Financial Insights for
Living Well Archive: 2016

Financial Insights for Living Well is a monthly newsletter published by Ted George to share information and articles of timely and topical importance. If you would like to be included on our monthly newsletter mailing, please sign up here.

December 2016

This year’s unexpected presidential election result had an unprecedented impact on the capital markets. Typically such election effects are short lived, though it is unknown whether the same will be true this time. Our first article explores this and other top issues to watch as we head into the new year.

Our second article summarizes the new rules and costs for Medicare and Medicaid in 2017.

All investing involves risk. Understanding these risks help get you through anxiety inducing times while avoiding actions that would be detrimental to your investment portfolio. Our last two articles provide a long-term perspective on risk and potential actions during a market drop.

May you and your families enjoy a Happy, Healthy Holiday Seasons and Prosperous New Year!

November 2016

While maximum contributions to IRAs remain the same in 2016 as in 2015, the income limits for determining the deductibility for Traditional and Roth IRAs have increased. Find out more with our first article and tables.

Now is the time of year to focus on Year-End Tax Planning. Read our next article to see if you are on target, or missing something important.

As highlighted last month, we are currently in the Covered California and Medicare plans open enrollment period for 2017. One choice is a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). An HDHP can offer significant savings in annual premiums, but they often pose greater limitations than low-deductible plans. Read our next article to determine if they are they right for you?

A successful retirement plan must take into consideration may factors each of which comes with its own risk. Our next article examines the major risks that should be considered.

October 2016

With the first rain of the season we know that Fall is finally here! With 2017 quickly approaching, it is time to make a few decisions on health-care.

Our first two articles are announcements of Medicare and Covered California open enrollment for 2017. If you have an employer sponsored health plan, typically this is also your open enrollment period, though the start and end dates may differ.

When transferring assets between IRA accounts, or from a 401(k) to an IRA, we always use a direct trustee-to-trustee transfer. However there are situations in which you may want to actually receive the funds and complete the rollover within 60 days. Read our next article for a discussion of waivers if you unintentionally miss the 60 day deadline.

There has been recent buzz regarding S&P Dow Jones Indices and MSCI’s movement of publicly traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) along with other listed real estate companies from the Financials sector to a separate, new, Real Estate Sector. Read about these changes which went into effect September 1, 2016.

Our last article discusses the new regulations that the SEC (United States Securities and Exchange Commission) began enforcing on October14, 2016. These reforms and regulations will help reduce the risk of investor ‘runs’ on money market mutual funds.

September 2016

In recognition of September being National Life Insurance Awareness Month, we focus this month’s newsletter entirely on life insurance. While many people understand that it is important to protect their loved ones with life insurance, many people lack adequate coverage or do not purchase the right type of insurance for their needs.

Our first article gives a detailed overview of life insurance which includes a comparison chart of the many different varieties of life insurance available, as well as diagrams to help understand the nuances of the different types of cash-value life insurance (Traditional Whole, Variable Life, Universal Life, and Variable Universal Life).

Our next article targets protecting your loved ones with the right type, and amount, of life insurance. This is a good reminder to periodically review your coverage, as over time your needs will change.

Women statistically carry less life insurance than men. Our final article helps explain why life insurance protection for women is equally as important as it is for men.

August 2016

What an exciting summer this has been, with both the Olympics, and the the upcoming elections! Setting aside partisan politics, I thought it would be interesting for our first article to objectively take a quick look at some of the tax proposals put forth by each candidate.

The end of the summer also means going (back) to college for many students. They – and their parents ! – will be glad to hear about the falling interest rates on new Federal Student Loans.

Our next article discusses the fundamental equity investing strategies of Growth and Value. They each have some different characteristics, which means that it is typically appropriate to have both in a diversified portfolio.

You might have heard about the ‘evils’ of Deferred Annuities. The reason for this is that they are often oversold to people for whom they are not appropriate. However, there are cases when a Deferred Annuity is appropriate. Our last article discusses Deferred Annuities as an IRA investment, which has its own particular set of pros and cons. As with all Annuities, there are cases in which they are appropriate, but they are not necessarily right for everybody.

July 2016

Planning for retirement is a major goal of financial planning. This month we offer two articles on different areas of interest regarding retirement. One reviews the most recent trustees reports on Social Security, Medicare and the Cost Of Living Adjustment. The other gives pointers for those approaching their retirement years.

Calculating the rate of return on any given investment can be confusing, as you need to take into account various factors such as taxes and inflation. We offer a handy reference for those who would like to calculate their own investment metrics such as yield and annual return.

Many students receive financial aid from their institutions. Often, once tuition and other various fees are paid out, the remainder of their aid is placed on campus-sponsored debit and pre-paid credit cards to be used for their other needs such as text books. These cards often have excessive charges and high fees which cut into the students funds. Our last article this month summarizes the new rules and what is changing to help students who receive cards.

Here’s wishing you all a safe, and joyful summer!

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June 2016

June is here. Summer is right around the corner. We look forward to enjoying great times with family and friends, and maybe even do some traveling. The last thing we want to think about is not being around to share life with our families. However it is important to think ahead and take care of those we care about if something was to happen to us. Having a good Life Insurance policy in place ensures that. Our first article gives an overview on the types of insurance available and help in determining how much to purchase.

While we prefer bond funds, a ‘ladder’ of individual bonds is another strategy that can be useful. The laddering strategy can also be used with CD’s. Our second article digs into the details of bond ladders

Paying off a student loan can be a huge part of managing one’s debt. Read about some strategies in our next article.

Our last article provides financial planning tips for Same-Sex couples who are married or contemplating marriage. It is also a good review for any married couple.

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May 2016

Who said there is never good news? A recent survey of workers and retirees shows that 78% of workers and
84% of current retirees are at least “somewhat confident” that they will have enough money to afford basic
expenses in retirement. Our first article provides more details from the Employee Benefit Research Institute
(EBRI)

On April 6, 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued new “conflict of interest” rules regarding financial advice
as it relates to retirement plans and IRAs. The new DOL rules generally hold financial professionals to a fiduciary
standard if they receive compensation for providing investment advice to retirement plan participants or IRA
owners. Read our next article to find answers to some basic questions about the new rules. Also note we already
offer all of our services as a Fiduciary: We always act in our clients’ best interests.

Inflation can eat away the value of investments. Read our third article to learn how to account for it when
investing for retirement, college savings, or other long term goals.

If you are contemplating refinancing your mortgage or tapping the value of their home via home equity borrowing,
carpe diem may be the message to be heeded. Our last article explains why.

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April 2016

For anyone with college age or college-bound children, it is necessary to stay on top of the ever changing world of costs and rules for financial aid. Our first article this month provides the latest information for you to consider.

This past December, the Federal Funds Rate was raised for the first time in 8 years. Most people are more familiar with the Prime Rate, which is based on the Federal Funds Rate. Rising rates can make it harder to borrow, but it can be a boon for retirees or anyone who looks to income from CDs, bonds, or other fixed rate investments. Read our second article for the details.

The raising of interest rates can affect the transfer of wealth, especially in trusts. Our next article helps analyze some attractive strategies to deal with such transfers.

Keeping a long-range perspective on investing and focusing on the ‘forest, not the trees’ is sound advice that always bears repeating. Our next article reminds you to focus on goals rather than to chase quick returns in a particular market sector.

Many people rely on 401(k)s for their retirement. Our last article discusses pitfalls to avoid when considering a 401(k) rollover.

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March 2016

There is still time to contribute to your IRA! This year’s Tax Filing date, April 18th, is fast approaching. Don’t forget to file your tax return, or an extension by that date. Regular contributions to an IRA or Roth IRA are great tax advantaged ways to save for retirement. IRA contributions for 2015 should be appropriately recorded on your tax return and are also due April 18th. See our first article for more information.

For those in or approaching their retirement years, there are different decisions to be made. Of prime importance is wading through the Medicare process. Read our next article to understand the different parts of Medicare.

Still want to work after retiring from your full time job? Many seniors enjoy an active retirement by starting a new business. Check out our third article for the details of what this might entail.

Mutual Funds can be a great investment option – one that offers distributions. However, these distributions – unless held in a tax-deferred vehicle – have tax consequences. Make sure you understand them by visiting our third article.

National Consumer Protection Week(NCPW) was March 6-12, 2016. National Consumer Protection Week is a coordinated campaign by federal and state government and nonprofit partner organizations that encourages consumers to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions.
Now is the perfect time to brush up on a variety of consumer protection issues. Read our final article about Identity Theft. And visit NCPW website for broader consumer protection information.

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February 2016

The heart of winter tends to be a good time to reflect, and take stock of where you are now and where you expect to be in the future. A great first step is to make, and stick to, a realistic budget. The purpose of a budget is to live within your means while saving enough to achieve your goals. Our first article is an in-depth discussion on setting up and maintaining a budget.

A successful financial plan typically requires investing your long-term savings so that your nest-egg grows over time. Our second article provides guidelines for appropriately investing your retirement savings.

We’ve talked about ETFs before. Find out more about Fixed Income investing using Exchange-Traded-Funds.

Did you know that February is Financial Aid Awareness Month? Our extensive Financial Aid article can give you new insights into the process

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January 2016

Happy New Year!

January is the perfect time to look forward and set the tone for the coming year.

I am thrilled to announce that Cynthia Gaertner-Bridges, CFP®, MSFS has joined the firm as a Partner and we have changed the name of the firm to Wealthscape Advisors, LLC. We are both excited about working together for the benefit of our clients.

The stock and bond markets have been very volatile recently. Our first article this month provides eleven ways to stay calm and remember your long term objectives

A popular New Year’s resolution is to maintain a good Credit rating. Our second article details the ins and outs of credit ratings and tips for managing yours.

Employer sponsored 401(k) retirement plans have become a major component of most retirement plans. Our third article describes the major features of most 401(k) plans. Note that a particular employer’s plan may not provide all the features listed.

Certain retirement plan and IRA limits are indexed for inflation each year, but only a few of the limits eligible for a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) have increased for 2016. Our last article details the key numbers for 2016.

Does your home to-do list include cleaning out an attic, garage or other closet. If you just cannot get to these tasks due to time constraints or difficulty in letting go of your old ‘stuff’, consider getting some help. Claire Rubach, Home Organizer, provides these services confidentially in Santa Cruz and Silicon Valley. Her background in counseling underlies her sensitive, non-judgmental approach. To find out more visit thehomeweeder.com, or call 831-227-8537.

May this coming year bring health and prosperity to you and your family!

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