What’s happening at Maureen’s office

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Aging and Its Implications events

Aging issues are becoming more prevalent as we live longer. More and more of my clients are experiencing aging issues with parents, and now more commonly, with a spouse or partner. Because of the need for information, I put together a panel of aging experts. Our goal is to help our audience be aware of proactive steps to help reduce stress and save both time and money when it comes to getting up in years. We did our first presentation last October and it went really well. Since then, we have been asked to present to groups and organizations.

The following are open to the public. If you would like to attend an upcoming program, please call my office to RSVP so I can let our venue know you will be attending. 

May 21 — 1-2:30 pm Diablo Japanese American Club

May 25 — 11 am -1:30 pm Montecito Oakmont Senior Living Community

June 2 — 1:30-3:30 pm Atria Assisted Living

For more details, please see our invitational flyer: Aging and Its Implications


Business Experience attendance and Google tour

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In April, I was invited by Commonwealth Financial Network® to attend the Business Experience Conference in Charleston, SC. This conference was especially designed for advisors like myself who have similar practices and challenges.


We were able to tour the Yorktown aircraft carrier. Amazing history of World War II, the Battle of Midway, and even the splashdown of Apollo 8.

Among highlights, I listened to an amazing speech by Steve Gross, executive director and chief playmaker of Life is Good Kids Foundation. This speech tied in perfectly to an event I have planned for June. I am taking 10 kids on a tour of Google. I am hoping to empower and inspire 10 kids who don’t have a lot of advantages in their lives right now, that their dreams can come true by having them experience, for a day, one of the most successful and fun corporations in the world.


No worries!

Sometimes I find my clients worrying about financial decisions when they don't really need to. Maybe you are responding to a media report or some questionable information from a friend. Investment management is an important part of what I do, but here are some other services I provide, too:
  • Project how much income you'll need in retirement
  • Create a long-term financial plan
  • Create a step-by-step retirement plan
  • Calculate the best age for applying to Social Security
  • Review insurance policies for coverage and fees
  • Review 401(k) portfolios
  • Do a cost-benefit analysis on major purchases
  • Estate planning referrals and review
  • Analyze early retirement options
  • Conduct employee benefit evaluations
  • IRA, insurance, pension beneficiary audits
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Referrals to experts

So, give me a call any time you have a financial decision to make—big or small. We can also bring the considerable resources of Commonwealth Financial Network to address whatever concerns you are facing now or in the future. I am always available to help you sort out your options. 

Thank you for continuing to place your trust in me to guide your financial life.

Maureen 

 

Social Security Event
 
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I am attending a two-day Social Security Workshop March 17-18. A recent change in claiming strategies is now going away. Social Security is becoming more complicated. I am attending this workshop to better understand nuances, what the range of claiming strategies are, and basically deepen my knowledge of Social Security and its many distribution rules. In addition, I will be learning about reform proposals and the future of the Social Security system.

I will be hosting a special client event the first week in April on Social Security. We are planning it right now and will be sending out e-mail invitations soon.

Timely updates that affect your finances

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Throughout 2016 I will be sending out e-mail updates that can affect various aspects of your financial life. The next e-mail blast will discuss Cyber Security.


From time to time, we receive e-mails requesting money be wired out of your Commonwealth account to another institution. First, anytime we receive a request for funds via e-mail, we need to verbally verify that request with you. Fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated and are finding very creative ways to get you to part with your personal information. I hope the checklist on how to protect your personal information will be helpful. Please check your inbox on March 6 for your Cyber Security checklist.

 
What is Constant Contact?
 
I use an e-mail system called Constant Contact when I need to send the same e-mail to all my clients at once. Not only is Constant Contact faster and easier when I need to communicate on a broad level, but it also keeps me compliant with federal e-mail rules when sending bulk e-mails. I hope you find the e-mails I send useful. If you have ideas for other information you would like to receive please let me know. To limit the amount of e-mails I send, I do update my website www.Richardsonelitefs.com on a weekly basis with market and other financial information.
 

I survived the South Carolina floods
 
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I was in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, during the flooding. I had scheduled this trip months ago to visit my dad to help him get squared away with his estate planning as well as enjoy time visiting. The weather looked like it was going to be good according to my iPhone. Upon our arrival, the nonstop rain began. Luckily my dad had only had minor flooding in the garage and nothing was damaged. From what I observed in the neighborhood and on the news, few people knew if they had flood insurance. During a disaster is not the time to call the insurance company to check your coverage. At least once a year, be proactive and check in with your insurance agent to determine what exactly is covered in your homeowner’s and auto insurance policies. Rules and regulations change and your life changes, so make sure your home and auto coverage reflects your current needs. If you rent, make sure you have renters insurance, too.

October 24th event

While visiting my 86-year-old dad, many issues came up. I live 2000 miles away, I notice a few things, but I’m not there regularly to check in. Also, what happens if something happened to my dad? What if he can’t get to the grocery store? What if he wrecks his car? What if he has a stroke and can’t get to a phone? What are available resources, who can I trust, and if there is an emergency, what are the steps I need to take?

Many of us are facing these issues with parents, spouses, friends, and other family members.

The holidays are fast approaching. Visiting family and friends are part of the holiday scene. Maybe you notice something different with a loved one or a friend. Maybe you live alone? Who can you count on to help? Are you equipped with the resources you need to make informed decisions? How do you even begin to have this conversation with your family?

I put together a panel of experts that will be sharing tips and advice to help save you time, money and anxiety in the event you or a loved one encounters a situation due to getting older. We take our go-go years for granted, but what happens when slow-go or no-go happens? This event will help you get a major worry out of your head. The invitations have recently been sent via e-mail, but please call if you need an invitation re-sent to you or if you need any other details.

Seating is filling up fast, so please call ASAP to reserve your spot.

 

Open enrollment time is approaching!

It is that time of year when you have a chance to change your benefits. Here is a checklist to help you make sure your benefits are current.

Remember, if you get married, divorced, or have a child at any time during the year, you have a 30-day time frame from that event to make changes—you do not have to wait for open enrollment.

Open Enrollment Checklist

  • Gather all health insurance information at the beginning of the open enrollment period.
  • Review all options, including current coverage.
  • Review 2015's usage of services and estimate what you think your doctor visits and potential procedures will be.
  • Create a list of all physicians everyone in the family uses and see whether they are in network. Call the provider's office to determine which physicians are in network. Don’t rely on obsolete lists.
  • Make a list of all prescription drugs the family uses. If you expect to need new medications in 2016, make sure they're added to the list. Look at each plan's formulary to see what drugs are covered. Formularies change from year to year and vary from carrier to carrier.
  • Look at the out-of-network benefits. If you’re thinking of using an out-of-network provider, determine if there will be any coverage outside of the network.
  • View all new employer benefits that accompany health insurance coverage. Wellness programs are frequently an integral part of a health insurance plan and can reduce premium cost.
  • Know all open enrollment deadlines and plan accordingly.

 


Save the date

“Something's Different: Aging and Its Implications”
 
I have put together a panel of area experts to help address issues that will face your family. You may have a loved one that may be becoming more frail or forgetful. Perhaps there is an illness or medical emergency and care is going to be required. How can you keep your loved one in their home as long and as safely as possible? A family situation can easily grow into a crisis situation. Where do you go? What do you need? Where do you start?

We are the go-to gals that can help you prepare for situations you hope don’t happen, but unfortunately do. More information will follow in mid-September. If you are interested in attending, please let us know ASAP. Saturday, October 24, 2015 from 8:30-10:30 AM at the Pleasant Hill Senior Center. Seating is limited and this program will fill up fast.
 
MaureenAndBabyMaxwell

Congratulations to my step daughter, Kirsten!

My step daughter had her first baby at the end of July. A baby boy! My husband, Jim, is now a grandfather. I am the official Mo-Mo. Maxwell James and parents live nearby in San Francisco and all are doing great. 

Eating to Maintain Brain Function 
 

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A newly published research suggests that a specific diet called the MIND diet may reduce the incidence of brain disease that increases a person's risk in developing Alzheimer's disease.

The recent study shows that the MIND diet lowered the risk of Alzheimer's by as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately well. This research paper was published online on March 19 in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association.

Here is the link to the article and what foods have been discovered to be brain healthy and what foods are not.
https://www.rush.edu/news/diet-may-help-prevent-alzheimers
 
 
“We owe the IRS $100,000!”
 
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Yes, this is a true story. I was chatting with a young woman. Her husband works for a company whose stock has been hot. They cashed in some stock options. These are not rich people. They wanted to pay off bills, save some money, and attempt to get ahead. They learned from their accountant that they owed the IRS and State over $100,000 in additional income tax as a result of this option exercise. The moral of the story is that whenever you sell an asset (such as a home, an investment, exercising a stock option, etc.), there will most likely be tax implications. Before you sell an asset, consult with me—your financial advisor—and your tax professional to prevent surprises. There are many factors that go into how an asset will be taxed such as timing of the sale, amounts, and holding period; know your options before you proceed.

Buying a new car?
 
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I recently learned that the son of a client just started a business helping people navigate the car buying process. Ian Richards has over 17 years of customer service experience. He most recently was in the car industry. He has a detailed understanding of how and where the buying process can be optimized to benefit the car buyer. Ian offers several services such as assistance choosing the right vehicle, purchasing vs. leasing, and participating in or fully handling a client’s negotiation. He begins each relationship with a phone conversation or e-mail to understand what services may fit your needs. I can’t guarantee your car buying results because every situation is unique, but I wanted to offer an alternative that you could explore that may be able to save you some money on your next car. Ian can be reached at 510-579-3359 and by e-mail at ianbowenrichards@gmail.com

Vacation and Conference Happenings
 
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I recently returned from visiting my dad in South Carolina. My dad is an avid fisherman, so he took us fishing on a friend’s boat. I even went clamming! I also realized a life’s dream and was able to attend the Masters Tournament on Sunday with my husband, Jim.


I recently attended a four-day symposium in Scottsdale, AZ. I try to learn all that I can and it’s exciting when high caliber meetings like these arise. There were several valuable insights I discovered:

  • Compelling wealth management conversations
  • The economic forecast/risks to the economy
  • Why it’s great to live in America
  • The extreme measures Commonwealth takes to prevent your information getting into the hands of hackers
I also did a scramble golf tournament with fellow advisors. My team won! Since I was the only woman in the field, I won long drive and closest to the pin. My prize was making a charitable donation to charities of my choice. That’s much better than winning golf stuff at the pro shop! 
 
It was also great to connect and reconnect with my peers from all over the country. This was a small conference for elite Commonwealth advisors, so we all had similar size practices. Many great ideas were shared. As always, I strive for constant never ending improvement when it comes to caring for you, my client! 
 
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Happy New Year and What’s New from Maureen

Wow, what happened to 2014?! Here we are in 2015 and I just wanted to give you an update on what I have planned for the upcoming year.

As always, we strive to deliver the best client service and experience possible for you. This is a never ending passion of mine. I obsess over client service and constantly ask myself “if this was my money, how would I like to be treated?” New technology is a big help and you will be seeing expanded service this year as we have gained new capabilities with technology. Jamie and I put together a client service calendar to make sure “no client is left behind.” I hope you like our enhanced program.

I recently obtained an IRA license for a savvy IRA planning program. This program was put together by Ed Slott. I’ve known Ed for years through my involvement with the Financial Planning Association. It’s great to see him on Public TV educating viewers on some of the nuances of IRA planning. More and more of you are changing jobs, retiring, inheriting IRA’s, and experiencing other life events that make a difference to how all your retirement plans are structured. My educational programs will help you navigate and learn more about tips and tricks with IRA planning. Dates will be announced as soon as we have cemented details.

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I am in the process of writing a workbook that will accompany my book “Til Money Do Us Part.” I have a process I developed especially for new couples to help them get started off on the right foot. I even had the name and logo trademarked! I named my process the “Matrimoney Method.” If you have a new couple in your life that could benefit from financial guidance please consider recommending my program to them.

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This past November I had an ice skating party for my clients, soon to be clients, and friends. Unfortunately the California drought decided to end that day, but all the rain didn’t put a damper on fun! (no pun intended!) Pictures are available on my website. To help the less fortunate in our community, I also had a food drive for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. The money and food donations that were raised provided 1,521 meals. Wow! I have already contacted the ice rink to rent the ice again next year for Frozen Party 2.

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Last May, my husband Jim and I went to Italy for a week. We were about 90 minutes south of Florence. We joined our friends who had rented a farmhouse. It was wonderful to do side trips from one spot. We want to go back and stay at a nearby B & B that offers cooking classes. The B & B is owned by a professional chef. We met him and his wife while we were hiking through their olive orchard and backyard. I thought they were going to yell at us, but instead invited us into their home for coffee! The food in Italy is amazing. If you are going to be in Florence, I have a list of shops that will give you first class treatment. (We made new friends with some of the shop owners in Florence. I’ve sent a few people to see them and they were not disappointed. I even have some followers on Trip Advisor who liked my recommendations!)

I hope you have a Happy New Year. Now is also a good time to come in for a review. We will review your goals, accounts, and make adjustments to your financial plan.

Here is to a Happy and Prosperous New Year!
Maureen