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Athena K. Stone has been with Attentive Investment Managers, Inc. since 2003, is an Investment Advisor and the Chief Compliance Officer for the company. Mrs. Stone earned her Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC) designation in 2010 from the College for Financial Planning. She received the designation of Accredited Investment Fiduciary...

Athena K. Stone has been with Attentive Investment Managers, Inc. since 2003, is an Investment Advisor and the Chief Compliance Officer for the company. Mrs. Stone earned her Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC) designation in 2010 from the College for Financial Planning. She received the designation of Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF) from Fi360 in 2011. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Organizational Leadership from Brandman University in 2012 and her Master of Science in Financial Planning and Designation of MPAS (Master Planner Advanced Studies) from the College for Financial Planning in 2018.

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Mar
04

Book Review 1 - Reverse Mortgages: How to Use Reverse Mortgages to Secure Your Retirement

reverse-mortgage

Reverse Mortgages: How to Use Reverse Mortgages to Secure Your Retirement
By Wade D. Pfau, Ph.D., CFA

Reverse Mortgages are a financing tool that have largely been ignored by retirement and financial planning professionals because of the negative connotation from years past. Dr. Pfau was interested in exploring this untapped resource and how it may fit into a retirement plan in a beneficial way and aren’t inherently a bad idea. The countless hours he spent researching reverse mortgages is apparent.

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Feb
01

Athena’s Top 3 Tips about Investing

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Pay yourself first

You know the scenario, it’s payday and before you know it bills are paid and you’ve already planned three dinners out with friends. Your budget is wiped out and you did not add to your savings. One of the best methods to ensure that you are hitting your savings goals is to pay yourself first.

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Jan
11

Making Charitable Donations from your IRA

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If you have reached age 70½ and are evaluating charitable giving options, you may consider making a charitable donation directly from your IRA.

The benefits

Contributions made directly from your IRA to a charity reduce the taxable portion of your IRA distributions and count toward your annual required minimum distribution (RMD).

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Jan
01

CARES Act Distribution Information

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Under the CARES Act, individuals were eligible to take $100,000 of coronavirus-related distributions from retirement plans. In addition to the distributions being free of penalty there are also accommodations with the IRS for claiming the income as well as repayment of the distributions.

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Dec
03

Our Take on the Headlines: November Stocks, COVID-19, and Vaccines

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Notable November

The performance and enthusiasm of November will be hard to top. In the month of November, the Dow gained 11.8% - this is the best November since 1928. The S&P 500 rose 10% and Nasdaq 11%. Transports, Industrials, Financials all enjoyed their best month since April of 2009. Also, the Dow hit the coveted all time high of 30,000. Some believe that November may have taken some of the steam from December’s momentum however, both the consensus and Fed both agree that growth should be about 4% next year. As we wrap up the year, there are obviously a few reasons for pessimism over the next two months but there are more reasons for optimism over the next 12 to 18 months.

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Nov
17

Post-Election Thoughts

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Making trade and investment decisions based solely on big events is hardly ever an effective strategy. Having said that, there were obvious concerns about how this year’s election would affect markets and planning strategies. The best thing to do would have been to pick an allocation which you felt comfortable with and ride whatever wave came along with the election results. Some investors sat the sidelines, some bought what they thought might be winners in whatever their assumed outcome scenario was. All in all, what occurred is what I mentioned in our previous election commentary blog – the markets only care that there IS a President.

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Oct
05

Taxes and Trade: What the Election May Mean for your Investments

Campaign Pins

On the heels of the first Presidential debate of the 2020 Election, investors are increasingly turning their attention to the election and the impact that the result will have on the stock market. It is understood that elevated uncertainty usually affects markets in a negative way bringing lower stock prices. But as we have seen throughout our experiences with COVID this year; stocks move based on expectations of the future.

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Sep
08

Teaching Your Kids About Money

Kids and Money

Talking about money with your children does not have to be complicated. The best way to accomplish this is to use day-to-day activities and turn them into learning opportunities.

Younger children often do not understand money and its’ value. This is most apparent when you are giving your child coins. For example, if you give your child the choice between a penny, a dime and a nickel they will almost certainly choose the nickel simply because of the larger size. It is highly important to teach your child value at a young age.

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Jul
23

Conversations About Planning for Incapacity or Death

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Any conversation about planning for incapacitation or death is uncomfortable for many people, especially if you are having the discussion with your parents. It is important to remember however, that this discussion while uncomfortable will spare you additional stress and pain when you and your family are going through a crisis.

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May
26

Economic Impact Payments

woman-receiving-stimulus

Many have received the Economic Impact Payment from the IRS, while some still await their payment. Here are some facts that you should know:

Payments will be made throughout the rest of 2020. If you don’t receive a Payment this year, you can also claim it by filing a tax return for 2020 next year.

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May
21

Grad Gifts

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It’s Graduation time!

We all recognize the difficult and unprecedented time that we are in and how that is affecting all our graduates. Whether your loved one is graduating high school or college or finishing up their master’s degree, they are somehow being shortchanged in this rite of passage. We see huge window displays and yard signs and drive by parade’s hoping to honor the work and accomplishments our graduates have achieved.

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Apr
01

The CARES Act Explained

cares-act

Although the CARES Act’s $2 trillion allocation to the economy has been compared to President Obama’s 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the more recent measure should be thought of as a relief effort, rather than economic stimulus. CARES is addressing the immediate fallout in the business world and in peoples’ personal finances, an attempt to cushion the impact of social distancing and the loss of work and business that it entails.

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Mar
10

The Cost of Children

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Starting a family is not a life event that should be taken lightly, especially financially. The price tag for a baby born in 2015 is about $233,000+ from birth to age 17. That is NOT including college! So the questions becomes, how can you manage those costs and still prepare for your own future. Here are a few ideas to help manage your money as you raise your family.

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Feb
25

Gray Divorce

gray-divorce

Gray Divorce refers to an increasing divorce group that involves older couples who have been married 20-30+ years. This is becoming a common occurrence as boomers age and their offspring settle out on their own. Because the stigma of divorce has greatly diminished and older couples no longer have an obligation to young children, many couples are choosing to separate. Since 1990, the rate of divorce after age 50 has doubled. This causes some often-tricky circumstances especially when it concerns finances and assets.

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Jan
13

2019 Q4 Newsletter

q4

Mike and I recently reflected on the past decade of the markets, and now that the New Year has come and gone, we can set our sites ahead for the future. The week of January 6th will be the first full week of trading after our holiday hangover. Market sentiment is a mixed bag and it appears that everyone has a wait and see attitude – this is a juxtaposition of where we were this time last year.

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Dec
30

The Secure Act: How it can possibly affect you

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The Secure Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement) was signed into law on Friday, December 20 2019. Below please find some of the more important highlights of the new law. TD Ameritrade is working on accommodating the new rules with systems and internal process updates as they become effective January 1, 2020.

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Dec
24

Santa Rally

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Santa baby, slip a sable under the tree for me
Been an awful good girl
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

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Dec
12

10 Year Recap

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As we wind down 2019, so to do we close the decade. We have shared many wonderful successes and milestones with each other over the years. Mike and Miriam built a strong customer-service centered tax service and following investment firm who’s primary goal was to facilitate the needs of their clientele. In the years that followed, clients became friends and the firms that were built became a close-knit group and a family.

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Oct
29

Relationships and Money, Part IV: Divorce

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Divorce is not only a strain on your emotional well-being but also your financial well-being. Many times we only focus on the emotional aspect of the split however, it is important to consider the long-term implications. Additionally, your financial rights are dictated by the state you live in. California is a community property state therefore assets will legally be split 50/50 unless a prenuptial agreement exists.

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Oct
15

Relationships and Money, Part III: Prenuptials

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In today’s world relationships are complicated – with second marriages or children from previous relationships things can get even more complicated. In either situation, a legal agreement can assist you as a couple in clearly outlining your wishes and which assets are considered separate property.

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Sep
05

Relationships and Money, Part II: Married Couples

couple-looking-finances

Marriage is not just roses, chocolates and diamonds. Marriage is a business relationship that needs thorough discussion and often times compromises. When couples plan for possible scenarios in the future, everyone involved is protected and feels secure. There are several ways that couples can ensure healthy financial decisions pre and post nuptial.

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Aug
23

Relationships and Money, Part I: Unmarried Couples

Finances for unmarried couples

New couples are busy enjoying learning about each other and sharing parts of their lives with one another. Very often an important aspect of sharing a life that gets ignored is discussing your values surrounding financial matters. Things such as financial goals to credit card debt can bring a host of challenges to the relationship. Having open conversations about navigating each partner’s financial situation as well as their feelings on various financial matters is key to helping you build a strong financial foundation in your relationship.

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Jul
17

Withholding Changes

tax-withholding

The new tax law made it hard to know how much to withhold from your paycheck every few weeks. As a result, many people withheld less than they might otherwise have, and either received a smaller rebate than expected or had to pay additional taxes in April.

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Jul
03

Health Savings Accounts - HSA

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Health savings accounts are accounts that are paired with high-deductible health plans. They are also a tax-efficient way to save for retirement offering savers a triple tax advantage, via tax-free contributions, investment growth and withdrawal (if money is used to pay qualified medical expenses). To qualify for an HSA you must have a high-deductible health care plan (HDHP) and must be 18 years old.

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Jun
20

Understanding Medicare

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Retirement is just over the horizon and while most people have making ends meet during that period on their minds there is another extremely important part of aging that should be explored. Medicare! There is a 7-month initial enrollment period that begins 3 months before you turn 65, the month you turn 65 and 3 months after you turn 65. If you do not sign up during that window of time you will be penalized for late enrollment, which comes in the form of higher premiums (typically a 10% increase premiums).

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May
23

401(k) Options After Separation from Service or In Retirement

401k-options

When you have a job change or are facing retirement there are a number of decisions that need to be made. One of the more significant ones is what to do with your 401(k). The choice may seem straight-forward but it is anything but. When making this decision it is critical to weigh in all the factors to your decision.

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May
07

Tariffs, Trade and the Ultimate Goal with Agreements with China

us-china-trade-talks

It is clear that any perceived direction of the trade talks or tweets from the President regarding tariffs are market movers. No one, with the exception of a few insiders, really knows the true status of the ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and China.

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Apr
02

In-Service Withdrawals

withdrawal

Many believe that their money is locked in when you are a participant in a 401(k) or profit sharing plan through an employer where you are a participating and current employee. However, certain qualifying events allow employees to access their vested balance to either withdraw and/or roll over money from those accounts and still continue to contribute.

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Mar
11

Pay Yourself First

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Earlier this month, we discussed dollar-cost averaging as a strategy for investing which can offer you a higher average rate of return over the long-term and a seamless means of investing each month without too much pain for your wallet. Today, we will discuss the best way that you can achieve this strategy through the concept called “Pay Yourself First”.

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Mar
01

What is Dollar-Cost Averaging?

dollar-cost-averaging

Market moves can be choppy at times and downright terrifying. This is one reason many would-be investors never take the leap into investing their savings. We know that in order to make your dollars last, we must take on some risk in order to grow them. Then our rational minds try to determine that perfect moment to begin, which in itself is an impossible task - as we all know that trying to time the market is a fool’s errand. You can avoid the stress of getting together a lump-sum to invest and make saving possible without having to overthink it by utilizing the principle of dollar-cost averaging.

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Feb
08

2019 Contribution Limits and Deadlines

saving-for-retirement

How do the new contribution limits affect you? Retirement contribution maximums have increased across the board for 2019. Here are some of the biggest changes to be aware of this year.

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Jan
16

Tax Law Changes and the Government Shutdown

tax-changes

As the shutdown continues, we would like to urge you to continue to monitor your own tax situation and how it relates to your financials, being prepared for when the shutdown ends as well as continuing to look toward your future. 

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Dec
03

Harvesting Losses

tax-loss-harvesting

Recently, we have experienced a downturn in the markets and while that is frustrating and, at times, downright scary, there are ways that you can take advantage of these tough times. Tax-loss harvestingnot only can decrease your tax liability exposure by offsetting taxable income, it also allows you to indirectly increase your overall return or have the ability to reap the gains from some of your other investments.

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Nov
21

Tariffs, Trade and Global Growth

tariffs-trade

While you may have heard that the economic summit was contentious, to say the least, for the first time in nearly 3 decades the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation did not issue a communique. This was largely due to Chinese officials feeling they were singled out by the group for not being transparent.

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Nov
12

How to Disaster-Proof Your Finances

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The fires burning in California and the recent hurricanes on the East Coast have begged the question: how can one disaster-proof their financial house? Often times when a disaster strikes, the last thing on our mind is to snag those important papers—our primary concern is always our life and the lives of our loved ones. But when the dust settles and the rebuild begins, those important papers are going to form the foundation of how quickly you can get your life back on track.

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Sep
11

Charitable Contributions Using RMD’s

charitable-contributions

With the new tax law changes from the 2017 Tax Cut & Jobs act, many Americans will be utilizing the increased standard deduction rather than itemizing. Those of you who are subject to the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) rules can make distributions to your favorite charities from your IRA.

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Aug
28

Designating Beneficiaries & Owning an Inherited Retirement Account

retirement-beneficiary

What happens to your Retirement account if you pass away? Retirement accounts offer an advantage in the way they can be passed to your beneficiaries without a costly Trust or extensive Probate of your estate. A beneficiary designation allows you to allocate your hard earned savings to your loved ones in any manner you choose. But, there are pitfalls that should be avoided when designating beneficiaries.

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Aug
27

Estate Planning

estate-planning

What happens to all of the wealth you have accumulated after you pass away? That is Estate Planning—making a plan ahead of time to decide who will benefit from all you accumulated during your life. This concept has recently been highlighted by the passing of a music icon. Ms. Aretha Franklin passed away without having a will or a trust in place, meaning her estate and its beneficiaries will be decided through the public probate process. This can be lengthy and costly to an estate.

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Jan
22

DNR – A Life Choice

dnr-form

The California EMS Authority along with the California Medical Association and EMS providers in California developed a PreHospital Do Not Resuscitate DNR Form to instruct EMS to not provide resuscitative measure for patients having a heart attack. This would include CPR, assisted breathing, intubation, defibrillation and drugs to stimulate the heart. It does NOT include treatment for pain, difficulty breathing such as an obstructed airway or asthma treatment, or major bleeding, etc. The form must be signed by the patient or their healthcare decision-maker and be CLEARLY posted or maintained with the patient. California EMS does recognize and honor Medallions or bracelets worn by the patient, however, there are only three Approved Medallion Providers for California: Sticky J Medical ID, based in Florida; MedicAlert Foundation, based out of Salida, CA; and Caring Advocates, based out of Encinitas, CA.

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Jan
14

End of Life and Incompetency Planning

advance-health-care-directive

There are several planning tools at our disposal to help clients handle the often times very unpleasant idea of what happens to both our finances and ourselves if something horrible should befall you. Ones of particular urgency are executing documents for durable power of attorney and advance health care directives.

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Jan
08

High-Deductible Medical Plans

health-savings-account

If you are in very good health, a high-deductible medical plan is an excellent way for you to cut your healthcare costs. Firstly, (and most obvious) it brings down your monthly premium. But, did you know that most of these plans can be coupled with a Health Savings Account (HSA)? You can save up to $3,450 (as an individual) for 2018. This gives us yet another avenue to save toward debts or toward your retirement. It is critical to any financial plan that individuals take advantage of any and all programs that fit their situation.

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Dec
28

Seasonal Cleaning and the New Year

financial-goals

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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Dec
04

’Tis the Season

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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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Dec
01

Dollar-Cost Averaging

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Are you retiring or changing jobs and have a rollover? Getting a bonus or expecting a large tax-refund. Let’s invest it!

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Nov
20

What to do with your First Eagle Fund settlement check

settlement-money

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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Recent Comments
Guest — Janet L. Westbrook
I received five checks from the FEF settlement fund, ranging from $10.00 to $47.89. I did not know that I could roll them over, so... Read More
Sunday, 04 February 2018 13:27
Athena Stone, MS, MPAS, CRPC, AIF®
Hi Ms. Westbrook; Thank you for commenting on our blog. We wrote it in hopes to lessen some of the confusion regarding these chec... Read More
Wednesday, 21 March 2018 13:31
Guest — Pamela M. Weaver
I received a check from FEF Settlement back in Nov. check is dated 11-3-17. i thought it was a scam. i held on to it and now decid... Read More
Tuesday, 20 March 2018 19:47
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Nov
15

Tax Proposal: What does it mean for you?

tax-proposal

There is a lot of discussion happening regarding the recently released GOP Tax Proposal. With pages and pages of proposed changes the most important thing to note is that this is a proposal, certainly not a finished product and the tax overhaul is far from certain. For you, our clients, not much has changed in the kind of preparation we believe you should be doing. As in every year, we want you to review your expenses, income and last year’s returns and of course, look at any what-if scenarios that may be on your horizon.

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Sep
11

How to Respond to a Data Breach

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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Sep
05

Facts About Powers of Attorney

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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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Aug
16

Teach Kids About Money: Recommended Books

kids-money

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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Aug
07

Managing Health Care Costs in Retirement

health-care-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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Due to renewed State orders for shelter-in-place we will be modifying our office operations. We will be suspending services at our physical office for the public. However, we are available to you via web meeting (zoom), email and telephone (Phone lines have been forwarded to our personal cell phones) during regular business hours. We will be able to fully service all your investment needs with no interruption.

You may drop contribution checks at our office through the mail slot or they may be mailed directly to TD Ameritrade (address listed below). Please be sure to notate your account number on the check.

TD Ameritrade
PO BOX 650567
Dallas, TX 75265-0567

Rest assured that we will continue to monitor your investments and market conditions on an ongoing basis with no interruption. Should you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact us.

We will navigate this crisis as best we can, coming together and making shared sacrifices. We hope that we can help to slow down the effect of this virus together and solve this swiftly. We also wish everyone well and would like to extend our gratitude for your patience during these trying times. Continue to watch for updates from us.