[caption id="attachment_8098" align="alignleft" width="550"]earnings-life-cycle Source: “What Do Data on Millions of U.S. Workers Reveal about Life-Cycle Earnings Risk?” by Guvenen, Karahan, Ozkan & Song[/caption] If you've been reading our Brief for any length of time you may have seen the term "lifestyle creep" come up once or twice. It's a fascinating concept with an equally emotive name, and it has all sorts of implications in the practice of long-term financial planning. Lifestyle creep is, more or less, the natural but potentially dangerous rising standard of living that occurs over the course of a lifetime as salaries increase with age (to a point). It's potentially dangerous, because if it creeps too much, then retirement becomes prohibitively expensive to fund at the level of your creeped up lifestyle, since your rate of consuming dollars will by definition have outstripped your rate of saving dollars.

It’s a straightforward question that usually evokes an immediate, reflexive, and emphatic YES! And when pressed to define what rich means, we likely respond in monetary terms. After all, money is how we describe and measure many of the things we value in our daily lives. But, unless we are careful, the logical progression is to be driven to become richer, or borrow, in order to buy more of the things we value and enjoy.

One of the most important things to know about your financial relationship is whether you are a customer or a client. The differences may be subtle or obvious, but understanding them and feeling confident in the role you have accepted is vital in determining the quality of your financial future. As a customer, you are pitched to, or persuaded to buy. As a client you are advised. 'K'nowledge and 'R'esponsibility align differently in the two dynamics as illustrated below:

Did you know that you can buy a stroller (for a baby) made by Aston Martin? Did you know that it would cost you $4,000? I present this, for now, without comment. We'll come back to it momentarily.
Sometimes, when I tell people about the sort of work we do at Beacon, I get the sense that some view our primary mission and value as simply the building of wealth. And of course, that's part of what we do, and an important one at that. No one exactly hires us to make a nice La-Z-Boy shape out of their pile of money and just sit on it for 30 years. After all, the bank will pay them a couple pennies a year to do that. But the concept and reality of inflation would make that course of action pretty detrimental to most folks, so we build wealth for clients the best we know how, harnessing the power of the capital markets as efficiently as possible, and as effectively as human behavior allows.

The BrickMy wife is a genius, and I will tell you why. Whenever we go out to eat, no matter where we go, she is strictly "no phones." I don't care if we're having a conversation about movies and one of us might be tempted to IMDB an actress, or if out of habit I pull out my phone to tweet something dumb--doesn't matter. NO PHONES AT DINNER.

The beauty of the Olympics, their deep appeal, is what they reveal about the human spirit, whether in the 'thrill of victory' or 'the agony of defeat.' Under every colorful uniform there's a talented human being with a life-long story of struggles, challenges, hopes, dreams, and fierce commitment to be the best they can be. The medals of gold, silver, and bronze for which they compete are reward indeed, but they fall infinitely short of describing their accomplishments.

In our continuing effort to provide our clients with the best services and technology available, there's always the challenge of providing the information you want and need without overwhelming you with unnecessary complexity. We believe we've struck the perfect balance with our latest enhancements to our secure online client portal. All the information is still there, we just made it faster and easier to see what you want to see.

Today's Brief focuses on some powerful financial and budget planning options available to IRA owners. It was inspired, in part, by a recent blog on Health Savings Accounts  by our friend Ryan Smith of Stonegate Financial. IRAs are a powerful tax-deferred saving vehicle owned by many as the result of rollovers from other retirement plans such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s and other pension plans, or they were started outright to begin retirement savings in earnest. While IRAs have been around for decades, their features and options change often with new budgets and IRS rulings.

With the pep rallies concluded, Democratic and Republican captains and their teams are charging onto the field to commence a battle for the White House unlike any other. The game plans couldn't be more different on issues like immigration, regulations and taxes, but on trade there doesn't seem to be any line of scrimmage at all. But on this one, Trump is on offense and Clinton, defense.

Imagination is "the greatest creative force in the universe," claimed Albert Einstein. The keys at my fingertips, the computer transforming the clicks into hundreds of 0's and 1's, the copper lines and fibers of light delivering them to the device in front of you with its thousands of tiny light emitting diodes that project the letters you are reading, all started in the imagination. In fact, as you look around, you might be hard pressed to find anything within your reach that doesn't have its origins in the imaginings of creative people.