What the Permanence of the Qualified Charitable Distribution Rules Means for You

How the PATH Act of 2015 Removed the Guessing Game and Created More Flexibility for Retirees
Wednesday, 13 November 2019

What the Permanence of the Qualified Charitable Distribution Rules Means for You

An Introduction to the Qualified Charitable Distribution

For years, the rules surrounding the ability to utilize a tax-free Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) directly from your IRA to a non-profit were on-again, off-again. The rules would lapse frequently, then be reinstated by Congress – but only for two years at a time. Finally, with the passage of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015, the rules allowing for the QCD were made permanent in tax law.

Consequentially, it is now much easier to take proactive steps in your charitable giving strategy so that you can minimize the tax implications of your IRA’s Required Minimum Distribution (RMD). However, you must follow very strict requirements if you want to receive the tax benefits associated with gifting a QCD to a registered charitable organization. These requirements include age limitations, maximum dollar amount limitations, and regulations on the particular types of charities that are eligible.

When Life Throws You Curveballs

Six Strategies for Making Good Decisions in Difficult Times
Wednesday, 23 October 2019

When Life Throws You Curveballs

Even the most thorough planner among us will sometimes be caught off-guard by life circumstances we simply could not foresee. When this happens, we often find ourselves at the crossroads of a major life transition, and it can be both challenging and stressful to determine the best path forward.

Rather than making a snap decision that is likely to be ineffective or problematic in the long-run, it’s best to pause and reflect on our families, our careers and our money. The strategies offered below provide recommendations for doing just that so that we can arrive at decisions that balance all of the most important variables in our lives.

2019 Third Quarter Investment Market Report

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

2019 Third Quarter Investment Market Report

 The latest three-month returns in the U.S. and international stock markets can be viewed with two very different attitudes.  The first is that many indices (though not all) produced a loss for the quarter, and where there were gains, they tended to be very small.  On the other hand, the losses, where they occurred, were too small to wipe out the gains of the previous two quarters, meaning that most investors have still made money so far this year. 

Whether that will continue is anyone’s guess, but in today’s uncertain political and economic environment, it’s easy to feel like we all managed to dodge a bullet and are holding onto our gains with gratitude.

3 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Financial Advisor

So, you’ve decided to hire a financial advisor. Congratulations! Studies show a good financial advisor can increase investor returns by 3.75% annually.
Tuesday, 08 October 2019

3 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Financial Advisor

A financial advisor can bring knowledge and expertise to financial areas and help you create overall investment strategies. They can help reach your retirement goals, minimize taxes, and help structure your withdrawals in retirement. Financial advisors are also more versed in the long-game of investing and can help assuage any fears and help provide support by providing fact-based advice.

Free Money for Your 401K

Taking advantage of employer matches and pre-tax savings
Friday, 27 September 2019

Free Money for Your 401K

Chances are if you are reading this article you are at least thinking about your retirement, or more specifically, your retirement savings. Or lack thereof. What some people don’t realize or take advantage of, especially if they are working in a mid-size to large company is that they are often offered helpful employer benefits. These benefits may be classified in your employee handbook in various ways, such as:

  • defined benefit plan
  • company pension
  • lump-sum payments
  • lifetime annuity
  • vesting schedule

When any of those words crop up, the next step is delving in to figure out what your employer offers that you could be benefitting from. You may be surprised that 1 in 5 Americans do not take full advantage of their employer match 401(k), resulting in $1.4 billion in unclaimed employer match money annually.

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.

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