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Financial Blog

How does Gen Y save for retirement? Here are three financial-planning profiles

Advice for the millennial who has begun saving for retirement: Don't get ahead of yourself.

Financial planning for today's young adults requires what could be an unprecedented level of balancing between short- and long-term goals. Without question, millennials need to save with machine-like discipline for retirement. But money put away for retirement in your 20s might be needed for a house down payment, or to cover expenses between employment contracts.



One year on: Surprising insights from Schwab's new digital platform

Business decisions, not technology issues, are the primary concerns of financial advisers when it comes to robo advice, according to Charles Schwab's top digital executive.

"Advisers want to deliver the digital experience to their clients and achieve scalability for their firms," Neesha Hathi, Schwab's EVP for investor services platforms, strategy and client experience said in her keynote address at the annual SourceMedia In|Vest digital conference.

"The questions we've been getting from advisers are not so much about technology but more about how they can integrate the platform with their business and address issues like pricing models, service and branding," Hathi elaborated in an interview with Financial Planning.



Financial Planning for Married Same-Sex Couples

Illustration by Julia Barzizza

When the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage across all 50 states last June, the historic ruling was celebrated by social media feeds with the hashtag "Love Wins." And while the notion of all-inclusive love is certainly something to rejoice over, the institution of marriage is, in an ideal sense, a delicate dance between deep, long-term commitment and an ever-growing love that is also rooted in practical matters. Once you become legally hitched and subject to the myriad laws of the state as a married person, there is also the business side to marriage.

This might be a good time to talk about money.

Same-sex couples who do decide to wed no longer have to deal with the legal and financial complexities of being in a domestic partnership, or to resort to adopting their spouses (yes, this was an actual thing). However, for couples who have carefully weighed the pros and cons of getting married and decided to take the plunge, it can still prove challenging to talk about financial issues.

According to a study by Prudential on the LGBT financial experience, while the median LGBT household income is $61,500 versus $50,000 for the average American household, "compared with the general population, the LGBT community feels less prepared to make wise financial decisions for a variety of unique legal, economic and social reasons."

And when it comes to financial planning, married same-sex couples face a host of additional challenges. Here are some considerations they should keep in mind and how best to prepare for the challenges ahead:

Going from a Domestic Partnership to Being Married

If you and your significant other were previously in a domestic partnership and have decided to take the plunge and get married, you'll want to spend some time updating all your info on existing documents. Make sure your beneficiary information is up to date with respect to employer benefits, retirement accounts and insurance, and in regard to any estate planning. Leave no stone unturned.

And if you were previously in a domestic partnership and had purchased life insurance for your partner to make up for a lack of spousal benefits, including those from a pension or social-security benefits, check to make sure the level of coverage you purchased still works for you.

While this may seem like a minor thing, look over legal forms to ensure that the pronouns for gender are correct (ie, he/he, she/she, man/man or woman/woman versus he/she or man/woman). Making sure they're correct now will prevent potential complications down the line.

Healthcare

While most companies do offer healthcare benefits to same-sex couples, this isn't always the case, as Jessica Ozar, a gay freelance blogger who got married a year prior to the Supreme Court ruling, points out. You'll want to look into the costs of your health plan to see which one provides the most value. "Healthcare is just expensive in general, and because queer individuals are less likely to go to the doctor due to discrimination or affordability, it's harder to stay on top of it all," says Ozar. If both you and your spouse are employed, you'll want to do your homework to see which person's health plan you'll want to hop on.

Taxes

Filing joint taxes can take a while to get your head around, especially if you and your partner have been filing taxes separately for a long time, says Ozar. You'll be able to take full advantage of the tax breaks from being married. Although tax season has come and gone, Ozar suggests talking to a tax professional to make sure that you're filing correctly and getting the max on your refund.

Growing a Family

"Even without infertility issues, a same-sex couple is looking at some cost, either for sperm, a surrogate or through adoption," says Ozar. If you and your spouse have tossed around the idea of growing a family, it's important to take a look at all the costs involved. It's helpful to get detailed, as costs can vary whether you plan to adopt locally or internationally or from a foster system or a private agency, or if you are considering surrogacy.

Besides taking into account the costs, you'll want to look into getting full parental rights for both adopted and biological children. This can get a little tricky, especially if you want to adopt your spouse's biological child. It's important to consider whose sperm and eggs you're using, and which partner (if any) is carrying the child.

For instance, if you're a lesbian couple and have a baby through artificial insemination, in which one partner is carrying the baby, it's important to ask, who has rights? And what are the parental rights of the parent who is not the biological parent? Raquel Hinman, CFP of Hinman Financial Planning, recommends sussing things out beforehand and having a written agreement in place.

Being in an Open Relationship

As Timothy J. LaPean, owner of Thoughtful Financial Planning, points out, most states assume that your marriage will be monogamous. While California is known to be more liberal with respect to adultery and divorce laws than other parts of the country, being in a nontraditional relationship could potentially be used against you. "Any non-monogamy could be considered some form of bad behavior by the courts and could potentially affect things like divorce awards and custody decisions," says LaPean.

Talk Early and Often

For a smoother transition into managing your money as a married couple, you'll want to start money talks as early as possible. "My partner and I talked about our financial priorities early in our relationship, and that has helped us figure out what we want to spend on, save on and invest in," says Ozar.

And whether it's coming up with a plan for tackling debt, creating an emergency fund or saving for retirement, LaPean recommends that people who identify as LGBT, regardless of their marital status, get a jump-start on their financial planning. "Because of the increased risk of various forms of discrimination and reduced levels of privilege negatively affecting our financial lives, LGBT people may have smaller margins of error than their non-LGBT counterparts," LaPean explains. "Taking a more intentional approach to our financial lives as early as possible in life could help us reduce or offset some of those potential impacts."

Everyone has their own particular situation, so it's best to seek professional counsel from an attorney, CPA or financial planner -- ideally, one who specializes in LGBT issues.

While it's not the most exciting or easy thing to think about, managing money as a couple is essential to building a life together in matrimony on the basis of your shared values. Because what it all boils down to, as LaPean points out, is the question, "What do you want from your experience of being on this earth?"



CFP Board announces agenda for new Center for Financial Planning

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. announced Tuesday the agenda for its new financial planning center, focusing on initiatives to promote racial and gender diversity, workforce development, and academic research.

The CFP Board launched the Center for Financial Planning last year as a way to address challenges in the financial planning community, such as an adviser population thats aging, shrinking and lacking diversity.

Among its diversity initiatives, the CFP Board plans to establish a diversity advisory group to provide guidance on developing projects related to racial and ethnic diversity, engage in a research study exploring barriers to diversity in the financial planning profession, and launch a mentorship program for women.

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