Family Finances

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

December 15, 2015

Tanya SteinhoferMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Marin mom and financial planner Tanya Steinhofer, CFA,CFP®.

With the holidays upon us, my thoughts have turned to gift giving. My kids are already preparing their lists for Santa. While it can be tempting to fulfill their every request, have you ever noticed how quickly they become bored with the toys and games you buy them? How about giving them a gift with longer-term benefits? Here are a couple of ideas:

  1. Fund a 529. You could allocate a portion of your gift budget for your kids to a 529 plan for college. You can even get grandparents and other close family members involved. Some 529s even offer a gift link that you can email out to family members to make their contribution easy. 529 contributions grow tax-deferred and distributions are not taxed if used to pay for qualified education expenses. Paying for college is a great way to give your child a gift they’ll remember long after they’ve broken the plastic toy from China you gave them when they were young.

Take Control of Your (Financial) Life

October 8, 2015

Tanya SteinhoferMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Marin mom and financial planner Tanya Steinhofer, CFA,CFP®.

Those who know me know one of my passions is inspiring women to take financial responsibility for their lives. We live in a culture where girls are discouraged from taking an interest in math, finance and investing, yet women control more and more of the wealth in this country. Longer life expectancies and a high divorce rate are two other critical reasons why women should take responsibility for their financial well-being.

Two areas bear the most attention by women: educating themselves on the basics on personal finance and investing and proactively managing their human capital.

Wise College Shoppers Finish Less Poor

July 9, 2015

Tanya SteinhoferMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Marin mom and financial planner Tanya Steinhofer, CFA,CFP®.

Although my kids are still young, I am starting to learn more about the college selection process to help some of my financial planning clients with older kids. It is a highly complicated and seemingly mysterious process, but doesn’t need to be frustrating. The best quote I’ve read so far regarding college pricing is that “Colleges are priced like airlines – everyone pays a different price”. If you can understand the fact that colleges are run like profit-maximizing businesses, then it makes it much easier to comparison shop and become a smart college shopper.

Some of the best tips I’ve learned so far include:

  1. Start early. The earlier you start researching colleges and their costs, the more likely you’ll be to find the best fit for your child at the most reasonable price. You want to influence your child’s direction before they get their heart set on one or two schools.

Why Save for a Rainy Day?

April 25, 2015

Tanya SteinhoferMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Marin mom and financial planner Tanya Steinhofer, CFA,CFP®. 

Whether or not the groundhog saw his shadow back on February 2, it makes good financial sense to plan for a rainy day. Life has a way of throwing curve balls into the best laid plans, be it job loss or unexpected expenses. One of the easiest and most emotionally satisfying ways to be ready for the next curve ball is to have a cash cushion to draw on if something unforeseen happens.

  1. How much is enough? Standard advice is that you should have three to six months’ living expenses in an emergency savings account. Reality is a bit more nuanced. The ideal target is sometimes a matter of personal risk tolerance and your circumstances. I ask clients about their job security and job search history. I advise clients who have a family depending only on their income to err on the high side. Younger, two-income couples might be comfortable on the lower side. Some risk-adverse clients might need a years’ worth of living expenses in cash to feel comfortable.

Teaching Children the Value of Money with Wells Fargo and Speak to Me

March 21, 2015

Speak to Me Wells Fargo Event Having a problem convincing your children that money really doesn't grow on trees? Wonder how to instill a sense of value and respect for a dollar well-earned in your youngsters? Join Speak To Me and Wells Fargo for this special co-sponsored presentation about money and your children.

Learn fun tricks and practical tips (that really work!) to teach your children, at every age, the value of a dollar, and why earning and saving is so important (even when you're five!).

This workshop takes place on Thursday, March 26, 2015, from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm at the Wells Fargo San Rafael Main Store, 1203 4th Street, 2nd Floor. This event is free and is filling up fast! Email BayAreaRegionMarketing@wellsfargo.com to RSVP. Lunch will be served.

New Year’s Resolutions

January 10, 2015

Tanya SteinhoferMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Marin mom and financial planner Tanya Steinhofer, CFA,CFP®. 

Judging by the number of inquiries I’ve been getting recently, getting one’s financial house in order is a popular New Year’s Resolution (or an incomplete one from last year!). If you are also interested in doing some financial house cleaning, spreading it out over the course of the year can make it more manageable. Here are a few ideas:

  • January – Update your net worth and cash-flow statements to see where you stand.
  • February – Collect all the necessary documents you’ll need to file your taxes, including re-stated 1099s.

How to Be a Successful Investor

June 22, 2014

Tanya SteinhoferMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Marin mom and financial planner Tanya Steinhofer, CFA,CFP®.

I recently moderated a panel on behavioral finance for the Financial Women of San Francisco. It's a relatively new field that barely existed when I was in business school in the late '90s. Its basic premise is that people make irrational financial decisions due to their human biases. Some of the more well-known biases are Anchoring, Overconfidence, Herding and Loss Aversion. There is real data to prove that humans tend to make bad decisions when it comes to their investments. One of the more well-known studies, known as the Dalbar study (Dalbar’s 20th Annual Study of Investor Behavior, 2014), shows that the average stock investor earned 3.7% per year over the 30 years ended December 31, 2013 as compared to 11.1% for the S&P 500 index of large US stocks. This discrepancy is largely due to many of the afore-mentioned behavioral biases.

Cash Flow Is King

April 13, 2014

Tanya SteinhoferMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Marin mom and financial planner Tanya Steinhofer, CFA,CFP®.

There is an old saying that “Cash is King”. Its origins are unclear, but it has been widely used in reference to the tendency of companies and households to hold excess cash in times of uncertainty or distress to preserve flexibility. In the financial planning world, I prefer to think of the phrase “Cash Flow is King” because understanding and managing one’s cash flow is critical to being able to build wealth and save for important life goals.

The first phase of managing your cash flow is to understand how much income you make each month, net of taxes. This should include your annual bonus or commission income, averaged out over the year. Once you know what your monthly net income is, you can decide how to allocate it.

Top Financial Planning Tips for 2014

December 31, 2013

Tanya SteinhoferMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Marin mom and financial planner Tanya Steinhofer, CFA,CFP®.

Below is my attempt at a Top 10 List of Financial Planning Tips for 2014. Some of the items are things you should try to do every year, while some are unique to the current period and what we’ve gone through over the past few years. This is a compilation of ideas gathered from others as well as a few of my own.

  1. Invest in yourself. You are your largest asset and so it pays to take care of yourself. Your human capital is your largest asset so make sure you are on the right career path. If not, hire a career coach or consider additional education. Also, eat well, exercise and laugh more!
  2. Evaluate whether a Roth IRA conversion might make sense. This strategy is particularly relevant for the young, those who can pay the taxes with outside assets, those who expect to be in a higher tax bracket in retirement and those who would like to pass their IRA on to heirs.
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