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Know What You Own and What is a Bad Financial Product

As an advisor pre/post- the 2008 financial crisis and throughout subsequent periods of market volatility (such as 1994, wars, terrorist events, Brexit, you name it), when working with a new client I am regularly surprised by how often they do not have a handle on what is in their portfolio and/or purposes of an asset allocation or lack thereof. During periods like the one we are in now, we watch television pundits that depending on the channel/time of day, are either predicting total market chaos, or a continuation of an extended bull market. Inevitably, it can create a lot of stress and confusion for an investor (and some financial advisors). In the end, investing should have the intended goal of creating “peace of mind” that a person(s) is on track so that they can breathe easier® (shameless plug), feel okay when they turn on the news and can live their lives the way they want to. Knowing What You Own ...

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How To Avoid A Holiday Charity Scam?

Over the past few weeks I have covered elderly scams and romance scams, but this one could hit one of your family members over the holidays… Last year, a New Jersey couple launched a fundraiser for a homeless man.  Donations poured in as hearts were ripped out about this tear-jerking story.  We see charitable causes all the time that pull the purse strings of our wallet, especially during the holidays. The story of the homeless man and the $400,000 GoFundMe money unraveled and we learned about the money that completely disappeared.  Everyone behind the GoFundMe campaign was playing America, but inevitably, they were outed. As we approach the season to be jolly, here are some tips on how not to get scammed when giving to charity. Start with the IRS – Yes, the IRS.  The IRS website has a Tax Exempt Organization Search you can use to see if the charity is in fact a legitimate organization.  Remember, you want ...

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Is Your Sister Or Brother Laughing All The Way To The Bank?

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder.  I say it makes it grow absent.  One of the most challenge items facing families today is the fragmentation of brothers and sisters spread out across the country and the challenge of who will ultimately become Mom or Dad’s caregiver.  What does this mean to the family inheritance?  Should your brother or sister get paid?  Is the total decisions a proxy by proximity or something that should be more fully discussed?  It’s challenging to get siblings on the same page when it comes to money and it’s why so many squabble about the family inheritances even before Mom and Dad pass away.  Here are some tips to make sure your brother or sister aren’t laughing all the way to the bank as you discuss this delicate situation with your parents. Have An Estate Plan This means that your parents should have something more in many cases than just a will.  It ...

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Are Your Elderly Parents Being Financially Exploited?

Picture this scenario at the bank: A woman walks into her branch with her 25-year-old grandson and they’re ready to transfer $4,000 or so out of Grandma’s account into his. Is the grandson running a scam? And, if so, can the bank do anything to stop it?  Maybe, yes, on both counts.  “People are literally being robbed every day through scams or financial exploitation from members of their own family,” said Debra Whitman, executive vice president and chief public policy officer at AARP.   The average victim can lose $120,000 to financial exploitation, according to AARP research. Repeated, out-of-the-ordinary cash withdrawals are a big clue to exploitation and scams.  (source: Detroit Free Press) In fact, every year it is estimated that 2.6 billion dollars are lost by elder financial abuse and the problem only seems to be getting worse and worse.  The initial threat for most of our elderly parents were the dreaded robocallers.  The imposters that would pose as the Social Security department or the ...

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Would You Spend Less Than $100 On An Engagement Ring?

Buying an engagement ring can be an emotionally draining purchase. For most people, it’s more than jewelry: It’s a symbol of love and affection and of the serious commitment they want to make to a lifelong partner.  For years, it’s been bandied that the diamond industry spearheaded this notion that you have to spend 3 months of your salary on an engagement ring.  As we have witnessed millennials and now generation Z changing the way we do many things in their lives, are they going to change what we spend on engagement rings?  How much is love worth? In a recent study that was one, here is what late-stage millennials and generation Z had to say about engagement rings:  Engagement rings should cost… Less than $100: 11 percent of Gen Z and 8 percent of young Millennials  Between $100 and $999: 43 percent of Gen Z and 31 percent of young Millennials  $1,000 to $2,499: 28 percent of Gen Z ...

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Wedding Bliss On A Budget

When thinking about what topic to write on for my blog post this week, I decided to write about something that I personally learned a lot about this year: weddings. My husband & I got married in April and it was an eye opening experience. Of course I knew the cost of weddings were increasing at an exponential rate, but I had no idea how to navigate these treacherous waters and ensure we made it on the other side without incurring debt. Here are a few tips I learned for my own wedding that will hopefully help you along the way: Venue: Admittedly, I lack creativity and patience. For me, it made sense to go for an all inclusive venue to cut down on stress. However, if you are better at this than I am, look for a venue that will let you express your creative side and make your own decorations. You can also shop around prices for your ...

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Is it Time to Dodge the Draft?

No, you are not going to have to avoid a Government draft. But with winter coming, you might want to do somethings about that drafty house.  Some simple inexpensive projects could save you up to 18% on your energy bills this winter.  Here are four projects you should look at doing. Durable Weather Stripping.  Take a look at your exterior doors.  If you can slide a piece of paper between the door and the frame, then you are probably losing energy.  Bronze strips bought at your local hardware store are about $20 and easy to install on your own. Insulate the Attic Hatch.  If you have the traditional pull-down ladders to get to your attic, you will notice that was not build with any regard to energy saving.  A supper easy fix is to get an attic tent.  This is exactly like it sounds.  It is insulated fabric that you staple to the attic floor over the latter hatch.  It ...

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Impeachment and the Stock Market

A lot of people are nervous about the stock markets after the latest drama with the President and the potential for his removal from office. After Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House would launch a formal impeachment inquiry in response to the President’s dialogue with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky concerning former VP Joe Biden’s son, the US markets quickly fell. Investors were shaken by the potential of removal of President Donald Trump from office. By the time the closing bell rang, most sectors in the US were in the red after starting the day in the green. How does this process work and what history do we have to draw on for past performance of the stock market during impeachment proceedings? The answer to the former I can lay out for you, the answer to the latter is a bit harder to gather answers from. From October 1998 to February 1999, stocks rose despite the Clinton impeachment. But the ...

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