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The Newly Found, Lost Generation

The new crop of young adults who went to and graduated from college during the midst of the millennium’s economic decline should all be issued “I survived the recession,” tee shirts. There’s a lot resting on their shoulders now, and yet many are still struggling to find jobs and get a foothold in the career of their choice.

 

But like previous generations before them, learning comes in baby steps and often enough from the experience of overcoming adversity. If suffering builds character, then today’s young adults may become one of the most charismatic generations in recent memory. After all, they did go from being the “entitled” generation to “une generation purdue” (the lost generation) in a span of about five years.

 

When managing their own finances, what remains to be seen is whether these young adults will be aggressive risk-takers in order to make up for early lost ground, or more conservative after witnessing losses experienced by their parents.

 

In a recent behavioral finance report from Merrill Lynch, the author refers to today’s young adults as “savvy, independent, skeptical and far more conservative than some might think.” Some of the observations of this report include:

·         Millennials take nothing at face value; they want to be shown the math.

·         Independent but not unorthodox; their investment approach is similar to their parents.

·         Millennials don’t want their lives to revolve around money; young adults who inherit a large sum of money say they don’t want to get richer, but rather do something important with what they’ve been given.

·         They say that the real path to wealth is through business innovation – not investing.

 

 

 

 

[CLICK HERE to read report, “Millennials and Money” at Merrill Lynch’s Private Banking and Investment Group, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read, “Ten ‘Easy’ Steps to Financial Success,” at Forbes, March 26, 2013.]

 

As was inevitable, the millennial are now moving into our neighborhoods, and it’s a good thing, too. The rise of newly formed households has helped drive demand in the housing industry – lowering inventory and thereby increasing prices. These young adults represent the largest number of potential homebuyers coming in to the market. After a four-year delay, there’s plenty of pent-up demand as they acquire jobs and move out of their parent’s home.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “GenX is finally in a mood to buy (houses),” at USA Today, March 28, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Austin named best place for young adults,” at Austin Business Journal, March 27, 2013.]

 

The Merrill Lynch study also revealed that young adults are very open to receiving financial advice. If you have an adult child you think would benefit from a discussion of our services, please encourage him or her to contact us to get that conversation started.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Test Your Financial Fluency” at Kiplinger, March 2013.]

 

By contacting us you may be provided with information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

 

The information and opinions contained herein provided by third parties have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. It is given for informational purposes only. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.

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Market and Economic Update

Just weeks after the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) reached a record high, the S&P 500 closed at a new high of 1,569.19 on Thursday, March 28 – four points above its previous record of 1,565.15 back in October of 2007. The index remains short of its all-time trading high of 1,576.09.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Standard & Poor’s 500 index closes at a record high, beating October 2007 mark,” at StarTribune, March 28, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “S&P 500 Milestone Has More Meaning than Dow Record for Many,” at The Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2013.]

 

While the U.S. continues to flirt with economic recovery, we’re being reined in by worries stemming from Italy and the rest of Europe – not to mention the latest debacle in Cypress. Investors continue to buy on weakness and the stock market has seen rapid inflows in the first quarter that rival the marked outflows of 2007.

 

[CLICK HERE to read, “Wall Street slips as euro zone concerns drag,” at Reuters, March 27, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Investing: Funds soar in the first quarter,” at USA Today, March 28, 2013.]

 

Economic moves by the Federal Reserve – namely quantitative easing – continue to abate negative risks. The Federal Open Market Committee recently announced moderate economic growth in the wake of improving numbers in housing values/sales, a gradual decline in unemployment, and positive signs in personal income and savings growth.

 

However, until it sees significant improvement throughout the economy and the labor market in particular, the Fed reiterated its intention to continue the purchase of $40 billion of mortgage backed securities and $45 billion of Treasuries each month. It is maintaining a federal funds rate of 0% to 0.25% for “at least as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6.5%.”

 

[CLICK HERE to read the Federal Reserve Press Release from March 20, 2013.]

 

With market fundamentals improving, you may consider repositioning money to take advantage of gains. However, remember that an important element of successful financial management is to focus on your goals – both long and short-term.

 

Where you position money should be directly related to what you hope it will accomplish. We’re here to help you focus on goals. Please contact us to discuss what that means for you.

 

By contacting us you may be provided with information regarding the purchase of insurance.

 

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.   

 

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Congress Hard at Work

For all the criticism received prior to the New Year, both houses in Congress seem to be in full swing working on legislation on a wide range of issues, from budget control to gun control.

 

As for the budget, the huge divide doesn’t really appear to be getting any closer. With one phase of the sequester underway as of March 1, we now have another six-month “band-aid” instead of a long-term resolution.

 

As the budget challenge lingers, we also draw closer to another battle over increasing the debt limit, scheduled to bump into its ceiling later this summer. The financial analysts at Fidelity believe that fiscal debates will be ongoing until our debt situation stabilizes–calling this our “new normal.”

 

[CLICK HERE to read, “Congress avoids shutdown; bickers over 2014 budget,” at CNN.com, March 22, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “What the budget battles mean for investors” at Fidelity, December 10, 2012.]

 

On the health care front, Paul Ryan and the GOP are still trying to overturn Obamacare. In addition to the wide-sweeping proposals to do away with much of the legislation, smaller bills are being introduced to chip away at some of the smaller issues the bill faces.

 

For example, the “Access to Independent Health Insurers Advisors Act” is designed to specifically exclude agent compensation from the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) formula–primarily in the individual and small group markets. The Patient Protection and Affordability Act currently restricts health insurer profits by requiring that no more than 20 percent of an insurer’s expenses be attributed to non-medical costs. This includes health insurance broker commissions.

 

Expanded coverage requirements and the restricted medical loss ratio could result in profit losses for insurers. It is anticipated that they will reduce broker commissions to help shore up margins. This proposed legislation is designed to exclude broker commissions from the MLR so this field remains viable to help people navigate the complex health care market in the future.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Senate first at bat in 113th with MLR bill introduction,” at LifeHealthPro, March 22, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Senate Dems vote to repeal part of health care law,” at Benefitspro, March 22, 2013.]

 

Speaking of new legislation, to combat the threat of gun violence in South Dakota schools, the state has passed a law allowing school teachers to bring their own weapons to school. You can read more about this and the history of gun legislation in this country, below.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “A State Backs Guns in Class for Teachers” at The New York Times, March 8, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read the special report, “Guns in America,” at The Washington Post, March 13, 2013.]

 

Remember that whenever new legislation gets passed, it’s important to understand how changes can impact your financial situation. If you would like a personal review and consultation, please give us a call.

 

Your financial professional is not permitted to offer, and no statement contained herein shall constitute tax, legal or accounting advice. Individuals should consult with a qualified professional regarding the applicability of this information to your situation. By contacting us you may be provided with information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

 

By contacting us you may be provided with information regarding the purchase of insurance.

 

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.   

 

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Good News Abounds in the Housing Market

In March, average fixed mortgage rates moved lower than in recent months. In fact, they actually average even lower than this time last year. That’s particularly good news in light of the pick-up in the residential real estate market. This spring season has already resulted in a dramatic shift from buyer to seller’s market in much of the country.

 

While buyer traffic is up 40 percent from last year, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), lower inventory is what’s keeping sales in check–and driving prices higher.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “January Existing-Home Sales Hold with Steady Price Gains, Seller’s Market Developing,” at Realtor.org, February 21, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to view the video, “How ‘real’ is the real estate recovery?” at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, December 10, 2012.]

 

Higher prices mean more borrowing, as evidenced by the jump in the number of jumbo mortgage applications recently. The NAR reports that sales are up by 38.7 percent from a year ago for homes with values between $750,000 to $1 million and 25.7 percent for homes over $1 million. That’s quite a remarkable comeback when you consider that jumbos were essentially unavailable in the wake of the housing crises. The hot areas of the country for high-net home sale activity include San Francisco Bay, Chicago’s north shore and the Hamptons.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Loans Go Jumbo, Again,” at Realty Times, March 1, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read, “Mortgage Rates Break Holding Pattern, Move Lower” at Realty Times, March 1, 2013.]

 

Itchy snowbirds may be out searching for a vacation home to help escape the long winter months of extreme weather that we now seem to be experiencing. Warmer cities such as Phoenix and Las Vegas saw the largest increases in their February year-over-year asking home prices–at jumps of 24.9 and 20.7 percent respectively.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “As Asking Home Prices Keep Rising, Inventory No Longer in Free Fall” at Trulia, March 5, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Vacation home buyers need to consider hidden costs: Property and State Taxes, Other Costs,” at CPA Practice Advisor, February 23, 2013.]

 

After years of watching home values drop, it’s good to see the market rebound. Even if you’re planning on staying put, home sales at higher prices in your area will help increase the value of your home. And, by the way, your property taxes.

 

As always, we’re here to help you make any big financial decisions. Give us a call if you’d like to discuss your situation.

 

Your financial professional is not permitted to offer, and no statement contained herein shall constitute tax, legal or accounting advice. Individuals should consult with a qualified professional regarding the applicability of this information to your situation. By contacting us you may be provided with information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

  

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.   

 

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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The Planning for Retirement Conundrum

In our personal lives, we approach large amounts of debt with a long-term timeframe. For example, the 30-year mortgage. So it stands to reason that the U.S. national debt – currently in the ballpark of $16.7 trillion – will require a long-term plan as well.

 

If you’d like to get the up-to-the-fraction-of-a-second update on our national debt toll, check out the Debt Clock:

 

[CLICK HERE to review the, “U.S. National Debt Clock: Real Time” at USDebtClock.org.]

 

Planning for retirement poses the same long-term challenges, for both us as individuals and for the government. Many of us may have to reduce current spending as well as save aggressively and invest prudently to create our own retirement income. Likewise, the government has to find a way to fund and/or cut Social Security and Medicare benefits for the millions of baby boomers scheduled to retire over the next 20 years.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Testing Two Retirement ‘Truisms,’” at WealthManagement.com, March 8, 2012.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Medicare Paid $5.1B For Poor Nursing Home Care,” at Modern Health Care, February 28, 2013.]

 

At this point, it may be smart to think of your personal savings and investment strategy as your primary source of retirement income, and Social Security benefits as supplementary. That’s the way the system was designed to work back in 1935 when President Roosevelt signed it into law, but it hasn’t really worked out that way. In recent decades, far too many people have been relying primarily on Social Security benefits for the bulk of their retirement income – particularly elderly women.

 

Over time, things change. Like the fact that most women now work and earn their own income and contribute to their own retirement plans. In fact, recent research indicates that women are rapidly closing the gap between the percentage of income they stash away for retirement when compared to men.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Men vs. Women: Who Wins at Retirement Savings?” at Bank Investment Marketing, March 7, 2013.]

 

The reason planning for retirement is so difficult is because few people can accurately predict how long they are going to live. You could live significantly longer than you might imagine – as evidenced by comedian George Burns, who smoked cigars for more than 70 years and still lived to age 100.

 

The question is how much income to draw from your retirement savings assets as a new retiree so as not to risk running out later. There are many products and strategies on the market these days that can help address this issue. If it’s one you’re pondering and would like to discuss further, we’d be happy to help you develop a strategy that’s appropriate for your goals and financial situation.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Say Goodbye to the 4% Rule at The Wall Street Journal,” March 1, 2013.]

 

By contacting us, you may be provided with information regarding the purchase of insurance products. While we believe this information to be reliable as of Mach 2013, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s solution.

 

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.   

 

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Health Care Deductions

With all of the attention given to the new tax provisions passed in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, it may be tough to focus on last year’s laws in order to complete last year’s tax return. Whether you’re planning to complete your return by April 15 or file for an extension, don’t forget the deductions and credits available for 2012 – especially when it comes to medical expenses.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Deducting Medical Expenses: You can deduct uninsured health costs although the rules change in 2013,” at Nolo.com, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read, “Topic 502 – Medical and Dental Expenses,” at IRS.gov, February 4, 2013.]

 

With so many boomers caring for aging parents, you may be eligible to deduct some of those expenses. If Mom earned less than $3,800 in 2012 (in most cases, that income level excludes Social Security benefits) and you provided more than half of her financial support, you may be able to claim her as a dependent – with the accompanying dependent exemption. This is true even if she doesn’t live with you.

 

In fact, if you paid for any of her medical or nursing care expenses, as well as home medical equipment or improvements for wheelchair access, you also may be able to itemize your costs as qualified medical expenses. Your 2012 return is the last one in which you can itemize and deduct medical expenses that total more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income – including out-of-pocket expenses for medical, dental or vision care. Starting in 2013, the threshold for itemizing medical expenses will be 10 percent.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Seven health tax tips,” at LifeHealthPro.com, March 8, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Did You Make Medically Necessary Home Modifications?” at HouseLogic.com, December 21, 2012.]

 

Other deductible medical expenses include:

 

·         The standard mileage rate is 23 cents per mile of use of your car for medical purposes

·         Premiums for Medicare Part B, Part D (Prescription Drug) or a Medicare Supplemental plan that were deducted from your Social Security check may qualify as   deductible

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Tax deductions for medical expenses,” at The Orange County Register, March 3, 2013.]

 

It’s a good idea to incorporate tax planning as part of your overall financial plan. If you’d like to discuss strategies you can employ today to help reduce your tax bill in the future, please give us a call.

 

Your financial professional is not permitted to offer, and no statement contained herein shall constitute tax, legal or accounting advice. Individuals should consult with a qualified professional regarding the applicability of this information to your situation. By contacting us you may be provided with information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

 

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.

 

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Sequestration Frustration

When did the word “sequestration” first penetrate our mainstream American vocabulary? It’s generally used in a trial when the jury is sequestered so they can’t talk to anyone about the case.

 

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary has several definitions that don’t seem to apply to our budget’s current disposition, although it does say that, in law, sequestration is a writ authorizing a law-enforcement official to take custody of a defendant’s property in order to enforce a judgment.

 

Regardless of what we used to think it means, the word is on everybody’s radar now. In the days leading up to the March 1, deadline, the usual hype led to speculation about the automatic spending cuts and their impact on the country’s growth.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Sequester Q&A: For U.S., a new season of uncertainty,” at US News & World Report, February 21, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Democrats Propose Tax Increases to Replace Spending Sequestration,” at Mondaq.com, February 25, 2013.]

 

The budget plan President Obama proposed in 2012 calls for reducing the value of itemized deductions and certain tax exclusions for taxpayers in higher than the 28 percent tax bracket. As for corporate taxes, he wants to close loopholes to effectively lower tax rates from 35 to 28 percent for most corporations; 25 percent for manufacturers.

 

While many liberal Democrats have dug their heels in the sand on entitlement spending cuts, the President has offered to reduce Medicare spending by $400 billion over 10 years, change an inflation formula for government benefits that would result in lower cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security and other programs, and reduce other spending for total reductions of $900 billion over 10 years.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Barack Obama still betting on big deal with odds against him,” at Yahoo Finance, March 1, 2013.]

 

Many pundits have pointed out that the implications of the automatic spending cuts will not be immediately evident. However, while the crisis may not be felt nationwide, it will be felt personally. Affected Americans include navy shipbuilder small business owners and workers whose defense budget contracts get cancelled. Additionally, custodians and security guards at the Capital will receive an immediate pay cut.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the press release, “4 myths about the spending cuts,” at CNNnews.com, March 1, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to watch the video, “Busting Sequestration: It’s Much Ado About Nothing,” at Bloomberg, March 1, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Why Long-term Debt Solutions Require a Break from Sequestered Thinking,” at Knowledge@Wharton, February 27, 2013.]

 

As we meander through this year with continued political and economic uncertainly, perhaps we can take a little more control back in our own lives. If you’ve been threatening sequestration cuts in your own household spending, perhaps it’s time to either make them happen or figure out how to get your assets working harder to earn more income. We’re here if you’d like some guidance to help you do that.

 

While we believe this information to be reliable as of March 2013, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.

 

By contacting us you may be provided with information regarding the purchase of insurance.

 

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.   

 

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Why Does Health Care Cost So Much?

Do you know what a routine venipuncture is? That’s a fancy way of saying a nurse drew blood from your arm. Do you know how much one 325mg acetaminophen tab might cost you in a hospital? That’s the generic version of a Tylenol pill, by the way, and just one will run you $1.50 at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

 

If you’ve ever received a bill from a hospital before, you’re probably aware of the sticker shock. Even short stays as routine as childbirth can yield indecipherable bills and unbelievably high charges.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Why Medical Bills are Killing Us,” at Time Magazine, February 20, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read the press release, “Medical Bills Bankrupt Families With Children Who Are Mentally Ill,” at abcNews.com, February 18, 2013.]

 

Most of us who enjoy large group health insurance probably don’t even look at the bills. We check out the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) form that gets mailed to us by our insurer to find out how much of the bill will be covered how much we’re on the hook for. The richer the insurance coverage, the less we care how much the provider charges.

 

Perhaps the question about rising medical expenses shouldn’t be about who pays the bill, but rather why each service or prescription or piece of durable medical equipment costs so much?

 

[CLICK HERE to read, “Final reform-law insurance regs released,” at ModernHealthcare.com, February 22, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read, “High Medical Bills Driving Some Americans to Extreme Measures,” at US News & World Report, February 18, 2013.]

Because health care policies are so complex and the red tape you have to wade through to get answers is so onerous, we generally pay our bills and move along. Except for some people. You probably know of people who have called the billing office of a hospital or doctor and negotiated down the charges on their bill.

 

[CLICK HERE to read, “Choosing Wisely campaign expands list of questionable tests, procedures,” at ModernHealthcare.com, February 21, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read, “Cut Your Medical Bills by 30%,” at MSNMoney, January 25, 2013.]

 

It may make you wonder if medicine isn’t marketed like furniture. After all, doesn’t it seem like every weekend of the year a local furniture store advertises a deep-discount sale? It’s easy to imagine the store marks up its retail prices significantly enough to offer radical sales and still clear an immense profit.

 

Doesn’t it stand to reason that medical services do the same thing? Only instead of advertising a sale (e.g., “This week only: strep testing and antibiotics on sale at local pediatrician office”), perhaps providers offer lower prices only to those patients bold enough to call in and complain.

 

Changes are coming. With expenses spiraling out of control, something had to be done, so the government stepped in with its version of a solution. However, perhaps the solution starts with each of us. Ask more questions at the point of care about costs and alternatives, read our bills and pick up the phone to question what’s on them.

 

As always, we’re here to help you devise ways to plan for health care and other major financial expenditures in your life.

 

The information and opinion in the above articles are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. This information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.

 

By contacting us you may be provided with information regarding the purchase of insurance products

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The Toll of Education

Who knows what makes one child better able to grasp mathematical concepts than others? Is it genetic? Is it access to better education?

 

Most of us know people who inherently seem to “get it,” but it’s likely we know a lot more who struggle with math. Much like art or music, the math gene may well be a talent handed down the DNA pool in certain families.

 

Ultimately, how important is it that a child who excels in other academic areas – such as history or English – struggle with geometry and algebra in middle school to be eligible for a college preparatory track in high school?

 

[CLICK HERE to read the press release, “California Adopts Modified Math Standards to Restore Local Decision Making,” at the California Department of Education, January 16, 2013.]

 

Education is a hot topic these days, ranging in everything from school safety to above-inflation increases in college tuition and the resounding student debt crisis.

 

[CLICK HERE to read, “Beyond gun control: Will Obama’s plans make schools safer?” at The Christian Science Monitor, January 17, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to view the video, “Chicago Program Aims to Close the Achievement Gap for Youngest Students,” at PBS, February 13, 2013.]

 

In his address to the nation in February, President Obama’s speech focused on points concerning the youngest and oldest students on the education spectrum. In it he made recommendations for universal pre-kindergarten access and improving the tuition/financial aid process for college students.

 

[CLICK HERE to read, “State of the Union Education Proposals Focus on Nation’s Youngest, Oldest Students,” at Huffington Post, February 12, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read, “The Vague Promise of Obama’s Ambitious Preschool Plan,” at New Republic, February 15, 2013.]

 

A recent blog post by the Financial Security Project of Boston College observes that the nature of today’s outstanding student debt may be influencing the formation of new family units – a phenomenon that has been attributed to a slower recovery in the housing market.

 

The article notes that while some men may be wary about whether to become seriously involved with a woman with massive debt, some women may be actively “removing themselves from the marriage market, or delaying marriage … until they can make a better-quality match.”

 

[CLICK HERE to read, “Women in Debt Less Likely to Marry,” at the Squared Away Blog of the Financial Security Project of Boston College, February 14, 2013.]

 

It just goes to show you how society and culture influences our lives and even the national and global economy in a trickle-down, domino effect that is not always obvious when you just see the tip of the iceberg.

 

[CLICK HERE to read, “Giving Children a Chance,” at The Lancet, February 16, 2013.]

 

If you’d like to discuss ways to enhance your children’s education and opportunities without seeing them burdened with debt, we’d be happy to help you with that.

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.   

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Remodeling Your Finances

There are signs pointing to an invigorated residential real estate market in spring of 2013. Whether homeowners are gearing up to list their homes on the market or not, the signals are as evident as the crocus bulbs poking their heads out of the snow-riddled ground.

While spring-cleaning is a seasonal rite of passage, this year looks to take the phenomenon a bit further. People are remodeling their homes for two possible reasons. First, by taking advantage of what may be the tail end of low interest-rate refinancing, baby boomers can retrofit their houses in advance of retirement, including enhancements to help them “age in place.”

 

Second, other homeowners may be anxious to relocate for better job prospects or have been waiting to trade up – or down – depending on age and financial situation.

 

While many of the distressed homes we’ve read about for years have hit the market and caused real estate values to bottom, they’ve also been scooped up by investors and qualified buyers. The good news is that the inventory available for sale has dried up in many parts of the country, helping raise prices.

 

[CLICK HERE to read, “Home prices continue to rise; housing is now economic bright spot,” at NPR.org, January 29, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read, “Homes sell in two weeks with low supply for spring buyers,” at Bloomberg, February 5, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read, “Asking prices up in 86 of 100 largest markets,” at Inman News, February 5, 2013.]

 

Whether or not prices will continue to rise as more houses hit the market this spring remains to be seen. One issue homeowners are dealing with is whether they can get back the money they invest in upgrades. To this end, a couple of new resources are available to help homeowners determine the cost of upgrades versus the value they’ll receive on resale. These include ZillowDigs and Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value 2013 Report.

 

[CLICK HERE to read, “Remodeling the Kitchen? Crunch the Numbers First,” at CNNMoney.com, February 8, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read, “Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report 2013,” at Remodeling Magazine, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read, “Zillow Digs Provides Home Modeling Inspiration and Cost Estimates,” at the Washington Post, February 6, 2013.]

 

Some experts caution that investing in residential real estate should be considered a place to live, not a long-term money maker. Just recently, industry expert Robert Shiller warned investors against jumping into the market for the sake of a return on their money. While he admits the two homes he owns provide diversification for his portfolio, he hastens to add he bought them because they were the houses he – and his wife – wanted to live in.

 

[CLICK HERE to read, “Shiller Sees No Major Rally in the U.S. Housing Market,” at Bloomberg.com, February 6, 2013.]

 

Ultimately – buying, selling, remodeling, staying in place, aging in place – these decisions are all as personal as our career and family choices. What works best for you may not be a good move for your neighbor. We’re happy to help evaluate your financial situation and objectives to help you make the right decisions.

By contacting us, you may be offered insurance products for sale. The links provided above are from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed.  They are for informational purposes only.

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation. 

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