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Articles in Financial Focus

Retire at 65 … Or Not? Your assets matter more than your age.

| Published on April 16, 2014

Isn’t 65 the traditional retirement age? Perhaps, but baby boomers are modifying the definition of a traditional retirement (if not redefining it altogether). The Social Security Administration has subtly revised its definition of the traditional retirement age as well.
If you glance at the SSA website, the “full” retirement age for …

Asset Location & Timing to Reduce Taxes in Retirement Read this if you want to preserve more of your nest egg & lower your tax bill

| Published on April 9, 2014

Location, location, location … It matters when it comes to real estate, and it also matters when it comes to the way you hold and invest your retirement savings.
You can’t control what happens with the tax code, but you can control how your savings are held. As various types of …

Tax Efficiency: What it means, why it counts

| Published on April 3, 2014

A little phrase that may mean a big difference. When you read about investing and other financial topics, you occasionally see the phrase “tax efficiency” or a reference to a “tax-sensitive” way of investing. What does that really mean?
* The after-tax return vs. the pre-tax return. Everyone wants their investment …

Ideas for Your 2013 Tax Refund What could that money do for you?

| Published on March 27, 2014

Is a tax refund coming your way? If you have already received your refund for the 2013 tax year or are about to receive it, you might want to think about the destiny of that money. Here are some possibilities.
Start (or add to) an emergency fund. Many people don’t have …

Wise Decisions with Retirement in Mind Certain financial & lifestyle choices may lead you toward a better future.

| Published on March 21, 2014

Some retirees succeed at realizing the life they want, others don’t. Fate aside, it isn’t merely a matter of stock market performance or investment selection that makes the difference. There are certain dos and don’ts – some less apparent than others – that tend to encourage retirement happiness and comfort. 

The MyRA, the USARF & Cash Balance Plans New & old concepts to address the retirement savings gap.

| Published on March 14, 2014

How many 401(k)s have more than $100k in them? According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), the average 401(k) balance at the end of 2012 was $63,929. Even with stocks rising last year, the average balance likely remains underwhelming.1
Is this enough money to retire on? No – and this …

Why Don’t All Affluent People Become Wealthy? Perception, hesitation & poor decisions are factors.

| Published on March 9, 2014

Why do some people let their potential for lifetime wealth slip away? Some people are better off economically at 30 or 40 than they are at 50 or 60. In some cases, fate deals them a bad hand. In other cases, bad decisions and inaction are to blame.
They buy depreciating …

Why Does Family Wealth Fade Away? A lack of vision is often the answer to that question

| Published on February 26, 2014

Many are the stories of family wealth lost. In the late 19th century, industrial tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt amassed the equivalent of $100 billion in today’s dollars – but when 120 of his descendants met at a family gathering in 1973, there were no millionaires among them.1
Barbara Woolworth Hutton – daughter …

It Isn’t Too Late to Save for Retirement – If you’re 40 or 50 and haven’t begun, you must make the effort

| Published on February 19, 2014

Some people start saving for retirement at 20, 25, or 30. Others start later, and while their accumulated assets will have fewer years of compounding to benefit from, that shouldn’t discourage them to the point of doing nothing.
If you need to play catch-up, here are some retirement savings principles to …

Making Your Money Work Harder for Retirement Little things you could do that could help you leave work a little sooner.

| Published on February 12, 2014

Little things matter. When planning for retirement, people naturally think about the big things – arranging sufficient income, amassing enough savings, investing so that you don’t outlive your money, managing forms of risk. All of this is essential. Still, there are also little financial adjustments you can make at mid-life …

Why 2014 May Be a Very Good Year More improvement may be in store for the economy & the stock market.

| Published on February 6, 2014

Will the economy & the bull market make further strides next year? On both Wall Street and Main Street, 2013 has turned out better than many analysts expected. Will the recovery gain additional momentum in 2014, and will stocks climb even higher?  

A Market to Be Thankful For Could 2013 end up being the best year for stocks since 1995?

| Published on January 22, 2014

In financial terms, 2013 has been a very nice year – a year in which the economy, the housing and business sectors and the stock market have all improved. Looking back over the year to date, it is particularly amazing to see how stocks have soared in the face of …

Getting It All Together for Retirement Where is everything? Time to organize and centralize your documents.

| Published on November 27, 2013

Before retirement begins, gather what you need. Put as much documentation as you can in one place, for you and those you love. It could be a password-protected online vault; it could be a file cabinet; it could be a file folder. Regardless of what it is, by centralizing the …

How Much Will Health Care Cost in Retirement?

| Published on August 5, 2013

In times like these, good decisions matter. And when you have a need for life insurance, you should consider whole life and its flexibility. To begin with, of course, there’s the guaranteed death benefit, which can help give you peace of mind by assuring a legacy for your heirs. But …

How Much Will Health Care Cost in Retirement?

| Published on July 29, 2013

What is the sign of a good decision?®
It’s managing health care costs and your retirement outlook.
Health care costs rank as one of retirees’ biggest financial concerns. But the sooner you plan for this cost, the better you’ll feel about your retirement security. Keep in mind, too, that the chances of …

Ten Questions When Planning for Financial Security

| Published on July 12, 2013

What is the sign of a good decision?®
It’s clarifying what you want to achieve, what you value and how uncertainties affect plans and aspirations – turning plans into action and goals into reality.

Key Considerations for Your Family’s Financial Future

| Published on July 1, 2013

What is the sign of a good decision?®
It’s educating yourself and your children regarding finances to prepare for future financial needs.
In today’s economy, families are facing increasing pressure to provide for their every day needs. It is important for parents to teach children in a way that gives them a …

Whole Life Insurance: An Overlooked Foundation of Business Succession Planning?

| Published on June 17, 2013

Many business owners realize that they will be forced to deal with issues such as business succession at some point, which is why they want to have a plan that’s guaranteed to be there when they need it. The versatility, guarantees, and permanence of whole life insurance can help solve …

By The Numbers: Disability Facts that Might Surprise You

| Published on June 9, 2013

In times like these, good decisions matter. And when it comes to protecting a portion of your income from disability risks, it’s important to base your decision on the facts. In the case of disability, some of those facts might surprise you.
For example, more than one-quarter of today’s 20 year-olds …

Five Financial Success Strategies for Today’s Busy Woman

| Published on May 15, 2013

What is the sign of a good decision?®
It’s preparing for the unexpected to help protect the lifestyle you have worked so hard to achieve. 

Disability Facts that Might Surprise You

| Published on May 7, 2013

In times like these, good decisions matter. And when it comes to protecting a portion of your income from disability risks, it’s important to base your decision on the facts. In the case of disability, some of those facts might surprise you.
For example, more than one-quarter of today’s 20 year-olds …

By The Numbers

| Published on April 26, 2013

What is the sign of a good decision?®
It’s putting what’s important to you first.
Did you realize that your assets owned at death are generally subject to federal and state taxes?
A significant percentage of your estate may go towards tax liabilities. Unless you plan ahead, your legacy becomes open to public …

By The Numbers

| Published on April 1, 2013

1. DROPS HAPPEN – Since the S&P 500 bottomed on 3/09/09, the stock index has gained +130.1% through the close of trading last Friday 3/22/13 (change of the raw index not counting the impact of reinvested dividends).  Even though the index has more than doubled there have been 13 different …

By The Numbers

| Published on March 23, 2013

1. LOOKING BACK – Over the 300 months ending 2/28/13 (i.e., the last 25 years), the S&P 500 has been up 64% of the months and down the other 36% of the months.  The period includes the 2000-02 bear market (down 49%) and the 2007-09 bear market (down 57%).  The …

By The Numbers

| Published on March 8, 2013

1. TWO MONTHS – The S&P 500 gained +6.6% (total return) during the first 2 months of 2013, 67% of the average annual total return achieved over the last 50 calendar years.  The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index of 500 widely held stocks that is generally considered representative of …

How Much Will Health Care Cost in Retirement?

| Published on February 6, 2013

What is the sign of a good decision?®
It’s managing health care costs and your retirement outlook.
Health care costs rank as one of retirees’ biggest financial concerns. But the sooner you plan for this cost, the better you’ll feel about your retirement security. Keep in mind, too, that the chances of …

Help Protect Your Assets

| Published on January 16, 2013

Lawsuits have become increasingly common in our society. From 1951 through 2009, the cost of torts (civil suits) rose at more than double the annual rate of general inflation and even surpassed the annual increase in medical expenses.

What Are Some Smart Ways to Refinance?

| Published on January 10, 2013

Recently, fixed mortgages were near their lowest rates in almost 30 years. And if you are one of the many people who took out mortgages in the few years prior to that, you may be wondering if you should look into refinancing.
If your mortgage was taken out within the past …

Help Protect Your Assets

| Published on November 28, 2012

Lawsuits have become increasingly common in our society. From 1951 through 2009, the cost of torts (civil suits) rose at more than double the annual rate of general inflation and even surpassed the annual increase in medical expenses (see chart).

Investing in Our Future

| Published on August 24, 2012

Parents generally don’t have to be convinced of the value of a college education for their children. Studies show that college graduates not only earn more but are healthier, more satisfied with their jobs, and more likely to remain employed during tough economic times.1

How Does Inflation Affect Me?

| Published on August 5, 2012

Are you saving for retirement? For your children’s education? For any other long-term goal? If so, you’ll want to know about a sometimes subtle, yet very real threat to your savings: inflation.

How Will I Pay Estate Taxes?

| Published on July 26, 2012

Estate taxes. It’s not enough to simply know they exist, and to know strategies to minimize them. When it comes down to it, you need to plan how you and your family will eventuaally pay them.
The Estate Tax Dilemma
Estate taxes are generally due nine months after the date of death. …

How Can I Benefit from Tax-Advantaged Investments??

| Published on June 9, 2012

For many people, tax-advantaged investing is an excellent way to reduce their taxes. And while many of the traditional tax-advantaged strategies have been eliminated, there are still alternatives left that can help you reduce your taxes. Some are described below.
Real Estate Partnerships
Two of the most common types of real estate …

Is a Home Equity Loan Right for Me?

| Published on May 30, 2012

Taxes are becoming an ever-increasing burden to Americans. Through the Tax Reform Act of 1986, Congress reduced or eliminated many of the ways that taxpayers can lower their taxes.
Interest deduction is one of the areas that has been strongly affected by this tax reform legislation. Since tax year 1991, interest …

Will Social Security Retire Before I Do?

| Published on April 13, 2012

People have traditionally seen Social Security benefits as the foundation of their retirement planning programs. The Social Security contributions deducted from your paycheck have, in effect, served as a government-enforced retirement savings plan. However, the Social Security system is under increasing strain. Better health care and longer life spans have …

How Can I Better Manage My Short-Term Cash?

| Published on March 23, 2012

For the vast majority of people, it is essential to keep a portion of their assets in liquid form in order to meet monthly commitments. For example, most families have to meet their mortgage or rent payments, grocery, utility, and transportation bills out of their monthly paychecks. There is a …

1031 Exchanges: Deferring Gains on the Sale of Real Property

| Published on March 8, 2012

For investors who seek to defer capital gains on the sale of investment property, one complex yet effective option is a 1031 exchange (also known as a Starker exchange).
Named after Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code, 1031 exchanges became more popular and accessible after a key ruling by the …

IRA Rollovers: Helping Retirement Savers Defer Taxes, Avoid Penalties

| Published on January 23, 2012

If you participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, you may have concluded that you don’t need a traditional IRA. Many people see the IRA as unnecessary because they don’t exhaust the contribution limits on their employer plans. But don’t be fooled into thinking that an IRA can’t help you reach …

When Investing, Make The Best Use Of Time

| Published on November 24, 2011

When you’re investing for retirement, it’s best to have time on your side. The sooner you begin investing, the more time your retirement fund has to potentially grow.

Choosing The Right Caregiver

| Published on October 14, 2011

As medical science continues to find ways to help Americans live longer, it also requires us to examine some of the challenges of people living longer lives. The biggest, from both an emotional and financial point of view, may be providing ongoing care for a disabled adult.
By the numbers
According to …

Your Kind of Retirement

| Published on September 24, 2011

How do you picture your retirement? Do you envision visiting old friends and traveling to new places? Do you plan to take up a new hobby or pursue an old interest? If you have high hopes for your retirement, you aren’t alone. The retirement script is being rewritten by today’s …

Treating Your Employees Well

| Published on December 29, 2010

You might think that, with currently high unemployment rates, it will be an employer’s market forever. But, you would be wrong. Even today, as unemployment remains stubborn, some industries are having difficulties filling their job openings.
Today, your industry could be in a buy or sell mode as far as attracting …