Your Money & Future
Thursday, September 29, 2022
October is the kickoff month for financial aid. That's when incoming and returning college students can start filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the next academic year. The FAFSA is a prerequisite for federal student loans, grants, and work-study, and may be required by colleges before they distribute their own institutional aid to students.
Tuesday, August 23, 2022
With approximately 94% of American workers covered by Social Security and 65 million people currently receiving benefits, keeping Social Security healthy is a major concern. Social Security isn't in danger of going broke — it's financed primarily through payroll taxes — but its financial health is declining, and benefits may eventually be reduced unless Congress acts.
Each year, the Trustees of the Social Security Trust Funds release a detailed report to Congress that assesses the financial health and outlook of this program. The most recent report, released on June 2, 2022, shows that the effects of the pandemic were not as significant as projected in last year's report — a bit of good news this year.
Tuesday, July 26, 2022
One silver lining in the current bear market is that this could be a good time to convert assets from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. Converted assets are subject to federal income tax in the year of conversion, which might be a substantial tax bill. However, if assets in your traditional IRA have lost value, you will pay taxes on a lower asset base when you convert. If all conditions are met, the Roth account will incur no further income tax liability for you or your designated beneficiaries, no matter how much growth the account experiences.
Tuesday, May 17, 2022
In March 2022, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), the most common measure of inflation, rose at an annual rate of 8.5%, the highest level since December 1981. It's not surprising that a Gallup poll at the end of March found that one out of six Americans considers inflation to be the most important problem facing the United States.
When inflation began rising in the spring of 2021, many economists, including policymakers at the Federal Reserve, believed the increase would be transitory and subside over a period of months. One year later, inflation has proven to be more stubborn than expected. It may be helpful to look at some of the forces behind rising prices, the Fed's plan to combat them, and early signs that inflation may be easing.
Tuesday, May 3, 2022
In February 2022, the IRS issued proposed regulations (generally applicable starting in 2022) that interpret the revised required minimum distribution (RMD) rules. Unless these proposals are amended, some beneficiaries could be subject to annual required distributions as well as a full distribution at the end of a 10-year period. Account owners and their beneficiaries may want to familiarize themselves with these new interpretations and how they might be affected by them.
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
On March 16, 2022, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve raised the benchmark federal funds rate by 0.25% to a target range of 0.25% to 0.50%. This is the beginning of a series of increases that the FOMC expects to carry out over the next two years to combat high inflation.
Along with announcing the current increase, the FOMC released economic projections that suggest the equivalent of six additional 0.25% increases in 2022, followed by three or four more increases in 2023. Keep in mind that these are only projections, based on current conditions, and may not come to pass. However, they provide a helpful picture of the potential direction of U.S. interest rates.
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), tax scams tend to increase during tax season and/or times of crisis. Now that tax season is in full swing, the IRS is reminding taxpayers to use caution and avoid becoming the victim of a fraudulent tax scheme. Here are some of the most common tax scams to watch out for.
Tuesday, March 1, 2022
Even though tax filing season is well under way, there's still time to make a regular IRA contribution for 2021. You have until your tax return due date (not including extensions) to contribute up to $6,000 for 2021 ($7,000 if you were age 50 or older on or before December 31, 2021). For most taxpayers, the contribution deadline for 2021 is Monday, April 18, 2022.
You can contribute to a traditional IRA, a Roth IRA, or both, as long as your total contributions don't exceed the annual limit (or, if less, 100% of your earned income). You may also be able to contribute to an IRA for your spouse for 2021, even if your spouse didn't have any 2021 income.
Tuesday, February 22, 2022
It's hard to talk about college without mentioning financial aid. In many cases, financial aid may be the deciding factor in whether your child attends the college of his or her choice. That's why it's important to develop a basic understanding of financial aid before your child applies to college. Without such knowledge, you may have trouble understanding the process of aid determination, filling out the proper aid applications, and comparing the financial aid awards that your child may receive. There are different types, different sources, and different formulas for evaluating your child's eligibility. Here are some of the basics to help you get started.
Tuesday, February 15, 2022
Expecting a Form 1099? Be aware the IRS allows investment sponsors to request extensions to compile information, so 1099s may not even arrive until mid-March or later. You may want to wait until closer to the April 15th deadline to file. For fastest access, we recommend signing up for online access to the individual company's website, if offered. For tips to make filing easier click here.
Tuesday, February 1, 2022
On December 15, 2021, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve System made a significant shift in monetary policy in response to rising inflation. The Committee accelerated the reduction of its bond-buying program in order to tighten the money supply and projected three increases in the benchmark federal funds rate in 2022, followed by three more increases in 2023. Both steps were more aggressive than previous FOMC actions or projections.1
To understand how these steps might affect the U.S. economy, investors, and consumers, it may be helpful to take a closer look at the FOMC's tools and strategy.
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
It's National Estate Planning Awareness Month! Estate planning is an essential element of every financial plan and goes much further than a will. It is the process of developing and implementing a master plan that directs the distribution of your property after your death according to your goals and objectives. Click here or the button below to learn more about which key estate planning documents you need.
Thursday, September 30, 2021
October is the kickoff season for financial aid. Each year there are billions of dollars in federal financial aid available from the U.S. Department of Education in the form of grants, loans and work-study funds. Current college or prospective students that fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) between October 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 can be selected as recipients of aid. And since much of the aid is first-come, first-served, the closer to the October 1, 2021 launch date students apply the greater the chance they have of getting some extra cash for college. Click here or the button below for some tips for filing your FAFSA!
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
September is Life Insurance Awareness Month! Life insurance plays a critical role by potentially providing protection from the worst-case scenario. At its most basic, life insurance is intended to offset the financial impact your death may have on the lives of your dependents. Monetary consequences such as funeral charges, medical bills, taxes, debts, and professional fees for attorneys or accountants are just a start. Or the impact may be more significant: what if you’re a stay-at-home parent whose children depend solely on a spouse’s income for all of their day-to-day needs? Click here or the button below to find out what you need to know about life insurance.
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Managing debt is an integral part of financial literacy. It can be used to help reach your goals, or it can be a hindrance, depending on how you use it. While in general, the less debt you have, the better. Knowing what types of debt to take on and how to keep it in control can be part of your full financial picture.
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
You work hard for your money, and the wealth you accumulate needs protection. Protecting yourself is a key principal that we briefly discussed in our introductory email of the Financial Literacy Series.
A major illness, automobile accident, or fire may leave you with unexpected expenses. Insurance can help cover some or all of these costs and reduce your risk. It’s important to be familiar with these common types of insurance.
Thursday, July 8, 2021
In general, workers seem to begin preparing for retirement almost as soon as they get their first job. However, according to the 2021 Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), retirement preparations do vary a bit by age group.
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
A key component of financial literacy is understanding the basics of investing. Investing doesn’t have to be complicated! You’re trading access to your money now to use later on while giving it time to potentially grow. There is a universe of investment vehicles that can be used in investing strategy.
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Knowing what you earn and having a solid budget are two necessary steps in managing your money. If you have both of these in place, you’ll want to set up plans to save for expenses you need to cover in the short term, long term, and in the event of an emergency. Having an actionable savings plan allows you to maximize your money and reach your investment goals.
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Setting up a budget is relatively simple; sticking to your budget can be much harder! Ask yourself why you want or need a budget in the first place – that way, you have a goal in mind! Think about aligning your budget to a shorter-term goal like buying a home or affording a vacation. That way, the finish line isn’t so far off! Achievement is just around the corner, click here for some steps to get you going!
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Understanding your total compensation is a pillar of your financial literacy, but there’s so much that can go into it! For many employers, a comprehensive employee benefits package is one way to attract and retain their employees. However, not all packages are created equal – some employers will cover more of the costs than others. It’s vital to understand the structure of these benefits and their impact on your take-home pay so you can make educated financial decisions. Here are common elements of a compensation package.
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
April is Financial Literacy Awareness Month! "Can You Pass the Test?" introduces our Financial Literacy Series. It's an excellent opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of financial literacy.
Financial literacy is the understanding of financial topics relating to personal finance, protection, borrowing, and investing. Here are the five key principles of financial literacy determined by the Federal Financial Literacy and Education Commission. Having a thorough knowledge of these concepts provides to base to make sound financial decisions that lead to a secure financial future.
Tuesday, April 19, 2021
Women often face special challenges when planning for retirement. For example, if they are the primary caregivers in their families, their careers may be interrupted to care for children or elderly parents, which means they may spend less time in the workforce and earn less money than men in the same age group. And even if they remain in the workforce, women still tend to earn less than men, on average.1 As a result, their retirement plan balances, Social Security benefits, and pension benefits are often lower.
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
When it comes to planning for your retirement income, it's easy to overlook some of the common factors that can affect how much you'll have available to spend. If you don't consider how your retirement income can be impacted by investment risk, inflation risk, catastrophic illness or long-term care, and taxes, you may not be able to enjoy the retirement you envision.
Thursday, March 25, 2021
Though tax filing season is well under way, there's still time to make a regular IRA contribution for 2020. You have until your tax return due date (not including extensions) to contribute up to $6,000 for 2020 ($7,000 if you were age 50 or older on or before December 31, 2020). For most taxpayers, the contribution deadline for 2020 is April 15, 2021.
You can contribute to a traditional IRA, a Roth IRA, or both, as long as your total contributions don't exceed the annual limit (or, if less, 100% of your earned income). You may also be able to contribute to an IRA for your spouse for 2020, even if your spouse didn't have any 2020 income.
* The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service has announced that the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year will be automatically extended to May 17, 2021, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed.
Per a recent press release from the IRS, even with the new federal deadline, consider filing as soon as possible. State filing and payment deadlines vary and are not always the same as the federal filing deadline. The IRS urges taxpayers to check with their state tax agencies for those details.
Thursday, March 18, 2021
On Thursday, March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA 2021) was signed into law. This is a $1.9 trillion emergency relief package that includes payments to individuals and funding for federal programs, vaccines and testing, state and local governments, and schools. It is intended to assist individuals and businesses during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and accompanying economic crisis. Major relief provisions are summarized here, including some tax provisions.
Tuesday, March 2, 2021
There's no doubt about it — last year was tumultuous. The coronavirus pandemic, a contentious election, and widespread protests were just some of the events that impacted our nation in 2020. Fortunately, the arrival of new vaccines has brought hope for a brighter 2021. If you are looking forward to a fresh start this year, why not begin with your personal finances? Here are some tips to help you get started.
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Two emergency relief bills passed in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will make this an unusual tax season for many taxpayers. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed in March, and a second relief package was attached to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, in December.
The federal government relied on the tax system to deliver financial lifelines to struggling households, boost consumer spending, and help speed the economic recovery.
The following provisions may affect many households when they file their personal tax returns for 2020. You might consult a tax professional who can further explain the relevant changes and recommend strategies to help reduce your tax liability for 2021.
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
The U.S. Department of Education has designated February as Financial Aid Awareness Month, and this year there's a lot to talk about. On December 21, 2020, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, another relief package in response to the pandemic. Included in the bill were several provisions related to education, including many changes to financial aid.