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Securing Your Identity and Steps to Keep Fraudsters Away

While the Equifax security breach only recently became public knowledge on September 8, in many ways, it was a lifetime ago.

What does “after” look like, and how can we help you navigate it? You’ve no doubt noticed a barrage of articles covering what has happened and what others suggest you should do about it. As we mentioned in our newsletter last month, we still believe placing a credit freeze on your accounts is prudent. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all regimen, but here are some of the most frequently cited actions we’ve seen, along with our commentary on them:

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What to do After the Equifax Security Breach

On the off chance you didn't hear, maybe you have been distracted by natural disasters Harvey, Irma, or Mexico's 8.1 earthquake and associated tsunamis, Equifax was involved in a man-made disaster affecting 143 million Americans. Between mid-May and July, hackers accessed people's names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver's license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers from 209,000 of us.

While this, of course, is very disconcerting, we have outlined the necessary steps to first, find out if you were one of the victims, and second, take the necessary steps to protect your credit as best you can. 

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The Grown-Up Gap Year

As back-to-school signs start popping up in every grocery store, pharmacy and department store it is hard to avoid the reality that summer is coming to an end. For many adults, there is relief that children are back in school and there will be a little more time to yourself as the temperatures start to lower. For kids, the summer is a long and glorious adventure and most are sad to see the freedom of their days return to the structure of school and sports and indoor activities.

After childhood, there is little opportunity to have that kind of time to really spread your wings without obligations to family, work, finances, etc. Some young adults seize the chance to take a gap year between high school and college, or college and grad school so that they can explore opportunities and have experiences that might begin to fall out of their reach once they begin careers, start families, etc.

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What Will You Do When You Retire?

The Unexpected Luxury of Time

As your retirement date draws nearer, there can be a great deal of excitement and apprehension. You have worked for thirty or forty years—and changing your routine, priorities, and obligations is something to look forward to. On the other hand, uncertainty can begin creeping in when you start to think about all that time. What if the new and less structured life you are about to embark upon isn't enough to sustain you?

As you age, the questions you may have asked yourself in your younger years become more profound in later stages. Questions like-- "Am I living the life I want to live? Who is most important to me? What is most important to me?" have more resonance as you age. It is likely because you are more cognizant of your own mortality and you want to make the most of the time that you have.

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The Impacts of Aging | The Importance of Having a Plan

As financial advisors, we have seen what happens when people have not planned for older age and the challenges that come with it.

We often meet the children or spouse of someone who has significant medical issues, like Alzheimer's disease, parkinson's, Dementia, or other chronic illnesses--that have led them to substantial diminished capacity-- physically, mentally or both. They come to us at their wit's end, trying to scramble to put together a plan, when, in many cases, only very little can be done to ease the burden.

When we meet with these families and try to assist them, it is a constant reminder of why, even when we begin a relationship with people who are still in their careers, we discuss the plans for aging, and provide a strategy--should people not age as gracefully as we all would hope to.

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Avoiding Financial Scams and Identity Theft Slams

Who Are They?

  • Financial fraudsters are after your assets.
  • Identity thieves steal your personal information (often to then commit financial fraud).

What Do They Want? Your Money and Your Life

  • Social Security Numbers, passports, driver’s licenses, and similar identifying information.
  • Financial account and credit card numbers.
  • Passwords (or insights about you that help them guess at weak ones).
  • Your and family members’ contact information (name, address, phone, e-mail).
  • Your and family members’ birth dates.
  • Details about your life (interests, travel plans, relationships, your alma maters, etc.).

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Thinking about Giving?

Your brain might need a little help
The Martyrdom Effect

Human beings admire hard work and in that, we admire physical effort in giving even when less physically arduous efforts may have a greater impact.

Many of us choose to give in ways that require a great deal of physical or emotional energy. We run marathons for cancer research or take part in the 21 day push up challenge for PTSD awareness.

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Navigating a Mid-Life Course Correction

Transitions can take on many forms. Taking stock of who you are and what you envision can make all the difference.

Making a shift from one life path to another is both challenging and exciting. While the financial considerations of making a career change, selling a business or pursuing a "life-calling" should not be dismissed, the emotional and psychological implications of such a major life change can often go unnoticed or unaddressed. Understanding both the benefits as well as the drawbacks of a mid-life course correction will only serve to have a positive effect on the experience as a whole.

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New Year, New Beginnings

New -seedlingAs we look back on a year filled with surprises (from its opening days onward), it's natural to wonder what to expect in 2017. This is especially so, since most of those surprising events have yet to play out in full – from the political climate in the U.S., to the Brexit referendum in the U.K. to uncertainty in government bond and oil prices around the world.

We are reminded of a favorite quote from The Wall Street Journal personal financial columnist Jason Zweig, who once observed that "Wall Street often resembles a blindfolded person looking in a darkened closet for a pair of black shoes that isn't there."

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For all its promise, instant riches come with a price

Rose Thorn

The New Hampshire Lottery winner is still anonymous and we think that's a good thing.

After the recent lottery win in New Hampshire, there is a buzz of speculation on why the winner hasn't yet come forward to accept his or her winnings. Among the speculation, the most likely scenario is that the winners are trying to find the best way to handle this new reality without exposing themselves to the many negatives that come with winning the lottery.

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All the Shiny Things

Glacier6With the weather warming up, many of us will be taking vacations, weekend getaways and having parties to enjoy the summer season with family and friends. Planning and taking these getaways is not always relaxing, though. For many people, this can stem from having too many things to think about and do all at the same time. We talk with our clients a great deal about how to stay focused and and be present in order to find balance and well-being in life. This month's blog highlights how some of the Northstar team relaxes and how appreciation of simplicity can remind us that we don't need to keep piling it on: literally or figuratively.

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