Blog

Andrew Farmer

Over your working life, you have paid into Social Security along the way. Now it is time to start thinking about your options and how to benefit the most from what’s available to you. First off, Social Security is an actuarial calculation based on life expectancy. So, if you would let us know when you are going to pass away, we can come up with the perfect claiming strategy...

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Ross Polking Thumbnail Photo

Road maps. Battle plans. Lego instructions. Recipes. Failing to follow the stated steps with any of these rarely equates to a successful outcome. The best estate plan ever drafted does nothing if not properly executed. Attorneys often face the uncertainty of never knowing if their clients completely follow through on all of their recommendations. Like a parent waving good-bye to their child as they disappear into school on their first...

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Marcus Iwig

Many of us reach the end of the year and scramble to find a few more deductions for the year. Often times, we prepay our next property tax installment, do some last-minute gifting, or, if you’ve had a big medical expense year, you might squeeze in one more doctor visit. The Tax Reform that passed late last year makes some pretty substantial changes to those deductions. First of all, the standard...

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Moklestad Matt Profile Photo

Bonds serve an important role in the portfolios of many individuals and organizations as they provide income, liquidity, and help reduce portfolio volatility. If your financial plan warrants investing in bonds, what type of bonds should be in your portfolio? At Foster Group we focus on two primary characteristics of fixed income investments to help us answer this question – maturity and credit quality. Maturity As a bond holder, essentially you are providing a...

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Joe Bantz, CFP®, AIF®

For nearly my entire life, I’ve been the model of health. I rarely got sick, was free from significant injury (except a dislocated shoulder in college), and rarely missed a day of school or work. I would hear about others’ health challenges and could empathize, but couldn’t really relate. I took for granted feeling good in the morning, going out for a morning jog, and going to the gym for...

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Jon Evans

Most people have heard the saying “buy low and sell high.” Simply put; buy things when they are on sale, and sell them when they are at higher prices. While this sounds like great advice, many investors find it difficult to follow, because emotion gets in the way. In the world of investment management, rebalancing is the process of maintaining targeted asset class weights through time. Because asset classes (stocks, bonds,...

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Kent Kramer

With five-year CD rates averaging 1.56% annually and money market annual yields remaining below 0.29% (Wall Street Journal Market Data – Feb. 22, 2018), investors continue to ask if there is anything they should do to increase the cash flows coming from their portfolios. A popular answer coming from some corners of the financial press is to seek out high dividend paying stocks. Unfortunately, this strategy for increasing cash flow may...

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Ross Polking Thumbnail Photo

Investing is risky. Not investing is also risky. Right or wrong, as people contemplate their need for retirement income, many venture into the world of annuities. The promise of a stream of income when your working years are complete can be appealing and comforting. These products are often sold under the premise that they can take the risk out of investing. In reality, annuities are complex insurance vehicles that frequently come with significant fees, restrictions, and...

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Mark Phillips Profile Photo

By Mark K. Phillips, Bank Iowa

A stolen credit card number sells for about $5 on the dark web. A medical record, on the other hand, can go for as much as $50. Why is the latter so much more valuable? There are several reasons. First, one patient record is a treasure trove of personally identifiable information or PII. This is data such as social security numbers, birth...

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Matt Abels

While most of the conversation about tax reform has focused on the income tax implications for individuals and businesses, another notable change happened with the estate tax exemption. As part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the estate tax exemption doubled from $5 million to $10 million for individuals and $10 million to $20 million for married couples with portability. Adjusted for inflation, the exemption for 2018 will be...

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