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Seasonal Cleaning and the New Year

Everyone likes spring cleaning – dusting off the cobwebs, cleaning the windows and letting the light shine through the windows, the freshness of spring and the renewal of the spirits. I’m a bit of an odd bird, though, I like to have that feeling of renewal at the start of every season and winter is no exception. Winter offers us a unique opportunity – like the dawn of a new day – the New Year offers us a fresh start, one that can be even more impactful than dusting off cob webs or even that new gym membership. Ultimately, you are pretty stuck inside anyhow.

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’Tis the Season

The period between Thanksgiving and the end-of-year holiday season would seem like a sleepy time for financial planners, but in fact it is anything but. You might be surprised at how much activity takes place on behalf of you and your investments in the final month of the year.

For instance? Even though this has been a good year in the markets, not all investments will have gained value. This is the last opportunity to harvest any losses we find in taxable accounts, by selling investments that have gone down and “booking” the loss. Then we can look for investments that have gained value, sell some of those to offset the losses, and thereby save capital gains taxes in the future. Up to $3,000 of ordinary income can be offset by investment losses as well.

This is also the time of year when mutual fund companies post, in advance, the amount of ordinary income and capital gain distributions they will make to their shareholders. Since the value of the shares drops by the amount that is distributed, this would seem like a non-event performance-wise. But in fact some mutual funds are poised to make 20% or even 30% distributions, and this cash is immediately taxable, unlike gains in the share values, which are only realized when you decide to sell. By selling funds before the distributions, and buying them back later, we can reduce your tax bill this year.

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What to do with your First Eagle Fund settlement check

If you receive a settlement check in the coming days ranging from $10-$40 from FEF Settlement Fund you were identified as a shareholder of a First Eagle Fund during the time which administrative investigations were conducted and proceedings founded by the SEC. You have two options with these checks.

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How to Respond to a Data Breach

You may have read that hackers broke into the Equifax database and stole personal information tied to 143 million people. The hackers accessed people's names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver's license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people. There is no reason to think that data is not for sale to criminals who can use it to open new lines of credit or file phony tax refund requests in peoples' names.

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Facts About Powers of Attorney

Everybody should have a power of attorney, but not everybody knows exactly what it is or why it's so important.

A power of attorney is a legal document that empowers a person you trust to handle your financial affairs if and when you become incapacitated. While you're up and around, the document just sits in a file. But if you're in an accident and suddenly can't act on your own behalf, the document allows somebody else to make decisions on your behalf—usually temporarily, until you can start handling your own affairs again. At that point, the document goes back in the file, and you're back in charge.

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Teach Kids About Money: Recommended Books

Kids have a unique way of blowing any parent's budget. The endless requests of "Can I get ….?" give us a clear indication as parents that children do not understand the value of money, and teaching them important values about spending and saving can be a difficult task.

Spare your budget and your patience by teaching your children the value of money early on and help them become super saving smart adults! We recommend these books to help YOU teach your children about managing money and saving.

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Managing Health Care Costs in Retirement

Many people say that their #1 retirement concern is now not outliving their money but the cost of health care in retirement. There is much debate over Medicare and health care costs overall. The important idea to take from this overall concern is that financial planners can be of assistance and bridging this gap can be addressed relatively simply.

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Getting a Grip on Your Credit & Financial Health

Credit is an arbitrary idea that affects us all and has a huge impact on our overall financial life. According to the US Debt Clock, the average personal debt per citizen in the US is $56,322. Whether you have good credit or are struggling to take control of your credit, here are some tips to help you navigate this difficult concept.

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Tax Reduction Strategies

​1. Pay Yourself First

The utilization of company retirement plans (401-k's and Simple IRA's) are the easiest way to build up tax advantaged assets for your retirement goals. Verify that you are contributing the amount required in order to maximize the employer's match. Above that amount it would usually be prudent to try to contribute the maximum amount possible in order to minimize your income tax liability.

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Risk Management / Long-Term Investments

What is your Risk Tolerance? Identifying and analyzing your preferred level of potential loss is essential in Financial Planning. Once you have saved toward any given goal, the idea is to leverage it so that you can gain more. Risk Management involves the trade off – how much you are willing to risk on the downside to potential gain on the upside.

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