Financial Insights for
Living Well Archive: 2018

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.

October

The deductibility of SALT (State and Local Taxes) has been an important and contentious issue. The IRS is proposing to shut down some work-arounds on the $10,000 limit. Read more about it in our first article.

Converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA can have its advantages. However, if a Roth IRA sustains losses, it might be worthwhile to recharacterize (i.e. undo) your conversion . The Deadline to do this for 2017 conversions is October 15, 2018. This is also the final year recharacterizations are allowed. Read our next article for more information.

The accelerated growth of a number of large technology companies may result in your portfolio being less diversified than you think. Read our third article this month to learn more about this issue.

Blockchain is the actual data structure, or ledger, that the exchange of virtual currencies, such as BitCoin employ. More industries are beginning to see its potential for security and other reasons. Read my previous Blog Post, as well as our next article on how this might impact the future of business around the world.

September

The federal tax withholding calculation has changed for 2018. If you receive a paycheck with tax withholding calculated, you may be in for a surprise this year. Read my current blog post to learn about how this might affect your tax situation.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projection, the federal budget deficit will soon reach $793 billion.Read our first article this month to understand how larger deficits are driving up debt.

President Trump’s administration is using tariffs and the threat of tariffs to attempt to reduce the U.S. Trade deficit. Our next article helps explain the dynamics and potential positive and negative results of this effort

We continue our mini-series concentrating on investor scams and phishing operations aimed at investors. Our next article explains the myriad types of phishing – what it is, and how to be aware of it happening to you.

As you approach retirement, your life goals and expectations may be changing. With these changes it is important to re-evaluate your risks and insurance. Read our last article for details.

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August

As August begins, many Americans are taking to the road, enjoying vacation time with family and friends. When filling up the tank, you may feel the pinch and wonder how gas prices seem to have gone up and up. Our first article helps explain why.

We are pleased to start a new mini-series this month, to keep you up-to-date and vigilant on the myriad of investor scams and phishing operations aimed at investors. Our second article focuses on some such scams, and how the SEC is helping investors be wary of such schemes.

Investors are often confused about the differences between growth stocks and value stocks. The main difference is how they are perceived by the market and, ultimately, the investor. Read more in our next article.

Although U.S. equities still represent the single largest segment of the global stock market, more than half of the world’s total stock market capitalization lies outside the United States, and economic growth rates outside the United States exceeds ours in some cases. Find out if out more about International/Global equities in our last article this month.

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July

The newest report from the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds discuss the ongoing financial challenges that both programs face, and project a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2019. Read our first article to understand these important issues.

If you or your children are considering borrowing money to pay for higher education costs note that interest rates on Federal Students loans are rising. See where the numbers fall in our next article.

Our mini-series on Estate Planning this month finishes with our last 3 articles. The first of these explains Revocable Living Trusts. The second discusses the most primary methods of protecting your asset. The final article describes family settlements which are sometimes used by the beneficiaries of an estate.

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June

The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) discovered that 64% of today’s workers feel very or somewhat confident in having enough money to retire comfortably, up from 60% in 2017. Read more about it in our first article.

Getting in on an Initial Public Offering (IPO) can seem like a heady dream for some investors. However, things are not always as rosy as they seem. Our next article helps you navigate through the hype.

We discussed Municipal Bonds and their Tax Advantage this April. We further the discussion in our third article describing the impact of Tax Reform on these types of bonds.

We continue our mini-series on Estate Planning. In February we posted Estate Planning and its Key Numbers. This month we discuss key estate planning documents. One of these documents, a revocable living trust can be a useful and practical estate planning tool for certain individuals, but not for everyone. Find out more in our final article.

Wishing everyone a happy, fun, and safe summer!

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May

The possibility of new tariffs on steel and aluminum have many investors concerned. Read more about the latest news concerning tariffs and U.S. policy in our first article.

This month we kick-off a series on the important topic of Estate Planning. At its essence, Estate Planning is a process by which you manage and control your assets during life and after death. Depending on your circumstances it may include other aspects of your life such as guardianship for children. Read our next two articles this month to learn more about what Estate Planning tools are appropriate for you, and how often to review them.

Investing in bonds and bond mutual funds can help you pursue your investment goals, as long as you fully understand both the potential risks and rewards. Our next article discusses the general principles and risks of bonds and bond mutual funds.

Our final article gives a heads up to those of you expecting new Medicare cards, including details on when to expect them and how to use them.

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April

April not only heralds the beginning of spring, but also Tax Day. The federal income tax filing deadline for most individuals is Tuesday, April 17, 2018. That’s because April 15 falls on a Sunday, and Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in Washington, D.C., falls on Monday, April 16, this year. Read more in our first short article.

It’s important to note that there is still time to contribute to an IRA or Roth IRA for 2017. Don’t miss out on the benefits. Read our next article for information about

Filing income taxes is an annual chore that few people enjoy – unless it results in a big refund. But is receiving a tax refund a reason to celebrate? Read this article to consider a few of the pros and cons.

With new tax laws for 2018 you should review the tax withholding from your earnings. Refunds and payments are dependent on how much is withheld from your wages. See the IRS’s updated Form W-4 Withholding Calculator for clarification. Be sure to consult with your employer’s Human Resources Department for questions regarding your withholding amount, and with a tax specialist for all other questions.

Municipal Bonds – also known as “Munis” – can provide certain tax advantages in the right circumstances. Read our final investment article to help determine if they are right for you. Although this article discusses individual Muni bonds, it also applies to Muni Mutual funds and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). Muni Mutual Funds and ETFs are more liquid and less risky than individual bonds. They are also less expensive to buy and sell as Mutual Funds and ETFs buy and sell Muni bonds in bulk.

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March

Analysts had been saying for a long time that the long booming bull-market was due for a correction. Our first article discusses the recent market downturn and puts it into perspective.

As we again approach tax season, many are still confused over the new laws (which will not affect 2017 taxes). Our next article this month provides a summary of the most important changes. For more in-depth information about the tax changes see the multiple articles by topic included in our January and February Newsletter.

When changing jobs, many employees face the decision whether or not to roll over their retirement plan assets. Our next article discusses direct and indirect rollovers, and the implications of each.

Our last article this month provides a downloadable Personal Document Locator for your loved ones to use in case of emergency. With it, you can record where you store your important records and papers, other important information, including the names of your primary advisors and contacts, and website access information. This Locator should always be stored in a secure location.

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February

Last month we presented a summary of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and its impact on individuals. Our focus this month digs further into the details. Our first article explores the impact on businesses. This is followed by an article explaining changes to 529 plans that allow limited use for primary and secondary education.

Next we present a detailed comparison of 2017 and 2018 Federal Tax Key Numbers in important planning areas, as indicated by each articles title. We also include the 2017 and 2018 schedules for completeness.

After considering all of this current tax planning information, it is wise to put it in context. Our final article this month discusses the wisdom of saving and investing.

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Important 2018 Key Numbers

January

Happy New Year!

A big issue on everyone’s mind is the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Read our first two articles this month for an overview and the potential impact on your tax return.

Investing in high-yield bonds offers different rewards and risks than investing in investment-grade securities. These include higher volatility, greater credit risk, and the more speculative nature of the issuer. Read our next article to learn more about these type of investments and why there was a sell off last fall.

The new year is traditionally a time for making resolutions. Why not make one for yourself or your children and make sure you/they have a financial safety net?

Is this the year to retire? If you are lucky enough to receive an early retirement offer, there are many factors to keep straight and details that should not be forgotten to ask about when deciding if this is the right decision or not. Read about it in our next article.

Wishing this coming year will be all you and your family hope for!

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