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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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Protecting Your Financial Windfall

Making Sound Financial Decisions in the Wake of Sudden Money

The last word that comes to mind when you think about receiving a large sum of money is "shock". Indeed, the very notion of being the recipient of a financial windfall brings about feelings of extreme relief and jubilation, but the term "shock" to many, sounds a bit extreme. The reality, however, is that people can and do experience Money ShockTM that can negatively impact their decision-making while in financial transition. Stress, grief, panic, fear, and distrust are just some of the negative emotions that can come with new wealth. Those, coupled with feelings of excitement, relief, and joy, plus the potential for underlying family dynamics can lead to a mix of emotions that can lead to sleeplessness, confusion, clouded judgment and lack of thought clarity among other things. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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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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Mars, Venus, and Maintaining Good Communication in Retirement Planning

Communicating with your spouse when it comes to finances and planning for the future can have a positive impact on, not just your financial well-being, but your relationship.

According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, 31% of Americans admitted that they have lied to their spouses about finances. Financial infidelity can lead to a lack of trust in a relationship and can diminish open communication about other things beyond finances. When creating a strategy for long term financial plans it is paramount that couples share the responsibility and maintain an open dialogue with each other and their financial advisor.

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The Gender Gap in Financial Well-Being

As women, we see, perhaps in sharper focus, what women do to provide emotional, spiritual, and financial support for those they care for. Women often take lower paying positions in business in order to have more time with their children. Sometimes savings are sacrificed in order to pay for education and childcare. As their parents age, more often, they become the primary caretaker of the family.

When it comes to finances, women often put others before themselves when they address the equation. While the altruism in this is commendable, it has led to a great disparity in financial well-being between women and men. In Financial Finesse's most recent Gender Gap in Wellness reportreport the key findings were:

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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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Divorce after 50? – Be Prepared Emotionally and Financially

Recent studies have shown that one in four divorces are being filed by spouses over the age of 50. This shift has become a cause for concern for scholars and financial professionals because they are seeing the impact that it can have on these generations both emotionally and financially.

When nearing or in retirement a divorce can put a significant burden on assets and finances since there is little or no time to recuperate the losses incurred due to a divorce settlement.

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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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Mind the Gap: Overcoming an Income Gap in Relationships

Navigating relationship challenges when you have accumulated or earn more than your spouse or significant other.

Historically, fiscally unequal relationships have tipped toward the man having or making more than the woman in a relationship. In many cases, this also meant that men had more decision making power in relationships. But a rising trend since the late 20th century has been fiscally unequal relationships where the table is turned.

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