Coming to your mail box soon…cost basis decisions!

Some of you may have already received a notice from your mutual fund companies or your brokerage firms asking what method you would like used to determine the cost basis of your holdings.  Perhaps you’re not sure 

 what cost basis is, 
 what are the different methods to calculate cost basis,
 which method is best for you, or how you will make a choice,
 and why you’re even being asked? READ MORE

College planning – it’s more than choosing a college

Have you heard the news?  It just got tougher to pay for graduate school.Before the recent agreement on managing the debt ceiling, students were able to defer interest on “government subsidized” loans until six months after graduation.  And if they made the first 12 monthly payments on time, they received a “credit” equal to the 1% loan origination fee they paid.  Now, students begin owing interest on their debt while they are still in school, and they have lost the “credit” that reimbursed loan origination fees.  Paying more for graduate school makes paying less for college even more important.   READ MORE

Disclaimer trusts – what are they? how do they work, and should you have one?

When I consider the effect of the 2011 changes in federal estate taxes I see some brand new reasons for my married clients to replace their Marital A-B trusts with Disclaimer trusts.

The reasons to choose, or to switch to, a Disclaimer trust include increased flexibility in estate tax planning and the possibility for more liberal access to joint assets for the surviving spouse.  On the negative side, this type of trust does require the surviving spouse to take action within nine months of the death of the first spouse to die.  It’s not an ideal time for many people make major decisions. READ MORE

Refi’s – more than just money in your pocket

  • Do today’s low mortgage rates have you considering a refi?
  • Are you thinking about moving when the real estate market picks up or gets back to “normal”?
  • Do you find yourself checking mortgage interest rates every Sunday?  
Many of my clients are asking if they should pay off their mortgages. There’s no one right answer, but I would suggest that there are a number of options available beyond paying it off in full, or maintaining the status quo. READ MORE

What you see is not necessarily what you get

These days, many people are distrustful of Wall Street– and with good reason. But since most of us need stock market returns to reach our goals, we find it necessary to be equity investors.
The question is — where should you invest? If you answer that question by saying that you choose the best performing mutual funds, it may be that you think you have achieved a level playing field, because you can easily check past fund results. READ MORE

Choices for when your investment portfolio really needs to replace a paycheck

Many of my clients don’t know what they are REALLY spending. As result, they question how  they will be able to maintain their life style in retirement or, for that matter, they worry if they will be EVER be able to retire at all.

Once we do a retirement plan and answer those questions, the next step is to re-position their portfolios to generate the income they will need. Even people who are comfortable managing their own portfolios for growth, and they realize that managing a portfolio to generate income is more of a challenge. READ MORE

This holiday season’s magic of making your investments work harder

What’s magic about this holiday season? As much as I wish that Santa with his naughty or nice list could blackmail major corporations to pay larger dividends, the power to boost your after-tax return on investments is up to you or your investment advisor.One way to maximize returns is with tax-loss harvesting. The idea is to harvest in Winter to create tax savings for the next Spring. READ MORE

Guaranteed rates of return of 3.5-4% – don’t drink the kool-aid

Given the volatility in the markets, and the low returns on savings, it is understandable that claims of a “guaranteed return” would be attractive.  Even if it comes from a life insurance salesperson!

Twice last week I was talking with insurance agents who boasted about policies that offer “guaranteed interest rates of 3.5 – 4%.” My reaction?  Concern. READ MORE

Just when you thought the college planning was over

The good news:  the kids are off to college & they’re fiscal adults for the first time

– The bad news:  the kids are off to college…

You’ve spent years preparing for this moment.  Maybe you’re saying good-bye at the curb, maybe it’s in front of the dorm, 1,000 miles away.  You saved to fund the tuition; you did the college visit trip(s), assisted with endless college and financial aid applications and essays.  Now they’re beginning the transition into adulthood.  Most likely, this is their first opportunity to manage their own expenses.  READ MORE

Telephone service – too many charges, bills for too little convenience

I maintain two telephone lines because I don’t want to give up my business telephone number. I also had maintained two phone cards for long distance.  You know, just in case one is full.  And I was getting (4) ongoing bills for just telephone.  I was paying extra for a voice mail box, insurance, in case, the telephone wires in my 50 year old house failed and I did not have call forwarding. READ MORE