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American consumer confidence hit a six-year high in March, according to data recently released by the Conference Board, providing promise that the first-quarter economic stagnation may have been mostly weather-induced, after all. Following three-plus months of mostly uninspiring domestic returns, the Conference Board index showed that consumer attitudes rose a full four points - from a rating of 78.3 in February to 82.3 - for the final...

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Savers Beware

Our government is at it again.  The proposed 2015 budget coming from the White House includes a few modifications to retirement accounts.  Most of the proposed changes reared their ugly heads in last year’s initial budget proposal, but all were eventually nixed before becoming law.  One new piece of legislation, however, targets Roth IRA accounts and would require those accounts be subjected to the same annual Required Minimum Distribution rules...

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Nothing wrong with free money, and the 401(k) structure and governing rules provide investors with a fantastic retirement savings tool.  One troubling trend, though, as evidenced in recent industry studies indicates that many employees are cashing out their 401(k) account balances when switching jobs.  Rather than executing a rollover of their assets to the new employer’s retirement plan or a self-directed IRA, avoiding taxes and penalties, 30-40% of Americans making...

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Having a conversation with your kids about finances is no easy task, but it is important to educate your children on effective money management. The importance of teaching such skills to children was most recently substantiated by a 2013 survey conducted by Junior Achievement. The results showed that teens who feel that they will be able to support themselves without parental assistance between the ages of 18 and 24 declined...

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After the U.S. Congress voted in 2010 to raise the federal tax threshold for gifts from $1 million to $5 million, many Americans took advantage of the higher limit. According to Bloomberg, recent IRS data found that U.S. taxpayers reported $122 billion in tax-free gifts in 2012. Of that total, $84 billion was attributed to gifts valued above $1 million, and fewer than 30,000 people were responsible for this portion. Furthermore,...

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Plenty of folks are speaking up now saying, “I told you so.” Referencing their previous prediction that we were due for a pullback in the market.  Funny, these same individuals were saying this when the Dow was at 12,000…and then at 13,000…and then at 14,000…and then at…well, you get the picture.  Remember, when it comes to market timing, the benefit of potentially avoiding the downturns is outweighed by the risk...

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Estate planning is a dynamic process that should not only be thought of in hindsight following a possibly life-threatening health condition or death of a loved one. It should begin immediately and continue throughout your lifetime. Individuals should set in motion arrangements for the future of their assets and employ an array of strategies to ensure that those assets go to the intended parties and that their survivors are supported financially. Transfer of assets There...

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Jerry Foster

When you hear the words “charitable giving,” something very specific may come to mind. Maybe you think of an annual donation you make at the office, or a faith-based initiative to which you’ve contributed. But changes have been taking place in how and why we give, changes that are broadening our understanding. In fact, the way many of us look at our charitable giving—even the words we use to describe...

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Even five years after the start of the financial crisis of 2008, the U.S. is, in some ways, still shaking off the dregs of the housing downturn and widespread unemployment. Often, these symptoms of the crisis, along with the government-sponsored bailout of banking and automotive industry giants have been characterized as signals of the impending Great Recession. However, some would argue that attempts to save these industries were...

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