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Life Insurance From Work May Not Be Enough

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Life Insurance From Work May Not Be Enough

Life Insurance From Work May Not Be Enough

In some industries, the competition for good employees is as big a battle as the competition for customers.

As part of a benefits package to attract and keep talented people, many employers offer life insurance coverage. If it’s free – as the life policy often is – there’s really no reason not to take the benefit. Free is (usually) good. But free can be costly if it prevents you from seeing the big picture.

Here are a few important reasons why a life insurance policy offered through your employer shouldn’t be the only safety net you have for your family.

1. The Coverage Amount Probably Isn’t Enough.

Life insurance can serve many purposes, but two of the main reasons people buy life insurance are to pay for final expenses and to provide income replacement.

Let’s say you make around $50,000 per year. Maybe it’s less, maybe it’s more, but we tend to spend according to our income (or higher) so higher incomes usually mean higher mortgages, higher car payments, etc. It’s all relative.

In many cases, group life insurance policies offered through employers are limited to 1 or 2 years of salary (usually rounded to the nearest $1,000), as a death benefit. (The term “death benefit” is just another name for the coverage amount.)

In this example, a group life policy through an employer may only pay a $50,000 death benefit, of which $10,000 to $15,000 could go toward burial expenses. That leaves $35,000 to $40,000 to meet the needs of your spouse and family – who will probably still have a mortgage, car payment, loans, and everyday living expenses. But they’ll have one less income to cover these. If your family is relying solely on the death benefit from an employer policy, there may not be enough left over to support your loved ones.

2. A Group Life Policy Has Limited Usefulness.

The policy offered through an employer is usually a term life insurance policy for a relatively low amount. One thing to keep in mind is that the group term policy doesn’t build cash value like other types of life policies can. This makes it an ineffective way to transfer wealth to heirs because of its limited value.

Again, and to be fair, if the group policy is free, the price is right. The good news is that you can buy additional policies to help ensure your family isn’t put into an impossible situation at an already difficult time.

3. You Don’t Own The Life insurance Policy.

Because your employer owns the policy, you have no say in the type of policy or the coverage amount. In some cases, you might be able to buy supplemental insurance through the group plan, but there might be limitations on choices.

Consider building a coverage strategy with policies you own that can be tailored to your specific needs. Keep the group policy as “supplemental” coverage.

4. If You Change Jobs, You Lose Your Coverage.

This is even worse than it sounds. The obvious problem is that if you leave your job, are fired, or are laid off, the employer-provided life insurance coverage will be gone. Your new employer may or may not offer a group life policy as a benefit.

The other issue is less obvious.

Life insurance gets more expensive as we get older and, as perfectly imperfect humans, we tend to develop health conditions as we age that can lead to more expensive policies or even make us uninsurable. If you’re lulled into a false sense of security by an employer group policy, you might not buy proper coverage when you’re younger, when coverage might be less expensive and easier to get.

As with most things, it’s best to look at the big picture with life insurance.

A group life policy offered through an employer isn’t a bad thing – and at no cost to the employee, the price is certainly attractive. But it probably isn’t enough coverage for most families. Think of a group policy as extra coverage. Then we can work together to design a more comprehensive life insurance strategy for your family that will help meet their needs and yours.


Learn Skills Fast

Learn Skills Fast

Mastering a skill takes time, effort, and sometimes money.

Hours of dedicated learning, training, and mentorship are required to move from amateur to expert. But who has the time for that? Most of us are still figuring out our careers or how to be a better parent or partner. With our busy lives, acquiring an additional skill—no matter how beneficial or fulfilling it may be—can seem like a fantasy.

But what if there were a way to quickly become competent at a skill?

It turns out that there are some simple steps you can take to jumpstart your learning process. Here are some tips for quick skill acquisition!

Work backwards.

Skills are typically composed of smaller processes. For instance, playing a song on piano requires a few different abilities. You must be able to move each finger to the right keys at the right time, you should probably know how to read music, and possess a sense of when to play more loudly or softly. Trying to play a song without some command of those capabilities can feel overwhelming or impossible!

That’s why it’s useful to start with the end product and work backwards to discover the little skills you need to master. Once you see the micro-processes involved, you can start working forward. This might feel silly at first. Jumping between the same few notes over and over again until you’ve got them down isn’t the most glamorous endeavor! But it lays the foundation for a more complicated and satisfying skill that will pay off in the long run.

Expect roadblocks.

It’s easy to think making progress will be a straight line. We’re building up our little skills, getting better and better with each practice session. But pretty soon we hit a wall. There’s a problem that seems we can’t overcome. We might even start backsliding or feeling like we’re getting worse!

Don’t sweat a roadblock. It’s perfectly normal to hit a plateau when you’re trying to acquire a skill. Take a break from practice, go for a walk or take a nap, and get back to it with a fresh perspective. You might be surprised by how much learning occurs when you allow your brain to relax and process.

Don’t multitask.

As nice as it sounds, multitasking simply does not work. There’s overwhelming evidence that it actually slows down your brain and wildly reduces efficiency.¹ Multitasking must be avoided at all costs when you’re trying to quickly learn a new skill. Try setting aside some undistracted time every morning or evening for a few weeks to work on your skill. That means leaving your phone in another room, turning off the TV, and telling your family that you’ll be busy for a while. Get in the zone and start practicing!

An hour every evening for a month won’t transform you into a Picasso. You’re not shooting to be a virtuoso. Instead, these tips and strategies may help you quickly acquire competence in just about anything you set your mind to. So draw up a list of some skills you want to develop and start learning!

Sources:

¹ “Multitasking is dead. Monotasking is better for our health, relationships and productivity,” Wendy Rose Gould, Today, May 13, 2022, https://www.today.com/health/mind-body/multitasking-bad-productivity-monotasking-rcna26968


The Biggest Industry In The World?

The Biggest Industry In The World?

What’s the biggest industry in the world?

It’s not Wal-Mart or Amazon or Apple; those are companies. The answer, while it might surprise you, actually makes perfect sense. It’s the industry that manages, stores and protects money for billionaires, conglomerates, companies—and you.

That’s right, the financial industry is the largest industry in the world!

Totalling $109 trillion, it dwarfs the competition.¹ For comparison, real estate is worth $33 trillion and retail amounts to $26 trillion. But what exactly is the financial industry? Here’s a quick look.

Financial services.

Technically, the financial industry is composed of companies that offer financial services. But what exactly is a financial service? The International Monetary Fund defines it as “how consumers and businesses acquire financial goods such as loans and insurance.”²

The most obvious example of financial services are the services a bank offers. It offers a place for you to safely store your money. You can also get a loan from a bank if you need to make a big purchase like a home or car. Banks make money by charging interest on loans and adding fees to their services, and they can range in size from local, small-town establishments to massive nationwide banks.

But there’s more to the financial industry than just holding and lending money. Investment is a huge part of this sector. Financial advisors and brokers help everyone from the middle class to the rich and powerful make and manage their investments. They can manage staggering amounts of money for huge businesses. Financial protection services, like insurance, is another major segment of the financial industry.

The foundation of the economy.

Modern economies are fueled by the financial sector. They’re the gatekeepers to prosperity. Anyone trying to start a business, save for their future, or protect their family has to go through banks, advisors, and agents. Economies thrive when the financial sector is healthy and melt down when it’s not!

The financial industry might appear as conspicuous as other sectors. We don’t go to a financial advisor every week for groceries or fuel our car at the bank. But that doesn’t mean it’s not vital to every part of our lives.


¹ Federal Reserve, February 2020

² “Financial Services: Getting the Goods,” International Monetary Fund, https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/basics/64-financial-services.htm


Mediocre Money Mindsets

Mediocre Money Mindsets

Healthy money habits start with mature money mindsets.

Even though it’s not always obvious, we carry lots of assumptions and attitudes about money that might not be grounded in reality. How we perceive wealth and finances can impact how we make decisions, prioritize, and handle the money that we have. Here are a few common money mindsets that might be holding you back from reaching your full potential!

I need tons of money to start saving

It’s simple, right? The rich are swimming in cash, so they’re able to save. They get to build businesses and live out their dreams. The rest of us have to live paycheck to paycheck, shelling out our hard earned money on rent, groceries, and other essentials.

That couldn’t be further from the truth! Sure, you might not be able to save half your income. But you might be surprised by how much you can actually stash away if you put your mind to it. And however much you can save right now, little as it might be, is much better than putting away nothing at all!

I need to save every penny possible

On the other side of the coin (get it?) is the notion that you have to save every last penny and dime that comes your way. There are definitely people in difficult financial situations who go to incredible lengths to make ends meet. Just ask someone who survived the Great Depression! But most of us don’t need to haggle down the price of an apple or forage around for firewood. And sometimes, the corners we cut to save a buck can come back to bite us. Set spending rules and boundaries for yourself, but make sure you’re not just eating ramen noodles and ketchup soup!

I don’t need to budget

There are definitely times when you might not feel like you need to be proactive with your finances. You don’t feel like you’re spending too much, debt collectors aren’t pounding down your door, and everything seems comfortable. Budgeting is for folks with a spending problem, right?

The fact of the matter is that everyone should have a budget. It might not feel important now, but a budget is your most powerful tool for understanding where your money goes, areas where you can cut back, and how much you can put away for the future. It gives you the knowledge you need to take control of your finances!

Breaking mediocre money mindsets can be difficult. But it’s an important step on your journey towards financial independence. Once you understand money and how it works, you’re on the path to take control of your future and make your dreams a reality.


Should You Care What Others Think of You?

Should You Care What Others Think of You?

Advice about trying not to care what others think about you ranges from inane to utterly insane.

Almost no one will tell you that you should care what others think. Instead, you hear platitudes like “marching to the beat of your own drum”, or “just do you.”

You might even hear something counterintuitive like, “People will like you more if you don’t care about their opinions.”

What? You should stop caring about what others think so they’ll like you more? It’s a bald-faced contradiction at best, deceptively manipulative at worst.

The simple fact is that, unless you’re a diagnosed psychopath, you’ll care what others think about you. And that’s a good thing. It can stop you from alienating people in your life with bizarre decisions or unnecessary antagonism.

But is there such a thing as an unhealthy obsession with the opinions of others? Yes! Analysis paralysis, social anxiety, and unmeasured decisions can all result.

But that shouldn’t lead to a fluffy kitchen countertop quote about “one’s own sweet way.”

Instead of jettisoning all your social concerns, try this—prioritize your values over all.

Let’s say that one of your values is maintaining healthy relationships. That requires care about what someone else thinks of you—without their love and respect, the relationship is doomed to fail.

But you may discover other values, like protecting the well-being of the ones you love. That might mean making hard decisions that, in the short-term, lower the opinions of others.

This isn’t just advice for your personal life—it can benefit your career as well.

For instance, if you’re an employee, you should care about your boss’s opinion of you. That doesn’t mean being a doormat or suck-up. It simply means that you would do well to pay attention to their instruction, make sure you’re on top of things, and show them you’re honest, responsible, and a hard worker. This may lead to a promotion, a raise, and being known as a reliable team member.

The same is true for entrepreneurs. It’s hard to land and keep clients if you’re oblivious to their feelings toward you.

That’s not an excuse for tolerating mistreatment by customers, which is common among new entrepreneurs. Instead, it’s a call to know your own worth, to discover what you value, and then actually serve your clients.

The takeaway? “Don’t care about what others think” is short-sighted, selfish advice.

Instead, explore your values. Discover what matters most. And build your life around those principles. They’ll bring far greater cohesion—and happiness—than ignoring other people and running head-long into the void.


Can Cold Showers Give You Superpowers?

Can Cold Showers Give You Superpowers?

Study after study has shown that hopping in the shower and turning the handle towards C can have tremendous benefits.

It’s claimed that doing this can boost your mood, enhance metabolism, and increase focus. One experiment even found that ice baths and breathing exercises can reduce the impact of illnesses like E. Coli.¹

But why? And more importantly before you dive into a frozen lake, how?

The science of cold showers and ice baths is actually pretty simple.

Cold showers suck. They feel terrible. The first drops of arctic water that blast your back or face seem to turn off your brain. Your heart starts racing. Your vision may get blurry. You start thinking, “how can I make this stop?” In other words, you enter full on survival mode.

And that’s one of the best things you can do for your body.

Why? Because your body floods with chemicals to make sure you survive.

Dopamine levels soar. That’s the chemical that makes you pursue goals, like getting out of the shower alive.

Adrenaline surges through your body. That’s the chemical that makes you want to move and scream and focus and escape.

Your body starts torching calories. That’s so it can maintain a stable body temperature.

And those chemicals and processes persist once you turn off the water. That fight-or-flight response gets replaced by a profound sense of calm focus that can last for hours.³

That’s not counting the mental toughness benefit. Every time you step into that stream of cold water, you’re training yourself to endure something unpleasant. You strengthen your ability to overcome fear and to do hard, yet beneficial, things.

There are some critical factors to consider…

Don’t take cold showers too often.

Eventually, you’ll get used to shock and minimize the benefits. According to Andrew Huberman, a Stanford professor, you should aim for 11 minutes in cold water per week.²

Don’t expose yourself to dangerous situations.

Diving into a frozen lake on your first day could lead to panic and even death. Start with an uncomfortable, but safe temperature in your own shower in your own house, and build up your tolerance.

Don’t take cold showers if you’re trying to build muscle.

Cold showers are perfect if you need to eliminate muscle soreness. But it also impacts muscle hypertrophy, slowing growth. So if you need to quickly recover from workouts, take cold showers. But if you’re trying to gain mass, opt with your normal shower routine instead.

Cold showers provide a host of benefits, from boosting your mood to aiding in weight loss. But it’s important to start slowly and increase the intensity gradually to avoid any negative consequences. So if you’re looking for a way to improve your mental toughness and boost your productivity, add a cold shower to your routine. Just make sure you do it safely.


¹ “MR ICE: Men’s Health Chills With Iceman Wim Hof,” Alex Harris, Men’s Health, 27 Apr 2022, https://www.menshealth.com/uk/health/a758182/big-read-mh-chills-with-iceman-wim-hof/

² “The Science & Use of Cold Exposure for Health & Performance,” Andrew Huberman, Huberman Lab, May 1, 2022, https://hubermanlab.com/the-science-and-use-of-cold-exposure-for-health-and-performance/

³ “Cold Shower for Anxiety: Does It Help?” Kristeen Cherney, Healthline, June 22, 2022, https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/cold-shower-for-anxiety


Financial Relapses

Financial Relapses

Oops. You did it again.

Maybe you used the credit card to buy something you didn’t really need, even though you’ve sworn it off time and time again.

Maybe you found yourself clicking checkout, even though you promised to stop online shopping.

Or maybe you just found yourself discouraged by the number in your bank account… again.

Either way, you’ve had a financial relapse—you did something to set back progress with your goals, even though you knew better.

It sucks. It’s enough to make you throw up your hands and quit.

But here’s the truth—it’s part of the process.

Research suggests that there are six steps to changing behavior…

Pre-contemplation Contemplation Preparation Action Maintenance Relapse

Why is relapse the final step? Because it’s an opportunity. It reveals the limitations in your strategy, unnoticed behavior triggers, and above all, new areas for growth.

This is good to acknowledge, but it’s a far cry from how relapses make you feel. They feel like proof positive that you’ll never change, that you didn’t change. You fell back into your old behaviors.

But nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that relapses merely point you to deeper truths about yourself… and what you’re capable of.

So next time you feel down about a hard-to-break financial habit, give yourself some grace. Examine what happened, and integrate what you learn into your strategy.

Consider meeting with a financial professional to chat things through. They can help you process what happened, refocus on your goals, and create a strategy to prevent future relapses.

And if you feel like you’re stuck in harmful financial habits that you can’t break, book a meeting with a licensed and qualified mental health professional. They can help you identify patterns, understand their origins, and develop steps for change.


¹ “Prochaska and DiClemente’s Stages of Change Model for Social Workers,” Yeshiva University, May 11, 2021, https://online.yu.edu/wurzweiler/blog/prochaska-and-diclementes-stages-of-change-model-for-social-workers


Who Qualifies for Student Loan Forgiveness?

Who Qualifies for Student Loan Forgiveness?

Here’s every Millennial’s dream—you wake up one day to find all your student loan debt completely forgiven.

Recently, that dream became a reality for dozens of former students when the U.S. government gave $17 billion of debt relief to 725,000 borrowers.¹

Still, that hardly puts a dent in the $1.6 trillion in student loan debt collectively owed by 43 million Americans.²

So, what are the chances that your loans will be forgiven, and how do you know if you qualify?

Here are three ways to qualify for student loan forgiveness…

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Work for a qualifying non-profit or public organization? Then you qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

Under this program, your remaining loan balance will be forgiven after you make 10 years’ worth of payments.³

And fortunately, it just got far easier to qualify—before recent reforms, the denial rate for the PSLF program was up to 99%.⁴

So if you’re a public servant, head over to the Federal Student Aid website and click Manage Loans.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

Similar to the PSLF program, the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program is available for educators. If you’ve taught in a classroom for 5 years and meet the basic qualifications, you could be eligible for up to $17,500 of debt forgiveness.⁵

But be warned—there are some highly specific qualifications. From the Federal Aid website:

“You must not have had an outstanding balance on Direct Loans or Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans as of Oct. 1, 1998, or on the date that you obtained a Direct Loan or FFEL Program loan after Oct. 1, 1998.”⁶

Sound complicated? That’s because it is. As with most financial moves, meet with a debt professional or financial planner to see if you qualify.

Total and Permanent Disability Discharge

If you’re totally and permanently disabled, you may be eligible for a complete discharge of your student loan debt.

You’ll need to submit proof of your disability to your loan servicer. The proof can come in many forms, such as a doctor’s letter, a Social Security Administration notice, or documentation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

As with everything involving bureaucracy and disability, you may quickly find yourself mired in red tape and conflicting phone numbers. That’s why it’s always wise to seek out professional help if you think you might qualify.

The sad truth is that few actually qualify for these programs. If you work in the private sector, are healthy, and face significant debt, you’ll need to find alternative strategies for moving from debt to wealth.

Still, it’s good to know that there are options out there for those who qualify. So if you think you might be eligible for one of these programs, don’t hesitate to explore your options.


¹ “Here’s who has qualified for student loan forgiveness under Biden,” Erika Giovanetti, Fox Business, Apr 26, https://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/student-loan-forgiveness-programs-biden-administration

² “Student Loan Debt Statistics: 2022,” Anna Helhoski, Ryan Lane, Nerdwallet, May 19, 2022 https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/loans/student-loans/student-loan-debt

³ “Want Student Loan Forgiveness? To Qualify, Borrowers May Need To Do This First,” Adam S. Minsky, Forbes, May 16, 2022, https://www.forbes.com/sites/adamminsky/2022/05/16/want-student-loan-forgiveness-to-qualify-borrowers-may-need-to-do-this-first/?sh=6aa44a617cdb

⁴ “Want Student Loan Forgiveness?” Minsky, Forbes, 2022

⁵ “Teacher Loan Forgiveness,” Federal Student Aid, https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/teacher

⁶ “Teacher Loan Forgiveness,” Federal Student Aid, https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/teacher


The Cost Of Smoking Cigarettes

The Cost Of Smoking Cigarettes

Not many people would argue that smoking is bad for you.

It’s linked to lung cancer and heart disease, and is associated with nearly 1 in 5 deaths in the United States.(1) But smoking damages more than your body. It can also seriously hamper your financial health in ways that might surprise you.

The upfront cost of smoking

Cigarettes aren’t cheap. Prices per pack vary from $$6.11 in Missouri to $11.96 in New York, but the national average comes out to around $8.(2, 3) Smoking a pack per day will run you $56 per week, $224 per month, and $2,912 per year. Over 20 years you’ll have spent $58,240 on cigarettes. That’s a lot of money to light up!

Health care costs of smoking

But smoking carries more subtle costs. Hospital bills, medication, and treatment all cost money, and smoking bumps up your chances of needing those at some point in your future. In total, smoking-related illness costs the United States over $300 billion per year.(4) Smokers also have to face higher insurance costs because of the health risks presented by their habit. All told, smoking one pack per day costs around $15,000 a year, or $40 per pack.(5)

The opportunity cost of smoking

What would you do with $15,000? If you’re smoking a pack per day, your answer is to spend it on a highly addictive chemical that feels great in the moment but will damage your health long-term. But what would happen if you put that $15,000 to work? Could that be the cash you need to start building a business? Maybe that could be the foundation of your child’s college fund or inheritance. That nicotine hit might be what you think you need to destress or get out of bed in the morning, but it’s costing you more than short-term cash. It’s denying you the potential to live on your terms and start building your future.

Quitting cigarettes can feel daunting. They’re an easy coping mechanism that you might depend on. Imagining a day without lighting up with your morning coffee could be downright terrifying. But smoking costs you more than just 6 bucks per pack. It costs you more than your future health. The price of a quick nicotine fix could be stopping you from reaching your full potential and stealing life-changing opportunities.

Trying to quit? Check out these resources from the CDC.


¹ “Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking” CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/index.htm

² “Cigarette Prices by State 2022,” World Population Review, https://worldpopulationreview.com/states/cigarette-prices-by-state/

³ “Economic Trends in Tobacco,” CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/economics/econ_facts/index.htm#

⁴ “ Hidden Costs of Smoking,” American Cancer Society, https://www.washington.edu/admin/hr/benefits/events/flyers/tobacco-free/hidden-cost-of-smoking.pdf


Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

What gets you more motivated—the reward or the process?

That’s the question that divides intrinsic motivation from extrinsic motivation. And learning the difference could salvage your career from disaster.

Why? Because different motivation types are useful in different circumstances.

Intrinsic motivation is process focused. It comes from the sense of satisfaction from a job well done. It’s why you keep coming back to hobbies you love, or why you’re compelled to work on that project even when it’s not required. You do it for the love of the game.

Extrinsic motivation is reward focused. It comes from the anticipation or acquisition of something tangible, like a trophy, a raise, praise, or a bonus. It’s the reason you put up with a high paying job you hate, or why you grind out those extra reps at the gym. You do it for the payoff.

Intrinsic motivation is internal, while extrinsic motivation is external.

Here’s the strategic difference—intrinsic motivation is powerful long-term, extrinsic motivation is powerful short-term.

Think about it. How long can you really tolerate that awful job? Eventually, it’ll wear you down, no matter the pay. It will tax your mental health, your relationships, and your quality of life. Trying to leverage reward motivation over the long-term is a recipe for burnout.

That being said, it’s excellent if you need a burst of energy. “Just a few more months, and then I’ll be debt free. I can make it.” Extrinsic motivation is often what we rely on to push through short-term challenges.

By contrast, intrinsic motivation can provide powerful groundwork for planning long-term goals. What are the hobbies and activities you find inherently rewarding? Are they career oriented? Family focused? That’s where you should focus your long-term energy.


Homeowner Associations: Are They Worth the Hassle?

Homeowner Associations: Are They Worth the Hassle?

Most people think that buying a home in a neighborhood with a Homeowners Association (“HOA”) is the only way to access certain amenities and services.

But everyone’s heard their share of HOA horror stories. Nitpicking neighbors, outrageous fees, and dysfunctional meetings are just a few of the woes that an HOA can bring your way.

So, should you join an HOA, or stay away? Here are a few factors to consider if you’re currently in the market for a new home and not sure if an HOA is a green light or red flag.

When it comes to HOAs, there are pros and cons to both being in one and not being in one. Here are some of the pros of being in an HOA…

You have access to amenities that you may not have otherwise. This can include things like a pool, a clubhouse, or even just a nicer street.

Rules and regulations of the HOA can help keep your neighborhood looking neat and trim and boost the value of your home—single family homes under HOAs sell for 4% more than the market average.¹

HOAs can often enforce rules more effectively than individual homeowners. That can be helpful if you have a problem with neighbors who are damaging property values.

HOAs can have substantial value. One survey found that for every dollar of fees, an HOA brought $1.19 of benefit.²

But HOAs aren’t all flowers and sunshine. Here are some of the cons of being in an HOA…

HOA fees can be expensive. Yearly fees range from $1,000 to $10,000, which can put certain homes out of your price range.

HOAs can nitpick trivial things, like the color of your house or the kind of plants you put in your yard. There are few things worse than having someone else tell you how to decorate the home you’re making mortgage payments for.

HOAs can be toxic. Like all organizations, HOAs are subject to corruption. Board members can be aggressive and narrow minded, chairmen can become tyrants, and neighbors can be selfish. Rest assured, there’s almost nothing worse for homeowners than getting stuck with a toxic HOA.

HOAs can be useless. There’s nothing worse than an organization that demands money and then doesn’t do anything. In some cases, HOAs fail to enforce rules or regulations, making them little more than a money-sucking black hole.

The key takeaway is that a healthy HOA can be a benefit, while a toxic HOA is a massive liability.

How can you tell the difference between the two? First, check out the quality of the other homes. Are they well maintained, or falling apart?

Second, review the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&R). These are the rules and regulations you’ll have to follow if you move into the neighborhood. If you see anything outrageous or suspicious, ask about them.

Finally, talk to your potential neighbors. Are they happy with the HOA? If not, why? Their answers may be trivial—or they may reveal significant issues.

HOAs can be a great way to maintain property values and improve your quality of life. But they can also be expensive, time consuming, and even toxic. So do your homework before you buy a home in an HOA neighborhood, or you may regret it later.


“HOA Pros and Cons for Homebuyers: Rules, Fees, and Perfect Lawns,” Valerie Kalfrin, HomeLight, Dec 23, 2019, https://www.homelight.com/blog/buyer-hoa-pros-and-cons/


Your Boss May Be Killing You

Your Boss May Be Killing You

We all know that work can be stressful. But did you know that it can actually kill you?

Workplace stress has been linked to a wide range of health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It can also lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.¹ And worst of all, it can even lead to death—an article from 2012 reported that women in high-stress jobs were 40% more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke.²

That’s right—long hours at the office, tight deadlines and “crunch sessions,” those berating speeches from your boss, they all add up. And they may have lethal consequences.

So what can you do about it? Here are some tips:

1. Talk to your boss. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your workload, discuss it with your boss and see if there’s anything that can be done to lighten the load.

It’s no small task. For many, their boss is the source of the stress! That’s why it’s critical to prepare beforehand. Write down how you’re feeling and how work stress is affecting your life. Come up with a few ways your boss can help.

Often, these conversations go better than expected. A good manager will realize that pushing employees to the brink is a foolish strategy.

But know this—there’s a real chance they won’t get it. Worse still, they may blame someone else, or even you, for the problem. In that case, it might be time to consider a new opportunity.

2. Take breaks. When you’re feeling stressed, take a few minutes to yourself to relax and rejuvenate. Go for a walk—it’s the go-to strategy for great writers and artists. Download a meditation app and take a 10-minute breathing session.

The key is consistency. Taking routine breaks at the same time every day not only gives you something to look forward to, it also normalizes taking a break in the eyes of your boss.

Again, if your boss gives you grief for taking care of yourself, it’s time to consider moving to a new job.

3. Get organized. Make a list of your tasks and priorities, and try to tackle them one at a time. Break large projects into small components that you can knock out piece by piece.

Why? Because feeling overwhelmed can be a huge part of being stressed. You know the feeling—you see a reminder that you need to finish a large project and your heart sinks. Suddenly, all you can think about is how much you have to do in such little time. Often, it feels easier to shut those feelings down and procrastinate, which only makes the problem worse.

When you have a plan of action, it’s much easier to stay calm and focused. You know exactly what needs to be done and when, so you can put your mind at ease and get to work. And knocking out small pieces of the project motivates you to keep pushing forward.

4. Stay healthy. Exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, and get enough sleep.

It’s tough to stay healthy when you’re feeling stressed, but it’s important. Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. Eating nutritious foods can help keep your energy levels up and your mind clear. And getting enough sleep helps you stay alert and focused during the day.

If you can’t seem to make time for your health, try this: schedule your workouts into your calendar, just like you would any other meeting. And set a bedtime alarm to remind you when it’s time to turn in for the night.

5. Seek help if needed. If you’re struggling with stress and it’s impacting your health, work, or personal life, it may be time to seek professional help.

There are many great therapists who specialize in stress and anxiety. They can help you develop healthy coping strategies, establish boundaries, and manage your stress in a more productive way.

In the end, workplace stress is a real threat to your health—and maybe even your life. But by taking some proactive steps, you can help protect yourself from its harmful effects. So don’t wait—start making some changes today.


Getting Out Of Debt Doesn't Make You "Free"

Getting Out Of Debt Doesn't Make You "Free"

Debt is an unfortunate reality for most people in America.

The average household owes $6,000 in credit card debt alone, and the total amount of outstanding consumer debt in the US totals over $15.24 trillion.¹ It’s a burden, both financially—and emotionally. Debt can be linked to fatigue, anxiety, and depression.²

So it’s completely understandable that people want to get rid of their debt, no matter the cost.

But the story doesn’t end when you pay off your last credit card. In fact, it’s only the beginning.

Sure, it feels great to be debt-free. You no longer have to worry about making minimum payments or being late on a payment. You can finally start saving for your future and taking care of yourself. But being debt-free doesn’t mean you’re “free” to do whatever you want and get back into debt again. It means you’re ready to start building wealth, and chasing true financial independence.

For example, when you first beat debt, are you instantly prepared to cover emergencies? Most likely not. And that means you’re still vulnerable to more debt in the future—without cash to cover expenses, you run the risk of needing credit.

The same is likely true for retirement. Simply eliminating debt doesn’t mean you’ll retire wealthy. When you become debt-free, you can put those debt payments towards saving, leveraging the power of compound interest and more to help make your dreams a reality.

But now that you’ve conquered debt, that’s exactly what you can do! You have the cash flow needed to start saving for your future. You can finally take control of your money and make it work for you, instead of the other way around.

So don’t think of being debt-free as the finish line. It’s not. It’s simply the starting point on your journey to financial independence. From here, the sky’s the limit.


¹ “2021 American Household Credit Card Debt Study,” Erin El Issa, Nerdwallet, Jan 11, 2022, https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/average-credit-card-debt-household/

² “Data Shows Strong Link Between Financial Wellness and Mental Health,” Enrich, Mar 24, 2021, https://www.enrich.org/blog/data-shows-strong-link-between-financial-wellness-and-mental-health


The Connection Between Health and Wealth

The Connection Between Health and Wealth

This isn’t news, but money can be a major source of stress and anxiety.

And while it’s true that money problems can cause people a lot of stress, did you know that financial instability can also lead to health problems?

Here’s an alarming statistic: Negative wealth shocks (losing 75% of your wealth or more) increase mortality risk over 20 years by 50%.¹

The impact of money stress grows more pronounced with age. A Yale study tracked older people recovering from heart attacks. They discovered that heart attack survivors with financial problems were 60% more likely to die within 6 months of leaving the hospital.²

Researchers don’t yet understand the causal relationship between finances and mortality, but here are a few educated guesses…

Losing money is stressful. And long-term stress can cause premature death.³

Losing money reduces access to medical care. Quality care slips out of financial reach. Even little things like transportation to appointments can become unaffordable.

Losing money can cause a low-quality diet. A combination of stress and living in low-income areas can make low value food far more convenient and appealing.

The takeaway? Money problems have a big potential to take a toll on your health. That’s why financial stability should be a top priority for everyone. If you’re struggling to make ends meet, don’t despair. There are steps you can take to get your finances in order. And when you do, you could be on your way to better health, too!

¹ “Financial Ruin Can Be Hazardous To Your Health,” Rob Stein, NPR, April 3, 2018, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/04/03/598881797/financial-ruin-can-be-hazardous-to-your-health

² “In Older Adults, Money Problems Linked to Higher Risk of Death Following Heart Attack,” Ashley P. Taylor, Yale School of Medicine, Feb 23, 2022, https://medicine.yale.edu/news-article/in-older-adults-money-problems-linked-to-higher-risk-of-death-following-heart-attack-study/

³ “Stress Can’t Actually Kill You — but How You Deal (or Don’t) Matters,” Lauren Sharkey, Healthline Apr 28, 2020, https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/can-stress-kill-you


How To Stop Worrying About Money

How To Stop Worrying About Money

Worried about money? Tell someone.

And that doesn’t mean anxious chit-chat or throwaway lines about how money’s tight. Those are attempts at starting a conversation, hoping that the other person notices how you feel.

What you need is to sit down and talk with someone you trust. Someone you can be honest with. Someone who will listen without judgment.

When it comes to money, most of us are our own worst critic. We’re ashamed to admit that we don’t have enough, or that we’re struggling to make ends meet.

And shame loves silence. That’s because silence keeps you confused. It allows negative thoughts, often unfounded, to bounce around and fester and grow.

But something amazing happens when you talk to someone who listens—as the words leave your mouth, your perspective changes.

Maybe you feel relief. Maybe you feel re-energized. Maybe you see your fears in a different light.

Once you’ve actually brought your worries into the open, you’ll find the clarity you need to make a plan. And that plan further soothes your worries.

Make no mistake—talking honestly is hard. It demands vulnerability. That doesn’t happen with everyone. Only a few people will give you the sense of safety and comfort you need to speak openly.

But once you find those people, they become your rocks. They empower you to conquer your fear. They help you calm your worries and achieve financial peace of mind. And it all starts with talking.

If you need a space to talk about your finances, judgment free, contact me. I’m more than happy to hear your story and help you make a plan for a better future.


Why You Need An Insurance Review

Why You Need An Insurance Review

Insurance is intended to protect your assets and to help cover certain risks.

Policies may have standardized language, but each insurance policy should be tailored to your needs as they are today.

A lot can change in a short amount of time. An annual insurance review is a good habit to develop to help ensure your coverage still addresses your needs.

Life changes, and then changes again, and again. There are some obvious reasons to review your life insurance coverage, like if you’re getting married or having a baby – but there are also some less obvious reasons that may change your coverage requirements, like changing jobs or experiencing a significant change in income.

Here are some of the reasons you might consider adjusting your coverage:

  • You got married
  • You got divorced
  • You started a family
  • Your income changed
  • Your health improved
  • You lost weight or quit smoking
  • You bought a house
  • You paid off your house
  • You started a business
  • You borrowed money
  • You retired

Depending on what has changed, it may be time to increase your coverage, supplement coverage with another policy, change to a different type of policy, or begin to move some money into savings or update your retirement strategy.

Have you updated your beneficiaries? Did you get married or divorced? Did you start a family? It’s time to update your beneficiaries. Life can change quickly. One thing that can happen is that policyholders may forget to update the beneficiaries for their policies. A beneficiary is the person or persons who will receive the death benefit from your life insurance policy. If there is a life insurance claim, the insurance company must follow the instructions you give when you assign beneficiaries – even if your intent may have been that someone else should be the beneficiary now. Fortunately, this can be remedied.

How long has it been since you first set up a policy? How long has it been since your last insurance review? What has changed in your life since the last time you reviewed your policies?

Your insurance needs have probably changed as well, so now is the time to make sure you have the coverage you need.


Buy Life Insurance Before the Baby

Buy Life Insurance Before the Baby

Many people buy life insurance after they have had a big change in their life. They want to make sure that there will be money for their family if something happens to them. That includes changes like…

  • Getting married
  • Buying a house
  • Loss of a loved one
  • The birth of a baby

You can get life insurance for a baby after it is born or even while the baby is still in the uterus. But it’s best to get it before you have children.

Why? Because pregnancies can cause complications for the mother – for both her own health and the initial medical exam for a policy. Red flags for insurance providers include:

  • Preeclampsia (occurs in 1 in 25 of all pregnancies)¹

  • Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (affects 2-10% of women)²

  • High cholesterol (rises during pregnancy and breastfeeding)³

  • A C-section (accounts for 32% of all deliveries)⁴

Furthermore, the benefits of youth are a powerful incentive to get life insurance for both the mother and father.

The younger you are, the easier it is to get life insurance. This can financially protect your family if you or your spouse have an unexpected event in their life.

If you are a new parent or thinking about becoming one, contact me to open up insurance for your soon-to-be growing family. We can discuss what options would be best for you.


¹ “Everything you need to know about preeclampsia,” Medical News Today, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252025#Summary

² “Gestational Diabetes,” CDC, Aug 10, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/gestational.html

³ “How to Manage Your Cholesterol Levels During Pregnancy,” Judith Marcin, M.D., Anna Schaefer, Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/manage-cholesterol-levels-during-pregnancy

⁴ “Births – Method of Delivery,” CDC, Oct 20, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/delivery.htm


Toxic Financial Habits

Toxic Financial Habits

As well-intentioned as we might be, we sometimes get in our own way when it comes to improving our financial health.

Much like physical health, financial health can be affected by binging, carelessness, or simply not knowing what can cause harm. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel – as with physical health, it’s possible to reverse the downward trend if you can break your harmful habits.

Not budgeting A household without a budget is like a ship without a rudder, drifting aimlessly and – sooner or later – it might sink or run aground in shallow waters. Small expenses and indulgences can add up to big money over the course of a month or a year.

In nearly every household, it might be possible to find some extra money just by cutting back on non-essential spending. A budget is your way of telling yourself that you may be able to have nice things if you’re disciplined about your finances.

Frequent use of credit cards. Credit cards always seem to get picked on when discussing personal finances, and often, they deserve the flack they get. Not having a budget can be a common reason for using credit, contributing to an average credit card debt of $6,913 for balance-carrying households.¹ At an average interest rate of over 16%, credit card debt is usually the highest interest expense in a household, several times higher than auto loans, home loans, and student loans.²

The good news is that with a little discipline, you can start to pay down your credit card debt and help reduce your interest expense.

Mum’s the word. No matter how much income you have, money can be a stressful topic in families. This can lead to one of two potentially harmful habits.

First, talking about the family finances is often simply avoided. Conversations about kids and work and what movie you want to watch happen, but conversations about money can get swept under the rug.

Are you a “saver” and your partner a “spender”? Is it the opposite? Maybe you’re both spenders or both savers. Talking (and listening) about yourself and your significant other’s tendencies can be insightful and help avoid conflicts about your finances.

If you’re like most households, having an occasional chat about the budget may help keep your family on track with your goals – or help you identify new goals – or maybe set some goals if you don’t have any.

Second, financial matters can be confusing – which may cause stress – especially once you get past the basics. This may tempt you to ignore the subject or to think “I’ll get around to it one day”.

But getting a budget and a financial strategy in place sooner rather than later may actually help you reduce stress. Think of it as “That’s one thing off my mind now!”

Taking the time to understand your money situation and getting a budget in place is the first step to put your financial house in order. As you learn more and apply changes – even small ones – you might see your efforts start to make a difference!


¹ “2020 American Household Credit Card Debt Study,” Erin El Issa, Nerdwallet, Jan 12, 2021 https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/average-credit-card-debt-household/

² “2020 American Household Credit Card Debt Study,” Erin El Issa


Unwinding Yourself Into Stress

Unwinding Yourself Into Stress

Americans carry a stunning amount in credit card debt— $895 billion as of June 2021.¹

You read that right: $895 billion. And that’s after decreasing in 2020 due to the pandemic.

It seems like many have ended up being owned by a tiny piece of plastic rather than the other way around.

How much have you or a loved one contributed to that number? Whether it’s $10 or $10,000, there are a couple simple tricks to get and keep yourself out of credit card debt.

The first step is to be aware of how and when you’re using your credit card. It’s so easy – especially on a night out when you’re trying to unwind – to mindlessly hand over your card to pay the bill. And for most people, paying with credit has become their preferred, if not exclusive, payment option. Dinner, drinks, Ubers, a concert, a movie, a sporting event – it’s going to add up.

And when that credit card bill comes, you could end up feeling more wound up than you did before you tried to unwind.

Paying attention to when, what for, and how often you hand over your credit card is crucial to getting out from under credit card debt.

Here are 2 tips to keep yourself on track on a night out.

1. Consider your budget. You might cringe at the word “budget”, but it’s not an enemy who never wants you to have any fun. Considering your budget doesn’t mean you can never enjoy a night out with friends or coworkers. It simply means that an evening of great food, fun activities, and making memories must be considered in the context of your long-term goals. Start thinking of your budget as a tough-loving friend who’ll be there for you for the long haul.

Before you plan a night out:

  • Know exactly how much you can spend before you leave the house or your office, and keep track of your spending as your evening progresses.
  • Try using an app on your phone or even write your expenses on a napkin or the back of your hand – whatever it takes to keep your spending in check.
  • Once you have reached your limit for the evening – stop.

2. Cash, not plastic (wherever possible). Once you know what your budget for a night out is, get it in cash or use a debit card. When you pay your bill with cash, it’s a concrete transaction. You’re directly involved in the physical exchange of your money for goods and services. In the case that an establishment or service will only take credit, just keep track of it (app, napkin, back of your hand, etc.), and leave the cash equivalent in your wallet.

You can still enjoy a night on the town, get out from under credit card debt, and be better prepared for the future with a carefully planned financial strategy. Contact me today, and together we’ll assess where you are on your financial journey and what steps you can take to get where you want to go – hopefully by happy hour!

¹ “2020 American Household Credit Card Debt Study,” Erin El Issa, Nerdwallet, Jan 12, 2021, https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/average-credit-card-debt-household/


The Closest Without Going Over Wins

The Closest Without Going Over Wins

“How many jellybeans are in the jar?” This is one of life’s serious questions.

You know how it works. If your guess is the closest without going over, you win the prize. And whether it’s a cash pot, a season pass for your hometown’s team – or even just the jellybeans themselves, it’s a situation with a lot at stake. You’ve been presented with a ripe opportunity to prove your keen intellect, not to mention maybe winning some free candy!

You may start pulling out your old high school algebra equations. You may laboriously count the visible jellybeans so you can extrapolate the total. You may even pick the jar up and hold it to the light – shaking it and assessing any gaps in area coverage.

Take your time. It’s a big decision.

Unfortunately for many people, it seems not as much thought goes into estimating how much a life insurance policy may cost. Can you guess how much a policy might cost?

LIMRA’s 2021 Insurance Barometer study shed a little light on just how off these guesses can be: When Millennials surveyed were asked how much they thought a healthy 30-year-old would pay for a term insurance policy, their median guess was $1,000 – more than 6 times the actual cost!¹

That stat is pretty revealing: odds are that the number you have in mind is a lot higher than what you might actually end up paying for your policy. As a result, it may feel like you’re saving money right now by not having life insurance. But in the case of a sudden illness, the passing of a breadwinner, or an unexpected loss of income, not having (what is potentially affordable) protection for your loved ones feels as silly as writing down a guess of 1,000,000 jellybeans next to the mathematician’s answer of 1,086.

The bottom line: Have you overestimated how much a well-tailored life insurance policy could cost you? Not sure? Reconsider your guesstimate with a financial professional who knows the in’s and out’s of your needs and what coverage may be available that fits your budget. (It’s like knowing how many jellybeans are in the jar before you have to guess!)


¹ “Top Misconceptions About Life Insurance,” LIMRA, https://www.limra.com/siteassets/research/research-abstracts/2021/2021-insurance-barometer-study/2021_barometer-infographic.pdf.


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