July 1, 2021

Wishing on a Star: Investors Pour Billions in to SPACs

A SPAC is a special purpose acquisition company. It is typically sponsored by a venture capitalist or a private equity firm that has expertise in a specific sector or industry, such as green technology. A SPAC launches as an IPO, but it is nothing more than a shell company that raises money from investors. Post-IPO, it has a limited amount of time (one to two years) to merge with an existing company, where the capitol is deployed. Once that happens, the private operating company trades publicly under the SPAC name. While SPACs have been around for about 30 years, they’ve only become popular in the past year or so. In fact, this year investors have already poured more than $100 […]
June 1, 2021

Real Estate Opportunities in 2021

Even before the pandemic began, the U.S. residential real estate market was short on houses, with more people looking to buy than those who were selling. And yet, unlike the 2008 recession, any economic woes related to the pandemic did not undercut housing prices. If anything, real estate had a banner year as home prices continued to rise. In April of this year, the median sale price of existing homes rose by 19.1 percent to a record high of $341,600. There are several reasons we haven’t seen a repeat of the housing crisis that we experienced during the Great Recession. Today’s market is different from 2007, when the economic decline was launched by a housing bubble that sent many homeowner […]
May 1, 2021

New Rules and Ways to Use HSAs/FSAs

People who own a high-deductible health insurance plan may have the ability to open a health savings account (HSA). They can contribute pre-tax income to an HSA and invest the money for tax-free growth in a variety of mutual funds, stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The funds may be withdrawn tax-free when used to pay for qualified expenses, such as the plan’s high deductible, copayments and coinsurance. The funds also can be used to purchase a wide range of health-related products. However, a recent poll found that 40 percent of respondents who have access to a health savings account do not fully understand them. Perhaps that is why legislation passed last year that increased eligible uses of HSA funds largely […]
April 1, 2021

Roth Conversion in 2021?

In 2020, a year when all income brackets benefited from lower tax rates, the stock market took a nosedive at the beginning of the pandemic. For investors sharp enough to see the opportunity, this was an ideal time to convert a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA. When you conduct a Roth conversion, the assets are taxed at ordinary income tax rates in the year of the conversion. So, the best time to do this is when your current income tax rate is low and when your IRA account balance loses money due to declining market performance. Once you convert the account to a Roth, those assets continue to grow tax free and are no longer subject to taxes when […]
March 1, 2021

The Impact of COVID on Life Insurance

If someone you know died from COVID-19 and had an existing life insurance policy, there should be no problem receiving the death benefit. The terms of a life insurance contract cannot be changed after purchase, so anyone with a policy before the pandemic will continue to be covered as long as premiums are paid. However, the life insurance industry is in a quandary right now when it comes to new applicants applying for policies. Some insurers have placed an age limit on applicants to whom they will sell policies. Travelers who have recently visited countries with a significant outbreak and people currently infected with the virus are generally asked to wait until after they have quarantined or recovered to apply […]
February 1, 2021

While Many Suffer Financially, Some Manage to Profit off Pandemic

The Federal Reserve recently reported that the 50 richest people in the United States increased their net worth by $339 billion during the first half of 2020. There are two primary contributors to this near-unprecedented level of growth. The first is that many either owned or were heavily invested in tech companies that thrived during the pandemic. Increased technology demands for remote work, online shopping, streaming entertainment, and socially-distanced socializing created a lucrative COVID-19 economy in some sectors. Another reason is that the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve proactively infused the economy with stimulus capital. That helped mitigate long-term market disruption that might have otherwise occurred. The short explanation of how to leverage assets for greater wealth during a pandemic […]
January 1, 2021

What To Know About Filing For Bankruptcy

About one million Americans file for personal bankruptcy each year, with one in 10 households having filed at some point. Given the loss of jobs, reduced income, and the coronavirus recession in 2020, those numbers could increase this year if the economic recovery is not both swift and omnipresent. There are two main types of personal bankruptcy: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7, which is the more common option, will liquidate the filer’s assets in order to discharge all or a portion of the outstanding debt. People generally choose this route because they are in way over their heads and do not earn enough income to pay their debts in any type of normal time frame. Chapter 13, on […]
January 1, 2020

Economic Correlation: Cyclical and Non-Cyclical Stocks

A rising tide might lift all boats, but the same cannot be said for the economy. When the U.S. experiences robust economic growth, certain sectors of the stock market tend to rise while others hold steady or even decline by comparison. The stocks of companies that experience higher revenues are typically categorized as cyclical. In other words, their good fortune rests mainly on consumers being gainfully employed and having ample discretionary income with which to buy more goods and services. Take, for example, auto manufacturers. Sales typically increase when more people can afford to buy a new car. But that’s not all the time, because the economy is cyclical – it ebbs and flows over time. Therefore, companies that produce […]
December 1, 2019

Gross Domestic Product: A Primer

The economic indicator known as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) represents the dollar value of all purchased goods and services over the course of one year. It is comprised of purchases from all private and public consumption, including for profit, nonprofit and government sectors. There are four components that are added to calculate the GDP: Consumer spending Government spending Investment spending (this includes business, inventory, residential construction and public investment),   Net exports, meaning the value of goods exported minus the value of goods imported The government calculates and publishes the GDP rate on a quarterly basis and for the entire year. What Affects GDP? There are different ways GDP is measured. For example, nominal GDP refers to a straight calculation of […]
November 1, 2019

What to Expect and How to Prepare for a Recession

Economists generally determine that the country has fallen into a recession after two consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product (GDP) growth. Since 1967, the United States has experienced seven recessions. The thing is, predicting a recession is a little like predicting a tornado. Experts are never exactly sure if or when one will occur, but they can cite when conditions a ripe for one based past experience. The good news for predictors is that the economy follows a similar pattern of indicators in the months leading up to a recession. The bad news is that many those indicators have recently emerged. For example: Inverted Yield Curve – This is when the yield on longer-term Treasury bonds is lower than […]
October 1, 2019

How to Inflation-Proof a Retirement Portfolio

Statistics indicate that the average life expectancy is longer than it used to be, but empirically we see this every day among elderly people who have lived much longer than they probably expected. This phenomenon spotlights a particular component of retirement planning that was not as significant in the past as it is now: long-term inflation. While we’ve not experienced annual inflation rates this century as high as the latter part of the 20th century, inflation can balloon at any time. But what can be even more devastating to a retiree on a fixed income is cumulative inflation over time. It’s also important to recognize that specific consumer product inflation rates can differ substantially from the averages. For example, according […]
September 1, 2019

Lost Inheritance: How To Find a Deceased Parent’s Assets

If you have a relative who recently died and left you in charge of his or her finances, you are not alone. You probably have colleagues at work in the same boat. A neighbor or two (or 10) and even your millennial yoga teacher might very well be working through a quagmire of wills, probates and assets nobody can find. You are definitely not the only one. The internet has made it much easier to keep track of our checking, savings and investment accounts. But the elder generation generally missed out on the convenience of dashboard consolidation and app trackers. What most of them leave behind are file cabinets full of bank statements and old bills, bookshelves of file folders […]
August 1, 2019

Proposed Changes For Retirement Plans

Laws regarding retirement savings plans don’t change all that often or all that much. Occasionally, new regulations are issued mandating disclosures that no one ever reads – and inflation-adjusted contribution limits tend to inch up each year. However, there is one phenomenon that has been increasing over the past decade, and Congress is finally starting to address it. This phenomenon is that retirees are living much longer than in the past. According to Olivia Mitchell, Wharton professor of business economics and public policy, demographers have reported that the baby who will live to be 200 has already been born. Because few people plan on 40 years (or more) in retirement, increasing numbers of retirees rely solely on Social Security benefits […]
July 1, 2019

Financial Tips for Recent College Graduates

Members of the college graduating class of 2017 owed an average of close to $30,000 each in student loan debt. Imagine starting out adult life with that kind of debt load? The prevalence of this type of mounting debt for a 21- or 22-year-old is unprecedented in U.S. history – and all the more reason why young adults need sound financial advice. Financial advisors might not necessarily market to this demographic; instead, waiting until they’re older and have assets worth their while. However, if today’s young adults don’t get off on the right financial footing with regard to managing debt, saving, budgeting and investing for the future, there won’t be that many in need of financial advice once they hit […]
June 1, 2019

Social Security: News, Tips and Trends

There are a number of threats that both retirees and pre-retirees are facing right now when it comes to drawing Social Security benefits. For example, there’s a new scam this year. Seniors are being solicited by callers who claim to be with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The caller says he regrets to inform that the elderly person’s Social Security payments have been suspended. The caller says it’s either because the beneficiary has been involved in a crime or there has been suspicious activity related to their benefit. Here’s the interesting part: the caller then requests that the senior repay a certain amount of his benefit to Social Security by gift card. The scammer is then able to use this […]
May 1, 2019

Coverage and Tax Considerations For Work-Sponsored Life Insurance

While employers have cut back on pensions and their 401(k) plans do not offer the same level of retirement income security, they have stepped up in the area of life insurance. The majority of Americans (68 percent) have a life insurance policy through their employer. In fact, more people get it through work rather than purchasing a policy on the market for the first time in history. Most employers offer term life insurance typically at a coverage rate of anywhere from one to three times a worker’s annual salary. Term life policies lock in a fixed rate for a specific period of time, usually from 10 to 30 years. One of the biggest perks of getting life insurance through work […]
April 1, 2019

Elderly Caregiver Facts and Figures

These days, people who live to age 65 can expect to live at least another 20 years. That means many are likely to require some form of assisted caregiving. According to aging experts, the following guidelines describe characteristics of those most likely to need long-term care: Age – Risk increases as people get older Gender – Women are at higher risk because they tend to live longer than men Marital status – Single people are less likely to have family resources and will therefore need to pay for caregivers Lifestyle – People who do not eat a healthy diet and exercise are more likely to have debilitating health conditions Family history – People with compromised genetics are at higher risk […]
March 1, 2019

8 Strategies To Reduce Market Exposure

Over a 10-day period in December 2018, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) dropped by more than 350 points six different times. It then experienced its largest increase on record – a 1,000-point gain in one day. This dramatic volatility fueled speculation that we are on track for a long overdue market correction in the near future. Most investment advisors discourage long-term investors from engaging in market timing, which is the strategy of buying and selling based on market movement. The general consensus is that no one can accurately predict upswings and downturns, and history shows that staying invested over the long haul is generally the best strategy. However, there are scenarios in which investors might wish to reconsider their […]
February 1, 2019

New Proposals for Government Programs

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act delivered a wealth of benefits for taxpayers at every income level, but none more so than for the very rich. The net result of huge tax breaks for both high-income and corporate taxpayers is that the government now has much reduced tax revenues coming in to help pay for government programs. It comes as no surprise then that prior to the November 2018 midterm elections, Republican leaders in Congress were calling for cuts to government “entitlement” programs, such as Medicare and Social Security. While the word “entitlement” has adopted a negative connotation, it is an accurate description of these programs. In other words, workers pay into the Medicare and Social Security systems through an […]
January 1, 2019

What Leading Economic Indicators Tell Us

One of the reasons investing is tricky is because it involves so many factors that we cannot control. One factor is the specific investment itself. In the case of a stock, the share price relies on company management and leadership; manufacturing, marketing and distribution; and balancing expenses with revenues. Another factor is investor and market sentiment, which can change on a dime based on economic uncertainty, the day’s news or a presidential tweet. Then there’s a third component, which encompasses broader economic events and how they impact investment market fundamentals and the business life cycle. One way we monitor the economy and try to predict market cycles is through economic indicators. These are trackable data points that economists use to […]
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