Close this search box.


Mark Nicolet, CFP®, MBA, ABFP™
March 3, 2020
Share on:

In almost every journal entry I write, I include, “I am grateful for…” and list three to four items from my day that reminded me of how grateful I am. Just last night my wife of 10 years, laughed out at loud as she noticed, I had written, “Popcorn” as I enjoyed a bag in the last minutes of the evening after putting our young boys to bed. It is the little things that make life grand, right?

In light of the deep gratitude I experience on a daily basis, here are 8 financial planning action items I’m grateful for. I know my clients feel the same way because of the significant impact these ideas have over time:

  1. Automatic monthly savings plans into investment accounts.

I am grateful because these plans create structure and commitment.

  1. The proper 401(k) allocation.

I am grateful to help align risk, time frames, performance, and cost with the fund options available.

  1. Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s.

I am grateful because we are in a historically low tax environment and Uncle Sam has already been paid.

  1. Intentional and proactive communication with an Advisor.

I am grateful to help eliminate inefficiencies and “leaking out the back door” with surplus cash flow.

  1. The right insurance solution.

I am grateful for financial reassurance.

  1. An understanding of where my current savings rate ends up at the end of the road.

I am grateful when I can provide clarity to planning so that my clients know what they are actually saving for.

  1. An outside, objective, fiduciary perspective.

I am grateful when a client calls asking about a refinance option, a car purchase, or stock options. Even though I don’t directly manage these decisions, they do have an impact on your financial plan.

  1. Non-retirement investment accounts earmarked for future priorities.

I am grateful when clients can save and grow their money, yet still have access to their funds for that next down payment, big trip, or redoing the kitchen.

Yes, I am grateful for buttery popcorn, but more importantly, I am grateful for the motivation and trust of my clients and business partners.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine what is appropriate for you, consult a qualified professional.

You may also like:

June Adams
April 26, 2021

Protect yourself from these tax-related scams.

Tax-related scams have become increasingly common, and they happen year-round.  Fraudsters will contact you pretending to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a tax accounting service, or another tax-related agency.  You could receive fake emails, phone calls, letters, or other communications.

Be on high alert for phishing emails. Scammers are attempting to steal information such as tax IDs, account information, passwords, and other valuable data.  Be immediately suspicious of any unsolicited communication (email, text message, letter, or call) that asks you for your Social Security number, login credentials, or other personal information.

Review these helpful FAQs:

  • Will the IRS contact me via email?

The IRS will never initiate contact with you via email, text messages, or social media with a request for personal or financial data. Be extremely careful with any unsolicited email that claims to be from the IRS.

  • What should I do if I receive an email or text message claiming to be from the IRS or another tax service that asked for sensitive information?

Do not reply! Do not click on any links or download any attachments. Forward any IRS-related emails to

  • What should I do if I discover a website claiming to be the IRS that I suspect is not legitimate?

Do not click on any links, download any files, or submit any information. Send the URL to

  • Are there any trusted resources I can use to identify email scams or websites claiming to be
    the IRS?

The IRS highlights examples of email scams and bogus websites. Find the information online at and

  • What should I do if I receive an unsolicited phone call or letter claiming to be from the IRS that
    I suspect may not be legitimate?

Contact the IRS yourself to confirm any requests made via phone or letter, particularly those that are threatening or demand immediate payment. Visit for phone numbers and other tips.

  • If I receive a suspicious tax-related email while at work, should I notify my company?

Yes! Report suspicious emails to IT. The IT team can help you determine if a message is legitimate. In addition to confirming requests for your personal data, you should verify any email that asked you to provide copies of W2 forms or your coworkers’ tax-related information.

Mike Loo, MBA
June 13, 2018

Retirement is one of life’s most significant milestones. Not surprisingly, it’s both an exciting and worrisome prospect for many Americans nearing those Golden Years. According to a 2016 Gallup poll, 64% of Americans are worried about not having enough for retirement, 51% worry they won’t be able to maintain the standard of living they enjoy, and 60% are concerned they won’t be able to pay the medical costs of a severe illness or accident. One of the best ways to alleviate uncertainty is planning ahead.

What Will I Do with My Time and With Whom Will I Spend it?

Just as you would plan for the financial elements of your retirement, it’s equally important to plan how you will live out your retirement years. One of the biggest decisions you will make when you retire is where you will live. For example, maybe you want to live near your children part of the year and vacation a portion of the year somewhere else. Or perhaps you can’t imagine leaving the home you’ve spent years building and improving. Your housing will affect your finances, spending, and daily activities.

Next, address how you will spend your time. No one entirely escapes a daily schedule. Your daily retirement schedule doesn’t have to confine you, but it will help you fill your day and plan ahead. Start by establishing a balance of short, medium, and long-term goals. Short-term goals could include cleaning up the house, going to the gym, planting a vegetable garden, taking a vacation, or visiting family. Medium-term goals may be redesigning your yard, remodeling your home, taking a class, or planning for an extended vacation abroad. Long-term goals could be learning a foreign language, mastering a musical instrument, obtaining a new degree or certificate, writing a book, or building a vacation home. Whichever goals you define, the idea is to identify an extensive list of options so you can stay busy, maintain some control of your daily schedule, and have different activities to which you can look forward. Additionally, consider with whom you will be spending your time and enjoying these activities. If you and your spouse are not used to spending a lot of time together, know that there may be an adjustment period as this newly found together time can create tension in your relationship that hasn’t existed in the past.

How Much Will I Need in Retirement?

While it will differ for everyone, research from Fidelity shows that most people need to replace between 55% and 80% of their pre-retirement, pre-tax income after they stop working, to maintain their current lifestyle. After working hard throughout your career to save for retirement, now comes the critical decision of determining how much you can safely withdraw to replace your income while still having enough to last through your retirement. When taking withdrawals from your portfolio during retirement to pay for expenses, there is a risk that the rate of withdrawals will deplete the portfolio before you reach the end of retirement. Since you may know that stocks have historically earned an average of 8% a year, you may erroneously assume that you can afford to withdraw 8% of the initial portfolio value each year, plus a little more for inflation. However, 8% is an average, and while in some years, the numbers may be higher, in others, they will also be lower – and in some years, much lower. To protect yourself from the uncertainty of the market, you may want to consider limiting your withdrawals to 3 or 4% initially.

Ultimately, choosing a withdrawal rate means weighing your desire for increased spending in relation to your willingness to reduce spending. This relies partly on your attitude towards spending, and partly on your risk capacity. If you have Social Security and a substantial pension that is payable for life, then you have more capacity for risk in taking withdrawals from your portfolio. If not, you may need to reexamine your goals and expense categories to make sure they line up with the funds you have available.

Which Retirement Fears Could Prevent Me From Retiring?

A Retirement can be both exciting and terrifying for some people, as it’s such a significant transition in one’s life. As you plan for your retirement, it’s important to consider any fears you have that may prevent you from retiring. Through working with my clients, I’ve found there are a few common fears. First, some who have spent so many years dedicated to their career may fear they’ll lose their identity. Often, lawyers, doctors, teachers and other professionals may wonder what their purpose is if they’re no longer serving others. This is where it’s essential to return to the first question here and identify how you can find meaning in your new schedule. Second, many worry they could run out of money. While it’s impossible to predict the exact amount of money you will need, a financial plan can provide a roadmap that gives you probabilities of how long your money can last. Working with an advisor to review different scenarios may offer you more confidence. Lastly, another common fear is high taxes. While there’s no avoiding Uncle Sam, there are legal ways to mitigate your tax burden and make the most of your earnings. Consult with a tax advisor to give you an idea of how much of your withdrawals you’ll take home versus paying in taxes.

How Will I Address the Issue of Long-Term Care?

While some expenses go down once you retire, others can increase, such as healthcare costs. On average, a couple both age 65 can expect to spend between $157,000 and $392,000 on healthcare costs alone throughout their retirement years — a 29% increase over the past 10 years. This estimate assumes enrollment in Medicare health coverage but doesn’t include the potential added expenses of a nursing home or long-term care that a retiree may require. Long-term care insurance covers the cost of services that include a variety of tasks you may need help with as you age. For the past 20 years that long-term care insurance has been available, cost was the most significant hurdle for most people. Today’s long-term care policies offer more flexibility and benefits than in the past, and there are now more options and affordable choices that are designed to fit almost any budget. The most well-known option is a standard long-term care insurance policy, where you pay a premium in exchange for the ability to receive benefits if you need them. This is a “use it or lose it” policy, so won’t receive any benefits or money back if you don’t end up needing longterm care. If you don’t like the idea of a “use it or lose it” policy, you may consider a hybrid product, such as buying a life insurance policy with a long-term care rider. With this type of policy, you invest in a standard cash value life insurance policy and select your long-term care coverage terms in the rider. If you end up requiring long-term care, there are available funds. If you don’t need long-term care or if you don’t spend the total benefits available, your beneficiaries receive a death benefit payout upon your death.

Next Steps

Taking the first steps for retirement planning can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to face it alone. An advisor can help you create a personalized retirement roadmap, work, through various retirement scenarios, and help you identify what you will do during retirement to make the transition less stressful. As an advisor who works closely with many couples and families, I want to help you address your retirement questions and feel confident about your future. Take the first step by reaching out to me for a complimentary consultation by calling (949) 221-8105 x 2128 or emailing

Get Started on Your Financial Life Plan Today

Do not fill out the form below if you are an existing client. Please contact your Advisor directly.