Appreciated Securities

By |2024-05-16T22:26:45-05:00April 8, 2024|Featured, Tax Planning|

Have you ever wondered how to transform your investment wins into social wins?  Hint: It's not just about writing a check to your favorite charity. There might be a security or another type of property in your portfolio that has appreciated in value over the years.  Donating these securities can be a true win-win for everyone. Turning Gains into Good... Smartly Donating appreciated assets like stocks, bonds, and real estate can have some sizeable benefits that exceed the value in straight-up cash donations. Firstly, tax efficiency. When you donate securities or property that have increased in value — and you've held onto them for more than a year — you can bypass the capital gains tax you'd otherwise owe if you sold those assets. Plus, you're usually eligible to deduct the full fair market value of the donation on your tax returns, assuming you itemize your deductions. It’s like getting [...]

Top 7 Most Common Estate Strategy Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

By |2024-04-02T09:56:00-05:00April 1, 2024|Estate Planning, Featured|

Getting your affairs in order and outlining what you want done with your estate after you’re gone is one of the greatest gifts you can leave your loved ones. However, not preparing for the transfer of your assets can lead to confusion, potential family disputes, and outcomes that don’t align with your ultimate wishes. Creating a financial strategy that considers how an estate is structured is one of the most important services we provide as financial professionals. Over the years, we’ve helped guide many of our clients so they can make sound estate decisions and potentially avoid any missteps.1,2 1. Failing to create a comprehensive estate strategy One of the biggest financial mistakes is not developing a strategy for your estate. Some people never get around to it, while others think that estate concerns are only for the wealthy. Without a strategy, your assets may not be distributed [...]

Qualified Charitable Distributions

By |2024-05-16T22:16:54-05:00April 1, 2024|Featured, Tax Planning|

Today we are continuing our conversation around charitable planning.  The rules around Individual Retirement Accounts are forever in flux. One of the more intricate mandates within IRA management is the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) — where the IRS requires one to being “spending” or “distributing” funds from their IRA.  These distributions face the most penal tax structure – ordinary income. However, there's a silver lining for those that wish to harness their RMDs for good — Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs). Setting the Scene with RMDs Understanding RMDs is important and something that requires an investor’s attention.  — they are the IRS's way of ensuring that tax-deferred retirement accounts are used for what they were designed for: the financial support of your retirement. But this regulation, while rooted in good financial sense, comes with its complexities and tax implications.  Primarily it is not voluntary.  The distributions are required per their moniker.  [...]

Getting Out of Town

By |2024-05-16T22:07:38-05:00February 20, 2024|Family and Money, Featured|

In economics, there are lead indicators and lag indicators. But often, the coincident indicators–stats that show the current state of the U.S. economy–tell the best stories. The Conference Board reports that a record-high number of U.S. consumers are preparing to vacation to a foreign country within the next six months. That’s an all-time high for a stat kept since 1967. To my way of thinking, only a strong, confident consumer tends to make such ambitious travel preparations! Financial headlines have warned about growing consumer credit card balances. You may have also seen concerns that U.S. consumers may not be as resilient in 2024. Since consumer spending is about 70 percent of gross domestic product, you can see why those headlines can be concerning. If your household is like mine, you tend to save and prepare before taking vacations. They create family memories that just can’t be replaced. I feel encouraged [...]

The Old Boss, Not the Same as the New Boss

By |2024-05-16T22:05:58-05:00February 5, 2024|Featured, Current Issues|

“85% of economists were predicting a recession last year.  I was one of them. I felt uncomfortable being in the consensus, and it turns out being uncomfortable being in the consensus was actually the right feeling.” – John Mauldin, Mauldin Economics  “Heading into 2024, we want to own stocks, not because the FRB may cut rates or because inflation is heading lower.  We want to own stocks because we are in a bull market and in a bull market that is what you do, you own stocks.” – Birinyi Associates, Inc.  “We would expect an institutional crises to become pronounced over this next year, even absent a disruptive major war, as routine political rage might materialize into something deeper.” – Geopolitical Futures  It is difficult to not feel a bit smug when the many predictions of early 2023 fell flat on their face.  The call for recessions, market declines and [...]

Welcome to “Adult Life”… Where Do I Even Begin?

By |2024-05-16T22:09:52-05:00February 1, 2024|Money Management, Featured, Investing, Young Investors|

You did it! Your days of 8AM classes and cramming for final exams are over, now what? There are so many things that college doesn’t prepare you for, like what’s a 401k and how does it work? How am I going to save for my future? How do I pay off this massive student loan balance? These are things that most likely didn’t cross your mind while you were in school, but now that you have your diploma, and you are out in the “real world” these questions surface and can become quite stressful. Once you begin working and you start to make a steady income, a few things will become a little clearer. These things include how much your fixed monthly expenses (like rent, utilities) are and how much you tend to spend on other things like food, entertainment, and late-night shopping sprees when you can’t sleep. For some [...]

Young Adults are Falling Victim to Online Scams

By |2024-05-16T22:14:06-05:00January 30, 2024|Cyber Security, Current Issues, Featured|

You get a notification on your phone, alerting you that an unfamiliar charge has posted to your account. You have no idea where the charge came from and suddenly your bank account is absent a couple of hundred bucks. You better act fast and get your credit or debit card cancelled before the scammer can purchase more stuff with your hard-earned money! While scammers are generally known to target the elderly who can be susceptible to falling for their tricks, it turns out the younger generations are losing more money to scammers! Young people are targeted via social media like Instagram and Facebook. According to the Federal Trade Commission an astounding $2.7 Billion has been lost to scams on social media from June 2021-January 2023! Many of these losses are generated through fake online shopping ads in which the merchant (scammer) doesn’t fulfill the order and disappears when you try [...]

5 Reasons Why You Need a 529 Account

By |2024-03-03T19:50:16-06:00December 14, 2023|College Planning, Featured|

A 529 plan is an investment account where the funds are designed to pay for your students’ education. As stated in Part 1 of this series, 529s can cover qualified education expenses. Here are 5 reasons you should consider opening a 529 account for your student. 1. Tax Benefits >Earnings within the account grow federally tax free and there is no tax penalty if the funds are used to pay for college expenses. >Earnings in the account do not have to be reported on your tax return. >The state of Iowa incentivizes owners of 529plans by granting them a state tax deduction when they invest. 2. Flexibility >Your 529 account can pay for more than just tuition. Other qualified expenses include room and board, books and supplies, fees, computers and software, and requirements for enrollment. The plans can now also fund graduate school, tech school, and up to $10,000 worth of student loans. >529s are [...]

Attention Parents and Grandparents of College-Bound Students: FAFSA Gets an Overhaul

By |2024-03-03T19:14:11-06:00December 14, 2023|College Planning, Featured|

Changes are coming to the complicated form that students must submit to qualify for college financial aid, known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Department of Education is calling it the “most ambitious and significant redesign of the federal student aid application in decades” and adds that it “includes unprecedented changes to how students and families apply for federal student aid and how we determine eligibility, giving students a better and simpler experience with the FAFSA form.”1,2 What Is FAFSA? A FAFSA form allows a college-bound student the opportunity to apply for federal student aid, such as federal grants, work–study funds, and student loans. Submitting the FAFSA form each year is free, and it gives students access to the largest source of aid to help pay for college or vocational school.3 In addition, many states and colleges use the student’s FAFSA information to determine [...]

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