Employer-sponsored qualified retirement plans such as 401(k)s are some of the most powerful retirement savings tools available. If your employer offers such a plan and you’re not participating in it, you should be. Once you’re participating in a plan, try to take full advantage of it.
Retirement plans established under Section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code, commonly referred to as 403(b) plans or “tax-sheltered annuities,” have become a popular type of employer-sponsored retirement plan.
Owning a home outright is a dream that many Americans share. Having a mortgage can be a huge burden and paying it off may be the first item on your financial to-do list. But competing with the desire to own your home free and clear is your need to invest for retirement, your child’s college education, or some other goal.
Why is the preparation of financial statements important during the divorce process? Before a reasonable property settlement can be negotiated, it’s important for both spouses in a divorce to disclose all assets, liabilities, sources of income, and expenses. By arranging this information in standard financial statements and by analyzing these statements, a financial planner…
The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (the 2010 Tax Act) included new gift, estate, and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax provisions. The 2010 Tax Act provided that in 2011 and 2012, the gift and estate tax basic exclusion amount was $5 million…
When your child first started school, you doled out the change for milk and a snack on a daily basis. But now that your kindergartner has grown up, it’s time for you to make sure that your child has enough financial knowledge to manage money at college.
Spring 2021 Team Update – As we continue to march on through 2021, the beautiful Spring weather brings new life to a dreary winter season. Kids are starting to get back in the classroom and life is beginning to look just a little more normal. We have been working diligently to prepare in welcoming our clients back in to the office and have now begun scheduling in-person visits.
Many parents pay for college with a combination of current income, savings, and financial aid. By learning the basics of financial aid, you’ll be able to understand how the aid process works and compare the aid awards your child receives.
Estate Planning – There are five estate planning documents you may need, regardless of your age, health, or wealth: Durable power of attorney, Advance medical directives, Will, Letter of instruction, Living trust. The last document, a living trust, isn’t always necessary, but it’s included here because it’s a vital component of many estate plans.
We’ve covered some of the characteristics of cryptos before, but with the ongoing spike in investor interest, the topic is worth revisiting. With any newer and harder-to-understand product, it’s important to take a step back and not lose sight of the forest for the trees.
An ILIT is a trust primarily set up to hold one or more life insurance policies. The main purpose of an ILIT is to avoid federal estate tax. If the trust is drafted and funded properly, your loved ones should receive all of your life insurance proceeds, undiminished by estate tax.
Should I choose a single life annuity for my pension or a joint and survivor annuity that makes payments to my spouse when I die?
In a perfect world, both halves of a couple share the same investment goals and agree on the best way to try to reach them. It doesn’t always work that way, though; disagreements about money are often a source of friction between couples.
Two emergency relief bills passed in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will make this an unusual tax season for many taxpayers. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed in March, and a second relief package was attached to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, in December.
There’s no doubt about it — last year was tumultuous. The coronavirus pandemic, a contentious election, and widespread protests were just some of the events that impacted our nation in 2020. Fortunately, the arrival of new vaccines has brought hope for a brighter 2021. If you are looking forward to a fresh start this year, why not begin with your personal finances? Here are some tips to help you get started.
Even though tax filing season is well under way, there’s still time to make a regular IRA contribution for 2020. You have until your tax return due date (not including extensions) to contribute up to $6,000 for 2020 ($7,000 if you were age 50 or older on or before December 31, 2020). For most taxpayers, the contribution deadline for 2020 is April 15, 2021.
On Thursday, March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA 2021) was signed into law. This is a $1.9 trillion emergency relief package that includes payments to individuals and funding for federal programs, vaccines and testing, state and local governments, and schools.
On Sunday, December 27, 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA 2021) was signed into law. A $900 billion emergency relief package is included as part of this omnibus spending bill. It is intended to assist individuals and businesses during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and accompanying economic crisis. Major relief provisions are summarized here, as well as some additional tax provisions.
Treasury rates have ticked higher in recent weeks, due to investor worries about a pickup in inflation. This is not a new concern, but has gained steam as a large ($1.9 tril.) stimulus package appears to be on the verge of passage in Congress, as well as the economy showing signs of broader recovery otherwise, with help from prior stimulus.
Do you ever wonder where your money goes each month? Does it seem like you’re never able to get ahead? If so, you may want to establish a budget to help you keep track of how you spend your money and help you reach your financial goals.
As a business owner, you’re going to have to decide when will be the right time to step out of the family business and how you’ll do it. There are many estate planning tools you can use to transfer your business. Selecting the right one will depend on whether you plan to retire from the business or keep it until you die.
When your local weather forecaster tells you that it’s going to rain, what do you do? That’s easy–you reach for your umbrella. So why not purchase an umbrella that can protect you in stormy financial weather? Umbrella liability insurance (ULI) can do just that.
We don’t like to spend too much time on market anomalies, let alone individual stocks that fall outside long-term asset allocation principles, but this seems to have taken over the headlines last week. Rarely do stock market quirks become mainstream news; in this case, it carried over to market sentiment to some extent and definitely raised trading volumes.
Winter 2021 Team Update – As we put 2020 in the rear view, the new year rolls in on waves of hope. Hope for a successful rollout of a COVID vaccine, hope for those currently unemployed to return to their jobs and hope for our kids to safely return to their classrooms. While we still have some lingering business to attend to from the old year, the new year brings the potential of containing the virus and allowing our economy to begin to recover and re-open.
At one time, the typical American family looked like this: a breadwinner father who commuted a short distance to work and earned a very good living, and a stay-at-home mother who took care of the kids and family home with aplomb.
With age comes responsibility, so if you’re a young adult in your 20s or 30s, chances are you’ve been introduced to the realities of adulthood. While you’re excited by all the opportunities life has to offer, you’re also aware of your emerging financial responsibility. In the financial realm, the millennial generation (young adults born between 1981 and 1997) faces a unique set of challenges…
Each year naturally brings more surprises than certainties, so outlooks and predictions of any kind quickly become futile. (We’ve already experienced a dramatic and unusual first week of January.) At least at this point in time, noted are a few key issues to monitor as 2021 gets going:
Saving for retirement is not easy, but using your retirement savings wisely can be just as challenging. How much of your savings can you withdraw each year? Withdraw too much and you run the risk of running out of money. Withdraw too little and you may miss out on a more comfortable retirement lifestyle.
The prior weekend, Congress had agreed on a $900+ bil. Covid relief package, approved by both chambers a few days later, and finally signed by the President last night. This had been in the works for months, with a few key sticking points causing the long delay and repeated breakdowns in negotiations between Democrats and Republicans.
Incapacity means that you are either mentally or physically unable to take care of yourself or your day-to-day affairs. Incapacity can result from serious physical injury, mental or physical illness, advancing age, and alcohol or drug abuse.
When developing your estate plan, you can do well by doing good. Leaving money through charitable giving rewards you in many ways. It gives you a sense of personal satisfaction, and it can save you money in estate taxes.
It’s a new high, but not dissimilar to celebrating say, 29,999 as a new peak, although the odd number didn’t receive the same level of media attention. These round market levels, whether it be the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Nasdaq, or others, tend to generate high visibility (especially in the slower post-election news cycle). If an index is old enough, and tends to show positive performance (as stocks have over the long haul), you’ll end up reaching new and higher milestones.
The Oregon Employment Department (OED) has announced that as of November 24th, they have started issuing waiting week payments to eligible Oregonians.
Whether or not an asset class is in a bubble is difficult to answer in real-time, since sentiment can change course as quickly as a few weeks, or take years. In hindsight, these things are always more obvious. The question can be viewed through a few different perspectives:
It’s difficult to imagine functioning in today’s world without credit. Whether buying a car or purchasing a home, credit has become an integral part of our everyday lives. Having easy access to credit goes hand in hand with having a good credit score, so it’s important to know how to maintain a positive credit score and credit history.
The election results may have surprised some forecasters (and certainly pollsters), as the predicted ‘blue wave’ of Democrats capturing both the Presidency and Senate fell short. Democrats did retain the House of Representatives, as anticipated, although more seats than expected were lost.
There’s no doubt about it — Social Security is an important source of retirement income for most Americans. According to the Social Security Administration, nearly nine out of ten individuals age 65 and older receive Social Security benefits.
Rollovers are the movement of funds from one retirement savings vehicle to another. You may want to make a rollover for any number of reasons — your employment situation has changed, you want to switch investments, or you’ve received death benefits from your spouse’s retirement plan.
Beginning on November 1, 2020, individuals (including families) may apply for new health insurance, switch to a different health-care plan, or re-enroll in their current plan through a Health Insurance Marketplace under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The open enrollment period for 2021 health coverage ends on December 15, 2020.
In March 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which included several provisions designed to help retirement savers cope with the financial fallout from the pandemic. Among these temporary measures were special rules for required minimum distributions, coronavirus-related distributions, and retirement plan loans…
On August 18, 2020, the S&P 500 set a record high for the first time since COVID-19 ushered in a bear market on February 19. The cycle from peak to peak was just 126 trading days, the fastest recovery in the history of the index, erasing losses from an equally historic plunge of almost 34% in February and March.
Many women manage their own money. This includes women who have always been doing so and women who are relatively new to the world of investing, for whatever reason. Regardless of your level of investing experience, there are certain investor traits that can prove advantageous for anyone. Traits such as patience, willingness to confront and deal with mistakes, and recognizing when help is needed can benefit portfolio returns, particularly for a long-term investor. Even risk aversion, sometimes a problem for women who are concerned about their investing abilities, can be an advantage if it’s applied wisely.
On August 8, 2020, the president issued an executive order to allow the deferral of certain payroll taxes during the last four months of 2020, and the IRS recently provided related guidance. This has implications for both employers and employees. Here’s a brief summary of the issues.
On Wednesday, September 30th, the Oregon Employment Department will begin issuing Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) payments to qualifying Oregonians who received PUA benefits or self-certified that they received unemployment benefits for COVID-19-related reasons.
In March 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provided a six-month automatic payment suspension on federal student loans through September 30, 2020. In August, the president signed a memorandum to extend federal student loan relief through December 31, 2020.
What would be the impact of a Trump Presidential reelection for a second term? How important is the President on financial markets anyway? In many ways, policies to expect would likely be similar to what’s in place today, and largely opposite of those proposed under a Biden administration discussed a few weeks ago. At the same time, Trump’s policies have not followed ‘traditional’ Republican ideologies from decades past in a variety of areas. The Senate Republicans have been far more predictable from a policy standpoint, as have the Congressional Democrats.
Throughout your career, retirement planning will likely be one of the most important components of your overall financial plan. Whether you have just graduated and taken your first job, are starting a family, are enjoying your peak earning years, or are preparing to retire, your employer-sponsored retirement plan can play a key role in your financial strategies.
Summer 2020 Team Update – As Summer wraps up and transitions into Fall, we’re all looking forward to some relief from a hot, dry several months that has led to devastating wildfires. While kids kick off their new school year from the comforts of home, leaves have begun turning and cooler weather has begun to roll in. As we ramp up another election season, the markets will try to make heads or tails of the uncertainty that it brings. Meanwhile, we continue to meet with lots of new clients while working hard to further the planning and investment goals of everyone we work with.
What causes sudden market declines like we saw this week, seemingly out of nowhere? There often isn’t a concrete reason. It’s important to remember that stocks trade in a market like any other good: when there are more buyers than sellers, prices move higher; when buyers dry up, this can reverse quickly.
What would be the impact of a Biden Presidential election win, potentially including a Democratic takeover of the Senate? The impact of a potential new President on stock market returns is always a key question in the weeks prior to a general election. It’s important to keep in mind that, despite frequent worries around this time of year, and that financial markets may react in the shorter-term term to poll results and election outcomes (especially surprises), the longer-term effects of any administration’s policies appear to be disconnected from financial market results. Instead, stocks especially tend to follow earnings, which follow economic growth trends.
These days, it’s hard to talk about college without mentioning financial aid. Yet this pairing isn’t a marriage of love, but one of necessity. In many cases, financial aid may be the deciding factor in whether your child attends the college of his or her choice, or even attends college at all.
When it comes to federal income tax, there are few subjects capable of causing as much confusion as the Alternative Minimum Tax. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act substantially increased the Alternative Minimum Tax exemptions and exemption phaseout thresholds for 2018 to 2025. Here’s a quick guide to understanding the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).
Even in normal times, it can be challenging for families to cover college expenses without borrowing money and/or risking their own retirement security. For the 2019-2020 academic year…
By definition, a crisis is a turning point, a time when you have to make crucial decisions (often suddenly) that will affect your future. Although smart planning is the key to effectively dealing with periods of crisis, you may find yourself suddenly dealing with an unexpected event that you didn’t prepare for, and you wonder what to do next. Whether you’re planning ahead or dealing with a crisis now, take control.
You want to retire comfortably when the time comes. You also want to help your child go to college. So how do you juggle the two? The truth is, saving for your retirement and your child’s education at the same time can be a challenge. But take heart — you may be able to reach both goals if you make some smart choices now.
Employers can offer 401(k) plan participants the opportunity to make Roth 401(k) contributions. If you’re lucky enough to work for an employer who offers this option, Roth contributions could play an important role in maximizing your retirement income.
If you’re a small business owner, you face many challenges in growing your company. One of them is recruiting and retaining the best talent for your needs. When your primary goals are managing costs and increasing revenue, how do you sufficiently entice new recruits and reward current staff members for continually putting their best efforts forward? One way is ensuring that you provide a competitive, cost-effective benefit package comprised of both traditional and not-so-traditional benefits.
Are health insurance premiums taking too big of a bite out of your budget? Do you wish you had better control over how you spend your health-care dollars? If so, you may be interested in an alternative to traditional health insurance called a health savings account (HSA).
Social Security benefits are a major source of retirement income for most people. Your Social Security retirement benefit is based on the number of years you’ve been working and the amount you’ve earned. When you begin taking Social Security benefits also greatly affects the size of your benefit.
Following a sharp 10% rise in the value of the U.S. dollar earlier in the year, most dramatically during the stock market meltdown in Q1, the dollar has sold off by nearly -10% since. This pattern is not abnormal during periods of uncertainty, and reflects dynamics on both sides of the equation (it’s important to remember that currency movements occur in both directions).
If your income hits a certain level, you may face an additional wrinkle in calculating your taxes: the net investment income tax (also referred to as the unearned income Medicare contribution tax). This 3.8% Medicare tax applies to some or all of your net investment income if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) exceeds certain thresholds. The tax is in addition to any other income tax applicable to such income.
Understandably, many people put off planning for long-term care. But although it’s hard to face the fact that health problems may someday result in a loss of independence, if you begin planning now, you’ll have more options open to you in the future.
Buy-sell agreements are very important planning tools that can accomplish many things for a business with two or more owners. Sometimes referred to as a prenuptial or premarital agreement among business owners, a business continuation agreement, a stock purchase agreement, or a buyout agreement, a buy-sell is a legally binding contract that establishes when, to whom, and at what price an owner, partner, or shareholder can sell his or her interest in a business.
On June 8, 2020, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), which has official responsibility for determining U.S. business cycles, announced that February 2020 marked the end of an expansion that began in 2009 and the beginning of a recession.1 This was no great surprise considering widespread business closures due to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting spike in unemployment, but it was an unusually quick official announcement.
More women are working and taking charge of their own retirement planning than ever before. What does retirement mean to you? Do you dream of traveling? Pursuing a hobby? Volunteering your time, or starting a new career or business? Simply enjoying more time with your grandchildren? Whatever your goal, you’ll need a retirement income plan that’s designed to support the retirement lifestyle that you envision, and minimize the risk that you’ll outlive your savings.
On Friday, July 17th, the Oregon Employment Department launched a new online form for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims and weekly certifications. We wanted to pass along some additional information regarding the new form, per David Gerstenfeld, Acting Director of the Oregon Employment Department.
Are the financial markets (‘Wall Street’) and the real economy (‘Main Street’) disconnected? Although they may appear to be disconnected on the surface, and near-term outcomes are impossible to predict, they’re likely no more disconnected than usual. One of the more important considerations to keep in mind about financial markets is that they’ve always been forward-looking.
Massive computer hacks and data breaches are now common occurrences — an unfortunate consequence of living in a digital world. Once identity thieves have your information, they can use it to gain access to your bank and credit card accounts, make unauthorized transactions in your name, and subsequently ruin your credit. Now more than ever, it’s important to safeguard yourself against identity theft.
Even before your children can count, they already know something about money: it’s what you have to give the ice cream man to get a cone, or put in the slot to ride the rocket ship at the grocery store. So, as soon as your children begin to handle money, start teaching them how to handle it wisely.
Most Americans will eventually receive Social Security and Medicare benefits. Each year, the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds release lengthy reports to Congress that assess the health of these important programs. The newest reports, released on April 22, 2020, discuss the current financial condition and ongoing financial challenges that both programs face, and project a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2021.
In 2019, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 1049 (SB1049). The bill makes some changes to the Oregon PERS calculations in their quest to help keep the PERS system funded for current and future beneficiaries. While the bill was passed in 2019, components of the bill take effect at various times throughout 2020. For the most part, it is active PERS members who will be impacted by these changes. It’s important, if you are an active PERS member, to understand how these changes may impact you.
As more and more women earn college degrees, change in the workplace may be inevitable. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, women now earn 57% of bachelor’s degrees, 58% of master’s degrees, and 53% of doctoral degrees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 71% of women with children under age 18 are in the labor force.
When it comes to your finances, “go with your gut” might not be the wisest adage to follow. In fact, it may work against you, particularly in periods of market turbulence. Before jumping to conclusions about your finances, consider what biases may be at work beneath your conscious radar.
On April 20, 2020, the price of a futures contract for West Texas Intermediate crude — the benchmark for U.S. oil prices — fell below zero for the first time in history, dropping more than 306% in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and ending the day at -$37.63 per barrel. Essentially, this meant that investors who would soon be obligated to take possession of a barrel of oil were willing to pay someone else to take it instead.
We all know men and women are different in some fundamental ways. But is this true when it comes to financial planning? Everyone wants financial security. But women often face unique obstacles that can affect their ability to achieve it. Let’s look at some of these potential headwinds.
Most are familiar with the old saying “never mix business with pleasure.” However, for business owners both large and small, keeping in mind the mantra to never mix business finances with personal finances will serve you well.
If you participate in a 401(k), ESOP, or other qualified retirement plan that lets you invest in your employer’s stock, you need to know about net unrealized appreciation — a simple tax deferral opportunity with an unfortunately complicated name.
Over the past two decades significant changes have been made to the taxation of an estate. In this article we take a look at how the federal gift and estate tax, as well as the federal generation-skipping tax have been impacted under the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (the 2010 Tax Act), the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (the 2012 Tax Act), and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. A chart at the end of the discussion summarizes the effects of this law.
You’ve worked hard your whole life anticipating the day you could finally retire. Well, that day has arrived! But with it comes the realization that you’ll need to carefully manage your assets to give them lasting potential.
You’ve worked hard over the years to accumulate wealth, and you probably find it comforting to know that after your death the assets you leave behind will continue to be a source of support for your family, friends, and the causes that are important to you. But to ensure that your legacy reaches your heirs as you intend, you must make the proper arrangements now. There are four basic ways of leaving a legacy: (1) by will, (2) by trust, (3) by beneficiary designation, and (4) by joint ownership arrangements.
The Retirement Confidence Survey conducted each year by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) took a slightly different tack in 2020. After completing its initial outreach in January — the 30th in its annual series — EBRI decided to conduct a second survey in late March to gauge how the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were influencing worker and retiree perceptions, and compared those results with the earlier findings.
Due to the coronavirus tax filing extension, there’s still time to make a regular IRA contribution for 2019. You have until your tax return due date (not including extensions) to contribute up to $6,000 for 2019 ($7,000 if you were age 50 or older on December 31, 2019). For most taxpayers, the contribution deadline for 2019 is July 15, 2020.
Spring 2020 Team Update – With Spring in full effect, we continue to work through understanding our new normal with bated breath. During these unprecedented times, we are grateful for the continued trust and confidence that our clients place in us. As Summer approaches, we all look forward to the days of once again having the ability to sit down with our clients, face to face.
With U.S. short-term interest rates again reaching the zero bound (fed funds rate of 0.00-0.25%), debate has surfaced again about moving the target range further—to below-zero territory. Several developed nations, mostly in Europe, moved down this path years ago, and now remain entrenched in it, with global slowing causing central banks to continue down an easing path. This is despite apparent regrets by some about doing so…
Moments of crisis are times for people to come together and help one another. However, with the rise of record unemployment levels, unemployment fraud has taken hold of vulnerable targets.
Have some financial asset prices bounced back too far and too fast? This is never simple to evaluate, as current prices for rates and risk assets have a behavioral component, and appropriate price levels may only be obvious in hindsight.
Fraudsters and scam artists are always looking for new ways to prey on consumers. Now they are using the same tactics to take advantage of consumers’ heightened financial and health concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
Market volatility has obviously been ramping up as of late, with one of the catalysts being the announcement of various layers of tariffs by the U.S. administration. This rhetoric has been targeted at China, which has responded with a series of their own retaliatory tariffs.
As we discussed in our special note last week, pullbacks are a normal component in the cycle of any market, with a few steps forward-one-step back pattern being the tendency of stock investments for the past several centuries. Read our take on this matter.
The 1000+ page tax reform plan, the largest in decades, has been passed by both legislative chambers and signed into law. It moved surprisingly quickly, with initial debate about various components turning into a package that looked very much like the original submission.
It’s impossible to speculate on the future prospects of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies that have been gaining significant ground in recent months. But it’s important to remember the risks.