Cybersecurity: Resources and Advice to Stay Secure Online

Cybercrime will cost approximately $500 billion to the global economy this year and that number is expected to grow to $2 trillion by 2019.  For criminals, the reward is great, the future is bright, and the risks are low.  For consumers, the risks are high and the potential costs of time and dollars are real. As [...]

More Smart Tax Planning with 529 College Savings Plans

In an article last month about saving for college, we outlined some of the many ways to handle overfunded 529 college savings plans and why these underpublicized options justify aggressive funding of 529 plans.  In the opening paragraphs of that May article, we explained how the rules treat 529 account funds used for non-qualified expenses: The first [...]

Why Non-Deductible IRA Contributions Are Generally a Bad Idea

High income families faced with high annual taxes are often looking for ways to reduce their taxes or save additional dollars in tax-efficient ways.  Unfortunately, these well-intentioned pursuits often result in irrational behaviors (such as permitting the government to shortchange your retirement savings) or unfavorable outcomes (such as paying more taxes than you would have [...]

Flexibility of 529 College Savings Plans Often Argue for Aggressive Funding

In the 20 years since Section 529 was added to the Internal Revenue Code under the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996, many families have discovered the significant advantages of the “Qualified Tuition Programs” which we collectively now refer to as 529 College Savings Plans. Among other benefits, these plans offer tax-exempt investment growth [...]

Costco Credit Card Transitions from Amex to Visa – Now What?

One recurring question that we have fielded from clients over the past several months has nothing to do with the stock market, Roth conversions, the upcoming election, or Social Security changes.  Instead, it takes some variation of the following: “Do you have advice on what credit card I should get to replace my Costco American [...]

Best and Worst Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor

There should be natural skepticism when a financial advisor creates a list of the best and worst questions to ask a financial advisor.  It sounds a little like game show fixing of the 1950s where some contestants knew the questions before they were asked.  However, experience provides a unique advantage.  We have heard insightful questions and we have [...]

Major Changes to Social Security Claiming Strategies

Early this Friday morning, the Senate passed a bipartisan budget agreement to extend the government debt ceiling and avert a default.  At this hour, the agreement is headed to the White House where the President is expected to sign it. While the initial headlines of this Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 will likely address the [...]

The Challenge of Individual Stocks

On a recent visit to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), I surprisingly stumbled upon an exhibit featuring classic video games such as Tetris, Asteroids, and Pac-Man.  The games were displayed on active video screens with an adjacent explanation of the creativeness or design elegance for why they were each chosen. In their heyday, these [...]

Act Now to Capture this Simple $700 Georgia Tax Credit

The following article was originally published in 2015.  Note that an updated explanation of the tax impact under the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act exists here. Many of our early-career and mid-career professional clients face the annual reality of alternative minimum tax (AMT), knowingly or unknowingly.  This secondary tax system captures a large segment [...]

Financial Advisors and Conflicts of Interest

Politicians.  Used car salesman.  Mechanics.  There are but a few professions less trusted than financial advisors.  The lack of consumer trust is arguably well-deserved as there is nothing trustworthy about opaque conflicts of interest, hidden fees, or bad advice that lines the advice giver’s pockets.  There is nothing trustworthy about consumers being sold expensive annuities that [...]