Why Do You Need a Will? It may not sound enticing, but creating a will puts power in your hands. According to the global analytics firm Gallup, only about 44% of Americans have created a will. This finding may not surprise you. After all, no one wants to be reminded of their mortality or dwell on what might happen upon their death, so writing a last will and testament is seldom prioritized on the to-do list of a Millennial or Gen Xer. What may surprise you, though, is the statistic cited by personal finance website The Balance: around 35% of

Tax Scams & Schemes The “dirty dozen” favored by criminals & cheats. Year after year, criminals try to scam certain taxpayers. Year after year, certain taxpayers resort to schemes in an effort to put one over on the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.). These cons occur year-round, not just during tax season. In response to their frequency, the I.R.S. has listed the 12 biggest offenses – scams that you should recognize, schemes that warrant penalties and/or punishment.    Phishing. If you get an unsolicited email claiming to be from the I.R.S., it is a scam. The I.R.S. never reaches out via email,

Tax Considerations for Retirees Are you aware of them? The federal government offers some major tax breaks for older Americans. Some of these perks deserve more publicity than they receive.        If you are 65 or older, your standard deduction is $1,300 larger. Make that $1,600 if you are unmarried. Thanks to the passage of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, the 2018 standard deduction for an individual taxpayer at least 65 years of age is a whopping $13,600, more than double what it was in 2017. (If you are someone else’s dependent, your standard deduction is much less.)1 You

Ways to Ease the Cost of College A look at grants, scholarships, 529 plans, and other methods. How much could a college education cost in the 2030s? You may want to take a deep breath and sit down before reading the next paragraph   A MassMutual analysis projects that four years of tuition, room, and board at a private college will cost nearly $369,000 in 2031. An article at CNBC offers a slightly cheaper estimate, putting the total expense at $303,000 for a freshman setting foot on campus in 2036. (Today, the cost of four years at a private university is

Social Security Gets Its Biggest Boost in Years Seniors will see their retirement benefits increase by an average of 2.8% in 2019. Social Security will soon give seniors their largest “raise” since 2012. In view of inflation, the Social Security Administration has authorized a 2.8% increase for retirement benefits in 2019.1 This is especially welcome, as annual Social Security cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, have been irregular in recent years. There were no COLAs at all in 2010, 2011, and 2016, and the 2017 COLA was 0.3%. This marks the second year in a row in which the COLA has been

Staying Out of Debt Once You Get Out of Debt As you reduce your liabilities, embrace the behaviors that may improve your balance sheet. Paying off a major debt produces a sense of relief. You can celebrate a financial milestone; you can “pay yourself first” to greater degree and direct more money toward your dreams and your financial future rather than your creditors. Once you get out of excessive consumer debt, the last thing you want to do is fall right back in. What steps can you take to reduce that possibility, and what missteps should you avoid making?   Step

The IRA and the 401(k) Comparing their features, merits, and demerits. Taxes are deferred on money held within IRAs and 401(k)s. That opens the door for tax-free compounding of those invested dollars – a major plus for any retirement saver.1    IRAs and 401(k)s also offer you another big tax break. It varies depending on whether the account is traditional or Roth in nature. When you have a traditional IRA or 401(k), your account contributions are tax deductible, but when you eventually withdraw the money for retirement, it will be taxed as regular income. When you have a Roth IRA

Discover the 403(b) This retirement plan allows teachers & employees of non-profits to invest for their futures.  Does your spouse contribute to a 401(k)? You are probably eligible for a retirement plan that can help you save and invest for retirement in the same way – a 403(b). 403(b) plans actually predate 401(k)s. They first appeared in the 1950s. School districts and non-profit organizations commonly offer these retirement savings vehicles to their employees.1  Contributions to most 403(b)s are 100% tax deductible. Typically, you just defer a small percentage of your salary into these plans per paycheck, prior to taxes being

Getting Your Personal Finances in Shape for 2019 Fall is a good time to assess where you stand and where you could be. You need not wait for 2019 to plan improvements to your finances. You can begin now. The last few months of 2018 give you a prime time to examine critical areas of your budget, your credit, and your investments. You could work on your emergency fund (or your rainy day fund). To clarify, an emergency fund is the money you store in reserve for unforeseen financial disruptions; a rainy day fund is money saved for costs you

Pros & Cons of Different Small Business Retirement Plans As a small business owner, you may want a better retirement plan – one that will let you and your key employees save much more for retirement.  If the annual contribution limits on standard retirement plans disappoint you, you should know about these alternatives.  Simplified Employee Pension plans (SEPs). A SEP allows your business to set up and fund IRAs for your workers as well as for yourself. The employer makes 100% of the plan contributions, and the money contributed is tax deductible. The annual contribution limit is $55,000 in 2018.

5 Easy Ways For Businesses To Save On Their Taxes Download the Guide For Free Click Here FREE Is Your Company’s 401k plan up to date? Book a Free Consultation and find out. Click Here FREE Is Your Company’s 401(k) Plan as Good as It Could Be? Two recent court rulings may make you want to double-check.  How often do retirement plan sponsors check up on 401(k)s? Not as often as they should, perhaps. Employers need to be especially vigilant these days. Every plan sponsor should know about two recent court rulings. One came from the Supreme Court in 2015;

5 Retirement Concerns Too Often Overlooked Baby boomers entering their “second acts” should think about these matters. Retirement is undeniably a major life and financial transition. Even so, baby boomers can run the risk of growing nonchalant about some of the financial challenges that retirement poses, for not all are immediately obvious. In looking forward to their “second acts,” boomers may overlook a few matters that a thorough retirement strategy needs to address. RMDs. The Internal Revenue Service directs seniors to withdraw money from qualified retirement accounts after age 70½. This class of accounts includes traditional IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement

Underappreciated Options for Building Retirement Savings Facebook Google+ Twitter LinkedIn More people ought to know about them.  There are a number of well-known retirement savings vehicles, used by millions. Are there other, relatively obscure retirement savings accounts worthy of attention? Are there prospective benefits for retirement savers that remain under the radar? The answer to both questions is yes. Consider these potential routes toward greater retirement savings.      Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). People enrolled in high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) commonly open HSAs for their stated purpose: to create a pool of money that can be applied to health care expenses.

Tax Moves to Consider in Summer Making changes earlier rather than later. If you own a business, earn a good deal of investment income, are recently married or divorced, or have a Flexible Savings Account (FSA), you may want to think about making some tax moves now rather than in December or April.    Do you now need to pay estimated income tax? If you are newly self-employed or are really starting to see significant passive income, you may need to quickly acquaint yourself with Form 1040-ES and the quarterly deadlines. Every year, estimated tax payments to the Internal Revenue

The Turkish Currency Crisis Facebook Google+ Twitter LinkedIn Email WhatsApp A look at why it matters so much to the world, and the risk of a domino effect.  The collapse of the Turkish lira has become a major financial story. You may wonder why the financial media is devoting so much space to this, as Turkey is not exactly China or Japan or Germany. The fear is that Turkey’s problem hints at a greater crisis.1,2   Globally speaking, Turkey is not all that minor. Its economy is the world’s seventeenth largest, and while it is seen as an emerging market, it

Why the U.S. Might Be Less Affected by a Trade War Facebook Google+ Twitter LinkedIn Email WhatsApp The nature of our economy could help it withstand the disruption. A trade war does seem to be getting underway. Investors around the world see headwinds arising from newly enacted and planned tariffs, headwinds that could potentially exert a drag on global growth (and stock markets). How badly could these trade disputes hurt the American economy? Perhaps not as dramatically as some journalists and analysts warn.1,2 Our business sector may be impacted most. Undeniably, tariffs on imported goods raise costs for manufacturers. Costlier

Starting a Roth IRA for a Child or Grandchild This early financial decision could prove profoudly positive over time. Facebook Google+ Twitter LinkedIn Email Do you have a child or grandchild earning some income? Indirectly, that after-school or summer job might present a savings opportunity for that teenager. You could help your child or grandchild save for future goals by assisting them to create and fund a Roth IRA. So many people wish they had begun saving for retirement sooner. Imagine how your child or grandchild’s prospects for building lifetime retirement savings might improve by starting as soon as possible.      Here

Are Changes Ahead for Retirement Accounts? A bill now in congress proposes to alter some longstanding rules. Facebook Google+ Twitter LinkedIn Email Most Americans are not saving enough for retirement, despite ongoing encouragement to do so (and recurring warnings about what may happen if they do not). This year, lawmakers are also addressing this problem, with a bill proposing big changes to IRAs and workplace retirement plans.    The Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act (RESA), introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch, would amend the Internal Revenue Code and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in some significant ways.1      Contributions to

Tax Changes Around the Home How the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act impacted three popular deductions. Facebook Google+ Twitter LinkedIn Email Three recent tax law changes impact homeowners and home-based businesses. They may affect your federal income taxes this year.   The SALT deduction now has a $10,000 yearly limit. You can now only deduct up to $10,000 of some combination of (a) state and local property taxes or (b) state and local income taxes or sales taxes, annually. (Taxes paid or accumulated due to trade activity or business activity are exempt from the $10,000 limit.)1,2 If you have itemized for

The Snowball Effect Save and invest, year after year, to put the full power of compounding on your side. Facebook Google+ Twitter LinkedIn Email Have you been saving for retirement for a decade or more? In the foreseeable future, something terrific is likely to happen with your IRA or your workplace retirement plan account. At some point, its yearly earnings should begin to exceed your yearly contributions. Just when could this happen? The timing depends on several factors, and the biggest factor may simply be consistency – your ability to keep steadily investing and saving. The potential for this phenomenon