What your 2013 tax return might say about you, your personal finances and your financial future.

Here are ten possible indicators that might improve your personal situation:

1. A large tax due and little or no tax withholding – You may not be managing your tax liabilities during the year. Are there other debts that you’re not managing?  READ MORE

Moon Doggie, Get Your Board ‘cause the Home Equity Amortization Wave is Coming

Amortization sounds like a nerdy, financial term. It’s really a simple way to describe the process of paying off of debt in regular installments over a period of time according to Investopedia. Home equity lines of credit are debt. So, how and when are they paid off, other than when a home sells? Unfortunately that’s a question to which too many homeowners have given too little consideration. READ MORE

Financial Abuse and Charities– It’s Not Just Your Elderly Mother Who is a Target

You want your money to work hard for you when you invest it.  Helping my clients make the best decisions about investments is part of what I do in my financial planning practice. Shouldn’t you also want the money you donate to charities to work hard doing good things for your chosen cause?  Unfortunately, too many people are drawn to give to a charity by a guilt-tripping phone solicitation and sympathetic sounding name. The Center for Investigative Reporting found in a recent in depth investigation that:

“The 50 worst charities in America devote less than 4 percent of donations raised to direct cash aid. Some charities give even less. Over a decade, one diabetes charity raised nearly $14 million and gave about $10,000 to patients. Six spent nothing at all on direct cash aid.”  http://cironline.org/americasworstcharities READ MORE

Brokerage accounts – a necessary evil for the accidental investor?

Who is the accidental investor?  It’s the tech genius who moves from company to company, participating in 401(k)’s, which he forgets once he moves on to the next opportunity.  Or perhaps it’s the self-employed entrepreneur whose CPA told her to set up a retirement account at year end.  Or maybe it’s the working Mom who recently inherited a small next egg she would like to use to fund her kid’s education.    READ MORE

Saving money on Rx – my wallet is feeling better already

What’s better than saving money on a $1,000 purchase? Saving on a $1,000 purchase you make year after year. For me, and most likely, a good portion of our aging population, prescription drugs is just such an expense, so I was especially excited to hear that there are websites that will tell me what local pharmacy has the lowest price for a prescription. READ MORE

In search of a pot of gold or maybe just a savings account that pays interest

When I think of cash for emergency funds, I think of “parking” the funds somewhere accessible and out of mind.  I want those funds to be a line item on the investment statement that reminds my clients — on those occasions when  they review their investment statements — that if they lose their job tomorrow, or become sick, they would be able to pay their bills in the short term.  READ MORE

How to prevent your own fiscal cliff

While our representatives in Washington attempt to come up with a plan to avoid a national financial cliff, many of my clients are attempting to deal with the uncertainty that abounds.  My advice is to focus on what you know, and what you can control.
Here’s a short list of the more significant tax changes scheduled for January:

  • In California, sales tax will increase by .25%.
  • Medical deductions on your Federal return will have to exceed 10%, and not 7.5% of Adjusted Gross Income.
  • Flexible spending account deductions will be reduced. READ MORE

Give it NOW if you’ve got it, or pay Uncle Sam when you pass in the big way

That’s right. I am talking about estate taxes. Your heirs are in great luck if you die in 2010, with a zero estate tax rate, but if you die in 2011, and if changes in tax legislation remain unresolved, the portion of your estate which will avoids estate tax will drop back down to $1.0 million, as compared to $3.5 million in 2009. My guess is that for many of you that your net worth could exceed the $1.0 limit in 2011, especially if you own real estate. So while estate tax planning was once only for the “fat cats,” it’s not any more. READ MORE

Long term care needs – the wild card of financial planning

Nothing is going to send a financial plan into a “crash & burn” faster than a disabling sickness or accident.  Even when you have medical insurance, you still have to worry about the costs of nursing homes, assisted care facilities and home health care — none of which are covered by most medical insurance policies, including Medicare.
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