Give Your Employees TLC by Spreading the Word on LTC

Most employees know every year to expect to make key decisions about their health insurance coverage, usually each fall.  But, are they aware that there are other critical decisions regarding voluntary benefits that may not even be subject to an open enrollment timeframe?

I recently facilitated a Retirement Readiness workshop for a group of pre-retirees in Chicago, where the biggest buzz centered around the group LTC policy available.  I try to encourage open dialogue during my financial education workshops, so when I began to talk about some of the risks in retirement,  Read more

Investment Ideas We Can Learn From the Silent Generation

When you go to the grocery store today to pick up a gallon of milk you have the opportunity to choose between whole milk, 2%, 1% or fat free and don’t forget that you can choose organic milk or even soy or rice milk.  We have multiple choices in just about everything – bread, cereal, jam, coffee, tea, etc.  It is an endless journey of choices!

Think back to our grandparents or parents and the choices they had.  You went to the store to buy milk and you picked up your gallon and walked home.  In terms of investing, there weren’t as many choices either.  Investments consisted of Treasury bills, bank accounts, stock and bonds – pretty simple.  In some ways, those days were easier without so many choices and some of the choices they did have were pretty good! Read more

How We Can Learn a Valuable Lesson from Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes was recently sentenced to three years in prison for failing to pay over $15,000,000 in taxes.  It could have been worse for him; the sentence was considered light because “jurors accepted his argument that he was innocently duped by errant tax advisers.”

That makes me ask a few questions: Wesley, what exactly were you thinking? You hired tax advisors who told you it was acceptable to NOT FILE TAX RETURNS???  Did that not sound suspicious? Read more

Beware of the “It Must Be Fate” Investment

Somehow I found myself in a conversation the other day concerning what we perceived were the most interesting investment choices we knew friends/family to have made. The one that immediately came to my mind was the one a family member had the misfortune of being a party to. Read more

Why Pay for Education?

As some of you may know, I used to be a financial advisor with the brokerage affiliate of a national bank.  As a financial advisor, I made a living by providing advice and selling investment products and services.  Since the only way I would make money is if I sold investment products or services, it did not make much sense for me to spend time helping bank customers that did not have assets to invest or a need for my services.  That, however, did not stop many of the bankers from referring their customers to me when they needed financial help.  Whether it was helping someone to get out of debt, or to simply create a budget, the bankers figured that since I was a financial planner it was my job to help their customers with these issues.  The truth is I loved to help, but the reality was I could not afford to help as much as I wanted to. Read more

FSAs: Not so Flexible Anymore

Effective as early as next year, the IRS will begin to limit the advantages of the Flexible Spending Account (FSA) on two fronts.  First, a cap of $2,500 will be imposed for 2013 and later FSA contributions which will reduce the pre-tax savings for those who had previously contributed higher amounts.   Second,  over- the- counter (OTC) drugs and medications will no longer be eligible for reimbursement in 2011 unless accompanied by a doctor’s prescription or letter of medical necessity.  So items such as cough syrup, acne cream, pain relievers, diaper rash ointment, and other common OTC medications now need a doctor’s stamp of approval.   Read more

Retirement Distribution Options

I was wondering why he would want to take a 50% lump sum distribution on his pension and take the rest as income when he was only 54 (going to retire at 55) and had a lump sum already – a fairly large balance in his 401(k).  Normally when I counsel people who have a substantial 401(k) balance, they want to take full advantage of the pension distribution – guaranteed for life with a steady stream of payments every single month that gets deposited directly into a bank account.  What could be sweeter and why wouldn’t he want that?  A pension is like the goose that laid the golden egg. Read more

Paying Down Debt – Which Theory Works the Best?

In the last few months, I have fielded calls about paying off debts, and which of the many theories about debt pay off works the best.  There are 3 primary theories out there that are being pitched to individuals looking to get out of debt.  I will use the same sample debt with each of these methods, for the sake of comparison.  ($10,000 debt at 24.9%, $8,000 @ 15%, $2,000 @ 5%,  and $50 above minimum payments to add to principal.)

1.  The most common advice I see given in the financial media is to pay off the highest interest debt first.  Why?   Read more

Thoughts Behind a Vacation/Retirement Home

I have to first say thank goodness for the “free upgrade” my wife and I received during our vacation in Playa Paraiso because it afforded me the ability to write this while viewing the tranquil waters of the Caribbean from our ocean view room.  Nice.

Back to the topic at hand.  We have been talking for a while about purchasing a home that we could spend some time in, if not live permanently, when we both retire.   Read more

Playing it Safe

With talk about a possible “double-dip” recession looming, investors had better take precaution.  I’m not here to say that I think another recession will occur, but at the same time I don’t think the best approach is to bury your head in the sand and hope that everything turns out okay.

There are several things investors can do to prepare for the possibility of another economic downturn: Read more

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