Financial Planning

Market Commentary

 In investment circles it is often said that “You make your money when you buy.” The basic notion is that the investor buys the stock of a good company that is temporarily selling at a low price and holds onto it until it can be sold at a much higher price.  So, to have a good chance to make a profit one needs low prices as a starting point.The problem is that seldom has there been such an absence of…

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There is No Such Thing as a “Best Investment”

An article published in the USA Today titled “Warren Buffett: This is the best investment most people can buy” was forwarded my way recently. I find it interesting to read statements attributed to Warren Buffet, even if the journalists covering them sometimes rephrase or take things out of context.  Judging by the quotes in the article, all Warren actually asserted was that the Vanguard 500 Index fund is a great choice if you are looking for passive exposure to the “American…

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Financial Literacy Education Provided by NEDCO

We wanted to spread the word about a great local organization that offers introductory financial literacy classes and counseling to our community. Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO), located in downtown Springfield, offers a monthly class series called Financial Foundations. The classes are offered in both English and Spanish and cover topics including financial goal setting, budgeting, tackling debt, improving credit, and understanding insurance. After attending the class series, participants receive individualized advice from a financial counselor. For lower-income participants, enrolling…

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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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Realistic Expectations: A Study in Putting Investment Returns in Perspective

If we look at a conventional portfolio of 60% stocks, 35% bonds, and 5% cash and apply the historic returns in the chart below, the annualized return from 1928 to 2014 for the portfolio would have been approximately 7.7%. Is it realistic to expect these kinds of returns in future years? With U.S. stocks now at an all-time high and bond and money market interest rates at all-time lows, it is worth pausing to consider what might be reasonable investment…

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Time Weighted Rate of Return vs. Internal Rate of Return

We recently reviewed the calculations available through Morningstar to report the performance for our clients’ portfolios. Historically, we have used a method called Time Weighted Rate of Return (“TWR”), but beginning January 1 of this year, we changed to Internal Rate of Return (“IRR”). While both are acceptable methods of calculating returns, we decided to make the change because we believe that the IRR approach provides a more appropriate way of reporting our clients’ personalized rates of return. The following…

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Transfer on Death Accounts

What is “Transfer on Death?” It is a designation that can be applied to an individual or joint account that enables you to specify your beneficiary(ies) in the event of your demise. Typically, when IRAs are set-up, you have already made those decisions since there is a place on the application form for you to designate your beneficiaries. However, applications for taxable accounts generally do not ask for beneficiary designation. You may ask, “Why is this important?” Designating an account…

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Mapping the Future

Do any of these questions sound familiar? When can I afford to retire? What would a transition from full-time employment to part-time employment or consulting look like? Can I afford to reduce my hours to be a regular provider of care to my grandchildren? To my aging parent? Should I take Social Security at age 62, 65, 70, or full retirement age? When should my spouse take Social Security? How would my decisions for Social Security and other pension income…

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