January 1, 2023

No-Heir Estate Planning

Even if you have no heirs, you should have an estate plan. Otherwise, the state will determine the fate of your worldly possessions. In fact, if you pass away “intestate” (without a will), the state can even keep all of your assets for itself – if no heirs are found. The most basic tenet of no-heir estate planning is to write a will. Every state has different rules about what constitutes a legally enforceable will, so be sure to check out your state’s guidelines. If you move, you’ll need to update your will according to the state you live in when you pass away. In yourwill, direct who receives which of your assets. There is no edict that says you […]
December 1, 2022

Retirement Tax Planning For 2023

Although you might get busy with the holiday season, don’t forget to consider ways to strengthen tax efficiencies for 2023 and beyond. 2023 Retirement Contribution Increases Set up your accounts to automatically defer money to meet the new increases in retirement contributions next year. In 2023, you can defer up to $22,500 in a 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans and the government’s Thrift Savings Plan. Plan participants who are age 50 and older may defer up to $30,000 next year. Furthermore, the combined 2023 limit for Traditional and Roth IRAs is $6,500, or $7,500 if you’re age 50 or older. If you are a business owner with a solo 401(k) plan, you may make an additional employer contribution of up […]
November 1, 2022

Do You Have an Investment Exit Strategy?

Are you a trader or an investor? The difference is frequently discerned by how closely you monitor the stock market and how quickly you move in and out of investments. Traders are often referred to as market timers because they actively seek to buy into positions when share prices drop, and sell out when those prices rise. Many financial planners and professional money managers are not strong proponents of market timing. The reality is that no one can predict market movements accurately over the long term, so success is often a matter of luck and opportunity. However, market timing is not the same as having a carefully structured and disciplined investment exit strategy. One reason this is important is that […]
October 1, 2022

Recent Trends in Long Term Care Insurance

Long term care (LTC) is associated with the elderly for good reason. Over the past 50 years, life expectancy has increased significantly and is therefore something all families should be prepared to address. Even though we may live to a ripe old age, that doesn’t mean we will be healthy or able to live independently. Most people develop one or more chronic conditions that require living assistance – and many live with that ailment for years. Conditions such as arthritis, joint and muscle deterioration, or back pain often lead to chronic disability, making it difficult to impossible to take care of your own physical and lifestyle needs. Among even healthy seniors, about half of people age 80 and older experience […]
September 1, 2022

Should You Upgrade Your Homeowners Insurance?

During the first year of the pandemic, many homeowners spent their down time upgrading their homes. The year 2020 alone experienced at 3 percent uptick in spending on home improvements – to the tune of nearly $420 billion nationwide. This included modifications for remote work, online schooling and leisure activities at home. Between remodeling, high inflation and today’s elevated real estate prices, it’s important to review your homeowner’s insurance policy to ensure it’s up-to-date. Does it include enough coverage for recent upgrades to your home? Does it carry an inflation factor to ensure coverage is on par with more expensive building material costs and labor increases? Do you have coverage for ancillary factors, such as the cost of meeting local […]
August 1, 2022

Stock Splits, Explained

Imagine selling slices of a large pizza. You can cut it into four even slices and charge $2 a slice. Or, you can cut it into eight even slices and charge $1 per slice. Either way, the total value of the pizza will still be $8. That’s what happens when a stock splits. Let’s say a stock’s market price is $100. With a 2-for-1 split, each current owner receives one additional share for each share he owns. Now, each share is worth $50. If you had one share to start, you now have two, but the total value of the investment remains $100. A stock split differs from when a company decides to issue new shares, wherein new shares flooding […]
July 1, 2022

Building Wealth Through Home Equity

Often the first house a person buys is an affordable condominium, townhouse or older single-family dwelling, also referred to as a “starter home.” It might be small and lack features they dream about, from new appliances in the kitchen, to dual sinks in the bath, to a large yard or a garage. However, the key to a starter home is not to acquire your dream house, it is to build equity that you can eventually deploy to buy your dream home. It’s important not to wait until you have enough money for the ideal property. Start as early as you can and buy something affordable to get your foot in the door of homeownership. Interest Rates and Maintenance Expenses Buying […]
June 1, 2022

How Social Security Benefits Are Affected by Earned Income

Thanks to the Great Resignation trend over the past year, there is a high availability of jobs. Therefore, now is a good time for retirees who would like to go back to work to ease into the job market. However, if you’ve already begun drawing Social Security benefits, you should understand how earning income will affect those payouts. First of all, you have two options if you’d like to stop receiving Social Security. One option is available only if you’ve been drawing benefits for a year or less. In this case, you may cancel your application; but be aware that you must repay all the benefits that you and your family have received to date. That includes spousal benefits and […]
May 1, 2022

New Required Minimum Distribution Rules for 2022

Starting in 2020, new legislation increased the age to begin Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from 70½ to 72. More recently, the IRS updated the Uniform Life Table for alignment with longer life expectancies. Note that it takes years for actuaries to work up new data for this table, and the recent changes do not reflect the downturn in life expectancies resulting from the pandemic. These updates were established pre-pandemic and scheduled to take effect in 2022. The good news is that retirees who prefer not to withdraw from their retirement portfolios now have a couple more years of growth opportunity before they are forced to take distributions. Because retirement portfolios fluctuate based on market performance, and your life expectancy changes […]
April 1, 2022

Give a College Savings 529 Plan For Graduation

If you really want to make impact in your new grad’s life, make an investment in his or her future with a 529 College Savings account. There are two versions: an investment account and a prepaid account. Assuming you are opening an account now and don’t have time for investment growth, you may need to fund it with a significant chunk of money for it to be useful. The savings plan is good for building an investment balance over time, including while the student is in college. On the other hand, the prepaid option is a good way to reinvest a windfall – such as an inheritance or proceeds from the sale of property. A 529 College Savings Plan allows […]
March 1, 2022

How To Maximize the Potential of Your 401(k) Plan

One of the easiest ways to save for retirement is to participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan. You simply select a percentage of your paycheck that you would like transferred to your 401(k) (or similar) account. Not only does your employer make the transfer for you, but it comes out of your paycheck before income taxes are taken out. This way, you avoid paying taxes on that income from each paycheck, and those taxes are not due until you withdraw the money from your retirement plan. This usually happens once people retire and enter a lower tax bracket. That’s the simple beauty of investing in a 401(k) plan. However, with a little more effort, you can do a better job […]
February 1, 2022

Create a Healthcare Plan for Retirement

If you pay $250 a month for cable and premium channels, that’s $3,000 a year. Over a 30-year period, the total cost would be $90,000. We don’t tend to think about how much we pay in regular expenses over the long term. However, that’s how various industry analysts report the cost of healthcare during retirement. Recent estimates for a retiring 65-year-old couple fall between $300,000 and $400,000 to cover healthcare expenses in retirement. At first glance, that’s an intimidating number and implies that pre-retirees need to have this much saved by the time they retire. Fortunately, when you break down the numbers, that’s not the case. First of all, that estimate includes premiums for Medicare with prescription drug coverage, which […]
January 1, 2022

Long-Term Investment Opportunities Presented by the Infrastructure Bill

In November, President Biden signed legislative funding that represents the largest transportation spending package in U.S. history. The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act authorized funding for roads, highways, bridges, public transit systems, utility systems, electrical grids, energy projects and broadband infrastructure. Because the funding extends over a five-year period, it should not have a major effect on the fiscal deficit. This is not only good news for taxpayers, but also investors. Those long-term investments offer the potential for shareholders to get in on the ground floor of reliable and well-capitalized government projects by hundreds of American companies poised to get the business. The new bill is expected to enhance productivity, innovation, improve labor force participation and have a […]
December 1, 2021

Venture Capitalism and ‘Unicorns’

Venture capitalism comes from an investor who offers money to start-up companies in exchange for an equity stake – much like you see on the ABC television show, Shark Tank. As a general rule, a venture capitalist (VC) invests after the new venture is up and running and looking for additional capital to further commercialize its product. Once a privately held enterprise reaches a value of $1 billion, it is referred to as a “Unicorn.” This is because new start-ups that reach this level of success are so rare that they are considered comparable to the mythical creature. What is interesting these days is that the current labor market is so disruptive that we are seeing more start-ups, and this […]
November 1, 2021

Flood Insurance: Insuring Your Home

Did you know that homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flood damage? Because of this, homes located in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) are required by lenders to purchase a separate flood insurance policy. However, there are millions of homes at risk that also experience periodic flooding but are not located in the most hazardous zones. Regardless, any homeowner can purchase flood insurance and the good news is that, for some, rates will be reduced this year. Starting on Oct. 1, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) launched a new program called Risk Rating 2.0. This program is designed to encourage communities throughout the country to deploy measures that help mitigate potential damage due to flooding. The lower the risk resulting […]
October 1, 2021

Strategies for Paying Off Student Loans

Today, 70 percent of college students graduate with an average of $30,000 in student loan debt. The average payment is nearly $400 a month and will take about 20 years to pay off. On an individual level, paying off high debt can delay hopes of saving to buy a house, start a family, launch a business or invest for retirement. On a broader level, the national burden of student debt could impact America’s economic future. When young adults are unable to afford home ownership, that reduces spending on all types of consumer products that accompany home buying. It also reduces property taxes used to support local resources and reduces the insurance pool of property owners used to help repair and […]
September 1, 2021

What is a Net Zero Economy?

President Biden re-entered the United States in the Paris Agreement. This is an international treaty first signed in 2015 in which countries around the globe committed to mitigating climate change. Specifically, the goal of the Paris Accord is to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This objective would generate what is called a net zero global economy, which means creating a balance between the amount of greenhouse gases produced and the amount of greenhouse gasses removed from the atmosphere. The main engine that places carbon back into the soil is healthy vegetation that grows all years round, these are called cover crops and reforestation. You can help by using the Ecosia search engine.  […]
August 1, 2021

HSA: Save it for Retirement

According to Fidelity Investments, the average 65-year-old couple retiring today will need about $300,000 for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses during retirement. And that doesn’t even include long-term care. One way to help pay for this enormous cost is to open a health savings account (HSA), which is a savings and investment vehicle designed to help people pay for medical-related expenses on a tax-free basis. To open one of these accounts, you must be enrolled in an HSA-eligible, high-deductible health insurance plan (HDHP). These are offered by many employers and also are available on the individual insurance market. One of the little-known advantages of the HSA is that if you delay withdrawing from it until retirement, you’ll have money ready to tap […]
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 […]
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