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Year-End Tax Update

November 29th, 2012

As we approach the end of 2012 there are many questions surrounding the upcoming “Fiscal Cliff” and Affordable Care Act that should be addressed. As always, we take into consideration individual client circumstances as part of our wealth management process, and how possible tax law changes may affect our specific recommendations to you the client...  Continue reading →

The Top Ten Money Excuses

October 26th, 2012

Human beings have an astounding facility for self-deception when it comes to our own money. We tend to rationalize our own fears. So instead of just recognizing how we feel and reflecting on the thoughts that creates, we cut out the middle man and construct the façade of a logical-sounding argument over a vague feeling.

 

These arguments are often elaborate, short-term excuses that we use to justify behavior that runs counter to our own long-term interests. Here are ten of these excuses:

 

1. “ I JUST WANT TO WAIT TILL THINGS BECOME CLEARER.”

It’s understandable to feel unnerved by volatile markets. But waiting for volatility to “clear” before investing often results in missing the return that can accompany the risk.

 

2. “ I JUST CAN’T TAKE THE RISK ANYMORE.”

By focusing exclusively on the risk of losing money and paying a premium for safety, we can end up with insufficient funds for retirement. Avoiding risk can also mean missing an upside.

 

3. “ I WANT TO LIVE TODAY. TOMORROW

CAN LOOK AFTER ITSELF.”

Often used to justify a reckless purchase, it’s not either-or. You can live today AND mind your

savings. You just need to keep to your budget.

 

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Timeline of Events for Third Quarter 2012

October 12th, 2012

Global equity markets posted strong returns in the third quarter, turning the tide on the year-to-date figures and bringing them back firmly into the positive. Continued quantitative easing in the US, Japan, and EU seemed to improve overall investor sentiment toward equities while also keeping fixed income yields at historical lows.

Federal Reserve launches QE3

September 14th, 2012

The Federal Reserve announced plans to unleash more stimulus Thursday, in its third attempt at a controversial program to rev up the U.S. economy.

 

The policy, known as quantitative easing and often abbreviated as QE3, entails buying $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities each month. The end date remains up in the air, as the Fed will re-evaluate the strength of the economy in coming months.

 

 The Fed is wasting no time. The purchases begin Friday and are expected to add up to only $23 billion for the remainder of September.

The bond-buying policy “should put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative,” the Fed’s official statement said.

 

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Bad News Sells

August 31st, 2012

Bad news sells. It sells because fear is a more powerful emotion than greed. Newspaper editors know that, which is why the front pages are often so depressing. But sometimes you need to dig inside the paper for a more balanced view.

 

The bad news has been dominant in global markets in recent years, starting with the banking crisis of 2008 and more recently the sovereign debt crisis focused on Europe. But other things have been happening. And any investor wanting an antidote for the grimmer headlines might like to reflect on the following recent news snippets:

 

1. US stocks rose for a sixth week, giving the S&P 500 its longest rally since January 2011, as economic reports beat forecasts and Germany backed the ECB’s bond-buying plan. – Bloomberg, August 18, 2012

 

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4 Things You Should Do When Your Baby Is Born

August 24th, 2012

When most people learn that they are going to become parents, they spend months searching for the safest car seat and decorating the nursery for their new arrival. But in addition to buying tiny clothes and mounds of diapers, you should remember to tackle four important to-do items after your baby is born.

 

Add Your Baby to Your Health Insurance Plan

 

Most health insurance policies require that you add the new child within a specified period of time after their birth, typically 30 days. If both you and your spouse have health insurance offered through work, look at both plans to determine which is a better value for your family, even if you are currently…

 

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Knightmare on Wall Street

August 7th, 2012

Question: Which of the following statements applies to last week’s stock market behavior?

 

Computer errors at a major trading firm generated millions of faulty trades, causing dramatic and puzzling price swings in dozens of stocks Wednesday morning.

A New York Times columnist fumed that “Wall Street has created its own Frankenstein. The machines are now in charge.”

Stocks on the fifty-two-week new low list included Dell, Facebook, Ford Motor, Hewlett-Packard, and Office Depot.

Stocks on the fifty-two-week new high list included AT&T, Abbott Laboratories, Allstate, Berkshire Hathaway, Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Consolidated Edison, Gap, Heinz, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, Monsanto, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Philip Morris International, SprintNextel, Target, Time Warner, Union Pacific, Verizon, WalMart, and Wells Fargo.

The S&P 500 Index rose 0.16% for the week, reaching its highest level in three months on Friday, August 3... Continue reading →

 

Big Jump in 401(k) Investors Seeking Diversification

August 1st, 2012

One-third of 401(k) plan participants invested their entire account balance in a professionally managed asset allocation and investment option in 2011, up from less than one-tenth in 2005, according to a recent report issued by Vanguard.

 

The report, which examines the saving habits of 3 million investors with Vanguard 401(k) plans, found the growth in so-called professionally managed allocations—in a single target-date or balanced fund or through a managed account advisory service—to be one of the most important trends in retirement plans today, reflecting a desire of many investors to improve their portfolio diversification and reduce risk.

 

Of the 33% of investors using a professionally managed allocation program, 24% employed a single target-date fund (TDF), 6% a single traditional balanced fund and 3% a managed account advisory program. In 2011, 18% of participants had an extreme position in equities, holding either 100% in equities (10% of participants) or no equities (8%), vs. 34% of participants... Continue reading →

 

Deciphering Expenses and Fees in 401(k) Plans

July 20th, 2012

The video below gives a good 5 minute explanation of how some fund companies receive fees from your 401(k) contributions you may not know about.

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