Kuebler Appears on WCIA's Current to Discuss Couples and Finances


This week, Bluestem’s own Jake Kuebler appeared on the WCIA 3 News program Current, where he sat down with Cynthia Bruno to discuss ways couples can successfully manage their finances. Jake provided tips to help couples be more transparent when it comes to money and their long term financial goals. Jake shared advice on several financial issues including: buying a first home, preparing for children, saving for college and cohabitating vs. marriage. Jake’s biggest advice for couples is to be intentional with their finances. He suggests that planning ahead and making solid decisions early on reduces the need for rushed decisions or limited opportunities in the future. Jake also shared his thoughts on savings, saying that couples should automatically save first and use what is left over for “fun money”. This approach helps couples achieve their goals and worry less about budgeting. We all know that financial issues can be a source of stress for couples, hopefully Jake’s optimism and helpful tips can be a positive influence on your own relationship.

You can watch the full segment below or visit the Current webpage at

Moving Jobs, Moving Retirement Plans - New York Times

Changing jobs can be a stressful event.  At the same time you are learning new job responsibilities and acclimating to a new company culture, you have to juggle financial decisions such as choosing new employee benefits.  An often neglected detail of this process is what to do with your old retirement plans.  We often work with clients in “cleaning up” these old accounts that multiply and are lost track of over a career. With all the complexities of rolling over old plans, studies are showing many younger professionals are just cashing these plans out.  I recently discussed this with Ann Carrns of the New York Times.  I explain why I see this happening.  Here is an excerpt from that article:

images[Jake] says when young adults are switching jobs, money is often tight — they may be moving, and need financing for rental deposits and other costs — and it is tempting to withdraw the cash.  In addition, he said, it is often difficult for them to envision retirement, when they are just starting their careers.

Besides the tax consequences of this action, which can be high, cashing out small retirement plans cheats the individual out of their most important asset — time.  The more time you have in investing, the less you need to “save” to end up with the same pot of money at the end.  By cashing out now, you are cheating your future self.  By putting off savings, you end up saving more and ending up with less value at retirement.

It is easy to see why someone in their 20′s or 30′s would be so willing to make this trade-off.  Retirement is an abstract concept many years into the future.  I try to counteract this thought by aiming for a different goal.  Replace the concept of “Retirement” with “Financial Independence”.  Financial independence is having the freedom from working to support your lifestyle.  Instead, you have the financial flexibility to work, volunteer or even not work and follow your passions.

The entire article was printed in the October 5th Edition of the New York Times, which you can read online by clicking this link.

Reconciling Fed Policy with your Financial Life


This past week, the Federal Reserve Board announced they were not cutting back on their efforts to stimulate the economy.  This surprised many investors, who had been expecting the Fed to begin tapering their bond buying program.  The question many have is, how does this affect my own financial decisions?  I had a chance to answer some of these questions on the September 20th Edition on Focus 580 with host Jim Meadows and guest Kevin Waspi.

Summarizing some of this program:

How Should I React to this News?

Both Kevin and I agreed on the answer to this question: for most people this is just market noise that can be ignored.  It is important to recognize the difference between an Investor, who is seeking gains by investing long term in companies and participating in the growth and income of those investments, and a Speculator, who attempts to profit by making bets on short term market movements.  For most individuals, it is more important to focus on meeting long term goals through sticking to their investment plan.  Speculating requires a lot more risk, knowledge and time than the average investor possesses.

What Does this News Mean about the Economy and my Portfolio?

One interpretation could be that the Fed is not optimistic about the recovery of the economy, which could be worrisome to investors.   However, the Fed's decision is based on many factors including unemployment and inflation.  They are in a delicate balancing act among many different factors.

Kevin pointed out that as the Fed does taper off their stimulus in the coming months or years, savers may benefit.  It could be expected that interest rates would rise over the long term, resulting in higher yields on checking, savings and even bonds.  In the short term, we should expect some volatility as investors try to gauge how market changes will affect future profits.

Check out the complete episode here.  We also addressed many other questions including:

  •  How to decide between investing and saving an emergency fund
  • What Fed policy may mean for future inflation
  • How would changing interest rates affect the Fed Balance Sheet