When most people think about life insurance, it is something to be purchased when we’re young with financial responsibilities and dependents to protect. Any discussion about purchasing life insurance after we retire is often met with strong opinions as to whether or not it makes any financial sense. After all, the cost of life insurance increases significantly over the age of 65. While that may be true, the unique properties of permanent life insurance, such as guaranteed cash value growth, tax-free death benefits and tax-free access to the cash value, make it one of the best possible solutions in certain circumstances.
“Ann, what’s my blind spot?” I was out to lunch with one of my favorite clients when he asked this simple question, “Everyone must have one, and I need to know what mine is,” he continued.
I couldn’t believe my ears. We had just finished our annual review and rebalance meeting and he had seen the numbers. I thought I had clearly laid out his main challenge area, but then again that’s why they call it a blind spot—you can’t see it. We would all be better off if we had an automated financial blind spot alarm—like in many of the more recent model vehicles that warn us of the potential danger in our car’s blind spot. In a way, that’s my job; to be the financial blind spot monitor.
Giving to a charity is easy, right? You write a check and send it off to your favorite 501(c)(3) organization, and get a full deduction for the amount on your tax return, up to 50% of your adjusted gross income.
The current bull market in stocks will reach its 8th anniversary tomorrow, and for about the last four years, professional investors and financial planners have been scratching their heads. The markets have gone up and up and up, and we all know that they won’t go up forever, which means there’s a correction looming somewhere on the horizon.
What if I told you that there is a way to save for retirement without actually having to pinch pennies? You don’t have to deny yourself that shopping spree or that awesome trip. What’s more, you could potentially “save” hundreds of thousands of dollars. Does it sound too good to be true? Well, it’s not. All you have to do is exercise—hard!
Roses are red, violets are blue, Valentine’s Day can be cheap, hooray for you!
Right after New Year’s the red, pink, and white move in to the shopping aisles to serve as a perpetual reminder that Valentine’s Day is coming. It cuts into the closing months of winter with its oversized stale chocolate boxes, overpriced cards, and overwhelming expectations to a likely under whelming Valentine’s date. Yet, despite the kitsch teddy bears and faux roses, love on this holiday comes at a price.
We hear all the time that medical costs are too high in the U.S., and that Medicare is going to go bankrupt in the future. The President-Elect recently told us in a press conference that drug companies are “getting away with murder.” So how high are drug prices, and are those prices contributing at all to the high medical costs in the U.S.?
A Public Citizen research report looked at the prices that older citizens pay for their medications under the Medicare Part D plan, the largest federal drug program, which now covers more than 39 million people. You might be surprised to know that when the plan was passed by Congress under the Bush Administration, Medicare was specifically not allowed to “interfere” with the negotiations between drug manufacturers and pharmacies. The program was prohibited from leveraging its purchasing power to create economies of scale. And that would have been plenty of scale; currently, Medicare recipients account for 28% of all medical drug purchases in the U.S. marketplace.
Every year, the Morningstar mutual fund tracking organization releases a list of the worst new ETF investments—and generally, these tend to be trendy new offerings that are designed to catch the eye of investors who are responding to yesterday’s headlines rather than their long-term economic future.
This year’s top nomination is something called the VelocityShares Leveraged Crude Oil ETN, closely followed by the VelocityShares 3x Inverse Crude Oil Fund.
What do you get when you invest in these shares? Every day, the VelocityShares products give you three times the daily movements of the price of oil on the global markets. The first fund gives you three times the amount that the price changes in the same direction, while the second gives you three times the movement in the opposite direction.
Set aside the fact that there is no conceivable reason why you would want daily exposure to an investment as volatile as crude oil. For the moment, ignore the fact that the typical portfolio already has plenty of oil exposure, since energy companies are among the largest of the large caps, and just about every U.S. and global organization uses energy as one of its major expense items.
“Well, I’m not sure, but I know I don’t want to work anymore!” responded Mary, my 60 year-old client, when I asked her what she planned to do with her time once she retired from her job as an attorney. As she squirmed in her chair, I realized that I recognized her tell-tale unease; It was the same squirm I saw from both of my sons when I asked them what they wanted to study in college and, for my eldest, what he wanted to do after graduation.
Many of President-Elect Donald Trump’s policy proposals are too vague to analyze, but one area where he has been clear is on reforming our tax system. Here’s a quick primer on the changes that you can expect to be introduced to Congress in the coming year.
1) A shift from seven income tax brackets to three:
Current (Married Filing Jointly)
10% bracket: $0 to $18,550
15% bracket: $18,550 to $75,300
25% bracket: $75,300 to $151,900
28% bracket: $151,900 to $231,450