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    Adjusting to Retirement

    Monday, August 18th, 2014

    What people don’t always realize about life after work.

    If you have saved and invested consistently for retirement, you may find yourself ready to leave work on your terms – with abundant free time, new opportunities, and wonderful adventures ahead of you. The thing to keep in mind is that the reality of your retirement may not always correspond to your conception of retirement. There will inevitably be a degree of difference.

    Some new retirees are better prepared for that difference than others. They learn things after leaving work that they wished they could have learned about years earlier. So with that in mind, here are a few of the little things people tend to realize after settling into retirement.

    Your kids may see your retirement differently than you do. Some couples retire and figure on spending more time with kids and grandkids – they hang onto that five-bedroom home even though two people are living in it because they figure on regular family gatherings, or they move …

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    Should Your Change Jobs or Stay The Course?

    Monday, August 4th, 2014

    If you spend two years or less at a series of jobs, is that a problem? Shouldn’t your resume signal loyalty instead of transience?

    Well, maybe it isn’t a problem. Maybe you are doing yourself a financial favor instead, especially in this decade. Maybe the conventional wisdom about getting ahead is flawed. The era of the organization man/woman is long gone, and how many people do you know who have spent a decade or longer working for one employer?

    Remember 5% annual raises? You don’t see them much anymore. In fact, when the respected HR firm Buck Consultants released its 2013 employee compensation forecast, it projected that “the median salary increase in 2013 will be 3%” and that “the new normal for salary increases will settle at this 3% level.”

    Chances are, your most recent raise was on the order of 2-3%. While you are keeping up with consumer prices at that rate, you may not be making up for any financial steps you took backward as a …

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    Mastering The Retirement Mindgame

    Monday, July 28th, 2014

    What kind of retirement do you think you’ll have? An outstanding one? A depressing one? What if it all starts with your outlook?Qualitatively speaking, what if the success or failure of your retirement begins with your perception of retirement?

    A whole field of study has emerged on the psychology of saving, spending and investing: behavioral finance.  Since retirement saving is a behavior (and since other behaviors influence it), it is worth considering ways to adjust behavior and presumptions to encourage a better retirement.

    Delayed gratification or instant gratification? Many people close to retirement age would take the latter over the former. Is that a good choice? Often, it isn’t. Financially speaking, retiring earlier has its drawbacks and may lead you into the next phase of your life with less income and savings.

    If you don’t love what you do for a living, you may see only the downside of working longer rather than the potential boost it could provide to your retirement planning (i.e., claiming Social Security later, …

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    4 Bad Spending Habits That Can Be Easily Corrected

    Monday, June 30th, 2014

    Americans have a great deal of disposable income relative to many other nations, yet our free spending can take us further and further away from the potential for financial freedom. Some people fall into crippling spending habits and injure their finances as a consequence.

    1)     Bad habit: failing to save. Saving – saving even $50 or $100 a month – isn’t that hard under most financial conditions. Even so, some households don’t put much of a priority on building a cash reserve of some kind, a portion of which could be used for equity investment.

    When you don’t make saving a goal, you don’t have any money to withdraw in a pinch – so if you need to get ahold of some money, where do you find it? Basically, you have three options. One, turn to friends or Mom or Dad. Two, divert money that would go toward a core need (food, rent, the heating bill) toward the sudden crisis. Three, charge your credit card. (There are …

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    6 Common Investing Mistakes

    Monday, June 9th, 2014

    Year after year, in bull and bear markets, investors make some all-too-common blunders. They have been written about, talked about, and critiqued at some length – and yet they are still made. You can chalk them up to psychology, human nature, perhaps even a degree of peer pressure. You just don’t want to find yourself making them more than once.

    #1: Caving into emotion. The deVere Group, which consults high net worth investors around the world, recently surveyed 880 of its clients and found that even with their experience, some had made the equivalent of a rookie mistake – 20% had let fear or greed prompt them into emotional investment decisions.

    Investors use past performance to justify their greed – it did well recently, I better buy more of it – but past performance is merely history and represents a micro factor versus macroeconomic factors influencing sectors and markets. Fear prompts panic selling. How many investors draw on technical analysis or even stop-loss limits when shares suddenly …

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    6 Steps To Get Out Of Debt

    Monday, May 12th, 2014

    Positive moves to counteract negative cash flow. The financial analysis website nerdwallet.com keeps track of the various debts common to the U.S. household. As of April 2014, they’ve found an average mortgage debt of $154,365. They have also discovered an average household has $7,087 in debt from credit cards, but when the numbers are revised to only look at American households already in debt, the average more than doubles to $15,191. When you add this to the average student loan debt of $33,607, it paints a rather bleak picture.

    Every day, people draw on money they don’t actually have – via credit cards, various loans, home equity lines of credit, and even their 401(k)s. Many of them end up making minimum payments on these high-interest loans – a sure way to stay indebted forever.

    If this is your situation, you may be wondering: how do I get out of debt? Here are some ideas.

  1. Make a budget. “Where does all the money go?” If you are asking that …

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    Women, Longevity Risk & Retirement Saving

    Monday, April 14th, 2014

    Will you live to be 100? If you’re a woman, your odds of becoming a centenarian are seemingly better than those of men. In the 2010 U.S. Census, over 80% of Americans aged 100 or older were women.

    Will you eventually live alone? According to the Administration on Aging (a division of the federal government’s Department of Health & Human Services), about 47% of women aged 75 or older lived alone in 2010. If that prospect seems troubling, there is another statistic that also may: while 6.7% of men age 65 and older lived in poverty in 2010, 10.7% of women in that age demographic did.

    Statistics like these carry a message: women need to pay themselves first. A phrase has emerged to describe all this: longevity risk. As so many women outlive their spouses by several years or more, a woman may need several years more worth of retirement income. So there is a need to consider income sources – and investment strategies – for the …

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    The Retirement We Imagine, the Retirement We Live

    Friday, April 4th, 2014

    Financially, how might retirement differ from your expectations? To some degree, it will. Just as few weathercasters can accurately predict a month’s worth of temperatures and storms, few retirees find their financial futures playing out as precisely as they assumed.

    As you approach or enter retirement, you may find that your spending and your exit from your career don’t quite match your expectations. You may be surprised by these developments, even pleasantly surprised by some of them.

    Few retirees actually outlive their money. If this was truly a crisis, we would see federal and state governments and social services agencies addressing it relentlessly. The vast majority of retirees are wise about their savings and income: they don’t spend recklessly, and if they need to live on less at a certain point, they live on less. It isn’t an ideal choice, but it is a prudent one. Health crises can and do impoverish retirees and leave them dependent on Medicaid, but that tends to occur toward the very …

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    Will the Fed Raise Interest Rates Earlier Than Assumed?

    Monday, March 24th, 2014

    Wall Street skips a beat on three words. The words were “around six months,” and they were spoken by Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen at the Federal Open Market Committee’s March 19 press conference. Those three words sent the Dow south 190 points; it lost 114 points on the trading day.

    Specifically, Yellen was responding to a question about interest rates. A journalist referred to the FOMC’s latest policy statement, which stated that rates could remain at historic lows “for a considerable time” after the end of the Fed’s current asset-purchase campaign. When asked to clarify that, Yellen said:

    “So the language that we used in the statement is ‘considerable period.’ So I, you know, this is the kind of term it’s hard to define. But, you know, probably means something on the order of around six months, that type of thing.”

    Yellen refined that educated guess a bit further, noting that a shifting Fed outlook on the job market and inflation would also …

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    How Much Money Do You Save?

    Monday, March 10th, 2014

    Our parents & grandparents saved much more than we do. Most people who have read up on the economy for any length of time have heard of the personal saving rate (PSAVERT), which the Commerce Department calculates as the ratio of personal saving to disposable personal income. The January personal spending report released by the Commerce Department in early March showed the PSAVERT at 4.3%.

    As recently as January 2013, households were saving just 2.3% of their disposable incomes – so this can be labeled a short-term improvement. It still pales in comparison to the way Americans used to save.

    The “greatest generation” had a culture of saving. Its thrift was reinforced further by hard times and a call for personal sacrifices as the economy endured the Great Depression and stateside rationing during WWII. The Commerce Department began measuring household saving in 1959, and as unbelievable as it may seem today, households saved 10% or more of their …

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    Is 65 The Best Age To Retire?

    Monday, February 24th, 2014

    Isn’t 65 the traditional retirement age? Perhaps, but baby boomers are modifying the definition of a traditional retirement (if not redefining it altogether). The Social Security Administration has subtly revised its definition of the traditional retirement age as well.

    If you glance at the SSA website, the “full” retirement age for Americans born from 1943-1954 is 66, and it is 67 for those born in 1960 and later. (The “full” retirement age increases gradually from 66 to 67 for those born during the years 1955-1959.)

    When Social Security started, the national retirement age was set at 65. In 1940, a 21-year-old American man had a 54% chance of living another 44 years (according to the federal government’s actuarial estimates). By 1990, that chance had improved to 72%. For 21-year-old women, the probability of reaching age 65 increased from 61% to 84% in that same time frame. Americans also began living longer after 65. Increased …

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    17 Ways To Spend Your 2013 Tax Refund

    Thursday, February 13th, 2014

    Is a tax refund coming your way? If you have already received your refund for the 2013 tax year or are about to receive it, you might want to think about the destiny of that money. Here are some possibilities.

    1. Start (or add to) an emergency fund. Many people don’t have a dedicated rainy day fund, only the presumption that they might have enough cash in case of a financial tight spot.

    2. Invest in yourself. You could put the money toward education, career training, personal improvement, or some sort of personal experience with the potential to enhance your life.

    3. Use it for a down payment on a car or truck or real property. Real property represents the better financial choice, but updating your vehicle may have merit – cars do wear out, and while a truck also ages, it can help you make money.

    4. Put it into an IRA or workplace retirement account. If you …

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    How To Organize Your Paperwork for Tax Season

    Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

    How prepared are you to prepare your 1040? The earlier you compile and organize the relevant paperwork, the easier things may be for you (or the tax preparer working for you) this winter. Here are some tips to help you get ready:

    As a first step, look at your 2012 return. Unless your job, living situation or financial situation has changed notably since you last filed your taxes, chances are you will need the same set of forms, schedules and receipts this year as you did last year. So open that manila folder (or online vault) and make or print a list of the items that accompanied your 2012 return. You should receive the TY 2013 versions of everything you need by early February at the latest.

    How much documentation is needed? If you don’t freelance or own a business, your list may be short: W-2(s), 1099-INT(s), perhaps 1099-DIVs or 1099-Bs, a Form 1098 if you pay a mortgage, and maybe …

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    8 Simple Ways To Make Your Money Work Harder for Retirement

    Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

    Little things matter. When planning for retirement, people naturally think about the big things – arranging sufficient income, amassing enough savings, investing so that you don’t outlive your money, managing forms of risk. All of this is essential. Still, there are also little financial adjustments you can make at mid-life that may pay off significantly for you down the road.

    1. Drop some recurring expenses & do something else with the money. How much do you spend for cable or satellite TV? Could you drop that expense or find a cheaper provider? How about the money you spend each month on a storage unit? A service contract? A subscription to this or that? Two or three such monthly expenses might be setting you back $100, $200 or more. What if you used that money to pay yourself? What if you saved it? What if you invested it and let it compound?

    2. Assign your investments to appropriate accounts. This could be …

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    3 Retirement Killers

    Monday, December 16th, 2013

    Killer #1: Retiring when what you really needed was a break. All too often I see people in their fifties and sixties who retire or take an early incentive offer because they think they’re ready to stop working. After a few months or a few years they find themselves bored and restless and wanting to work again. Unfortunately by then many of their business connections may have vanished or the economy turned sour and they can’t find meaningful work. Before you decide to retire fully, discuss a phased retirement or flexible work schedule with your employer. Explore all of your options before retiring.

    Killer #2: Spending your retirement money too quickly. Monitoring how much money you take out of your portfolio each year is crucial to you not outliving your money. 4% is the magic number (starting point) that you could take out of your saving each year ($4,000 for every …

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    The Best Ways To Save For Retirement

    Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

    Some people start saving for retirement at 20, 25, or 30. Others start later, and while their accumulated assets will have fewer years of compounding to benefit from, that shouldn’t discourage them to the point of doing nothing.

    If you need to play catch-up, here are some retirement savings principles to keep in mind. First of all, keep a positive outlook. Believe in the validity of your effort. Know that you are doing something good for yourself and your future, and keep at it.

    Starting later means saving more – much more. That’s reality; that’s math. When you have 15 or 20 years until your envisioned retirement instead of 30 or 40, you’ve got to sock away money for retirement in comparatively greater proportions. The good news is that you won’t be retiring strictly on those contributions; in large part, you will be retiring on the earnings generated by that pool of invested assets. …

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    Social Security 2014: 5 Things You Need To Know

    Monday, November 11th, 2013

    Here is a rundown of what is changing next year, and what isn’t.

    1. Social Security recipients are getting a raise – but not much of one. Next year, the average monthly Social Security payment will increase by $19 due to a 1.5% cost-of-living adjustment, one of the smallest annual COLAs in the program’s history. Since 1975, only seven COLAs have been less than 2%. Four of these seven COLAs have occurred in the past five years, however. The 2013 COLA was 1.7%.

    How does Social Security measure COLAs? It refers to the federal government’s Consumer Price Index, specifically the CPI-W, which tracks how inflation affects urban wage earners and clerical workers. Social Security looks at the CPI-W from July to September of the present year to figure the Social Security COLA for next year, so the 2014 COLA reflects the very tame inflation measured in summer 2013.

    Does the CPI-W accurately measure the inflation pressures that seniors face? Some …

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    7 Smart End-of-the-Year Tax Moves

    Friday, October 25th, 2013

    What has changed for you in 2013? Did you start a new job – or leave a job behind? Did you retire? Did you start a family? If some notable changes occurred in your personal or professional life, then you will want to review your finances before this year ends and the next one begins.

    Even if your 2013 has been relatively uneventful, the end of the year is still a good time to get cracking and see where you can plan to save some taxes and/or build a little more wealth.

    1. Do you practice tax loss harvesting? That is the art of taking capital losses (selling securities worth less than what you first paid for them) to offset your short-term capital gains. If you fall into one of the upper tax brackets, you might want to consider this move, which directly lowers your taxable income. It should be made with the guidance of a financial professional you …

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    6 Reasons People Don’t Become Wealthy?

    Monday, October 7th, 2013

    Why do some people let their potential for lifetime wealth slip away? Some people are better off economically at 30 or 40 than they are at 50 or 60. In some cases, fate deals them a bad hand. In other cases, bad decisions and inaction are to blame.

    1. They buy depreciating assets, instead of allowing assets to appreciate. In 2012, a Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances noted that only 52% of American households earn more money than they spend. They rack up debt and live on margin. What are they spending so much on? It isn’t just consumer staples – it’s not unusual for a family to “keep up with the Joneses” and buy the latest nonessential items.

    Contrary to the bumper sticker, he who dies with the most toys does not necessarily win, and he may leave a pile of debt and little savings behind. Today’s hottest cars, clothes, flat-screens, phones and tablets may be tomorrow’s discards.

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    FAQs – The Government Shutdown

    Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

    As you have no doubt heard, the United States government shut down at midnight (Eastern) October 1, 2013. There are many questions and concerns about this situation, but here are some basics.

    What happened? In short, Congress did not pass any of their appropriations bills. These bills provide money to various to federal agencies. Federal law requires agencies without these funding laws in place to close.

    How long will this last? As with other shutdowns, this is largely up to the two major parties and their abilities to reach whatever deal is necessary to get the bills passed. If we look to history, the two most recent government shutdowns happened in the Clinton administration. One only lasted five days. The other lasted three weeks.

    What’s closed, what’s opened? Not every public service is shut down entirely, as not every agency requires appropriations to function. Social Security and Medicare are not affected, active duty military continue to …

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    Should You Retire Now, Or Later?

    Monday, September 23rd, 2013

    The case for working past 65. Increasingly, baby boomers are urged to work until full retirement age or beyond. (Social Security defines “full” retirement age as 66 for those born from 1943-1954; it incrementally rises to 67 for those born in 1960 or later). If your health and workplace allow this, it may be a good idea for a few notable reasons.

    Your Social Security payments will be larger. Researchers from UCLA and Duke University jointly conducted a study and found that about 80% of Americans sign up for Social Security before full retirement age. In fact, 50% of Americans claim their federal retirement benefits either at age 62 or within two months of losing or quitting a job they hold at age 62 or older. The rush to get Social Security comes with a distinct penalty, though.

    As an example, take a hypothetical pre-retiree named Sharon. Born in 1952, Sharon wants to retire next year at age 62. …

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    2 Big Retirement Misconceptions

    Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

    We’ve all heard about the “new retirement”, the mix of work and play that many of us assume we will have in our lives one day. We do not expect “retirement” to be all leisure. While this is becoming a cultural assumption among baby boomers, it is interesting to see that certain financial assumptions haven’t really changed with the times.

    In particular, there are two financial misconceptions that baby boomers can fall prey to – assumptions that could prove financially harmful for their future.

    #1) Assuming retirement will last 10-15 years. Previous generations of Americans planned for retirements anticipated to last only 10-15 years. Today, both men and women who reach 65 can anticipate around 20 additional years of life. It’s important to note that this is just an average; a quarter of people reaching 65 will live beyond 90 and ten percent will live another five years or more.

    However, some of us may live much longer. The population …

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    Should You Take Money Out Of Your 401(k)?

    Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

    Most retirement experts strongly advise their clients not to touch their retirement savings until they actually retire. Other financial advisors disagree, saying that in certain circumstances, you can dip into your retirement nest egg with few long-term consequences. Does it make sense to dip into your retirement savings account, or should you consider that option only as a last resort?

    According to Scott Sonnier, President and Chief Investment Officer of Financial Management Services of America, “the majority of people borrow from their 401(k) for the wrong reasons. If there is a hardship or an emergency, then we allow for it. We don’t want people accessing their money for vacation or a social function.”

    Borrowing money from a company-sponsored 401(k) savings plan is similar to taking out a short -term loan. The largest provider of 401(k) plans, Fidelity Investments, reports that the number of people borrowing from their 401(k) retirement accounts has increased recently.

    Most plans allow you to borrow …

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    Married Couples: Ensuring Your Money Lasts a Lifetime

    Monday, July 29th, 2013

    There are many times when couples break up over money issues. The couples either don’t understand money, maybe one partner or both have no financial discipline. There could be many reasons why money would be the focus of a couple going their separate ways.

    There are also other couples who work together and have a successful relationship when it comes to financial issues. They are happy and comfortable when retirement comes their way. Following a few steps in the beginning can help relationships and money work together for a couple’s mutual benefit.

    Existing Financial Situation
    Before becoming legally involved with each other, couples need to be honest about the current state of their finances. They may be able to join forces and pay off a credit card or pay down loan debt. They may have assets that can be wisely invested. Knowing each other’s entire financial situation can help to bring trust in a relationship.

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    Retirement Income Planning: 4 Things Women Need To Do For a Secure Retirement

    Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

    Women have a unique set of retirement planning needs. Often, they are caretakers to family members and tend to live longer than their spouses, which requires careful retirement income planning to make their money last. It is important for women to educate themselves about their options and take control of retirement planning.

    According to WISER- Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, some of the top challenges facing women retirees:

    • Half of all women work in traditionally female, relatively low paid jobs without pensions. Women retirees receive only half the average pension benefits that men receive.
    • Three out of five working women earn less than $30,000 per year. Three out of four working women earn less than $40,000 per year.
    • Over a lifetime of working, women earn an average of 77 cents for every $1.00 earned by men – a lifetime difference of over …

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      Will Your Retirement Be Successful?

      Monday, July 15th, 2013

      How do you know if your retirement is living up to its potential? There isn’t a standard definition of a successful retirement. (Maybe there should be, but there isn’t.) It is interesting to see how different people define it. I define it as being able to do what you want, when you want, where you want, with whom you want.

      Maybe income is the yardstick. Make that income replacement. A recent article in Financial Advisor Magazine put it this way: “Successful retirement is defined as the ability to replace current income in retirement.” The Employee Benefit Research Institute, which tracks workplace retirement savings trends in America, defines retirement success in similar, if narrower, terms. To EBRI, “success” equals a combination of Social Security income and 401(k) savings that replace 80% of preretirement income after adjusting for inflation.

      Maybe health matters most. Perhaps a successful retirement equates to successful aging – staving off mental and physical decline. In …

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      How Impatience Hurts Retirement Saving

      Monday, July 1st, 2013

      Why do so many retirement savers underperform the market? From 1993-2012, the S&P 500 achieved a (compound) annual return of 8.2%. Across the same period, the average investor in U.S. stock funds got only a 4.3% return. What accounts for the difference?

      One big factor is impatience. It is expressed in emotional investment decisions. Too many people trade themselves into mediocrity – they react to the headlines of the moment, buy high and sell low. Dalbar, the noted investing research firm, estimates this accounts for 2.0% of the above-mentioned 3.9% difference. (It attributes another 1.3% of the gap to mutual fund operating costs and the remaining 0.6% to portfolio turnover within funds.)

      Impatience encourages market timing. Some investors consider “buy and hold” passé, but it has certainly worked well since 2009. How did market timing work in comparison? Citing Investment Company Institute calculations of equity fund asset inflows and outflows from January 2007 to August 2012, U.S. …

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      Would Investing in Alternative Assets Be a Wise Choice?

      Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

      The answer to that question is really in the eye of the beholder – or investor. Before investing in alternative assets, you should have at least a basic understanding of what they are and the advantages and disadvantages associated with them.

      What Are Alternative Assets?
      Alternative assets are those securities that are not typically found in a more conventional portfolio. What you would typically find in a more conventional portfolio are stocks, bonds, and cash. Alternative assets are things like private equity funds, hedge funds, commodities, Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), and venture capital.

      Advantages of Investing in Alternative Assets
      Investing in alternative assets offer the potential for large returns to investors who are willing to accept higher risk. As is the case, in any investment, the greater the risk, the greater the potential for gain. One of the more attractive aspects of investing in alternative assets is they sometimes …

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      4 Ways to Avoid a Retirement Shortfall

      Monday, June 10th, 2013

      In January, 2011 the first baby boomers began turning 65, the traditional retirement age. When most people hear the word “retirement”, they immediately think of Social Security and their company pension. What they don’t think of, or even realize is that Social Security and defined benefit pensions were designed to be supplements to personal retirement savings. They were never intended to replace personal retirement savings altogether.

      This year the average monthly Social Security benefit for retirees is $1,262, representing about 39 percent of their total income according to the Social Security Administration. The monthly benefit a retiree receives from their company pension is based on a formula that incorporates such variables as the employee’s pay, years of employment, age at retirement, and other factors. The important point here is that the income from defined benefit plans is a fraction of what the retiree’s salary was when they were working.

      Even with Social Security and company retirement plan benefits …

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      The Best Age to Retire Isn’t an Age At All

      Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

      I define retirement as making work optional. Retirement or the state of feeling retired is about being able to do what you want, when you want, where you want, with whom you want, at the time you want, on your terms, regardless of your age.

      Thinking about retirement, and when you can do that, shouldn’t be about how old you are. It should be about when you have enough money saved that you can live the lifestyle you want with the interest and dividend income generated by those savings. Unfortunately, this is an unfamiliar concept to most people.

      Most people look to their employer or the government to make the determination of what is the best age to retire. The problem with that approach is the government only offers four choices; age 62, 65, 66 or 67. These four choices are, of course, tied to when you are eligible for Social Security benefits (age …

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      Are You Too Young for Long-Term Care Insurance?

      Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

      The easy answer is probably not! After all, you can worry about getting older in your 20s or you can suffer the consequences of that lack of foresight in your 60s. Let’s face it, the younger we are the less we think about what’s going to happen to us during or nearing retirement. However, this may be a silly risk and one not worth taking.

      The fact of the matter is that LTC insurance is something that nearly all of us are going to need. Whether we spend our later years in a nursing home, an assisted-living facility or live them out in our own home, we are probably going to need some sort of care.

      What long-term care covers:
      Long-term care insurance is specifically designed to fill in the gaps between what your care costs and what is actually available to pay for those costs. Keep in mind that Medicaid is probably going to …

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      7 Retirement Assumptions Reassessed

      Monday, April 29th, 2013

      There is no “typical” retirement. Many baby boomers want one and believe that they will have one, and their futures may indeed unfold as planned. For others, the story will be different. Just as there is no routine retirement, there are no rote financial moves that should be made before or during this phase of life, and no universal truths about the retirement experience.

      Here are some commonly held assumptions – suppositions that may or may not prove true for you, depending on your financial and lifestyle circumstances.

      #1. You should take Social Security as late as possible. Generally speaking, this is a smart move. If you were born in the years from 1943-1954, your monthly benefit will be 25% smaller if you claim Social Security at 62 instead of your “full” retirement age of 66. If you wait until 70 to take Social Security, your monthly benefit will be 32% larger than if you had taken it at 66.

      So why would anyone apply for Social Security …

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      Preventing Retirement Mistakes: 6 Key Dates To Remember

      Friday, April 12th, 2013

      By the time most people hit age 50, they have been dreaming of their retirement as some far-off date that they knew was coming. The mid-century mark is often a wake-up call reminding them to put the pedal to the metal, and to make sure they have covered every possible angle when it comes to their retirement plans. Too many learn from experience that a few errors in judgment, or a failure to plan can result in mistakes that cost them valuable retirement dollars. Retirement mistakes can be prevented by keeping a few key dates in mind as you reach those golden years.

      Age: 55
      People who leave their job for one reason or other can elect to take funds from their 401 (k) without penalty if they are age 55 or older. This “separation from service” clause comes along with a requirement to pay income taxes on the funds, but rolling funds over into another retirement plan is often allowed, keeping the tax man away from …

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      What To Do When a Family Member Dies

      Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

      A financial checklist for the most difficult of times.

      The passing of a loved one irrevocably alters family life. After a death, there is so much to attend to that addressing financial matters related to a family member’s passing may be put on hold. This should be done, though, and it is better to do it sooner rather than later. Here, then, is a list of what commonly needs to be looked after.

      Request copies of the death certificate. Depending on where you live, you have two or three places to turn to for this document. You can phone, email or personally visit the office of the county recorder (or county clerk, as the term may be). You can alternately contact your state’s vital records department (sometimes called the state registrar or department of health), though it may take a little longer to get the document this way. In addition, some large and mid-sized cities maintain their own registrars of births and deaths.

      Call advisors, …

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      Saving for Retirement: Don’t be Afraid of Stocks

      Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

      If you’ve been reluctant to invest in the stock market, you’re not alone. Thanks to the credit crisis of 2008 and doomsday headlines, the volatility of the stock market over the last few years has left many investors running for cover and feeling like investing any portion of the retirement nest egg is too risky. The truth is, though, if you are saving for retirement, avoiding stocks completely is not a smart move.

      According to Money magazine, if you had invested $10,000 in a money-market account 20 years ago, you’d have almost $19,000 today. That’s a safe bet, but not a tremendous amount of growth. Avoiding retirement strategies that involve stock investment can drastically affect your standard of living upon retirement. On the other hand, no one can give you 100 percent assurance that stock investments will flourish. How can you strike a balance? Consider the following tips.

      • Keep it simple. Trying to predict the unpredictable will lead to disappointment. Those who …

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        The Latest Info On Social Security

        Monday, February 25th, 2013

        Social Security benefits have increased 1.7% this year. This doesn’t come close to the 3.6% boost retirees got for 2012, but it does mark the second straight annual cost-of-living adjustment. (After a hefty 5.8% COLA for 2009, there were no COLAs for 2010 or 2011).

        So for 2013, the average monthly Social Security payment going to a single retiree is $1,261 ($21 larger than last year). The average retired couple gets $2,048 per month in 2013 (a $34 monthly increase). A single retiree claiming benefits at the full retirement age of 66 this year could get a maximum monthly Social Security payment of $2,533.
        Of course, COLAs have also occurred to Medicare premiums and the payroll tax ceiling for employees.

        However, Medicare premiums are eating into that COLA. The good news for 2013 is that Part B premiums didn’t rise as much as some analysts expected. Medicare’s trustees, for example, anticipated a $9 monthly increase in these premiums. Instead, the increase was slightly more than $5. Part B …

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        Common Deductions Taxpayers Overlook

        Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

        Every year, taxpayers leave money on the table. They don’t mean to, but as a result of oversight, they miss some great chances for federal income tax deductions.

        While the IRS has occasionally fixed taxpayer mistakes in the past for taxpayer benefit (as was the case when some filers ignored the Making Work Pay Credit), you can’t count on such benevolence. As a reminder, here are some potential tax breaks that often go unnoticed – and this is by no means the whole list.

        Expenses related to a job search. Did you find a new job in the same line of work in 2012? If you itemize, you can deduct the job-hunting costs as miscellaneous expenses. The deductions can’t surpass 2% of your adjusted gross income. Even if you didn’t land a new job in 2012, you can still write off qualified job search expenses. Many expenses qualify: overnight lodging, mileage, cab fares, resume printing, headhunter fees and more. Didn’t keep track of these expenses? You and …

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        The Right Beneficiary

        Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

        Here’s a simple financial question: who is the beneficiary of your IRA? How about your 401(k), life insurance policy, or annuity? You may be able to answer such a question quickly and easily. Or you may be saying, “You know … I’m not totally sure.” Whatever your answer, it is smart to periodically review your beneficiary designations.

        Your choices may need to change with the times. When did you open your first IRA? When did you buy your life insurance policy? Was it back in the Eighties? Are you still living in the same home and working at the same job as you did back then? Have your priorities changed a bit – perhaps more than a bit?

        While your beneficiary choices may seem obvious and rock-solid when you initially make them, time has a way of altering things. In a stretch of five or ten years, some major changes can occur in your life – and …

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        Is Now The Time To Refinance Your Mortgage?

        Monday, January 28th, 2013

        Mortgage rates are still low. The earliest numbers from 2013 have remained lower than they were this time last year, leading a number of homeowners to consider (and re-consider) their options.

        On January 17, interest rates on 30-year FRMs dropped to 3.38%. This is down 0.5%  from a year ago at this time. Many have already taken advantage; the Mortgage Bankers Association reported a 15.2% increase in mortgage loan applications last week, while refinancing saw a 15% bump from the previous week. In fact, 82% of all applications were attempts to refinance.

        With interest rates down across the board, it’s easy to see why homeowners still so low: Freddie Mac is reporting 15-year FRMs are down to 2.66%, while 5/1-year ARMs and 1-year ARMs were down to 2.67%. A year ago, the rates were 3.17%, 2.82%, and 2.76%, respectively.

        Keep your eye on the big picture. While it might seem to your advantage to take your interest …

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        The Debt Ceiling Dilemma

        Monday, January 21st, 2013

        Global investors watch America anxiously. In late December, the U.S. technically reached its debt ceiling of approximately $16.4 trillion, with the federal government taking what Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called “extraordinary measures” to avert a default.

        Even as House GOP leaders announced plans Friday to approve a three-month increase in the federal debt limit, tension remains  – and that tension could  provoke a debt ceiling battle on Capitol Hill reminiscent of the impasse of 2011 later this year.

        President Obama has again presented a debt ceiling hike as an essential move needed to pay America’s bills. House Republicans do not want to see a long-term increase in the debt limit without corresponding spending cuts, and some conservatives have characterized the Obama administration’s warnings as more posturing than fact.

        A new plan to deal with critical fiscal deadlines. Sometime between February 15 and March 15, the federal government’s borrowing capacity will (in theory) be exhausted. March 1 now represents the start of the “sequester” – the automatic spending cuts …

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        IRA Contribution Limits Rise for 2013

        Monday, January 14th, 2013

        Time to boost your IRA balance. In 2013, you can contribute up to $5,500 to your Roth or traditional IRA. If you will be 50 or older by the end of 2013, your contribution limit is actually $6,500 this year thanks to the IRS’s “catch-up” provision. The new limits represent a $500 increase from 2012 levels.

        January is an ideal time to max out your annual IRA contribution. If you are in the habit of making a single annual contribution to your IRA rather than monthly or quarterly contributions, try to make the maximum contribution as early as you can in a year. More of your money should have an opportunity for tax-deferred growth, not less. While you can delay making your 2013 IRA contribution until April 15, 2014, there is no advantage in waiting – you will stunt the compounding potential of those assets, and time is your friend here.

        Do you own multiple IRAs?

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        3 Important IRA Deadlines to Remember

        Monday, January 7th, 2013

        Many of us associate April with taxes. We should also associate it with IRAs, for April is the month with the deadlines for IRA contributions and mandatory IRA withdrawals.

        1.  The deadline for your 2012 IRA contribution is April 15, 2013. For tax year 2012, you can contribute up to $5,000 to your Roth or traditional IRA. One exception: If you turned 50 in 2012, your Roth or traditional IRA contribution limit for 2012 is $6,000. You get 15½ months to make your IRA contribution for a given tax year. You can make your 2013 IRA contribution at any time until Monday, April 15, 2014.

        Have you already made your IRA contributions? Hopefully, you contribute the maximum annually and make your contribution soon; the earlier that money is invested, the longer it can work for you.

        Be sure to indicate the year of the IRA contribution on the check. This seems pretty basic, yet is too often overlooked. Write “2012 IRA contribution” or “2013 IRA contribution” or something …

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        The Fiscal Cliff Deal & Your Taxes – What Will Change (And Won’t Change)

        Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

        Several tax hikes, some tax breaks. Now that the fiscal cliff deal assembled in Congress is becoming law, it is time to look at some of the tax law changes that will result. Here are the major details in the bill, which will bring significant tax hikes to some households in an effort to increase federal revenues by $600 billion over the next ten years.

        The Bush-era tax cuts will be preserved for at least 98% of taxpayers. Individuals with incomes of $400,000 or less and households with incomes of $450,000 or less will not see their federal income tax rates rise. The EGTRRA/JGTRRA cuts have been made permanent for such earners.

        The wealthiest Americans are looking at a major income tax hike. The top marginal tax rate will rise 4.6% in 2013 to 39.6%. Individuals with more than $400,000 in taxable income and couples with more than $450,000 in taxable income will be affected. …

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        6 Questions To Ask Before Moving Into a Nursing Home Facility

        Friday, December 28th, 2012

        At some point, someone you love may make the transition from living at home to residing at an assisted living or nursing home facility. When should that transition occur, and what factors must be considered along the way? And what don’t these facilities tell you about?

        1) When is it time? If an elder is a) safe and content at home, b) in reasonably stable health, c) can draw on personal or family resources for in-home care, d) has a sufficient “rotation” of family or professional caregivers available so as not to exhaust loved ones, then there may be no compelling reason for that elder to enter a nursing home or assisted living facility.

        If, on the other hand, an elder’s health notably worsens and caregiving strains your own health, relationships and/or resources, then the time may have arrived.

        2) If it is time, is a nursing home really necessary? It may not be. Keep in mind …

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        8 Overlooked Ways To Save Money For Retirement

        Monday, November 26th, 2012

        Besides periodic IRA contributions and elective salary deferrals into 401(k) and 403(b) plans, there are other ways to amass retirement savings, some of them often overlooked.

        1. Put tax refunds & tax savings to work. If you get a few hundred back from the IRS, that is not an insignificant sum. You could save it or you could invest it with the potential to compound that money. The same goes for the dollars you save as a result of tax credits or tax breaks.

        2. Relocation. Ever thought about living where lifestyle costs are less? Moving to a cheaper part of the country might cost you a few thousand dollars, but the long-run savings could end up dwarfing that expense; you could free up thousands of dollars annually toward your retirement savings effort.

        As an example, Zillow’s Q3 2012 Home Value Index showed the median home value in San Jose as $525,000 and the median home value at $356,100 in Boston. A San Jose resident could move to …

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        5 Possible Fiscal Cliff Scenarios

        Monday, November 5th, 2012

        Will 2013 be as severe as some economists think? The fiscal cliff is getting closer and closer. How will Congress respond?

        In the worst-case scenario, Congress argues and deadlocks. Tax hikes and roughly $109 billion in federal spending cuts take a bite out of GDP and another recession becomes a possibility.

        There are other possibilities, however. The fiscal cliff may yet be averted, or at least we might back away from its edge. One of several scenarios might come to pass.

        Scenario A: Congress buys time. Many analysts think this is exactly what will happen. Congress is in a lame-duck session. The option for legislators to “pass the buck” may prove tantalizing. So we could see a short-term, stopgap deal with the idea that the next session of Congress will tackle the problem later in 2013. The debt ceiling could be raised, and a “down payment” might be made on longer-term liabilities.

        Scenario B: Congress can’t make a deal. This may not be so improbable; if you remember the …

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        Smart Financial Moves for Late 2012/Early 2013

        Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

        What financial, business or life priorities do you need to address for 2013? Now is a good time to think about the investing, saving or budgeting methods you could employ toward specific objectives. Some year-end financial moves may prove crucial to the pursuit of those goals as well.

        What can you do to lower your 2012 taxes?
        Before the year fades away, you have plenty of options. Here are a few that may prove convenient:

        *Make a charitable gift before New Year’s Day. You can claim the deduction on your 2012 return, provided you use Schedule A. The paper trail is important here.

        If you give cash, you need to document it. Even small contributions need to be demonstrated by a bank record, payroll deduction record, credit card statement, or written communication from the charity with the date and amount. Incidentally, the IRS does not equate a pledge with a donation. If you pledge $2,000 to a charity in December but only end up gifting $500 before 2012 …

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        Important IRS Update – IRA’s & 401k Plans Will Have Higher Contribution Limits In 2013

        Monday, October 22nd, 2012

        The IRS has set annual contribution limits for IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement plans higher for 2013, and made other important adjustments for inflation as well. Here is an overview of some notable changes just announced.

        The 2013 IRA contribution limit: $5,500. This is a $500 increase from 2012, and it applies to both Roth and traditional IRAs. The IRA catch-up contribution limit for those 50 and older remains $1,000.

        The 2013 contribution limit for 401(k), 403(b), TSP & most 457 plans: $17,500. For the second year in a row, we see a $500 increase. The catch-up contribution limit on these plans for participants 50 and older remains $5,500.

        The phase-out range on Roth IRA contributions has increased. It starts $5,000 higher in 2013 than in 2012 for married couples filing jointly ($178,000-$188,000) and $2,000 higher for single filers and heads of household ($112,000-$127,000).

        The phase-out range on deductible contributions to traditional IRAs has risen. In …

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        Medicare Open Enrollment for 2013

        Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

        Medicare Open Enrollment has arrived. The open enrollment period begins October 15 and ends December 7, 2012. This is not only a period where you may enroll for the program, but also switch providers for your comprehensive health and drug coverage.

        Some key dates to remember. This fall and winter, there are three periods in which Medicare beneficiaries can either enroll or disenroll in forms of coverage:

        * Now through December 7: Open enrollment period. This is when you can elect to leave Original Medicare (Parts A and B) for a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) and change your prescription drug coverage (Part D). You can also elect to get out of a Part C plan and go back to Parts A and B during this period.

        * December 8: Annual enrollment period begins for 5-star plans. As you probably know, Part C and Part D plans are assigned ratings. Beginning December 8, 2012 and ending November 30, 2013, a window opens for you to enroll in a …

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        Should You Reduce Risk Exposure As You Get Older?

        Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

        If you move away from equities with age, are you making a mistake? For some time, financial professionals have encouraged investors to lessen their exposure to the stock market as they get older. After all, a 60-year-old has less time to recover from a market downturn than someone decades away from collecting Social Security checks.

        Is that conventional thinking flawed? It might be. It isn’t simply a matter of looking at the future; you may also want to look at the past.

        What’s the price of playing not to lose? It could be significant – at least in terms of opportunity cost. At this moment, how many people really want to shift money into fixed-rate investments?

        Obviously, bonds, CDs and money market accounts will always hold some appeal as they tout protection of principal. Aside from that sense of safety, how does a 1% or 2% return sound? As we enter Q4 2012, the highest-paying 5-year CDs yield …

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        8 Financial Considerations for 2013

        Monday, September 17th, 2012

        We are now in plain view of the “fiscal cliff”. After the election, Congress may or may not end up keeping income and estate tax rates at their recent levels. Next year may bring some notable financial developments, and it isn’t too soon for households to think about them.

        1. You may want to prioritize tax reduction. If the Bush-era tax cuts sunset, everyone will see higher taxes. The federal income tax brackets (10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35%) that we have known for the last nine years would be replaced by five higher ones (15%, 28%, 31%, 36%, 39.6%) come 2013.

        2. High earners may want to watch their incomes. If your earned income for 2013 tops $200,000 – or exceeds $250,000, in the case of a couple – you may face two Medicare surtaxes. While the Medicare payroll tax on earned incomes above these levels is set to rise to 2.35% from the current 1.45%, the second surtax may prove to be the real annoyance: …

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        Why Is The Stock Market Rising?

        Monday, August 27th, 2012

        On August 21, the S&P 500 hit a 4-year high. It climbed 3% in the first three weeks of the month following a 1.26% July gain. Across the past four weeks, the index’s total return has been just under 4%.

        Unexpected? You might say so. You can’t predict how the market will behave. This summer, stocks are managing to advance despite lingering threats.

        Shouldn’t Wall Street be more pessimistic? After all, the “fiscal cliff” is drawing closer, the risk of a crack in the eurozone hasn’t exactly faded, and the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve have not yet boldly responded to disappointing economic signals. Did Wall Street just collectively dismiss all of this in recent weeks?

        Few saw this rally coming. The prevailing opinion – at least in spring – was that stocks would limp along through the summer, possibly retreating in reaction to news from Europe and subpar U.S. indicators. That was essentially the story in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, the S&P saw an …

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        Avoiding Identity Theft

        Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

        According to data compiled by Norton, cybercrime hits over 74 million Americans annually. You know you have been victimized when you get that courtesy call or email from a bank or credit card issuer – but is there a way you can tell prior to that moment?

        There are warning signs of cybercrime. Watching out for them just might save you money and headaches. If you notice any of the following conditions, pay attention.

        Odd little charges appear on your credit card. Big charges are of course a giveaway, but criminals might first venture some little charges. This often happens when more sophisticated identity thieves buy or obtain credit or debit card numbers through syndicates or online forums (they do exist).

        You stop getting credit or debit card statements. A thief may have changed the billing address. What time of the month do these bills arrive? Knowing when may alert you to something fishy.

        Weird packages show up at your home or office. “I didn’t order …

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        Retiring Solo

        Monday, July 23rd, 2012

        Most retirement planning literature portrays a retirement transition in the context of a couple or a family – but what about those who retire alone? What particular challenges do they face, and how must their preparation for retirement differ?

        Retiring alone presents unique challenges. Singles who retire may lack a spousal and familial support network other retirees count on. If a lone retiree faces sizable medical bills, he or she can’t draw on the financial resources of a spouse. Unmarried, childless retirees also lack adult sons and daughters who might be able to offer them financial help or serve as executors of their estates one day.

        Singles must plan ahead for them. The earlier, the better: if you anticipate a solo retirement, it might be very wise to plan for it decades in advance.

        A basic financial truth can’t be dismissed: single retirees will need to amass savings comparable to those of a retired couple.

        Why? It is because many retirement costs are fixed. Hospitals, universities, banks, pharmacies, mechanics …

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        Estate Tax Laws – What Has Happened Since 2010 & What Could Happen in 2013

        Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

        With 2013 approaching, many families and their financial, tax and legal consultants are weighing major estate planning decisions. A short-term window of opportunity may be closing. The relatively low estate tax rates we have now may soon disappear, along with one of the largest federal tax breaks available in decades.

        Estate taxes are at 80-year lows. At the end of 2010, Congress reset the estate, gift and generation-skipping tax (GST) rates at 35% and raised the lifetime federal gift, estate and GST tax exemptions to $5,120,000 until January 1, 2013. Some Capitol Hill legislators want to see these rates retained, even made permanent. Two other scenarios may be more likely.

        In the first scenario, the Bush-era tax cuts expire at the end of 2012 and it becomes 2001 all over again: the lifetime estate and gift tax exemptions fall to $1 million and estate taxes are reset to 55% (60% for some households).

        In the second scenario, Congress makes good on President Obama’s request to turn the clock …

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        5 Things To Keep In Mind For Life After Work

        Monday, July 2nd, 2012

        Decades ago, there was a popular book entitled What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School. Perhaps someday, another book will appear to discuss certain aspects of the retirement experience that go unrecognized – the “fine print”, if you will. Here are some little things that can be frequently overlooked.

        How will you save in retirement? More and more baby boomers are retiring with the hope that they can become centenarians. That may prove true thanks to healthcare advances and generally healthier lifestyles.

        We all save for retirement; with our increasing longevity, we will also need to save in retirement for the (presumed) decades ahead. That means more than budgeting; it means investing with growth and tax efficiency in mind year after year.

        Could your cash flow be more important than your savings? While the #1 retirement fear is someday running out of money, your income stream may actually prove more important than your retirement nest egg. How great will the income stream be from …

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        Health Insurance – What Happens In The Wake Of The Supreme Court’s Decision Today?

        Friday, June 29th, 2012

        The mandate stands. By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court has upheld the core of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The law’s most controversial provision will stand – the mandate requiring every American citizen to buy individual health insurance coverage.

        The court made a key distinction, interpreting that mandate not as a directive but as a tax. “The federal government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. wrote in the majority opinion. “The federal government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance.”

        The ruling carries profound implications for individuals, businesses and households.

        Every American has to have health insurance by 2014 or pay a tax. If you are already insured, this isn’t a dilemma – but if you are self-employed or work at a company with fewer than 50 employees that doesn’t provide health insurance coverage, securing health coverage will be your individual responsibility.

        If you fail to buy health insurance …

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        Health Insurance – What Happens In The Wake Of The Supreme Court’s Decision Today?

        Friday, June 29th, 2012

        The mandate stands. By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court has upheld the core of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The law’s most controversial provision will stand – the mandate requiring every American citizen to buy individual health insurance coverage.

        The court made a key distinction, interpreting that mandate not as a directive but as a tax. “The federal government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. wrote in the majority opinion. “The federal government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance.”

        The ruling carries profound implications for individuals, businesses and households.

        Every American has to have health insurance by 2014 or pay a tax. If you are already insured, this isn’t a dilemma – but if you are self-employed or work at a company with fewer than 50 employees that doesn’t provide health insurance coverage, securing health coverage will be your individual responsibility.

        If you fail to buy health insurance …

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        If Interest Rates Rise, What Happens to Bonds?

        Monday, June 11th, 2012

        We have seen an epic “flight to safety” this spring. In April alone, $20.6 billion moved into bond funds, according to Lipper. In the same month, $12.7 billion left stock funds (which marked the 12th consecutive month of net withdrawals).

        The price of debt has really gone up, particularly U.S. and German sovereign debt. On June 1, the 10-year Treasury yield settled at 1.47% after touching an all-time low of 1.44%. It has consistently been below 2% since April 26. Germany’s 10-year notes were yielding around 1.2% during early June.

        The real yield of the 10-year TIPS has been negative since January 24. In fact, it has only finished in positive territory on two days since December 9.

        In the short term, few expect the current bond market climate to change. The question is … what happens when it does?

        Are bond investors going to pay for it? At some point, interest rates will rise again; bond market values …

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        What Happens Here if Greece Exits the Euro?

        Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

        If Greece leaves the eurozone in the coming months, what kind of financial ripples could reach America?

        Nobody can predict the endgame yet; Greece may even stay in the euro, although that is looking less and less likely. The big concern isn’t what happens in Greece – it is about what could happen in Spain or Italy as a result of what happens in Greece.

        The effects from a Greek default (and eurozone exit) would likely be felt on four fronts in America – but first, an economic chain reaction would almost certainly play out in Europe.

        A Greek default could imperil Spain & Italy. If Greece leaves the euro, then Greek bondholders lose their money. A crisis of confidence in the euro could prompt institutional investors to either walk away or demand even higher interest rates on Italian and Spanish bonds. The European Central Bank could then step up and provide emergency lending, bond buying and recapitalization efforts. If those efforts were to fall short, the worst-case …

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        Should You Sell In May & Go Away?

        Monday, April 30th, 2012

        An old stock market dictum says that spring is for profit-taking, or at least a time to reduce your exposure to equities.

        In the classic market psychology, you “sell in May and go away” with the belief that stock prices will plateau or retreat in spring and summer, and then you return to stocks in the fall, taking advantage of bargains and factors that will encourage a hot fourth quarter.

        In the last several years, we have seen all kinds of stock market behavior, some of it extraordinary. So is there any credence to this approach now?

        The argument for “going away”. Over the last 12 months, investors who held to this belief made out pretty well. From May 1-November 1, 2011, the Dow lost 6.7%. From November 2011 through April 27, 2012, it gained 10.7%.

        If we open a historical window – specifically, The Stock Trader’s Almanac – back to 1926, we see the S&P 500 rising 4.3% on average during May-October and gaining an average of …

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        15 Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund

        Monday, March 26th, 2012

        Is a tax refund coming your way? If you have already received your refund for 2012 or are about to receive it, you might want to think about the destiny of that money. Here are some possibilities.

        • Start (or add to) an emergency fund. Many people don’t have a dedicated rainy day fund, only the presumption that they might have enough cash in case of a financial tight spot.
        • Invest in yourself. You could put the money toward education, career training, personal improvement, or some sort of personal experience with the potential to enhance your life.
        • Put it into an IRA or workplace retirement account. If you haven’t maxed out your IRA this year or have a chance to get an employer match, why not?
        • Help your child open up a Roth IRA. Has your under-18 son or daughter worked and earned money this year? He or she can open a Roth IRA. Your child’s contribution limit is $5,000 or the amount of his or her earned income for …

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          Could Gas Prices Harm the Economy?

          Monday, March 19th, 2012

          By March 16, retail gas prices were up 16.94% YTD. This major climb is leading some economists to wonder if the leap in gas prices is powerful enough to stall our economic momentum.

          In February, energy costs rose 6% for the American consumer. Gasoline prices accounted for 100% of that gain. In fact, gasoline prices were behind 80% of the overall 0.4% rise in the Consumer Price Index for February, meaning that last month brought the most consumer inflation of any month since April.

          Weve seen $4 gas. What if $5 gas becomes common? If that happens during the summer driving season, the Federal Reserve may find itself weighing which move to make. Higher energy costs could hurt the broad economy, and if that happened, you would almost certainly hear clamor for some kind of stimulus. On the other hand, if Wall Street and Main Street both fret that inflation is rising, the Fed would hardly want to ease.

          How does these price hikes affect consumer psychology? One …

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          How Much Retirement Income Will You REALLY Need?

          Monday, February 27th, 2012

          What is enough? What is not enough? If you’re considering retiring in the near future, you’ve probably heard or read that you need about 70% of your end salary to live comfortably in retirement. This estimate is frequently repeated, but that doesn’t mean it’s true for everyone; it might not be true for you.

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          The Facebook Frenzy Is Building. Should You Care?

          Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

          Anticipation is high. Facebook filed an S-1 form with the Securities and Exchange Commission on February 1, taking its first big step toward going public. It aims to raise $5 billion through its upcoming IPO. The Google IPO raised $1.9 billion, and this IPO could potentially dwarf that.

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          Are People REALLY Retiring Later?

          Monday, January 23rd, 2012

          True or false? You may have heard this claim before (or something like it): Many Americans are being forced to retire later because their savings and investments took a hit in the Great Recession.
          Recently, a big-name economist disputed that belief. In a commentary for Bloomberg, former White House budget director Peter Orszag wrote that some of the statistics dont seem to back up this conventional wisdom, but perhaps it all depends on which statistics you cite.

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          Is Now The Time To Refinance Your Mortgage?

          Friday, January 20th, 2012

          Mortgages are cheaper than ever. Economists and real estate analysts who predicted lower interest rates were not disappointed; the earliest numbers from 2012 have reached an all-time low, leading a number of homeowners to consider their options.

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          Starting Off 2012 On the Right Foot

          Monday, January 9th, 2012

          Every year brings some financial change, so here are some relevant changes relating to investment, tax and estate planning for 2012. As you strive to contribute as much as you comfortably can to these accounts this year, you will probably notice some changes with the retirement plan at your workplace.

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          Wow…The Payroll Tax Cut Has Been Extended For Two Whole Months

          Monday, December 26th, 2011

          A last-minute gift to 160 million Americans. On December 23, Congress approved a 2-month extension of the payroll tax holiday that President Obama quickly signed into law. So we will not see shrunken paychecks come January. The new law also extends long-term unemployment benefits through February 29 and authorizes a 2-month reprieve on pay cuts to doctors by Medicare.

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          What Do You Do When An Account Owner Passes Away?

          Monday, December 19th, 2011

          If your loved ones have invested, saved or insured themselves to any degree, you may be named as a beneficiary to one or more of their accounts, policies or assets in the event of their deaths. While we all hope that day never comes, we do need to know what to do financially if and when it does.

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          Will The Payroll Tax Cut Survive? Could It? Should It?

          Monday, December 5th, 2011

          There is hope yet that this big tax break will return in 2012. While a pair of bills designed to extend the payroll tax holiday stalled in the Senate on December 1, a bipartisan effort could take place to save the tax cut that amounts to roughly $900 a year for the average U.S. household. It may not be taken for granted as much as the annual AMT patch, but it seems unlikely any Congress would want be remembered for ending such a big tax break for Main Street in such a tepid economy.

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          The (Anything BUTT) Super Committee’s Epic Failure – What This Might Mean For The Economy & The Markets

          Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

          Congress punts on third down. Unable to reach consensus, the Congressional super committee of 12 offered America a disappointing result Monday. As the super committee failed to create a plan to trim $1.2 trillion or more from the federal deficit, that sets things up for an automatic $1.2 trillion in cuts effective over a 10-year stretch beginning January 2, 2013.

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          Could Big Changes Be Coming to Your 401(k)?

          Monday, November 14th, 2011

          Our federal government needs to reduce its massive deficit – and among the many revenue-generating ideas being discussed in Congress, two in particular could have disturbing consequences for employees saving for retirement.

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          Your Annual Financial To-Do List – Things YOU Can Do Before & For 2012

          Monday, November 7th, 2011

          The end of the year is a good time to review your personal finances. What are your financial, business or life priorities for 2012? Try to specify the goals you want to accomplish. Think about the consistent investing, saving or budgeting methods you could use to realize them. Also, consider these year-end moves.

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          Obama’s New Debt Relief Initiatives

          Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

          President Obama has just announced two initiatives to try and ease debt burdens for Americans – moves that some view as election-minded appeals to the younger and middle-class voters that backed him wholeheartedly in 2008. With the American Jobs Act having stalled in the Senate, it isn’t surprising that these changes are coming through executive branch measures rather than proposed legislation. When put into play, will these two ideas have a meaningful economic impact? Let’s take a closer look at them…

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          Another Recession? NOT!

          Monday, October 24th, 2011

          This year, assorted economists and journalists have contended that the U.S. is on the edge of a new recession. Yet recent indicators hint that the economy is doing a bit better than some analysts think. The continued vitality in consumer spending and other encouraging factors points to a recovery. It may seem unimpressive or frustrating, but it doesn’t indicate a recession.

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          Stocks in the 4th Quarter

          Monday, October 10th, 2011

          Will the Street put its anxieties aside? Right now, you have a lot of uncertainty. Many analysts see a stock market unimpressed by tepid domestic growth and waiting fearfully for the other shoe to drop (meaning Greece). They see more pain ahead for U.S. investors. On the other hand, there is also talk of when a point of capitulation might be reached, i.e., is Wall Street simply ready to rally even in the face of the debt troubles in Europe and the slow recovery here.

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          How Does Greece Impact Me?

          Monday, September 26th, 2011

          Many economists think a Greek default is inevitable. As we enter 4Q 2011, Greece has a debt-to-GDP ratio of about 160% (and that percentage is rising). While Greece accounts for less than 3% of Eurozone GDP, ripples from a Greek default could strain the European banking sector and global financial markets. Struggling for the best worst-case scenario. Greece is redoing its financial system, but it is still facing one of five potential (and painful) outcomes…

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          401(k)s & IRAs: PHASE-OUTS & CONTRIBUTION LIMITS

          Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

          Will phase-outs affect your IRA contributions? Highly paid employees who contribute to workplace retirement plans can’t always maximize their IRA deductions. That is because of IRS phase-outs that kick in at certain modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) levels. A 2011 example. This year, you could contribute up to $5,000 to a traditional or Roth IRA ($6,000 if you were 50 or older). Yet if you were covered by a retirement plan at work, your contribution to a traditional IRA was reduced if your MAGI was…

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          Debt Deal, Downgrade, Dow Drop … Where Have We Landed?

          Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

          August 2011 is on pace to become the roughest and most volatile month for the stock market in almost three years. Where exactly will this correction bottom out? How long will buyers stay on the sidelines?

          Two crucial questions await answers – but before turning to those questions, consider the developments that really hurt equities in the middle of August.

          Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase forecasts depressed investors. On August 18, Morgan Stanley said it had cut its global growth forecasts, citing “policy errors” on the part of the U.S. and European Union. It now anticipates global growth of 3.9% for 2011 (down from the previous estimate of 4.2%) and it sees the global economy expanding by 3.8% in 2012 (down from its previous forecast of 4.5%). JPMorgan Chase revised its 4Q 2011 U.S. GDP projection down to 1.0% from the previous 2.5% on August 19; on the same day, Goldman Sachs cut its …

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          Time To Invest More In Stocks?

          Monday, August 15th, 2011

          “The lower things go, the more I buy.” The legendary Warren Buffett said those words on August 9 in a chat with Fortune. Buffett is a buy-and-hold kind of guy, and even if you don’t buy into his approach, you have to admit stocks are cheap in the wake of the recent correction. For many investors, a downturn like this means picking up quality stocks at markdown prices, including dividend-paying stocks.

          Just how cheap are stocks in August? We have some compelling valuations out there. Just to give you some idea of where the broad market is at, the 12-month forward equity earnings yield of the MSCI World Index (according to Reuters) was just above 10% on August 12. This was the highest earnings yield since January 2009 – and more than five times the yield of the 10-year Treasury in mid-August.

          Domestically, Capital IQ data from August 12 shows that stocks in the …

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          S&P Downgrades U.S.

          Monday, August 8th, 2011

          Unprecedented and unsettling. Standard & Poor’s issued a historic downgrade of U.S. debt on August 5, sensibly waiting until the market week had concluded to send a shock wave toward global investors. It reduced America’s long-term debt rating – which had been AAA since 1941 – to AA+.

          S&P felt Congress did too little too late. The credit rating agency had threatened to lower the boom if Congress passed any deficit reduction plan smaller than $4 trillion in scope. The Budget Control Act of 2011 “falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics,” an S&P statement noted. It also retained its “negative” credit outlook on the U.S.

          S&P is also skeptical that the federal government can collect more money from taxpayers. Its analysts do not think the Bush-era tax cuts will sunset at the end of 2012 “because the majority of Republicans in Congress …

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          The Best (and Worst) States To Be Financially

          Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

          Do you live in one of the worst tax states for retirees? Are you fortunate enough to live in one of the best states to do business? Here is a roundup of the miscellaneous, fascinating rankings offered by leading magazines and websites.

          What are the best (and worst) states for business? Well, CNBC has ranked all 50 states based on 43 criteria including quality of work force, cost of doing business, quality of life, state economies and access to capital. Coming in at #1: Virginia. Number two is Texas, number three is North Carolina. The state with the lowest cost of doing business – Iowa – ranked 9th. The bottom three? Hawaii (48th), Alaska (49th) and … Rhode Island? Yes, it was dead last. CNBC cited its 10.9% jobless rate and a corporate tax rate nearly as high.

          What are the best (and worst) tax states for retirees? Kiplinger sees four “tax hells” in …

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          Women & Retirement Perceptions

          Monday, July 25th, 2011

          In January 2011, Merrill Lynch released the results of a survey asking baby boomers with $250,000+ in investable assets about their retirement hopes. There were some interesting across-the-board findings – 70% of those polled expected to work at least part-time, and 84% felt their retirements would be more comfortable and dynamic than those of their parents. Yet it was the collective response of women in the 1,000-investor study that drew the most attention.

          Women envision a very active retirement. Volunteering and travel registered as major priorities for women, more so than for men: 64% of women said they wanted to get more involved in their communities, 62% planned to devote more time to philanthropy, and 86% planned to travel when retired. Additionally, 14% of the women surveyed said that they wanted to start a business after their careers ended.

          Women are more concerned than men about running out of money. While 52% of male respondents …

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          The D Word That Haunts Wall Street

          Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

          When will the debt ceiling issue be solved? The NFL, the NBA, the EU, Congress … wherever you look, it seems people would rather wrangle these days than resolve their differences. The U.S. Treasury has set a hard deadline of August 2 for Congress to settle its divide on the federal debt ceiling, and if partisan bickering interferes, the world economy could suffer a severe hit.

          What would happen if we miss the deadline? According to federal budget analysts at the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Treasury would only be able to make a slight majority of its 80 million monthly payments in August. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner would likely be put in the same position as a struggling consumer low on cash and behind on his bills: he would have to selectively decide which debts to pay for the month and which to ignore.

          Should August 2 come and go without a solution, Congress’s inaction (and Geithner’s subsequent decisions) would have dramatic global repercussions. Most likely, his …

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          The Current CD Quandary – Today’s Yield Can’t Beat Inflation

          Monday, June 20th, 2011

          CD investors are effectively losing money. According to Market Rates Insight, a research firm tracking bank rates, annualized inflation has surpassed long-term certificate of deposit rates since February. In April, 12-month inflation hit 3.16% while the highest-yielding 5-year callable CD on the market offered a 2.4% interest rate. May’s Consumer Price Index put annualized inflation at 3.6%; as of mid-June, the highest-yielding nationally available 5-year CD was at 3.05% APY.

          Still, the Federal Reserve found that almost $9 trillion of American wealth was held in CDs, bank accounts and various FDIC-insured products as of April.

          It’s a case of déjà vu. This is the second time in recent history that CD investors have been punished for assuming so little risk. During the period from January-July 2008, the negative yield on 5-year CDs was 1.8% according to MRI.

          They might come out ahead … should inflation diminish. As Bankrate.com senior financial analyst Greg McBride reminded Bloomberg, “Investing in a CD isn’t compensating you for last year’s inflation; it’s …

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          4 Reasons For Optimism

          Monday, June 13th, 2011

          When was the last time the Dow took a six-week tumble? On June 10, the Dow dipped below 12,000 and posted its sixth straight weekly decline. You have to go back to October 2002 to find a Dow losing streak that long. If you’re hearing bearish groans in the distance, you’re not alone: the bears are making their voices heard as the Dow is down almost 7% from where it was at the end of April.

          June certainly has been tough on Wall Street, with the bulk of economic indicators flashing a slowdown. However, there is reason to think the third and fourth quarters of 2011 may be better for stocks – in fact, that’s what many analysts believe.

          Q2 earnings projections are quite good. Investment research firm FactSet finds that despite the losing streak, aggregate Q2 S&P 500 earnings estimates are basically unchanged from late May. The collective forecast projects a 14.6% growth in earnings for the quarter and a 10.4% jump in revenues. (That double-digit revenue …

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          Retirement Expert Bill Losey Interviewed By Bloomberg TV On The Pros & Cons Of Long Term Care Planning

          Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

          In this video interview with Bloomberg TV, I share reasons why someone like you may or may not want to consider long-term care insurance.

          CLICK HERE

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          A Woman’s Financial Reality – Your Financial Future Is Up To You & No One Else

          Monday, June 6th, 2011

          Will this be your future? Did you know that Social Security income represents two-thirds of income for women 65 and older? Did you know that without Social Security, an estimated 58% of widows aged 65 and older would live in poverty?

          These findings are from a 2010 U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee report. As Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) put it, “Social Security is literally a lifeline for most elderly women.”

          That lifeline is barely adequate. With inflation and other economic pressures, a mature woman relying on SSI may eventually have to choose between food or medicine, or rent or car repair, or contend with other stressful money dilemmas.

          When these women were younger, did they envision such a meager future ahead of them? Probably not. More than a few probably wish they had understood money matters better or actively invested for retirement.

          How much do you know about personal finance? The more knowledge you have, the …

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          The Debate About Our Debt Ceiling

          Thursday, May 12th, 2011

          Congress must think (and act) fast. In the middle of May, the national debt limit of $14.3 trillion will be reached. This means the federal government must increase the debt ceiling sufficiently to cover U.S. obligations through the end of 2012. It will undoubtedly happen, but not before a loud round of partisan politics is finished.

          What does the public think? In April, a CBS News poll showed that 63% of Americans opposed raising the debt ceiling. Polls often ask simple yes-or-no questions, and the respondents may not have understood the consequences here. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, America will end up defaulting.

          What would default mean? Picture something like the Wall Street downturn of 2008-2009 happening again … but in a broader context.

          As Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner explained succinctly in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), a default would mean that “the Treasury would be prevented by law from borrowing in order …

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          Will Gas Hit $5 or $6 A Gallon? When Will We See Relief?

          Monday, April 25th, 2011

          How high will pump prices go this summer? Many analysts think we will pay $5 a gallon for gas this summer – and some think gas will cost much more than that. On April 20, the AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report had regular unleaded averaging more than $4 per gallon in six states – Hawaii, California, Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois and New York.

          Is collusion behind this, or simple economics? While the Justice Department has announced a task force to investigate fraud and manipulation in the oil industry, most economists see this as little more than a public relations move coming out of the Obama administration – the U.S. had no way to control global price pressures on oil in 1979 and it has no way to control the price of the commodity in 2011.

          One of the biggest influences on oil and gas prices can be found in your wallet: the U.S. dollar.

          Commodities are priced in U.S. …

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          How To Build Good Credit (and Improve Your Credit Score)

          Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

          740 is the new 720. If you want to refinance or buy a home or pass muster with a lender, a landlord, an insurer or even a possible employer, it will help to have a credit score of 740 or better. While the median FICO score in America is still 720, many lenders have now set the bar 20 points higher.

          Fannie Mae has also raised its requirements: FNMA used to request that you had a credit score of at least 580, and now you need a 620 or higher.

          Fair Isaac, the credit rating agency behind the FICO score, says that 13% of Americans have credit scores of 800 or better. You may not, and if your score is nowhere near that lofty mark, here are the steps toward possibly improving it.

          First, look at your credit reports. Go to annualcreditreport.com – a free, centralized online service created by Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – and request a …

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          2 Reasons NOT To Take Early Withdrawals From Your Retirement Accounts

          Monday, April 11th, 2011

          There are times when people really need money – and in those times, a retirement account may seem like a conveniently liquid resource to tap. What’s the harm in taking an early distribution from a tax-deferred retirement plan? Well, the tax bite could be considerable.

          Big taxes may await you. If you are younger than 59½, working, and you withdraw funds from your 401(k) or IRA just as you would from a bank account, you might really feel the pain next April. An early distribution from an IRA or a qualified retirement plan must usually be included in your taxable income. So your federal tax bill could balloon for the year in which you take the distribution. (If you take an early distribution from a Roth IRA, you won’t be taxed on the amount of your contributions. Any amount above that which is attributable to the Roth IRA’s earnings will be subject to tax.)

          An …

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          March in Review

          Thursday, April 7th, 2011

          Would you believe the Dow Jones Industrial Average managed to eke out a gain in March? It rose 0.76% on the month, even as a plethora of troubling headlines rocked the world and Wall Street. At home, the unemployment rate was descending and consumers increased their spending (though mainly in response to higher energy and food costs), and the service and manufacturing sectors kept growing. The newest real estate reports showed home sales and home prices headed south. Oil went above $100 a barrel, gold prices increased and silver prices matched 30-year peaks.

          DOMESTIC ECONOMIC HEALTH
          The unemployment rate fell to 8.8% in March – a full percentage point below where it had been in November. The jobless rate hadn’t been so low since April 2009. According to the Commerce Department, personal spending rose 0.7% for February – but there was an asterisk. Prices rose 0.4% last month as measured by the PCE index, …

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          April Is Near. Keep Your IRA In Mind!

          Monday, March 14th, 2011

          Many of us associate April with taxes. We should also associate it with IRAs, for April is the month with the deadlines for IRA contributions and mandatory IRA withdrawals.

          The deadline for your 2010 IRA contribution is April 18, 2011. Yes, April 18. This year, April 15 falls on a holiday in the District of Columbia (Emancipation Day). So you get a little extra time to make your 2010 contribution if you (still) haven’t done so.

          For tax years 2010 and 2011, you can contribute up to $5,000 to your IRA. If you have multiple IRAs, you can contribute up to a total of $5,000 across the various accounts. (If you earn a lot of money, your maximum contribution to a Roth IRA may be reduced because of MAGI phase-outs.)

          If you turned 50 in 2010, your IRA contribution limit for 2010 is $6,000. If you will celebrate your 50th birthday during 2011, your 2011 contribution limit …

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          The Top 10 Reasons NOT To Plan For Retirement

          Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

          You probably read or hear about some “Top Ten” list nearly every day. But take a moment to read this one. This list is different, and probably not the kind of list you’d expect a Financial Advisor to post.

          Reason #10: “I’m too busy”

          I can’t tell you how often I hear this excuse. So many people want to plan for a better retirement, but they don’t have time. They think they’ll take care of it tomorrow, or the day after that … and before they know it, several years have gone by. The best advice I can give you is to stop procrastinating and start planning today.

          Reason #9:   “It’s too soon”

          I don’t know how this happened, but many people have adopted the notion that you don’t have to start planning for your retirement until you’re almost there. This is totally incorrect. The truth is, the sooner you start planning, the better chance …

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          Bye Bye Fannie & Freddie?

          Monday, February 14th, 2011

          A fundamental reform for the housing market. For two-and-a-half years, economists and housing industry analysts have wondered what would happen with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. On February 11, they got an answer: the Obama administration announced plans to shut down both of the troubled mortgage giants by 2018 or sooner.

          As he met with the press, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner cited the “very broad consensus” that the government should play “a much smaller role” in the housing market. Capitol Hill Republicans would agree, pointing to the $154 billion price tag for the 2008 bailout of both firms. (That is the Treasury’s estimate.)

          The choices on the table. The Obama administration’s white paper offers three proposals to Congress, with the hope of legislation emerging by 2014.

          • Option 1. The government walks away from the mortgage market except for the FHA, VHA and a few other programs designed to help low-income and moderate-income homebuyers.
          • Option 2. The government offers a …

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            Unrest In Egypt – What Does It Mean For The Markets?

            Monday, January 31st, 2011

            Will the Mubarak government be toppled? Egyptians took to the streets in Cairo and other major cities Friday, facing riot squads and armored personnel carriers as they demanded political reforms and an end to the 30-year rule of the country’s president, Hosni Mubarak.

            The Mubarak government shut down the nation’s internet providers and mobile phone network and imposed a nationwide nightly curfew within a 36-hour period Thursday and Friday. In response, a huge crowd surrounded the Cairo headquarters of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (which was set on fire) and the nation’s key radio and television headquarters. Great Britain’s Telegraph reported that 870 in the crowd suffered injuries, with some protestors being shot.

            How did the markets interpret the turmoil? The reaction was as expected: stocks dived, oil and gold prices immediately climbed and there was renewed interest in the dollar and U.S. government bonds.

            Gold gained $22.30 (1.69%) on the COMEX, while oil rose $3.70 (4.32%) on …

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            Giggin’ It As A NY Lounge Lizard

            Friday, January 21st, 2011

            Here’s a great profile piece on me (aka The New York Lounge Lizards). When I’m not helping people make smart decisions with their money, this is how I love to spend my free time…singing! Enjoy!

            Click here to read the full article.

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            What Factors Need To Be In Place For Jobs & Housing To Improve

            Monday, January 10th, 2011

            It really boils down to the two greatest economic factors of all: supply and demand.

            What needs to happen in the labor market? Ideally, a swift rise in consumer demand for goods and services in 2011 spurs businesses to hire, with no need for another costly federal stimulus. About 125,000 people enter the U.S. labor force every month, so job creation needs to hit that level just to tread water in terms of employment–to-population ratio. Data from the Brookings Institution shows that 280,000 new positions emerged monthly at the peak of job creation in the 2000s. Back in 1994, the economy was creating an average of 321,000 new jobs a month.

            As 2010 drew to a close, our economy wasn’t anywhere near that. According to the Labor Department, 71,000 new non-farm jobs were created in November and 103,000 new non-farm jobs in December. Last month, the government said that private payrolls grew …

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            Financial & Retirement Resolutions for 2011

            Friday, December 31st, 2010

            Whether you’re in your 20′s, 30′s, 40′s, 50′s, or 60′s, here are the things you should focus on in 2011 to build your net worth and self worth.  Enjoy!

            Click here to read the full article.

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            Investor Alert – The New IRS Reporting Rules

            Monday, November 22nd, 2010

            Are you going to purchase stocks in 2011? If your answer to that question is “yes’, there’s an important IRS rule change you should know about.

            If you buy a stock in 2011, your broker must report the gain or loss when you sell it. In fact, this will be true for the following investment classes as of the following dates:

            ·        Individual stocks you buy after January 1, 2011

            ·        Mutual fund shares you buy after January 1, 2012

            ·        Bonds, options & other securities you buy after January 1, 2013

            Prior to 2011, reporting the gain or loss triggered by the sale of an investment was your responsibility – but the IRS wasn’t satisfied with that.

            It’s all about the cost basis. To properly tax your investment when it is sold, the IRS has to know what you initially paid for it. In financial jargon, this acquisition price is known as the cost basis.

            It isn’t always easy …

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            We’re All In This Together

            Monday, November 15th, 2010

            Retirement Expert Bill Losey talks with Business Examiner on how companies and employees can work together so folks like you won’t run out of money in retirement.

            Click here to read the full article.

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            Retirement Expert Bill Losey Interviewed by Newsweek

            Thursday, November 11th, 2010

            On the heels of one of the country’s worst economic crises, future retirees are facing far grimmer golden years. Here are 5 things you should know before you retire.

            Click here to read the full article

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            Retirement Expert Bill Losey Interviewed by The New York Times

            Monday, November 8th, 2010

            Should you payoff your mortgage early? Should you invest your money rather than pre-pay? In this article for the New York Times, I share my feelings.

            Click here to read the article

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            Bill Losey singing Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” – Acoustic Version

            Monday, November 1st, 2010

            My friend and I had our first paid singing gig Friday night. We got to sing over 40 different songs during our three hour set. This is one of my personal favorites. Enjoy!

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            My Take On The Mid-Term Elections & Stocks

            Monday, October 18th, 2010

            You may have heard that stocks tend to rally in fall and winter. That has often been the case. In fact, the S&P 500 and the Dow have gained repeatedly after the elections occurring in the third year of a first-term presidency.

            These elections seem to elate Wall Street. While past performance is no indication of future success, consider this: Wall Street has witnessed rallies after every mid-term election since 1942.

            The Leuthold Group, a Minneapolis-based investment research firm, has determined that the S&P 500 has gained an average of 18.3% in the 200 days following such elections. Widening the window of time, Goldman Sachs finds that the S&P has averaged an 18.1% advance during the 12 months following each of the 15 mid-term elections since 1950. (The gain averages 11.0% when control of Congress changes hands.)

            Consider another intriguing statistic regarding mid-term election years: in the five instances since 1942 when an incumbent first-term president was a Democrat, the S&P 500 has gained an average of 21.3% …

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            Bill Losey Sings Before 1,000+ At Saratoga State Park

            Monday, October 4th, 2010

            As you may know, I love to sing. This past weekend I had the honor and privilege to perform before 1,000+ people attending the camporee celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. There was a huge conga line, a beach ball flying through the air, a mosh pit and people asking for an encore. Now I know how “real” rock stars must feel. It was pretty cool. Listen in as I sing Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless The U.S.A.” and Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World”. Enjoy!

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            Retirement Expert Bill Losey, CFP Interviewed By Human Resource Executive Online on 401(k)s

            Monday, October 4th, 2010

            Defined-contribution-plan participants say they are confused by their retirement plans and would welcome financial advice, but few take advantage of online tools when offered by employers. Bill Losey and others offer some advice on how to engage workers to take action to positively impact their retirement savings.

            Click here to read full story

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            6 Ways To Reduce & Eliminate Your Debt

            Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

            Retirement expert Bill Losey, CFP dishes out advice to get rid of that pesky debt once and for all. Listen here to his recent interview from the “On The Money” radio program.

            Click play to hear the audio!

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            Bill Losey Featured on KMOX-AM

            Thursday, September 16th, 2010

            “America’s Retirement Strategist” Bill Losey, featured on KMOX-AM to share some free advice on managing your 401k.

            Click here to hear audio:

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            Click here to view story on KMOX-AM

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            The Social Security Dilemma

            Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

            In this video lesson, retirement expert and Retire in a Weekend! author, Bill Losey, CFP, answers the question: “Should I Take Social Security At Age 62 or Wait?”

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            The Media & Why Stock Market Predictions DON’T Work

            Monday, August 30th, 2010

            Wall Street trader’s are coming back from vacation next week. The media says we should prepare for another stock market sell-off. Do they know something we don’t know? In this video lesson, retirement expert and Retire in a Weekend! author, Bill Losey, CFP, sets the record straight.

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            Should I Get Out Of Debt Before Saving For Retirement?

            Monday, August 16th, 2010

            In a followup to last weeks video lesson, retirement expert and Retire in a Weekend! author, Bill Losey, CFP, addresses the great debt reduction versus retirement savings debate.

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            Should I Invest in my 401k, my IRA, or Contribute to Both?

            Monday, August 9th, 2010

            In this video lesson, retirement authority and Retire in a Weekend! author, Bill Losey, CFP, addresses a common retirement savings and investing dilemma.

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            Can I Avoid the 10% IRS Penalty?

            Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

            In this short video, retirement advisor and Retire in a Weekend! author, Bill Losey, CFP, explains a few ways (exceptions) you can take money out of your IRA before age 59 1/2 and avoid the 10% IRS early withdrawal penalty.

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            Should I Make My IRA & 401(k) Retirement Rollover Accounts More Conservative?

            Monday, July 26th, 2010

            In this video, retirement expert and Retire in a Weekend! author, Bill Losey, CFP, addresses a question from a Retirement Intelligence newsletter subscriber concerned about all the recent stock market volatility.

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            4 Things To Do When Retirement Is Right Around The Corner by Bill Losey, CFP

            Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

            In this video, retirement expert and Retire in a Weekend author, Bill Losey, CFP, provides four bottom-line suggestions to consider when retirement is imminent.

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            Retirement Expert Bill Losey, CFP Interviewed by The New York Daily News

            Monday, July 12th, 2010

            Whether you’ve been let go from your job or have chosen to move on to a new employer, starting over can be tumultuous. Among the many decisions to be made is one that could have a big impact on your retirement: What should you do with your 401(k), 403(b) or other savings plan?

            Click here to read full article.

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            3 Ways To Kill Your Retirement

            Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

            In this video, Retirement Expert Bill Losey, CFP illustrates three ways people ruin their retirement. Avoid these simple mistakes and you should be okay.

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            Your Debt Diet – The Skinny On Shedding Your Unwanted Financial Fat

            Friday, July 2nd, 2010

            According to a recent survey, most Americans have a long way to go before feeling financially prepared to retire. 63% say debt is preventing them from saving for retirement. 4 in 10 said they were concerned that they have too much debt. It’s time to go on a summer debt diet. Bill Losey provides six steps to shed that unwanted financial fat in this recent interview with WJIM radio.

            Click play to listen now!

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            The $1 Million Retirement Question

            Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

            In this video, retirement expert and Retire in a Weekend author Bill Losey addresses one of the most popular questions he’s asked by pre-retirees and baby boomers nationwide.

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            Podcast: 7 Ways To Make Retirement a Reality

            Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

            In recent years, the financial risks surrounding retirement have increased dramatically because of longer life expectancies, low interest rates, the volatile stock market, rising health care costs, business performance and employment conditions, among other issues. While planning for retirement can be a stressful, daunting task, it doesn’t have to be that way. You don”t need to be up to your elbows in social security, pension, and savings. In fact, all it takes is seven simple steps.

            Listen now to Bill’s interview with Don Week’s of WGY Radio

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            FOXBusiness.com interviews Retirement Planning Expert Bill Losey, CFP

            Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

            Click here to discover what to do and consider “When Retirement is Just Around the Corner”

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            Retirement Advisor & Expert Bill Losey, CFP interviewed by the Salt Lake Tribune on Tips For Getting Out Of Debt

            Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

            Smart money-moves to building financial stability. The best way to pay off your plastic. How to put together your own financial bailout plan.

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            Retirement Expert Bill Losey, CFP interviewed by Jean Chatzky on 401k Rollovers to a Self-Directed IRA

            Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

            Retiring? Changing jobs? Remember to rollover your 401(k). Click here to read full article.

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            How Often Should I Hear From My Advisor?

            Monday, June 7th, 2010

            In this video lesson, Retirement Expert Bill Losey, CFP addresses a common complaint he hears often from people who have their investments at big national Wall Street firms.

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            Should I Sell My Mutual Funds & Buy CDs Now?

            Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

            Retirement Expert Bill Losey, CFP answers a question from a Retirement Intelligence subscriber concerned about losing money in the stock market.

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            Video: Retirement Expert Bill Losey, CFP discusses 7 Reasons Why The Stock Market is so Volatile

            Friday, May 21st, 2010

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            Retirement Expert Bill Losey, CFP discusses The Difference Between Asset Allocation & Diversification

            Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

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            Retirement Expert Bill Losey, CFP discussing today’s volatile stock market (and what you can do to protect yourself)

            Thursday, May 6th, 2010

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            Retirement Expert Bill Losey, CFP quoted by Bankrate.com

            Friday, April 30th, 2010

            Should you continue to make mortgage payments after you retire? Or should you pay off the house before quitting your job for good? It really depends on your goals and situation. In this article however, I provide a few reasons why you may not want to pay it off.

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            Retirement Expert Bill Losey, CFP interviewed by Jean Chatzky of The TODAY Show

            Thursday, April 29th, 2010

            In this recent interview with Jean Chatzky, I share a few reasons why you may end up working longer than originally planned.

            When will you retire? Maybe not as soon as you think unless you’re willing to “downsize and simplify”.

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            Video: Retirement Expert Bill Losey, CFP explains how to protect your IRA & 401k from the next market freefall.

            Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

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            Video: Retirement Expert Bill Losey, CFP discussing Common Investor Mistakes & How YOU Can Avoid Them

            Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

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            Video: Retirement Expert Bill Losey, CFP addresses multiple questions from a subscriber about what traits to look for (and lookout for) when choosing a financial advisor.

            Monday, April 19th, 2010

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            Video: Retirement Expert Bill Losey, CFP addresses a question from a woman concerned about her husband’s pension and 401k.

            Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

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            Video: Retirement Advisor Bill Losey, CFP talks about a Phased Retirement versus Retiring All At Once

            Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

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            Bill Losey, CFP Interviewed by TIME

            Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

            In this recent interview with TIME, I provide my opinion on the IRA-Roth Conversion and talk about why most people aren’t taking advantage of the 2010 opportunity.

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            Bill Losey Interviewed by ABC News Now in NYC

            Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

            In this recent TV interview, I give seven tips to spring clean your finances. Topics discussed include what to do with your tax refund, getting out of debt, funding an emergency fund, starting an IRA, retirement strategies for baby boomers, rewarding yourself, and avoiding one of the top money mistakes. Enjoy!

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            Video: Retirement Advisor Bill Losey, CFP talks about passion and asks “What Would You Attempt To Do If You Knew You Couldn’t Fail?

            Friday, April 2nd, 2010

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            Video: Retirement Advisor Bill Losey, CFP discusses How To Protect Your Retirement Income From Inflation

            Thursday, April 1st, 2010

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            Video: Retirement Advisor Bill Losey, CFP answers the question “Do I Have Enough Money To Retire?”

            Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

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            Video: Retirement Advisor Bill Losey, CFP – “What Percentage Of My Pre-Retirement Income Will I Need To Live In Retirement?”

            Sunday, March 28th, 2010

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            Bill Losey Interviewed by CNNMoney.com – Retired Couples Need $250,000 for Health Care Costs?

            Friday, March 26th, 2010

            Fidelity Investments announced yesterday that if you’re retiring this year, you’ll need $250,000 in savings to cover your family’s medical expenses during your retirement. Don’t let this number scare you. See why here.

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            Video: Retirement Advisor Bill Losey Discusses 5 Big Retirement Mistakes (& How YOU Can Avoid Them)

            Thursday, March 25th, 2010

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            Bill Losey Video: 401k Rollover Advice On How To Avoid The 20% IRS Withholding Penalty

            Monday, March 22nd, 2010

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            Bill Losey Video: 401k Retirement Rollover Advice For Your Self-Directed IRA

            Friday, March 19th, 2010

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            Bill Losey Video: The Best Way To Invest Your IRA & 401k Money In Retirement

            Thursday, March 18th, 2010

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            Bill Losey Video: How to Protect Your IRA & 401k Retirement Assets

            Monday, March 15th, 2010

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            Bill Losey: Five Savings Secrets

            Monday, March 8th, 2010

            How to increase your savings without significantly lowering your quality of life.

            What’s the problem? In general, when it comes to a lack of savings, it is often not a question of low income, but a matter of high spending. While it’s very true that often we’re put into situations where we must spend money (due to loss of employment, health care bills, home repairs, etc.), for many of us our excessive spending is merely a habit we must learn to break … or at least control.

            But … where do we begin? Many people would like to reduce their spending and increase their savings, but it seems like such a monumental task that they simply don’t take any steps in the right direction. Sound familiar? If so, don’t shrug it off any longer. Saving money can begin right now, and you can start in small ways. Here are several easy ways to increase your savings …

            Secret #1: “Put it on the mantle”
            My grandmother used to use …

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            Bill Losey: 5 Retirement Planning Blunders

            Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

            Retiring from ones job can be a stressful time but it doesn’t have to be. Realize that it’s natural to be nervous, anxious and/or confused when you’re going through a major life change. Your decision to retire is causing you to step outside your comfort zone and is forcing you to make many new decisions and learn new things. Most importantly, remember that you only get one shot at retirement and you don’t want to make any mistakes. So here are some of the more common mistakes people make when retiring and how you can avoid them.

          • Listening to the wrong people – Everyone’s got an opinion about what you should do with your money nowadays. Be sure to find a retirement specialist, preferably one with 10 or more year’s experience. This is no time for amateur hour.
          • Not understanding the tax consequences of investments – Don’t try to know this area all by yourself. Every financial decision has a tax consequence. Be sure to have a …

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            The Potential Of The BRIC Nations

            Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

            Brazil. Russia. India. China. These four nations have some of the fastest-growing economies on earth and are becoming drivers in the world economy. In the coming decades, they may command as much attention as the U.S., Japan and other “heavy hitters” … or more.

            The future aside, we know one thing about the BRIC nations and other emerging markets: collectively, stocks in these countries have outperformed U.S. stocks for the last 20 years.

            During this past decade alone, the MSCI Emerging Markets Index brought a total return of 102.4% while the S&P 500 posted a total return of -10.0% (-24.1% before dividends). Across the 1990s, the S&P 500 produced a total return of 432.0% – pretty impressive. Yet the MSCI Emerging Markets index posted a total return of 2408.6% for that decade.

            Great volatility … but also great potential. If U.S. stocks soar or fall, emerging markets really feel the effect. We’ve seen them recoil in the first quarter of 2010. Yet short-term slumps aside, there are compelling …

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            What’s In Your Retirement Investment Portfolio?

            Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

            The stock market is unsettled … and perhaps its fluctuations are unsettling you. It’s a stressful time for the economy and Wall Street, and you may be concerned about your portfolio given what’s going on with oil prices, the real estate market, and rising unemployment figures. It may be a good time to review how your assets are invested.

            Is your portfolio balanced? A balanced portfolio may help you ride out stock market turbulence. Stocks and mutual funds aren’t the only asset allocation choices you have, and you won’t be alone this winter if you decide to examine other investment options.

            Fixed annuities and Treasuries become attractive to investors when the market turns volatile. Bonds tend to maintain their strength when stocks perform poorly; fixed annuities are simply contracts with insurance firms, not correlated to stock market performance (though certain types of annuities may enable you to take advantage of stock market gains while maintaining your principal). Fixed-income mutual funds, dividend income funds and bond …

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            Saving For The Self-Employed

            Monday, February 8th, 2010

            Whether you run a firm with dozens of employees or simply pick up some occasional freelance work, you have many ways to save for retirement. Here’s how to choose the right strategy for you from a recent interview I conducted with Fidelity.

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            A Stress-Free Retirement

            Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

            Retirement doesn’t have to be a stressful, daunting task. All it takes is a little planning. Learn more here with my interview in The Salt Lake Tribune.

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            6 Wealth-Building Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

            Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

            I was recently interviewed by Fidelity.com on wealth-building mistakes and how to avoid them. Read the full article here.

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            Your Stock Market Correction Protection Plan

            Monday, January 25th, 2010

            Question: This stock market is nuts! How am I supposed to protect my IRA and 401k from losing money when I’ve only got three years until I retire? Bonnie, Ohio

            Answer: A few years before retiring, if possible, you should begin to accumulate an amount of money that’s equivalent to 2-5 years worth of cash withdrawals (based upon your expected income needs). This systematic accumulation of cash is done on purpose so that you have a “safe-money” source to pull from when the balance of your investment portfolio and the stock and bond markets may be declining in value. Some people want one year of cash on hand. Some want two years of cash on hand. Some want more. It all depends on your comfort level.

            Each time your portfolio exceeds a pre-established benchmark, you should systematically harvest the excess money above the benchmark, and put it in cash or short-term bonds (money market funds, CDs, and/or US …

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            Scott Brown’s Victory will force Dems to fight for ObamaCare

            Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

            Scott Brown is the winner of Massachusetts Senate Race and, now, the first Republican senator from that state since 1972. He defeated his democratic opponent, Attorney General Martha Coakley, by a comfy margin. More than half of the state’s voters turned up.

            This Republican victory in an infamously blue state means democrats no longer have a filibuster proof majority. This makes the future of Obama’s healthcare plan very uncertain. Indeed, the election has received an unprecedented amount of national coverage because of this. In- and out-of-state sponsors spent millions of dollars on advertising for both parties.

            Obama was even in Massachusetts over the weekend campaigning for Coakley. It was reported shortly after that advisors to the President were less than optimistic about her chances. Many commenters on a CNN blog about the subject thought it was just a ploy to get Republican voters to think Brown’s victory was a sure thing so they’d sleep in and skip the polls. Both parties have criticized Coakley’s campaign …

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            Experts Offer 10 Financial Tips

            Monday, January 18th, 2010

            Here’s a link to an article I was recently interviewed for by the Boston Herald. Enjoy!

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            How to Get Out of Debt & Get a Job

            Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

            LiveStrong.com recently quoted me and published this article with 6 quick ideas you can use to reduce your debt and generate extra cash flow. Enjoy!

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            Getting Your Retirement Back On Track After a Layoff

            Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

            NBC “Today” show financial editor Jean Chatzky picked my brain recently to help a viewer get their retirement back on track after being laid off six months ago. Get the 411 here.

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            Refresh Your Retirement Plan

            Monday, January 4th, 2010

            New Year’s resolutions should not just be about losing a few pounds or learning a new language. They should also be about putting your retirement planning in order. Here’s a link to an article I was interviewed for in The Wall Street Journal this past weekend where I’m talking about a strategy I employ for my Private Clients called the “safe-money benchmark strategy”. Enjoy!

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            Retirement Resolutions for Your 20′s, 30′s & 40′s

            Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

            Question: In a recent post you had strategies for strengthening your retirement picture for people in their 50’s and 60’s. What about those of us in our 20’s to 40’s? Maxine, Tenafly, NJ

            Answer: Maxine, I didn’t mean to leave you and the other youngsters out. Here’s a checklist to get you on track in 2010 as well!

          • If you haven’t started already, open an IRA and/or fund a 401k. These are generally the years when it’s toughest to scrape together the cash for investing, but starting young and having decades for tax deferred growth could provide a nice six or seven figure portfolio in retirement. At a minimum, save enough to get your full company match.
          • Since you will likely have 2-4 decades before you’ll need this money, consider investing 70%-80% in equities/stocks. Do not be too conservative with your allocation.
          • Remember that your ability to earn an income is your greatest asset so go back to school, continue …

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            Retirement Resolutions for Your 50′s & 60′s

            Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

            Question: My husband and I (age 62 and 57) want to make some resolutions to sure up our retirement picture in 2010. Any thoughts you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Bea, Stamford, CT

            Answer: Bea, here’s a checklist to get you on track in 2010!

          • If you haven’t maxed out your 401k/403b contributions at work, you are eligible to take advantage of what is known as the catch-up provision. In essence, if you haven’t saved as much as legally possible every year you’ve been working, you are able to contribute an extra $5,500 per year (over and above the legal limit – $16,500) into your retirement plan in 2010.
          • If you have a spouse, family and assets to protect, I think you should investigate long-term care insurance. Long-term care protects you and your family from the emotional, physical and financial pain that a health issue can have on them. Take advantage of 10-pay plans which allows you to pay …

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            Getting Ready For Retirement?

            Friday, December 18th, 2009

            Here are some tips and advice I gave to my friend and NBC Today Show contributor Jean Chatzky. Enjoy!

            Click HERE to read the story!

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            Don’t Leave Home Without These Four Holiday Shopping Tips

            Thursday, December 17th, 2009

            I was recently interviewed by FOXBusiness.com about ways to save money during the holidays and how to stay out of debt. We’re only one week away from Christmas and if you’re still not done shopping here are some quick tips that can save you money. Enjoy!

            Click HERE to read the story!

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Bill's blogs, articles, and economic reports are meant to provide you with general investment, financial and retirement information. They are not designed to be a definitive investment guide or to take the place of a qualified financial planner or other professional. Given the risks involved in investing, there is absolutely no guarantee that the strategies or methods suggested on Bill's website will ever be profitable. Bill Losey Retirement Solutions, LLC does not assume liability of any kind for any losses that may be sustained as a result of applying the methods suggested and any such liability is hereby expressly disclaimed. Portions of the content on this website were prepared by MarketingLibrary.net Inc.

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