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Services @ Blankenship Financial

Everyone Needs Retirement Planning –
But Hardly Anyone Really “Gets” It

future by Daniel VoyagerThis much is clear: you’re “supposed” to know what you’re doing with your retirement accounts and planning for your future.  After all, that’s what having a 401(k) or IRA is all about, isn’t it?  Since traditional pensions have pretty much gone the way of the buggy-whip – we’re supposed to figure this out on our own, right?

And as you’ve probably discovered, there’s certainly no shortage of information on how to do it. The internet is full of recommendations – information sites are a dime a dozen and the web is filled with blogs touting the latest and greatest new thing.

Why then, are you still struggling to understand what you need to do in terms of saving, investing, and the like?

Maybe you’re different from everyone else. (Maybe everyone else is right on top of all the laws and techniques and such that can impact your financial life!)

But I have a feeling that’s not the case.

The real issue is this – financial planning is COMPLICATED!

Maybe that’s not what I’m supposed to say but that is the truth. And honestly I think knowing that is a relief! So many people are embarrassed to ask me questions about IRAs or investing or Social Security because they think their questions are “dumb”.

Guess what? No one was born an IRA expert! (That would be pretty weird huh?) I know people who have dedicated 30 or more years, literally their whole careers, to understanding all this stuff, and every day something new comes along…

The truth is these questions aren’t “dumb” or “basic” at all. Financial Planning is its own separate world with its own rules and “gotchas”.

Financial Planning is incredibly time-consuming to figure out on your own. And 99% of the info out there is NOT geared towards your unique situation.

Too many people are getting left out in the cold

There are plenty of websites and blogs about financial advice… and plenty of geek speak about allocation schemes, tax deferral, and income strategies… and a million other totally useless buzzwords that will never make you comfortable in retirement.

And whatever decent advice there is out there isn’t much help, since it’s not geared to your own situation.  It can’t be, because small differences in each individual’s situation can change the game completely – but most all advice you find on the internet is so general in nature that you’re forced to pick and choose among various recommendations to come up with a plan for yourself.

But what about those of us who need a little extra help?

Can an ordinary, everyday person like you get affordable, one-on-one coaching and advice to help you through all of these decisions you need to make?

In a word . . . yes!

And how do I know? Because we specialize in working with individuals just like you to develop plans to guide them through their decision-making process and get the results they’re looking for.

442px-Perrault_Leon_Out_In_The_ColdAnd by “results” I don’t mean something vague like an overly-complicated investment statement. I mean a usable plan that helps you to review your progress, making sure you’re on track with your goals. (You know, the stuff that actually helps you to sleep well at night!)

Honestly, I’m heartbroken by talking to and hearing about hard-working, honest, average Americans being left out in the cold.

That’s why we’re doing something very different – and I think you may want to be a part of it.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s start from scratch.

Many Different Types of People

There are many different types of people who may be reading these lines… ranging from total “do-it-yourself” kinds of people, to folks who just need a little help, to those who really need complete guidance through the financial planning process.  If you are a do-it-yourselfer, you are probably finding much of what you need right here in this blog – and in other sources on the internet.  However, if you’re someone who’s looking for more assistance than this blog can provide on its own, we can help you there as well.  Read on.

All the Information You Need

Getting Your Financial Ducks In a Row blog is a resource library of straightforward instructions that show you exactly what you need to know as you deal with creating your financial plans for life.  This blog is your foundation to begin understanding the steps you should take to map out your financial future.

You can use this resource as much as you like – and even send us questions about your specific situation.  Many times we’ll respond directly back to you with our take on your questions, and often we’ll develop additional blog posts from your questions to share the information with everyone else.

But it doesn’t stop with instructions and rules and laws – you need to properly apply these rules and instructions and laws to your specific individual circumstances.  Doing so will help you to develop a financial plan that you can use.

If you’ve been looking for financial planning help that cuts right through the fluff, you will not find a better resource than this.

kings canyon australia by ogwenIf You Need Some Help

Help with your financial questions can literally be an email (or phone call) away.  It may seem weird to you to talk to a financial advisor that you’ve never met, but many folks that we work with are many many miles away from beautiful downtown New Berlin.  And lots of them are people that we likely will never meet face-to-face (although I’m certain you would enjoy visiting New Berlin!).

But today’s connected world provides us with opportunities to get together and interact with people in places that we’d never imagined before; in ways we never considered.  And we’ve given you a quite a few opportunities to get to know us ahead of time, as well as to “try out” our advice with no obligation.

No, really – give it a shot.  There’s a question form on the right-hand side of the page where you can send us a question, any question, and as long as it’s not too terribly complicated, we’ll do our best to get you a response with my advice as quickly as possible.

And then if you still need additional help, or if you just want more than the single question answered, give us a call, or send an email to set up a “get acquainted meeting”.  At this meeting we can talk about your questions and we can explain more about how our advice practice works, so that we can see if it makes sense to work together.

And there’s still no cost or obligation to you.

If you decide you’d like to work with us – a “test run”

There are a couple of ways we can go with this:  if you want to just “dip your toes in the water” a bit, we can set up a limited engagement where we talk over and address your limited questions.  This kind of engagement is best for, say, reviewing your investment alternatives so that we can make recommendations for future investments in a 401(k) plan, for example.

This engagement will be a real-time conversation for up to 2 hours, followed by a written report with your questions answered.  You will need to supply background details ahead of time, especially for investment recommendations – such as statements, investment options for 401(k) plans and the like.

In addition, if you have a particular list of questions that you’d like to send in advance, we’ll work our way through the list and cover as much as possible in our allotted time.

Other things that you might want to address in a limited engagement like this could be – questions about how a particular tax law impacts your situation or limited Social Security planning, for example.  This sort of engagement might also be used to get a second opinion on a plan you’ve either developed on your own or that perhaps another advisor has developed for you.

Of course, follow-up clarification questions on the written recommendations are fine, provided that we’re still covering the same ground.  Additional questions can be addressed in another session or in a more comprehensive engagement if you like.

The second way we could work together gets more involved…

The Comprehensive Planning Engagement

If you’d like a more comprehensive review of your situation, we can do that as well.  We’ll start off with a discussion of your overall situation, discussing your goals and present plans, and talking about what you’d like to accomplish.

Then, once we’ve defined the engagement, we’ll take some time to put together our recommendations for you – in a comprehensive written report covering all of the areas you want to cover.  In some cases we’ll get together for a preliminary review, to ensure that we’re on the same page with the recommendations so far.  Then we’ll follow up with a final review of the recommendations, which may include implementation assistance, as you see fit.

This sort of engagement will likely cover all areas of your financial life, from investments to insurance coverage, retirement projections, Social Security planning, income tax planning, estate planning, and more involved topics like Long-Term Care insurance needs or Roth IRA conversion recommendations.

After we’ve prepared the recommendation report, we’ll get back together again and go over the recommendations.  It’s our job to make sure that you understand these recommendations completely, so that you can go ahead and implement the plan.  But if you wish, you can take the third step and start a longer-term engagement at this time. (More about that below!)

The Ongoing Engagement

For some folks, one of the above engagements is enough to get them going on implementing (or continuing with) their financial plan.  In other cases though, you may need extra help keeping things on track, or maybe you just want to turn over the implementation to someone else.  In these cases, we have an Ongoing Engagement that gives you unlimited access to us for questions, implementation assistance, or follow-up meetings.

In order to put the Ongoing Engagement into place, you must first have had a comprehensive plan developed.  Then, we’ll make an agreement as to exactly what you’d like us to do on an ongoing basis.  This most often includes investment management, plan updates, and income tax preparation, among other things.  The cost of an Ongoing Engagement is calculated on the size of your asset base, with a graduated fee scale as follows:

For the first $100,000 – the fee is 1%
For the amounts above $100,000 to $1,000,000 – the fee is 0.5%
For the amounts above $1,000,000 – the fee is 0.25%

These fees are annual fees, billed quarterly from your account(s) with us as applicable.  For the fee, depending upon your needs, all financial planning activities are covered.  This includes investment management, plan updates, income tax preparation and as many meetings as you require.

470px-Starting_out_after_rail_thomas_eakinsGetting Started

Ready to get started?  Great!  Use one of the many communications methods listed to the right to get in touch with us.  We’ll talk about what level of engagement would work best for you, and set up a time to get things started.

Prior to the initial engagement, we request that you fill out the following questionnaire (click the link).  This will give us your basic background and contact information, so that we can have a better understanding of your situation when we first talk.

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call or email!

Photo #1 by Daniel Voyager
Photo #2 by Wikimedia
Photo #3 by ogwen
Photo #4 by Wikimedia