117 E Elm Street
I (Kathi) vividly remember walking through the Lima Meijer store with a visitor from Russia several years ago. She stood in the cereal aisle, not only paralyzed by the cereal choices but somewhat repulsed by them. She couldn’t process the vast choices she had. Her reaction gave me perspective on our abundance and on how desensitized I had become to the choices around me.
We regularly see clients who are “on a good trajectory.” Financially speaking, they have saved wisely for retirement. They have done what they are good at doing and have sought counsel in areas where they have less experience. They are teachable and flexible. They work hard, they spend less than they earn, and their enjoyment in life does not seem to come from an abundance of possessions.
A common thread with folks like this is that they end up with more options than those who do not plan well for the future. “The more you have, the more options you have.” This is relative of course — just as abundance and contentment are also relative. We occasionally have to remind people that we are walking them through some major decisions because they are blessed to have decisions to make.
For those who feel they have fewer options, please understand that I am not saying this from a point of judgment or doom. I am saying that abundance (or wealth, if you will) brings more options, decisions, and responsibility. Along with this, your level of contentment can greatly influence whether you feel you are experiencing abundance or not.
So—what to do with the options you have in front of you, whether they are many or few?
It is important to look at several parts of someone’s financial situation and then consider them AS A WHOLE. When we meet with you as a new or existing client, we are asking financial questions for sure, but even more importantly—we are asking life questions about your goals, dreams, fears, family, etc.
Whether you have charitable intent makes a difference. Whether you are close to entering a higher tax bracket makes a difference. How you think about debt and savings makes a difference. Risk tolerance matters. How long you plan to work matters. Whether you picture retirement as a yacht or a good book on the back porch matters. How responsible your adult children are (or not) makes a difference. Whether husband and wife are able to work toward the same goal matters.
While we are very serious and professional about investing and all of the rules and opportunities that go with your personal financial situation, we are just as committed to seeing you and your household as more than financial data. We are committed to having a relationship with you and asking hard questions and helping guide you through complex decisions.
We occasionally meet with people who have trained themselves to see their financial choices (and their financial accounts) in a more segmented fashion. “With my 401k, I want to do this. With my Social Security earnings, I plan to do that. I can only move this lever on my finances after that lever moves.” These are sometimes sentimental choices or ideas that come from personal research or peer discussion. We like to hear those thoughts because if there is merit to segmentation, we will heartily endorse it. However, we have found that a wholistic approach (that encompasses tax laws, true goals and desires, estate planning, etc.) is often the best path.
Will you start a conversation with us? We can help you address financial aspects you may not understand or be aware of that could greatly impact your financial future.
If you are employed by a school and are not participating in their 403b or 457 plan, we’d love to talk with you about the opportunities available there. STRS is similar to Social Security (in that you pay in, get benefits later, but don’t have control over the funds or have your own account to make decisions about.) However, 403b and 457 plans offer the ability to invest more each year for retirement. They also get registered in your name as an asset you can control in retirement. You are in the driver’s seat! Please contact us to schedule a conversation. Ask for “public employee review” by emailing us or using our “Contact us” page at www.myfaithinvestments.com
401k, SIMPLE IRA, other employer plans—if you’re the employee
Employer plans generally have limited offerings for you to invest in—such as target date funds, select mutual fund holdings, etc. We can help you understand whether you are using appropriate investments for your age and risk tolerance. As you get closer to retirement, you may also have opportunity to do an in-service distribution of your funds into your own IRA (individual retirement account.) This can give more investment options and can also give you the ability to have Biblically Responsible Investing options in your account, if that is important to you. Many folks who are 59 1/2 or older do an in-service distribution to an IRA without tax penalty. (The funds remain tax-deferred) The 401k stays open and the employee can continue to contribute and get the employer match, as long as they are working. It could be a win-win for you!
If you are not yet 59 1/2 but would still like to have a review of your employer plan, we can assist with this. We can review your investment allocation, your BRI score (how the investments align with your values) and other factors—at no cost or obligation. Ask for “private employee review”
401k, SIMPLE IRA, other employer plans—if you’re the employer or decision-maker
If your small business would like to know the benefits of having a retirement plan in place for its employees, we can help you explore your options. There are tax benefits for doing so and this can also help you retain good employees. By answering a few simple questions for us, we can create some easy-to-implement recommendations for your small business. There are a variety of options for new plans with different rules and limits and we can explain what might be best for you. Ask for “new plan info”
If your company (large or small) would like to have personalized attention, low cost options, and the potential for BRI within your employer plan (if desired), we can help. Let us create a cost-comparison to your existing plan and explain how we can come alongside you and your firm, support your employees to make good investment decisions, and handle the fiduciary responsibilities. We offer turn-key 401k plans that are simple and cost-effective. Ask for “401k comparison”
We partner with Ohio school systems in their 403b and 457 plans. If your school plan document allows multiple vendors, we can come alongside and help your employees understand their options, support and encourage them to save in their 403b and 457 plans, and provide education and service to them. Contributing to the 403b and 457 plans (along with STRS withholding) can be especially beneficial for those with long tenure, higher compensation, or highly compensated spouses where the household needs more tax-savings strategies.
This conversation may benefit you, the decision-maker, as much or more than your employees. We would be happy to help you explore your options! Ask for “403b/457 review”