The Hippo


May 25, 2020








What are you really interested in right now?
I’m an avid golfer, so I look forward to golfing and I spend a little time in Florida doing that in the winter. 

Plan for retirement
Wealth advisor talks money-management


Tell you start us off by telling us a bit about yourself, your background and where you’re from.
I live in Bedford with my wife. I have four grown children. I grew up in … Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and I’ve lived in New Hampshire now for just about 30 years. I’ve been in the wealth management business for 28 years. 
Congratulations. How did you get into this line of work?
After college, I was an engineer and went on to get my MBA. I was working in Texas at Texas Instruments. I went on to get my MBA at the University of Dallas, and when I did that I wanted to get into business. And I did some research on how to own your own business and I joined Ameriprise at that time, when we moved up here to New Hampshire.
What’s the very first thing people need to know when it comes to managing their finances that maybe often gets overlooked?
It’s kind of fresh in my mind because I’m working with my kids on this right now, but the first thing is just paying yourself first. Spending less than you make and paying yourself first. … I set a target for them to save 20 percent of their income right out of college. The feeling I have is that pensions are now a thing of the past. People just getting started are not going to have a pension, typically. The only people who have pensions now are someone who works for the government or the state or the public schools. … But most corporations have discontinued their pensions. So what that means is it’s on the employee or on the individual to save for their own retirement and their own goals. The first thing is to figure out a budget that you can save first and spend what’s left. 
Is 20 percent the number you think most people should aim to save, at least at first?
I’ve set that up for my kids because when you graduate college you’re making more money than you ever dreamed of. So you can get started right away. But the amount someone needs to save is [based on] their goals and how long they’re going to work, when they’re going to retire. … So it can be more or less depending on how lofty their goals are.
What if someone went to college but isn’t making that much money off the bat?
Then I would say, get started with something. Typically, if you go to work for a company, a lot of companies have a match in their 401(k). So you want to at least contribute up until you get that match. … Then, what I would say is to increase that. … Set a goal where in three months you increase it 1 percent. And three months later increase it another 1 percent. That way it doesn’t feel like as big of a deal. … Then every chance you get try to increase that. When you get a raise, take 15 percent of your raise and put that into savings.
What’s something that you guys are focusing on a lot at your firm?
One thing that I find a lot of people overlook is diversification of their tax plan. What I mean by that is everybody knows you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket from an investment standpoint. However, what I find is a lot of people put all their eggs in one basket from a tax standpoint. In your tax plan, there’s three ways that you can invest money. The first way is pre-tax. If you have a 401(k) for instance … you can do that on a pre-tax basis. But when you do that, all that money builds up … you get a discount on your taxes today, and then it grows, tax deferred, and when you retire all that money is taxable. When you pull that out, all your money is going to be taxed, whatever your tax rate is at that time. … What we want to do is diversify into other ways to invest money, so things like the Roth IRA or the Roth 401(k). If you invest in there, which is an after-tax investment, that money comes out tax-free in retirement. Municipal bonds fall into that category, 529 plans for education and also specially designed life insurance. 
— Ryan Lessard  

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