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Dec
08
5 Big Problems to Solve Before You Retire
Tags: Retirement
It seems, sometimes, as though financial professionals come in only two flavors. There are those who promise everything is going to be fine; you don't have to fret about retirement, they say, because they'll help you make more than enough money to get you through. And then there are the hand-wringers who just can't stop with the worrying and their warnings that you'll never have enough. Somewhere in the middle is the reality, of course. Retirement should be a reward for years of hard work, and you don't want to have to pinch every penny. You should be able to do the things you couldn't when you were punching a clock every day. You should be able to look forward to retirement as one of the best times of your life. But, that...
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Oct
27
A Woman’s Guide to Long-Term Care
Women face unique financial challenges as they age. When compared with men, women live longer, earn less, and spend fewer years in the workforce. Financial concerns are often more acute for older women who are divorced, widowed, or otherwise single, as well as for those who have spent all or a significant portion of their adult years caring for children and other family members. Consequently, planning for long-term care (LTC) is an issue of particular importance. LTC assists people, through various support services, with activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, eating, transferring, and toileting. If a woman has difficulty performing two or more of these activities due to physical limitations, cognitive impairment, or both,...
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Oct
13
The California Fires Would you be prepared?
Tags: Recent News
The pictures are heartbreaking as entire neighborhoods were burned beyond recognition in the city of Santa Rosa, California and surrounding towns. More than two dozen fast-moving and huge wildfires swept through multiple counties in Northern California and the toll so far is staggering – at least seven residents have died, more than 100 are missing, over 1,500 structures are destroyed, more than 20,000 were forced to evacuate and more than 100,000 acres are burned. And the fires are still not contained. How would you react if the news came that a fire was heading in your direction? Would you scramble to protect your home and family, uncertain of where to begin? Or, would you calmly pull out a detailed plan for such emergencies? Would...
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Oct
13
All You Need To Know About Eldercare Arrangements
How far in advance do you plan vacations? A month at the very least, right? You’ve booked the flights and hotels, taken time off of work, gotten the kids out of school and looked forward to it from the moment you made the final arrangements. This is the positive way we like to view Eldercare. Granted, the circumstances may be tough. You could be having trouble getting around, taking care of regular daily activities (cooking, cleaning, driving…) or become ill. Rather than wait for it to happen, here are the options available to ease your worried mind. 4 Thing to Consider Right Now 1.    Health: Will you need doctors and nurses on staff to help with any medical issues? Even if you’re not ill, perhaps you want easy access to medical...
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Sep
28
10 Projects to Help You Live in Your Home Forever
In response to demands from baby boomers, aging-in-place improvements that help seniors stay safely in their homes are more stylish and functional than before. Think of a curved and tiled shower soap dish that also serves as a grab bar. Or a decorative kitchen cabinet pull with a wider loop for arthritic hands. More forward-looking homeowners are including aging-in-place features in home renovations such as a kitchen makeover, so they won't face last-minute decisions during a health crisis. And improvements such as curb-less showers and LED nightlights in soothing colors in a bathroom can benefit everyone from grandchildren to their grandparents. Such changes can also add to a home's resale value, says Mary Jo Peterson, a Brookfield,...
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Sep
28
The Equifax Breach is Worse Than Imagined What you need to do and why
Tags: Recent News
A massive data breach at Equifax has compromised up to 143 million people's personal information. But this was not one of those data breaches that everyone is accustomed to hearing about – like the ones at Target, Dairy Queen, Yahoo or Home Depot. This one is so much worse. For starters, let’s talk about what “data” was compromised. Here is what might have been stolen: ·         Your name ·         Your address ·         Your phone number ·         Your social security number ·         Your credit card number Now some might suggest that having your credit card number stolen is more of an inconvenice and not a huge risk – mostly because credit card companies offer a degree of protection. But having your name, address, phone...
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Sep
08
Why Giving Cash, Not Clothing, is Usually Best After Disasters
Tags: Recent News
Between the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other government entities, nonprofits large and small, and contributions from concerned individuals, a massive Hurricane Harvey relief effort is taking shape. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s “Help for Houston” drive and countless other community collections illustrate the American impulse to help people whose lives have been upended by catastrophic floods. But like his campaign, these well-intentioned bids to ship goods to distant locales in Texas are perpetuating a common myth of post-disaster charitable giving. As a researcher with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, an interdisciplinary center at Harvard University dedicated to relieving human suffering in wartime and disasters by...
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Sep
08
Hurricane Harvey and Other Natural Disasters The Effects on the Stock Market
Tags: Recent News
Hurricane Harvey has drenched Texas, with some areas receiving over 50 inches of water in what many are calling a 1,000-year disaster. So much rain has fallen that the National Weather Service had to update their color charts and add two new colors – and more rain is predicted to fall through the middle of the week. Hurricane Harvey will impact all of us – Houston is the 4th largest city in the US – and FEMA estimates that as many as 13 million people from Texas and Louisiana will be directly impacted by flood waters. And of course there will be billions of dollars in property damage that will take decades to rebuild. But how does the stock market react to natural disasters? Let’s examine a few from recent memory: Indian Ocean...
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Aug
20
Baby Boomers Lack Confidence in Their Retirement Readiness
Tags: Retiremet
Less than one-quarter of baby boomers say they are confident they are ready for retirement, and just over one-half report having any retirement savings at all, according to the results of a survey conducted by the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI). The survey of 800 Americans aged 53 to 69, conducted February 9-11, 2016, found that just 24% of respondents are confident they will have enough savings to last throughout their retirement years. Researchers pointed out that this is the lowest level in the six years the IRI has been conducting this survey: in 2011, for example, 37% of the boomers polled expressed confidence that they had saved enough for retirement.  Overall, the results indicated that the baby boomers surveyed have very...
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Aug
20
10 Things You Must Know About Medicare
Tags: Medicare
Heading into your retirement years brings a slew of new topics to grapple with, and one of the most maddening may be Medicare. Figuring out when to enroll, what to enroll in and what coverage will be best for you can be daunting. To help you wade easily into the waters, here are ten essential things you need to know about Medicare. Medicare Comes with a Cost Medicare is divided into parts. Part A, which pays for hospital services, is free if either you or your spouse paid Medicare payroll taxes for at least ten years. (People who aren't eligible for free Part A can pay a monthly premium of several hundred dollars.) Part B covers doctor visits and outpatient services, and it comes with a monthly price tag -- for most people in 2017, that...
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Aug
20
Putting the Pieces of Your Retirement Puzzle Together
Tags: Retirement
If life is a journey, retirement is the destination where you reap the hard-earned rewards for decades of working. But, as with most good things in life, a comfortable retirement doesn't just happen without effort. It requires a sound, comprehensive financial strategy. Retirement planning can be like a jigsaw puzzle. Once you put the interlocking pieces together, you will be ready to develop a retirement plan that will meet your financial goals. Let's look at the following four pieces of the puzzle: Social Security Most working Americans will receive Social Security benefits that provide a basic level of retirement income based on the length of time worked, amount of earned income, and age at retirement. Employer-sponsored pension...
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Jul
03
The Business Side of the 4th of July
Tags: Recent News
As most middle-school age kids know, in the summer of 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies considered a resolution that would declare their independence from Great Britain. And on July 2nd of the same year, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence. Then on July 4, 1776, the delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, arguably the nation's most historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson.  From 1776 until the present day, July 4th – also known as Independence Day – has been celebrated as the birth of our country's independence, with typical festivities ranging from casual family barbecues to local town parades to concerts and fireworks sponsored by large US cities and televised worldwide. As you munch on your...
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Jul
18
Identity Theft: Be Prepared. Be Proactive.
The 2017 Identity Fraud Study, released by Javelin Strategy & Research, found that $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million U.S. consumers in 2016. In the past six years, identity thieves have stolen over $107 billion. Sure, technology makes our lives easier, creating the opportunity to complete tasks quicker and access information that previous generations didn’t even know was available. But it also opens the door to an unimaginable number of threats to our lives and businesses. Identity theft and cyberattacks are rampant almost every day. How can you fend off intrusions that might cost you agonizing hours – not to mention a lot of money – to correct? What can you do to safeguard identity, credit card numbers and account information...
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Aug
07
Destination Wedding or Fully Funded Retirement?
Tags: Retirement
Top 2016 Wedding Statistics A survey of nearly 13,000 US couples married in 2016 uncovered the costs and trends of weddings today and discovered that: In 2016, the average cost of a wedding reached an all-time high at $35,329, while the number of guests dropped. Custom guest entertainment has more than tripled, from 11% to 41% since 2009, with photo booths (78%), games (18%), musical performances (12%) and fireworks (8%) at the top of the list. Most Expensive Place to Get Married: New York City (Manhattan specifically), with an average cost of $78,464   Least Expensive Place to Get Married is Arkansas, with an average cost of $19,522 average spend  Average Spend on a Wedding Dress: $1,564  Average Number of Guests: 141...
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Jun
05
Currency Markets, BitCoins and Perspective
Tags: Recent News
If I asked you to tell me about the New York Stock Exchange, I bet you could come up with a pretty good definition. And I bet you could give me a pretty good overview of other stock exchanges, including NASDAQ, the London Stock Exchange, Hong Kong Stock Exchange and maybe even Euronext. But could you tell me anything about the currency markets? Could you even tell me the name? Here are some things to think about: Definition Currencies are traded on the foreign exchange market – Forex, FX or just the currency market – a global, decentralized market for buying, selling and exchanging. Forex is comprised of institutional investors, governments from around the world, large corporations, banks, as well as currency speculators. Forex...
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May
17
The Death of My Rock & Roll and The Need for Estate Planning
I have reached an age where the Rock & Roll legends from my generation are dying. The past year saw David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Prince, George Michael, Chuck Berry, and J. Geils – among many others – join that great rock band in the sky. It's a topic that elicits lots of emotions and healthy debates among my clients and friends. What was the first concert you attended? Your first album? What was the best concert? Who is your favorite band? Who do you think is the best band of all time? These questions provide for spirited conversations and provide for hours of banter among friends. But the question I ask, which tends to stop people in their tracks, is this: "Did you know that when Prince died, he didn't have a will?" It Happens a...
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Apr
03
Which Comes First: Saving for Retirement or College?
It’s a question fraught with emotions If you are like most parents, you will wrestle with this question: which is more important – my own retirement or my child’s education? And as you think about that question, you’ll be flooded with a lot of emotion. Shouldn’t I be thinking of my child’s future first? Or should an investment in me be the best thing I can give my child? Let’s examine both sides. Retirement Savings First I know a lot of financial advisors that tell clients to prioritize their retirement savings, because you and your child can borrow for college, but no one lends money for retirement. They encourage parents to look at it this way – retirement is a necessity whereas college is a luxury. When you retire – either...
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Mar
28
When to Call Me
Most of us go to see professionals when we’re in trouble or during times of crisis. Think about it. We go to the doctor when we’re sick. We go see a lawyer when we have a pending legal matter. We go see a counselor when we’re feeling depressed. As a financial advisor, unfortunately, I often hear from clients after something has happened – and sometimes I’m limited in how I can help. Sure, I can often make a situation better, but if I knew about what my clients were facing sooner, I can usually help them avoid lots of heartache and often save money. As such, I put together a list of times when you should call me, so that I can help you as much as possible. Here are the times I want you to pick up the phone, send me a text, message me...
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Mar
28
Investing Your Time vs. Spending Your Time
Tags: Investing
If I asked you how you spend your money, you could answer with a decent amount of precision (and maybe some embarrassment). But if I asked you how you invest your money, your answer would be very different – because spending money and investing money are two very different actions. Let’s replace time with money. How do you spend your time? That’s an easy answer, right? You probably sleep 6-8 hours a day, work about 8 hours, leaving another 8-10 hours for other activities. But how do you invest your time? Or, do you just spend and not invest your time? Do you find it odd that it is so easy to tell me how you spend your time, but not so easy to answer how you invest your time? Before we talk about how we can invest our time, let’s...
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Feb
06
Super Bowl or Super Indulgence? Some useless trivia about Super Bowls
Tags: Recent News
When you add it all up, how much money is spent on the Super Bowl?  How much do we really consume on Super Bowl Sunday? Do the cities that host the game reap an economic benefit?  Let’s explore these interesting topics as we digest Super Bowl LI. The First Super Bowl The inaugural Super Bowl took place in January 1967.  The Green Bay Packers, who had already won several NFL championships in that decade, beat the AFL champion Kansas City Chiefs.  Super Bowl I was seen by 51 million television viewers.  A 30-second commercial cost $42,000 and admission to the game cost $12 for the best seats in the house.  To put this number into perspective: today, it costs about the same amount to attend a movie. Television Audience & Tickets The...
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Jan
24
Will NAFTA Go Away? If so, what are the implications?
Tags: Recent News
While on the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly singled out NAFTA – the North American Free Trade Agreement – as being one of the worst deals for Americans that he’s ever seen. Blasting former President Bill Clinton, Trump said, “[Clinton] approved NAFTA, which is the single worst trade deal ever approved in this country," adding "NAFTA was one of the worst things that ever happened to the manufacturing industry and the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere, but certainly ever signed in this country." Is Trump right? Or was it just campaign rhetoric? The answer, like most things, is complicated and depends on who ask. Nevertheless, the reality is that Trump can pull the United States out of NAFTA by simply giving Canada and...
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Jan
16
New Year’s Financial Resolutions
For many people, the New Year is a time for personal reflection, a time to consider commitments and resolutions for the coming year. This year, why not resolve to make your finances a priority? With proper planning and appropriate guidance, you can begin to build financial stability and prepare for the uncertainties of tomorrow. Consider the following steps: 1.       Get Organized. Gather all your important financial documents – life insurance policies, homeowners insurance, wills, trusts, and other pertinent financial records – and organize them so you can access them quickly and easily. 2.       Schedule a Legal Consultation. Arrange a time to meet with your attorney to review or write your will and establish any necessary trusts....
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Jan
10
4 Reasons to Accept Your Company’s Buyout Offer
Tags: Retirement
Many companies offer employees a buyout package to encourage them to leave the company. This is generally done to encourage voluntary departures when the organization is looking to reduce headcount. These offers can cover employers across all levels of experience, but are often structured as early retirement packages geared to older workers. Over the years I’ve been asked by Baby Boomer clients and friends whether they should accept this offer from their company. Almost without exception I’ve encouraged these folks to take the money and run. Here are 4 reasons to accept your company’s buyout offer. There’s a target on your back  If your company has identified you as somebody who might be a good candidate for a buyout offer this...
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Jan
10
Assessing Your Retirement Resources
Tags: Retirement
How resourceful can you be during your retirement? Determining where your retirement money will come from is an integral part of planning for retirement. Most people draw on three main sources of income: Social Security, employer-sponsored plans, and personal retirement savings. Each offers important resources that can help you fund the lifestyle you seek in retirement. Social Security Social Security offers a retirement benefit to workers and their spouses. You can start receiving benefits as early as age 62 (considered early retirement) or wait until you reach the full retirement age of 65 to 67 (depending upon your year of birth). The benefits you receive are based on the income you have earned over the course of your life, subject...
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Jan
10
Finishing Strong
Tags: Recent News
Continued post-election optimism helped elevate the major stock averages to fresh highs on Friday, capping their best week since the presidential election. Amid another record-setting week, the DJIA gained 3.1% while the Nasdaq composite, S&P 500 and Russell 2000 climbed 3.6%, 3.1%, and 5.6% respectively. Several potentially destabilizing events, including the Italian referendum and the ECB's decision to scale back its quantitative easing program, did little to dampen investor enthusiasm for equities. All three major indexes rose on each trading day this week, something that hasn't occurred since September 2011. These new highs in the major averages powered their index-tracking counterparts to record levels as well. The SPDR Dow Jones...
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Jan
10
Preparing For Your Year-End Review
Tags: Recent News
It is that time of year again: time for us to schedule your Year-End Portfolio Review.  I wanted to pass along some tips by making an analogy to what most people already know well: the annual employee performance review. So, indulge me with this analogy so we can make your upcoming Review efficient and productive. Let's start with The Golden Rule: The Golden Rule: There Should Be No Surprises When your boss sits down with you to review your annual performance, there really shouldn't be any surprises, assuming your boss has done his/her job throughout the year. And if something your boss says surprises you, then you should be concerned. The same is true for when you sit down with your financial advisor. My team provides you...
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Nov
21
Focus on Your Retirement Now
Does your retirement seem years and years away? While it may feel this way, you owe it to yourself to look ahead and begin giving thought to a time in your life that may account for 20 or more "golden" years and may, in fact, be closer than you realize.  Today more than ever, planning for retirement is a necessity. Old Age Security, Canada and Quebec Pension Plans and employer-sponsored retirement plans are often insufficient to provide the income necessary for a comfortable retirement. Proper planning and follow through, however, can help you avoid shortfalls in your income needs and assure yourself of a smooth, secure transition from the world of work to the world of retirement. Planning ahead means setting goals and deciding how they...
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Nov
21
Exiting the Winter of Our Discontent
Tags: Recent News
Few Shakespearean lines are so often taken out of context and misconstrued as is the first line of Richard the Third, “Now is the winter of our discontent.” England’s future King Richard is not lamenting what’s to come but rather embracing the season just over time’s horizon, “Made glorious summer by this son of York.” His brother Edward IV, who has just wrested the crown from Henry VI, ended his family’s long winter of oppression. Under similar circumstances, England’s Margaret Thatcher rose to power ending central London’s own Winter of Discontent. In Thatcher’s case, Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan’s loss of confidence vote represented the opportunity to defeat what she called the “enemy within” the U.K. The irony is the...
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Nov
14
The Day After Election Day A historical perspective of stock market performance
Tags: Recent News
As election results started rolling in on November 8th, it seemed that with every Trump gain, the markets fell. Overnight Dow futures plunged almost 800 points. Japan's Nikkei plummeted 5.4%. The Mexican currency – the peso – tanked by 11%. Gold, often considered a safe haven in turbulent times, was up over 2%. Then the markets settled. Then they rose. In fact, the S&P 500 rose 1.10% on the 2016 Day After Election Day ("DAED"). And when the markets closed on November 9th, the rise in the S&P 500 marked the fifth-best performance of any DAED in history.  For perspective, the very best performance from a DAED in history was a 1.77% rise in 1980, when Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter. And the second best performance for a DAED goes...
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Nov
10
What Does President Trump Mean For Investors? How political parties affect the markets and the economy
Now that the 2016 presidential election is over and we can refer to Donald Trump as President Trump, it's time to examine some additional questions. More specifically, how will President Trump affect markets and other economic measurements? How will a Republican controlled Congress affect the economy? And what should an investor do? Comparing the Presidents by Party Princeton economists Alan Binder and Mark Watson made a detailed study, "Presidents and the Economy:  A Forensic Investigation," analyzing the economy's performance under presidents of the different parties.  Measuring economic data from 1947 through 2nd quarter, 2013, they concluded the following: ·  Democrats outperformed Republican presidents in terms of real GDP growth...
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Nov
02
Understanding the World of Unicorns And whether they make good investments
Tags: Startups
A Unicorn is a relatively new investment term used to describe a start-up technology company valued at over $1 billion. Characterized by superfast growth and usually backed by venture capital money, Unicorns are not profitable – instead they focus on winning market share first, then making money for shareholders next. In fact, Unicorns are often characterized by zero or very little revenues, which is important to remember. Privately-held (meaning not yet traded on a public stock exchange like the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ), Unicorns do make for great dinner-party conversations. And there sure have been a lot of them in the past year and a half. Let’s explore the world of Unicorns. The Rise In Unicorns The use of the term...
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Nov
02
The 2016 World Series A Historical Perspective
The Chicago Cubs last won the World Series in 1908. The Cleveland Indians last won the World Series in 1948. Combined, that is 176 years of futility – if your only measure of success is being crowned World Series Champion. Let's look at what was happening in 1908 and 1948 and quickly examine how the stock market performed during those years through the present. 1908 The year 1908 was preceded by the Panic of 1907 – often referred to as the 1907 Bankers' Panic or Knickerbocker Crisis – which saw the New York Stock Exchange fall by about 50% from it's previous high the year before. The annual return of the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1908 was 46.6%. The year 1908 also saw: Republican William Howard Taft defeat Democrat William...
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Oct
24
Habits to Teach Our Kids And for all adults to put into practice too
Tags: Habits; Money
I was walking with a friend and his 6-year old daughter and we stopped by an ATM on the way to lunch. As my friend was getting some cash, I couldn’t help but notice the confused look on his 6-year old’s face. She was struggling to understand this machine on the side of a building that spits out cash after you put some kind of card in it. Then she blurted, “Daddy, when am I going to get my own cash card thingy?” After I caught my breath from laughing, it dawned on me: gone are the times when you taught kids about money by giving them a piggy bank and allowance, followed by a savings account with a check book that they could learn to balance. Remember when we used to go into the bank to make a deposit or a withdrawal? Have you done that...
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Oct
14
The Fed A Driving Force on the Economic Scene
Tags: Fed.; Money
Even casual observers of financial news know that “Fed watching” is a serious activity in the financial and business communities. Currently, Janet Yellen is Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, commonly known as the “Fed.” An understanding of the establishment of the Fed, its basic operation and powers, and its relationship with the Federal government and the banking community is especially important at a time when the direction of the economy is under constant scrutiny. Historical Perspective The United States was the only major industrial nation without a central bank until Congress established the Federal Reserve System in 1913. The economy had grown without any central control or coordination of banking...
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Oct
12
Are You Considering “Un-retirement?”
The common term for retirement—the “golden years”— may no longer apply for those individuals who shun taking a conventional retirement due to an unpredictable economic climate. In the past, the idealized concept of retirement as a leisurely phase of life following decades of work and raising children was based on an assumption that work was something you did until roughly age 65 and then, you never had to (or wanted to) work again. A company pension, Social Security, and some savings were generally believed to provide enough income for funding a comfortable lifestyle in retirement.  But perhaps, another lens to look through is the multi-model approach for retirement whereby you consider what standard of living could be maintained based on...
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Oct
02
Financial Considerations for Single Women
Tags: Finance; Women
If you’re divorced or separated, money management will become an important part of your life. While it may be true that money can’t buy or ensure happiness, your ability to manage your finances can play a large role in your financial future, and to a large extent, your ability to live life on your terms. A huge amount of time is not necessarily required to get your finances moving in the right direction. It is often simply a matter of attending to the “basics.” The following steps may help you stay on track: 1. Pay Yourself First. Transfer a set amount from your earnings to your savings each month. Even a small amount in the beginning helps. 2. Reduce Consumer Debt. Avoid high credit card finance charges by paying off the balances...
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Oct
02
The Brexit Vote How it will really impact investors here in the US and markets around the world
In late June of 2016, voters in the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in what is known as the Brexit. The impact on the U.S. and most world stock markets was immediate and severe.  On June 24, 2016 the S&P 500 lost about 3.6% of its value and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost about 3.4%. In terms of actual "points' lost on the Dow, the drop was dramatic, but the percentage drop was far less than the 22.61% decline on "Black Monday" October 19, 1987. The markets continued to exhibit weakness in the following days, but have since recovered nicely. Several U.S. market benchmarks have reached or are near all-times as of the middle of September. So, going forward how will the Bexit vote impact investors in the U.S. and...
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Sep
23
Is a $100,000 Per Year Retirement Doable? Let’s Do The Math
A 2013 New York Times article discussed that a $1 million retirement nest egg isn’t what it used to be.  While this is more than 90% of U.S. retirees have amassed, $1 million doesn’t go as far as you might think.  That said I wanted to take a look at what it takes to provide $100,000 income annually during retirement. The 4% rule  The 4% rule says that a retiree can safely withdraw 4% of their nest egg during retirement and assume that their money will last 30 years.  This very useful rule of thumb was developed by fee-only financial planning superstar Bill Bengen. Like any rule of thumb it is just that, an estimating tool.  At you own peril do not depend on this rule, do a real financial plan for your retirement.  Using the 4% rule...
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Sep
20
A College Degree: The Best Investment Return
Tags: College
The cost of a college degree at a private, four-year institution may feel like paying a hefty home mortgage or another large debt. Tuition at both public and private colleges has risen rapidly over the past decade, leaving many parents and prospective students wondering whether the return on such an investment would really be worth it.  Here are some considerations that still support the pursuit of a college education: • Many careers across industries require an undergraduate degree. • Starting salaries are usually higher for college graduates. • Employees with college degrees generally face fewer periods of unemployment and have much higher chances of continued employment throughout their working careers. • Our technology...
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Sep
16
Back-To-School Shopping List Why Not A Yearly Retirement List?
Labor Day 2016 is in the books. The weather is starting to turn a little cooler, football returns and the kids are back in school.  For me, it’s always been the kids going back to school that really marked the end of summer. Gone are the later bed times, my flip-flops and lazily sitting outside listening to baseball on my transistor radio (ok, I made that one up). If you have school-age kids, starting right after Labor Day, you will be bombarded with parent/teacher conferences, emails from the school and the dreaded lists of required back to school items.  Now some of the items on the list make sense to me.  Pencils and pens and calculators all seem like they’ll get put to good use. But does my 6th grader really need six different colored...
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Sep
11
Divorce and Your Finances: Thoughts from a Financial Advisor
Tags: Divorce; Finance
Unfortunately, the fact is that almost 50% of marriages end in divorce. And despite some similar themes that run through each one, every single divorce is unique in its own way. Over the years, I’ve watched as couples have struggled mightily with divorce, so I have established a list that might help soften the pain of what you are both going through.  But before I share my list, please know that I do not make these suggestions lightly. Many of them simply might not work for you, especially in cases where there is abuse or an addiction of some sorts. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to offer some things for you to think about – from the perspective of your financial advisor first – and your friend second.  So, here are some things to think...
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Sep
06
Investing in Your Vacation: Why do most avoid this important investment?
Tags: Vacation
Why do so many of us not use our vacation days?  Salespeople talk about "leaving money on the table."  Well, employees leave vacation on the table. And the cost to us is significant. In fact, Americans leave 429 million vacation hours on this proverbial table, as Forbes reports.  USA Today reports that, according to a recent study, over 30% of employees do not use all of their vacation days. When we discuss investing, we talk about putting money aside in order to make a profit.  We discuss putting money into stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and so forth.  People also discuss investing in your career, like investing in an education or in a certification.  Maybe we should talk about another investment that could pay dividends in your career,...
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Aug
30
A Satisfying Retirement—More Than a Matter of Dollars and Cents
It’s fairly common for discussions of retirement planning to focus solely on the financial aspects of securing a comfortable retirement. However, few individuals take the time to consider the non-financial concerns. Indeed, when retirees report being dissatisfied with their retirement experience, the disappointment is often focused on lifestyle changes and diminishing self-esteem created by a lack of direction and a loss of feeling productive.  Slow and Steady Wins the Race One possible solution for dealing with these realities is to phase into retirement slowly. Many individuals who are about to retire welcome the idea of continuing to engage in some form of work, whether consulting, job-sharing, mentoring, or, for business owners,...
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Aug
30
Retirement Income: It Doesn’t Grow on Trees
Most of us can't wait until the day we finally say goodbye to the working world and our time becomes our own. We often dream about how we would like to fill those hours, but unfortunately, we often don't think ahead to the concrete fact of how we will attain the funds to enjoy those times. Start thinking about that now; it's never too early. A general consensus is that you will need about 60-80% of your pre-retirement income to support a comfortable retirement lifestyle.  Proceeds from pension plans and Social Security currently account for only about 35% of the typical retiree's income. Another 23% is derived from earned income, either full or part-time employment. In order to retire comfortably, the remaining amount needed would have...
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Aug
26
A Few Words on Feathering Your (Retirement) Nest
If you are in your twenties, you may think it’s too early to start planning for your retirement. Be assured, it’s never too early.  Following are a few tips to consider in planning to feather your nest and nurture your nest egg.  1) Calculate your monthly expenditures and your income. This should include medical costs, transportation costs, and installment payments, as well as household bills and credit card bills. 2) Consider allocating a portion of the difference between your income and expenses to use for investing. (Note: If you discover there is no money left between your income and expenses, you need to develop a more effective budget.) 3) If your place of employment offers a 401(k) plan or another tax-deferred investment...
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Aug
22
Retirement Planning—Options for Women Business Owners
Tags: Retirement; Women
You’re an entrepreneur and you’re not looking back. You’ve opened your own business, whether alone or with other partners, and you’ve found some success. You’ve hired employees, or not, depending on your business and now you’re thinking about retirement, not just for you, but also for any employees you may have.  Many employers find that one way to attract and keep good employees, especially executives with critical skills, is to offer competitive retirement plan packages along with a buffet of other benefits. Yet, employee-sponsored retirement plans are often unavailable to employees working in small private companies and can lead to poor employee retention. What business owners need to know is that sponsoring a retirement plan, not...
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Aug
17
A Growing Trend: Women Entrepreneurs
The business landscape is continually changing—technological advances, corporate downsizing, restructuring, and telecommuting have reshaped the marketplace.¬ Although these improvements and modifications have a great impact on our working environment, perhaps the most notable trend has been the rapid growth in the number of women-owned businesses. According to the Center for Women’s Business Research (2012), three quarters of women-owned businesses are those wherein women own a majority share, and each year, women-owned businesses generate almost $1.9 trillion in sales. Statistics from the Center for Women’s Business Research reveal impressive gains for women in the marketplace: • An estimated 10.4 million companies are owned by women....
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Aug
15
Turning 50
Tags: 50; Age
Ah, 50!  You are now armed with the hard-earned wisdom of your years, and are eagerly anticipating what the next 50 years will bring! After the birthday candles have been blown out, and you have graciously accepted the “cute” presents from your friends and family (mugs and sweatshirts with silly slogans), you may find yourself wondering, “What next?”  Rather than viewing age 50 as a drawback, many people feel that reaching this milestone is an exciting chance to uncover new opportunities. If you are beginning to contemplate a life beyond “punching the clock,” you might want to begin by examining how central work has been to your lifestyle. Many people, either by necessity or choice, have made work the focal point of their lives. Indeed,...
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Aug
08
A New Ball Game for Early Retirees
An early retirement is on everyone’s “wish list.” A relaxing lifestyle in a warmer climate, or the pursuit of a hobby or personal interest typically characterizes the vision of a comfortable retirement. Today, however, it’s a new ball game. Unfortunately, retiring later, not sooner, than anticipated is becoming a fact of life. On the other hand, there are some issues you can address in advance that may help you defy the increasing norm. The key is to take a proactive role when planning your retirement, especially if you wish to retire early. Today, it is not uncommon for some retirees to require between 60% and 80% of their pre-retirement income in order to meet expense and income needs consistent with their desired standard of living....
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Aug
08
Who Decides How Your Charitable $$ Will Be Spent?
Tags: Charity; Giving
If you are making a large donation to a charity, you may have a specific goal in mind for the use of the money. Whether it is to fund a particular program or support a new project, you may want some control over how your donation is used by the charity. This may be accomplished through donor advised funds or private foundations.  Many larger public charities offer donor advised funds, which involve an agreement between the donor and the charity that the charity will consider the wishes of the donor with respect to the ultimate use of donations. However, the agreement is non-binding, and the charity exercises final control over the disposition of the funds, consistent with the charitable purposes of the organization.  A private...
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Aug
08
What If You Could Invest In The Olympics? :Would It Be A Good Idea?
Tags: Olympics; Rio
The 2016 Summer Olympics kick off on August 5th and end on August 21st. Brazil's Rio de Janeiro will play host to over 200 countries at four main venues – Deodoro, Barra, Copacabana and Maracana – where over 10,000 athletes will be competing for nearly 2,500 medals across 42 sports. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the vast majority of news stories about this summer’s Olympics have been negative. Brazil’s political corruption and turmoil, infrastructure not yet built, polluted waterways, collapsing bike paths, athletes cancelling, unsold tickets, and team doping scandals, just to name a few. And let’s not forget that Brazil is ground-zero for the Zika virus and it seems that the noise to cancel or postpone the Olympics grows louder every day....
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Aug
03
Social Security: Is Your Age a Retirement Numbers Game?
When preparing for your retirement, think about how much income you may need each year to fund the lifestyle you want. To help maintain your living standard, you may need to save enough money to supplement other sources of retirement income, such as a company pension and/or Social Security. It is also important to be aware of how your age factors into your retirement decisions. Here are some important age milestones to consider: Age 55. If you take an early retirement, quit, or are otherwise terminated from employment, you can generally withdraw money from 401(k), 403(b), and profit-sharing plans without being subject to a 10% Federal income tax penalty for early withdrawals. As specified in IRS Publication 575, the following apply: you...
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Aug
03
America’s Changing Vision of Retirement
Retirement planning is a primary reason for long-term saving, and when people think about retirement, finances are often the focus. However, it is important to also look at the nonfinancial aspects of transitioning from the world of work to the world of leisure. Specifically, lifestyle changes and self-esteem issues associated with the loss of your professional identity may create difficulties. As you’re preparing strategies for your future well-being, give some thought to the kind of retirement you envision for yourself.  Consider the following questions: What do you find fulfilling? What gets you out of bed in the morning? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Do you work well as part of a team, or do you thrive on solitude? Do you...
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Jul
29
A Quick Look at Charitable Deductions
Donations of cash or property to qualified charities are, for the most part, deductible on your personal tax return. If you receive something in return for your donation, you must reduce your deduction by the value of that item or service. For example, if you donate $125 to a charity and receive a book worth $35, your total deduction would be limited to $90. The charity must inform you of the item's value. Charities must also give you documentation for every contribution over $250. Although you cannot deduct the value of your time or services given to a charity, you may deduct out-of-pocket expenses, including a per-mile deduction for charity-related driving. To deduct property donations worth over $500, you must provide additional...
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Jul
29
Taking Charitable Giving to Another Level
Tags: Charity; Giving
Did you know that you can gift a new or existing life insurance policy to your favorite charity? When properly designed, a charitable life insurance program may improve your overall financial situation and offer tax benefits, all while supporting a charitable cause. Generally, there are three methods used to gift a life insurance policy to a qualifying charity: a charitable bequest, a charitable gift, and a charity-owned policy. Regardless of the strategy, policy ownership and beneficiary arrangements play an important role in the planning process. A consultation with a qualified legal professional can clarify your goals and expectations, provide information on the limitations on charitable deductions, and help you achieve the desired...
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Jul
27
Gender Differences in Retirement Planning
Women often face more financial challenges than men as a result of lower salaries, prolonged career breaks, and relative longevity, according to a study recently published by the BMO Retirement Institute. Women tend to have smaller pensions or 401(k) balances, on average earn less than men while working, and are more likely to have part-time jobs with limited retirement benefits. Women also leave the workforce more than men to become family caregivers, further reducing their ability to save.  The study showed that men and women have very different approaches to preparing for retirement. For example, men are more likely than women to feel very confident that they will have enough retirement income to live comfortably with funds for both...
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Jul
27
A College Education: “How to Fund?” is the Question
Whether you are considering a public or private college for your child, it is essential that your planning begin as early as possible. Many parents procrastinate because they feel overwhelmed by the task, or they think that saving the required amount of money will force them to severely compromise their current lifestyle. While both of these concerns are legitimate, they need not get in the way of establishing—and maintaining—an effective college funding plan.  To start developing a plan, consider your available funding options: o Scholarships. While scholarships are certainly desirable, there is no way to guarantee your child will qualify for an award. Counting on getting a scholarship is similar to counting on winning a lottery—there...
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Jul
23
Pokemon Go: Understanding The Latest Craze and its Impact
Unless you have been living under a rock, you have undoubtedly witnessed the new Pokémon Go craze. Packs of kids roaming neighborhoods with their phones guiding their movements, sometimes running from place to place, laughing with each other, getting exercise and generally getting along with one another. And grown men and women walking down the street staring intently at their screens, screaming out strange names in what sounds like a foreign tongue, followed by furiously jabbing at their screen in some sort of ritualistic dance. It's the Pokémon Go craze and it's hard to believe it only started about a week ago. For those of you who don't know, let me try to explain the Pokémon Go phenomenon. Pokémon Go is a free-to-play, location-based,...
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Jul
18
A Woman’s Guide for Building a Strong Financial Foundation
Tags: Building; Women
Many women juggle competing demands, such as family, career, and a household, and may feel tempted to relegate retirement planning to the bottom of their "to do" list. But by putting off preparations for retirement, they run the risk of becoming one of the large number of women who spend their golden years struggling just to get by. Nobody wants to be in that group—especially since it can be avoided with the right planning. Saving enough money to pay for a comfortable retirement can be a challenge for most Americans and it can be especially challenging for women who, when compared with men, may have earned less, spent fewer years working, and live longer. These concerns are often more acute for women who are divorced, widowed or otherwise...
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Jul
18
Roth IRAs for Kids
It may be difficult to convince your teenagers to participate in their financial futures, but if you can persuade them to contribute at least part of their babysitting or after-school job money to a Roth Individual Retirement Account (IRA), they may thank you later.  Anyone with earned income below $132,000 for single filers and $194,000 for married joint filers in 2016 can open a Roth IRA retirement account. Contributions are nondeductible, but earnings and qualifying distributions accumulate tax free. Because children seldom make enough to owe income tax, they are usually better off with a Roth IRA than a tax-deferred traditional IRA. For 2016, your child can contribute up to $5,500 (or earned income, whichever is less) to a Roth IRA....
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Jul
21
Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule: What investors need to know
You have probably read about the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) new fiduciary rule that will impact financial advisors and their clients. Simply stated, the DOL's new "fiduciary duty" standard requires financial professionals who receive compensation for transactions to act in their client's "best interest."  That means advisors must, for the first time, provide full transparency around the fees and commissions they charge for retirement plan advice and products. And illustrating the importance of fees and how small differences can add up, the DOL even provided the math:  "A percentage point lower return could reduce savings by more than a quarter over 35 years. In other words, instead of a $10,000 retirement investment growing to more...
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Jul
10
The Nuts & Bolts of Required Minimum Distributions
Given the uncertain future of Social Security and the decline in popularity of traditional pensions, taking initiative to save for retirement is more important than ever. Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and employer-sponsored qualified retirement plans provide valuable, tax-favored opportunities. However, along with the benefits come certain rules. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) governs the distribution of these savings during retirement with the required minimum distribution (RMD) rules. The RMD is the minimum amount that must be distributed to retirement plan owners beginning in the year the owner turns age 70½.  Required Beginning Date  Minimum distributions must be made on or before December 31st of each year. However,...
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Jul
09
A “Recipe” for Retirement Savings
Do you ever dream of the day when you can retire and pursue your interests, travel, or simply relax from the pressure of the daily grind? In the past, retirement planning was a simpler process. Many retirees could count on employer-provided pension plans coupled with Social Security to furnish an adequate post-retirement income. Unfortunately, these two sources no longer provide sufficient funds for most people to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living.  What’s the best way to save for retirement? When cooking up a savings plan, one recipe combines annuities and mutual funds with life insurance. How you mix these ingredients may vary, depending on: 1) the number of years remaining until retirement; 2) how much you expect to...
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Jul
05
Interesting Facts About Independence Day
The Business of Fireworks As most middle-school age kids know, in the summer of 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies considered a resolution that would declare their independence from Great Britain. And on July 2nd of the same year, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence. Then on July 4, 1776, the delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, arguably the nation’s most historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson.  From 1776 until the present day, July 4th – also known as Independence Day – has been celebrated as the birth of our country’s independence, with typical festivities ranging from casual family barbecues to local town parades to concerts and fireworks sponsored by large US cities and televised...
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Jul
02
A Roadmap to Retirement
If life is a journey, retirement is the destination where one hopes to enjoy long-awaited rewards for years of hard work. Yet, like any other life goal, a comfortable retirement doesn't just happen, it requires careful planning. And to date, most Americans are slow to take action. Projections show that the majority of today's mid-career workforce need either to save more now or work beyond normal retirement age to have enough money for retirement. Looking ahead, it's estimated that a 45 year old with a current household income of about $80,000 will need to save $1.2 million in financial assets to maintain his or her lifestyle if planning to retire at 65. These projections--along with predictions of the continued dwindling of Social...
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Jun
28
The British Referendum and the Long Arm of the Lawless
“Kings have long arms, many ears, and many eyes.” So read an English proverb dated back to the year of our Lord 1539. And thus was born an idiom that today translates to the very familiar Long Arm of the Law. It stands to reason that such a warning was born of feudal times when omnipotent and seemingly omnipresent monarchs personified the law, possessed of reach, eyes and ears against any and all nefarious souls who dare defy and attempt an escape into thick, ancient forests under dark cover of night. Today we use the very descriptive and accurate idiom with little thought as to how it came to be a part of our modern language. The credit should go to Charles Dickens for bringing that borrowed but altered expression forward in time. It was...
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Jun
21
The Reality of Early Retirement
Is early retirement on your wish list? Do you envision a relaxing lifestyle in a warmer climate or the leisurely pursuit of a personal hobby? Unfortunately, retiring later than anticipated, rather than sooner, is becoming more and more commonplace. But some people are still managing to retire early. You may be asking yourself, “How do they do it?” The key is to be proactive in your retirement planning. Of course, the sooner you begin planning and saving, the better your chances are for early retirement. Keep in mind that a general rule of thumb is that you may need as much as 60% to 80% of your preretirement income to meet your expenses and maintain your desired lifestyle in retirement.  Redefining Retirement Multiple factors are...
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Jun
19
Celebrating Father’s Day
We have come upon Father's Day (Sunday, June 19), so it's time to honor our fathers and to celebrate their contributions to our lives.  Some of our fathers are living and some have passed. And sadly, many fathers will honor their own deceased children. Origin of Father's Day Everyone has a father, and it is important that we celebrate our dads' contributions to our lives on Father's Day. United States.  Father's Day originated in the United States in 1910.  Sonora Smart Dodd wanted to honor her father, Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, who raised six children on his own in Spokane.  She asked local pastors to give sermons on a Sunday in June that would celebrate the contributions of fathers.   The pastors gave these sermons on...
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Jun
16
An Overview of Workplace Retirement Plans
Americans are living longer, and this may mean enjoying retirement for a longer period of time than ever before. Consequently, retirement assets must last longer and accommodate increases in the cost of living. Only through proper planning and follow-through can you help avoid income shortfalls and assure a smooth transition from the world of work to the world of retirement.  As part of your employee benefit package, your employer may offer a retirement savings plan. These tax-advantaged vehicles can be an important part of your retirement savings strategy, as the funds can be used as an adjunct to Social Security benefits and personal savings. Regardless of your age, it is important to understand the specifics of your employer-sponsored...
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Jun
14
Gender Differences in Retirement Planning
Women often face more financial challenges than men as a result of lower salaries, prolonged career breaks, and relative longevity, according to a study recently published by the BMO Retirement Institute. Women tend to have smaller pensions or 401(k) balances, on average earn less than men while working, and are more likely to have part-time jobs with limited retirement benefits. Women also leave the workforce more than men to become family caregivers, further reducing their ability to save.  The study showed that men and women have very different approaches to preparing for retirement. For example, men are more likely than women to feel very confident that they will have enough retirement income to live comfortably with funds for...
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Jun
14
Retirement Plan Lump Sum Rollovers
Taking a lump sum distribution from your employer-sponsored retirement plan can lead to a misstep if you’re not careful. In fact, if your lump sum distribution is not executed properly, it can result in a mandatory 20 percent withholding penalty. Here’s a quick overview of how you can avoid this unnecessary withholding.  Any employee taking a lump sum distribution from his or her retirement plan will receive a check from the trustee or custodian minus 20 percent withholding for the payment of taxes. You can avoid the 20 percent reduction by:  having the money rolled directly into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) by the employer;  leaving the money in the employer account (if the plan is not terminated);  arranging installment...
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Jun
02
Are You Planning For Early Retirement
An early retirement is on everyone's "wish list." A relaxing lifestyle in a warmer climate, or the pursuit of a hobby or personal interest typically characterizes the vision of a comfortable retirement. Today, however, it's a new ball game. Unfortunately, retiring later, not sooner, than anticipated is becoming a fact of life. On the other hand, there are some issues you can address in advance that may help you defy the increasing norm. The key is to take a proactive role when planning your retirement, especially if you wish to retire early. Today, it is not uncommon for some retirees to require between 60% and 80% of their pre-retirement income in order to meet expense and income needs consistent with their desired standard of living....
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Dec
01
Top Concerns of Today's Retiree
Millions of Baby Boomers will soon face some critical issues as they begin to spend their retirement savings. This article answers some of the most common questions many retirees are asking about how they can generate a consistent retirement "paycheck". Will I be forced to begin taking income from my IRA assets when I reach age 70 ½? Beginning April 1 after you reach 70 1/2, you are generally required to withdraw a maximum amount of money from your tax-advantaged retirement accounts, including IRAs. This amount is called a Required Minimum Distribution, or RMD. RMDs are calculated using several IRS-approved methods based in part on your life expectancy and, in some cases, that of your beneficiary (ies). Can I access IRA assets...
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 Percy E. Bolton Associates, Inc.,  1122 East Green Street, Pasadena, CA 91106,  626-356-9660, pebmailbox@percybolton.com



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