What Impact Do the New Tax Laws Have on You for 2018?

December 10, 2018

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 reduced federal income tax liability for some, but not all, Americans. Wealthy residents of California, New York, and other high-tax states could face a higher tax bill when they file their 2018 return.

While cutting tax rates on ordinary income, increasing the standard deduction and doubling the federal estate and gift tax exemptions, the tax legislation also capped the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT). While once open-ended, the SALT deduction is now limited to $10,000 ($5,000 if married, filing separately).

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Pension vs. 401(k)

November 9, 2018

Given a choice, which would you choose: a guaranteed fixed income for the rest of your life, or a lump sum that you could invest? As it turns out, lots of people prefer a sure thing.

This is what a recent survey showed about public sector employees posed with the option to select a defined benefit pension plan or a 401(k)-type defined contribution individual account. In fact, even when the defined contribution plan was the default option and workers had to proactively choose the defined benefit pension plan, they made the effort. In the eight states studied that offered a choice between the two options, all had employees choosing pensions at rates of 75 percent or higher in 2015.

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Are We in a Corporate Debt Bubble?

October 11, 2018

2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the Great Recession of 2008. Despite a painfully slow recovery, U.S. economic growth has been sustainable. The stock and bond markets continue to perform well, unemployment is low and the economy is generally considered healthy and booming.

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Retirement Reality Check

September 12, 2018

The fantasy of what retirement will look like and the reality are sometimes very different. How much you have saved versus how long you can live a particular lifestyle can sometimes fall into the category labeled “unrealistic”. Though not for lack of trying, many retirees find that the life that they had in mind for retirement does not match up perfectly with their budget based on their retirement income sources. As a result of this disparity, many still working Baby Boomers plan to continue working past the age of 65 or don’t see themselves retiring at all. A third of boomers plan to still earn a steady income during their retirement. The fact is, a majority of boomers do not have the retirement savings to support themselves without working. A paltry 15% feel they have saved enough to retire. Additionally, one-third of those nearing or in retirement have not devised a written plan or strategy for their retirement assets and income.

Part of the challenge in funding retirement is that people live a lot longer. A person who retires at 65 can be expected to live another twenty years. Someone thinking they will just continue to work at their current job, for their current pay indefinitely is, unfortunately, being unrealistic. While age discrimination is illegal, many companies find a way to push older workers out in order to establish younger professionals in leadership positions. As a result, those who were hoping to stay in their position are laid-off or demoted.

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Key Steps to Maintaining a Strong Marriage in Retirement

August 20, 2018

You have lived a lifetime together. You have raised children, watched them grow, experienced life’s greatest moments and, undoubtedly, some of life’s hardest moments too. This bond has made your marriage strong but despite all of this, retirement may bring a new set of challenges that you and your spouse did not anticipate. If you’re feeling frustration or isolation as you adapt to life in this new chapter you are certainly not alone. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, the rate of divorce among American adults over 50 has doubled since the 1990s.[i] This dramatic rise is likely due to a broad spectrum of contributing factors, but one of those may be lack of planning in advance for a shared life in retirement.

In this article, we share some key elements to success for a happy marriage in retirement.

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Overcome Your Fear of Outliving Your Retirement Assets

July 18, 2018

If you are among the millions of people worried about running out of money during retirement, there are steps you can take now to improve your financial picture for an extended retirement and a long and healthy life.

According to the TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies, longevity risk is the top retirement fear of working Americans. As life expectancy has increased while retirement savings has decreased overall, people are relying on less money for a longer period of time in retirement.[i]

Fortunately, there are many strategies, investment vehicles and practical steps that can be implemented to avoid outliving your money.

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Taking the Road Less Traveled

June 18, 2018

 “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

–Robert Frost, excerpt from the Road Not Taken

In a recent article from Financial Advisor Magazine that identified the regrets many people have for not taking more risks in life. “Among the top regrets were: not following their dreams, not taking risks with their careers, not taking risks with their lives in general, and not being gutsy enough in the choices they made.”[i]

What was reassuring about these findings is that many people vowed to fix these regrets by taking more risks with the time they have left. There is an optimism there that is unique to our time. People are living longer, way longer than we were even a few decades ago and with that comes opportunities to evolve and edit things about our lives that don’t make sense or don’t satisfy us regardless of our age or stage in life.

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How your behavior can affect your investment decisions

June 11, 2018

As human beings, we can often react to events or experiences in an instinctual rather than logical or practical way. It is in our very nature and can, in many cases, not be avoided. That being said, having awareness of our natural behaviors towards experiences can help protect us from the consequences of acting on our emotions. Behavioral Finance emerged I the 1970’s with research from Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman and it is a “relatively new field that seeks to combine behavioral and cognitive psychological theory with conventional economic theory in order to propose explanations as to why people might make irrational financial decisions.”[i] In this article we identify some common behavioral biases that many investors possess in the effort to bring awareness of how your perceptions can affect your investment choices.

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Finding Neutral Ground on the Internet Rights Debate

April 9, 2018

It can be confusing when government bureaucrats and the media offer wildly different perspectives on the intent and ramifications of a new controversial policy. This was plainly evident in December regarding the issue of net neutrality.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the new “Restoring Internet Freedom Order”1 is meant to:

  • Reverse the previous “heavy-handed utility-style regulation of broadband internet access service, which imposed substantial costs on the entire internet ecosystem” in order to “protect consumers at far less cost to investment than the prior rigid and wide-ranging utility rules”
  • Restore the “longstanding, bipartisan light-touch regulatory framework that has fostered rapid internet growth, openness and freedom for nearly 20 years”
  • Restore “a favorable climate for network investment,” which is the “key to closing the digital divide, spurring competition and innovation that benefits consumers”2
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How To Determine Your Definition of Financial Success

March 28, 2018

If we look at society and societal norms, a lot of weight is given to success when it comes to defining happiness. If we see a person who is successful, it is often assumed that they are happy. On an existential level we should consider what it all means. In reality, we actually have no idea whether or not that person is either happy or successful; for a couple of reasons: First of all, we can only measure someone else’s success or happiness by what we know about them. Secondly, and more importantly, we can only measure someone else’s success or happiness by how we define success and happiness. There is really no way of knowing whether their measures are even similar to our own.

It is on this concept that we are then able to shift our focus to identifying our own unique definition of success and happiness. Once we identify those things, then we can work on building a plan and setting the goals to achieve them.

When it comes to financial success, the same case can be made as above. Identifying what financial success is, is different for everyone. The following are considerations to make when developing your own unique financial success plan.

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