WrapManager's Wealth Management Blog
When life changes, we can help you thoughtfully respond.

Financial Best Practices for New Parents

Posted by Valerie De Vol | IACCP®, Chief Operating Officer

August 22, 2018

Having a baby (or babies!) and starting a family means so many exciting, happy, but also unknown things. For first time parents, in particular, it means navigating the often head-spinning tasks of feeding, caring for, and cleaning a baby while also working, taking care of the house, and if you’re lucky, sleeping.

For most new parents, there’s not enough time in any day to get everything done, and by the end of every day you’re exhausted. Making time for budgeting, financial planning, and taking steps to prepare for the child’s future can often seem so far out of reach.

But at the end of the day, it must be done. A recent study found that in the first year alone, the cost of raising a baby can run upward of $21,000 – and that’s not even factoring-in any unexpected illnesses or conditions an infant might have early-on, which are quite common. From the time the baby is born until he or she turns 18, the total cost of upbringing can range from $260,000 (“no-frills”) to $745,000.¹

In short, it’s no financial walk in the park.

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It’s a Family Affair: Talking to Your Family about Financial Planning

August 15, 2018
The “Godfather of Soul,” James Brown, had a noble vision for how he wanted his assets distributed after his passing. His will had set aside $2 million for his grandchildren’s education, and he would also set aside millions of dollars for the education of underprivileged children in Georgia and South Carolina. Eleven years after his passing, not a penny has gone to these beneficiaries of his will. The reason: ongoing legal battles, as family members challenge Mr. Brown’s will in court and multiple parties argue over the assets in his estate. More than a dozen lawsuits have been filed since Mr. Brown passed away in 2006, and one of them involves nine of Mr. Brown’s children and grandchildren suing the estate’s administrator as well as Mr. Brown’s widow, Tommie Rae Hynie.[1] James Brown carefully crafted his estate plan to focus on education and his community, yet his wishes are arguably yet to be fulfilled. It leaves one to wonder: what if Mr. Brown had gathered his entire family together, had very frank and candid discussions about his estate plan, and told his family explicitly that they were not to challenge his wishes. Where would his estate be today? [+] Read More

Writing Your Will – Ensuring Your Wishes are Known and Followed

August 1, 2018
Our estate planning hats are on this week, and we have two fundamental but essential questions for readers: (1) Do you have a will? and (2) If you do, have you updated it in the last year? If the answer to either of those questions is no, we have five reasons it should be yes: Don’t Let State Laws Determine Who Gets Your Assets – when a person passes, and it is determined that he/she did not have a written will, then state laws will usually determine how the person’s property will be distributed. Though the state will generally opt to distribute property amongst family and close relatives, the fact that the state is making the decisions is problem enough. You work hard for the assets you accumulate over a lifetime. It should be up to you how those assets are distributed. [+] Read More

What History Tells Us about Tariffs and the Threat of Trade War

June 20, 2018
The Tariff Act of 1930, otherwise known as the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, was signed into law by President Herbert Hoover…even as nearly 1,000 economists warned of its dire consequences. The law slapped nearly 900 American duties on imported goods and was done in an effort to boost domestic spending and to protect American companies. Sound familiar? While virtuous in its design, the outcome of the Smoot-Hawley tariffs was far from virtuous. Instead of protecting the US economy, the tariffs arguably helped fuel the Great Depression. Back in 1930, European countries responded to the Smoot-Hawley tariffs by retaliating with tariffs of their own, creating an all-out trade war that produced no clear winners. The Great Depression left no part of the US economy unscathed. Fast forward to 2018, and we find ourselves in a situation somewhat similar to the one we saw in 1930, with the US threatening – or outright imposing – tariffs on some of our biggest trading partners, in an effort to protect American companies. There is little doubt amongst economists that China does, indeed, have unfair advantages and strict requirements for American companies doing business there. Change is arguably needed. The question is, will we have to endure a trade war to get it? [+] Read More

Introducing the WrapManager SAIRSHA Global All Cap ESG Portfolio

June 19, 2018
Some investors wish to align their personal values with their investment portfolio, but there have traditionally been several stumbling blocks for investors looking to assemble a diversified ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) portfolio. Fortunately, WrapManager now offers an innovative ESG investment solution which seeks to provide diversification among asset classes, market capitalization, country of domicile, and ESG methodology. What are ESG criteria? Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria is a set of standards for company’s operations that socially conscious investors can use to screen investments. Environmental criteria look at how a company performs as a steward of the natural environment. Social criteria examine how a company manages relationships with its employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates. Governance deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights. [+] Read More

The True Cost of Homeownership

April 11, 2018
The act of buying a first home is often framed as a wonderful, life-changing experience. And to be sure, it almost always is. But it’s the process of buying the home that’s not always so picture-perfect, and in fact usually comes with an odd set of juxtaposed emotions: joy and frustration, surprise and shock, relief and anxiety, a feeling of stability but then also a feeling of uncertainty. In short, it’s somewhat of a wild ride for first-time homebuyers! Much of the ‘negative’ side of the emotion equation stems from a common source: unexpected costs. Many first-time homebuyers simply aren’t aware of the extensive list of fees and costs associated with buying a home, which is why a recent survey by TD Bank found that nearly 50% of homebuyers incurred more than $2,000 in unexpected charges during the home buying process. 10% of those surveyed said they spent at least $5,000 more than expected.[1] [+] Read More

The Pros and Cons of Target Date Funds in Retirement Planning

February 28, 2018
Target date funds have been around for over 20 years, but over the last several years they have seemingly become a mainstay of 401(k) plans. For novice investors and those just starting out, the ‘target date’ feature of choosing a retirement date and “setting and forgetting” an investment strategy has understandable appeal. But for investors with larger amounts of assets under management and more complex financial situations and retirement needs, target date funds may not do the trick. Below we’ll explore some of the positive features and drawbacks of target date funds. [+] Read More

The Cost of Having a Child

February 14, 2018
There are numerous planning considerations involved when starting or expanding your family -- lifestyle, career, living space…the list goes on. Arguably the financial component is near the top of the list. Most people planning for family know that it will impact their finances, but to what extent?  Using data compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the estimated cost for a married couple on the West Coast (with a combined income greater than $107,000) to raise two children would be a somewhat startling $775,620. Dig-in a little further, and the data suggests that around $166,000 would go towards education/child care. The family could also spend upwards of $110,000 on food alone. The data and estimates are based on a study performed by the Department of Agriculture  titled “Expenditures on Children by Families, 2015”.  The USDA created a fascinating and free calculator that anyone can use to run the numbers for starting a family. You simply tell the calculator how many children you have or want, your income level, whether you’re single or married, and what region of the country you live in. And that’s it! The calculator does the rest. [+] Read More

Financial Goals: The Importance of Salary Negotiations

February 7, 2018
Most readers have been down this road before. Work hard in your job and in your career, and you get to a point where it’s time to ask for a promotion or a raise (or both!). As workers and professionals, it is not outlandish to think of ourselves as assets just like stocks or real estate – we have a market value, and often times that market value increases over time because the company makes a profit or the property is in high demand. In that sense, salary negotiations are not all that different from stock investing – investors often pay a premium to own a good company, just as a company should pay a premium to have a valuable team member on staff. Negotiating a higher salary means asking for a fair value where the value is due. But there is another, crucial factor that gives importance to salary negotiations: Making more money can mean more aggressively pursuing our long-term financial and retirement goals. [+] Read More

How to Financially Plan for Natural Disasters and Other Unexpected Events

January 31, 2018
2017 was a historic year for multiple reasons, but perhaps none more impactful than in the context of natural disasters here in the United States. 2017 was a record year when it came to cumulative damages from “weather events,” with the total cost reaching $306.2 billion. This number shattered the previous record set in 2005 of $214.8 billion, which was disproportionately caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. When people think about 2017 in terms of natural disasters, Hurricane Harvey, Irma, Maria, and the California wildfires probably come immediately to mind. But there were also hail storms in Colorado and Minnesota, drought and fire in the Plains states, three sizable tornado outbreaks, and flooding in California last February. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration created this insightful graphic detailing the major weather events, many of which may still come as a surprise. In all, there were 16 weather events whose damages exceeded $1 billion. [+] Read More