Here are some things you might want to do before saying goodbye to 2017.  What has changed for you in 2017? Did you start a new job or leave a job behind? Did you retire? Did you start a family? If notable changes occurred in your personal or professional life, then you will want to review your finances before this year ends and 2018 begins.    Even if your 2017 has been relatively uneventful, the end of the year is still a good time to get cracking and see where you can plan to save some taxes and/or build a little

If you’re going to say “I do,” here are some things you might want to do. Are you marrying soon? Have you recently married? As you begin your life together, it is important for you to start planning your financial future together and putting your finances on the same page. Here are some priorities you might want to write down on your financial to-do list.    Plan for retirement. There is a chance that decades from now, many of us who are currently saving and investing for the future might end up millionaires. Actually, we may need to become millionaires.

Wise money moves for parents under 40. As you start a family, you start to think about certain financial matters. Before you became a mom or dad, you may not have thought about them much, but so much changes when you have kids. Parenting presents you with definite, sudden, financial needs to address. By focusing on those needs today, you may give yourself a head start on meeting some crucial family financial objectives tomorrow. The to-do list should include:   Life & disability insurance coverage. If one or both of you cannot work and earn income, your household could struggle to

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

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

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 

Taxes IRA

With the tax filing deadline approaching, have you considered contributing to an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA)? IRAs are one of the most powerful retirement savings tools available to you. Even if you’re contributing to a workplace retirement plan, you may want to consider having an IRA as well. You may be eligible for a full or partial federal tax deduction with a traditional IRA. This can be especially valuable if you are already contributing the maximum to your workplace plan, such as a 403(b) or 457(b). There’s still time to make an IRA contribution for the 2016 tax year. The deadline

 Millennials have good reasons to obtain coverage now. Do you plan to buy life insurance before you turn 40? Maybe you should. You may save money in the long run by doing so. At first thought, the idea of purchasing a life insurance policy in your thirties may seem silly. After all, young adults are now marrying and starting families later in life than past generations did, and you and your peers are likely in excellent health with a good chance of living past 80. In fact, LIMRA – a life insurance research and advocacy group – recently surveyed millennials

Think About Your Lifestyle Before You Retire

Sometimes planning for retirement isn’t entirely about money. How many words have been written about retirement? It’s a preoccupation for many, and we devote so much time, thought, and energy toward saving for the last day we go to work. Saving and investing in such a way that we no longer have to work may seem ideal at first, but it raises a question: what do you have planned for all of that free time? What do you do with your first day? Maybe you finally take that big vacation you’ve been talking about. Or, perhaps, it’s time to catch

Stocks & Presidential Elections

What does history tell us – and should we value it?  As an investor, you know that past performance is no guarantee of future success. Expanding that truth, history has no bearing on the future of Wall Street. That said, stock market historians have repeatedly analyzed market behavior in presidential election years, and what stocks do when different parties hold the reins of power in Washington. They have noticed some interesting patterns through the years, which may or may not prove true for 2016. Do stocks really go through an “election cycle” every four years? The numbers really don’t point

Good Retirement Savings Habits Before Age 40

Some early financial behaviors that may promote a comfortable future.   You know you should start saving for retirement before you turn 40. What can you start doing today to make that effort more productive, to improve your chances of ending up with more retirement money, rather than less? Structure your budget with the future in mind. Live within your means and assign a portion of what you earn to retirement savings. How much? Well, any percentage is better than nothing – but, ideally, you pour 10% or more of what you earn into your retirement fund. If that seems

401k

For the majority of us, our retirement hopes hang on our 401(k). In an effort to help you improve awareness and control over your 401(k), I have listed five tips to help you maximize your 401(k)’s performance. Make sure your contribution is (at a minimum) equal to your employer’s match. By not doing so, you are in no uncertain terms losing out on free money. Check your plan regularly, even if it hurts. Is the allocation of funds still to your liking, or are some changes necessary? Many plans allow you to make changes throughout the year and not just

Money Habits

Financially speaking, what do some households do right? Why do some households tread water financially while others make progress? Does it come down to habits? Sometimes the difference starts there. A household that prioritizes paying itself first may end up in much better financial shape in the long run than other households. Some families see themselves as savers, others as spenders. The spenders may enjoy affluence now, but they also may be setting themselves up for financial struggles down the road. The savers better position themselves for financial emergencies and the creation of wealth. How does a family build up

Is Fixed Income safe?

Two studies suggest that the “conventional wisdom” may be flawed. If you move away from equities with age, are you making a mistake? For some time, financial professionals have encouraged investors to lessen their exposure to the stock market as they get older. After all, a 60-year-old has less time to recover from a market downturn than someone decades away from collecting Social Security checks. Is that conventional thinking flawed? It might be. It isn’t simply a matter of looking at the future; you may also want to look at the past. What’s the price of playing not to lose?

Wall Street has the potential to recover quickly from geopolitical shocks. In the past few months, the world has seen several high-profile terrorist attacks. Incidents in the U.S., Belgium, Pakistan, Lebanon, Russia, and France have claimed more than 500 lives and injured approximately 1,000 people. Beyond these incidents, many other deaths and injuries have been caused by terrorist bombings that garnered less media attention.1,2 As an anxious world worries about the ongoing threat posed by ISIS, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and other terror groups, there is also concern about the effect of such incidents on global financial markets. Wall

What financial factors deserve attention? Some of us will marry again in retirement. How many of us will thoroughly understand the financial implications that may come with tying the knot later in life? Many baby boomers and seniors will consider financial factors as they enter into marriage, but that consideration may be all too brief.  There are significant money issues to keep in mind when marrying after 50, and they may be important enough to warrant a chat with a financial professional. You might consider a prenuptial agreement. A prenup may not be the most romantic gesture, but it could

White House Proposes Changes to Retirement Plans

A look at some of the ideas contained in the 2017 federal budget. Will workplace retirement plans be altered in the near future? The White House will propose some changes to these plans in the 2017 federal budget, with the goal of making such programs more accessible. Here are some of the envisioned changes. Pooled employer-sponsored retirement programs. This concept could save small businesses money. Current laws permit multi-employer retirement plans, but the companies involved must be similar in nature. The White House wants to lift that restriction. (1,2) In theory, allowing businesses across disparate industries to join pooled retirement

Making and Keeping Financial Resolutions

What you might do (or do differently) in the months ahead? How will your money habits change in 2016? What decisions or behaviors might help your personal finances, your retirement prospects, or your net worth? Each year presents a “clean slate,” so as one year ebbs into another, it is natural to think about what you might do (or do differently) in the 12 months ahead. Financially speaking, what New Year’s resolutions might you want to make for 2016 – and what can you do to stick by such resolutions as 2016 unfolds? Strive to maximize your 2016 retirement plan

One of the biggest mistakes people can make when planning for retirement is failing to maximize their social security benefits. Why is this a mistake? You may have heard that social security is broken, that it might not be around by the time you retire. But the truth is, social security is still here and you should take advantage of it. It can easily be used as another stream is income to help find your retirement. Here are three ways to potentially increase your social security benefits. 1.) Delay collecting your benefits. Too many people rush to collect their social