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Holiday Reading List for Widows

The holidays can be an especially difficult time for widows. Traditions and family gatherings can conjure memories and emotions that leave widows feeling exhausted. It’s in these times that leaning on the support of loved ones or cozying up with a good read can really help. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of Northstar recommended reading (and listening) for the special widows in our network who might need a little extra care this season to help them navigate through.

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Are Your Personal and Business Visions in Alignment? Here’s How to Tell

As a small business owner, you serve as the cornerstone of your business, which means your employees, clients, and partners rely on your leadership and guidance. To see your business grow and reach new milestones, you must be one hundred percent committed.

For most business owners, your personal wealth is closely tied to the success of your business. Your business has become a part of your identity, often making it hard to distinguish between the company’s best interest and your own. Because of this, it’s incredibly important that your personal and business vision are in total alignment.

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How Cognitive Decline Impacts Your Financial Life in Retirement

Just as your investments are subject to various risk factors like rising interest rates, currency risk, and economic turmoil, there’s another type of risk you may not have even considered: your own mental well-being.

When you think of the term “cognitive decline,” the most extreme cases likely come to mind—dementia or Alzheimer’s. But the reality is, as you age, it’s inevitable that you’ll experience at least a small level of cognitive decline. Around 20% of people in their mid- to late-70s experience mild impairment, and that percentage grows to half of all people in their 80s.

Even if you’ve successfully built a sizable nest egg during your working years, developing and implementing a withdrawal strategy in retirement can often be the greater challenge. Trying to go it alone, even with full cognitive ability, is often a risky way to repay yourself for all those decades of diligent saving.

Here are a few reasons why the decumulation phase is challenging for retirees, and what to do to prepare yourself for future mental impairment.

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Understanding How Habits Work in Order to Be Financially Successful

You’ve heard about the importance of compounding when it comes to saving for retirement or other larger goals. Small contributions made regularly multiply in value over time. The longer your contributions grow uninterrupted, the more impactful each dollar becomes. Because of this, compounding interest is the (not so) secret ingredient to building your long-term savings toward financial independence.

Think of the effects of your daily habits as impacting the quality of your life in the same way in which compound interest impacts your savings. While you start with small and rather inconsequential actions (positive or negative), those decisions compound over time to create change. How you choose to address your money today, tomorrow, and every day after will greatly impact the trajectory of your financial future.

In fact, your financial future isn’t defined by a few monumental events. It’s determined by the small habits you carry with you every day that impact how you save, spend, invest, and view your overall financial wellbeing.

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4 Ideas for Managing Health Care Costs in Retirement

Managing and wrapping your head around health care costs and health insurance may seem like a daunting task.

financial wellness study by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that over one-third of baby boomers—38% to be exact—said that the cost of health care is their top fear. It’s even higher than anxieties generated by the fear of running out of money.

But there are ways to manage costs and reduce surprises as you travel the road into retirement. Let’s look at several ideas.

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A Guide to Elder Planning for Aging Parents

Watching your parents get older is difficult, especially if their health or cognitive abilities start to decline. If you haven’t started planning for your parents’ future care and financial needs, it’s important to do so sooner rather than later. Here are a few areas of considerations we recommend you start discussing with your parents and a trusted financial professional.

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From Diapers to Diplomas: A Timeline for College Planning

There’s no feeling quite like dropping your college freshman off for their first semester. The energy on campus is electric, the dorm halls are packed, and you can’t wait to see what adventures lie ahead for your young adult. On a day like today, feeling financially prepared for the costs of college makes all the difference.

But preparation doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, the earlier you begin saving, the easier it is to meet your college planning goals. Here’s how to get started and feel confident at every stage of your child’s life.

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Sound Investing Starts with Knowing Your Risk Tolerance

Having a clear understanding of your risk tolerance is one of the most fundamental tenets of investing. Your risk tolerance level serves as the basis for determining how best to allocate your portfolio, while allowing you to sleep at night. Knowing how much risk you can tolerate will help you achieve your goals within your investment horizon without added stress or worry.

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A College Education Minus the Debt

Fully funding a college education without debt is no simple task. It’s no secret that the cost of a four-year degree has soared. But do you realize how much it has risen?

According to Education Data Initiative, the average cost of college tuition and fees at four-year public schools has risen 179% over the last 20 years. It’s an average annual increase of 9.0%.

The average cost of tuition and fees at private four-year schools has risen 124% over the same period for an average annual increase of 6.2%.

That is an increase from an annual cost of $3,349 to $9,349 for a public university and $14,616 to $32,769 for a private school.

The statistics are sobering, and students are piling up unmanageable debts to secure a degree.

But there are ways to reduce out-of-pocket expenses, and avoid or at least minimize the need to take on debt.

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Strike While the Iron is Hot: When Roth Conversions Go on Sale in a Market Downturn

Bear markets are no fun (for anyone). They are stressful and can often cause investors to question even their best laid financial plans. But what we like to focus on in a downturn isn’t all the doom and gloom, but rather how we can take advantage of these down markets to position your portfolio for even better returns in the future. You see, market downturns create some favorable tax planning opportunities, including the ability to strike while the iron is hot on discounted Roth conversions.

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Practical Planning Helps Widows Prepare For Loss

Planning to become a widow sounds counterintuitive, not to mention incredibly difficult to imagine. But ask any widow or widower and they’ll tell you that losing a spouse is hands-down one of life’s greatest challenges. Even for those who knew they would likely outlive their spouse, the reality wasn’t anything they could have emotionally prepared for.

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