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An Overview of 529 College Savings Plans

A number of our clients have been asking how they can help provide college funding for their kids or their grandkids, so we thought we would provide a quick overview of 529 college savings plans. With nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars invested in these plans, Americans are increasingly using the 529 plan as a tool to save for future education needs. The basic idea behind a 529 plan is to allow families to save for college costs with…

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An Overview of 529 College Savings Plans

A number of our clients have been asking how they can help provide college funding for their kids or their grandkids, so we thought we would provide a quick overview of 529 college savings plans. With nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars invested in these plans, Americans are increasingly using the 529 plan as a tool to save for future education needs. The basic idea behind a 529 plan is to allow families to save for college costs with…

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Market Commentary

It’s a Capital Preservation Market… “Today I feel it is important to pay more attention to loss prevention than to the pursuit of gain.” – Howard Marks, Oaktree Capital 2015 was the first year in several years that nearly every major investment category lost money. All four stock indices we track (the New York Stock Exchange and indices for Europe, Asia, and Emerging Markets) dropped in price by a percentage ranging from -1.85% to -18.30%. The four bond indices we…

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Journey Tree Welcomes Two New Staff Members

It has been an unusually busy fall at Journey Tree. I am delighted to tell you that we have found two excellent new team members, Jason Nelson-Elting and Irina Pack. Jason will coordinate our financial planning efforts and Irina will help research and implement investments. Jason Nelson-Elting Jason grew up in a small town southern Oregon and has spent most of his adult life living in Eugene. He attended the University of Oregon twice, first as an undergraduate and then…

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Social Security Changes are Afoot

Introduction Last month, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 that will, for all intents and purposes, eliminate two Social Security claiming strategies – the “restricted application” and the “file-and-suspend.” Below is a brief description of the two strategies. Restricted Application Restricted application allows the account holder to apply only for the spousal benefit they would be due under dual entitlement rules. At any age beyond Full Retirement Age (FRA), they can switch and receive benefits based on their…

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It’s Time to Play Defense

The current investment landscape is one of the most challenging we have faced in the last 25 years. The US stock market is not far from an all-time high even though profit and revenue growth have been declining and interest rates appear to be headed higher, thus setting up the distinct possibility of a significant drop in stock prices. And with unprecedented low interest rates that are likely to start rising soon, bonds, money markets and other fixed income investments…

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Social Security Retirement Benefits: The Mini Series

INTRODUCTION In my most recent installment of this series, I wrote about a few hard to believe nuances of Social Security benefits. In this final installment, we are going to meet Pat and Val, a married couple with gender-neutral names, and review some simple and more complex Social Security planning strategies available to them. In the following comparisons: Val and Pat are the same age Their “full retirement age” (FRA) is 66 Val’s benefit at FRA is $1,000 Pat’s benefit…

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Morningstar Conference

  We make it a habit to attend industry conferences each year to keep abreast of the best thinking in our field. In June, I ventured to Chicago in search of current insights at the Morningstar Investment conference. Here are just a few of the highlights you might be interested in: Active vs. Passive Investing – Passive investing through index mutual funds and exchange traded funds has enjoyed immense popularity during the last several years. This is largely due to…

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Roth Accounts and Required Minimum Distributions

Siblings, you got to love them. First of all, I am the “baby of the family” and sometimes it is difficult for my five older siblings to realize that I may know just a bit more than they do when it comes to financial planning issues. There are times I feel like I am a five years old again carrying on the “Is so,” “Is not,” “Is so,” “Is not” intellectual exchange. This article is a result of a lengthy…

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Market Commentary – Summer 2015

Is it Time For Rising Rates? By: Jonathan Brandt, CFP® For much of the last 8 years, U.S. stock and bond investors have generally experienced strong returns largely due to falling interest rates. Those rates, as set by the Federal Reserve Board, have had an unusually large impact on investment returns since the financial crisis of 2008. This year, rates continue to affect stocks and bonds in a significant way but this time it hasn’t been positive. U.S. stocks have…

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