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What we can Learn from the Financially Independent
November, 2008 - Issue #49
Most of us are worried about our financial futures. In part, it's because we didn't major in economics. But it goes beyond understanding spread sheets. In truth, there are real lifestyle and personality issues that play a role in how much - or how little - we have in our bank account. Here's what local experts have to say about the traits of the financially independent.

Four Life Lessons
There are four lessons we can learn from the financially independent. First, they realize that avoiding losses is very often more important than taking risks in hopes of larger gains. Second, they use knowledgeable advisors, understanding the benefit in doing so. Third, they rely upon trusted referrals, but understand the need to explore fresh ideas and opportunities. And, finally, they make a plan and stick to it! Jerry R. Citarella, RFC, of Infinity Wealth Management 255-9555

Keep Great Records
Financial independence means good record keeping. It's very important for people to retain their purchase escrow, sales escrow and refinance escrow documents, as well as any other loan documentation. Part of the tax legislation passed in December 2007 (The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act) requires proof of acquisition debt. This also includes property improvements. Use of loan proceeds for home improvements must be verified by the dates, cost of the improvement, and the type of improvement. To show proof, one must provide copies of canceled checks, credit card receipts and invoices of services rendered. Michael L. Green of Michael L. Green Tax and Financial 257-4111

Know the Difference Between "Like" and "Afford"Financial independence can be explained in four words: like, want, need and afford. "Like" and "want" are what credit cards and household budgets without restraint have been based upon. "Need" and "afford" are the two descriptors that require the most scrutiny. "Need" is answered with an honest assessment of whether the household can do without something, usually because they already have it. Answering the "afford" issue requires a household with six months of savings, life insurance, minimal credit card balances, funded retirement accounts and education savings accounts for the kids. Bankruptcy often finds the household having ignored these four questions - living beyond its means to be financially responsible, and pushed over the edge by the loss of income through unemployment, underemployment or a medical catastrophe. Louis J. Esbin, Esq. of Law Offices of Louis J. Esbin 254-5050

It takes a Village
Most who enjoy great success in their lives know that it takes a team to accomplish great things. With regard to personal finances, that team would be your banker, your accountant and your attorney. By creating a circle of trusted advisors, you are able to tap into their knowledge and expertise. Together, you and your team will develop a clear strategy and maintain focused progress toward your goals. Another interesting thing to remember is that the financially independent also know that the greatest opportunities are found during the worst of times. They're prepared to take advantage of them while others retreat. Tamara Gurney of Mission Valley Bank 775-4100

Have Discipline to see a Smart Plan Through
Financially independent people have the discipline to manage their money well. They regularly consult with a licensed, experienced financial adviser. A financial adviser can help minimize tax liability by recommending tax deferral and tax-free withdrawal options for investments. Thus, financially independent people don't pay taxes on money they are not using or on investments that experience losses. They also pay themselves first by regularly saving a fixed portion of their income before paying or taking on other financial obligations. A long-term view combined with a steady approach to investing in good economic times and bad can get anyone closer to financial security. Scott R. Alexander of Alexander Financial Group 295-8338
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