I’ve been pondering this.
It sort of hit me one day after having noticed This Page is Intentionally Left Blank in clients’ brokerage account statements.
Seems to me that if there’s printing on the page, it is not blank, is it? Brokerage statements go on for pages and pages. Who formats these things? Why not print on it and save a tree?
Sometimes business written communication makes me crazy. Why not say use instead of utilize? Or even worse, why not say complete instead of effectualize? Seems the more jargon the better. Or how about our deliverables? Deliverables indeed! We sell deliverables? I though we sold products!
Personally, I’d rather eschew obfuscation. (That’s a joke.)
Ok, I'm ranting. I guess we should close the flight plan on this. (Really? Why not simply conclude?)
Just wanted to get this off my chest. It all...
Oh yes. Many new Social Security retirees get a big surprise when they learn about the taxation of Social Security benefits. This started during the Clinton administration. That administration added a formula to the tax code to determine how much, if any, of your Social Security benefit is subject to tax. Previously Social Security benefits did not count as taxable income at all.
The formula used to determine how much of your benefit is taxable is the provisional income formula. It boils down to this: add all of your income together – wages, business earnings, tax-free bond income (yes – non-taxable income is included in this formula), IRA distributions – everything – plus ½ of your Social Security...
The Thrift Savings Plan, or TSP, is the equivalent of the 401k for federal government employees. My intention here is to cover the main highlights of this fantastic retirement benefit. Much more detail is found on the TSP website.
As in a 401k, you contribute pre-tax money into a Thrift Savings Plan. Earnings in the account are tax-deferred. You are taxed only when you withdraw funds in retirement. If you work long enough, consistently contribute to your plan, and invest appropriately, you can potentially retire comfortably.
This post is for non-military TSP retirement participants. The TSP offered to those in the military is different. Elsewhere I discuss the benefits of a Thrift Savings Plan retirement account as a High-3 and as a BRS (blended retirement system) participant.
If you are a federal civilian employee and began employment after...
Increasingly as we work with people of retirement age, we’re hearing a new concern: What happens when my mother runs out of money? This is something relatively new. Those in their middle ages used to be called the sandwich generation, because they were in the middle, caring for both their children and their parents. But this is something new . . . we’re speaking of people in their 60’s and 70’s caring for parents in their 80’s and 90’s.
By the time we hit our latter 60’s, most of us hope that the retirement nest egg is firmly in place, children are married off, and grandchildren are a joy. But since we’re all living so much longer, caring for one’s very elderly parents is now a large financial planning topic.
Too often we see a client who is concerned about his parents outliving their assets. A parent with a long and debilitating illness is a common...
(Note to the reader: I originally posted this piece in mid-March of 2020. Now I'm reviewing it at the end of April 2020. Hit the nail on the head, didn't I?)
I’m sure you’ve heard the term before: asset bubble. Sounds ominous, because a bubble is generally something that’s going to pop. On the other hand, I think of bubbles with champagne. So there are two images, both conjuring up a party that has to end at some time.
What does the term refer to in terms of market valuations? It means simply that at some point assets will be trading at a price that’s too high, and that the price will come down – maybe gradually, or maybe by a pop. Why is there so much in the financial literature today about asset bubbles? Because there appears to be a big asset bubble in the making.
Before I go on, let me define two terms:
In the previous installment of this 2-part series, I discussed how you can prepare yourself for a mortgage application in terms of your credit report and credit score. In this installment I’ll look at the criteria that lenders use when evaluating your application.
You may obtain a mortgage from a commercial bank, a savings and loan institution, a mortgage company through a loan originator, or even a private individual.
To answer that, let me give you a term and define it. The term is PITI: Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance. PITI is, in other words, the out-of-pocket expense that it takes to keep you living in the home you buy. PITI also includes association maintenance or condo fees.
Lenders use two qualifying ratios in determining how much mortgage you can afford. They will loan you 28% to 36% of your monthly gross income for PITI...
So you’re getting ready for your first home purchase. Congratulations! This is the first in a two-part series that should be helpful to you. Your First Home Purchase Part II is all about the criteria lenders use when evaluating your application.
In buying your first place you’ve got two main considerations: Coming up with a down payment is #1. #2 is being able to qualify for a mortgage loan. This post assumes you're on track to save your down payment, and that you're looking into credit and mortgage qualification issues. Specifically, you’ll learn how to get a good credit score in order to qualify for a mortgage.
Your first mission is to make sure that your credit report is accurate. I say project, because it may very well be just that – a mission. There are three major credit bureaus: Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. Each...
Student loans are often top of mind for many people in the early stages of a professional career. You’ve made an investment in yourself by getting a great education, and now you’ve got to make enough money to build a life, but also to repay those loans. The main piece of advice we give most of our clients with student loans is not about numbers. It’s about overcoming the feeling that this debt is very heavy burden. So if you’re in that camp, we have some thought to share:
Taking out these loans was ultimately your choice, so own it. You DID in fact have other options – you could have gone to a cheaper school, or stretched your education out as you worked your way through. Whatever the case, ultimately it is your signature on the loan form. Take responsibility.
We’ve all seen the financial headlines:
“Sell everything and buy gold!”
“Time to take profits off the table!”
“The market is poised for a big upswing – get in now!”
“Make 16% guaranteed with tax lien certificates!”
“Buy my real estate flipping system and control your own rental empire!”
…I’m getting an Excedrin headache.
If you’re like many people, reading the financial headlines every day can make you crazy. Yet you continue to watch in order to stay informed. You want to be in the know about financial markets so you follow CNBC, Money Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and others. Some outlets are better than others. There is so much economic uncertainty in the air, so you invest time and energy reading, or listening, to these “experts” to get a sense of what you need to do with your money....
As a financial adviser, I am privileged to work with many wonderful people who give generously. These are people who want to leave a legacy. These are clients who want to leave money behind which will continue to accomplish the good works the donor did during his or her lifetime. You may see or hear the names of prominent donors – sponsors of a university building or underwriters of Masterpiece Theatre – and think, Well, yes; I’d love to endow this or that organization or charity, but I’m simply not in that league.
Even if you don’t have a lot of spare cash kicking around, you may still be able to leave a legacy. One of the best ways to do this is with life insurance. For a manageable annual premium, you may be able to leave hundreds of thousands of dollars to your favorite organization. It works like this:
Typically, this is a...