Tax Traps, Part 1

Talking taxes on a Friday is a lot easier than talking taxes on a Monday! Believe it or not, at this time of year it is smart to be talking taxes no matter what. Preparation and planning are the name of the game.*

The issue of higher FUTURE taxes is critical to clients of all income levels – especially those in higher tax brackets – and all ages. You will hear me repeatedly hammering home this “tax trap” issue – with the research and collaboration from my sources to back it up.

Here is some “good” news when it comes to taxes and tax strategies: the Roth IRARoth IRA conversion and Roth 401k are alive and well for now. The “good” part is that for nearly ALL reading this, you ARE eligible for both the Roth IRA conversion and the Roth 401k (if your company offers a Roth 401k) even if you are in the higher/highest income brackets or own a business! And these strategies can be employed NOW for 2020 and 2021.

The issue of higher FUTURE taxes is critical to clients of all income levels, especially those in higher tax brackets
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

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The SoftBank “Secret”

By now, most investors know that in late February of this year through mid-March the stock markets kind of crashed. It was a matter of 31 days from February 20th to March 23rd….not that I had to look that up or anything.

It was swift and ugly. And then, the stock markets both suddenly and slowly recovered, hitting it big in April and then gradually reaching new all-time records by September. Hmmmm… how does that work? Is it “free markets”? More buyers than sellers? Individuals throwing money at stocks?

SoftBank reported $4 billion of options trades representing $50 billion of underlying value in the same handful of technology stocks in the US.

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All Cash?

“Do I go to all cash?”

“Do I go to all cash at least until after the election?”

More than a few people have asked me this question over the past several months. Even more people have probably asked themselves this question. The answer, if historical data of the S&P 500 index is a guide, is a firm NO.

This chart illustrates the impact of missing just the 25 best days in the market, the 15 best, 5 best and 1 best day.

The chart above illustrates the impact of missing just the 25 best days in the market, the 15 best, 5 best and 1 best day. The days are NOT CONSECUTIVE, they are random best days. If missed, the majority of stock market gains are missed.

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The Elephant in the Room

“Elephant in the room,” “ticking time bomb”…whatever you wish to call it, there is an issue currently present but not talked about nearly enough. The issue hits a nerve with nearly everyone – investor/saver or not. The issue is taxes – more specifically future taxes on retirement savings. Unfortunately, the issue has become so politicized that its true impact has almost been forgotten.

 Tax rates and total taxes paid may be higher or the same as today for lots of savers in retirement.

Back in 2016, I discussed part of this topic in TGIF 2 Minutes. (Click Death & Taxes to read.) At that time, the focus was soaring healthcare costs.

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Goals Gut Check

From the TGIF 2 Minutes Archives earlier this year PRE-coronavirus…

Earlier this year in February things were GOOD! The economy was cranking, unemployment was low, wages were up, and it was a somewhat perfect time of the year to set goals. Think: it was pre-tax filing time and after the holidays.

Fast forward to today… the world has changed. Our savings have been tapped in the pandemic — and new savings and other goals need to be reset! While the kids may now be going back to school (followed by maybe not??) using this precious time to set just a handful of goals can pay off toward achieving those goals.

silver and gold coins
Give yourself a “Goals Gut Check” with this precious time before things potentially go a little haywire.

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Why Do We Save Money?

As we persevere through the coronavirus pandemic, consider the following message from the 2019 Archives of TGIF 2 Minutes….

What is your reason for saving money? Is it retirement? Or are there “mini-goals” that would feel really great to achieve today?

Of course, retirement is often a primary long-term savings goal, but not always. “Retirement” encompasses more than simply stopping work and being on a “permanent vacation.” In fact, research published in the Journal of Financial Planning* reports that quitting work cold turkey often is not reality – for a number of reasons.

green typewriter on brown wooden table
What is your reason for saving money? Is it retirement? Or are there “mini-goals” that would feel really great to achieve today?

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YTD Market Performance Broken Down

After talking with a number of clients and friends in the past couple of weeks it became apparent that a breakdown of YTD stock market performance would be informative. There are major pronounced differences currently in the various stock categories. An explanation of these differences could illuminate why certain portfolios have gone up (or down) more than others. 

Please note that this discussion is not meant to minimize the importance of performance. Performance is critical; however, the time frame of performance evaluation and the concept of progress toward achieving goals are even more critical to successful investing.

business charts commerce computer
Performance is critical; however, the time frame of performance evaluation and the concept of progress toward achieving goals are even more critical to successful investing.

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Women, Men, Long Lives & Money

Married, Single, Divorced or Widowed – women tend to live longer than men. There are also new statistics of how mentally sharp and physically fit women stay longer into life. Why is this important? If you guessed that these facts mean that women need to save and invest more then you guessed right. Men AND women, please keep reading!

joyful adult daughter greeting happy surprised senior mother in garden
Women need to build an awareness of saving both on their own (married or not) and together with a spouse if married.

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The Corona Purchase

This past week, at a neighbor’s drive-by 11-year old birthday gathering, I learned a new term: The Corona Purchase. The term refers to money spent on a larger one-time purchase amidst the sadness of being forced to stay home for the past three months. The concept also confirms an observation mentioned in a recent edition of TGIF 2 Minutes about families experiencing lower spending overall the past several months – so therefore possibly accumulating extra savings here and there.

Items reported to have been purchased or installed include:

  • Cars
  • Boats
  • Home gyms
  • Swimming pools (think: kids missing swim teams)
  • Outdoor landscaping
  • Small- and medium-sized home remodeling projects.

close up photography of white poodle
“Corona Purchases” may have added value to a home or saved money or monthly expenses in the long-term (in the case of a home gym) which is positive.

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Check Your Beneficiaries

Another quick note this week – but important!

Whatever, whoever you want to call them: Beneficiaries, “Bennys”, Heirs… make sure to check who is listed as Beneficiary or Beneficiaries on your retirement accounts, insurance policies, IRAs or in your Will (if you have a Will).*

Inevitably, time flies. Loved ones pass away or important loved ones, well, change. (Think: divorce, relationship changes). On the positive side, new beneficiaries, or heirs, are born or enter the picture! In the busy-ness of life, often the accuracy of beneficiaries goes unchecked.

angelic statue and sunset scenery
NO ONE enjoys talking about their death, but bottom line, after your death, it is too late to change beneficiaries.

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