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Digm Piece (Op-Ed)

Group Gift It to Save Money and Time

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‘Tis the season to gift, gift, gift, and gift some more. Chances are most of the gifts you give may be solely from you. However, if you play your cards right, there may be opportunities for you to go in on a group gift this season to save money and time. Even if you’re being a little last minute with the whole holiday gifting thing in general this year, this approach could still work in your favor.

Trust us; a group gifting strategy is one you’re going to want to put into practice today (stop procrastinating!) to help lessen the cost of a big gift or help you keep your sanity if you have the largest gift list in the world to tackle.

Either way, don’t even let yourself be concerned about the actual splitting-the-cost aspect. You know, when you get to the point of needing to exchange money with the other party to stay true to paying your half or portion. Technology will be your solution, if you’re not a pay-in-cash type of person that is.

Let’s get into the group gift ideas and opportunities you should be exploring and that techie cost-splitting solution, shall we?

Group Gift Ideas and Opportunities

1. Family.

When it comes to family, there is a bunch of ways to get creative when it comes to group gifting. And truth be told, you may find your family to be the most understanding when it comes to the idea of doing the group gift thing. It’s easier to bring up and easier to make it happen (in most cases).

Family Group Gift Ideas:
a. Immediate Family – Decide to all pitch in on the cost for a big or experience-related gift (i.e. vacation, event tickets, etc.).

b. Extended Family – Get a group gift exchange going. Keep it simple by telling everyone to bring a wrapped gift according to a pre-established budget and then do an exchange based on the order of numbers picked out of a hat. You can make it more strategic and fun by implementing steals.

c. Siblings – Gift as a group to buy for parents and other family members.

2. Significant Other.

Whether you’re new in your relationship or you’ve been together forever, this strategy can work out really well for you from a cost-savings as well as a relationship-building perspective (not to mention a less stress perspective).

SO Group Gift Ideas
a. Your Families – Similar to how you and your SO may be sharing finances , make a plan to gift together when it comes to your respective families to share the costs.

b. Each Other – To avoid stressing about finding the perfect gift for that special someone, think of what you could get/do together that would make you both happy. Think in terms of experiences or big-ticket items—something you both can enjoy together.

3. Friends.

Implement the group gift approach with your circle of friends to get friends you haven’t seen in a while together, as well as to eliminate the cost of having to buy for each individual person.

Friends Group Gift Ideas
a. Close Friends – Do a Secret Santa-type group gift exchange when the friends involved know each other well. Set a reasonable budget (i.e. max $20) and then start the name picking. But how would one do that if you can’t get everyone together prior? You can use a Secret Santa Generator, of course!

b. Any & All Friends – Organize a holiday cookie exchange-style gathering. Only scrumptious cookies are required to participate. Here’s a sample of rules for your to run with:

Cookie Exchange Guidelines:
1. Cookies must be homemade
2. Please bring “X” dozen cookies
3. E-mail copy of recipe to [email address] before party
4. Theme is “Christmas Cookie”
5. Christmas attire required!
6. Prize for best cookie

Pay for Group Gifts with P2P

No matter which group gift opportunity finds its way into your life while you’re in last minute gift mode, technology is the answer when there are costs that have been split and you need to pay your part. Yes, you can certainly split the cost of group gifts with people using cash you have on hand. But, for all of us that tend to not carry cash on the daily, there are technological options, like using your mobile banking app.

Ash Exantus aka Ash Cash is one of the nation’s top personal finance experts. Dubbed as the Financial Motivator, he uses a culturally responsive approach in teaching financial literacy. He is the Head of Financial Education at BankMobile and Editor-in-Chief at Paradigm Money. The views and opinions expressed are those of Ash Cash and not the views of BankMobile and/or its affiliates.

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Digm Piece (Op-Ed)

5 Hidden Risks in Retirement That Could Affect Your Financial Security

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Being well-prepared for retirement is wonderful, but there is no fail-safe plan. Things can unravel due to many inherent post-retirement risks. Understanding those risks that lie ahead and how they can harm financial security is key to making critical adjustments in a retirement plan. Sometimes without those changes, the impact of unfavorable and unpredictable events can be far more severe.

“Once you have a retirement plan in place, it’s not set in stone,” says Clayton Alexander (www.retireteton.com), an investment adviser and founder of Teton Wealth Group. “Things change. You may add or lose family members, your retirement goals may change, the economic environment may create new considerations, and financial innovations may present new strategies. Once per year is a minimum in terms of making sure your retirement plans (and beneficiaries) are constantly up-to-date.”

Alexander says retirees and those making retirement plans should be aware of these five risks:  

  • Longevity. Running out of money before they die is one of the primary concerns of most retirees. This worry is heightened by the fact that the average life expectancy has increased. “A pension or an annuity can lessen the risk, but carefully investigate any company where you’d place an annuity and be cautious of fees and interest rates,” Alexander says. “It’s best to tailor your plan to run to life expectancy plus five years.”
  • Loss of income. “Make sure both you and your spouse are protected from the unexpected,” Alexander says. “Consider the financial impact of the loss of one spouse. Remember that your surviving spouse will only get the highest of your two Social Security checks. A spouse’s death can bring additional financial burdens, including lingering medical bills and debts. Life insurance and estate planning are important vehicles to protect survivors.”
  • Health care costs. Longer life expectancy could lead to high costs in a long-term care facility. “It’s estimated that approximately 50% of people over 65 will need long-term care,” Alexander says. “Do not overspend on policies that may be subject to drastic premium increases. And surprising to some, Medicare is not free — your premiums for coverage are usually deducted from your Social Security check. Medicare doesn’t cover dental, hearing or vision, is subject to deductibles, and doesn’t cover long-term care. Long-term care insurance is advisable.”
  • Negative return risk. “A 50% gain does not allow a portfolio to recover from a 50% loss,” Alexander says. “In fact, a 100% gain is required to restore a 50% loss. The ‘buy and hold’ strategy that works when you are young — where you wait for the markets to come back up after a downturn — does not apply in retirement as we saw in 2008, when many people’s retirements were wiped out. Common stocks have substantially out-performed other investments over time and thus are usually recommended for retirees as part of a balanced asset allocation strategy, but the rate of return you earn can be significantly lower than the long-term trends.”
  • Inflation risk. “You should plan on prices for food, goods and services getting higher during retirement, reducing your buying power incrementally as you are living on a fixed income,” Alexander says. “Your retirement plan has to factor that in. Ways retirees can curb the effects of inflation include annuity products with a cost-of-living adjustment feature and investing in equities, a home, and other assets.”

“Understanding what the potential post-retirement risks are and considering them in the retirement planning stage,” Alexander says, “can help to ensure that they are mitigated and properly managed.”  

About Clayton Alexander Clayton Alexander (www.retireteton.com) is an investment adviser and founder of Teton Wealth Group. A graduate of Dixie State University with a B.A. in administration, Alexander also worked at Northwestern Mutual and Goldman Sachs. He is licensed for life and health insurance in the state of Utah and has passed the Series 65 securities exam. Alexander focuses on building holistic retirement plans, and with the launch of Teton Wealth he developed the four-step Ascent Plan – a system to help clients gain clarity and perspective on creating a financial plan for safe, secure and tax-efficient retirement income and estate transition.  

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Digm Piece (Op-Ed)

Are Americans Undervaluing Paid Time off + Quick Trip Tips

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It’s August, which for many Europeans means taking almost the entire month off. So why is it difficult for Americans to take even the little vacation time they receive? A recent piece in The Economist states workers in the U.S. are doing it all wrong by going on short holidays, which can add even more stress or taking none. Instead, it’s essential for employees to recharge their batteries. It’s also beneficial for companies to have a consistent holiday month during which junior employees can head to the beach, and managers can take stock of things, says the report.

While many Americans may not receive paid time off, especially those that only work part-time, even those who receive it generally don’t take all of it. What we don’t realize is that not taking a vacation is like giving money back to your employer, especially with companies that have a use it or lose it policy. Which should encourage employees to use their time but unfortunately it does not. According to recent polls conducted by Bankrate, nearly 2600 US adults say they plan to take a quarter of their vacation days while 4% are not planning to take any vacation time at all.

Time off is a valuable perk, to the tune of millions of dollars! Just to bring the point home in 2017 Americans gave up 212 million days off that amounts to $62.2 billion in lost benefits! So, take your vacations and follow the tips below to not break the bank while taking time off:

  1. Take a Staycation – Stay local and vacation somewhere that is less than a day drive away, this helps save gas, mileage, and spending on lodging. Look for local attractions, vineyards, interesting museums and landmarks or even travel to your closest big city and be a tourist for a day. You would be amazed at how much you can discover and learn by staying local and all on the cheap! It’s a bonus if you have friends in the town your visiting they can serve as a tour guide and let you stay over for free if they have the room.
  2. Book Flights Off-Season – July 4th, Memorial Day and Labor Day seem like a great time to go on vacation; unfortunately, everyone is planning to take time off during those busy weekends, and ticket prices are through the roof because of it. Book flights after major holidays and during the week you will generally find that they are cheaper than weekend flights.
  3. Take a Road Trip – Road trips are fun and cheaper than taking a plane, especially if you must rent a car when you get to your destination anyway. Plan cool stops along the way and finds interesting places to eat that way you can make the journey part of the vacation.
  4. Plan to Eat In – Food adds up on vacation so pack food and making one or two meals in your hotel can keep you under budget.
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Digm Piece (Op-Ed)

Top Ten Freshman Money Myths

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Starting college is one of the most important and exciting times of your life. Now that you’re all “checked-in,” enjoy your college experience without worrying about where your next meal will come from by chasing away these common freshman money myths. (more…)

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