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Welcome to our blog. Here you can find views on the financial world and keep updated on the latest news.

Don’t Sabotage Your Finances

Don’t Sabotage Your Finances

How to avoid being your own worst enemy when it comes to your money and long term goals.

We all want to be better off, right?  Ideally, we would always make decisions that result in our best interest and help us reach our goals.  However, I think we know that isn’t always true.  Sometimes people sabotage themselves – eating that extra doughnut, hitting the snooze button when we are supposed to work out, letting Netflix keep playing the next episode, the list can go on and on.  Why we do this usually has to do with short term wants over long term well-being.   

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Are Traditional 401(k) Plans Obsolete?

Are Traditional 401(k) Plans Obsolete?

Given the new tax rules and rates, it may be time to reconsider your retirement plan options

There are many financial rules of them (don’t spend more than you earn, save 20% of your income, etc.) with one of big ones being to put money away in a pre-tax 401(k) if your work offers one.  The main incentive to do so is that these accounts have tax advantages – some of your earnings go in tax free, it grows tax free, and you then pay taxes later when you take withdrawals at hopefully a lower rate.

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Three Things to Do TODAY to S-T-R-E-T-C-H Your Money During the Pandemic

Three Things to Do TODAY to S-T-R-E-T-C-H Your Money During the Pandemic

Whether it’s a job loss, layoff, or furlough, the quicker you start making changes, the better. Acting quickly ensures you can continue meeting today’s expenses without accruing further debt and will allow you to keep on-track for your retirement goals.

  1. Get your mindset right.
    1. Even if the loss seems insignificant at first- a 10% pay cut or reduction in 401(k) matching - it can be just as damaging to your finances. As soon as you find out you will be experiencing a reduction in your income, start thinking about how you can spend less.
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The Coming Value Boom

The Coming Value Boom

Why Isn’t It Working?

Have you ever seen the old Popeye cartoons?

If you have, then you know there was a certain vegetable that gave Popeye super strength as soon as he ate a can of it. That’s right, spinach.

He would eat that can of spinach and his muscles would immediately get bigger and he would suddenly be able to defeat his arch enemy Bluto and rescue his true love Olive Oyl.

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Is Your Homeowners Insurance Strong Enough?

Is Your Homeowners Insurance Strong Enough?

Your home is often the most valuable thing you own; not only for sentimental reasons, but just for the sheer dollar amount.  I am guessing that while the vast majority of you have homeowners insurance, people often do not know or understand the coverage they have.  In some cases, this can be costly if a claim is made later.  Here are a few things to review in your homeowners’ policy that are common points of confusion.

 

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Why the SECURE Act Makes Life Insurance More Attractive

Why the SECURE Act Makes Life Insurance More Attractive

With the new restrictions for inherited IRAs for non-spouses due to the new SECURE Act, it may make sense to use life insurance as an estate planning tool.

With the passing of the SECURE Act last year, there is a significant change to inherited IRAs for non-spouses.  Rather than withdrawals being taken over the course of the recipient’s life, they must now be taken fully over 10 years.  This can cause creation of a higher tax burden as this money counts towards the income of each beneficiary.

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Warning – The S&P 500 May Ruin Your Retirement

Warning – The S&P 500 May Ruin Your Retirement

The Warning

If you are a typical investor (or financial advisor for that matter), it is possible that the S&P 500 index could do a great deal of damage to your retirement plans.  To be clear, the problem with the S&P 500 index is not that it has performed poorly or that I’m predicting that it will perform poorly in the future.  The problem is that way too many investors and financial advisors give the S&P 500 stock index way too much power over their financial lives.

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Retirement: Why to STAY in Chicagoland

Retirement: Why to STAY in Chicagoland

Many people consider moving when retiring.

 If you live Chicago or its suburbs, it may be a good idea to stay put.

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Three Things You Need to Know About the Equifax Settlement

What happened?’

In September of 2017, Equifax announced a data breach that exposed the personal information of 147 million people. The company has agreed to a global settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and 50 U.S. states and territories.

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Biotech Breakthroughs Are Wreaking Havoc on Retirement Plans – Are You Prepared?

Biotech Breakthroughs Are Wreaking Havoc on Retirement Plans – Are You Prepared?

Biotech is experiencing a period of breakthrough advancements.  Immunotherapies, gene-editing, stem cell therapies, and targeted cancer treatments are among many technologies providing amazing new avenues to cure previously debilitating and fatal diseases.  The ability to share advancements through the internet has fueled the progress.  People are living longer thanks to these therapies.

Biotech’s advancements are wreaking havoc on peoples’ retirement plans and the effect has been greatly underestimated.  People approaching retirement have watched their parents and grandparents retire from work at 65 and then live a few years before passing.  But average life expectancy has increase from 68 years in 1950 to 79 years in 2013.  It is more and more common to know someone who is 100+ years old.  Strokes, if treated quickly, are no longer the death sentence they once were. 

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In Case of Emergency (ICE) Plan

In Case of Emergency (ICE) Plan

Oh no!  How do we pay the bills?  Where are the passwords?  Who do we need to contact?  What are the policy numbers?

A sudden illness causes loved ones to scramble.  It can be as simple as how do I know if the mortgage is being paid to where is the policy information for a long term care need.

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Are You Spending What You Think You Are?

Are You Spending What You Think You Are?

We think we know how much we spend but does what we think actually match the reality of what we are spending?  Sometimes you need to stop and do a reality check.  Keeping close track of your actual spending habits for a period of time not only verifies your spending habits but also makes you acutely aware of just how much we spend each month. 

Just how often do I stop for takeout during the week?  How much does that walk around the mall with friends actually cost me?  Do I actually know how much all my utility bills add up to each month or do I seem to forget about the cell phone bill or the extra Netflix when calculating these monthly charges in my head? 

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29 MUST HAVE Items on Your Go-Bag List

29 MUST HAVE Items on Your Go-Bag List

A go-bag is a bag packed with essential items and kept ready for use in the event of an emergency. (Hopefully, you will never need to use it, but if you do, it can be a lifesaver.)

There is plenty of information on the internet about Go-Bags.  If you don’t have a Go-Bag, perhaps this will inspire you to assemble one.

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Get Rid of That Nagging Feeling

Get Rid of That Nagging Feeling

Lake-Cook Road, Flat Tire, Rush Hour, Go-Bag—guess what was missing.

At some point in the last six months, I lost my go-bag with my emergency car supplies. I keep one in the back of my car. There were several times when I was hauling things for our perpetual remodel, and my guess is that I left it sitting somewhere–just not in my car–which kind of defeats the purpose of a go-bag.

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How a Holiday Budget Can Save You From the January Credit Card Bill Blues

How a Holiday Budget Can Save You From the January Credit Card Bill Blues

The holidays will be here sooner than you think.  Just look at the local stores already selling holiday decorations.  Personally, I just love the gift giving holidays, but my budget would say some years I have loved it a little too much.  And when January credit card bills roll in you definitely know you loved the gift giving too much.  But if you start now, you can make the holiday heartburn disappear.

Make a list of all the people you would like to honor with a gift this holiday.  Think of the decorations you might want to add, and the wrapping paper and tape it will take for all those presents.  Are you going to splurge on a large holiday meal with prime rib for everyone?

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Do You Need a Divorce Coach?

Do You Need a Divorce Coach?

Over the last few years, I have been hearing more and more about women (and men) working with a divorce coach to help them during and after their divorce.  They are often seeking out the help of a good coach because they want an experienced guide who can help ease the emotional pain of their divorce while focused on the things that matter most.

To find out more about what a divorce coach does and how a coaching program may be a help to you, I turned to well-known divorce coach Elisabeth Klein.  Elisabeth has written multiple books, speaks to thousands of women each year, and provides coaching to women who are either in a difficulty marriage or who are going through a divorce.

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3 Lazy Ways to Achieve Financial Fitness After Your Divorce

3 Lazy Ways to Achieve Financial Fitness After Your Divorce

Getting through the emotional, mental and financial challenges of a divorce is rarely easy.  While you may feel a sense of relief when that ordeal is concluded, you still have a variety of challenges to face – redefining yourself as a single woman, a changed social and perhaps economic picture, and processing the end of your marriage. 

All of that can be pretty exhausting, which is why you might be looking for some simple, even lazy ways, to make sure your financial fitness is on track post-divorce.

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Your Social Security Divorce Options Have Just Changed

Your Social Security Divorce Options Have Just Changed

If you are divorced, the recent changes to the Social Security law may mean that you will not be able to collect as much from Social Security as you had thought.  That is because the Budget Act of 2015 eliminated the option for anyone born after 1953 to file what is called a restricted application.

A restricted application allowed you to begin collecting a Social Security retirement benefit from your ex-husband at your full retirement age and then switch to receiving benefits based on your work history at age 70.  This made sense for many divorced women because for every month you delay starting your Social Security benefits, the amount of your monthly benefits increases.  A restricted application would allow you to get paid based on your ex-husband’s Social Security benefits while waiting for your benefits to grow larger.

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Five Surprising Facts About Divorce and Social Security

Five Surprising Facts About Divorce and Social Security

Not too long ago, a friend of ours gave us a bottle of pure maple syrup from Vermont.  It was delicious.

It got me thinking about the process of how maple syrup was made.  I wasn’t sure how they got syrup from a tree, so I did a little bit of online research.  Apparently, they put what they call a spile into a tree and the tree sap comes out through the spile and into a container below.

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5 Easy Ways to Lower Your Income Taxes

5 Easy Ways to Lower Your Income Taxes

5 Easy Ways to Lower Your Income Taxes

 

When you filed your tax return, did you think to yourself, “I’m paying too much,” or “What can I do to lower my taxes?

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Is Your Giving Going Where You Think It Is?

Is Your Giving Going Where You Think It Is?

Is Your Giving Going Where You Think It Is?

One of the greatest feelings comes from being able to give to others.  You want to make sure that as many dollars of your donation as possible actually reach the people in need that you are trying to help.  A few minutes of research can make sure your donation makes a strong impact.

QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT A CHARITY

Is the charity making the most of the money you donate? - While most charities have the greatest of intentions, not all charities are as careful with their operating expenses as one might like.   A rule of thumb is to look for at least 75% of funds to be directed to programs.  A high percentage of giving can be seen at a charity like Donors Choose, a charity that allows individuals to fund specific project requests from teachers in U.S. public schools, which directs 94.7% of all donations directly to the projects.

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Irmaa Who?

Irmaa Who?

Our team of advisors just spent several hours discussing IRMAA and honing strategies to deal with this pest.

No, I didn’t misspell it, and I’m not referring to Erma Bombeck or a great great aunt of mine. This is the Income Related Medicare Adjustment Amount. Simply put, the more income on your tax return in retirement, the more you will pay for your Medicare Part B and Part D prescription drug premiums.

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The Devil Is In The Details

The Devil Is In The Details

Several years ago I received a call from an acquaintance. They had a financial plan done by one of those salespeople dressed like a financial planner. This friend had sold them an annuity several years prior, and he said, “I can even do a financial plan for you at no charge.” They took him up on the offer and the plan showed they could retire in a couple of years. But they felt uncertain and the planner simply said, “trust me it will all work out,” without reviewing any of the assumptions in the plan. They just weren’t certain they would have the abundance they were hoping for.

They were very uncomfortable. It seemed too good to be true. They had this gnawing feeling that something wasn’t right. They were not certain they could retire without running out of money down the road. They wrestled with that thought for a few months and then gave me a call. They knew I was a Certified Financial Planner® practitioner and since they were struggling with this “everything will be ok financial plan” they decided to ask me for a second opinion.

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Retirement Planning

Retirement Planning

Is it really possible to retire abundantly? It can seem overwhelming to find the answer. Where do you begin to figure this out? The questions start swirling…

  • Have I chosen the right investments?
  • Am I saving enough?
  • Am I using the best retirement plan?
  • Am I missing some important tax deductions?
  • How do I balance what I need today with an uncertain future?

And if you are younger additional questions pop up like:

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Securities offered through Royal Alliance Associates, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Insurance and investment advisory services offered through Phase 3 Advisory Services Ltd., a registered investment advisor not affiliated with Royal Alliance.

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