We are taking steps to make sure we can continue to serve you and maintain the health and safety of our clients and our team members as our nation deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.Read More
Did you know there are 47.5 million people around the world living with dementia? Of those, 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s dementia. Alzheimer disease is the most common form of dementia. Although dementia mainly affects older people, it is not a normal part of aging. Over 16 million people in the U.S. care for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. While the caregiving journey can be rewarding, it is no secret that it can also be overwhelmingly challenging.Read More
Why You Need to Wipe Your Cell Phone Before You Toss it and Other Critical Cyber Hygiene Guides
Pause for a moment and recall how you disposed of your last cell phone. If you didn’t wipe it before you sold, traded-in, donated or otherwise disposed of, you were handing off a gold mine for an identity thief.
Our cell phones store a considerable amount of personal and sensitive information on them. Data stored on your device may include:
Contacts in your address
Fiduciary: a legal term that has always been near and dear to us at Savant, a word that has long been toxic to brokerages and traditional investment firms, and a concept generally not understood by consumers at large.
In layman’s terms, a fiduciary is someone who is legally and morally bound to stand in your shoes, look through your eyes, and advise you and your family on important financial decisions in the same way he would make them for himself orRead 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
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
Whenever a lottery reaches a crazy amount, many people who are not typical gamblers start to dream and buy a ticket. I would personally argue that the wistful dreaming of a better life than the one we currently have is an unhealthy exercise. If I can afford a Toyota for my new car purchase, I don’t walk into a BMW dealership: I will like the Toyota I ultimately end up buying far less than I otherwise would have.
How often do you conduct business electronically? You may be surprised at the answer!
Any time you check your bank account online, have your paycheck or Social Security payment directly deposited, make contributions to your IRA, pay for your home utilities, make a purchase online, file your taxes, or use social media, you are sending or receiving information electronically. You have an electronic account in some form or another with almost every organization with which you transact.
You may recognize the phrase above, coined by the London Underground subway system. In London, “mind the gap” simply means to watch carefully as you exit the train to the platform, as there can be a gap between the surfaces. In an articleI read recently, this phrase was used in a different manner. It referred to the gap in age between millennials and baby boomers.
Did you know that by the end of 2015 millennials (peopleRead More
My interest in the island grew tremendously during the week I visited. On the last day of my vacation, I turned on the TV to check the news, and discovered an interesting trend that is occurring. There was an “invitation only” convention of the wealthiest Americans scheduled for the very next day. I discovered that the island was positioning itself to be a new tax haven in order to woo businesses and wealthy individuals there. My curiosity hadRead More
We chose Puerto Rico as our family’s Spring Break destination this year. My wife, Wendy, and I would be traveling with our two teenage children. We had narrowed it down to Puerto Rico or Washington, D.C., but decided on Puerto Rico mainly because of the late arrival of warm weather to Rockford and a recent article naming Puerto Rico as the top destination for low-cost spring break vacations for families. We were not disappointed as the temperature ranged between 75 and 90Read More
By now many of you have heard the news of a recent website security issue called the Heartbleed Bug. This issue that was identified last week has to do with vulnerability in a popular website security mechanism called OpenSSL. The purpose of OpenSSL is to encrypt traffic to and from a client computer and a web server. It is used by many websites, and it’s suggested that over 500,000 sites were using the version of OpenSSL that was flawed. Essentially,Read 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
By now, you’ve seen the final medal count at the London Olympics, and no doubt felt a stirring of national pride. American athletes took home 104 total gold, silver and bronze medals, comfortably ahead of China (87), Russia (82), Great Britain (65), Germany (44), Japan (38), Australia (35), France (34), South Korea (28) and Italy (28).
Does that mean that we Americans–so often accused of being a nation of couch potatoes–are the most athletic people in the world? Total medalRead More
There has been a lot of controversy lately surrounding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. One point of this bill that has caused a lot of questions is the Unearned Income Medicare Contribution tax that is being used to help fund Obamacare. It would create a 3.8% surtax on certain types of income above certain thresholds starting January 1, 2013.
For individuals, the 3.8% surtax is imposed on the lesser of net investment income or theRead More
Over the course of the last weekend, I was asked to differentiate between being wealthy and being rich. In the past, I had always used the words interchangeably. After doing some research, I have decided that there is a difference, and a big one at that.
Being rich is more of a comparative term. I may be considered rich when being compared to my children for example, but when compared to my parents, I am notRead More
If you want to fix the problem of rising costs in the U.S. healthcare system, or at least reduce the looming Medicare/Medicaid entitlement burden, there’s a surprisingly easy solution. In Washington policy circles, it has been estimated that more than 80% of all the dollars spent on healthcare in the U.S. are incurred in the last nine days of a person’s life. Many times, the money is spent keeping a person alive in a vegetative state, prolonging an incurable illnessRead More
In professional circles, we often talk about a “client-first” attitude, which is shorthand for giving your clients the same quality of financial advice as you would give your mother. It’s a useful shorthand way to navigate through a financial world that is still beset by incentive payments, expensive rewards for sales production, under-the-table or soft dollar incentives and a host of other ways that product vendors try to buy their way into your portfolios.
“Client-first” simply means that the client’s financialRead More
I cannot imagine that it is easy to decide which major headline or story should be published on any particular day. After all, articles on oil speculation, Apple’s new-look iPad, and the next landing spot for Peyton Manning all seemed to tickle my fancy during my personal media review today. Out of these three topics, I was particularly intrigued by Peyton Manning’s next destination because of my significant interest in professional football. I happened to be in myRead More
As we head into the election season, Washington insiders will tell you that the best way to sway undecided voters in an election is to take your tax dollars and promise to buy you something with it. This could be tax breaks, social programs, student loans, a myriad of loopholes for different corporate contributors; the list is too long to fit into this short article.
If you’re despairing about how this works in U.S. politics, consider Russia,Read 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
In 2010 Morningstar acquired footnoted.com, a site started by business reporter Michelle Leder to report news from the footnotes of SEC filings. If you have never visited the site, it’s worth a peek. This month a favorite has to be the “Top 10 disclosures for the 2011 proxy season”. With the 2011 proxy season essentially over, the report highlights perks and benefits that were all reported in footnotes of proxies filed by the companies identified. Some are just amazing!Read More
How often have we heard that life, a “successful” life, is about giving 100% all the time in everything you do? Sometimes, the quoted number is even higher. 110, 120 or even 200% have been offered as the target for greatness.
If we allow ourselves to contemplate this often-repeated mantra, we soon realize this is an impossible standard to maintain. We have all witnessed the person who is capable of tremendous deeds falter on the simplest tasks orRead More
In this video blog, Brent Brodeski, CEO and Principal, and Adam Larson, Director of Investment Research, discuss the volatility of the market over the past few weeks and why we believe these fears are overblown.Read More
With the decade nearing a close, we were recently pondering what an amazing ten year period it has been. Companies that seemed invulnerable no longer exist. Others we had hardly known about or that were at the brink of extinction are now industry leaders, In sifting through our stacks of news clippings, we came across a number of tidbits from the more distant past that offer some important lessons. Big bets on the future that may be life-changing events forRead More
Fresh off the highly publicized cash for clunkers program, the government is trying a new round of stimulus dubbed “cash for refrigerators.” This $300 million program will provide rebates between $50 and $200 for purchases of energy efficient household appliances. In order to qualify for this rebate, however, the purchased appliances need to be covered by the Energy Star seal. In 2008, approximately 55% of new household appliances met this standard.
This new initiative is expectedRead More
From 1998 until 2008, the outstanding loan balance of private student loans increased substantially – from 7% to 23%. As a result of the recent credit freeze, many of these private loan companies are no longer in the student loan business. Those companies who are still around are making private loans more expensive and more difficult to obtain.
Federal student loans – such as Stafford, Perkins, or PLUS loans – generally carry fixed rates and have flexibleRead More
I’ve had a small black book in my possession for 8-9 years. No, it is not a list of past girlfriends; each page is devoted to a different part of my financial life or my plethora of passwords. Just to give a few examples:
One page is devoted to each life insurance policy I keep on my wife and I. I detail the issue date, policy number, annual premium, the term and the toll-free phone number for the insuranceRead More
Have you been considering installing new windows or doors in your home? Now may be the perfect time to do so. On February 17 of this year, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009 into law. This law extends and increases the tax credits introduced by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This law creates a tax credit equal to 30% of the cost of new energy efficient windows and doors upRead More
If you are a regular reader of these blogs, you’ll notice ongoing references to costs. Costs are important because they directly lower returns. With this in mind, I’d like to share an interesting investment industry tactic that confuses investors.
Mutual funds dominate the investment world. They offer diversification and are easy to buy, sell, and own. Every mutual fund has costs detailed near the front of their prospectus. Too often, the same fund offers multiple variations withRead More