The Investment Coach

Hard to fathom...2018 is more than half over! Back-to-school preoccupations are in full swing. Halloween is less than three months away, heralding that time of year when we exclaim, “What, holiday decorations at the mall...already?”

What to think about now? Parents, consider the age of your child or children as you contemplate the school year. How soon will they be ready for college? Will you be ready financially? Will they be ready in terms of defined purpose as to what they want to focus on, major in, prepare for?

Publisher of The Gordon Report, Edward Gordon notes that by 2022 roughly 75 percent of American jobs will require post-secondary education and/or specific skills training, but only 25 percent of Americans will meet those requirements. Jobs already go begging based on the growing skills and knowledge gap. Gordon cites a report from National Student Clearinghouse based on 2017 outcomes: “Only 56.9 percent of U.S. students seeking post-secondary certificates or degrees completed them within a six-year period.”

What are you planning to pay for mom and dad? Four years of college? Six years? Graduate school? Where’s the money coming from? Are grandpa and grandma helping? If you are aiding grandchildren, how does that play into your budgeting and financial planning?

Have you considered consulting services to identify your student’s innate MO, what they do instinctively based on how they were hard wired at birth? Recognizing that strength=talent+skill+knowlege, what are their strengths? That success formula has been proven by Gallup to work in business, and it works in all roles one assumes in life. It’s about finishing college in four years, selecting the right major. It’s not about getting a job. It’s about the role one can play most effectively in life based on engagement, purpose, and passion. Education planning goes beyond pure money and cost.

Little bundles of joy conceived in the cool of last fall and early winter are arriving. Grandparents and parents ask about setting up College Savings Plans for the tyke. Parents need to overhaul (or create) wills and other legal documents to provide for children in the event of the loss of one or both parents. Who would raise the child? Is life insurance important to survivorship financial security? Trust provisions? Do you have a special needs child?

The calendar tax year ends in less than five months. There have been numerous changes to the tax code. Have you started tax planning for 2019? This is especially important for high net worth individuals, couples, families, business owners.

Have you scheduled Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from retirement plans? If you are age 70.5 or older in 2018 you must take a RMD from qualified retirement plans (but not a Roth IRA). If you are the beneficiary of an Inherited IRA you must take a RMD regardless of age. If you have questions about RMD requirements and how to calculate the distribution, call your advisor. There are strategies and rules you may not be aware of.

You may delay RMDs from a 401(K) account if you are still working for the company past 70.5. However, if you own more than 5 percent of the company, you must start RMDs by 70.5 even if you continue working. Failure to follow rules can be expensive.

Jet fuel prices are rising. Airlines are raising fares and cutting flights for fall travel. Plan now for holiday trips. Planes will be full, prices higher. Planning for vacation travel in 2019 is timely. Smaller yacht-type cruise ships, with cabin sizes of 120-200 cabins or less, are increasingly popular for travelers who eschew mega ships carrying thousands of your closest friends. Cabins go fast on popular lines.

Ditto for land, river, and sea tours featuring expeditions, adventures, and cultural experiences for small groups, normally 24 guests or less. Some itineraries already are sold out for 2019 with space being booked for 2020!

There’s been an alarming increase in frauds perpetrated via phone, internet, and other modes. Keep an eye on aging parents. Internet ransom schemes are on the rise. Phishing emails claiming to have incriminating evidence are rampant, demanding extortion payments. Remind teenagers, effectively there’s no delete button. Illustrated by the Peter Strzok-Lisa Page fiasco, what you put in text messages or online can surface to destroy reputations and careers.

Students, think before you post! says that 70 percent of employers search social media profiles to screen candidates before hiring. A picture of you holding a beer bong at spring break in Cancun that amuses friends will not impress an employer.

What in 2019 and beyond demands planning, starting now? Move from to-do to “doing” or “done” for peace of mind.

Lewis Walker, CFP®, is a financial life planning strategist at Capital Insight Group; 770-441-2603. Securities and advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Lewis Walker is a registered representative and investment adviser representative of SFA which is otherwise unaffiliated with Capital Insight Group. He is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA®).

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