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Insights



The State of the Economy and Coronavirus

Given the volatility in the financial markets beginning the week of February 20, 2020, it’s helpful to review the state of the U.S. economy entering into this stressful period, what’s happened since, and some of the potential economic impacts. Here is our take on those topics. At the beginning of 2020, the U.S. economy was in very strong shape, with unemployment falling and the labor force participation rate and wages rising. Compared to 2008-09, this is not a financial crisis
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March Planning Action Items

Complete gathering W2’s, investment account 1099’s, K1’s and other key tax documents. Meet with your CPA and finalize your tax returns and extensions, if applicable. Review your W2’s, 1099’s, and K1’s with your Independent, Fiduciary CFP®. Understand your true net take home income, so you can better plan for monthly expenses and contributions to wealth building and preservation. Apply income and salary to living expenses. Adequately budget for large capital improvements and repairs to real property – personal residence and
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Recent Market Volatility

In recent days, the increase in volatility in the stock market has resulted in renewed anxiety for many investors. While it may be difficult to remain calm during a substantial market decline, it is important to remember that volatility is a normal part of investing. Additionally, for long-term investors, reacting emotionally to volatile markets may be more detrimental to portfolio performance than the drawdown itself. Intra-Year Declines Exhibit 1 shows calendar year returns for the US stock market since 1979, as well
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February Planning Action Items

Review your W2 and 1099s with your Independent CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER TM. Your 1099s and W2s provide valuable information about your earnings and investing habits. If your salary has increased, have you also increased your savings and investment rates? Apply income/salary to living expenses, and bonuses and stock options proceeds to retirement goals. If your mutual funds made sizable capital gains distributions, would you be better off holding low cost, tax-managed institutional funds in your taxable account(s)? Bump up contribution rates
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10 Major Trends in US Audits

Most taxpayers envision Internal Revenue Service audits as intrusive investigations resulting in criminal sentences. Today, nothing could be farther than the truth: The IRS’s auditing power has been greatly diminished in the past decade. IRS audit resources have been reduced by 28 percent in the last decade and the audit rate has dropped from 0.9 percent in 2010 to 0.5 percent in 2018. In fact, the number of IRS audits in 2018 (991,168) dropped by almost half compared to 2010
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Hindsight Is 20/20. Foresight Isn’t.

The year 2019 served up many examples of the unpredictability of markets. Interest rates that US policy makers expected to rise fell instead. American consumers’ confidence weakened as the year began,1 and news headlines broadcast fears of an economic slowdown. But investors who moved onto the sidelines may have missed the gains in the US stock market. As of the end of October, the S&P 500 was up more than 20% for the year on a total-return basis. That puts it
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2020 and Beyond – Where’s Your Focus

Welcome to “Projections Season” where every financial personality and even your friends and family will provide an insight into their crystal ball on how the “market” will perform next year. They will back up their projections with strong data and sound reasoning, yet history continues to show us just how futile it is to spend time predicting any future, much less that of how over 20,000 worldwide securities will perform over the short term. As we move into 2020, I
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What Happens When You Fail at Market Timing

The impact of missing just a few of the market’s best days can be profound, as this look at a hypothetical investment in the stocks that make up the S&P 500 Index shows. A hypothetical $1,000 turns into $138,908 from 1970 through the end of August 2019. Miss the S&P 500’s five best days and that’s $90,171. Miss the 25 best days and the return dwindles to $32,763. There’s no proven way to time the market—targeting the best days or
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How Markets Work and the FAANG Mentality

November 2019 The stocks commonly referred to by the FAANG moniker— Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google (now trading as Alphabet)—have posted impressive gains through the years, with all now worth many times their initial-public-offering prices. The notion of FAANG stocks as a powerful group holding sway over the markets has sunk its teeth into some investors. But how much of the market’s recent returns are attributable to FAANG stocks? And does their performance point to a change in the
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It’s Open Enrollment Season. Have You Taken a Good Look at an HSA?

For high-income investors who are maxing out other tax-sheltered accounts, the high-deductible healthcare plan/HSA combo is close to a no-brainer. In one of the biggest changes to employee benefits in decades, high-deductible healthcare plans are appearing on more and more benefits menus, and these plans are experiencing dramatic growth in enrollment as a result. Thirty percent of workers were covered by a HDHP in 2019, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation; in 2014 20% of workers were covered by
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