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Season of Giving

The year of 2020 has brought so many new and unexpected situations.  You always know that a new year will bring unexpected events, but how will you respond to them?  With a kid in college, my family keeps coming across new steps we have never taken before, and they seem to be bigger and more impactful to his life.  This week my son started asking about college housing options for the next year.  He wants to live off campus, but he has high expectations for what that looks like.  It may seem odd, but my first thought was that I had failed in some way and raised a child that felt entitled. 

As it seems to happen, an article popped up on my email feed that addressed this topic.  In the article “How to Not Financially Paralyze Your Children”, H. Dennis Beaver addresses “four key lessons children raised in affluent families need to learn.”  I think in Maryville, TN, a lot of our children struggle with appreciating money due to their lack of struggle for it.  So, how do we prevent this from happening? A summary of these four key lessons are:

  1. Earn money – Instead of just handing kids money, make them earn the money from doing something. Attach a value to the dollar.
  2. Save money – Instead of spending all you get, teach them to save for a major purchase later. Instill the joy and anticipation of earning what they want.  Help your kids delay satisfaction and save for the future.
  3. Be Content – A lack of contentment leads to debt, the inability to save, and becomes a very selfish approach to life. One of the most important things you can teach your children about money is to be content with what they have currently.  Otherwise, you never have peace in your situation.
  4. Give – Be charitable and don’t hoard all of your money. Helping others has been the most fulfilling thing in my life, but it’s a continual challenge to overcome our own greed.  As we go into this holiday season, turn it into a Season of Giving and a teachable moment for your kids.

I know I have not been perfect in this process with my kids.  In the situation above, the more I inquired and thought about it, he was making a well-processed decision, but it will not be cheap.  We have now had the opportunity to discuss his need to contribute, which will require him to earn some of the cost.  My next steps will be to discuss with him the impact of his decision on the ability to save and to help others.

As we enter this season of giving, let’s make sure to make decisions that allow us to help others and to train our children to understand the power of money.  Making good financial decisions can change our lives as well as those that need our assistance.  Hopefully, you have made good decisions up to this point and can make a difference in someone’s life directly or through one of our amazing local charities.

   

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From Land to Water – A Recent Ponzi Scheme

On Monday, November 16th, 2020, Matthew Piercey fled an arrest attempt, leading police to Lake Shasta, a frigid lake in Northern California. Piercey was said to be in the water for a near 30 minutes with a submersible device. Once Piercey emerged from underwater, he was detained and arrested. Later he was charged with wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and witness tampering.  

Court documents stated, from July 2015 through August 2020, Piercey and a partner participated in soliciting under the companies Family Wealth Legacy and Zolla. They convinced investors to invest in an algorithmic trading fund, which is essentially using automated pre-programmed instructions that account for variables (time, price, volume, etc.) to execute orders.   Overall, the investment scheme raised about $35 million. Of the $35 million raised, only $8.8 million was paid back to investors. Unfortunately, investors may not see the other $26.2 million, as it is reported there are "few, if any, liquid assets remain(ing)." 

 

We've all heard of one of the most famous Ponzi Schemes to ever occur, headed by Bernie Madoff, but Ponzi Scheme's occur more frequently than many anticipate. From 2008-2018, more than 800 Ponzi schemes that raised more than $1 million were uncovered, but the actual number is likely much higher (especially if those on a smaller scale were included).   Piercey's recent ponzi scheme can be a lesson for us all. Here are a few "red flags" to be on the lookout for: 
  • High investment returns with a claim of "little to no risk"
  • Investments unregistered with Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Lack of paperwork
  • No access to information on the investment in writing
  • "Secretive" or complex strategies
  • Consistent returns regardless of market conditions
  • "Rolling over" returns for higher returns in the future
  • Denied requests or difficulty receiving funds from your accounts
  • Guarantees
  • Pressure to reinvest
At LeConte, we encourage clients to be fully engaged and ask questions. In addition, here are a few safeguards and ways we are transparent with our clients: 
  • Clients accounts are held in their own name. No co-mingling of assets.
  • LeConte only has Limited POA
  • Our staff does not send funds to third parties without a client authorization and signature.
  • Our staff only sends requested funds to the address listed on the account or a linked account.
  • Our clients have 24/7 access to their accounts.
  • Custodians (where clients assets are held) send email notifications when actions are performed on an account.
  • Our staff verifies who the client is using various ways before money is sent to said client.
  • Our staff will call to verify an action if we receive an email.
As Piercey's scheme lasted more than 5 years and Madoff's scheme lasted more than 17 years, remember this Buffet quote, "You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out." Ask questions, stay engaged and let us know if we can help! 
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Expect the Supreme Court to rule 9-0 on Trump vs. Biden

As of November 12th 2020, the United States Presidential Election remains undecided. Biden is claiming the mantle of President-Elect. Serious challenges to votes counted in swing states are underway that could produce a late change. Regardless of your partisan bias, election 2020 is in the courts. It is reasonable to expect these various challenges to work their way out of state courts and ultimately to the United States Supreme Court. This is where our country will face it's greatest challenge since Bush vs. Gore.

After Judge Barrett’s addition to the court in October, conservative leaning Justices hold the majority of seats. Liberal Justices are in the minority. This presents a problem to the court if/when Trump vs. Biden arrives on their docket. I am basing my hypothetical outcome on these assumptions:

  • All 9 Justices want to ensure the one person, one vote right of all US citizens regardless of party.
  • All 9 Judges are intelligent and fair enough to discern the improbable outcome of several state vote tallies.
  • All 9 Judges want the best outcome for Americans.
  • All 9 Judges want to preserve the integrity of our elections.
  • Al 9 Judges want to preserve the integrity of the SCOTUS.
  • The conservative jurists would prefer to avoid a 5-4 or 6-3 split ruling.
  • The liberal Judges know they are powerless to effect the final ruling.

With these assumptions in place, I’ll navigate through their potential decisions. A split ruling, with the newest Judge siding with the majority, would be viewed by nearly half the country as a partisan decision. It would undermine the SCOTUS going forward and embolden Democrats to increase the number of SCOTUS seats if they can. If I were one of the conservative Judges, I would do this if there were no other remedies available to me. If evidence is presented that the vote is tainted, I would have no choice but to reject tainted vote tallies. As previously mentioned, it would do harm to the court, but the election process is more important.

Liberal Justices are in a more simplistic position. As a minority bloc, they have little influence to wield other than aggressive questioning during oral arguments. They could offer a detailed dissent to a split ruling after-the-fact but that won’t change the outcome.

Like King Solomon, here is my wishful escape from a split court ruling: the conservative Justices extend an olive branch opportunity to the liberal Justices- We agree in a unanimous 9-0 to conduct a December re-vote in six states (MI, WI, PA, AZ, NV, GA). We stipulate that each state must follow bipartisan count/observation/canvass rules. We stipulate that the only votes to be counted later are military votes from overseas deployments (add in other obvious exemptions that I didn't think of). If we can't present a 9-0 ruling, we rule 5-4 or 6-3 (depending on Justice Roberts) to remedy the irregularities presented to the court.

The liberal minority would see the wisdom in this opportunity. It removes the election decision from the courts and returns it back to the voters. It allows the SCOTUS to model bi-partisan behavior when no one else seems capable of it. Maybe the rest of the country would rally around their actions?

This is an imperfect solution that would introduce delays and doesn’t guarantee that the rules would be followed any better the second time. It’s better than the alternatives that I’ve thought through though. 

What do you think? Remember, our nation is very divided. Justice is blind but it's not stupid. This is not a time for partisan disinformation. The title of this article is purposefully misleading. I don't think we should fully "expect" a 9-0 outcome. Call me skeptically hopeful.

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Elections and Taxes

As we approach the highly anticipated November 3rd election, I get anxious, as a CPA, for what changes will occur to our tax system.  I know that with all that’s going on in the world, from Coronavirus to civil unrest, that taxes may not be the most important thing to worry about, but I’m always curious where taxes are going.  Back in 2017, The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) created several significantly new tax laws that we’ve now seen applied to two tax filings in 2018 and 2019.  Many people in our local area benefited from lower taxes and/or simpler tax reporting.  So, what will change in a continued Trump administration or in a Biden administration?

The CPA Practice Advisor published an article called Election 2020: Comparing the Biden and Trump Tax Plans.  This article presents a simple comparison of each party’s approach to some of the most common tax law categories.  I’ll give you a summary and some of my thoughts below.

Individual tax rates:  The common thought and indications from the parties is that the Biden administration would restore the previous tax rates.  Therefore, raising the top rates back to 39.6%.  ON the other hand, the Trump administration want to hold the rates where they are currently and add some additional cuts for middle-income taxpayers.

Itemized Deductions: The Trump administration wants to extend the changes from the TCJA beyond 2025.  A Biden administration wants to cap the tax benefit of itemized deduction at the 28% rate, which means that taxpayers in brackets higher than 28% would have their itemized deduction limited.  One of the major itemized deductions is charitable contributions, so this could have an impact on the incentive to donate to charities. This could limit their source of income.

Capital Gains and Dividends:  A Biden administration wants to remove the beneficial long-term capital gains treatment for capital gains and dividends over $1 million.  The Trump administration has provided little specifics in the way of change other than a desire to reduce the taxes.  This doesn’t impact many of the people you run into on a regular basis, so I doubt the average person even notices this change.

Individual Tax Credits:  The Trump administration hasn’t offered any significant changes to the existing $2,000/$500 child/dependent credit.  However, the Biden administration has proposed several changes to this by increasing the credit and potentially awarding it monthly instead of a tax credit on the return. 

Estate Tax:  The Biden administration proposes to allow the exemption to revert back to $5 million and eliminate the step-up in basis on inherited assets, while Trump has stated that he will pursue a larger exemption.  Surprisingly, this one impacts many of you reading this article.  It’s long been tax policy that your heirs would receive their inheritance with no tax liability.  Under Biden’s plan, they would be responsible for the tax on the appreciation of the assets received.  The timing of this taxation is unclear as to whether it would be due at transfer or could be deferred until the asset is sold.

Payroll taxes: The Biden administration has proposed a new 12.4% tax on the payroll above $400,000.  Currently, income up to $137,700 for 2020 is subject to this tax, but any amount above is exempt.  This would create a “donut hole” of exempt payroll from $137,700 to $400,000. The Trump administration has issued his executive order for the end of 2020, but it is unclear what future plans will be..

All of these are just proposals ,and in some ways wishes, but we’ve learned over the last decade or so that things can change quickly.  As I said earlier, taxes aren’t everything, but they are a major component of the information you need to consider when voting for the President and Congress.  I recommend that you educate yourself on all of the issues and most importantly VOTE!

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The Short Path From Broken to Unbroken

“The Destiny of Man is to unite, not to divide. If you keep on dividing you end up as a collection of monkeys throwing nuts at each other out of separate trees.”

 - T.H. White, The Once and Future King


Did You Know?

Are you familiar with the Japanese art form, Kintsugi? Artists reassemble pieces of broken pottery by mixing a gold infused lacquer to bind it along the cracks. The resulting product is a reclaimed vessel that highlights the previously broken, unusable pieces in a beautiful manner.




Today

I hope the analogy to 2020 is obvious - America is sharply divided. Cracked by COVID, racial tension, economic hardship and political conflicts. We have plenty of reasons to be at each other’s throat.

Looking to a political leader to heal our divisions is hopeful but probably unfruitful. There are too many powerful constituents who benefit from disunity. We shouldn’t expect our existing societal/political structure to deliver a solution. Yet, somehow in a few weeks, our citizens will cast votes to elevate one candidate to the most important leadership position in the world. It won’t matter who wins, our divisions will linger past the election (and may even get worse).

America has been incredibly good to me personally, so I love this country. I am proud of our accomplishments and contributions to global society. America is no less perfect than any other country so I will acknowledge but never apologize for the few missteps we have taken along the way.

Tomorrow

The only way our country dwindles toward irrelevance is if we choose to cherish our divisions more than our future. Social media flame wars have no winners. None. The destination is always the same - more division, more hate, more envy. Who intentionally wants to further any of these emotions? It is time for citizens to sacrifice their ego for unity.

We can’t wait for a charismatic leader to arrive in Washington and sprinkle magic dust on our problems. We can’t wait for the media to morph into a rational voice that was absent for the last 4 years. We can’t hope for someone else to lead us someplace else.

We can instead, make a personal choice to be less cynical, less judgmental and less mean-spirited. We can do this right now. We don’t have to wait until someone in authority models it. We must have a personal vision of what we can do to mend the fractured pieces of our society. We must act to be the glittering agent of Kintsugi “reconciliation”. We must be willing to reassemble the broken, jagged “pottery pieces” of ideas and relationships one at a time. No excuses. We must risk the sharp edges of disunity and pursue unity. Our only other option is to press in to our pursuit of divisive insanity that surfaced in 2020.

Some will argue that this is a plan of surrender to evil. They believe in winnable wars too. Engaging in unwinnable arguments is evil. We can engage in civil discussion and even disagreement without spiraling into hate. I can do this and so can you. Who else matters? I’m not being preachy to others. These thoughts are a personal admonition that I am voicing publicly. I need to be mindful of this before I hit that “post” or “tweet” button and I’m willing to be accountable for my choices.

It’s time.

Who is with me?   

 


Postscript

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:9-21 ESV

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Change: Why are you Resisting?

This is the result of a company that did not change…


During my childhood, I can remember the excitement I felt when entering one of their ubiquitous stores with the large blue and yellow sign that resembled a ticket on the front of the building. Do you remember Blockbuster?

 

At its peak, Blockbuster was a thriving VHS (later DVD) movie and video game rental shop with a footprint that stretched over 9,000 stores world-wide. It had excitement, market share and what seemed to be a sure path dominance, but Blockbuster’s hopes were squandered, forcing the company into bankruptcy.

What went wrong?

Blockbuster was not blindsided, but it was rather the lack of or inability to embrace change. Of course, having competitors like Netflix and Redbox chip away at market share and bring forward thinking into the industry did not help, but Blockbuster’s leadership had the resources to adapt.

So why didn’t they?

Change can foment emotions in your life that have a devastating impact.

Fear

             Anxiety

                               Paralysis

                                                 Surrender

These are just a few of the emotions that you might experience when faced with change, but you retain the choice to be consumed by them.

Or not?

I have been a part of an ongoing Bible study for a year. The curriculum is included a section on learning how to lead courageously. Recently, the group listened to the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast associated with our study (episodes 10 and 11 specifically). Groeschel discussed embracing change and practical steps on how to achieve and carry that mindset in your day-to-day life. Upon listening, one phrase stuck out:

 

Craig said there are only two times people change: “when they have to and when they want to.”

As I continue to evaluate my own views on change, the above statement persists. It leaves me asking myself this question:

“How can I live in the quadrant of not having (being forced) to change, but rather staying ahead by always wanting to change (aka. get better)?”

Here are a few things that came to mind to help live in that quadrant:

1. Continuously work on formulating a healthy view of change.
2. Reflect regularly on what needs to change, then focus on the areas that are most obvious (or not obvious, especially if you find you have been tolerating).
3. As Craig Groeschel promotes, “lead with the why (you are changing) before the what (you are changing).”
4. Remind yourself to focus on what is to come (the new rather than the old).
5. Control your controllables… your attitude and your effort
6. Do not wait to be 100%, just go for it.
7. Celebrate the (small and/or large) victories along the way!

In addition, here are a few questions to ask yourself that may reveal you are resisting change:

1. Do I/we have any goals I/we are working toward?
2. Has my or my team’s morale dropped because I/we did not get an outcome I/we wanted?
3. Do I complain about something that I tolerate?
4. Do you get paralysis by analysis?

 Regardless of what your views are on change, what is going to make your storefront (life) empty and what is going to make your storefront (life) full?

Embracing or Resisting?

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Our Emotions Get in the Way of Decision Making- Here's How

I’m attending my first virtual conference this week.  It’s one of many “firsts” that I’ve participated in this year.  In a session about changing investor behavior, the presenter, Barbara Kay, said something that got my attention.  While discussing how emotions can impact our behavior, she commented that when emotions are ON, reason is OFF. 

It’s easy to point to the dramatic crash in global markets in March and April of this year to illustrate that point.  Investors panicked when the economy shut down and fear drove their investment decisions.  The right decision to make during that market correction was to BUY, not SELL, but some investors couldn’t put their emotions aside when making those choices. Investors now are letting the emotions of the upcoming election drive their investment decisions as we await the results on November 3rd.

This also applies to our everyday lives.  Emotions are strongly at play in how we are responding to the pandemic.  We are making many choices not based on facts, but how we feel.

We get emotional when our pets ignore the weeks’ worth of obedience training we paid for,  we’re upset when we ask our kids for the third time to clean up their rooms,  or are scared and tearful when we receive a diagnosis from our doctor. 

Emotions are part of our human brain, but those emotions must be turned off when we’re making decisions.  It’s not easy to do. In this uncertain year of years, we all have had to adjust and be flexible in our lives.    The next time your faced with an important decision, turn your reasoning on and put your emotions aside. 

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We're Almost There



Jim Rohn the grandfather of all modern-day motivational speakers said, “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons." 

Let's recap 2020 for a minute. From January to February we had a great start. The NASDAQ surged 11% in a month to a new all time high. Then the wierdness begins. Coronavirus arrives in the US and markets plunge in the fastest bear market drop in history. Washington counteracted the market velocity by passing a myriad of measures to minimize the economic pain. May hits and the south starts to reopen only to be met with racial unrest from the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. Black Lives Matter protests flourished in large metropolitan areas across the country. The contestants for the November Presidential elections enter the stage with starkly contrasting views of how to deal with the problems of 2020. Many kids are forced into a distance learning setting instead of in person education. Finally, as fall approaches in mid September, the west coast is is engulfed in wildfires and smoke while coastal gulf states are hunkering down to weather an active tidal storm season. 

There have been some bright points.

In many parts of suburban and flyover America homeowners are heading to the bank as a sea of stimulus-related financial liquidity and low interest rates turned up the heat on an already hot housing market. Amazon brings much of what we need to the front door and Door Dash will even deliver dinner hot and ready. 

I don't know if the good news in your household is enough to offset the bad news we are surrounded with. I recall a summer trip to New York City when my kids were young. We finished a visit at the Empire State Building on 33rd Street and started walking to F.A.O. Schwarz toy store. It was only a mile and a half but in the summer sun on the pavement in the Big Apple it felt like 5 miles. Half way to our destination my son chimed in, " How much longer do we have to go?" I replied, "We're almost there." 3 blocks later we repeated the same exchange. Another block, another complaint.



By the time we arrived, my navigational credibility was hanging on by a tenuous thread. The kids' joy upon entering the king of all toy stores overcame their tired feet. I was relieved that our persistence paid a worthwhile reward.    



With city leaders enforcing stringent lockdown orders, New York City in 2020 is a much different place. Some die-hard New Yorkers are throwing in the towel and putting the Big Apple in the rear view mirror. Along the way their kids may even start asking, "Are we there yet" even if their parents aren't really sure where "there" is going to be. 

Back to the small apple that we call home. 

At LeConte, we've remained focused on taking every opportunity presented to us and are making plans for the future. Kevin and I bought our office building a decade ago in a post-housing crisis bankruptcy sale. It has served us well as we built our business from less than $100 million in client assets to $190 million today. We've pursued other locations and real estate opportunities in the last 5 years. This spring we equipped our team with the technology to work from home during our brief shutdown period. When we reopened, we assessed how we can help our clients now and in the future. At the end of the day, we like our profit margins more than a trophy location so we're staying in our current location.

This summer we embarked on a renovation project to improve and modernize our offices. Along with the visual cosmetic improvements, we're bringing our facilities up to ADA compliant standards and improving the functionality of our workspace. We're developing a new website to communicate our problem solving solutions to the public and provide seamless financial access for current clients. It looks really nice and I cant wait to unveil it in the near future. Internally, our team worked through the summer to re-engineer our business processes to efficiently serve the needs of our growing client base. LeConte is 30% larger than we were 3 years ago but none of our team members are working 30 harder (or longer). 

The renovation project will likely take us into 2021 to reach completion. It's provided us with a mental break from the day-to-day headlines and put a bit of daylight between the messes of 2020 and the better times that lie ahead.

We decided to look to the future, take control of the things we have influence over and ignore things that we can't influence. In our mind it would have been wasteful to endure 2020 by moaning about what could have been. Instead we chose to set a course forward and adjust our sails when we need to.

Now if we can just get through the election. Hang on, just a little bit longer.
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5 Things to do before you turn 25 to Ruin Your Financial Life (Continued…)

 

In part one (click here to see part one), we looked at one of the five ways someone before 25 could ruin their financial life. In the first post, I discussed how everyone has an image of their future self that they would like to achieve. The problem is, many do not think about, prepare for, or get started on making that image a reality. Simply put, we want the reward without the work.  

In addition, I discussed the first way someone before 25 could ruin their financial life, which is refusing to accept responsibility. Refusing to accept responsibility is to have a mindset that someone else should be accountable for the decisions you make even though you make themThis allows an individual to avoid expectations and consequences from their own choices.  

The following are the remaining 4 things you should do to ruin your financial life by 25:

2. Accumulate as much debt as possible. 

Look around. Look around. (Maybe you caught the Hamilton reference) Debt is everywhere.  

Nations, federal and local governments, companies, institutions, and the guy next door to you are all caught in the borrow-and-spend cycle. This cycle has become ingrained into our society, so why should you do anything different? Besides, minimum payments can be set just about as low as you want, and you can afford just about anything with the right sales guy on your side. Just swipe with the plastic.  

Then, this could quickly become your life…  

Click this link: What happens when you just pay the minimum payment 

I would imagine you would prefer a different route, so here are some questions to ask yourself.  

  • Can I wait to buy this item?  
  • Have I purposefully saved for this purchase?  
  • Is going into debt for this item a wise decision?  

If you can answer each of these questions truthfully and still have no hesitation to make the purchase, then go for it… but if you can’t answer them without hesitation, then you should rethink your decision and consider what consequences the purchase may have. 

Don’t get me wrong, debt can be a productive tool (If you understand how to use it and you know how it fits into your overall financial picture), but unfortunately our society has become so consumed in debt and our views on its usefulness are rather flawed.  

Here is a simple concept to internalize - if you do not have it, do not buy it. I challenge you to educate yourself about the hindrances of debt, learn about effective ways you can utilize it to your benefit, and know the responsibility you take on when signing the dotted line. 

3. Disregard the intangible. 

Live in the moment. Embrace it, enjoy it, and take life as it comes. Do not consider or put any thought to the past and definitely do not think about what you may want, need, or desire in the future, because the future will take care of itself. 

I have lost count of how many times I have heard statements like the above from my peersWith this mindset, ruining your financial life becomes drastically easier. But, what if? 

What if you decided to forgo your instant desire and take advantage of the resource that has been given to you – TIME! 

How does time impact your financial future? 

Time Value of Money - Have you ever heard of this financial concept? 

Time value of money declares that a dollar today is worth more than a dollar at any given point in the future. This concept considers the present value of the money, the interest rate, the time frame, and ultimately the future value.  

Here’s a hypothetical example: 

Let’s say someone owed you $10,000 but said they would give you $11,000 if you allowed them to pay you back in 3 years. You know you can earn 5% in an interest-bearing savings account. Should you take the $10,000 now or wait 3 years? 

If you put $10,000 into a savings account that is paying 5% annually, your $10,000 would become $10,500 after the first year, thus earning $500. After the second year, the account balance would be worth $11,025, thus earning $525. After the third year, the account balance would grow to $11,576.25, earning $551.25. 

Time allows you opportunity and in this case, if you would have forgone the repayment and received the $10,000 3 years later, it would have cost you $576.25 or more (depending if you chose another investment). The opportunity made you an extra $576.25 ($11,576.25 - $11,000) 

Time value of money applies to your investment returns. The more time you allow your assets, the better the opportunity those assets can grow into a larger value. 

As late President John F. Kennedy once spoke, “We must use time as a tool, not as a crutch.” 

4. Don’t take the match. 

AKA, “Stick with the ‘YOLO’ perspective.” To benefit from the employer 401(k) match, an employee must contribute money as well. This would require an employee to forgo the money they worked for and tying it up into a retirement account for “x” number of years. To access the funds, the employee must wait until age 59.5 to withdraw the funds without penalty (there are a few exceptions for a penalty-free withdrawal). Why would you want to do that? 

Let me tell you. 

Free money. A 401(k) match is the only place where an employee can get 100% return on their investment. All it costs you is well nothing. You keep the funds you worked for and you get even more, because you decided to implement discipline by preparing for the future. On top of that, those funds can be invested, which gives both your contribution and the match to earn even more. 

***Understand that every plan is different and matching and vesting are different. So, be curious and ask your employer for the plan details if you do not know them already. Employers will set matching limits (could be partial or dollar-for-dollar up to a certain amount). In addition, some employers implement a vesting schedule. In short, this means an employee must stay “x” number of years in order to collect the full match.  

5. Who cares what you think? Let’s follow the Joneses 

Ever heard the phrase, “Keeping up with the Joneses”? What about “Keeping up with the Kardashians”? Yeah, your goal in life should be to do just that. It is a simple concept. If your neighbor, friend, or someone you associate yourself with obtains something, you should obtain one for yourself. It’s fun and it makes you feel really good about yourself… 

Hopefully, you caught my sarcasm and you see the many issues with this thought process. Comparing your social class and situation to someone else’s is not wise. Doing so is an ill-informed thought of comparing what you have to someone else and buying things to impress others you do not even care about. 

  • Why do we constantly fall into this flawed way of thinking? 

Because we do not ask the “Why” questions to ourselves. I encourage you to watch Simon’s Sinek’s Ted Talk:



 Consider, then apply this thought process to your financial life 

Ask yourself the following: 

  • “Why am I currently spending my money on this?” 
  • “Why am I not saving more?” 
  • “Why am I forgoing a match from my company?” 
  • “Why do I need to buy this now versus a few months from now?” 

I hope you take these things to heart. They will help you stray from the all-to-well-known path of the Joneses and will help you follow your own individual, prudent path. 

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