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The Journey Forward: A Widow’s Guide to Taking the First Steps

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Any widow would likely attest to the fact that the loss of a spouse is one of the most difficult life changes—a change that disrupts the very foundation of your reality and how you envisioned your life unfolding. Whether your spouse’s passing was expected or completely unforeseen, no one can ever fully anticipate the implications of becoming a widow until they are faced with the reality of taking on life’s new challenges alone. At Northstar, we specialize in helping widows emotionally and financially and find the following first steps can help improve your sense of well-being as you navigate through this difficult life transition.

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Financial Coaches, Counselors, and Planners: How Do They Differ and Which Might Be Right for You?

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From kindergarten to college, the core of our education is focused on English, Reading, Science, Math, and History. We are taught to memorize geometric proofs and analyze Paradise Lost, but what about financial literacy? Where are we taught about budgeting, debt management, or preparing taxes? Unless we learn from our parents or study finances as adults, we typically are not taught how to manage money, let alone how to prepare for retirement or finance large purchases. Luckily, a number of different financial professionals exist to help bridge the gap between what you should have been taught and what you were actually taught.

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5 Life Transitions and Times When a Financial Advisor is Needed

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When it comes to your financial future, the decisions you make today can change the course of your life. Choosing the right investment strategy, ongoing tax planning, establishing an estate plan, analyzing and potentially purchasing life insurance, considering long-term care, preparing for retirement, etc.—navigating these complex matters can quickly become overwhelming.

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Have You Factored Long-Term Care into Your Retirement Plan Yet?

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When it comes to retirement planning, the possibility of eventual long-term care is often overlooked. It’s easy to disregard the potential costs associated with aging when you are young but should you or a loved one become physically or cognitively impaired, you’ll find the cost of care can quickly consume your income and deplete your retirement savings.

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Rush Hour, Market Volatility, and Evidence-Based Investing: Part II

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Actively vs. Passively Managed Funds 

There is no lack of debate in the financial community regarding which type of fund is superior: actively managed versus passively managed funds.

Actively managed funds are a group of funds that are controlled by a manager or team of managers who aim to outperform the market with the frequent buying and selling of equities based on that manager’s expertise, experience, or personal judgment—similar to the types of drivers who exit the highway in rush hour believing they’ll find a quicker route and only return when the congestion appears to have cleared. Due to the nature of this active management, these funds carry higher expense ratios and charge heftier management fees than their passively managed counterparts.

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Rush Hour, Market Volatility, and Evidence-Based Investing: Part I

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Have you ever been caught in rush hour traffic? Do you find yourself feverishly searching your GPS for a faster route the longer you are stuck in it? Maybe you contemplate whether you’re better off waiting out the bumper-to-bumper gridlock on the highway or taking your chances with city traffic lights. You know that your chances of outrunning highway traffic with an alternate route are slim, but your impatience is chipping away at your sense and you strongly consider it. Plus, look at all those other cars clearly getting off to avoid the slowdown!

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The Future of Social Security Benefits

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One of the most important elements of retirement planning is analyzing a host of unknown variables including our predicted life expectancy, our future expenses, and the income we will need to cover those expenses without sacrificing our quality of life. More often than not, retirement income is generated from multiple different sources such as pension plans, IRAs, and investment income, to name a few. It’s likely you’ve also imagined social security benefits funding a portion of your retirement. After all, we spend our entire working lives paying into the program with the expectation of receiving future benefits.

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Paying for College: 3 Smart Alternatives to Borrowing

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As the cost of college tuition and fees continues to skyrocket, so too does the consumer debt incurred to fund post secondary education. According to Forbes, student loans make up the second highest category of consumer debt, only behind mortgages and ahead of credit card and auto loans. With 44 million borrowers owing in excess of $1.5 trillion in U.S. student debt alone, it’s no stretch to say that countless Americans are caught in a student debt crisis that shows no sign of improving.

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5 Money Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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Have you ever heard someone say that experience is the best teacher? How about “there are no mistakes, just lessons”?

We’d like to take a slightly different tack on these age-old maxims. Experience isn’t the best teacher, but someone else’s experience can be. Learning from other people’s mistakes can save us a lot of grief.

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Looking to Sell Your Business? Here’s Your Financial Planning Checklist

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After years of investing your time and energy into building a successful business, you’ve decided it’s time to move onto the next chapter of your life. Whether you are heading into retirement or simply want to focus on a new business venture, having a well thought out transition plan in place can help to maximize your profit, mitigate post-sale taxes, and secure the financial future you desire.

Since selling a business can be a complex endeavor, we’ve put together a checklist to help you make the planning process go as smoothly as possible.

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