Tax filing season is fast approaching and with that will come another barrage of attempts at tax return fraud. The attacks on your information and your refund continue at an alarming rate. To help prevent becoming a victim, it’s crucial you stay aware of possible scams and safeguard your personal information. A common scam that startles tens of thousands of us each year is receiving a call from an IRS impersonator.Read More
There is usually some permanent damage done when you lose someone you love. Most of the time, this comes in the form of grieving for that special person. From the benefit of time, the intense grieving usually fades away. Survivors are left with the burden of surviving, and, financially speaking, sometimes there is little available to help.
When Social Security was passed in 1935 it was strictly a benefit for retirees. It wasn’t until 1939 that a change was added toRead More
The news tends to over-dramatize the subject matter on which it is reporting. All too often this results in strong opinions or flat-out false statements. When it comes to Social Security benefits, the most common opinion I hear is that Social Security is going broke. It’s the elephant in the room as nervous clients jokingly comment that these benefits cannot be counted on any longer.
Social Security benefits are not going bankrupt.
It has been and still is in aRead More
Let’s face it…summer is almost over. You can blame Earth’s axis for not standing up straight, but you’re probably too busy trying to soak up the last of the sun’s warmer rays. While relaxing pool side, check out these 10 tips to help you gear up for college this fall.
1. Call the Financial Aid Office
Did you fill out the FAFSA? Make sure your college has an updated version to ensure your financial aid is current and not delayed. Check outRead More
It’s a tough market out there. Investors are nervous, and rightfully so! Although I’m an optimist, each day the market drops a little (or a lot!), I get a sickening feeling in my stomach. It’s not because I am invested in the stock market…I’m 31 years old and 100% in a diversified stock portfolio. I’m worried for my clients, who are my family, friends, and those with whom I have become newly acquainted. All of them are hard-working (or wereRead More
June 26, 2015 marked a historic decision when the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry in all states (Obergefell v Hodges). This means that financial benefits available only to traditional married couples can now be enjoyed by couples of the same sex.
Prior to June 26, 2015, same-sex couples could receive Social Security benefits based on a combination of legal factors such as jurisdiction of marriage, residency, and whether there was a non-legal civil arrangement otherRead More
There are two camps among income tax-paying individuals: The one that owes tax upon filing their return and the one that receives a refund (technically, there is a third camp that neither owes nor receives). Tax professionals and financial gurus within each group have their own reasons for believing their camp is the right camp to pitch their tent and start roasting marshmallows. Here are the main arguments from both sides to help you determine if you needRead More
I remember reading an article several months ago about a financial advisor paving the way in the industry with her unique rule for taking on new clients. Essentially, she would only accept new clients preparing for retirement if they were willing to run through her proprietary budgeting process.
The budgeting process that this advisor implemented worked best for new clients that had a goal of retiring in the next year or so. The goal was for each client to review theirRead More
By now everyone and their brother probably knows the pros of owning a Roth IRA, but what about other options? Yes, there are other ways to build your ideal future! Having a tax-free bucket of money can provide tax planning flexibility in retirement income strategies that allows you to live the retirement lifestyle you’ve always wanted.
While Roth IRAs are important retirement investing tools, they have restrictions on who can fund them in any given year. For example, high income earnersRead More
Starting January 1, 2015, individual retirement account (IRA) owners will only be allowed to make an IRA-to-IRA rollover one time in any 365-day period. An IRA-to-IRA rollover is simply a distribution from one IRA that gets sent to another IRA. Typically, an individual will have more than one IRA when they have worked for several employers. Each time they leave one employer for another they role their employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k), into an IRA. This can alsoRead More
For all the honest, good people out there trying to live their lives the right way, there are groups of con artists trying to steal it away. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States, and yet it seems we can do little to stop it. Most often identity theft makes the news because of online shopping security breaches. However, identity theft victims aren’t limited to those who shop online—another serious threat is tax identityRead More
January is Financial Wellness Month, so each year at this time, I take a few moments to reflect on my own personal financial planning. I think about what I did well and where I can improve. Because it is the beginning of the year, I feel more comfortable implementing any changes that I need to make. As I was keeping track of my budgeting and tax return preparation items throughout 2013, I found a couple of tips worth sharing thatRead More
How many times have you found yourself saying, “I can’t believe it’s almost the end of the year!” What little extra time we have to spare over the last couple months of the year is often spent decorating for the holidays, scheduling time with our families, and making several trips to the store. After all, ‘tis the season!
Well, in the financial planning world, ‘tis the season to do some other things as well. For instance, there are a slew ofRead More
Whoever said “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” was unaware how often I eat out at my friends’ expense. Of course, I understand that someone has to pay for the lunch; I just know that it’s usually not me. From a planning perspective, a “free lunch” might relate to the relatively unknown one-time IRA to HSA transfer. This rule allows an individual to transfer some of his or her tax-deferred IRA dollars to a high-deductible savings account. IfRead More
Although families are primarily responsible for covering the costs of higher education, there is a lot of flexibility as to who can receive additional support from external sources. While finding these resources is not an easy task, for parents and students who are willing to invest the time, rewards can abound. Even if financial aid is not received, the lesson a student learns from researching and putting forth their best efforts to save money will pay dividends on itsRead More
Way back in early 2011, the Social Security Administration (SSA) stopped mailing Social Security statements to U.S. workers age 25 and older. Almost a year later, the SSA started sending annual statements to workers age 60 and older who were not receiving benefits. News like this doesn’t typically hit everyone’s radar; however, if you’re like me, you soon noticed that your Social Security statement did not come in the mail around your birthday. And if you didn’t doRead More
Many people, including myself, find that the best time to start anything is at the beginning of some specific time period. For instance, every January 1st a slew of individuals start getting into shape. Why not start on December 27th? I am sure there are some psychological studies looking into this phenomenon. Perhaps I will research this, but if I do, it would be best if I waited until February 1st.
For all of the many things that areRead More
“The October Effect” is the theory that the stock market will see large declines in the month of October. October Effect theorists suggest that individuals should sell off their equity positions before the month of October to avoid inevitable losses.
One reason why individuals believe in the October Effect is the Great Depression. The Great Depression had several “Black” days in October, such as Black Thursday (October 24th, 1929), Black Monday (October 28th, 1929), and Black Tuesday (October 29th,Read More
I have no idea how Michael Phelps and Gabrielle Douglas invest their earnings. They might be solicited by brokers to place trades to purchase hot stocks like Facebook, Inc. (FB) or Apple, Inc. (AAPL). They might even be encouraged to put some of their money towards last year’s best performing mutual fund. Or, maybe their investing behavior mimics their preparation for the Olympic Games; putting a long-term strategy in place with the assistance of a team of professionals whoRead More
If you are looking to free up cash flow, refinancing your mortgage might be one of the best solutions in today’s low-interest rate market. With the Federal Reserve pledging to keep interest rates low, qualified homeowners still have time to run a simple analysis to determine if refinancing makes sense for them.
The decision whether or not to refinance your mortgage involves weighing the costs and benefits. Will the refinancing of your home produce enough savings to justify the cost involvedRead More
Around this time each year, the NCAA basketball tournament is well under way with 64 college teams battling to be crowned the best team in the nation. Most NCAA basketball fans will fill in a bracket with friends and coworkers to see if they have what it takes to predict the winner. Will it be the favorites like Kentucky or Syracuse, or the underdogs like Michigan or Murray State?
A similar activity takes place in the investment world; however, it isRead More
Have you met Bob? You probably know a Bob. Bob has always been a disciplined saver and has built up a large nest egg over the years. Bob is fairly young and plans to retire in the next five to ten years. With longevity being in his family, he expects to live for quite some time, and that means his retirement is looking like a solid 30 years. Bob is living on cloud nine because the last timeRead More
Each Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) has taken an oath to follow the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility of the CFP Board of Standards. Below are the Principles that each Certified Financial Planner agrees to abide by, as well as a brief explanation of each:
A CFP® must demonstrate his/her integrity. This involves being honest and not taking advantage of clients for one’s own personal gain. When an individual reaches out for financial advice, they areRead More
Each spring, thousands of people take part in the ritual known as “Spring Cleaning.” Rugs are shaken out, window and door screens are sprayed with water, and the garage gets a much-needed sweep. This creates a sense of cleanliness and new beginnings for the upcoming summer season. However, what some people fail to realize is that “Spring Cleaning” can also mean starting fresh or “cleaning-up” other areas of your life.
When was the last time you prepared a snapshot of whereRead More