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Life Insurance Keeps a Business in the Family

By Trilogy Financial
October 9, 2023
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In the heart of a bustling town, Ernesto “Peanut” Folks stood as the owner of an auto body repair shop, where years of hard work and dedication had woven into the very fabric of his business. His vision for the future was crystal clear—passing the torch and the legacy of his shop to his son, Ernesto. This is the remarkable story of how life insurance, often overlooked, can emerge as a beacon of hope and resilience when we need it most.

Ernesto “Peanut” Folks was the proud owner of an auto body repair shop, and his plan was to one day pass along the business to his son, Ernesto. Life insurance was never on Peanut’s radar until an insurance professional spoke to him about how it could help him protect the business and its 10 employees.

Downturns in the business would sometimes make it hard for Peanut to make his premium payment. He considered dropping the policy but ultimately kept it in place.

When Peanut was diagnosed with advanced-stage lung cancer, his doctors gave him just six months to live. The treatments that followed kept him away from work, and medical bills mounted.

Given his terminal diagnosis, a provision in his life insurance policy called an accelerated death benefit allowed him to access a portion of the money from that policy while he was still alive. In the months before his death at age 49, Peanut was able to pay off his debts and turn the body shop over to Ernesto, fulfilling his dream.

Talk to an insurance professional about how life insurance can protect your business and your legacy.

Download this comprehensive blog as a concise one-page here: Life Insurance Keeps a Business in the Family

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By
Jeff Motske, CFP®
April 17, 2019

Now, I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a fan of large tax refunds (see March 1 blog). In fact, if you are consistently getting a large tax refund, you should probably adjust your withholdings so you can dedicate that money to your financial why’s every paycheck. After all, allowing the IRS to hold your money is a bad investment. If you should find yourself receiving one, though, you may be wondering how best ways to use it. It’s only normal to be tempted to do some retail therapy or splurge on a fun experience. However, it’s best to see how you can get your money to work for you before giving in to that temptation.

The very first thing to consider is how much debt you have. Large amounts of debt, whether it be student loans, credit cards or other outstanding financial obligations, can cripple you from saving for your goals. Using your tax refund to pay down debt might be the very thing to get you closer to saving for your goals.

You also want to make sure to bulk up your emergency fund. An unplanned repair, medical expense or job termination can all cost a pretty penny. Without an emergency fund, we may feel tempted to use our credit cards to cover the unexpected expense. As I just mentioned earlier, this simply takes us farther from our goals. Ensuring that we have an adequate emergency fund can make sure that we stay on target regardless of what life may throw at us.

Your tax refund can also be used to work towards your financial independence. Maximize your contributions. If you don’t have a plan, establish one. A little money can go a long way with the help of time and compound interest. Remember: there is no do-over when it comes to saving for retirement, so be sure to do as much as you can now because that time will be here before you know it.

I understand that using your tax refund check to indulge in something today can be quite tempting. More often than not, though, these distractions simply take you off your path to financial independence. You need to make sure that you’re making the money you receive today work to build the life you want to live tomorrow.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

By
David McDonough
October 30, 2019

FIRE, an acronym for “Financial Independence, Retire Early” is trending as a new financial lifestyle.  In a nutshell, FIRE promotes extreme savings in your 20s, 30s, and 40s, with the goal of being able to live off passive income from the accumulated nest egg much earlier than typical retirement age.  Some proponents suggest saving 70% of your income until you have collected 25x your annual salary, cutting your working years in half.  Extreme saving is not a new idea, but the phrase has taken off in the last couple of years, creating a cult following online.

Putting aside additional savings to fund a “work optional” lifestyle is a fantastic idea in theory, but most Americans would find it quite difficult to only live on 30% of their income without making DRASTIC changes.  If you are willing to downsize, live with roommates in a cheaper part of town, eat beans and rice, drive an old car/take the bus, and limit purchases, you could be successful at FIRE.  However, this level of deprivation may cause unintended sacrifices that impact your social life and happiness.

Our take on FIRE is to find your happy medium.  For example, you absolutely should increase your savings rate incrementally every year if you can afford to do so, but initially choose an amount that’s attainable.  To help you get started, these are the questions we encourage clients to consider:

1) What is your current cash flow?

Do you have a firm grasp on how much you spend on monthly groceries?  Going out to eat? Gifts at the holidays for friends and family?  The key here is to consider all expenses, not just big-ticket fixed items like your car payment or mortgage.  Once you have an idea of how much you are spending compared to household income, you can then evaluate your current savings rate.

2) Where can you cut back to increase your savings rate?

Can you meal prep on Sundays to avoid going out for lunch during the week?  Can you stay in to watch a movie instead of going to a theater for date night?  Are you willing to have a “no-spend” week?  Some people use tracking software (our firm provides EMoney to our clients) to help set up electronic budgets to alert you when you are close to going over set categories of spending. Alternatively, can you bring in additional income via a side hustle?  Can you work additional hours at work to qualify for overtime pay?  Make an honest assessment to determine where you could potentially improve your cash flow on a monthly basis.

3) Are you debt-free, or leveraging debt appropriately?

A mortgage with a low-interest rate is an appropriate means of financing a lifestyle you want, while potentially building equity via real estate.  If you still have student loans or credit card debt, though, your increased cash flow should go towards paying this off ASAP. Just make sure you have 3-6 months of living expenses built up in an easily accessible emergency savings account as well.

4) Outside of your emergency savings, are your accounts keeping pace with inflation?

Historically, inflation rates average around 3% annually.  This means that your purchasing power decreases, as the cost of goods increases over time. Remember when you could buy a Coke bottle out of a vending machine for a dollar? Your parents or grandparents may even recall purchasing a soda for a quarter!  That’s inflation at work. If you’re planning to retire early, this means you need to account for inflation over several decades. The best way to maintain your purchasing power is by investing excess savings in the stock and bond markets and taking advantage of compounding interest over time. A Financial Advisor can determine the best investment strategy for you.

5) Are your investments in a diversified portfolio in line with your risk tolerance?

Trying to time the market to buy and sell holdings is incredibly difficult to do.  Diversification via broader index funds and investing consistently (to take advantage of pullbacks) has proven to be a more successful investment plan for most Americans.  The concern with the FIRE movement is knowing how risky you can or should be with your asset allocation depending on your time horizon to retirement.  For example, if you are closer to reaching your retirement goal, you don’t want 100% of your assets invested in the stock market.   A comprehensive financial planner can help determine how much risk you should be taking on by looking at your finances holistically, and ensuring portfolios are rebalanced regularly according to your needs.

The road to early retirement is still a long one, so you’ll need to regularly evaluate your progress, reassess as needed, and don’t forget to acknowledge small victories!

Our advice is to push yourself to save more, without going to the extremes of the FIRE lifestyle.  If you would like additional accountability, Trilogy offers progress checks through our Decision Coach process more frequently than annual reviews.  And if you need a road map to help find your path to success, reach out with any questions here.

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.

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