Your Financial Weekly Reader—Financial Plans, Cars, Couples

Welcome to this week’s edition of Your Financial Weekly Reader. Each week, we scour our sources for some of the interesting and important articles that might be helpful to you and your finances.

This week we bring you three fun articles. The first is a bit of a takeoff on the funny television commercials for AT&T wireless service, one of which suggests that an “OK” surgeon is not OK. Next, we have an article that covers an issue that almost all of us have to deal with from time to time—buying a car. The third article this week addresses some things to think about if you are over 50 and living with your partner, but not married.

As we say every week, not every article in the financial weekly reader is going to be relevant for you right now. And that’s OK. The worst thing that can happen is that you learn something new. Best case, it’s an article that addresses a concern that you are currently dealing with. Or, you might have a friend or family member that the article might be able to help. Feel free to share.

Enjoy this week’s articles!

Just OK Is Not Good Enough for a Financial Plan

This article from Kiplinger is a play on the AT&T commercials that point out some of the things we go through in life when “OK” is not OK. Financial planning is one of those. Too often, people go through the motions when they work on their financial plan. I’ve even heard it said that meeting with a financial planner ranks just above going to the dentist when it comes to fun things to do.

There’s prep work that must be done, bringing together all the personal finance information on your income, expenses, investment accounts, mortgages, credit cards, etc. And too often, an “OK” financial planner will put together a big binder full of charts and reports and then try to sell you life insurance or some other financial product. Even worse, the binder sits on your shelf gathering dust and is very quickly out of date—and worthless.

This article points out that “meaningful” financial planning is different. Financial planning is not about static recommendations that are outdated as life happens. Meaningful financial planning is a dynamic process, with the planner providing ongoing financial advice and guidance as you go through the different stages in your life.

The article relates the process of working with a good planner to working with a personal trainer. A good personal trainer is going to work with you to get you in better physical health. A good planner is coaching and motivating you to get in better financial health.

The article also highlights several of life’s transitions that most of us go through and points out how the “financial fitness coach” should help. It goes on to discuss how a good planner gets paid and where to find one.

5 Auto-Buying Tips from a Former Undercover Car Salesman

When I read this article from MarketWatch, my first thought was that I didn’t even know there was such a thing as an undercover car salesperson. The author went undercover as part of an investigative series for an automotive website and was surprised and scared by what he learned.

He does a good job of relating that many of the salespeople he encountered were honest, intelligent, and hardworking. But the “bad apples” amongst them, and some less-than-honest managers, means that you need to be on guard when shopping for a car. He offers up five tips to help you become a better, and more-informed, car shopper.

The Dangers of Living Together

No, this isn’t an article about the morality of living together—I think those times are way behind us. It is an article that is of special importance to couples over 50 who are living together but are not married. This is a trend that is on the rise. Many people over 50 have experienced a divorce and are hesitant about remarrying and the legal fallout that can occur if the new relationship doesn’t work out.

As the article from points out, though, what seems simple can often be complex. And living together without being married can become quite complex. Unmarried couples who live together can face all kinds of problematic and emotionally difficult issues because estate planning laws are written to favor married couples.

As a married person, if I am rushed to the hospital and unable to make medical decisions on my behalf, my wife would most likely be able to, even if we didn’t have a health care power of attorney in place. This is not the case for an unmarried couple. In fact, as the article points out, the law will treat the unmarried couple as “legal strangers” and will not allow one partner to make decisions on behalf of the other.

This is just one of the dangers detailed in the article. The author goes on to describe several scenarios that can create a multitude of problems for people living together without being married. Fortunately, most of these issues can be addressed by doing some proper estate planning. If you are part of an unmarried couple living under the same roof, you should definitely read this article!

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