Author Archive for Kristi Schaeffer

Back to School for Small Businesses

Posted on September 22nd, 2014 in Retiring by

tipsWith school back in session, now is a fantastic time for business owners to review some year-end “big-picture” strategies to help finish this year strong and also carry that momentum beyond December 31st.

Financially speaking, here are 5 tips to consider:

One: Review and inventory where your money is currently held.  Life is constantly changing and so too can your needs.  Review that account for the fees and confirm the transactions of what’s been added or withdrawn.  Is the account still the best fit now from when you first opened it?

Two: Evaluate your cash inflow and cash outflow.  Does this year look similar or different from last year?  Can you plan to take any expenses before year-end?  Make a household budget and also one for the business, and establish some goals.  Successful businesses are always looking for ways to improve, be it expenses or revenues.

nest eggThree:  Are you planning for your retirement?  Identity what your goals now and for the future.  Do you know what you will need for income when you retire or sell your business?  As business owners and life-long learners, we strive to protect ourselves with the goal of growing an asset that will generate future income which our family will someday depend upon.

Four:  Use your “back- to-school” energy and strengthen your networks.   Our kids reconnect with their friends, and we also might consider reconnecting with our community personally and professionally.  Set your goals for working your “center of influences.”  If you give or receive business referrals from a particular client or industry, dedicate some time to nurture those relationships.  Break bread together and meet over a meal.  The more you learn of others’ businesses the more you can glean insight into your own.

Five:  Plan for your next break.  This can be a very counterintuitive suggestion.  In many businesses, if “I’m out of the office, I won’t make a paycheck.”  While this may be true in a literal sense, consider the value of taking necessary breaks, refocusing, and recharging.  You may find that this process may pay dividends down the line.

Plan smart with a “back-to-school” attitude so you can dream big!

We’re there when life happens, how can we assist you today?

Best Regards,

Kristi

The material contained herein has been prepared from sources and data we believe to be reliable but make no guarantees as to its accuracy or completeness. This material is published solely for informational purposes and is not an offer to buy or sell a security or investment product. Opinions and estimates are of a certain date and subject to change without notice.

Kristi Schaeffer Kleutsch, Vice President and Financial Advisor with The Schaeffer Group, LLC, works with a team of Advisors in providing financial solutions for her clients. Kristi and her husband reside in Kenosha with their three active children. She is active with the kids’ organizations, community and her church, while enjoying concerts and cooking. Please reach Kristi for a confidential financial review at 262-551-8900 or Kristi@TheSchaefferGroupLLC.com.

Price Check

Posted on July 31st, 2014 in Stretching Your Income by

squeezing every penny out of a dollarThink for a moment about the routine shopping trips you take to the store to purchase frequently needed items.  Perhaps you are loyal to your store and name brand and don’t even think about where to shop or which item to buy no matter the cost.

What if we took a few moments to make a master list for frequently purchased items? Why would we want to go to the trouble of doing that? Let’s see . . .

  1. Start with price checking. Write down the price you generally pay. This step could save you money as you compare the price at your store to other stores’ advertised sale prices. Having a master list enables you to quickly recognize if the sale price is a good deal for you.
  2. Stores occasionally try to sweeten the deal, by providing gift cards or coupons as an example. If the price is a good deal and you need the item anyway, buying in bulk and taking the deal may save you time and money.
  3. Consider where and how often you shop for items. Generally, the less you’re out, the less you spend. How easy is it to be distracted from your list by a quick impulse purchase? Maybe with your list in hand, you can change that weekly visit to a monthly visit. You will save time and money.
  4. Take advantage of online shopping. As you are aware of prices, you may find it cost-effective to shop online. Combining items from your list, you may qualify for free shipping.  Some retailers offer additional discounts if you sign up for their email list.
  5. brunette woman cutting cuponsDon’t forget to keep an eye out for manufacturer’s coupons to combine with the sale prices. Keep these with your list so you have them when you shop.
  6. As always, whether you shop at the store or online, review your receipt/confirmation to verify you receive the sale price and discounts you worked to earn!

Happy shopping!

Best Regards,

Kristi

The material contained herein has been prepared from sources and data we believe to be reliable but make no guarantees as to its accuracy or completeness. This material is published solely for informational purposes and is not an offer to buy or sell a security or investment product. Opinions and estimates are of a certain date and subject to change without notice.

Kristi Schaeffer Kleutsch, Vice President and Financial Advisor with The Schaeffer Group, LLC, works with a team of Advisors in providing financial solutions for her clients. Kristi and her husband reside in Kenosha with their three active children. She is active with the kids’ organizations, community and her church, while enjoying concerts and cooking. Please reach Kristi for a confidential financial review at 262-551-8900 or Kristi@TheSchaefferGroupLLC.com.

When is the right time to start saving for kids’ college?

Posted on June 10th, 2014 in Saving for College by

adorable-baby-with-capRecent observation: Parents start worrying about paying for their children’s higher education when they are in middle school or beyond.  Although there are still options at that time, ideally the best time to start is when they are infants.  The more time you have, the better you and other loved ones can prepare for college costs.  Maybe you will be able to pay expenses out of regular household cash flow while your child is in school, but the reality is most cannot, and many have postponed saving until their child has begun or nearly begun their higher education.  Additional years of saving, even with smaller contributions, can make a significant difference in the monies available to buffer the gap between costs and resources.

There are attractive tax-advantaged college savings options that offer ease and flexibility.  One option allows you to contribute as little as $50 per month to $250,000 per beneficiary.  These funds will grow tax-free as long as the money, when withdrawn, is used for college costs.  Additional advantages are that anyone can add to your account — perhaps as gifts to your child for birthdays and holidays — which will aid your efforts to save, and provides no income limitations on this account, so you’re able to contribute whether or not you have earned income, and a high contribution maximum.

Each state sponsors their own college savings account but that doesn’t necessarily mean yours offers the best option.  Make yourself aware of the comparisons.  Your state’s plan could qualify you for a state deduction but if the accounts’ costs are higher and its performance track record not up to par, are you really ahead?  If you decide to use another state’s sponsored program, it doesn’t mean that your child can only attend a school located in that state; your child can choose any qualified institution.

A Coverdell Educational Savings Account (ESA), formerly known as Educational IRAs, is another option which allows you to build savings on a tax-free basis.  Be aware of contribution limitations of $2,000 per year as well as income limits.

female-college-gradIf your child needs to take a loan, keep in mind it is usually more advantageous for your student to take out student loans versus parent loans.  First, the student can later deduct the interest whereas the parent can’t.  Secondly, this helps your child begin establishing a credit history.  Parents will still have the flexibility to help pay towards the loan.  This simply buys time if the funds aren’t readily available.

When your child nears high school age, begin ongoing conversations around the game plan to pay college expenses, whether or not you can help financially and to what extent.  This will impact where they are headed and provide time for them to search and get creative with funding options as well as encourage them to put forth the effort to obtain scholarships and grants that may be available with some hard effort put into their school work.

Please call Ed or me, if we can assist you or someone you know!

Best Regards,

Kristi

262-551-8900

The material contained herein has been prepared from sources and data we believe to be reliable but make no guarantees as to its accuracy or completeness. This material is published solely for informational purposes and is not an offer to buy or sell a security or investment product. Opinions and estimates are of a certain date and subject to change without notice.

Kristi Schaeffer Kleutsch, Vice President and Financial Advisor with The Schaeffer Group, LLC, works with a team of Advisors in providing financial solutions for her clients. Kristi and her husband reside in Kenosha with their three active children. She is active with the kids’ organizations, community and her church, while enjoying concerts and cooking. Please reach Kristi for a confidential financial review at 262-551-8900 or Kristi@TheSchaefferGroupLLC.com.

So, you earned a raise. Now what?

Posted on May 12th, 2014 in Retiring by

Thanks A MillionCongratulations if this question speaks directly to you.  There are in fact people out there in the world that are currently earning raises.  The times of pay freezes in some industries seems to be slowing. After you have earned a raise, you may ask yourself: What should I do now with the extra money?  This speaks to financial literacy and the trend that people are embracing financial responsibility.

Perhaps the natural tendency for us when we receive a raise, is to celebrate, and spend this extra income on luxuries, a car or things for the house.  But in fact, the first thing to do is actually calculate the increase to know what you’re working with. Often people don’t take the next step of understanding the difference between your gross income, versus net income which is your take home amount.

Did you know that the general rule of thumb when you receive a raise is to save half and then put the remaining half towards reducing debt, if applicable?  By saving half, I’d recommend first looking at your emergency fund to have some available dollars accessible to handle unexpected dilemmas. This is the buffer and support you need when life happens to throw you a curve ball.

manwithplansThen it’s wise to move on to your pre-tax salary deferral plan that is available whether that is your 401k, 403b or company retirement plan. How much do you currently contribute to this account? If you’re able to contribute even 1% more, there are advantages. These pre-tax advantages need to be analyzed before you decide to apply your entire raise toward debt.  Reason being is the pre-tax savings could save you the equivalent of your income tax bracket, perhaps even 25%, whereas your credit could be at 12%.  As your budget allows, an overall goal is to work toward saving a minimum of 10% of your income and funding your pre-tax plan to the maximum.  Each company plan has different maximum IRS and plan funding limit.  This is not the same thing as the amount your employer is matching.  Employees often think they are funding the maximum, while we later discover they are funding the maximum their employer is matching; for example 5% or 6% so that’s a big difference versus $17,500, or $23,000 if you’re 50 or older.

If you’re working on reducing a substantial amount of debt the natural first inclination is to apply most money from your budget to that.  While it is true getting organized and creating a strategy to tackle debt is the priority, it will also be important to take the next step and rank the debt versus the advantage of putting more into your retirement account.

By having a game-plan and organizing your finances, when changes happen in your life, you’ll be equipped to address new opportunities and address financial concerns more quickly. You will have provided yourself with the framework to handle most unexpected events. Though it may not be fun to put the most you can into a pre-tax savings plan, if you’re used to living on your current budget it will be to your advantage to most efficiently account for increased take home money.  By deferring it immediately you won’t miss it and you’ll do yourself a huge service over time by accumulating investment potential, tax advantages as well as future income availability.  That could be the key to perhaps allow you an earlier retirement, stronger cash flow of future income and stability near the bridge of retirement.

Please call Ed or me if we can assist you or someone you know!

Best Regards,

Kristi

The material contained herein has been prepared from sources and data we believe to be reliable but make no guarantees as to its accuracy or completeness. This material is published solely for informational purposes and is not an offer to buy or sell a security or investment product. Opinions and estimates are of a certain date and subject to change without notice.

Kristi Schaeffer Kleutsch, Vice President and Financial Advisor with The Schaeffer Group, LLC, works with a team of Advisors in providing financial solutions for her clients. Kristi and her husband reside in Kenosha with their three active children. She is active with the kids’ organizations, community and her church, while enjoying concerts and cooking. Please reach Kristi for a confidential financial review at 262-551-8900 or Kristi@TheSchaefferGroupLLC.com.