The Qualified Charitable Distribution Explained

The history of the qualified charitable distribution (QCD) feels a lot like the 'Friends' relationship of Rachel and Ross.  Off.  On.  Off.  On.  Off.  On.  There has been enough disruption in the availability of this tax-saving opportunity that it has been hard to remember if it is on or off.  Good news...it's on.  The brief history goes [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Retirement Planning And the Future of Social Security

Lost amidst the hoopla of the Super Bowl last weekend was a historic anniversary.  75 years ago, on January 31, 1940, the first Social Security retirement check was mailed to Ida May Fuller, a legal secretary from Vermont who went to grammar school with Calvin Coolidge. 75 years after that first check, Social Security is an integral part [...]