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Showing posts from 2017

Common Estate Planning Mistakes

The most common way to transfer assets to your heirs is also the messiest: to have a will that is so out of date that it doesn’t relate to your property or estate, to have your records scattered all over the place, to have social media, banking and email accounts whose passwords only you can find—and basically to leave a big mess for others to clean up.   Is there a better way?   Recently, a group of estate planning experts were asked for their advice on a better process to handle the transfer of assets at your death, and to articulate common mistakes.   The list of mistakes included the following:   Not regularly reviewing documents.   What might have been a solid plan 15 or 20 years ago may not relate to your estate today.   The experts recommended a full review every three to five years, to ensure that trustees, executors, guardians, beneficiaries and healthcare agents are all up-to-date.   You might also consider creating a master document which lists all your social m

Major Changes in Northeast Ohio Health Insurance Marketplace & Open Enrollment

The Affordable Care Act -- aka Obamacare -- has become an important program for many retirees who need health insurance to bridge the gap from when employer coverage exhausts until eligible for Medicare at age 65. For those utilizing these plans and especially those that use Medical Mutual of Ohio for their insurance, it's time to review your options during the open enrollment season. As reported earlier this year, in partnership with New York City-based Oscar Health , Cleveland Clinic announced it is making its first entrance into the health insurance market with a product bearing its name. The co-branded health insurance plan will be available in Cuyahoga, Summit, Lorain, Medina and Lake with coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2018. The Clinic also will not be participating in Medical Mutual of Ohio's (MMO) -- a large insurer of northeast Ohioans and headquartered in Cleveland -- individual ACA products in 2018, as Crain's Cleveland Business  first reported. MMO switched to

Common Traits of Millionaires

While being a 'millionaire' isn't what it once was in today's world, it's a nice round number people still fixate on. The Millionaire Next Door was originally published in 1998 and was a robust study of common traits -- many of them surprising -- of millionaires. Many of its findings are still relevant today. Below are a few of my favorites. Good Grades = Success, Right? What most people don’t know is that GPA is a very poor predictor of success. The Author's wrote, "I find no substantial statistical correlation between the economic-productivity factors (net worth and income) and SATs, class rank in college, and grade performance in college." And further, "Overall, there is an inverse relationship between taking financial risk and various measures of analytical intelligence such as SAT scores." When asked what their teachers did compliment them on, what was the most common response? "Most dependable." When ask

Hot Stocks (Not) To Pick

This NY Times article Hot Stocks Can Make You Rich. But They Probably Won’t provides a succinct take on the odds of picking the next big winner. Before you jump headlong into stock picking, you should consider the odds. Over the long run, while the total stock market has prospered, most individual stocks have not. “A new study by Hendrik Bessembinder, a finance professor at Arizona State University, demonstrates persuasively that while investing in the overall stock market makes sense, the obstacles facing individual stock pickers are formidable. Professor Bessembinder found that a mere 4 percent of the stocks in the entire market — headed by Exxon Mobil and followed by Apple, General Electric, Microsoft and IBM — accounted for all of the net market returns from 1926 through 2015. By contrast, the most common single result for an individual stock over that period was a return of nearly negative 100 percent — almost a total loss.” Yet more evidence that stock picking ca

65-80 Year Olds … A New and Exciting Demography

Should today’s 70-year-old American be considered “old?” How do you define that term these days? Statistically, your average 70-year-old has just a 2% chance of dying within a year. The estimated upper limits of average life expectancy is now 97, and a rapidly growing number of 70-year-olds will live past age 100. Perhaps more importantly, today’s 70-year-olds are in much better shape than their grandparents were at the same age. In most developed countries, healthy life expectancy from age 50 is growing faster than life expectancy itself, suggesting that the period of diminished vigor and ill health towards the end of life is being compressed. A recent series of articles in the Economist magazine suggest that we need a new term for people age 65 to 80, who are generally healthy and hearty, capable of knowledge-based work on an equal footing with 25-year-olds, and who are increasingly being shunted out of the workforce as if they were invalids or, well, “old.” Indeed, the a

Where Have All the U.S. Stocks Gone?

A recent Wall Street Journal article, citing a study by the Center for Research in Security Prices, tells us something remarkable about the times we are investing in: the number of stocks on the U.S. market has quietly diminished by more than half over the last 20 years. In November 1997, investors could choose from 7,355 U.S. stocks. Today, there are fewer than 3,600.   Most of the decline has come from vanishing companies ranging from small to microcap — the sort of names you probably haven’t heard of. Small stocks have diminished from more than 2,500 in 1997 to fewer than 1,200 today. Microcap companies that are even smaller numbered nearly 4,000 in 1997, compared to 1,900 today. Some went out of business, while others were gobbled up by larger companies or private equity firms. Meanwhile, instead of new companies going public to replace those that have retired from the market, venture capital firms are allowing younger ventures to stay private for longer.   The artic

Where Federal Tax Money Comes From and Goes To

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget recently published their annual study. There are some simple and telling charts that help people better understand the source of the US's tax revenue and where that revenue is spent.    On spending, for every $100 you pay in taxes:  $23.61 goes to Social Security payments and administration $15.26 goes to Medicare, the government health insurance program $9.55 to Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor $19.82 goes to armed forces, including veterans benefits $6.25 interest on national debt In total, 50% went to Social Security and health programs. Include armed forces and interest payments, and we’re up to about 75%.     The 2016 federal budget fell $15.24 (out of every $100) short of revenues brought in, having improved from $35.70 in 2011. If a balanced budget were deemed the appropriate thing to do, where would you cut?          On the source of tax revenue, you can see individual inco

Investment Returns: What Can We Expect Over the Coming Years?

Having proper expectations is incredibly important in investing. Expectations will impact your investment allocation and may influence your ability to stay disciplined in adhering to your investment plan. The video below reviews a 5-year expected return forecast as of January 2017 made by the world's largest asset manager Blackrock. It was done in conjunction with the 2017 Q1 market review by Kevin Kroskey, CFP, Senior Wealth Advisor at True Wealth Design, and is edited for brevity. Note: To improve viewing quality on your player to HD video, select play and then the square icon to view in full screen mode.    

Brexit Begins

You may recall that last summer the investment markets were panicked by the U.K. voting to exit the European Union. There were dire predictions about the impact on the U.K. economy, which never materialized, in part because the U.K. had not yet formally opted out of its Eurozone agreements.  At the end of March 2017, the U.K. did pull the trigger, making the departure official. So that means those dire predictions will finally come true. Right? Under the bylaws, the divorce will be negotiated over the next two years, meaning that any change in economic circumstances will be gradual and perhaps accommodated as they happen. How gradual? Over the next several weeks, the EU’s remaining 27 members will discuss their priorities in before the negotiations and then hold a summit on April 29. Only then will the European Commission have a mandate to negotiate with representatives from London.  Items Negotiated in Brexit   What will the negotiations cover? Britain’s obliga