Who Can Help? The Focus of Financial Professionals

May 23, 2008

Financial Professionals The Ones Who Can Help
In today’s world, many financial institutions offer a wide range of financial services to clients. Since the regulatory wall between banks and brokers was knocked down, the distinctions have been blurred, with many banks offering brokerage services, and vice versa. Still, I believe it remains true that most professionals tend to focus their efforts more narrowly.

Stockbrokers. Most stockbrokers help primarily with the accumulation phase and tend to have a shorter-term approach to investing, concentrating on the best possible returns at any given time, rather than a longer-term view that helps you get to where you want to be.

CPAs. Certified Public Accountants are primarily tax specialists, not investment specialists.
Private Bankers. Banks tend to focus on trusts, so they offer legacy/transfer services but usually not broad-based planning.

Insurance Agents. Insurance Agents focus on risk or the legacy/transfer phase of planning. They are often also well versed in certain types of tax-deferral or tax-avoidance products that are insurance related. Most do not, however, offer well-rounded financial strategies.

Attorneys. Lawyers work primarily on estate planning, a legacy/transfer niche.

Financial Advisers. Financial Advisers can take your financial plan beyond accumulation strategies to address distribution and legacy/transfer issues as part of a comprehensive plan. I’m proud of what I do, and I believe independent companies like mine, by brining together experts in all of the planning phases, offer the most comprehensive service.

Bruce Helmer is the President and founder of Wealth Enhancement Group, a Minnesota-based financial planning firm with experts in the fields of financial planning, investment management, tax strategies, insurance, and estate planning. He hosts a weekly financial education radio show on stations throughout the upper Midwest and is the author of “Money and the People You Love.” To learn more, visit wealthenhancement.com

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Budgeting For Your Family Vacation

May 21, 2008

How To Get That Family Vacation You Want

Summer is just around the corner and for many of us that means planning a vacation.   As you begin your planning, give careful consideration to how much you can afford and how you plan to pay for it.  Following are a few thoughts to consider:

Start with a budget.  Develop a list of all of the various expenses (lodging, travel, food & attractions) and determine how much each may cost.  Whenever possible, look for ways to cut those costs.  Once you determine a budget that is right for you, set rules about spending and stick to them!

Plan ahead.  If you plan to travel by plane, booking far enough in advance may allow you to use airline or credit card miles.   You may also be able to find packages that allow you to buy airline tickets and book your hotel at the same time at a reduced price.

Search for discounts and coupons.   Don’t be afraid the ask the hotels, car rentals and attractions to see if they offer special rates for various memberships or groups, such as, AARP for Seniors, Students, Military or AAA.  You may also be able to find discounts or coupons available online.

Consider staying with friends or relatives for free if that is an option.  If traveling in a large group, consider booking a vacation rental, which may offer more space and more amenities for potentially the same or lower price as a hotel.

Consider bringing and preparing your own meals whenever possible.  Many hotels or rental units’ offer built in kitchen amenities.

If you examine your budget and discover you can’t afford to get away this year you might consider putting aside some money for next year’s vacation on a monthly basis.

Bruce Helmer is the President and founder of Wealth Enhancement Group, a Minnesota-based financial planning firm with experts in the fields of financial planning, investment management, tax strategies, insurance, and estate planning. He hosts a weekly financial education radio show on stations throughout the upper Midwest and is the author of “Money and the People You Love.” To learn more, visit wealthenhancement.com


Money and Children

May 5, 2008

Different Stages Money and Children Go Through In Your Life
Our financial relationship with our children will go through many stages as they, and we, age. The four key stages of your financial relationship with children are:

  • Protector and provider: What you provide for your children.
  • Teacher: What you teach your children. I have definite ideas about what and how to teach children about money and life. I have seen many clients and colleagues impart their ideas about the role of money to their children, intentionally or not. Whether you are an eager or reluctant teacher, you will certainly teach your children about money as their role model.
  • Financier: What expenses you pay for your children. College – and more.
  • Benefactor: What you leave your children.
  • In almost all cases, these stages will overlap. As your children grow up you simply play more roles. Your roles as a provider and teacher certainly will overlap for some time. When you are no longer the provider for your children, you will remain, at least in your view, their protector – even if not financially. And you will always be a teacher. The only change is that as they mature into adulthood, your children will probably become more willing to listen to you; you will gradually grow wiser in their eyes. Even the financier stage of the relationship may extend well beyond paying for some or all of their education if you help them buy a car or a home.

    Bruce Helmer is the President and founder of Wealth Enhancement Group, a Minnesota-based financial planning firm with experts in the fields of financial planning, investment management, tax strategies, insurance, and estate planning. He hosts a weekly financial education radio show on stations throughout the upper Midwest and is the author of “Money and the People You Love.” To learn more, visit wealthenhancement.com or