Medicare Insurance

by Jim Wahlberg

It’s that time again…mailboxes will be filling up, advertisements will be falling out of the newspaper, and every other commercial will announce it.  What is it?!? It’s Medicare enrollment season!  Ready or not, October 15th begins a new Annual Enrollment Period (AEP).  I get a lot of questions this time of year so I thought I would try to answer some of the most often asked questions in this post.

What is the Annual Enrollment Period?  The AEP is a timeframe that allows Medicare beneficiaries an opportunity to either enroll, disenroll, or change Medicare Advantage or Medicare Prescription drug plans.  This time period does not apply to Medicare Supplement plans.

What are the dates of the Annual Enrollment Period?  All changes need to occur between October 15th – December 7th.  We can begin meeting with people starting October 1st to discuss the benefits for the upcoming year.  However, we cannot accept any applications until October 15th and we cannot submit any applications after December 7th.  There are almost no exceptions to this rule.

Do I have to call or sign anything to keep my current coverage?  Generally, NO.  If your current plan is continuing into 2019, you’re satisfied with the way it worked, and you understand the upcoming changes in coverage, then you do not need to do anything.  A general rule of thumb is not sending your phone number to a mailer you have received unless you would like to receive calls from the source of that mailer.  If you do have question about Medicare coverage, feel free to call our office and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.

Is there any cost to meet with your office to sign up or make changes?  No!  You don’t pay anything to meet with us and you will not pay any more buying a product through our office compared to buying it directly from the company.  We are independent brokers representing most of the major insurance companies in our area.  We’re happy to discuss your current plan and make recommendations for change only when it benefits you.

Don’t let the Annual Enrollments Season overwhelm you.  Please give us a call if you would like a personal review of your coverage for 2019.

Core Values

by Ron Bare

What is the purpose behind setting core values as a business? Did you ever wonder when walking into a business and seeing values on the wall how were they determined and does the company really strive for excellence, integrity or the other words listed?

At Bare Wealth Advisors we believe that core values are essential to have as an organization. These values help us determine how we will behave on a daily basis – they describe who we are as a company and keep us focused on acting in a way that aligns with the values we have established. The Bare Wealth Team recently spent time taking a deep look into the meaning of our values and have established some thoughts to go with each value. As our trusted clients, I thought it would be helpful for you to know what our values are and how these values help us fulfill our purpose as a company which is to: Help our clients intentionally manage wealth that aligns with their God-Given Purpose.

  1. Stewardship – We believe God owns everything and managing faithfully what is entrusted to us leads to growth in resources, responsibility, and influence for the purposes of God.
  2. Biblical Wisdom – Applying the timeless principles of God’s Word to our financial stewardship creates contentment, clarity, and freedom.
  3. Excellence – Upholding a standard of excellence compels us to give our best in unselfish service to others
  4. Integrity – Being authentic and transparent promotes wholeness and confidence in the trustworthiness of our stewardship.
  5. Generosity - Cheerful and generous giving inspires others in their purpose, enriches relationships, and expands the influence of the resources we manage.

 

By putting some thought behind each value, it provides additional meaning to the values we have set. This will help us continue to pursue excellence in our areas of expertise while making Biblical Stewardship a priority as we operate and provide advice. However, ultimately it is our sincere hope that these values help us help you be a faithful steward and make a difference with what has been entrusted to you!

5 Steps to Succeeding at Business Succession

by Ryan Kurtz

In a 4×100 relay race in the summer Olympics, just because a team has the four fastest runners does not mean they will win the race.  If they spend their practice time only trying to get faster, they still may not have the winning team.  Most 4×100 relays are won or lost in the transition of the baton.  Similar to an Olympic racer, a business professional could spend their whole life “running” their business only to lose much of the value, if they are not prepared for the transition.

In working with a number of business owners through building and transitioning businesses over the years, we have found a number of things that can help you “Succeed at Business Succession”.

Here are 5 steps to take now to set yourself up for success:

  1. Begin Locating a Successor

This may seem very basic but we see many business owners that are unable to complete a transition of the business only because there is no one ready to transition the business to.  Here are a few places you can look for a successor.

  • Family members:

If you have a business, family members are often a natural way to transfer your business. A benefit of this type of transfer can be flexibility of the current owner to stay involved in the family business after it is sold.  Selling to a family member can also create a situation where the older generation will sell the business in some sort of installment sale.  This could benefit the buyer with favorable terms (i.e. low interest rate, reasonable payment schedule, etc.) and the seller with some possible tax benefits of receiving the sale proceeds over a period of time rather than all in one year.

 

  • Employees

One of the benefits of selling a business to your employee(s) is that it can be an incentive to keep your key employee(s) around.  Stock ownership could be structured in the employee(s) compensation package, which also is a creative way to give bonuses or pay increases.  This could happen in a way where a small portion of the company would be transferred to an employee each year.

 

  • Outside business party

Selling to an outside party is always a possibility.  Finding a competitor or someone looking to buy a business can be an option.  This often will bring more changes to the business than the previous two options discussed and sometimes can be difficult for current employees.

 

  1. Make your Business Transferrable

Even if you are years away from selling your business, one thing you can do now is to work towards making your business transferrable.  You should work towards having your business function without the owners involved.  For a gauge of this, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do customers need the owners involved to conduct the day to day functions of the business?
  • How long can the owners be away before it affects the business?

Having a business operate successfully without the owners involved is a great benefit to the buyer of any business.  Remember, if you sell your business you will no longer be there, you just want to make sure the business still is.

Another key to making your business transferrable is having key employees that would stay with the business during a transition.  Having key employees in place and having low employee turnover should be a goal for any business owner

  1. Establish a Personal Financial Plan

Having a personal financial plan in place before transferring the business is important as you make transition plans.  This will help you to know what price as well as the timeframe in which you can sell your business. In addition, knowing if you need $10,000 versus $50,000 a year from the business for personal income is important.  Working on your personal financial plan can give you a lot of clarity in business transition decision making.

 

  1. Plan for the Unexpected

Most of us think of business transition as how do I sell my business?

But, what if you would have to transition the business because of an unexpected death or disability?  Having updated agreements in business partnerships is important in addition to having clear predetermined steps if something were to happen to the business owners.  These can include predetermined values of the company or even naming a certain person as someone who would have the first right to buy the business if the owner would to pass away.

Considering life insurance coverage is one possible option that can be an inexpensive way to plan for the unexpected.

It is good to also have all your personal estate documents updated as well as this could go in hand with any business agreements which you have in place.  These could include your Will, Financial Power of Attorney and Healthcare Power of Attorney documents.

It is good to remember: not planning for the unexpected could result in the forced sale of the business or loss of jobs for employees

 

  1. Consider a Consultant

Hiring a consultant that specializes in business transitions can be beneficial as you work through a business transition.

We recommend this person being someone who is not involved in the day to day work, has the ability to see your blind spots, and has experience working through relationship conflicts.  The same way it benefits an Olympic relay team to have a coach, it can benefit a business to have one as well.

 

So how can you start planning for your business succession now?

  • Begin looking for a successor.
  • Take time away from your business – can it still operate without you?
  • Prepare now before the possible event of a death or disability.
  • Create a personal financial plan.
  • Get help! Consider hiring a consultant.

Mid-Year Review

by  Curtis Burkholder

As we have reached the midpoint of 2018, it’s a good time to stop and reflect on the first half of the year and look ahead to the remaining six months.  The New Year brings clear vision of goals and plans but often we lose sight of these intentions as the year goes on.  However, if we want to see them become a reality, it’s important to review them before we reach the end of the year.

Our theme this year at Bare Wealth Advisors is a “Year of Purpose”.  An important part of successfully doing things with purpose is to pause and evaluate the current state of our life.  Our mission at Bare Wealth Advisors is to advise clients to intentionally manage their wealth in a way that aligns with their God-given purpose.  Intentional means “done on purpose; deliberate”. To intentionally manage something implies there has to be an end goal one is trying to accomplish.

I believe now is a good time to step back and reflect on how the year is going in all areas of life. Here are a few questions to help get started on evaluating the first half of the year.  Are you comfortable with the financial decisions you have made?  Have there been unexpected expenses?  What has been your greatest success?  What has been your biggest regret?  Is there a relationship that needs more time or energy?  All of these questions can help us evaluate where we are.

I heard the analogy used that if you want to figure out where you are going, you need to know where you currently are.  So, as we look ahead to the second half of the year, I believe this exercise in evaluating the first half of the year and our current status is important in setting the course for the upcoming months.  After reflecting on the past and where we are currently, I believe it’s important to use the information we have gathered to help determine where we want to go.

Life is full of change and unexpected events so even though we lay out our well thought plans, something is bound to happen that will cause us to adjust our original plan.  If we don’t make course corrections, we will end up far from where we originally intended to go.  As you consider the remaining six months of 2018 consider these questions:  What would need to happen for you to say the second half of 2018 was successful?  What conversations need to be had? Are there things you need to stop?  Are there things you need to start or restart?

Intentional choices are not only related to our finances.  As you consider your life spiritually, emotionally, relationally, financially, pick one thing to focus on in the next 2-6 months.  After this is accomplished, find another target.  As you make these deliberate choices, you will accomplish more than you expected and can have a greater impact in life.

Vacations With A Purpose

by Ron Bare

Building on our year of purpose at Bare Wealth Advisors we thought it may be a good time to tackle how to plan and take vacations with purpose. Personally, I have taken a vacation for most of the 20 plus years as we have raised our 4 children. Some of these vacations have been memorable and impactful while others not so much. As I reflect back over the years and think about what stands out the most, I believe a lot has to do with the purpose behind the vacation. Here are a few different ways to vacation with some thoughts on how to be intentional and purposeful as you plan your next getaway:

  1. Sometimes we just need to get away and relax. Life can be busy as we work, raise our families, serve in our communities, etc. These vacations serve to regroup and find rest in a way that can help us be better employees/employers, spouses, fathers/mothers, friends, etc. Usually, a few days will suffice to accomplish this task – personally, after a few days of rest I can get a little restless. The key here is to find a setting that is restful to you whether that would be the beach, in nature, or some other setting that helps you regroup
  2. Another type of vacation is a destination vacation. Four years ago my family and I boarded a plane to England to visit family as well as the area my wife’s grandmother grew up. Her grandmother met her grandfather in World War 2 in Manchester England near the Lake District of England. We spent some time with family and saw this beautiful area of the world she lived in before she came to America on a ship. While we were there, we spent a few days in London and Paris visiting historic sites. Our family came away with a better understanding of history and our family’s heritage. This trip helped us to appreciate the sacrifice of previous generations that benefit us today. This is an experience for our family that was worth the financial investment it took to provide this vacation.
  3. Mission/Service work vacations are some of my favorite. I have had the opportunity to serve alongside others on a few mission trips in my life. I have always come back from them a changed person, with a more healthy perspective in my life and my purpose. Back in 2013, I traveled to South Sudan, Africa to serve under Africa Inland Missions. This trip was a work trip to help build homes for missionaries that would be living in an area with a remote group of people. This experience put me out of my comfort zone in many ways but showed me that God has a plan for each and every person in this world. It also showed me that me being born in America, specifically in Southeast PA, alone puts me in the top few percent of the world’s wealthy – this seemingly random fact requires me to ask God what purpose he has for me and why has He entrusted me with much? I know the Bible teaches me that “to much is given, much is expected” and this trip helped me take intentional steps to use all that I have been given to help others in a way that aligns with the purpose God has for my life.
  4. Combination trips are another possibility. Earlier this year, under the year of purpose mission, my family traveled to the Dominican Republic for a week. We visited close missionary friends and got a much better view of the work being done for the Dominican people. We also spent a few days at a Dominican beach relaxing and enjoying family time. Not only did we deepen our relationship with our friends, we received a very authentic picture of Dominican life and the friendly warm people who live there. This could not have been accomplished without the “combination” of a vacation with rest and purposefully serving.

There are many ways to plan vacations with a purpose. Remember, no matter what type of vacation you are planning – plan it with purpose as these trips can help shape us into the people God wants us to be. People who are not only concerned about ourselves but also how to serve and honor those in other cultures. These are steps that help us to live a life on purpose!

Retirement With A Purpose

by Ron Bare

Bare Wealth Advisors is making 2018 a year focused on purpose. One topic that should be discussed in this context is the subject of retirement. Many studies have shown that people who retire from work without a plan or purpose for the next phase of life are more likely to be discouraged, depressed, and disappointed about their life. Statistics also show that those who retire and have no purpose do not live as long as those who have a purpose clearly defined going into this transition. So this begs the question: How do I retire with a purpose?

Here are a few strategies that may help you plan for a purposeful retirement:

  1. Consider how to spend the extra time on hand: On average we spend about 25% of our time each day at work – that is a considerable amount of time. Rest and leisure are nice and can use some of this time but if all of it is used for rest and leisure you may find yourself in the statistics above.
    • Action Step:  Make a list of 5 – 10 areas of life you wish to be more intentional in such as health, family, travel, service, etc.   Then determine one or two ways to take a step to live  more intentionally and purposefully in these areas.
  2. Define your work: We were made to work.  In Genesis, God made Adam and Eve and put them in the garden to work and take care of what was created. God is the ultimate Creator and humans created in God’s image are sub- creators. We are designed to take what God has created on the earth, improve it, and build upon it. Each person has been created with unique gifts to be used in this creation work.  Part of our purpose is our work during our careers but even after “retirement” we can find work that fits our gifts and abilities which helps to improve the world around us. Ron Blue uses the term “re-hirement” to describe retirement.  Personally, I think this is a good way to look at retirement in that it signals a transition to a new phase rather than a complete stopping of work all together.
  3. Define “How much is enough?”:  After you know what your purpose and plans are for retirement, you should be able to determine how much money will be needed to fund your retirement planning goals. Saving and investing to be able to fund your goals is prudent planning and can help you live a “re-hirement” strategy of your dreams. In this process I have seen that determining how much is enough and setting personal financial finish lines can be part of an intentional plan and help you live retirement on purpose. Excess funds can be used to help you do more than you thought possible in some of the areas listed above. Wealth can be used in a variety of ways when you have an intentional plan for your family, ministry/service work, a new business, community improvement, health and education, etc. Part of your work in #2 above can  be strategically allocating financial resources to the areas that are your heart’s deepest desires – I have seen this to be very fun and fulfilling “work”.

Like most areas of life, retiring on purpose takes some planning and intentional work.  However the results of this work can lead you to a fulfilling and purposeful “re-hirement”. Many people in life start strong but only a few finish strong.  Let’s be a generation that finishes strong by living our remaining years on this earth on purpose!

Purpose

by Ron Bare

Purpose is defined as “the reason for which something exists” and also “an intended or desired result”. Living a life on purpose means that we first understand there is a reason we are here on this earth and that we are not an accident. Second, it means we should live life on purpose by being intentional in all areas of our life.

As busy people, we can sometimes look for balance in our lives – we even use phrases like “finding work/life balance”. Although there may be some good that comes from not being too focused on one area of life that it negatively affects the other areas of life, perhaps a better way to look at life is to live to the fullest in each area. We are not created to separate our lives into different components or departments acting independently of one another, but rather each area of our lives should work together to complete a beautiful picture of life to the fullest. Jesus said he came to give and provide a full or abundant life (John 10:10).  A life of abundance or fullness is not a life of compartments, but rather a life of integration.

As an example, how can I have an abundant life if my job or work life is going well but my marriage or family life is a wreck? If I make terrible financial decisions don’t you think that will trickle into my relationships and emotions? If I have the best marriage in the world but treat my children with no respect or give them no time, do I still have a “full” life?   No, each area of our lives affects all parts and to live a full life of purpose we must work on the following:

  1. Define your purpose – you should first know why you exist and how this relates to the current season in life. We are a Masterpiece or the most special creation (see Eph. 2:10 below).  Without a good understanding of who we are it will be hard to make much progress in reaching our purpose.
  2. Live intentionally – nothing happens unless you make intentional decisions. Each area of your life will take intentionality for you to experience fullness. Good marriages take hard work – good careers take effort and education.
  3. Be faithful – Most successful people in life will tell you it is the small decisions they make each day that help them accomplish the goals and purpose they have in life.
  4. Define your work – Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” God created us to do “work” and work can be enjoyable and have meaning when we understand it is all part of our purpose in life.

As you reflect on the above thoughts consider the following questions until our next blog:

  1. What areas of my life are thriving?
  2. Which areas are suffering?
  3. How are the thriving and suffering areas affecting each other?
  4. What is one thing I can do to be more intentional in each area of my life?

End of Year Generosity

By Ron Bare

We are approaching the end of another year – if you’re like me you often wonder how the year went by so quickly and you begin to understand that our time on earth is short – even if we live to age 100!

Since time is short, we must look to make the most of the resources God has entrusted to us. As you reflect on another year and make plans for the next, consider the following thoughts on generosity that will help us leave a legacy well beyond our time on earth.

Excel – In 2 Corinthians 8:7 Paul talks about excelling in your grace of giving. Just as we work hard to excel in school or our careers, we should also work hard to excel in our grace of giving. The best way to do this is to push ourselves to a higher standard than the year before.

Decide – In 2 Corinthians 9:7 Paul also tells us to decide in our hearts how much to give and to do it cheerfully. We should decide in our heart by setting goals and committing to giving back to the Lord the best or first of all our resources.  We should do this not because we have to but as an overflow of our love for Christ who died for us.

Be ready – I Timothy 6:18 Paul again tells us to be ready to share with others and by doing so we will be storing up treasures for the future. I’m not exactly sure what these treasures include, but I believe Jesus when he said “It is more blessed to give then receive”. You never know when God will prompt you, so be ready to share – and be blessed!

We often set goals near the end of a year for the upcoming year. This year why not DECIDE to set some giving goals for 2018 that will help you EXCEL in generosity, so more people will be blessed! In this way you will be READY to share with those in need and store up treasures for your future.

Cybersecurity

Password Protection

An exercise most of us have had in place since the start of our computer use over the years has been using passwords to access various systems. Most systems we work with require a password just to use, and some even have specific requirements for the details of the passwords we choose. The use of computer passwords has changed a lot since they were started in the early 1960s by Fernando Corbato, a former computer science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Just as technology has been constantly evolving to help us, it also continues to become more efficient for hackers to create security breaches.

So, what can we do to stay current on how secure we are with our passwords?

First, it is important to create complex, hard-to-guess passwords. This can be tough because we also want passwords that are easy for us to remember.  Many sites will require a password that contains one capital letter, one number, one symbol, and a character minimum. One way to accomplish both is to create passwords that are a word that is easy for us to remember but using symbols and numbers as substitutions for specific letters. For example, you can substitute “$” for “s”, “@” for “a”, or “1” for “i”.

Second, we should be changing the passwords on a regular basis, preferably every six months.

Third, we need to keep our list of passwords in a safe place that is easy for us to remember where it is but hard for others to access. Keeping a “hidden” list under your computer keyboard is strongly discouraged. Yes, that may be convenient for you to access, but trust me; you won’t be the only person thinking to look there.

Fourth, the more recent option is to use a password management tool. Password managers make it easy for you to organize your passwords and keep them in a safe place. They can alert you to periodically change your passwords. They can also create complex passwords for you. There are a few trusted and secure password management software packages that many are using to help organize and maintain their passwords. The one to choose will be determined by personal preference. The main goal is to have a system that is easy to use so you will consistently use it. The only reason some of the software is more expensive than the others is that their platforms are more detailed and user-friendly. They all use AES-256 security encryption, a system used by the federal government to safeguard classified information.

Credit Monitoring

Since Equifax announced their cyber-security breach last month, many have become concerned with the security of protecting their identity. As they should, seeing that approximately 145.5 million Americans have been victims of having their information accessed by cybercriminals. America is made up of roughly 330 million people total and a large percentage of that number consists of children under the age of 18 who do not have credit history available on Equifax. This means that the majority of us adults have had our personal information hacked.

So, what should our plan of action be?

There has been more awareness and use of credit motoring sites within the past month, most likely due to the breach. It is important to put effort into the research of which sites are trustworthy and actually monitor the information you need them to. Due to a lot of internet theft and scamming, be sure to know what services you are agreeing to, especially if you are being charged a fee.

Staying up to date on your credit history and score is imperative to protecting your identity. You should be checking your credit at least 3 times per year. This way, if you can detect fraudulent use of your credit and identity, the faster you can take proper steps to resolve the problem.

Dave Ramsey also gives the recommendation of what to do once you have found out your identity has been hacked. First, freeze your credit report accounts. Second, pull all 3 credit reports which include TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Third, look into identity theft protection or insurance. Dave recommends Zander for the insurance on identity theft.

If you have further questions on any of these items, please give us a call and we’ll be happy to answer your questions or point you to appropriate resources.

When Will This Bull Market End?

by Ryan Kurtz

Just in case you haven’t been paying attention the last 3127 calendar days, we are in a bull stock market (as of September 30 measured by the S&P 500).  That means stocks have been on a steady climb and have not had a 20% drop from its highest point since 2009.  So when will this bull market end?

Before answering that question, let’s start by looking at what has really happened in the last 3127 days.

Over the last 8 years investors around the world were willing to pay more to own companies like Walmart, Apple, and Exxon.  Even though the Federal  Government shutdown briefly, terrorists attacked different places around the world,  and  we had two Presidential elections during that time period, investors as a whole have felt confident in owning stocks.  The stock market is like an auction, when you have bidders that are willing to pay more for something, you have to bid higher to get it and that is what investors have been willing to do.

So when will this bull market end?

Many economists, financial advisors, and business writers have been more than happy to give their opinions and predictions on when this may occur.  The truth be told, nobody knows.

This bull could keep running for another 8 years or the market could begin its descent tomorrow.

To keep things in perspective, let’s look at history and what we can expect to be normal.

Dow Jones Industrial Average from 1900 – 2016 (information based on Capital Group research)

-5% decline about three times a year

-10% decline about once a year

-15% decline about once every two years

-20% decline about once every 3.75 years

What is the lesson in this?

We do not know how long this bull market will last but when it does end, it is not a tragic event.  It is normal for investing into the stock market.

So what can you do?

Review your financial plan regularly and make sure you are prepared if your investments in the stock market begin to lose value.  Historically, if you were able to hold them long enough, you would have been rewarded by enjoying the next bull market that came along.  Although past results are not a guarantee of the future, this can be a comforting fact to a long term investor.

“The market is the most efficient mechanism anywhere in the world for transferring wealth from impatient people to patient people.” — Warren Buffett

If you are wondering if you are prepared for this bull market to end, contact us at Bare Wealth Advisors.  We would be happy to review your plan with you.