If you are eligible to claim an education credit on your tax return, it could reduce the amount of tax that you owe by up to $2,500 per tax return. The two education credits that are available are the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit.Read More
Savant offers perspective on a variety of topics. Entries range from current events to timeless insights in the world of finance and investments.
Since childhood, many of us have set financial goals. Perhaps it was saving for our first bike or an ice cream treat, or simply enjoying our first taste of wealth as it accumulated in the piggy bank. Whether these actions were influenced by our parents attempting to teach responsibility or it turned out to be an innate personality trait, the process of establishing a goal and seeing the fruits of that accomplishment is as important as ever.Read More
It is that time of year again when parents find themselves becoming empty nesters as their kids head off to college. It is a time full of important, and not important, decisions to be made. Picking out the right towels, bedding, computer, books, clothes, and mini-fridge can quickly become overwhelming. However, there is a lot more that you should be considering and doing before you leave them in the rearview mirror.Read More
Do you have a loved one who is disabled or who has special needs? Many times individuals with special needs rely on public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, and other programs to help with living expenses. In order to retain eligibility for such benefits, the individual’s cash and investment assets may not exceed $2,000. This restriction often makes it difficult for special needs individuals to achieve a greater quality of life and financial independence.Read More
“What did the doctor say?” A diagnosis of a serious illness can be life changing. The need to understand treatment options and to receive medical care is often overwhelming. A new diagnosis can impact not only your day-to-day routine, but also the people who are close to you.
Finances can also be impacted. In fact, one of the areas that a hospital support group asks patients to describe is their level of ‘financial stress.’Read More
We made it through an exciting year of tax reform, and hopefully you did too! The changes to the tax code created many challenges – and opportunities.
This article aims to summarize what we saw after preparing several thousand tax returns, as well as offer opportunities that you may be able to utilize next year.Read More
At one time or another, we all have likely heard someone longing for the “good old days.” It is quite common to look back nostalgically at simpler times when we had less stress and fewer responsibilities.
While there are certainly advantages to growing up and getting older, we can glean some financial wisdom from the things we learned as kindergarteners.Read More
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?Read More
Beginning in 2018, many individuals and families lost the ability to fully deduct charitable donations as an itemized deduction. This is due to the doubling of the standard deduction and the limitation of many itemized deductions as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. For those over age 70½, a qualified charitable distribution can be a great way to make a charitable donation in a tax-efficient manner.Read More
Financial planning revolves around what is in our control. For example, we can’t control stock market returns, tax rates, or unexpected events, but we can plan to mitigate these risks through diversification, tax planning, and insurance. Of all the areas in financial planning, we probably have the highest degree of control over our income, expenses, and savings, making it extremely important to create a workable budget. Let’s review the five keys to creating a budget you can stick to.Read More
For most individuals, income often comes in the form of salary, commission, tips and other job-related earnings. What many do not realize is that there are other, more creative ways one might find themselves with income, and Uncle Sam has made it his mission to attempt to capture all of them within the tax code. One such type of income we tend to forget about is income generated when an individual acquires prize winnings.Read More
Does your financial planner advise you on the tax impact of your financial decisions as well as help you with tax saving strategies? If not, you should consider finding one who does. Here’s why your tax advisor should be your financial advisor.Read More
There are a number of important decisions that most people must make when reaching their 60s. One, of course, is when to begin receiving Social Security benefits. Another has to do with Medicare. These two benefit programs, and their claiming strategies, are inextricably linked.Read More
Crafting a great estate plan can be a fascinating exercise, yet most of us never quite get around to it. Perhaps it’s a bit like a challenging recipe: start with a natural reluctance to contemplate your own demise, sprinkle in some unique family dynamics, season liberally with ever-changing tax laws and fold in that one heir you’re not quite sure about. Is it any wonder we procrastinate?Read More
If you split your time between an Illinois residence and a Florida residence one common question is, “Can I change my residency to Florida to avoid Illinois state income tax?” The common answer is, it depends.Read More
At the beginning of every new year, there are many opportunities to reflect on the past year and plan for the year ahead. Whether or not you have made New Year’s resolutions in the past, consider making at least one this year: Resolve to create a budget and stick to it.Read More
Good money management skills are not something you are born with; rather, they are acquired over a lifetime of successes and failures. Giving your children a weekly allowance is a great way to give them experience with money and get them on the path to successful money management as an adult.Read More
As we enter what feels like an unprecedented new year of volatility, market pressure, and uncertainty, many investors are on edge. Fear can cause many to lose their better judgement. In these moments, it is critical to focus on the long term and resist the temptation to try to time the market. Let’s sort through the noise, and put some of this recent volatility in perspective.Read More
Cost basis is a crucial piece in determining how much gain/loss from the sale of an investment will be reported on your tax return.
Despite cost basis being so important, required accurate reporting of cost basis by custodians has only been in effect since 2011 for stocks (and 2012 for mutual funds).Read More
Certain events in your life are happy and planned – graduations, getting that job, and having a child. Other significant events may be sudden and unexpected – disability, divorce, and premature death. We call these “life’s critical events.” They happen to each of us, albeit not at the same time or in the same magnitude, but the associated financial consequences can be considerable.Read More
If you are anything like me, your friends are a very important part of your life. I am very blessed in that I have a large group of friends from high school.Read More
Which is a better way to save for retirement—in a traditional or Roth retirement account? At a glance, it may be difficult to know which savings option makes the most sense. Choosing the best account for your stage in life and tax bracket can impact your future account balances at retirement.Read More
There you are, in your mid 40’s, working hard and raising your family. Have you had the conversation with your parents yet? Have you received the email from mom and dad telling you that it’s time? When is it time to discuss their finances in preparation for the day when one or both of them are no longer around or able to manage their affairs?Read More
Recently I encouraged a female family member, a new college graduate, to take advantage of her employer’s retirement plan at her first “real” job. She responded that her future husband would take care of that. Note that she was single at the time of our conversation!Read More
With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday just around the corner, the holiday shopping (and giving) season officially begins this week.Read More
Recently, my family and I watched home videos until 11 PM; these were old snippets of tapes (about an hour and a half’s worth) that we had converted over to DVDs a few years ago.Read More
Bear Market or Not? What To Do
“Panic is not an investment strategy,” says Liz Ann Sonders, Chief Investment Strategies with Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.Read More
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.Read More
As a parent, you want to protect your child from harm. However, it is not always easy to foresee what the future may hold for them. As the saying goes, sometimes the best defense is a good offense.Read More