L.A.F.F. LAW ADVOCACY FAMILY FINANCE A monthly newsletter providing your family insight about the law and finance (with an occasional dose of humor) from your friends and advocates at DuPont Wealth Solutions and the Law Offices of DuPont and Blumenstiel.
THE JOY OF A CHILD AS A PARENT, CHRISTMAS JOY COMES FROM GIVING THE PERFECT GIFT
When I was growing up, the most important thing about Christmas was what I got. Back then, I hoped to unwrap a Mattel Electronic Football game, a Stretch Armstrong, or Hot Wheels. It’s a far cry from the iPhones, Amazon Echos, and expensive gaming consoles kids are asking for today. But somewhere along the line, everything changes. Instead of wondering what you’ll get, you start thinking about what you can possibly give. You find more joy in giving the perfect gift than getting it. That’s when the meaning of Christmas changes for you, which is how I believe God intended it.
“I WISH I COULD REMEMBER WHAT THE GIFT WAS
THAT MADE HER CRY OUT IN SUCH JUBILEE … BUT I’LL NEVER FORGET THE WAY HER FACE LIT UP WHEN SHE SAW IT."
That change happened to me when I first got married, and the joy of giving only increased when I became a father. I suppose many of you will be able to relate to that. For me, the change happened gradually. After all, for the first few years of Sophie’s life, she had no idea what I was giving her. When she became old enough to care, my entire world became about getting her the perfect Christmas presents.
Now that Sophie’s 15 years old, her gift ideas have changed. Gone are the days of Barbie dolls and arts and crafts. Instead, the best way to get her face to light up is a new makeup kit or clothes. I’m not very involved in those purchases — that’s all my wife. She has a great eye for those things. But it’s still nice to see her pleasantly surprised when she receives what she
was hoping for.
One of my favorite Christmas moments happened when Sophie was barely 5 years old. We were at her grandparents’ home for Christmas Eve, and she was permitted to open one of our presents. She tore through the wrapping paper with her small 5-year-old hands, beheld the gift, and screamed, “That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” We all laughed. It was hilarious to hear such a young person yell that line. I wish I could remember what the gift was that made her cry out in such jubilee. It might have been a new Barbie doll. But I’ll never forget the way her face lit up when she saw it. There’s so much work that goes into Christmas. You have parties to plan and attend, gifts to buy, decorations to put up, and food to cook. But when all’s said and done, when the money is spent, the decorations are up, and the dinner is in your belly, everything about the holiday pales in comparison to the pure, unfiltered joy of a child at Christmas.
My joy is amplified because I get to share it with the wonderful family we have in the area. Sophie has both sets of grandparents in town. They’re the spoiling type, as most grandparents are. Wherever you are and whomever you’re with, I hope you get to celebrate Christmas the same way we do, full of delicious food and surrounded by the warmth of those you love. When I say Christmas is all about the joy of a child, I suppose I mean something deeper than that. At its essence, Christmas is truly about love.
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You’ve probably seen headlines like this over the past few days: Equifax® Says Cyberattack May Have Hit 143 Million Customers MIKE MOELLER, SR.
“What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” –Napoleon Hill
On October 20th, we here at DuPont Wealth Solutions and DuPont and Blumenstiel lost a friend, father, partner, and mentor when Mike Moeller, Sr. succumbed to his monthslong battle with cancer. Many of you receiving this newsletter took time out of your busy lives to attend Mike’s funeral and his family’s receiving hours. Although I know the family has reached out to you to express their appreciation, on behalf of our team here I would like to thank you as well. It is uplifting to see how much his clients cared for him. On a personal note, Mike was a big influence in my life and a big reason why I decided to expand my law practice to include financial planning and advising. He was a mentor for me as I learned the profession, and a trustworthy friend. It seems like only yesterday he introduced himself to me, a story he loved to recite almost as much as he liked to say I was one of the very few attorneys he ever trusted. It seems like only yesterday that he, Mike, Jr., and I sat at a booth in the Clarmont Restaurant discussing the possibility of his son, Mike, Jr., coming to work with me.
In one of our final conversations Mike asked me if I would say a few words at his funeral, an honor that I accepted without reservation. After accepting, I was stumped. How do you sum up the life of a man like Mike? Upon much reflection, I realized that Mike was a true product of his era — and his own design. He was in many ways a stereotypical self-made man. A student of Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale, and the Bible, he saw who he wanted to be and set out to be that person. However, the term ‘self-made’ fails to capture the true nature of the man and the contributions of those he loved. No, Mike was a man who made himself what he was — and did it for Barb and his kids — but he did not do it alone. Barb was his guiding light and the love of his life. There was nothing he would not do for her. Those of us who were blessed to have known Mike know that he was an irrepressible force of nature, a man who would be almost as quick to share with you his vast knowledge as he was to share with you his opinion. Although cancer took him from our physical world, he will live on in our memory.
Thank you, my friend. You will be missed.
For centuries, people have treasured Shakespeare for his wit and his wisdom. Last month, I started sharing some of that wisdom in a new series of articles called:
SHAKESPEARE ON FINANCE Shakespeare never actually wrote about finance, of course. But I’ve found many of his lines contain important financial lessons. This month, let’s look at one such line from perhaps the most famous play he ever penned:
QUOTE #2: “Go wisely and slowly. Those who rush, stumble and fall.” Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 3
painless in the short term often leads to drawn-out pain in the long. Rushing through your taxes can lead to mistakes, and it usually takes much longer to correct mistakes than to avoid them in the first place.
In this scene, Romeo asks his mentor, Friar Laurence, to wed him to Juliet as quickly as possible. In response, the friar counsels Romeo to “go wisely and slowly. Those who rush, stumble and fall.” You can probably guess the lesson here: Avoid the temptation to rush into rash, impulsive financial decisions. Have you ever noticed how often people act on impulse? Advertising companies sure do. So do car dealerships, banks, and your local gym. In fact, every time you go to the checkout counter at a grocery store, take a moment to look at all those candy bars and tabloids strategically placed to take advantage of people’s impulsiveness. Entire industries are built on exploiting human impulses. Most of the time these impulses are harmless enough, but the worst of them can have grave consequences. In fact, one of the greatest dangers to our financial health is that we don’t always think before we act. We rush into things. Now, if you rush into buying a candy bar, it’s no big deal. It probably won’t have an impact on your overall financial health. But some decisions do have a major impact, and when people rush into them, it’s quite easy to stumble and fall.
When making investment decisions, it’s easy to get excited about a hot new stock tip and decide to buy before the price goes up. It’s also easy to get spooked at the first sign of market volatility and decide to sell.
Both can be very risky decisions .
Whenever you make an investment decision, it’s important you put in your due diligence first. Take time to research the investment you have in mind. Talk to an expert and get a second opinion. Read the fine print. The media often portrays investing as a frenzied sprint, but for most investors, slow and steady wins the race. Making consistent, unemotional decisions will serve you far better in the long run. Friar Laurence’s advice isn’t just for star-crossed lovers; it’s for all of us. The fact is that when it comes to your finances, being hasty and impulsive can lead to missed opportunities, mistakes, debt, and other negative consequences. But those who “go wisely and slowly,” who take their time, who look before they leap, are well-positioned to achieve their financial goals faster than they ever thought possible. “For never was a story of more woe, than of the investor who made a financial decision too fast instead of slow.” In my next article, we’ll move away from tragedy by examining a line from one of Shakespeare’s comedies. In the meantime, have a great month! As Shakespeare might say,
Here are some examples:
Whether you’re buying real estate, a new car, or even that fancy new gadget that just came out, it’s so easy to be impulsive. To let the sensation of “want” override all other concerns. The result is often buyer’s remorse … or worse, debt.
Everyone hates filing their taxes, and everyone wants the process to be as quick and painless as possible. Unfortunately, quick and
When the eve of the big day finally comes, Google promises a showcase of Santa’s “dashboard, the technology that powers his sleigh during his around-the-world journey.” Featuring “the latest and greatest … in sleigh engineering,” the app displays a Google Maps window that tracks each of Santa’s stops, gives status updates from Old Saint Nick, and tells kids how far he is from their city. It’s a colorful, fun adventure for the whole family. Of course, Google’s not the only kid on the Santa-tracking block. There’s also NORADTracks Santa , operated by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the same organization that tracks nuclear missiles for the government. Similar to Google, noradsanta.org includes a variety of fun games and activities leading up to Christmas. But unlike Google, NORAD has a dedicated Santa-tracking app for your phone, where you can see a 3-D view of Santa’s location during his trip. The app also features videos, so you and your little ones can see clips of Santa flying around major landmarks and world cities. Just don’t stay up too late watching them. You don’t want Santa to skip over your house! SANTA TRACKING GOES HIGH-TECH
It’s almost Christmas, and if you have small kids, you know what that means: prepping for the arrival of a jolly man in a red suit and his confusingly named reindeer. Some of us may remember spending Christmas Eve curled on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa as radio reports tracked Santa’s trip around the globe. But these days, kiddos have gotten a little more high-tech in their search for up-to-date, GPS- driven Kringle updates. First, there’s the Google SantaTracker (santatracker.google.com), a full-fledged holiday hub for your browser powered by Google Maps, including, of course, an up-to-the-minute GPS tracker for the big man. The application arrived in 2004, and it’s been updated every year since. During the countdown to Christmas, there’s a colorfully animated advent calendar of sorts, where buildings around Santa’s village “thaw out” and reveal a host of fun games and activities. There’s even a section titled “Santa Tracker for Educators,” which includes kid-friendly coding games, information on international holiday traditions, and a translation app to “learn the Santa lingo from around the world.”
CHAPTER 13 BANKRUPTCY:
WHO DOES IT HELP?
When you’re steeped in debt, climbing your way out can feel impossible. You may have a stable income, but not enough to make any headway, let alone save for retirement or your children’s education. The mounting financial pressure can take its toll.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is designed for these situations. It can give you the extra boost you need to start paying back debts, restore your good credit, and build for your future. Think of it as a five- year reset. What Is Chapter 13? Bankruptcy, as a term, has the tendency to scare people away if they don’t understand it. So, what is Chapter 13? Simply put, it’s a payment plan with your creditors that is created with the protection of the bankruptcy court behind you. When you deal with creditors on your own, they hold all the cards. With Chapter 13, the rules favor you. It’s not uncommon to pay less per month and pay off all their principle this way.
recovered from debt and returned to healthy financial lives thanks to this service. When we help clients file, we help with all the particulars, including the following.
• • • •
Analyzing your debt Determining eligibility
Establishing your property end exemptions
Completing and filing all forms
• Representing you at hearings and negotiating with creditors
Chapter 13 isn’t for everyone, and we’re very upfront with our clients if they should pursue a better course of action. If you have additional questions about Chapter 13 bankruptcy, give us a call!
HowWe Set It Up We’ve seen excellent results from our clients filing Chapter 13, and we take pride in that. Many of our clients have
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WHY FILING WHEN YOU CAN
ISN’T ALWAYS THE BEST MOVE
When it comes to age and benefit amounts, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) maintains that “the Social Security benefit formula adjusts monthly payments so that someone living to average life expectancy should receive about the same amount of benefits over their lifetime, regardless of which age they claim.” There are those who argue, however, that this model is outdated. Even though many experts say waiting as long as possible is the best strategy, it all depends on your situation. For example, if family history says your life expectancy is age 74, then filing early for Social Security benefits may make sense. Another factor to consider is spousal benefits. If you’re married and pass away first, waiting to file may give your spouse larger survivor benefits. How and when you claim Social Security can have a dramatic effect on your whole retirement outcome. The most important step is getting professional help to navigate the process, which is exactly what we do. Contact DuPont Wealth Solutions if you need help with Social Security or have any other retirement questions. Call us at 614-408-0004.
After working your whole life, you’re getting ready to retire. You’re turning 62 next year, and that means you can start claiming your Social Security benefits. But should you? At 62, Americans can begin claiming early Social Security benefits, provided they have been working and paying taxes. Claiming at age 62 may sound appealing, but there can be a substantial downside: You’ll receive just 75 percent of the benefit amount that you would receive if you waited until your full retirement age. Keep in mind, you are still not required to file at your full retirement age (around 66, depending on the month you were born), and it could be worth the wait. From your full retirement age up until age 70, you’ll receive an 8 percent increase in your monthly benefit amount by waiting to file. At age 70, that increase stops.
HAVE A LAUGH
VANILLA CANDY CANE PEPPERMINT BARS
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup sugar (no sugar substitutes)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup crushed peppermint candies 3 ounces dark chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges. Coat foil with cooking spray. 2. In a medium bowl, beat sugar, oil, egg, and vanilla with a mixer on medium for 2 minutes or until slightly thick and pale yellow. Beat in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt just until combined. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the peppermint candies. Spread batter in the prepared pan.
3. Bake 20–25 minutes or until edges are puffed and top is golden. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Using foil, lift uncut bars out of the pan. Cut into bars. 4. Line a tray with parchment paper. Dip one corner of each
bar into melted chocolate and place on the prepared tray. Sprinkle chocolate with the remaining peppermint candies. Let stand until set.
Recipe inspired by eatingwell.com
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My Daughter’s Favorite Present PAGE 1
Santa Tracking Goes High-Tech Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Who Does It Help? PAGE 2
The Social Security Waiting Game Vanilla Candy Cane Peppermint Bars PAGE 3
Is January the Best Month for Disneyland? PAGE 4
IS JANUARY THE BEST MONTH FOR DISNEYLAND? January isn’t known for much — broken resolutions and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, mostly. But if you’re looking to escape the 15 minutes waiting for a ride. The Fourth of July, however, finds visitors waiting over two hours for Star Tours and Splash Mountain. In Winter, Disneyland closes a little earlier. But if you have young kids, this won’t affect your plans much. They often close rides for maintenance during this time, but never more than one or two at a time. With all the open options, you won’t feel robbed. cold or take your family on a post-
holiday adventure, next month might be the best time to travel to the Happiest Place on Earth.
LET’STALK ABOUTTHEWEATHER Does January sound cold and rainy? Don’t worry. The average temperature is still a balmy 66 degrees, and January gets just as much rainfall as peak months like December (winter break) and March (spring break). Check weather reports since the rainfall varies greatly depending on the temperature of the ocean that month. But bear in mind, Disneyland is the No. 2 theme park on the planet, raking in 18 million visitors a year. It wouldn’t attract such huge crowds if the weather wasn’t theme park- worthy 99 percent of the time. So, what’s the best month to visit Disneyland? It’s a trick question. The real answer is whatever month you go . Disneyland is magic! But if there’s a month that’s better than the rest, we’ll say it’s January.
THE BEST CROWDS According to Disneyland’s own figures, the first full week of January through
the middle of February is the slowest time of year at the park. Visitors report never spending more than
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