Category Uncategorized

“Mutual Funds” – open, closed, ETF – what’s the difference?

“Mutual Fund” – a pooled investment structure, with professional management and typically holding a diversified portfolio allowing multiple share holders to own a slice of such a portfolio easily. But we often hear people talking about mutual funds and comparing them to Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and Closed-ended funds (CEFs). First, note that ETFs and […]

US Treasury Series I Savings Bonds

US Treasury Series I Savings Bonds US Savings bonds are bonds you purchase directly from the US Treasury.  They are a little different from buying ordinary treasury bonds, in that you buy them directly from the treasury, and you cannot sell them to anyone else — you hold them until you redeem them, again, directly […]

Social Security Benefit Basics

Sure, you get a periodic statement from the SSA indicating what your benefit will be if you continue working to 62, to your full retirement age (might be as high as 67) or to 70. And they tell you those benefits in today’s dollars.

But how did they come up with those numbers?

Can My Former Employer Force Me To Take My 401k Balance Out?

When you leave an employer, you typically have three choices as to what to do with money in the (now) former employer’s retirement plan. Note that there are actually many many types of employer-based retirement plans (including defined benefits/pensions, annuities, etc) and we are mainly addressing the most common, the 401k plan here. You may […]

SECURE Act changes retirement savings rules

Of course, these are subject to change… But for most folks the main planning challenges/opportunities are going to be around the new 72 age for Required Minimum Distributions, and the elimination of the “stretch” distributions for inherited IRAs. (These, specifically, affect nearly everyone with any retirement account. The rest of the changes affect much smaller […]

Your Social Security number isn’t suspended. Ever.

Scammers have been working overtime lately. Don’t fall for it. Don’t call them back. Don’t give them money. Don’t give them information.   If you want to confirm that your SSN is okay — call the Social Security Administration directly, visit an office, or just start by logging on to your SS account online directly. […]

What Happened to my Tax Exemptions?

Or: The TCJA giveth, the TCJA taketh away. One huge change in the tax code as a result of the 2017 TCJA (“Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”) was that there are no longer “personal exemptions”. Previously, each exemption worked — in addition to either the standard deduction or itemized deductions — to effectively lower one’s […]

Did You or Did You NOT Lose The Home Office Deduction?

There’s been a lot of confusion regarding the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (Also known as TCJA, or as the “Trump Tax Cuts”). One particular source of such confusion is regarding the loss of certain itemized deductions — previously included as part of the “Job Expenses and Certain Miscellaneous Deductions” […]

Year end strategizing for the potential tax reform

While the GOP has apparently tightened up on deductions from folks accelerating state and local tax payments, that was always going to be a somewhat limited option. The big takeaway is this – you need to understand the structure of your current deductions — and whether you are in AMT now — and whether you […]

Mortgage Rates hit 2017 Low

Freddie Mac surveys lenders weekly and publishes average mortgage rates for the previous week every Thursday.  Today they’ve published rates which show a year-to-date low:  30 year mortgage originations are down to 3.78% (with 50bp points/fees), 15 year mortgages are down to 3.08% and 5/1 ARMs are down to 3.15%. These aren’t quite historic lows […]