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Jul 05, 2022

Stock Market Today: Energy Dampens Dow, FAANGs Elevate Nasdaq
The first session of the holiday-shortened week was a wild one, as a deep Tuesday morning dip evolved into a severely split market featuring pockets of red and green alike.

On one side, you had big dips in economically sensitive sectors. Energy (-4.0%) fared the worst thanks to a drastic decline in U.S. crude oil futures, which plunged 8.2% to $99.50 - the commodity's lowest finish in more than two months.

SEE MORE The 10 Best Stocks for a Bear Market "This move came on the back of an ever-increasing number of economic indicators (Goldman Sachs US Financial Conditions Index, Citi US Economic Surprise Index, ISM orders) now pointing to sustained weakening of financial conditions as well as Street expectations," says Michael Reinking, senior market strategist for the New York Stock Exchange.

Also weighing on oil was a strengthening U.S. dollar, which closed the session at a 19-year high. (Remember: Oil is priced in U.S. dollars, so a strong dollar will weigh on oil prices, and vice versa.) The aforementioned worries of weakness hampered other sectors, too, including materials (-2.0%) and industrials (-1.5%).

"Shifting to a more near-term view, with commodity prices coming a bit back down to reality, some investors may view this as a welcome sign that inflation is beginning to cool - the main driver of recent volatility," adds Chris Larkin, managing director of trading for E*Trade.

Sign up for Kiplinger's FREE Investing Weekly e-letter for stock, ETF and mutual fund recommendations, and other investing advice.

However, other parts of the market - namely, those pinned to the ground by rising interest rates - came off the mat as rec

Jul 05, 2022

5 Exciting Emerging Markets Funds to Buy
Inflation has been the dominant theme in investing across 2022 - and that goes well beyond domestic equities. Consumer prices have rapidly risen around the world, and even Wall Street's best emerging markets funds have felt the pinch.

"Many emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs) have recently been experiencing an unpleasant combination of elevated inflation and rising borrowing costs," says the Brookings Institute, which points out that March's 8.5% in emerging markets consumer prices was the highest level since 2008.

Regardless, emerging markets stocks can be a smart diversification tool, providing growth potential greater than that of the U.S. and other developed markets. Just keep in mind that expecting quick gains from EMs - especially amid historic highs for inflation and mounting economic uncertainty - could be a recipe for disappointment. Emerging markets also are known for their instability, with performance often coming in fits and starts.

That said, over time, investing in emerging markets funds can, over time, provide differentiated returns. Thus, now - while EMs are down - might be a good time for patient investors to build their positions.

Here, we look at some of the best emerging markets mutual funds you can buy. This list is a combination of index and actively managed mutual funds, so every investor should be able to find something that fits their preferences.

SEE MORE 2022's Best Mutual Funds in 401(k) Retirement Plans Data is as of July 4. Dividend yields represent the trailing 12-month yield, which is a standard m

Jul 05, 2022

Should I Hire an Estate Planning Attorney Now That I Am a Widow?
Not everyone needs to hire a lawyer when their husband dies. However, there are some circumstances that make you a good candidate for handling the estate with a professional at your side. Of course, not every one of them needs to apply to your situation — but the more that do, the more critical it will be to hire a qualified estate planning attorney. 

Here are four types of estate situations that could call for professional legal help.

Estates with many types of complicated assets Hiring an estate planning attorney is a must for more complicated estates — like those with multiple investments, lots of assets, alternative investments, such as cryptocurrency, hedge funds, private equity or a business. Some estates also include significant real estate, including primary homes, vacation homes, commercial properties and timeshares. 

SEE MORE Widows Move Forward on Their Own - But Not Alone Managing, appraising and selling a business, real estate and complex investments are all tasks that require some expertise and experience. In addition, valuing private equity investments and certain hedge funds is also not straightforward and can need an expert. 

The estate might owe either federal or state estate tax According to Marc Zimmerman, an attorney in Kane Kessler's Trusts, Estates and Taxation practice group, "In some estates, there are time-sensitive decisions that require somewhat immediate attention. Even if all assets were held jointly and court involvement is unnecessary, hiring a knowledgeable trust and estate lawyer may have significant tax benefits. There are many planning strategies that clients can benefit from."

 For example, Zimmerman shares that the Will or an Esta

Jul 05, 2022

Age Magnificently with the Help of a Geriatric Care Manager
It can happen in an instant. One day your dad is living on his own, independent and mostly healthy despite advancing age. The next he's in bed with a broken something, dependent on his grown children and forced to move into a long-term care facility because you don't have time to research alternatives. I'm not exaggerating when I say I've seen it happen hundreds of times. 

Dad can't avoid the getting older part, at least not if he's lucky. But it's not inevitable that he'll have to give up his home, whether it's an actual house or an apartment in a senior building. That's why it's so important to be proactive rather than reactive, and to find a professional who can help you and your father (or mother) figure out how to remain at home as long as possible, even if injury or illness comes into play. The benefits of staying at home can be both economical and psychological. 

First off, it's almost always far less expensive than a nursing home, which can run upwards of $100,000 a year for a shared room and sometimes double or even triple that for a private one, depending where you live. Before Medicaid kicks in, you'll have to spend down almost all of your savings and provide years of detailed financial statements. Assisted living is less costly, but still pricey and not fully covered by Medicaid.

Seek Help Sooner, Rather Than Later That's why one of my top recommendations to anyone who asks about elder care is: Do not go it alone. Another: Start exploring options before your parents need them. You want to be acting from a position of strength and health. 

Thankfully, there are folks who do this sort of work. Call

Jul 04, 2022

Don't Be Tricked into Voluntarily Paying Higher Taxes?on Your IRA
When you first decided to contribute to an IRA or an employer-sponsored retirement account, it probably seemed like a great deal - at least at the time.

After all, you received an upfront tax deduction on the amount you contributed, and you were able to defer paying taxes on any growth in the account. It was a seeming "win-win."

SEE MORE Should You Consider a Roth Conversion While the Market is Down? And in many ways, it is a good thing. But if you think the government gave you that upfront tax advantage with no strings attached, think again. This benefit was conditional, and the condition is that anytime you or your heirs take money out of the account, you will owe taxes on the withdrawals. 

If that's not frustrating enough, the government also gets to change the rules that determine how much is owed when those withdrawals happen. So, perhaps years from now, when you're retired and need to use some of that money, you may find that your tax rate is much higher than it is today. Or you may learn that a rule related to the accounts has changed.

Some rules have already been altered by the SECURE (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement) Act of 2017. One change involved the age at which you have to start taking required minimum distributions (RMD). Previously, once you reached 70½, you had to begin taking a certain percentage out each year (and be taxed on it) whether you needed the money or not. The RMD age was changed to 72, giving you an extra 18 months before it kicks in.

But before you start celebrating, remember this: The tax cuts for individuals that were passed in 2017 are set to expire at the end of 2025. So as things stand

Jul 03, 2022

How to Use Your Estate Plan to Save on Taxes While You're Still Alive!
First, upstream basis is not about fishing! It is about using your estate plan to reduce capital gains or income tax.

While estate taxes only affect the wealthiest of the wealthy, with the runup in stock prices and real estate values, capital gains taxes can be a real issue for many people. One possible solution involves using a tool called an upstream power of appointment trust.

SEE MORE Don't Throw Away a $12.06M Estate Tax Exemption by Accident At its core, this strategy requires someone to include an elderly and much less wealth relative, such as a parent, as an additional trust beneficiary. But there's much more to it.

Let's start the explanation with a few definitions:

Basis: The amount that you reduce a price to determine the taxable gain. Often, this amount will be your historical cost, which may be adjusted for depreciation or other items (for the accountants who may be reading).Step-up (in basis): If I bought a fixer-upper for $100,000 and later sold my home to you for $400,000, then my taxable gain would be $300,000. However, if the home I sold you was my father's home, which was being sold to distribute his estate to myself and my eight siblings, then the basis (cost) would be increased to the fair market value as of my father's date of death. This increase is referred to as the "step-up in basis." In this case, there would be no capital gain on the sale and no taxes owed. Lifetime estate tax exemption: The lifetime federal estate and gift tax exemption is presently $12.06 million per person. For a married couple, that is $24.12 million, which represents the value of assets that can be passed from you to your children or othe

Jul 02, 2022

6 Ways Your Lawyer (and You) Can Screw Up Your Family Law Case
While medicine has the Hippocratic oath, there is nothing similar that applies to the legal profession, "And that's a pity," observes San Diego lawyer and divorce mediator Shawn Weber.

"Not only divorce, but across the board, so often our profession does more harm than good. Lawyers rationalize behavior that is criticized by judges as mean, unnecessary and calculated to inflame the situation instead of helping the parties achieve a fair resolution.

SEE MORE Need to Hire a Lawyer? Why Local is Best. "In the name of ‘zealous advocacy,' especially in family law matters, the legal profession often succeeds in inflicting lifelong harm to spouses and children. There is a reason people call us sharks. I want us to become more like dolphins," Weber says.

"However," he believes, "There are steps that clients can take which will minimize a result so negative that relations are damaged permanently, where the parties will not walk away feeling bitter about each other and our system of justice.

"It starts with taking an active role and not merely ‘just going along' with whatever your lawyer wants."

He points out six mistakes clients often make that frustrate a better outcome in any type of case, from divorce to a business dispute.

Mistake No. 1: Don't concern yourself with your dispute resolution model. Just let your lawyer pick it for you. Consequences: Attorneys have a vested interest in charging as high a fee as possible and will direct you toward the process that will yield the most billable hours at your expense. Not every family or business dispute requires marching off to court. There are other paths to resolution that lawyers should discuss with their clients, such as:

Negotiation: The parties themselve

Jul 01, 2022

Stock Market Today: Stocks Catch a Second Wind to Start Second Half
U.S. equities managed to escape negative territory Friday and finish in the black despite some downbeat economic data - a welcome beginning to 2022's second half after a dreadful performance through the midway point.

Front and center Friday was the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing index, which delivered its weakest reading in two years. The index's June reading of 53.0, which was down considerably from May's 56.1, fell well below economists' forecasts for 54.5 and marked its lowest point since June 2020.

SEE MORE The 15 Best Stocks to Buy for the Rest of 2022 "The new orders component was particularly rough," say Wells Fargo economists Tim Quinlan and Shannon Seery. "It slipped 5.9 points to 49.2, which marks the first contraction reading since May 2020, when the economy was coming out of pandemic-related lockdowns."

The pair add that while the report demonstrates slower manufacturing activity, supply problems are continuing to ease. "In short, the report piles onto weaker consumer data received this week and signals investment spending is starting to weaken too."

From a sector standpoint, utilities ( 2.5%) and real estate ( 1.8%) were among Friday's biggest winners as investors appeared to chase yield. But the most noteworthy individual equities were heading in the other direction. Kohl's (

Jul 01, 2022

Retirees, Make These Midyear Moves to Cut Next Year's Tax Bill
To the list of classic midsummer activities like Fourth of July picnics and trips to the beach, you might add one more: Prep for next year's tax return. These six midyear tax moves are a good place to start if the goal is saving money next April.

Check Withholding and Estimated Payments Retirees can have taxes withheld from Social Security benefits and taxable retirement account distributions, or they can make quarterly estimated tax payments. Make sure enough money is either withheld or paid quarterly to avoid a penalty for underpayment of taxes when you file your return next year. You can adjust your withholding using Form W-4P for periodic payments from retirement accounts, Form W-4R for nonperiodic payments like a lump sum or payment on demand, or Form W-4V for Social Security benefits. If you're making estimated payments, increase the amount you pay with Form 1040-ES for the rest of the 2022 tax year. Use the same forms for adjustments if you're currently paying too much. Note that Social Security will only withhold at a rate of 7%, 10%, 12% or 22%.

Plan Your RMD Some people wait until December to take a required minimum dist

Jul 01, 2022

10 Defensive ETFs to Protect Your Portfolio
It's hard to blame investors for wanting to dive into a safe room following the S&P 500's worst first half of a year since 1970. Fortunately, they can find the protection they seek via defensive exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Sir John Templeton famously quipped that "the four most expensive words in the English language are 'This time is different.'" But in 2022, it seems almost naive to say that the environment we're in is something that investors have seen before.

SEE MORE Can AI Beat the Market? 10 Stocks to Watch U.S. inflation just hit a 40-year high. The Federal Reserve is engaged in the most aggressive monetary policy tightening since the mid-1990s. The war in Ukraine has devastated the nation and unwound existing global supply chains for key commodities. Oh yeah, and there's still the urgent climate crisis we've failed to address with heat waves shattering records yet again in 2022.

It's worth admitting that over the very long term, stocks always recover and move higher. So, one way to get through the current volatility on Wall Street is to simply refuse to look at stock quotes for two or three years and hope things look better on the other side.

However, if you don't have the self-control or inclination to just stick with the old large-cap stock funds that worked in the past, the following 10 defensive ETFs could be worth a look.

Data is as of July 30. Dividend yields represent the trailing 12-month yield, which is a standard measure for equity funds.

SEE MORE The 12 Best ETFs to Battle a Bear Market

Jul 01, 2022

Is the Stock Market Closed for the Fourth of July in 2022?
Through the sheer luck of the calendar, investors will be able to enjoy yet another long Fourth of July weekend away from their brokerage accounts. That's because the stock market is closed on the Fourth of July; Independence Day falls smack-dab on Monday, July 4 this year.

Bond traders get a slightly sweeter deal. Not only are the bond markets closed completely on Monday, but they also shut down early Friday, July 1, calling it quits at 2 p.m.

SEE MORE The 15 Best Stocks to Buy for the Rest of 2022 Regular trading hours for both the stock market and the bond market resume on Tuesday, July 5.

The following is a schedule of all stock market and bond market holidays for 2021. Please note that regular trading hours for the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and Nasdaq Stock Market are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern on weekdays. The stock markets close at 1 p.m. on early-closure days; bond markets close early at 2 p.m.

2022 Market Holidays DateHoliday NYSE Nasdaq Bond Markets* Monday, Jan. 17 Martin Luther King Jr. Day Closed Closed Closed Monday, Feb. 21 Presidents' Day/Washington's Birthday Closed Closed Closed Thursday, April 14 Maundy Thursday Open Open Early close
(2 p.m.) Friday, April 15 Good Friday Closed Closed Closed Friday, May 27 Friday Before Memorial Day Open Open Early close
(2 p.m.)

Jul 01, 2022

Protecting Your Home from Lawsuits with a Dynasty Trust
Entrepreneurs can provide essential groundbreaking advancements for industry and society. Unfortunately, while being an entrepreneur can offer lucrative financial rewards and great satisfaction, it has its share of risks, as well. Not all of those who follow this path are happy with some of the side effects that go along with being a successful businessperson. They can put the entrepreneur at risk for lawsuits, both legitimate and frivolous.

SEE MORE I'm Retired. Should I Pay Off My Mortgage? Tech industry innovator Steve is just such an entrepreneur. Successful in his pursuits, Steve now has a large estate he wants to protect for his children. He is especially interested in safeguarding his $10 million-plus Silicon Valley home for his family.  

The Right Irrevocable Dynasty Trust Brings Peace of Mind Concerned about the potential for lawsuits in this litigious industry, Steve gets busy. On advice from counsel, he sets up an irrevocable dynasty trust for his wife, children and grandchildren using the Nevada more protective trust laws. Using his generous $12.06 million federal gift tax exemption, Steve transfers the title of his house to a single member LLC and then deposits the LLC interest into the trust. Then he rents the house from the LLC at fair value rent.

This LLC/trust strategy removes the value of the home from his gross estate for estate planning purposes. And more importantly, he becomes a tenant (not an owner), so the home will not be at risk in case of an unforeseen lawsuit. 

After doing this, Steve feels secure that his business can continue breaking new ground while protecting his existing e

Jul 01, 2022

The Best Way for Kids to Save Isn't in a Boring Bank Account
Most kids are encouraged by their parents to save their money from their paper route or part-time job by throwing it into a bank savings account. While any kind of saving is better than nothing, there may be a way to do it where your kids can get tax benefits as well as a potentially better rate of return.

SEE MORE Parenting Lessons I'm Learning as My Son Learns About Money A Roth IRA, if properly invested, will likely appreciate in value far more than money sitting in the bank — and could do it with tax-free growth. And the day will come when your child will be very grateful for the parent with the wisdom to have them do this. Later the Roth IRA will be available to help pay for college, and up to $10,000 of it can be put toward your child's first home, all without early withdrawal penalties.

And if the young person can't resist pulling some funds out for that bicycle, the good news is that the original amount invested in a Roth IRA can always be withdrawn tax and penalty free. Also, for the child with the foresight to use some of their Roth IRA for retirement, withdrawals after 59½ will be completely tax free.

Age and income requirements As long as a child has earned income, they can contribute up to $6,000 per year in a Roth IRA at any age. Someone else can also fund the Roth IRA for the child for up to $6,000 a year as long as the child has earned income equal to the amount contributed on their behalf.

If the child is legally a minor, which means in most states under 18 years of age, they will need to open a custodial Roth IRA where the child is the account owner with an adult, usually a parent, serving as the custodian. Contributions are reported to the IRS und

Jun 30, 2022

How Big Should My Emergency Fund Be?
Let's talk about how much you should save in your emergency fund and go over some ways that the savings positively impact your life.

What's up, everybody? It's your boy, Brandon Copeland, aka Professor Cope, and you are now tuned to another episode of Cope'ing With Money.

If you've been keeping up with Cope'ing With Money then I'm sure you've heard me say we've got to make our money work for us. But as important as that is, there's a crucial step we have to take before we can safely start investing: We need to build an emergency fund.

SEE MORE Homeowners Insurance: How to Protect Your Home We're all taught from a young age the importance of saving our money, but many of us are never told what we're actually saving for. You might think that a number in your bank account isn't nearly as exciting as investing in the stock market or taking that vacation that you've always wanted. And I'm going to be honest with you: It isn't. But it is one of the most important financial steps you can take, especially when you're trying to chase financial freedom.

So today I wanted to go over some ways that an emergency fund can benefit your life right now and talk a little bit about how much you should have saved in your emergency fund.

Prepare for Emergencies An emergency fund can be used for a variety of situations, the first of which is right there in the name. Having some money stored away protects us in the event of an emergency or unexpected expenses.

For example, let's say you're skating at Skateland in Maryland. You're a seventh-grade kid, little husky, little rough around the edges, but it's the

Jun 30, 2022

Stock Market Today: S&P Suffers Worst First Half Since 1970
A broad down day for the major indexes put the cherry on the melted sundae that was the stock market's first half of trading in 2022.

The S&P 500 declined 0.9% on Thursday to 3,785, securing a 20.6% decline for the year's first six months - its worst such performance since bombing out by 21% during 1970's first half.

SEE MORE The 15 Best Stocks to Buy for the Rest of 2022 A glimmer of hope for today's hurting investors: That year, the S&P 500 followed up its implosion with a 26.5% rebound through New Year's Eve. Whether we get the same remains to be seen, but Dan Wantrobski, technical strategist and associate director of research at Janney Montgomery Scott - who provided us with a potential market-bottom target yesterday - notes that the market is pretty oversold right now, and that we could at least see a short-term bounce.

"If one materializes, continue to watch for initial resistance first toward 4,100-4,200, then closer to the 4,400-4,500 zone [after that]," he says.

But for now, investors are licking their wounds.

"The S&P 500 reached an all-time high on the very first trading day of the year, but then promptly suffered through one of its toughest first-half performances ever, along with a pummeling in most major financial markets," says Douglas Porter, chief economist for BMO Capital Markets. "The challenging environment started and ended with inflation - and the increasingly urgent central bank campaign to control it - further aggravated by the Ukraine invasion in late February."

Now? Energy-driven supply shocks are forcing global growth expectations lower even as inflation remains red-hot.

Sign up f

Jun 30, 2022

Hydrogen Stocks: Unstable, But Potentially Explosive, Too
The future is clean energy, or so the International Energy Agency (IEA) hopes. The autonomous, Paris-based intergovernmental organization set a goal of a net-zero economy by 2050, meaning that all greenhouse gasses produced by human activity will be negated through reduced emissions and other activities that absorb carbon dioxide.

If there's one thing investors love, it's investing in the future today. And one way to invest in the future of clean energy is hydrogen stocks, which are enjoying increasing attention of late.

SEE MORE Kiplinger ESG 20: Our Favorite Picks for ESG Investors Green hydrogen emits no greenhouse gasses when burned, is light and storable, and can be used to power fuel cells, such as those in electric vehicles. 

"(Hydrogen) is enjoying unprecedented momentum around the world and could finally be set on a path to fulfill its longstanding potential as a clean energy solution," writes Fatih Birol, executive director for the IEA, in the agency's 2019 report "The Future of Hydrogen."

But hydrogen as a fuel source is still in its infancy. For would-be investors in hydrogen stocks, that could mean a bumpy ride.

The Future of Hydrogen "Hydrogen is a natural successor of fossil fuel for energy-intensive industrial processes," says Harlin Singh, head of sustainable investing at Citi Private Bank. It's energy dense, transportable and can be stored across seasons, she says.

In the long term, hydrogen will be particularly important for fueling commercial vehicles and replacing diesel, she says. It can also play an important role in hard-to-decarbonize and energy-intensive sectors such as steel, chemical manufacturing and shipping.

Many nations are trying to pave the way for green hydrogen as a fuel source. The European Union includes hydrogen in its REPowerEU plan. China has a 2035 hydrogen roadmap tha

Jun 30, 2022

Top Bear Market Tips from 10 Financial Advisers
The stock market can be a scary place. Our unprecedented bull market run has finally run itself into the ground, and investors are now facing a new reality. Interest rates are rising, inflation is skyrocketing and stocks and bonds are down.

Some investors are reacting with panic, while others are seeing it as more of an opportunity.

How should you deal with today's bear market? We asked a wide range of experienced financial professionals that very question, and here are their top bear market tips.

SEE MORE Smart Investing in a Bear Market

Jun 30, 2022

Crypto in My 401(k)? In One Way It Makes Sense, But on the Other Hand …
Spoiler alert: If you plan to skip to the bottom of this article to find out whether you should include crypto in your 401(k), you'll be disappointed. There is no "yes" or "no" answer.  What you invest in your qualified retirement plan depends on your individual circumstances and your comfort with being a risk-taker.

But to get started, consider how you would answer the following three questions:

Is crypto available in my employer's retirement plan?  The title to a Shakespeare play may answer this question: Much Ado About Nothing.  The likelihood that your employer will offer crypto-based funds in the near future is low. The primary reason for all the recent interest in this idea is that in April, Fidelity announced it would offer a cryptocurrency option to plan sponsors. In other words, employers using Fidelity funds can (starting later this year) choose to add a cryptocurrency offering in their 401(k) plans. Specifically, if the plan sponsor chooses, plan participants would be allowed to allocate a portion of their assets to Bitcoin through an option on their 401(k) investment menu.

SEE MORE 5 Dumb Crypto Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them) This announcement does not, however, mean many employers will actually include this option as a choice in their investment basket for participants. First, there has been a flurry of class-action lawsuits filed against plan sponsors regarding their 401(k) plans. The typical allegations are excessive fees, inappropriate investment options and self-dealing.  Given this challenge, why, an employer might ask, should we compound this risk by including risky assets in the 401(k) lineup?  Second, the Department of Labor (DOL) has been very

Jun 30, 2022

Updating Your Estate Plan? Don't Make These Top Mistakes
Establishing an estate plan is extremely important. As life changes, it is necessary to update your plan to fit new circumstances. Whether it's a change in domicile, the death of a family member, new grandchildren or a significant change in assets, it is important to make sure you adjust your estate plan accordingly.

SEE MORE The (Only) 3 Reasons You Should Have an Irrevocable Trust However, when making changes, it's crucial to avoid the following all-too-common mistakes, which can lead to headaches to you and your family down the road.

1. Focusing on updating a will or trust but forgetting to update ancillary documents When updating an estate plan, people tend to focus on updating their wills and trusts without taking time to have their powers of attorney, health care directives or nominations of guardians reviewed and updated as well. This tunnel vision prevents them from completing a full update to their estate planning.

Yes, these ancillary documents are good forever, but that doesn't mean they should not be periodically reviewed and updated. Older templates become outdated. Addresses, phone numbers or even the agents themselves might require modification.

I recently had a client say his power of attorney was fine in its current form only to find out that the agents he had appointed years ago (his brother and sister) had since passed away. Clients should have their entire estate plan reviewed and not just focus on the will or trust.

2. Using flawed reasoning when selecting agents to act on your behalf I hav

Jun 29, 2022

Stock Market Today: Markets Steady, But Bed Bath, Cruise Lines Tumble
A slow macroeconomic news day resulted in one of the lowest-volume sessions of 2022, though a few individual equities endured more than their fair share of volatility.

The S&P 500, which finished with a small gain Wednesday, posted the index's smallest intraday range for the year, according to Michael Reinking, senior market strategist for the New York Stock Exchange. "That bit of stability is welcome after the violent reversal seen during yesterday's session, which saw the early 1% gain in the S&P 500 turn into a 2% loss when all was said and done."

SEE MORE 5 Best Bond ETFs for 2022 Not so for the energy sector (-3.5%), where recent whipsawing continued. U.S. crude oil futures declined 1.8% to $109.78 per barrel as traders waited for news from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies (together, OPEC ), which are meeting today and tomorrow. That clipped oil and gas stocks including Devon Energy (DVN, -6.1%) and APA (APA, -6.9%).

A few individual stocks hit the mat even harder. Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) fell 23.6% after announcing that quarterly revenues had plunged by 25% to a worse-than-expected $1.46 billion, and that same-store sales (revenues earned in stores open at least 12 months) were off by 24%. And worse -the ship just lost its captain, as BBBY said CEO Mark Tritton has left the company.

Another firm in troubled waters is Carnival (CC

Jun 29, 2022

The 6 Hottest NFT Projects to Know About
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, have exploded in popularity as a niche in the cryptocurrency space. An NFT is, at its core, a piece of data stored on a blockchain. But the ownership of that data can change.

So, an NFT could be tied to the ownership of a real-world asset like a parcel of property, a song, or a painting by an Old Master. However, the early success of NFT projects has been with digital pieces of artwork.

SEE MORE 10 Smart Artificial Intelligence (AI) Stocks to Buy While the first NFT was minted back in 2014, the space has only taken off in the last two years. The market for NFT projects soared to over $41 billion in 2021, according to Forbes. That's an amount that's closing in on the entire fine art market!

In a not-so-shocking development, growth in the NFT space has slowed in recent months as cryptocurrencies and tech stocks have sold off. However, NFT projects are still attracting capital, investor interest and up-and-coming artists who would have normally gone through the conventional art scene. And that could still create a massive growth opportunity in the years ahead for investors who target some of the top NFT collections today.

Here, we look at the six biggest NFT projects currently underway. The top NFTs today encompass a number of interests, from gaming and sports-related collectibles, to more singularly artistic endeavors, and offer fascinating long-term opportunities for investors.

NFTs can be ranked several ways, including

Jun 29, 2022

Shingles Vaccines Work. But Medicare Won't Always Cover Them.
If you're about to make a move to Medicare from your private insurance, you might want to make sure you've had all your shots - especially your vaccination for shingles. That's because coverage of recommended vaccines under Medicare is more complex than under private health insurance. 

Under the Affordable Care Act, private insurers are required to cover all recommended vaccines as preventive care with no out-of-pocket costs to beneficiaries. But under Medicare, different vaccines are covered under different parts of Medicare with inconsistent out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries.

In short, the shingles vaccine is not covered by Medicare unless you have a Part D prescription drug plan or an Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage; even then, you're likely to have out-of-pocket costs.

Medicare Part B covers certain vaccines, including flu and pneumonia, but not others, including shingles. Vaccines covered under Part B are provided to beneficiaries at no cost to them.

If you have a prescription drug plan, Medicare Part D, it will cover other commonly available vaccines, including those for shingles. But even then, Part D is not required to provide cost-free coverage of preventive treatments. What this means is medications and vaccines covered by Part D plans will likely be subject to deductibles and copays, resulting in out-of-pocket costs. 

SEE MORE 8 Money Tips for Seniors Suffering from Inflation Which Vaccines Are Covered?

Medicare Part B covers the following vaccines: flu, pneumococcal and COVID. If the patient becomes at risk for tetanus, s

Jun 29, 2022

Abortion and Taxes: What Happens Now Without Roe v. Wade?
There's almost always a tax angle whenever you face a major turning point in life, even if it seemingly has nothing to do with taxes. That's because taxes are always lurking in the background when life's biggest moments arrive. Going to college, getting married (or divorced), buying a home, retiring, and even dying - they all can impact your taxes. So, it should come as no surprise that there are even potential income tax implications for women who make the difficult decision to have an abortion. But now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, new questions are popping up about those abortion-related tax consequences.

SEE MORE 3 Start-Small Financial Goals for Every Woman While the tax laws haven't changed since the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, women want to know if they can still take advantage of the tax breaks that help pay for an abortion. Some employers are also promising to cover the travel costs of workers who cross state lines to get an abortion. Will that increase the employee's taxable income? And what about contributions to organizations either supporting or opposing a woman's right to an abortion - can you still deduct those donations?

While taxes cer

Jun 29, 2022

Is It Time to Leave Corporate America and Become a Consultant?
I've witnessed an interesting trend happening among  corporate executive clients. Many have been leaving their jobs at large companies and setting up their own consulting businesses. After the grind of 60-hour-plus weeks, they are finding plenty of advantages: a good income, more control over their schedule, and a choice of clients and projects that interest them.

In a recent survey by reverse mortgage lender American Advisors Group, almost half (46%) of the more than 1,500 Americans aged 60 to 75 surveyed said they plan to work part time after they retire from full-time work.

SEE MORE How Does Working Longer Affect Your Social Security Benefits? Based on numerous positive comments I've heard from clients who have made this transition, I'm bringing this concept up in many retirement planning discussions with  executive clients who are still working full time. I share how one client began receiving consulting opportunities even before they officially retired. Another told everyone he was going fishing for six months. But when he returned, the work was waiting, and he now has a robust consulting business.

One important aspect about working for yourself is how to re-create the benefits you probably got from your former employer. A self-employed person, like a consultant, has several options that, just like their employer's plan, will enable them to keep saving for retirement while reducing their taxes.

Here's a quick summary of the financial items you need to know before making the switch to consulting:

Saving for Retirement When You're Self-Employed A self-employed person can establish a solo 401(k

Jun 28, 2022

Stock Market Today: Weak Data Opens Trap Door Under Stocks
Stocks started the day on solid footing as investors cheered reports that China is easing back its COVID-related restrictions by reducing the quarantine period for international travelers coming into the country to 10 days from 21 days.

Those gains were short-lived, however, with markets taking a sharp turn lower after a round of weak economic data here at home. 

SEE MORE The 10 Best Stocks for a Bear Market For starters, the Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, which measures manufacturing activity along the East Coast, fell to -19 in June from -9 in May, marking its lowest reading since May 2020. Additionally, the Conference Board's latest consumer confidence survey fell to 98.7 in June, its second consecutive monthly decline and lowest level since February 2021.

"Continued pressure from rising prices is clearly impacting the mindset of the consumer," says Cliff Hodge, chief investment officer for Cornerstone Wealth. "Getting inflation under control will be the Fed's number one priority."

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Also weighing on investor sentiment today was the latest earnings report from Nike (NKE, -7.0%). While the athletic apparel retailer posted beats on both the top and bottom lines in its fiscal fourth quarter, it gave weaker-than-expected current-quarter revenue guidance due to COVID-related disruptions in China.

By the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.6% to 30,946, the S&P 500 was off 2.0% to 3,821 and

Jun 28, 2022

Economic Pain at a Food Pantry
Who: Carissa Phillips, 40 What: Executive Director of Hebron Food Pantry Where: Attleboro, Mass. Who uses your pantry? The clients we serve are seniors and families. We're open three times a week and have a specific shopping day for the seniors in an effort to cut down waiting times, and then we have two open pantries for individuals and families of all ages. We don't serve meals; we are a shop-by-choice pantry. So people are able to come in and grab what they need. For access, the only requirement is that you live within one of the seven cities and towns that we serve. 

Have you seen a change in demand for food since before the pandemic? Yes. Before the pandemic, my understanding is that we were serving about 200 to maybe 250 households. That has increased to a steady 300 households that come through, and we're growing every week. This week I've had 30 new people. I'm not sure if it's the end of the school year, if food stamp benefits or the COVID benefits for food stamps are starting to taper off a little bit, or if people are trying to prepare for summer.

SEE MORE The Golden Age of Cinema Endures How have supply-chain issues and inflation affected your operation? We were getting about 8,500 pounds of food each week from the Greater Boston Food Bank, but they have cut us back by 1,500 pounds a week because they are having staffing shortages in the operation that makes the pallets of food. And then they cut our frozen foods, which means all of our meats. That is challenging, too. We're trying to work around those things and reach out to other wholesalers that offer produce or frozen meats for us to order. We've been able to get produce, but we have to spend more money on it. Frozen meat is a little harder to find.

How have you dealt wi

Jun 28, 2022

5 Ways to Prepare for a Recession
On paper, a recession is a fall in GDP for two consecutive quarters. Unfortunately, the actual GDP report lags the quarter-end by at least a month and is constantly revised as new data is evaluated, making it hard to confirm a recession before the fact.

SEE MORE You May Be Worrying About the Economy Too Much However, that doesn't mean there aren't telltale signs. During a recession, markets tend to pull back, and the stock market may even fall into a bear market (when stock prices fall 20% or more from recent highs). Businesses may cut hours, lay off employees or freeze hiring to stay afloat. Also, as consumer demand decreases, companies tend to have a hard time selling their inventory. So products that were once in demand and "out of stock" may become available.

Here are five ways you can prepare for a recession:

1. Make sure your financial plan is up to date You don't want to be left flustered if conditions begin to deteriorate because you haven't planned for it in advance.

Questions to ask when reviewing your investments:

What are you investing for? A short-term goal like a house down payment, or something long-term like retirement?How long were you planning to invest? A year or two, or is your time horizon longer? What are you invested in? Are you over-concentrated in a few positions, or properly diversified? What will you do if the stock market drops 10%, 20% or 30%? Buy, sell, or hold? Will you need any of the money invested in the near term? How insulated from market volatility does your investment nee

Jun 28, 2022

In What Order Should You Tap Your Retirement Funds?
You work hard for decades and save diligently for retirement, but unfortunately, you can't retire from paying taxes.

An important part of enjoying a fruitful retirement is understanding how taxes apply to different types of income and planning accordingly. Having sizable amounts of money in various accounts is wonderful, but taxes can eat away at them quickly if you don't have a sound tax strategy heading into retirement.

SEE MORE I'm Retired. Should I Pay Off My Mortgage? And sadly, many people don't. One survey found that 42% of current retirees reported they did not consider how taxes would impact their retirement income.

Don't get caught off guard and let taxes adversely affect your golden years. One of the keys to developing a good tax strategy for retirement is understanding the order of withdrawals you should follow. Knowing when and how to draw on your various assets can have a big impact on how much in taxes you'll owe from year to year.

Withdraw from taxable accounts first Non-qualified or taxable accounts — those that are not tax-advantaged — include checking and savings accounts, standard or joint brokerage accounts and employer stock purchase plans. Taxable brokerage accounts are your least tax-efficient accounts, subject to capital gains and dividend taxes.

By using these funds first in retirement, you give your tax-advantaged accounts (IRA, Roth IRA) more time to grow and compound. Brokerage accounts will never grow as quickly as tax-advant

Jun 27, 2022

Stock Market Today: Stocks Limp Out of the Starting Gate
Monday kicked off a fresh week of Wall Street action with a day of calm tradng that saw the major indexes give up just a skosh of last week's rip-roaring gains.

"For the third time this year, the S&P 500 ended the week up [greater than] 6%," says Michael Reinking, senior market strategist for the New York Stock Exchange. "Unfortunately, on each of those occasions, the gains were just recouping losses in the weeks that had preceded it, and ultimately unwound not long thereafter." 

SEE MORE Could Buffett Buy Out Occidental Petroleum (OXY)? The most noteworthy group move of the day came from the energy sector ( 2.9%). Stocks including Marathon Oil (MRO, 4.9%) and Valero Energy (VLO, 8.0%) rocketed higher amid a 1.8% jump in U.S. crude oil futures, to $109.57.

Elsewhere, Robinhood Markets (HOOD) shares were temporarily halted and finished with a 14.0% pop following a Bloomberg report saying crypto exchange FTX was exploring ways to acquire the firm. However, late in the trading day, FTX founder and CEO Samuel Bankman-Fried told CNBC "there are no active M&A conversations with Robinhood."

The Nasdaq Composite fared worst of the major indexes, and even then, it decli

Jun 27, 2022

Micron Technology (MU) Earnings Expected to Show Strong Growth
We've reached the tail end of earnings season. However, there are still a handful of notable stragglers left to report - including memory chipmaker Micron Technology (MU, $58.71), slated on the earnings calendar to unveil its fiscal third-quarter results after the June 30 close.

Micron, like so many of its fellow semiconductor stocks, has struggled on the charts in the first half of 2022, down 37% for the year-to-date.

SEE MORE The 15 Best Stocks to Buy for the Rest of 2022 Still, MU remains a "top pick in semis" for UBS Global Research analyst Timothy Arcuri (Buy). 

"Amid macro concerns, we believe investors continue to overlook several key factors," Arcuri says. The analyst points to lower supply amid raw material shortages and a delay in equipment lead times, as well as demand that will be buoyed by a ramp up in new cloud server platforms in 2023. Arcuri says MU also remains the leader in NAND.

"Given all of these industry and MU-specific factors, we expect MU's [earnings per share] EPS to hold up very well," he adds.

For Micron's fiscal third quarter, analysts, on average, are calling for earnings of $2.46 per share, up 30.9% on a year-over-year (YoY) basis. Revenue is expected to arrive at $8.7 billion ( 16.8% YoY).

China Lockdowns Likely Dragged on Nike Earnings Nike (NKE, $111.43) is one of two

Jun 27, 2022

Yours, Mine and Ours: A Checklist for Blended Family Finances
Family finances can prove tricky under any circumstances, but that's even more so with blended families, where two sets of often well-established financial histories and philosophies try to merge into one.

At Semmax Financial Group, we've seen a number of blended families these days where people have remarried, either after a divorce or the death of a spouse. Sometimes it's older couples already in retirement. In other cases, it's a younger couple still trying to raise children. But regardless of the specifics of any individual situation, when families blend, so do their finances, and that's when things can get problematic if careful planning and communication don't happen.

SEE MORE Money Matters to Consider When Bringing Home Baby No. 2 I know. I have a blended family myself, and one of the first questions my wife (then my girlfriend) asked me was about my credit rating. It was a great question because, if you plan to buy a house together, buy a car together or handle a variety of issues involving money, both of your credit ratings will come into play.

None of this is to say you should let finances become the final factor in deciding whether you take that relationship further. But you do want to make sure you have a good handle on the myriad financial issues that can come up.

Beyond credit ratings, here's a checklist of a few things to consider:

Money habits People grow up with different thoughts about money, influenced by their parents or by the circumstances of their formative years. Some people are exceptionally frugal, saving every penny and seldom, if ever, splurging on something just for fun. Others spend with abandon, unconcerned about the unexpected expenses life can throw at them at any moment. Many are somewhere in between these extremes.

If you are entering a serio

Jun 27, 2022

An Easy Way to Find How Much You Will Spend in Retirement
How do you know when you can retire? The answer seems simple: When you have enough income coming from your investments and other sources to sustain your lifestyle.

The problem for many retirees and those who are starting to think about retirement is they don't have a firm handle on how much money they spend each year. Not knowing that number or planning for it can be the difference between someone having a great retirement and someone running out of money.

SEE MORE I'm Retired. Should I Pay Off My Mortgage? Luckily, this is usually easy to figure out. Most people have one or two checking accounts from which all the bills are paid — credit cards, mortgage, cash withdrawals, etc. On your bank statement, banks total up everything that happened with your account during the month, including:

Starting balanceDeposits (how much new money came into the account) Withdrawals and debits (how much money came out of the account) Ending balance (how much money was left at the end of the month) All you do is take the last 12 monthly total withdrawal numbers and add them up. That total is how much money is going out the door each year. This can be a little shocking, as we see most people are off by about 30%, and sometimes much more. 

Knowing the dollars going out the door will give you a clearer idea of how much money needs to come in the door in retirement. Remember, that last stage of your life could last 20 to 30 years or more — basically as long or longer than many people live in one house. After you know how much you spend in a year, it's time to carefully craft a plan for retirement income.

Look at it this way: Building a solid retirement income plan is similar to constructing a sturdy, comfortable house. Like the home-building process, there are three main components to a fin

Jun 26, 2022

8 Money Tips for Seniors Suffering from Inflation
Why is this year different from all other years for seniors? Inflation. The latest numbers show a whopping inflation rate that's the highest since 1982.  This means that everything you buy will be more expensive.  You see this impact at the gas pump, the grocery store, the doctor and, frankly, all over. The issue is that you don't have a choice not to buy certain things.

It's interesting, because, we sort of have a love-hate relationship with our financial world.  We love that the economy is back roaring at a full-employment rate and that almost anyone can get a job if they want one.  We also love that wages are going up and that we are back in the car and eating out and traveling. But at the same time, we hate that this growth breeds inflation, resulting in costs for everything rising.  We also may support the Ukrainians in their war with Russia, but we hate the costs to us.

SEE MORE I'm Retired. Should I Pay Off My Mortgage?

Jun 26, 2022

What to Do When Your Tenant is a Hoarder!
"Terry" was my first hoarder client. About 50 years old, he worked as a custodian at a high school in a small town not far from where I was living at the time.

He was a genuinely nice guy and proud of his collection of washing machines from the 1940s onward.  

SEE MORE The Myth of Passive Real Estate Investing Now, "collectibles" to some people are pure junk to others. To Terry's neighbors, his front and backyard, as well as the inside of his rented home had become a dangerous junkyard, complete with rats and other vermin that freely roamed the property.

The place was overflowing with, not just washing machines, but broken-down cars, airplane parts, toilets, sinks, you name it. In those years, he was known as a junkman. Today he would be called a hoarder.

He had received and ignored notices from his town's code compliance officers to remove the items, and especially the things that made entry or exit from his home dangerous. With few window coverings, the home's interior was visible, piled to the ceiling with "stuff."

His wife and children were living in dangerous conditions that Terry did not acknowledge. With the assistance of code compliance, they and their landlord arranged for a meeting at my office to work out a clean-up plan with Terry - or he would face prosecution.

I was asked to drive Terry to my office. In reality, behind my back, during our lengthy afternoon meeting, Terry's wife - with the enthusiastic approval of the landlord - had embarked on something like an intervention. Later she told me: "I hired a disaster restoration company and told them to remove every last piece of junk from inside and outside the home. Anything of value was purchased by a scrap dealer."

The crew did such a good job that when I dr

Jun 25, 2022

Move Over ETFs: Direct Indexing Is an Investment Strategy Worth Paying Attention to
Recently, direct indexing, a lesser-known investment approach, has started outpacing both ETFs and mutual funds in investor adoption. Direct indexing offers unique benefits that can't be replicated in a traditional ETF or mutual fund structure, particularly around personalization and tax management.

SEE MORE How to Grow Your Wealth Like the Real Estate Moguls Do Given its benefits, direct indexing is expected to continue to outpace ETF and mutual fund growth over the coming years according to a recent Cerulli report. Here's what you need to know about this growing investment method.

What is direct indexing? Direct indexing is an investment strategy where an investor holds individual stocks that make up an index in their own account directly, instead of using a mutual fund or ETF to track the underlying index. Similar to an index fund, the goal is to track the performance of a target benchmark index. However, when an investor holds the individual securities directly in their account, it allows for more personalization and the potential for greater tax benefits.

Direct indexing has been the core of many high-net-worth clients' strategies for decades. It's no surprise, given its unique benefits, particularly around taxes. Offered mostly through financial advisers, investment minimums for direct indexing are often $250,000 or more. However, no-commission trading and fractional shares have made the strategy more broadly accessible, with minimums at or below $5,000 in some cases.

A lower tax bill With hundreds of individual stocks held in a direct indexing portfolio, there are extensive op

Jun 25, 2022

Retirement Comfort: How to Avoid Running Out of Money
Nowadays, we're all living longer, and those life expectancy numbers are only going to rise. With people living up to three or four decades in retirement, it's crucial you have enough money to enjoy all your retirement days. What do you do if you run out of money?

SEE MORE I'm Retired. Should I Pay Off My Mortgage? There are many ways people can run out of money, but there are some easy ways to avoid that.

Write Out Your Retirement Plan (and Check It Often) The No. 1 question we get as financial experts is: Will I have enough money for retirement? No one wants to outlive their money, so our first piece of advice is to make a plan. Having a comprehensive plan before you head into retirement can save you headaches down the road.

To create a retirement plan, you need to answer some basic questions:

What are your income needs?Do you have any additional income sources? Will you have a shortcoming in your income needs? If so, what resources will you have to address those shortcomings? A financial adviser can help you answer those questions and start putting a plan in place. Having that retirement professional helps you identify your needs now and in the future.

Invest Your Money in the Right Place An important part of your retirement plan is deciding where to invest your money. This is one of the reasons why when we are putting a retirement plan together, one of the first things we look at is our clients' risk tolerance. This is one of the most important things to know before investing. If you are taking more risk than

Jun 24, 2022

Stock Market Today: Stocks Stick the Landing in Successful Short Week
The major indexes finished the holiday-shortened week with a flourish as a recent relief rally chalked up sizable gains across the four-day period.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said Friday that "it is a little early to have this debate about recession probabilities in the U.S." Meanwhile, he continued to pound the table for continued aggressive interest-rate increases - remember, the Fed is just more than a week removed from its rate hike since 1994 - to repel rapidly rising consumer prices.

SEE MORE The 15 Best Stocks to Buy for the Rest of 2022 "Bullard's optimism is justified if inflation [does] manage to peak," says Edward Moya, senior market strategist at currency data provider OANDA. "The best-case scenario for equities is that inflation continues to show signs of peaking and the consumer remains strong."

What do consumers have to say about that? Well … the University of Michigan's Surveys of Consumers sentiment index dropped to 50.0 for June - its lowest reading since the index was established in the 1970s. But the report had a bright spot: Expectations for inflation in the year ahead dipped to 5.3% from 5.4% in the preliminary report, while the five-to-10-year outlook eased to 3.1% from 3.3%.

All 11 S&P 500 sectors finished solidly in the green Friday. The financial sector ( 3.8%) pounced, with names like Wells Fargo (WFC, 7.6%) and PayPal Holdings (PYPL, 5.2%) breathing a large

Jun 24, 2022

Could Buffett Buy Out Occidental Petroleum (OXY)?
Warren Buffett keeps pumping cash into the oil patch, upping Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.B, $267.52) stake in Occidental Petroleum (OXY, $56.09) by more than a half-billion dollars in a series of recent purchases.

And in fact, Buffett's ever-growing ardor for the Houston-based integrated oil and gas firm has some analysts speculating that the Oracle of Omaha could be eyeing a complete buyout of Occidental Petroleum in the not-too-distant future.

SEE MORE The 15 Best Stocks to Buy for the Rest of 2022 Regulatory filings late Wednesday revealed that Buffett scooped up another 9.6 million shares of OXY stock worth about $530 million. Berkshire was required to disclose the trades (the last of which was made on June 22) within three business days because it owns more than 10% of OXY's shares outstanding. 

Looking at the Berkshire Hathaway equity portfolio, Buffett now owns a total of 152.7 million shares in Occidental - a position worth about $8.9 billion at OXY's current share price. With a commanding 16.3% stake in Occidental Petroleum, Berkshire is Occidental's largest shareholder by far. Asset management giant Vanguard is No. 2 with a 10.9% stake.

BRK.B additionally owns $10 billion worth of 8% preferred shares, as well as 84 million warrants to purchase OXY stock. Occidental shares must trade above the warrants' exercise price of $59.62 for the warrants to be in the money. If warrants are included, all in, Berkshire owns about a third of Occidental Petroleum.

And one analyst thinks

Jun 24, 2022

A 3-Phase Plan to Get into (and Out of) Real Estate Investing
As founder and CEO of Kay Properties, I talk with hundreds of clients each month, allowing me the privilege of listening to some fascinating life stories while helping people with their long-term investment goals. I recently encountered such a story when I met Frederick and Gloria*.

These two focused individuals met at Georgia State University. After graduating, they found jobs in Atlanta: Frederick as an accountant for a major home-improvement chain and Gloria as a history teacher at an Atlanta middle school. Eventually, the two decided to marry and begin a life together.

SEE MORE I'm Retired. Should I Pay Off My Mortgage? Neither Frederick nor Gloria came from wealthy families, but they both had a vision for building wealth and a plan for how to do it. Frederick's background in accounting and finance taught him that one of the best ways to create wealth was through real estate while also deferring capital gains taxes. Through her love of history, Gloria also understood that the vast majority of the people in the United States who achieved financial success had done so through owning real estate.

So, the two sat down and plotted out a long-term, three-phase plan for entering the investment real estate world.

Building a Real Estate Portfolio in 3 Phases Phase 1: The Purchase of Their First Rental Property The first step in their plan was to invest in a single-family home rental property. Even though they understood there would be very little cash flow from this and money would be tight, they also knew that this first step, the entry point into real estate investing, would be the most important one for them in the long term.

Frederick flashed a big, proud smile when he told me that he knew at a very young age that while the cash flow would

Jun 23, 2022

Stock Market Today: Safety-Seeking Investors Drive Stocks Higher
Defensive stocks and the Nasdaq were in rare alignment, leading the way Thursday as much of Wall Street watched Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell continue his economic tightrope walk.

A day after telling the Senate Banking Committee that a recession is "certainly a possibility," Powell told the House Financial Services Committee that "I don't think that a recession is inevitable" - but again stressed the importance of pushing inflation down to 2%.

SEE MORE The 15 Best Stocks to Buy for the Rest of 2022 "With Chairman Powell finally acknowledging that while a soft landing is possible, the Fed's commitment towards curtailing inflation might lead the economy into a recession, the market is wavering between a growth scare and an all-out recession," says Quincy Krosby, chief equity strategist for LPL Financial. "With a still-strong labor market, there's a growing sense that the Fed is now moving quickly to make up for lost time in its fight against inflation."

The tightness of the labor market remained evident in the Labor Department's latest unemployment data. Initial claims for the week ended June 18 came to 229,000 - a little above the median forecast of 226,000 but below the prior week's revised 231,000.

However, the June purchasing manager's index (PMI) showed some signs of strain, with the manufacturing reading declining to 52.4 from 57.0 and services PMI down to 51.6 from 53.4. While both figures still represent expansion, that expansion was far slower than economists were expecting.

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The 10-year Treasury yield continued to fall, to

Jun 23, 2022

10 Smart Artificial Intelligence (AI) Stocks to Buy
Artificial intelligence (AI), for all of its futuristic elements, is not a new category - not by a long shot. The roots of the technology go all the way back to the late 1950s, when computers started to become much more powerful.

But the proliferation of AI stocks hasn't come until much more recently, as artificial intelligence became commercially viable over the past decade or so. That's due to a variety of factors such as the evolution of cloud computing, the use of sophisticated graphics processing units (GPUs), growth in open-source software, and the explosion of data.

Artificial intelligence uses algorithms to detect patterns, which can help businesses create predictions that ultimately lower costs, improve productivity and increase revenues.

As technological breakthroughs arise, AI models continue to scale. An example is the Megatron-Turing Natural Language Generation from Microsoft (MSFT) and Nvidia (NVDA). It has a massive 530 billion parameters, which helps with reading comprehension, reasoning and natural language inferences.

And artificial intelligence is a massive market opportunity. Gartner estimates that global spending on AI software will jump by more than 21% to $62 billion in 2022. The research firm says top use cases include knowledge management, virtual assistants, autonomous vehicles, digital workplace and crowdsourced data.

That growth should mean great things for Wall Street's best AI stocks. Let's look at 10 that stand out from the crowd.

SEE MORE The 15 Best Stocks to Buy for the Rest of 2022 Data is as of June 22.

Jun 23, 2022

Janus Henderson Global Equity Income Fund (HFQTX) Hangs Tough
Value-oriented funds are having a moment, even overseas. 

Foreign-stock fund Janus Henderson Global Equity Income (HFQTX) - a member of the Kiplinger 25, the list of our favorite low-fee mutual funds - is above water over the past 12 months, despite a selloff in nearly every developed-country stock market around the globe. Its 0.5% return over the past year beat the MSCI EAFE Index, which dipped 11.1% over the same period. 

SEE MORE The 15 Best Value Stocks to Buy Right Now A focus on dividend stocks has helped, as has maintaining a diversified portfolio. Some sectors that had been weak in recent years are now doing well. "We have seen change in the mix of market leaders," co-manager Ben Lofthouse, who runs the fund with Alex Crooke and Job Curtis, said in a recent commentary. 

Materials, mining, and oil and gas companies performed well, thanks to a rise in commodities prices. "Many of these companies generated a lot of cash, paid down debt, and in some cases paid special dividends," says Lofthouse. 

Stock in French multinational energy company TotalEnergies (TTE), for instance, climbed 29% over the past 12 months. The firm rec

Jun 23, 2022

Should You Prefer Preferred Stocks?
In a topsy-turvy stock and bond market, preferred securities may provide extra income and a small dose of stability. These hybrid investments are part bond, part stock. Their dividends get paid ahead of common stock dividends (but not before bond interest) if a company hits hard times.

SEE MORE The 12 Best ETFs to Battle a Bear Market These days, preferred stocks typically yield 6% - better than the current 1.6% yield of the S&P 500 Index and the 3.5% yield of the Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond Index.

Preferred stock exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have tumbled along with everything else over the past 12 months, but they have suffered half the volatility of the stock market.

Global X Superincome Preferred ETF (SPFF) invests in 50 of the highest-yielding preferred stocks in the U.S. and Canada. Over the past 12 months, the fund lost 5.9%, which was better than the 8.4% drop in the Agg index. "At current yields, this could be an attractive entry point for investors who can withstand a certain level of volatility and risk," says Rohan Reddy, director of research at Global X.

Among the caveats: Like bonds, these securities are sensitive to interest rate moves (bond prices and rates move in opposite directions). And preferred securities typically sport lower credit-quality ratings than traditional bonds. More than half of the fund is invested in securities with below-investment-grade ratings (double-B or lower).

But preferred securities have historically experienced "very" low default rates, notes Reddy. And the lion's share of the securities in the ETF are issued by financial firms, which he sa

Jun 23, 2022

Dividend Stocks Are Paying Off for Income Investors
When the stock market hits a rough patch, it can pay to hide out in dividend stocks. Those cash payouts to shareholders are akin to a vaccine or an underground war bunker. They may not shield you from all of the financial pain of a market in free fall due to soaring inflation and rising interest rates, but they will ensure that you'll survive the tumult. 

"You can be down, but not out," says Jay Hatfield, manager of the InfraCap Equity Income Fund ETF (ICAP). Dividend-payers provide an income stream that allows you to cover expenses without selling stocks at depressed levels. And you can reinvest dividends in stocks you own at lower prices.

SEE MORE 20 Dividend Stocks to Fund 20 Years of Retirement That weather-the-storm thesis applies to the Kiplinger Dividend 15, the list of our favorite dividend stocks. Over the past 12 months, our picks have gained 5.1%, on average, compared with a 0.6% decline in the S&P 500 index. They sport an average yield of 3.3%, more than double the 1.6% yield of the stock market benchmark. 

Since early February, six members of the Dividend 15 have hiked their payouts. The biggest bump, 15.3%, came from Home Depot (HD), benefiting from the nesting trend prompted by the pandemic. Among our dividend stalwarts (companies that have raised their dividend at least 20 straight years), Procter & Gamble

Jun 23, 2022

Financial Independence After Divorce: You Can Go Your Own Way
Divorce is unsettling for many reasons, but financial worries are at or near the top of the list. Too many people might stay or be tempted to stay in unfulfilling - at best - or toxic marriages for fear of the financial fallout of going it alone.

If you're the partner who let your spouse handle all the money matters, divorce - and the financial independence that goes with it - can be especially scary. 

SEE MORE Emerging Financially Healthy After a Gray Divorce It can be hard to make it on one income after you're used to being half of a dual-income partnership. Or if you've been a stay-at-home parent and suddenly find yourself having to go back into the workforce, that's a challenge, too. But neither of those scenarios is insurmountable. You just need to know a few things, and financial independence will be yours to celebrate.

1. Make a new budget Get a good grasp on what your monthly financial picture looks like. What do you have coming in? What do you need to pay out? If your new financial reality shows more expenses than income, determine where you can cut back.  

2. Figure out what you can let go of Maybe you don't need the country club membership. Some clubs will allow you to put your membership on hold temporarily. You won't get to use the golf course or the swimming pool, but you won't be paying pricey monthly dues, either. A country club membership is an obvious "nice to have" you may be able to let go of - at least for a time.

You may decide you don't need to send the kids to $50,000-per-year private school. While this is an option for people with good public schools in their area, it's admittedly not for everyone. If private school is a must for your children, consider talking to the school's financial aid office about a payment plan until you're back on your feet. Or a

Jun 23, 2022

Best National Banks
Best Internet BanksBest Credit Unions Best Banks for High-Net-Worth Clients Best Banks for Retirees Best Banks for Families With Kids GOLD: TD Bank www.td.com

Why it won: Most of TD's accounts have reasonably low minimum-balance requirements and features to satisfy a variety of customers.

Standout account: Beyond Checking offers several perks and three ways to waive the monthly fee.

Where it is: More than 1,100 branches in 15 eastern states and Washington, D.C. Terms and rates are for Delaware.

TD Bank has appeared among our national-bank finalists all six years that we've compiled our rankings, thanks to an appealing collection of accounts that don't require big balances to avoid monthly fees. And TD is rolling out changes to its overdraft program. You can now overdraw your account by up to $50 without incurring an overdraft fee. Starting late this fall, customers will have 24 hours to rectify an overdraft of more than $50, and they'll no longer pay a fee to transfer funds to checking from a backup account in case of an overdraft. 

The basic Convenience Checking account waives its $15 monthly fee if you keep a daily balance of just $100 in the account or if you're between the ages of 17 and 23. Beyond Checking c

Jun 23, 2022

Best Banks for Retirees
Best National BanksBest Internet Banks Best Credit Unions Best Banks for High-Net-Worth Clients Best Banks for Families With Kids Best: TD Bank www.td.com

Why it won: TD offers a dedicated checking account with perks well suited to retirees, who get to skip fees on some savings accounts, too. For in-person services, TD has branches that stretch along the East Coast.

Standout account: 60 Plus Checking has a low, $250 minimum daily balance requirement to waive the $10 monthly fee. 

Where it is: More than 1,100 branches in 15 eastern states and Washington, D.C. Terms and rates are for Delaware.

The 60 Plus Checking account targets those 60 or older with free standard checks, cashier's checks, money orders and paper statements. Plus, the Simple Savings account is free if you're 62 or older (for more, see The Best National Banks), and so is the Growth Money Market account, which offers a rate as high as 0.03% on a balance of $25,000 or more if you have a recurring transfer of at least $50 into the account each month (otherwise, it

Jun 23, 2022

Best Credit Unions
Best National BanksBest Internet Banks Best Banks for High-Net-Worth Clients Best Banks for Retirees Best Banks for Families With Kids GOLD: Alliant Credit Union www.alliantcreditunion.org

Why it won: Alliant offers a straightforward, strong set of accounts.

Standout accounts: High-Rate Checking yields 0.25% if you meet two simple requirements. High-Rate Savings boasts a 0.75% yield.

Where it is: Alliant operates fully online. 

How to join: Become a member of the Foster Care to Success charity (Alliant pays the $5 membership fee on your behalf). You must also open a savings account; Alliant makes a complimentary $5 deposit for you.

Alliant's free High-Rate Checking account provides a 0.25% yield if you receive electronic statements and have one monthly electronic deposit (including direct deposits, ATM deposits, mobile deposits and transfers from other institutions) into the account. You're reimbursed up to $20 per month in out-of-network ATM fees, and the first box of checks is free. Teens ages 13 to 17 can use a similar checking account. 

The High-Rate Savings account offers a 0.75% rate if you keep a balance of at least $100, and it's free if you get electronic statem

Jun 23, 2022

Best Banks for Higher-Net-Worth Clients
Best National BanksBest Internet Banks Best Credit Unions Best Banks for Retirees Best Banks for Families With Kids Best: Citibank www.citi.com

Why it won: Clients who maintain big balances enjoy prime treatment and can visit branches around the nation and world.

Standout account: The Citigold account package provides a load of complimentary services and unique benefits. 

Where it is: More than 650 branches in nine states—with many in California and New York—plus Washington, D.C. Terms and rates are for New York City. 

The Citigold account package is available to those who keep at least $200,000 in eligible Citi deposit, retirement and investment accounts. Citigold customers have a relationship manager as a point person and a wealth adviser who provides financial planning and investing guidance. You get a free checking account and savings account (0.12% yield), as well as complimentary standard checks, stop payments, overdraft transfers, wire transfers and money orders. Plus, all out-of-network ATM surcharges are reimbursed. Up to $200 annually is refunded for subscriptions, including Amazon Prime, Costco membership fees, Hulu, TSA Precheck and Spotify Premium. Travelers benefit from waived foreign-transaction fees on debit card transactions;

Jun 23, 2022

Best Internet Banks
Best National BanksBest Credit Unions Best Banks for High-Net-Worth Clients Best Banks for Retirees Best Banks for Families With Kids GOLD: Axos Bank www.axosbank.com

Why it won: Axos offers a well-rounded group of free checking accounts that suit just about any need. 

Standout accounts: Rewards Checking yields as much as 1.25% if you meet various monthly requirements. Earn 0.61% on up to $25,000 with the High Yield Savings account.

Whether you're looking for a checking account with a high yield, features tailored to students or seniors, or a no-frills option, Axos Bank has it. Rewards Checking offers interest in chunks. To start, you must have monthly direct deposits totaling at least $1,500 to earn 0.4%. If you do that, you're eligible to earn an additional 0.3% if you use your debit card for at least 10 transactions monthly or use Axos's Personal Finance Manager budgeting tool; an additional 0.2% if you have at least $2,500 in an Axos Invest Managed Portfolios Account; 0.2% extra if you have at least $2,500 in an Axos Invest Self Directed Trading Account; and another 0.15% if you use Rewards Checking to make Axos consumer loan payments. The basic Essential Checking offers the ability to access your direct-deposited paycheck up to two

Jun 23, 2022

The Best Bank for You, 2022
If you're searching for a better banking relationship, check out our sixth annual rankings of the best financial institutions among national banks, internet banks and credit unions, as well as the best institutions for three client profiles: high-net-worth clients, retirees and families with kids.

We enlisted the help of financial-data provider Curinos, which compiled information on interest rates, fees and other features on the 39 institutions we studied. To better reflect recent changes in bank policies, we added data on overdraft grace periods (alongside other overdraft data we've been examining for years) and early availability for checking-account funds as criteria in our rankings. And compared with previous years, we've tweaked how student and senior checking accounts are evaluated in the rankings of national banks, credit unions and internet banks, shifting emphasis to whether institutions have dedicated accounts for those groups.

Best National BanksBest Internet Banks Best Credit Unions Best Banks for High-Net-Worth Clients Best Banks for Retirees Best Banks for Families With Kids Interest rates listed here are as of early June. Before you commit to a bank, check its current yields. With overall rates on the rise, some yields are likely to adjust after our publish

Jun 22, 2022

Ron Baron: A Fund Legend Shares Stock-Picking Secrets
Ron Baron is chairman, CEO and portfolio manager at Baron Capital, the investment firm he founded in 1982. Read on as we ask the master of Baron Funds about what he looks for in growth companies, what he emphasizes to his portfolio managers and analysts and the stocks he likes now. 

You're a master of growth investing, which involves finding companies with prospects for faster-than-average profit growth, among other measures. What do you look for? Everyone can understand what a growth company is. What is hard for most people is being able to understand competitive advantage - the most important thing. That's something you can't figure out with an algorithm. You need to understand a business, how it operates and what makes it difficult for others to compete. It may have a license, patents or a head start in technology.

SEE MORE The 15 Best Stocks to Buy for the Rest of 2022 For example, Tesla's (TSLA) competitive advantage is in its culture of rapid innovation. Tesla has a 10-year lead making batteries and electric cars; it has revolutionized an entire industry.

We make investments on the basis of what we think a business will be worth in five or 10 years as opposed to what it's worth right now. Our goal has been to double our money about every five or six years. We have been able to accomplish that by investing for the long term in businesses that we believe are competitively advantaged and managed by exceptional people. We worry about businesses, not about stocks and stock markets. 

Jun 22, 2022

Baron Funds: The Masters of Growth Investing
On a recent sunny morning in New York City, Ron Baron, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Baron Capital, is standing and studying Sixteen Jackies, a famous painting of Jackie Kennedy by Andy Warhol that Baron purchased through a dealer. The office walls are adorned with dozens of paintings by Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns and other modern art masters. In Baron's corner office, Babe Ruth's 1920 contract and a 1940 letter written by Albert Einstein about the plight of Jews in Europe hang on the walls; President John F. Kennedy's rocking chair sits by a table. The view from the 48th floor of the General Motors Building on Fifth Avenue is spectacular: You can see all of Central Park, the Upper East and West sides of Manhattan and both the Hudson and East rivers.

Baron, a multibillionaire, is one of the greatest growth-stock investors of all time, investing in companies with the potential to increase profits at a faster-than-average rate. During a time when relatively few actively managed funds can beat their respective index benchmarks (and more investors are gravitating to passive indexing), Baron's long-term approach to growth investing continues to shine. 

SEE MORE The 15 Best Stocks to Buy for the Rest of 2022 As of the end of the first quarter, 15 of 17 funds, representing 98.5% of Baron Funds' $49 billion of assets under management, had beaten their index benchmarks since inception, several of them by an annualized five percentage points or more. Baron Growth is the top midsize-company growth fund since its inception in 1994; Baron Partners (BPTRX) and Baron Focused

Jun 22, 2022

Stock Market Today: Market Moves Mostly Sideways in Quiet Session
One might have expected a pause in equities after yesterday's widespread resurgence - after all, that has been stocks' M.O. throughout 2022's bear market. And that's exactly what we got after stocks reversed a morning slump, then let an afternoon rally slip away right before Wednesday's close.

Just like Tuesday, there was no definitive driver for today's action - just a market trying to determine what's next amid a Texas plain's worth of headwinds.

SEE MORE 65 Best Dividend Stocks You Can Count On in 2022 "This week is a relatively slow one for economic data," says Lauren Goodwin, economist and portfolio strategist at New York Life Investments, "but we expect market volatility to continue as investors wait for signs that inflation and interest rates will stabilize."

One of the most critical things on the mind of investors is the potential for a looming recession. Darrell L. Cronk, president of the Wells Fargo Investment Institute, fears we might already be there.

"The Atlanta Fed's GDPNow tracker, typically tilted toward optimistic readings, is signaling that U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) for the second quarter of 2022 is now tracking at 0%," he says. "Following a 1.5% contraction in the second estimate of first-quarter U.S. GDP, we are dangerously close to lacing together two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction, which translates into a technical recession, according the National Bureau of Economic Research."

Where the market was up, it was largely a push into yield-friendly defensive sectors.

Jun 22, 2022

Hennessy Cornerstone Value (HFCVX)'s Data-Driven Success
Staying the course can be difficult for many investors when the stock market gets choppy and drifts down, as it has of late. But that's not the case for the three managers at Hennessy Cornerstone Value (HFCVX). 

Over the past 12 months, managers Neil Hennessy, Ryan Kelley and Josh Wein have delivered an astonishing 14.0% return. That trounced the fund's benchmark, the Russell 1000 Value index, by nearly 14 percentage points, and it topped 98% of the fund's peers (funds that focus on value-priced, large-company stocks). 

Cornerstone Value's success lies with a stock-picking algorithm that has been in place since the fund launched almost 26 years ago. "Fundamentally, we're a quantitative fund," says Kelley. "We let data drive the investment process." 

SEE MORE Can AI Beat the Market? 10 Stocks to Watch The computer screen focuses on large, dividend-paying firms that trade on a U.S. stock exchange, including foreign-company shares. They must be above average in terms of market value, the number of shares outstanding and cash flow, and they must have a share price of $5 or higher, among other criteria. The process often spits out undervalued shares.

In the final step, the stocks are ranked by dividend yield. The 50 highest-yielding stocks are purchased in equal proportions. A dividend is "a huge signal from management," says Wein. "It says not only can the company pay a dividend now, but it can continue to pay a dividend because very few companies are going to play fast and loose with their dividend." 

The whole screen is rerun and the fund is rebalanced or reconstituted annually, usually in the first three months of the year. After the fund's rescreening in early 2021, the managers snapp

Jun 22, 2022

Smart Investing in a Bear Market
The bear that's been lurking on Wall Street all spring finally stepped out of the shadows on June 13, taking hold of what is now officially a bear market. The S&P 500 dropped nearly 4% in a day, erasing $1.28 trillion in a single trading session.

SEE MORE The 10 Best Stocks for a Bear Market Since its record high on Jan. 3, the broad-market benchmark is down 21.8% - eclipsing the 20% bear-market threshold. That closed the books on the COVID-era bull market that took off in March 2020 and delivered a 114.4% price gain.

The market had tiptoed close to bear territory in May, then mounted a convincing rally. Bear-market rallies are fairly common, with 17 of 26 bear markets since 1929 recording upswings with gains of 10% or more, according to BofA.

But a lack of bullish follow-through points to an increased risk of lower lows, according to technical research strategist Stephen Suttmeier at BofA Securities. The next stop: roughly 3,500 on the S&P 500, he says, a drop of 27% from the record high. And don't be caught off guard by more volatility - in both directions, he adds. "Midterm-election years are very challenging, with big rallies and big declines."

Reading the Stock Market's Signals A key question is whether the market's recent malaise is forecasting a recession or not, says Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at research firm CFRA. Nine of the 12 bear markets since 1948 have been triggered by impending recessions, he says. Those ended up being deeper, on average, than the three not associated with recessions - an average 35% decline versus a 28% drop, respectively. And they lasted longer - 15 months, on average, compared with six months. For now, Kiplinger i

Jun 22, 2022

Dogs of the Dow Are 2022's Best in Show
All portfolio doctors should prescribe high dividends to remedy rising interest rates and stiff inflation.

In 2022, the first year in recent memory pockmarked by those twin afflictions, dividend-heavy stocks such as utilities, pharmaceuticals, pipelines and many consumer-oriented blue chips like those found in the Dogs of the Dow have held up fine. There is a massive disparity of results within this year's stock, mutual fund and exchange-traded fund (ETF) listings.

SEE MORE The 15 Best Stocks to Buy for the Rest of 2022 The FAANGs - or whatever we call them now after the renaming of Facebook and Google - are a ball and chain. Your basic core S&P 500 Index fund? Down double digits. I have never liked indexing anyway. That aversion goes doubly for bonds, real estate investment trusts (REITs) and master limited partnerships (MLPs). But I digress.

A Passion for Dividend Stocks As we hit 2022's midpoint, the most upbeat performance stories underscore my perpetual passion for dividends.

The Dogs of the Dow - the 10 members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average that begin the year with the highest dividend yields - are clearly this year's best in show. Through June 3, seven Dogs have positive returns, and only one, Chevron (CVX), is an oil company. Dow (

Jun 22, 2022

10 Stocks to Buy When They're Down
When you buy shares of stock, you become a partner in a business. Perhaps I'm stating the obvious, but I doubt all investors see their purchases that way. Many see stocks as horses to bet on or as scorecards that tell them how their 401(k) is doing. Because stocks represent pieces of companies, the first consideration is whether that company is worthy of your partnership.

As I told readers two years ago, I keep a wish list of about a dozen companies. I want to become a partner, but I am waiting for the market to offer me a better price - an event that may never come. Some of these shares have been on my list for decades, and in my reluctance, I have missed spectacular successes.

SEE MORE The 15 Best Stocks to Buy for the Rest of 2022 Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) is a good example. I have lusted after the stock for 20 years, as it has gone from $54 to $176, with a dividend that has increased from 84 cents to $4.52 a share. If you bought J&J in mid-2002, your original investment would be yielding 8.4% annually in dividends alone. (Stocks I like are in bold. Prices and other data are as of June 3.) 

When the market drops sharply, I don't despair. Instead, I pull out my list to see if any of the stocks I like have moved into buying range. In other words, could I become an owner? This is a subjective decision. I'm not looking for a particular price-earnings ratio but a general sense that now is the time to pounce on the value stocks. 

Such an occasion presented itself in early 2020, when the market tanked on the realization that the COVID pandemic was serious. In the five-week period ending March 15, the

Jun 22, 2022

What is Your ‘Personal Inflation Rate'?
I've been reading a lot about inflation lately and the potential impact it can have on households.  I've also received questions from clients about inflation projections going forward.  Some of the current thoughts around this issue relate to a "personal inflation rate."  In other words: How does the current inflationary environment affect individuals? 

SEE MORE How to Find the Perfect Balance Between Spending and Saving This makes sense to me, as everyone spends their money differently.   Budgets tend to be more impacted in the areas where you absolutely need to spend money, or the non-discretionary part of your budget.  Of course, if the high levels of inflation continue, the potential for inflation to impact the discretionary part of your budget may also become an issue.

Breaking it down, non-discretionary expenses are things like mortgage or rent payments, insurance premiums, car payments, food, energy usage, water, school tuition, etc.  Discretionary expenses potentially include personal travel, dining out, club dues, alcohol consumption, new cars, new homes, etc. -  all things that consumers can adjust their spending habits on to account for the sensitivity of their household budget to inflation.

My ‘Personal Inflation Calculator' In the interest of trying to work through this on my own, and to provide guidance to our clients who are concerned about the impact of inflation on their own planning, I created a "Personal Inflation Calculator" using the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  If you've never looked at the monthly reports from the BLS, they are quite extensive, and cover quite a few common budget items.  They are also broken down into "se

Jun 21, 2022

Stock Market Today: Stocks Start Short Week With a Snap-Back
A light-news Tuesday gave the stock market the breathing room it needed to mount an aggressive rebound rally. 

Whether the rally is of the short-lived "relief" variety remains to be seen. Today's widespread bullish action came on the heels of a 5.8% drop in the S&P 500 last week - the second consecutive 5%-plus decline for the index, which is a rarity (more on that in a moment).

SEE MORE Warren Buffett Stocks Ranked: The Berkshire Hathaway Portfolio There wasn't much in the way of news that would otherwise justify a powerful move upward. Existing-home sales for May dropped by 3.4% month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.41 million, which was just a tick higher than estimates for 5.40 million. Year-over-year, existing-home sales were down 8.6% - a stark contrast to the 45.5% YoY jump in May 2021. Median home prices were $407,600 in May, up from $395,000 in April.

"Sales of higher priced homes are holding up, but sales of homes under $500,000 are falling as higher interest rates price more buyers out of the market," says Bill Adams, chief economist for Comerica Bank. "Higher income and wealth households have been less sensitive to the rise in rates so far, cushioning sales at the high end, but this segment will likely soften too with stocks in a bear market."

Tops on Tuesday were energy stocks ( 5.2%), led by Exxon Mobil (XOM, 6.2%) and Diamondback Energy (FANG, 8.2%). U.S. crude

Jun 21, 2022

PODCAST: How to Find a Job After Graduation, with Beth Handler-Grunt
Subscribe FREE wherever you listen: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Overcast | RSS

Links mentioned in this episode: Gas Prices Around the WorldGas-Saving Tips That Actually Work IRS Increases Mileage Rates Because of High Gas Prices Beth Hendler-Grunt/Next Great Step Career Advice For New College Grads Kiplinger's Economic Outlooks: Jobs Transcript David Muhlbaum: Welcome to Your Money's Worth. I'm kiplinger.com senior online editor David Muhlbaum, joined by my cohost, senior editor Sandy Block. How are you doing, Sandy?

Sandy Block: I'm good. How was your road trip last weekend? I think you went to Chicago.

Jun 21, 2022

Financial Advice I Would Give My Younger Self - Planning for Education Funding
At the end of most lectures I give, the moderator usually asks, "What else should our audience know?"  I always look at the younger members in the room or on the screen and think — if only I knew this when I was your age. 

SEE MORE Thoughts Before Funding a 529 College Savings Plan While my business is in providing financial and wealth planning advice to clients who have already built a significant amount of wealth, there are many fundamental planning strategies that apply to those just starting out in their careers, things, which frankly, I wish I knew when I was growing up.  Therefore, I am penning this four-part series on planning advice I would give to my younger self.  The topics will range from planning for college savings, young families, retirement, to caring for aging parents.  This first article focuses on planning for college savings.

Saving for college is often thought of from the perspective of the parent saving for the child, and if you are one of the lucky ones whose parents can afford to have done that for you, good for you.  However, college savings, or more appropriately education savings, is not a dominion strictly reserved from parent to child.  As a young adult, you can start thinking about saving for higher education and how to do that in a tax-efficient manner.   Specifically, I am referring to a 529 college savings plan and Roth individual retirement account (IRA).  

529 College Savings Plans Aren't Just for Kids The 529 college savings plan is a tax-advantaged vehicle designed for education savings. Money held inside these accounts can grow income-tax-deferred, and when money is ultimately distributed for the use of qualified education expenses, it will also be income-tax-free.  In other words, earnings and appr

Jun 20, 2022

Analyst: FedEx Stock Has Upside Potential Ahead of Earnings
FedEx (FDX, $227.14) headlines this week's light earnings calendar, with the shipping giant slated to report its fiscal fourth-quarter results after the June 23 close.

FDX made waves last week when it announced a massive dividend hike - boosting its quarterly payout by 53% to $1.15 per share. Additionally, the company said it would add three new board members as part of a deal with activist investor D.E. Shaw and unveiled a redesigned executive compensation aimed at boosting overall share performance.

SEE MORE The 12 Best ETFs to Battle a Bear Market The industrial stock jumped more than 14% on that news, but remains 12% lower on a year-to-date basis.

Can FedEx's upcoming earnings report help shares chip away at this deficit even more?

While macroeconomic uncertainty and execution have remained headwinds, the stock is largely washed out and there is near-term upside potential, says Wells Fargo analyst Allison Poliniak-Cusic, who has an Overweight (Buy) rating on FedEx stock.

As for FDX's fiscal fourth quarter, Poliniak-Cusic believes labor and elevated network are still drags, but these should be offset by a "meaningful" compensation tailwind. As such, the analyst expects FedEx to post a beat this time around.

Analysts, on average, are expecting FedEx to report earnings of $6.88 per share, up 37.3% year-over-year (YoY). Revenue is projected to rise 8.4% from the year-ago period to ar

Jun 20, 2022

I'm Retired. Should I Pay Off My Mortgage?
It's 5 p.m. on a Tuesday, and you tune in to The Ramsey Show as you sit in gridlocked traffic.  Dave Ramsey is going on about the best ways to pay down debt and why it's imperative to be debt-free.  You have two things working in your favor: (1) You have the money to do just that.  (2) You only have to commute in rush-hour traffic for a few weeks longer, as you will retire at the end of the month.

SEE MORE The Myth of Passive Real Estate Investing The next day you start to do some research on paying off your mortgage, and you come across Ric Edelman, the founder of one of the largest personal finance companies in the country.  His advice is just the opposite of Ramsey's:  You should stretch out a big mortgage for as long as possible, he maintains.  

I'm guessing this leaves you a bit confused.  The truth is that personal finance is just that: personal.  The right answer for you won't come from someone speaking to a million people and giving one answer.

If you have the money necessary to pay off your mortgage and you are retired, or nearly retired,  this article will allow you to place yourself in one of three groups, to get closer to the right answer for you. 

1. You have the money in cash because you are scared of the market Should you pay your mortgage off? Yes. In this case you should pay it off.

Why? There is a term we use in this profession: arbitrage.  Applied in this context, you have negative arbitrage.  The bank is paying you 0.25% on your savings account (if you're lucky) and charging you 3.75% on your mortgage.  So, you are losing 3.5% every year you hang on to that loan.  This is oversimplifying, of course, but you get the idea. 

What's the downside? First and foremost, you are losing liquidity.  When

Jun 20, 2022

How NOT to Sell Your Idea at Work
"I work for a business strategy firm that encourages input from employees on ways of expanding our menu of services. Every few months we have ‘Pizza and Proposals Day,' where employees are encouraged to pitch new marketing programs.

SEE MORE 8 Reasons Why You're Not Getting Promoted at Work "After lunch we listen to presentations from colleagues; some, well-researched, feasible — while others, poorly thought out, damaging the employee's credibility and their tenure. I have a couple of good ideas but do not want to make a fool of myself. Do you know of a guide, video, anything that would help me? Thanks, ‘Don.'"

Avoiding the Wrong Steps Enhances your Chances for Acceptance Don would be well-served by grabbing a copy of the HBR Guide to Building Your Business Case: Tell a Compelling Story, Identify Stakeholders, Analyze Risk and Return. I recently interviewed the book's author, Ray Sheen. In reading this excellent, by-the-numbers approach to turning a proposal into reality, it was clear that Ray understands the mechanics of reaching and persuading an audience of in-house decision-makers to come on board with an idea developed by a colleague.

He is president of Product and Process Innovation, based in Greenville, S.C. His firm trains and consults in the areas of technology deployment and digital transformation.  He is also an adjunct professor of business at the Southern New Hampshire University. With a BS in mechanical engineering from the U.S. Air Force Acade

Jun 19, 2022

How to Grow Your Wealth Like the Real Estate Moguls Do
Many investors are plagued by contradictory behavior where they adopt a pro-risk attitude with their investments, but when it comes to the strategies we are about to discuss, they take on more of a scarcity mindset.

It is well known that entrepreneurs and real estate investors create the most wealth in the world.  I am going to explain how you too can benefit from the same strategies the wealthy use to create wealth.

SEE MORE What's a DST? The Lowdown for Real Estate Investors But first, we need to identify what makes these two categories of people better positioned for wealth creation than others.  I believe there are three things that set them apart:

They leverage other people's money to grow their wealth.They continue to benefit when the assets they own appreciate over time. They enjoy exponentially greater cash flow from the leverage and operation of their assets. No. 1: They leverage other people's money Most often when a real estate investor purchases a property or constructs a building, they acquire a loan from a bank to fund the project.  Seldom do they pay for properties in cash.  The more resources they tie up in one property, the less cash they have available to acquire other properties.  By using the bank's money to leverage their purchases, they can use the same amount of money to acquire multiple properties.  You'll see why this is important in a moment.

The investor collateralizes the property in exchange for the capital to acquire the property.  Say an investor buys a property valued at $100,000.  The bank funds 75% of the purchase price and the investor funds 25%.  By doing this, the investor now has a property valued a

Jun 18, 2022

Fed's Latest (and Greatest) Rate Hike Sure to Cause More Pain
The Federal Reserve Board of Governors unanimously voted to increase the interest rate paid on reserve balances by 0.75% to a range of 1.5% to 1.75%, effective June 16, 2022. It is the largest increase by the Fed since 1994.

SEE MORE 6 ‘Retirement Killers' to Avoid at All Costs Over the past several months our blogs and articles have predicted that an interest rate increase was looming. When the Fed raised the interest by 0.5% in May of this year, we commented that the increase was not meaningful and that much larger increases were required to combat an inflation rate that was reported at 7%-8% at the time - but in reality was much higher.

 Raising interest rates is a tool to fight rising inflation, which all Americans are feeling. The party in power probably would like to have staved off this increase until the midterm elections in November, as no party in power wants a weak or negative economy just before the midterms. But as more and more families are suffering the effects of the actual level of inflation, and the media is bringing the real level of inflation to the public's attention, the Fed could not hold off any longer. So they instituted a 0.75% increase - with clear signals that more increases are to come.

Possible Long-Term Effects There will certainly be a substantial negative effect on businesses, including real estate and the stock market, as a result of the interest rate increases. To date, the economy has not shown how weak it really is. Based on interviews I conducted with several bankers as well as borrowers, banks are not being forced by federal auditors to deal with defaulted commercial loans. This situation was aided by the trillions of dollars from PPP loans and extended unemployment checks the governm

Jun 18, 2022

Are You Wearing Blinders That Could Spoil Your Financial Decisions?
Attend a horse race — perhaps at Santa Anita, Keeneland or Churchill Downs — and you will see some horses wearing blinders as they gallop down the track.

Those blinders keep the horses focused on what's in front of them, allowing them to ignore anything that could distract from their primary goal — crossing the finish line ahead of the other horses.

SEE MORE How to Find the Perfect Balance Between Spending and Saving One thing I've learned over my decades as a financial professional is that sometimes investors also wear blinders. Unfortunately, it's not as beneficial for them as it is for a horse drawing cheers as it streaks down the final stretch.

In the case of investors, blinders blocking the view of the broader picture can prove costly. Here's what I mean: Sometimes people see something in the news and they become focused on the ramifications — or perceived ramifications — of that one issue, making rash investment decisions as a result. They are blind to everything else. Right now, the issue that causes investors to don blinders could be the war in Ukraine. Or inflation. Or the supply chain. Or COVID.

But six months from now, a year from now — definitely at some point — these issues will fade and a whole new set will emerge. And for many people, it will be the same thing all over again as they become fixated on an event and let it affect their investment judgment and strategy.

When it comes to your financial plan, it's important to take off those blinders so that you can remain disciplined and make decisions based on reason rather than emotion. This doesn't mean you never make adjustments to your investment strategy. But it does mean that you think through those c

Jun 17, 2022

Stock Market Today: Stocks Earn a Decent End to a Dreadful Week
A Friday rally still left the major indexes significantly lower over the past five days of trading.

There wasn't much good news to which to credit Friday's move. U.S. industrial production improved less than expected in May, up 0.2% versus estimates for 0.4%; manufacturing actually declined by 0.1%. Wells Fargo economists Tim Quinlan and Shannon Seery defend the release as "actually a decent report," however, noting that an upward revision to April's number ( 1.4% from 1.1%) puts May's level of output slightly above expectations.

SEE MORE The 12 Best ETFs to Battle a Bear Market Edward Moya, senior market strategist at currency data provider OANDA, says that yesterday's selloff might have been overdone. This quarter's "quadruple witching" event - the simultaneous expiration of stock and stock-index futures and options - "may have accelerated the selling pressure leading up to today," he says.

U.S. equities remained faithful to their 2022 narrative, with rate-sensitive stocks recovering most briskly as the 10-year Treasury yield cooled to as low as 3.19%. Communication services ( 1.4%) and technology ( 0.9%) shares were among the leaders; Charter Communications (CHTR, 6.4%) rebounded somewhat from yesterday's gashing, with T-Mobile US (TMUS, 2.7%) and Salesfor

Jun 17, 2022

7 Standout Places to Retire
The number-one rule in real estate is location, location, location, but that means different things to different people. For young families, the most desirable location is typically a neighborhood that's near good schools and kid-friendly parks and (ideally) isn't far from work. Retirees have different criteria. Their perfect destination is more likely to offer good health care facilities, be close to family and friends, and have a reasonable cost of living—particularly when it comes to home prices. 

That last item is a tall order these days, with home prices up nearly 16% in the first quarter of 2022 compared with a year ago. While rising mortgage rates have slowed sales somewhat, a paltry inventory of homes for sale is likely to keep prices elevated for the foreseeable future.

But again, it's all about location. In some parts of the country, home prices are well below the national median of $368,200—a nice bonus for seniors who are downsizing from a high-cost part of the country. And moving to a lower-cost area doesn't mean giving up a great quality of life. Our seven cities offer access to high-quality health care, abundant outdoor activities and lively downtowns. Three are college towns, which means that when you're not exploring local hiking and biking trails (or skiing, because not everyone hates winter), you'll have plenty of opportunities to keep your mind sharp, too.

Surveys have shown that the primary reason retirees move is to be closer to family, so we cast a wide net and looked

Jun 17, 2022

Get a Handle on Your Credit Card Debt
Revolving credit, which includes credit cards, surged by 21.4% in March, according to the Federal Reserve. But at the same time that credit card debts are growing, rising interest rates have made carrying a balance more expensive.

SEE MORE Think Twice Before You Close a Credit Card After two years of pandemic-related restrictions, it's easy to understand the urge to spend more on experiences and make up for lost time. Some of us pay our credit cards in full every month and never carry a balance. However, that's not the case for many millennials. If you're carrying credit card debt, consider these strategies to eliminate or reduce what you owe—before it's too late.

Take Stock of Your Debt If you have balances on multiple credit cards, make a list that shows how much you owe on each card, the interest rate, and the minimum monthly payment for each. A spreadsheet provides a handy way to update your progress, but pen and paper work just as well. 

If you have a good credit score, a balance transfer could help you get out from under your debt. Many banks offer balance-transfer cards for new customers that come with an introductory 0% annual percentage rate for a limited amount of time—anywhere from 12 to 21 months, depending on the ca

Jun 17, 2022

Is the Stock Market Closed for Juneteenth 2022?
Washington's 12th and newest federal holiday - Juneteenth, or June 19 - will indeed close the stock and bond markets this year, providing investors with a long holiday.

That's despite the fact that in 2022, Juneteenth falls on a Sunday.

SEE MORE 12 Best Monthly Dividend Stocks and Funds for the Rest of 2022 Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth National Independence Day, occurs on the anniversary of Union Army Gen. Gordon Granger's June 19, 1865, proclamation that Texas was freed from slavery - years after the Emancipation Proclamation had outlawed it there and in other Southern states.

Juneteenth has been celebrated unofficially for more than two centuries. But on June 17, 2021, Congress passed legislation making it a federal holiday, and President Joe Biden signed it into law.

However, the stock and bond markets did not close in 2021, given how close to Juneteenth the law was enacted. That makes 2022 the first time the major U.S. exchanges will close in observance of Juneteenth, which they will do Monday, June 20.

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Here, we provide a schedule of stock market holidays and bond market holidays for 2022. Please note that regular trading hours for the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and Nasdaq Stock Market are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern on weekdays. The stock markets close at 1 p.m. on early-closure days; bond markets close early at 2 p.m.

2022 Market Holidays DateHoliday NYS

Jun 17, 2022

3 Ways to Keep Inflation from Shrinking Your Retirement
Inflation has been a hot topic for months and likely will be well into 2022. Its impact is immense; with inflation at its highest level in 40 years and interest rates rising, consumer sentiment is falling.

As we come to grips with rising costs for goods and services, it's also important to understand a concept called shrinkflation, which is common during periods of high inflation and further fuels pessimism and anxiety about the economy.

SEE MORE 6 ‘Retirement Killers' to Avoid at All Costs Shrinkflation is when companies give you less for your money to compensate for their rising production and supply costs. Rather than raise the product's price, which most customers would notice immediately, companies downsize the product. For example, a slightly smaller box of cookies for the same price you've been paying isn't as readily detected by some consumers unless you read the fine print. There are all kinds of examples of product manufacturers engaging in shrinkflation.

Inflation is always a concern during retirement. Even more so now at its highest level since 1982. A Fidelity Investments study shows that 71% of American investors are very concerned about how inflation can impact their preparedness for retirement.

Historically, evidence indicates that

Jun 16, 2022

Stock Market Today: Bears Viciously Repel Post-Fed Rally
Whatever cheer investors took from yesterday's Federal Reserve policy announcement and Chair Jerome Powell's presser evaporated Thursday, as the major indexes sank and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped to within close reach of its own bear market.

Several pieces of data out today hinted at a slowing economy:

SEE MORE The 10 Best Stocks for a Bear Market The Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index dropped to -3.3, versus 5.5 expected, indicating that the region's manufacturing activity was contracting for the first time since May 2020.Housing starts plunged 14.4% in May to 1.549 million annualized units, the lowest in 13 months. And while initial unemployment filings for the week ended June 11 were unchanged at 229,000, the prior week's number was revised upward by 3,000 filings, and the four-week moving average of 218,500 was the highest in five months. "The labor and housing markets are normalizing after running red-hot in 2021," says Bill Adams, Chief Economist for Comerica Bank. "Higher interest rates have broken the fever in housing, with the benchmark survey of homebuilders showing reduced foot traffic at showings. Layoffs are still historically low in the U.S., but rising. A couple of states noted layoffs in the broad industry groups that include retail, e-commerce, and temp services in the latest week's data."

Meanwhile, investors continue to mull the ramifications of the Federal Reserve's 75-basis-point interest-rate cut - and how effective it might be against a major market headwind.

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Jun 16, 2022

Marriage: When You'd Rather Not
Since gay marriage was legalized in 2015, same-sex couples have had the same rights as their opposite sex counterparts when it comes to tying their financial lives together.  All couples can now take advantage of tax benefits for married partners, pass assets from one spouse to another with ease and qualify for Social Security spousal and survivor benefits. However, not all couples want to get married. Others have remarried and haven't updated their estate planning documents. Here are things same-sex couples need to consider:

Write a Will A will is especially urgent for same-sex couples who don't have children, since there is no assumed heir, says Sharon Klein, executive vice president at Wilmington Trust, a wealth management firm. Couples may decide that they want their funds to go to charity after they die, or their chosen family. To do so with the least amount of interference from the state, each partner needs a will that's updated regularly to reflect life events or changes in your wishes.   

Depending on where you live, a basic will costs between $200 to $500.  If you die without a will, a court will decide how your assets will be distributed, based on your state's succession laws. In general, if you're unmarried, the court will distribute your property to your relatives—your parents, for example, if they're still living, and then your siblings. Assets won't pass to your partner unless you have a will.

SEE MORE When Do Living Trusts Make Sense? In addition to a will, you'll need other

Jun 16, 2022

Is It Time to Move to Cash? The Father of the 4% Retirement Withdrawal Rule Did.
Bill Bengen is one of the most influential figures in the financial planning industry. Based on the history of the capital markets since 1926, his research found that retirees could safely spend approximately 4% of their retirement nest egg over any 30-year period. These findings were based on a number of assumptions, including a portfolio investment mix of 55% large-cap U.S. stocks and 45% intermediate-term U.S. Treasury bonds.

SEE MORE 8 Facts You Must Know About Bear Markets Recently, however, Bengen disclosed that he has moved his own personal portfolio to 20% stocks, 10% bonds and the remaining 70% to cash. This news may have some retirees wondering whether they should do the same.

Background on the 4% Rule For many years, the so-called 4% rule has provided a guideline to help retirees determine how much they can reasonably spend each year. Suppose a newly retired investor has accumulated a nest egg of $1 million. Using Bengen's formula, the retiree could spend $40,000 in his first year of retirement. In year two, the $40,000 would be adjusted to keep pace with inflation. In year three, the year-two amount would again be adjusted for inflation, and so on. The goal is for retirees to maintain their purchasing power while being able to withstand the market declines that will inevitably occur over a 30-year period.

In 2006, Bengen updated his research and added international, small- and mid-cap equities to his models. Expanding the equity portion of a portfolio beyond large-cap stocks resulted in a higher withdrawal rate of 4.7%. Using the same $1 million starting balance, the first-year distribution would be $47,000 rather than $40,000, an 18% increase in income. It is worth noting that these examples do not account for taxes or fees, nor do they consider other underlying assumptions abou

Jun 16, 2022

Without (Increasing) Income, There Is No Retirement
You've got a valuable home and a hefty retirement portfolio, but cash flow may be the most underrated tangible asset that you have.

Cash flow is the lifeblood of financial security, happiness and freedom. Run out of this or have it reduced, and your world can be turned upside down. For example, the difference between most homeless people and those who are not homeless, financially speaking, is that usually a homeless person doesn't have enough cash flow to pay for housing, and a person with a home does.  

SEE MORE 6 ‘Retirement Killers' to Avoid at All Costs For most of us, cash flow is derived from working. This income allows us to acquire assets such as real estate, stock market investments, retirement plans and interest in a business. In the end, the purpose of those assets is to create an income stream that can eventually replace your paycheck from a job. This is called building wealth, and it's something most of us work toward our entire lives. Wealth can mean the freedom to do the things we love, as well as avoid the things we don't. Whether you're looking to retire early from a career that's great for your wallet but bad for your physical or emotional well-being, or maintain your lifestyle in retirement, you need to replace your paycheck.

No ‘Magic Number' Needed to Retire? While some people think they need to reach a certain "number" in order to retire, it's really about creating cash flow that you cannot outlive. For example, imagine that Bob earns a salary of $10

Jun 15, 2022

Stock Market Today: Fed Goes Big, Wall Street Approves
The Federal Reserve isn't messing around.

For months, America's central bank largely telegraphed a 50-basis-point increase to its benchmark interest rate for its June policy meeting. But on Wednesday, it instead met recently stepped-up expectations spurred by still-sizzling inflation prints, announcing a 75-basis-point hike to a range of 1.5% to 1.75% - the largest such bump since 1994. Stocks ultimately finished higher, with a little help from Fed Chair Jerome Powell.

SEE MORE 25 Best S&P 500 Stocks of the Pandemic Bull Market "Even two weeks ago, we might have thought that a 0.75% increase was off the table, at least in the short term. But with inflation not letting up, it's become pretty clear that the Fed needs to take a more aggressive approach," says Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy for E*Trade, who adds that retail investors should expect continued volatility as the market digests the new norm. 

The Federal Reserve's "dot plot" indicates that Federal Open Market Committee members see the benchmark rate hitting 3.4% by year's end, and 3.8% by the end of 2023 - with the possibility of rate cuts in 2024.

It's largely in the name of tamping down runaway consumer prices. The Fed, which predicted a 2.6% rate of inflation (based on the personal consumption expenditures, or PCE, index) back in December now sees a 5.2% rate by year-end 2022. And remember: The Fed's continued goal is to get that number back down to 2%.

Interestingly, another unrelated announcement Thursday - the approval of another $1 billion in military aid to Ukraine - could help that particular cause, says Sean Bonner, a 20-year-plus Wall

Jun 15, 2022

Career Advice For New College Grads
Beth Hendler-Grunt is the president of Next Great Step, a career-counseling firm for recent college graduates, and author of The Next Great Step: The Parents' Guide to Launching Your New Grad into a Career.

New college graduates will be looking for jobs at a time when many employers are desperate to fill openings. How can they take advantage of these favorable labor conditions? Before applying for a job, recent graduates should really think about the skills they have and what they're really good at so they can explain to an employer the value they can bring to a company. A lot of young adults will say things like, "I'm a hard worker," but that's not a skill. Think about the top three things you want to be known for, and be able to share an example of how you demonstrated that skill.

A lot of young adults go to the online jobs boards and send out 100 applications because they think, The more job applications the better. That's not how to get a successful outcome. Target and research the kinds of companies you want to work for. Once you go down that path, the company will be more excited to interview you because you've taken the time to figure out how you can help them be successful. 

SEE MORE When Will Student Loans Be Forgiven? Is networking still important? What's the best way to do that when many managers are still working from home? LinkedIn is a great way to network, but instead of just going on LinkedIn and asking to connect, take a few minutes to look at someone's profile. Once

Jun 15, 2022

What Working with the Homeless Taught Me about Financial Planning
I learned the importance of having a plan at an early age thanks to my father, a homeless camp and sack lunches.

My father was a pastor, and he viewed helping the homeless as a calling. So, on Saturday afternoons, my family would prepare 125 sack lunches, with the contents of those lunches imprinted on my memory to this day - a bologna sandwich, a bag of potato chips and a Little Debbie.

SEE MORE Why Financial Literacy Alone Will Always Fail We would rise at 6 on Sunday morning, load the sack lunches into a van and travel to a park where homeless people camped. There we handed out the treats. The sack lunches came with no strings attached, but my father took the opportunity to invite people to church, granting a hot lunch after the service to whomever accepted the offer.

That made for memorable rides from the homeless camp to church, because my father always asked the people to tell him their stories about how they ended up down on their luck. As the miles clicked by, I listened. Some people had been successful at one time but had been unprepared for a stock market crash that left their finances in ruin. Others fell on hard times after a spouse died. Whatever the story, a common theme emerged: They didn't have a plan for withstanding life's cruelest turns, and that was their downfall.

Those stories left an impression on me while also teaching me this lesson: Life can happen to anyone at any time.

Whether we like to admit it or not, that's true for you and me if we don't have a financial plan that will see us through the ups and downs. We all face plenty of risks in life, but your plan should address at least three of those risks:  tax strategy, investments and longevity.

Tax Strategy It's common for people to owe money on credit cards, mortgages and automobile loans. But many people ar

Jun 14, 2022

Stock Market Today: Stocks Wobble Ahead of Fed's Next Rate Decision
Another hot reading of inflation kept the bulls pinned to the ground Tuesday. All eyes now are on tomorrow's conclusion of the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting, where America's central bank is expected to raise its benchmark interest rate once more.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that U.S. producer prices rocketed 10.8% year-over-year (and 0.8% month-over-month) in May, driven in large part by high energy prices. That was a higher MoM rate than April's revised 0.4%, and roughly around economist expectations.

SEE MORE 12 Best Industrial Stocks to Buy for the Rest of 2022 "This report adds to evidence of price pressures remaining elevated across the board, suggesting more near-term inflation," says Barclays economist Pooja Sriram.

In other words, there's nothing to suggest that the Federal Reserve will back off from its projection that it will raise the Fed funds rate by another 50 basis points on Wednesday. In fact, Wall Street is increasingly betting they'll go farther.

"The Fed is suggesting that they are willing to induce a recession to prevent the inflation surge," says Gene Goldman, chief investment officer of Cetera Investment Management. "The CPI and PPI reports will make the Fed raise rates more than markets had anticipated just last week [75 basis points instead of 50]. This is analogous to the Fed ripping off the band-aid and raising rates fast upfront (instead of slowly pulling it off)."

Goldman adds, however, that the key thing to watch is the terminal rate - while the Fed might get more aggressive now, it also might end up raising rates by less later in the rate-hiking cycle.

Jun 14, 2022

Prepare for Painful Utility Bills, Gas Station Visits This Summer
A perfect storm has hit energy markets, and consumers are paying the price. And while pain at the pump has received most of the attention in recent months, consumers are also starting to shoulder heavier utility bills now that the summer is hitting full stride.

Unfortunately, there just isn't any relief in sight, unless the economy slides into recession.

Record Gas Prices The nation's average gasoline price has risen to a record of $5.02 per gallon of regular unleaded. Prices are well above $4 on average in every state.

SEE MORE Will Gas Prices Ever Go Down? In California, the state average is an eye-popping $6.44 per gallon. Nationwide, diesel averages $5.77 - also a record, and a source of overall inflation because virtually all goods travel by truck or train before reaching customers.

How high gas prices will go is hard to say, but it looks like there is room for further rises. Barring a recession that crimps fuel demand, we look for the national average price to peak between $5.25 and $5.50 per gallon this summer, due to high demand, high crude oil prices and not enough oil refining capacity.

Some older refineries shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, when low fuel demand made them uneconomic to run. Now, even with refining highly profitable, energy companies aren't building many new ones, or expanding existing units. 

If a hurricane hits refineries along the Gulf of Mexico this summer and shuts some of them down, gas prices would jump even higher.

Bigger Utility Bills It isn't just gasoline prices

Jun 14, 2022

25 Best S&P 500 Stocks of the Pandemic Bull Market
The S&P 500's close below 3,837.25 on June 13 didn't just signal the birth of a new bear market - it also marked the death of the most recent bull market.

And what a bull it was.

But before we look back at the best S&P 500 stocks of the pandemic bull market (see the table below), let's take a moment to acknowledge this change in the cycle. 

SEE MORE The 10 Best Stocks for a Bear Market Active investors grappling with the official onset of a bear market might want to review the best stocks to buy for 2022, which are designed to account for a range of outcomes through year-end and beyond. Those same active investors also might want to consider adding names that tend to hold up well in down markets, such as the best stocks to buy for a bear market.

As for our now-defunct bull market, recall how improbable it seemed at the time. When COVID-19 first swept across the globe in early 2020, the S&P 500 lost more than a third of its value in little more than a month. And when the market did at last mercifully bottom on March 23, few at the time could guess that it was about to generate extended and stunning returns.

For the record, the pandemic bull market began on March 23, 2020, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices, and it ended on Jan. 3, 2022, which was the S&P 500's most recent - not to mention record - closing high. 

Thus, our late, lamented bull market lived for 21.4 months - a period in which the S&P 500 increased 114.4% on a price basis and 120.4% on a total return basis (price appreciation plus dividends). 

But as remunerative as the pandemic bull proved to b

Jun 14, 2022

New ESG Fund from Engine No. 1 Leans on Activism
The managers behind the recently launched Engine No. 1 Transform Climate ETF (NETZ) focus on U.S. stocks that will drive the transition to decarbonize the economy. But they aren't above working with polluters.

That's part of their DNA. 

Engine No. 1, the exchange-traded fund's adviser, is a relative newcomer to environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing and advocacy. But last year, it helped to force the replacement of three members of Exxon Mobil's (XOM) board with directors committed to addressing the company's climate risks. 

SEE MORE The 12 Best ETFs to Battle a Bear Market Transform Climate ETF will use a similar strategy of active engagement, working as a shareholder advocate to get companies to make their operations greener. But there's a twist: This new ETF invests in the industries that are most in need of decarbonization, including agriculture, transportation and energy.

"You can't solve a problem by running away from it," says Engine No. 1's head of ETFs, Yasmin Dahya Bilger. "Most climate strategies are built on the concept of divestment. They screen away bad actors, typically companies with the highest emissions. So ESG funds will often be underweight in oil and gas, auto, and agribusiness industries. Those three sectors alone represent 70% of greenhouse gas emissions."

By investing in and engaging with companies in those sectors that have nevertheless set a clear path to decarbonizing their businesses,

Jun 14, 2022

Savvy Strategies for Your Health Savings Account
Health insurance options are confusing at best, and often employees are overwhelmed by what to select when they start a job or during open enrollment. While a high-deductible health plan, or HDHP, can sound a little scary, it just means that you pay a lower premium per month but a higher annual deductible for medical care. How high? In 2022, the deductible is at least $2,800 for a family and $1,400 if you're single.

SEE MORE 5 Unexpected Insights from Your Tax Return One advantage to a high-deductible health plan is that it comes with the option to save money in an HSA. An HSA, or health savings account, is a triple tax-advantaged account where you can contribute money pre-tax, allow it to grow tax-free, and then take it out without paying any taxes on it as long as you're using it for a qualified medical expense.

Don't Confuse HSA with FSA While HSA and FSA may sound similar, they're very different accounts with different rules. The FSA, or flexible spending account, can be used for any type of health insurance plan, whereas an HSA is only used with a high-deductible plan. While both the HSA and FSA account may be offered through your employer, the HSA can go with you if you switch employers or retire.

SEE MORE Don't Move to Another State Just to Reduce Your Taxes Flexible spending accounts have limits each year on

Jun 13, 2022

Stock Market Today: S&P Finally Dragged Into a Bear Market
After months of surging inflation, the S&P 500 finally broke down into bear-market territory, ending a two-year-plus COVID recovery bull run.

The catalyst, of course, was Friday's surprising revelation that consumer prices soared by 8.6% in March - a report so toxic that Wall Street was still digesting it today.

SEE MORE UBS's 43 Top Stocks for a Volatile Market "The hot inflation report provided a double dose of bad news for the economy and for stocks," says Paul Christopher, Head of Global Market Strategy for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute. "First, it added to the pressure on households' real (inflation-adjusted) income, and second, it stoked the debate over more aggressive rate increases by the Fed beyond the two half-percentage-point hikes expected next week and at the late July policy meeting. … Interest rate futures contracts are now pricing in a third half-percentage-point rate increase at the policy meeting on Sept. 20-21."

And in fact, some experts warned that the Fed might yank even harder on the reins at this week's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.

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"With cost pressures showing no signs of easing, a 75-bp move cannot be ruled out at this week's FOMC meeting," says Priscilla Thiagamoorthy, economist at BMO Capital Mark

Jun 13, 2022

Repo Risk: Beware Illegal Car Repossessions
Used cars are suddenly so much more appealing than they used to be. With prices near historic highs and inventory near record lows, some officials are warning people with car loans that unscrupulous lenders may use more aggressive - and possibly illegal - tactics to repossess cars and beef up their lots. At the same time, brisk sales for nearly all vehicles could make the alternative - working with borrowers behind on payments - a less appealing option.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says it will work to prevent illegal repossessions in the heated automobile market. CFPB says it has seen "illegal seizures, sloppy record keeping, unreliable balance statements and ransom for personal property," where  loan servicers hold belongings found inside repossessed vehicles and  refuse to return them unless the property owner pays a fee. 

Pennsylvania attorney Andrew Milz says questionable repossessions are already happening. He said his office, which represents consumers in auto repossession cases, fields daily calls from people concerned about whether their car was legally taken.

"Lenders are making snap judgments about repossessing people's vehicles because they want to put them back on the lot," Milz said. "A few years ago, lenders might have been a little more lenient." Now, "due to the dearth of automobiles, particularly used, it appears these kinds of snap repossessions are happening more and more."

Milz said he couldn't estimate how often repossessions are illegal, but could say it's frequent in his experience.

CFPB says it has found instances in which car loan servicers misled borrowers about the amount of their final loan payments after their payments were deferred due to financial difficulties, mostly as a result of the pandemic.


Jun 13, 2022

The 12 Best ETFs to Battle a Bear Market
Investors who are fearful that 2022's market downturn is about to get a lot worse can find plenty of protection among exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Individual stocks can carry a lot of risk; on the other hand, mutual funds don't have quite the breadth of tactical options. But if you browse through some of the best ETFs geared toward staving off a bear market, you're sure to find a bounty of options that mesh well with your investing style and risk profile.

Entering 2022, Wall Street keyed in on a multitude of risks, among them the threat of high inflation and numerous Federal Reserve interest-rate hikes. So far, both fears have played out - plus, stocks have also been bombarded by other issues, such as Russia's war in Ukraine and fresh COVID outbreaks in China. 

SEE MORE The 22 Best ETFs to Buy for a Prosperous 2022 That has sent the Nasdaq into bear-market territory and has the S&P 500 on the brink. And there are reasons to believe things could get even worse from here.

"U.S. stocks have suffered the biggest year-to-date losses since at least the 1960s. That's ignited calls to 'buy the dip.' We pass, for now," says a team of BlackRock Investment Institute strategists. "Valuations aren't much cheaper given rising interest rates and a weaker earnings outlook, in our view. A higher path of policy rates justifies lower equity prices. We also see a risk the Fed will lift rates too high - or that markets believe it will. Plus, margin pressures are a risk to earnings."

How nasty this bear-market move gets remains to be seen. But if you're inclined to protect yourself from

Jun 13, 2022

Retirees, Be Aware of the Murky Rules Behind Financial Apps
Long gone are the days when every financial transaction involved a trip to the bank. In fact, if you're like many Americans, the tools you rely on to deposit checks, pay bills and track your budget -- all from the comfort of your couch -- may not even belong to a bank. Instead, you may be using a fintech's app on your smartphone to manage your finances.

SEE MORE Use Financial Apps to Track Spending in Retirement The number of older adults turning to fintech services is soaring. Seventy-nine percent of baby boomers used fintech last year, up from 39% in 2020, according to a survey by Plaid, a financial services technology firm. Many older users find the apps convenient, the survey found.

The apps are often those of neobanks, which are fintechs that offer banking services, though most neobanks aren't banks. Customers are drawn to neobanks with the promise of no fees or for features traditional banks may not offer. But neobanks and other fintechs operate in a regulatory gray area, with less oversight, which can sometimes leave customers in limbo whenever there's a problem.

Fine Distinctions Neobanks should not be confused with online-only banks, such as Ally Financial and Marcus by Goldman Sachs. Online banks are federally insured and offer the same deposit and lending services as traditional brick-and- mor

Jun 13, 2022

Estimated Tax Payments Are Due June 15
Under our country's "pay as you go" tax system, Uncle Sam wants to collect his cut periodically throughout the year as you earn income. In most cases, the required taxes are paid through paycheck withholding (your employer sends in the payments). But if you're self-employed or don't have taxes withheld from other sources of taxable income (e.g., interest, dividends or capital gains), then quarterly estimated tax payments to the IRS are typically required.

SEE MORE IRS Increases Mileage Rates Because of High Gas Prices Estimated taxes are paid in four equal installments — generally, one installment for each quarter of the year. The first payment for the 2022 tax year was due on April 18, 2022. The second 2022 estimated tax payment, which is for income earned from April 1 to May 31, is due on June 15, 2022.

Use Form 1040-ES to calculate and pay your estimated taxes. The various payment methods are described in the instructions for the form. If you owe at least $1,000 in tax for the year, you could be hit with a penalty if you don't pay enough estimated tax throughout the year.

Also, unless you live in a state with no income tax, you might owe state estimated taxes, too. Check with the state tax agency where you live for state estimate tax payment due dates.

For more information on 2022 estimated tax payments, see

Jun 13, 2022

Estimated Tax Payments Are Due Today
Under our country's "pay as you go" tax system, Uncle Sam wants to collect his cut periodically throughout the year as you earn income. In most cases, the required taxes are paid through paycheck withholding (your employer sends in the payments). But if you're self-employed or don't have taxes withheld from other sources of taxable income (e.g., interest, dividends or capital gains), then quarterly estimated tax payments to the IRS are typically required.

SEE MORE IRS Increases Mileage Rates Because of High Gas Prices Estimated taxes are paid in four equal installments — generally, one installment for each quarter of the year. The first payment for the 2022 tax year was due on April 18, 2022. The second 2022 estimated tax payment, which is for income earned from April 1 to May 31, is due by midnight tonight (June 15).

Use Form 1040-ES to calculate and pay your estimated taxes. The various payment methods are described in the instructions for the form. If you owe at least $1,000 in tax for the year, you could be hit with a penalty if you don't pay enough estimated tax throughout the year.

Also, unless you live in a state with no income tax, you might owe state estimated taxes, too. Check with the state tax agency where you live for state estimate tax payment due dates.

For more information on 2022 estimated tax payment

Jun 11, 2022

Remember, You're Worth More Than Your Money
Let's admit it, the financial industry has spent far too long treating end-of-life planning like a mathematical exercise. Rather than viewing it as the very human process it should be, conversations often center around taking an inventory of people's money and assets followed by a functional decision about where different parts of their estate should go.

This is missing the point because, in truth, the things that make us who we are reach far beyond the number of properties we own or the amount of money we earn. Just ask the families of Dr. King or, more recently, the millions of health care professionals and volunteer community workers who helped us through the pandemic.

SEE MORE Beneficiary Designations: 5 Critical Mistakes to Avoid In fact, the experiences we have, the beliefs we hold and the decisions we make are as important a part of our legacy as any monetary inheritance we leave behind. And the way to capture all this non-financial worth is by crafting an ethical will to augment your traditional will.

The ethical choice Ethical wills first began to appear in the 1990s, usually in the form of a "legacy letter" written just before a person died and then bolted onto their main will as an appendix. Such letters are designed to define a person's non-financial legacy - from details of the key milestones, places and relationships in their life to the thoughts, feelings, obstacles and lessons they experienced along the way. They can even be a place to ensure important family traditions and values are preserved and continued in future.

But valuable as a legacy letter can be, how can you communicate everything about someone's life in a page or t

Jun 10, 2022

Stock Market Today: Dow Sinks 880 Points After Inflation Shocker
Speculation that inflation might have peaked earlier this year died abruptly with this morning's release of the Labor Department's latest consumer price index (CPI). And what the data showed was that prices were still rising last month.

Specifically, the CPI surged 8.6% year-over-year in May, the fastest pace since December 1981. The sharp rise in consumer inflation was broad-based, but annual increases were particularly stunning in both gas prices ( 50.3%) and groceries ( 11.9%). On a month-over-month basis, the consumer price index was up 1%, compared to April's 0.3% rise in prices. Both figures were higher than what economists were expecting.

SEE MORE UBS's 43 Top Stocks for a Volatile Market Also released this morning was the University of Michigan's preliminary consumer sentiment index for June, which arrived at 50.2 - down 14.2% from May, the lowest value this decades-old indicator has reported. According to the report, 46% of survey respondents pointed to inflation for their negative outlook toward the economy, up 38% from last month.

"The crash in sentiment means that consumers are more and more worried about future economic conditions," says Jeffrey Roach, chief economist for independent broker-dealer LPL Financial. "We need to listen to what consumers say but more importantly, we need to watch what consumers do. We do expect a slowdown in consumer spending as inflation and uncertainties weigh heavily on sentiment."

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The reports were met with sharp selling on Wall Street. All 11 sectors fin

Jun 10, 2022

IRS Increases Mileage Rates Because of High Gas Prices
In response to rapidly rising gas prices, the IRS took the unusual step of increasing the standard mileage rates in the middle of the year (they're normally adjusted for inflation only once per year). The mileage rates that were raised are used to calculate tax deductions for the use of an automobile (i.e., a car, pickup truck, or van) for business, medical, and certain moving expenses. The new rates will apply from July 1 to December 31, 2022, while the previously established rates will continue to apply for the first half of the year.

SEE MORE Will a Gas Tax Holiday or Suspension Lower Gas Prices Near You? Three of the four mileage rates will increase by 4¢ per mile (one of the rates won't change at all). For the second half of 2022, the standard mileage rate for business use of an automobile will increase from 58.5¢ to 62.5¢ per mile. The rates for deductible medical travel and moving expenses for active-duty members of the military will rise from 18¢ to 22¢ per mile. The mileage rate for charitable use of a passenger car remains at 14¢ per mile, since it's fixed by law and not subject to adjustments for inflation.

Standard Mileage Rates for 2022 Deduction

January to June 2022

July to December 2022

Business Use

58.5¢ per mile

62.5¢ per mile

Medical Travel

18¢ per mile

22¢ per mile

Military Moving Expenses

18¢ per mile

22¢ per mile


Jun 10, 2022

The 5 Biggest Regrets People Have About Retirement
It is easy to identify things you could have done differently knowing what you know today. If only we had a crystal ball, life could be so much easier. 

Well, it is not a crystal ball, but we do have those who have gone before us to pull from their experiences to help improve our future.  After nearly 30 years of helping people with retirement, I hear a lot of the same things repeated from retirees about what they would have done differently.

SEE MORE Avoid These 3 Retirement Income Mistakes Here are the top five regrets I hear from retirees that you may want to consider as you make important decisions about your future:

I Wish I Had Started My Transition Plans Earlier Obviously, the sooner you start saving for retirement, the longer growth compounds for you over time. But saving isn't the only thing retirees regret putting off.  Many retirees wait until the last few weeks or months before they want to retire to begin planning for the actual transition. 

After discussing what is involved with their transition into retirement — from accumulating assets to protecting and preparing to distribute assets — I often hear that they wish they would have started planning their retirement sooner.  They admit that there is more to the preparation than they thought was needed.  

The biggest retirement myth is the thought that having a large 401(k) or investment account is all that is needed to retire but, there is more to it than simply having enough money and choosing a date. It is best to map things out a few years prior to the big day.

I Wish I Had Gotten Help with High-Level Strategies Sooner This one piggybacks a bit on the previous one, suggesting that you only know what you know.  Making assumptions about your retirement is a slippery slope because there is so much to be co

Jun 09, 2022

Stock Market Today: Stocks Slide as ECB Unveils Rate-Hike Plan
Stocks extended this week's decline on Thursday amid another choppy trading session. The focus today was on the latest European Central Bank (ECB) meeting - which comes ahead of next week's policy update from the Federal Reserve. While the ECB maintained the status quo for now, it unveiled plans to raise rates, likely by 25 basis points (a basis point is one-one hundredth of a percentage point), or 0.25%, in July and again in September. It also said it would end its bond-buying program on July 1.

SEE MORE 11 Emerging Market Stocks That Analysts Love Meanwhile, back at home, data from the Labor Department showed that weekly jobless claims rose 27,000 to a seasonally adjusted 229,000 in the week ended June 3 - their highest level since mid-January.

"The market has been searching for some direction amid a relatively quiet week on the economic data front," says Mike Loewengart, managing director of Investment Strategy at E*TRADE. "A bump up in jobless claims may not be the catalyst, but in a perverse way, a rise in jobless claims could be one indicator that the Fed's rate-hike plan is slowing demand and could stick the landing. But with a Fed decision on the horizon and with the ECB signaling rate hikes in its future, investors will likely continue to be in 'wait and see' mode."

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The "wait and see" mode was evident early on in today's trading, but losses for the broad-market indexes accelerated as the session wore on ahead of tomorrow morning's release of the latest consumer price index (CPI). The selling was widespread too, with all 11 sectors finishing in the red, led by big drops for financials (-2.5%) and

Jun 09, 2022

When a Retirement Home Is a Boat in the Caribbean
Two years ago, Harry Weidman and his partner, Ann Stockton, were visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands, where they were thinking about buying a condo. A friend they were sailing with suggested they buy a boat instead. "He lit a dormant fuse. I couldn't sleep that night, wondering, could I possibly pull this off?" says Weidman, 62.

SEE MORE 10 Reasons to Retire in an RV For years, he had sailed on other people's boats and dreamed of living on one. He felt happiest and most serene on the water, especially once land had disappeared from view. Neither Weidman nor Stockton had ever owned a boat, let alone a sailing vessel, but taking a leap of faith, they bought Whisper, a 40-foot catamaran.

Now, Weidman and Stockton, 60, are living the dream. Whisper is home while they spend the next three years of the five they've allotted for exploring the Caribbean. "We're in different places all the time," he says.

Along with exploring each island's culture and meeting people from around the world, Weidman and Stockton swim and snorkel every day, marveling at beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the latter with a sundowner cocktail in hand. Stockton loves sleeping while the boat gently rocks. She has woken in the wee hours to bright moonlight streaming through an open hatch overhead.

Their nomadic lifestyle promises freedom and adventure, trades one set of costs for another, requires certain skills and temperament, and gives new meaning to downsizing. After moving out of their New Jersey apartment in early November 2020

Jun 09, 2022

Got Company Stock in Your 401(k)? You Should Know about NUD.
In many large publicly traded companies, it's common to reward employees with employer stock. Usually through a profit-sharing or ESOP plan, or at least by allowing employees to purchase stock themselves inside of their 401(k) plan. The disadvantage is when you withdraw money from a company plan, it is taxed as ordinary income. However, the IRS — if you can believe it — has two special rules to help: Net Unrealized Appreciation (NUA) and Net Unrealized Depreciation (NUD).

SEE MORE Is Securities-Based Lending a Good Idea? Given today's stock market volatility, it's the NUD rule that piques my interest right now. 

First things first - understand the NUA rule Net Unrealized Appreciation (NUA) is a clunky technical term but an important potential tax-savings opportunity for those with company stock in their employer plan. Under the NUA rule, only the cost basis of the shares is subject to tax (and potentially an early withdrawal penalty) at the time of the distribution. In simple terms, the cost basis is what a person pays for the stock. The net unrealized appreciation is the growth of the stock above the cost basis. When you leave the employer and want to take a withdrawal of company stock from the retirement plan, if you follow the NUA rules, there could be a substantial tax savings. Here's how: 

The NUA is not subject to ordinary income tax until the company stock is sold and will never be subject to an early withdrawal penalty. When the stock is sold, the NUA is

Jun 09, 2022

For Sustainable Retirement Income, You Need These 5 Building Blocks
Sometimes we have all the elements for a great retirement, but until we put them together the right way, we don't get the result we want.

I call it the H2O problem. We have plenty of oxygen in the atmosphere. Likewise, hydrogen. It seems simple, but until two atoms of hydrogen combine with one of oxygen, we will never get water.

SEE MORE Don't Move to Another State Just to Reduce Your Taxes When planning for retirement income, it is risky to wait for the right combination of elements to join on their own. They don't just fall into place; you have to know what each can do and put them together in a way that produces a whole greater than the sum of the parts.

You may sit with financial advisers who can describe all the elements required for a successful retirement, but they might not offer all of those elements in their own retirement planning practice. Maybe it's because of regulatory or business model considerations. And even when all these elements are available, the adviser may not know how to assemble them.

It's not easy. Retirement income requires consideration of many more elements than just the two needed to create water (H2O), and many more combinations — like 50 trillion. Literally.

The Requirements of a Plan for Retirement Income As a starting point, your plan should be about income: starting income to meet your current needs, increasing income to help offset inflation, lifetime income so you don't run out, and less volatile income so you feel secure.

SEE MORE Millennials Want a Different Kind of Retirement But most investors have additional concerns,

Jun 08, 2022

Stock Market Today: Growth Concerns Get Bears Back on Board
The Wall Street roller coaster remains oiled up and operational as summer hits its stride, with stocks dipping down Wednesday amid a few worrisome signals.

U.S. crude oil futures gushed 2.3% higher, to $122.11 per barrel, after the Energy Information Administration said U.S. crude inventories dropped by 2 million barrels, and gasoline stocks dropped by 800,000 barrels, during the week ended June 3. That helped the energy sector finish ahead of its 10 other counterparts Wednesday, albeit with a mere 0.2% advance.

SEE MORE 15 Stock Picks That Billionaires Love The market's overall weakness Wednesday could be chalked up to any number of things. Goldman Sachs says it believes Q4's year-over-year growth will slow to 1.3% this year, "driven in large part by a substantial fiscal drag and a negative impulse from tighter financial conditions."

Signs of slowing also are cropping up in what has hitherto been a screaming housing market, with the Mortgage Bankers Association reporting that mortgage application volume dropped 6.5% week-over-week to multidecade lows.

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"Weakness in both purchase and refinance applications pushed the market index down to its lowest level in 22 years," says Joel Kan, MBA's associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting.

And it's possible investors' attention is on the upcoming consumer price index (CPI) report, due out Friday morning, which co

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