After careful consideration and in light of the ongoing Coronavirus we are saddened to have to inform everyone that we are postponing the annual Client Appreciation Party that we host at Monmouth Park. The health and safety of our clients and employees is our highest priority. Postponing will enable us to provide the experience that our clients deserve in a safe environment when time permits. Though we won’t be able to show our appreciation to our clients and their families in our typical fashion, we have chosen to express our gratitude by donating the party expenses to the following charities:

  1. Doctors without Borders, USA –
  2. National Foundation for Infectious Diseases –
  3. Feed America –
  4. Equal Justice Initiative –
  5. Prevent Child Abuse –
  6. Second Call “Thoroughbred adoption & placement” –

Our hearts go out to anyone who’s been impacted by the virus and we extend our sincere wishes to all of our clients and their families to stay safe and healthy. We remain excited to host you in the future and as always are here for you should you need us.

20 years old. A new adult. The first few years of adulthood, independence and individuality. So many new concepts and so many unknown paths beckoning the young adults to follow. In the age of internet and “infinite knowledge”, there is a large amount of bad advice out there mixed with the good. It is important to ID the good behaviors and advice before any patterns are formed during young adulthood, as these patterns – either good or bad, can embed themselves in financial life for years to come. Whether you are a parent of a 20-something year old (or will be soon) or you are somewhere in your 20’s, this is advice for you.

  • Budget your Cash Flow – No matter your position and income, you cannot start the financial journey until you budget your Cash Flow. The word “budget” has negative connotations – a 20 page spreadsheet with ancient formulas. It does not have to be like that at all. A successful budget needs only a few numbers identified, and your understanding. Once you ID your monthly (or bi-weekly) income, you need to ID your expenses – what you need to spend your money on, and what you want to spend your money on – note which is written first. Whether you are working part-time during college, or have your 1st/2ndadult job after-college, planning out where your money goes every month is a great first step towards controlling it –you cannot harness something you are unaware of.
  • Get Insured – Even if you have really financially savvy parents or friends that assist you with other forms of advice here, this is one that is often skipped. Insurance covers many types products.
    • Health/Life -You are young. For personal health insurance, most young adults are not expensive to insure. Unless you are a smoker, the fact that you are in your 20’s typically places you at the top of the preferred tier for health and life insurance. If you are working at a firm that offers health and life insurance, you should seldom refuse. Even if your employer does not cover 100% of it, you can have (even if basic) coverage for your health care & life insurance for pennies of what your parents would pay.
      • If you are on your parent’s health insurance, you likely will not be offered a better plan, so ride that out until 26 (if you are nice to your parents). But at 25, you should know everything you need to know about your next plan and jump on it right away so as not to have a gap in your coverage.
    • Renter’s / Homeowner’s – Likely earlier in your 20’s you will be renting – especially if near a college campus. Later in your 20’s some of you will opt to stop renting and buy a house – preferably once you have work stability. You need both types of insurance, because well, the younger you are, the less money you have to “self-insure.” All that this means is that if you have any issues within the apartment or house, you are not hit with a significant financial burden. The younger and less financially stable you are, the more these types of insurance make sense.
    • Car – Even if you are on your parent’s insurance for now, it does not mean you can be a reckless driver racking up points on your license from traffic and accident tickets. The more of each of those you get, the more expensive it will be to stay insured.
  • Live within your means – This is one of the most important pieces of advice and my favorite. This cannot be stressed enough, and applies to people in their 20’s universally. No matter how much income you make yourself, or how much your parents assist you, identifying your means and living under that line is crucial. “Live within your means” sounds like an archaic line of advice boomers give to younger folks on TV, but this particular piece actually makes sense. After following the steps from “Budget your Cash Flow” above, and you have a clear picture of what you can spend, you make the choices on what to spend it on. A popular example that was very tempting for me in my younger 20’s, and especially when I started earning my own money, was to not curb unnecessary spending. If you have $750/month to spend on a car/month, or your parents are offering you this amount, there is no need for you to lease a new series BMW. Why not get something more reliable, frugal and financially sound? Use $250/month on the lease or financing payments and the rest for the next point.
  • Save, Save, Save! – Again, you are young. I don’t mean save the money under your mattress – absolutely the opposite actually. First step is to develop an Emergency Savings – most effective account type for this is the “High-Yield-Savings-Account (HYSA)”, but a cushion of ~500-$1,000 in your checking account that you don’t touch is a great start. A sign of great financial health is not having to ask your parents for money for a blown tire or a broken house appliance. That is true adulting. The next step is investing. You always hear “saving for your retirement now will take years off the time you have to work”. But you do not have to hide away all of your money until you are 59 ½. If you do not mind, it is best to take advantage of Roth IRA’s – the less money you make a year, the better. If you do mind locking up your money for a while, start with a Brokerage account. There are more Millennial / Gen. Z alternatives that fill this demands as well – Acorns and Robinhood being the most prominent. Robinhood actually gives you a free stock share just for signing up. Whatever you do choose, most important part is to be aggressive. 100% equities (stocks, mutual funds) should be the norm in your accounts – no cash, as it earns practically nothing.

There are plenty more points to discuss, from building your credit score to avoiding financial money pits. However, this is a compact outline of where to start and what to do as you are getting out there into the unknown and trying to make a name for yourself. The internet is chock full of bad advice – make sure to do your research (fact check everything) and don’t get disheartened when faced with some truths of financial adulthood. It will all click into place eventually. Step by step.


Open Enrollment, which varies by company but generally takes place in the Fall, can often be a stressful time as trying to make sense of your company’s benefits can seem like a daunting task. It is an important time however, as it allows you the opportunity to adjust your benefits based on any changes that have taken place or might take place over the coming year. Many employers may make slight changes to their plans and it is important that you review them to ensure you are taking advantage of all your options and getting the coverage you need. On occasion, some employers may even require action on your part in order to stay enrolled. It is important to carefully review the documents provided to you so you can be sure to make the necessary adjustments to options that best fit your needs and keep your coverages current. Open enrollment is also a great time to review the amount of money you are contributing to retirement and seeing if you can increase it as well as review beneficiaries to make sure they are up to date on life insurance or 401k plans.

A few important things to consider:

What Changes Have Taken Place to The Plans Offered?

It is important to look at not just the difference in premiums for the plans, but also the more detailed changes such as coinsurance and copayment amounts. You should also check to see if there is a different deductible amount. These offerings can vary depending on the size of your employer and you may have several different options to choose from. Depending on your situation a plan with a higher deductible may make sense for you however, if you are planning on having a child within the next year, a more traditional plan with a lower deductible may make more sense. You will want to weigh the out-of-pocket expense to you for each plan and consider the likelihood that you will reach those maximums. There may also have been a change in providers which could mean your regular doctor or dentist is no longer in network under the new insurance. You will want to check before going to a doctor to ensure coverages, be aware if pre-approvals are needed, and to avoid out-of-network costs. Lastly, you will want to review life insurance and disability insurance coverages. There may be low cost options available to you for life insurance as well as disability and if you have others depending on you it might be wise to take advantage of these offerings.

Have My Needs Changed This Year or Will They Change Over the Next Year?

It is easier to make changes and sign up during open enrollment. For example, perhaps dental insurance did not make sense when you were single but it may make more sense once you have children. Additionally, you may need to start using that Flexible Spending Account for daycare or health costs or utilize Dependent Care Flex Spending if it’s offered. Contributions to both are tax-free as well as withdrawals made for qualified expenses. You will need to tell your employer how much to take out from your gross pay for the year. You will also need to use this money within the year as it does not roll over like an HSA. With an HSA, which is typically offered with a high deductible health insurance policy, the money is tax deductible, earnings are tax-free, and withdrawals used for qualified medical expenses are also tax-free. The other benefit of an HSA is it’s a portable account, meaning if you change jobs, the money will go with you.

How Will Things Affect My Take-Home Pay?

For existing employees, this is the time to ensure you are taking full advantage of any 401k plan your company offers. Many employers offer a company match (up to a certain percentage) that is free-money you should not leave on the table. You should consider how this will affect your take home pay when deciding how much you can contribute. Insurance premiums, contributions to HSA’s and 401k’s should all be factored into your budget so you are sure your money is going to work for you in the best possible way. It is important to remember that many of the benefits will come out before your taxes as this lowers your taxable income and may make it so that you do not notice the changes as much.

Final Thoughts

There may be other options offered during open enrollment as well. For instance, they may offer a legal plan to assist in your preparation of estate documents. When it comes to additional coverages though, be sure to read the fine print and don’t be fooled by marketing language. Make sure to review the coverages and cost in detail to be sure there is real value to you. Fully understanding the benefits is key to ensure you are making informed decisions and fully taking advantage of the benefits your employer provides. Is your open enrollment period approaching? As always, Lighthouse Financial Advisors, Inc. is here for you and ready to assist you navigate through the process.