Weekly Economic Update 2/27/2017

Economic Update

A LITTLE LESS OPTIMISM AMONG CONSUMERS February’s final University of Michigan consumer sentiment index came in at 96.3, down from its January mark of 98.5, but well above the 91.7 reading of a year earlier. Despite the descent, the index just had its best three months since early 2004.1      FED MINUTES SUGGEST RATE MOVE MAY BE NEAR At the last Federal Reserve policy meeting, “many participants” in the Federal Open Market Committee felt it “might be appropriate to raise the federal funds rate again fairly soon” if inflation and hiring data are strong enough. Even with that language appearing … Read more

Using an IRA Trust

What is it? What kind of benefit could it provide? Seemingly everyone has heard of an IRA, but few people know about IRA trusts. Perhaps more people should, for an IRA trust may provide a way to “stretch” IRA assets for decades to benefit multiple generations.    An IRA trust is simply a revocable living trust designed to hold IRA assets. It will continue to house them after your death, but that will not prevent you from distributing those assets to your heirs. This is because an IRA trust also contains one or more sub-trusts, which can be designated and customized … Read more

The Many Benefits of a Roth IRA

RothIRA

Why do so many people choose it rather than a traditional IRA? The Roth IRA changed the whole retirement savings perspective. Since its introduction, it has become a fixture in many retirement planning strategies.   The key argument for “going Roth” can be summed up in a sentence: Paying taxes on retirement contributions today is better than paying taxes on retirement savings tomorrow. Here is a closer look at the trade-off you make when you open and contribute to a Roth IRA – a trade-off many savers are happy to make. You contribute after-tax dollars. You have already paid federal income … Read more

Robo-Advisors vs. Human Advisors

If an investor chooses a non-human financial advisor, what price could they end up paying? Investors have a choice today that they did not have a decade ago. They can seek investing and retirement planning guidance from a human financial advisor or put their invested assets in the hands of a robo-advisor – a software program that maintains their portfolio.   Why would an investor want to leave all that decision making up to a computer? In this era of cybercrime and “flash crashes” on Wall Street, doesn’t that seem a little chancy?  No, not to the financial firms touting robo-advisors. … Read more

America Saves Week

Savings

How much are you setting aside on behalf of your goals? “Set a goal, make a plan, and save automatically.” This is the motto of America Saves Week, which begins on February 27.   America Saves – a project of the American Savings Education Council – calls on Americans to do all three of those things to try and improve their finances. Each winter, it surveys Americans to see how well (or poorly) they are saving. The survey is in its tenth year, and perhaps some recent trends will be reversed in the 2017 edition.  Last year, 52% of Americans said … Read more

Little Things That May Help Your Retirement Saving

Retirement savings

Over time, these seemingly small factors could make a major difference. Saving for retirement takes decades and demands the investment of significant amounts of your income. As this major effort unfolds, you should recognize that some subtle factors and seemingly minor decisions could end up making a sizable and positive impact on your financial future.      Your investment yield may be less important than the amount you save. Beating the S&P 500 feels great, but outperforming the market is not your foremost goal. Your real retirement saving objective is to accumulate sufficient assets – enough to provide adequate income in the … Read more

Weekly Economic Update 2/20/2017

RETAIL SALES ROSE 0.4% in JANUARY Consumer spending on household electronics and appliances powered this gain. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a 0.1% advance. Core retail purchases also rose 0.4% last month. The Department of Commerce revised the December increase for retail sales upward to 1.0%. Across the 12 months ending in January, retail sales advanced 5.6%.1      INFLATION PRESSURE MOUNTS In January, the headline Consumer Price Index climbed 0.6%. That was its greatest monthly gain in four years, and it took annualized inflation to a 4-year high of 2.5%. Producer prices also jumped 0.6% in January, in the … Read more

Financial Thoughts for International Women’s Day

Financial Thoughts for International Women's Day

Every March 8, we reflect on the financial progress women have made (and still need to make). March 8 is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the social and economic progress and cultural achievements of women worldwide.   There really is much to celebrate. Globally, the wealth of women is growing at a faster rate than the wealth of men. The increase was about 8% a year from 2010-15 according to Boston Consulting Group, a global business consulting firm. BCG sees women’s wealth expanding another 7% per year through 2020, with women controlling $72.1 trillion in assets three years … Read more

Retirement Insights February 2017

Retirement Insights February 2017

MONTHLY NEWS AND INFORMATION FOR CURRENT AND FUTURE RETIREES Retiring with an Age Difference If you are 10 or 15 years older than your spouse or partner, to what degree should that age gap influence your retirement planning? You will want to consider this question, for it may affect many aspects of your financial future – such as your planned retirement dates, how you decide to claim Social Security, and how you choose to invest.  Your age difference will lengthen your total retirement experience as a couple. For example, Social Security projects that the average man turning 62 this month … Read more

Worried About What Might Happen to Bonds?

Bond yields

If you plan to hold yours to maturity, the fluctuation in their market values need not be worrisome. Are tough times ahead for the bond market? Some investors think so. U.S. monetary policy is tightening, with the Federal Reserve planning gradual increases for the key interest rate. A rising interest rate environment presents a challenge to the bond market, but it does not necessarily imply some kind of doomsday for bondholders. Blanket advice to “get out of bonds” is imprudent, because it really all depends on what you intend to do with the debt investments you hold and how long … Read more

What Could You Do With Your Tax Refund?

Tax refund

Instead of just spending the money, you could plan to pay yourself. About 70% of taxpayers receive sizable refunds from the Internal Revenue Service. Just how sizable? The average refund totals about $2,800.1 What do households do with that money? It varies. Last year, consumer financial services company Bankrate asked Americans about their plans for their federal tax refunds. Thirty-one percent of the respondents to Bankrate’s survey said that they would save or invest those dollars, and 28% indicated they would attack their debts with the money. Another 27% said they would buy food with that cash or use it … Read more

Active Vs Passive Investment Management

Active Vs Passive Investment Management

What do each of these terms really mean? Investment management can be active or passive. Sometimes, that simple, fundamental choice can make a difference in portfolio performance.  During a particular market climate, one of these two methods may be widely praised, while the other is derided and dismissed. In truth, both approaches have merit, and all investors should understand their principles. How does passive asset management work? A passive asset management strategy employs investment vehicles mirroring market benchmarks. In their composition, these funds match an index – such as the S&P 500 or the Russell 2000 – component for component. … Read more

Weekly Economic Update 2/13/2017

CONSUMER SENTIMENT SLIPS A BIT The University of Michigan’s preliminary February index of consumer sentiment came in at a reading of 95.7 Friday, compared with a final January mark of 98.5 (which was a 13-year peak). Economists polled by Bloomberg had expected a slight decline to 98.0. While this was the index’s lowest level in three months, it still topped many of the monthly readings from 2016.1     HOW IS EARNINGS SEASON GOING? Nearly two-thirds of S&P 500 members have issued Q4 results so far. As Zacks Investment Research noted Wednesday, more than 69% of these S&P components have beaten … Read more

A GUIDE TO 2017 TAX LAW CHANGES (AND MORE)

2017 tax guide

Presented by Paul E. Lewis, CFP®, CWS® Download your 2017 Tax Guide now. Securities and Advisory Services offered through Triad Advisors Member FINRA/SIPC. This Special Report is not intended as a guide for the preparation of tax returns. The information contained herein is general in nature and is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal, accounting or tax advice or opinion. No information herein was intended or written to be used by readers for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code or applicable state or local tax law provisions. … Read more

In-Service Withdrawals from Employee Retirement Plans

In-Service Withdrawals from Employee Retirement Plans

You might be able to take money out of your 401(k), 403(b), or 457 plan while still working. If you withdraw money out of a workplace retirement plan in your fifties, will you be penalized for it? In most cases, the answer is yes. Distributions taken from a qualified retirement plan before age 59½ usually trigger a 10% IRS early withdrawal penalty. The key word here is “usually,” for there are ways to make these withdrawals with no IRS penalty, even while you are still working for your employer.1   You may have a strong reason to make such a … Read more

Your 2017 Financial To-Do List

Your 2017 Financial To-Do List

Things you can do for your future as the year unfolds. What financial, business, or life priorities do you need to address for 2017? Now is a good time to think about the investing, saving, or budgeting methods you could employ toward specific objectives, from building your retirement fund to lowering your taxes. You have plenty of options. Here are a few that might prove convenient:   Can you contribute more to your retirement plans this year? In 2017, the contribution limit for a Roth or traditional IRA remains at $5,500 ($6,500 for those making “catch-up” contributions). Your modified adjusted … Read more

The Reasons for a Roth Solo 401(k)

The Reasons for a Roth Solo 401(k)

Here is a way for a solopreneur to save much more for retirement. Self-employed? Seeking to ramp up your retirement savings? You should look at the potential of the Roth Solo 401(k). If you are a high-earning solopreneur, this savings vehicle may be a great choice because it allows you to make both employee and employer contributions to a 401(k) plan in the same year, with the potential for tax-free income in the future.1   How does a Roth Solo 401(k) work? Think of it as a standard Solo 401(k) with an added Roth account. The magic word is Roth. … Read more

Could Dodd-Frank Soon Disappear?

Could Dodd-Frank Soon Disappear?

President Trump orders a reevaluation of its regulations. Major legislative changes may soon impact the financial industry. On February 3, President Donald Trump signed two executive orders authorizing reviews of some key industry regulations – the Dodd-Frank Act, and an upcoming Department of Labor rule requiring financial professionals offering retirement planning advice to serve as fiduciaries.1      Passed in 2010, the Dodd-Frank Act was a response to the 2008 financial crisis. To this day, parts of the law have never been carried out. Its goal was to put safety measures in place to prevent further bank bailouts. Dodd-Frank sought to … Read more

Managing Money Well as a Couple

Managing Money Well as a Couple

What are the keys in planning to grow wealthy together? When you marry or simply share a household with someone, your financial life changes – and your approach to managing your money may change as well. To succeed as a couple, you may also have to succeed financially. The good news is that is usually not so difficult.  At some point, you will have to ask yourselves some money questions – questions that pertain not only to your shared finances, but also to your individual finances. Waiting too long to ask (or answer) those questions might carry an emotional price. … Read more