Financial Focus

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IRS filing season will start right on time in 2015, and there is wisdom in filing your 1040 well before April 15. You can...

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In the future, will you become wealthier or poorer? Who knows, right? It seems like you would need a crystal ball to really answer...

210

Where does your money go? If you find yourself asking that question from time to time, it may relate to cash flow within your...

575

Social Security benefits are increasing 1.7% in 2015. This marks the fourth straight yearly cost-of-living adjustment, following a 1.5% COLA for 2014.1  The average monthly...

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Do you contribute to a qualified retirement plan at work, such as a 401(k), 403(b) or 457 plan? Does your account have a large...

347

2015 is less than two months away. Fall is the time when investors look for ways to lower their taxes and make some financial...

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Estate planning is a task that people tend to put off, as any discussion of “the end” tends to be off-putting. However, those who...

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The clock is ticking. Between now and April 30, 2016, 100% of 401(k) plans, profit sharing plans, and other tax-qualified plans that use an IRS-approved prototype plan document must be amended and restated.1 If this doesn’t occur by the above deadline, these retirement plans risk losing their tax-qualified status and the corresponding tax advantages they offer to plan participants. Any amendments to the current plan document must be incorporated into a fresh “core” document.1,2 Here’s your chance to refine your plan – to possibly lower its costs, to get more out of it. A little analysis from a consultant (and perhaps a little surveying of your plan participants) may allow you to answer some crucial questions.

399

Perhaps many of us want to save but can’t due to financial pressures. Perhaps the economic rebound is encouraging personal consumption over saving. Whatever the reason, Americans on the whole don’t seem to be saving very much. That’s the status quo; going against it might help you build wealth a little more easily.

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A first-world problem, and nothing more? Not quite. Getting rich quick can be liberating, but it can also be frustrating. Sudden wealth can help you resolve anxieties about funding your retirement or your children’s college educations, and newfound financial freedom can lead to time freedom – greater opportunity to live and work on your terms. On the other hand, you’ll pay more taxes, attract more attention and maybe even contend with jealousy or envy from certain friends and relatives. You may deal with grief or stress, as a lump sum may be linked to a death, a divorce or a pension payout decision.

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The stock market may be up and down this year, but America’s economic recovery seems to be proceeding at a decent pace. Anyone who...

304

Anyone with a foot in the markets must recognize systemic risk – the potential that many or all market sectors may be riled by shocks such as a geopolitical crisis, an act of terrorism, a recession or a natural disaster. How do you cope with that?

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TOD, JTWROS...what do these obscure acronyms signify? They are shorthand for transfer on death and joint tenancy with right of ownership – two designations that permit automatic transfer of bank or investment accounts from a deceased spouse to a surviving spouse.

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Will you live to be 100? If you’re a woman, your odds of becoming a centenarian are seemingly better than those of men. In...

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When turbulence hits Wall Street, are you stressed out? If you have taken on too much risk in your portfolio – which can happen...

442

What was once allowed is now prohibited. In 2008, an affluent New York City couple made a series of withdrawals and transfers among contributory...

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When was the last time you looked at your life insurance coverage? Why not do it now? Life insurance can be a remarkable utility...

543

Just what is an RMD? After you turn 70½, the IRS requires you to withdraw some of the money in most retirement savings accounts...

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In 1994, a financial advisor named Bill Bengen published research articulating the “4% rule”, which became a landmark of retirement planning. The 4% rule...

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Our parents & grandparents saved much more than we do. Most people who have read up on the economy for any length of time...

478

Now or later? When it comes to the question of Social Security income, the choice looms large. Should you apply now to get earlier...

336

Stocks rise, fall ... and rise again. Volatility certainly came back to Wall Street during the first several weeks of 2014 in the form...

485

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...

186

Location, location, location ... It matters when it comes to real estate, and it also matters when it comes to the way you hold...

185

A little phrase that may mean a big difference. When you read about investing and other financial topics, you occasionally see the phrase “tax...

173

Is a tax refund coming your way? If you have already received your refund for the 2013 tax year or are about to receive...

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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...

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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...

143

Why do some people let their potential for lifetime wealth slip away? Some people are better off economically at 30 or 40 than they...

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Many are the stories of family wealth lost. In the late 19th century, industrial tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt amassed the equivalent of $100 billion in...

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Some people start saving for retirement at 20, 25, or 30. Others start later, and while their accumulated assets will have fewer years of...

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Little things matter. When planning for retirement, people naturally think about the big things – arranging sufficient income, amassing enough savings, investing so that...

168

Will the economy & the bull market make further strides next year? On both Wall Street and Main Street, 2013 has turned out better...

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In financial terms, 2013 has been a very nice year – a year in which the economy, the housing and business sectors and the...

142

Before retirement begins, gather what you need. Put as much documentation as you can in one place, for you and those you love. It...

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In times like these, good decisions matter. And when you have a need for life insurance, you should consider whole life and its flexibility....

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Many business owners realize that they will be forced to deal with issues such as business succession at some point, which is why they...

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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...

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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.  Women...

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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...

142

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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Lawsuits have become increasingly common in our society. From 1951 through 2009, the cost of torts (civil suits) rose at more than double the...

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Recently, fixed mortgages were near their lowest rates in almost 30 years. And if you are one of the many people who took out...