My Financial Friend


Common Questions | Simple Answers

We've all had that one question that we wish we had a financially savvy friend, in the know, that could we could talk through some things with. 

Now you do!

Michael Menzies is your Financial Friend that you can ask those burning questions to.

Your first call with him is FREE. If you get all your questions answered then - great! If not, you can always check back in with him whenever you have another question, market scare, investment find, or crazy uncle Joe telling you how you should live YOUR life. 

So ask your Financial Friend. 

He's ready!

Please remember that Michael's answers are tailored specifically to each client and their particular needs and situations. Each situation is different and  generic answers are not to be used as advice for your own unique situation. Please contact us directly for answers to your specific financial or tax related questions. Thank you.


Where Should I Put My Savings to Accrue the Most Interest?

 First off, if you have Student loans, paying it off will provide you a big advantage going forward! It's a smart call to look for ways to get your money working for you and not have it sitting in a low yield account.

The first thing I would do is take a second look at your budget.  

Do you have 3-9 months of living expenses saved?  Figure out what you need to live on (in the event of a job loss or other unexpected occurrence) then keep that amount in a savings account. Look at it as emergency/rainy day money.  Although there are plenty of investments out there, protecting yourself from a surprise cash crunch is one of the best investments available.  If your emergency fund “number” is considerably high, keep all your extra cash in savings.  You may be able to get a higher savings rate from a credit union or smaller bank. This will prevent you from needing to lock up the funds in a CD.  

Some financial institutions will offer high rates for savings and checking accounts up to a certain limit.  Do some looking around. A quick google search for “savings account rates” will bring up some in the 2% rate area, with minimum account balances starting at $1.  CD rates are about the same if you're fine locking your funds up for a year or so.

Next, I suggest maxing out your employer 401(k) and personal IRA if possible. 

If you want to have your retirement funding come straight out of your paychecks, up your contribution amount to your retirement account and spend down your savings to the level that matches your emergency fund needs.  You will have to find the right balance of retirement account contribution and living expense needs to get this just right.  401(k)s and IRAs are designed to help your long-term savings and give you tax advantages. They can do a really good job at these tasks! Also, if you are concerned about longer term tax rates, you should consider having at least some of your retirement savings going toward a Roth IRA.  You may be able to contribute to a Roth though your work 401(k) or do so via a personal/ individual account.

Lastly if you’re wondering about CD’s vs ETF’s for savings, they really are night and day investments. 

Your CD’s are going to be insured.  If you go with a longer maturity date you should be able to pick up extra interest.  An ETF, conversely, is a basket of investments. Even if those investments are in bonds, the ETF will be subject to the ups and downs of the daily market movements.  ETF’s are not guaranteed to stay at the price you “purchased” the investment like, a CD would be.  There is nothing wrong with using an ETF for savings but there is just a lot more risk in an ETF vs. a CD.  If guarantees are your main goal, I’d stick with a CD or savings account."  

We hope this helps answer some of your own questions about where to put your extra cash.

If you have more detailed questions about your specific situation or you just want a “Financial Friend” to bounce ideas off of and ask questions, let us know!  

Read more: Where should I put my savings to accrue the most interest?

What's The Deal With Real Estate Investing?

We’ve had many clients asking about  commercial real estate investing.  

Should they? How could they? And where would they even start?   

Most recently, we had a client ask, “Can you send me some info about using IRA funds to invest in Commercial Real Estate?” Well, here’s our answer!  

As always, we are NOT in the business of giving financial or real estate investing recommendations on the internet. We are only pointing others who may have the same questions in a direction. If this is the “right direction” for you, that is up to YOU and your financial advisor.  

That said, there are several ways to invest in commercial real estate.

However, the options are varying in both risk and complexity.  

There is a second layer of complexity when you are using an IRA to make an investment. 

The IRA Self Dealing/ Prohibited Transactions rules needs to be factored in.  

These rules really tick people off.  

In our understanding, the taxing authorities strictly enforces these rules. 

Investors need to be very attentive to the risks of violating the Self-Dealing/Prohibited Transactions rules.   

Let’s look over a few options for buying real estate.  

  1. The “easiest” way to buy any sort of real estate, is to buy a financial instrument. Some options are funds, stocks, bonds, or other financial instruments that hold commercial real estate.  You can purchase most of these options via an investment account.  Funds that also hold real estate assets as a portion of the holdings are out there. These funds can be a convenient and balanced way to go because of the relative ease of purchase, cost, simplicity, and transparency.    

  2. Connecting with a custodian who invests directly into real estate using an IRA or other investment asset is a possible move. It’s a move that will move you out on the complexity/risk scale. For example, there are a bunch of crowdfunding platforms out there that do just that.  Unfortunately, significant financial issues have been plaguing some of these previously popular tools for real estate investing. Many people consider using this sort of custodian to be moving out on the risk and complexity scale, for this reason.

  3. Finally, another method some use is to set up a self-directed IRA using a custodian as a third-party administrator. This is quite likely as far out on the risk scale as one can get. Using this route, the investor is giving up many rights and privileges of owning real estate. Some of the best real estate investing benefits are lost in this scenario. 

In conclusion, we’re sure there are several other options we have not mentioned. Hopefully this is a good starting place. There are many ways to use an IRA to make these investments, you just need to choose if it’s right for you. You then need to get solid advice on which method fits your goals and objectives. 

You can also check out The Street to see their detailed list ideas.  

You’re always welcome to give us your feedback or ask us a question.  

Pembroke Family