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Health Matters
How many Portals are too many? The answer is overwhelming. These tech tools have amazing capabilities to help us manage many aspects of our lives including finances and our personal health. Health portals provide access to insurance coverage information, lab results, scheduling appointments, your health history, refilling prescriptions, and even messaging questions to your doctor.

In today's world, telemedicine is rapidly becoming a widely accepted method of obtaining diagnosis and treatment. Medical professionals are leveraging these tools to increase safety and efficiency. In many cases, you can receive a faster response in comparison to traditional methods of contact.

Are you struggling to manage the usernames, passwords, and site navigation? Consider investing some time in sharpening your online skills.
Want to give it a try? Start with small steps such as:

  • creating a list of Medical Portals including website url, username, password, and Dr's name/specialty (could help your health care POA)
  • limit the amount of time you will spend exploring a portal such as 30 minutes or an hour (stay within the boundaries of your patience)
  • only visit one portal during any time frame earmarked for this learning experience (avoid frustration)
  • turn the task into a puzzle by developing a question and then seek the answer from each portal (exercise your brain)
  • view the task as a growth opportunity as opposed to a chore
  • if it works, apply the method to other Portals


  • We remain in the office during normal business hours, but continue to social distance from each other within our individual offices. Should a change to working conditions be necessary, we will let you know.

  • We will continue to host Virtual Meetings using Zoom for your safety. Due to the size of our office conference room, proper social distancing is a challenge. We hope to return to face to face meetings soon.

  • For those that must visit our office, please check in with us prior to visiting. Once you are in the parking lot, please give us call so we know you are here. There may be periodic road closures due to construction projects currently underway in the immediate vicinity of the office.

  • Orion Portal Reminder - The 2020 3rd Quarterly Investment Reports will be uploaded to the Orion Portal in October for Wealth Management Clients. Please remember that the Orion Portal requires a password reset every 4 months (120 days) and becomes Inactive after 8 months (240 days). Should you receive an email notification that your report is available but you are unable to access your Orion Portal, please contact Tracey to request a password reset.

  • AFP now offers Goal Driven Wealth Management - We have unveiled a new service for younger people and it is called Goal Driven Wealth Management. Our existing Cash Flow Driven Wealth Management Service is for pre-retirees and retirees needing to manage and preserve their wealth. The Goal Driven service model is geared toward those in the wealth building phase. We are pleased to offer this service to adult children of existing clients at a discounted rate.
+ Teri's World
The month started out building sand castles on the beach with family, taking pictures of the full moon (the corn moon), and having some quality down time. The pace seemed to pick-up upon returning back home! Plans to redo my garage are moving forward (hoping it won’t fall over before it can be taken down). However, it may be delayed a few months due to the sky rocketing price of wood. I have been given the green light to pick up my activity level since surgery at the end of July so I am back to running and hiking again. Hoping to be able to ride my bike again soon as well. September seems to have gone by in a blur. Wrapping up the end of the month with some small get-togethers with family and friends while the weather is good.  

+ What about Bob
We have had a wonderful September! It started with my birthday on the 9th, not a milestone one but creeping ever closer! We celebrated with our daughters, grandson and my parents with an afternoon cookout at Alum creek beach. 

We both took a vacation day on the 21st and spent the day with friends at Dillon State Park hiking and kayaking.

We are closing out the month with a bang! Christine is spending a girls’ weekend at Seneca Lake, Bob is going camping at Atwood State Park and Layla is spending the weekend with her cousins in Youngstown.

+ Tracey's Time
We are working to transition ourselves to the "back to school" schedule having chosen the hybrid learning option offered for Cayleigh. She will attend school 2 days one week and 3 the next, with remote learning when not attending in person. A positive is double blocked classes with low student counts permitting great opportunities for getting individual attention. A negative is the potential to receive Covid notices with a frequency similar to strep throat. Risk versus reward!

We have scheduled a quick fall getaway. We are heading to Great Smokey Mountain National Park for a week of camping. We are hoping to see some great fall colors while exploring the park and surrounding area. If you have any must see suggestions between here and there, please share.
Current Economic and Investment Information
A MAJORITY - 52% of US households have investments in US stocks, either through direct ownership of individual stocks or through pooled accounts such as mutual funds (source: Survey of Consumer Finances).

PLAN FOR PRICE INCREASES - As of 8/31/20, the “consumer price index” is up +19% over the last 10 years, up +50% over the last 20 years, and up +98% over the last 30 years. The consumer price index (CPI) is a measure of inflation compiled by the US Bureau of Labor Studies (source: Department of Labor).

THE BANK OWNS IT NOW - Lenders repossessed only 2,035 homes in August 2020. The all-time record for bank repossessions in a single month in US history: 102,134 in September 2010 (source: Attom Data Solutions).

LARGEST EVER - Fiscal year 2020 ends in 9 days (on 9/30/20), completing the largest budget deficit in our nation’s history. Through 8/31/20, the government’s budget deficit had reached $3.007 trillion, more than double the previous red-ink record of $1.413 trillion from fiscal year 2009 (source: Office of Management and Budget).

JUST FIVE YEARS - 55 of the last 60 fiscal years in our country (the 60 years from 1961-2020) have resulted in “outlays” exceeding “receipts.” The 5 surplus years were 1969, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 (source: Office of Management and Budget).

AS LONG AS RATES STAY LOW - The average interest rate that the US government pays on its interest-bearing debt as of 8/31/20 was 1.795%, down from 2.331% as of 12/31/15. That means our government can borrow 29.9% more money today than it borrowed 5 years ago and still have the same out-of-pocket interest expense cost (source: Treasury Department).

BACK IN BUSINESS - US ports received ships carrying 2.06 million containers loaded with cargo during the month of August 2020. That’s the largest number ever recorded in a monthly survey compiled since 2002 (source: National Retail Federation Global Port Tracker).

A NEW HIGH - After adjusting numerical data from the past for the impact of inflation, the median household income in 2019 ($68,703) is the highest ever recorded in the USA and is the 4th consecutive year (2016-2019) that produced an all-time inflation-adjusted record. Before 2016, the peak for median household income was $62,641 set in 1999 (source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis).

SHOULD WE GET A BITE TO EAT? - 12% of the “sitdown” restaurant chains, i.e., not “fast food,” that were in business before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in February 2020, are now out of business and have closed for good (source: Black Box Intelligence).

MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION - On 2/08/20, just 2 days after the first US death from the COVID-19 pandemic, 2.1 million out-of-work Americans were receiving unemployment benefits via state programs across the country. That total rose to 22.8 million by 5/09/20 but has fallen to 12.3 million as of 9/05/20 (source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis).

ON FIRE - Of the 10 largest wildfires in the last 10 years in the state of California, 5 of them are taking place right now. The biggest of the 5 is the August Complex fire, the largest in state history (source: Los Angeles Times).

MORE THAN JUST WAGES - For every $1 spent for wages and salaries in the private sector as of June 2020, employers spend an additional 45 cents on benefits, including paid leave, insurance, retirement plans and legally required benefits. Average private sector compensation is $28.24 per hour while the cost of benefits averages an additional $12.75 per hour (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics).

ANNUAL BUMP - The “cost of living adjustment” (COLA) made to Social Security benefits is calculated based upon the year-over-year increase in prices from the 3rd quarter of subsequent years. E.g., the COLA that will be applied to benefits paid in January 2021 will be based on the change of prices from the end of the 3rd quarter 2019 to the end of the 3rd quarter 2020. The COLA increase was 1.6% last year (source: Social Security).
This is not always a comfortable topic, but a necessary topic in today’s world. This article does a great job to answer some questions that we often get about the process and the tasks that need to be addressed when one passes.  
A Checklist:
What to do When a Relative Dies
Source: MFS - Courtesy of Freedman Financial

When a loved one dies, the details that need to be taken care of by survivors may be particularly overwhelming because it is such an emotional time. This checklist is intended to be a reminder of some of the details that may need to be attended to, both immediately and afterward.

There are tasks that family members will need to take care of very soon after the relative’s death.

■ Arrange for a funeral or memorial service.

■ Determine if the decedent made his or her wishes regarding his or her funeral or memorial service known, either in writing or verbally.

■ Contact a funeral home or memorial society.

■ Tell friends and family what the plans are. Ask them to help you contact people.

■ Determine if all or part of the decedent’s funeral costs have been prepaid. (You can refer to agreement documents the decedent may have kept or ask at the funeral home.)Also check with the cemetery to see if the decedent paid for a plot or burial insurance.

■ Submit an obituary to the decedent’s local paper(s). You may want to include a charitable organization for donations if that is preferred over flowers.

■ Make a list of everyone who sends donations, flowers or cards so aknowledgements can be sent.

■ If the decedent was a veteran, contact the Department of Veterans Affairs about benefits the estate may be eligible for. Veterans, service members and their dependents can be buried in a national cemetery for free. If a veteran is buried elsewhere and was entitled to receive Veterans Affairs (VA)disability payments up to the time of death, his or her estate can receive an allowance toward burial and funeral expenses. Other benefits may include a ceremonial American flag, headstone or presidential memorial certificate.

■ Secure the decedent’s tangible property, such as silverware, dishes, furniture or artwork. Later on, you and the executor will need to have these items appraised and distributed according to the decedent’s wishes. This may be a difficult task if the property has already been distributed to various family members.

After the funeral
There are several financial matters that need to be taken care of when a relative dies. However, you may not need to take these steps immediately. You and your family will need time to grieve. Most financial advisors recommend that you do not make any changes in or long-term decisions about finances for at least six
months to a year after your loved one’s death. But there are some issues that have to be dealt with within legal time periods. Here are some of the initial steps that may need to be taken.

■ Notify the decedent’s attorney about the death.

■ Find out if there is a will and who was appointed executor.

■ If you are named executor in the will or by the court, contact witnesses to the will. Contact the executor of the estate if someone else has been appointed to that role.

■ Organize a meeting to review the will and handle the estate settlement. If interested parties are unable to attend, they can obtain copies of the will.

■ The executor needs to determine the contents of the decedent’s safe deposit box, if there is one, and acquire permission to remove the contents.

■ Meet with the attorney (or your own attorney) to review the steps necessary to administer the decedent’s estate (the probate process). Bring as much information as possible about finances, taxes and debts. Do not worry about putting the papers in order first; the lawyer will have experience in organizing and understanding complex financial statements. Documents you should bring include

copies of the decedent’s death certificate (You can get these from the funeral director, and it is a good idea to get at least 10 to 20 copies.)
a copy of the decedent’s birth certificate (and your marriage license if the decedent is your spouse)

financial statements, including those from banks, brokerage houses and insurance agencies

other financial documents, including tax forms from prior years, unpaid credit card and utility bills and mortgage payments

the decedent’s Social Security number, and Veterans Affairs identification number, if applicable

■ Find a financial institution (i.e., a bank or credit union) in your area that can provide you with signature guarantees for certain documents, if necessary.

■ Notify the decedent’s creditors. Close any credit card accounts.

■ Bills and bequests may be paid from a single checking account. The estate, not surviving family members, is responsible for any debts of the decedent. Paying off the debts yourself only increases the net value of the estate, which may mean higher inheritance taxes.

■ The executor is responsible for distributing property to heirs and legatees. Generally, executors do not pay out all of the estate assets until the period runs out for creditors to make claims, which can be as long as a year after the date of death. But once the executor understands the estate and the likely claims, he or she can distribute most of the assets, retaining a reserve for unanticipated claims and the costs of closing out the estate.

■ The executor must file an account with the probate court listing any income of the estate since the date of death and all expenses and estate distributions. Once the court approves this final account, the executor can distribute whatever is left in the closing reserve and finish his or her work.

Steps you may need to take
■ Check into whether any homeowner’s or auto insurance policies offer coverage during the probate process.

■ Restructure any homeowner’s, casualty and life insurance policies, as necessary.

■ Change the registration of investment securities by contacting the decedent’s financial advisor or the brokerage firm and make sure any orders are immediately suspended.

■ Change the title on any property (including real estate and automobiles) owned by the decedent.

■ Contact financial institutions to determine what information they need and how to change the registration on any accounts the decedent may have had.
■ If you have any joint bank accounts with the decedent, have the latter’s name removed.

■ Review your own estate plan, including insurance policies, legal documents, investment plans, etc., and revise as necessary.

■ File a federal estate tax return within nine months of the death if the estate’s value exceeds the estate tax exemption for the year of death. It is essential to seek advice from an experienced estate planning professional. It may also be
necessary for a final tax return to be filed on behalf of the decedent.

■ Contact the employee benefits department of the decedent’s employer to determine what death benefits may be payable and to whom. It may be necessary to provide several certified copies of the death certificate as well as other requested documentation.

Understanding benefits
Determine how to arrange for any income you may be getting from the decedent’s retirement plan benefits, union survivor benefits, Social Security, veterans’ benefits or life insurance policies.

Social Security benefits
If the decedent was receiving Social Security benefits, notify the Social Security Administration promptly. If you are the spouse of the decedent, you will need to go to your local Social Security office in person. Bring the decedent’s Social
Security number, death certificate (a certified copy) and proof of relationship (such as a marriage license and the decedent’s birth certificate).

A spouse or any minor children who were living with the decedent at the time of death receive a one-time Social Security payment. A widow or widower can also receive monthly benefits generally beginning at age 60, or at any age if he or she is caring for an eligible minor (under age 16 or disabled). Unmarried minor children (under age 18, or 19 if they are still attending high school) receive monthly Social Security benefits. If you are divorced from the decedent after
a marriage of at least 10 years, you may be eligible for Social Security payments.

Call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time for more information on benefits for which you may be eligible.

Veterans’ benefits

Call the Department of Veterans Affairs at 1-800-827-1000 to find the office nearest you. You should go to the office in person and bring the decedent’s birth certificate, Social Security number, death certificate and Veterans Affairs records. Benefits going to a spouse and heirs may include pension payments and financial aid for education costs.

Insurance benefits
If you are the beneficiary under an insurance policy, contact the insurance company or agent to obtain the death claim forms you will need to complete and submit. With the forms, you will need to include a certified copy of the death

Retirement plan and pension benefits
If you are the beneficiary of any retirement or pension plan of the decedent, call the employee benefits department of the company that sponsors the plan and determine what your payment options are and what paperwork the plan requires you to submit.

Down the road
The probate process can be lengthy, sometimes stretching to two to three years or longer. In some instances, however, probate may be avoided completely, such as when an estate consists of trust assets. The executor should be able to anticipate how long the settlement of the estate will take.

There is no quick fix for the grief and stress experienced after the death of a loved one. Survivors are often counselled to put off making any extraordinary changes in their lives — such as moving, reinvesting assets or selling the family home — too soon after a loss. Making important decisions immediately could mean having regrets later. Instead, it may be best to take time to grieve and heal from one of life’s inevitable, but most traumatic, experiences.


National Funeral Directors Association
The NFDA’s Funeral Service Help Line gives consumers information they need to plan a funeral.

601 E Street NW,
Washington, DC 20049
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to helping older Americans achieve lives of independence, dignity and purpose. AARP‘s website has online publications and links for funeral planning information.

Funeral Consumers Alliance
33 Patchen Rd.,
South Burlington, VT 05403
FCA is a consumer organization that provides information about alternatives for funeral or non-funeral dispositions. It encourages advanced planning and cost efficiency.

Selected Independent Funeral Homes
500 Lake Cook Rd., Suite 205,
Deerfield, IL 60015
Selected Independent Funeral Homes is a national association of funeral firms. Membership is by invitation only and conditioned upon the commitment of each firm to comply with the association’s Code of Good Funeral Practice. Consumers may view a variety of publications in the site’s Smart Consumer Information section.

Federal Trade Commission
The FTC offers a consumer guide to funerals. Click the “Money & Credit” tab, then select “Shopping & Saving” from the menu on the left, then “Shopping for Funeral Services” under the Specific Products and Services section.

Visualizing the Hierarchy of Financial Needs

By Dorothy Neufield
Advisor Channel - Visual Capitalist
Visualizing the Hierarchy of Financial Needs

Behavioral scientist Abraham Maslow wrote “A Theory of Human Motivation” in 1943, arguing that humans worldwide are influenced by a “hierarchy of needs”.

This theory organizes human needs across five levels, where needs in the lower end must be satisfied before progressing onto the next level. At one end are physiological needs such as sleep and shelter, while at the other end are esteem and self-actualization.

This Markets in a Minute chart from New York Life Investments explores how Maslow’s theory applies to our financial needs, pinning down the steps to creating a strong financial foundation.

The Essentials

What are the five levels in the hierarchy of financial needs?

  1. Cash flow and basic needs: Covering food, housing and daily expenses. Ensuring the fundamentals, including our physiological needs, are covered financially.
  2. Financial safety: This covers insurance and an emergency fund to help prepare for unforeseen events and risks. As a safety cushion, an emergency fund should cover three months of living expenses in case of an accident, an unexpected health or family issue, or losing a job.
  3. Accumulating wealth: This includes growing investments, paying down debt, and saving for retirement. At this level, the focus shifts to growing assets for long-term success and longevity.
  4. Financial freedom: Long-term care and children’s education are found within this category, along with retirement savings and vacations. These financial needs are linked with esteem needs, such as self-respect and personal accomplishment.
  5. Legacy: Estate planning, tax planning, and business succession planning all fall within this category, connecting with self-actualization in Maslow’s pyramid.

Naturally, financial needs can shift based on a given situation. But as a general rule of thumb, moving along this path can help create an enduring roadmap for financial heath.

Financial Needs Under the Microscope

While it’s easy enough to describe the theory in concept, how does the hierarchy of financial needs impact our day-to-day lives in practice?

To start, as individuals live longer, many are concerned with having enough savings for retirement—across all income levels. For Americans in the lower income bracket, 50% worry about their retirement savings, while 26% worry in upper income levels.
Debt is also a primary concern among many Americans, as the cost of both healthcare and education have continued to rise. Average annual college costs, for example, have risen 25% over the last decade, while U.S. household debt has roughly doubled to $14 trillion since 2004.

It’s only once these above needs are taken care of that individuals can focus on the top of the financial needs hierarchy, taking care of legacy-focused items such as estate and tax planning, or business succession planning.

The Importance of Wealth Management

To navigate the hierarchy of financial needs, the importance of having a robust financial plan comes into focus.

Especially during times of uncertainty, individuals need a framework that accounts for changing life circumstances, such as a new job or purchasing a house. And when individuals move up each rung of the financial needs pyramid, they must also recognize how their tactics might need to change to best pursue their financial goals.

Cultivating a stronger awareness of financial needs can help individuals make more informed choices, on both a micro and macro level—from day-to-day purchases to long-term investment decisions.


"Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship. "

- Buddha
Alexander Financial Planning
1621 W. First Avenue
Grandview Heights, OH 43212

Registered Investment Advisor
This material is distributed by Alexander Financial Planning, Inc., (AFPI) and is for information purposes only. Although information has been obtained from sources to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy. It is provided with the understanding that no fiduciary relationship exists because of this report. Opinions expressed in this report are not necessarily the opinions of AFPI and are subject to change without notice. AFPI assumes no liability for the interpretation or use of this report. Financial planning, investment conclusions and strategies suggested in this report may not be suitable for all investors and consultation with a qualified advisor is recommended prior to executing any investment strategy. All rights reserved.