, are you immediately overwhelmed? Whether it’s the thought of balancing all your financial priorities, concerns about being behind in your savings or confusion about where to start, you’re not alone. In fact, 52 percent of Americans aren’t properly planning for their retirement years.

Of course, there’s no time like the present. If you’re ready to begin planning for the retirement of your dreams, get started by focusing on the five components below.

The Empty Nest: How to Thrive During this New Season of Life

Five Ways to Make Life After Kids Rich and Rewarding
By Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA®
Monday, 06 January 2020

The Empty Nest: How to Thrive During this New Season of Life

The transition from a full house and a busy schedule of kid-related activities to an empty nest and lots of free time can be an incredibly emotional time for parents. Most feel a mix of happiness at successfully launching young adults out into the world and sadness at the prospect of a quieter house and a diminished role in their children’s lives.

Whether you’re currently making your way through this bittersweet time or you’re on the verge of entering empty nest territory, below you’ll find five ways to focus on the positive and remember that this can be a rich and rewarding time in your life.

Are You on Track to Meet Your Retirement Goals?

Net Worth Benchmarks Can Help Learn More About a Valuable Measure of Your Financial Health
By Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA®
Tuesday, 03 December 2019

Are You on Track to Meet Your Retirement Goals?

Do you find yourself wondering if you’re on track to meet your retirement goals? Are you saving diligently but still unsure whether it’s enough? A valuable benchmark to help you answer these questions is your net worth: that is, the number you’re left with when you add up your cash and other financial assets, then subtract all your debts.

If you’re doing the math, assets are things like:

  • Cash value of your checking and savings accounts
  • Your home and any rental properties you own (current market value)
  • Investment accounts, including mutual funds, stocks, and bonds
  • Retirement savings accounts, like IRAs and 401(k) or 403(b) accounts

When calculating your debts, you’ll include things like:

  • Credit card debt
  • Student loans
  • Personal loans
  • Mortgage loans on a primary residence and any rental properties
  • Medical debts
  • Back taxes

It takes a bit of work but knowing your net worth is important because it’s a strong indicator of your overall financial health. It can be tempting to compare yourself to friends and family, but their habits aren’t necessarily good measures of your own financial footing. Instead, take a look at the net worth targets below that reflect where you should be based on your age.

Before Age 30: Take Small, Meaningful Steps and Focus on Debt Reduction

When you’re in your twenties and starting out in the working world, you don’t need to be overly concerned with net worth. In fact, you may be paying off student loans and carrying a negative net worth – and that’s okay!

Choose a Life-Planner

By Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA®
Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Choose a Life-Planner
Are you in the market for a financial advisor? Or perhaps you are looking ahead and starting to think that you could use a little help? Or maybe, you are currently with an advisor and aren’t getting exactly what you want? If any of that applies to you, then this article should help. We are going to discuss the difference between a bare-bones financial planner and a life-planner. Life-planners are those who will be looking at you as more than a bank balance or a set of yearly goals; they want to know you as a person and understand both who you are and where you want to be. A life-planner will want to know more about you as a person, your family, your career, and then create a personalized plan for you. The goal is to make your fantasies into realities. 

The Dirty Dozen

12 Culprits Keeping You from Practicing Good Spending Habits
By Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA®
Wednesday, 02 October 2019

The Dirty Dozen

Do you ever wake up in the morning with the best financial intentions, only to find your goals thwarted as your day goes on? If so, you’re not alone. The world around us is full of outside influences that challenge our ability to make good financial decisions every hour of every day.

Short of sequestering yourself in your home and practicing total avoidance, there’s no way to completely protect yourself from these influences. However, recognizing their potential impact and working to minimize your exposure can help you remain on track with your financial goals.

To Merge or Not to Merge: Finances in a Second Marriage

By Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA®

Tuesday, 03 September 2019

To Merge or Not to Merge: Finances in a Second Marriage

Did you know that 41% of first marriages end in divorce?[i] Did you ever have money issues in your first marriage? It wouldn’t be surprising, even if that wasn’t the reason for the split, as money disagreements account for 21% of divorces and for those with incomes over $100,000 a year it jumped to 33%.[ii] On top of that, most couples have conflicting money values such as when one is a saver and one is a spender. Now you are onto your next marriage…congratulations! The next step will be going over a few important financial details that you should discuss with your partner. Financial communication is absolutely vital in a relationship and, in some ways, even more important in a second marriage as you will be bringing more complexity and baggage with you. You will both be better off moving forward in this new romantic chapter if you can get everything on the table and discussed.

Do You Have a Child in College? Make Sure You Have These Important Documents in Place

By Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA®

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Do You Have a Child in College? Make Sure You Have These Important Documents in Place

When it comes to getting your kids ready for college it can seem like there are a million things to do, think of, and prepare. I remember I was a wreck when my daughter Maddy went off to college (She successfully graduated May 2019). I had my concerns about her safety, her well-being, her ability to create her own structure with all that freedom, and all the other concerns that come with being the parent of a young adult. Maddy, on the other hand, was excited to begin this new chapter of her life. The furthest thing from her mind was worst-case scenarios and creating a plan for the what-ifs of adulthood.


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