December 29, 2016

Understanding Gift-Tax Exclusions

What are gift-tax exclusions? According to the IRS, a gift must be given with no expectation of receiving anything of equal value in return. Gifts can be cash, property, interest-free loans, payments made to a third party (like a school or hospital) on behalf of the recipient, below-market rate sales, and other types of property transfers. Generally, gifts that meet the following requirements are not taxable: Gifts that are less than the annual exclusion amount for the year ($14,000 in 2016 and 2017) Tuition or medical expenses Gifts to your spouse Gifts to qualified charities and certain political organizations For more information about gifting and end-of-year tax issues, please contact a qualified tax professional. Tip courtesy of
December 29, 2016
How to set a Financial Goal; Should I use a roth or a traditional

The Stats of How Long an Investment Portfolio Will Actually Last – The Trinity Study

With varying rates of withdrawal, how long does an investment portfolio actually last? That’s the question three professors from Trinity University in Texas wanted to know. They decided to examine the returns of various stocks and bonds from 1926 to 2009. Here are the five portfolios, each with different allocations, their study looked at: 100 percent stocks 75 percent stocks/25 percent bonds 50/50 stocks and bonds 25 percent stocks/75 percent bonds 100 percent bonds For each portfolio, the researchers applied various withdrawal rates—ranging from 3% to 12%. The researchers made adjustments based on inflation during the period as well. They wanted to know, “How likely is it that an investor’s portfolio will last a lifetime?” The Trinity study’s underlying premise, if certain withdrawal rates provide lifetime income based on historical market data and returns, then the withdrawal rate is sustainable for the future. However, there are a few problems with […]
December 27, 2016
take action on 401k, retirement calculator

Take Action on your 401k to Secure your Future

With Christmas over and a new year around the corner, now is the time to take action on your 401k. In the past, most people found a job and stayed with it until retiring. However, times change. Studies suggest we hold down around eleven jobs from the age of 18 to retirement. Not only are we getting used to new surroundings and new colleagues eleven times, but it also possibly means a new 401k plan with each new company. If you just leave these 401k plans alone, they may not be in the best position for you at retirement, so here’s what you should actually do with them. What Are My Options for My 401k? When considering moving jobs, you’re probably thinking how it will affect your personal life, career, and more. For the most part, your 401k plan isn’t at the top of your list of priorities in making that […]
December 21, 2016
individual retirement accounts; retire with $100,000 per year in income

Year-End IRA Reminders

With the end of the year approaching, take a moment to make sure you’ve taken care of your Individual Retirement Accounts: Contribute the maximum. In 2016, you can contribute a maximum of $5,500, or $6,500 if you are age 50 or over. Remember, you have to have taxable income to contribute to an IRA, but if you are married and filing jointly, you can each make contributions even if only one of you is working. Speak to a tax advisor to learn about how your deductions will be affected by an employer-sponsored retirement plan. Don’t contribute more than the max. If you contribute more than the IRA limits for 2016 (or more than your income allows you to contribute), you will be subject to a 6% tax on the excess contribution amount for each tax year the money remains in your account. You can withdraw excess contributions by the due […]
December 20, 2016
feds raise interest rates

Fed Raises Rates

Late December of 2016 was mixed for the markets, as the Dow increased by 0.44%, while the S&P 500 lost 0.06%, the NASDAQ dropped 0.13%, and the MSCI EAFE gave back 0.55%. We also saw a variety of data released, giving a similarly mixed view of recent economic activity. Retail sales and the Consumer Price Index showed modest gains, while industrial production and housing starts both declined. The biggest headline from last week, however, was a development the market anticipated for quite some time: The Federal Reserve decided to raise its benchmark interest rates – for only the second time since 2006. Why did the Fed raise rates? The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the group of Fed officials who meet to determine interest rates and other policies choices, has a mandate to “foster maximum employment and price stability.” In its quest to uphold this mandate, the FOMC aims to […]
December 19, 2016
hiring a financial planner guide, direction

Your Complete Guide to Hiring a Financial Advisor

Whether starting your own business or going on a vacation once a year, everyone has dreams that they wish to achieve. Although there are some key factors that contribute to these goals, there are none more so than good financial planning. By planning your finances, you will know what money you earn, what you spend, and ultimately, how far away you are from said dream. With that mind, we are going to take you through the key things to consider when looking into hiring a financial planner. Sure, you could go it alone but wouldn’t a financial planner be a much easier route? Well, this is exactly the type of question we will be asking as well as how you should look for a planner and what information you will need. Role of a Financial Planner Before we assess anything else, you need to know the exactly how a financial […]