Looking Ahead: A Financial Guide

. February 2, 2015.
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Getting your finances in order doesn’t have to be a murky business. Here, local experts shed light on some of this year’s hottest money topics, so you can ask the right questions at the right time. 

Thrivent Financial 

7015 Lighthouse Way, Ste. 400 Perrysburg

by Financial Consultant Derek Dierks, FIC, and Financial Assoc. Gregory Durivage and Kenneth Meinecke

The five most common mistakes we see in financial planning:

-Not having enough cash reserves, which can force people to take on large amounts of debt, or cause them to raid their retirement nest egg.

-Failing to prepare a financial plan to meet their goals.

-Ignoring the ability to shift risks to an insurance carrier—such as those associated with disability, nursing care or even death.

-Waiting too long to begin a retirement savings plan.

-Focusing on investment returns without considering the tax impact.

All of these mistakes can be avoided if you prepare a comprehensive financial plan and review it annually

Like the old adage says, ”If you don’t know where you are headed, you are certain to get there.” Setting realistic financial goals with a specific plan to achieve them is the only way to measure your financial success. In addition, given the changing economic environment we live in, it is important to review your plan regularly to make sure it still meets your needs.

Thayer Family Dealerships

18039 N. Dixie Hwy., Bowling Green

(800) 799-2125, thayerbg.com

by Meredith Soleau & Robert London of Thayer Family Dealerships

Here are five ways to have the best car-buying experience possible, according to the experts.

Do your research.

Coming to the dealership prepared can save you time and money. Arrive with a rough idea of your trade-in value (try nadaguide.com, a tool many dealers use). Test-drive, multiple times if needed, to see what style and options you like best. It’s also important to have realistic payment expectations—a good rule of thumb is to remember that a $15,000 vehicle will cost $300 per month.

Discuss price.

It’s okay to get prices over the phone and online. Reputable dealers will give you all the information you need, up-front, to help you make an informed decision. If you want to stay within a budget, tell them. Bad credit is okay at Thayer—we work with different credit situations every day. When you talk about price, don’t exclude leasing options for new vehicles. Leasing may suit your driving habits, get you an even better vehicle, and be a more affordable option.

Explore your financial options.

Dealerships can get a lower rate than individuals, due to the sheer volume of business they do with banks each month. So even if your credit union or bank has a great rate, we probably offer an even lower one. Great finance products are available as well, such as extended warranties. It’s important to understand these products; some may fit your needs, some may not. Be wary of companies offering these products online. Lastly, knowing your credit score and how it affects your interest rate is crucial.

Check out the service department. 

One part of the sale that’s often missed is the dealership’s service department. You’ll own this vehicle for many years, so you’re going to need to have it serviced. Ask what the vehicle’s warranty includes and for a suggested service schedule. Ask for a tour of the service department and what they offer their customers. For example, do they have a shuttle service, or loaner vehicles?

Don’t remain at a frustrating dealership. 

Don’t feel pressured by your sales consultant. The high-pressure method is a very outdated way of selling cars. If you’re uncomfortable at the dealership at any time, leave. A big Ford dealership pays the same price for their Fords as a small dealership. So big or small, we can all offer the same deals. Find a place you like. Today’s shopper is more educated and savvy, thanks to the internet, and the dealership knows this. You don’t buy a car every single day, but they sell them every single day. Allow them to guide you through the process, but don’t keep working with a dealership that makes your skin crawl. The staff should be helpful, friendly and professional at all times. This is a major investment for you—great car dealerships never lose sight of that.

Weber Sterling, LLC

21 Indian Wood Circle, Ste. 1 Maumee

419-893-3360, webersterlinglaw.com

by Stephen Keller, partner and attorney

The biggest mistakes we see center around plans that leave assets outright to loved ones, rather than in trust for their benefit. Keeping assets in trust can enhance and protect your family’s inheritance as well as protect your beneficiaries from themselves. 

Instead of leaving sums or assets to loved ones, leave them in trust for the loved ones’ benefit. 

Why?

1) Two words: “creditor protection.” With today’s litigious society, and a 50 percent divorce rate, why would anyone want to own assets outright when instead, they can be a beneficiary of a trust? By statute, their creditors can’t access that trust. 

2) It ensures that your assets take care of your spouse, then go where you want, versus ending up in the hands of a third party who comes in at the last minute. For example, you and your spouse probably agree on the ultimate distribution of your assets today, but what happens after one of you dies? After you’re gone, how do you know that your spouse won’t fall prey to a door-to-door quasi-charitable organization, or that extra-attentive widow down the street? What if your spouse, quite understandably, feels lonely and needs companionship and re-marries? What is to stop him or her from leaving your assets to that new spouse and not your children? Sadly, too many of us have seen or experienced these circumstances. 

3) Lastly, picking the proper trustee is essential. 

The greatest plan isn’t worth much if you use poor judgment in picking who will carry out and enforce your directives. 

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