Saturday, November 26, 2011

How To Handle Holiday Fender Benders

The holiday shopping blitz is in full effect, which means there are more people than ever bumping into each other at the mall. Unfortunately, more people are bumping into each other in the parking lots as well! Police do not respond to parking lot fender benders unless alcohol or injuries are involved, so it's important to know what to do if you find yourself in an unfortunate run in with a fellow shopper.

  • Assess The Situation: Make sure no one is hurt and try to determine if drugs or alcohol are involved (if so, call 911).
  • Stay Calm: Emotions run high after a collision, make sure your temper doesn't. Getting loud or emotional will only make the situation worse and could lead to something far worse than a little dent or lost paint.
  • Who's At Fault: Ultimately, the insurance company(ies) will make their own determination of fault, but you can help your claim representative by documenting the accident. Usually, the person backing out is deemed at fault, but make sure you take photos if possible (use your cell phone camera) and ask anyone who saw what happened to write it down with their contact information.
  • Do Not: Apologize for the accident (even if you think its you're fault), tell other parties how much insurance you carry or accept any money (even if you think its the other drivers fault) or agree to forget about the accident.
  • Exchange Information: Make sure you get the other driver's name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, license plate number, vehicle make, model, year, color, insurance carrier and policy number.
  • Contact Your Insurance Agent: Call your local, professional agent to let your company know about the accident and discuss how to proceed with filing a claim (if needed).
  • Don't Let A Little Dent Ruin The Holidays! Accidents happen, but it doesn't have to ruin the season. Hopefully no one is hurt (the most important thing!) and any little dents or lost paint can be fixed. Yes, accidents are unfortunate but letting it ruin such a special time of year would be far worse.
Be extra careful in parking lots during your shopping trips. Look twice before backing out and watch out for your fellow shoppers who are not quite as cautious of a driver as you. Try to avoid the extra little run-ins, but be prepared just in case. Have a safe and happy shopping season!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hugs From Clients

True Story:

Yesterday morning one of my clients (We'll call her Sherry for confidentiality reasons)  called and asked if there was any way they could stop by that afternoon because they had some important questions they would really like answered ASAP. These kind of phone calls always scare me a little bit, especially when I manage ALL of the retirement accounts of the client who wants to get together immediately!

Did I do something wrong? Are they unhappy with me? Are they pulling all of their accounts? I felt like I used to back in the day when my mom would tell me "wait until your dad gets home!". Your imagination runs wild and before you know it, ridiculous and bad thoughts start racing through your mind - all of which are far worse than anything that could happen in real life.

I was extra nervous yesterday because earlier this year I took over on a very large sum of Sherry's retirement money and moved it into strategies we thought would better fit her retirement goals. I thought it was a great move for her and a far better fit than her old investments but maybe she's changed her mind. I knew I had done a good job and put together some great strategies for her, but needless to say I had a very long afternoon waiting for my 3:00 appointment.

3:00 came and, as usual, Sherry was right on time. When I walked into the conference room she wanted to get straight to the business she had come to discuss. "I need to ask you a few things about my money" she said as she was laying her most recent account statements out in front of me. I've been watching all of my statements  and comparing them with what I hear on the news and what my friends are telling me about their retirement accounts and I'm not sure that this makes sense."

Uh-oh, I thought, here it comes! It's never good to hear that something doesn't make sense when you're dealing with large sums of money. I was pretty sure everything was explained well and understood, but did I miss something?

Sherry continued, "my statements show that none of my accounts have lost any money. One of them has stayed the same and the other three have all gone up."

I told her that was right, she was reading the statements correctly.

"So I really haven't lost any money, my accounts are all safe?"

I told her she was right again and reminded her that we made moves to protect her retirement from the bad stuff that was going on the economy and the stock market so she wouldn't have to worry about it.

"That's wonderful! I wanted to make sure that these statements were correct and I feel so good now, I'd like to give you a hug!" And then she did, she stood up, gave me a hug and then headed for the door. Our urgent meeting was over in 5 minutes, and Sherry was happy enough to give me a hug. Did I mention I like hugs from happy clients?

If you're not working with someone worth hugging, you might want to consider working with someone else. Remember, you can keep your money safe and protected from volatility and you can keep your retirement money moving in the right direction. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

Robert Edgin

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Real Life Explanation About Greece

I came across this article last week and thought it was a great, real world, easy to understand explanation of what's going on with Greece. If you pay any attention at all to the news I'm sure you've heard about their debt problems but maybe you're not sure what all the fuss is about. Well, here you go:

A real life explanation of the global debt crisis

Article posted October 19, 2011 by Rodney Ballance

In basic terms, here's what's happening in Europe, and an explanation of why we need to be very interested in the situation.

Relating this to family, let's say that my son Greg (Greece) has spent all his savings. He also lost his ability to earn an income, but continues to spend as if he's still working.

Greg asks me for a loan to help him pay his debts and promises to cut back on his spending. I can't come up with all the money Greg needs, so I turn to my brothers and sisters (the European Union) so we can pool our money together to bail out Greg. Greg promises to pay us all back after he gets another job and assures us that he's going to stop spending.

Later, while reviewing Greg's finances, we find he’s still spending like a drunken sailor. Of course Greg hasn't paid any of us back the first dollar yet.

Greg says he's sorry that he's not been able to cut back on his spending. He explains that he still has contracts with his tailor, personal chef and his staff of gardeners and maintenance people to pay them for another 50 years. He can't stop paying them because they'll burn his house down out of anger if he tries.

Because of Greg's situation, we agree to extend the time limit for him to pay us back. As we're telling Greg that we’ll extend his loan and reminding him he still needs to make cuts somewhere, he says, "Oh by the way, I forgot to tell you about more expenses that also need to be paid. Can you loan me some more money and let me pay it back with the original loan?"

My brother Gary (Germany in the European Union) is furious. I explain to Gary that if we don't give Greg what he needs, we'll all lose everything we loaned him. We have to give him more if we ever want to get our money back.

We all look at our resources and realize we don't have enough to help Greg this time. Together, we decide to call our father (the International Monetary Fund) to see if he can help us bail out Greg and help him turn the corner. Our dad looks at the situation and says that he doesn't have the funds either, but will talk to his neighbor Amy (America) and see if she is willing to help out.

By now, my brothers and sisters have to float smaller loans to one another to stay afloat because we loaned our money to Greg. He is still going deeper in the hole every day, with no turnaround in sight.

My dad comes back and says that he’s secured a loan from his wealthier neighbor, Amy, to help us all out, but emphasizes the importance of reducing Greg’s expensive lifestyle. Amy has an open line of credit at her bank (China) that allows her to borrow huge amounts of money with her family property as collateral. She knows that if she fails to pay back her loan, she loses the family farm, but wants to appear wealthy, so she borrows the money from her bank to give to dad.

Greg once again says thank you and goes on his merry way, assuring all of us that he’s making the necessary changes. My father tells his neighbor that her money is safe because he has faith in his grandson.

While we’re all trying to help Greg, my sister Iris (Ireland) finds herself in a tight spot and asks to borrow money from all of us. We all want to help Iris, but we don’t have the money because we loaned it all to Greg.

We once again turn to our dad and ask him to go back to his neighbor who was so helpful with Greg. Because he is somewhat removed from the day-to-day activities of his grandson, he believes that everything is going according to plan and goes to his neighbor.

Amy, who has complete confidence in my dad, freely loans her borrowed money to help Iris. Unlike Greg, Iris makes difficult spending cuts and begins turning her financial situation around. She isn’t able to pay her loan back yet, but is making obvious strides in the right direction. So after review, we all agree to extend Iris’ loan.

Now our brothers Peter (Portugal) and Steven (Spain) begin to have financial difficulties because they aren’t making the money they need to sustain their lifestyle either. They let us know they might eventually need a bailout too. Now my brother Gary, who is working hard to provide for his family, is really irritated because he is also barely scraping by due to the money he’s given to everyone else.

Eventually, Greg will go bankrupt, pulling the rest of us with him. My dad will be OK because he didn’t have any of his money involved to begin with. Amy will lose the family farm, which will be foreclosed on by her bank. All who used to depend on her will find life very difficult in the near future.

This is a clear example of why we should sometimes allow failure. Thomas Edison once said, “I didn’t fail 2,000 times to make a light bulb, I found 2,000 ways not to make one.”

Failure is just part of the journey to realizing success. Sometimes, we need to allow our kids to experience difficult situations and deal with them, even if they eventually fail. The European debt crisis will eventually lead to the collapse of the European Union and bring economic disaster to the entire world. Are you personally prepared for that scenario?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Insurance and Financial Words of Wisdom - Episode 2

This week we're talking very briefly about keeping two very important things safe: your retirement account and your teen drivers. Learn rule number one to protecting your money and the most important thing to stop your teen driver from doing so they are safer on the roads.

If you have a question you'd like answered please let me know. Email me at or click the "Contact Us" button. The question you have is probably the same question that many others would like the answer to. We'd like to get it answered for you.

Robert Edgin