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Four Things to Consider Before Refinancing Your Home

Because of a long-term rise in the employment rate for women of all ages, the percentage of women ages 62 to 64 who are fully insured for Social Security retirement benefits based on their own work records has increased significantly since 1980. To qualify for Social Security benefits, people must work in jobs where they pay Social Security taxes and earn Social Security credits (one per quarter, up to four per year). Most people need 40 credits (the equivalent of 10 years of work) to become f
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Almost Nine Out of Ten Women Qualify for Social Security on Their Own

Because of a long-term rise in the employment rate for women of all ages, the percentage of women ages 62 to 64 who are fully insured for Social Security retirement benefits based on their own work records has increased significantly since 1980. To qualify for Social Security benefits, people must work in jobs where they pay Social Security taxes and earn Social Security credits (one per quarter, up to four per year). Most people need 40 credits (the equivalent of 10 years of work) to become f
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Four Questions on the Roth Five-Year Rule

The Roth "five-year rule" typically refers to when you can take tax-free distributions of earnings from your Roth IRA, Roth 401(k), or other work-based Roth account. The rule states that you must wait five years after making your first contribution, and the distribution must take place after age 59½, when you become disabled, or when your beneficiaries inherit the assets after your death. Roth IRAs (but not workplace plans) also permit up to a $10,000 tax-free withdrawal of earn
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Mid-Year Is a Good Time to Fine-Tune Your Finances

The first part of 2020 was rocky, but there should be better days ahead. Taking a close look at your finances may give you the foundation you need to begin moving forward. Mid-year is an ideal time to do so, because the planning opportunities are potentially greater than if you waited until the end of the year. Renew Your Resolutions At the beginning of the year, you may have vowed to change your financial situation, perhaps by saving more, spending less, or reducing your debt. Are these resolu
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Tapping Retirement Savings During a Financial Crisis

As the number of COVID-19 cases began to skyrocket in March 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The legislation may make it easier for Americans to access money in their retirement plans, temporarily waiving the 10% early-withdrawal penalty and increasing the amount they could borrow. Understanding these new guidelines and the other rules for loans and early withdrawals may help you determine if they are appropriate options during a financial cri
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Medicaid May Pay You as a Family Caregiver

Each day, parents, children, siblings, and spouses selflessly sacrifice their time and energy to care for family members affected by illness, injury, or disability.According to the Department of Health and Human Services, about 80% of care at home is provided by unpaid caregivers and may include an array of emotional, financial, nursing, social, homemaking, and other services. More than half (58%) have intensive caregiving responsibilities that may include assisting with a personal care activity
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Quarterly Taxes: Deadlines Keep Coming for the Self-Employed

If you own your own business, you typically don't have taxes withheld from every paycheck, so Uncle Sam wants you to pay estimated taxes in four installments. Normally, these payments are due on April 15, June 15, and September 15 of the current year, and January 15 of the following year. But this tax season, the federal tax filing deadline has been delayed to July 15 because of the COVID-19 health crisis. This means you have extra time to file 2019 tax returns and make payments without inte
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Mid-Year Is a Good Time to Fine-Tune Your Finances

The first part of 2020 was rocky, but there should be better days ahead. Taking a close look at your finances may give you the foundation you need to begin moving forward. Mid-year is an ideal time to do so, because the planning opportunities are potentially greater than if you waited until the end of the year. Renew Your Resolutions At the beginning of the year, you may have vowed to change your financial situation, perhaps by saving more, spending less, or reducing your debt.
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The ABCs of Finance: Teaching Kids About Money

It's never too soon to start teaching children about money. Whether they're tagging along with you to the grocery store or watching you make purchases online, children quickly realize that we use the money to buy the things we want. You can teach some simple lessons today that will give them a solid foundation for making a lifetime of sound financial decisions.Start with an Allowance. An allowance is often a child's first brush with financial independence and a good way to begin
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Transitioning to Retirement: How Medicare and Social Security Could Affect Your

One of the benefits of a health savings account (HSA) under current law is that you can withdraw HSA funds tax-free to pay Medicare premiums, as well as other qualified medical expenses. HSA funds cannot be used to pay regular health insurance premiums, so this provision offers a tax advantage for those age 65 and older.The catch, however, is that once you enroll in Medicare, you cannot contribute to an HSA, even if you are also covered under a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). HSA funds can b
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Why You Might Need Disability Income Insurance

Your ability to earn an income may be your most valuable asset. It might be difficult to make ends meet if you are unable to work due to illness or injury.According to one report, only 34% of men and 20% of women said they felt extremely confident in supporting their households during a period of income loss.1 It's important to assess your own situation and determine whether you have appropriate financial backup in the event that you cannot work due to a disability.Your employer may off
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How Much Have You Thought About Retirement?

It's difficult to achieve positive results without planning, yet less than half of workers ages 55 and older have actively planned for retirement. Planning is even less common for those ages 45 to 54.
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Social Security May Offer a Lifetime of Protection

Social Security is much more than a retirement program. Most Americans are protected by the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program — the official name of Social Security — from birth through old age. Here are four times in your life when Social Security might matter to you or the people you care about.A Wide Safety NetCurrent Social Security beneficiaries Source: Social Security Administration, 2019 When You Start Your Career Your first experience with Socia
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Pension Decisions: Lump Sum or Lifetime Income?

Workers with pensions can sometimes choose to take their benefit as a lump sum instead of a monthly payment when they retire. In addition, some companies are taking steps to eliminate or reduce the size of their pension plans, along with the associated costs and liabilities, in order to limit the impact of future retirement obligations on their current financial performance. This may involve offering lump sums to vested current or former employees.For many workers, there are clear mathematical a
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Three Life Insurance Strategies for Small Businesses

You may already have insurance to help support your family financially if you should pass away. But could your small business benefit from additional life insurance that would protect your employees, business partners, and their families?Here are three life insurance strategies that could play a role in your business. Source: NFIB Small Business Economic Trends, 2019 Group Plans Small businesses have a hard time competing for qualified workers, many of whom may expect group life insurance as
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Did You Overpay or Underpay Your Taxes?

Most people enjoy getting a big refund at tax time, but a refund is an interest-free loan to the federal government, and you may prefer to have that money during the year. On the other hand, no one enjoys owing taxes, and underpaying might trigger a penalty beyond the tax you owe. If you overpaid or underpaid by a significant amount in 2019, this may be a good time to adjust your withholding or estimated tax payments for 2020.You can check your withholding for 2020 by using the IRS Tax Withholdi
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Five Key Benefits of the CARES Act for Individuals and Businesses

By now you know that Congress has passed a $2 trillion relief bill to help keep individuals and businesses afloat during these difficult times. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act contains many provisions. Here are five that may benefit you or your business. 1. Recovery Rebates Many Americans will receive a one-time cash payment of $1,200. Each U.S. resident or citizen with an adjusted gross income (AGI) under $75,000 ($112,500 for heads of household and $150,000 for
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The CARES Act Suspends Federal Student Loan Payments

On March 27, 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Included in the legislation are new rules for student loan relief.The legislation provides a six-month automatic payment suspension for any student loan held by the federal government. This six-month period ends on September 30, 2020.If you have a federal student loan, you don't need to contact your loan servicer to request a suspension; the six-month freeze will be applied automatically to any
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Don't Let a Disaster Keep the Lights Off Forever

In the fall of 2019, wildfires fueled by high winds erupted in parts of Northern and Southern California, threatening structures in multiple communities. Wildfires have long been a concern in this sunny and dry state, but in a recent twist, millions more residents and businesses were impacted when public utilities cut off power to help prevent downed power lines from sparking fires.1Small businesses can be hit especially hard when extreme weather or other unforeseen events result in major damage
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Early Retirement and Your Tax-Deferred Savings: When Can You Take Penalty-Free W

Saying goodbye to the working world might be a dream come true, particularly for hardcore savers inspired by the high-profile movement dubbed FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early). Unfortunately, many others are forced to leave the workforce abruptly or must tap into retirement savings for other pressing needs.When it comes to the money in tax-deferred retirement plans, it doesn't matter whether you are a proponent of FIRE or are unexpectedly fired. Withdrawals taken prior to age 59&fra
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Annuity Strategies: Living Benefits Can Help Counter Retirement Risks

An annuity is an insurance contract that offers an income stream in return for one or more premium payments. Income payments continue for the duration of the contract, which may be for life or a specific number of years.A fixed annuity offers a set rate of return for the life of the contract. A variable annuity is riskier but offers the potential for growth because a portion of the premium is invested in the financial markets; the annuity's future value and income payments are largely determ
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Working from Home: Is It Rewarding or Restricting?

Imagine that your employer gives you the choice between working from home or commuting to the office throughout your work week. You might think the obvious choice is to work from the comfort of your own home; after all, staying in your pajamas all day and avoiding stressful commutes sound appealing. But there are some considerations to think about before you decide that telecommuting is right for you. Weigh the potential rewards... Working from home could end up saving you a considerable amount
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Due Date Approaches for 2019 Federal Income Tax Returns

Tax filing season is here again. If you haven't done so already, you'll want to start pulling things together — that includes getting your hands on a copy of your 2018 tax return and gathering W-2s, 1099s, and deduction records. You'll need these records whether you're preparing your own return or paying someone else to prepare your tax return for you. Don't procrastinate The filing deadline for individuals is generally Wednesday, April 15, 2020. Filing for an extensi
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How can I lower my credit card debt?

If you find that you are struggling to pay down a credit card balance, here are some strategies that can help eliminate your credit card debt.Pay off cards with the highest interest rate first. If you have more than one card that carries an outstanding balance, one option is to prioritize your payments according to their interest rates. Send as large a payment as you can to the card with the highest interest rate and continue making payments on the other cards until the card with the highes
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Closing Gaps in Your Insurance Coverage

Buying insurance is about sharing or shifting risk, but you may think you're covered for specific losses when, in fact, you're not. Here are some common coverage gaps to consider when reviewing your own insurance coverage. Life insurance In general, you want to have enough life insurance coverage (when coupled with savings and income) to allow your family to continue living the lifestyle to which they're accustomed. But changing circumstances may leave a gap in your life insurance c
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The SECURE Act Offers New Opportunities for Individuals and Businesses

The SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act) is major legislation that was passed by Congress as part of a larger spending bill and signed into law by the president in December. Here are a few provisions that may affect you. Unless otherwise noted, the new rules apply to tax or plan years starting January 1, 2020. If you're still saving for retirement To address increasing life expectancies, the new law repeals the prohibition on contributions to a
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Tips for Targeting Your Retirement Savings Goal

What if you're saving as much as you can, but still feel that your retirement savings goal is out of reach? As with many of life's toughest challenges, it may help to focus less on the big picture and more on the details. Regularly review your assumptions Whether you use a simple online calculator or run a detailed analysis, your retirement savings goal is based on certain assumptions that will, in all likelihood, change. Inflation, rates of return, life expectancies, salary adjustments
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How Consumers Spend Their Money

Each year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports on consumer spending patterns. According to the 2019 report, consumers spent an average of $61,224 in 2018.* *Average annual expenditures per consumer unit. Consumer units include families, single persons living alone or sharing a household with others but who are financially independent, and two or more persons living together who share major expenses. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditures 2018, released September 2019
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Could you survive a no-spend month?

Would you take on a 30-day challenge to spend money only on necessities such as rent, utilities, and groceries? During a no-spend month, many common activities — including dining out, buying movie or concert tickets, and shopping for clothes — are avoided at all costs.The idea behind a 30-day challenge is that the time period is just long enough to help change bad habits without seeming intolerable. If frugality isn't normally your forte, closely scrutinizing your spending could
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Hindsight Is 2020: What Will You Do Differently This Year?

According to a recent survey, 76% of Americans reported having at least one financial regret. Over half of this group said it had to do with savings: 27% didn't start saving for retirement soon enough, 19% didn't contribute enough to an emergency fund, and 10% wish they had saved more for college.1 The saving conundrum What's preventing Americans from saving more? It's a confluence of factors: stagnant wages over many years; the high cost of housing and college; meeting everyday
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What are the new HRA options that will be available to employers in 2020?

Health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) are employer-sponsored accounts that help employees pay for health-care expenses on a tax-advantaged basis. An employer establishes HRA accounts on behalf of employees and allocates a certain amount of money to them each year. Funds accumulate tax-free and are used to reimburse employees for qualified medical expenses such as health insurance premiums, routine medical bills, deductibles, and prescription drugs. Beginning in January 2020, employers can off
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Qualified Charitable Distributions: Using Your IRA to Give from the Heart

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act roughly doubled the standard deduction ($12,200 for single filers and $24,400 for married taxpayers filing jointly in 2019) and indexed it for inflation through 2025. As a result, far fewer taxpayers will itemize deductions on their tax returns, and some people may be disappointed that they no longer benefit from writing off their donations.If you are 70½ or older, you can use a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) to donate from your IRA and get a tax break,
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How to Give Like a Billionaire When You Don't Have Billions to Give

Since Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett created the Giving Pledge in 2010, more than 200 of the world's wealthiest individuals and couples have committed to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropic or charitable causes.Although the Giving Pledge only invites billionaires to join, "it is inspired by the example set by millions of people at all income levels who give generously — and often at great personal sacrifice — to make the world a better place."
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Do independent living communities differ from CCRCs?

Independent living communities, also known as rental retirement communities, offer housing options for active seniors and retirees who require little or no assistance with daily activities. Most independent living residents desire an environment where they don't have to be concerned about safety, maintenance, and homeownership responsibilities.One of the major offshoots of the burgeoning number of baby boomers retiring every day is the growing retirement living industry. More and more commun
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What are continuing care retirement communities?

Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) are living arrangements that combine independent living, assisted living, and nursing home care on a single campus. CCRCs offer residents a continuum of care throughout their lives.Typically, you enter a CCRC as a resident of an independent housing unit, which may be a condominium, apartment, or single-family home. When you need more care or are unable to live independently, you can move to the assisted living facility on campus. Should you need the
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Tips for Managing Your Holiday Spending

Like almost everything else these days, the holidays have become a barrage of options and choices, with nearly limitless opportunities to overspend. Here are some tips to help you make sure your family's spending remains in check this holiday season. Develop a spending strategy First and foremost, develop a budget. Involving family members will help you establish and maintain realistic expectations at the outset. Remember to include not just gifts, but also holiday meals and parti
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Ten Year-End Tax Tips for 2019

Here are 10 things to consider as you weigh potential tax moves between now and the end of the year. 1. Set aside time to plan Effective planning requires that you have a good understanding of your current tax situation, as well as a reasonable estimate of how your circumstances might change next year. There's a real opportunity for tax savings if you'll be paying taxes at a lower rate in one year than in the other. However, the window for most tax-saving moves closes on December 31, so
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Three Regrets of Retirees

A recent survey found that more than half of retirees have retirement planning regrets. Unfortunately, many of these retirees had to cut back on their lifestyles to compensate for financial shortfalls.1Considering their most common regrets may help you avoid making the same mistakes. Not saving enough More than one-third of retirees wish they had saved more.2 How much is enough? The amount you need depends on your other sources of income and your anticipated retirement lifestyle. It might
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How much will health care cost?

Retirement health-care costs will vary depending on your health and longevity, but it may help to have a guideline. These are the estimated savings required for an individual or couple who turned 65 in 2019 to have a 90% chance of meeting expenses for Medicare Part B health insurance, Part D prescription drug coverage, Medigap Plan F, and out-of-pocket drug costs, assuming median prescription drug expenses.* These estimates do not include services not covered by Medicare or Medigap. *Medigap P
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What health services aren't covered by Medicare?

Original Medicare — Part A hospital insurance and Part B medical insurance — offers broad coverage, but many services are not covered.Some may be fully or partially covered by a Part C Medicare Advantage Plan, which replaces Original Medicare, or a Medigap policy, which supplements Original Medicare. Both are offered by Medicare-approved private insurers. (You cannot have both a Medicare Advantage Plan and a Medigap policy.)Whether you are looking forward to Medicare in the future or
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Balancing 401(k) and HSA Contributions

If you have the opportunity to contribute to both a 401(k) and a health savings account (HSA), you may wonder how best to take advantage of them. Determining how much to contribute to each type of plan will require some careful thought and strategic planning. Understand the tax benefits A traditional, non-Roth 401(k) allows you to save for retirement on a pre-tax basis, which means the money is deducted from your paycheck before taxes are assessed. The account then grows on a tax-deferred basis
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Five Times in Your Life When You Might Need Help with Your Finances

As you move through different stages of life, you will face new and unique financial situations. Did you just get engaged? Perhaps you are wondering how you and your partner are going to manage your money together. Do you have children? Maybe you are looking for ways to pay for their college education.When you navigate through these various life events, you might seek professional guidance to help you make sound financial choices. 1. Getting married Getting married is an exciting time in one
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Earnings Season: What Investors Can Take Away from Corporate Reports

Publicly traded companies are required to report their financial performance to regulators and shareholders on a quarterly basis. Earnings season is the often-turbulent period when most companies disclose their successes and failures.U.S. companies included in the S&P 500 index suffered year-over-year earnings declines in the first two quarters of 2019.1 Rising wages and higher material costs (partially due to tariffs imposed on traded goods) had started to cut into profit margins.2Earn
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Is a Roth 401(k) Right for You?

First available in 2006, the Roth 401(k) is a relative newcomer to the retirement savings world, and employers were slow to adopt it. That has changed in recent years. A 2017 survey found that seven out of 10 large and mid-size employers with defined contribution plans offer Roth accounts, and another 15% were planning to add the option or considering doing so (see chart).A Roth 401(k) is a separate account within the employer’s 401(k) plan that has tax advantages and limitations similar t
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Five Retirement Lessons from Today's Retirees

Each year for its Retirement Confidence Survey, the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) surveys 1,000 workers and 1,000 retirees to assess how confident they are in their ability to afford a comfortable retirement. Once again, in 2019, retirees expressed stronger confidence than workers: 82% of retirees reported feeling "very" or "somewhat" confident, compared with 67% of workers. A closer look at some of the survey results reveals various lessons today's workers c
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How can I teach my high school student the importance of financial literacy?

Even though your child is just in high school, he or she may still have to deal with certain financial challenges. Whether this involves saving for an important purchase like a car or learning how to use a credit card responsibly, it's important for your high schooler to have a basic understanding of financial literacy concepts in order to manage his or her finances more effectively.While financial literacy offerings in schools have increased in popularity, a recent study reported that only
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Key Estate Planning Documents

Estate planning is the process of managing and preserving your assets while you are alive, and conserving and controlling their distribution after your death. There are four key estate planning documents almost everyone should have regardless of age, health, or wealth. They are: a durable power of attorney, advance medical directives, a will, and a letter of instruction. Durable power of attorney Incapacity can happen to anyone at any time, but your risk generally increases as you grow older. Y
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What's New in the College World?

If you're the parent or grandparent of a current or prospective college student, you might be interested to learn what's new in the world of higher education. Higher college costs For the 2018-2019 school year, average costs for tuition, fees, room, and board were: $21,370 at public colleges (in-state)$37,430 at public colleges (out-of-state)$48,510 at private colleges The following table shows the average annual percent increase for tuition, fees, room, and board since 2015.1 D
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How can you avoid falling for the Social Security imposter scam?

 The scam generally starts like this. You answer a call or retrieve a voicemail message that tells you to "press 1" to speak to a government "support representative" for help in reactivating your Social Security number. The number on your caller ID looks real, so you respond. The "agent" you reach tells you that your Social Security number has been suspended due to suspicious activity or because it has been involved in a crime.You're worried. You know how i
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What are the warning signs of financial scams targeting older individuals?

If you or someone you know has been targeted by a scam artist who is trying to steal money or personal information, you're not alone. According to the Senate Special Committee on Aging, older Americans lose an estimated $2.9 billion annually to fraud and exploitation, a number that is probably substantially underreported. 1Most scams start with a call, an email, a text, or an official-looking letter that appears to be from a government agency or a legitimate company. Sometimes the scam
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Have you checked your tax withholding lately?

If you were unpleasantly surprised by the amount of tax you owed or the amount of your tax refund when you filed your 2018 tax return, it may be time to check your withholding.It may also be time if there are changes in your life or financial situation that affect your tax liability. For example, have you recently married, divorced, had a child, purchased a new home, changed jobs, or had a change in the amount of your taxable income not subject to withholding (e.g., capital gains)?You can genera
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Why Not Do It Now? New Research on Procrastination

Do you have a tendency to push off important tasks? Do you do things at the last minute, or maybe not do them at all? If so, you're not alone. About one in five adults is a chronic procrastinator.1 Procrastination can be frustrating in the short term for even the simplest tasks. But it can have far-reaching effects on important activities and decisions such as completing work projects, obtaining medical treatment, and saving for retirement. Recent research offers insights that may be helpful if
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Is It Time to Declare Your Financial Independence?

No matter how much money you have or which life stage you're in, becoming financially independent starts with a dream. Your dream might be to finally pay off the mountain of debt you've accumulated or to stop relying on someone else for financial support. Or perhaps your dream is to retire early so you can spend more time with your family, travel the world, or open your own business. Financial independence, however you define it, is freedom from the financial obstacles that are keeping y
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Inflation Variation, Eroding Purchasing Power

Inflation averaged 2.5% for the 30-year period from 1989 to 2018. Although the recent trend is below the long-term average, even moderate inflation can reduce purchasing power and cut into the real return on your investments.Annual rate of inflation, based on change in the Consumer Price Index Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019 (December year-over-year change in CPI-U)
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Charitable Giving After Tax Reform

Tax reform changes to the standard deduction and itemized deductions may affect your ability to obtain an income tax benefit from charitable giving. Projecting how you'll be affected by these changes while there's still time to take action is important. Income tax benefit of charitable giving If you itemize deductions on your federal income tax return, you can generally deduct your gifts to qualified charities. However, many itemized deductions have been eliminated or restricted, and th
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Managing Your Money in a Gig Economy

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.5 million people rely on contingent or alternative work arrangements for their income.1 Often referred to as the "gig economy," these nontraditional or contingent work arrangements include independent contractors, on-call and temp agency workers, and those who sign up for on-demand labor through smartphone apps.If you are a contingent worker, you need to pay close attention to your finances in order to make up for any gaps in earning
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What's the real return on your investments?

As an investor, you probably pay attention to nominal return, which is the percentage increase or decrease in the value of an investment over a given period of time, usually expressed as an annual return. However, to estimate actual income or growth potential in order to target financial goals — for example, a certain level of retirement income — it's important to consider the effects of taxes and inflation. The remaining increase or decrease is your real return.Le
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Time for a Mid-Year Investment Check

Many investors may be inclined to review their portfolios only when markets hit a rough patch, but careful planning is essential in all economic climates. So whether the markets are up or down, periodically reviewing your portfolio with your financial professional can be an excellent way to keep your investments on track, and midway through the year is a good time for a checkup. Here are three questions to consider. 1. How have my investments performed so far this year? Review a summary of your
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How much money should a family borrow for college?

There is no magic formula to determine how much you or your child should borrow for college. But there is such a thing as borrowing too much. How much is too much? One guideline is for students to borrow no more than their expected first-year starting salary after college, which, in turn, depends on a student's particular major and/or job prospects.But this guideline is simply that — a guideline. Just as many homeowners got burned in the housing crisis by taking out larger mortgages th
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What is a college income-share agreement?

A college income-share agreement, or ISA, is a contract between a student and a college where a student receives education funding from the college today in exchange for agreeing to pay a percentage of future earnings to the college for a specified period of time after graduation. The idea behind ISAs is to minimize the need for private student loans, to give colleges a stake in their students' outcomes, and to give students the flexibility to pursue careers in lower-paying fields.Purdue Uni
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How to Recover from a Mid-Life Financial Crisis

A financial crisis can be scary at any age, but this is especially true when you're in your 40s or 50s. Perhaps you're way behind on saving for retirement or have too much debt from unnecessary spending. Or maybe an unexpected challenge, such as a job loss, illness, or break from the workforce for caregiving responsibilities, took a direct hit on your finances.Regardless of how you got to this point, it's important to develop a strategy that will help you re-establish financial stabi
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Mergers & Acquisitions: What's in the Deal for Investors?

Merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in North America and Europe reached its second highest level on record in 2018. There were 19,501 deals worth $3.6 trillion — a 6.3% increase in deal volume over 2017. There was also a rise in mega deals exceeding $10 billion.1Collectively, U.S. corporations had plenty of cash to spend after a long string of solid profits and a significant tax cut.2 High stock prices also provided plenty of equity for deals involving the exchange of stock, whi
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Quiz: Social Security Survivor Benefits

Did you know that Social Security may pay benefits to your eligible family members when you die, helping to make their financial life easier? Take this quiz to learn more. Questions 1. What percentage of Social Security beneficiaries receive survivor benefits? a. 5% b. 10% c. 15% 2. Your child may be able to receive survivor benefits based on your Social Security earnings record if he or she is: a. Unmarried and under age 18 (19 if still in high school) b. Married and in college c. Both a and b
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How do I replace my Social Security card?

Chances are, you probably have your Social Security number memorized, so you may not have had to use your card in awhile. However, there are times when you may be required to show your actual card, such as when you start a new job or need to access certain government services. Fortunately, replacing a lost or stolen card is a relatively easy process.In order to obtain a new card, you need to prove your citizenship or lawful noncitizen status, and your age and identity from a list of approved doc
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Do I need to get a REAL ID when I renew my license?

 If you need to renew your driver's license, you may want to get a REAL ID. The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, enacts the 9/11 Commission's recommendation that the federal government set minimum security standards for state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards.Beginning October 1, 2020, residents of every state and territory will need to present a REAL ID-compliant license/identification card, or another acceptable form of identification (such as a passpor
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How Does Your Employer's Retirement Plan Compare?

Each year, the Plan Sponsor Council of America (PSCA) surveys employers to gauge trends in retirement plan features and participation. Results are used by employers and plan participants to benchmark their plans against overall averages. How does your plan compare to the most recent survey results, released at the end of 2018?1 Participation and savings rates Plan participation (that is, the percentage of participants contributing to the plan) was on the rise, increasing from 77% in 2010 to 85%
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Rules on Opening a 529 Plan Account for College

Year over year, participation in 529 plans continues to rise.1 Anyone can open an account, lifetime contribution limits are typically over $300,000, and there are tax benefits if the funds are used for college. Here are some common questions on opening an account.
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How can I get a tax break for child care?

More than 60% of children under age six in the United States have two parents in the workforce. 1Many of these working parents must spend a burdensome share of their earnings on child care, especially if they don't have relatives who are willing and able to help out.The following tax benefits may help you offset some of the costs paid for a nanny, babysitter, day care, preschool, or day camp, but only if the services are used so you can work. Child-care tax credit Families with one qua
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Four Reasons Your Parents Might Be in Financial Trouble

As your parents age, they will probably need more help from you. But it may be difficult to provide the help they need, especially if they're experiencing financial trouble.Money can be a sensitive subject to discuss, but you'll need to talk to your parents about it in order to get to the root of their problems and come up with a solution. Before you start the conversation, consider the following four scenarios as signs that your parents might be experiencing financial challenges, and ho
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Quiz: How Much Have You Thought About Health and Health-Care Costs in Retirement

When planning for retirement, it's important to consider a wide variety of factors. One of the most important is health and its associated costs. Thinking about your future health and the rising cost of health care can help you better plan for retirement in terms of both your finances and overall well-being. This quiz can help you assess your current knowledge of health and health-care costs in retirement. Questions 1. Health-care costs typically rise faster than the rate of inflation. True
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Due Date Approaches for 2018 Federal Income Tax Returns

Tax filing season is here again. If you haven't done so already, you'll want to start pulling things together — that includes getting your hands on a copy of your 2017 tax return and gathering W-2s, 1099s, and deduction records. You'll need these records whether you're preparing your own return or paying someone else to prepare your tax return for you. Don't procrastinate The filing deadline for most individuals is Monday, April 15, 2019. Residents of Maine and Massach
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Is a vehicle subscription service in your future?

Automakers and start-up companies are betting that today's generation of drivers will embrace a new model of temporary ownership called a vehicle subscription service.A vehicle subscription service offers an alternative to buying or leasing. You don't have to sign a long-term contract or commit to just one vehicle. Once you join, you typically pay an all-inclusive monthly or sometimes weekly fee that covers the cost of using the vehicle you choose, including insurance, routine maintenanc
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How can you lower the costs of owning a vehicle?

Almost 100 million Americans, representing about 44% of U.S. households, owned mutual funds in 2018. Saving for retirement was the primary goal for 73% of investors; other goals included saving for college or a house, building an emergency fund, or providing current income.1Mutual funds offer a convenient way to participate in a broad range of market activity that would be difficult for most investors to achieve by purchasing individual securities. With almost 8,000 funds available on the U.S. m
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Know Your Mutual Funds

Almost 100 million Americans, representing about 44% of U.S. households, owned mutual funds in 2018. Saving for retirement was the primary goal for 73% of investors; other goals included saving for college or a house, building an emergency fund, or providing current income.1Mutual funds offer a convenient way to participate in a broad range of market activity that would be difficult for most investors to achieve by purchasing individual securities. With almost 8,000 funds available on the U.S. m
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Tax Scams to Watch Out For

While tax scams are especially prevalent during tax season, they can take place any time during the year. As a result, it's in your best interest to always be vigilant so you don't end up becoming the victim of a fraudulent tax scheme.Here are some of the more common scams to watch out for. Phishing Phishing scams usually involve unsolicited emails or fake websites that pose as legitimate IRS sites to convince you to provide personal or financial information. Once scam artists obtain th
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Hidden Gem: HSAs in Retirement

When saving for retirement, you're probably aware of the benefits of using tax-preferred accounts such as 401(k)s and IRAs. But you may not be aware of another type of tax-preferred account that may prove very useful, not only during your working years but also in retirement: the health savings account (HSA). HSA in a nutshell An HSA is a tax-advantaged account that's paired with a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). You can't establish or contribute to an HSA unless you are enrolle
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Can a flexible work schedule help you stay in the workforce after having childre

Yes, it just might be the key. Your job is the foundation for general financial security, including retirement. In addition to providing you with a steady salary and valuable employee benefits, it typically brings with it the ability to save in a tax-advantaged employer-sponsored retirement plan like a 401(k), and if you're lucky, a pension. It also allows you to start qualifying for Social Security retirement benefits.Women and men may start out on relatively equal financial footing in thei
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Women: Are you planning for retirement with one hand tied behind your back?

Women can face unique challenges when planning for retirement. Let's take a look at three of them.First, women frequently step out of the workforce in their 20s, 30s, or 40s to care for children — a time when their job might just be kicking into high (or higher) gear.It's a noble cause, of course. But consider this: A long break from the workforce can result in several financial losses beyond the immediate loss of a salary.In the near term, it can mean an interruption in saving for
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Four Tips for Planning a Career Change

Changing careers can be rewarding for many reasons, but career transitions don't always go smoothly. Your career shift may take longer than expected, or you may find yourself temporarily out of work if you need to go back to school or can't immediately find a job. Consider these four tips to help make the financial impact of the transition easier. 1. Do your homework Before you quit your current job, make sure that you clearly understand the steps involved in a career move, including th
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Famous People Who Failed to Plan Properly

It's almost impossible to overstate the importance of taking the time to plan your estate. Nevertheless, it's surprising how many American adults haven't done so. 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, considering the resources and lawyers presumably available to them. Yet there are plenty of celebrities and people of note who died with inadequate (or nonexistent) estate plans. Most recently
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Should I consider requesting a deferment or forbearance for my federal student

Did you take on a large amount of debt to pay for college, and are you struggling to pay it off? If so, you are not alone. According to the Federal Reserve, 20% of individuals with outstanding student loans were behind on their payments in 2017.1You may want to consider requesting a deferment or forbearance if you are having difficulty keeping up with your federal student loan payments.Provided certain eligibility requirements are met, both a deferment and a forbearance allow you to temporarily
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Reviewing Your Estate Plan

An estate plan is a map that explains how you want your personal and financial affairs to be handled in the event of your incapacity or death. Due to its importance and because circumstances change over time, you should periodically review your estate plan and update it as needed. When should you review your estate plan? Reviewing your estate plan will alert you to any changes that need to be addressed. For example, you may need to make changes to your plan to ensure it
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Hybrid Funds: Balanced, Lifestyle, or Target?

Holding a mix of stocks and bonds is fundamental to building a portfolio that can pursue growth while potentially remaining more stable than a stock-only portfolio during market downturns. Many investors approach this goal by owning a mix of individual securities, a mix of funds, or both. However, some hybrid funds try to follow the same strategy in a single investment.Although the goal of these funds is simplicity, they are not as simple as they may appear, and different types of hybrid funds h
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What Happened to Your Money?

If you don't know what happened to your money during the past year, it's time to find out. December and January are the perfect months to look back at what you earned, saved, and spent, as W-2s, account statements, and other year-end financial summaries roll in. How much have you saved? If you resolved last year to save more or you set a specific financial goal (for example, saving 15% of your income for retirement), did you accomplish your objective? Start by taking a look at your acco
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What are the new rules for 401(k) hardship withdrawals?

The Bipartisan Budget Act passed in early 2018 relaxed some of the rules governing hardship withdrawals from 401(k)s and similar plans. Not all plans offer hardship withdrawals, but the ones that do will be required to comply for plan years beginning in 2019.
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Take Charge of Your Student Debt Repayment Plan

Outstanding student loan debt in the United States has tripled over the last decade, surpassing both auto and credit card debt to take second place behind housing debt as the most common type of household debt.1  Today, more than 44 million Americans collectively owe more than $1.4 trillion in student debt.2Here are some strategies to pay it off.
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What to Do If Your Term Life Insurance Policy Is About to Expire

One advantage of term life insurance is that it is generally the most cost-effective way to achieve the maximum life insurance protection you can afford. Many people first purchase term life insurance to protect their family's financial interests after a significant life event, such as getting married or the birth of a child.You may have done the same for your family when you purchased your policy years ago. And chances are, other than paying the
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Going Public: An IPO's Market Debut May Not Live Up to the Hype

An initial public offering (IPO) is the first public sale of stock by a private company. Companies tend to schedule IPOs when investors are feeling good about their financial prospects and are more inclined to take on the risk associated with a new venture.Thus, IPOs tend to reflect broader economic and market trends. And not surprisingly, 2017 was the busiest year for the global IPO market since 2007.1Company insiders who have been waiting for the opportunity to cash out may have the most to ga
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I received a large refund on my tax return this year. Should I adjust my withhol

You must have been pleasantly surprised to find out you'd be getting a refund from the IRS — especially if it was a large sum. And while you may have considered this type of windfall a stroke of good fortune, is it really?
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Protect Your Heirs by Naming a Trust as IRA Beneficiary

Often, tax-qualified retirement accounts such as IRAs make up a significant part of one's estate. Naming beneficiaries of an IRA can be an important part of an estate plan. One option is designating a trust as the IRA beneficiary.Caution: This discussion applies to traditional IRAs, not to Roth IRAs. Special considerations apply to beneficiary designations for Roth IRAs.Why use a trust? Here are the most common reasons for designating a trust as an IRA beneficiary:Generally, inherited IRAs a
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Have You Made Any of These Financial Mistakes?

As people move through different stages of life, there are new financial opportunities — and potential pitfalls — around every corner. Have you made any of these mistakes? Your 50s and 60s 1. Raiding your home equity or retirement funds. It goes without saying that doing so will prolong your debt and/or reduce your nest egg. 2. Not quantifying your expected retirement income. As you near retirement, you should know how much money you (and your spouse, if applic
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Tax Benefits of Homeownership After Tax Reform

Buying a home can be a major expenditure. Fortunately, federal tax benefits are still available, even after recent tax reform legislation, to help make homeownership more affordable. There may also be tax benefits under state law.Mortgage interest deduction One of the most important tax benefits of owning a home is that you may be able to deduct the mortgage interest you pay. If you itemize deductions on your federal income tax return, you can deduct the interest on a loan secured by your home a
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