Daily Dupaco

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Investment de-fragmenting

The benefits of having an exercise partner are clear. There is strength in numbers. We hold ourselves more accountable when someone else is watching, and working out with a pal can make the time fly by. Why not approach personal finance the same way? This is a series following the progress of two sisters who have added a new label to their friendship – financial fitness buddies.

A workout routine only works if you stick with it.

So far so good for my sister and me in our drive to shape up our personal finances in what we have dubbed the financial fitness challenge.

In the past few weeks, we've met with investment experts, financial trainers so to speak, and we've gotten a better look at our entire financial picture.

I've learned there's a lot to do on my to-do list, and the best way to attack it is one piece at a time – starting with investments.

Over the years, my husband and I have established varied investment accounts, 529 college savings plans for our children and IRAs from our former employer's 401(k) retirement plans – a little money here, a little money there. Not surprisingly, we were beginning to feel too spread out, and we needed a better view of what we had and a better map to guide us to where we wanted to go.

Now I know that some consolidation is in order. And as long as we're doing that, we're going to take a new approach to our investments. In the past, we've always had to make long-distance calls to financial advisors, whom we've never personally met. Local financial planners, we're quickly realizing, can make a world of difference.

In late January, I had my first face-to-face meeting with First Community Trust's Dale Repass and Jim Liddle. Dupaco partnered with the Dubuque-based investment management company to bring members a full line of trust, investment, estate planning, retirement and wealth management services. During the meeting, we talked about our assets and long-term goals, and we agreed to meet again in the near future.

My husband and I visited with Dale and Jim again last week. They talked to us about what we are doing right and what we could do differently.

We left feeling a new sense of empowerment. Finally, we are looking at our assets and debt as a whole, and we're gaining a clearer understanding of what we need to do going forward.

My sister recently had a similar experience. During her financial analysis, 300 miles away, she saw her net worth on paper and got a professional look at several what-if scenarios down the road.

In my next financial fitness update, I'll take a deeper dive into net worth -- what it is and why it's not as complicated to calculate as you might think.

By Emily Kittle

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