Creating an Investment Portfolio

Creating an Investment Portfolio

You've identified your goals and done some basic research. You understand the difference between a stock and a bond. But how do you actually go about creating an investment portfolio? What specific investments are right for you? What resources are out there to help you with investment decisions? Do you need a financial professional to help you get started?

How Much Can You Truly Afford?

How Much Can You Truly Afford?

An old rule of thumb said that you could afford to buy a house that cost between one and a half and two and a half times your annual salary. In reality, there's a lot more to take into consideration. You'll want to know not only how much of a mortgage you qualify for, but also how much you can afford to spend on a home. In order to know how much you can truly afford, you need to take an honest look at your lifestyle and your standard of living, as well as your income and what you choose to spend it on.

The New Estate Tax Rules and Your Estate Plan

The New Estate Tax Rules and Your Estate Plan

New to estate tax law was gift and estate tax applicable exclusion portability: generally, any gift and estate tax basic exclusion left unused by a deceased spouse could be transferred to the surviving spouse in 2011 and 2012. The GST tax exemption, however, is not portable. Starting in 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (the 2012 Tax Act) permanently extended the $5 million (as indexed for inflation) basic exclusion amount and GST tax exemption and portability of the gift and estate tax applicable exclusion amount, but also increased the top gift, estate, and GST tax rate to 40%. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act doubled the basic exclusion amount to $11.18 million in 2018 (indexed annually for inflation). The exclusion is $11.4 million in 2019. After 2025, the exclusion is scheduled to revert to its level prior to 2018 and be cut by about one-half. You should understand how these new rules may affect your estate plan.

Estate Planning and Income Tax Basis

Estate Planning and Income Tax Basis

Income tax basis can be an important factor in deciding whether to make gifts during your lifetime or transfer property at your death. This is because the income tax basis for the person receiving the property depends on whether the transfer is by gift or at death. This, in turn, affects the amount of taxable gain subject to income tax when the person sells the property.

For the Ladies: Planning for the Financial Impact of Children

For the Ladies: Planning for the Financial Impact of Children

Children are a special blessing and their arrival brings boundless love and joy into our lives that you can't put a price on. But adding a child to the household impacts the family budget (and women especially) in very measurable ways. Whether this is your first child or your fourth, here are some financial matters to think about and plan for before and after your child arrives.

Establishing a Budget: Helping you reach your financial goals

Establishing a Budget: Helping you reach your financial goals

A brand new year probably means you set some lofty New Year’s Resolutions. Was one of your resolutions to be smarter with your money to reach a financial goal? Do you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start? If so, you may want to establish a budget to help you keep track of how you spend your money and help you reach your goals.

Planning for Remarriage

Planning for Remarriage

Welcome to the “engagement season” where nearly 40% of engagements take place. Tomorrow is the day where a number of couples will decide to embark on a new journey of combining their lives. If you find yourself among the others, have you thought about the enormous responsibility of combining your personal finances with your spouse's, and reassessing the way you and your spouse structured personal finances as unmarried individuals? If not, you may want to start thinking about it!

Setting a Retirement Savings Goal

Setting a Retirement Savings Goal

Many Americans realize the importance of saving for retirement, but knowing exactly how much they need to save is another issue altogether. With all the information available about retirement, it is sometimes difficult to decipher what is appropriate for your specific situation.

How to Save Money on Your Auto Insurance

How to Save Money on Your Auto Insurance

You may have good reason to complain about the cost of your auto insurance, but have you tried to do anything about it? If you're resourceful and willing to do a little homework, there may be plenty of ways to lower your premium. And we're not necessarily talking chump change--a few simple steps can sometimes save you hundreds of dollars a year.

Winterizing Your Home

Winterizing Your Home

The leaves have fallen, the days are getting shorter, and the weather's getting colder. Soon the snow will fly, and you're looking forward to snuggling on the couch with a good book in front of a warm fire. But before you get too comfortable, make sure that your house is ready for the winter.

Handling Market Volatility

Handling Market Volatility

Conventional wisdom says that what goes up, must come down. But even if you view market volatility as a normal occurrence, it can be tough to handle when it's your money at stake.

Though there's no foolproof way to handle the ups and downs of the stock market, the following common sense tips can help.

Financial Independence: Helping you See the Big Picture

Financial Independence: Helping you See the Big Picture

Do you picture yourself owning a new home, starting a business, or retiring comfortably? These are a few of the financial goals that may be important to you, and each comes with a price tag attached.

That's where financial planning comes in. Financial planning is a process that can help you target your goals by evaluating your whole financial picture, then outlining strategies that are tailored to your individual needs and available resources.

Getting Help from a Financial Professional

Getting Help from a Financial Professional

Are you suddenly on your own or forced to assume greater responsibility for your financial future? Unsure about whether you're on the right track with your savings and investments? Finding yourself with new responsibilities, such as the care of a child or an aging parent? Facing other life events, such as marriage, divorce, the sale of a family business, or a career change?