2021 What A Year So Far

Wow… year-end 2021 is fast approaching. As if 2020 was the year we all wanted to turn the page… it is deja vu all over again in 2021. BUT a positive spin can still be put on year-to-date 2021, especially with respect to market returns.

It may be too early to say that stock market gains, to date, have been better than decent in 2021. From the US small-cap index up 12%, to large-cap S&P 500 up 22%, to Nasdaq up 19%, to the Dow Jones up 13%, these are all solid year-to-date returns.

Take the time before year-end to evaluate portfolio gains and asset allocation.

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Year-End Tax Planning Tips 2021

Tax planning is important stuff. Perhaps not as exciting as the markets but saving money on taxes can still be exciting! Mid-November begins the countdown to year-end. The following is a handy Tax Planning Checklist.*  Some of these items, if done now, could make a big difference to the 2021 tax year AND add to savings.

1. How close are you to maxing out your 401k? The max is $19,500 for those under age 50 and an extra $6,500 for those age 50 and above. The deadline is December 31st and lots of 401k and 403b plans allow contributions of as much as 25-30% or even 100% of pay. Contribution rates can be lowered again in the new year.

There is still time remaining in 2021 to accomplish tax-deductions and/or create new savings vehicles!

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Will Social Security be There, Pt. 2

Last week tgif2minutes.com explored a basic statement directly from Social Security’s SSA.gov summarizing that taxes will mostly likely need to go UP TODAY to afford Social Security in the mid 2030’s and for future generations – which is only 15 years away.

This week’s edition will present several possible changes that could take place along the path to higher taxes in order to preserve the Social Security that American workers pay into dearly and expect to receive someday.

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Will Social Security Be There?

Here starts a mini-series of TGIF 2 Minutes editions.

The following is taken directly from the current Social Security website. The italics below are copied from the website and presumably are meant for emphasis. Underlines are mine.

The concepts of solvency, sustainability, and budget impact are common in discussions of Social Security but are not well understood. Currently, the Social Security Board of Trustees projects program cost to rise by 2035 so that taxes will be enough to pay for only 75 percent of scheduled benefits. This increase in cost results from population aging, not because we are living longer, but because birth rates dropped from three to two children per woman. Importantly, this shortfall is basically stable after 2035; adjustments to taxes or benefits that offset the effects of the lower birth rate may restore solvency for the Social Security program on a sustainable basis for the foreseeable future. Finally, as Treasury debt securities (trust fund assets) are redeemed in the future, they will just be replaced with public debt. If trust fund assets are exhausted without reform, benefits will necessarily be lowered with no effect on budget deficits.

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Portfolios & Back Pain

Have you ever had back trouble? Boy can it be a pain in the ### (pun intended). Recovery is usually possible by seeking – and taking – proper advice and treatment. Believe it or not, there is a way to relate the recovery process from back pain to the recovery and durability of investment portfolios. Stay with me here!

I will credit my excellent physical therapist, who knows very well my profession as a CFP®, for coming up with the concept. He said to me, “like your advice about my 401k allocation, the physical strength work a person does for years can make recovery from back trouble much swifter and even easier.” Hooray! While the recovery process for a person’s back can take several weeks to several months, the recovery process for properly positioned investment portfolios has been actively taking place for over 12 months and could continue over the life of a portfolio.

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Quick 401k Tax Tip Video

From the January 2021 archives of TGIF 2 Minutes – a relevant 401k tax tip video. Remember, the 2020 tax filing deadline was delayed until MAY 17TH, 2021. Considering this extra time, it is never too late to plan for the rest of 2021 and beyond. Enjoy this quick video.

Click the PLAY button above.

Thank you for watching, stay safe and TGIF!

The 401k Trap: Contact me for a copy at kdebbs@msfsolutions.com

Quick 1Q Wrap-Up

In the interest of the upcoming Easter and current Passover holidays today’s edition will be quick. Similar to the 1st Quarter of 2021 which seemed to FLY BY!

Market – and my clients’ portfolio – performance was strong to start the year. There is caution in the air, however, as 10-year US Treasury yields climbed to levels not seen since early 2020 before the pandemic began. The swiftness of the rise in bond yields warrants caution in the overall stock and bond markets.

The swiftness of the rise in bond yields warrants caution in the overall stock and bond markets.

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The $1,100 Cell Phone…Again!

From the Archives of TGIF 2 Minutes… read on for 2021 updates. Originally sent, April 2019.

Cash flow. Wouldn’t you like to have more of it around tax time? Well then, it may be time to delay or reconsider that new cell phone purchase.

Recently [in 2019] this “sticker shock” issue came to the forefront when I forked over $1,100 for my new Samsung Galaxy Note cell phone. OK, you may say, “Why didn’t you go with the zero-interest payment plan?” or, “Where have you been, Kerrie?” To which I would respond,

Having in place a stash of cash savings, “rainy day” fund, or emergency fund is one of the first things I discuss with all of my clients, no matter their income.

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Last Year’s Paycheck

Believe it or not, lots of people do not know how much they get paid. That is, in terms of total compensation. Of course, there are that handful of people who know exactly what they make – and most people know precisely their “net pay” that gets deposited into their bank account periodically. But in my years of discussing total compensation with my clients (who typically make a fair amount of money) a great deal of the time they do not know accurately enough how much they made in a given year.

Believe it or not, lots of people do not know how much they get paid.

January is an ideal time to take a closer look at a print-out of last year’s year-end pay stub to learn valuable details and information. Why is this important?

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