Newsletters

Fifty-six percent of American workers have saved less than $25,000 for retirement, and 46% have saved less than $10,000.1
Source: 1) Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2011

Will you outlive your retirement income?  How much liability insurance should you have? Should you add stocks to your portfolio?  Are your financial expectations for the coming year realistic?

Our financial newsletters are designed to provide helpful information on a wide variety of financial topics.  Simply click on one of the newsletter topics below to read the article in its entirety.

  • February

    The Affordable Care Act Goes into Action
    The Affordable Care Act enters a pivotal phase of implementation in 2013. This article outlines changes that may affect taxpayers and consumers, including new tax provisions to help pay for benefits under the act, issues that may impact employer-based coverage, and the rapidly developing landscape of state-based insurance exchanges.

    Updating Heirs on Your Accounts
    The beginning of the year may be a good time to review beneficiary designations to make sure they reflect current wishes. This article explains why beneficiary forms for retirement accounts and insurance policies supercede instructions in a will, and it outlines some important considerations when reviewing beneficiary designations.

    Libor Levels
    The London Interbank Offered Rate, commonly known as Libor, has been in the news this year because of allegations that a number of banks tried to manipulate it during the 2007–2009 financial crisis. If you are not familiar with Libor, you may wonder what it is and how it might affect your own financial situation.

    Steady Income for a Long Life
    The number of Americans aged 90 and older is expected to quadruple by 2050. Although the trend toward a longer life is positive, many people are concerned about making their retirement savings last. This article introduces readers to longevity insurance and how it could provide a guaranteed income stream when they reach a specific age.

    Here Comes Another Earnings Season
    Publicly traded companies are required to report their financial results to regulators and shareholders quarterly, disclosing their successes and failures. This article focuses on the information that is presented to investors during earnings season and how understanding the reporting process may help readers keep short-term market swings in perspective.

    Making Your Own Retirement Opportunities
    About two-thirds of small-business owners fear that they are financially unprepared for retirement, yet one-third do not have a personal or business-sponsored retirement plan in place. This article focuses on the potential tax benefits and contribution limits of solo 401(k) plans and SEP IRAs.

  • January

    HOT TOPIC: Disastrous Sandy: The Financial Effects of a Historic Storm
    Hurricane Sandy inflicted an estimated $50 billion in losses from property damage, lost business activity, and additional living costs. This article focuses on the insured and uninsured financial losses that may slow the U.S. economy in the short term, and discusses how recovery spending may contribute to GDP growth in 2013.

    The Risk of a “Flight to Safety”
    During the financial crisis, investors moved money into money market mutual funds as a “flight to safety.” Then when the stock market started to recover, cash flowed out of these funds almost as quickly as it flowed in. This article examines money market funds while also cautioning investors about their limitations.

    Cost of Early Retirement Plan Withdrawal
    More workers have been borrowing from their retirement accounts or taking hardship withdrawals in the past few years. Even so, 55% of those who took a cash distribution when changing jobs said they regretted having done it. This article explains why early retirement plan withdrawals could be more costly than they might seem.

    Having a Backup Plan
    People are working longer and often carrying major financial responsibilities, such as mortgages, into their later years. For those who work, a period of disability could not only have immediate financial consequences but might also impact the options available for retirement. This article focuses on the benefits of an individual disability income insurance policy.

    Understanding High-Deductible Medical Plans
    For some families, a high-deductible plan managed in combination with a health savings account (HSA) may be a more affordable and flexible health insurance option. This article focuses on HSA rules, tax implications, and maximum coverage levels, as well as potential benefits and drawbacks.

    Adding Exports to Growth Strategies
    An emerging middle class of consumers in China, Russia, India, and elsewhere may provide lucrative markets for products offered by smaller U.S. companies. This article explores the reasons why more small firms are incorporating exports into their business plans and introduces some resources that may be available.

  • December

    HOT TOPIC: QE3: Is the Third Time the Charm?
    In September, the Federal Reserve announced the third round of quantitative easing, dubbed QE3, in an effort to stimulate the still struggling U.S. economy. This article examines the potential benefits and risks of QE3, how it differs from QE1, QE2, and Operation Twist, and how it may impact investors and consumers.

    Big, Medium, and Small: Spreading the Risk
    During the five-year period from 2007 to 2011, the total return of large-cap stocks was a disappointing -1.24%. The performance of small- and mid-sized companies during the same period was much better: 17.72% and 10.10%, respectively. This article compares large-cap, mid-cap, and small-cap stocks and explains how they can be used to diversify a portfolio.

    An Introduction to Trusts
    Many people think trusts are only for the rich, but that’s not necessarily the case. Most estates go through the probate process, and tax changes scheduled to take effect in 2013 could subject even modest estates to federal estate taxes. This article presents some trust basics and describes how a trust could help reduce or avoid the costs of probate and estate taxes.

    Growing Interest in ETFs
    Since the first exchange-traded fund was introduced in the United States in 1993, the ETF market has grown to include more than 1,200 ETFs with total assets exceeding $1.1 trillion. Even so, ETFs remain somewhat mysterious to many investors. This article describes ETF basics and how they can be used appropriately in investment strategies.

    Potential Changes to the Gift Tax
    The highly favorable treatment of federal estate and gift taxes is scheduled to expire at the end of 2012. This article explains current gift limits and exclusions and the lifetime exemption, and why it may be a good time to examine gift options because of the uncertainty of the gift tax next year.

    Family Limited Partnerships
    Business owners who want family members to inherit their businesses in the future may want to consider using a family limited partnership to transfer estate assets during their lifetimes — and long before they plan to relinquish control. This article focuses on how FLPs work and their potential role in business succession and estate planning.

  • November

    HOT TOPIC: Fiscal Cliff: How Election-Year Inaction Could Affect the US Economy
    Nearly $600 billion in federal tax increases and spending cuts are scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2013, unless lawmakers address the deficit, taxes, and government spending. Political and fiscal policy uncertainty may cause bouts of market volatility in the latter part of the year.

    End of Year Tax Tips
    With the end of the year fast approaching, it may be a good time to consider some steps that could help reduce your 2012 income tax liability.

    The Dow Then and Now
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average is so ingrained in American financial thinking that many investors may not have stopped to consider what it represents and how accurately it may reflect broader market trends. This article presents a brief history of the Dow and how it has evolved with the American economy.

    The Attraction of Bonds
    Bonds are generally considered to offer lower returns than stocks, but the last decade demonstrated that isn't always true, as corporate bonds outpaced stocks by an annual average of 4% during the period. This article presents the fundamentals of bonds and bond mutual funds, and the role they can play in an investment portfolio.

    Looking Beyond Your Credit Score
    Baby boomers and people aged 66 and over have higher credit scores than younger age groups, but they may still face credit challenges. This article examines how debt held by these age groups compares with national averages.

    Business Builder or Time Waster?
    In a recent survey, 94% of marketers reported they are using social media to publicize their businesses, and small business owners, too, were willing to tout its benefits. This article discusses social media trends for business owners and includes some tips for creating and using social media accounts effectively.

  • October

    HOT TOPIC: Potential Impact of the 2012 Drought
    By the end of July, hot and dry conditions had driven a rapid expansion of drought across 63% of the nation, devastating crops and livestock. While the severity and full effect of the drought might not become clear for some time, it may be helpful to examine its potential implications for consumers and the U.S. and global economies.

    More Affordable than You Might Think
    Even though the cost of life insurance has fallen over the last decade, 80% of consumers cite financial reasons for not having enough coverage. Americans overestimated the cost by almost three times the actual price. This article encourages readers to explore the benefits of having adequate protection for their families.

    Graduating with Debt
    In 2010, about 56% of students who received a bachelor’s degree from a public college or university had an average debt of $22,000; private-school graduates averaged $28,100 in debt. This article emphasizes the importance of saving to help reduce potential debt and how college could be considered an investment in the future.

    Introducing UITs
    This basic primer on unit investment trusts describes how they operate, how they differ from mutual funds, tax implications, and potential investment risks.

    Take Advantage of Medicare Open Enrollment
    Each year between October 15 and December 7, eligible beneficiaries can make changes to their Medicare health or prescription drug coverage for the following year. The article examines some of the benefits of Plans A, B, C, and D and encourages readers to consider their options.

    Small Firms Still Face Credit Challenges
    Business owners often rely on borrowed money for the cash flow needed to run their operations, pay employees, or finance expansion. But since the recession, many small firms have found it more difficult to obtain financing when needed. This article takes a look at how small businesses are coping with today’s challenging credit environment.