Blogs/Articles

Blogs/Posts by Date (with excerpt)

Know Your Asset Cost Basis (4/25/2017) - Every asset you own has tax basis. Normally, this basis is the original purchase price plus any cost or fees you incur to procure the asset (e.g., commissions, closing costs, etc.). But your tax basis doesn’t stop there when it comes to various assets that you’ll own over your lifetime. So why is this important? […]
The Cost of “Free” (2/22/2017) - Let me give you a scenario.  It’s a beautiful sunny Saturday morning where you decide to attend a local fair or festival.  There will be face painting and bounce houses for the kids, food, entertainment, and information about local businesses where they’ll have a booth manned by someone answering questions and giving away trinkets (e.g., pens, […]
Are you Living Beneath your Means? (1/23/2017) - This is a term that gets used way too often and has really lost its value of being a mantra on how to live your life from a financial perspective. Some people think if they don’t spend 100% of what they make, they must be living beneath their means. Although that may be correct from […]
Words of Wisdom (12/19/2016) - Growing up around my parents was a daily learning experience.  Just being exposed to how they lived their lives gave me a foundation that has served me my entire life.  Over the years, my father used to always give me little tidbits about life.  Some of these were sayings that I imagine all of us […]
Rolling Over a 401k Plan (11/16/2016) - Once you leave your employer, either by quitting or retiring, you have the right to keep your money in your company’s 401k plan (assuming the balance is above the plan requirements—usually $5,000 or more) or roll it over to an IRA. In most cases, rolling over a 401k to an IRA is your best choice […]
Chasing After Investment Returns (10/20/2016) - Chasing after investment returns is something we’ve all done. It’s human nature to look at an investment that’s been red hot and think that string of over performance can continue into the future. Buying an investment that had an outstanding year and selling an investment that underperformed the market sounds like a smart move. Unfortunately, doing […]
Turbo Charge Your Savings Now (9/16/2016) - What if you’ve gone through all the “low hanging fruit” cost-saving ideas and still find yourself well below the annual savings needed to achieve your retirement nest egg?  If this is the case, here are some aggressive steps you can take to turn things around in the last 10 to 15 years before retirement.  Although […]
Understanding Your Parent’s Financial Situation (8/16/2016) - When it comes to talking about money, there’s no more difficult discussion than the one you need to have with your elderly parents regarding their financial situation. Of course, the last thing you want your parents to think is that you’re fishing around as to what they have and what you’ll inherit. Because this is […]
Strategically Managing Your Debt (7/15/2016) - Are you better off using your savings to invest for the future or to focus on paying down debt?  This is a tough question, and it depends on the kind of debt you have.  Remember, your ultimate goal is to retire debt free by eliminating all mortgage, auto, credit card, and other loan payments.  But […]
The Impact of Market Timing (6/15/2016) - There are people out there, professional money managers and individual investors, who feel that the market can be beat by timing when you buy and sell. People put a lot of time and money into elaborate models and technical analysis to identify when to get in and out of the market. I equate this to […]
The Pension Pitfall (5/16/2016) - There used to be a time when you knew that if you stayed with the same company your entire working career, there was an excellent chance that your loyalty would be rewarded with a generous pension.  Those days are long gone.  Over the past 30 years, the number of companies that offer pensions has declined […]
Getting Income from Your Retirement Plans (4/14/2016) - Prior to receiving Social Security or a pension, you may have a need to create a stream of income to cover your living expenses. If this is the case, your company’s retirement plan (i.e., 401k, 403b, and 457b) may allow for periodic payments once you leave based on your life expectancy even if you’re under […]
Spending on Your Children (3/17/2016) - Even some of the most dedicated hard-core savers have a problem when it comes to spending too much on their children.  Let’s face it:  we all have a soft spot for our children.  Most parents want their children to have all the things they never had growing up.  This is natural and is something parents […]
Reverse Mortgage: Lifeline or Liability (2/15/2016) - One of the options available to seniors who own their home and are over the age of 62 is a reverse mortgage. Administered as a federal program under the Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a reverse mortgage is a special type of home loan that lets you convert a portion of the equity in your […]
Entitlement Reform – Part III (1/18/2016) - In Parts I and II, I outlined all the issues we have with Social Security and Medicare.  Although these issues are very real, I do believe there is a potential solution to save these very important programs for everyone.   Without further ado, let’s get to the specifics. Although there are numerous ways to fix these plans, […]
Entitlement Reform – Part II (12/14/2015) - In Entitlement Reform – Part I, I laid out all the gory details about entitlement spending and mentioned that a solution could be implemented to preserve these benefits for everyone.  Retired seniors currently receiving Social Security and Medicare would see no change in their benefits and would not be impacted by the solutions I’ll discuss.  […]
Entitlement Reform – Part I (11/12/2015) - When it comes to managing our annual deficit and slowing down the growth of our nearly $19 trillion of national debt, no other topic gets discussed more than entitlement reform.   Although we all know entitlement spending is big, let’s look at the facts.  In 2014, the U.S annual budget/expenditures were over $3.5 trillion.  Of this amount, entitlements/transfer […]
How to Avoid Financial Scams (10/14/2015) - Although anyone can be a victim of a scam, most of these perpetrators seem to go after senior citizens. It isn’t that seniors are gullible, but their desire to help people, especially family members in need, makes seniors susceptible to having their pockets picked. Of course, not all scams are immediate requests for money, which […]
What Retirement Accounts do I Sell First? (9/14/2015) - As you’ve been building your nest egg over the past 30-plus years, your focus has been to invest as much as possible in tax-advantaged accounts (e.g., 401k, IRA, etc.). After you saved the maximum allowed each year to these accounts, additional money was invested in taxable/non-retirement accounts. This approach made perfect sense as you wanted to […]
How to Title an Inherited IRA (8/17/2015) - You wouldn’t think that inheriting an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) would be difficult, and it isn’t, as long as you avoid some of the common mistakes. Before getting into the specifics, it’s important to understand the distinction between an IRA inherited by a spouse versus a non-spouse, as the rules are different. Note: The information […]
You’re Retired, So Now What (7/14/2015) - A common problem some people encounter when they leave work is they lose that social interaction with other people.  It’s hard going from spending most of your day collaborating with other people, having meetings, and working on projects with coworkers to staying at home with your spouse every day.  I agree that if you just […]
Why Index Funds are the Best Option (6/16/2015) - Index funds versus actively managed funds, which is the better investment?  This is a fair question and one that needs to be thoroughly answered.  Let’s start with why people would choose to invest in actively managed funds in the first place.  The simple answer is that you’re getting a professional manager who’s providing hands-on research […]
Maximize Your College Investment (5/14/2015) - Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that the cost of college is out of control and won’t slow down any time soon.  If you take a look at the chart below, you’ll see that the cost of college is growing faster than inflation and the cost of health care.  How much […]
Medicare: What Changes are Coming? (4/14/2015) - One of the great benefits of turning 65 is access to Medicare. Although you may retire before becoming eligible, the impact must be understood before you apply for benefits. This insurance, which you and your employer both paid 1.45% on every dollar of wages you earned over your lifetime, will provide some help to offset […]
You’re Never too Old or Smart to Learn (3/16/2015) - I remember once being told that you can learn from anybody.  Even a person who seems like they don’t have their act together can easily teach what NOT to do which is just as invaluable as learning what to do.  The problem is that most people feel that taking advice from someone is an indictment […]
Focus on What You Control (2/13/2015) - In life, there are so many things that are out of your control.  Although you may do your best to be prepared for what life throws your way, every day is full of surprises.  When it comes to your financial well-being, the best thing you can do is prepare a financial plan that puts you […]
Reduce Your Income Taxes (1/13/2015) - You may not think about it, but taxes are one of your biggest expenses.  Although certain taxes you pay, such as payroll taxes, are out of your control, the amount you pay for all these taxes are completely within your control.  Some of these strategies require a monetary investment in order to reap the available […]
Believing in the Process (11/13/2014) - The returns we saw from 1982 through 1999 when the S&P 500 generated an annualized rate of return in excess of 17% were a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. During this incredible period, it was hard to believe that returns like this weren’t the new norm. Looking back, it’s easy to see that this couldn’t continue. Long-term common […]
What Expenses Do You Really Control? (9/15/2014) - This is a question I hear all the time, and the answer may surprise you. The percent of after-tax expenses within your control are 100%. I know you’re probably saying that’s impossible since expenses like my mortgage, auto loan payments, property taxes, etc., are fixed cost that don’t change from month to month. And because […]
Spenders vs Savers (3/6/2014) - Before understanding what separates spenders from savers, you have to know the attributes of each.  First of all, a spender enjoys the rush from buying stuff.  Nothing feels better than buying the latest fashions or the newest gadgets that let everyone know they own the best of the best and are part of the “in” […]
Solutions to Increase Social Security (12/3/2013) - Choosing when to take Social Security isn’t the only option you have to increase your payments. If you are married, a host of other possibilities are available that should be explored.  For some people, Social Security will be their primary source of income to cover expenses in retirement (see below chart). For most married couples, […]