• Budgeting

    Tips to Talk Finances With Your Spouse

    Do you talk finances with your spouse? No? Well, you should. As awkward as it maybe, it is so important to have regular discussions over your financial situation.

    Now, I know this might be tough if there is a dark cloud over your finances, and may cause disagreements, but sweeping it under the rug only makes it worse. I assume there is some sort of discussion related to this subject, but is it a quick “honey, did you pay the rent?” or is it a full-on conversation related to goal setting, where you are at, where you want to be, and the steps you are taking to get there? There is a HUGE difference. Don’t get me wrong, you can still ask if the rent is paid but having the actual in-depth discussion behind that question is what is so important.

    Finances are one of the biggest causes of divorce in the US. I don’t mean to be a Debby downer, but it is a fact. By having these discussions and putting the work into creating a successful financial future, this can help you to avoid being in that statistic.

    Awkward Andy Samberg GIF by Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Find & Share on GIPHY

    To make this a little less awkward, I have some tips to help lighten the load:

    • Icebreaker: That initial conversation is probably going to be the toughest to start. Make it comfortable. Schedule a time to sit down to a nice dinner or get in your pjs and talk money with pizza. Anything to make the situation more relaxed. Try to start by discussing the positives of your finances. Maybe you saved an extra $300 this month, or you raised your 401k contribution, literally anything positive. Doing this can help get you both in a good mood. If there is nothing positive to start off with, maybe bring in a solution to an issue. Say you have a massive medical bill due this month, instead of just looking at the fact that you are going to spend a ton of money that maybe you do not have, look on the bright side that at least after this month you won’t have that bill and you can put that money into savings next month. Get creative and try to keep the mood light. The discussion will be more productive if you are both happy.
    • Do not lie: This is probably THE most important tip I can share. Hiding items related to money is the easiest way to cause an argument and create issues. It is so much better to get everything out into the open so together you can take the steps to make it right. No matter how embarrassing it is, or how big of a burden it may be, you are in this together. In my opinion, I would much rather hear the bad news up front and work through it than be lied to about it as the problem is getting much bigger. Be open and communicate the issues. This is so important.
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    • Use tools: There are so many resources out there to help you reach your financial goals. From budgeting websites, spreadsheets, templates, books, the list goes on and on. Find a tool that works best for you and your spouse. If you budget monthly and like apps there are sites such as Mint or Everydollar. If you budget weekly and like to have a paper copy, maybe you find a spreadsheet that you can fill in. Anything to help make it easier. This can also help make future conversations a breeze to get through. On top of that, you will visually be able to see how you are doing and stay on track.
    • Make goals: By setting financial goals you and your spouse will have something to work towards. Instead of waiting for the next paycheck to blow on food- guilty, say you made a goal to pay off your car 1 year quicker, now you have a purpose for the money that betters your future. These goals can be short term or long term, or even better a mix of both. Consider writing these down somewhere, your phone, computer, notebook, etc. Being able to see them will help make it harder to give up on them. Make sure they are goals you both agree on and benefit you both.
    • Make a plan and stick to it: Whether this is a budget, or a 5- year plan, make a plan. Discussing what you want to achieve and talking about how to get there is a great step, but really getting down deep and planning everything out will help you realize what you have to look forward to, what you can do right now, or where you are making mistakes. If you do not have a basic household budget yet, that might be a good place to start. Find a way that works best with your pay schedules and stick to the budget. From there, start making a longer-term plan. For example: In 5 years you and your spouse are going to build a house and to get there, year 1 you are going to cut the amount you eat out in half every month and put that money into savings, year 2 you are going to do so and so…and year 3 and 4 and so on until you build the house. Hang your plan on your fridge and talk about it frequently. Keep your budget, or plan in front of you so you can keep each other accountable if one of you starts to fall of track. Teamwork makes the dream work!
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    Hopefully these tips help you and your spouse start the conversation for your financial future. Talking about money does not have to be awkward. If you take the time to create a more relaxed environment and discuss the positive things you have or can do, in my experience, it helps so much. This is the person you are stuck with forever, make sure you are both on the right page to have a successful future!

    Author: Dakota Otis

  • Insurance,  Podcast

    Face The Fear Podcast – Tim Kukieza, Disability Insurance Expert

    What is disability insurance, how does it work, and when do you need it? Tim Kukieza, Disability Insurance Expert, answers these questions and many more on this podcast episode – all while cracking a few jokes along the way. Listen in to find out:

    • If someone is young and healthy, why do they need disability insurance now?
    • If someone already has disability insurance through their employer, is there any reason why they may need to buy additional coverage?
    • What exactly does Disability Insurance cover? Will it replace my entire income?
    • How much does DI typically cost for a Millennial?

    Don’t forget to subscribe and leave a review! XOXO

    Face The Fear Website: https://www.facethefearfw.com

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com

  • Podcast

    Face The Fear Podcast – Guest: Jordan Bell – The Good People Podcast

    On this podcast episode we sit down with Jordan Bell from The Good People Podcast. We have a heart-to-heart about millennials, finances, life experiences and what Jordan’s podcast is all about. Join us for a fun conversation and get to know us a bit more! PS – Hi Jordan’s mom! 🙂 

    Don’t forget to subscribe and leave a review! XOXO

    Face The Fear Website: https://www.facethefearfw.com

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com

    YouTube: Face The Fear

    Instagram: @Face.The.Fear

    Facebook: Facebook.com/FaceTheFearFW

    Twitter: @Face_The_Fear

    Link to Jordan’s Podcast:
    https://soundcloud.com/thegoodpeoplepodcast

  • Real Estate,  Videos

    First Time Home Buyer? What You NEED To Know!

    This week, the DeVisser Real Estate Group is our special guest on Face The Fear! Brendin DeVisser, a Millennial real estate agent, answers some of your most common questions about the home-buying process. Don’t forget to like, subscribe, and leave a comment! The DeVisser Group with Five Star Lakeshore is a hardworking team of real estate agents in West Michigan who work hard to inform and educate people on the home buying process, especially when it’s their first time buying a home! From credit scores to pre-approval, we can help you better understand these big transactions that can change your life. With helpful guidance and preparation, you’re on your way to owning your own property! If you have any questions, you can find us on social media (links below) or give us a call!

    DeVisser Group:

    Website: http://brendin.seewestmichiganhomes.com

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brendinfives…

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bd5starreal…

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/bdevissfivestar?l…

    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brendin-d…

    Snapchat: @bdvrealestate

  • Podcast

    Face The Fear Podcast – Randy Kitzmiller, Social Security

    In this episode, we sit down with Randy Kitzmiller, Social Security Advisor and Retirement Income Consultant, to discuss the basics of Social Security: what it is, how it works, and how it may change in the future. (SPOILER ALERT: It’s not going away! *Phew*) Join us as we dive into Social Security and how it will affect Millennials’ retirement in the future.

    Here are the links Randy mentioned in the podcast:

    Social Security Website: https://www.ssa.gov

    National Social Security Advisers Website: https://www.nationalsocialsecurityassociation.comFace The Fear Website: https://www.facethefearfw.com

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com

    Don’t forget to subscribe and leave a review! XOXO

  • Retirement Planning

    Power of Attorney

    “What is a POA?” This is a question I heard while at work recently. Prisoner of Azkaban? (Where are my Harry Potter fans at?!) Pledge of Allegiance? Plan of Attack? These could all be used for the abbreviation of POA but in the insurance world, POA generally stands for Power of Attorney.

    So, what the heck is a Power of Attorney?

    Translation: This means that someone can give another person power over their assets both legally and financially. The person that you name as your Power of Attorney can act on your behalf to handle business such as financial transactions like  buying life insurance, making gifts of money, making health care decisions, etc. The Power of Attorney can either be set up for specific financial or healthcare matters or it can be set up to cover everything.

    Because we care (awww), we want to add in a little note to advise the importance of choosing your POA. Please make sure that when you are thinking of who you want to be your Power of Attorney, you are giving this decision a lot of care and consideration. Take your time with this selection, as this needs to be someone that you completely trust as they could have access to both your physical and financial needs and you want to make sure that they will always act in your best interest.

    Side note: A Power of Attorney cannot change a person’s will. A will is a separate document that can be set up to legally state who obtains what parts of your estate at the time of your death.

    To name someone as your Power of Attorney, you must be of sound mind and mentally competent. This document must be signed and notarized  by a notary.  Fun fact: Attorneys are unnecessary to place a Power of Attorney in execution. (This is highly recommended though!) A Power of Attorney is typically put in to execution in advance of someone being incapacitated. The Power of Attorney can be revoked at any time (this means that even though you have something written down, if you are mentally competent and want to make changes, you can do so.)

    So, why is it important for younger people (as well as older) to have a Power of Attorney?

    1. Healthcare decisions – Having a trusted Power of Attorney means that you can lay out what your wishes are when it comes to medical care. What you do and do not want if you were not able to make your own decisions. (You can even specify who can make the decisions on who bathes you, what you eat, etc.)
    2. Financial Matters – If it were needed, a financial POA would be able to file your taxes, collect your debts, pay your bills, access your bank accounts, manage any property that you own, help apply for government benefits like Medicaid/veterans’ benefits, and make future investment decisions.
    3. Religion or Culture – If your religion or cultural dictates portions of your life, this can be considered. Say that you need to make sure all your food is Kosher or you have specific brands of products that you might use, your Power of Attorney can make sure that this happens.
    4. Reproductive Material – Let’s say that you have either your eggs or sperm stored. Naming someone as your personal care Power of Attorney would give them the right to access these items if something were to happen to you.
    5. Pets – We all LOVE our pets, right?! (Shout out to my cats Jasmine and Sophia! Mama loves you!) Having a Power of Attorney in place ensures that your pets will be taken care of in the way that you wish.

    There are many, many more reasons to consider obtaining and creating a Power of Attorney, these are just a few reasons!

    In the future, we will be covering conservatorship, how and when these take place and why they are important. (Hint: Britney Spears and Stan Lee.)

    Until then, face the fear!

    **Disclaimer: I am not a financial professional. Please seek the advice of a financial professional when planning for your retirement and own financial situation. **

    Written By: Nicole Ellsworth (@lacelemonslove)

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com

  • Retirement Planning,  The Market: 101

    403B

    In the article that Heidi wrote, we learned about what a 401(k) plan is and how it works. So, what is a 403(b) plan and who is eligible for one?

    A 403(b) plan is a type of retirement plan for tax exempt organizations, specific employees of public schools (teachers, school administrator, professors), certain ministers, nurses, doctors, or librarians. A 403(b)-retirement plan is like a 401(k) in how it is funded through employee contributions. There are three types of accounts for 403(b) plans: annuity contracts with insurance companies, custodial accounts made of mutual funds – called a 403(b)(7), and retirement income accounts for church employees, typically invested in mutual funds and annuities – called a 403(b)(9). An employee usually can choose among several investments to build his or her portfolio, and design the account based on risk tolerance, such as conservative, balanced or aggressive. (As discussed in the podcast with Erin Martin, make sure to check the fees when choosing where to direct your funds.)

    Like a 401(k) plan, your employer may choose to do a matching program. For instance, this means that if you put in 3 percent of your salary into a 403(b), your company could put in the same amount if they do 100% matching. Other companies may do a 50% matching rate. This means that if you put in 6%, they will match up to 3%. (Free money!!) Make sure to check with your HR department on if and how your company matching program works when setting up your 403(b) so that you can take full advantage of the program

    Like a 401(k), a 403(b) has a contribution threshold. For the year of 2019 the contribution amount is: $19,000. If you are age 50 and older, you can contribute an additional $6,000 a year. Also,  if permitted by the employer, a 403(b) plan may allow for an additional catch-up if an employee has worked for fifteen years or more. You may be able to stack these additional contributions, although there are limits and it is a bit confusing, which is why it is important to seek the advice of a financial advisor to navigate these additional contributions.

    Another way that a 403(b) plan is like a 401(k) is that you will be penalized if you withdraw funds before the age of 59 ½ at a rate of 10 percent. (Yikes!)

    One caveat is that there are certain circumstances that funds can be withdrawn without penalty such as separating from an employer when a person reaches age 55, a qualified medical expense, death of the employee or disability.

    Phew!!

    So, what happens if you change employers?  Well, potentially there are four possibilities: roll the funds into an IRA, keep in the current plan, transfer to a new employer plan or cash out the account. Not all of these options may be available to you, so this is where speaking with your financial advisor and human resources department before leaving your current employer is very important.

    As a reminder: I am not a financial professional and urge you to seek the advice of a financial advisor when making your own financial decisions.

    Until next time, face your financial fear! 😉

    Written By: Nicole Ellsworth (@lacelemonslove)

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com



  • Budgeting

    Budgeting: How to Crunch Those Numbers Like a Boss

    Like most folks who hear the term ‘budget’, I cringe, close my eyes and begin groaning inwardly like Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burgers (No? Just me? Oh geez…).

    In the past, I would search for budget templates online, attempt to follow them, realize they didn’t fit my tastes or my lifestyle and I would walk away defeated. I would wonder what was so wrong with my finances that I couldn’t match exactly what some of these articles were telling me.

    But that’s the uniquely wonderful (and yes, incredibly frustrating) thing about budgets: they aren’t black & white or one-size-fits-all; they can be tailor-made to fit your specific lifestyle, needs, and wants. I say ‘incredibly frustrating’ because it does take time and a fair amount of effort to find a budget that works for you—your wants and needs are going to change and with that, so will your budget.

    At the end of each paycheck, for me, there’s a sense of strength that comes from knowing where each of my dollars are going and knowing what I’m left with to play with however I choose. Full disclosure: that’s my favorite part about budgeting because I love seeing what money I have left over and let’s admit it, we all want to have fun with our money—after all, we work hard for it!

    I’ve been creating a budget for the past 6 years or so and I have found a few things to be invaluable in my attempt to understand and control where each of my hard-earned dollars are going:

    1. Know your debt intimately. When I started creating a budget, I couldn’t tell you which of my debts had the highest interest rate or what their balances/minimum payments were; it honestly gave me a headache every time I tried to write it all out. Knowing this info gives me the opportunity to see where I am and where I can send extra cash. Small amounts add up over time & it feels so good to see $0 next to a debt I owe.

    2. Figure out some financial goals. These can be as little or broad as you would like them to be but I normally create small goals to feel encouraged in continuing to hit some of my larger goals. I ask myself where I’d like to be in 3 months, 6 months, and a year! And, as a side note: I treat myself when I accomplish a financial goal—it keeps me inspired and reminds me that even though ‘adulting’ and ‘budgeting’ aren’t exactly the most thrilling parts of life, they are necessary and we can make it as easy or hard as we want it to be.

    3. Be flexible. Always be open to changing whatever you feel isn’t quite working for you and your budget. Your goals are going to adjust over time and with that, your budget will too and that’s okay! I’ve tried several different budgeting techniques (the 80/20, the 50/15/5, etc) so be willing to try out different techniques until you find one that works for you. Your wants/needs change regularly, so why wouldn’t your budget?

    One last, small tip I’ll give to those preparing to create or change their budget is this : give yourself lots of grace. You’ll fall short, not reach certain goals, or get that call on a Friday night from your BFF who’s had a rough week and she wants to go out to eat and grab a few drinks—in those moments, it’s challenging. All you can do is adjust, pick yourself back up, and attempt to stick to it better next time.

    There are also tons (and I mean literal tons) of information and resources out on the world-wide web that can get you started on creating a budget or finding example budgets to follow and use as a rough outline for your own.

    Article Contributed By: Bethany Trosper

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com

  • Budgeting

    New Year, New You: 5 Ways You Can Take Control of Your Finances in 2019

    New Year, New You — am I right? As you start to prepare for 2019 to be your best year yet (and vow to actually USE your gym membership for more than a month), don’t forget about getting your financial sh*t together, too. Even if you don’t feel like you’re in a good place with your cash money, now is the perfect time to assess what money mistakes you’ve made in the past, what financial goals you have for the future, and how you’ll start taking baby steps to get there.

    For those procrastinators out there who wish they’d started investing/saving/budgeting earlier in life (myself included), it’s not too late! Hear me out: starting today is WAY better than never starting at all — or even waiting a year from now and having the same conversation with yourself all over again (not a cute #ThrowbackThursday moment).

    So as we gaze longingly to the year ahead (or at least longingly at that last remaining Christmas cookie calling your name), let’s look at 5 ways you can get your finances in check during 2019:

    1. Open a Retirement Account (and start contributing to it)

    This is important. You know this is important. But, it doesn’t seem like a top priority when you’ve got student loans, credit card debt, and bills knocking at your door today, and retirement is still decades away. You’ve still got plenty of time to save up, right? Wrong.

    Let’s use a little analogy. Every year before Christmas, you have a mental conversation with yourself that goes something like this: “I really should get my Christmas shopping done early this year. That way I don’t have to stress about it later….Eh, I’ve got plenty of time, I’ll get around to it.”

    Suddenly, you wake up and it’s December 24th (how did that happen??). You now have to enter beast mode to somehow find, buy, and wrap presents for all 287 members of your family in 24 hours — putting Santa himself to shame.

    While pulling off this Christmas magic may be possible (think: STRESSFUL), it’s not the end of the world. Your retirement savings, on the other hand, is a different story. You really only have one shot to make sure you’ve got enough buckaroos saved up, so when you’re ready to leave the office and spend the rest of your life on a beach, you don’t have to worry about running out of money. Right now, time is on your side, so START NOW. (You’ll thank me later.)

    If you’re wondering where to go to open a retirement account (and what to do with it once it’s started), listen to our latest podcast episode with Retirement Investment Advisor, Erin Martin!

    2. Boost Your Retirement Account (if you’ve already got one)

    You may have breezed past #1 thinking, “Well, that’s easy! I already have a retirement account that I’m contributing to like a real adult.” First of all, CONGRATS! You’re #winning.

    Second of all, it’s time to supercharge that bad boy (like Vin Diesel hitting the NOS in Fast and Furious).

    One way to do this is by upping the percentage of your paycheck that you’re putting away for retirement savings. Simply increasing your contributions 1% per year (hardly a noticeable difference to your take-home pay), you might be AMAZED by how quickly your retirement savings compounds over time. To make things even easier, many plans allow you to select an automatic escalation feature, which will bump up your percentage each year without any effort on your part. Nice.

    3. Make a Budget You Can Actually Stick To

    Remember that one time you made a detailed budget that lasted for a solid two days before you blacked out during an Amazon shopping spree? Same.

    The problem with a lot of budgets (and New Year’s resolutions for that matter) is that they are very optimistic, but not always realistic. I’m not saying you need to lower your financial goals. But, instead of trying to pay off all debt overnight while also saving 50% of every paycheck, simply develop practical mini-goals that can be maintained long-term. For example, try implementing one new budgeting strategy each month in 2019. January, put $10 per week in savings. February, continue setting aside the $10, but also aim to eat out only once per week. In March, keep the first two month’s strategies going, while adding another practical goal that bumps you even further in the right direction. By the end of the year, your budgeting baby steps will snowball into a realistic, maintainable financial lifestyle.

    P.S. If you’re not already using a budgeting app like Mint, what are you doing? Seriously. Go download it right now. It’s a free app that allows you to manage your checking and savings accounts, investments, credit cards, retirement plan, and bills all in one place. Say goodbye to budgeting on boring Excel spreadsheets forever (unless that’s your thing — you do you, boo boo).

    4. Give Gifts that Make Cents

    Christmas is officially over, which means your finances are probably in recovery mode after a month of generous gift giving. While there’s nothing quite like the feeling of finding the PERFECT gift for your loved ones, the feeling might be quickly overshadowed by the feeling of doom when you check your bank account. Yikes.

    Since you can’t avoid the gazzillion birthdays, weddings, and special occasions happening throughout the year (as much as you may want to), it’s time to get creative with giving gifts that won’t break your bank.

    Here’s a few ideas:

    • For the person who doesn’t need anything:
      • Consider donating to a local charity or Kiva (an international nonprofit microloan organization) on their behalf. You’re not giving them anyTHING, but you are providing meaning in their honor and bettering the world in the process. Win-win.
    • For the person who loves experiences:
      • Score discounted tickets to local events on platforms like Groupon. Take a historic tour of your city, attend a concert or comedy show, or try a ballroom dancing class — all experiences that you can enjoy together.
    • For the person who likes to pick out their own gifts:
      • Sell or exchange your unwanted gift cards on platforms such as Cardpool or Amazon’s Card Cash. You can either swap out that gift card your grandma gave you to the iTunes store back in 2008, sell it and use the cash to buy something better, or buy discounted gift cards to help your funds go farther.  

    5. Subscribe to Face the Fear (Shameless Self-Promo)

    You know you want to.

    5 (MORE) ideas of how to take control of your finances in 2019 coming soon! Stay tuned!

    Written By: Kaitlyn Duchien (@ktaylor1395)

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com

  • The Market: 101

    Drop It Dow Low: What is the Dow Jones?

    You may (or may not) have heard that the Dow Jones has been dropping it like it’s hot lately, dipping 1,150 points just last week. World events and uncertain economic conditions can result in market volatility — when the stock market changes moods faster than your teenage sister. But, what exactly is the Dow Jones? And why has it been making major money moves recently?

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a stock market index that includes 30 large, U.S. publicly-traded companies and acts as a thermometer, testing the overall health of the U.S. marketplace. Sounds a lot like the S&P 500 index, right? 

    Here are several key differences between the S&P 500 and the DJIA:

    S&P 500Dow Jones (DJIA)
    Founded in 1957Founded in 1896
    500 of the largest U.S.-based publicly-traded companies across all industries 30 of the largest U.S.-based publicly-traded companies across all industries (originated with just 12 companies solely in the industrial sector)
    Companies selected by S&P Committee (owned by McGraw Hill Financial)Companies selected by Dow Jones & Co. Averages Committee
    Companies selected based upon specific qualification criteria No defined criteria for how a company is selected — generally, must be a large leader in their industry
    Stocks within the index are weighted by market capitalization (market cap = # of outstanding shares x market price)Stocks within the index are price-weighted (the higher the stock’s market price, the more influence it will have on the index’s performance)
    Often considered the “single best indicator” of stock market performance, because of its broad and diverse collection of companies across all industriesMost well-known stock market index. But, because if its exclusivity (only represents 30 of over 3,000 US public companies), it is more an indicator of blue-chip stocks than the market overall

    OK, now that we’ve got a grasp on what the Dow Jones Index is, let’s talk about why it’s been dropping faster than your bank account after a trip to Target.

    The stock market can be affected by many factors, such as political changes, natural disasters, inflation, interest and exchange rates, and unexpected world events — just to name a few. Most recently, when the Dow Jones stumbled and fell by 4 percent in early October, it was likely due to sipping a cocktail of rising Treasury yields, the increased Federal Funds rate, and the China-U.S. trade war. Just like how you get a little wobbly after drinking one too many cocktails, the stock market also gets shaky (see: volatile) when too many uncertain events are mixed together at the same time. The stock market: it’s just like us.

    But, not to fear. Similarly to how you will drink lots of water, take an Advil, and eat greasy food to bounce back after a night out, the stock market bounces back, too. Usually, the severity of the market fall will determine how long it will take to rebound. Small corrections can be overcome in just a few days, whereas a full-blown financial crisis may take years to recover from (think: the 2008 Great Recession).

    To recap: the Dow Jones is the most well-known market index, comprised of only 30 companies across various industries, and is used to evaluate general trends in the stock market. Recently, the Dow Jones took a big tumble due to a woozy cocktail of world events and interest rate changes. But, don’t worry. Analysts remind us that the market often panics over everything and can sometimes be a bit overdramatic…#Relatable. So, for now, be prepared to ride the roller coaster of market volatility, because over the long-term, the market always trends upward. Ask Warren Buffett.

    Congratulations! You now know what the Dow Jones is and why it’s been in the headlines lately. But, this article was not meant to be an in-depth analysis of the Dow Jones (because ain’t nobody got time for dat). If you’d like to dig in a little deeper to the topics covered above, feel free to click on any of the hyperlinks (including that one) to become a Dow Jones expert. You’re welcome.

    Written By: Kaitlyn Duchien (@ktaylor1395)

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com