Category Archives: Finances

Going Paperless with your Financial Documents

I’ve noticed more company are offering incentives for customers to go paperless – receiving statements, notices, and other paperwork electronically, as well as making payments over the internet. In addition to saving trees, going paperless can also save you money. Consider these reasons for trading the snail mail documents for electronic ones.

Going paperless with your financial documents offers several advantages for customers.

Cost Savings
Paying bills online eliminates the cost of postage. You can utilize your bank’s bill pay feature to send payment via electronically. Many companies are set receive a direct payment from your bank within two days, maximizing the time your money is earning interest. Also some banks are offering incentives for you to go paperless. Wells Fargo is holding an Online Statements Sweepstakes where you could win $25,000 or one of ten $2,500 prizes for switching to online statements.

Reduce clutter
All those paper bills, notices, and statements tend to pile up, and they need to be stored somewhere. When you finally sort thru those documents, they will needed to be shredded before discarding them. Electronic version don’t take up any space – except on your computer hard drive.

Convenience
You might be able to search and sort electronic bills and statements or import the data info financial programs, such as Quicken®, for analysis. Bank statements often contain interactive features that let you find out more about a charge and reconcile your checkbook or spreadsheet records. And electronic documents are portable (it is very convenient for me to keep my records on a flash drive). Having your documents categorized and sorted makes things easier come tax time. And filing your tax return electronically can speed up your refund.

Environmental benefits
PayItGreen, a coalition led by an electronic-payment industry group estimates that by eliminating paper statements, bills, and payments alone, the average household would save 6.6 pounds of paper each year, avoid the release of 171 pounds of green house gasses and 63 gallons of wastewater, and cut gas consumption by 4.5 gallons. Who knew?! The estimates take into account paper, transportation, and disposal.

Still not sure if you want to take the paperless route with your financial documents? Consider these tips for giving up paper.

Secure your computer
Back up your hard drive and keep a copy of your data in a different location from your computer in case of a fire or other calamity. Consider an online storage service like Wells Fargo’s vSafe. Make sure you have updated antivirus and antispyware programs (I highly recommend PCTools).

Download copies
Consider downloading copies onto your computer for safekeeping and future reference.

Record scheduled payments
If you set up online bill pay, especially if its automatic, be sure to record the payment in calendar, financial software or checkbook well in advance so you don’t risk overdrawing your account.

Retain confirmations
Whether you are paying a bill, making a deposit, transferring cash or anything else, save a copy of all confirmations. On your computer’s hard drive, consider setting up a folder called “Bill Confirmations”. Extract attached documents from your e-mail and save them in the appropriate folder.

Keep information current
Notify businesses if your change your email address. Otherwise you might miss bills or other important documents, exposing yourself to late charges and other problems.

I am 98% paperless with a few straggling prospectus coming via snail mail. Where as my husband is still pro paper. Vies that having a hard copy in hand lends for making sure bills are paid on time. Have you gone paperless with your financial documents? Why or why not?

Further Reading: Automating your Finances by Ramit Sethi

{photo credit: midcontinent}

Alternative Health Care Approach

In my last post, 6 Steps to a Satisfied Retirement, I questioned myself about the ability to be able to “retire”. As Merriam-Webster defines, “To withdraw from one’s occupation, business, or office; stop working.” Granted, I am not talking about completely retiring from my occupation. But rather to seek out the self-employment option.

My main reason for wondering if I could retire: health care insurance. I treat it like gold. I pay about $150 month for medical insurance for the kids and me (or $1,800/year; excluding co-pays). If they get sick, I simply take them to the doctor’s office for some medication and wha-la! they are better.

But I sometimes wonder about the option of seeking out alternative health care approaches over paying expensive insurance premiums. I mean popping a pill every time something aches cannot always be the answer, right? Especially with all the righteous side effects you hear about on TV.

Here are some alternative health care methods to consider (for a full list, click here):

Acupuncture – involves the insertion of extremely thin needles in your skin at strategic points on your body. Traditional Chinese theory explains acupuncture as a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force — known as qi or chi (chee) — believed to flow through pathways (meridians) in your body. By inserting needles into specific points along these meridians, acupuncture practitioners believe that your energy flow will re-balance. (my aunt swears by this to get rid of those headaches!)

Yoga – Yoga is a practical aid. It is a system of exercises based on a harmonizing system of development for the body, mind, and spirit. The continued practice of yoga will lead you to a sense of peace and well-being, and also a feeling of being at one with their environment. Definitely gets rid of a back ache.

Chiropractic – A system of diagnosis and treatment based on the concept that the nervous system coordinates all of the body’s functions, and that disease results from a lack of normal nerve function. Chiropractic employs manipulation and adjustment of body structures, such as the spinal column, so that pressure on nerves coming from the spinal cord due to displacement of a vertebral body may be relieved. Also consider massage therapy.

Hypnosis – is a mental state (state theory) or imaginative role-enactment (non-state theory) usually induced by a procedure known as a hypnotic induction, which is commonly composed of a long series of preliminary instructions and suggestions. Used commonly for assisting one to get over phobias or to quit smoking.

Natural Medicine – (aka – Naturopathy) is an alternative medical system that focuses on natural remedies and the body’s vital ability to heal and maintain itself. Naturopathic philosophy favors a holistic approach and comprises many different treatment modalities of varying degrees of acceptance by the medical community; diet and lifestyle advice may be substantially similar to that offered by non-naturopaths, and acupuncture may help reduce pain in some cases. (Or there is Natural Remedies like peeing in the ear to heal an ear ache – ewww!!!)

Tai Chi – The ancient art uses gentle flowing movements to reduce the stress of today’s busy lifestyles and improve health.

Aromatherapy – A form of alternative and complimentary medicine based on the use of very concentrated “essential” oils from the flowers, leaves, bark, branches, rind or roots of plants with purported healing properties. There are many benefits to using aromatherapy.

Doula – Hiring a doula to aid in the birthing process. A doula is an assistant who provides various forms of non-medical and non-midwifery support (physical and emotional) in the childbirth process.

Chinese food therapy is a practice of healing using natural foods instead of medications. We all know the chicken soup remedy for the common cold. And lemon & honey in our tea for a sore throat. Cinnamon, peppermint, or ginger ale for an upset stomach.

What I am getting at is… we all hear that daily exercise, eating organic foods, and having a good social life are keys points to living a healthy lifestyle. Yet most of us don’t invest in the holistic approach, although such practice(s) been around for thousands of years.

Could you feel comfortable in investing (both financially & physically) in nature’s intent (that has been around for thousands of years) rather than paying out for expensive health care premiums?

And should you get sick, could you take yourself to an alternative medicine doctor (like a naturopath or a chiropractor) when you are feeling out of sorts?

Note: I am still on the brink of debate about this one. I truly believe in alternative health care approaches and am aware that they can be budget friendly. However, if something like my kids break a bone or something then my only option is to pay out of pocket expenses for the hospital. Now, if I thought how many times I’ve utilized the hospital for an emergency situation.. it’s enough to count on one hand. I assume maybe I could go with this option if I make sure to have a medical emergency fund in place.

(picture credit: Integrated Supplements)

6 Steps to a Satisfied Retirement

Discipline bears fruit over time when discussing the retirement savings. But if you’re like many people who are still working but are closing in on retirement, there is still hope for a happy retirement. A recent Consumer Reports Retirement Survey, of more than 24,000 online subscribers, found 6 steps that work to obtaining a satisfied retirement.

  1. Live Modestly

    This was the top “best step” listed by retirees who said they were highly satisfied with their lives; 39 percent said they did not spend beyond their means. One way to rein in spending is to create a budget using store-bought software such as Quicken or a free online service such as BudgetPulse (https://www.budgetpulse.com/). Those programs help you track your spending and your progress toward meeting saving goals by consolidating your financial data from banks, credit-card companies, and brokerages.

  2. Maximize your savings

    Even if you don’t have a defined-benefit plan, regularly contributing to a 401(k), 403(b), IRA, or other investment vehicle pays off, our satisfied retirees told us. (Saving too little was a regret of 27 percent of dissatisfied retirees.) At 50 and older, you can put as much as $22,000 into a tax-deferred, traditional 401(k) plan or after-tax Roth 401(k) or their 403(b) equivalents in 2010.

  3. Reduce debt

    Thirty-eight percent of retirees owed $25,000 or more on their mortgages. But 74 percent of retired respondents who were free of major debt reported being highly satisfied with their retirement. For greater peace of mind, pay off your debts before retiring. Even a low-rate mortgage can be a burden if other expenses rise and your income-producing assets falter. Notably, debt-free retirees had a higher median net worth than those with debt: $843,000 compared with $717,000.

    In the current economic environment, accelerating payment of your mortgage can be a wise investment. Most certificates of deposit, bank accounts, and other safe savings vehicles are paying less than 2 percent, so putting your money into additional payments on a 5 percent mortgage instead offers a better return (though you’ll give up some tax deductions on mortgage interest). By making extra principal payments, you can whittle down your loan’s interest cost and term handsomely. For example, adding $100 per month to payments on a 30-year, $150,000 mortgage with a fixed rate of 5 percent reduces the total interest by almost $35,000 and cuts the loan’s term by 6½ years.

    I agree on this one! My husband and I participate in an accelerated mortgage program. Not only is it nice to make our mortgage payments weekly and the life of the loan is reduced significantly, but we’ll also save over $40,000 in interest!

  4. Don’t invest too conservatively

    Taking on even a moderate amount of risk pays off. Median net worth for retirees who said they took a middle-of-the-road approach was $836,000 vs. $671,000 for conservative investors. Notably, the difference in net worth between self-described moderate and aggressive investors was relatively small: a $57,000 advantage for the more aggressive. The lesson: You don’t have to go out on a limb to get the best return. Diversification will help reduce your risk.

    I will have to let my husband know the results of this one. Being so close to retirement, he believes in investing agressively to play catch up on the missed years. With a relatively small advantage I don’t think it is worth it. I fear there would be potentially much more to lose if their was another crash. What’s your thought on this one?

  5. Study your options

    When you design your dream retirement, also devise a Plan B in case you’re forced to retire early or can’t sell your home (a predicament of 8 percent of surveyed retirees). Your alternative plan might include a more restrictive budget or a different retirement location. To determine your Social Security benefits at different ages, go to www.ssa.gov.

    A major issue will be health-care coverage. You can move to your spouse’s insurance plan, find a new job with health benefits, extend your own employee coverage under the COBRA law (go to www.dol.gov and type “cobra” in the search box for details), or look for private health insurance. If you go that last route, try to get group coverage through professional or other membership associations.

    What about becoming an expat for Plan B? I heard their are some nice places to live on way less money. Anyone have experience with obtaining healthcare as an expat?

  6. Take the intangibles seriously

    Stress affected overall satisfaction in retirement even more directly than net worth, our survey found. A quarter of retirees cited nonmonetary stresses such as family relations, poor health, a loss of identity, and boredom. So before you retire, develop hobbies and line up volunteer work, trips, or part-time jobs. Strengthen your personal connections outside the workplace. And, of course, do what you can to maintain good health.

    I agree on finding a hobby before retirement. I have seen too many people get bored. But I have also seen people enjoying their retirement thru volunteering.

Retirement planning is not solely based on a person’s financial net worth. The survey found a happy retirement was about the same between those with a net worth of $500,000 and $1 million. Having more than $1 million did not make a notable difference in their level of happiness either. And if your net worth at retirement will be lower than $500,000… or even lower than $250,000, more than 50% of retired individuals were still statisfied with their retirement.

Are you ready for retirement? Just in case, do you have a plan B?

(photo credit: Mississippi Family Law)

How to Control Emotional Spending

Emotional spending… we’ve all played victim to it when situations arise in our life. But how do recognize they symptoms before they happen and control the urge to spend?

What is emotional spending?

Emotional spending is when you buy something you don’t need, in some cases, don’t even really want. This happens because it improves the mood. Some people allow this to occur:

to cope with stress,
bring one out of a bored or listless mood,
to increase self-esteem,
to feel special

In fact, we even spend when we are happy. Do you remember what you bought yourself last time you got a raise or when you found out your BFF was going to have a baby?

The problem with emotional spending is that it happens on impulse. And when it’s allowed to keep happening then we spend more than we need to.

How to Get Emotional Spending Under Control

Acknowledge. Notice your feelings and circumstances when you are spending. Did you just finish get into an argument with someone? Have you just been sitting around not knowing what to do with yourself? Being aware of your feelings can help you understand the desire for instant gratification received from impulse shopping.

Stay away from Retail Shops. If you recognize the feelings that tempt you to spend, then it’s not a good time walk into the store or mall. Perhaps, its not time to peek online, too. Instead occupy your time with other inexpensive or free activities. Maybe going for a walk, spring cleaning, or talking with a friend.

Keep the Ads away. Less advertising, less spending. The ad campaigns on TV and paper are psychologically designed pull your full attention to their products. Deliberately, keep your exposure to the ads at a minimum.

Here is a list of things you can do to help keep the ads away:

Opt-out of credit card offers
Unsubscribe to catalog mailings
Sign up for the Do Not Mail Registry
Block TV sites like QVC, the Shopping Channel, etc…
Install an ad blocker on the computer

Be aware of the small purchases that can quickly add up. A person will rationalize that small purchases are okay because it is cheap. The problem is when we buying items at small totals and think it’s okay. You’ll be suprised when you add up the sum of them all! (this is my total weakness!)

Budget for the cause. Set up a category for emotional spending (or the self fund) and budget a small amount of money towards the cause. It’s okay to occasionally spend for a ‘moment’ when its planned. 🙂

Try finding other activities. Go to the library to check out a great book to read. Have a friend over for lunch and a rental movie (highly recommend seeing It’s Complicated – Hilarious!). Give yourself a home spa treatment. Take a walk. Play a game of basketball with the kids. Get a group of friends and bring out the board games. There are many great ways to spend without spending any money.

We’ve all succumbed to emotional or impulse spending at sometime or another to try and lift a week moment or make up for a bad day, but when we make purchases we can’t afford, we end up feeling worse instead of elated. The next time you have a bad day or want to eleviate stress, try to acknowledge your feelings before you spend and question your motivation.

How do you cope when tempted with emotional spending? And if you did partake in impulse shopping did you bring back the item for a refund or take the financial loss?

How to Set Up a Spending Plan

The word budget feels like a four letter word to some. Just the thought of going through expenses and figuring out how get them all organized is overwhelming. Then there’s all the time involved. Most of us don’t have time to eat a proper lunch, much less figure out a budget. 

Or maybe the idea of a budget seems too rigid and constraining. The free spirit doesn’t want any hard rules about spending money. But everyone needs a budget. Even the free spirit will find her wings quickly clipped when she runs out of cash. 

In truth, a spending plan doesn’t restrict you. When managed properly it sets you free to live the life you want. And it doesn’t have to be time consuming. Here’s a spending plan that can work for everyone.

Simple Budget Spreadsheet

All you need for a budget is a simple spreadsheet. You can use Excel, Open Office or Google Docs. To help you along, here is a simple Google Docs Budget Spreadsheet. What you will do is open the spreadsheet and save it to your own computer by clicking “File” and choosing the download option that works best for you. Once you save it to your own computer, you are ready to go. 

Enter the amount of income in the appropriate box, including all your jobs, side jobs, etc. Enter any interest you earn on accounts or investments in the next line. The spreadsheet will total the income for you automatically. 

The next section will be for your recurring expenses. List each expense following the example of the spreadsheet. Include rent or mortgage, utilities, cable bill, loan payments, kids’ expenses, etc. If you like, break the expenses down into categories that make sense for you. 

Now you need to estimate what your other expenses might be. Things that change month by month, such as groceries, entertainment, etc. Estimate on the high end. If you find them going down over time, you can lower your estimates. Again, the spreadsheet will total it up for you. 

 

How Much Should Your Expenses Be?

The spreadsheet will also calculate the percentage of your expenses compared with your income. The idea is to keep pecking away at your expenses until your expenses fall below 60% of your income. 

The other 40% should be divided into four categories: 10% for retirement, 10% for long-term savings (retirement), 10% for short-term savings (emergency expenses). The last 10% is all yours to do with as you please. Ideally, you would use that to pay down your credit until you have no monthly credit card bills. Now was that so hard? 

 

Controlling Your Cash

If you don’t trust yourself to stay within your budget, you could try a cash filing system. A recipe box and index cards work well for this one. Divide the recipe box into 31 days with the index cards, each label with the day of the month. Then divide you remaining cash into each portion of the 31 day file. Let’s say that you have 30 dollars for each divider. At the beginning of the day, you remove the 30 dollars. That is what you have available to spend on that day. Do not take money from another divider until that day has arrived. If you have left over money at the end of the day, put it behind the next day’s index card for tomorrow. For this to work, you must never take from the next day.  

This gives you the feeling of freedom by always putting cash in your pocket. If you put the day’s leftover at the end of the month each time, you’ll see firsthand how much you have to spend towards something special at the end of the month. You can leave the money there or spend it as you please.

 

Jessica Bosari writes for the money-saving site, Billeater.com. The site is devoted to helping people reduce expenses, save money and find great deals. Pay Billeater a visit for more  budgeting and saving tips!

Get Your Debt Under Control | Reduce your Variable Expenses

The best way to begin getting the debt under control is to reduce your monthly spending. We all know the tried and true adage, “Spend Less than you Earn”. But do you ever wonder where to begin?

One simple solution, focus on reducing your variable expenses.

Variable expenses include those that can be changed or eliminated entirely.

Variable expenses are those that fluctuate each month, such as clothing, food, entertainment, vacations, utilities. And since it is easier to reduce variable expenses than fixed expenses it make for a great place to start cutting back.

Get Rid of Unnecessary Expenses

Reducing variable expenses is done by altering your daily habits. But if you can prepare meals by scratch instead of buying take-out and prepared or frozen food. Eating out is one of the most excessive categories for wasted money. Keep track of money you spend eating out for one month, you might just realize you are spending $416 on fast food and restaurants!

You might also start doing your own manicures or getting your haircuts done at a beauty school.

The goal is to reduce variable expenses to free up enough money to pay down your debt and build your cash savings or emergency fund.

Start or Join a Challenge

For those who need extra motivation or tips for cutting variable expenses, consider starting or joining a challenge. I just joined the Catfight of the Personal Finance Blogger Chicks. It’s a group of gals {Single Mom, Rich Mom, Barbara Friedburg Personal Finance, Move to Portugal and myself} clamoring for the win of who spent the least in the month of June.

We actually will all come out winning in the end, but it’s a great way to maintain motivation in paying down your debt, building your reserves or just making ends meet.

Reducing the Variable Expenses

Here are some of the ways I have started reducing variable expenses for this month:

OLD Habit NEW Habit
Eating Lunch @ Bistro Bring Lunch to Work Everyday
Cook Single Meals Batch Cook to provide several meals
Run errands several times a week Limit to once a week
Go to the Movie Theater Rent a Movie
Buy a Book Library or Kindle version

*I will need to come up with more ways, as I’ve pretty much eliminate things like subscriptions & gym memberships and I rarely go out to the bar or to a restaurant

Make your own list

Take out a blank notebook or piece of paper {or a blank Excel worksheet}. Across the top label: Expense, Current Monthly Cost, Budgeted Monthly Cost, and Monthly Savings. Then under the expenses column label the variable expense categories like, subscriptions, clothing & apparel, maintenance, groceries & food, entertainment, transportation, restaurant foods and utilities.

Consider all the ways you could start reducing your variable expenses today. List them all. Brainstorm freely. Is it turning down the thermostat a few degrees? Is it learning to fix things yourself {hey, I know how to change the brakes on my car!}. Or is it learning to darn the hem on your pants?

Now calculate the difference between paying someone to do these things versus you doing them yourself {Manicure $30 at the salon versus free if you do them at home}.

What are some of the ways you can reduce your variable expenses right now or have been practicing already in your life? Please comment and share those awesome ways. We can help each other save money if we “lead by example” – incorporate the following attitudes and practices into your life, which will help improve your own life, but also begin to fashion yourself into the kind of person that others will follow and emulate. 😉

The Easiest, Most Painless Way Imaginable To Save Money

This is a guest post by Greg McFarlane.

Yes, it’s easy, but adopting it means being an iconoclast by default.

I’m talking about The Activity (actually, The Lack Of An Activity) That Dare Not Speak Its Name. One so extraordinary, so unusual, that everyone under its spell is treated as some sort of human aberration in need of reassurance and approval. And even then, people will still be certain that you must be either a medical curiosity, a desperately penitent deviant with an unfathomable past, a sheltered religious zealot, or at any rate, a less-than-full member of society. Because no one with this horrible affliction could possibly be enjoying all life has to offer.

Teetotalism.

Never even crossed your mind before, did it?

Look, this is not a moral issue. I am not your finger-wagging aunt. It doesn’t matter to me if you shoot black tar heroin into both eyeballs simultaneously. I don’t care if Ron Wood throws his hands up in defeat after a night on the town with you because he can’t keep up. Or if Lindsay Lohan says, “I’m, like, having fun with you and all, but still, here’s the name of my addiction counselor. Call him. He’s really good.”

But if you are going to inject that smack, at least don’t throw away money on it.

A rum & Coke at the Foundation Room in Las Vegas costs $12, but the view of the Strip is complimentary. However, the same drink is essentially the same price 40 floors downstairs at the (indoor) House of Blues.

That’s one ounce of rum, maybe an ounce-and-a-half if you and the bartender share sufficient sexual chemistry. Premium rum costs a bar maybe $14 for a 59-ounce bottle, so you’re buying 24¢ worth of rum, a penny or two of cola syrup, and ice and water, whose prices are measured in trillionths of cents.

Which means you’re paying about 4500% markup for the drink itself. And of course, you’d better be leaving a tip, you cheap bastard.

It doesn’t matter what your preferred intoxicating beverage is. The margin between what the distributor pays for beer and what you pay is in the same neighborhood. And let’s not forget the wonderful 21st century indulgence of “bottle service”, in which an upscale venue charges you even more for the privilege of not having to go to the bar or flag down a waitress to order drinks. (Which reduces the workload on their bartenders and waitresses, freeing up time for them to serve other patrons absurdly marked-up drinks.)

Nothing comes with a higher markup than alcohol does, except maybe Cuban exit visas. And why not? The people who sell alcohol have the perfect clientele – motivated, repeat buyers who don’t accept substitutes.

Look at it this way. Among doing other things, I sell books (available now at Amazon and BN.com!). But imagine if every person who bought my book either:

-just wanted to be left alone with it, gazing into the book while contemplating their sins;

-bought one every week as far back as he could remember, and would continue to because that’s just the way he’s always done it and always will do it;

-read it, wanted another one, wanted another one after that, and was going to BUY EVERTHING ON THISH WHOLE DAMN SHELF IF I WANTS, BOOKTENDER;

-was legally too young to buy it, and risked expulsion or a citation or parental punishment because my book was either such a great read or a necessary stepping stone en route to full adulthood, or;

-was commemorating something, and wanted to prove to the guest of honor that money was no object.

If you’re drinking, you’re probably either depressed, a creature of habit, addicted, trying to be cool, or celebratory. Okay, fine, you aren’t. Whatever you feel comfortable believing.

Now let’s assume that I sold my book at the same markup bars do. That means you’d be paying $268 for a regular glossy trade publication. Yet I sell the Kindle version for 10 stinking bucks, trusting the electrons will arrange themselves in a way you find engaging.

Just try it, once. Purely as an economic exercise, go out with your regular co-conspirators and substitute club soda for beer. You’ll be embarrassed to do this, peer pressure being far stronger among adults than it is among kids. So tell everyone you’re having surgery the next morning if that’ll make you feel better. Surgery on your instep. (Pick an innocuous and hard-to-reach body part. No one will ask you to take off your shoes.)

If you usually kick back 5 drinks a night, every couple of weeks, you’ll save well over $1000 over the course of a year. How many days’ worth of take-home pay is that for you?

The uncompromised brain cells will just be a bonus, as will the feeling of nonchalance at the police roadblock.

Greg McFarlane is an advertising copywriter who lives in Las Vegas and Lahaina – testament to the power of entrepreneurship. He recently wrote Control Your Cash: Making Money Make Sense, a financial primer for people in their 20s and 30s who know nothing about money. Buy the book here (physical) or here (Kindle) and reach Greg at greg@ControlYourCash.com.

Living Trusts for Everyone {Book Review}

Living Trusts for Everyone

Why a Will is Not the Way to Avoid Probate, Protect Heirs, and Settle Estates

by Ronald Farrington Sharp

Excerpt by Allworth Press
Ronald Sharp explains trusts in clear and easy-to-understand language, including one truth most lawyers don’t want to admit: A trust is often better than a will and less costly! Wills benefit lawyers. Trusts benefit families. Without all of the technical jargon included in most law books, Living Trusts for Everyone highlights the benefits of trusts and how to avoid unnecessary legal expenses.

Readers will find information on:

  • understanding the different types of trusts
  • how to fund a trust
  • the role of trustees and guardians
  • selecting an expert attorney to draft the trust
  • whether trust seminars are useful
  • who absolutely must have a trust

Not only can probate be avoided with trusts, but lesser-known advantages include easier asset management for children and disabled heirs, estate tax reduction, avoiding court-ordered conservatorship, and a simpler and less costly settlement process than with a will. Even readers who already have trusts can benefit by determining whether a trust is a good one or needs to be updated. The book also includes step-by-step instructions explaining what to do when the maker of a trust dies. Sample forms and letters assist the family in the settlement process.

My Take

This is an excellent book about Living Trusts! Especially if you are looking to save potentially thousands of dollars in lawyer fees {not to mention time and effort at the lawyer’s office}.

It literally answers any and all questions one has about living trusts {answered ALL of my questions – especially because I have my children to think about}. And mentions the benefits of having a trust: assest management, tax reduction, probate avoidence {that’s a big one}, and for those wishing to avoid court ordered conservatorship should they become disabled as to be unable to manage their own affairs. Oh ya, a lot of other benefits are defined in this book when you read it.

But I think the best thing of all, atop all the key points listed above, it comes with a set of instructions to follow at death. {I wish someone gave me a key list like this when I got married about what and how to change all my paperwork!}

Ronald Farrington Sharp, attorney himself, tells it like it is in attorney land, too – the schemes and tactics used to help make attorneys rich {Wow, they can make lots of money to hold your files in a cabinet}. I got a kick from some of the potentially costly methods.

But Ronald Sharp offers great advice on how to choose an attorney and what to watch out for. Because having the guidance of an attorney is very beneficial when planning your estate. Your life is not as simple as a fill-in-the-lines-with-a-printed-document-obtained-from-any-legal-forms-website. Obtain an attorney to help you plan your estate and wrapping up your estate at death = good. Finding an attorney you trust to help you with these matters = perfect!

Don’t think you have an estate?

Don’t put the notion aside until you read this book! Seriously. I didn’t think I had an ‘estate’ until I read this book. I am getting myself a living trust. Cased Closed. 😉

More Information on Living Trusts for Everyone: Why a Will is Not the Way to Avoid Probate, Protect Heirs, and Settle Estates by Ronald Farrington Sharp can be found at Amazon.com