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Sectors: Overweight, Underweight, or Just Right?

The U.S. stock market had a banner year in 2021, with the S&P 500 index up almost 27%. Unfortunately, stocks turned downward on the second trading day of 2022 and kept sliding into a bear market. Stocks in the S&P 500 are classified by 11 different business sectors, each of which responds differently to economic conditions. For example, the information technology sector was very strong in 2021, rising by 33.4%. But it turned south in 2022 and dropped by 26.7% through October.
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’Tis the Season for Tax-Friendly Giving Strategies

You may donate money to charitable organizations throughout the year, for no other reason than your heart-felt desire to support causes that you care about. But if philanthropy is important to you, keep in mind that the associated tax breaks could potentially increase your ability to give. You might consider a more strategic approach to charitable giving, possibly as part of your year-end tax planning. You can generally deduct charitable contributions, which reduces your taxable income, only if
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How Long Will It Take to Double My Money?

Before making any investment decision, one of the key elements you face is working out the real rate of return on your investment.Compound interest is critical to investment growth. Whether your financial portfolio consists solely of a deposit account at your local bank or a series of highly leveraged investments, your rate of return is dramatically improved by the compounding factor.With simple interest, interest is paid just on the principal. With compound interest, the return that you receive
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New Life for Your Old Insurance Policy

Life insurance can serve many valuable purposes. However, later in life — when your children have grown, you’ve retired, or you’ve paid off your mortgage — you may no longer think you need to keep your coverage, or perhaps your coverage has become too expensive. You might be tempted to abandon the policy or surrender your life insurance coverage, but there are other alternatives to consider.
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Retirement Savings in a Volatile Market

If you worry about your retirement investments during market downturns, you're not alone. Unfortunately, emotions are often the enemy of sound investing. Here are some points to help you stay clear-headed during periods of market volatility. Markets Rebound Historically, even the worst bear market has bounced back and eventually gone on to reach new highs. In fact, since 1970, bear markets have lasted an average of 14 months. A Chance to Buy Low If you're investing a set amount of...
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Famous People Who Died Without Proper Planning

The importance of proper estate planning cannot be overstated, regardless of the size of your estate or the stage of life you're in. Nevertheless, it's surprising how many American adults haven't put a plan in place. You might think that those who are rich and famous would be way ahead of the curve when it comes to planning their estates properly. Yet plenty of celebrities and people of note have died with inadequate or n
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What Does a Strong Dollar Mean for the U.S. Economy?

In late September 2022, the U.S. dollar hit a 20-year high in an index that measures its value against six major currencies: the euro, the Japanese yen, the British pound, the Canadian dollar, the Swedish krona, and the Swiss franc. At the same time, a broader inflation-adjusted index that captures a basket of 26 foreign currencies reached its highest level since 1985. Both indexes eased slightly but remained near their highs in October. Intuitively, it might seem that a strong dollar
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CHIPS and Science Act Aims to Preserve U.S. Technology Edge

The CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, signed into law on August 9, is bipartisan legislation that provides more than $50 billion in direct financial assistance for companies to increase U.S.-based semiconductor design, research, and manufacturing capabilities. In addition, the legislation authorizes nearly $170 billion in federal funding over five years for research and development R&D programs in strategic areas of science and technology, such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing...
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How Much Life Insurance Do I Need?

Throughout your life, your financial needs will change, and life insurance can help you meet some of those needs. But how much life insurance do you need? There are a number of approaches to help determine how much life insurance you should have. Here are three of those methods:
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Donor-Advised Funds Combine Charitable Impact with Tax Benefits

Donor-Advised Funds Combine Charitable Impact with Tax Benefits A donor-advised fund (DAF) is a charitable account offered by sponsors such as financial institutions, community foundations, universities, and fraternal or religious organizations. Donors who itemize deductions on their federal income tax returns can write off DAF contributions in the year they are made, then gift funds later to the charities they want to support. DAF contributions are irrevocable, which means the donor gives the
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Passive, Active, or Both?

Index funds, which try to match the performance of a particular market index, have drawn increasing interest from investors, but traditional actively managed funds still hold more assets (see chart). There is ongoing discussion in the financial media about which approach is most effective, but there may be good reasons to hold both in a well-diversified portfolio. Here are some pros and cons to consider:
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Dividends for Income and Total Returns

John D. Rockefeller, one of the wealthiest Americans in history, loved receiving stock dividends. "Do you know the only thing that gives me pleasure?" he once asked. "It's to see my dividends coming in." There may be many things other than money that give you pleasure, but you can still appreciate the stabilizing role that dividends might play in your portfolio. Steady and Dependable Dividends can be a dependable source of income
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Unpacking the Inflation Reduction Act: What’s in It?

Unpacking the Inflation Reduction Act: What's in It? The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), signed into law on August 16, 2022, is a package of climate, energy, health-care, and tax legislation. It authorizes about $440 billion in new spending and will generate an estimated $740 billion in revenue and savings, reducing the deficit by around $300 billion over a decade.1 About $370 billion will fund new and existing programs that aim to expand renewable energy sources and help mitigate the ne
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How to Correct an Error on Your Credit Report

How to Correct an Error on Your Credit Report According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), credit report errors more than doubled during the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, the CFPB found that many pandemic protections which were designed to help consumers, such as loan forbearance periods on federal student loans and federally backed mortgages, ended up negatively impacting their credit reports as a result of complications such as processing delays and suspended payments be
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Sticker Shock Is No Joke for Car Buyers

Sticker Shock Is No Joke for Car Buyers The average price for a new vehicle reached $47,077 in December 2021, which amounts to a 14% price hike in just one year. Perhaps more startling, the average price paid for a nonluxury vehicle was $900 above the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), otherwise known as the sticker price.1 Most people who have shopped for a new car in recent months can attest to the meager selection of available cars offered at sky-high prices.
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Inflation Protection for Investment Dollars

Inflation Protection for Investment Dollars For the 12-month period ending in June 2022, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) the most widely used measure of inflation increased 9.1%, the fastest pace in more than 40 years. The rate may trend downward as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates and supply-chain issues improve. But inflation is likely to be relatively high for some time. High inflation not only hits consumers in the pocketbook for cur...
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Is the U.S. Economy in a Recession?

Is the U.S. Economy in a Recession? In an early July poll, 58% of Americans said they thought the U.S. economy was in a recession, up from 53% in June and 48% in May. Yet many economic indicators, notably employment, remain strong. The current situation is unusual, and there is little consensus among economists as to whether a recession has begun or may be coming soon. Considering the high level of public concern, it may be helpful to look at how a recession is officially determined an
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A Wealth of Information: How to Read a Mutual Fund Prospectus

A Wealth of Information: How to Read a Mutual Fund Prospectus With more than 7,400 mutual funds to consider in the United States alone, some investors may feel overwhelmed by the thought of deciding which ones to select for their portfolios. At the same time, most mutual fund-owning households base their purchase decisions on these measures: historical performance (94%), investment objectives and risk potential (91%), and fees and expenses (90%). Fortunately, reading a mutual fund pros
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Tech Sector Turmoil and the Bear Market

Tech Sector Turmoil and the Bear Market During the intensely volatile first 100 trading days of 2022, the stocks of companies in the S&P 500 index delivered their worst performance since 1970. The S&P 500 continued to tumble, and the benchmark index descended into a bear market - typically defined as a sustained drop in stock prices of at least 20% - on June 13, 2022. When the market closed, the S&P 500 had dropped 21.8% from its January 3 peak, and the tech-heavy D
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What’s Your Retirement Dream Elevator Pitch?

Imagine stepping into an elevator and realizing that you’re about to spend the 30-second ride with someone who could make your retirement dreams come true — if only you could explain them before the doors open again. How would you summarize your financial situation, outlook, aspirations, and plans if you had 30?seconds to make an “elevator pitch” about achieving one of your most important goals?
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Avoiding Probate

Avoiding Probate Probate is the process of proving the validity of a will and supervising the administration of an estate, usually in the probate court. State law governs the proceedings in the probate court, so the process can vary from state to state. Supervising the administration of an estate can result in additional expense, unwanted publicity, and delays in the distribution of estate assets for a year or longer, which is why planning to avoid the probate process may be beneficial. There..
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High Inflation: How Long Will It Last?

High Inflation: How Long Will It Last? In March 2022, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), the most common measure of inflation, rose at an annual rate of 8.5%, the highest level since December 1981. It's not surprising that a Gallup poll at the end of March found that one out of six Americans considers inflation to be the most important problem facing the United States.2 When inflation began rising in the spring of 2021, many economists, including policymakers
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Food Inflation: What’s Behind It and How to Cope

As measured by the Consumer Price Index for food at home, grocery prices increased 3.4% in 2020, a faster rate than the 20-year historical average of 2.4%.1 More recently, food inflation accelerated by 6.5% during the 12 months ending in December 2021, while prices for the category that includes meat, poultry, fish, and eggs spiked 12.5%.2 Food prices have long been prone to volatility, in part because the crops grown to feed people...
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Key Retirement and Tax Numbers for 2022

Every year, the Internal Revenue Service announces cost-of-living adjustments that affect contribution limits for retirement plans and various tax deduction, exclusion, exemption, and threshold amounts. Here are a few of the key adjustments for 2022. Estate, Gift, and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax The annual gift tax exclusion (and annual generation-skipping transfer tax exclusion) for 2022 is $16,000, up from $15,000 in 2021.The gift and estate tax
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Colliding Forces: Russia, Oil, Inflation, and Market Volatility

Colliding Forces: Russia, Oil, Inflation, and Market Volatility The Russian invasion of Ukraine has drawn condemnation and punitive sanctions from the United States, Europe, and their allies. The humanitarian cost of war cannot be measured, and the long-term economic effects could take months or years to unfold. However, the early stages of the conflict pushed oil prices upward and sent the U.S. stock market plunging, only to see stocks bounce back and drop again...
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Why Can't Businesses Find Enough Workers?

The headline U.S. unemployment rate fell from 6.7% at the end of December 2020 to 3.9% in December 2021 — the biggest one-year improvement in history.1 While many workers took advantage of this strong rebound in the job market, companies large and small have been struggling with labor shortages.
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Key Questions To Ask An Investment Advisor

The critical question an investor should be asking themselves is if they want a sales representative investing assets that will impact their standard of living during retirement and their financial security late in life?
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Why Use A Fiduciary Advisor?

Making long-term decisions about money can be difficult and even a little scary. Many people turn to an advisor for help with their financial decisions. Many advisors offer good advice but deciding whether they're worth the price can be difficult. Before an investor hires an advisor, they should make sure that the advisor has their best interests in mind. There are many benefits to hiring an advisor as they often have a broader, deeper knowledge of money...
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What's Your Investor Personality?

Investors simply can't have it all (risk free). To get a reward, investors must be willing to accept some risk. That is the fundamental trade-off of investing; risk is involved with almost any investment. Investors must establish their establish their investor personality to structure their investment strategy.
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Net Price Calculators Help Gauge College Affordability

Net Price Calculators Help Gauge College Affordability Fall is the time when many high school seniors narrow their college lists and start applying to colleges. One question that is often front and center on the minds of families is...
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Weekly Market Update: Nov. 8th - 12th

Covering relevant topics for what lies ahead throughout the week of November 8th-12th, while summarizing what happened during last week's earnings frenzy. Rick takes a dive into relevant economic data, including rising inflation, tapering, the Consumer Price Index, and more.
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How To Thrive, Not Just Survive, In The Post Covid World

The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic creates the need for a new type of financial advisor who can integrate digital marketing tools, use video conferencing to close business, provide virtual client servicing, and more.
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NFTs and Blockchain: What You Should Know About the Digital Collectibles Craze

In March 2021, a digital image by a graphic artist known as Beeple was sold in the form of a nonfungible token, or NFT, for $69.3 million, making him the third-most-valuable living artist. This was the first sa...
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Why Do People Buy Annuities?

Annuities are insurance-based financial vehicles that can provide many benefits sought by retirement-minded investors. There are a number of reasons why people buy annuities. Deferral of taxes is a big benefit, and so is the ability to put large sums of money into an annuity — more than is allowed annually in a 401(k) plan or an IRA — all at once or over a period of time. Annuities offer flexible payout options that can help retirees meet their cash-flow needs.
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What Tax-Advantaged Alternatives Do I Have?

Unfortunately, placing all your savings in taxable instruments like certificates of deposit can create quite an income tax bill. In an effort to help provide stability, some investors inadvertently produce a liability. It’s a bit like turning on all the taps in your house just to make certain the water is still running. Sure, you’ll know that the water is still running, but a lot of it will go down the drain. The solution is simply to turn off some of the taps.
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Don't Let Debt Derail Your Retirement

Don't Let Debt Derail Your Retirement Debt poses a growing threat to the financial security of many Americans - and not just college graduates with exorbitant student loans. Recent studies by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College (CRR) and the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) reveal an alarming trend: The percentage of older Americans with debt is at its highest level in almost 30 years, and the amount and types of debt are on the rise. Debt Profile of Older
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Are You On Track To Retire When You'd Hoped

Are you on track to retire when you'd hoped?
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Strategies To Recession-Proof Your Finances

"Financial planning” is an umbrella term that can be applied to various aspects of money management. Many people associate financial planning with retirement. However, effective financial planning can help people confront today’s challenges just as much as it can help them prepare for their golden years.
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Retirement Guarantees In Uncertain Times

When you purchase a fixed-indexed annuity, you have the opportunity to select from indexed strategies that offer you the opportunity to earn interest based, in part, on market performance without the risk of market loss...
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Economic Cycles: The 4 Common Phases

Just as the seasons change throughout the year, the economy and its sectors go through cyclical changes over time.
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Breaking Down The 3 Key Financial Statements

Understanding company fundamentals is a key component when it comes to making smart investment decisions. Learn more about what are widely considered to be "The 3 Key" financial statements, with this easy to understand chart.
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Retirement Plans For Small Businesses

If you are self-employed or own a small business and you haven't established a retirement savings plan, what are you waiting for? A retirement plan can help you and your employees save for the future...
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Coronavirus Concerns? Consider Past Health Crises

During the last week of February 2020, the S&P 500 lost 11.49% — the worst week for stocks since the 2008 financial crisis — only to jump by 4.6% on the first Monday in March...
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COVID-19: New Retirement Plan Relief Provisions

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020. This $2 trillion emergency relief package represents a bipartisan effort to assist both individuals and businesses in the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic and accompanying economic crisis. The CARES Act provisions for retirement plan relief for individuals under federal tax law are discussed here.
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Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans: What you need to know

A Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan is part of the $2 trillion CARES Act. The SBA classifies PPP loans as a 7(a) loan with $349 billion* designated for the program. The loans feature a streamlined application process, less documentation and fewer restrictions. If you’re considering such a loan for your business, it’s important to understand who does and doesn’t qualify, how much you can borrow, how forgiveness works and other key details.
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CARES Act Provides Relief to Individuals and Businesses

On Friday, March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law. This $2 trillion emergency relief package is intended to assist individuals and businesses during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and accompanying economic crisis. Major relief provisions are summarized here. Unemployment provisions The legislation provides for:  An additional $600 weekly benefit to those collecting unemployment benefits, through July 31, 2020An additional 13
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Rolling Over Your Employee Retirement Plan Assets

Rolling over your Employee Retirement Plan Assets can seem like an overwhelming task at times. It's important to understand the basics of these types of plans, as well which type of rollover you will be initiating. In this article find you can find a brief summary of the process you can expect when you begin a rollover.
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What Is An Estate Plan?

For most working Americans, the road to retirement is a long haul focused on efficient money management and prudent investing. We spend decades planning, putting money away, and investing in hopes of building a nest egg that will one day grow large enough for us to one day retire. But what happens after retirement?
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Investment Planning: The Basics

Why do so many people never obtain the financial independence that they desire? Often it's because they just don't take that first step — getting started.
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