Can You Win in a Lose-Lose Game: Tariffs and Trade Wars

“We’re On The Brink Of An AllOut Trade War!”
“Market Futures Fall As Investors Anticipate New Tariffs!”
“What Will Happen If Trade Tensions Escalate!?”

Chances are you’ve seen headlines like these over the past few months. The media can’t stop talking about tariffs and trade tensions and how they might harm the U.S. economy. But are tariffs really that bad? Is it true that we’re approaching a full-blown trade war with China?

In this piece, we hope to untangle reality from the what-ifs and shed some light on what changes, if any, you should make to your financial plan while the threat of tariffs and trade wars looms.

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Investment Insights July 2019

By: Emilie Goldman

With so many ups and downs in the stock market over the past few quarters, investors may be tempted to try to predict the stock market to avoid declines and benefit from the gains. Yet there is already a group of professional managers—called tactical asset allocators—who are trying to time the market.

Tactical asset allocators generally tell investors they will avoid stock market declines and participate in stock market gains. This promise appeals to most investors since we are all interested in growing and preserving our wealth. But does the track record of tactical asset allocators supports their promise? Thankfully, we came across a 2019 study that sheds light on this subject. (more…)

You Aren’t Going to Buy a House in the Bay Area? Really?

As Bay Area housing prices continue to rise, many residents—the ones who aren’t planning their escape to Arizona, Oregon, Washington or Texas—are opting not to jump into fray.

Instead of squirreling away their dollars in hopes of being able to amass a six-figure down payment, they’re embracing the freedom and better cash flow that comes with renting instead of buying.

For many people, this approach makes sense emotionally and financially. The median price of a Bay Area home is $830,000 – more than three and a half times the median sale price of $232,700 for homes in the U.S. Anyone who’s visited an open house on the Peninsula, in San Francisco, the East Bay or San Jose knows that homes sell quickly and often above the asking price. (more…)

What If College Isn’t In the Cards for Your Teen?

When you were the parent of a newborn, you might have had a moment or two of clarity amid the haze of exhaustion and sleep deprivation. And in those moments, you might have opened a tax-free college fund for the tiny person sleeping nearby.

Fast-forward 18 years—through board books, potty training, the first day of school, summer vacations, soccer games, birthday parties and middle school—and suddenly that tiny person is a high school senior. Meanwhile, you’ve been dutifully adding to the 529 plan to cover the expense of four years of college. The earnings through this plan are tax-free, and so are the withdrawals for qualified education expenses, making this a popular vehicle for covering college costs. (more…)

Target-Date Retirement Funds among the Most Popular Investments for Retirement

According to USNews.com, investments in Target Date Retirement Funds have shown unprecedented growth among investments for retirement, with numbers “approaching $400 billion, [and] with projected sales of $2 trillion by 2020.” The reasons for this popularity among those investing for retirement are twofold: 1) ease of fund management for investors and, 2) the default status these funds have enjoyed since 2006 – if 401k account holders do not select an investment, employer plans are allowed to “default” the employee’s 401k into a Target-Date fund.

What is a “Target-Date” Retirement Fund?

Essentially, a “Target-Date” Retirement Fund is a very low-maintenance investment vehicle that is designed to adjust the risk level of your investments automatically as you approach retirement age. By setting a Target Date for your retirement when you establish the account, a single investment vehicle, you let the fund manager know when you expect to retire. As the years pass and your target date approaches, the fund will automatically begin to adjust the asset allocation between stocks, bonds, and cash equivalents, becoming more conservative as you age. (more…)

Financial Planning for College – What is a 529 Plan and How Does it Work‏?

529 PlansIn 1996 the Internal Revenue Code was modified to include Section 529, creating an education savings benefit for higher education. While contributions to the Plan are not tax deductible, the earnings on the Plan are; making the 529 College Savings Plan an excellent saving tool when you are doing your financial planning for college for your children. With changes to tax code going into effect this year, the Plan becomes even more attractive.

A financial planner can help you enroll in a 529 College Savings Plan

In 2013, couples earning over $450,000, and singles earning over $400,000, will face higher taxes and lower deductions; while all Americans will see greater withholding from their paychecks. In addition, it is highly likely that we will see significant cuts to Federal Financial Aid even as colleges and universities continue to increase tuition and fees. By beginning to save for college now, your financial planning for college will be much more likely to be successful in covering your child’s tuition and expenses later. (more…)

7 Strategies to Lower Private College Costs

If given the choice, many students would love to have the opportunity to attend one of the nation’s reputable private schools. In general they offer smaller student to teacher ratios, a more intimate learning experience and the ability to graduate within four years, as opposed to the average of five or six years at a public college.

Private colleges continue to provide considerable institutional aid for good students. Since private colleges receive little or no support from state tax dollars, many private colleges must offer institutional aid to stay competitive with the lower priced state colleges. (more…)

Does Goal-Setting Give You Stress?

This piece on goal-setting (reprinted with permission from Money Quotient) is one that I share with my clients during the initial stages of our Financial Life Planning ® goal-setting process. The article offers “7 Tips” for setting effective goals – insights that can help you laser-focus on the right goals for you.

Goals

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”
Franklin Roosevelt

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Full-time Work to Full-time Mom and Back to Work Again – My Story

When my first child was born in 1999, I returned to my career as if nothing had changed. I continued to excel in my career for nearly six years, through the birth of our second child, by outsourcing my Mom Job to a nanny during the week. At the time, there were just two choices available to me: to continue working full-time outside the house, or to quit working altogether. I mean, what else was there, right?

Here are a few of the lessons I have learned about returning to work after an extended absence…

“If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all.” ~ Anna Quindlen (more…)

Financial Life Planning – That’s Right, Another Plan for a Better Life

Family PlanningI already know exactly what you’re thinking as you read the title of this piece, “Oh no, not another plan to make my life better! I’m all planned out!” I understand; I really do. The good news is, this type of planning is not another plan, it’s more like a merging of plans; the merging of your finance planning goals with your goals for life.

What is Financial Life Planning®?

Financial Life Planning is a holistic process that puts your interests first and focuses on increasing your sense of financial well-being and life satisfaction. Initially, this process will help you to clarify your values, priorities, circumstances, and aspirations; and then guide you in defining and designing your unique version of the “rich life.” In addition, Financial Life Planning will increase your understanding of the habits and attitudes that will facilitate your financial and life goals and support successful life transitions. (more…)