CFP


What is a HECM?

Anyone who plans to stay in their house into old age should consider getting a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage. If you already know you are going to need to tap the equity of your house to make ends meet, read more about the new Reverse Mortgages (renamed HECMs) here: https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/mortgages/reverse-… http://www.bankrate.com/finance/retirement/basics-… Conversely, even if your house is paid off, anyone who is implicitly considering their home equity as a source of funds in case of […]


What is Long-Term Care Insurance?

What is long-term care insurance and does it make sense for you? Long-term care insurance (LTCI) typically picks up the tab for very expensive illnesses that leave you unable to take care of your own “activities of daily living”. You generally need to be unable to care for yourself for quite a while before they’ll step in – a typical elimination period is 90 days. It helps with caregiving for dementia patients, or people who […]


Financial Literacy for Young Adults

A client asked me if I had any financial literacy suggestions for teenagers. It kicked off a reading festival! Here are my notes. Years ago I read Suze Orman’s Young Fabulous and Broke and I was underwhelmed. She seems to think that everyone is as clueless as she was and needs to have a come-to-Jesus moment and she’ll tell you how. Most people I know just want to know some facts and they’ll integrate them into their […]


The Human Finance Project

A funny thing happened at the NAPFA conference in Phoenix this year. TD Ameritrade is doing a series of short films to promote the Registered Investment Advisor model (as opposed to the sales rep model) for investment advising. They asked if I’d come be interviewed. As is the norm with these things, fifteen minutes got edited down to a minute or two. I can’t say I am thrilled with the way I come across – […]


What to Look For in a Financial Professional

Financial services is a young profession and there’s a lot of squabbling going on with regard to what designations are best. There are 100x as many salesmen out there as financial professionals, though, and a bunch of the designations were designed to give them credibility. Quite a lot of the credentials people have can be obtained with a week-end cram course. For tax prep the professionals are CPAs or lawyers, but you have to confirm […]


Uses and Abuses, Tips and Tricks About Debt

Last April, I watched as my eldest son drove out of my driveway in his loaded-down Subaru with a brand-new Thule box on it, headed for Utah with all his possessions loaded in his modern-day Conestoga wagon. As many of you know, a month later he fell off a cliff and received a terrible spinal cord injury. (Happy update: it was a terrible adventure, but thanks to a whole host of blessings, he is nearly […]


Charity

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving this year is designated locally as “Giving Tuesday.” A company called Razoo has figured out how to gamify giving. I don’t want to stop anyone from playing if they’re so inclined. Far be it from me to tell you social media has no redeeming qualities. But there are a lot of different ways to think about charitable giving. First, it’s good for you. There’s a fairly new field of study called […]


My thoughts on 529 College Savings Plans

I’m not in love with 529 plans. I think they are really fabulous in a few settings, but most of the time they’d be my third or fourth choice for ways to save for college. (Update on 12-22-2017: they can also be used for private school now. It doesn’t change any of this advice.) First: when SHOULD you use a 529 plan? When you’re trying to create a trust fund on the cheap. If a […]


Retirement Income Generators

I’ve been reading a bunch of books on income in retirement. See the last two entries for more in depth discussions of annuities. I enjoyed and would recommend “Money for Life: Turn Your IRA and 401(k) Into a Lifetime Retirement Paycheck” by Steve Vernon, FSA. I don’t actually know what the initials FSA stand for, but he mentions in the book that his background is as an actuary, so that gives me a guess as […]


How to NOT Get Ripped Off When Buying an Annuity

As I wrote yesterday, there is precious little good to say about variable annuities. If you want to leave a legacy for your heirs there are better ways to do it. If you want to have income in retirement there are less expensive ways to do it. However, the urge to hold on to your wad of retirement cash, preferably leaving it to your heirs, is super intense in humans. Many people simply want what […]


Why Annuities are So Terrible (and why you might need a specific kind anyway.)

In the (somewhat mythical) “Good Old Days” you would retire from your corporate or union job with a pension. Combined with a check from social security and some of your own savings, you’d be comfortable in retirement. The biggest problem was that you might have a fixed income that didn’t keep up with inflation. But you didn’t worry about running out of money: pensions are for life. Remember the inflation of the Carter Years? I […]


ProsperiTea Planning

Did you know that I am more than just a CPA doing a tax prep service?

April 25, 2016 As a Certified Financial Planner™professional, and as someone registered in Massachusetts as an Investment Advisor, I work as a fiduciary comprehensive financial planner for a group of clients who have me on an annual flat-fee retainer as their “financial concierge”. This service includes: retirement planning, estate planning, strategizing for financial aid, investment advising and management, setting up (or rebalancing) your overall asset allocation for your investments, tax planning and preparation, and advising […]


Legal disclosures

Important Consumer Information All written content on this site is for informational purposes, only. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of Wendy Marsden, CPA, CFP®, either acting as Firm Principal for Tea & Taxes Company or doing business as ProsperiTea Planning. Material presented is believed to be from reliable sources and no representation is made as to its accuracy or completeness. All information and ideas should be discussed in detail with your individual advisor prior to implementation. Fee-only […]


Bond ladders for a prudent pantry

I’ve talked in the past about the benefits of off-loading risk to an insurance company to create a pension in retirement.  When certain cash flow becomes a higher priority than investment growth, I’ve considered single premium immediate annuities (SPIAs) to do the job. Another idea is a bond ladder.  It’s a very unsexy solution, but may very well do a better job.  I’m putting this article here while I develop this idea more. A Pseudo-Life […]


Thanksgiving Family Money Letter – 2015

  Happy Thanksgiving! The biggest payoff comes from being good at things that are absolutely under our control. That’s the lesson I’ve learned studying economics, finance, and investment theory. That includes saving for goals, being a judicious consumer, and maintaining your relationships, your health, and your emotional wellness. One of my new gurus, Bert Whitehead, wrote a book called Why Smart People Do Stupid Things with Money: Overcoming Financial Dysfunction. He says not to put too […]


ProsperiTea Planning

The retainer-based financial planning model

A fee-only fiduciary certified financial planner is someone who is a financial professional. “Fiduciary” means “putting your interests ahead of my own. Not equal to, but ahead. I have to act as a trustworthy agent for you. It’s the professional standard that you should insist on, but most people never even realize there’s that option. There are over 600,000 broker/dealers in the United States and about 2,500 members of the National Association of Personal Financial Planners (the […]


Alliance of Comprehensive Planners

It’s been hard to find my path as a fiduciary, fee-only financial professional.  There are so many sales agents out there that people automatically think I’m just another one.  How can they tell, when financial credentials are so thick on the ground?  I’ve heard some really ridiculous ones.  But a fee-only financial planner who belongs to NAPFA is like the difference between a doctor and a pharmacist.  A doctor has a broad range of training […]


Insurance for workers

When I was in my early twenties a grad student at my University drowned. He left behind a widow and a small child and no life insurance. They had been living in University housing and his new widow was left homeless. When we had children I made sure my husband and I each had life insurance. These sorts of tragedies are really visible and really dreadful and so life insurance occurs to people like this […]


“Save Your Retirement”: a book review

The hook for this book by Frank Armstrong III and Paul Brown is in the subtitle.  Notice it’s not “Save FOR your retirement”.  It’s “Save Your Retirement: What do Do if You haven’t Save Enough or If Your Investments Were Devastated” is a book of distilled wisdom compiled by a CFP and professional financial journalist. It’s really mostly the gloss they put on it as an excuse to write yet another book on a tired […]


Double Duty Retirement Strategies

When I was doing coursework to become a Certified Financial Planner, the capstone project required that we upload a video presentation as part of a financial plan for a fictional young couple with children. Since the couple are fictional, I figured it was okay to share this advice with anyone who want to see it. Originally published December 27, 2012, on a day when I had a particularly large amount of hair!