States the Size of Countries

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

States the Size of Countries

It can sometimes be hard to understand just how large the U.S. economy is compared with the other countries of the world.  You’ve probably read that California, alone if it were an independent country, would have the world’s fifth-largest economy. But what about the rest of the states?

Retirement Planning Doesn’t Stop When You Retire

Thursday, 05 September 2019

Retirement Planning Doesn’t Stop When You Retire

Retirement is a time when people can take some time for themselves and travel, spend more time on hobbies and leisure activities, start a side business, volunteer or go back to school. Whatever your goals are in retirement it is also important to keep ongoing retirement planning in mind even after you have blown out those candles.

There can often be the mindset that you’ve done all of your planning and now it’s on autopilot so you can sit back and enjoy the ride. While this is partially true, especially if you have been proactive about your retirement planning for many years, it is important to keep your goals and your plans to achieve them firmly in sight.

Five Money Moves to Make When You Get a Promotion

As an executive, long deserving of your new promotion, there is much to be celebrated.
Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Five Money Moves to Make When You Get a Promotion

Years of hard work have paid off and you have been recognized for your hard work. Bonus – the pay and benefits have changed for the better…by a lot.

There can be a temptation to make a big purchase, change your lifestyle, and splurge like you weren’t able to before. For some, compensation increases can feel paralyzing, like you aren’t quite sure how to handle the perks. After all, it isn’t just an increase in your paycheck. It’s a change to your retirement benefits, bonuses, and perhaps there may be stock options to deal with and other things that can have an impact on your taxes at present and in the future.

In this article, we will outline some steps you should take when you get a new promotion in order to stay on track toward a bright financial future.

Tariffs and Recent Market Movements

Anybody who reads the headlines knows by now that the markets have had a wild couple of weeks, and the S&P 500 is down two weeks in a row.
Monday, 12 August 2019

 Tariffs and Recent Market Movements

Having said that, the S&P 500 is down only 3.54% from it’s all-time high. In the bigger picture, this is a pretty modest drop for a market that is still up over 16% so far this year, and some analysts were surprised it wasn't worse, given the startling way the trade war with China escalated

There seems to be much confusion about how tariffs work. Yes, buyers of imported goods will tend to pay a higher price if the exporting company maintains the same pricing policies that it had in effect before the tariffs were levied. But many exporters will lower the prices they demand in order to offset the effectively higher price in the U.S. market, eating some of the tariff's bite in order to remain competitive.

Fixing Social Security—Once and For All

Chances are that you know that the Social Security trust fund is due to run out of money—or “deplete its reserves” as economists put it—by the year 2035.
Tuesday, 06 August 2019

Fixing Social Security—Once and For All

The actual time frame depends on some forecasts, including economic growth, the number of workers who remain in the workforce and the number who retire—but the clear point is that Congress is going to have to take action in the next few years if it wants to prevent a lot of angry seniors from heading vengefully to the polls.

Habits of Champions

The best way to get ahead in the world is through hard work, diligence, sweat, and toil. Right?
Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Habits of Champions

A recent article based on interviews with top-flight athletes shows that the workaholic mindset is generally not a feature of top performers. The article found that working long hours tends to put a strain on your mind and body, and causes you to burn out before you ever achieve success. Instead, a healthy dose of rest and recovery seem to be essential to long term peak performance. Think of training for a marathon rather than a sprint.

Successful people also tend to know their prime work hours and do their most important work during that time. Think of the time of day when you feel most focused, energized and creative, and structure your most important tasks during that time window.

 

2019 Second Quarter Investment Market Report

Thursday, 11 July 2019

2019 Second Quarter Investment Market Report

How to make sense out of the recent market behavior? We experienced a painful decline in the last month of 2018 before the markets took a sharp (and unexpected) about-face and delivered the biggest one-quarter gain since the third quarter of 2009. The surprise upward trend has continued through the second quarter, albeit with more modest gains, despite what would normally be considered warning signs in the economy, the global trade markets, and corporate earnings.

Eroding Protections

Monday, 08 July 2019

Eroding Protections

You already know that the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico is in financial trouble. The country has issued roughly $120 billion more in municipal bonds and cannot now pay the interest much less the principal. The bonds were sold through brokerage firms to lay investors and mutual funds, and they were easy to sell because yields on muni bonds issued by Puerto Rico are tax-free on Federal returns and also for state returns across the country. Normally, state residents have to pay state taxes on muni bonds issued in other states. The bonds also paid unusually high rates, and there was a tacit assumption, even as Puerto Rican finances visibly deteriorated, that states and territories couldn’t default on their debt obligation.

Scams are on The Rise

We all like to think that we are smart enough not to fall for one of those scams we hear about on the news.
Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Scams are on The Rise

 No one wants to be taken advantage of by an online or phone scammer. Unfortunately, no matter how unflappable you think you are, anyone can be ripped off by a scammer under the right circumstances. This is in part because it’s easier to access personal data and we tend to have our phones on us all the time. Scams have also become more sophisticated over the years and there are a lot of them.

DID YOU KNOW? SCAMS CHEAT OLDER AMERICANS OUT OF $3 BILLION A YEAR AND ONE IN TEN AMERICANS AGE 65 OR OLDER HAS BEEN A VICTIM OF A SCAM.

Older Americans are particularly vulnerable to certain types of scams, in part because whole segments of the scamming operations are dedicated to preying on seniors.

 

Look Less, Make More

Monday, 17 June 2019

You’re likely to read a lot of articles about how to be a better investor, and they will tout everything from watching complicated charts looking for patterns to more mainstream dollar-cost-averaging, to buying only the stocks of companies that you know. 

But surprisingly, the easiest route to improving your investment performance may also be the laziest.

A recent article notes that all of us are wired to experience the pain of loss more than we feel the joy of gain. Translated into investment behavior, that means that we have an innate instinct to stop the pain by selling out of a portfolio whenever it goes down—and that is usually a poor idea when the markets are generating normal volatility. Trying to time the market is a loser’s game, even if it is driven by instinct rather than intent.

Carbon Concerns

Monday, 17 June 2019

Carbon Concerns

If you’re worried about climate change and recent weather events like cyclonic snowstorms in the Midwest, hurricanes, droughts and such everywhere in the world, then you’re not alone.  Recently, the National Weather Service, using data from core samples and fossilized plants, traced the levels of carbon dioxide (the most common greenhouse gas) in the Earth’s atmosphere going back almost one million years.  They found, as you might expect, significant fluctuation during that time period, from the warm interglacial period 700,000 years ago to the ice ages of 650,000 years ago, and the peaks and valleys never fell below around 160 parts per million or above 300 parts per million.

Taxing Weed

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Taxing Weed

Legalized marijuana is a polarizing topic in the U.S., but one aspect of it that is attractive to all sides is the potential tax revenue. But how much are we actually talking about?

A recent article in Forbes magazine noted that there are now ten states that have legalized pot sales, plus D.C., and seven of them currently tax and regulate revenue-producing stores. Those taxes typically total 10-37 percent more than local sales taxes...

The Flaw in Traditional Retirement Planning for Couples

Traditional Retirement Planning for Couples Omits the Most Important Part: Good Communication
Tuesday, 04 June 2019

The Flaw in Traditional Retirement Planning for Couples
DID YOU KNOW?
36% OF COUPLES SAY THEY HAVEN’T EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT A RETIREMENT PLAN[I]
47% OF COUPLES DISAGREE ABOUT HOW MUCH MONEY THEY’LL NEED IN RETIREMENT[II]

Let’s say you’ve done everything right. You’re on a relatively traditional retirement track. You worked your 30+ years, you’ve saved, raised the kids, bought the house, and you’re still with your spouse. It sounds like your retirement is set and ready to launch. You have earned the right to enjoy it in the way you’ve been thinking about it for years. There’s just one little detail that may have been overlooked. Have you discussed your ideal retirement with your spouse? Do you know what theirs is?

Saving Transportation Costs

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Saving Transportation Costs

Most of us think of the cost of transportation as the monthly payment on our car, perhaps with gasoline prices factored in.  But when you add insurance, maintenance, registration fees, taxes and depreciation (that is, having to buy a new car when your current one collapses into repair hell), you may actually be spending thousands of dollars a year on personal mobility...

The Investment Returns of Homes vs. Stocks

Your home is your best investment, right?
Thursday, 09 May 2019

The Investment Returns of Homes vs. Stocks

A few recent analyses suggest that this old chestnut may not apply anymore—if it ever did. Researchers from the San Francisco Fed have recently concluded that from 1870 through 2015, worldwide returns on homes—that is, the average yearly home appreciation across all houses in the world—was 6.9% after inflation. The comparable yearly return for global stocks was 6.7%. Closer to home (so to speak), U.S. stocks returned 8.5% a year over that time period, vs. 6.1% for houses. In America, houses appreciated a little less robustly than homes abroad, and stocks were much better investments than global ones.

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