2007 Insights

December 2007

Research by happiness experts tells us that regularly spending time with family and friends will make us happier than a shiny new car or big-screen TV.  Sure these news toys will provide a thrill for a while, but we quickly adapt to them and start longing for something new.  A shared dinner at home or out on the town, or taking a trip together, will create lasting memories and that’s a great investment.

Happy Holidays!

November 2007

Mutual funds generally pay out capital gains distributions in November and December. Even if you reinvest the distributions automatically you’re still required to pay taxes on these gains. This year distributions are expected to be higher than in years past in part due to the rally in the stock market and the fact that most of the losses from the bear market in the early part of the decade have been exhausted. Keep this in mind if you’re planning to make any portfolio changes in a taxable account before the end of the year.

October 2007

According to Marketwatch, October is the month to get good deals on jeans – it’s past the back-to-school rush and retailers need space for new goods.  It’s also a good month to buy toys.  Most “must-have” toys debuted in September and retailers are vying to stay competitive on price.  Besides, buying toys now ensures you get the ones you want and helps avoid the last-minute holiday rush.  November is good for sneakers and wedding dresses.

If you’ve read our 4th quarter newsletter and want to learn more about FICO scores, click on Understanding Your FICO Score to view or download the FICO 20-page informational booklet.  If you would like to try the FICO Estimator to see how different factors may affect your score, please click on FICO Estimator.

September 2007

Review all of the mail you receive from your credit card companies.  According to the Wall Street Journal some companies are boosting interest from fixed to higher variable rates. Others are raising their late fees. They have the right to change terms and conditions, but you may be able to opt-out of these increases if you call customer service.  For example you may be able to pay off existing balances under current terms.

We have a new web host provider and a new look to our web site.  Please browse through it and let us know what you think.

August 2007

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The markets have been volatile with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping about 6% and the NASDAQ and S&P 500 each dropping about 8% in the past few weeks.  The volatility is being attributed to the fallout in the subprime lending market.  We could see more uncertainty in the coming weeks, as additional information becomes available.  Call or email us to set up an appointment to discuss your risk tolerance and portfolio allocation if you’re uneasy about the markets.

July 2007

Variable annuities (VAs) soared from obscurity a decade ago to have $1.3 trillion in total assets in late 2006, according to the National Association for Variable Annuities. However, many skeptics say VAs are popular not because they’re great for investors, but because they’re usually great for the people selling them. VAs are often laden with punishing fees that can drain the value of your account.

June 2007

Reuters columnist Linda Stern writes about new rules for brokerage relationships and suggests you have a long talk with your financial advisor, especially if they work for a bank or brokerage firm. Most affected will be those who have “wrap” accounts – a mix of fees and commissions.  Until recently advisors for these accounts were subject to a lesser standard of suitability whereas independent advisors accept fiduciary responsibility, putting their clients’ interests above their own.  Mary Erl has always worked in a fiduciary capacity.  Read the entire article at: http://www.reuters.com/article/reutersEdge/idUSN15253920070530?src=053007_1258_FEATURES_personal_finance

May 2007

Are you fed up with all the credit card offers and junk mail that come in the mail?  You can call 888-567-8688 to opt out of all those credit card offers you get in the mail. Then you won’t have to shred those daily offers anymore…you have been shredding them, right?  These offers are an easy target for dumpster divers looking to steal personal information.  It may take weeks before it all registers and for you notice the difference, but it does work

April 2007

You’ve been going through all of your records to finish your tax returns, so now is a great time to start working on your personal financial plan, a roadmap to get you where you want to go.  To get an idea of what you’ll need to get started, and what kinds of questions you’ll need to consider, click on Client Forms and review the Confidential Questionnaire and the Risk Tolerance form.  When you’re ready to get started, call or email us to set up a complimentary get-acquainted meeting.

March 2007

Stock markets world-wide were rattled on February 27th, triggered by a huge sell-off in China.  The US and especially the Chinese stock markets soared last year and into this year, so it’s not surprising to see a ‘correction’.  The markets may continue to be volatile until stock prices are in line with the underlying value.  It’s important to keep a long-term view of your investments.  Looking at the following numbers will help keep Tuesday’s drop in perspective:

Call us if you’d like to discuss the impact this market drop has had on your portfolio.

February 2007

401(k) contribution limits have increased by $500 for 2007 and now allow you to contribute $15,500 and $20,500 if you are over 50 years old.

Uncle Sam is making a one-time refund available this year, but you must claim it:  a special phone-tax refund for long-distance service previously taxed from March 2003 through July 2006.

January 2007

Free “Jump-Start Your Retirement” Hotline:  Once again we will be participating in the Kiplinger Personal Finance Magazine and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) free “Jump-Start Your Retirement” hotline.

From 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, January 16th and January 26th, NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisors will be standing by to answer people’s most pressing financial questions. The toll-free number is 1-888-919-2345.