Considering an annuity for your portfolio?

annuitiesAnnuities are complex investments. Here are 10 questions to ask to protect yourself.

Consider who is selling to you and how they are compensated

By Wendi Strom, The Denver Post

May 28, 2017

“Annuities can be complex and at times are aggressively sold. As a result, many buyers may sign on the dotted line before truly understanding what they are getting into. Since they also can come with hefty price tags and restrictions on withdrawals, knowledge is power. It’s important to arm yourself with the right questions to ask if you’re considering an annuity purchase.

With the help of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (which has an informational page on annuities at, I’ve created a list. Though it’s not exhaustive, it will give you a good start of things to consider and questions to ask any financial professional recommending an annuity purchase:

  • Who is selling this annuity to you, how did you find this person and what do you know about them?
  • What are the fees you’ll be paying?
  • If you decide you need some of this invested money back in the next couple years, how much can you get without paying an additional fee?
  • What are the risks?
  • What kind of protection, if any is provided to you in this product? And if so, how much are you paying for that protection?

…If used correctly, annuities can be a meaningful component to a broader financial plan. Though they are not the easiest investment to understand, they may fill an important void. You owe it to yourself to understand the features of the product, take the steps to identify if you truly need this in your financial picture, and more importantly be aware of the potential pitfalls so you can protect yourself today and in the years to come.”

Read the entire article about annuities

Wendi Strom is a certified financial planner at Lotus Financial Partners in Denver.  A lifelong champion for women’s financial security, she serves as the president of the Financial Planning Association of Colorado. 

How do you approach financial planning?

financial planning

How Men and Women Think Differently About Money

by Janet Bodnar for Kiplinger Personal Finance Magazine

September 2016

“When I get a massage, as I do periodically, I like to park my brain in neutral and bask in the serenity. So imagine the jolt when, a few months ago, my massage therapist wanted to spend our hour talking—about Social Security. A divorced woman in her fifties, she had heard that she could apply for Social Security on her former husband’s record. Was that true, she wanted to know, and if so, would it have any effect on her ex-spouse’s own Social Security benefit?

So instead of parking my brain in neutral, I had to shift into overdrive to explain the nuances of Social Security (yes, if her marriage had lasted 10 years, she could apply for benefits on her husband’s record once she’s 62, and no, it wouldn’t affect his Social Security). So much for my peaceful massage.

A few weeks later, I sat down for my regular haircut, assuming I could zone out while my stylist snipped away. But she wanted to talk—about her retirement plan. She thought that as a self-employed person she could sock away much more than she could in a traditional IRA, but she was hesitant to raise the subject with her accountant. I confirmed that she was probably eligible for a Simplified Employee Pension or individual 401(k), and that triggered a discussion about retirement investments that lasted as long as my haircut.

It occurred to me later that both women were in tune with the Kiplinger’s subscribers we surveyed earlier this year to learn more about how they invest.”  Read more

Financial decision making resources for divorcing or newly widowed women

If you are facing a divorce or if you are recently widowed, you may find the following financial decision making resources helpful.  When I was divorcing over 12 years ago, the judge ordered a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) written and submitted to my ex’s workplace so I was guaranteed a portion of his pension when he retires.  The QDRO also required I hire an expert to figure out the value of the account at the time of the divorce.  The judge ordered my ex and I to split the cost of these extras.

Learn more about QDROs and other important issues from the resources below from the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER). 

“Both divorce and widowhood can be extremely emotional and oftentimes unexpected events in a woman’s life. The difficulties are often further compounded by the practical issues that arise during these transitional periods. WISER has developed various resources to help make this time a bit less stressful and to help newly divorced or widowed women make smart and informed financial decisions.

Read moreFinancial decision making resources for divorcing or newly widowed women

Financial Planning Day…register and put this on your calendar!

Financial Planning Days

Denver Financial Planning Day – It’s FREE

(If you don’t live near Denver, CO click on to find a Financial Planning Day near you.)images

Denver Date/Time:  October 22, 2016, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Mile Hi Church
9077 W Alameda Ave
Lakewood, CO
Get directions »

The Financial Planning Association of Colorado invites you to attend Denver Financial Planning Day where you’ll be able to meet one-on-one with dozens of highly qualified Certified Financial Planner™ professionals to discuss your personal finance questions, concerns and interests.  It’s not just for retirees so register yourself, your family members and friends at:

Don’t miss this opportunity for a free, private consultation with an expert on a variety of personal finance issues, including debt management, retirement planning, investment strategies, income taxes, insurance, and estate planning, among many others!

Read moreFinancial Planning Day…register and put this on your calendar!

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