18 Feb
February 18, 2020

10 Lessons From a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional Who Did It Himself

I lived most of my life in the Midwest – born and raised in Minnesota, college in Michigan and then 15 years in Chicago. My family was finally ready to get out of the cold, so we embarked on a two-year journey that ended with us settling into our new life in Phoenix.

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19 Dec
December 19, 2019

You may have spent the last 30 years (or more) working tirelessly and are now beginning to realize that retirement is staring you right in the face. All those years of saving, putting your kids through college, and delaying traveling with your spouse are now over (oh wait – maybe that’s just me and my spouse? Please don’t tell her). It’s now time when these goals, whatever they may be, start to become a reality.

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12 Jul
July 12, 2019

With the 2018 tax year closed, most taxpayers saw a decrease in their refunds, and some even owed taxes when they usually receive refunds.  This was due to the adjusted withholding tables that came into effect in February 2018, lowering the amount of taxes taken out of taxpayers’ paychecks.  Since less tax was paid throughout the year, many saw a tax bill larger than they anticipated when filing their tax returns.

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02 Apr
April 02, 2019

Gen Xers range from 35 to 49 years old, sandwiched between the Boomers and Millennials, who factor in to create the Gen X Jam.

As a Gen Xer myself — one who works in the financial services industry to boot — I feel the pressure of what I call the “Gen X Jam.” How will I support my retirement years and help my aging parents? What about my kids’ college education?

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04 Oct
October 04, 2018

When people think of retirement, obvious things come to mind: Did I save enough to be able to achieve my goals in retirement?  How much am I able to spend?  What happens if we experience another recession?  Although those are very important considerations, few take the time to examine their emotional well-being and how it will affect their daily life/routine when they retire.

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17 Oct
October 17, 2017

Retirement plan trigger events (death, disability, separation from service, or reaching age 59 ½) come with an opportunity. If you have company stock in an employer-qualified retirement plan, you may have an opportunity to elect net unrealized appreciation (NUA), allowing you to roll your company stock into a taxable account for potential tax savings.

Potential Tax Savings with NUA

Electing NUA is trading ordinary income tax rates for capital gain tax rates.

When an NUA election is made, only your cost basis (the

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29 Mar
March 29, 2017

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 to

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01 Sep
September 01, 2016

Retiring or changing employers is a big transition for most people. One way to maximize this time of change is to utilize a unique opportunity to roll your 401(k) monies from your old employer’s plan into an IRA. Doing so provides you with more flexibility and control over your retirement savings.

When leaving an employer you generally have three options for your 401(k) monies:

Leave your funds in the 401(k) plan
Take a direct distribution of the funds (penalties may apply if you

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07 Jul
July 07, 2016

For charitably inclined individuals, many strategies exist that allow you to meet your philanthropic goals while creating tax savings. One strategy to consider is a Qualified Charitable Distribution, or QCD. QCDs are distributions that come directly from your IRA to a qualified charity of your choice. This type of IRA distribution is not included in the taxpayer’s AGI. QCDs became permanent with the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015, and this strategy allows individuals to

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04 Jan
January 04, 2016

Ben Franklin once said, “Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better man.” The beginning of a new year often leads us to examine our lives and find ways to battle vices.

While many of our goals for the New Year may be physical in nature, there are many parallels between our physical and financial well being. When I think of financial goals, I divide

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09 Nov
November 09, 2015

Have you asked yourself where your paycheck will come from in retirement? Once taxes  are considered, will it be enough to live the way you want? For most of us, starting and ending our career with the same company is a thing of the past, as are the days of pension checks funding the majority of our retirement.  For better or worse, most of us now bear the responsibility for our own retirement planning and determining how our savings will

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04 Nov
November 04, 2015

My three-year-old daughter was in the checkout line at a craft store with my wife, happily dressed up for the day as a witch. She had a black dress and black hat, plus she was excitedly holding a bouquet of artificial flowers. (After all, it was a craft store!) Another mother and slightly older daughter waited in front of them in the line. The child pointed at my daughter and said in a loud voice, “Look, Mom – that girl’s

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12 Oct
October 12, 2015

When the markets decline, it’s natural to want to sell equities. It’s hard to watch your account values go down and listen to your advisor telling you to be patient. Although selling equities when they are down is a bad decision, there are things you can do to make the most of a downturn. A Roth conversion is one possible way to take advantage of declining markets.

A Roth IRA is a retirement savings vehicle that grows tax-free. Withdrawals are also

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18 Aug
August 18, 2015

You have worked hard, saved and accumulated wealth, and are now entering the years when you can start benefiting from the money you’ve saved as well as government-provided benefits. There are many milestones during this time period, and it may be difficult to keep them all straight.

Here are a few highlights of what you can expect:

Age 59 ½: This is the magic age at which you gain access to all your retirement accounts, including

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10 Aug
August 10, 2015

Our journey through life involves setting goals such as graduating from college, buying home, starting a new business, or traveling the world, and working to accomplish those goals. It’s invigorating to identify a dream and set plan in place to achieve it. The feeling of pride that comes from reaching a new milestone and realizing the fruit of our efforts is one of a kind.

Saving for retirement is a very important life goal but it can

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17 Dec
December 17, 2014

If you had the ability to take a refund of your Social Security tax withholding and invest the money yourself, would you do it? What about if the system changed and you were required to contribute your equivalent current withholding to a tax-deferred investment account from the beginning? 

Let’s review question number one first:

Pretend for a moment that you are 22, new to the workforce, and earning $35,000 annually.  The Social Security Administration continues as is during your first 10 years of

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15 Dec
December 15, 2014

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 their

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25 Nov
November 25, 2014

Inaugurated just after the great inflation of the 1970s, it’s no surprise Ronald Reagan claimed, “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hit man.” Certainly hyperinflation and stagflation can be trouble for an economy, but moderate inflation is actually a sign of a healthy economy. With that said, even moderate inflation can have a large impact on your purchasing power over the long run.

In the

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20 Oct
October 20, 2014

If some is good, more is better.  While exceptions to this rule certainly exist, I don’t think you will find many people who will argue this stance when it comes to their retirement funds.  In my previous article, “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?” I discussed how you can use time as a machine to compound wealth. Here are additional steps that can help you work toward a higher return on your 401(k) and propel you closer to your ideal

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01 Oct
October 01, 2014

On the surface converting an IRA account to a Roth account seems to make perfect sense. What a great way to pass on tax free assets to the next generation or even have tax free money that you can take out, at your discretion, during retirement. Before you rush out and convert your IRA to a Roth account, however, let’s take a closer look.

First and foremost, the president included a few proposals in his 2015 budget to

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