How Distributions Work in Retirement (And How They Can Hurt You!)

When I started my career in financial advising, I was clearly getting into a fairly complex business. It’s not so much because of the nature of investing and finances in and of themselves, but rather the regulation and rules that dictate what you can or must do, when, and how often.

Few things can be more complicated than taking money from your retirement account. The rules can be very particular and breaking them can be extremely costly.

Following is an explanation of some of the fundamental retirement distribution rules you should be aware of as you think about taking money from your 401(k) or IRA.

Where Do Your Kids Fit In Your Financial Plans?

When Eleanor joined our family, we had a lot of financial things to consider. How will having a child impact our budget? Which expenses would increase or be new? (Some answers: food, health insurance, and diapers, diapers, diapers).

In my planning mind the bigger question was how were our financial priorities changing? Kellie and I started thinking about saving for Eleanor’s schooling through a college savings plan. But did saving for Eleanor’s college trump or impede our other financial priorities?

Regardless of what stage your family is in (growing, maturing, or empty-nesting) it’s important to think about the financial implications of these different stages even if they feel far down life’s road.

Doing so can help you anticipate the changes that will inevitably come and make better financial preparations for the future.

Your Holiday "Honey Do" List: 5 Financial Tasks In 5 Minutes

Picture this. It’s the Christmas holiday and you’re taking several well-deserved vacation days. You’re laying on the couch with a belly full of holiday goodness. You’ve napped, perused a book, and conquered a few family members in a rousing game of Monopoly.

If you’re anything like me, after a couple days you may start feeling a little antsy to get something done--but “working” will get you chided by your family, right?

Well if you need a little “work around” here are a few quick things you can do to shape up your financial life, each one literally taking about 5 minutes to complete. You’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something, and no one can blame you for working too much.

The Incredible Simplicity of Index Funds and Why It Matters

When it comes to investing, research shows that you’re better off embracing the boring. How is this done?

The primary way is to seek out low-cost index funds for your IRA, 401k, or other investment account, rather than using “actively managed” mutual funds. The research is consistent on this topic: Index funds outperform the vast majority of actively managed mutual funds over time.

What are index funds and how do they relate to actively managed mutual funds? The answer will help you become a better investor.

Why You Should Stay Away From Indexed Universal Life Insurance

Financial products come in a wide variety of “flavors.” With life insurance, you can get coverage that is very plain vanilla, like a fairly simple term or whole life policy, or you can add layers and layers of nuanced features--as with Indexed Universal Life Insurance, or IULs. But my experience with IULs has taught me that the devil is in the details.

Here is a quick rundown of IULs and why you should stay away from them.