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Here’s to the Ladies!

Father’s Day is quickly approaching, but before we take the spotlight off dear mom, let’s take a moment to talk about the influence of mothers–and women in general–on all things financial.

 

Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. secretary of health and human services, recently posted this tweet: “President Obama: Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition.”

 

That may be a comment specifically directed toward this country’s massive health care initiative, but if you step away for a more distant view, it actually says a lot more.

 

Remember the Virginia Slims cigarette campaign, “You’ve come a long way, baby”?  There was actually a time when women celebrated the acceptance of being able to smoke in public–a symbol of confidence that had grown with increasing independence. It’s only been in the last 30 years that women have broken the glass ceiling and been appointed to top executive positions of major corporations. Less than 20 years ago, it was still difficult for a woman to buy a house on her own. Indeed, women have come a long way.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “BMO Private Bank Mother’s Day Study: Women in Missouri Are Equal Partners in Family’s Long-Term Financial Planning – Or So They Say,” at Marketwatch, May 10, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Gender Wage Gap Causes Typical Woman to Miss Out on $443,360: Analysis,” at Huffington Post, May 9, 2013.]

 

But in the lingering words of Peter Parker’s (Spiderman) Uncle Ben, “with great power comes great responsibility.” In other words, once you start earning your own money, you’re responsible for making sure you’ll have enough retirement income. Fortunately, most women appear to have both the inherent skills and logistical experience to be quite good at financial planning and management.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Today’s Modern Family Creating More Pressure for Women to Seek Financial Independence,” at Marketwatch, May 7, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Women Want More – Desire for Financial and Retirement Planning Knowledge Nearly Doubles Since 2006,” at Businesswire, April 22, 2013.]

 

According to a new study from Fidelity, it’s also true that women tend have more success in talking with their adult children about financial planning topics than fathers do. Apparently, mothers have more detailed conversations with their adult children about sensitive financial topics such as retirement income, estate planning and eldercare, and they are able to convey a more empathetic viewpoint.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Need financial advice? Talk to mom,” at Fidelity Viewpoints, May 7, 2013.]

 

Knowing the details of your financial plan may go a long way to helping you sleep at night. Do you feel like you’re in control of your financial future? Have you left this responsibility for others to plan for you?

 

Consider for a moment that, even if you’re married, when you (and your husband) start taking Social Security benefits will have a direct impact on how much income you will receive. Have you estimated how much you would continue to receive in benefits if your husband passes away before you? If you think that won’t be enough in the future, then it’s important to consider what other income sources are available to supplement your income.

 

According to the Social Security Administration, 48 percent of elderly unmarried women receiving benefits relied on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income in 2011, which is hard to do when their average annual benefit was $12,188.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the fact sheet, “Social Security is Important to Women,” at SSA.gov, February 2013.]

 

Then again, perhaps there’s a time to take on this responsibility and a time to just enjoy the simple pleasures of being a young woman in this vast and complicated world. Which was well demonstrated recently by this charming tweet by an upcoming high school graduate: “I haven’t understood a word my mother and this financial aid woman have said in 15 minutes. I want frozen yogurt.”

 

If you, your daughters, or any other women you know would like to start a conversation about planning for their financial future, please contact us.

 

[CLICK HERE to read financial education articles and tools: “Get a head start toward your financial well being,” at TIAA-CREF, April 2013.]

 

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.  Please note that we do not provide specific tax or legal advice.  You’re encouraged to speak with your tax advisor or attorney.  For questions regarding social security, you’re encouraged to contact the Social Security Administration.

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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Another Pleasant Valley Sunday

According to a news survey by The Millionaire Corner, a Series 65 online resource about investing, this highly charged political environment regarding the future is about as stressful as swatting at mosquitoes during a Friday night barbeque.

The real issues, at least as far as affluent investors are concerned, are stock market conditions, the economic environment and their own retirement–in precisely that order. All of this partisan-related posturing conjures up about a 5 percent concern (2 percent for millionaires), and that may be just because they were asked how much it bothered them. After all, if someone asks you to list five foods in your order of preference, you wouldn’t leave the last one off entirely.

This is good news, because it signals that more people feel more in control of their future, and less reliant on Congress to figure it out for them. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Affluent Investors Keeping Close Watch on Stock Market Conditions,” at MillionaireCorner.com,  

[CLICK HERE to view graphics of “The recession and recovery in perspective,” at The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, April 26, 2013.]

In an even more blasé survey by Franklin Templeton,1 nearly a third of the surveyed respondents said they thought the stock market was flat or down last year, when in fact the S&P 500 was up 16 percent – and has performed admirably for the last four years. Because the majority of those surveyed also reported that they would be more conservative or make no changes to their investment portfolios, the study concluded that investors are still more concerned with avoiding loss rather than achieving higher returns.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “What Ails the Economy? In a word: Washington,” at Yahoo! Finance, April 26, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Job Picture Looks Bleak for 2013 College Grads,” at Yahoo! Finance, April 26, 2013.]

Despite people’s persistence in going to work every day, paying their bills, making plans for the future, and enjoying their families in this beautiful spring weather, headlines continue to warn us that our legislators are not doing their jobs and it’s causing great detriment to the economy.

The Commerce Department recently reported that the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) grew by only 2.5 percent in the first quarter–substantially below expectations. It’s no wonder, however, since sequestration began in March. The new numbers reflect, at least partially, a 4.1 percent decrease in government spending, including the 11.5 percent reduction in defense spending.

The government cuts represent an interesting paradox as far as the economy is concerned, with one insider suggesting that, “Whatever your view is on government spending, it’s going to be a headwind for growth.”

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “First Quarter Growth, at 2.5%, Misses Expectations,” at The Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2013.]

Americans, being what we are–resilient to terrorism, the housing bust and, yes, backyard mosquitoes–are taking in all of this economic and policy gloom and doom in stride. If you want to talk about your future, regardless of what goes on at Capitol Hill, please give us a call.

 

By contacting us you may be offered information on the sale of insurance products.  While we believe this information to be correct as of publication, we do not guarantee the accuracy of the information included.

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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Boil and Bubble: Potential Bond Trouble

“Double, double. Toil and Trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble.” This is dialogue from Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. Translated into today’s vernacular, it could describe what many see as a bubble in today’s bond market.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Vanguard’s McNabb on Budget, Taxes and Bubble Risks,” at The Wall Street Journal, April 10, 2013.]

 

After all, bonds have enjoyed quite a run for 30 years, when interest rates began slowly declining from their record highs to today’s near record lows. Even though traditionally, bonds have typically served as a conservative allocation in an investor’s portfolio, they can pose higher risks in a rising interest rate environment.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The Big Bet on Rising Rates,” at Wealth Management, April 3, 2013.]

 

When you consider today’s low, low interest rates – an environment held stagnant by the Federal Reserve’s actions – the general feeling is that in the future rates can only go in one direction. Up. Up is a problem for bonds – particularly longer duration bonds that are more sensitive to changes in interest rates.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Bonds Most ‘Overbought’ In 55 Years, Loomis Sayles’s Fuss Says,” at Bloomberg.com, January 30, 2013.]

 

So what’s this bubble people are talking about? The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a non-governmental agency that self-regulates brokerage firms, tries to protect investors with securities compliance procedures and by providing information to the public to make it aware of potential investment risks. Recently FINRA issued this warning about how interest rates can impact bonds:

 

“Currently, interest rates are hovering near historic lows. Many economists believe that interest rates are not likely to get much lower and will eventually rise. If that is true, then outstanding bonds, particularly those with a low interest rate and high duration may experience significant price drops as interest rates rise along the way. If you have money in a bond fund that holds primarily long-term bonds, expect the value of that fund to decline, perhaps significantly, when interest rates rise.”

 

[CLICK HERE to read the alert, “Duration – What an Interest Rate Hike Could Do to Your Bond Portfolio,” at FINRA.org, February 14, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to view the video, “Bond bubble/bond cliff: How should you respond?,” at Vanguard, January 28, 2013.]

 

There are good reasons to invest in bonds but, depending on your objectives, there are also good alternatives that can generate income while managing the risk to your principal*. If you’d like to discuss fixed income vehicles and learn more about bond alternatives, please give us a call.

 

*Guarantees are backed by the financial strength and claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company. 

 

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products. Our Firm is a licensed insurance producer and does not provide investment advice.  For questions about your securities, please speak to your registered representative or investment advisor. 

 

The information and opinions in any linked articles are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed.  They are given for informational purposes only.  They should not be construed as advice for 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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Pension Trends

If you could look into a crystal ball and predict which retirement income plan was more likely to be around in 20 years – would you choose Social Security or company pensions?

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “President Obama looks to reduce Social Security cost of living increases with ‘chained CPI’,” at marketplace.org, April 5, 2013.]

 

As much as the solvency of Social Security is constantly debated, it may well stay the course long term in some shape or form. Pensions, on the other hand, are rapidly heading towards extinction. The latest pension plans potentially facing cuts include Boeing and Major League Baseball (MLB).

 

Boeing recently announced its intention to stop offering pensions to new employees, joining the ranks of other large corporations that have adjusted pension offerings, including GE, Lockheed, Ford and General Motors.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Boeing’s latest move confirms nationwide trend to end pensions,” at KPLU.org, March 1, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Ford’s Leaky Pension Boat is a Multi-Billion Dollar Problem,” at Forbes, March 31, 2013.]

 

It may be just as well, since pension plan funding has suffered significantly in recent years. In fact, Boeing has set aside only three-quarters of the $75 billion it owes for future pensions, a sum that represents more than the company’s current stock market value.

 

Boeing is not alone in its savings deficit. According to Olivia Mitchell, executive director of the Pension Research Council at Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania, U.S. corporations currently boast the highest level of pension underfunding in history.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Are Pensions Dead?” at The Motley Fool, March 30, 2013.]

 

Even the MLB, despite climbing revenues of $8 billion a year, is considering cutbacks and/or alterations to pension plans offered by ball clubs. Similar moves by other organizations may not eliminate current pension plans, but they might stop contributing to them.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Personnel pensions on cutting block,” at ESPN, March 20, 2013.]

 

The lesson here is that we may be on our own going forward. Within a couple of decades, the majority of our retirement income may result from our own planning, saving, investing and purchasing insurance policies to protect our income in retirement.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Lessons from the Financial Crisis,” at Fidelity Viewpoints, April 2, 2013.]

 

If you’d like to discuss ways to generate and protect* retirement income in a world where individuals control their financial future, please give us a call.

 

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products. 

 

*Guarantees offered by annuities are subject to the financial strength and claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

 

The information and opinions in the linked articles are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed.  They are for informational purposes only and should are not intended to provide specific advice nor provide the basis for any purchasing decisions. 

 

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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.

 

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