Global vs. International: What's the Difference
With international stock markets comprising about 45.5 percent of the world’s capitalization, a broad range of investment opportunities exist outside the borders of the U.S.1 For investors who are looking to diversify their...Read More
Choices for Your 401(k) at a Former Employer
One of the common threads of a mobile workforce is that many individuals who leave their job are faced with a decision about what to do with their 401(k) account.1 Individuals have three basic choices with the 401(k) account they...Read More
Required Reading: The Economic Report of the President
In January, the White House released its 533-page book, “Economic Report of the President (2021).” If you haven’t yet made time to peruse this weighty tome, don’t beat yourself up. Most people don’t take...Read More
Insuring Your Business Against Cyber Liability
One study found that 43% of cyber attacks target small business, and 60% of small companies go out of business within six months of a cyber attack.¹ Business owners are also required to protect their customers’ personal...Read More
Rebalancing Your Portfolio
Everyone loves a winner. If an investment is successful, most people naturally want to stick with it. But is that the best approach? It may sound counterintuitive, but it may be possible to have too much of a good thing. Over time, the...Read More
5 Highlights of the New Stimulus Package
After a bit of political posturing in December, the $900 billion Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (2021 CAA) was signed into law by President Trump as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact employers and employees....Read More
Long-Term Rates Are Creeping Higher
With all the election chatter and stock market volatility, it may have been easy to miss the ongoing uptrend in long-term interest rates. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond is sitting just below 1%. Just a few short months ago,...Read More
The A, B, C, & D of Medicare
Breaking down the basics. Whether your 65th birthday is on the horizon or decades away, understanding the different parts of Medicare is critical, as this government-sponsored program may play a role in your future health care...Read More
Expectations vs. Reality Predicting exactly what your retirement will be like is about as possible as a meteorologist predicting the weather correctly every single time. In fact, few retirees find their financial futures playing out...Read More
Understanding Long-Term Care
Understanding Long-Term Care Addressing the potential threat of long-term care expenses may be one of the biggest financial challenges for individuals who are developing a retirement strategy. The U.S. Department of Health and Human...Read More
Facing Possible Unemployment? Take These Steps to Prepare
If you’re facing unemployment or concerned about the possibility of upcoming layoffs, there are some small, proactive steps you can take now to help make this difficult time more manageable. Build Your Network. It’s...Read More
Lesser Known Provisions of the SECURE Act
The SECURE Act passed into law in late 2019 and changed several aspects of retirement investing. These modifications included modifying the ability to stretch an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and changing the age when IRA holders...Read More
A DECISION NOT MADE IS STILL A DECISION
Whether through inertia or trepidation, investors who put off important investment decisions might consider the admonition offered by motivational speaker Brian Tracy, “Almost any decision is better than no decision at all...Read More
YOUR EMERGENCY FUND: HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?
YOUR EMERGENCY FUND: HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? Have you ever had one of those months? The water heater stops heating, the dishwasher stops washing, and your family ends up on a first-name basis with the nurse at urgent care. Then, as...Read More
FILING FINAL TAX RETURNS FOR THE DECEASED
When a family member passes away, there are many decisions that need to be made and many emotions to handle. The last thing anyone thinks about is taxes. Unfortunately, even the deceased can’t escape taxation. If the departed...Read More
INSURING YOUR BUSINESS AGAINST CYBER LIABILITY
One study found that 43% of cyber attacks target small business, and 60% of small companies go out of business within six months of a cyber attack.¹ Business owners are also required to protect their customers’ personal...Read More
“DIRTY DOZEN” TAX SCAMS TO WATCH FOR
Every year the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) releases its list of tax scams, spotlighting the myriad ways that people try to separate you from your money.¹ The “Dirty Dozen” Identity Theft Using your personal...Read More
A Bucket Plan To Go With Your Bucket List
John and Mary are nearing retirement and they have a lot of items on their bucket list. Longer life expectancies mean John and Mary may need to prepare for two or even three decades of retirement. How should they position their money?1...Read More
The Cost of Procrastination
Some of us share a common experience. You’re driving along when a police cruiser pulls up behind you with its lights flashing. You pull over, the officer gets out, and your heart drops. “Are you aware the registration on...Read More
Six Most Overlooked Tax Deductions
Who among us wants to pay the IRS more taxes than we have to?1 While few may raise their hands, Americans regularly overpay because they fail to take tax deductions for which they are eligible. Let’s take a quick look at the six...Read More
Your Changing Definition of Risk in Retirement
During your accumulation years, you may have categorized your risk as “conservative,” “moderate,” or “aggressive” and that guided how your portfolio was built. Maybe you concerned yourself with...Read More
What You Should Know About The Secure Act
As you may have heard, the SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up For Retirement Enhancement Act), was signed into law by President Trump on December 20th, 2019. This law, which took effect on January 1st, is the most extensive...Read More
Cashing Out on Bad Spending Habits
Cashing Out on Bad Spending Habits Four tips to help keep you from overspending Do you find yourself looking out at your porch more often, wondering when your next Amazon package will arrive? Do you leave the grocery store with a...Read More
Brush up on IRA Facts
IRAs are one of the most popular retirement savings vehicles in use today. If you own an IRA, be sure you are familiar with all the latest rules governing them, including contribution limits, tax deductibility rules, and distribution...Read More
Income Inequality and Its Impact on Women's Retirement
Here are the facts. Generally speaking, women earn less than men, live longer than men, and often take time out of the workforce to have children and/or to care for an aging parent or sick loved one. The potential consequence of these...Read More
Tax Benefits of making a QCD
At the end of 2015, Congress permanently extended the rule allowing taxpayers to exclude from taxable income certain individual retirement account (IRA) distributions made directly to a qualified charity. Otherwise known as qualified...Read More
401(k) Decisions -- You Can Take It With You
If you are preparing to change jobs, do you know what your choices are for managing the money in your current employer's retirement plan? Although many people choose to take a cash distribution, there are other options that may benefit...Read More
Marriage and Money: Finding a Happy Balance
Marriage affects your finances in many ways, including your ability to build wealth, plan for retirement, plan your estate, and capitalizeon tax and insurance-related benefits. Here are some considerations to keep in mind if you are...Read More
Retirement in Motion - 2019 Q2
Retirement in Motion - Tips and resources that everyone can use First-time Home Buyers Rely More on Family for Mortgage Help The way that people are financing their first home purchase is changing. More than 26% of mortgage borrowers...Read More
Growth vs. Value: Two Approaches to Stock Selection
Growth and value are two fundamental approaches in stock and stock mutual fund investing. Growth stock mutual fund managers look for companies that they believe offer strong earnings growth potential. Value fund managers look for...Read More
Traditional Accounts Continue Sharing the Stage with Roth Accounts
As employers continue looking for ways to help employees retire securely, the Roth account has become a regular plan feature. In the five years starting in 2014, in fact, inclusion of a Roth account feature had increased 18.1%, so that...Read More
Divorce and your Finances
Divorce can be a complicated and challenging process in which details are easily overlooked. Protecting your financial health during this time is crucial, and no one should enter this process without a trusted attorney (specializing in...Read More
Squeeze Play: Gen X'ers Especially Feel the Pinch
Saving for retirement can challenge the best of us. For one group of employees, the challenge seems particularly daunting. Your mid-career colleagues, those between 36 and 56 years of age, may sometimes feel the odds are stacked...Read More
Beyond Retirement: What About Your Other Goals?
Let's say that at the age of 25, you earned $35,000. If your salary increased at the average historical rate, you'd have earned nearly $2 million in total by the time you were 65.1,2 That might sound like a lot -- until you begin...Read More
Delaying Retirement May Provide the Financial Boost You Need
Americans are living longer, healthier lives, and this trend is affecting how they think about and plan for retirement. For instance, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, the age at which workers expect to retire has...Read More
Balancing Act: Income, Expenses and Withdrawals
In projecting what you’ll need to save in order to generate enough retirement income, it helps to (1) prepare a realistic household budget and (2) understand what types of expenses you’ll have once you stop earning a...Read More
Maintain a Good Credit Rating
Today’s American way of financial life relies on debt as a way of solidifying a desired lifestyle. Therefore, it is important to establish a good credit history if you intend on making more substantial, debt-financed purchases in...Read More
Financial Wellness: Controlling Credit Card Debt
You know it's important to maintain your physical health. But did you know it's just as important to pay attention to your financial health? When your finances are under control, you are likely to reduce stress and are better able to...Read More
Financial Wellness: Establishing an Emergency Fund
First the car broke down, then the dishwasher stopped working, and now the dog is sick. Sometimes the old proverb, "It never rains but it pours," seems to ring a little too true. When you need money to pay large, unexpected bills,...Read More
Five Strategies for Tax-Efficient Investing
As just about every investor knows, it's not what your investments earn, but what they earn after taxes that counts. After factoring in federal income and capital gains taxes, the alternative minimum tax, and any applicable state and...Read More
Evaluating Professional Advice: 11 Answers You Need Before Committing
Obtaining professional advice is a significant step and should not be approached lightly. As with investors and their objectives and constraints, professional advisors also differ in their philosophy, processes, services, education,...Read More
Good Window of Opportunity for Roth IRA Conversions
Good Window of Opportunity for Roth IRA Conversions The Roth IRA is a powerful tax-favored retirement option since it can offer a hedge against future tax-rate increases. But beyond tax planning considerations, Roth IRAs have several...Read More
When Cash is King
When Cash is King Retirement planning is not all about investment growth and asset allocation. Cash is an often overlooked, yet essential way to stabilize your income, improve your ability to handle unanticipated expenses, and to...Read More
The Financial Fitness Challenge: Tips for Strengthening Your Financial Health
Diet books. Fitness apps. Live-streamed exercise classes. They all tell you the same thing: Maintaining good physical health requires discipline and adherence to a few simple habits, such as eating wisely, getting enough sleep, and...Read More
Spring Clean Your Finances
Spring-Clean Your Finances: 10 Tips to Boost Savings -- Find areas in your budget that you may be able to live without. Here are 10 quick and easy ideas for generating an extra $250 a month that can be used to pay down debt or redirect...Read More
Build a Solid Financial Foundation
Creating a solid financial foundation can help investors stay focused no matter how the markets are performing. When the markets and the economy are behaving badly, as they tend to do from time to time, it's easy to feel helpless. But...Read More
Protect Your Assets With a Trust
Contrary to what many people think, trusts are not reserved only for the wealthy. The truth is, people from all walks of life may benefit from a trust. What Is a Trust? Generally speaking, a trust is a legal entity that allows someone...Read More
How Do I Pay for Health Care Costs While Living or Traveling Abroad?
Generally speaking, public and private health insurance plans in the United States -- including Medicare and most private policies -- only pay for treatment and services provided to individuals while they are in this country. Therefore...Read More
Buying Life Insurance: What Kind and How Much?
Conventional wisdom says that life insurance is sold, not purchased. In other words, some people are reluctant to discuss the importance of owning life insurance, and others are simply unaware of the need to have life insurance....Read More
Analyzing a Company's Stock
What makes a company a good investment? Investment professionals consider several factors when they're selecting companies to include in a stock portfolio. Here are some of the criteria they're likely to use. A Company's Finances A...Read More
Children and Wealth: Important Lessons Start Early
Wealth can be a mixed blessing -- one that creates great opportunity as well as weighty responsibility -- especially for children. As a parent, grandparent, or concerned relative, you hope to pass on what you have learned about...Read More
Are You Financially Fit?
If you don't have a financial plan, that question may be hard to answer. To achieve financial wellness, you need to define your goals and set a time frame for reaching them. The following steps can help you take control of your...Read More
Women and Financial Planning - the Secret of Success
Financial planning is more than just a good idea. Research has consistently shown that people who have financial plans -- and who work with financial advisors -- save and invest far more and are nearly twice as likely to feel on track...Read More
Retirement in Motion - 2019 Q1
Put your retirement in motion with these tips and resources everyone can use. Healthcare takes a bigger share of Social Security benefits as you age. Many people expect that they will be able to live on less income in retirement. Some...Read More
The Stock Market Drops. Now What?
In October 2018, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, a widely followed measure of stock-price performance of 30 of the largest U.S. companies, dropped 1,380 points in just two days. While that sounds scary, it was just a 5% move, taking...Read More
The Basics of Long-Term Care Insurance
Thinking about the need and the costs of long-term care is enough to make anyone uncomfortable. But while it's a difficult subject to talk about, it's also a topic that often generates lots of questions and misunderstanding. Consider...Read More
Consider a Charitable IRA Gift
Wondering what to do with your annual IRA Required Minimum Distribution? If you can live without the income (and taxes) that a large Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) generates, think about taking a Qualified Charitable Distribution...Read More
Plan Ahead to Ease Travel Headaches
Waiting in a winding airport security checkpoint line is just one of many potential headaches today's travelers experience. Worrying about what to pack, what kind of identification is required, and how much cash to bring are yet others...Read More
What's the Best Way to Give Money to Children and Grandchildren?
There are several ways you might consider gifting money to your loved ones. In 2018, the IRS allows you to give up to $15,000 annually (or $30,000 if you give jointly with your spouse) in cash, investments, and/or property to each of...Read More
Surviving the Holiday Season Debt Free
As the traditional giving season approaches, there is one important item to add to your to do list: Create a holiday budget. Before the gift shopping and wrapping begins, take control of your wallet through financial preparation....Read More
Four Weeks to a Better Holiday Budget
You can see it just ahead, looming on the horizon -- the holiday season. While children can hardly stand the wait, adults often wish they had a few more months before its arrival. Unfortunately, time does not stop. This year, don't...Read More
Estate Planning Checklist
Because you've worked hard to create a secure and comfortable lifestyle for your family and loved ones, you'll want to ensure that you have a sound financial plan that includes trust and estate planning. With some forethought, you may...Read More
The Downside of DIY Wills
Don’t Discount Your Will. A self-created last will and testament may lead to problems. As an early step in estate planning, you may be tempted to write your own will. There are some good reasons why you shouldn’t. While...Read More
How and When Do I Sign Up For Medicare?
In most instances, you become eligible for Medicare on the first day of the month you turn age 65. Whether you need to sign up, and how to go about doing so, depends on the type of coverage you select and whether you collect Social...Read More
Reducing Risk with Diversification
Diversification is a basic concept that's critical to building a portfolio able to withstand the test of time. It is the process of spreading your money among a variety of securities to reduce exposure to any one investment or asset...Read More
Readying Your Home for Old-Man Winter
'Tis the season … to be concerned about heating bills. Conserving fuel not only helps the environment, but also can potentially save you money. Here are some handy tips to help you do just that. Did you know that you could save...Read More
Avoid These Financial Traps -- They May Be Hazardous to Your Wealth
Money. It's hard to get and easy to lose. It doesn't take long for the wealth you've accumulated to disappear if you don't manage your money well or have a plan to protect your assets from sudden calamity. Snares like the ones...Read More
Hucksters and Hype: Signs of a Stock Scam
You've probably You've probably received them -- e-mail or text messages touting a "hot" stock and directing you to a website for more information.1 Be cautious. You might be the target of a con in a "pump and dump" scheme. By creating...Read More
The Sandwich Generation
As a consequence of an aging population, more working Americans are finding themselves faced with a new challenge -- trying to save for retirement while sandwiched between financial obligations to children and to elderly parents. With...Read More
Recognizing and Avoiding Online Scams
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America, affecting nearly 10 million people between 2010 and 2014. Further, the 2015 Identity Fraud Study released by Javelin Strategy &...Read More
Everyone needs a vacation periodically. Breaking the routine of the workaday world is not only refreshing, but studies show it's good both for you and your ability to do a better job. Reducing job stress can lead to more productivity....Read More
Can Social Security Be Fixed?
Will Social Security be different when you retire? Its reserves are projected to be depleted by 2034, and if that happens, the program could pay retirees only about 80% of projected retirement benefits. 1 Since 2010, Social Security...Read More
Yes, You CAN Get Out of Debt
In America today, carrying some debt is unavoidable, and even desirable, for most households. But between mortgages, car payments, and credit cards, many Americans find themselves over their heads -- unable to dig out from under a...Read More
I'm Changing Jobs - What Should I Do With the Money in My Plan?
Changing jobs is an important decision -- one that many of us are making more often. Once you've decided to switch jobs, your next move is to determine what to do with the money in your former employer's retirement plan. Four Common...Read More
Double Your Impact With These Charitable Giving Strategies
Americans are a generous people. Many support charitable organizations that enhance their communities and enrich their personal lives. In addition to giving wisely to nonprofit groups, it's important to anticipate financial obligations...Read More
Is Long-Term Care Insurance a Good Idea?
There is a good possibility that you or your spouse will eventually require some form of long-term care. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 70% of people aged 65 or older will enter a nursing home for...Read More
Missteps that May Negatively Impact Estate Plans
Inattention and procrastination can hurt family wealth. Some estate planning is better than none, but sometimes people address wealth transfer issues inadequately or ineptly when they tackle the task. Here are some classic miscues....Read More
Women, Wealth and Legacy Planning
Whether nurturing the values of children, fulfilling charitable goals, or making investment decisions that affect their own as well as their beneficiaries' financial security, women play a central role in establishing and preserving...Read More
529's and Estate Planning - What's the connection?
Assets in 529 plans have grown significantly in recent years due to their college planning potential. But there's another side to 529 plans that may appeal to you -- potential estate planning benefits. First, a Few Basics To understand...Read More
Interview with Tanner Haas
As many of you know, our former intern Tanner is now a published author. I had the pleasure of sitting down with him to ask him some questions about his book and journey through publication. Jill: Thanks for coming in Tanner! Tell us a...Read More
A Meeting Of The Minds
The Federal Reserve and the U.S. bond market appear to be in agreement about the direction of interest rates. For more years than anyone cares to count, investment professionals have been predicting the end of the bull market in bonds....Read More
We'll Need A New Kind Of Umbrella For This
In February, a new research paper disclosed a finding no one wants to hear about: Viruses are falling from the sky. Literally. Science Daily summarized a report from the University of British Columbia. The report said: “An...Read More
Are You An Insect Gourmet?
Throughout history, people have eaten bugs. According to National Geographic, hunter-gatherers probably learned which insects were edible by watching birds. People’s appetite for bugs didn’t disappear as they became more...Read More
The World Is In Debt
The April 2018 International Monetary Fund (IMF) Fiscal Monitor reported global debt has reached a historically high level. In 2016, debt peaked at 225 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) (the value of all goods and services...Read More
What does your playlist say about you?
Your preference for pop, country, opera, classic rock, or some other type of music may provide clues to your personality, according to an article in Psychological Science entitled ‘Musical Preferences Predict Personality...Read More
What do you think?
What do you think?• Are you bullish, bearish, or neutral about the U.S. stock market? • Are U.S. stocks undervalued, overvalued, or fairly valued?• What is the biggest threat the U.S. stock market faces this year?During...Read More
You Could Almost Hear The Spurs Jingling
Trade tensions ratcheted higher last week as the United States and China staked new positions on the not-so-dusty main street of trade. It was the latest round of posturing in what has the potential to become a trade war between the...Read More
The Not-So-Secret March Madness Effect
Have you ever wondered how students select colleges? Economic theory suggests, “Models of college choice typically assume that high school students are fully informed and choose to apply to and eventually attend a school that...Read More
If You Asked Artificial Intelligence To Bake, What Would It Make?
Janelle Shane at PopSci.com wrote, “When computers try to imitate humans, they often get confused. But simulated brain cells in so-called neural networks can mimic our problem-solving skills. An AI will look at a dataset, figure...Read More
In Like a Lion...
Investors roared into 2018.During the first week of the first quarter of the New Year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose above 25,000 for the first time ever. Less than two weeks later, it closed above 26,000. The Standard &...Read More
Let's take a GOOD news break.
After last week, we could all use some good news. Here are 10 intriguing headlines from the Good News Network:1. Scientists Believe They Found a Way to Stop Future Hurricanes in Their Tracks2. Strangers Rally Around 13-Year-old Whose...Read More
Why am I saving and investing?
After a week like last week, it’s an important question. There are many reasons people save and invest, including to:• Live the life they want today and in the future• Accumulate resources so they’re prepared for...Read More
Why am I saving and investing?
After a week like last week, it’s an important question. There are many reasons people save and invest, including to:• Live the life they want today and in the future• Accumulate resources so they’re prepared for...Read More
How much are you spending on healthcare?
Healthcare costs have been going up for a long time. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reported annual health spending – healthcare paid for through private health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or out-of-pocket...Read More
It's a good time for a gut check.
Last week, after sliding lower for four days, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index recouped some of its losses on Friday. The reasons behind the week’s poor showing were diverse. Barron’s reported:“The market is so...Read More
It's not just for Millennials!
While the emergence of the Gig economy often is attributed to Millennials, MBO Partners’ 2017 survey found the full-time Gig workforce is a generational mash-up. It includes:• 38 percent Millennials (ages 21 to 37)• 27...Read More
It's a bird...it's a plane...it's a labor shortage!
There is little doubt the Millennial generation has been reshaping our world. One of the most remarkable aspects of this demographic group is a preference for experiences over consumer goods. “Three out of four millennials would...Read More
What does your state export?
Every state has adopted official symbols that represent its culture and heritage. You can probably name your state’s official bird and flower. It’s likely you recognize your state’s flag and its seal. Can you name its...Read More
"It's déjà vu all over again." - Yogi Berra
Last week, global stock markets took a bit of a dip after President Trump announced a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum. Tariffs are taxes on goods imported from other countries. In general, governments...Read More
What Does Success Mean to You?
For some, having a big following on social media translates as success. NASA, which has more followers than any other government organization worldwide (28 million), may be considered successful. Of course, NASA doesn’t hold a...Read More
It was not a good week for stocks.
Last week, stock markets around the world lost value. In the United States, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500), Dow Jones Industrial Index (Dow), and NASDAQ all finished lower. Some pundits have been drawing comparisons...Read More
Did you forget your 401(k) account?
Leaving one job and starting another is often exciting. As a new hire, you may be inundated with meeting new co-workers, figuring out the coffee situation, understanding expectations, demonstrating your value, and completing form after...Read More
Whoosh! Bang! Flash! Fizz! Whistle!
U.S. stock markets delivered their own version of fireworks to celebrate the New Year. During the first week of 2018, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a new all-time high, moving above 25,000 for the first time ever. The NASDAQ...Read More
Some of the best and worst of 2017.
It may have seemed longer but 2017 had 365 days, just like every other year. It was a year of firsts, worsts, and bests, although not everyone agrees about which were which. Here are a few memorable pop culture moments from 2017:...Read More
How good was 2017?
It was so good, the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Index finished in positive territory every month for the first time ever (on a total return basis), reported Barron’s. All major U.S. indices finished the year with...Read More
Perhaps it’s best to use old newspaper and string.
Here’s something to keep in mind next holiday season when you get ready to wrap gifts. If you have any doubts about whether your spouse will appreciate the workout gear, your daughters-in-law will love the bathroom rugs, or your...Read More
It’s time to turn your mind to taxes.
Last week, President Trump signed tax reform, officially titled ‘An Act to provide for reconciliation pursuant to titles II and V of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2018,’ into law. The legislation...Read More
Here’s another reason to like emerging markets.
The MSCI Emerging Markets Index was up more than 30 percent year-to-date late last week, outperforming national indices in most developed nations. (Remember, past performance is no indication of future results.) There may be more to...Read More
Here we come a tax-reforming…
The reconciliation of Congressional tax reform bills proceeded apace last week, and Congress is expected to vote on the measure early this week. If tax reform passes, Dubravko Lakos-Bujas, head of U.S. equity strategy with JPMorgan,...Read More
Are you concerned about human obsolescence?
Researchers from the University of Oxford and Yale University asked experts at several artificial intelligence (AI) conferences how long it would be before machines became better than humans at various tasks. The answers weren’t...Read More
“It's the hap- happiest season of all.”
While holidays don’t make everyone happy, investors should be feeling festive. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index is up more than 18 percent year-to-date. The Dow Jones Global ex U.S. Index is up about 21 percent year-to-date...Read More
For a number of years, policymakers have been focused on finding ways to help Americans become better financially prepared for retirement. Studies have found having access to payroll-deduction retirement savings plans at work makes it...Read More
What will it take to shake investors’ confidence?
From the perspective of unsettling events, last week was jam-packed. North Korea claimed to have the capability to strike the United States with a nuclear missile, tax reform continued to travel a controversial path through the House...Read More
There was a lot to be thankful for last week.
Stock markets around the world may have ripened to full-slip sweetness this year. Emerging markets have delivered the most attractive returns year-to-date. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index was up 34 percent year-to-date, last week. The...Read More
Turkeys have played a central role in the history of the United States.
In a letter to his daughter, Ben Franklin offered praise for the bird, which he called, “…a true original native of America…(though a little vain and silly tis true, but not the worse emblem for that) a bird of...Read More
Online sales aren’t the only threat to traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.
Direct-to-consumer (DTC – also abbreviated as D2C) companies have been implementing a brand new business model. They’re skipping retailers and selling direct to consumers. Early entries in the DTC space targeted product...Read More
Are investors more like tigers or African wild dogs?
It appears investors – retail and institutional – have become rather like predators. They patiently stalk shares, waiting for a dip, and then they strike – buying stocks when prices fall. Consider last week....Read More
The winter holidays are almost here.
It’s that time of year when people search and search for just-the-right gifts at just-the-right-prices for friends and loved ones. The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales to rise by 3.6 percent to 4.0 percent this...Read More
Selling it overseas.
Most of the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) Index have reported third quarter earnings per share (EPS), which is the profit earned per share of stock outstanding during the period. Many have done quite well. With...Read More
Are you bullish about pet tech?
Early in the last century, authors like Anna Sewell (Black Beauty) and Jack London (White Fang) wrote stories that encouraged readers to understand and empathize with animals. Today, entrepreneurs are developing devices to help people...Read More
“Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society.”
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’s statement is engraved on the front of the Internal Revenue Service building in Washington, D.C. Some people agree with the sentiment. Others believe it to be a logical fallacy....Read More
And the leader in biometric identification is India!
Remembering passwords, especially if you follow best practices and have unique 12- to15-character passwords for each account, can be challenging. Even when you follow best practices, which many people do not, passwords are vulnerable...Read More
The last full week of October was a box full of surprises.
First, U.S. economic growth exceeded expectations. The devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria was widely expected to stifle U.S. quarterly growth, according to NPR. The Atlanta Federal Reserve predicted 2.5 percent...Read More
Know What Can be Really Scary? Warehouse Clubs.
Like horror flick fodder (extras and co-stars who ignore their gut instincts and venture into places they shouldn’t), people go into warehouse clubs thinking they’ll be able to buy just the items they need and escape...Read More
And the hits just keep on coming.
Last week was the anniversary of Black Monday. On October 19, 1987, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow) lost 508 points, or more than 20 percent of its value, as it fell from the previous trading day’s closing value of 2,247...Read More
Self-Driving Cars, Life-Like Robots, Artificial Intelligence, and Video Phones.
Millennials and members of Gen Z may find the original Blade Runner movie a bit dated. After all, many of the tech innovations imagined have become a part of our daily lives and others, like mood organs, are in the works Mood organs...Read More
There’s a new kid in town: narrative economics.
Last week, Richard Thaler was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics. His work in behavioral economics and finance recognizes not all economic and financial decisions are made after rational reflection. In Nudge, he wrote “The...Read More
Zombie tourism and zombie companies.
Zombies have a special place in the heart of pop culture. The undead are pivotal characters in books, movies, games, and television shows. The practical can read The Zombie Survival Guide. Thrill seekers can binge on The Walking Dead....Read More
Slow and steady...
It has been 332 days since the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) Index experienced a 5 percent drop, reported Barron’s. If there isn’t a selloff on Monday or Tuesday, this will become the longest rally without such a...Read More
Life and Death of a Twenty Dollar Bill
The average $20 bill is in circulation for 7.9 years, according to a report by the Federal Reserve. That’s better than the $10 bill, which has a life span of only 4.5 years, but worse than the $100 bill, which is in circulation...Read More
The Case of the Swirling Euros
In mid-September, local authorities in Geneva, Switzerland were investigating an unexpected deposit. Reuters reported: “…the first blockage occurred in the toilet serving the vault at [a] bank…in Geneva’s...Read More
A lot happened during the third quarter of 2017, but not much changed.
The bull market in U.S. stocks continued to charge ahead. Traditional measures of valuation continued to suggest the market is overvalued, but some analysts argued it’s different this time. The Economist explained: “The...Read More
It’s the Ig Nobel Awards!
On September 14, the 27th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony kicked off with a flight of paper airplanes. The winners were chosen by the publishers of the Annals of Improbable Research, which reviews, “Real research, about...Read More
Geopolitics, what is it good for? Absolutely nothin'!
In January, Robert Kahn of the Council on Foreign Relations wrote in Global Economics Monthly: “Markets showed impressive resilience in the face of a range of geopolitical shocks in 2016, but recent market moves suggest this year...Read More
Healthy Body, Healthy Pocketbook
People save for a variety of things in retirement. Some dream of vacation homes in tropical destinations, others plan to spend time with grandchildren and family. Of all the activities you are saving for in retirement, did you know...Read More
7 Steps to Protect Yourself after the Equifax Breach
From May through July, hackers exploited a website vulnerability at Equifax, one of the major consumer credit reporting agencies. If you have a credit report, there is a chance your sensitive and personal information including Social...Read More
“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, in practice there is.”
Yogi Berra was talking about baseball, but the concept also applies to diversification, according to the GMO White Paper, The S&P 500: Just Say No. From the title, you might think the authors – Matt Kadnar and James Montier...Read More
How do you protect personal data?
Last week, Equifax, one of three major consumer credit reporting agencies, was hacked. The New York Times reported the company had data on more than 820 million consumers and more than 91 million businesses worldwide. Estimates suggest...Read More
Harvey, Irma and some welcome news, too.
Last week, the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and potency of Hurricane Irma dominated hearts and minds, but there were some diversions and some welcome news, too. The NFL kicked off its 2017 season with the Chiefs’ win over the...Read More
Learn about Social Security’s Representative Payment Program (RPP)
If you don’t live near your parents and older family members, you may want to learn more about Social Security’s Representative Payment Program (RPP). The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College (CRRBC) published a...Read More
When it comes to economic growth, the government doesn’t measure twice. It measures three times.
Last week, the Bureau of Economic Analysis revised its initial estimate that the gross domestic product (GDP), which is the value of all goods and services produced by a country or region, grew by 2.6 percent during the second quarter...Read More
Millennials are Killing It!
A recent article in Buzzfeed listed headlines announcing the various things Millennials have “killed” or are “killing.” The list included Big Oil, the NFL, the workday, the cereal industry, and bar soap....Read More
Optimism about possible pro-growth economic policies, including tax reform and deregulation, helped U.S. stock indices finish higher last week, reported Barron’s. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, though. Stocks bobbed up and...Read More
Have You Tried Taco Mode?
In March, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) offered some ideas about innovation in America. It’s a topic that deserves some attention as “…recent data suggests that innovation is getting harder and the pace of growth...Read More
Here, there, and everywhere…
Markets around the world appear to be benefitting from global economic recovery. After pointing out the United States’ economy is the heart of the global financial system, Barron’s reported: “The Standard &...Read More
The ABC’s of Auto Insurance
The questions around auto insurance center not so much on whether to have it—it’s mandated by state law, required by your lender, and serves to protect your assets—but what kind of coverage you should purchase. Types...Read More
Are Electric Engines the Tortoise Competing with the Combustion Engine’s Hare?
In the late 1800s, the Paris-Rouen race for horseless carriages included 102 vehicles fueled by steam, petrol, electricity, compressed air, and hydraulics, reports The Economist. Not a single electric engine made it to the starting...Read More
North Korea may be a little country, but it can churn up big trouble.
The possibility that verbal hostilities between the United States and North Korea could trigger geopolitical conflict had investors on the run last week. In the United States, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell by 1.4 percent,...Read More
Saving is as Easy as Riding a Bike!
If you would like to save more money – for retirement, college tuition, healthcare costs, or some other financial priority – hop on your bike and ride. As it turns out, riding your bike may help boost your savings. Whether...Read More
Who’s been buying shares of company stock?
Since the start of the bull market in 2009, U.S. companies have been buying their own stock. Stock buybacks peaked during the first three quarters of 2016 and have dropped off sharply since then, reports Financial Times citing a report...Read More
Cooking Illiteracy Could Improve Happiness…
What does heavy cream become when you whip it? If you answered ‘whipped cream,’ try this one: What does whipped cream become when you whip it a little longer? If you said, ‘butter,’ congratulations! You may...Read More
There was some good news and some bad news last week.
First, the good news: Thanks to consumer spending and an upturn in federal government spending, the U.S. economy grew faster from April through June this year. Gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 2.6 percent during the period,...Read More
So, Here’s Another College Conundrum: College is a Hot Topic
College is a hot topic. In recent years, pundits have debated whether students should attend college or skip it and start their own companies. The Thiel Fellowship, founded by tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel, offers students $100,000 to...Read More
Do we have central banks to thank?
Low interest rates, accommodative monetary policy, and improving economic growth have helped stock markets around the world reach record highs, reports Barron’s: “…a look around the globe shows the surge of the U.S....Read More
Merriam Webster defines ‘disrupt’ as ‘to break apart,’ and ‘to throw into disorder.’
While disruption doesn’t sound like something anyone would enjoy much, it has the potential to create investment opportunities for those who share a vision and are willing to take risks.Morgan Stanley recently wrote,...Read More
It was a good week for a lot of stocks but not bank stocks.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) both finished at record highs last week. Barron’s indicated investors owe Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen a debt of gratitude:...Read More
There may be an affordable car crisis in the United States...
It doesn’t appear to be common knowledge but there may be an affordable car crisis in the United States. The latest Bankrate.com Car Affordability Study found: “…typical households in most of America’s larger...Read More
Things you may want to know…
Last Friday, Financial Times (FT) published, ‘Five markets charts that matter for investors.’ Among the issues addressed in the charts were: The bond market bear watch. The yield on 10-year German Bunds (Germany’s...Read More
You Say Potato, I Say Potato
A persistent debate among the geek set is how to pronounce the abbreviation for Graphics Interchange Format (GIF). You know, GIFs, the animated images you see online. Graphics starts with a hard ‘g’ sound, but pronunciation...Read More
This is the way the quarter ends – with a central bank scare.
Central bankers are stodgy. They speak carefully. For many, reading the words ‘Federal Reserve’ is enough to cause boredom to set in and web surfing to ensue. Last week, though, the European Central Bank and Bank of England...Read More
World Happiness Report 2017
If you live In Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, or Finland, then you’re among the happiest people in the world. On the other hand, if you reside in Sierra Leone, Bulgaria, Egypt, Palestinian Territories, or Tunisia,...Read More
It has been a very good year, so far.
Through the end of last week, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index posted 24 record highs and delivered returns in the high single digits. The MSCI World ex USA Index was up more than 11 percent, and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index...Read More
A Century-Old Medicine May Help with Autism
Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control suggest one in every 68 American children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder. Few effective treatments have been found, but a medicine that has been around for more than a...Read More
All Eyes on Inflation!
Inflation is the way economists measure changes in the prices of goods and services. The United States has enjoyed relatively low inflation for a significant period of time. Last week, the consumer price index indicated inflation had...Read More
Guess What? The Fountain of Youth Isn’t Really a Fountain
For millennia, humankind has been looking for a means of slowing aging, maintaining health, and restoring youth and beauty. Greek mythology tells us that Hebe, the daughter of Zeus and Hera, could restore youth. In the 1600s, Juan...Read More
Stock market historians may dub 2017 the Xanax year.
Traditional historians will probably choose a different moniker. Stock markets in many advanced economies have been unusually calm during 2017, reported Schwab’s Jeffrey Kleintop in a May 15, 2017 commentary. The CBOE Volatility...Read More
Keeping Summer Safe: Pool and Spa Safety Tips
The backyard pool can be great summer fun, but it can also be a source of danger for children. Every year hundreds of children fatally drown. In fact, drowning is the leading cause of preventable death among children ages 1-4.¹,...Read More
Fresh from the Annals of Improbable Research
Anyone who enjoys the Ig Nobel Prizes – which spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology by making them laugh and then making them think – may like The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR). An...Read More
The bull market in U.S. stocks is getting really old!
In fact, this bull has been charging, standing, or sitting for more than eight years. In April, it became the second longest bull market in American history, according to CNN Money. There are some good reasons the stock market in the...Read More
Are Americans Vacation Avoiders?
Project: Time Off reports Americans spent 16.8 days on vacation during 2016, on average. That was an improvement from 2015, when the average was 16.2, but it was well below the 20.3 days a year spent on holiday from 1978 through 2000....Read More
Is preparing for the future more important than enjoying the present?
There is a lot to enjoy today. Last week, Financial Times wrote: “Wall Street ended an impressive week on a steady note – eking out a tiny gain to a fresh record close – as oil prices recouped some of the previous...Read More
Yours, Mine and Ours: Estate Strategies for Second Marriages
If you are one of the many Americans who are in a second marriage, you may need to revisit your estate strategy.¹ Unlike a typical first marriage, second marriages often require special consideration that should address children...Read More
Are You Helping Your Adult Children Financially?
In 2015, Pew Research investigated whether aging parents received more assistance from adult children or adult children received more assistance from parents. In the United States, Italy, and Germany, they found parents provide more...Read More
How Much is Too Much?
There has been no shortage of drama since the new administration took office – legislative setbacks, controversial hiring and firing, and fiery tweets on various topics. Regardless, U.S. investors and markets remained stalwart...Read More
The Herd of Unicorns is Growing.
Since 1996, the value of companies listed on American stock exchanges has increased from 105 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to 136 percent of GDP, according to The Economist. (GDP is the value of all goods and services...Read More
Does performance tell the whole story?
American stock markets have delivered some exceptional performance in recent years. Just look at the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) Index. Barron’s reported the S&P 500, including reinvested dividends, has returned 215...Read More
Four Steps to Valuing an Estate
Determining the value of an estate is a fundamental first step in estate management and a critical requirement for settling a decedent’s estate.¹ How to Assess the Value of an Estate Select the date of calculation. Because...Read More
Is the U.S. Government Well Run?
Stop rolling your eyes. The Economist reported Steve Ballmer, former head of a large tech company, has been working on a new project – completing Form 10-K for the United States of America. The project is called USA Facts: Our...Read More
Is it complacency? Exuberance? Uncertainty? Exhaustion? Insight? Intuition?
Last week, all three major U.S. stock markets gained value and two reached new record highs. On the face of it, that’s great news for stock investors. However, if you look below the surface, the markets’ upward trend may...Read More
Should You Borrow from Your 401(k)?
The average credit card balance in June 2015 was $15,706, down from its peak of $18,600 in 2009.¹ With the average credit card annual percentage rate sitting at 14.9%, it represents an expensive way to fund spending.² Which...Read More
What Did You Say?
If you find yourself tuning-out in loud restaurants, asking people to repeat themselves frequently, or cupping an ear in an effort to better understand what a friend or colleague is saying, then you may be interested to learn that...Read More
It was a good week to own stocks.
Not all financial news was good news last week, but that didn’t prevent U.S. stock markets from moving higher. Barron’s reported on the good news: “This past week, welcome political news from Europe, a batch of...Read More
Mobile Technology: The Next Generation
Faster and more efficient mobile phones are on the horizon. That’s right, 5G is almost here, according to Network World. If you were never quite sure what distinguished 1G from 2G, or 3G from 4G, much less 4G from 5G, the answer...Read More
Last week, investors multi-tasked, pushing both U.S. bond and stock markets higher.
In March, the Federal Reserve raised the Fed funds rates for the second time in three months. Typically, we would expect interest rates to rise and bond prices to fall, but interest rates have been falling and bond prices have been...Read More
Fallen Tree Damage—Who Pays?
As a homeowner, are you responsible for the damage caused by a tree on your property that hits your neighbor’s home or other insured structure, such as a garage or shed? In most cases, the answer is “no.” When such...Read More
Why Do Shoelaces Come Untied?
Engineers have solved many knotty problems, but it wasn’t until recently they unraveled the mystery of shoelaces and why they come undone, reported The Economist. If you don’t wear shoes that lace or spend time with young...Read More
And the survey said...
In late 2016, Natixis Global surveyed 500 institutional decision makers representing corporate pension plans, public pension plans, sovereign wealth funds, insurance companies, foundations, and endowments. Survey participants said...Read More
How Insurance Deductibles Work
An insurance deductible is the amount you, the insured, pays before any claim is paid by your insurance carrier. Depending upon the type of insurance, a policy may set the amount of deductible, or offer you the ability to select a...Read More
Pulling Ink Out of the Air
Air pollution is one of the biggest environmental and human health threats in the world, according to a 2016 World Health Organization report: “To date, air pollution – both ambient (outdoor) and household (indoor) –...Read More
U.S. stock markets are sending mixed signals.
If you look at the performance of the CBOE Volatility Index (a.k.a. the VIX or fear gauge), which is a measure of market expectations for volatility in the near future, it appears all is well and investors expect no unexpected events....Read More
The Tooth Fairy is Awfully Generous These Days.
Since 1998, an insurance firm has conducted a poll to determine how much swag the tooth fairy or, depending on your country, the magical mouse, elf, brownie, or tooth rat has been leaving behind for children who’ve lost their...Read More
Toward the end of the first quarter, the bull market celebrated its eighth birthday. David Kelly, Chief Global Strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management wrote: “Eight years ago, on March 9, 2009, the S&P 500 closed at 677, down...Read More
We’re Not Number One!
Which country is expected to experience the greatest increase in longevity by 2030? A study of the 35 wealthiest nations in the world, completed by the Imperial College London and the World Health Organization, combined results from 21...Read More
Name a Device – Any Device – That You Can’t Live Without
Some people may name a medical device or implant, such as a hearing aid, an artificial joint, or a pacemaker. Others may say they couldn’t live without their electric bikes, GPS devices, tablets, or food processors. A...Read More
It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble...
“It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so,” wrote Mark Twain. In 2016, NerdWallet commissioned a survey* to get a better handle on Americans’ thoughts...Read More
You’ve read it before – and it’s true. Markets hate uncertainty.
Failure to pass the American Healthcare Act, which was supported by Republican leaders in Congress and President Trump, may have spooked U.S. stock markets last week. In an article titled, “How To Make Investing Decisions Based...Read More
Does Your Credit Score Affect Your Insurance Rates?
One landmark study found that credit-based insurance scores are used by about 95 percent of all auto and home insurers in calculating the cost of insurance to individuals.¹ While the vast majority of insurance companies use...Read More
I Spy With My Little Eye…Robots!
If you take a cruise anytime soon, the bartender may not be able to lend an ear. According to Financial Times, one cruise line has installed robotic bartenders that produce one drink per minute per arm, and can make up to 120 drinks an...Read More
Three steps and no stumble…
Technical analyst Edson Gould developed a market rule of thumb known as ‘three steps and a stumble.’ It states stock prices may fall after the Federal Reserve (Fed) raises the Fed funds rate three times in a row without a...Read More
They’re all on the pro rodeo circuit.
They all grow corn and soybeans. They all have renowned universities. In addition, according to The Economist, Texas, Iowa, Nebraska, Mississippi, Alabama, and Michigan are likely to experience the biggest increase in tariffs –...Read More
Rate hike ahead…maybe.
Last week’s U.S. employment report was better than expected. The United States added 235,000 jobs in February, which was a few more than economists had forecast. It may seem counterintuitive, but the positive economic data helped...Read More
Death is No Excuse
The federal government is an equal-opportunity tax assessor. Even the dead can’t escape taxes. The final accounting required of the deceased is not limited to an estate tax filing, but a federal income tax return must also be...Read More
Don’t Think So!
Tax season is upon us. That means we can all use some entertainment. While many folks dread the process of completing and filing taxes, some see it as an opportunity to test the boundaries of the system. Here are a few deductions...Read More
It was a grand slam.
Major U.S. stock markets were positively euphoric following President Trump’s speech on February 28. Optimism about the new administration’s pro-growth policies propelled the four major U.S. stock indices to record highs,...Read More
The Best Inventions of 2016
Late last year, Time Magazine selected 25 inventions that “are making the world better, smarter, and – in some cases – a little more fun.” Past editions have included underground parks, gluten sniffers, and the...Read More
Once upon a time, five blind men discovered an elephant...
Each man examined a different part of the elephant and formed a unique impression about the animal. One believed an elephant was like a pillar, while another decided an elephant was like a snake. In recent weeks, stock and bond markets...Read More
On the Road to Brexit
Last week, Members of Parliament (MPs) approved the Article 50 bill, green-lighting Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU). If the House of Lords follows suit, which is far from certain, then the British government will...Read More
What’s the word ‘phenomenal’ worth? It all depends on who says it.
Barron’s shared Wilshire Associates’ calculations which indicated the word was worth about $175 billion – the amount markets gained last Thursday – when President Trump used it to describe the tax plan his...Read More
A Home Insurance Claim: To File Or Not To File
Insurance is meant to protect you against financial loss. But is it really meant to protect you from any and all financial loss? When it comes to filing a loss claim on your home insurance, there may be times when not filing may be the...Read More
Does College Open Doors?
A new study examined how college affects Americans’ social mobility by cross-referencing data from the Department of Education (from 1999-2013) with 30 million tax returns. The researchers looked at the earnings of graduates from...Read More
U.S. stock markets were unsettled last week.
President Trump's executive order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries to the United States for 90 days, in tandem with some disappointing earnings reports, inspired turmoil and uncertainty that helped push U.S....Read More
Are Your Children Smart Shoppers?
Science Daily reported a meta-analysis of 73 studies nationwide evaluated parenting styles and children’s buying habits. The findings suggest, “children raised by parents who set limits and explain the reason behind these...Read More
An historic moment for U.S. stock markets…
The Dow Jones Industrial Average surpassed 20,000 last week. Barron’s cautioned investors not to make too much of the milestone since, “There are only 30 stocks in the index so each one carries a lot of weight.”...Read More
Markets weren’t quite sure which direction to move last week.
The Trump rally, which lost some steam, gained momentum early in the week. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index finished January 19, the day before the inauguration, with its biggest election-to-inauguration gain since Bill Clinton...Read More
Tremendous. Awe-Inspiring. Groundbreaking. Overwhelming.
Those were just a few of the adjectives used to describe 2017’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which showcased all kinds of new technology. This year, gadgets and gizmos included wall-sized televisions that are as thin as house...Read More
Top New Digital Tools for Small Businesses
Technology has not just shrunk the tools we use, but it has allowed small businesses the power to operate like a big business. These tools can help small businesses get better organized, efficiently manage their finances, or support...Read More
Burgernomics: Here’s a Big Mac Index Update.
The Economist invented the Big Mac index in 1986 as an entertaining way to assess whether currencies were at the “correct” levels. The index reflects the idea that countries’ exchange rates should balance so the same...Read More
Around the world in a few paragraphs…
The post-election adrenaline rush may be over in the United States. Barron’s reported: “The new year began with high hopes, with the bulls expecting the rally that began with Donald J. Trump’s election victory to...Read More
Tax Rules When Selling Your Home
How the gains from the sale of a primary residence are taxed has changed in recent years. If you have recently sold your home, or are considering doing so, you may want to be aware of these new rules. Home Sale If you owned and lived...Read More
Are You Thinking about Starting a Business?
Small businesses in the United States employed 56.8 million people or 48 percent of the private workforce in 2013 (the latest numbers available), according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. That’s pretty remarkable when...Read More
…And, they’re off!
Bullish sentiment helped world equity markets get off to a fast start last week. Just name a country or region – developed markets, emerging markets, the United States, Latin America, Asia, Europe, the United Kingdom – and...Read More
Saving on Fitness Center Membership Costs
The cost of a membership to your local fitness center can be pricey, especially if you are looking for a modern facility with a wide selection of the most current equipment. But there are ways to improve your physical fitness without...Read More
How Important is a College Degree?
At the University of Baltimore 2016 Midyear Commencement, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen shared her thoughts about the importance of college: “Economists are not certain about many things. But we are quite certain that a...Read More
What a difference a year makes!
At the start of 2016, investors were rather pessimistic and risk averse, preferring bonds to stocks. By the end of the year, they were quite optimistic and preferred stocks to bonds. In between, markets traveled a bumpy road. During...Read More
America’s Most Wanted
Don’t worry. Robots have not yet replaced human workers. In fact, according to The World In 2017 (published by The Economist): “…automation seems to be pushing people from routine jobs, such as factory work, into...Read More
Missed it by that much…
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) got within 13 points of 20,000 last Tuesday. It finished the week about 90 points below the vaunted milestone. “The Dow has gained nearly 10 percent since the end of October, more than...Read More
To 20,000 and Beyond!
You may have noticed investors have been pretty enthusiastic about U.S. stocks in recent weeks. It’s possible the Dow Jones Industrial Average will surpass 20,000. The fervor for U.S. stocks may be due to improving corporate...Read More
Best Vacations: By Car, By Ship, By Foot, Once in a Lifetime
If travel for you is less about escaping life and more about living it, then consider these vacation ideas: By Car East Coast of Australia: There may be no better way to experience this amazing continent than by driving along its east...Read More
The Federal Reserve put a hitch in the markets’ giddy-up last week.
It wasn’t the Fed’s second interest rate hike in a decade that caused markets to stumble. December’s rate hike was old news before it happened. In mid-December, Reuters reported Fed funds futures indicated there was a...Read More
Divorced? You May Want to Investigate Spousal Benefits
If you weren’t the top wage earner in your marriage, or your job was raising the children, then Social Security’s spousal benefit could prove advantageous. It provides the lower-earning spouse with 50 percent of the...Read More
Dad: “Fra-gee-lay” …it must be Italian! Mom: I think that says “fragile,” honey. Dad: Oh, yeah.
This holiday season, investors’ enthusiasm for U.S. stocks has rivaled old man Parker’s passion for his major-award leg lamp in ‘A Christmas Story.’ Last week, three major U.S. indices hit all-time highs....Read More
Am I Too Old to Take Out a Long-Term Care Insurance Policy?
There is no age threshold beyond which long-term care insurance is not available. But it may not be affordable. Long-term care is certainly a significant concern for people over age 65. According to the U.S. Department of Health and...Read More
Growth, Growth, Where’s the Growth?
It’s that time of the year again: The time when pundits and analysts assess the present and forecast the future. Here are a few predictions from The World in 2017, which is published by The Economist: Forecasts suggest the United...Read More
Flirting with Higher Interest Rates
Last week, yields on 10-year Treasury bonds rose to a 17-month high of 2.44 percent, reported The Wall Street Journal, before retreating to finish the week at about 2.4 percent. As we’ve mentioned previously, some experts suspect...Read More
529, Coverdell, or Custodial Account? How to Choose
To keep pace with the rising cost of higher education, Americans need to make the most of tax-advantaged accounts. But which ones? Section 529 college savings plans feature generous lifetime contribution limits and no income...Read More
How Much Wealth is There in the World?
In 2016, the Earth’s inhabitants were worth about $256 trillion, according to the Global Wealth Report by Credit Suisse Research Institute. Population has grown along with wealth. North America, which has more than 5 percent of...Read More
It’s a myth!
According to WebMD, the amino acid L-Tryptophan is not responsible for Americans’ post-Thanksgiving food coma. The real culprit is overeating. So, last week’s post-feast sleepiness can be blamed on big appetites. Investors...Read More
Looking for a Great Gift?
If you have friends or relations with young children, consider starting or contributing to a 529 College Savings Plan. It’s a great way to fund a future education and, let’s face it, really young children often enjoy the...Read More
This time it’s the end. Really. Possibly.
It seems like experts have been forecasting the end of the bull market in bonds for years – and they have been doing so. In July 2010, bond guru Bill Gross predicted the 28-year bull market in bonds was near an end and, as...Read More
It’s just not easy to do.
Brexit came as a shock to many. So did the outcome of the U.S. election, but let’s face it – whether you’re trying to evaluate the potential of a company or the future of a country – predicting what may be ahead...Read More
Will the U.S. Presidential Election Move the Stock Market?
Elections often produce market volatility because markets hate uncertainty, and there is nothing certain about the outcome of the U.S. election. Election-induced volatility, however, often is relatively short-lived. Remember, the...Read More
Markets hate uncertainty – and that may create opportunities
Last week, investors experienced another bout of election jitters, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) Index fell for the ninth straight session. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), a.k.a. the fear gauge, which measures the...Read More
It’s almost over…
During July 2016, Pew Research reported almost 60 percent of Americans were suffering from election fatigue. They weren’t uninterested in the election. They were just worn out by never-ending news coverage that focused on...Read More
An Unusual Career Opportunity
Do you have a friend or family member who prioritizes blogging, tweeting, or posting videos above doing homework, attending family dinners, or going out? It’s possible they’ve recognized an economic opportunity you...Read More
Arte Johnson’s catch phrase from Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In may not have described U.S. stock markets last week, but there were some interesting economic, cyber-security, and consumer developments around the world. Major U.S...Read More
‘Tis the season! Third quarter earnings season, that is.
Every quarter, companies report earnings to let investors know how profitable the companies were during the quarter. When profits grow, a company’s share price may move higher. When profits decline, a company’s share price...Read More
Maybe More Americans Should Study Communications.
Parents aren’t all that comfortable talking with their children about certain topics. The T. Rowe Price 2016 Parents, Kids & Money Survey found that sex and death are at the top of the list, followed closely by family finances....Read More
Pay Yourself First
Each month you settle down to pay bills. You pay your mortgage lender. You pay the electric company. You pay the trash collector. But do you pay yourself? One of the most basic tenets of sound investing involves the simple habit of...Read More
Anatomy of Supplemental Health Plans
Was it good news or wasn’t it?
The U.S. unemployment rate ticked higher last week. The September jobs report showed the United States added 156,000 new jobs in September. That was 16,000 fewer than economists were expecting and 11,000 fewer than were added in August...Read More
Is it a Cyclical Rotation?
Economic growth may not be predictable, but it tends to follow a pattern that is known as a business or economic cycle. Periods of recession (when the economy contracts) are followed by periods of growth (when the economy expands)....Read More
Retiree Health Care Coverage Overseas
According to 2015 estimates by the U.S. Commerce Department, more than four million seniors traveled abroad in 2014. Overseas travel may be one of the more popular aspirations in retirement, but it does beg an important question:...Read More
Where Will Your Retirement Money Come From?
Tip: Retiring Older. During the past year, one survey found 13% of workers now plan to retire later than they previously expected. Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2015 For many people, retirement income may come from a...Read More
Inventorying Your Possessions
Nearly 60 percent of Americans do not have a home inventory of their possessions, and of those that do, 48 percent do not have any receipts evidencing their value.¹ It’s great to have insurance against damage and loss, but...Read More
Mastering Mobile Lingo
Mobile communications continue to grow at an astounding rate. Over half of all emails are now opened on mobile devices, either tablets or smartphones.1 And 85% of Millennials own a smartphone.2 Mobile communications is important, but...Read More
How Stocks Work
Social Security: The $64,000 Question
One of the most common questions people ask about Social Security is when they should start taking benefits. This is the $64,000 question. Making the right decision for you can have a meaningful impact on your financial income in...Read More
Keeping Good Records is Good Business
Maintaining good records is important to help meet your tax and legal obligations. The right record keeping system not only helps satisfy these obligations, but it may save you money and time. Here’s what to consider for your...Read More
Best Performing Asset Classes
Tip: Fund Flows. In 2015, investors removed $123 billion from mutual funds, a significant drop from the record $879 billion they added in 2007. Source: Investment Company Institute, 2016 According to Yale University's Crash Confidence...Read More
Thinking of Retiring Abroad?
According to a 2015 report from International Living Magazine, Ecuador tops the list of places to retire abroad. Panama ranks second, followed by Mexico, Malasia, and Costa Rica.¹ Many retirees consider moving out of the country...Read More
Types of Stock Market Analysis
Tip: Best Seller. One of the more influential books on using fundamental analysis is Benjamin Graham’s Security Analysis. First published in 1934, it’s now in its sixth edition and has sold more than one million copies....Read More
Three Key Questions to Answer before Taking Social Security
Social Security is a critical component of the retirement financial strategy for many Americans, so before you begin taking it, you should consider three important questions. The answers may affect whether you make the most of this...Read More
Feeling Adventurous in Retirement?
Working While Retired Would you accompany a group of high school students studying photojournalism and social change in Argentina? How about a group learning about language and culinary traditions in France? Does working for a season...Read More
Does Your Child Need to File an Income Tax Return?
As parents, we encourage our children to work so they can learn important values about work and independence. At what point, if at all, do children need to file an income tax return for the money they earn? The IRS does not exempt...Read More
Your Emergency Fund: How Much Is Enough?
Have you ever had one of those months? The water heater stops heating, the dishwasher stops washing and your family ends up on a first-name basis with the nurse at urgent care. Then, as you’re driving to work, giving yourself...Read More
Social Security: What’s Changing in 2016?
Whether you will soon be applying for Social Security, or are already receiving benefits, here’s what you need to know about what’s changing (and not changing) in 2016. What’s Not Changing No Cost-of-Living Increase:...Read More
When Life Insurance Becomes Taxable
Consider these facts on aging from the 2010 Census¹: The highest growth rate for a 10-year age group within the older population (age 65+) was for men 85 to 94 years old (+46.5 percent). For women, this age group grew by 22.9...Read More
Insurance Needs Assessment: For Empty Nesters and Retirees
With the children now out of the house, financial priorities become more focused on preparing for retirement. At this stage, you may very likely be at the height of your earning power and fast approaching peak savings as you lay the...Read More
Understanding Marginal Income Tax Brackets
Tip: High Bracket. In 1944, the highest federal income tax bracket was 94%. It applied to all income above $200,000 a year and applied to all taxpayers, regardless of filing status. Source: Tax Policy Center, 2015 By any measure, the...Read More
Social Security: Five Facts You Need to Know
Social Security can be complicated and, as a result, many individuals don’t have a full understanding of the choices they may have. Here are five facts about Social Security that are important to keep in mind: Social Security Is...Read More
How to Appeal Your Property Taxes
Between 30 percent and 60 percent of taxable property has an inflated assessment, which may lead to higher property tax bills. Moreover, typically fewer than 5 percent of taxpayers dispute their assessment.¹ For homeowners who...Read More
The Most Overlooked Item of Any Home Improvement
If you are like most homeowners, you love selecting the fixtures, fabrics and paint colors of your home improvement project. But there is one very important item that you may overlook—making certain that you are properly insured....Read More
The Economic Journey of Your Morning Coffee
This morning 100 million Americans began their day in the same way—drinking their first cup of coffee.¹ Few, if any, took a moment during this morning ritual to contemplate or marvel the complex journey that brought their...Read More
Does Your Portfolio Fit Your Retirement Lifestyle?
Most portfolios are constructed based on an individual's investment objective, risk tolerance and time horizon. Using these inputs and sophisticated portfolio-optimization calculations, most investors can feel confident that they own a...Read More
Four Really Good Reasons to Invest
Over half of Americans do not own any stocks, or stock-related investments, such as mutual funds, according to Bankrate’s Money Pulse survey.¹ Individuals may cite different reasons for not investing, but with important...Read More
Building Your Legacy
The desire to leave a legacy may be the height of altruism for it is a gift to the future, the benefit of which you may never witness, nor ever feel its appreciation by others. Creating your legacy does not happen overnight, and it...Read More
Do You Owe the AMT?
Do You Owe The AMT? Tip: AMT payers may qualify for the “minimum tax credit,” which allows individuals to claim a full or partial credit for past AMT taxes on future returns. American educational reformer Horace Mann called...Read More
A Taxing Story: Capital Gains and Losses
Chris Rock once remarked, “You don’t pay taxes, they take taxes.”¹ And in that spirit, thanks in part to higher capital-gains taxes, there may be more taking in the 2015 tax year. Capital gains result when an individual sells an...Read More
What If You Get Audited?
Tip: The chance of being audited rises with income level. In 2014, only 0.6% of those with incomes under $200,000 were audited; 3.6% of those with incomes between $500,000 and $1 million were audited; and 16.2% of those with incomes...Read More
How Income Taxes Work
The Internal Revenue Service estimates that taxpayers and businesses spend 6.1 billion hours a year complying with tax-filing requirements. To put this into perspective, if all this work were done by a single company, it would need...Read More
Changing Unhealthy Behaviors
Most Americans know the fundamentals of good health: exercise, proper diet, sufficient sleep, regular check-ups, and no smoking or excessive alcohol. Yet, despite this knowledge, changing existing behaviors can be difficult. Look no...Read More
Get Paid for Going Green
Americans spent an annualized $142.7 billion on home improvements in the first quarter of 2015—which represents a 6.5% increase over the first quarter of 2014.¹ Those looking into environmentally minded home modifications...Read More
Six Most Overlooked Tax Deductions
Who among us wants to pay the IRS more taxes than we have to?¹ While few may raise their hands, Americans regularly overpay because they fail to take tax deductions for which they are eligible. Let’s take a quick look at the six most...Read More
How to Make the Tax Code Work for You
In 2014, 150 million taxpayers dutifully filed their federal income tax returns.¹ And all of them made decisions about deductions and credits—whether they knew it or not. When you take the time to learn more about how it works, you may...Read More
Donating Art: Taxation Abstraction
The varied reasons to donate art range from a personal affinity for a museum, the desire to create a legacy, and the tax consideration that may come with the donation. The tax rules surrounding the tax deduction of art are complex and...Read More
The Lowdown on Those Free Credit Scores
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 provided individuals with valuable rights to the credit information companies keep on them, but did you know that the credit score provided to you may be different than the one...Read More
Tax Deductions You Won't Believe
While Americans are entitled to take every legitimate deduction to manage their taxes, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) places limits on your creativity. Here are some examples of deductions from the IRS that were permitted and some...Read More
Red Flags for Tax Auditors
No one wants to see an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) auditor show up at his or her door. The IRS can’t audit every American’s tax return, so it relies on guidelines to select the ones most deserving of its attention. Here are six...Read More
What Do Your Taxes Pay For?
Taxes are one of the biggest budget items for most taxpayers, yet many have no idea what they’re getting for their money.In 2015, as in recent years, Americans will spend more on taxes than on groceries, clothing, and shelter combined....Read More
Succeeding at Business Succession
Inc. magazine reported that 66% of small-business owners have no formal succession plan.¹ While the number may shock you, it is not surprising that many small business owners are consumed by the myriad responsibilities of running their...Read More
Problems with Probate
Many people have heard they should avoid probate, but few understand what probate is and how the process works. What Is Probate? Probate is the legal process that wraps up a person’s legal and financial affairs after their death....Read More
Rebalancing Your Portfolio
Everyone loves a winner. If an investment is successful, most people naturally want to stick with it. But is that the best approach? It may sound counter intuitive, but it may be possible to have too much of a good thing. Over time,...Read More
The Great Debate Continues: Active vs. Passive
Whether it’s sports, music or politics, life holds any number of “great debates” that never seem to reach a conclusion. In investments, that great debate asks the question, “Active or Passive Investing: Which Is...Read More
American households hold an average debt of nearly $54,000, with 35% having debt in collections.¹ Little wonder that money worries are a major cause of stress. The Link Between Stress and Health Humans have an innate response called...Read More
Eight Mistakes That Can Upend Your Retirement
Pursuing your retirement dreams is challenging enough without making some common, and very avoidable, mistakes. Here are eight big mistakes to steer clear of, if possible. No Strategy: Yes, the biggest mistake is having no strategy at...Read More
Trends in Charitable Giving
Whether the economy is expanding or contracting, Americans tend to be consistent with charitable donations.In 2013, as the U.S. economy continued to stabilize, Americans gave an estimated $335.17 billion to charity. That’s almost $19...Read More
LPL's Midyear Outlook 2015
Ryan Financial Inc. is pleased to share LPL Research's Midyear Outlook 2015: Some Assembly Required and two accompanying publications: a Step-by-Step Guide to Midyear Outlook 2015 and the 2015 Midyear Outlook How to Invest Guide....Read More
And the Executor Is
In her will, American businesswoman Leona Helmsley left $12 million in a trust fund to her dog Trouble. Her four executors were responsible for seeing that her wishes were carried out. In the years after her death, they dealt with...Read More
Critical Estate Documents
Tip: Delegation. When choosing someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf, consider naming an individual who is trustworthy, level-headed in a crisis, and can make themselves available on short notice. Fast Fact: Without a...Read More
Estate Management Checklist
Tip: One key difference between a will and a living trust is when they take effect. A will takes effect when you die; a living trust takes effect when you execute it, and begins to operate when you transfer assets to it. Do you have a...Read More
Nearly 65% of adults in America admit they don't have a will, which may not be entirely surprising. No one wants to be reminded of their own mortality or spend too much time thinking about what might happen once they’re gone. But a...Read More
A Brief History of Estate Taxes
Federal estate taxes have been a source of funding for the federal government almost since the U.S. was founded. In 1797, Congress instituted a system of federal stamps that were required on all wills offered for probate when property...Read More
A Look at Diversification
Ancient Chinese merchants are said to have developed a unique way to reduce their risk. They would divide their shipments among several different vessels. That way, if one ship were to sink or be attacked by pirates, the rest stood a...Read More
Don’t Be Your Own Worst Enemy
One of the most well-known investors of the 20th Century, Benjamin Graham, said that “the investor’s chief problem—and even his worst enemy—is likely to be himself.”¹ What Graham understood—and...Read More
Global vs. International: What’s The Difference?
With international stock markets comprising about two-thirds of the world’s capitalization, a broad range of investment opportunities exist outside the borders of the U.S.¹ For investors who are looking to diversify their mutual fund...Read More
A Decision Not Made Is Still a Decision
Whether through inertia or trepidation, investors who put off important investment decisions might consider the admonition offered by motivational speaker Brian Tracy, “Almost any decision is better than no decision at all...Read More
Earnings for All Seasons
While nature offers four seasons, Wall Street offers only one—four times a year. It’s called “earnings season,” and it can move the markets. So what is earnings season and why is it important? Earnings season is the month of the year...Read More
Revising Estate Strategy Assumptions
When the rules of the game change, tactics should follow in response to the new landscape. While estate tax exemptions have ridden an uncertain roller coaster in recent years, the rules appear to be stabilizing, prompting many to...Read More
Investing with Your Heart
Some individuals believe that return on investment shouldn’t be the only criterion for how they invest their money. For them, the social impact of investing is just as important—perhaps, more important. The history of socially...Read More
Countering Counterfeit Currency
It is estimated by the U.S. Secret Service, the federal agency responsible for protecting the U.S. currency, that prior to the adoption of a national currency in 1863 up to one-third of the currency in circulation was counterfeit.¹...Read More
The Investment Risk No One’s Ever Heard Of
Knowledgeable investors are aware that investing in the capital markets presents any number of risks—interest-rate risk, company risk, and market risk. Risk is an inseparable companion to the potential for long-term growth. Some of...Read More
The Financial Literacy Crisis
Imagine driving a car without a basic understanding of the rules of the road, or even how to operate it? Scary thought. Yet many Americans are operating their personal finances with only the barest minimum of knowledge. When asked...Read More
“Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams to Watch For
Every year the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) releases its list of tax scams, spotlighting the myriad ways that people try to separate you from your money.¹ The 2014 “Dirty Dozen” Identity Theft Using your personal information, an...Read More
Many People Don't Plan for the Reality of Retirement
Many of us aren’t addressing the realities of retirement planning. Here are some of the worst mistakes being made today. Underestimating life expectancyTwenty-five years ago, insurance companies estimated life expectancy at 83 years....Read More
Looking to 2015: Retirement Plan Changes
The Good News - 401(k) and 403(b) Plans. At the start of 2015, participants in 401(k) and 403(b) plans will have contribution limits. A participant will be eligible to contribute up to $18,000, a $500 increase over 2014....Read More
Celebrating the Complex Tapestry of America
On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood before the Lincoln Memorial and told a violently divided nation, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the...Read More
Certain Uncertainties in Retirement
The uncertainties we face in retirement can erode our sense of confidence, potentially undermining our outlook during those years.Indeed, according to the 2013 Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefits Research Institute,...Read More
What Is a Stretch IRA?
What Is a Stretch IRA? Tip: What’s in a Name? If you fail to name a beneficiary on your IRA, it may be much more difficult for your beneficiaries to ‘stretch’ the inherited IRA over their lifetimes.Read More
Important Birthdays Over 50
Tip: Average Benefit. In the beginning of 2014, the average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker was about $1,294. [Source: Social Security Administration, 2014] Most children stop being “and-a-half”...Read More
Inflation - Back to the Future
Inflation sometimes seems like one of those afflictions of an era long since passed into the history books. While it’s true that double-digit inflation has been absent for the last 30 years, you may remember the high inflation years...Read More
Money that Buys Good Health is Never Ill Spent
According to a 2012 survey by the Insured Retirement Institute, the average person covered by Medicare will have out-of-pocket medical expenses in excess of $4,300 a year (or $8,600 for a couple). The same report found that 63% of...Read More
Volunteering in Retirement
“This generation got no destination to hold We are volunteers of America”“Volunteers” by Jefferson Airplane¹ Those of a certain age will recall these Jefferson Airplane lyrics as a call to action, though for a different period and...Read More