Grab and Go Folder

With the recent hurricanes we thought it was a good time to send out a reminder about keeping an emergency folder with important details such as account numbers and passwords. We like to call this your "Grab and Go folder". Here is a list of information you should have in the folder.

  • Assets: checking and investment accounts, private business interests, location of safety deposit boxes, annuities, individual retirement accounts and 401(k)s, trust agreements, real estate, vehicles, collectibles 
  • Liabilities: credit cards, mortgages, car payments, cell phone bills, other recurring bills
  • Social media/online accounts: passwords and login information for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Amazon, PayPal, eBay, Netflix, Hulu, iCloud or other cloud storage accounts, online photo storage accounts 
  • Miscellaneous subscriptions/memberships: airline rewards programs, Sam’s, BJ’s or Costco memberships, toll tag accounts, magazines, newspapers 
  • Insurance: life insurance, long-term care, disability, home, auto 
  • Home maintenance: water, gas, electricity, telephone, alarm, lawn care, cable television, Internet service 
  • Medical: medical conditions, medications, emergency contacts 
  • Personal: burial/cremation preferences, funeral plans, pre-paid funeral expenses, birth certificates, marriage certificates, Social Security card 
  • Key contacts: financial and legal advisors, doctors, family members, close friends

No one likes to think that something bad will happen to them but it's always good to be prepared in case it does.

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Equifax Cybersecurity Breach

Equifax has announced that they were hacked between May- July 2017. This is very scary because the personal information for millions of people has been exposed. This data includes all of your sensitive information such as; birth date, social security number, drivers license number, address, credit card numbers etc.

Equifax has a tool that lets you check to see if you may have been exposed to the hack and is offering a year of free credit monitoring through their Equifax TrustedID Premier Service for those who were.

Follow the link below to read all about the breach, see if you were affected and to sign up for the free credit monitoring.

https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/

 ****UPDATE- Before signing up for the free credit monitoring service that Equifax is offering please read the fine print that goes along with the terms of agreement. You may be giving up your rights to a law suit if you take advantage of their offer.****

 

 

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Happy Labor Day

In observance of the Labor Day Holiday we will be closed on Monday, September 4th.

We will be returning to normal business hours on Tuesday, September 5th.

We hope that everyone enjoys their holiday weekend!

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Hurricane Harvey

Our thoughts are with those in Texas who have been impacted by the devastating flooding and damage from Hurricane Harvey. For those of you who are looking for ways to help, TD Amertitrade is matching donations dollar for dollar. This is a great way to make your contribution go even further to help more people. If you would like to donate please click on the link below.

TD Ameritrade Disaster Relief Donation

 

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Block Those Annoying Robocalls

Nothing is more annoying then getting numerous calls a day from unknown or out of the area numbers. They never leave a message and tend to be unwanted robotic sales calls. I was starting to see an increase in these calls and I was getting frustrated with the constant disruptions in my day. Luckily for me Sandy came accross a service called Nomorobo. Nomorobo is a service that automatically detects phone calls from illiegal robocallers and blocks them from going through to your phone. Legal robocalls, from schools and doctors' offices for example, are allowed through. The service is free for VOIP landline phones and they recently released an app for iPhones, the Android app is coming soon. Sandy and I each started the free trial for the iPhone app and are really pleased with how it has been working so far. I have not received a single unwanted call since signing up. Another great feature of the app is that if a robocall accidentally gets through you can report it directly on the app and they will add it to their blacklist right away. This is by far better than the Do Not Call Registry that doesn't seem to do much to deter scammers from calling. I have included a link to the Nomorobo website below with a screen shot of some features it offers. If you are annoyed by these calls it's definitely a service to check out!

https://www.nomorobo.com/

Nomorobo

Have a wonderful weekend!

Melani

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API Ice Cream Event

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We would like to say thank you to everyone who came out to help us celebrate National Ice Cream month at our ice cream event last week. We all had a great time and truly enjoy events where we're able to relax and have some fun with our clients. I have some great pictures of everyone and will be posting them on our Facebook page.

I look forward to seeing you all at our next one!

Sandy

 

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Asset Planning is recognized in Financial Advisor Magazine

We are pleased to announce that Asset Planning has been recognized in Financial Advisor Magazine's annual top RIA rankings. Click the link below to read the full article and see the rankings.

Financial Advisor Magazine's annual top RIA ranking

 

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I Scream...You Scream...We All Scream for Ice Cream!

Come help us celebrate National Ice Cream month this Thursday, July 27th from 1pm-3pm at Churned Creamery in Cypress. We would love to see you!

Ice Cream Event Flyer 2

 

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Big Changes in the Somoano Household

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I am an official empty nester: Kimberly graduated with her Masters in Communicative Disorders and accepted a job as a Speech Language Therapist with the Rialto School district! My other daughter, Kathleen is engaged! She is still living in Australia but will be married in California in 2018. And Kyle has transferred to UC Santa Barbara to complete his last two years of college. I am very proud of all their accomplishments.

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Happy 4th of July!

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Asset Planning wishes all of our clients and their familes a wonderful and safe 4th of July!

Our offices will have limited staffing on Monday, July 3rd and will be closed on Tuesday, July 4th.

We will return to normal business hours on Wednesday, July 5th.

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Fireworks and Your Dog: Keeping Your Dog Calm

The Fourth of July is a fun and festive time to celebrate America. Fireworks have become a natural part of these celebrations. While it is great fun for us it's not always that way for our dogs. Personally, my golden retriever Roxie, is terrified by them. I came accross a really good article that I wanted to share with you with tips on how to keep your dog safe and calm during the fireworks. Follow the link below to read the article.

https://www.cesarsway.com/dog-behavior/hyperactivity-overexcitement/how-to-keep-your-dog-safe-and-calm-during-fireworks

I hope everyone has a great 4th of July!

Sandy

 

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Summer is Here!

The weather is getting warmer, it’s staying lighter later and there are tons of graduations happening. This can only mean one thing, summer is here. With the official start of summer being next week and this being the time that most people leave for vacation we thought it would be a great time to send a reminder about increasing your home security while you’re away. Unfortunately petty theft and home break-ins have been running rampant lately. Doing a little to protect yourself now can help you avoid this happening to you. Here are some reminders for when you’re away. (These tips can even help if you aren’t planning on taking a vacation)

  • If possible, have someone stay in your home while away. This is the best option and gives you the peace of mind that your home and pets will be well taken care of.
  • Make sure that the outside of your home is well lit, especially your porch and side yard/gate areas. Criminals are getting braver but most do not like to be conspicuous and bright lights may deter them.
  • Put a stop on your mail and newspaper deliveries. Leaving these things to pile up is a sure sign that no one is home.
  • Tell a trusted neighbor about your vacation and ask them to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity.
  • Don’t post about your trip on social media. While it’s fun to share with your friends you never really know who is seeing the posts and it may alert the wrong people that you are away from your home.
  • Install a security system. An alarm system or cameras are a great option to help deter criminals. A few of us in the office use the Ring doorbell that has a camera and is connected to Wi-Fi. It also has an intercom so if you are home and you receive a knock from an unwanted solicitor you can politely tell them no safely from inside your home.

With the BBQs, beach days, bike rides and bon fires, summer is one of my favorite seasons. Hope you all enjoy yours as much as I do!

Melani

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Fake Check Scams

I came across an article about fake check scams and what to look out for if you receive an unexpected check in the mail. Unfortunately, these types of scams are happening more and more frequently. The following are some really good tips on what to do and what not do if you find yourself in this situation.

To avoid fake check scams, follow these tips:

Don’t “keep the change”- No legitimate company will overpay you and ask that you wire the difference back to the company or to some third party. Be extremely wary of any offer-in any context- to accept a check or money order in an amount greater than you are owed.

Don’t cash the “unexpected” check- Companies rarely if ever send checks that don’t include some explanation of why the check was issued. Unless you are expecting the check- and you are absolutely certain it is meant for you- do not cash it.

Call the company directly to verify the check- Remember that some fake checks will have a legitimate company’s actual account number with the correct bank routing number. Call the company directly to verify the check, using a telephone number you obtain on your own from directory assistance. Do not use any telephone number that appears on the check or any instructions you receive.

Know the hallmarks of fraud- Fake check scams typically have a number of red flags, such as:

-Typos: Watch out for online postings or emails that are riddled with typos and poor grammar.

-Mismatched names: Compare the name of the person or company posting the opportunity with the name on the check you receive- and beware if they don’t match.

Pressure to act quickly- Be aware that it can take 10 days or even more for your bank to determine that a check is a counterfeit. Don’t wire or transfer funds until you have verified with your bank that the check has cleared- even if the bank allows you to withdraw the money sooner.

If you do receive a suspicious check, contact one or more of the following organizations right away: local police, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center), or the U.S. Postal Inspections Service (if the check arrived by U.S. mail).

Source: Compliance E-News, May 31, 2017, Published by The Consortium®

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Identity Protection Update

In February I posted blog about websites that exposed your personal information and how to opt-out of them. I have recently been alerted to a few new ones I wanted to make you aware of so you can make sure your sensitive information isn't out there for identity thieves to grab. I have listed the webisites below. As I mentioned in my previous blog these websites do have an opt-out option. It only takes a couple minutes to visit these sites to protect yourself.

Truepeoplesearch.com

Stalkscan.com

Aboutthedata.com

If you missed my original blog on this subject you can read it here https://www.assetplanninginc.com/new-blog/entry/protect-your-information-on-the-internet

Have a great weekend!

Melani             

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Looking for Ways to Donate and Get a Tax Break?

Many times we are asked by our clients about ways they can give back through planned gifting. In our last quarterly newsletter, Carol explained how you can donate part or all of your mandatory IRA distributions (RMD) to a charity of your choice which also reduces your taxable income for the year. Another way of doing this is by setting up a charitable annuity. The way it works is the donor gives a gift to the charity (amounts vary), the donor receives fixed payments for life and the donor is entitled to a federal income tax deduction the year the gift is made. I have included a link to one that is offered through the ASPCA to use as an example but there are many more out there to suit everyone’s unique philanthropic wishes.

https://www.aspca.org/ways-to-give/planned-giving

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Budgeting Apps

One thing we’re always telling our clients is how important it is to create a budget and to track their spending. Understanding how busy life is and how different things come up we realize this may seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, technology is on our side these days and there are a ton of new budgeting apps that help you keep track of all of this. I scoured the internet looking for recommendations on the best budget apps. These are the ones I found to be on many of the top lists; Mint, You Need A Budget, Level Money and Albert Budget App. Over the next couple weeks I am going to personally try each of them out and review them based on user friendliness, effectiveness and overall experience. In the meantime, I have included the links to each website below where you can find additional information on how each one works.

Mint- https://www.mint.com

You Need A Budget- https://www.youneedabudget.com

Albert- https://meetalbert.com

Level Money- https://www.levelmoney.com

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Melani

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Sandy was Quoted in Financial Planning Magazine

Financial Planning Magazine reached out to Sandy to get her reaction to President Trump's proposed tax cuts for businesses and the elimination of certain deductions. This is what she had to say. You can read the full article here: http://www.financial-planning.com/list/rias-support-trump-tax-cuts-for-businesses

Sandys quote on Trumps tax cut in Financial Planning Magazine

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My Social Security Account

In an effort to go green, the Social Security Administration is now only mailing Social Security statements to workers 60 years old and over who are not receiving Social Security benefits. They do however offer a convenient online service that allows you to access your benefit information, earnings records and statements as well as complete a number of other services with the Social Security Administration. You will need to create a My Social Security Account to do so. I have included some instructions taken directly from their site to set up your account along with some detailed information on the benefits of using their online services.

Go to https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount

Click on Sign In or Create Account

My Social Security Account 2

What does a my Social Security account let me do?

If you do not receive benefits, you can:

  • new Request a replacement Social Security card if you meet certain requirements;
  • new Check the status of your application or appeal.
  • Get your Social Security Statement, to review:
    • Estimates of your future retirement, disability, and survivors benefits;
    • Your earnings once a year to verify the amounts that we posted are correct; and
    • The estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid.
  • Get a benefit verification letter stating that:
    • You never received Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicare; or
    • You received benefits in the past, but do not currently receive them. (The letter will include the date your benefits stopped and how much you received that year.); or
    • You applied for benefits but haven’t received an answer yet.

If you receive benefits or have Medicare, you can:

Thank you for Going Green!

 

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Expect the Unexpected

Recently, a family tragedy threw my much anticipated, soon-to-be empty nester plans into disarray. I was reminded of a remarkably astute and humorous line from a John Lennon song: "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans". In May my daughter is graduating from high school and will be moving off to college in the fall. She is majoring in Entrpreneurship and will be attending Chapman University. My son is graduating from trade school this year as well. My husband and I could see the finish line on the horizon and we were very much looking forward to both the financial and personal freedon afforded once our children ventured out on their own in the near future. Overnight, our lives went the complete opposite direction. In February we welcomed our nephews, ages 8 and 11, into our home. They are the sweetest children and bring us much joy but we are saddened they have come to live with us as the result of the sudden death of their father, my husband's brother. I hope my story serves as a reminder that good financial and life planning expects the unexpected. But more importantly, the best planning strikes a balance between seizing the day and saving for the days we hope are ahead of us. Like Sandy said YOLO and remember to savor every bit of fun and joy you can.

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YOLO

Sandy in the Amazon

During my 30 year career I have encouraged  clients to carefully save and prepare for retirement. Now I want you to reach beyond your comfort zone and embrace something new, something exciting, possibly scary. I was recently in the Galapagos and loved that portion of the trip but I also signed up for an Amazon rainforest extension that pushed my boundaries. This self-declared "prissy girl" was going to a very remote part of the world, completely off the grid. No cell, wifi, satellite, news or electricity- which was great for my daughter to be unconnected. We had dim light by solar, hunidity, heat, lots of bugs, birds, snakes, caimans and creatures. I was in a swamp with the Shaman, a medicine man, a healer of the community. To appreciate what we have, go to where they have not. View the world as exciting and try a new hobby, volunteer, give back, get involved. YOLO means "you only live once" and I have lived by that attitude for years. Take the road less traveled. Take a leap.

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