China and the Markets (09/08/2015)

On August 10th the S&P 500 was at 2104. By August 25th it was at 1868. In other words, the S&P had fallen by 236 points, or 11.22% in 11 trading days. What caused this and what does it mean?

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Buckets of Money (08/06/2015)

In my study of financial planning, one of the first concepts I learned was to create a future income stream for retirement using three imaginary buckets of money. The first bucket would contain tax-deferred savings. The second would contain a combination of after-tax and tax-deferred savings. The third bucket would contain after-tax dollars potentially growing tax-free.

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Short Term Rates (07/24/2015)

During this past month, the problems and difficulties of both Greece and China have been major news. At the June 17th meeting of the Federal Reserve Board (Fed), they were already discussing the issues of these two countries and how they might impact the U.S. economy. Apparently, from the released report, the likelihood of the Fed raising rates is still in play.

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Rules of Thumb (06/25/2015)

We all have different ideas about which budgeting strategies work best for us, but some general guidelines are often helpful when determining a reasonable budget.  Guidelines offering ratios between income and expenditures can help you keep numbers in balance, especially if you are considering buying or renting a different home or making major changes such as retirement.

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Estate Planning (06/11/2015)

We tend to look at what we own and what we owe in a rather abstract way.  Perhaps we own a home, car(s), some investments, a retirement plan(s), a vacation home or time share, art work, personal items, life insurance, pets, and other assets we don’t really think about.  We rarely think about what all this stuff is really worth.  We may understand that we can give away, as a gift, up to $14,000 annually to as many people as we like, and if we have a spouse that would amount to $28,000.

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The Value of Education (05/27/2015)

This blog will cover one of many topics to be considered when planning for a student’s college education. Cost is certainly a major concern when a student is creating a list of possible schools, along with other factors that will determine the value of the education. 

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Diversified and Patient (05/07/2015)

The markets can be uplifting at times and downright disappointing at other times. As long-term investors, we don’t want to look at short-term swings in the marketplace. It drives me nuts when clients tell me that they look at their accounts on a daily or even weekly basis. If you do so, you will drive yourself nuts. A recently retired client told me he was looking at his investments on a daily basis (I thought he should get a better hobby).  One day his portfolio went up and he slept like a baby.  The very next day, the portfolio went down and he couldn’t sleep.

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Check your Beneficiaries! (04/14/2015)

An expression people repeat over and over is “the one constant is change”. In our business, we are often consulted as a result of changes such as a new job, marriage, divorce, death, and relocation. In the past few months, I have seen several cases in which, amidst these changes, beneficiaries were not updated or changed on accounts, and the result was detrimental.

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Neutrality in the Market (04/02/2015)

The first quarter of 2015 is over. The stock market went up, the stock market went down. It kept doing this all during the quarter. At the end of the quarter, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, an index of 30 blue chip stocks, had dropped 0.3%. The S&P 500, a much broader index of the market, was up 0.4%. In summary, not much change to either of the indexes.  What was more apparent was that other asset classes did better than the U.S. stock market during the first quarter. I am always emphasizing diversification and this quarter was an excellent example of why it is so important.

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Which IRA works best for you? (2/25/2015)

Anyone who earns income through employment or has a spouse with earned income may be eligible to contribute to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).  The common question is which IRA, Traditional or Roth IRA, is best for you? 

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