Did you ever know someone who was an environmental advocate, or your locavore activist friend, or a deeply religious soul—fill in the blank—who lived their lives with their values-flag writ large? Unless you know them very well, you might not be aware if they’ve had decisions to make about their money life that have challenged those core values. Spoiler alert: not all these stories have happy endings for these caring souls!
Kristine unexpectedly inherited a significant sum after someone she knew died and left her money (all names are pseudonyms). She is an aggressive activist leader, nationally known and engaged in growing the local community. She has steadfastly moved her money out of mainstream investments and into everything from CDFIs to municipal bonds to progressive alternative offerings. She wants decent returns, but prioritizes her core values as she works with her windfall. One of the new-economy heroes! In the beginning, though, it took some time and dedication to find a financial advisor that would “get” her values and support her non-traditional choices. After interviewing a few advisors and not finding the connect she wanted, a friend recommended her fee-only SRI advisor and Kristine finally found the ally she was looking for.
Shawn was a young environmental activist involved in stopping nuclear power plants in New England. As he grew his family, they used electricity as little as possible and added solar when that became financially feasible.
The IRS released a “tax tip” right at the end of 2015, suggesting that individuals consider putting credit freezes on their credit reports. In our view, a freeze probably makes most sense for those who, a) don’t expect to be applying for new credit anytime soon, and b) have some concerns about others in their orbit having access to your personal information.
While this won’t protect you against all avenues of identity theft, it does put a roadblock up on one primary area of abuse. A freeze makes it much harder for anyone to open a new account in your name and, depending on what state you are in, costs between nothing and $15. You can lift a freeze if you are going to be applying for a new account somewhere, but beware that it may take up to two weeks to clear. And remember, you can always get a free copy of your credit report at annualcreditreports.com.
“These will be the last words I hear you say”
Mary Black wrote those words in a song about the Irish diaspora, watching family members set sail for America. Today we sometimes say this as we help loved ones die with dignity. While hospice care and dying at home is not for everyone, it represents a growing return to connecting our lives to our natural death.
And what does this have to do with your financial advisors? Quite a bit, it turns out! When someone you love is diagnosed with a terminal condition, there are so many issues to deal with: care givers, finances, emotional and spiritual changes, and just coming to grips with the ending of a life. Your financial advisor is not a religious advisor, nor a therapist, but we are very aware of your overall financial and life situation. We can help you and your family come to a deeper understanding of the issues you may want to be concerned with while you still live, as well as at the time of your death.
One of the best tools I have found for engaging families about end of life planning
As your retirement years begin to come into view over the horizon, you may be wishing that you’d saved a gazillion dollars, bought a couple extra houses, or remembered to train your kids to quickly get wealthy enough to support you. Despite what you may have heard, though, enjoying a rich life in your twilight years is not as difficult as it’s sometimes made out to be.
Let’s take a closer look, through the lens of behavioral psychology, at the reality of these years for most folks. While your life circumstances will be changing, you’ll be able to build on the same foundations that have served you well for the past several decades. Most NI clients are fairly engaged in their lives: making the most of what’s before them and open to new opportunities. Not surprisingly, you’re likely to find ways to stay engaged, whether via new interests—writing, archeology, volunteering for a social change organization—or deepening your current interests, like caring for grandchildren or serving your religious community more intimately. How would you rate your “life engagement” level now? If you’re thinking about transitions in the next few years, what can you do now that will help you engage more fully?