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healthcare

Approaching Healthcare as an Informed Consumer

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Effectively Seek Medical Care in a Way that Makes Sense for Your Insurance The level of responsibility being imposed on patients is increasing. We must all begin to view obtaining medical services and healthcare through the lens of the informed consumer rather than the dutiful patient. We should seek out doctors who wish to embark on a collaborative approach to care to help us navigate this new medical landscape. The rise in popularity of high deductible health plans has begun to shed light on the way healthcare is typically provided in the United States and the cost associated with that…
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secure act

SECURE Act: Changes May Be Coming Soon to Retirement Savings

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Believe it or not, there is something that Democrats and Republicans in Congress can agree on, and that is the need for all Americans to increase their retirement savings. Although there is not yet consensus on what any final legislation may look like, there are enough similarities between House and Senate proposals to believe that there could be some movement here. The Senate Finance Committee first reported the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act (RESA) in November of 2016, followed by a House version known as the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Act (SECURE), which passed the House Ways &…
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planning

A Guide to End-of-Life Planning

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Although planning for end-of-life can be emotionally fraught and daunting, organizing affairs well before the need arises helps families and beneficiaries immensely after a loved one’s passing. But where to start? With the abundance of paper and digital resources accompanying the myriad accounts that comprise many years well-lived, it can be hard to know which are essential to have on hand. The most important things to have in place are: An up-to-date financial plan: Consult with your wealth advisor who can assess your current financial situation and update your financial plans to address any end of life concerns. Your advisor…
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when to collect social security benefits

Weighing Your Options on When to Take Social Security

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Determining when to start collecting your Social Security benefit is an important financial decision that requires careful consideration of many factors. While many people don’t anticipate taking benefits before full retirement age, certain life events may force them to do so. A Transamerica Center for Retirement Research survey found that more than half of retirees (56 percent) retired sooner than they had planned. When can you take Social Security? “Full retirement age” as specified by the Social Security Agency (SSA) depends on your birth year. A table can be found here. While there’s no universally “correct” age to begin claiming…
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buybacks

Stock Buybacks: The Battle of Perception vs Reality

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Recent years have seen growing popularity in share buybacks, the process whereby a company repurchases outstanding shares of its own stock. The argument is that when lacking better investment opportunities, companies should return capital to shareholders, reduce share count and that will ultimately support the stock price. Buybacks are catching the attention of politicians as well. There are concerns that companies are not spending a sufficient amount on employees or reinvestment in projects that would be beneficial to the broader economy. In this discussion, we take a look at the growth in buybacks, the ramifications for investors and address the…
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mortgage invest

Should I pay off my mortgage or invest?

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Most of our clients will at some point ask if paying off—or more aggressively paying down—their mortgage is a prudent financial decision. The answer to this question, like most complex financial decisions, is that it depends. Several factors should be considered with the help of a financial advisor to determine if it makes sense to pay off your mortgage or use your financial assets elsewhere. For the purposes of this article, we are seeking to help answer this question for one’s primary residence versus an investment, or rental property. Cash Flow Planning One of the first steps in determining if…
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yield curve

The Yield Curve: An Imperfect Indicator in Evolving Market Conditions

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The U.S. Treasury Yield Curve inverted recently for a few days, which provoked hand-wringing and doomsday predictions from all the usual market commentators in all the usual places. So let's examine this phenomenon, starting with the simple question: What is an inverted yield curve anyway? An inverted yield curve is simply the unusual case of short-term interest rates being higher than long term.  Under normal circumstances, you wouldn't lend money to anyone for a longer period at a lower rate - it just makes no sense. That's why inverted curves don't happen very often. But all yield curves are not…
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interest finances

What to Do When a Partner Has Little or no Interest in Finances

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It’s not uncommon in a relationship for one partner to handle most of the finances and the other to have little or no interest—or involvement—in the process. In these setups, difficult situations or unexpected events such as divorce, widowhood or the sudden incapacitation of a partner can leave the uninformed spouse financially vulnerable. For an uninterested or uninformed partner, trying to become acclimated with the couple’s finances can be a daunting task – and even more challenging without knowing where to start. Financial accounts and statements may be scattered across various internet portals, each with a separate password, and simply…
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roth ira

What is a Mega Backdoor Roth IRA?

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Most people have heard of Roth IRAs. Those that qualify typically contribute and those that do not qualify can sometimes find a way to do so, as Zach Gering indicates here. In either case, you can do MORE. Take a step back and understand plan types and limits Depending on your current occupational status and business structure, you may or may not be able to open any of the accounts noted above. For starters, any individual can open an IRA (with certain age/income requirements). All of the other plans must be company sponsored. An optimal retirement plan design permits annual…
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backdoor roth contribution

The Benefits of a Backdoor Roth Contribution

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It is that time of the year – with tax season comes retirement account contribution season! The most popular retirement account of the current decade is the Roth IRA. It offers tax-free growth, tax-free withdrawals after age 59.5, and no minimum distribution requirements. Unlike traditional IRAs, Roth’s are funded with after-tax dollars. There is no tax deduction for contributing. Evaluating whether to contribute to a pre-tax or Roth IRA is a common exercise. A prevalent misconception is choosing a pre-tax account is the best option. This is mostly because the investor expects that his tax rate will decline in retirement.…
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