Cheat Sheet Q&A: 


Today’s topic:  Structure to your personal finances


The entry: 


Hi Brian, I love listening to you and respect your talent for getting to the bottom line in your research.  If you have time I would be interested to know what your thoughts are on my scenario or variables:


  • I am 65 - Social Security of $1090.00 per month


  • Full time work – salary $35,000 – I’ve been here two years good stable job, good benefits – 401K match (don’t participate right now as I am coming out of a long term unemployment situation, but can at any time fully vested).


  • Raising a 5 year old granddaughter – temporary custody until she is 18, no monetary assistance from anyone.  Attempting to adopt Social Security would pay me about $700 per month until she is 18, which would be great


  • SAVINGS $250.00– live from paycheck to paycheck


  • Rent - $950 per month


  • Bankruptcy in 2007 


  • Small debt of $1,000, misc stuff left over from unemployment periods


  • School loans:  $29,000 8 loans with 6.8 fixed interest


Should I consolidate to make my payments lower and pay longer?  This is appealing because I could put the rest of the money maybe in 401K or have discretionary cash on hand for emergencies.  If it was in a 401K because of my age when can I draw that if needed?


Does it make sense to do the above, put money in the 401K with match, would that save me money?


Better off  to pay loans as they are and get rid of the loans in about 7 years?


Bottom Line:  I want to take this in three parts.  First the debt consolidation question.  I’m not sure you’re really going to be a good candidate for debt consolidation as all most all of your debt is tied to student loans.  If you do decide to attempt loan consolidation the non-profit I can recommend that you talk to that is  They’re a nationally accredited organization that’s locally based.  I know the founder and principals and they can be trusted. Whether you are a candidate or not you’ll know what the options may be on that front. 


Next up your 401k consideration… 


You can make 401k contributions at 65 same as you could if you were younger.  The simple benefit is that at whatever point you’re no longer working you do have access to those funds right away given that you’re over 59.5.  This would actually be my top priority at your age (and for most people regardless of age).  At a minimum your goal should always be to obtain the company match.  It’s literally free money to you – or even a raise.  What I’d suggest that you do is take a month and contribute however much to your 401k that you need to hit the maximum company match.  If  after a month you really can’t make ends meet doing that make the adjustment if needed but…  I’ve never had someone comeback and tell me that they couldn’t manage after making a 401k contribution at 5 or 6%.  Now for whatever money you have left I’d work on paying off that debt.  If you can consolidate your debt – then it’s clearly just paying against that consolidated amount.  If you don’t consolidate, I’d start with that highest interest miscellaneous debt and begin paying it off.  As you pay off debt obligations you increase monthly free cash flow.  You can use that additional cash flow to continue to pay off other debt.  While it’s a good idea to have a little money for a rainy day, I’m less concerned about a rainy day fund because of your age allowing you access to your 401k or other retirement accounts without a penalty in a worst case scenario. 


As always I must disclaim that you should seek advice about your personal financial situation from your own financial advisor.  


I hope this is helpful and best wishes with your grandchild and improved financial position. 


If you have a topic or question you’d like me to address email me:


Audio Report:



What to know before you buy stamps from a machine…:


Bottom Line:  Credit and debit card skimmers are proliferating.  We know that many local retailers, especially gas stations, have been hit by skimming devices that are stealing our card info.  The USPS is saying that they’re being hit as well. 

The USPS is warning that many of their automated stamp machines have been hit with skimming devices nationwide.  Before you use a stamp machine (or really any credit card machine) it’s a good idea to run your finger across the surface of where you scan the card.  If anything moves there may be a skimmer on that machine.  That technique is far from fool proof however, so you should be routinely checking your credit and debit card accounts each week to ensure that your card numbers haven’t been stolen.  Ashley has been hit by stolen credit card numbers twice this year already. 


Audio Report:



Google update for iOS now has voice search:


Bottom Line:  If you like Google for search and Apple for mobile devices you now can have your cake and eat it too.  Google’s new update for iOS devices includes Google voice search capability.  Up to this point only the Google Maps app included Google voice capability on Apple devices.  You now can compare for yourself which you feel is more effective in voice search…  Siri or Google voice.

Audio Report:



For the love of business - Most business owners don't do it for the money:


Bottom Line:  You’ve likely heard the saying that “every thing has its price”.  Well that’s not actually true of the average business owner.  According to new research from BMO Harris Bank:


  • 61% of business owner would continue to operate their business just as they do now if they won the lottery

So only 39% of business owners would sell or stop operating their business if they didn’t have to worry about money.  That may come as a surprise to many but speaking from my own experience I think it makes a great deal of sense. 


52% of all start-up businesses fail within two years.   That means that the average business owner who’s successful is already unusual – in a good way.  My saying:  “Passion + Talent is unstoppable” I believe applies to the majority of the successful folks.  If you’re passionate about your business and generally love what you do it’s not about the money.  Think of a Warren Buffett for example.  What is it that drives him to still work everyday in the company he founded?  It certainly isn’t the money.

So while many may believe its greed that drives successful business people…  Generally that’s not actually the case. 


Audio Report:



Women wear the pants:


Bottom Line:  For most happily married men you likely ascribe to the “happy wife, happy life” point of view.  Increasingly these days that involves her career as well.  It’s safe to say that historically a family has moved almost exclusively based upon the career of the husband.  Times have changed. 

Not only are more women career oriented, many women have become the top income earner in their household.  As a result more families are relocating and would relocate based on the wife’s career needs.  According to research by the moving company Mayflower:



  • 59%  baby boomer families support moving based on the career considerations of the wife
  • 72% of Millennial families support moving based on the career needs of the wife

The one demographic that doesn’t pay a high level of consideration to the career their wives…  Those over the age of 65 who are still in the workforce…


  • Just 37% of working families over the age of 65 support moving for the career interest of the wife

You can see the transition of career and earning importance over the course of generations in those numbers.  


Audio Report: