Why You Should Contribute To Your 401k

This may be one of the best things you can do for your financial health. If you had a chance to save hundreds of thousands of dollars over time at no great cost to your lifestyle or your monthly budget, would you take it? An easy-to-use retirement savings option that might go a long way to giving your retirement savings a boost? Look at what the standard 401(k) can offer you. Tax-deferred growth. The money you save and invest in a traditional 401(k) grows without being taxed. You only pay taxes on it when it is withdrawn.1 Compounding. As the … Read more

Insurance and Investments

A good financial strategy is not just about “making money;” it is also about protection. Some people mistake investing for financial planning. Their “financial strategy” is an investing strategy, in which they chase the return and focus on the yield of their portfolio. As they do so, they miss the big picture. Investing represents but one facet of long-term financial planning. Trying to build wealth is one thing; trying to protect it is another. An effort must be made to manage risk.    Insurance can play a central role in wealth protection. That role is underappreciated – partly  because some of … Read more

Weekly Economic Update 4/24/2017

EXISTING HOME SALES HIT A 10-YEAR PEAK Rising 4.4% for March, resales surpassed expectations – analysts polled by Reuters projected a gain of 2.5%. The National Association of Realtors said that sales were 5.9% improved from a year before, and that put them at their best level since February 2007, even with existing home inventory 6.6% slimmer than in March 2016.1        CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITY WANES Department of Commerce data showed a 6.8% reduction in housing starts in March. Even with that fall, starts were up 9.2% in 12 months. Building permits rose 3.6% last month, resulting in a 17.0% annualized … Read more

Does Your Business Have a 401(k) Plan?

This employee benefit & hiring incentive may help your office compete. Great employees are hard to find. This truth applies for all businesses, including healthcare offices. The challenge just begins at the point of hiring. Finding top-notch workers is one thing; retaining them is another. If your business offers no 401(k) plan, this amounts to a recruiting disadvantage. Fewer potential employees may want to work for a company that offers no retirement savings plan.  That may also encourage turnover, which could add to your office’s financial headaches.   Just how much do employees value benefits like 401(k)s? In its 2016 annual … Read more

Should You Apply for Social Security Now or Later?

When should you apply for benefits? Consider a few factors first. Now or later? When it comes to the question of Social Security income, the choice looms large. Should you apply now to get earlier payments? Or wait for a few years to get larger checks? Consider what you know (and don’t know). You know how much retirement money you have; you may have a clear projection of retirement income from other potential sources. Other factors aren’t as foreseeable. You don’t know exactly how long you will live, so you can’t predict your lifetime Social Security payout. You may even … Read more

How Will You Spend Your Retirement Savings?

Keep an eye on where it goes, as some destinations may be better than others. You can probably envision how most of your retirement money will be spent. Much of it will be used on living expenses, health care expenses, and, perhaps, debt reduction. Beyond the basics, you will unquestionably reserve some of those dollars for grand adventures and great experiences. If your financial situation permits, you may also contribute to charity.     You just have to remember that your retirement fund is not a bottomless well. If outflows begin to exceed inflows (that is, you repeatedly withdraw more than … Read more

Retirement Insights April 2017

Why You Might Not Want a Lump-Sum Retirement Payout Do you have the option of receiving your retirement money as a lump sum? You may want to turn that choice down. A new MetLife study, Paycheck or Pot of Gold, warns of the “lottery effect” that can occur when all that money makes its way into a household at once. Surveying more than 1,050 retirement plan participants who had taken lump-sum payouts, MetLife found that 21% had already used up 100% of that money; on average, it had disappeared in less than six years.    Like a lottery winner bereft … Read more

Weekly Economic Update 4/17/2017

PRICES DECLINE IN MARCH In March, the Consumer Price Index retreated for the first time in 13 months. Its 0.3% dip left annualized consumer inflation at a moderate 2.4%. Fuels, autos, and groceries have all become less expensive recently, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Core consumer prices were up 2.0% in the year ending in March. The Producer Price Index fell just 0.1% in March, with the yearly PPI gain left at 2.3%.1,2        RETAIL SALES FALL March’s 0.2% decrease followed a 0.3% pullback in February. The silver lining? Minus gas and vehicle sales, retail sales were up … Read more

Have a Plan, Not Just a Stock Portfolio

Diversification still matters. One day, this bull market will end. In the first quarter of 2017, the bull market seemed unstoppable. The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared past 20,000 and closed at all-time highs on 12 consecutive trading days. The Nasdaq Composite gained almost 10% in three months.1 An eight-year-old bull market is rare. This current bull is the second longest since the end of World War II; only the 1990-2000 bull run surpasses it. Since 1945, the average bull market has lasted 57 months.2 Everyone knows this bull market will someday end – but who wants to acknowledge that … Read more

Combining Your Finances When You Marry

How separate (or intertwined) should your financial lives be? Some spouses share everything with each other – including the smallest details of their personal finances. Other spouses decide to keep some individual financial decisions and details to themselves, and their relationship is just fine.    Just as a marriage requires understanding, respect, and compromise, so does the financial life of a married couple. If you are marrying soon or have just married, you may be surprised (and encouraged) by the way your individual finances may and may not need to change. If you are like most single people, you have … Read more

Weekly Economic Update 4/10/2017

COMPANIES ADDED FEWER WORKERS IN MARCH Just 98,000 net new jobs were created last month, and some analysts think Winter Storm Stella may have held hiring back. Even so, the Department of Labor’s latest employment report showed the U-3 jobless rate decreasing 0.2% to 4.5%; the broader U-6 rate fell 0.3% to 8.9%. The big factor in both declines: 326,000 people leaving the ranks of the unemployed. If all this seems incongruous, consider that the Bureau of Labor Statistics compiles data from two separate surveys: one focusing on payroll growth; the other, on the employment status of individuals.1       … Read more

1st Quarter 2017 Economic Update

THE QUARTER IN BRIEF The opening quarter of 2017 was a historic one for Wall Street as the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 20,000 for the first time. Equities rallied through January and February, then lost momentum in March; even so, the S&P 500 had gained 5.53% YTD when the quarter ended. The Federal Reserve raised the federal funds rate for only the third time in a decade, in response to strengthening inflation pressure and other signals of economic acceleration. Consumer confidence remained high. Commodities had a decidedly mixed quarter. New home sales improved, while existing home sales tapered off. … Read more

A Look at Revocable Living Trusts

What they can (and cannot) accomplish. Living trusts are created with a clearly defined objective: to avoid probate. Unfortunately, misconceptions about living trusts have spread to the point where people think they can accomplish much more than they can. If you fear probate, consider a revocable living trust. If you worry about your will being contested or your heirs fighting over your assets, it may be an excellent idea.  You fund a revocable living trust during your lifetime with all or most of your assets. The trust owns the assets; yet, you are the trustee, meaning that you can still … Read more

The Fiduciary Standard

What designations let you know that a financial professional will abide by this rule? This year, the Department of Labor intends to introduce a new rule regarding retirement plan accounts, with full implementation envisioned by 2018. Under this new rule, financial professionals who consult retirement savers will be held to a fiduciary standard of care. In other words, they will have an ethical and legal obligation to always act in a client’s best interest.1,2     Many financial professionals already abide by a fiduciary standard. If the new fiduciary rule is implemented, even more will. In fact, the fiduciary standard may soon … Read more

Tax Rules on Rental Property

Rental Property

The basics on capital gains & deductions. Buying or selling income property has definite tax consequences. A taxpayer should clearly understand them, whether he or she intends to acquire a property or put one on the market.  A sale of income property incurs either a capital gain or loss. If you profit from the sale of income property, that profit is considered fully taxable by the Internal Revenue Service. Fortunately, if you have owned that property for at least a year, you will pay only capital gains tax on those profits rather than income tax.1 Your capital gain is determined … Read more

Explaining the Savers Credit

Have you heard of the Savers Credit? You may qualify if you contribute to an IRA, SEP-IRA, SIMPLE, 401(k), 403(b), or 457 retirement savings plan.1 You can qualify for the Savers Credit for the 2017 tax year if you are a) married filing jointly with income of $62,000 or less, b) married filing separately or single with income of $31,000 or less, or c) filing as a head of household with income of $46,500 or less.1 To be eligible for the credit, you must be 18 or older, you must not be a full-time student, and you cannot be claimed … Read more

May Is Disability Insurance Awareness Month

Disability insurance

Do you really want to live without this coverage? If you forgo it, you may pay a high price. Disability insurance is an important insurance coverage that most people lack. Many people think of it as optional – when they think of it at all.    Have you thought about it? If you are a parent or a head of household, you should. The odds of a disability are not that long. The Council for Disability Awareness, a non-profit research and education group, estimates that roughly a quarter of today’s 20-year-olds may become disabled at some point in their working lives.1  … Read more

Monthly Economic Update April 2017

THE MONTH IN BRIEF Stocks went sideways rather than north in March, with the S&P 500 losing just 0.04%. The Federal Reserve made another quarter-point interest rate move, and overseas, the United Kingdom initiated Brexit proceedings. While new data showed weak consumer spending, consumer optimism remained high and hiring was once again strong. A subpar month for commodities did bring major gains for two energy futures. In the housing market, existing home sales decelerated, while new home sales picked up. A little volatility did not upset the primarily bullish outlook on Wall Street.1    DOMESTIC ECONOMIC HEALTH On March 15, … Read more

Could Insurance Rescue You in Retirement?

Insurance

Certain kinds of coverage may help to sustain you financially in an emergency. You plan for retirement with expectations in mind. You hope to enjoy a certain quality of life, with sufficient income resulting from smart financial choices. Ideally, your future unfolds as planned. But what if the unexpected happens? Will you have the right insurance in place to deal with it?  Insurance matters more in retirement planning than you may think. It is seldom “top of mind” in retirement planning conversations, but the right coverage could help you maintain some financial equilibrium in the face of sudden money pressures. … Read more

Weekly Economic Update 4/3/2017

PERSONAL SPENDING SLOWS Consumers apparently chose saving over spending in the second month of the year. Last week, a Department of Commerce report noted only a 0.1% gain for personal spending in February. That happened even with personal incomes rising 0.4%, nearly matching the 0.5% January advance. In other news concerning personal spending, the Bureau of Economic Analysis raised its estimate of fourth-quarter GDP to a final reading of 2.1% from the previous 1.9%.1        HOUSEHOLDS MAINTAIN THEIR OPTIMISM The Conference Board’s much-watched consumer confidence index came in at 125.6 for March, soaring 9.5 points to a level unseen since … Read more