Increased accessibility to higher education. Evolving technological and medical sciences. Growing private companies. Greater entrepreneurial opportunities. Robust capital markets...and let’s face it, many local companies such as Facebook, Tesla, Apple, Visa, Genentech, LinkedIn, Google, Gilead and Twitter have enriched many of their employees. These are just some of the reasons why many Americans (especially those in the San Francisco Bay Area) have more money than their parents.
Money can be more than a financial resource. For many of us, money is a way of keeping score. We use it to gauge our net worth, or to value the skills and experience we offer to employers. We feel a sense of achievement when we get a raise. We mark accomplishment by reaching a particular compensation range. And we measure the progress we make to our financial goals with it.
What kind of returns can investors realistically expect to earn on their portfolios? Some financial planners have used 8 percent as a desired annual rate of return for a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds. That’s based on the historical performance of stock market and fixed income indices over the long term, going back 80 years or even longer. And considering a realistic inflation rate of 2-4 percent annually, and you can come up with a desired benchmark for overall real returns.
In 2014, Americans gave over $358.4 billion dollars in donations to charities. Of that amount, more than 3% of all charitable gifts were made into donor-advised funds. A donor-advised fund, also known as a “DAF”, is administered by a public charity and manages charitable donations on behalf of individuals, families, and organizations. Having a donor-advised fund account is like having a charitable savings account. Many individuals and families have found donor-advised funds to be more cost-effective than operating a private foundation, and provide more flexibility and control than an outright gift to a charitable organization.
Managing your finances can be a challenging task. To help you, there are a number of free online tools that can offer guidance and insight. Explore the tools below to get assistance in organizing your financial life.
For budgeting - Mint.com
Mint brings all your finances together in one convenient place to help you get a comprehensive understanding of your complete financial picture. The free, online service automatically categorizes and calculates your spending in different areas for easy budgeting and can help you set and track saving and debt reduction goals.
Even as the equity market approaches new highs, retirement savers, still shell-shocked from the extreme volatility of recent years, are slow to wade back into equities. Smaller investors tend to ignore the history that shows that the market eventually rewards those who can withstand the fluctuations and stay the course through the various market cycles.