Use your tax forms to boost finances - 4/11/2017

With the 2016 federal tax return filing deadline of April 18 – yes, that is correct – rapidly approaching, let’s talk about how you can use your tax forms to improve your finances.

Before you file away your 2016 tax forms, spend a few minutes to see how it can help plan your finances and taxes for 2017.

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Reducing your income risk is crucial when investing - 2/14/2017

When investing and managing your money, you must consider and deal with a number of potential risks. These include general market moves, individual company, interest rate, inflation, default, political, currency, liquidity, volatility and others.

Some of these are more important at different times in one’s life. If you are relying on your investments to provide income to pay your expenses, you are rightfully concerned about the stability of income. How concerned you are depends on whether this income is needed to cover basic expenses or is used for discretionary purposes.

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Why everyone needs to own bonds - 12/6/2016

Everyone should own bonds or bond-like investments, though you might ask why would
anyone want to own bonds at this time. Interest rates are going up and the math says
the financial value of bonds will decrease. The value in owning bonds is not just for the
known rate of income but also to provide a less-volatile rate of return and to provide
stability to a portfolio. Providing stability and helping us deal with our instinctual desire to
make the wrong moves at the wrong times may have the most value for investors.

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Investing in a world of negative interest rates - 10/18/2016

More than 25 percent of bonds are yielding less than zero percent. That means when the bonds mature, owners will receive less than they paid for them. This is a scary scenario for any bond investor as security of principal and low-risk returns are the main reasons to hold bonds.

This begs the question: Should the average investor hold bonds? For most investors, the answer remains yes. However, it will pay to be more selective than you might have been in the past.

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Optimize withdrawals from your retirement savings - 6/28/2016

How you take withdrawals from your retirement and other savings can influence your tax payments, Medicare premiums and how long your savings last. The best withdrawal plan for you depends on your income from Social Security, pensions, annuities and other sources, the amount and location of your savings, and how much you want to pass on.

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It's Tax Time. Are You Ready? - 1/25/2016

Earnings and investment tax forms will start showing up in your mailbox over the next three weeks. Don't just wince and put them in a pile. Take control and make next year better.

Here are a few things you can do to help smooth doing your taxes and 2015 tax law changes that might affect you.

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Giving thanks and leveraging our gifts - 11/24/2015

As we celebrate Thanksgiving and the end of year holidays, giving to others comes into sharper focus.

Many of us are fortunate and have many reasons to be thankful. Gifts of our time, skills or money can assist individuals, institutions in the community or people we personally know. These gifts can help to raise everyone to a higher level. If think about how we give, we can leverage our financial gifts and increase the benefits to all.

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Diversify your investments with cash options - 9/1/2015

The global investment markets provided another lesson last week on the benefits of diversification and holding some cash. If you have a diversified portfolio, including some bonds and cash, you did not experience as deep a drop in value as in stock markets. As a side benefit, you had the opportunity to buy investments at a discounted price with part of your cash. The nagging question for many investors is that holding cash has a cost when markets are performing well.

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How Will Rising Interest Rates Affect You? - 6/30/2015

Last week the Federal Reserve Board of Governors indicated they were closer to making the first short term rate increase a reality. The guessing game as to when, and by how much, rates will move may finally be near an end. When interest rates start to reverse their 30 year decline, how will it affect your financial life? The real answer is that no one can be sure since economic and market interactions have changed radically since the last time a directional change occurred. However, you can estimate how you might be affected in specific areas.

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Help Managing Your Credit Profile - 5/12/2015

As a result of a recent settlement between the State of New York and the three largest credit reporting agencies, consumers will now be able to have easier access to their credit reports and score. TransUnion, Equifax and Experian also agreed to overhaul their approach to evaluating credit, fixing errors and the way they deal with medical debt on consumer credit reports. Although the settlement was with just with one state, these changes should be enacted everywhere soon.

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Divorce and Your Finances - 3/24/2015

Not every event is something that we can include in our financial planning; one such event is divorce. Unfortunately, the current divorce rate for first time marriages, according to the National Marriage Project, is between 40% and 50% and estimates for second marriage divorces range from 67% to as high as 80%. The divorce rate for first time marriages has steadily declined since it peaked in the 1980s, but the number of divorces in adults over 50 and those approaching retirement is on the rise! Going through a divorce can be overwhelming; however it is important to consider all your options as you go.

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Improving Your Financial Fitness - 1/27/2015

If we are physically fit, we feel better, can manage stress and are able to enjoy life. We can experience the same benefits when we are financially fit. Similar to getting physically fit, getting financially fit takes effort but the benefits are well worth it. Here are the steps to improve your financial fitness whether you are starting or just toning up.

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Are You Saving Too Much? - 12/2/2014

It would be wonderful if you were saving more than you need. Unfortunately, for many it is a struggle to
balance out current expenses, savings and income. Saving for your future is important, no matter what your
goals or how far away they are. How can you tell if you are saving too much?

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Managing Your IRA - 10/7/2014

For many people, their IRAs hold a large part of their retirement nest egg. Even if they save using a company or government savings plans such as 401k, 403b or 457, eventually many roll this over to an IRA. On the surface, IRAs appear simple to set up, contribute to and take withdrawals. However, there are a number of potential pitfalls to watch for to avoid triggering an unexpected tax hit.

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How to Avoid Living Longer Than Your Money - 7/22/2014

A big concern for many retirees or soon-to-be retirees is, "What if I outlive my money?" If you have some retirement savings, you may be able to cover your needs for a number of years, but what if you live longer than you expected to live?

One way to protect yourself from outlasting your savings is to purchase "longevity insurance".

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Building Your Credit - 6/13/2014

Are you interested in increasing your credit score? There is no silver bullet but you can take steps to improve your credit history and score.

First, understand how the most common credit score, Fair Isaac (FICO) is calculated. The major factors in your score are your payment history and how much debt you carry. Your payment history makes up 35% of your score. A single late payment will ding you and stay on your report for two years. A history of payment problems will hurt you even more. How much debt you carry is worth 30%. It is calculated based on your debt as a percentage of your credit limit. For example, if you have charged $1,000 on a credit card with a limit of $3,500, you are at 29% of your limit. Staying below 10% of your limit will give you the highest score in this area.

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7 Ways to Deal with Market Volatility - 3/27/2014

All investment markets, including stocks, bonds, real estate and commodities, experience price and total return volatility.  In the last few months, volatility has increased in markets due to global economic and political conditions.  This is part of a long term trend that has seen volatility increase in all markets over the last 15 years.  For longer term investors, not traders, this leads to higher risks in all types of investments.  

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Trying Out Your Retirement - 2/4/2014

Moving from full time work to partial or full retirement is a huge change in our lifestyle. We have to adjust to how we spend our time, fit into our relationships, and our finances. Trying out your new lifestyle can make the transition more enjoyable.

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Leveraging Your Charitable Giving 11/19/2013

With Thanksgiving and the holiday season approaching, giving back to the community comes into focus. Many of us have reasons to be thankful and share our wealth. Gifts of time or money can assist causes, individuals or institutions in the community, or to people we personally know.  If we use leverage we can increase the benefits to the recipient and the giver.

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Using your Form 1040 to save money 5/7/2013

With April 15th in the rear view mirror, many of us can breathe a sigh of relief until we start on our 2013 taxes. Before you file away that copy of your 2012 tax form, spend a few minutes to see what it can tell you about your finances. You can quickly get an idea on how much you are spending, paying in taxes and saving for the future. This is valuable information to help you move closer to your financial goals. Here is how to do it:

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Talking About Our Money 3/19/2013

It is time that we talk about our money. No, I'm not proposing we broadcast our wealth, or lack of it, to the community. I'm suggesting we talk about how we feel about money and what it means to us. If we are single, an honest talk increases our self knowledge and points out areas that could use some improvement. If we are in a relationship, talking about money can make you happier while avoiding breakdowns, high stress and increased debt. Most of us don't know how to constructively talk about money but we can learn.

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Successful Investing in 2013 12/25/2012

With the arrival of the new year, we receive an avalanche of global, national and local economic and market predictions. In considering how to use these predictions, you will first need to break them down to usable pieces and then decide how to apply them to your portfolio. From my review, it seems the majority of economists expect next year to be very similar to 2012. However, the probability of a US or global slowdown is relatively high and the chances for faster growth are small. Here are some ideas to consider when applying these predictions to your investments.

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Getting Financially Fit Takes Work 11/2/12

If you want to feel better, you need to be fit. That doesn't just mean being physically fit but also having a healthy financial life. Being financially healthy has many of the same benefits as physical fitness. You can lower your stress level, sleep better, be energized and have more control over your future. Like getting physically fit, it does take some effort to get started. If you are feeling a little nervous about your future or just want to tone up your finances, here are the steps to getting financially fit.

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Why everyone needs to own bonds

Everyone should own bonds or bond-like investments, though you might ask why would anyone want to own bonds at this time? The value in owning bonds is not just for the known rate of income but also to provide a less-volatile rate of return and to provide stability to a portfolio. Providing stability and helping us deal with our instinctual desire to make the wrong moves at the wrong times may have the most value for investors.

Read the rest of the Bradenton Herald Article.

Investing in a world of negative interest rates 

More than 25 percent of bonds are yielding less than zero percent. That means when the bonds mature, owners will receive less than they paid for them. This is a scary scenario for any bond investor as security of principal and low-risk returns are the main reasons to hold bonds.

Read the rest of the Bradenton Herald Article.

Lakewood Ranch financial planner looks at costs of health care in retirement

It is no secret that health care is expensive. For most of us, annual health-care costs increase as we get older and threaten to become our largest expense item. Fidelity's latest study proclaims that the average 65-year-old will need $245,000 to cover health-care costs in their lifetime.

Read the rest of the Bradenton Herald Article.