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Fall Financial Reminders PDF Print
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
Oct 21 14 Fall Financial RemindersThe year is coming to a close. Have you thought about these financial ideas yet?

As every calendar year ends, the window slowly closes on a set of financial opportunities. Here are several you might want to explore before 2015 arrives.

 

Don't forget that IRA RMD. If you own one or more traditional IRAs,you have to take your annual required minimum distribution (RMD) from one or more of those IRAs by December 31. If you are being asked to take your very first RMD, you actually have until April 15, 2015 to take it – but your 2015 income taxes may be substantially greater as a result. (Note: original owners of Roth IRAs never have to take RMDs from those accounts.)1

 

Did you recently inherit an IRA? If you have and you weren't married to the person who started that IRA, you must take the first RMD from that IRA by December 31 of the year after the death of that original IRA owner. You have to do it whether the account is a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA.1

 

Here's another thing you might want to do with that newly inherited IRA before New Year's Eve, though: you might want to divide it into multiple inherited IRAs, thereby promoting a lengthier payout schedule for younger inheritors of those assets. Otherwise, any co-beneficiaries receive distributions per the life expectancy of the oldest beneficiary. If you want to make this move, it must be done by the end of the year that follows the year in which the original IRA owner died.1

 

Can you max out your contribution to your workplace retirement plan? Your employer likely sponsors a 401(k) or 403(b) plan, and you have until December 31 to boost your 2014 contribution. This year, the contribution limit on both plans is $17,500 for those under 50, $23,000 for those 50 and older.2,3

 

Can you do the same with your IRA? Again, December 31 is your deadline for tax year 2014. This year, the traditional and Roth IRA contribution limit is $5,500 for those under 50, $6,500 for those 50 and older.

Read more...
 
Four Words You Shouldn’t Believe PDF Print
Thursday, 16 October 2014
Oct 16 14 Four Words You Shouldnt Believe1These are the words that make investors irrational.

 

"This time is different." Beware those four little words. They are perhaps the most dangerous words an investor can believe in. If you believe "this time is different," you are mentally positioning yourself to exit the stock market and make impulsive, short-sighted decisions with your money. This is the belief that has made too many investors miss out on the best market days and scramble to catch up with Wall Street recoveries.

 

Stock market investing is a long-term proposition – which is true for most forms of investing. Any form of long-range investing demands a certain temperament. You must be patient, you must be dedicated to realizing your objectives, and you can't let short-term headlines deter you from your long-term quest.

 

If stocks correct or the bulls run away, keep some perspective and remember how things have played out through some of the roughest stretches in recent market history.

 

In 2008, many people believed the market would never recover. The Dow dropped 33.84% that year, the third-worst year in its history. That fall, it lost 500 points or more on seven different trading days. Some prominent talking heads and financial prognosticators saw the sky falling: they urged investors to pull every dollar out of stocks, and some said the only sensible move was to put all your money in gold. It wasn't unusual to visit your favorite financial website and see a "Dow 3,000!" pay-per-click doomsday ad in the margin.1

 

The message being shouted was: "This time is different." Forget a lost decade, it would be a lost generation – it would take the Dow 10 or maybe 20 years to get back to where it was again, the naysayers warned. Instead it took less than six: the index closed at 14,253.77 on March 5, 2013 to top the 2007 peak and went north from there. The bear market everyone thought was "the end" for Wall Street lasted but 17 months.2,3

Read more...
 
Debunking a Few Popular Retirement Myths PDF Print
Tuesday, 07 October 2014

Debunking a Few Popular Retirement Myths

Generalizations about money & retirement linger.

 

Some have been around for decades, and some new clichés have recently joined their ranks. Let’s examine a few.

      

“When I’m retired, I won’t really have to invest anymore.” Many people see retirement as an end instead of a beginning – a finish line for a career. In reality, retirement can be the start of a new and promising phase of life that could last a few decades. If you stop investing entirely, you can risk losing purchasing power; even moderate inflation can devalue the dollars you’ve saved.1

    

“My taxes will be lower when I retire.” You may earn less, and that could put you in a lower tax bracket. On the other hand, you may end up waving goodbye to some of the deductions and exemptions you enjoyed while working, and state and local taxes may rise with time. So while your earned income may decrease, you may end up losing a comparatively larger percentage of it to taxes after you retire.1    

   

“I started saving too late, I have no hope of retiring – I’ll have to work until I’m 85.” If your nest egg is less than six figures, working longer may be the best thing you can do. You will have X fewer years of retirement to plan for, so you can keep earning a salary, and your savings can compound longer. Don’t lose hope: remember that you can make larger, catch-up contributions to IRAs after 50. If you are 50 or older this year, you can put as much as $23,000 into a 401(k) plan. Some participants in 403(b) or 457(b) plans are also allowed that privilege. You can downsize and reduce debts and expenses to effectively give you more retirement money. You can also stay invested (see above).1,2

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Minimizing Probate When Setting Up Your Estate PDF Print
Tuesday, 30 September 2014
What can you do to lessen its impact for your heirs?

Sep 30 14 Last Will  TestamentProbate subtly reduces the value of many estates. It can take more than a year in some cases, and attorney's fees, appraiser's fees and court costs may eat up as much as 5% of a decedent's accumulated assets.1

   

What do those fees pay for? In many cases, routine clerical work. Few estates require more than that. Heirs of small, five-figure estates may be allowed to claim property through affidavit, but this convenience isn't extended for larger estates.

 

So how you can exempt more of your assets from probate and its costs? Here are some ideas.

   

Joint accounts. Married couples may hold property as a joint tenancy.

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Medicare Enrollment Options for 2014-15 PDF Print
Tuesday, 02 September 2014
A summary of what you need to knowMedicare Enrollment Options for 2014-2015

Key Medicare enrollment periods are approaching. This fall and winter, there are three periods in which Medicare beneficiaries can either enroll or disenroll in forms of coverage.

    

* Oct. 15-Dec. 7: Open enrollment period. This is when you can exit Original Medicare (Part A & B) for a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) and change your prescription drug coverage (Part D). You can also get out of a Part C plan and go back to Part A & B during this period, although you will certainly want a Medicare Supplement (Medigap policy) in place before you make such a move. (In most cases, that means having to pass underwriting.)1

 

* Dec. 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, 2014 and ending November 30, 2015, a window opens for you to enroll in a 5-star Part C or Part D plan. You can do this once per 365 days. How do you find the 5-star plans? Visit www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan.2

 

* Jan. 1-Feb. 14, 2015: Disenrollment period. If you join a Part C plan in late 2014 and decide you want to leave it, you can do so within this window of time and go back to Original Medicare (Part A & B) with a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan (Part D). Again, having a Medigap policy before making such a switch is only prudent.1

   

Do you have to confirm Medicare enrollment at the health insurance marketplace? No.

Read more...
 
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