The Caledonia Argus http://hometownargus.com The Caledonia Argus covers community news, sports, current events and provides advertising and information for the cities of Caledonia, Eitzen, and Brownsville; Independent School District 299 and Houston County, Minnesota. Fri, 19 Dec 2014 20:31:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How to Fix Social Security http://www.adviceiq.com/content/how-fix-social-security http://www.adviceiq.com/content/how-fix-social-security#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 20:31:08 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?guid=269ba49afa3e8568083bf62dcb1ea55c We often read reports from the Social Security Administration’s reviews of the status of its trust fund and predictions that in 20 years funding will exist to pay 77 cents on the dollar of promised benefits. So far this revelation produces from policymakers no actual steps to fix the system. What can we do to fix Social Security?

As future recipients of benefits, we can take some actions now to reduce reliance on our eventual benefits. This won’t fix the system’s underfunding problem but may help your own situation.

Push for pensions. As workers, we may enjoy more power than we realize to push our employers to consider offering pensions again. A cost tradeoff for the employer compared with costs of other benefits, a pension can still be an attractive tool for employee retention.

Hard but not impossible to implement, as Connecticut recently proved for the state’s municipal workers.

Increase other retirement savings. Maxing out your 401(k) contributions and choosing proper investment diversification are good ways to supplement a dwindling or reduced Social Security benefit. You can also contribute to a Roth individual retirement account (within limits) and make non-deductible contributions to your 401(k) of some significant amounts (I recently wrote about this).

What policy changes might fix Social Security? Congress can take plenty of actions, including the following few that while tough do stand to resolve Social Security’s underfunding more or less permanently.

Eliminate the earnings cap. Currently only a certain amount of your annual earnings incur Social Security tax: $118,500 in 2015, up from $117,000 this year. Earnings above that limit are not subject to the combined 12.4% (employer and employee) Social Security tax.

Eliminating this limit or cap might pump significant additional funds into the Social Security tax revenues annually. Right now this cap covers approximately 83% of all earnings – leaving up to 17% of all earnings untaxed.

Increase the tax rate. The Social Security tax rate noted above comprises 6.2% from your gross pay and 6.2% from your employer. Any increase in this rate improves the trust fund.

Means testing. Folks with significant other sources of retirement income can often get by very well with reduced benefits or even without benefits altogether. After all, this insurance program supposedly provides benefits to retirees who lack means to completely provide for themselves.

You, like many others, may find it frustrating that saving for yourself potentially puts you in a position to receive reduced benefits. To save all of Social Security, that’s the sort of tough decision we as a society must make.

Increase retirement age. In 1983, the retirement age for Social Security rose from 65 to 66 for folks born between 1943 and 1954, and to 67 for folks born in 1960 or later. It’s not out of the question to gradually increase this age another year, to 68 for folks born in 1966 or later.

At the other end of the spectrum, the early retirement age of 62 dates from when the Social Security program began. Changing this age might likely result in some positives for the trust fund – but leaving it the same also sometimes insidiously produces even smaller benefits for folks who file early.

Probably no steps to fix the system will be pleasant: It’s never easy to give up what you think you paid into and earned. Problem is, if we don’t work to repair Social Security we will all certainly give something up, starting with an estimated at 23% of all our benefits.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Jim Blankenship, CFP, EA, is an independent, fee-only financial planner at Blankenship Financial Planning in New Berlin, Ill. He is the author of An IRA Owner’s Manual and A Social Security Owner’s Manual. His blog is Getting Your Financial Ducks In A Row, where he writes regularly about taxes, retirement savings and Social Security.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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We often read reports from the Social Security Administration’s reviews of the status of its trust fund and predictions that in 20 years funding will exist to pay 77 cents on the dollar of promised benefits. So far this revelation produces from policymakers no actual steps to fix the system. What can we do to fix Social Security?

As future recipients of benefits, we can take some actions now to reduce reliance on our eventual benefits. This won’t fix the system’s underfunding problem but may help your own situation.

Push for pensions. As workers, we may enjoy more power than we realize to push our employers to consider offering pensions again. A cost tradeoff for the employer compared with costs of other benefits, a pension can still be an attractive tool for employee retention.

Hard but not impossible to implement, as Connecticut recently proved for the state’s municipal workers.

Increase other retirement savings. Maxing out your 401(k) contributions and choosing proper investment diversification are good ways to supplement a dwindling or reduced Social Security benefit. You can also contribute to a Roth individual retirement account (within limits) and make non-deductible contributions to your 401(k) of some significant amounts (I recently wrote about this).

What policy changes might fix Social Security? Congress can take plenty of actions, including the following few that while tough do stand to resolve Social Security’s underfunding more or less permanently.

Eliminate the earnings cap. Currently only a certain amount of your annual earnings incur Social Security tax: $118,500 in 2015, up from $117,000 this year. Earnings above that limit are not subject to the combined 12.4% (employer and employee) Social Security tax.

Eliminating this limit or cap might pump significant additional funds into the Social Security tax revenues annually. Right now this cap covers approximately 83% of all earnings – leaving up to 17% of all earnings untaxed.

Increase the tax rate. The Social Security tax rate noted above comprises 6.2% from your gross pay and 6.2% from your employer. Any increase in this rate improves the trust fund.

Means testing. Folks with significant other sources of retirement income can often get by very well with reduced benefits or even without benefits altogether. After all, this insurance program supposedly provides benefits to retirees who lack means to completely provide for themselves.

You, like many others, may find it frustrating that saving for yourself potentially puts you in a position to receive reduced benefits. To save all of Social Security, that’s the sort of tough decision we as a society must make.

Increase retirement age. In 1983, the retirement age for Social Security rose from 65 to 66 for folks born between 1943 and 1954, and to 67 for folks born in 1960 or later. It’s not out of the question to gradually increase this age another year, to 68 for folks born in 1966 or later.

At the other end of the spectrum, the early retirement age of 62 dates from when the Social Security program began. Changing this age might likely result in some positives for the trust fund – but leaving it the same also sometimes insidiously produces even smaller benefits for folks who file early.

Probably no steps to fix the system will be pleasant: It’s never easy to give up what you think you paid into and earned. Problem is, if we don’t work to repair Social Security we will all certainly give something up, starting with an estimated at 23% of all our benefits.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Jim Blankenship, CFP, EA, is an independent, fee-only financial planner at Blankenship Financial Planning in New Berlin, Ill. He is the author of An IRA Owner’s Manual and A Social Security Owner’s Manual. His blog is Getting Your Financial Ducks In A Row, where he writes regularly about taxes, retirement savings and Social Security.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Is Your Price Right? http://www.adviceiq.com/content/your-price-right http://www.adviceiq.com/content/your-price-right#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 20:31:07 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?guid=50884af6a83f937815b059590adcac7a How long has it been since you evaluated your pricing strategy? If you feel your business is not as profitable as it should be, do a pricing test. It takes some courage, but you might be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

One of my earliest mentoring clients had a very nice business, but the company just wasn’t making enough money. We spent time looking at the industry and found that my client underpriced his products by about 20%.

All we did was change the pricing policy, and this change alone more than doubled his profits. The company went from being barely profitable to having enough cash to grow. 

However, even if you survey prices of your competitors, you might still not know whether your prices are correct. Your entire industry might be underpriced without knowing it.

There is no rule that says your prices have to be the same as others’. If you provide better products and service than your rivals, you deserve to charge more. Apple is a great example of this. Even though the prices of Apple’s products are significantly higher than those of its competitors, it has no problem getting people to pay extra.

The only way to find out if your pricing is correct is to test it. Value is always in the eyes of the beholder. This means your clients are the ones who tell you whether your service and products are worth the money you charge.

If you don’t have customers saying you’re too expensive, your prices are too low. If you have customers telling you that they can’t believe how much value you deliver, it’s time for you to think about raising your prices. It’s really that simple.

You might be concerned that increasing prices hurts sales. The solution to that is to find ways to add perceived value for your customers. When you work on improving your company’s profitability, I want you to focus on how you can continually increase the value you provide. The more valuable you make your service, the more people will be willing to pay for it.

The value you add should meet the needs of your customers. If you find you have a hard time getting people to say yes, maybe you provide more than they are willing and able to pay for. Make your offering less comprehensive and lower your prices. This helps the bottom line.

Do yourself a favor. Make sure you test your pricing, survey your customers, and better yet, have them pay you more by delivering additional value.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Josh Patrick is a founding principal of Stage 2 Planning Partners in South Burlington, Vt. He contributes to the NY Times You’re the Boss blog and works with owners of privately held businesses helping them create business and personal value. You can learn more about his Objective Review process at his website.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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How long has it been since you evaluated your pricing strategy? If you feel your business is not as profitable as it should be, do a pricing test. It takes some courage, but you might be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

One of my earliest mentoring clients had a very nice business, but the company just wasn’t making enough money. We spent time looking at the industry and found that my client underpriced his products by about 20%.

All we did was change the pricing policy, and this change alone more than doubled his profits. The company went from being barely profitable to having enough cash to grow. 

However, even if you survey prices of your competitors, you might still not know whether your prices are correct. Your entire industry might be underpriced without knowing it.

There is no rule that says your prices have to be the same as others’. If you provide better products and service than your rivals, you deserve to charge more. Apple is a great example of this. Even though the prices of Apple’s products are significantly higher than those of its competitors, it has no problem getting people to pay extra.

The only way to find out if your pricing is correct is to test it. Value is always in the eyes of the beholder. This means your clients are the ones who tell you whether your service and products are worth the money you charge.

If you don’t have customers saying you’re too expensive, your prices are too low. If you have customers telling you that they can’t believe how much value you deliver, it’s time for you to think about raising your prices. It’s really that simple.

You might be concerned that increasing prices hurts sales. The solution to that is to find ways to add perceived value for your customers. When you work on improving your company’s profitability, I want you to focus on how you can continually increase the value you provide. The more valuable you make your service, the more people will be willing to pay for it.

The value you add should meet the needs of your customers. If you find you have a hard time getting people to say yes, maybe you provide more than they are willing and able to pay for. Make your offering less comprehensive and lower your prices. This helps the bottom line.

Do yourself a favor. Make sure you test your pricing, survey your customers, and better yet, have them pay you more by delivering additional value.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Josh Patrick is a founding principal of Stage 2 Planning Partners in South Burlington, Vt. He contributes to the NY Times You’re the Boss blog and works with owners of privately held businesses helping them create business and personal value. You can learn more about his Objective Review process at his website.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Plan to Prevent Bad $$ Moves http://www.adviceiq.com/content/plan-prevent-bad-moves http://www.adviceiq.com/content/plan-prevent-bad-moves#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 20:31:06 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?guid=db8b47c7c7ed5f08088f2d4d54965247 When managing personal finances and investments, people frequently exhibit irrational behavior for different reasons. If you’re one of these folks, be fair to yourself: It doesn’t even take a spate of market zigzags like October’s to prod you into questionable decisions.

Everyone makes choices about money nearly every day – how to earn, spend, save, invest and so on. Sometimes you pick wisely, sometimes harmfully. Some decisions, particularly those regarding when and where to invest, whipsaw from wise to harmful and back, depending on when you reached your conclusion and when you took the plunge.

Supposedly, if you can learn more about the cause and effect of your money decisions, and what around you contributes to them, you will improve your financial security. Pinpointing behaviors as either rational or irrational in the middle of the storm comes hard, though. The October market provided a convenient and timely case study to help explain why.

That month, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of large U.S. stocks declined 5.6% through Oct. 15 and then gained 8% through the end of the month. If sensitive to market moves, maybe you read the swift early declines and sold big – a flight perhaps revealed as irrational, given the late-October rally that continued into November.

If you sold in mid-October, you likely showed loss aversion – one of many often-irrational money behaviors. Psychologically, people perceive losses (or declines in value of an investment) as much as 2½ times more impactful than gains of a similar size. Watch your investment drop $1,000 and you feel more than twice as bad as you might feel good about a gain of $1,000.

Most people are loss averse; it’s clear why many sell when market prices decline. Is loss aversion irrational? Or sometimes, is it timely clairvoyance?

Rewind to 2007, when from Oct. 9-19 the S&P 500 quickly declined more than 4% – similar to what it  it did in early October this year. Let’s say you were one who sold  Oct. 15 this year (and looked irrational in hindsight). Let’s imagine further that in early October 2007 you also cut back your market exposure under these similar conditions.

Instead of irrational, you would have appeared brilliant. Oct. 9, 2007, was a high point; financial apocalypse reigned for the next year and a half.

What-if situations such as these clearly show that sometimes irrational behavior produces good outcomes. And sometimes well-trained (and often self-proclaimed) experts, applying rational processes to money management, wind up on the wrong side of the intended outcome, especially in the short term. This helps make investing fascinating and, at times, maddening.

Because investment markets are complex and potentially both irrational and efficient, understand well your tolerance for risk. Define what risk actually means in terms of your financial security, and your willpower to handle markets when fear and greed influence decisions.

A written investment strategy can serve as a foundation for your long-term decisions. Your strategy – and your commitment – may also benefit from testing your strategy’s performance hypothetically in past crises.

Since we can’t predict outcomes that depend partially on luck, we plan according to probabilities. For example, rather than focus on the size of your expected returns, know the probability that your investment strategy can support your desired spending rate in retirement or make tuition payments, fund a wedding, cover health-care costs and so on. Your broader financial plan drives your investment strategy, not the other way around.

Ideally, when your goals link directly to your plan, you have a better foundation for dealing with investment uncertainty and Wall Street’s effect on your emotions and decisions.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Gary Brooks is a certified financial planner and the president of Brooks, Hughes & Jones, and a registered investment adviser in Tacoma, Wash. An expanded version of this piece first ran at his blog The Money Architects.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

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When managing personal finances and investments, people frequently exhibit irrational behavior for different reasons. If you’re one of these folks, be fair to yourself: It doesn’t even take a spate of market zigzags like October’s to prod you into questionable decisions.

Everyone makes choices about money nearly every day – how to earn, spend, save, invest and so on. Sometimes you pick wisely, sometimes harmfully. Some decisions, particularly those regarding when and where to invest, whipsaw from wise to harmful and back, depending on when you reached your conclusion and when you took the plunge.

Supposedly, if you can learn more about the cause and effect of your money decisions, and what around you contributes to them, you will improve your financial security. Pinpointing behaviors as either rational or irrational in the middle of the storm comes hard, though. The October market provided a convenient and timely case study to help explain why.

That month, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of large U.S. stocks declined 5.6% through Oct. 15 and then gained 8% through the end of the month. If sensitive to market moves, maybe you read the swift early declines and sold big – a flight perhaps revealed as irrational, given the late-October rally that continued into November.

If you sold in mid-October, you likely showed loss aversion – one of many often-irrational money behaviors. Psychologically, people perceive losses (or declines in value of an investment) as much as 2½ times more impactful than gains of a similar size. Watch your investment drop $1,000 and you feel more than twice as bad as you might feel good about a gain of $1,000.

Most people are loss averse; it’s clear why many sell when market prices decline. Is loss aversion irrational? Or sometimes, is it timely clairvoyance?

Rewind to 2007, when from Oct. 9-19 the S&P 500 quickly declined more than 4% – similar to what it  it did in early October this year. Let’s say you were one who sold  Oct. 15 this year (and looked irrational in hindsight). Let’s imagine further that in early October 2007 you also cut back your market exposure under these similar conditions.

Instead of irrational, you would have appeared brilliant. Oct. 9, 2007, was a high point; financial apocalypse reigned for the next year and a half.

What-if situations such as these clearly show that sometimes irrational behavior produces good outcomes. And sometimes well-trained (and often self-proclaimed) experts, applying rational processes to money management, wind up on the wrong side of the intended outcome, especially in the short term. This helps make investing fascinating and, at times, maddening.

Because investment markets are complex and potentially both irrational and efficient, understand well your tolerance for risk. Define what risk actually means in terms of your financial security, and your willpower to handle markets when fear and greed influence decisions.

A written investment strategy can serve as a foundation for your long-term decisions. Your strategy – and your commitment – may also benefit from testing your strategy’s performance hypothetically in past crises.

Since we can’t predict outcomes that depend partially on luck, we plan according to probabilities. For example, rather than focus on the size of your expected returns, know the probability that your investment strategy can support your desired spending rate in retirement or make tuition payments, fund a wedding, cover health-care costs and so on. Your broader financial plan drives your investment strategy, not the other way around.

Ideally, when your goals link directly to your plan, you have a better foundation for dealing with investment uncertainty and Wall Street’s effect on your emotions and decisions.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Gary Brooks is a certified financial planner and the president of Brooks, Hughes & Jones, and a registered investment adviser in Tacoma, Wash. An expanded version of this piece first ran at his blog The Money Architects.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

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Money Smarts: How U.S. Rates http://www.adviceiq.com/content/money-smarts-how-us-rates http://www.adviceiq.com/content/money-smarts-how-us-rates#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 20:31:05 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?guid=b21c2ed9629aff303f0c36200921ef47 We all flip between believing that America leads the world at everything to thinking our nation lags behind foreign powerhouses in every way. Regarding financial literacy, we’re solid in the top five – but far from best.

The recent Visa International Financial Literacy Barometer reports that the U.S. ranks fourth out of 28 countries. If you think sophisticated Europeans edge us out, you’re wrong. The top five nations were Brazil, Mexico, Australia, the U.S. and Canada.

The first question surveyed the 25,500 respondents worldwide about the age at which children need to learn financial literacy. The U.S. came in at around the global average of 11.3 years old. Respondents in Brazil, overall the most financially literate nation in the world, said children need to start becoming financially literate at age 9.

The answers to four subsequent questions helped determined the rankings:

1. Do you have and follow a household budget? The best budgeters were in Brazil, Japan, Australia, South Africa and Canada. The U.S. placed sixth.

2. How many months’ worth of savings do you have aside for an emergency? The best savers were in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and Canada. The U.S. placed seventh.

Overall, more than one in three (68%) of respondents had less than three months of emergency savings. A quarter of high-income respondents worldwide have less than three months of savings.

3. How often do you talk to your children (ages five to 17) about money management issues? Parents who talked most frequently about money with children were in Mexico, Brazil, Serbia, Bosnia and Lebanon. The U.S. again placed sixth.

Parents and other adults in the wealthier nations spent the least time talking to children about money.

4. To what extent would you say teenagers and young adults in your country understand money management basics and are adequately prepared to manage their own money? More adults in Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Colombia and Mexico believed kids understood financial basics than in other countries.

More than half the countries surveyed believe the young understand little about finances. America also gave its youngsters low marks here: The U.S. placed 27th.

It’s remarkable we placed fourth when our ranking was lower than that on every individual question. Our final ranking was higher partially because questions that America did better than other nations on happened to count for more toward the final score.

The best financial education begins at home. If interested in educating your children about money, you can try another Visa survey entitled “The Tooth Fairy Tightens Purse Strings.”

In 2014, the Tooth Fairy left American kids 8% less, on average, than in 2013. American children received about $3.40 per tooth.

Ask your children why that might be. Are kids losing more teeth so the Fairy must retrench and pay less? Did the Fairy budget badly? Are some teeth worth more than others (perhaps cavities versus cavity-free)?

The world’s a big place: What do you really learn when you hear that Indonesians talk to kids about money only 5.5 days a year? It’s always easier to learn when your own wallet is part of the subject.

 

Jonathan K. DeYoe, AIF and CPWA, is the founder and president of DeYoe Wealth Management in Berkeley, California, and blogs at the Happiness Dividend Blog. Financial planning and investment advisory services offered through DeYoe Wealth Management, Inc., a registered investment advisor.

 

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations to any individual. For your individual planning and investing needs, please see your investment professional.

Follow Jonathan K. DeYoe on Twitter at @happinessdiv.

 

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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We all flip between believing that America leads the world at everything to thinking our nation lags behind foreign powerhouses in every way. Regarding financial literacy, we’re solid in the top five – but far from best.

The recent Visa International Financial Literacy Barometer reports that the U.S. ranks fourth out of 28 countries. If you think sophisticated Europeans edge us out, you’re wrong. The top five nations were Brazil, Mexico, Australia, the U.S. and Canada.

The first question surveyed the 25,500 respondents worldwide about the age at which children need to learn financial literacy. The U.S. came in at around the global average of 11.3 years old. Respondents in Brazil, overall the most financially literate nation in the world, said children need to start becoming financially literate at age 9.

The answers to four subsequent questions helped determined the rankings:

1. Do you have and follow a household budget? The best budgeters were in Brazil, Japan, Australia, South Africa and Canada. The U.S. placed sixth.

2. How many months’ worth of savings do you have aside for an emergency? The best savers were in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and Canada. The U.S. placed seventh.

Overall, more than one in three (68%) of respondents had less than three months of emergency savings. A quarter of high-income respondents worldwide have less than three months of savings.

3. How often do you talk to your children (ages five to 17) about money management issues? Parents who talked most frequently about money with children were in Mexico, Brazil, Serbia, Bosnia and Lebanon. The U.S. again placed sixth.

Parents and other adults in the wealthier nations spent the least time talking to children about money.

4. To what extent would you say teenagers and young adults in your country understand money management basics and are adequately prepared to manage their own money? More adults in Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Colombia and Mexico believed kids understood financial basics than in other countries.

More than half the countries surveyed believe the young understand little about finances. America also gave its youngsters low marks here: The U.S. placed 27th.

It’s remarkable we placed fourth when our ranking was lower than that on every individual question. Our final ranking was higher partially because questions that America did better than other nations on happened to count for more toward the final score.

The best financial education begins at home. If interested in educating your children about money, you can try another Visa survey entitled “The Tooth Fairy Tightens Purse Strings.”

In 2014, the Tooth Fairy left American kids 8% less, on average, than in 2013. American children received about $3.40 per tooth.

Ask your children why that might be. Are kids losing more teeth so the Fairy must retrench and pay less? Did the Fairy budget badly? Are some teeth worth more than others (perhaps cavities versus cavity-free)?

The world’s a big place: What do you really learn when you hear that Indonesians talk to kids about money only 5.5 days a year? It’s always easier to learn when your own wallet is part of the subject.

 

Jonathan K. DeYoe, AIF and CPWA, is the founder and president of DeYoe Wealth Management in Berkeley, California, and blogs at the Happiness Dividend Blog. Financial planning and investment advisory services offered through DeYoe Wealth Management, Inc., a registered investment advisor.

 

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations to any individual. For your individual planning and investing needs, please see your investment professional.

Follow Jonathan K. DeYoe on Twitter at @happinessdiv.

 

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Knowing Needs from Wants http://www.adviceiq.com/content/knowing-needs-wants http://www.adviceiq.com/content/knowing-needs-wants#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 20:31:03 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?guid=76516101c63f3ac037ce0ffca76e9fa7 Making more money is not a necessary step to achieve your goals. If you truly wish to save more, you have to know how to identify a want in disguise of a need.

Sometimes, when you save for large goals in the future, such as retirement or a down payment on a home, you may feel that you need to make more money before these things can happen. You think that once your incomes are up to a certain level, you’ll be able to afford to save.

Not true. For many folks, learning to distinguish between wants and needs is enough to get you to your savings goals.

Here’s an exercise I do with my students in the class I teach whenever I hear them say that they “can’t afford” to save. Grabbing a marker, I ask them to tell me what monthly expenses they have and write those down on the board. For example, dining out: $100 per month; car payment: $250 per month; cable TV: $120; and smartphone: $80. Other items include clothes and shoes, getting hair and nails done and playing the lottery.

Then we look at the board and really think about whether these things are needs. This is where the fun begins. Initially, my students rationalize why they need the things they want. A big point of contention is smartphones. Many students say they need them, but in reality admit that smartphones aren’t something they can’t live without. And that’s the point to this exercise – rationalizing. We’re very good at rationalizing what we want, making it sounds like a need when it is not.

If the students can do without the things listed on the board, they can save $550. To hit the $5,500 annual max of contribution to an individual retirement account, they only need $458.33 per month. This means without having to ask for a raise or to get a second job, they can max out an IRA and still having $92 left over to invest.

With my trusty financial calculator, and using the students’ timeline for retirement, I come up with an amount that blows my students away. If they have 40 years to fund an IRA up to the limit until retirement, with a reasonable rate of return in the market of 7%, they can accumulate $1,174,853 in 40 years – all without having to make more money. This was money they are already spending.

For all of us, it boils down to priorities. Once we make our future financial needs a priority, we can change our perception of what we really need versus what we want, and reallocate our money accordingly to fund our goals.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Sterling Raskie, MSFS, CFP, is an independent, fee-only financial planner at Blankenship Financial Planning in New Berlin, IL. He is an adjunct professor teaching courses in math, finance, insurance and investments. His blog is Getting Your Financial Ducks in a Row, where he writes regularly about investments, retirement savings and financial planning.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

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Making more money is not a necessary step to achieve your goals. If you truly wish to save more, you have to know how to identify a want in disguise of a need.

Sometimes, when you save for large goals in the future, such as retirement or a down payment on a home, you may feel that you need to make more money before these things can happen. You think that once your incomes are up to a certain level, you’ll be able to afford to save.

Not true. For many folks, learning to distinguish between wants and needs is enough to get you to your savings goals.

Here’s an exercise I do with my students in the class I teach whenever I hear them say that they “can’t afford” to save. Grabbing a marker, I ask them to tell me what monthly expenses they have and write those down on the board. For example, dining out: $100 per month; car payment: $250 per month; cable TV: $120; and smartphone: $80. Other items include clothes and shoes, getting hair and nails done and playing the lottery.

Then we look at the board and really think about whether these things are needs. This is where the fun begins. Initially, my students rationalize why they need the things they want. A big point of contention is smartphones. Many students say they need them, but in reality admit that smartphones aren’t something they can’t live without. And that’s the point to this exercise – rationalizing. We’re very good at rationalizing what we want, making it sounds like a need when it is not.

If the students can do without the things listed on the board, they can save $550. To hit the $5,500 annual max of contribution to an individual retirement account, they only need $458.33 per month. This means without having to ask for a raise or to get a second job, they can max out an IRA and still having $92 left over to invest.

With my trusty financial calculator, and using the students’ timeline for retirement, I come up with an amount that blows my students away. If they have 40 years to fund an IRA up to the limit until retirement, with a reasonable rate of return in the market of 7%, they can accumulate $1,174,853 in 40 years – all without having to make more money. This was money they are already spending.

For all of us, it boils down to priorities. Once we make our future financial needs a priority, we can change our perception of what we really need versus what we want, and reallocate our money accordingly to fund our goals.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Sterling Raskie, MSFS, CFP, is an independent, fee-only financial planner at Blankenship Financial Planning in New Berlin, IL. He is an adjunct professor teaching courses in math, finance, insurance and investments. His blog is Getting Your Financial Ducks in a Row, where he writes regularly about investments, retirement savings and financial planning.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

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Spotting a Tax-Scam Call http://www.adviceiq.com/content/spotting-tax-scam-call http://www.adviceiq.com/content/spotting-tax-scam-call#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 20:30:58 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?guid=04128bde898a64153f990f7d16282b20 Know who never seems to take a holiday? Scammers pretending to be the Internal Revenue Service. Don’t become the next victim; here’s what to know to protect yourself.

In these aggressive scams, callers claiming to be from the IRS may demand money, or may say you’re due a refund and try to trick you into sharing private information. Sometimes they already have bits of that information – such as the last four digits of your Social Security number – and usually alter the caller ID to try to make you believe they are in fact from the IRS.

Among other tactics, bogus emails sometimes follow the calls, and victims report hearing background noise that mimics that of a call site. Scammers often use bogus IRS identification badge numbers and of course fake names. If you don’t answer, they often leave an “urgent” callback request or phone you back with a new strategy.

Recently, taxpayers reported that scammers frequently target immigrants, potential victims threatened with deportation, arrest, shutting off utilities or revoking driver’s licenses. The IRS says that callers are frequently insulting or hostile, sometimes following up with calls pretending to be from the police or local department of motor vehicles, with the caller ID again supporting their claim.

Other unrelated scams, such as a lottery sweepstakes and phony solicitations for debt relief, also fraudulently claim to be from the IRS.

Here are five things scammers often do but the IRS never does. Any one is a telltale sign. The IRS never:

  1. Calls to demand immediate payment or call about taxes you owe without first mailing you a bill.
  2. Demands that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount the agency says you owe.
  3. Requires you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  4. Asks for your credit card or debit card numbers over the phone.
  5. Threatens to involve your local police or other law-enforcement to arrest you for not paying taxes.

In addition, the IRS does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue.

If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, you can report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484 or at the TIGTA complaint contact page.

If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and you believe you do owe taxes, call the IRS at (800) 829-1040. The employees there can help with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.

If you receive an email you suspect comes from scammers, do not open any attachments or click on any links in the message but instead forward the email to phishing@irs.gov. A new IRS YouTube video also warns about scams.

And again remember: Give no personal information to strangers over the phone. The con artists are only impersonating the IRS and, unfortunately, can be very convincing.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Maureen Crimmins is the co-founder of Crimmins Wealth Management LLC in Woodcliff Lake, N.J. Her websites are www.CrimminsWM.com and www.RootsofWealth.com.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Know who never seems to take a holiday? Scammers pretending to be the Internal Revenue Service. Don’t become the next victim; here’s what to know to protect yourself.

In these aggressive scams, callers claiming to be from the IRS may demand money, or may say you’re due a refund and try to trick you into sharing private information. Sometimes they already have bits of that information – such as the last four digits of your Social Security number – and usually alter the caller ID to try to make you believe they are in fact from the IRS.

Among other tactics, bogus emails sometimes follow the calls, and victims report hearing background noise that mimics that of a call site. Scammers often use bogus IRS identification badge numbers and of course fake names. If you don’t answer, they often leave an “urgent” callback request or phone you back with a new strategy.

Recently, taxpayers reported that scammers frequently target immigrants, potential victims threatened with deportation, arrest, shutting off utilities or revoking driver’s licenses. The IRS says that callers are frequently insulting or hostile, sometimes following up with calls pretending to be from the police or local department of motor vehicles, with the caller ID again supporting their claim.

Other unrelated scams, such as a lottery sweepstakes and phony solicitations for debt relief, also fraudulently claim to be from the IRS.

Here are five things scammers often do but the IRS never does. Any one is a telltale sign. The IRS never:

  1. Calls to demand immediate payment or call about taxes you owe without first mailing you a bill.
  2. Demands that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount the agency says you owe.
  3. Requires you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  4. Asks for your credit card or debit card numbers over the phone.
  5. Threatens to involve your local police or other law-enforcement to arrest you for not paying taxes.

In addition, the IRS does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue.

If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, you can report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484 or at the TIGTA complaint contact page.

If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and you believe you do owe taxes, call the IRS at (800) 829-1040. The employees there can help with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.

If you receive an email you suspect comes from scammers, do not open any attachments or click on any links in the message but instead forward the email to phishing@irs.gov. A new IRS YouTube video also warns about scams.

And again remember: Give no personal information to strangers over the phone. The con artists are only impersonating the IRS and, unfortunately, can be very convincing.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Maureen Crimmins is the co-founder of Crimmins Wealth Management LLC in Woodcliff Lake, N.J. Her websites are www.CrimminsWM.com and www.RootsofWealth.com.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Esther Diersen http://hometownargus.com/2014/12/18/esther-diersen-2/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/12/18/esther-diersen-2/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 17:56:23 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=36200 diersen_rgbEsther Rosalia Maria Diersen, 97, formerly of Eitzen, passed away Sunday, December 14, 2014, at Gundersen Tweeten Care Center, Spring Grove, Minnesota.

She was born January 29, 1917, in Houston County, Minnesota, to Bernhardt and Clara (Neuman) Pohlmann. Esther was baptized on March 11, 1917 and confirmed on October 23, 1932, both at St. Peter’s Church in New Albin, Iowa. She was a 1936 graduate of Caledonia High School. On March 16, 1938, Esther married Albert Diersen and he preceded her in death on November 20, 1984. Together they farmed for many years in rural Caledonia. After retiring from farming, Esther worked at Control Data in Spring Grove and then at the button factory in Lansing, Iowa. Esther enjoyed spending time at senior citizens in Eitzen and playing cards. She also loved flower gardening, doing needle work and artistic painting and was an excellent seamstress. Her greatest joy was making items and giving them to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Survivors include two daughters, Eunice (Harold) Meyer, Eitzen; and Ardyce Wild, New Albin, Iowa; one son, Ivan (Linda) Diersen, Colorado Springs, Colorado; 14 grandchildren, Wayne (Laura) Meyer, Christine (Dave) Jorde, Kari (Dan) Alstad, Steven (Amy) Wild, Diane (Jim) Erbe, Joel (Crystall) Diersen, David (Billie) Diersen, Angelica (Jerry) Reiter, Aimee (Jason) Triemert, Charnel Diersen, Ivan Albert (Marnie) Diersen, Robert (Shanna) Outman, Craig (Candace) Outman and Kelly (Heath) Deutsch; 34 great-grandchildren; and five great-great-grandchildren.

Esther was preceded in death by her parents; one son-in-law, Curtis Wild; one grandson, Wendell Diersen; one grandson-in-law, Mark Johnson; two brothers, Versell (Clara) Pohlmann and Melvin (Lisbeth) Pohlmann; and two sisters, Hilda (Ted) Kruse and Evelyn (Reuben) Skadsem.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, December 18, 2014, at Zion Ev. Lutheran Church, Eitzen. Rev. Todd Krueger will officiate. Burial will be in Evergreen Cemetery, Caledonia. A visitation will be from 10 a.m. until the time of service on Thursday at the church. Jandt-Fredrickson Funeral Homes and Crematory, Caledonia Chapel, is in charge of arrangements. Online condolences may be sent at www.jandtfredrickson.com.

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Bouncing Back From $ Goofs http://www.adviceiq.com/content/bouncing-back-goofs http://www.adviceiq.com/content/bouncing-back-goofs#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 22:30:05 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?guid=ac14b08facb4e5a3832812b4744ac735 We’re not perfect. We’re all guilty of one financial mistake or two, whether it happened yesterday or years ago. How do you shake off these money blunders and bounce back? With some honesty, reflection, preparation and a touch of class.

I made my fair share of mistakes in life, and although financially conscious, I had missteps on the money front, too. I still remember those feelings of anxiety and disappointment when I realized I messed up.

Dwelling on past failure doesn’t help you. Follow these steps I learned from my experience to come out from a bad financial error:

1. Acknowledge the problem. The first step to solving any problem is admitting you have one, right? Call out the issue at hand and label it for what it is. Is it a loan that you cannot pay off? Is it a shopping addiction? Maxed-out credit cards?

Admitting money problems is hard to do. It is more difficult when you don’t really pay attention to your finances - which is a problem in itself.

2. Answer some questions. If you’re in an unfortunate financial situation, chances are you got yourself there. This is not the time to play the blame game. What you need to do is taking the time to reflect on what false steps you took. What could you have done differently and what are you willing to do to prevent it in the future? What are some bad habits you need to break?

Dig into those fuzzy feelings you have about money. What beliefs do you have about money? Do you take an active role in your money? Do you deserve to be financially stable?

3. Clean the slate. If you owe somebody an explanation, reach out. Inform your friends, family, utility company, bank or whomever else about the issue you face, and let them know you’re ready to work toward a solution. Be open and honest with them. You’ll likely receive a much better response than if you ignore the problem.

4. Start walking the walk. Do what needs to be done to get back. Get a grip by setting up a debt pay-down schedule, tracking your expenses, creating a monthly savings goal and automating contributions. Have an accountability partner, a friend or spouse, to keep you on track. If you find that you’re not able handle your issue by yourself, seek help from people with the expertise you need.

Mistakes happen. Instead of beating yourself up, it’s time to set the wheels in motion for a fresh start.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Mary Beth Storjohann, CFP, is the founder of Workable Wealth, an RIA in San Diego. She is a writer, speaker and financial coach who is passionate about working with individuals and couples in their 20s and 30s to help them organize and gain confidence in their financial lives. She has been quoted or featured in various industry publications on the local and national level. You can find her on Twitter at @marybstorj.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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We’re not perfect. We’re all guilty of one financial mistake or two, whether it happened yesterday or years ago. How do you shake off these money blunders and bounce back? With some honesty, reflection, preparation and a touch of class.

I made my fair share of mistakes in life, and although financially conscious, I had missteps on the money front, too. I still remember those feelings of anxiety and disappointment when I realized I messed up.

Dwelling on past failure doesn’t help you. Follow these steps I learned from my experience to come out from a bad financial error:

1. Acknowledge the problem. The first step to solving any problem is admitting you have one, right? Call out the issue at hand and label it for what it is. Is it a loan that you cannot pay off? Is it a shopping addiction? Maxed-out credit cards?

Admitting money problems is hard to do. It is more difficult when you don’t really pay attention to your finances - which is a problem in itself.

2. Answer some questions. If you’re in an unfortunate financial situation, chances are you got yourself there. This is not the time to play the blame game. What you need to do is taking the time to reflect on what false steps you took. What could you have done differently and what are you willing to do to prevent it in the future? What are some bad habits you need to break?

Dig into those fuzzy feelings you have about money. What beliefs do you have about money? Do you take an active role in your money? Do you deserve to be financially stable?

3. Clean the slate. If you owe somebody an explanation, reach out. Inform your friends, family, utility company, bank or whomever else about the issue you face, and let them know you’re ready to work toward a solution. Be open and honest with them. You’ll likely receive a much better response than if you ignore the problem.

4. Start walking the walk. Do what needs to be done to get back. Get a grip by setting up a debt pay-down schedule, tracking your expenses, creating a monthly savings goal and automating contributions. Have an accountability partner, a friend or spouse, to keep you on track. If you find that you’re not able handle your issue by yourself, seek help from people with the expertise you need.

Mistakes happen. Instead of beating yourself up, it’s time to set the wheels in motion for a fresh start.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Mary Beth Storjohann, CFP, is the founder of Workable Wealth, an RIA in San Diego. She is a writer, speaker and financial coach who is passionate about working with individuals and couples in their 20s and 30s to help them organize and gain confidence in their financial lives. She has been quoted or featured in various industry publications on the local and national level. You can find her on Twitter at @marybstorj.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Planning: It Takes Two http://www.adviceiq.com/content/planning-it-takes-two http://www.adviceiq.com/content/planning-it-takes-two#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 20:00:49 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?guid=412b0e08abf9eae58901304cf637bf1d When taking on a partnered client, it takes two. I always want to meet with both parts of the couple. Sometimes, I am often disappointed to find women don’t want to play an active role in money matters. Planning investment strategies and long-term finances takes active input from both wife and husband.

It’s essential, actually, that women have a role in planning. Women have longer lifespans than men and are likely to outlive their husbands. Proper planning prepares the surviving spouse, usually the wife, to handle the financial matters during the hard time of losing a loved one.

Joe and Brenda were my clients. Joe hired me to be their financial advisor, and we worked together for almost six years. He was an engineer in Silicon Valley before he retired and went to law school at Santa Clara University to become an attorney. Brenda worked part time, raising their sons.

Joe funded most of the accounts, while Brenda let her husband take the financial lead. Brenda is like a lot of women who often let their husbands take quarterly meetings alone. I find that isn’t really in a couple’s best interest.

In my practice, women and money are a significant focus. A woman is expected to live at least seven years longer than her husband. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a third of married couples are within a year of each other, but for 53% of them, the husband is older. Seven years plus the age difference between the husband and wife—this gives you a way to anticipate how long a woman might live on after her husband passes away.

When a wife doesn’t learn the long term planning details of the finances, she sets herself up for a very uncomfortable financial future. When her husband dies, she too often doesn’t know the details about life insurance, bank account details, and what plans have been made with the advisor. In some cases, she doesn’t even know where the accounts are.

While sensitive to respecting relationship dynamics, I made an extra effort to reach out to Brenda. I invited Brenda and Joe to lunch, and we all engaged in conversation that wasn’t limited to their money concerns. My goal was to create a good working relationship with Brenda, too

A couple of years into Joe’s encore career as an attorney, he called me to tell me he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The prognosis wasn’t good. We scheduled a meeting to talk through his plans that both Joe and Brenda attended.

Joe said at the start of the meeting, “Well, I always knew I was going to die. I just didn’t know it would be so soon.” Brenda was there. She was strong. I was especially moved by his acceptance and peacefulness.

Over the time Joe and Brenda had been working with me, we drafted a revocable living trust and got their estate plans in order. There wasn’t much left to do. The i’s were dotted and the t’s were crossed. We made sure we were in communication with their kids.

About three months later, Brenda called and said Joe had died. It was really hard. We attended the funeral and the mass.

As painful as a death can be, Brenda experienced a seamless financial transition with no misstep. The money transferred easily into her name. Their estate plan was intact. I’m proud to be able to help Brenda. If I didn’t have a relationship with her, it could have gone a bunch of different ways.

The next time I saw Brenda, she brought her sons and their wives to the meeting. There were five of them sitting around the table. Brenda got to tell her family that she plans to bounce her last check — it was a joke. She won’t. Her finances are well taken care of.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Hilary Hendershott, MBA, CFP, is founder and Chief Executive of Silicon Valley-based Hilary Hendershott Financial. The firm offers a suite of products and services including fee-only planning. She regularly writes about personal finance at HilaryHendershott.com. You can find her on Twitter @HilarytheCFP.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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When taking on a partnered client, it takes two. I always want to meet with both parts of the couple. Sometimes, I am often disappointed to find women don’t want to play an active role in money matters. Planning investment strategies and long-term finances takes active input from both wife and husband.

It’s essential, actually, that women have a role in planning. Women have longer lifespans than men and are likely to outlive their husbands. Proper planning prepares the surviving spouse, usually the wife, to handle the financial matters during the hard time of losing a loved one.

Joe and Brenda were my clients. Joe hired me to be their financial advisor, and we worked together for almost six years. He was an engineer in Silicon Valley before he retired and went to law school at Santa Clara University to become an attorney. Brenda worked part time, raising their sons.

Joe funded most of the accounts, while Brenda let her husband take the financial lead. Brenda is like a lot of women who often let their husbands take quarterly meetings alone. I find that isn’t really in a couple’s best interest.

In my practice, women and money are a significant focus. A woman is expected to live at least seven years longer than her husband. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a third of married couples are within a year of each other, but for 53% of them, the husband is older. Seven years plus the age difference between the husband and wife—this gives you a way to anticipate how long a woman might live on after her husband passes away.

When a wife doesn’t learn the long term planning details of the finances, she sets herself up for a very uncomfortable financial future. When her husband dies, she too often doesn’t know the details about life insurance, bank account details, and what plans have been made with the advisor. In some cases, she doesn’t even know where the accounts are.

While sensitive to respecting relationship dynamics, I made an extra effort to reach out to Brenda. I invited Brenda and Joe to lunch, and we all engaged in conversation that wasn’t limited to their money concerns. My goal was to create a good working relationship with Brenda, too

A couple of years into Joe’s encore career as an attorney, he called me to tell me he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The prognosis wasn’t good. We scheduled a meeting to talk through his plans that both Joe and Brenda attended.

Joe said at the start of the meeting, “Well, I always knew I was going to die. I just didn’t know it would be so soon.” Brenda was there. She was strong. I was especially moved by his acceptance and peacefulness.

Over the time Joe and Brenda had been working with me, we drafted a revocable living trust and got their estate plans in order. There wasn’t much left to do. The i’s were dotted and the t’s were crossed. We made sure we were in communication with their kids.

About three months later, Brenda called and said Joe had died. It was really hard. We attended the funeral and the mass.

As painful as a death can be, Brenda experienced a seamless financial transition with no misstep. The money transferred easily into her name. Their estate plan was intact. I’m proud to be able to help Brenda. If I didn’t have a relationship with her, it could have gone a bunch of different ways.

The next time I saw Brenda, she brought her sons and their wives to the meeting. There were five of them sitting around the table. Brenda got to tell her family that she plans to bounce her last check — it was a joke. She won’t. Her finances are well taken care of.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Hilary Hendershott, MBA, CFP, is founder and Chief Executive of Silicon Valley-based Hilary Hendershott Financial. The firm offers a suite of products and services including fee-only planning. She regularly writes about personal finance at HilaryHendershott.com. You can find her on Twitter @HilarytheCFP.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Things to Do Before 2015 http://www.adviceiq.com/content/things-do-2015 http://www.adviceiq.com/content/things-do-2015#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:30:14 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?guid=5a1138e84f8d308d6b092e66fd80f04a The year-end holidays approach, and bring lots of things to do. Yet with holiday cheer there are financial plans to make, too.

Consider these financial opportunities before 2015 arrives.

Making financial gifts. As we count our many blessings and share time with our loved ones, we can express our thanks through giving to others. Donate appreciated securities to your favorite charity before year-end. You may take a deduction amounting to the current market value at the time of the donation, and you can use it on your tax returns for 2014 to counterbalance up to 30% of your adjusted gross income. That’s your taxable income – your gross income minus deductions.

You can gift assets or cash to your child, any relative or even a friend, and take advantage of the annual gift tax exclusion. Any individual can gift up to $14,000 this year to as many other individuals as he or she desires; a couple may jointly gift up to $28,000. Whether you choose to gift singly or jointly, you’ve probably got a long way to go before using up the current $5.34 million ($10.68 million for couples) lifetime exemption.

Grandparents and aunts uncles and parents too can fund 529 college saving plans this way, so it is worth noting that Dec. 31 is the 529 funding deadline for the 2014 tax year.  

Max out retirement plans. Most employers offer a 401(k) or 403(b) plan, and you have until Dec. 31 to boost your 2014 contribution. This year, the contribution limit on both 401(k) and 403(b) plans is $17,500 for those under 50, $23,000 for those 50 and older. This year, the traditional and Roth individual retirement account contribution limit is $5,500 for those under 50, $6,500 for those 50 and older.

High earners may face a lower Roth IRA contribution ceiling per their adjusted gross income level – above $129,000 AGI, an individual filing as single or head of household can’t make a Roth contribution for 2014, and neither can joint filers with AGI exceeding $191,000. Recently, the IRS raised limits for retirement plan contributions to $18,000 for those under 50 and $24,000 for those older than 50.

Remember IRA cash-outs. For those 70½ and older, who own one or more traditional IRAs, you have to take your annual required minimum distribution (RMD) from one or more of those IRAs by Dec. 31. If this is your very first RMD, you actually have until April 15 next year to take it, although note that this pushes up your 2015 overall taxable income. Also, original owners of Roth IRAs never have to take RMDs from those accounts.

Did you 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 Dec. 31 of the year after the death of that original IRA owner. You have to do it whether the account is a traditional or a Roth IRA.

Consider dividing it into multiple inherited IRAs, thus extending the payout schedule for younger inheritors of those assets. 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.

If your spouse died, then, you should file Form 706 no later than nine months after his or her passing. This notifies the IRS that some or all of a decedent’s estate tax exemption is carried over to the surviving spouse. If your spouse died in 2011, 2012 or 2013, the IRS is allows you until Dec. 31, 2014 to file the pertinent Form 706, which reflects the transfer of the deceased loved one’s estate to yours, provided your spouse was a U.S. citizen or resident.  

Business owners’ retirement plans. If you have income from self-employment, you can save for the future using a self-directed retirement plan, such as a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan or a one-person 401(k), the so-called Solo (k). You don’t have to be exclusively self-employed to set one of these up – you can work full-time for someone else and contribute to one of these while also deferring some of your salary into the retirement plan sponsored by your employer.2

Contributions to SEPs and Solo (k) s are tax-deductible. December 31 is the deadline to set one up for 2014, and if you meet that deadline, you can make your contributions for 2014 as late as April 15, 2015 (or October 15, 2015 with a federal extension).

You can contribute up to $52,000 to SEP for 2014, $57,500 if you are 50 or older. For a Solo (k), the same limits apply but they break down to $17,500-plus, up to 20%, and $23,000 and higher for the over-50s – both up to 20% of net self-employment income if you are 50 or older.

If you contribute to a 401(k) at work, the sum of your employee salary deferrals plus your Solo (k) contributions can’t be greater than the $17,500/$23,000 limits. But even so, you can still pour up to 20% of your net self-employment income into a Solo (k).

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Walid L. Petiri, AAMS, RFC, is chief strategist at Financial Management Strategies LLC in Baltimore. 

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

]]>
The year-end holidays approach, and bring lots of things to do. Yet with holiday cheer there are financial plans to make, too.

Consider these financial opportunities before 2015 arrives.

Making financial gifts. As we count our many blessings and share time with our loved ones, we can express our thanks through giving to others. Donate appreciated securities to your favorite charity before year-end. You may take a deduction amounting to the current market value at the time of the donation, and you can use it on your tax returns for 2014 to counterbalance up to 30% of your adjusted gross income. That’s your taxable income – your gross income minus deductions.

You can gift assets or cash to your child, any relative or even a friend, and take advantage of the annual gift tax exclusion. Any individual can gift up to $14,000 this year to as many other individuals as he or she desires; a couple may jointly gift up to $28,000. Whether you choose to gift singly or jointly, you’ve probably got a long way to go before using up the current $5.34 million ($10.68 million for couples) lifetime exemption.

Grandparents and aunts uncles and parents too can fund 529 college saving plans this way, so it is worth noting that Dec. 31 is the 529 funding deadline for the 2014 tax year.  

Max out retirement plans. Most employers offer a 401(k) or 403(b) plan, and you have until Dec. 31 to boost your 2014 contribution. This year, the contribution limit on both 401(k) and 403(b) plans is $17,500 for those under 50, $23,000 for those 50 and older. This year, the traditional and Roth individual retirement account contribution limit is $5,500 for those under 50, $6,500 for those 50 and older.

High earners may face a lower Roth IRA contribution ceiling per their adjusted gross income level – above $129,000 AGI, an individual filing as single or head of household can’t make a Roth contribution for 2014, and neither can joint filers with AGI exceeding $191,000. Recently, the IRS raised limits for retirement plan contributions to $18,000 for those under 50 and $24,000 for those older than 50.

Remember IRA cash-outs. For those 70½ and older, who own one or more traditional IRAs, you have to take your annual required minimum distribution (RMD) from one or more of those IRAs by Dec. 31. If this is your very first RMD, you actually have until April 15 next year to take it, although note that this pushes up your 2015 overall taxable income. Also, original owners of Roth IRAs never have to take RMDs from those accounts.

Did you 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 Dec. 31 of the year after the death of that original IRA owner. You have to do it whether the account is a traditional or a Roth IRA.

Consider dividing it into multiple inherited IRAs, thus extending the payout schedule for younger inheritors of those assets. 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.

If your spouse died, then, you should file Form 706 no later than nine months after his or her passing. This notifies the IRS that some or all of a decedent’s estate tax exemption is carried over to the surviving spouse. If your spouse died in 2011, 2012 or 2013, the IRS is allows you until Dec. 31, 2014 to file the pertinent Form 706, which reflects the transfer of the deceased loved one’s estate to yours, provided your spouse was a U.S. citizen or resident.  

Business owners’ retirement plans. If you have income from self-employment, you can save for the future using a self-directed retirement plan, such as a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan or a one-person 401(k), the so-called Solo (k). You don’t have to be exclusively self-employed to set one of these up – you can work full-time for someone else and contribute to one of these while also deferring some of your salary into the retirement plan sponsored by your employer.2

Contributions to SEPs and Solo (k) s are tax-deductible. December 31 is the deadline to set one up for 2014, and if you meet that deadline, you can make your contributions for 2014 as late as April 15, 2015 (or October 15, 2015 with a federal extension).

You can contribute up to $52,000 to SEP for 2014, $57,500 if you are 50 or older. For a Solo (k), the same limits apply but they break down to $17,500-plus, up to 20%, and $23,000 and higher for the over-50s – both up to 20% of net self-employment income if you are 50 or older.

If you contribute to a 401(k) at work, the sum of your employee salary deferrals plus your Solo (k) contributions can’t be greater than the $17,500/$23,000 limits. But even so, you can still pour up to 20% of your net self-employment income into a Solo (k).

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Walid L. Petiri, AAMS, RFC, is chief strategist at Financial Management Strategies LLC in Baltimore. 

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Ax Corporate Income Taxes http://www.adviceiq.com/content/ax-corporate-income-taxes http://www.adviceiq.com/content/ax-corporate-income-taxes#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:30:05 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?guid=2dc640c2723eb33c7f407336545f4aa0 Talk of overhauling the tax code is stirring in Washington, but the overwhelming complexity of the task makes it difficult to accomplish, at least in the near term. Here’s a good, clean, quick way to tackle part of tax reform – and produce an economic bonanza: abolish the corporate income tax.

In the recent election cycle, hot issues were job outsourcing overseas and demands that corporations “pay their fair share of taxes.” What are the facts and why are these issues important to the job needs of American workers and your investment accumulation and retirement funding plans?

In the Georgia U.S. Senate contest in Georgia, Republican David Perdue’s unsuccessful opponent attacked him for “outsourcing jobs to China,” as part of his efforts to rescue several underperforming corporations. Castigating business, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) asserted, “Despite record breaking profits, corporations bring in less than 9% of federal taxes. It’s time for tax reform.” Tax reform is needed, but not as Sanders would propose.

According to politifact.com, in 2013 corporations accounted for 10% of the federal tax take. The rest came from individuals (50%), social insurance and retirement taxes (36%), excise taxes and other (4%). In other words, the largest source of federal taxes came from taxes on work and investment. Washington taxes corporations up to 35%, the highest rate among major economies.

Here’s a proposal. Let’s create jobs, boost taxable worker pay, and increase stock values in retirement plans so that when money is taken out, taxes rise. How? Cut the corporate tax rate to zero.

No one starts a business and takes a risk unless they believe they will make a profit. Investors will not risk capital unless they can foresee a return from it. What else can a business do with profits? Pay people, provide benefits, pay for outside services, invest in or lease plants, other real estate and equipment. A company can invest in new product design and research, plus advertise products and services. This is the kind of healthy economic activity needed to expand our economy and create jobs.

A company can pay dividends to shareholders. It can buy back stock to increase earnings per share, thereby increasing stock values. Does this just benefit the maligned 1%? No. It benefits small investors, mom and pop Main Street, people saving for retirement in their individual retirement accounts, 401(k) plans, union pension plans and mutual funds.

Think about it. With no income tax, companies of every ilk would have more money to spend on economic activity, all of which creates tax revenue on the part of people who benefit. The U.S. would be the world’s hottest tax haven with our rule of law, political stability and global currency. The billions in corporate profits stashed overseas would come home and go to work.

As to outsourcing, if a company goes broke because it cannot compete, everybody loses. But increasingly you hear about insourcing, where American jobs stay in the U.S. or come here from overseas.

Auto plants moved from high-cost Northern states to the Southeast. Boeing is building 787 Dreamliners in a non-union plant near Charleston, S.C., where labor unrest is not a factor and costs are lower. An Australian company is building ships in Mobile, Ala. A number of American and foreign companies have “outsourced jobs” to the southeast, Texas, and other states where taxes are less and entrenched unions are not a factor. Who said, “Taxes don’t matter”?

Despite competition from cheap labor abroad, the U.S. remains a manufacturing powerhouse. As an NBC News report points out, the U.S. produced 18.2% of the world’s goods versus China at 17.6%.

Now, with costs rising in Tier 1 Chinese coastal cities, more production is being outsourced from China to the U.S. The Chinese company Haier Group makes refrigerators in South Carolina. Lenovo is making ThinkPads in NC. In September with a listing on the New York Stock Exchange, the Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba Group set a record for the biggest initial public offering in the world.

Europe’s Airbus will build A320 airliners in Alabama. Foreign automakers Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia and Volkswagen, along with tire giant Michelin, among others, have expanded manufacturing activity in the South.

Money goes where it is best treated. Taxes matter. If we made America the world’s most favored tax haven, money will flow to the USA. Jobs will be created. Gross domestic product will grow. The money not drained off of business in taxes and payments to tax lawyers will go to other uses, and the multiplier effect will more than make up for corporate tax revenue lost.

Corporations don’t pay taxes, people do, whether in lower wages, lost jobs and diminished opportunities. It is time for tax reform.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq

Lewis Walker, CFP, is president of Walker Capital Management, LCC in Peachtree Corners, Ga. Securities and certain advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance Inc. (SFA). Lewis Walker is a registered representative of The SFA, which is otherwise unaffiliated with Walker Capital Management. 770-441-2603. lewisw@theinvestmentcoach.com.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

]]>
Talk of overhauling the tax code is stirring in Washington, but the overwhelming complexity of the task makes it difficult to accomplish, at least in the near term. Here’s a good, clean, quick way to tackle part of tax reform – and produce an economic bonanza: abolish the corporate income tax.

In the recent election cycle, hot issues were job outsourcing overseas and demands that corporations “pay their fair share of taxes.” What are the facts and why are these issues important to the job needs of American workers and your investment accumulation and retirement funding plans?

In the Georgia U.S. Senate contest in Georgia, Republican David Perdue’s unsuccessful opponent attacked him for “outsourcing jobs to China,” as part of his efforts to rescue several underperforming corporations. Castigating business, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) asserted, “Despite record breaking profits, corporations bring in less than 9% of federal taxes. It’s time for tax reform.” Tax reform is needed, but not as Sanders would propose.

According to politifact.com, in 2013 corporations accounted for 10% of the federal tax take. The rest came from individuals (50%), social insurance and retirement taxes (36%), excise taxes and other (4%). In other words, the largest source of federal taxes came from taxes on work and investment. Washington taxes corporations up to 35%, the highest rate among major economies.

Here’s a proposal. Let’s create jobs, boost taxable worker pay, and increase stock values in retirement plans so that when money is taken out, taxes rise. How? Cut the corporate tax rate to zero.

No one starts a business and takes a risk unless they believe they will make a profit. Investors will not risk capital unless they can foresee a return from it. What else can a business do with profits? Pay people, provide benefits, pay for outside services, invest in or lease plants, other real estate and equipment. A company can invest in new product design and research, plus advertise products and services. This is the kind of healthy economic activity needed to expand our economy and create jobs.

A company can pay dividends to shareholders. It can buy back stock to increase earnings per share, thereby increasing stock values. Does this just benefit the maligned 1%? No. It benefits small investors, mom and pop Main Street, people saving for retirement in their individual retirement accounts, 401(k) plans, union pension plans and mutual funds.

Think about it. With no income tax, companies of every ilk would have more money to spend on economic activity, all of which creates tax revenue on the part of people who benefit. The U.S. would be the world’s hottest tax haven with our rule of law, political stability and global currency. The billions in corporate profits stashed overseas would come home and go to work.

As to outsourcing, if a company goes broke because it cannot compete, everybody loses. But increasingly you hear about insourcing, where American jobs stay in the U.S. or come here from overseas.

Auto plants moved from high-cost Northern states to the Southeast. Boeing is building 787 Dreamliners in a non-union plant near Charleston, S.C., where labor unrest is not a factor and costs are lower. An Australian company is building ships in Mobile, Ala. A number of American and foreign companies have “outsourced jobs” to the southeast, Texas, and other states where taxes are less and entrenched unions are not a factor. Who said, “Taxes don’t matter”?

Despite competition from cheap labor abroad, the U.S. remains a manufacturing powerhouse. As an NBC News report points out, the U.S. produced 18.2% of the world’s goods versus China at 17.6%.

Now, with costs rising in Tier 1 Chinese coastal cities, more production is being outsourced from China to the U.S. The Chinese company Haier Group makes refrigerators in South Carolina. Lenovo is making ThinkPads in NC. In September with a listing on the New York Stock Exchange, the Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba Group set a record for the biggest initial public offering in the world.

Europe’s Airbus will build A320 airliners in Alabama. Foreign automakers Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia and Volkswagen, along with tire giant Michelin, among others, have expanded manufacturing activity in the South.

Money goes where it is best treated. Taxes matter. If we made America the world’s most favored tax haven, money will flow to the USA. Jobs will be created. Gross domestic product will grow. The money not drained off of business in taxes and payments to tax lawyers will go to other uses, and the multiplier effect will more than make up for corporate tax revenue lost.

Corporations don’t pay taxes, people do, whether in lower wages, lost jobs and diminished opportunities. It is time for tax reform.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq

Lewis Walker, CFP, is president of Walker Capital Management, LCC in Peachtree Corners, Ga. Securities and certain advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance Inc. (SFA). Lewis Walker is a registered representative of The SFA, which is otherwise unaffiliated with Walker Capital Management. 770-441-2603. lewisw@theinvestmentcoach.com.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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2015 Printing http://hometownargus.com/2014/12/17/2015-printing/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/12/17/2015-printing/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:15:23 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=36190 PUBLIC NOTICE
Sealed bids will be received until 10:00 a.m. on January 6, 2015 by the Houston County Board of Commissioners for the following county printing for year 2015: Official Paper, Miscellaneous Notices, Publication of the 2014 Financial Statement, and Publication of the Delinquent Tax List. Bids must be submitted on the official bid form which is available at the Houston County Auditors Office. The Board is requesting that only competitive bids be submitted. The Board reserves the right to accept or reject any or all bids.
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
HOUSTON COUNTY, MINNESOTA
By: Char Meiners, County Auditor
Published in the
The Caledonia Argus
December 17, 2014
321879

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Filing http://hometownargus.com/2014/12/17/filing-21/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/12/17/filing-21/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:14:22 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=36188 JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP
Filing notice
Affidavits of Candidacy may be filed at the clerks home beginning Tuesday, December 30, 2014 and ending Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 5 p.m. for the annual election to be held on March 10, 2015. To be elected will be one supervisor (3 year term) and one treasurer (2 year term). Filing fee is $2. Call the clerk for an appointment to file 507-542-4567.
Barb Scottston, Clerk
Published in the
The Caledonia Argus
December 17, 24, 2014
325716

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Filing http://hometownargus.com/2014/12/17/filing-20/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/12/17/filing-20/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:14:14 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=36186 MOUND PRAIRIE TOWNSHIP
Notice of Filing for March 2015 Election
Affidavits of candidacy for the Offices of one Supervisor (three year term), one Treasurer (two year term), and one Clerk (one year term) may be filed by appointment with the clerk beginning Tuesday, December 30 through Tuesday, January 13 at 5 P.M.
Teresa McElhiney, Clerk
Mound Prairie Township
507-895-3111
Published in
The Caledonia Argus
December 17, 2014
323841

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Filing http://hometownargus.com/2014/12/17/filing-19/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/12/17/filing-19/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:14:10 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=36184 WINNEBAGO TOWNSHIP
Notice of Filing
Winnebago Township affidavits of candidacy may be filed beginning Tuesday, December 30, 2014 and ending Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 5 p.m. at the Clerks home. To be elected are one (1) Supervisor – 3-year term and one (1) Treasurer – 2-year term. Filing fee $2.
Joyce Staggemeyer, Clerk
Published in
The Caledonia Argus
December 17, 2014
323250

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Election & Filing http://hometownargus.com/2014/12/17/election-filing/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/12/17/election-filing/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:14:06 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=36182 UNION TOWNSHIP
Election and Filing Notice
The following township offices are to be filled by election March 10, 2015. One Supervisor (3 year term) and one Treasurer, (2 year term). Candidates shall file with the clerk during the period beginning December 30, and ending at 5 p.m. January 13, 2015. Call the clerk at 507-894-4257 for information or to make an appointment to file. Filing fee is $2.00.
Dennis Conniff, Clerk
Published in
The Caledonia Argus
December 17, 2014
320900

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Mortgage Foreclosure http://hometownargus.com/2014/12/17/mortgage-foreclosure-20/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/12/17/mortgage-foreclosure-20/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:13:07 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=36180 NOTICE OF MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE SALE
14-096967
THE RIGHT TO VERIFICATION OF THE DEBT AND IDENTITY OF THE ORIGINAL CREDITOR WITHIN THE TIME PROVIDED BY LAW IS NOT AFFECTED BY THIS ACTION.
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, that default has occurred in the conditions of the following described mortgage:
DATE OF MORTGAGE: April 25, 2006
ORIGINAL PRINCIPAL AMOUNT OF MORTGAGE: $80,000.00
MORTGAGOR(S): Christie L. Hanson and Donald G. Ebata, Wife and Husband
MORTGAGEE: Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.
TRANSACTION AGENT: Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.
MIN#: 100055140023397462
LENDER OR BROKER AND MORTGAGE ORIGINATOR STATED ON THE MORTGAGE:
AEGIS Lending Corporation
SERVICER: Regions Mortgage
DATE AND PLACE OF FILING: Filed September 22, 2006, Houston County Recorder, as Document Number 244656, thereafter modified by Loan Modification Agreement dated June 11, 2009 filed November 3, 2010 as Document No. A263341; thereafter modified by Loan Modification Agreement dated May 29, 2012 filed July 13, 2012 as Document No. A270409
ASSIGNMENTS OF MORTGAGE: Assigned to: HSBC BANK USA, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION AS TRUSTEE FOR CITIGROUP MORTGAGE LOAN TRUST INC., ASSET-BACKED PASS-THROUGH CERTIFICATES, SERIES 2007-SHL1
LEGAL DESCRIPTION OF PROPERTY:
Lots One (1) and Two (2), Block X, City (Formerly Village) of Hokah, according to the recorded plat thereof on file and of record: Except the North Fifty (50) feet thereof, Houston County, State of Minnesota.
PROPERTY ADDRESS:
109 South 6th St, Hokah, MN 55941
PROPERTY IDENTIFICATION NUMBER:
230192000
COUNTY IN WHICH PROPERTY IS LOCATED: Houston
THE AMOUNT CLAIMED TO BE DUE ON THE MORTGAGE ON THE DATE OF THE NOTICE: $94,220.73
THAT all pre-foreclosure requirements have been complied with; that no action or proceeding has been instituted at law or otherwise to recover the debt secured by said mortgage, or any part thereof;
PURSUANT, to the power of sale contained in said mortgage, the above described property will be sold by the Sheriff of said county as follows:
DATE AND TIME OF SALE:
February 4, 2015, 10:00 am
PLACE OF SALE: Sheriffs Main Office, Civil Division Law Enforcement Center, 306 South Marshall Street suite 1100, Caledonia, MN 55921
to pay the debt secured by said mortgage and taxes, if any, on said premises and the costs and disbursements, including attorneys fees allowed by law, subject to redemption within 6 months from the date of said sale by the mortgagor(s) the personal representatives or assigns.
TIME AND DATE TO VACATE PROPERTY: If the real estate is an owner-occupied, single-family dwelling, unless otherwise provided by law, the date on or before which the mortgagor(s) must vacate the property, if the mortgage is not reinstated under section 580.30 or the property is not redeemed under section 580.23, is 11:59 p.m. on August 4, 2015, or the next business day if August 4, 2015 falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday.
THE TIME ALLOWED BY LAW FOR REDEMPTION BY THE MORTGAGOR, THE MORTGAGORS PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVES OR ASSIGNS, MAY BE REDUCED TO FIVE WEEKS IF A JUDICIAL ORDER IS ENTERED UNDER MINNESOTA STATUTES SECTION 582.032 DETERMINING, AMONG OTHER THINGS, THAT THE MORTGAGED PREMISES ARE IMPROVED WITH A RESIDENTIAL DWELLING OF LESS THAN 5 UNITS, ARE NOT PROPERTY USED FOR AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION, AND ARE ABANDONED.
Dated: December 9, 2014
HSBC BANK USA, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION AS TRUSTEE FOR CITIGROUP MORTGAGE LOAN TRUST INC., ASSET-BACKED PASS-THROUGH CERTIFICATES, SERIES 2007-SHL1
Assignee of Mortgagee
SHAPIRO & ZIELKE, LLP
BY /s/
Lawrence P. Zielke – 152559
Diane F. Mach – 273788
Melissa L. B. Porter – 0337778
Randolph W. Dawdy – 2160X
Gary J. Evers – 0134764
Attorneys for Mortgagee
12550 West Frontage Road, Ste. 200
Burnsville, MN 55337
(952) 831-4060
THIS IS A COMMUNICATION FROM A
DEBT COLLECTOR
Published in
The Caledonia Argus
December 17, 24, 31, 2014,
January 7, 14, 21, 2015
323659

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The Land of the Setting Sun http://www.adviceiq.com/content/land-setting-sun http://www.adviceiq.com/content/land-setting-sun#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 17:00:28 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?guid=01be449ddd7ae6c4cb03ec183f4ef471 Japan’s attempts to pull itself out of its longstanding economic torpor, via heavy government spending and central bank bond buying, is sputtering. Small wonder. This tonic hasn’t worked elsewhere, including in the U.S. Why should it work in Japan?

If a nation were a football team and repeatedly kept running the ball up the middle for a loss, wouldn’t the coach wise up? Evidently not.

The actions of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe demonstrate that failure vividly. His nostrums are monumentally ineffective.

Japan is formerly the world’s No. 2 economy behind the U.S. Its future couldn’t have been brighter back in the 1980s, when “Japan Inc.” was all the rage. Today, if there really was a Japan Inc., it would have long ago declared bankruptcy. The Land of the Rising Sun has become the Land of the Setting Sun.

Macintosh HD:Users:aiqinc:Desktop:Japan-300x137.png

 “I’d say it’s time to call Abenomics a failure,” according to Jeff Kingston, a professor of politics at Temple University in Tokyo, who was quoted in The New York Times. “The recession means Abe has failed to deliver on growth, and he has whiffed the structural reforms. All that is left is disappointment.”

Japan has followed the United States down the quantitative easing rabbit hole with the same results – a low rate of growth, fewer high-paying jobs and, of course, a booming stock market to cite as proof that quantitative easing works.

Quantitative easing, where the central bank buys bonds to keep interest rates low, is almost always accompanied by government “stimulus” spending. That’s one area where Japan has the U.S. beat – though not by much. That’s difficult to do, considering the $1 trillion-plus budget deficits the U.S. has run since President Barack Obama took office. This year, the U.S. federal deficit is down to a half trillion dollars, but it remains far from being under control.

In Japan, government spending is 42% of gross domestic product, while in the U.S., government spending is over 40% of GDP, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom. Look at the chart above, though, showing the increase in government debt as a percentage of GDP and you may conclude that Japan is the new Greece.

Japan’s government debt has soared from 50% of GDP in 1981 to about 230% today.

So what has all of that government spending and quantitative easing bought? A triple-dip recession, with GDP now falling back to what it was before Abenomics began. Not helping was a hike in the nation’s consumption tax last spring, from 5% to 8%.

Japan’s economy was expected to grow 2.2% in the third quarter. Instead, it had an “unexpected” drop of 1.6%. So has the prime minster concluded that massive government spending and easy money are bad for the economy? No. Instead he’s calling an election to gather public support for more of the same.

“This is getting hard to believe,” says David Stockman, director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget in the Reagan Administration. “The announcement that Japan has plunged into a triple dip recession should have been lights out for Abenomics. But, no, its madman prime minister has now called a snap election to enlist more public support for his campaign to destroy what remains of Japan’s economy. And what’s worse, he’s not likely to be stopped by the electorate or even the leadership of Japan Inc, which presumably should know better.”

You could argue that the U.S. is in better shape than Japan. After all, federal debt in the U.S. is about 102% of GDP, which is less than half of Japan’s debt-to-GDP ratio. But Japan had a head start with its “lost decade,” its stagnation that began in the 1990s and now is quickly becoming its lost two decades. 

Macintosh HD:Users:aiqinc:Desktop:U.S.-Debt-to-GDP-Ratio-300x180.png

And the U.S. is doing its best to catch up. Note that the slope of the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio is steeper than Japan’s. And it could just be that the U.S. disguises its debt better than Japan. The U.S. chart doesn’t include state and local debt, and it doesn’t include unfunded liabilities for programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

So if Keynesian economics doesn’t work, why are world leaders still relying on it? Why don’t they try other ways of stimulating the economy?

One reason is that doing so would be admitting they are wrong. That just doesn’t happen in politics. Another is that they’re government employees; they’ve been bred for Keynesian economics. It’s all they know. The overriding reason, though, is that more money for government programs means more power. When the government becomes big enough, you can even ignore Congress and rule by executive order.

So government policymakers will continue to follow Keynesian policies until, as Professor Kingston put it, “All that’s left is disappointment.”

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Brenda P. Wenning is president of Wenning Investments LLC in Newton, Mass. 

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

]]>
Japan’s attempts to pull itself out of its longstanding economic torpor, via heavy government spending and central bank bond buying, is sputtering. Small wonder. This tonic hasn’t worked elsewhere, including in the U.S. Why should it work in Japan?

If a nation were a football team and repeatedly kept running the ball up the middle for a loss, wouldn’t the coach wise up? Evidently not.

The actions of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe demonstrate that failure vividly. His nostrums are monumentally ineffective.

Japan is formerly the world’s No. 2 economy behind the U.S. Its future couldn’t have been brighter back in the 1980s, when “Japan Inc.” was all the rage. Today, if there really was a Japan Inc., it would have long ago declared bankruptcy. The Land of the Rising Sun has become the Land of the Setting Sun.

Macintosh HD:Users:aiqinc:Desktop:Japan-300x137.png

 “I’d say it’s time to call Abenomics a failure,” according to Jeff Kingston, a professor of politics at Temple University in Tokyo, who was quoted in The New York Times. “The recession means Abe has failed to deliver on growth, and he has whiffed the structural reforms. All that is left is disappointment.”

Japan has followed the United States down the quantitative easing rabbit hole with the same results – a low rate of growth, fewer high-paying jobs and, of course, a booming stock market to cite as proof that quantitative easing works.

Quantitative easing, where the central bank buys bonds to keep interest rates low, is almost always accompanied by government “stimulus” spending. That’s one area where Japan has the U.S. beat – though not by much. That’s difficult to do, considering the $1 trillion-plus budget deficits the U.S. has run since President Barack Obama took office. This year, the U.S. federal deficit is down to a half trillion dollars, but it remains far from being under control.

In Japan, government spending is 42% of gross domestic product, while in the U.S., government spending is over 40% of GDP, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom. Look at the chart above, though, showing the increase in government debt as a percentage of GDP and you may conclude that Japan is the new Greece.

Japan’s government debt has soared from 50% of GDP in 1981 to about 230% today.

So what has all of that government spending and quantitative easing bought? A triple-dip recession, with GDP now falling back to what it was before Abenomics began. Not helping was a hike in the nation’s consumption tax last spring, from 5% to 8%.

Japan’s economy was expected to grow 2.2% in the third quarter. Instead, it had an “unexpected” drop of 1.6%. So has the prime minster concluded that massive government spending and easy money are bad for the economy? No. Instead he’s calling an election to gather public support for more of the same.

“This is getting hard to believe,” says David Stockman, director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget in the Reagan Administration. “The announcement that Japan has plunged into a triple dip recession should have been lights out for Abenomics. But, no, its madman prime minister has now called a snap election to enlist more public support for his campaign to destroy what remains of Japan’s economy. And what’s worse, he’s not likely to be stopped by the electorate or even the leadership of Japan Inc, which presumably should know better.”

You could argue that the U.S. is in better shape than Japan. After all, federal debt in the U.S. is about 102% of GDP, which is less than half of Japan’s debt-to-GDP ratio. But Japan had a head start with its “lost decade,” its stagnation that began in the 1990s and now is quickly becoming its lost two decades. 

Macintosh HD:Users:aiqinc:Desktop:U.S.-Debt-to-GDP-Ratio-300x180.png

And the U.S. is doing its best to catch up. Note that the slope of the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio is steeper than Japan’s. And it could just be that the U.S. disguises its debt better than Japan. The U.S. chart doesn’t include state and local debt, and it doesn’t include unfunded liabilities for programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

So if Keynesian economics doesn’t work, why are world leaders still relying on it? Why don’t they try other ways of stimulating the economy?

One reason is that doing so would be admitting they are wrong. That just doesn’t happen in politics. Another is that they’re government employees; they’ve been bred for Keynesian economics. It’s all they know. The overriding reason, though, is that more money for government programs means more power. When the government becomes big enough, you can even ignore Congress and rule by executive order.

So government policymakers will continue to follow Keynesian policies until, as Professor Kingston put it, “All that’s left is disappointment.”

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Brenda P. Wenning is president of Wenning Investments LLC in Newton, Mass. 

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Best Use for Your IRA http://www.adviceiq.com/content/best-use-your-ira http://www.adviceiq.com/content/best-use-your-ira#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 17:00:24 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?guid=ee12752b30ce3bb34126a56676694031 An individual retirement account is a powerful tool to save for retirement outside of an employer plan. If you have an IRA, read on for tips that help you make the most out of it.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the IRA, so let’s run down the history for a moment. In 1974, via the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, Congress made this retirement plan available for workers whose employers could not provide them with a traditional type of retirement plan.

In 1981, Congress made the IRA generally available to all taxpayers. As a part of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, we saw the launch of the Roth IRA. Unlike a traditional IRA, contributions to a Roth IRA are not tax-deductible, but earnings (and contributions) are tax-free upon distribution. This year, the Treasury introduced the Roth-IRA-like myRA that only invests in government bonds.

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, as of the most recent data available (2012), 19.9 million Americans had at least one IRA account. The total amount of money in those accounts was approximately $2.09 trillion. These accounts represent a powerful option for average investors to meet their retirement goals, so it is important to understand how to make the best use of them, traditional or Roth.

  • Make contributions as early in the year as you can. A year’s worth of tax-advantaged compounding on each annual contribution over the course of your pre-retirement life betters your results dramatically. For example, a 35-year-old who makes the maximum annual IRA contribution every Jan. 1 ($5,500, with an extra $1,000 starting at age 50) could accumulate $582,787 after 30 years, assuming a market average growth of 7%. If that same person waits until Dec. 31 to make each annual contribution, the total is $535,434, almost $47,000 less.
  • Take advantage of the time extension. Even if you’re unable to make the full contribution early in the year, you have until April 15 of the following year to catch up. Many taxpayers don’t realize that there is an extension for previous years’ contributions. You can, for example, wait until next April 15 to make contributions for the 2014 tax year.
  • Make contributions even though they are not deductible. The Internal Revenue Service sets income limits for IRA contributions to be tax deductible. For married couples filing jointly, for example, if your adjusted gross income, or AGI, is higher than $116,000, you are not be able to make deductible contributions. But this doesn’t make an IRA any less valuable. The tax-deferral feature is still there, even if you are unable to deduct the contributions. And Roth IRA contributions are never deductible, but the back-end non-taxable distribution feature makes up for that.
  • Double your deduction with a non-working spouse’s IRA. Single-income couples can contribute to an IRA for both spouses. Even if only one person has an income for the year, as long as the income is within the limits, you can contribute to IRAs for two people.

As valuable as the tax-deferral feature is for both the traditional and the Roth IRA, you are literally throwing money away if you don’t take advantage of these accounts. Use these tips to optimize your ability to save taxes and secure a comfortable retirement.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Jim Blankenship, CFP, EA, is an independent, fee-only financial planner at Blankenship Financial Planning in New Berlin, Ill. He is the author of An IRA Owner’s Manual and A Social Security Owner’s Manual. His blog is Getting Your Financial Ducks In A Row, where he writes regularly about taxes, retirement savings and Social Security.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

]]>
An individual retirement account is a powerful tool to save for retirement outside of an employer plan. If you have an IRA, read on for tips that help you make the most out of it.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the IRA, so let’s run down the history for a moment. In 1974, via the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, Congress made this retirement plan available for workers whose employers could not provide them with a traditional type of retirement plan.

In 1981, Congress made the IRA generally available to all taxpayers. As a part of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, we saw the launch of the Roth IRA. Unlike a traditional IRA, contributions to a Roth IRA are not tax-deductible, but earnings (and contributions) are tax-free upon distribution. This year, the Treasury introduced the Roth-IRA-like myRA that only invests in government bonds.

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, as of the most recent data available (2012), 19.9 million Americans had at least one IRA account. The total amount of money in those accounts was approximately $2.09 trillion. These accounts represent a powerful option for average investors to meet their retirement goals, so it is important to understand how to make the best use of them, traditional or Roth.

  • Make contributions as early in the year as you can. A year’s worth of tax-advantaged compounding on each annual contribution over the course of your pre-retirement life betters your results dramatically. For example, a 35-year-old who makes the maximum annual IRA contribution every Jan. 1 ($5,500, with an extra $1,000 starting at age 50) could accumulate $582,787 after 30 years, assuming a market average growth of 7%. If that same person waits until Dec. 31 to make each annual contribution, the total is $535,434, almost $47,000 less.
  • Take advantage of the time extension. Even if you’re unable to make the full contribution early in the year, you have until April 15 of the following year to catch up. Many taxpayers don’t realize that there is an extension for previous years’ contributions. You can, for example, wait until next April 15 to make contributions for the 2014 tax year.
  • Make contributions even though they are not deductible. The Internal Revenue Service sets income limits for IRA contributions to be tax deductible. For married couples filing jointly, for example, if your adjusted gross income, or AGI, is higher than $116,000, you are not be able to make deductible contributions. But this doesn’t make an IRA any less valuable. The tax-deferral feature is still there, even if you are unable to deduct the contributions. And Roth IRA contributions are never deductible, but the back-end non-taxable distribution feature makes up for that.
  • Double your deduction with a non-working spouse’s IRA. Single-income couples can contribute to an IRA for both spouses. Even if only one person has an income for the year, as long as the income is within the limits, you can contribute to IRAs for two people.

As valuable as the tax-deferral feature is for both the traditional and the Roth IRA, you are literally throwing money away if you don’t take advantage of these accounts. Use these tips to optimize your ability to save taxes and secure a comfortable retirement.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Jim Blankenship, CFP, EA, is an independent, fee-only financial planner at Blankenship Financial Planning in New Berlin, Ill. He is the author of An IRA Owner’s Manual and A Social Security Owner’s Manual. His blog is Getting Your Financial Ducks In A Row, where he writes regularly about taxes, retirement savings and Social Security.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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Caledonia looking to produce 21st Century learners in 21st Century classrooms http://hometownargus.com/2014/12/16/caledonia-looking-to-produce-21st-century-learners-in-21st-century-classrooms/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/12/16/caledonia-looking-to-produce-21st-century-learners-in-21st-century-classrooms/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:56:53 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=36168 Caledonia Elem_Yellow Rm_Opt 1_12.12

By Daniel E. McGonigle

General Manager

The Caledonia Argus

Today’s learners are different than those in the past. We no longer learn in “neat little rows,” and therefore, Caledonia elementary is rethinking the classroom.

Dubbed “21st Century Learning,” fourth grade teachers, Nancy Mullens and Lyndsey Meyer, have agreed to serve as the ‘pilot’ classrooms for the district.

“Some of what you see in a 21st Century classroom is already being done when you walk around our building,” elementary principal and curriculum coordinator Gina Meinertz said. “Our pre-k and kindergarten classrooms already use many of the techniques found in a typical 21st Century classroom setting.”

Meinterz noted that there are some elements of what you might find in such a classroom also being used in a 2nd grade and 5th grade class as well.

What is a 21st Century 

classroom?

“The goal is to better prepare students for the type of work environment that they can expect to face as adults,” Meinertz noted. “It is based on the four ‘cs’, collaboration, critical thinking, communication and creativity.”

While the principal noted that the district would still “assess the individual learner,” he or she might be taught in a more collaborative manner where an entire group of students would work more closely with one another rather than the traditional model of a teacher standing in front of a classroom lecturing all day.

Fourth grade pilot

The current crop of 4th grade students may see these changes implemented as soon as this year.

Meinertz has been working with a consultant who has submitted plans on what a typical classroom might look like in the 21st Century.

“It might include some taller tables where students stand and learn, it might include a ‘soft seating’ section, maybe a run on the floor where students can read,” Meinertz noted. “It will include many movable desk and chair combinations. Some of them I’ve seen the Smart Boards can be moved as well.”

Caledonia won’t be the first district to move towards a 21st Century classroom. Across the state several districts are already producing learners in a 21st Century classroom.

“It doesn’t just include rearranging a classroom,” Meintertz said. “The teachers have to adapt their teaching styles to match, which is something that we’ve already started.”

As the district continues to move towards educating today’s youth in an ever-changing environment, Meinertz thinks it will be “great.”

“The learning environment is a huge part of today’s education,” she said. “Think of your own individual work places there is more and more collaboration that is required of today’s workforce.”

In general, the 21st Century classroom will prepare tomorrows 21st Century worker.

Science fair/open house

If the plans come together as the district believes it will, parents will be given an opportunity to tour a 21st Century classroom right here in Caledonia.

The hope is that by the annual science fair and open house, scheduled for Tuesday, March 24, 2015, that the changes will be in place and that parents can see first hand the exciting changes happening.

“We also have several things planned throughout the building and in each classroom for parents to come in and engage with their students educations,” Meinertz said.

Details will be published in a future Caledonia Argus on a date closer to the event in March.

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