Your Money: Sharing Family Getaways Without Any Cottage Conflicts


Picture it: 40 picturesque acres nestled in Wisconsin lake country.

That is the ideal getaway the grandfather of Chicago financial planner Tim Obendorf’s wife built around 50 years ago. Then the property passed to the next generation, with ownership shared by four people.

Now they are thinking about the next generation: 11 potential owners.

Without the right planning, that paradise could turn into hell.

As brothers, sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents gather this summer at family homes to go hiking, canoeing or swimming, there will also be arguments over schedules, property taxes or mortgage costs, and upkeep duties, along with the thousand other matters that come with shared homeownership.

“Whenever a number of families are under the same roof, conflicts are going to arise,” said Jill Shipley, managing director of family dynamics for Abbot Downing, a division of Wells Fargo that handles high-net-worth families and foundations.

That is why Obendorf’s family has already logged a couple of family meetings. “It’s never going to be perfect, but you have to decide you value the place, more than the hassles of working through family issues,” said Obendorf.

It is not surprising that vacation homes have become a point of contention. Many vacation homeowners are baby boomers: They possess the bulk of the nation’s assets and are projected to hold over 50 percent by 2020, according to a study by the Deloitte Center for Financial Services. They are now beginning to retire as they hit their 60s and 70s.

The potential problems are plentiful: Is the place big enough for everybody? Who gets it on July 4th weekend? Do they split costs equally? Who cleans up, handles repairs, or stocks the fridge?

And the big one: When the owners eventually pass on – who gets the place?

How can families get the most out of shared vacation properties this summer, without either going broke or killing each other? Some tips from the experts:

Draw Up a Calendar

Just like season tickets for a sports team, some dates will be in high demand. So if the property is not big enough to handle multiple families at once – or, let’s face it, you just do not get along – pick your spots. “Establish a rotating lottery each year, and allow each family member to pick their respective dates,” suggests Kevin Reardon, a financial planner in Pewaukee, Wisconsin.

Write Down a Policy

Everyone has different opinions of what a getaway should be, so hash it out and put it all down on paper. One key item: Whether ongoing costs like property taxes, homeowner’s association dues and repairs are split equally, or allocated based on usage.

Create an Opt-out

A sure way to guarantee family resentment: One member being forced into an arrangement they do not want. If a family cottage is being passed to the next generation, allow an escape hatch that permits one member’s share to be bought out by their siblings. After all, not everyone might be able to use the property to the same extent, especially if they have moved far away.

Bring in a Pro

Siblings, of course, do not always get along. In fact, 15 percent of adult siblings report arguing over money, according to a new survey from Ameriprise Financial. To make sure everyone is heard, bringing in a trained facilitator is probably your best bet, advises Shipley.

Have the Discussion Now

“I have been in many family meetings where the kids ask, ‘I wonder what mom and dad would have wanted?'” says Shipley. So if you are fortunate enough that the family matriarch and patriarch are still around, arrange a family meeting and find out what they envision for the property in the decades to come.

Maybe they want it to stay in the family, as a legacy for the grandkids. Or maybe, because of family circumstances like far-flung siblings, it would be wiser to just sell the property and split the proceeds.

Set up a Trust

One way to take future financial squabbles out of the equation altogether: If families have the resources, they should create a trust to “fund the maintenance and ongoing use of the property in perpetuity,” says Shipley. “That is one solution to reduce conflict, and keep the property in the family for generations.”




Written By: Chris Taylor
Source: Reuters

Market Update: May 8, 2017


  • Stocks in Asia were mostly higher with Nikkei & South Korea’s KOSPI surging +2.0% on positive vibes carrying over from U.S. jobs growth and Emmanuel Macron victory. South Korea’s election tomorrow looks to end a nine-year run for the ruling conservative party, which has been caught up in scandal. Hang Seng +0.4% while the Shanghai Composite slipped 0.8% to the lowest levels in more than six months amid Beijing’s efforts to rein in financial leverage.
  • European stocks are holding steady after opening down slightly and two strong weekly gains that essentially priced in the Macron victory. The broader Euro Stoxx 600 is up ~+9.0% YTD. The euro slipped -0.5% to 1.09, but note that the common currency has climbed in five of the past six days and has been trading near its highest levels of the past six months.
  • U.S. markets are slightly lower after the S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed Friday at record levels. The dollar is up +0.3% after four consecutive weekly declines. The 10-year yield is higher at 2.37%. Oil is holding on to $46/barrel and COMEX gold is up 0.3% after dropping more than 3% last week.


French Elections

  • Macron victory essentially eliminates fears of worst-case scenarios: wave of populist victories threatening viability of currency and European Union (EU).
  • First election without either of two leading parties in Fifth Republic.
  • Still plenty of challenges–Macron must form alliances with Socialists, the party he left, to offset alt-right anger, potential lack of cooperation heading into parliamentary elections in June.
  • Euro-Stoxx 600 +2.0% last week and flat/down today.
  • Euro (~1.09) down 50 basis points today but stronger vs. dollar and other currencies past month.
  • Eurozone gross domestic product (GDP) and inflation both approaching +2.0% annual growth and this vote suggests trajectory can be maintained, accelerated with economic reforms in France.
  • European Central Bank (ECB) must remain accommodative near term, though, because Italy is the next challenge.

 Oil Prices

  • WTI fell -0.6% last week to $46/barrel as increased shale production in U.S. offsets Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) production cuts. To be sure, the announcement in November helped drive oil to ~$55, yet the increased profitability for higher cost producers in North America was evidently too good to pass up.
  • We expect OPEC to extend their production cuts at the next meeting in Vienna on May 25. Wall Street consensus is still bullish, projecting a range of $50-55/barrel over the next twelve months.
  • Recent sell-off largely technical in nature over supply concerns. WTI broke through 200-day moving average and failed to hold the new low for the year ($45) and a key Fibonacci retracement level. Frenzied trading in Asian markets ensued on Thursday, yet oil volatility was at its highest level in six months and relative strength (RSI) indicates oversold position.
  • “It’s different this time” – the U.S., not Saudi Arabia, is now the world’s swing producer and although OPEC has largely held on production cuts, U.S. rig counts are up.
  • We remain neutral on the energy sector as supply-demand adjustments still point toward a range of $50-$55 for WTI as OPEC cuts likely persist.


  • Strong earnings season got even better last week. S&P 500 earnings for the first quarter rose more than 1% over the past week and are now tracking to a 14.7% year-over-year increase, compared with the 10.2% increase reflected in consensus estimates on April 1 (Thomson Reuters data). Both the earnings growth and beat rates (75%) are the best in more than five years. Excluding the rebounding energy sector, earnings are still on pace to grow a solid 10.5% year over year. About 40 S&P 500 companies will report results this week as earnings season winds down.



  • Companies have delivered mostly upbeat guidance. Forward estimates inched fractionally higher last week and are down just 0.2% since earnings season began. Although the timetable for policy, particularly corporate tax reform, has been pushed out, we still see potential policy upside in 2018. The relatively bright outlook is helping support elevated valuations at an S&P 500 price-to-earnings ratio of 17.5 times.

Sell in May

  • Time to go away? The well-known “Sell in May and go away” period is upon us. Although this is one of the most widely known investment clichés out there, since 1950[1], historically the next six months are indeed the worst six months of the year for the S&P 500. So should you sell and wait to buy in November? We take a closer look at this cliché and show why it doesn’t always work and might not work this year.

Winning Streak

  • Up three weeks in a row. On Friday, the S&P 500 closed at its first all-time high since March 1 and in the process rose for the third consecutive week. It was also the first green Friday for the S&P 500 in nearly two months (March 10). This was the second three-week win streak of the year, with the earlier streak making it all the way to six weeks in a row (ending in early March). There hasn’t been a year with two separate six-week win streaks since 2013.



  • Eurozone: Sentix Investor Confidence (May)
  • China: Foreign Direct Investment (Apr)
  • China: Trade Balance (Apr)


  • NFIB Small Business Optimism (Apr)
  • Germany: Industrial Production (Mar)
  • BOJ: Summary of Opinions at Apr 26-27 Meeting
  • China: New Loan Growth & Money Supply
  • China: Consumer Price Index (CPI) & Producer Price Index (PPI) (Apr)


  • Monthly Budget Statement (Apr)
  • ECB: Draghi Speaks


  • Initial Jobless Claims (May 6)
  • PPI (Apr)
  • Eurozone: European Commission Economic Forecasts
  • UK: Bank of England Rate & Inflation Report
  • ECB: Publishes Economic Bulletin


  • CPI (Apr)
  • Retail Sales (Apr)
  • Germany: GDP (Q1 Prelim.)
  • Germany: CPI & PPI (Apr)
  • Eurozone: Industrial Production (Mar)




[1] Please note: The modern design of the S&P 500 stock index was first launched in 1957. Performance back to 1950 incorporates the performance of predecessor index, the S&P 90.  

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide or be construed as providing specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual security. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal. Investing in foreign and emerging markets securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, political risk, and risk associated with varying accounting standards. Investing in emerging markets may accentuate these risks. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) are subject to interest rate risk and opportunity risk. If interest rates rise, the value of your bond on the secondary market will likely fall. In periods of no or low inflation, other investments, including other Treasury bonds, may perform better. Bank loans are loans issued by below investment-grade companies for short-term funding purposes with higher yield than short-term debt and involve risk. Because of its narrow focus, sector investing will be subject to greater volatility than investing more broadly across many sectors and companies. Commodity-linked investments may be more volatile and less liquid than the underlying instruments or measures, and their value may be affected by the performance of the overall commodities baskets as well as weather, disease, and regulatory developments. Government bonds and Treasury bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. Investing in foreign and emerging markets debt securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, geopolitical and regulatory risk, and risk associated with varying settlement standards. High-yield/junk bonds are not investment-grade securities, involve substantial risks, and generally should be part of the diversified portfolio of sophisticated investors. Municipal bonds are subject to availability, price, and to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rate rise. Interest income may be subject to the alternative minimum tax. Federally tax-free but other state and local taxes may apply. Investing in real estate/REITs involves special risks such as potential illiquidity and may not be suitable for all investors. There is no assurance that the investment objectives of this program will be attained. Currency risk is a form of risk that arises from the change in price of one currency against another. Whenever investors or companies have assets or business operations across national borders, they face currency risk if their positions are not hedged. This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

How this Young Couple Paid Off Their Mortgage in 7 Years


The idea behind paying off a loan faster than scheduled is pretty simple: It saves you money. That’s a huge part of the reason Andrea Stewart and Jerimiah Honer decided to repay their 30-year mortgage in just seven years — by doing so, they saved more than $130,000 in interest. Now the couple has an opportunity to achieve other goals, like invest beyond their property and existing retirement funds, travel and maybe do a little shopping. The frugal pair hasn’t done a lot of that in the last several years.

Stewart, 32, and Honer, 36, worked hard to save money as they tried to accelerate their loan repayment, but they acknowledge they also had a lot of luck. Paying off debt is a different journey for everyone, but here’s how they quickly achieved their dream of owning their own home.

The Details

Stewart and Honer bought their house on a 0.10-acre lot in Sacramento for nearly $300,000 in 2008. Their combined annual income from their full-time jobs amounts to roughly $150,000, but they received supplemental income from a variety of sources along the way to repaying the mortgage. They made a 10% down payment and received a 30-year mortgage with a 6.75% interest rate, but they refinanced twice, to 5.25% and then to 3.875%. Honer calculated their estimated savings of $130,000 using the lowest rate. The couple had some student loan debt when they took out the mortgage, but by paying an additional $200 a month toward their education debt, those loans were paid off by the end of their first year in the house.

That’s when they switched their attention to the mortgage.

How They Paid Off a 30-Year Mortgage in 7 Years

The property itself had a huge impact on the couple’s ability to put a lot of money toward their home loan. The house is close to downtown Sacramento, allowing them to easily commute by bicycle and sell their second car. Honer and Stewart also grow most of their own food.

“It’s actually easier to go into your backyard and pick things than go to the grocery store,” Honer said. “We like the organic element as well as it’s a huge bill cut.”

Not only did they save a lot on gas, vehicle expenses and grocery bills, they also budgeted as if they made less money in the first place. Honer crunched the numbers, and even though both he and Stewart have full-time jobs, they figured out they could manage under one income. The second income went toward the mortgage, and Honer made his own amortization schedule to determine how much they could afford to pay (and eventually save).

Much of their success stems from their mindset toward money.

“I think we were always frugal to begin with — we’re both savers,” Stewart said. “One of the things we asked ourselves when we made a purchase was, ‘Is this really going to make us happy?’ … We try to have experiences like traveling and things like that, yeah, but I don’t think [we like] a lot of stuff.”

Or, as Honer puts it: “We don’t know how to spend money anymore. We kind of forgot.” He also said that they’re not “big credit people,” and even though a mortgage is a helpful credit instrument, it was important to them to be out of debt as soon as possible.

Tips for Paying Off Debt Fast

For anyone interested in trying to replicate their success, there are a few things to know. First, they paid off their other debt obligations (student loans). In addition to cutting out expenses and keeping to a strict budget, Honer and Stewart received some money besides their regular income, which they put toward the loan. The two are aspiring writers and made some money from side gigs, but they also received personal-injury settlements from two separate times a car hit one of them while riding a bicycle. Getting hit by a car isn’t exactly good fortune, but the settlements amounted to $37,000, which helped cut down the debt. Inspired by a friend’s successful pregnancy through egg donation, Stewart twice donated eggs and received about $6,000 each time.

Their story is a combination of hard work, a solid financial situation and luck, but a lot of their success comes down to decision-making: They could have done a lot with their regular income and the additional money they came into, but they chose to put it toward a specific goal. That means their home cost them thousands of dollars less than it could have if they paid for it on schedule.

There’s not much they would have done differently, though they admit they could have saved more, rather than just pay off the home loan and contribute to their retirement accounts. Honer and Stewart don’t see themselves changing their spending habits now that this huge loan is behind them, and they plan to stay in the home for a long time. Now they’re interested in exploring other investments and maybe even retiring early some day.

“I hope it helps some people,” Stewart said of her decision to share their story. She posted about it on Reddit, where it generated a lot of conversation. Her advice? “I would say just think about what makes you happy.” That’s what drove their decisions, and it kept them on track for years.

Written by Christine DiGangi of