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 [...]

Protecting Children and Grandchildren with an IRA Trust

One of the most challenging roles of parenting is finding the proper balance between protecting children too much and not enough.  In the early years, we cover electrical outlets, protect household edges with soft bumpers, and spend hours analyzing all the safety features of car seats.  Parental protection then evolves to monitoring what our children [...]

Potential Death of Backdoor Roth, Stretch IRA, and Other Financial Planning Strategies

President Obama unveiled the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget last Tuesday (February 9th) which included several unexpected first-time proposals in addition to many crackdowns and “loophole closures” that have become annually recurring proposals.  Experts contend there is little likelihood of any substantial tax change in the final year of the President’s term.  However, we could see [...]

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 [...]

Roth 401(k) or Traditional 401(k)?

An important issue that often arises for working professionals seeking to save for retirement is whether to utilize a Traditional 401(k) or Roth 401(k) for retirement savings.  Although this dilemma may seem utterly confusing and resultantly receive less thought than the decision of whether to accept an old co-worker’s Facebook friend request, it can have a [...]

IRA Rollover or Leave Assets in a 401k?

In a country founded on the idea of individual freedom, Americans value the idea of choice.  We inherently believe that maximizing individual freedom increases our individual welfare or happiness and that the best way to maximize individual freedom is to maximize choice.  A bar with 120 beers on tap is perceived better than a bar [...]

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 [...]

Evaluating the Cost of Education

Among the most consequential decisions that parents make is choosing the primary and secondary education venue for their children.  For parents with resources, the decision often begins with the dilemma of private vs. public school.  Parents are also often confronted with the financial costs of college education and helping a child choose between institutions with [...]

Thinking Differently About Social Security

Imagine how financial planning would be different if the sole focus was on accumulation of wealth while risks were ignored.  There would clearly be no need for insurance of any kind.  Disability insurance, umbrella insurance, and life insurance, as examples, would just be unnecessary expenses.  Individuals would borrow as much as possible to leverage their [...]

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 [...]