Shortlink

Alzheimer’s Higher Death Toll, Buddy Programs and Guide Dogs

According to a study recently published in the journal Neurology, the number of Americans who die as a result of Alzheimer’s disease has been vastly underestimated for years. New research indicates that since Alzheimer’s is an underlying disease – which leads to complications resulting in death – the number of deaths that may be attributable to Alzheimer’s has been under-reported by as much as half a million people per year. This is six times higher than previously reported, and moves Alzheimer’s up as the number three killer each year, behind heart disease and cancer.

While Alzheimer’s starts out affecting memory and cognitive thought processes, over time it creates breathing, swallowing, and heart rate issues that lead to other diagnoses. Since the subsequent diseases are actually what causes death, Alzheimer’s isn’t listed as a cause of death.

[CLICK HERE to read article, "Alzheimer's Deaths Vastly Under Reported, Study Says," at Newsweek, March 5, 2014.]

Alzheimer’s researchers are toiling away to learn how to slow, halt or prevent this disease. Most recently, strides have been made in identifying contributing genetic factors, enabling the ability to study the disease in depth using skin cells from affected patients, and in pairing young med students with Alzheimer patients – to the advantage of both.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Alzheimer's in a dish," at the Harvard Gazette, March 4, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Newly Identified Gene Triples Alzheimer's Risk," at the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation, Nov. 2012.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Buddy programs pair medical students with Alzheimer's patients," at the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation, March 12, 2014.]

While it may currently rank third in cause of death, Alzheimer’s ranks first in healthcare spending in the U.S. In light of America’s (and the world’s) vast graying population, that expense is expected to soar in the future.

Such is the heightened awareness that everyone from celebrities to Congress is trying to advance the cause. At a recent hearing in Congress, experts for the disease, and even comedic actor Seth Rogen, gave testimony reinforcing the urgency that Alzheimer’s is no laughing matter.

[CLICK HERE to view the article/video, "In More Ways than One, the Costliest Disease," at AARP, Feb. 27, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to view the congressional hearing on Alzheimer's Disease Research at C-SPAN, Feb. 26, 2014.]

While a cure is not currently in sight, if you or someone you know suffers from this progressive disease, be aware of new insights into how to help patients enjoy a potentially greater quality of life – including the use of conversation techniques and trained pets.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Three Ways to Talk to People Living with Alzheimer's," at the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation, July 29, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Assistance Dogs for Alzheimer's and Dementia Patients," at Psychology Today, Jan. 21, 2014.]

Alzheimer’s can take its toll on families not only with stress and caregiving needs, but also on finances. Please give us a call if we can help you create a financial strategy for future cognitive care needs.

AE03145006 By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. It is given for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about their personal situation.

If you are unable to access any of the sourced documents or material, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

Shortlink

Is Part-time the New Normal?

With continued sluggish unemployment reports, are we becoming a nation of part-time workers? A recent report from the U.S. Census of Agriculture revealed that more than half – 52 percent – of American farmers only work part time. The majority of our 2.1 million farmers responsible for day-to-day farm operations do not list farming as their principal occupation.

[CLICK HERE to read the highlight report, "2012 Census of Agriculture," at the United States Department of Agriculture, Feb. 2014.]

Another recent news item highlights the “part-timing” of our university professors. In the last decade, while the cost of college tuition has risen exponentially, some campuses have been cutting back on professor pay and benefits by adding more part-time adjunct professors. Adjunct means professors are hired on an as-needed basis, depending on class enrollment from one semester to the next. In other words, they don’t work full-time, don’t receive benefits, and don’t even know if they’ll have that same job in five months. Among our nation’s college instructors, more than three-quarters – 76 percent – teach part time.

And that’s just the perspective of professors. Representing the viewpoint of students, one co-ed recently tweeted: “Why are ‘part time’ professors even a thing? It’s so inconvenient when you need help & you can’t even see your instructor for office hours.”

According to a report by the Delta Cost Project, while universities, on average, have reduced their full-time teaching staff in recent years, they’ve increased the number of school administrators.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Part-time Professors Demand Higher Pay: Will Colleges Listen?" at NPR.org, Feb. 3, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Labor Intensive or Labor Expensive?" at Delta Cost Project, Feb. 2014.]

The opinions on whether working from home is more of a slack-off part-time job versus a highly productive one, is also a subject of great debate. Recent findings from a study in China, published by The Harvard Business Review, revealed that customer call center workers assigned to work from home completed almost an extra workday a week. Not only that, the company conducting the study also found that at-home workers were happier and less likely to quit.

One of the study’s researchers observed that:

“At home, people don’t experience what we call the “cake in the break room” effect. Offices are actually incredibly distracting places … people at home worked more hours. They started earlier, took shorter breaks, and worked until the end of the day. They had no commute. They didn’t run errands at lunch. Sick days for employees working from home plummeted.”

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "To Raise Productivity, Let More Employees Work from Home," at The Harvard Business Review, Jan.-Feb. 2014.]

As far as the American workweek goes, some would prefer we move more towards the European standard of less work and more time to play. Among other industrialized nations, here’s a quick look at some of the more flexible gems:

  • The four-day workweek is nearly standard in the Netherlands, averaging around 29 hours a week – the lowest of any industrialized nation.
  • In Germany, one in four workers are part-timers. In fact, formal work-sharing policies have been credited with reducing the country’s unemployment rate in recent years.
  • In Italy, employers can be fined if their employees work overtime more than eight hours a week. And the lucky Italians enjoy at least four weeks of paid vacation each year.
  • In Switzerland, workers earn nearly the same as the average American, but work 155 fewer hours each year. While a third of the country works part-time, it enjoys the highest employment rate (79 percent) of any industrialized nation.
  • Every Belgian worker is entitled to a one-year break during their working lifetime, during which time they receive a government allowance.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, "World's Shortest Work Weeks," at CNNmoney.com, July 10, 2013.]
Whether we’re moving to a more liberal work standard – or still experiencing the effects of the recession – part-timers may have the opportunity to experience more free time than fellow full-timers.  If we can help you address your financial concerns and meet your long-term goals, please give us a call.

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. It is given for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about their personal situation.

If you are unable to access any of the sourced documents or material, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

AE02145005

By contacting us, you may be provided with information regarding the purchase of insurance products.
Shortlink

What’s Your Retirement Mission Statement?

Mission statements have long been a staple of corporate business strategies. They’re usually bland, jargon-filled platitudes that have been crafted, edited and revised ad nauseam by someone in the marketing department.

Then Tom Cruise came along in the 1996 film, Jerry Maguire, and re-energized the mission statement as a guiding life principle, not just a bromide: “What started out as one page became twenty-five. Suddenly, I was my father’s son again. I was remembering the simple pleasures…”

Just recently, Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees announced his retirement in a long-winded post on his Facebook page. It looks a bit like a post-mission statement, as it talks about living the dream, facing challenges, achieving goals, and looking forward to the future: “Now it is time for the next chapter of my life…I have new dreams and aspirations, and I want new challenges… the ability to move at my own pace.”

Perhaps each of us, as we approach retirement, should write a mission statement about what we want our retirement to be like.

[CLICK HERE to view the Jerry Maguire film clip, "The Things We Think and Do Not Say," at Youtube.com, 1996.]

[CLICK HERE to read the Derek Jeter post, "I want to start by saying thank you," at Facebook.com, Feb. 12, 2014.]

In this industry, we see a lot of advice given about how to prepare for retirement. There can be checklists, readiness quizzes, Social Security strategies, and a plethora of financial moves designed to provide income during retirement.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "5 Retirement Moves Boomers Should Make in 2014," at FoxBusiness.com, Jan. 23, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to access the webpage, "Retirement Planner: When to Apply," at Social Security Administration, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Leverage Your Way to a Richer Retirement," at Forbes.com, Mar. 3, 2014.]

But for some people, retirement is like having children – you’re never really prepared for it. Sure, you can create a financial plan, but you may need to tweak it along the way. You may have grandiose plans to travel or start your own business, but sometimes those dreams can change with unexpected health issues, financial emergencies, or time just seems to fritter away.

But like your plan to save and invest for retirement, perhaps you need a written strategy for how you want to spend your retirement. A mission statement. An itinerary. Consider including benchmarks and timelines, such as by what age you’d like to buy a second home, do all your international travel, or earn your first million in a new business.

And while you’re at it, ask your spouse or significant other to write a personal mission statement as well. Enjoy the process of comparing dreams, sharing resources, and compromising to make sure you each meet individual goals. It’s just like getting married, or having kids, or starting your own business. A retirement mission statement can help you define what you want in the next phase of your life. We’d like to work with you to design a financial strategy to help you achieve it, so give us a call.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Envision your future realistically," at Fidelity Investments, Jan. 22, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Retiring? Time to look for a part-time gig," at CNNMoney.com, Oct. 28, 2013.]

By contacting us, you may be provided with information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

AE02145000

Shortlink

Are You Financially Prepared for Retirement?

Remember when the most pressing matter on your mind was not retirement income, but rather what to do on Saturday nights?

A recent survey found that Generation X — adults now approaching or in their 40s — is poised to face some of the biggest financial challenges in the future. And that while millennials  – those who reached young adulthood around the year 2000 — are not yet engaged in planning for retirement, members of Generation X don’t have as much time as they may think. After all, while you may consider yourself as young as you feel, your finances should represent your actual age. If not, then you could be falling behind with your financial strategy.

[CLICK HERE to read the news release, "Financial Finesse Releases Second Annual Generational Research on Employee Financial Issues," at Financial Finesse, Jan. 14, 2014.]

Interestingly, when it comes to strategizing, new research has found that more than half of the households in America that do engage in comprehensive financial strategies earn less than $100,000. Perhaps that’s because when you don’t have vast coffers of money, it’s that much more important to manage what you have. And the more extensive the household strategy, the more effective they can be at saving, debt management and potentially purchasing insurance products.

 [CLICK HERE to read the news release, "New research shows most American households do financial planning, but the extent of this planning varies greatly," at the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Sept. 18, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the report, "Financial Planning Profiles of American Households," at the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Sept. 18, 2013.]

Even The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is a big proponent of financial preparedness, observing that preparing for challenging times involves much more than just stocking up on water and canned goods. You need good credit and room on your credit cards in case you have to live on them for a period of time — should challenging times happen to leave you homeless and perhaps even jobless. You should put together a kit that contains copies of important financial documents right next to the fresh batteries and candles.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Financial Preparedness," at FEMA, Oct. 31, 2013.]

Since we are at the start of a new year, it may be a good time to review your expenses over the past few months. Holiday shopping aside, there may be aspects of your spending that you can shift over to saving with an eye toward your long-term future. After all, once you’ve left college behind, there’s a lot more to consider than your weekend plans — and having a financial strategy can be one of the best ways to help you meet long-term goals.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "The Smart Way to Set (And Stick To) a Budget," at Forbes, Jan. 13, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to the video, "Financial Planning Starts with the Truth," at Forbes, Jan. 17, 2014.]

As always, we’re here to help you become better financially prepared. Give us a call if you’d like to get together for a no-obligation meeting.

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

1401095

Shortlink

The January Barometer?

A market theory that has developed over the years is called the January barometer. The theory basically asserts that whatever happens in the financial markets in January is a precursor for what will happen over the rest of the year. Unfortunately, January started the New Year with volatility – just a timely reminder that whatever goes up must correspondingly go down at some point, at least where the financial markets and global economy are concerned.

Many industry insiders see the recent sell-off in the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index and S&P 500 Index as an anticipated correction. Rather than cause for concern, it can be viewed as a short-term and healthy pause.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "The January Barometer," at Fidelity Investments, Feb. 6, 2014.]

Some have correlated the January drop with the weather, notably the “Polar Vortex” that struck nearly every corner of the U.S. during the first month of the year. Unseasonably cold temperatures are reported to have impacted manufacturing production, with the biggest growth slowdown in factory new orders since 1980. The weather has also been blamed for dismal numbers in job growth since the first of the year. It appears this meteorological connection lends a whole new meaning to the term ‘January Barometer.’

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Pinning down the January effect on U.S. jobs figures," at Reuters, Feb. 7, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Disconnect in the January Effect," at Nasdaq.com, Jan. 11, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "January 2014: cold and snowy compared to average, plus a polar vortex attack," at The Washington Post, Feb. 3, 2014.]

In the U.S., we tend to be challenged by our energy reliance on global oil resources. But elsewhere in the world – particularly emerging markets – they rely on global capital investment to help fuel those economies. Now that the U.S. has resumed its upward growth path, much of that capital is coming back home, and some emerging countries will be challenged. The bright spots are those that rely more on their growing domestic consumption demand, such as India and the Philippines, rather than external capital – such as Turkey.

While U.S. economic policies may influence some emerging nations over the short term, underlying fundamentals such as rising consumer wealth, positive demographics, and untapped economic potential will likely remain intact for the long term.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Emerging Markets: Fighting the Tide," at Fidelity Investments, Feb. 5, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Emerging Market Worries Re-emerge," at Guggenheim Investments, Feb. 3, 2014.]

The reality is that regardless of the factors that influence the U.S. economy or the rest of the world, each of us needs to work toward insulating our own financial situation from the impact of external factors. When it comes to household savings and spending, blaming the weather kind of sounds like a fourth grader telling his teacher that the family Doberman ate his homework. If you’d like help taking a proactive approach to help protect* you from the effects of January – or any other audacious month of the year – please give us a call.

*Guarantees are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer.

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

These articles are being provided to for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions.  While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

1402053

 

Shortlink

Paying for Healthcare, One Way or Another

Despite a rough start, enrollment in private health plans through The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as “Obamacare”) was at three million by the end of January. Some five million are expected to sign up by the March deadline — a considerable improvement from its inauspicious beginnings, but still about two million shy of the White House’s projected goal.

One of the key tenets of the mandated insurance provision is for plenty of healthy young adults to enroll to help offset the costs of those who are older and presumably run up more healthcare costs. The numbers were actually skewed the other way as of mid-January — 55 percent of enrollees were age 45 and above while 45 percent of enrollees were age 44 and younger.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Obamacare Private Plan Enrollment Reaches 3 Million," at Bloomberg Businessweek, Jan. 24, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "States make more progress in Obamacare enrollment," at CNBC.com, Jan. 29, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Who's Buying Obamacare, in Three Charts," at Bloomberg Businessweek, Jan. 13, 2014.]

Medicare Expansion, or Lack Thereof

A 2012 Supreme Court decision held that Medicaid eligibility expansion would be left up to individual states. However, if employer-offered health plans are deemed too expensive (if plans cost workers more than 9.5 percent of their family income or pay less than 60 percent of their medical costs) and workers then buy subsidized Obamacare insurance, businesses may face a tax penalty of up to $3,000 per worker who purchase private health insurance from an exchange.

This Medicaid expansion-related tax will impact employers with more than 50 full-time workers starting in 2015. Presently, there are 25 states that chose not to expand Medicaid coverage, and the collective tax hit to their employers could be substantial: In Texas, as much as $400 million; Florida, as much as $253 million, and North Carolina, as much as $120 million.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Employers face tax hit in states with no Medicaid expansion," at CNBC.com, Jan. 22, 2014.]

Mind the (Income) Gap

According to a recent survey by the National Center for Health Statistics at the CDC, one in four U.S. families struggled to pay medical expenses in 2012, and one in 10 said they couldn’t pay some bills at all. In fact, unpaid medical bills are the foremost reason why households are forced to declare personal bankruptcy — including those that have health insurance coverage.

However, another study from the Brookings Institution indicates that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will help improve the well-being and incomes of Americans in the bottom fifth of the income distribution by increasing their income by as much as 6 percent. The study uses an expansive definition of income to include part of the value of insurance.

ACA employs certain wealth redistribution provisions such as Medicaid expansion, subsidies, higher Medicare premiums, Medicare payroll tax contributions, and a new investment tax on high-income taxpayers. As a result of these redistribution provisions, “the gains and losses cause small proportional drops in income for Americans in the top three-quarters of the income distribution.”

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "One in four U.S. families struggles to pay medical bills," at Employee Benefit News, Jan. 28, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Potential Effects of the Affordable Care Act on Income Inequality," at The Brookings Institute, Jan. 27, 2014.]

Meanwhile, Republican Congressmen have proposed an alternative healthcare plan to replace Obamacare, with similar-yet-different provisions that also serve to redistribute wealth via tax credits and expanded Medicaid eligibility. According to one health policy academic, “There’s no way a Republican can run for president in 2016 without having a major health-care plan.”

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Republican Senators Pitch Obamacare Replacement for 2017," at Bloomberg, Jan. 27, 2014.]

If you’re concerned about how healthcare expenses could impact your overall financial picture, please feel free to contact us for an evaluation.

By contacting us, you may be provided with information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

These articles are being provided to for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions.  While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

AE02140116

Shortlink

Olympi-nomics

In the wake of the recent Olympic winter games in Sochi, Russia, a number of economists have mounted theories linking success at Winter Olympics with economic development for participating countries.

One such research paper by two French professors purports that the number of Olympic medals a country wins is directly correlated to that nation’s population and per-capita income. Based on their calculations, the U.S. was projected to lead in the medal count with 36, followed by Germany (28), and Canada (27), with Russia and Norway tied (24) in fourth place.*

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Predicting the Winter Olympics with Economics," at Freakonomics.com, Feb. 11, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "A Strong Economy Is the Secret to Winning Medals at the Winter Olympics," at BusinessInsider.com, Feb. 9, 2014.]

Then there’s the question of how much being the host country for the Olympics can help that nation’s economy. In the case of Russia, its economy grew by only 1.3 percent in 2013, following a 7 percent average annual rate in the first eight years of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rule.

The Russian government banked on the idea that hosting the Winter Olympics would have a significant long-term impact on the country’s economy. Money that could have been spent on schools, hospitals and general infrastructure was allocated to the construction and modernization of the airport, 260 kilometers of roads, highway interchanges and bypasses; 200 kilometers of railway, 54 bridges and 22 tunnels; 14 brand new venues and 19,000 hotel rooms.

Apparently the winter games are more expensive to plan and train for than the summer games. The investment to host this Olympic event was said to cost around $50 billion. Clearly, a lot of people had to be interested in visiting Sochi — which was only just developed as a ski resort destination in preparation for the event — for the games to deliver long-term returns to the host country.

[CLICK HERE] to read the article, “Are the Sochi Olympics Economically Worthwhile?” at DailyForex.com, Feb. 12, 2014.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Sochi Olympics: Going for the Gold, Spending in the Red," at NBCnews.com, Feb. 14, 2014.]

Then again, a few of those new 19,000 hotel rooms weren’t quite finished. In fact, journalists from around the world had a field day tweeting about their accommodations, ranging from unfinished rooms to undrinkable water.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Journalists at Sochi are Live-Tweeting Their Hilarious and Gross Hotel Experiences," from The Washington Post, Feb. 4, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Images from Sochi: From the Bizarre to the Sublime," at CBSnews.com, Feb. 8, 2014.]

If there’s a lesson we as individuals can take from this year’s Winter Olympic Games, it’s the importance of carefully considering our return on investment before we make an expensive purchase. Well, that and to pursue our dreams with passion and commitment the way our heroic Olympians do.

*Actual medal count rank was Russia (33), United States (28), Norway (26), Canada (25), Netherlands (24) and Germany (19).

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included.

AE02145004

Shortlink

Tax Updates

As we enter tax season, many issues abound. Congress is back in session and, you never know, may at some point start discussing ideas for tax reform. Whether or not Congress tackles reform provisions this year, things may change within the tax landscape. That’s because every year there are a plethora of provisions that will expire unless Congress takes action. A list of these expiring federal tax provisions is detailed in a report from the Joint Committee on Taxation.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Tax Policy Update," at Mondaq.com, Jan. 20, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the "List of Expiring Federal Tax Provisions," at the Joint Committee on Taxation, Jan. 10, 2014.]

Also on the tax front, the IRS continues to issue new guidance for the 2014 tax year. Starting January 1, participants in employer 401(k) plans may convert assets from tax-deferred vehicles to a Roth account (if offered within the plan). Before this year, only participants eligible for retirement distributions could take advantage of this option. Assets converted will be taxed in the year they transfer to the Roth account, and the beauty of this new feature is that you can pay taxes on your previous contributions while you’re still working – then enjoy income tax-free distributions of principal and subsequent earnings once you retire.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "IRS Issues Notice on Expanded In-Plan Roth Conversion Option," at Morgan Lewis, Dec. 18, 2013.]

If you owe a backlog of taxes, don’t forget about the IRS’ Fresh Start Program. This program permits taxpayers to make monthly installment payments on back taxes without getting hit with a federal tax lien. Last April the agency expanded its provision to allow individual taxpayers who owe up to $50,000 to make payments via a direct debit installment plan for up to six years. The easiest way to apply for a payment plan is to use the Online Payment Agreement tool at IRS.gov.

[CLICK HERE to read the news release,  "IRS Fresh Start Program Helps Taxpayers Who Owe the IRS," at IRS, April 17, 2013.]

It is likely that as we file our 2013 returns this year, there are lessons we will learn following the first full year since the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) was passed. A representative of AllianceBernstein projects that between ATRA and the new Medicare surtax, some taxpayers will face up to 14 percent higher taxes over last year.

Complex returns may require the services of a qualified tax advisor, but many people opt to complete their own returns – which is not a bad way to learn important lessons first hand to help plan for next year. The IRS has created a series of videos to help individuals prepare their returns focusing on a variety of tax topics.

[CLICK HERE to read the blog, "Lessons Learned in 2013," at AllianceBernstein, Dec. 15, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "IRS Offers Videos to Help Taxpayers Preparing to File in 2014," at the IRS, Jan. 3, 2014.]

We’re happy to work with you on 2014 financial strategies. If you have questions or would like to schedule a no-obligation meeting, please contact us.

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

These articles are being provided to for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions.  While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

1401092

Shortlink

Happy Days Are Here Again…

What a difference a couple of years made — from challenging times in Europe to the plummet in domestic home values to unemployment approaching double digits. The economic recovery in the U.S. may have been slow, but it has hardly been nonexistent.

As we gaze into the crystal ball for 2014, the typical signs and leading economic indicators look good. The following reports and insights by industry analysts and experts definitely offer an air of optimism. And it’s about time. Enjoy.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Q1 2014 Update: Seven Key Takeaways," at Fidelity Investments, Jan. 10, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Keep Optimistic and Carry On," at Guggenheim Partners, Jan. 15, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the monthly letter, "Improving Growth, Low Inflation and Favorable Markets," at Merrill Lynch CIO Reports, December 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "The Case for Optimism," at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the report, "Squeezing out More Juice," at BlackRock, December 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the report, "Outlook 2014," at Oppenheimer Funds, Dec. 9, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the report, "On the Markets," at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, January 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the report, "Outlook 2014," at BNY Mellon, Nov. 7, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the report, "2014 Economic and Market Outlook," at Wells Fargo Advisors, December 2013.]

Has there been a tangible difference in your financial life since the Great Recession? Do you breathe a little easier, open up your wallet a little more often in support of economic growth, of course — knowing the country is on a path to more prosperous times?

If your yesterday was blue, we hope your today is brighter. We’d like to help you take advantage of this uptick on the financial and economic landscape. After all, the plans you make today will help determine what your future holds — since we all know what a difference a couple of years make. And the difference is you. Please contact us if we can help.

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included.

1401075

Shortlink

Long-term Goals

One of the hallmarks of contemporary society is that we want everything right now. We can communicate 24/7 via text, phone, email, tweets and posts and wouldn’t dream of driving on a long trip without a fully charged phone. Remember when cars used to break down on the side of the road and you had to hoof it to the nearest phone?

We’ve raised children who require immediate satisfaction. We can get TV and movies on demand, and we can even pause our personal televisions and devices for a bathroom break and then start shows and newscasts back up again — whenever we demand.

But some things are better achieved by waiting. For example, you can lose weight with a surgical procedure, or you can embark on a long-term program of nutritional eating and exercise; many people view the latter as more preferable. We tend to forget that the long-term process can be more fulfilling, such as growing your own vegetables instead of buying them at the grocer or reading the book instead of — or at least before — you watch the movie.

The beginning of a new calendar year may be a good time to reassess what we want to accomplish and, perhaps more importantly, how we want to accomplish it.

Recently, Mercer published findings of a study on the potential for offering shareholder loyalty rewards. The research was conducted to find ways to entice public corporations to follow more long-term strategies rather than hit short-term earnings goals at the behest of shareholders. If shareholders were more incented to invest for the long haul, perhaps companies could do the same. But as it turns out, the idea of granting extra dividends, warrants or additional voting rights to investors who hold shares for a long term, such as a minimum of three years, was not well received for a variety of reasons.

[CLICK HERE to read the news release, "Mercer 'Loyalty Shares' Research Indicates Consensus on Negative Impact of Short-Termism," at Mercer.com, Dec. 18, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the report, "Building a Long-Term Shareholder Base: Assessing the Potential of Loyalty-Driven Securities," at Mercer.com, Dec. 18, 2013.]

However, the long-term approach does often present rewards, as billionaire investor Warren Buffett will attest. Over the last 10 years, Berkshire’s stock has gained 111.16 percent, significantly outperforming the 66.23 percent return of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index over the same timeframe.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Buffett Beats S&P for Second Straight Year," at CNBC.com, Dec. 31, 2013.]

One of your long-term goals may be paying off debt, which one young couple did with very strict discipline and by, interestingly enough, learning carpentry and gardening skills. Working low-paying jobs during the economic downturn, they managed to pay down about $116,000 in student loans and $2,000 in car payments while also starting a family and saving for a down payment to buy a home.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "How One Family Paid off Almost $118,000 in Debt," at Yahoo.com, Jan. 2, 2014.]

But alas, one of the tougher things to achieve is long-term happiness. A night out with friends, a memorable vacation and even a bowl of ice cream can provide short-term bliss. However, sustaining happiness over a lifetime requires some real effort. A 75-year survey, known as the Harvard Grant Study, provides some insights on how it can be accomplished.

“The conclusion of the study, not in a medical but in a psychological sense, is that connection is the whole shooting match,” observed George Vaillant, Harvard psychiatrist and director of the study from 1972 to 2004.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "The 75-Year Study that Found the Secrets to a Fulfilling Life," at HuffingtonPost.com, Aug. 11, 2013.]

No doubt, considering the world as it is today with the ease of technology and convenience of fast food, it’s tempting to take the most expedient route to satisfaction. But like a long, sudsy bath or a hike in the woods, some things are better enjoyed by taking your time.

If we can help you with a long-term financial strategy, please give us a call.

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included.

AE01140011