Skip to main content
Category

Uncategorized

Countdown to College: Things to consider as a parent of a future college student

By Uncategorized

As a parent, of course you want to give your child the best opportunity for success, and for many, attending the “right” university or college is that opportunity. Unfortunately, being accepted to the college of one’s choice may not be as easy as it once was. Additionally, the earlier you consider how you expect to pay for college costs, the better. Today, the average college graduate owes $37,731 in debt, while the average salary for a recent graduate is $49,785.1

Preparing for college means setting goals, staying focused, and tackling a few key milestones along the way — starting in the first year of high school.

Freshman Year. Before the school year begins, you and your child should have at least a handful of colleges picked out. A lot can change during high school, so remaining flexible, but focused on your shared goals, is crucial. It may be helpful to meet with your child’s guidance counselor or homeroom teacher for any advice they may have. It’s never a bad idea to encourage your child to choose challenging classes as they navigate high school. Many universities look for students who push themselves when it comes to learning. A balance between difficult coursework and excellent grades is the gold standard. Keeping an eye on grades should be a priority for you and your child as well.

Sophomore Year. During their sophomore year, some students may have the opportunity to take a practice SAT. Even though they won’t be required to take the actual SAT for roughly a year, a practice exam is a good way to get a feel for what the test entails.

Sophomore year is also a good time to explore extracurricular activities. Colleges are looking for the well-rounded student, so encouraging your child to explore their passions now may help their application later. Summer may also be a good time for sophomores to get a part-time job, secure an internship, or travel abroad to help bolster their experiences.

Junior Year. Your child’s junior year is all about standardized testing. Every October, third-year high-school students are able to take the Preliminary SAT (PSAT), also known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). Even if they won’t need to take the SAT for college, taking the PSAT/NMSQT is required for many scholarships, such as the National Merit Scholarship.2

Top colleges look for applicants who are future leaders. Encourage your child to take a leadership role in an extracurricular activity. This doesn’t mean they have to be a drum major or captain of the football team. Leading may involve helping an organization with fundraising, marketing, or community outreach.

In the spring of their junior year, your child will want to take the SAT or ACT. An early test date may allow time for repeating test their senior year, if necessary. No matter how many times your child takes the test, most colleges will only look at the best score.

Senior Year. For many students, senior year is the most exciting time of high school. Seniors will finally begin to reap the benefits of their efforts during the last three years. Once you and your child have firmly decided on which schools apply, make sure you keep on top of deadlines. Applying early can increase your student’s chance of acceptance.

Now is also the time to apply for scholarships. Consulting your child’s guidance counselor can help you continue to identify scholarships within reach. Billions in free federal grant money goes unclaimed each year, simply because students fail to fill out the free application. Make sure your child has submitted their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to avoid missing out on any financial assistance available.3

Finally, talk to your child about living away from home. Help make sure they know how to manage money wisely and pay bills on time. You may also want to talk to them about social pressures some college freshmen face for the first time when they move away from home.

For many people, college sets the stage for life. Making sure your children have options when it comes to choosing a university can help shape their future. Work with them today to make goals and develop habits that will help ensure their success.

……….

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities.

Citations

1. The Federal Reserve, February 2020
2. The College Board, February 2020
3. StudentAid.gov, February 2020

Tax Efficiency in Retirement: What Role Should Taxes Play in Your Investment Decisions?

By Uncategorized

Will you pay higher taxes in retirement? Do you have a 401(k) or a traditional IRA? If so, you will receive income from both after age 72. However, if you have saved and invested much of your life, you may also end up retiring at a higher marginal tax rate than your current one. In fact, the income alone resulting from a Required Minimum Distribution could push you into a higher tax bracket.

While retirees with lower incomes may rely on Social Security as their prime income source, they may pay comparatively less income tax than you in retirement; some, or even all, of their Social Security benefits may not be counted as taxable income.1

What’s a pre-tax investment? Traditional IRAs and 401(k)s are examples of pre-tax investments. You can put off paying taxes on the contributions you make to these accounts until you start to take distributions. When you take distributions from these accounts, you may owe taxes on the withdrawal. Pre-tax investments are also called tax-deferred investments, as the invested assets can benefit from tax-deferred growth.2

Under the SECURE Act, once you reach age 72, you must begin taking required minimum distributions from a traditional IRA, 401(k), and other defined contribution plans in most circumstances. Withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Contributions to a traditional IRA may be fully or partially deductible, depending on your adjusted gross income.

What’s an after-tax investment? A Roth IRA is a classic example. When you put money into a Roth IRA, the contribution is made with after-tax dollars. As a trade-off, you may not owe taxes on the withdrawals from that Roth IRA (so long as you have had your Roth IRA at least five years and you are at least 59½ years old). With distributions from a Roth IRA, your total taxable retirement income is not as high as it would be otherwise.2

Should you have both a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA? It may seem redundant, but it could help you manage your tax situation. Keep in mind that tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal from a Roth IRA also can be taken under certain other circumstances, such as the owner’s death.

Smart moves can help you manage your taxable income and taxable estate. If you’re making a charitable gift, giving appreciated securities that you have held for at least a year is one choice to consider. In addition to a potential tax deduction for the fair market value of the asset in the year of the donation, the charity may be able to sell the stock later without triggering capital gains.3

Remember, however, that this article is for informational purposes only and is not a replacement for real-life advice, so make sure to consult your tax, legal, and accounting professionals before modifying your charitable giving strategy.

The annual gift tax exclusion gives you a way to remove assets from your taxable estate. You may give up to $15,000 to as many individuals as you wish without paying federal gift tax, so long as your total gifts keep you within the lifetime estate and gift tax exemption of $11.58 million for the year 2020 and $11.7 million for 2021.4

Managing through the annual gift tax exclusion can involve a complex set of tax rules and regulations. Before adjusting your strategy, consider working with a professional who is familiar with the rules and regulations.

Are you striving for greater tax efficiency? In retirement, it is especially important – and worth a discussion. A few financial adjustments may help you manage your tax liabilities.

……….

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities.

Citations

1. SSA.gov, February 22, 2021
2. IRS.gov, November 16, 2020
3. IRS.gov, March 25, 2020
4. Policygenius.com, December 21, 2020

Retirement Questions That Have Nothing to Do With Money

By Uncategorized

Think about these factors before you leave work for the last time.

 

Retirement planning is not entirely financial. Your degree of happiness in your “second act” may depend on some factors that don’t come with an obvious price tag. Here are some non-monetary factors to consider as you plan your retirement.

What will you do with your time? Too many people retire without any idea of what their retirement will look like. They leave work, and they cannot figure out what to do with themselves, so they grow restless. It’s important to identify what you want your retirement to look like and what you see yourself doing. Maybe you love your career, and can’t imagine not working during your retirement. There’s no hard and fast rule to your dream retirement, so it’s important to be honest with yourself. An EBRI retirement confidence survey shows that almost 74% of retirees plan to work for pay, whereas just 27% of retirees report that they’ve actually worked for pay.1

While this concept doesn’t have a monetary value, having a clear vision for your retirement may help you align your financial goals. It’s important to remember that your vision for retirement may change—like deciding you don’t want to continue working after all.

Where will you live? This is another factor in retirement happiness. If you can surround yourself with family members and friends whose company you enjoy, in a community where you can maintain old friendships and meet new people with similar interests or life experience, that is a definite plus. If all this can occur in a walkable community with good mass transit and senior services, all the better. Moving away from the life you know to a spread-out, car-dependent suburb where anonymity seems more prevalent than community may not be the best decision for you.

How are you preparing to get around in your eighties and nineties? The actuaries at Social Security project that the average life expectancy for men is 84 years old, and the life expectancy for women is 86.5 years. Some will live longer. Say you find yourself in that group. What kind of car would you want to drive at 85 or 90? At what age would you cease driving? Lastly, if you do stop driving, who would you count on to help you go where you want to go and get out in the world?2

How will you keep up your home? At 45, you can tackle that bathroom remodel or backyard upgrade yourself. At 75, you will probably outsource projects of that sort, whether or not you stay in your current home. You may want to move out of a single-family home and into a townhome or condo for retirement. Regardless of the size of your retirement residence, you will probably need to fund minor or major repairs, and you may need to find reliable and affordable sources for gardening or landscaping.

These are the non-financial retirement questions that no pre-retiree should dismiss. Think about them as you prepare and invest for the future.

……….

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. 

Citations
1. EBRI/Greenwald Retirement Confidence Survey, 2020
2. SSA.gov, 2021

Building a Healthy Financial Foundation: How many pieces do you have in place?

By Uncategorized

When you read about money matters, you will sometimes see the phrase, “getting your financial house in order.” What exactly does that mean?

When your financial “house is in order,” it means it is built on a solid foundation. It means that you have six fundamental “pillars” in place that are either crucial for sustaining your financial well-being or creating wealth.

#1: A savings account. This is your Fort Knox: the place where you store and build the cash you may someday use for your biggest purchases. Savings accounts pay a modest interest rate. You should still consider having a savings account, even in today’s low-interest rate environment. Banks and credit unions often limit the number and amount of withdrawals you can make from savings accounts per month.

#2: A checking account. This is your go-to account for everyday expenses, whether you pay your bills digitally or the old-fashioned way. Checking accounts pay a modest interest rate. Some accounts may have minimum balance requirements, so it’s best to closely read the new account information. Also, opening a checking account may lead to opening a credit card account at the same financial institution.

#3: An emergency fund. This bank account helps you deal with the unexpected. You know that label you see on fire extinguisher boxes – “break glass in case of emergency?” Only in a financial emergency should you “break into” this account. What is a financial emergency? Everyone’s definition varies, but examples include hospital bills, major car repairs, and unemployment.

#4: A workplace retirement plan account. Some want to start saving for retirement as soon as possible. Workplace retirement plans offer you a convenient way to get started. In most of these plans, your contribution is made with pre-tax dollars.1

Money saved and invested in these accounts can compound, and the compounding may become greater with time. Consistent monthly investment is the “fuel” for your account.

Regular monthly investing does not protect against a loss in a declining market or guarantee a profit in a rising market. Individuals should evaluate their financial ability to continue making purchases through periods of declining and rising prices. The return and principal value of stock prices will fluctuate as market conditions change. Shares, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost.

#5: An Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA). This is a tax-advantaged retirement savings account that you own. There are traditional IRAs (up-front contributions are not taxed; retirement withdrawals are) and Roth IRAs (up-front contributions are taxed; retirement withdrawals are not, provided federal tax laws are followed).2

Mandatory annual withdrawals are required from traditional IRAs starting at age 72. The money distributed to you is taxed as ordinary income; if such distributions are taken before age 59½, they may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. No mandatory annual withdrawals are required from Roth IRAs while the original owner lives. To qualify for the tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal of earnings, Roth IRA distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement and occur after age 59½. Tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal can also be taken under certain other circumstances, such as the owner’s death. The original Roth IRA owner is not required to take minimum annual withdrawals.

Thanks to the SECURE Act, you may contribute to Roth and traditional IRAs all your life, as long as you meet the earned-income requirement for account contributions.2

#6: A taxable investing account. This is also popularly called an investment account or brokerage account. Unlike an IRA or workplace retirement plan, the invested assets in these accounts are taxed each year. A taxable investing account gives you access to a wide range of investment products, which can help complement the other accounts in your financial foundation.

……..

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. 

1099 Forms: Explaining the many types and their uses

By Uncategorized

What is a 1099 form? This is a record of payment from an individual or entity, showing a payment, generated for your records. The individual/entity sends a copy to both the payee as well as the I.R.S.1

Who might be sending 1099s? Clients send their contractors 1099s, recording work performed. Banks send 1099s to reflect interest from a savings account. A state may send a 1099 for a tax refund. If the financial institution who handles your retirement account writes you a check, they will also send you a 1099.1

In any event, a 1099 includes the taxpayer identification number or Social Security Number of the payee. Receiving the 1099 does not automatically mean that the payee owes tax, as there could be situations that offset that income, but it definitely means that the I.R.S. also has a record of that payment.1

There are many types of 1099 forms. Here are a few of them:

1099-A. This form is a consequence of foreclosure or bank repossession of secured real property such as one’s home if used for collateral for a loan, for example.1

1099-B. Brokers and barter exchanges report proceeds from securities, futures, commodities, or barter exchange transactions with a 1099-B.1 

1099-C. The 1099-C reports debt cancellation. if you had at least $600 of debt cancelled during the year. This includes the cancellation of debt you owe for a home, like in the case of foreclosure. This form is sent if the debt was cancelled by a bank, credit union, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC), another lender or financial institution, the federal government, a department of the U.S. military, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), or the Postal Rate Commission.1

1099-CAP. The 1099-CAP goes to shareholders who received at least $1,000 as cash, stock, or other property due to an acquisition of control or a substantial change in the capital structure of a corporation.1

1099-DIV. When you receive dividends, capital gain distributions, or liquidation distributions, you get one of these. For example, when a mutual fund sells off funds and realizes a capital gain, the fund informs you of your share of the capital gain through a 1099-DIV.1

1099-G. A 1099-G is used to report $10 or more of unemployment compensation, tax refunds you got from state and local governments, agricultural payments, or taxable grants you received.1

1099-H. Your health insurance provider will send you a 1099-H if you had any portion of your health insurance premiums paid with advance payments from the health coverage tax credit (HCTC.)1

1099-INT. This form reports interest income of $10 or more, and sometimes other tax items related to interest income.1 

1099-LTC. This form reports distributions from extended care insurance contracts and accelerated death benefits paid out as a result of a life insurance contract or a viatical settlement.1

1099-MISC. This category includes “miscellaneous income,” including awards and prizes.1

1099-OID. The 1099-OID reports the difference between the stated redemption price of a bond at maturity and the issue price of that bond.1

1099-PATR. This form reports patronage dividends, such as in a farm cooperative.1

1099-Q. Have you been paying for school expenses from a 529 plan or a similar savings plan? Withdrawals will be reported on this form.1

1099-R. The 1099-R reports distributions from all types of retirement, pension, and profit-sharing plans as well as any IRA or annuity contract.1

1099-S. The 1099-S reports gross proceeds from real estate transactions or exchanges.1

1099-SA. This form reports distributions from Health Savings Accounts (HSA), Archer Medical Savings Accounts (Archer MSA), or Medicare Advantage Medical Savings Accounts (MA MSA).1

Questions? Be sure to talk with a qualified tax professional or qualified financial professional today; they can help you generate, request, and understand any of the above 1099 forms in question.

……..

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. 

2020 IRA Deadlines Are Approaching: Here is what you need to know

By Uncategorized

Financially, many of us associate April with taxes – but we should also associate April with important IRA deadlines.

April 15, 2021 is the deadline to take your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from certain individual retirement accounts.

Keep in mind that withdrawals from traditional, SIMPLE, and SEP-IRAs are taxed as ordinary income, and if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty.

To qualify for the tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal of earnings from a Roth IRA, your Roth IRA distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement and occur after age 59½. Tax-free and penalty-free withdrawals can also be taken under certain other circumstances, such as the owner’s death. The original Roth IRA owner is not required to take minimum annual withdrawals.

April 15, 2021 is the deadline for making annual contributions to a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, and certain other retirement accounts.1

Some people may not realize when they can make their IRA contribution. You can make a yearly IRA contribution between January 1 of the current year and April 15 of the next year. Accordingly, you can make your IRA contribution for 2020 any time from January 1, 2020 to April 15, 2021.2

Thanks to the SECURE Act, both traditional and Roth IRA owners have the chance to contribute to their IRAs past age 72 as long as they have taxable compensation (and in the case of Roth IRAs, MAGI below a certain level; see below).2

If you are making a 2020 IRA contribution in early 2021, you must tell the investment company hosting the IRA account for which year you are contributing. If you fail to indicate the tax year that the contribution applies to, the custodian firm may make a default assumption that the contribution is for the current year (and note exactly that to the I.R.S.).

So, write “2021 IRA contribution” or “2020 IRA contribution,” as applicable, in the memo area of your check, plainly and simply. Be sure to write your account number on the check. If you make your contribution electronically, double-check that these details are communicated.

 

……..

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. 

Citations.

  1. irs.gov, November 23, 2020
  2. irs.gov, November 10, 2020

Distributions from Mutual Funds: Watch Your December Statements

By Uncategorized

This time of year, you might glance at an account statement and see there has been an adjustment. But there may not be any cause for concern.

Many mutual funds in December pay shareholders capital gains distributions that they have accumulated throughout the year.1

Typically, mutual fund companies start making estimates about distributions as early as November and most finalize the payment by mid-December.1

It’s important to remember that if your mutual fund is in a tax-deferred account—and you are reinvesting distributions—the potential distributions may be a non-event at this time. But you may owe taxes when you begin to sell your holdings.

On the other hand, if your mutual fund is in a taxable account, you may owe 2020 taxes on the distributions whether you reinvested the distribution or accepted payment.

Most of the larger mutual funds companies have posted information on their websites regarding year-end distributions. But the estimates can be confusing, so please contact your trusted financial professional, who may be able to provide some guidance.

Remember, this is for informational purposes only and is not a replacement for real-life advice. Mutual fund distributions may only be one part of your overall tax situation, so make sure to consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional before modifying your strategy.

……..

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. 

Citations

  1. Morningstar.com, November 9, 2020

Managing Money as a Couple: What are the keys to prepare to grow wealthy together?

By Uncategorized

When you marry or simply share a household with someone, your financial life changes—and your approach to managing your money may change as well. The good news is that it is usually not so difficult.

At some point, you will have to ask yourselves some money questions—questions that pertain not only to your shared finances but also to your individual finances. Waiting too long to ask (or answer) those questions might carry a price. In the 2019 TD Bank Love & Money survey of consumers who said they were in relationships, 40% of younger couples described having weekly arguments about their finances.1

First off, how will you set priorities? One of your first priorities should be simply setting aside money that may help you build an emergency fund. But there are other questions to ask. Should you open joint accounts? Should you jointly title assets?

How much will you spend & save? Budgeting can help you arrive at your answer. A simple budget, an elaborate budget, or any attempt at a budget can prove more informative than none at all. A thorough, line-item budget may seem a little over the top, but what you learn from it may be truly eye-opening.

How often will you check up on your financial progress? When finances affect two people rather than one, credit card statements and bank balances become more important. Checking in on these details once a month (or at least once a quarter) can keep you both informed, so that neither one of you have misconceptions about household finances or assets. Arguments can start when money misunderstandings are upended by reality.

What degree of independence do you want to maintain? Do you want to keep some money separate? Some spouses need individual financial “space” of their own. There is nothing wrong with this approach.

Can you be businesslike about your finances? Spouses who are inattentive or nonchalant about financial matters may encounter more financial trouble than they anticipate. So, watch where your money goes, and think about ways to pay yourselves first rather than your creditors. Set shared short-term, medium-term, and long-term objectives, and strive to attain them.

Communication is key to all this. Watching your progress together may well have benefits beyond the financial, so a regular conversation should be a goal.1

……..

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. 

Citations
1. newscenter.td.com, October 2, 2019

 

Robo-Advisors vs. Human Financial Professionals

By Uncategorized

If an investor chooses a non-human financial advisor, what price could they end up paying?

 

Investors have a choice today that they did not have a decade ago. They can seek investing and retirement guidance from a human financial professional or put their invested assets in the hands of a robo-advisor.

What exactly is a robo-advisor? Robo-advisors are a class of financial advisors that provide financial advice or investment management online with moderate to minimal human intervention. They offer digital financial advice based on mathematical rules or algorithms. Signing up walks the user through a series of questions, and based on their responses, creates portfolio choices for the investor.1

Which begs the question: why would you trust your finances to a robo-advisor?

Robo-advisors are an attractive option for those just starting out investing. Some robo-advisor accounts offer very low minimums and fees and can be a solution for younger investors who want to “set it and forget it.”1

Even so, less than 8% of investors responding to a survey from data analytics firm Hearts & Wallets said they had used a robo-advisor. Out of the $43 trillion in the North American wealth management market, an estimated $410 billion is invested with robo-advisors. That number may grow to $830 billion by 2024.2

The inherent problem is robo-advisors lack the human element to ask questions and dig deeper. Investors in all life stages appreciate when a financial professional takes time to understand them and their situation. A software program struggles to gain that understanding, even with input from a questionnaire.

The closer you get to retirement age, the more challenges you may face with a robo-advisor. The software continues to evolve and understand retirement investing. After 50, people have financial concerns far beyond investment yields. Investment management does not equal retirement preparation, estate strategies, or risk management.2

Many investors are taking advantage of a hybrid model that has emerged. Per the Hearts & Wallets research study, more than half of investors use robo-advisors only as an extension of their existing wealth manager. Once their balance reaches a certain threshold, investors may transition to working with an actual financial professional.2

It appears the traditional approach of working with a human financial professional may be hard to disrupt. The opportunity to draw on experience by having a conversation with a professional who has seen his or her clients go through the whole arc of retirement is essential.

These responses point to uncertainty about the process of financial and retirement strategies. The process is quite worthwhile, quite illuminating, and quite helpful. It is not just about improving “the numbers,” it is also about discovering ways to sustain and enhance your quality of life.

……..

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. 

Citations

  1. Forbes.com, July 16, 2020
  2. BusinessInsider.com, September 10, 2020

2020 Annual Financial To-do List

By Uncategorized

What financial, business, or life priorities do you need to address for the coming year? Now is an excellent time to think about the investing, saving, or budgeting methods you could employ toward specific objectives, from building your retirement fund to managing your taxes. You have plenty of choices. Here are a few ideas to consider:

Can you contribute more to your retirement plans this year? In 2021, the contribution limit for a Roth or traditional individual retirement account (IRA) is expected to remain at $6,000 ($7,000 for those making “catch-up” contributions). Your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) may affect how much you can put into a Roth IRA. With a traditional IRA, you can contribute if you (or your spouse if filing jointly) have taxable compensation, but income limits are one factor in determining whether the contribution is tax-deductible.1

Remember, withdrawals from traditional IRAs are taxed as ordinary income, and if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty starting again in 2021. Roth IRA distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement and occur after age 59½ to qualify for tax-exempt and penalty-free withdrawal. Tax-free and penalty-free withdrawals from Roth IRAs can also be taken under certain other circumstances, such as a result of the owner’s death.2

Keep in mind, this article is for informational purposes only, and not a replacement for real-life advice. Also, tax rules are constantly changing, and there is no guarantee that the tax landscape will remain the same in years ahead.

Make a charitable gift. You can claim the deduction on your tax return, provided you follow the Internal Review Service (I.R.S.) guidelines and itemize your deductions with Schedule A. The paper trail is important here. If you give cash, you should consider documenting it.  Some contributions can be demonstrated by a bank record, payroll deduction record, credit card statement, or written communication from the charity with the date and amount. Incidentally, the I.R.S. does not equate a pledge with a donation. If you pledge $2,000 to a charity this year but only end up gifting $500, you can only deduct $500.3

These are hypothetical examples and are not a replacement for real-life advice. Make certain to consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional before modifying your record-keeping approach or your strategy for making charitable gifts.

See if you can take a home office deduction for your small business. If you are a small-business owner, you may want to investigate this. You may be able to write off expenses linked to the portion of your home used to conduct your business. Using your home office as a business expense involves a complex set of tax rules and regulations. Before moving forward, consider working with a professional who is familiar with home-based businesses.4

Open an HSA. A Health Savings Account (HSA) works a bit like your workplace retirement account. There are also some HSA rules and limitations to consider. You are limited to a $3,600 contribution for 2021 if you are single; $7,200 if you have a spouse or family. Those limits jump by a $1,000 “catch-up” limit for each person in the household over age 55.5

If you spend your HSA funds for non-medical expenses before age 65, you may be required to pay ordinary income tax as well as a 20% penalty. After age 65, you may be required to pay ordinary income taxes on HSA funds used for nonmedical expenses. HSA contributions are exempt from federal income tax; however, they are not exempt from state taxes in certain states.

Pay attention to asset location. Tax-efficient asset location is one factor that can be considered when creating an investment strategy.

Review your withholding status. Should it be adjusted due to any of the following factors?

  • You tend to pay the federal or state government at the end of each year.
  • You tend to get a federal tax refund each year.
  • You recently married or divorced.
  • You have a new job, and your earnings have been adjusted.

These are general guidelines and are not a replacement for real-life advice. Make certain to consult your tax, human resources, or accounting professional before modifying your withholding status.

Did you get married in 2020? If so, it may be an excellent time to consider reviewing the beneficiaries of your retirement accounts and other assets. The same goes for your insurance coverage. If you are preparing to have a new last name in 2021, you may want to get a new Social Security card. Additionally, retirement accounts may need to be revised or adjusted?

Are you coming home from active duty? If so, go ahead and check on the status of your credit and any tax and legal proceedings that might have been preempted by your orders.

Consider the tax impact of any upcoming transactions. Are you planning to sell any real estate this year? Are you starting a business? Might any commissions or bonuses come your way in 2021? Do you anticipate selling an investment that is held outside of a tax-deferred account?

If you are retired and in your seventies, remember your RMDs. In other words, Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from retirement accounts. Under the SECURE ACT, in most circumstances, once you reach age 72, you must begin taking RMDs from most types of these accounts.6

Vow to focus on your overall health and practice sound financial habits in 2021. And don’t be afraid to ask for help from professionals who understand your individual situation.

……..

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. 

Citations.

1. thefinancebuff.com, August 12, 2020
2. usnews.com, February 12, 2020
3. irs.gov, April 3, 2020
4. nerdwallet.com, July 31, 2020
5. msn.com, August 19, 2020
6. thestreet.com, December 21, 2019