Wisdom on Wealth

Wednesday at 7:45 a.m.

Everyone has money questions, whether it's what to do about retirement, or how to invest for the first time. Each week, Byron Moore offers practical, down-to-earth advice on handling money; and shows that even though money is important, paying attention to it can keep it from ruling your life.

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Medicine used to be simple. If you lived in the old west, whether you got shot, fell off your horse or just ate a batch of bad beans, there was only one thing to do: go see Doc. Doc was the only physician in town and he delivered babies (at home), removed bullets (with help ample whiskey and another bullet to bite down on) and set broken bones (again, with the help of whiskey). And life expectancy then was about 40 years. Fast forward to today and there are doctors of every imaginable specialty and sub-specialty. But try to see “Doc” today, and he might be a little hard to find.

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Question: I am in my 50s and plan to retire within the next ten to fifteen years. What should I plan for with respect to health care costs? When it comes to healthcare costs after you retire, what can you expect? Well, for one - a lot of uncertainty. That doesn’t mean to throw up your hands and surrender. It just means that precision in this prediction is going to be hard to come by. We just know it’s likely to be a big number. Healthcare costs are rising at 7% to 8% annually, much higher than inflation.

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When a client asks me about insurance of any kind, I usually start with a question like, “If the event you are insuring against occurs, will you be the happiest you could possibly be with the decision you make today?” That usually elicits a bit of head scratching and a kind of “huh?” look… Wouldn’t it be great if you could buy insurance after the accident, natural disaster, sickness, disability or death occurs? Well, you can’t.

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Most conversations I have with folks about estate planning starts out with two goals: avoid taxes and treat everyone equally. As important as those two goals might seem in the beginning, I must admit they don’t exactly stir my soul. What do you want your grandchildren to remember you for? “Grandpa sure did avoid some taxes when he died, and he could divide by five, too!” I once worked with the family of a wealthy couple who had several children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren.

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If you’re a college student, or a parent of one, it got your attention when the state’s current budget crisis brought up the possibility that TOPS might be curtailed or even eliminated.

What would happen if the bottom drops out of TOPS?

Here’s something else to consider: if TOPS is either cancelled or curtailed, more than a few college students might get an education they hadn’t counted on. It won’t be an easy one, but it might just be okay, and it may be even good.

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My wife and I have each made a vow to keep each other out of the nursing home. While we'll do our best, we acknowledge that it might not be possible.

When a loved one needs long-term care, sometimes professional help is required. Having long-term healthcare insurance is a good way to take care of our loved ones when we can't. 

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Taking risks is part of life. That doesn't mean that all risks need to be high. When retirement is in the cross hairs, it's best to take the long, slow aim to reach your goal. D.B. Cooper's life offers a lesson on risk.

Do remember the old films where a snake oil salesman is on the back of a wagon selling small bottles of medicine? The population of swindlers has increased since the information age. Avoiding being scammed out of your hard earned money is up to you. Here are five ways to take personal responsibility for your own money.

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Just because the company automatically enrolls employees into a 401K,  it does not mean it's good. In fact, it may be a false sense of security when it comes to retirement.

Instead of depending on someone else to make your financial decisions, take the helm. In owning  your retirement planning, you may find yourself charting your long awaited voyage. 

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A plan means nothing if it's not implemented. Financial planning is only the beginning of the process. Reaping the rewards of said plans requires being plugged in to the end.