Wealth management often resembles a careful balancing act between safeguarding immediate financial needs and nurturing long-term growth. In this context, the Bucket Strategy represents a methodical approach to investment by segmenting your personal finances into distinct categories, each with its own investment horizon and risk profile. This strategy aims not just to grow wealth but to do so in a manner that’s synchronized with life’s varying stages and expenses. It aims to strike a thoughtful balance between growth to meet future financial goals and liquidity for life’s major milestones over time.
Avoiding the Leaky Bucket
Central to the Bucket Strategy and this chapter is the concept of avoiding a ‘leaky bucket.’ This happens when investments are not aligned with the set goals and timelines, potentially jeopardizing financial security, especially during retirement. Misalignment can lead to unnecessary risks or a premature liquidation of your funds that interrupts the crucial compounding of your investments. However, aligning each investment with the right bucket ensures that money is not just growing but is available when needed.
- Short-Term Financial Security: The first bucket is for the short-term, covering the immediate to 5-year range. It’s akin to keeping funds in a checking account – liquid and accessible. Here, the focus is on preserving capital and maintaining a conservative investment stance to ensure that daily living expenses and emergency funds are secure. This bucket avoids market volatility, prioritizing stability over growth.
- Mid-Term Wealth Accumulation: As we move into the 6 to 10-year window, the second bucket comes into play. Here, investments can be moderately aggressive, taking on more risk in pursuit of higher returns. This bucket is designed for financial goals that are on the horizon but not immediate – such as a child’s college fund or a down payment on a home. It balances the need for growth against the diminishing time frame for investment.
- Long-Term Growth and Preservation: The third bucket is the long-term stronghold, designated for 10 years and beyond. This is the growth engine of the strategy, where investments are geared towards beating inflation and taxation over the years. It’s for the retirement phase, where money can be invested in growth assets with the potential for significant appreciation. It’s about looking ahead and planning for a future where financial security is paramount.
Creating a Tailored Plan
Where traditional financial planning often fails, the Bucket Strategy excels by providing a clear, actionable path. For context, every plan should be:
- Accurate: Based on realistic assessments of personal finances.
- Understandable: Free from complex financial jargon and easy for anyone to follow.
- Reliable: A dependable guide that can be referred to time and time again.
- Implementable: Include clear steps that one can take without needing expert knowledge.
- Trackable: Allow for regular reviews and adjustments as personal circumstances or market conditions change.
Steps for Implementation
To effectively harness the power of the Bucket Strategy, it’s important to take deliberate actions that resonate with your unique financial circumstance. The following steps serve as a blueprint to construct and maintain your financial buckets, each tailored to support you through different stages of life.
- Assess Your Financial Situation: Begin by evaluating your current financial status. Determine your short-term needs, mid-term goals, and long-term aspirations, including your best guess at their potential costs.
- Allocate Your Assets: Divide your assets among the three buckets. Place enough in the short-term bucket to cover immediate expenses, invest in slightly riskier assets for the mid-term, and aim for higher-growth investments for the long-term bucket.
- Align Investments with Your Goals: Ensure that each investment corresponds with a specific goal and timeframe. For example, bonds or high-yield savings for the short term, a mix of stocks and bonds for the mid term, and primarily stocks or real estate for the long term.
- Monitor and Adjust: Regularly review your buckets to ensure they align with your changing financial situation and long-term goals, and adjust your investments accordingly.
Dealing with Real-Life Challenges
The Bucket Strategy is much more than a theoretical model; it’s designed for real life, with all its unexpected twists and turns. Whether facing health challenges or life transitions, having a purpose-driven plan provides peace of mind. It’s about ensuring that regardless of what happens, the financial aspects of your life are structured to support you and your family.
Real-life success stories highlight the Bucket Strategy’s effectiveness. From ensuring long-term care for a spouse to accommodating the analytical investor’s need for structure and peace, the strategy has proven to be adaptable and reassuring. It demonstrates that with thoughtful planning, financial security can be achieved, allowing individuals to focus on what truly matters without the constant worry of financial instability.
Securing Financial Stability
The Bucket Strategy is a comprehensive plan that enables individuals to take control of their financial future. By breaking down financial goals into manageable buckets, one can safeguard against volatility and align investments with life’s goals. It provides a systematic way to prepare for short-term expenses, mid-term needs, and long-term growth, encapsulating a full spectrum of financial planning. This strategy ensures that wealth is accumulated but also done so with purpose and foresight, ready for whatever challenges or opportunities life brings your way.
If you have any questions or want to know how to get your hands on a copy of “Wealth on Purpose” by Bryan Ballentine, give us a call!
Have a great weekend!
Sources: “Wealth on Purpose” by Bryan Ballentine
Golf Tip of the Week
10 myths about golf clubs you should forget right now
Golf is littered with clichés. In some instances they ring true, like “Never up, never in” and “Don’t miss on the short side.” However, with golf equipment, there is an abundance of words spoken so often that they are taken as fact when they are just folk tales from the fairways. Those who fit golf clubs for a living know what’s true—and what isn’t. We reached out to half a dozen of them—all from Golf Digest’s 100 Best Clubfitters list—to bring clarity to your understanding of the equipment scene. As one said, “The only rule in clubfitting is there is always an exception to the rule.” In other words, don’t be that golfer who further spreads misinformation. Do you best to forget these 10 golf-equipment myths.
Only good players should get fit
Like public speaking or blind dates, going for a clubfitting can be such an intimidating experience that many golfers do whatever they can to avoid it. The common refrain is, “I’m not good enough.”
Nothing gets fitters more riled up than this excuse. “The best response to anyone who says they’re ‘not good enough to get fit’ is ‘you’re not good enough not to get fit!’ ” says Scott Felix, founder of Felix Clubworks in Collierville, Tenn., who says the majority of those shafts and clubheads lining the walls of your typical fitting center are eliminated from consideration after the first dozen or so warm-up swings a player makes.
Many fitters will make the case that good players are talented enough to overcome clubs that aren’t fitted for them, but average golfers aren’t. “If they’re playing with ill-fitting equipment, they’re constantly fighting their clubs and are likely to develop swing flaws to compensate,” says Ken Morton Jr., director of retail and marketing for Haggin Oaks Super Shop in Sacramento, Calif.
Most average or beginning golfers are rightfully hesitant about the expense of getting fit for clubs, and if you’ve never swung a club before, getting fit is counterproductive. Go out first and see if you enjoy playing. If you’re able to hit the ball in the air consistently more often than you top it or chunk it, you’re ready to see if a fitting makes a difference.
“The physical benefits, accuracy improvement and mental approach to a player’s game can change for the better,” says Ben Giunta, owner of The Tour Van in Portland.
Faster swings need a lower-lofted driver
Um, no. The loft players need is the one that produces the optimal launch angle and spin for them. Many factors come into play such as their descent angle and dynamic loft to name a couple.
A perfect example is Dustin Johnson, who plays a 10.5-driver set one click closer to higher—or basically an 11-degree driver. ”It all depends on how you deliver the club to the ball and how much spin you are creating,” Felix says. ”Remember, golf balls do not spin as much as they used to.”
A 3-wood off the tee is more accurate than driver
While data from ShotScope shows a 3-wood is slightly more accurate than a driver off the tee (48 percent fairways hit compared to 46 percent with a driver), the tradeoff probably isn’t worth it. Why? The numbers also show players, on average, give up 19 yards in distance by going to the shorter club. That’s a pretty big price to pay for hitting two extra fairways for every 100 tee shots.
“Drivers have much larger, more forgiving heads that can help keep the face square on off-center impact and lead to greater accuracy for many,” says Jason Fryia, owner and general manager of The Golf Exchange in Cincinnati. “The larger footprint of the driver allows for more adjustability and, therefore, a driver can likely be better fit to produce more accurate results. The same thing can be said for the greater amount of driver clubheads available in the market today. For these reasons a properly fit driver is often more accurate than a 3-wood.”
Mallet putters are for straight-back and straight-through strokes
Most mallet putters today are available in multiple hosels that produce a face-balanced design or varying degrees of toe hang. (Toe hang is related to the way the toe of a putter hangs open when balancing the shaft, and a face-balanced putter faces the sky.) Generally, toe-hang putters are designed to work with strokes that have more arc, and face-balanced putters work with strokes that are like a pendulum. Giunta calls the mallet straight-stroke idea “a huge myth,” but it’s not that simple. In Giunta’s experience, toe-hang or face-balanced stroke matching works only about 60 percent of the time. “Putter fitting is the most feel and looks-based decision of any club in the bag.”
Golfers should focus on whether a putter—mallet or blade—fulfills its objectives: improving your aim and allowing you to consistently return the face to square.
“It’s your aiming tendencies and tendencies at impact that determine your performance on the greens,” Fryia says. “Finding a putter that enhances your good tendencies or compensates for your bad ones is usually the one for you.”
The shaft is the engine of the club
The shaft is important for many reasons, but to call it the “engine” is a misnomer. The golfer is the engine because he or she is the chief source of power for every shot. As it relates to equipment, the clubhead is more important than the shaft. “The design of the clubhead has the most impact on ball flight and launch conditions,” Giunta says. “The shaft can certainly impact all launch conditions, but typically it’s much more subtle.”
“Transmission” is a more apt description for the shaft because it’s one of the elements that can transfer the golfer’s power to the ball. For those still skeptical, Fryia offers a theory that should settle things. “I can give you a modern clubhead with a shaft from 40 years ago and your performance will likely be much better than a modern shaft in a clubhead from 40 years ago,” he says.
All your wedges should have the same bounce angle
This might be true if every shot you hit on a golf course was exactly the same. Of course, we know that’s not the case. We play different golf courses. We play from different parts of the course. There’s bunkers to consider. “Part of the fitting process is trying to find out where the most amount of your shots with each club are coming from and then dial in a bounce that best plays to that shot,” Morton says.
Adds Golf Galaxy’s Chris Marchini: “Bounce should be fit for each wedge you carry. Different lofts are utilized in different ways and certain lofts require more versatility than others. This is even more true if you are a snowbird. You play half of your season playing bent grass, and the other playing Bermuda, and those are totally different turf conditions.”
A longer driver shaft creates more distance
A longer driver shaft can create more clubhead speed, but that does not always translate into more distance. Solidness of strike plays a big factor here. The speed created during your swing is more efficiently transferred into the ball when impact is near the center of the clubface. For many players, impact location becomes difficult to control with a longer shaft. In most cases, golfers are better off choosing the length shaft that produces consistently faster ball speed as a starting point and working to optimize their launch conditions from there.
“We find very few golfers actually increase their clubhead speed with a longer shaft, quite a few actually see it go down,” says Chris Wycoff, founder of SwingFit on Hilton Head Island. “If someone is a bit vertically challenged or has an upright swing, a longer driver shaft can really limit the extension of their arms and forces them to manipulate the club just to get it back to the ball which slows their speed down.”
Everyone needs 14 clubs in the bag
Perhaps the worst rule in the game for average golfers has nothing to do with a limit on driver spring-like effect or how much spin wedge grooves can generate or even the stroke-and-distance penalty. No, it’s the 14-club rule—and not because golfers should be carrying more than that.
The most important part of a good clubfitting that average golfers overlook is set makeup, Marchini says. He once sent a regular customer home with a full set that only had 12 clubs. When he was questioned about it, Marchini said, “Go play, and let me know if you notice any gaps in your distances.” The only call that ever came was to say, “Thank you.”
“The right number is what is playable,” Marchini adds. “They all serve a purpose, fill gaps and match your needs.”
The better the player the more likely the need arises for clubs to fill specific needs. The key is to have a good understanding of how you play. Craig Allan, director of the Golf Performance Center in Sea Island, Ga., says a simple trick is to take the driver and shortest wedge distances and find out if the remainder of the clubs have 11 substantial distance gaps between them
“Many golfers just don’t generate enough speed to create adequate distance to need all 14 clubs,” he says.
Round-tracking apps and devices like Arccos or ShotScope V3 might enlighten a golfer and fitter about where the holes or redundancies in a setup might be. It might show a need for 14 clubs, or 12 or even 11.
“Some players might not have the skill or desire to use their imagination for all 14 clubs,” Giunta says. “I recommend players find 14 distinct clubs in the bag that they have for specific situations. Anything that simplifies this game, including having fewer than 14 clubs, can be advantageous.”
Cast irons are more forgiving than forged irons, but forged feels better
Let’s blame the influence of better players for this one. Historically, elite golfers played only forged muscle-back blade irons, and beginning players and average golfers on a budget tended to play cast irons for the game-improvement features (larger size, cavity-back shaping, etc.) and for the less-expensive cost. But those average golfers were always impressed and jealous of how the better players talked about the feel of a forged iron.
However, dozens of blind tests have revealed that players are unable to tell the difference. Think of it this way: The single most important “feel” club in the bag is the wedge, yet cast wedges outnumber forged wedges on the PGA Tour and in the marketplace by at least 25-to-1.
It is more challenging to manufacture a cast club that “feels” great. But it’s clearly been done. Is it more challenging to make a single-piece forged iron that has the highest spring-like effect and the most stability on off-center hits? Maybe, but forged irons aren’t the single-piece muscle-back of decades past, and today through different constructions and materials, their forgiveness, distance and success in the game-improvement category are competitive with cast designs.
“A club’s performance and feel are determined by its design and construction, including all components that come together to make the club,” Fryia says. “Shaft and grip also play a big factor in the feel of a shot. There are just too many other factors in play to single out one such as forged versus cast as the ultimate characteristic that determines forgiveness, distance or feel.”
You don’t need to get fit again once you know your specs
You may not need to get completely fit from scratch every time, but most quality clubfitters will offer a bag evaluation of some kind for this very purpose. Now, the thing to keep in mind here is if you’re switching brands or a manufacturer completely revamps their product line, it would be highly important to get fit from scratch again. At the very least, have a conversation with your clubfitter about what they are seeing with the new equipment vs. the previous year’s equipment. They will know the subtle differences.
Marchini is more blunt about it. “The only standard is that there is no standard. Each manufacturer can have their own standards for length, lie angle, etc. Every time you are adding a piece of equipment to the bag, get fit for it. Also, you as a player are, more than likely, changing as well. What you did to a club or shaft when you swung it five years ago is probably different today.
Tip adapted from golfdigest.comi
Recipe of the Week
Valentine’s Day Truffles
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) semisweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
- 1 stick butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 tablespoons dark rum
- 1 cup chocolate sprinkles, for rolling
- 3/4 teaspoon coarse (but somewhat small size) sea salt
- In a small skillet, simmer the honey until it becomes medium brown in color and has a light, caramel scent. Remove from heat and keep warm.
- In a medium bowl, combine the 2 types of chocolate and butter. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and melt the chocolate, making sure to stir often. Once the chocolate has completely melted remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the caramelized honey, rum and powdered sugar. Transfer mixture to a cool bowl and allow it to “set” a little, about 5 minutes.
- Combine the sprinkles and salt in a bowl. Using your hands roll the chocolate mixture into small balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Roll them in the chocolate sprinkle/salt mixture until they are generously coated. Place on serving tray or store them in an airtight container.
Recipe adapted from Foodnetwork.comii
Travel Tip of the Week
Do Airline Miles Expire? How to Prevent Your Rewards From Going to Waste
Whether you’re a once-per-year traveler or a weekly road warrior, accumulating airline miles to redeem for a trip later is a no-brainer. After all, why not earn something back for the travel you’re doing already?
Some airlines call them miles and points, while others refer to them as Avios, but they all function similarly. While flying is the most popular way to earn miles, you can also rack them up by opening the right travel rewards credit card, via shopping and dining partnerships, and more.
However, many frequent flier programs also have strict rules on mileage expiration dates — and yes, once they expire, those hard-earned rewards are typically gone for good. (Some airlines do allow you to reinstate expired miles for a fee.) Thankfully, there are also several programs — all U.S.-based — that don’t have any expiration dates to worry about.
Let’s dive into the mileage expiration policies of popular U.S. loyalty programs, and what to do to prevent rewards from going to waste.
U.S. Loyalty Programs With No Mileage Expiration
Among global carriers, U.S. airlines lead the way in terms of programs with no mileage expiration. There are a total of six programs with miles that last forever.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan: While miles do not expire, for security purposes, your account may be locked if it is inactive after 24 months. If this occurs, Alaska Airlines customer service can reinstate your account for no fee — and miles will be returned to your account, too.
Delta SkyMiles: SkyMiles never expire.
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles: Hawaiian miles never expire.
JetBlue TrueBlue: TrueBlue miles never expire.
Southwest Rapid Rewards: Rapid Rewards points never expire.
United MileagePlus: MileagePlus miles never expire.
Other Major U.S. Airline Loyalty Programs
While the majority of U.S. airline programs don’t have mileage expiration policies, there are three notable exceptions.
American Airlines AAdvantage: Miles expire in 24 months if there’s no earning activity; members under 21 years old are not subject to this policy. In addition, primary AAdvantage credit cardholders (with an open account) won’t have their miles ever expire.
Frontier Airlines Frontier Miles: Miles expire in 12 months if there’s no earning activity.
Spirit Airlines Free Spirit: Miles expire in 12 months if there’s no earning activity.
Tips to Prevent Miles From Expiring
With varying rules, terms, and conditions, it’s important to check with each airline program — especially those that are based outside of the U.S. — to ensure you understand the requirements for keeping miles active.
“Whether it’s redeeming miles, transferring miles, or engaging in a program in some way, it’s typically not that hard to keep your account active,” says Juan Ruiz, co-founder of loyalty consulting company JetBetter and senior editor for Upgraded Points. “That means you don’t even need to fly to satisfy an ‘activity’ requirement to prevent miles from expiring.”
For instance, American Airlines says it will automatically extend the mileage expiration to 24 months from the date of your most recent qualifying activity. That activity can include flying, but also things like accruing mileage credit with participating dining partners, car rental companies, credit cards, and other service providers that are part of the AAdvantage program.
If you have a credit card that has its own points currency — like Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, or Bilt Rewards — transferring points into an airline frequent flier program also typically counts as “activity.”
Have airline miles that already expired? Some airlines, like American, allow you to reactivate them after paying a set “reactivation fee.” In the case of American, the fee is determined by the exact number of miles to be reactivated, and you can’t do it more than two years after the expiration date.
Tip adapted from travelandleisure.comiii
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