Homebuying 101: a step-by-step guide to buying your first home

Purchasing a home is often far-and-beyond the largest financial commitment that we will make, and one not to be taken lightly. In most cases, the purchase will involve a substantial down payment and the need to borrow a large sum of money to complete the purchase. Add to this the time, energy and stress that invariably accompanies a major purchase, and it’s easy to see how the pleasurable pursuits of visiting open houses and contemplating design schemes are quickly replaced with the cold reality that credit scores, mortgage applications, and cooperative board packages provide. Keeping your Cortisol levels in check requires a detailed plan of action that progresses through every important phase of the home-buying process. Continue reading

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Which type of IRA is right for you?

roth_or_traditional_iraAsk a financial planner whether to save for retirement using a Traditional IRA or a Roth IRA and you may receive an unsatisfying answer: it depends. While the Roth IRA is a much-loved planning tool, whether it’s the best option for you will depend on several factors, but math is not one of them. Continue reading

Home Ownership: Renting versus buying, and changing incentives under the new tax law

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For many, owning a home is part of the American dream and one that the United States government actively encourages through a variety of subsidies that are designed to give more Americans the keys to their own home. Homeownership is thought to create stronger communities, build family wealth and foster economic development. Creating incentives to expand homeownership has been a staple of U.S. housing policy for decades. Continue reading

Tax and financial planning for equity-based compensation under the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act

The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, directly and indirectly, impacts equity-based compensation arrangements through several key components and provisions of the law. While the effect of these provisions remains to be seen, they may provide the recipients of equity-based compensation with an array of new planning opportunities.  Continue reading

Gifts that give back: Can the Qualified Charitable Distribution help fill a void in charitable giving?

Following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December 2017, the law’s impact on charitable organizations has come to the fore. Although the law provides for an increase in cash gifts to public charities from 50% of the donor’s adjusted gross income (AGI) to 60% of AGI, the donor must itemize their deductions to realize a tax benefit for their gift. The new law’s increase in the standard deduction to $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for married couples filing a joint return is expected to result in a sharp reduction in the number of households that itemize their deductions, reducing the marginal tax benefit of gifts to charity by more than 25%. The impact of the law on charities remains to be seen, but with an estimated 72% of charitable gifts coming from individual donors it may be profound. Fortunately, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 has made permanent a hitherto underutilized incentive for older Americans to give to charity. The Qualified Charitable Deduction (QCD) is in vogue once again. Continue reading

Life Insurance Awareness: managing policies, and disposing of those you no longer need

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September is life insurance awareness month and serves as a good reminder that life insurance is an asset and, just like most any other investment, requires ongoing monitoring. Continue reading

Highly Effective Social Security claiming strategies designed to maximize your benefits

Money imageSocial Security benefits provide the foundation that most Americans will rely on in retirement, and decisions related to the claiming of benefits can have a profound impact on retirement income and overall quality of life. Despite the heavy reliance on Social Security- it provides over 90% of the retirement income for one in three recipients-less than 5% of seniors avail themselves to strategies designed to maximize their benefits. Continue reading

How Planning for a Long Life Impacts your Retirement Income

Nest Egg with large billsRetirement planning involves a delicate balance between adequately planning for a long retirement and maximizing the enjoyment of the money you’ve worked hard to accumulate. In most cases, a retirement that lasts 35 years will require far more financial resources than will one that lasts 20 or 25 years. What is more, the final years of retirement may be the most expensive, as costs associated with chronic or end-of- life care come due. Advances in medical technology have extended life expectancy for many, but certainly not all, demographics. Longevity is a critical consideration of retirement planning, but so too is recognizing that living to an advanced age demands more retirement savings or a lower lifetime income, and whether this is justified based on your current health, lifestyle and family history. Continue reading

Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft

identity-theft-fraudWhile certainly not a new problem, identity theft is a growing concern and has gained the dubious distinction of being the number one consumer complaint addressed to the Federal Trade Commission.

As our lives become increasingly busy and complex, and more information than ever is stored and transmitted on line, it is more important than ever to protect our personal information. Here are some simple and effective ways for you to do that. Continue reading

Manage The Plastics

The 2004 cult hit movie Mean Girls provides a surprising number of useful and life-affirming lessons. Perhaps the most notable is how NOT to manage credit.

Get in LoserEmbroiled in a wide array of  truly deplorable and self-destructive behaviors, members of “The Plastics” reach for their credit cards when it’s time to unwind and enjoy the necessary comforts of teen life in suburban Chicago. This most agreeable arrangement works so long as someone else pays the bill; the girls are eventually chastened, disband, and learn a slew of valuable life lessons. What can we learn from The Plastics? Read on to find out!

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