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Kiplinger
May 27, 2022

Stock Market Today: Stocks Snap Weekly Losing Streak
Stocks headed into the long weekend on a high note with all three major indexes posting gains for the week for the first time in a long time. As a a reminder, markets will be closed this Monday, May 30, for Memorial Day.

Boosting investor sentiment today was the latest inflation update, with this morning's report from the Commerce Department showing that the core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index - which excludes energy and food prices - rose 4.9% annually in April. While this pace is still elevated, it's down from the 5.2% year-over-year rise seen in March. 

SEE MORE 12 Cheapest Small Towns in America Separate data showed consumer spending was up 0.9% sequentially last month. However, the personal savings - or, savings as a percentage of disposable income - rate fell to 4.4% from March's 5.0%.

The drop in the savings rate indicates "U.S. consumers are now starting to chip away at those much-ballyhooed excess savings [accumulated during the pandemic], to help pay for the spurt in food and energy costs," says Douglas Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets. 

But even with that money already spent, there's still an estimated $2.3 trillion, or more than 9% of gross domestic product, in savings, he adds. "True, they are not well distributed across income cohorts - hence the wildly differing experiences by varying retailers. But, even if just a third of these pandemic savings are spent, this will readily support overall outlays through 2023," Porter says.

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A round of well-received earni

Kiplinger
May 27, 2022

5 Chinese Stocks Still Worth a 'Ni Hao'
Chinese stocks, especially in technology and tech-esque industries, have been under unprecedented pressure over the past year thanks to intense regulatory crackdowns, as well as increasing COVID cases leading to strict lockdowns.

The result has been precipitous downturns for Chinese technology stocks such as Alibaba (BABA), Baidu (BIDU) and JD.com (JD), which are off 61%, 38% and 31%, respectively, over the past year.

And yet …

SEE MORE The 15 Best Value Stocks to Buy Right Now If you're a nimble investor and looking for stocks to buy, these and other Chinese stocks might be worth a look, given their high marks from Wall Street's analyst community. A combination of dirt-cheap valuations and recovering business prospects has many pros looking at China as a source of bounce-back potential, even if only for short bursts at a time.

For instance, China's Vice-Premier Liu He recently pledged support for his country's technology sector, but Trivium China tech analyst Linghao Bao tells CNBC that this likely signals a temporary reprieve, not a sea change in China's stance toward technology. "This is a really not a U-turn on the tech crackdown; the long-term outlook hasn't changed yet," he says. "Because Beijing has already come to the conclusion that it is a bad idea to let big tech companies to run wild because it creates unfair market competition …

Kiplinger
May 27, 2022

Is the Stock Market Closed on Memorial Day 2022?
Americans will commemorate its fallen military personnel, and mark the unofficial start of summer, this Memorial Day, Monday, May 30. And the stock market will indeed be closed for Memorial Day, ensuring that investors can focus on the events of the day rather than watching the stock market continue its roller-coaster ways.

In many ways, 2022's day of commemoration is sure to feel more normal than the past two years. The COVID-19 pandemic largely clamped down on celebrations in 2020 and still cast a pall over 2021. And while the disease is far from contained, Americans clearly plan to travel. 

SEE MORE The 10 Best Stocks for a Bear Market AAA estimates that 39.2 million travelers will fly or drive this Memorial Day weekend ... still down from 2019's 42.8 million people who either booked flights or drove at least 50 miles to a destination, but up from last year's 36.2 million. That's naturally expected to keep upward pressure on gas prices, which have shot 40% higher from the start of 2022 alone.

But one thing that stays the same, year after year? Investors are getting a long weekend. Both the stock market and the bond market will be closed on May 30 in observation of Memorial Day. Also, the bond market will close early May 27, the Friday before Memorial Day.

Regular trading in stocks and bonds resumes on Tuesday, May 31.

Sign up for Kiplinger's FREE Closing Bell e-letter: Our daily look at the stock market's most important headlines, and what moves investors should make.

Here, we provide a schedule of stock market holidays and bond market holidays for 2022. Please note tha

Kiplinger
May 27, 2022

Do You Realize the Power of HSAs? Probably Not!
Health savings accounts (HSAs) have grown in popularity since the COVID-19 pandemic caused millions of Americans to worry about getting sick. A recent industry report from Devenir reveals that the number of new HSA accounts increased by 8% last year, and this trend is only expected to continue. By the end of 2024, there will likely be more than 38 million HSAs, with assets topping $150 billion. It's easy to understand why HSAs have increased in demand throughout the pandemic, since they are a great solution to help cover unexpected medical costs — like an unplanned hospital stay. 

SEE MORE HSAs Make Health Care More Affordable But HSAs are more powerful than most people realize. For example, Voya research reveals that only 2% of individuals are aware of the key attributes of HSAs.(1) With employers increasingly offering high-deductible health plans with an HSA option to their employees, chances are you already have an HSA or perhaps are considering opening one. Whether you are a pro when it comes to HSAs or just using one for the first time, we all can find value to reviewing ways that we can realize the full potential of these powerful savings, spending and investing vehicles.

Read these 10 tips to help maximize the benefits of your HSA.

Tip #1: If you switch jobs, your HSA comes with you The pandemic-era trend known as the "Great Resignation" has led to a record number of people voluntarily quitting their jobs as many are changing course for a variety of reasons — increased compensation, greater flexibility

Kiplinger
May 27, 2022

4 Keys to Planning Your Hard-Earned Retirement Income Distributions
Most people work 35 to 45 years or more. It's a long haul, and when it's finally over, they deserve to enjoy their retirement. If they've been diligent about their saving and overall retirement planning, the fruits of their decades of labor can be quite rewarding.

SEE MORE Will Inflation Derail Your Retirement Plan? Knowing how to navigate the distribution phase of retirement is crucial. And the first thing to know is that retirement planning doesn't end on your last day of work - when the distribution phase begins. This is when you start using the savings and investments  built up during the accumulation phase to supplement regular income from Social Security, pensions and other income streams while supporting your retirement lifestyle. And though this new stage of life you've worked so hard toward can be fun and liberating, the idea of spending money with no income from work can cause stress and worry. Did you save enough, and will it last long enough?

Once you're ready to retire and are living off your assets, you can ease your concerns by having a strong grasp of your distribution plan. Here are some steps you can take to come up with a plan before retirement that will allow you to determine your income needs, take distributions smartly and retire comfortably.

Start with your priorities If you plan to travel extensively, you'll want to build that priority into your budget. If you're a homebody, your priorities will be geared more toward maintaining your home and spending on your hobbies. Someone who wants to leave a legacy would have a different way of investing, because they're looking at long-term objectives with their money.

It helps to have an honest conversation with your spouse to see what's important to you both. Write down the top five things that matter to you and discuss them together.



Kiplinger
May 26, 2022

3 Preferred Stock ETFs for High, Stable Dividends
Preferred stocks typically aren't first, second or even third to mind when investors think about what they want to include in their portfolios. But if you're an income hunter and you don't already have these stocks on their radar, you might want to give preferreds - and specifically, preferred stock ETFs - a look.

Preferred stocks are frequently referred to stock-bond "hybrids" because they contain elements of common stock (the type of stock you typically invest in) and bonds. For instance, like common stock, preferreds represent ownership in a company, and they typically trade on exchanges. However, like bonds, preferred stocks typically don't include any voting rights.

SEE MORE 11 Best Dividend ETFs to Buy for a Diversified Portfolio The primary feature of preferred stocks, however, are their dividends. Preferred stock dividends are actually closer to bond coupon payments in nature, in that they're typically set at a fixed amount. These dividends are high, too, often in the 5%-7% range.

But preferred stocks also tend to act more like bonds in that they trade around a par value. So while they're a great source of fixed income, they're not going to shoot considerably higher, like common stocks, as a company grows.

They're not without their risks, either.

"Since preferred securities have long maturities, or no maturities at all, they tend to have high interest rate risk, or the risk that prices will fall when yields rise," says Charles Schwab, and indeed, a popular index of preferred stocks is off 13% so far in 2022. "Given that, preferreds should always be considered long-term investments since fluctuating interest rate

Kiplinger
May 26, 2022

Stock Market Today: Retail Roars Back, Markets Build Positive Momo
The major indexes staged a second consecutive sizable rally Thursday amid a number of encouraging retail reports and more signs that perhaps the recent downturn was a touch overdone.

Michael Reinking, senior market strategist for the New York Stock Exchange, noted an important potential sea change in yesterday's trading - namely, Dick's (DKS) and other retailers reversed early losses and led the market higher. "That type of price action where stocks rally despite 'bad news' suggested that expectations, at least in the short-term, had been sufficiently reset," he says.

SEE MORE 15 Stocks Warren Buffett Is Buying (And 7 He's Selling) The retail industry then followed through on Thursday with some straight-up good news.

Discount retailers Dollar Tree (DLTR, 21.9%) and Dollar General (DG, 13.7%) both enjoyed double-digit pops on Street-beating earnings. The former, which also has Family Dollar under its corporate umbrella, earned an adjusted $2.37 per share last quarter to skate past calls for $2.00 per share, and raised its 2022 sales outlook to $27.8 billion-$28.1 billion from $27.2 billion-$27.9 billion previously. The latter topped earnings estimates by earning $2.41 per share (vs. $2.32 est.) and raised both its revenue and same-store sales guidance.

Upscale home-goods retailer Williams-Sonoma (

Kiplinger
May 26, 2022

Short-Term Insurance Plans' Good, Bad and Ugly
Americans would like nothing more than to live in their own homes in their old age. Can short-term care insurance help them do it? The plans have a good, bad and ugly side worthy of a Clint Eastwood movie and require a squinty-eyed analysis to gauge their value.

On the plus side, "short-term care plans fill the need for those who want some protection, but are too old, too unhealthy or cannot afford long-term care insurance," says Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. The downside is short-term policies only cover care for one year or less, limiting how much they pay out per day or week.

SEE MORE Insurance for Long-Term Care at Home Although the policies are more affordable than long-term care insurance, you also get less for your money. For example, a short-term care policy in Illinois covering $1,050 of home care a week for up to 52 weeks would cost a 65-year-old woman $63 a month, according to AALTCI. If that same policy also covers nursing homes, the cost is $125 per month, but that care is considered a separate benefit that pays only up to $200 per day for 365 days after a 100-day waiting period. By comparison, a long-term care policy would cost that same applicant $175 a month if she is in good health or $258 a month if she has some health conditions and pay for roughly three years of care at home or 18 months in a facility, after a similar waiting period.

The Good Short-term care plans do have one

Kiplinger
May 26, 2022

What You Need to Know About Mutual Fund Returns
Past performance may be little guarantee of future results, but when we assess investments, especially mutual funds, past performance is an informative measure. But it's not the only one. The trick is to understand what you're looking at when you scrutinize performance, and it's come to our attention that some investors are misreading key facets of mutual fund returns. 

SEE MORE 2022's Best Mutual Funds in 401(k) Retirement Plans To set the record straight, we've put together a primer based on questions we've received from readers about fund returns. Knowledge is power, after all, and a better understanding will help you make smarter investment decisions. All returns and data are through May 6.

What's a Total Return? A fund's total return, as it appears in our magazine's fund tables, on the fund's website or in its prospectus, is the rate of return over a specified period. According to rules set by the Securities & Exchange Commission, the return is adjusted for any fees or expenses charged to investors, including annual fees and sales charges (loads) on shares purchased. So no matter how high the fees, they've already been accounted for in the returns.

That's why it's important to make sure you're eyeing the right share class of any given fund before you start digging into its returns. Some fund companies have multiple classes, say Class A or C or I. Each one may charge a different expense ratio and sales load, and that impacts returns.

"A lot of people don't understand that different share classes of the same fund will have different returns because the fees can vary widely," says Lauren Gadkowski Lindsay, a certified financial planner in Hyannis, Massachusetts.

SEE MORE

Kiplinger
May 26, 2022

HSAs Make Health Care More Affordable
A health savings account is a tax-advantaged account designed to help cover out-of-pocket health care expenses. If you're the account holder, your spouse and dependents may also use the HSA, even if they're not covered by your medical plan. In 2022, you can contribute up to $3,650 if you have individual health insurance or up to $7,300 for family coverage. If you'll be 55 or older at the end of the year, you can put in an extra $1,000 in "catch up" contributions. 

More than 80% of large employers currently offer an HSA to their employees, according to a recent survey by benefits consultant Willis Towers Watson, but not everyone is eligible to contribute to an HSA. In order to participate, your health insurance plan must offer a high-deductible plan. Typically, the monthly premiums for a high-deductible plan are lower, but you'll pay more out of pocket before insurance coverage kicks in. For 2022, the health plan must have a deductible of at least $1,400 for self-only coverage or $2,800 for family coverage. 

The health plan must also have a limit on out-of-pocket medical expenses that you are required to pay. Out-of-pocket expenses include deductibles, co-payments and other amounts, but they do not include premiums. For 2022, the out-of-pocket limit for self-only coverage is $7,050; it's $14,100 for family coverage. According to the IRS, only deductibles and expenses for services within the health plan's network should be used to determine whether the limit applies.

SEE MORE 5 HSA Benefits You Might Not Know About The Benefits The tax advantages of HSAs are threefold: You can contribute to them on

Kiplinger
May 26, 2022

In Search of Relief at the Pump
Matthew Lewis is a professor in the John E. Walker Department of Economics at Clemson University and a gas price expert. 

What factors have contributed to the sharp rise in gas prices? An increase in crude oil prices is the main reason. To a secondary extent, disruptions to the refinery market and pipeline distribution system can affect prices, but the most recent increase is primarily driven by fluctuation in oil prices. Much of the initial shock this spring had to do with all the reshuffling that had to happen as refiners looked to get oil from different places after economic sanctions triggered by the war in Ukraine led to a disruption of oil from Russia. 

When crude oil prices rise, gas prices tend to increase quickly, but they fall much more slowly when oil prices decline. Why is that? The most common reason is consumer behavior. When consumers see a price for gas that's higher than what they're used to paying, they search around more carefully for a gas station with a lower price. But when oil prices start to fall, gas station owners know that if they lower prices just a little bit, consumers will think that they've found a good deal and won't continue to search around. That softens competition between gas stations and reduces the pressure for them to continue to lower the price of gas. 

Do gas station owners earn more profits when prices are rising? When you get an oil price shock or refinery disruption, the price increase will be passed on to consumers quickly, but stations earn very low profit margins because the market for gas is so competitive. They're barely

Kiplinger
May 26, 2022

Should I Use Credit Card Portals to Book Travel?
Earning points and miles using a travel rewards card is as simple as a swipe. But your credit card company wants to play travel agent, too. American Express, Bank of America, Capital One and Chase, for example, all have travel portals where cardholders can book fights, hotels, rental cars and more using either their credit card or the points and miles they have earned. And the issuers are providing incentives for cardmembers to do so. 

Holders of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, for instance, can earn up to five points on travel purchases made using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, but if you booked directly with the airline or hotel, you'd earn only two points on travel. But there are some caveats to consider. 

SEE MORE Credit Cards Offer Travel Insurance Using these travel portals is similar to booking hotel rooms and flights on Expedia, Kayak or any other third-party booking site. If anything goes wrong during your trip—let's say your airline cancels your flight or the hotel loses your confirmation—you would have to call your credit card company for help instead of dealing directly with the airline, hotel or rental car company. 

If you need to change your flight plans and you redeemed points or miles for a flight, there's no guarantee you'll have those points or miles reissued; you'll more than likely receive a voucher for future travel. However, if the airline cancels on you, you're entitled to a refund to whatever account you used for payment, whether you booked with a credit card or with rewards. 

And booki

Kiplinger
May 26, 2022

Using a Credit Card Travel Portal
Earning points and miles using a travel rewards card is as simple as a swipe. But your credit card company wants to play travel agent, too. American Express, Bank of America, Capital One and Chase, for example, all have travel portals where cardholders can book fights, hotels, rental cars and more using either their credit card or the points and miles they have earned. And the issuers are providing incentives for cardmembers to do so. 

Holders of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, for instance, can earn up to five points on travel purchases made using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, but if you booked directly with the airline or hotel, you'd earn only two points on travel. But there are some caveats to consider. 

Using these travel portals is similar to booking hotel rooms and flights on Ex-pedia, Kayak or any other third-party booking site. If anything goes wrong during your trip—let's say your airline cancels your flight or the hotel loses your confirmation—you would have to call your credit card company for help instead of dealing directly with the airline, hotel or rental car company. 

SEE MORE Best Rewards Credit Cards If you need to change your flight plans and you redeemed points or miles for a flight, there's no guarantee you'll have those points or miles reissued; you'll more than likely receive a voucher for future travel. However, if the airline cancels on you, you're entitled to a refund to whatever account you used for payment, whether you booked with a credit card or with rewards. 

And booking via the card portal means you may lose some privileges associated with your hotel or rental car loyalty programs. Y

Kiplinger
May 26, 2022

9 Great Alternative-Strategy Funds for Volatility
There have been few places to hide for investors this year. Both stocks and bonds have tumbled - since the start of 2022, the Vanguard Balanced fund, a portfolio of 60% stocks and 40% bonds, has lost 13%. Moreover, interest rates are still rising, inflation is on the march, and the stock market continues to gyrate. 

Investors have no control over rising rates or slumping markets, but they can even out the movements in their portfolios and potentially boost returns by investing some of their portfolio in alternative strategies that move out of sync with both stocks and bonds.

SEE MORE 2022's Best Mutual Funds in 401(k) Retirement Plans We'll introduce three alternative strategies here: long-short funds, market-neutral funds and managed-futures funds. All are capable of generating positive returns during bleak periods for stocks and bonds; so far this year, many have.

Alternative strategies were previously available only to high-net-worth individuals, institutions or financial advisers. Today, a growing number of alternative strategies are available via mutual funds for mom-and-pop investors. Some money managers are making the case for putting 20% or more of your investments in alternative-strategy funds, depending on your age, circumstances and risk tolerance, given today's volatile markets.

All nine of the funds we profile here are run by managers who have solid records and - critically for these types of strategies - strong histories of risk management. The funds are all widely available at most brokerage firms, though some may require a transaction fee. Fund expenses tend to be high due to some unusual operating expenses for the strategies and the high skill level of the managers, many of whom come out of the rarefied hedge fund world. Returns are through May 6.

1. Long-Sho

Kiplinger
May 26, 2022

Don't Want to Leave Money to Your Kids? You'll Probably Change Your Mind.
Some parents fear leaving their children too much money. They talk about their friend's child, who ended up doing little with their lives and abusing drugs and alcohol. Or they have an image of "trust fund babies" who sleep all day and party all night.

The good news is that the vast majority of children with inherited wealth do lead productive lives and would not fall into any of the above descriptions. Their parents set expectations, provided guidance and encouragement, and set limits when the children were growing up. No surprise their children turned out just fine.

SEE MORE Time to Face Reality: Your Kids Don't Want Your Stuff! Parents also fear leaving their children a significant part of their wealth because it could ruin their drive to live a productive life, fearing they simply might not feel the need to work. Or that the children will feel that any financial success they achieve will not be meaningful compared to their inheritance. So, they choose to leave a relatively small inheritance, enough to help but not eliminate the need to work. But parents often greatly underestimate the amount their children may need simply as a safety net, let alone to enhance their lives. Further, parents may not be aware there are certain controls they can put on the money they leave to their children that can assuage fears about misuse.

As parents grow older, learn about these controls, and start to realize economic conditions are different, many end up changing their minds about how much money they want to leave their grown children. Coming to this conclusion earlier rather than later can have its benefits.

Here's how to re-think leaving money to your children.

Determine your

Kiplinger
May 25, 2022

Legg Mason Low Volatility High Dividend ETF (LVHD) Pays Off
Low-volatility funds, which aim to offer a smoother ride, are living up to their name.

Since the start of the year, U.S. stock funds with low-volatility strategies have dipped 7.7% on average, while the S&P 500 Index has lost 13.1%. The Legg Mason Low Volatility High Dividend ETF (LVHD) has held up better than both, with a 2.2% loss.

SEE MORE 11 Best Investments to Inflation-Proof Your Portfolio The fund is flourishing in an economic environment of higher inflation and rising interest rates. It tracks an index that favors high-quality firms with above-average dividend yields that have steady and ample profits to sustain payouts, as well as low share-price volatility.

"We want to be boring and find mature companies with predictable earnings," says Michael LaBella, a senior portfolio manager for fund sponsor Franklin Templeton Investment Solutions. 

The portfolio tilts toward utilities, consumer staples and real estate stocks. But no sector can make up more than 25% of assets. And the fund's sector preferences can shift. Lockheed Martin (LMT), Coca-Cola (KO) and Johnson & J

Kiplinger
May 25, 2022

Stock Market Today: Nasdaq Jumps as Fed Minutes Fail to Flame Fears
U.S. equities enjoyed a broad pop Wednesday following the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's most recent meeting, which showed that the central bank's decisionmakers were willing to be both aggressive but flexible in the face of both inflationary and recessionary pressures.

Much of what the Federal Open Market Committee said in the minutes was largely as expected: Members favor 50-basis-point increases to the Fed's benchmark interest rate in both its June and July meetings, then could pull back to quarter-point raises in subsequent meetings. 

SEE MORE The 10 Best Stocks for a Bear Market "It's very clear that bringing down inflation was (and is) the focus at the Fed's May meeting; Chair Powell has reinforced the need to expeditiously raise rates toward broad estimates of 'neutral,' as risks to inflation still tilt to the upside," says Bob Miller, BlackRock's head of Americas Fundamental Fixed Income. "We think that after the July meeting, the Fed is likely to become more data-dependent with regard to rate hikes, which essentially means that the policy path after July will depend upon (a) the trajectory of inflation and (b) progress toward correcting the supply/demand imbalances in the labor market."

While the minutes reinforce what has largely weighed on stocks in 2022 - that the central bank will continue to tighten policy - the Fed's seeming flexibility helps assuage another growing fear: that of an American recession.

"Elevated risk of a recession is another reason why the Fed could end their rate hike cycle earlier than expected," says Bill Adams, chief economist for Comerica Bank. "Financial conditions are much tighter than at the start of the year, the economy faces big shocks to disposable income and exports from the Russia-Ukraine war, and housing is starting to turn."



Kiplinger
May 25, 2022

FWRLX: Shopping the Telecommunications Bargain Bin
Just as fashions rotate in and out of style, so, too, do stock market favorites. Out of favor big-time these days are communications services stocks. The broad sector includes telecom companies (think AT&T), media and entertainment firms (Netflix), and inter-active media and services (Electronic Arts, Twitter). Rising interest rates and higher inflation have dampened the outlook for shares in growth-oriented companies, tripping up the sector (and others). Over the past 12 months, the S&P 500 Communications Services index has lost 22%. 

Fidelity Select Wireless (FWRLX) has done better than the sector index over the past year, albeit with a loss of 9.6%. Manager Matthew Drukker keeps a trim portfolio of 47 stocks, investing in U.S. and foreign stocks across what he calls the "telecommunication ecosystem," which includes smartphone chip makers, mobile service providers and firms behind popular apps. 

A handful of Drukker's top holdings have posted good gains over the past 12 months, including Apple (up 22%) and chipmaker Marvell Technology (up 27%). But stocks such as social media firm Snap (down 53%) and Swedish telecom company Ericsson (down 42%) have been a drag. 



Kiplinger
May 25, 2022

Sometimes Renting Is Better Than Buying
My life as a renter is well known to my colleagues and friends, and even to Kiplinger readers (see "How to Negotiate a Break on Rent"). And while my previous attempts at rent negotiations didn't succeed, I eventually ended up moving into a different (and bigger) unit in the same complex at a cheaper rate. However, as I watch my friends go through the home-buying process, it makes me question whether I'm throwing away my money and the wealth-building potential of owning a home. 

Personal finance experts have long held that homeownership is a key step to building lasting wealth. A home is an asset that generally appreciates in value over time, and buyers also benefit from leverage: You can borrow up to 80% of the value of a home, or even more with a low down payment loan.

SEE MORE How to Give a First-Time Home Buyer a Hand Before individuals had access to low-cost mutual funds and brokerage accounts, the stock and bond markets were limited to institutional and deep-pocketed investors. For everyone else, buying a home was the primary way to invest, says professor Ken Johnson, of Florida Atlantic University, who specializes in rental housing and real estate market research. Johnson is also the co-creator of the Beracha, Hardin and Johnson Buy vs. Rent Index. The index analyses 23 U.S. metropolitan areas to determine whether market conditions favor renting or buying in terms of wealth accumulation. 

In a recent update, the index concludes that in 17 of the 23 metropolitan areas, including Atlanta, Los Angeles and, surprisingly, Detroit, consumers would be be

Kiplinger
May 25, 2022

Cash Home Buyers: New Services Offer Help Making All-Cash Offer
If you're buying a home in a competitive market—like this one—making a cash offer gives you a major advantage. Home buyers who made an all-cash offer in 2021 were four times more likely to win a bidding war, according to a recent report by Redfin, the real estate brokerage.  

Buyers have gotten the message. Amid intense competition due to super-low inventories of homes for sale, the number of all-cash offers has grown. In December 2021, nearly one-fourth of existing home sales involved an all-cash offer, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. In some states, including Florida, cash offers account for about half of the homes sold. All-cash sales have also become common in Arizona, Nevada and West Virginia, according to Realtor.com. 

SEE MORE Why Now Might Be a Good Time to Sell Your Investment Real Estate Real estate investors and high-net-worth individuals make up a large percentage of cash buyers. But first-time buyers, or

Kiplinger
May 25, 2022

Bond Values in a Volatile Market
Steel yourself for six more months of instability.

The model: In May, the Federal Reserve hiked short-term interest rates by half a percentage point, the most in a single adjustment since 2000, and promised to do it again and again until inflation slows.

Stock prices curiously rallied as long-term interest rates fell back, also generating gains for bonds and bond funds. But after a night to contemplate, the rabble of day traders, debt-and-inflation scolds and Fed cynics undid the gains and then some, in both bonds and stocks. This turbocharged the fears of an extended and all-encompassing decline as oil prices re-escalate, high mortgage rates strangle the housing boom, and jobs, business profits and consumer spending gradually weaken. 

SEE MORE The 12 Best Healthcare Stocks to Buy for the Rest of 2022 In such a world, everyone with diversified savings and investments is in zugzwang, the chess player's trap where every possible move makes you worse off. The preventative to that is to find risk-free refuge. I'm seeing one-year certificates of deposit paying 2%. It has been a while since that was on offer. Grab it if you have had your fill of turbulence.

But I am not equating volatility with hopelessness. Plenty of higher-income-paying stuff, despite being in the red so far in 2022, looks oversold. Hence, I forecast better results in the second half among key yield-oriented sectors: taxable and tax-exempt municipals, preferred stocks, utilities, real estate investment trusts (REITs), and corporate bonds rated A and BBB.

Kiplinger
May 25, 2022

How Many Stocks Should You Have in Your Portfolio?
With this year's rough ride, you don't need reminding that stocks are volatile. Their prices bounce up and down, sometimes in extreme ways. The U.S. market as a whole has produced average annual returns of about 10% over the past century, but it doesn't go up 10% every year. In roughly one out of four years, it declines - sometimes a lot. 

SEE MORE The 22 Best Stocks to Buy for 2022 If stocks returned the same amount every year, then, like bonds, they would yield gains of only a few percentage points. High returns are the reward you get for enduring the fear (often the sheer terror) of watching pieces of your nest egg disappear into thin air.

People like me tell you to hold on. History shows that markets bounce back. But enduring sickening declines isn't easy. 

The best way to smooth the ride is through diversification. I'm not talking here about portfolio diversification - the allocation of your assets to stocks, bonds, cash and maybe more. Portfolio diversification is a necessity but a subject for another day. The topic today is diversification in the part of your portfolio that consists of stocks and stock funds. 

The value of diversification seems awfully obvious. Morningstar data in June 2021 showed that about 39% of all U.S. stocks had ever suffered three-month losses of 50% or more, but fewer than 1% of diversified stock funds had incurred losses that severe. 

SEE MORE The 10 Best Stocks for a Bear Market Consider the sad tale of Enron, once a high-flying Houston energy company. When it collapsed in 2001, thousands of investors, including Enron employees whose retirement plans were heavily invested in the stock, suffered huge losses. Enron was the seventh-largest company

Kiplinger
May 25, 2022

McDonald's (MCD) Stock: Tasty, Empty Calories
Investors very well might find riches at the end of the Golden Arches. Indeed, McDonald's (MCD, $244.52) stock is a popular Buy call on Wall Street, and it features prominently in our own Kiplinger Dividend 15 as a stalwart payer.

But from an ESG perspective, McDonald's isn't nearly as clear-cut a winner. While it has made some strides in becoming a more environmentally conscious company, its business model - built on selling more beef burgers than any other restaurant in the world - is locked into an unsustainable product.

SEE MORE Kiplinger ESG 20: Our Favorite Picks for ESG Investors Here, we'll explore how MCD stock falls short, and what the blue chip has going for it.

Cattle, Carbon and Climate Enormous, public-facing companies such as McDonald's are attractive targets for environmental activists. And indeed, MCD stock is facing its share of controversies and challenges on the environmental, social and governance (ESG) front.

The company has shown leadership in areas such as sustainable packaging, partnering with the Environmental Defense Fund for over three decades. By 2020, almost 100% of its customer packaging was from deforestation-free sources, and by 2025, all customer packaging will come from recycled, renewable, or certified sources. 

However, its reliance on beef puts it on a collision course with the need to reduce its climate-warming emissions. 

Cattle in the company's supply chain serve up a double portion of climate impact:

As cows digest, they emit methane gas, which is 25 times more powerful

Kiplinger
May 25, 2022

Which States' Taxes Are Going Down
At a time when the cost of everything from gas to Netflix is rising, there's a good chance that one of your expenses will decline: your state tax bill.

SEE MORE 10 States With the Highest Sales Taxes Awash in budget surpluses, lawmakers are cutting taxes on everything from income to groceries, and the trend isn't limited to red states. Several Democratic governors, including New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, have supported broad tax cuts for state residents. "If your state isn't cutting taxes this year, it's in the minority," says Katherine Loughead, senior policy analyst for the Tax Foundation, a tax research organization. 

Some of the tax cuts are temporary, while others could permanently lower residents' tax bills. For example, Mississippi enacted legislation that will lower the state's top income tax rate from 5% to 4% by 2026, and Gov. Tate Reeves has indicated he'd like to eventually phase out the tax altogether. In April, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation that will consolidate the state's six income tax brackets into a flat rate of 4.99% as soon as 2029. Th

Kiplinger
May 25, 2022

You May Be Worrying about the Economy Too Much
War in Ukraine. Outsized inflation. Supply chain disruptions. A lingering pandemic.

Today's global upheavals all contribute to a sense of general economic anxiety among investors and, more broadly, the American public. The University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment Index — a metric that gauges how consumers view the economy and their own financial prospects — is at its lowest point since 2011.

But is the worry misplaced?

SEE MORE PODCAST: High Gas Prices with The Kiplinger Letter's Jim Patterson A quick drive past a gas station might suggest it isn't, but it also wouldn't describe the full picture. The overall, sustained health of the economy is a reminder that we must view events with proper perspective.

Consumer sentiment currently appears to be running counter to other prominent indicators. For example:

More people are employed as the unemployment rate ticked down to 3.6% in March.Wage growth is at its best rate in years. The stock market's returns continue to grow at the same healthy rate they have since the middle of the last century. These factors should not blind us to what is going on in the world. Unquestionably, the war in Ukraine is a tragedy and creating global waves, from humanitarian crises to gas pump pains. Certainly, too, inflation and the supply chain are factors that lead to volatility in the markets.

But again, we come to perspective. In the past 20 years that I've been a wealth adviser,

Kiplinger
May 25, 2022

Is Securities-Based Lending a Good Idea?
Once reserved for the ultra-wealthy, securities-based lending found a following in recent years as a popular source for funding luxury items, real estate and small businesses, among other things. While promoted as a great way to put your unrealized gains to work for you, investors should consider treading carefully.

What Is Securities-Based Lending? Securities-based lending is the practice of borrowing money while using securities held in your after-tax investment accounts as collateral. Generally, these types of loans are made available by the larger banks and financial institutions, brokerages or advisory firms. The interest rate is typically lower than other forms of credit and is based on the short-term index, such as London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) plus a spread determined by your loan amount.

SEE MORE 7 Money Lies We Tell Ourselves The instrument through which you tap the value of your securities is called a securities-based line of credit (SBLOC), which allows you to borrow money and make interest-only payments while the loan remains outstanding. Usually, you can receive funds within a matter of days.

With an SBLOC, the lender becomes the lienholder. Often, you can borrow 50%-95% of your eligible assets, depending on the value of your holdings, types of collateral and your credit score. You can also continue to buy, sell and trade securities in your pledged accounts, but it is important to note that the loan funds cannot be used for other securities-based transactions, including purchasing and trading. Additionally, SBLOCs are fairly "sticky" in that it is difficult to move your pledged assets to a new firm once an account has been opened.

Uses for Funds Such loans provide e

Kiplinger
May 24, 2022

PODCAST: This Couple Tackles Love and Money as a Team
Subscribe FREE wherever you listen: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Overcast | RSS

Links mentioned in this episode: Sell in May and Go Away? Here We Go Again …Midyear Investing Outlook: Where to Invest Now 5 Stocks to Sell or Avoid Now Fyooz Financial Getting Married? Don't Forget to Talk Money First Transcript: David Muhlbaum: Whether couples choose to marry or not, they're going to face money questions. Do you combine accounts? Who pays for what? These can be the thorny bits on the bloom of love so maybe you should let a couple help guide you with these issues. We'll talk with a pair of financial advisors who have an interesting combination of qualifications and personal experience about love, money and business. Also, Mr. Market has been ke

Kiplinger
May 24, 2022

Stock Market Today: Oh, Snap! Social Swoon Keeps Market Guessing
The stock-market pendulum swung in the other direction again Tuesday, though how exactly it treated investors' individual portfolios was largely contingent on how much technology and tech-esque exposure they had.

The major catalyst today was last night's announcement by Snap (SNAP) CEO Evan Spiegel that the company would fall well short of its internal current-quarter revenue and earnings estimates. "The macro environment has deteriorated further and faster than we anticipated when we issued our quarterly guidance last month," he says.

SEE MORE The 15 Best Value Stocks to Buy Right Now Snap shares cratered 43.1% in response Tuesday and sent shockwaves throughout the rest of the digital advertising space. Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL, -5.0%), Facebook parent Meta Platforms (FB, -7.6%) and Amazon.com (AMZN, -3.2%) were all swept up in the selling pressure.

Not only did that spark a flurry of single-stock downgrades from the analyst community, but CFRA's Sam Stovall downgraded the entire communication services sector.

"A rapid recovery in any area driven by advertising and consumer spending is not expected in the near to intermediate term," he says. "What's more, increased regulatory risk directed toward t

Kiplinger
May 24, 2022

Buying Annuities in Your 401(k)
Despite the economic challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of workers continued to contribute to their retirement plans in 2021, according to the Investment Company Institute. All told, Americans have more than $11 trillion stashed in plans offered through their jobs.

But even though workers get a lot of advice and encouragement on their journey to retirement, they are often left on the tarmac when they reach their destination. Historically, employers have provided little guidance on what retirees should do with the big pile of money they've accumulated over the past 40 or 50 years. 

Now, a growing number of companies are providing workers with a way to turn a slice of their savings into a monthly paycheck in retirement. In addition to the usual choices of mutual funds and other investments, they're offering workers the option of investing in an annuity that can be converted into guaranteed income after they retire. 

Retirees can already purchase annuities from a variety of insurance companies, of course, but few do, even though many retirement experts believe that annuitizing a portion of your savings reduces the risk that you'll run out of money in retirement. In large part, that's because the security that annuities provide comes with some caveats: In exchange for guaranteed payments, you must hand over a large lump sum to an insurance company, and you usually can't get that money back. In addition, some types of annuities are loaded with fees and restrictions that are often hard to decipher without professional help.

In the past, companies resisted offering annuities in their retir

Kiplinger
May 24, 2022

Education is Key: 3 Financial Lessons for Retirees Nearing Retirement
Do you feel like you know enough about money to get by? A newly released survey by the TIAA Institute shows that people of all ages and experience levels could answer only 50% of financial literacy questions correctly! Your level of knowledge in the financial world can have big ripple effects, especially when preparing for retirement.

SEE MORE 2 Alternatives to Required Minimum Distributions As financial professionals, we advise clients from a wide range of financial levels. So, we're sharing our top retirement planning tips for retirees nearing their golden years.

‘Plan ahead to maintain your standard of living in retirement.' As you begin to consider retirement, take a thorough review of your monthly expense needs. When many people retire, they want to maintain the same standard of living or even increase it! Which is why retirees need a plan.

A retirement plan is a written income plan that includes income and tax planning, Social Security strategies and long-term care and estate plans. Start saving early to ensure you have enough money in your accounts to sustain your lifestyle in retirement. The U.S.

Kiplinger
May 23, 2022

Stock Market Today: Stocks Come Out Swinging to Start the Week
One trading session after the S&P 500 narrowly escaped bear-market territory, U.S. equity bulls went on the offensive in a day of robust and widespread gains.

A few single-stock headlines did some of the driving Monday. JPMorgan Chase (JPM, 6.2%), for instance, rocketed higher after CEO Jamie Dimon said "there's a very good chance" that his bank would hit a key performance target (17% return on tangible common equity) in 2022, and possibly exceed it in 2023. The announcement, a reversal of more dire guidance earlier this year, sent the sector, including Citigroup (C, 6.11%), Bank of America (BAC, 5.9%) and Wells Fargo (WFC, 5.2%), higher too.

SEE MORE The 10 Best Stocks for a Bear Market Also Monday, shares of VMware (VMW, 24.8%) popped amid a Bloomberg report that semiconductor firm Broadcom (AVGO, -3.1%) was in talks to acquire the $40 billion virtualization and cloud computing firm.

While little information about a potential deal was available, Stifel analyst Brad Reback

Kiplinger
May 23, 2022

7 Great GARP Stocks to Buy Now
There's no denying that 2022 has been a brutal year for the stock market. With inflation raging and the Federal Reserve taking a hawkish stance, it's not surprising that growth stocks have seen the brunt of the damage. 

However, investors know that challenging market environments create opportunities to buy fantastic companies that have been unfairly punished at bargain prices. And those who want to take advantage of this dislocation should consider growth at a reasonable price (GARP) stocks.

GARP stocks blend growth and value investing - combining the best of both worlds. 

The GARP approach can reduce the downside risks of growth investing by filtering out overvalued companies that are most vulnerable to steep losses when market conditions turn sour or the firm has a bad earnings report.

And it can also help investors avoid "value traps." In other words, value stocks that look deceivingly cheap because the underlying business or industry is in decline.  

In order to find the top GARP stocks to buy now, we used Fidelity's screener to identify names with below-market forward price-to-earnings ratios and earnings growth estimates of 10% or above for the full fiscal year. And then we compared this information against the Stock News POWR Ratings system, which utilizes 118 different factors to determine which stocks are most likely to outperform. 

With that in mind, here are seven great GARP stocks that are reasonably priced and expected to grow earnings by at least double digits over the next year. I

Kiplinger
May 23, 2022

Best Buy Kicks Off Heavy Week of Retail Earnings
The heaviest part of earnings season has passed, but there are still plenty of notable names left to report. Among the biggest companies on this week's earnings calendar are electronics retailer Best Buy (BBY, $70.65), chipmaker Nvidia (NVDA, $163.85) and discount goods chain Dollar General (DG, $189.63).

First-quarter earnings season so far has been solid by just about any measure, says Jeff Buchbinder, equity strategist at independent broker-dealer LPL Financial. 

An impressive 78% of S&P 500 companies have beat earnings estimates for the quarter, slightly outpacing the long-term average of 77%, Buchbinder says. And 74% of S&P 500 firms reported higher-than-expected revenue - beating the five-year average of 69%, he adds.

SEE MORE The 22 Best Stocks to Buy for 2022 "In this inflationary environment, the revenue is coming through," the strategist says. "But it is profit margins that were the biggest test for corporate America this quarter, and companies passed that test with flying colors. Not only did margins hold up well quarter-over-quarter - falling less than anticipated - but analysts' estimates for margins going forward still show margin expansion from current levels."

Best Buy Q1 Earnings to Reflect Macro Headwinds, Tough Comps It has been a heavy stretch for retail earnings, and based on

Kiplinger
May 23, 2022

Got Cryptocurrency or NFTs? They Need to Be in Your Estate Plan
Cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are becoming a bigger part of the investment world as more and more people buy these assets. It is important to take these digital assets into account in your estate plan so they will pass to your loved ones at death, just like more traditional assets.  Crypto and NFTs, however, can present challenges to securing, transferring, protecting and gifting family wealth.  New strategies are evolving to address this growing demand for family planning and tax planning with these types of assets.

SEE MORE Now You Can Own Bitcoin in 401(k)s. Should You? There are currently many different cryptocurrencies and NFTs.  Right now, the top cryptocurrencies are Bitcoin, Ethereum, Binance Coin, Tether and Solana, and they make up a large part of the trillion-dollar market value.  An NFT is a unique, collectible, tradable digital asset on the blockchain, sort of like digital art, a photo or a video game avatar, that can only be purchased on an NFT marketplace through a bidding process.  For example, you can purchase virtual land and real estate in the form of NFTs.  In November 2021, someone paid $450,000 to be Snoop Dogg's neighbor in the metaverse.  Sales of NFTs jumped to more than $17 billion in 2021, demonstrating a growing desire for these collectibles. 

Track Your Cryptocurrency and NFTs Cryptocurrency is accessed through a private key, which is a series of alphanumeric characters known only to the owner and

Kiplinger
May 23, 2022

Retirement Income Shouldn't Depend on the Market; It Should Depend on Math
Market ups and downs can keep retirees on edge, worried about potentially big losses from which they may never be able to recover.

And those worries aren't necessarily misguided. From 1928 through March 2022, there have been 26 "bear markets." A bear market is a market decline greater than 20% that lasts at least two months. The average bear market decline since 1928 has been 35.62%, so the potential for big losses is real.

SEE MORE The 10 Best Stocks for a Bear Market The good news, though, is that there are ways to protect yourself from these inevitable market downturns. After all, your retirement shouldn't be an endless series of sleepless nights. And, with careful income planning that covers your lifestyle needs, allows for emergencies and includes a suitable amount for investment and growth, it doesn't have to be.

For me, this approach to retirement can be summed up with this phrase: Your income shouldn't depend on the market. It should depend on math.

Just how might that math play out?

Let's say a couple are closing in on retirement, their savings plan went well and they have $1 million stashed away. That's a nice tidy sum, but at a time when retirement can last 20 years, 30 years or longer, it's still important to plan wisely so that the money stretches out the rest of their lives. And as you probably know, people are living longer these days, which means it's even more important to make the right financial decisions.

Here's where math gets involved - and we start dividing that money into buckets.

Safety bucket Unexpected emergencies arise in life - both in and out of retirement - so it's good to have money in reserve that's allocated just for that purpose, to help with

Kiplinger
May 22, 2022

Buy Value Stocks, Says J.P. Morgan's David Kelly
An interview with the chief global strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

What's your stock market outlook for the second half?  It's a particularly challenging year, but I'm reasonably optimistic. The major concerns this year have been about inflation, the Federal Reserve raising rates very rapidly and the possibility of recession. We don't know about geopolitical events, whether in Ukraine or other situations that will flare up. But I think economic growth can moderate without going into recession, I think inflation can moderate, and I think the Federal Reserve will cool its tone. That should make it a reasonably positive second half for U.S. stocks.

SEE MORE Midyear Investing Outlook: Where to Invest Now What's your forecast for the economy and inflation? By the fourth quarter, I expect economic growth, adjusted for inflation, of less than 2.5% year-over-year; by the fourth quarter of next year, less than 2.0%. So I think the economy will grow, but at a much slower pace. On inflation, we expect the consumer price index to be back to 4.3% by the end of this year, 3.5% by the end of next year. Why do I think inflation is going to come down? Because there really is such a thing as transitory inflation. It was caused by the pandemic and the policy response. The pandemic is fading, and supply chains will improve. A lot of the money poured into the economy in terms of fiscal stimulus over the past two years is drying up. That money pushed up demand for a lot of goods. With less demand, inflation will naturally fade. 

Why are you convinced we'll skirt a recession? Despite the two extraordinary recessions we've seen since the start of the century—the pandemic recession and the great financial crisis—I think the volatility of GDP has fallen. I

Kiplinger
May 22, 2022

What's a DST? The Lowdown for Real Estate Investors
DSTs are unique real estate investment vehicles that allow a group of individual investors to purchase fractional interests in large commercial real estate assets that typically would be well beyond their financial reach as solo investors. DST investors don't actually own physical real estate, however - they own shares of a trust that was formed specifically to be the legal owner of the underlying properties held within the trust. This distinction is important because of the legal separation it creates between the trust and the pool of DST investors.

SEE MORE Why Now Might Be a Good Time to Sell Your Investment Real Estate Below we'll take a closer look at how Delaware Statutory Trusts work and why they are investment options for 1031 exchange and other types of real estate investors. We'll also examine the importance of timing as it relates to DST investments, as well as how to conduct due diligence on prospective DST sponsors.

What Is a Delaware Statutory Trust? Delaware Statutory Trusts are legal entities created under the statutes of Delaware trust law. DST investors, also called beneficiaries, own fractional (beneficial) interests in the trust, which is the legal owner of the trust's underlying properties. However, since the Internal Revenue Service treats each investor's beneficial interests as direct property ownership, DSTs are eligible for 1031 exchanges both upfront and upon exit.

DSTs are typically formed by real estate companies called sponsors, who identify and acquire the assets that are placed under trust usi

Kiplinger
May 21, 2022

Don't Move to Another State Just to Reduce Your Taxes
We know lots of friends who are considering moving from a high-tax state, such as New York, to a state with low or no state income taxes. They think they will end up with more money, although they are torn because they may also be moving away from family and friends just to escape state taxes.

SEE MORE 5 Things to Do Before You Retire What I advise them to do is think about spendable income — the amount they'll have to spend after taxes — and not just low or zero tax rates. If you have more money to spend after paying the tax bill wherever you currently live, you might as well stay where you are, if it's closer to the grandkids. You may be able to pay for at least one warm-weather winter trip, too.

Design a Smarter Retirement Income Plan Before making life decisions about moving (or downsizing, purchasing insurance, etc.) retirees ought to know their number for their total starting income, and have a plan for retirement income that includes a projection of income and savings, and all planning assumptions.

The income plan ought to cover:

Starting incomeInflation protection Beneficiary income protection Spousal income (if applicable) Plan management (when plan assumptions are not realized) Market risk to plan (when markets fluctuate) Legacy passed on to beneficiaries or heirs All these subjects are covered in articles on Kiplinger.com. In one article,

Kiplinger
May 21, 2022

COVID's Financial Toll Isn't What You Think
Just a few years ago, Rose retired with a decent-sized 401(k). With some careful budgeting and a part-time job, her retirement finances were on track. Rose was looking forward to traveling, reigniting her passion for photography and spending time with her son and her grandkids.

The pandemic changed everything. Her son contracted COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic. His health deteriorated quickly and he died at only 35 years old. He didn't have life insurance. A gig worker without a 401(k), he had very minimal retirement savings.

SEE MORE Don't Throw Away a $12.06M Estate Tax Exemption by Accident Rose's grandchildren, ages 2 and 6, joined the more than 140,000 U.S. children under the age of 18 who lost their primary or secondary caregiver due to the pandemic from April 2020 through June 2021. That's approximately one out of every 450 children under age 18 in the United States.

Rose's ex-daughter-in-law battles drug addiction and had lost custody of the kids during the divorce, so Rose became the children's primary caregiver. She quickly discovered that caring for young children as an older adult is more physically challenging than when she raised her son, so she made the difficult decision to leave her part-time job to have the energy to care for her active grandchildren. She wants to do everything for these kids who have lost so much — but it puts her financial security at risk.

Sadly, she is far from alone.

The elderly continue to suffer the highest COVID death rates, but the death rate for younger people has disproportionally increased. The death rate for 74- to 84-year-olds increased 16% due to the pandemic. For 35- to 45-year-olds, it jumped 24.5%, according to

Kiplinger
May 20, 2022

Stock Market Today: S&P 500 Narrowly Escapes Bear Territory
The S&P 500 made its closest brush with a new bear market yet, falling more than 20% from its all-time highs during Friday's intraday action before reversing course and actually finishing with a marginal advance.

Specifically, the 500-company index dropped as low as 3,810 - well below the 3,837 level that would mark a 20% drawdown from its Monday, Jan. 3, record highs and put it in an official bear market - but rebounded late in the session to eke out a gain of less than a point, to 3,901.

SEE MORE The 10 Best Stocks for a Bear Market Among the stocks weighing on the market Friday was Tesla (TSLA, -6.4%), which sank to its lowest level since August 2021 following a Business Insider report claiming that CEO Elon Musk's privately held SpaceX "paid a flight attendant $250,000 to settle a sexual misconduct claim against Musk in 2018." Musk decried the article as "political," but it nonetheless acted as the cap on a difficult week for Tesla, which was just kicked out of the S&P 500's ESG index and is facing COVID lockdown headaches at its operations in China.

Meanwhile, Deere (DE, -14.1%) was clobbered despite topping both sales and earnings forecasts and raising its full-year profit outlook. The major criticism of its report? The farm-equipment manufacturer's sales

Kiplinger
May 20, 2022

Medical Professionals: It's Not Too Late to Save on Your Taxes
After experiencing financial hardships in 2020 caused by COVID-19, 2021 was a banner year for many medical professionals. I've spoken with several dentists who saw their income grow 20% or more last year, rebounding nicely after enduring temporary office closings and patients canceling or delaying their appointments due to the pandemic.

SEE MORE The Key to Employee Retention? Compassion! For these professionals, this situation presents a unique opportunity: how to best invest this windfall and still minimize their 2021 tax bill. And because doctors and dentists - as business owners - can wait until Sept. 15 if they extend their tax returns to file their 2021 business tax returns, there is plenty of time to make the best use of any extra income while still cutting taxes.

Here are four recommendations on steps to take now:

Establish a Cash Balance Pension Plan for 2021 Many medical professionals don't know they have until they file their business return, including extensions, to open and fund a cash balance plan for the 2021 tax year. For example, in 2022's first quarter, I opened a cash balance pension plan for a client who was able to save an additional $200,000. This decision will save them a substantial amount of money on their 2021 tax return.

Like a traditional pension, a cash balance plan provides business owners with the option of a lifetime annuity. However, unlike pensions, cash balance plans create an individual account for an owner. These plans are an attractive option, allowing medical professionals to potentially save a substantial amount for retirement annually in a tax-deferred retirement savings account.

Once the owner reaches retirement, they have the option of taking these savings in an annuity spread out over several years or as a lump sum. For those who saw business rebou

Kiplinger
May 20, 2022

Travel Warning: Inkeepers Laws Can Cost You - Just Ask This Marriott Guest
America is back on the road, and if you stay in a hotel, today's story may save you thousands of dollars as we look at something few travelers have heard of: Innkeepers Laws. Intended to protect hotels, they can cause guests more grief than one can imagine.

Let's take California's Innkeepers law — on the books since 1872 — which permitted Marriott, the world's largest hotel chain, to engage in conduct that I can only describe as morally reprehensible, in effect validating a shocking rip-off of one of their guests enabled by a hotel employee.

Marriott's mission statement is "to enhance the lives of our customers by creating and enabling unsurpassed vacation and leisure experiences."

SEE MORE Will Travel Insurance Pay for a Trip Cancelled Because of COVID-19? "And they sure did last year for Bob Sabouni, who checked into the San Francisco Marriott Marquis. His brief stay became an egregious example of a hotel using a grossly outdated statute to pour salt onto a wound of a guest - that they caused, " observes Santa Monica, Calif.-based attorney and public relations consultant Nicole Wool, who has been closely following this case.

"What happened to Bob was so unfair, so unconscionable and shocking. Judging by comments posted online following television network news stories that went viral, this incident is not currying much favor with the public, and understandably so," she notes.

Checked In But Room Not Ready Based on court records and police reports, the facts of this case are not in dispute. In June of 2021 Sabouni and his friends chose the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco to attend a Giants game. Checking in, they were told their room wasn't ready, so, the hotel valet held their

Kiplinger
May 19, 2022

Stock Market Today: S&P Creeps Closer to Bear Market
If there was any good news Thursday, it was that the market's downward momentum from yesterday largely fizzled out. But the S&P 500 still edged ever nearer to bear-market territory in a mixed day for U.S. equities.

The Department of Labor reported that initial unemployment claims for the week ending May 14 rose to 218,000 - their highest level since January, well more than expectations for 200,000 filings, and up from last week's revised 197,000.

SEE MORE The 22 Best Stocks to Buy for 2022 Bill Adams, chief economist for Comerica Bank, said later Thursday that he believes job growth looks ready to slow across 2022. "Major retailers are reporting margin pressure and softer consumer demand … This will lead to slower job growth in the retail and e-commerce industries in the rest of 2022," he says. Adams adds that companies in other sectors could become more cautious about hiring if the stock market selloff further dampens business sentiment.

Also Thursday, the National Association of Realtors reported that April existing-home sales fell 2.4% month-over-month (and 5.9% year-over-year) to an annualized rate of 5.61 million.

The earnings calendar once again featured a blue-chip bust. This time it was Dow component Cisco Systems (CSCO, -13.7%), which edged out quarterly profit estimates (87 cents per share vs. 86 est.) but reported disappointing revenues ($12.8 billion vs. $13.3 billion est.) and forecast an unexpected drop in sales for the current three-month period.

Kohl's (

Kiplinger
May 19, 2022

No Tax for Donating Leave to Ukraine Victims
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has triggered a worldwide outpouring of support for victims of the war. And aide to those suffering is not just coming from other nations. Ordinary citizens from around the world are helping, too. They're showing up in neighboring countries to help refugees, sending care packages, donating to relief organizations, giving blood, and more.

SEE MORE 140 Companies That Have Pulled Out of Russia In the U.S., some companies are facilitating this effort by setting up leave-based donation programs. Under these programs, workers can give up their vacation, sick, or personal leave in exchange for having their employer make a cash donation to a charitable organization tied to Ukrainian relief efforts. However, one of the questions workers may have about participating a leave-based donation program is whether their donation will be treated as taxable income on their W-2 form.

Fortunately, the IRS has cleared up this concern for leave-based programs set up to help victims of the war in Ukraine. According to the tax agency, payments made by an employer under such a leave-based donation program before January 1, 2023, won't be treated as gross income, wages, or compensation of their workers. As a result, employees who elect to forgo leave under a leave-based donation program to help Ukrainian war victims won't be treated as having constructively received gross income, wages, or compensation. That also means an employer shouldn't include the payments it makes to a charity under the program in Box 1, 3, or 5 of its electing employees' W-2 forms.

However, to prevent "double dipping," workers who participate in a leave-based donation program can't claim a

Kiplinger
May 19, 2022

What Older Adults Should Know about Getting Divorced and (Maybe) Remarried
My Great Aunt Gert was widowed after being happily married to the same husband - my Great Uncle Bob - for more than 50 years. She remarried at age 83 to a man, my Great Uncle John, who was 85. They had 10 good years together before he died at the ripe old age of 95. Their "gray marriage" was a rarity 30 years ago.

So was gray divorce - but it's on the rise today. Not everyone has the happy ending Gert had. She had one long, happy marriage followed by another.

SEE MORE Emerging Financially Healthy After a Gray Divorce In the last five years, I have seen more long-term marriages end than ever before. It's actually a global phenomenon. Most divorces still happen to couples in their 30s and 40s, but more couples in their 50s and 60s - who have been married for 25 years and up - are deciding to split these days.

Their concerns are different than younger couples who divorce. In a more typical divorce, the partners are concerned with the young kids - assuming there are any - being OK. In gray divorce, partners have often accumulated more substantial assets, so there's more to be divided. There are older kids, possibly grandchildren. There are more stakeholders.

Sometimes, it's becoming an empty nester that's the impetus for the split. The kids are 18 or over and gone. And the couple find they've grown apart. Sometimes it's the children who - maybe even unwittingly - have kept their parents together.

No matter what age the kids are, they still need to be taken into consideration. If they're in college, the soon-to-be-exes must figure out if college tuition and expenses will be split and if so, how. When the grown children get married, will Mom and Dad still fund the wedding or a portion

Kiplinger
May 19, 2022

An Impact Investing Guide for Private Foundations
Imagine that your foundation is dedicated to eradicating childhood asthma in your home state. One day, you are listening to the local news during your morning commute and you hear a report about an aging coal-fired power plant where the sulfur dioxide emissions are so bad as to be implicated in the high incidence of childhood asthma in the neighboring towns.

A week later you are reviewing your foundation's investment portfolio and realize that you own a good chunk of shares in an energy company — the very same energy company that owns the power plant. In fact, the dollar amount of the company's stock in your investment portfolio is almost equal to the dollar amount you are putting into your childhood asthma eradication efforts.

Moral Dilemma: What to Do? It's a common conundrum for private foundations:  Many foundations that are established to solve society's most pernicious problems have investments as their lifeblood. Their assets need to be invested in profitable businesses in order to sustain operations and grow. So what happens when a foundation's mission is directly contradicted by its own investments? What if the very ills a foundation fights are exacerbated or even caused by the behavior of business entities found in its own portfolio?

SEE MORE 5 ESG Stocks to Buy for Earth Day 2022 It can sometimes seem as though the foundation's assets and its grantmaking programs are in direct opposition to each other, or at the very least, failing to work together to accomplish a charitable mission. And since many foundations invest 95% of their assets while distributing about 5% for charitable purposes, it's even conceivable that the damage done by the investments exceeds the good accomplished by the distributions!

Over the last decade, more foundations have been attempting to address this issue and get all of their hor

Kiplinger
May 18, 2022

Stock Market Today: Dow Sinks 1,164 Points in Worst Day Since June 2020
Retail earnings week took a big turn for the worse Wednesday.

A day after Walmart (WMT, -6.8%) sounded the alarm with a mixed quarterly report that suggested inflation was taking a toll on American consumers, Target (TGT, -24.9%) confirmed those concerns with an equally problematic set of results. That in turn sparked a deep blood-letting across most consumer stocks and sent the Dow to its worst single-day decline since June 2020.

SEE MORE The 20 Best Canadian Dividend Stocks for U.S. Investors As we detailed in today's free A Step Ahead newsletter, Target topped Wall Street's expectations for quarterly revenues, but it missed profit estimates by a country mile and issued a disappointing full-year operating profit. While consumer spending remained strong, it shifted from more discretionary purchases to staples such as groceries, plus spending on items such as luggage hinted that consumers are preparing to shift their dollars toward experiences rather than goods. Meanwhile, TGT projected it could need to absorb roughly $1 billion in other inflation-related costs, such as higher fuel and diesel prices.

"The Charlie Brown shirt market continues, with big moves up and down seemingly every day," sa

Kiplinger
May 18, 2022

The 10 Best Stocks for a Bear Market
Bear markets are an inevitable if particularly unpleasant part of the market cycle. But investors who hold the best stocks to buy for bear markets can mitigate at least some of the damage.

No, the S&P 500 isn't in a bear market - a 20% decline from its peak - just yet. It has, however, been flirting with one for some time. The Nasdaq Composite, for its part, fell into a bear market a while ago. 

Either way, 2022 has been a dismal year for equities with no clear end in sight. Bottoms are hard to call in real time anyway, and, besides, stocks can trade sideways for as long as they feel like it. 

SEE MORE The 22 Best Stocks to Buy for 2022 And so if this is how things are going to continue, investors might want to arm themselves with the best stocks they can find. And right now, those stock picks should focus on resiliency during deep downturns.

The best bear market stocks tend to be found in defensive sectors, such as consumer staples, utilities, healthcare and even some real estate equities. Furthermore, companies with long histories of dividend growth can offer ballast when seemingly everything is selling off. And, of course, low-volatility stocks with relatively low correlations to the broader market often hold up better in down markets.

To find the best stocks to buy for bear markets, we screened the S&P 500 for stocks with the highest conviction consensus Buy recommendations from Wall Street industry analysts. We further limited ourselves to low-volatility stock

Kiplinger
May 18, 2022

Hockey Star's Viral Twitter Rant Targets Wealth Management
Chris Pronger spent 20 years in the NHL and became a measuring stick for other defensemen. He won the Hart Trophy as league MVP in 2000, the first defenseman to since Bobby Orr almost three decades earlier. He was big, skilled, and also not a pushover, collecting over 1,600 penalty minutes.

SEE MORE The "Real" Cost of Buying a Car After some years in front office work, the Hall of Famer took to Twitter in April and decided to throw his weight around. However, this time he went after bad financial habits of athletes and those who prey on their newfound wealth and naiveté.

Pronger unloaded a lot of knowledge and advice in the 18-tweet thread. Here are some of key takeaways:

‘The Income Doesn't Last as Long as One Might Think' Pronger was drafted second overall in the 1993 NHL Draft by the Hartford Whalers. In the thread, he mentioned his rookie deal was worth $300,000, with a $1 million signing bonus. For any 18-year-old, that's a lot of money.

He mentioned the impulse to make life-changing purchases when that first contract gets signed. There's the big house for the parents, tricked-out ride, maybe a fancy watch. While NBA players usually get more attention for these big buys - many of whom see this as a way out of poverty for their families - it can happen to athletes in all leagues from all wealth levels.

SEE MORE The

Kiplinger
May 17, 2022

Stock Market Today: Wall Street Rallies Around Reassuring Retail Data
The stock market enjoyed a broad rebound Tuesday as fresh economic data suggested the U.S. consumer is still shopping strong.

The U.S. Census Bureau said today that April retail sales improved by 0.9% over March. Though that was slightly less than the 1.0% expected, there was a show of strength in the significant upward revision to March's numbers, to 1.4% growth from 0.5% originally.

SEE MORE The 22 Best Stocks to Buy for 2022 "To the extent that markets are worried about a growth slowdown, this is good news, but it is also a further catalyst for the Fed to raise rates even higher to get inflation under control," says Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for registered investment advisor Independent Advisor Alliance.

While Zaccarelli joins other names in believing a recession is unlikely in 2022, "the Fed is going to need to raise interest rates to a point where they are likely to cause a recession in 2023 or 2024, and that gives us cause for concern," he says.

Despite the promising retail data, success in retail stocks wasn't a gimme.

Walmart (WMT, -11.4%) plunged after delivering a mixed quarterly report. Revenues improved 2.4% year-over-year to $141.6 billion to easily top expectations, and Walmart lifted its full-year sales outlook. However, that windfall is coming from cost-conscious consumers flocking to its grocery aisle, which has lower margins than its other offerings. Thi

Kiplinger
May 17, 2022

How Gas Prices Are Determined
As gasoline prices keep climbing, many frustrated drivers might be asking "Who controls gas prices?" The short answer is: No one person, company or government can really be said to set gas prices.

But it is possible to break down some of the major factors that go into determining what a gallon of gas sells for.

Let's take a look.

Crude Oil The Department of Energy has a handy chart that breaks down the major expenses involved in turning crude oil in the ground into the refined gas you can put in your car.

SEE MORE The 25 Cheapest U.S. Cities to Live In The biggest, accounting for a bit more than half the price you pay, is the price of crude oil - the raw material from which gas is refined.

Unfortunately, the price of that raw material has been on a tear for over a year now, bringing gas prices higher with it. West Texas Intermediate crude now trades for about $110 per barrel. A year ago, it was only $65 per barrel. In 2020, during the depths of the recession caused by COVID-19, WTI prices briefly turned negative because global oil demand fell so fast that oil storage facilities filled up with unwanted oil. Since then, global oil demand has come roaring back, but global oil output has been slower to recover from the cuts that OPEC and many energy companies implemented.

Unfortunately, there's little sign of oil prices dropping much for now, which makes it hard to say when gas prices will go down, either.

Taxes The next biggest factor determining gas prices, according to the Departmen

Kiplinger
May 17, 2022

Are You Maximizing Your Tax-Exempt Bucket?
Paying state and federal taxes is part of life. Yet, of course, we all want to keep hold of as much of our income as possible too. That's where what I like to call the grown-up version of hide-and-seek comes in. The more legal "hiding places" we can find for our money, the more we can stop the government from taking too large a cut.

SEE MORE How Your Retirement Savings and Income Are Taxed However, rather than asking tax officials to close their eyes and count to 10, winning this particular game relies on having a tax-efficient financial plan. And that first means separating your finances into these three buckets:

Taxable: Income like a salary or dividends on which we immediately pay tax and that's designed to cover our short-term liquidity needs.Tax-deferred: Money in, say, a retirement plan or 401(k) that's taxed when we use it and will fund us from retirement through death. Tax-exempt: Investments such as cash value life insurance that don't get taxed at all and can be used for everything in between, like buying a holiday home, starting a business, putting the kids through college, or supplementing our retirement funds. The advantage of this approach is that it shows you exactly where your money currently sits and, crucially, whether you're maximizing that all-important tax-exempt bucket. Spoiler alert: Most people find they aren't, which means they're giving away more of their income than they need to - be it now or in the future. So, if you're one of them, here are four ways to start boosting your tax-exempt funds today.

The backdoor Roth With

Kiplinger
May 16, 2022

15 Stocks Warren Buffett Is Buying (And 7 He's Selling)
Warren Buffett went wild with Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.B, $309.29) checkbook during the first quarter, scooping up equities at his fastest pace since the Great Financial Crisis.

True, it took an epically bad start to the year for stocks and the worst inflation in four decades to lure Berkshire's chairman and chief executive back into the market.

But he's back, and in a big way.

The Berkshire Hathaway equity portfolio scooped up $41.5 billion in net stock purchases in the first quarter. That's the most cash Buffett has splurged on equities in a quarter since 2008. 

SEE MORE The 15 Best Value Stocks to Buy Right Now Contrast that with last year, when Berkshire was a net seller of equities in all four quarters of 2021.

In addition to spending another $3.2 billion buying back BRK.B shares and acquiring insurer Alleghany outright for $11.6 billion, Buffett and his lieutenants Ted Weschler and Todd Combs found plenty of other ways to make a serious dent in the conglomerate's cash pile.

Among the more notable moves, Buffett deployed serious financial resources into the energy sector in Q1, taking advantage of both rising oil prices and crude's properties as an inflation hedge. Elsewhere, Apple's (AAPL) Q1 stock skid prompted Buffett to add about $600 million to Berkshire's to

Kiplinger
May 16, 2022

Buffett Ups Chevron, Apple Holdings, Adds 8 Stakes in Q1
Warren Buffett finally returned to the bull camp during the first quarter of 2022. So says Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.B) 13F, which was filed Monday afternoon and revealed that Buffett's collection of stocks actually grew in number during the first three months of 2022.

That was a refreshing change for Buffett followers, who watched the Oracle of Omaha and his team act as net sellers during all four quarters of 2021.

SEE MORE 11 Best Investments to Inflation-Proof Your Portfolio Berkshire's 13F showed the holding company spent $41.5 billion in net stock purchases in the first quarter - the most since 2008 - putting nearly 30% of its huge cash pile to work in equities over the three-month period. This included Buffett entering eight new positions and increasing stakes in seven other stocks.

Buffett and his team clearly used a market dip as a chance to return to buying in 2022, with the S&P 500 down as much as 13% from its all-time high at one point during the quarter. But, as we noted recently, rising inflation drove much of the Q1 spending spree.

The Oracle of Omaha also did some selling in the first quarter, exiting three positions completely and reducing his holdings in four stocks.

Let's dig into the biggest Buffett stock adjustments made during the first quarter of 2022, based on Berkshire Hathaway's 13F filed on May 16, 2022, for the period ending March 31, 2022.

Berkshire 13F Shows HP, Citigroup Among Q1 Buffett Buys Buffett's buying spree included topping up his stake in blue chips Apple (

Kiplinger
May 16, 2022

Stock Market Today: Stocks Finish Lower as Traders Mull Recession Odds
Recession odds were the topic du jour Monday as stocks kicked off the week with a wobbly, uneven session.

Over the weekend, former Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein told CBS' Face the Nation that recession was "a very, very high risk factor." That opinion was met by a number of other calls Monday morning.

SEE MORE The 22 Best Stocks to Buy for 2022 Wells Fargo Investment Institute, for instance, says "our conviction is that the chances of an outright recession in 2022 remain low" but believes odds are growing that 2023 could see an economic contraction. UBS strategists say the chances are different depending on where you look - their global economists say "hard data" points to a sub-1% chance of recession over the next 12 months, but the yield curve implies 32% odds.

"There's no crystal ball to predict what's next, but historical trends can come into play here. With the [S&P 500] closing 15% below its weekly record, there's only been two times in the past 60 years that the market didn't fall into bear territory after a similar drop," adds Chris Larkin, Managing Director of Trading at E*Trade. "This doesn't mean it's bound to happen, but there is room for potential downside. 

Larkin says to keep an eye on major retail earnings this week - which will kick off in earnest with Walmart's Tuesday report - to get a pulse check on the American consumer.

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

Monday itself was a fairly quiet affair. Exxon Mobi

Kiplinger
May 16, 2022

European Dividend Aristocrats: 40 Top International Dividend Stocks
U.S. equity markets aren't the only place where you can find income-producing royalty. Indeed, a quick look across the pond yields dozens, in the form of the European Dividend Aristocrats.

Admittedly, Europe's dividend stocks have posted subpar returns compared to their U.S. counterparts over the past decade. However, that could change this year, says Goldman Sachs strategist Guillaume Jaisson, who points to an unusually large yield gap between European stocks and bonds. At present, yields on eurozone bonds are miniscule; the choice between dividend-paying stocks and bonds seems an easy one.

SEE MORE 37 Ways to Earn Up to 9% Yields on Your Money In addition, Jaisson notes that higher-yielding dividend stocks are less sensitive to interest-rate hikes, and that their stable income payments look more attractive in both high-inflation and high-volatility environments, in which capital gains look less like a lock.

The European Dividend Aristocrats in specific look enticing given the difference between dividend growth here and abroad. Jaisson says the Stoxx Europe 600 Index is expected to deliver 10% dividend growth this year, well beyond the 7% forecast for the S&P 500. (And beyond 2022, says CME Group, S&P 500 dividend growth is predicted at 1% excluding inflation.)

Another financial strategist recommending European dividend stocks is Morningstar senior equity analyst Michael Field. At present, the selection of high-yielding European dividend stocks is much larger than previous years, Field says. As a result, investors can build a high-yielding portfolio o

Kiplinger
May 16, 2022

Walmart Q1 Earnings Likely Boosted By Inflation
The latest consumer price index (CPI) released last week indicates inflation remained sky-high in April. And while rising prices were a headwind for most companies in the first three months of 2022, they likely served as a tailwind for mega-retailer Walmart (WMT, $147.48).

Wall Street will find out this week, with WMT an early entrant on the earnings calendar; WMT will report its first-quarter results ahead of the May 17 open. 

The consumer staples stock has shown resilience amid the recent market volatility, up roughly 2% for the year-to-date compared to a more than 17% decline for the broader S&P 500.  

SEE MORE The Best (And Worst) Stocks for Rising Prices WMT beat on both the top and bottom lines in its fourth quarter thanks in part to its ability to keep prices competitive in a high-inflation environment. And this trend probably continued in Q1, despite a challenging backdrop, says UBS Global Research analyst Michael Lasser (Buy).

"With low prices as its core value proposition, WMT is uniquely positioned to benefit from rising inflation," the analyst adds. "Its scale helps give it the ability to keep healthy price gaps versus its peers, which can help it achieve further share gains in the grocery channel.  

While Lasser admits there will likely be some "moving pieces" in the report - including unpredictability related to macro headwinds - components such as U.S. same-store sales and full-year guidance w

Kiplinger
May 16, 2022

5 States With No State Sales Tax
Many people don't factor in sales taxes when they're looking at the tax-friendliness of different states. That's a mistake. Forty-five states plus the District of Columbia impose a sales tax. In addition, local sales tax is collected in 38 states. The combined state and local levy can be hefty, too. In fact, in Louisiana (which took the top spot in our round-up of the 10 States With the Highest Sales Tax), the average combined state and local sales tax is 9.55%, according to the Tax Foundation. That's a big bite out of your wallet every time you make a purchase.

On the flip side, for states that don't impose a sales tax, residents are often hit hard with other taxes (like income or property taxes). After all, money for roads and schools has to come from somewhere. New Hampshire, for example, has some of the highest real estate taxes in the country. In Oregon, income tax rates can be as steep as 9.9%, which is one of the highest top rates in the nation. 

The information below will help you understand more about what you will really pay to live in the 5 states with no sales tax. For each state, we've also included a link to our full guide to state taxes for middle-class families to help you put these shopping destinations in perspective.

SEE MORE The 10 Most Tax-Friendly States for Middle-Class Families Income tax brackets are 2022 values, unless otherwise noted. Median property tax rates are for 2020, the most recent data available.



Kiplinger
May 16, 2022

Should You Consider a Roth Conversion While the Market is Down?
While a down market may not be a fun time for investors, there are some bright spots and opportunities to be had. Stock market drops like we've seen recently might make a Roth IRA conversion more appealing as a strategy for investors.

SEE MORE 2 Alternatives to Required Minimum Distributions Should you consider converting a traditional IRA to a Roth during a down market? There are a few things to consider before pulling the trigger.

What is a Roth Conversion? Before you embark on a Roth conversion, you need to fully understand what it is. When you have a traditional IRA, those are pre-tax dollars that you're investing. While the money grows tax-free, when you later go to take a withdrawal, every dollar you pull will be taxed.

With a Roth IRA you are investing post-tax dollars, and when you convert a traditional IRA to a Roth, you pay the full tax during the year that you convert, at ordinary income rates. Then, the dollars that you've converted will grow tax-free for the remainder of the time that they sit within the investment. When you later take money out of a Roth, it's all tax-free, as long as you are 59½ or older and follow a few other rules.

What You Need to Know About a Roth Conversion in a Down Market When you trigger a Roth conversion, you'll be responsible for paying the tax due on any pre-tax contributions or earnings within the traditional IRA. The benefit here is that if the market has dropped, it's likely that your IRA value has dropped along with it - so your full value has gone down, and you'll be paying taxes on the current value (which is lower, due to the market being down than it was months ago). So, in theory, you can convert a l

Kiplinger
May 16, 2022

Thinking about Rolling Your 401(k) into an IRA? 7 Deciding Factors to Consider
The Department of Labor has outlined new rules for advisers to follow when rolling over retirement plans. Whether it is a 401(k) to an IRA or an IRA from one custodian to another, there are several considerations that need to be evaluated before making a change. If you are initiating a rollover on your own, it may be beneficial for you to evaluate these items as well.

SEE MORE When It Comes to Your 401(k), Trust But Verify You should be able to get all the information you need on your plan from your statements, Annual Participant Fee Disclosure and Summary Plan Description. If you do not have access to these documents, you can usually request them from your human resource department.

All-In Fees and Expenses Before deciding whether to do a rollover, you will want to compare the fees within your 401(k) plan vs. the fees for the IRA. Fees in the 401(k) could include any mutual fund loads, plan expenses and any underlying fees. Sometimes the fees may be higher in your 401(k), but there may be additional benefits to keeping your funds in the 401(k) wrapper.

It would be up to you to decide whether any benefits are worth the fees. For example, if you are opening an IRA and moving over to an investment adviser there will be additional management fees paid to your adviser, but you may also receive financial advice, retirement planning or wealth management services.

Available Services Some retirement plans, such as 401(k)s, provide added creditor protection, the ability to take out a loan or take hardship withdrawals, which are not available with IRAs. In certain circumstances you may be able to keep some asset protection if 401(k) funds are rolle

Kiplinger
May 15, 2022

2 Strategies to Reduce Taxes from the Sale of Your Business
Recently, one of my colleagues took me aside and asked what I could do to help a 40-year-old client who sold his business last year for $40 million. He wanted to shelter the proceeds from capital gains taxes and possibly fund a trust for his family. We both already knew that the opportunity to reduce the tax recognition on the capital gain had long passed.

Had he sought our advice long before he was committed to the sale of this business, we could have explored some valuable options. Here are two of them.

The Qualified Small Business Stock Exclusion One option our client may have considered is to investigate qualifying his business for Small Business Stock treatment under Section 1202 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). Section 1202 was added through the 1993 Revenue Reconciliation Act to encourage small business investment. A Qualified Small Business (QSB) is any active domestic C corporation engaged in certain business activities whose assets have a fair market value of not more than $50 million on or immediately after the original issuance of stock, regardless of any subsequent appreciation (IRC § 1202 (d)(1)).

SEE MORE Preparing Your Family-Owned Business for Sale? Qualified Small Business Stock that is issued after Aug. 10, 1993, and held for at least five years before it is sold may be partially or wholly exempt from federal capital gains taxes on the value of the shares sold, up to the greater of $10 million in eligible gain or 10 times the aggregate cost basis in the shares sold in each tax year (IRC § 1202 (b)(1)). Be aware that this limitation applies to each separate shareholder, and a trust, or multiple trusts, established and funded with QSB Stock gifted by a qualified QSB shareholder may enable much more than $10 million in gain exclusion. For QSB shares acquired after Sept. 27, 2010,

Kiplinger
May 15, 2022

4 Tax-Smart Ways to Share the Wealth with Kids
As parents or grandparents, we want to do what's best for our children and grandchildren. We want them to enjoy the gifts we've given them during our lifetimes - family traditions, connections and values - and we also want our financial legacy to pass to them without complications. But if we don't manage our gift planning thoughtfully, we could leave future generations with unexpected challenges.

SEE MORE Keeping Property in the Family with LLCs and Partnerships In my practice, I've seen many ways for individuals to transfer wealth from one generation to another, but to my mind, there are just a handful of vehicles that effectively transfer financial gifts for future generations during our lifetimes. My top recommendations are UTMA/UGMA accounts, 529 accounts, IRAs and irrevocable gift trusts.

Which of those options you should choose will depend on the degree of control you wish to retain, the purpose of your gift, and the amount of the planned gift. Let's review the pros and cons of these various models so that we understand how to work with legal and financial advisers to provide for our heirs.

UTMA/UGMA Accounts The simplest method of gifting involves setting up a custodial account under your state's version of the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act or Uniform Gift to Minors Act. These accounts exist for the purpose of allowing gifts to be set aside for minor children who otherwise could not legally own significant property. Custodial accounts allow you to designate someone (including yourself) to manage gifted funds until the child is of age, most commonly 18 or 21.

The upside of this approach is that it takes almost no effort to set up such accounts. The accounts contain standard provisions in accordance with local law, and they are as easy to create as asking your bank to set

Kiplinger
May 14, 2022

The Key to Employee Retention? Compassion!
The "Great Resignation" shows no signs of stopping. In March a record 4.5 million workers quit their jobs, according to data released May 3 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What does this mean for workers and the employers who want to keep them?

SEE MORE The Cure for the Great Resignation: Hire Older Workers  "In the era of the Great Resignation, there is a tool - a path - as old as humanity itself, which can be the most effective way showing employees that the boss really does care about their welfare and wants the best for them," notes Jacqueline Carter, senior partner at Potential Projects, a global consulting and leadership development firm whose goal is "To create more human worlds of work." 

Their clients include Fortune 500 companies, such as Disney, Ikea and Unilever.

Along with Rasmus Hougaard, their just-released book, Compassionate Leadership: How to Do Hard Things in a Human Way, describes the steps that "break down walls of indifference and a lack of caring that in many ways still dominate American business," Carter points out, adding:

"As the greatest expense for most business is personnel, it is critical that we retain good people. But far too many organizations fail to spot the wrong messages they are sending, fail to seize opportunities that will deepen bonds of trust. That's what we have studied and developed practical, workable solutions," she says.

So, just what is compassion? What are the conseq

Kiplinger
May 14, 2022

How Psychology Affects Your Search for a Financial Adviser
SEE MORE 5 Quick and Dirty Questions to Pick a Financial Adviser Selecting the right financial adviser is an important but difficult decision. Key considerations include whether your prospective adviser has the right technical skills, charges fair fees and puts your interests first. Focus on these factors and you'll find thousands of qualified advisers. But which factors should you prioritize when finding the best one for you?

Turns out, you should be looking to psychology. A 2019 Vanguard study found that a client's emotional relationship with their adviser - not their fees or technical skills - accounted for over half of the perceived value of the engagement. These feelings have real consequences for your bottom line.

SEE MORE Why Financial Literacy Alone Will Always Fail Another series of Vanguard studies found clients who work with advisers have better investment returns than those who don't. To explain this effect, the studies examined the individual impact of numerous factors, including a range of technical skills, like optimizing asset location and implementing the most cost-effective strategies. Turns out behavioral coaching, a psychological factor, accounted for half the total effect - double that of the most impactful technical sk

Kiplinger
May 13, 2022

Stock Market Today: Stocks Paper Over Lousy Week With Wild Friday
Wall Street spent most of Friday applying some vibrant lipstick to what was otherwise a pig of a week for investors.

A broad market rally - one that saw each of the S&P 500's 11 sectors finish higher - wasn't a response to any new positive catalysts. Quarterly reports were light today, with most investors flipping the earnings calendar to next week's retail-heavy slate.

SEE MORE Coinbase Brings Another Cryptocurrency Risk to Light And Friday's most noteworthy datapoint was the University of Michigan's latest consumer sentiment index reading, which dropped from 65.2 in April to 59.1 in May - a 10-year nadir that was well lower than the 64.1 reading expected.

Sometimes the market just enjoys a relief rally.

"Following a week of heavy selling, but with inflationary pressures easing just at the margin, and the Fed still seemingly wedded to 50-basis-point hikes for each of the next two FOMC meetings, the market was poised for the kind of strong rally endemic to bear market rallies," says Quincy Krosby, chief equity strategist for LPL Financial.

He adds that given the Federal Reserve is only at the beginning of its rate-hike cycle and would like to see demand pull back further, "this rally will most likely weaken."

Of course, even if this is just a pause before more market declines, investors don't necessarily have to time the bottom to buy in at a decent valuation.

"This is still an attractive entry point, as we do not believe this is 1999/2000," says Nancy Tengler, CEO and CIO of asset management firm Laffer Tengler Investments.



Kiplinger
May 13, 2022

11 Best Investments to Inflation-Proof Your Portfolio
Inflation continues to be one of the most pressing concerns on both Main Street and Wall Street. And with little relief expected in the short-term, people who haven't already padded their portfolios with inflation investments still have time to don a little protection.

For context, America's inflation rate was already red-hot by May 2021, when it surpassed 5.0%. By the end of the year, the consumer price index's growth had reached 7%. 

Consumers were punished still further in 2022 as Russia invaded Ukraine, sparking (among other things) a massive run-up in crude oil prices that has domestic gasoline prices still rising to this day. CPI growth hit a 40-year high of 8.5% in March, it pulled back only slightly to 8.3% in April, and it could persist as a problem for many months more.

SEE MORE The 22 Best Stocks to Buy for 2022 "By now, we are well aware of the supply chain issues and imbalances that caused goods inflation to rise over the last year," says Liz Young, head of investment strategy at SoFi. "The big headline makers have been prices of used cars & trucks, household furnishings, and various food items, for example."

But she notes that services data is becoming a larger driver of high inflation. "The reason this matters is that services inflation is a stickier component," she says, "and one that could prove more difficult to contain."

Thus, as much as most of us would like to be past this issues, we still need to protect our portfolios from rising prices. Those looking for the best inflation investments can find them in a number of asset classes - equities, sure, but also real estate, commodities and, to a certain extent given the Federal Reserve's recent hawkishness, bonds.



Kiplinger
May 13, 2022

10 Substantial Stock Splits to Put on Your Radar
2022 is shaping up to be a busy year for stock splits.

Stock splits occur when a company divides up its shares to lower the price and increase the overall number of shares available. Companies typically split their stock when the share price has gotten very high.

While stock splits are cosmetic events that shouldn't impact a company's market value since nothing fundamental to the business is changed, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that suggests they create wealth. 

SEE MORE The 22 Best Stocks to Buy for 2022 Take Nvidia (NVDA) for instance. The chipmaker said in May 2021 that it was splitting its stock 4-for-1. Shares rallied 20% between the May 21 announcement and July 19, the date the actual split occurred.

There are several theories that attempt to explain why share prices often rise following a stock split.

The first is that splitting a high-priced stock makes it more affordable to retail investors, which in turn creates new demand that fuels price gains.Another is that stock splits send a signal to the market that a company's share price has been rising. New investors may jump in because they assume this growth will continue.  A third hypothesis is that managers declare stock splits to convey favorable information about the company's unrealized value and growth prospects. Investors respond to this signal from insiders by stepping up share purchases. Whatever the reason, there are plenty of examples of companies experiencing share price gains after a stock split. 

Today, we look at 10 companies that have announced or already undergone stock splits in 2022. Not every name featured here is a recommendation, but this list of firms that are splitting th

Kiplinger
May 13, 2022

New Mexico Wildfire and Wind Victims Get More Time to Pay Taxes
The IRS has granted victims of the recent New Mexico wildfires and straight-line winds more time to file various individual and business tax returns and make tax payments. Specifically, victims of the fires and winds that began on April 5, 2022, have until August 31, 2022, to file and pay tax returns and payments due between April 5 and August 30.

SEE MORE 2022 Tax Calendar: Important Tax Due Dates and Deadlines The tax relief is available to anyone in any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as qualifying for individual assistance. At this point, only affected taxpayers who live or have a business in Colfax, Lincoln, Mora, San Miguel and Valencia Counties qualify for the extensions, but the IRS will offer the same relief to any taxpayers in other New Mexico localities designated by FEMA later.

The IRS will also work with other people who live outside the disaster area but whose tax records are in the disaster area. Call the IRS at 866-562-5227 if you face this situation. This also includes workers assisting the relief activities who are affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization.

Deadlines Extended The deadlines that are pushed back include the April 18, 2022, due date for filing a 2021 personal income tax return and paying 2021 taxes. In addition, wildfire and wind victims in the designated area have until August 31 to make 2021 IRA contributions. They also get more time to make the estimated tax payments due on April 18 and June 1

Kiplinger
May 13, 2022

Could Musk's Twitter Buyout Hit the Skids?
Anyone who expected turbulence amid Elon Musk's quest to acquire Twitter (TWTR) got precisely what they anticipated Friday morning, when the Tesla (TSLA) CEO tweeted that the Twitter deal was "temporarily on hold."

TWTR shares plunged roughly 15% in Friday's premarket trade following Musk's tweet, which linked to a May 2 Reuters story about Twitter's recent statement that "the average of false or spam accounts during the first quarter of 2022 represented fewer than 5% of our [monetizable daily active users] during the quarter."

SEE MORE 5 Stocks to Sell or Avoid Now Musk later tweeted that he is "still committed to acquisition," which helped cut into the losses somewhat, though another seed of doubt was already sown. 

"[Musk] is clearly intent in querying the company's estimate that spam accounts make up less than 5% of active daily users - a key metric given that establishing an accurate number of real tweeters is considered to be key to future revenue streams via advertising or paid for subscriptions on the site," says Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst for U.K. firm Hargreaves Lansdown.

But she also raises the possibility of an ulterior motive.

"There will also be questions raised over whether fake accounts are the real reason behind this delaying tactic, given that promoting free

Kiplinger
May 13, 2022

Should Retirees Stay Invested and Ride Out These Volatile Times?
As volatility and uncertainty in the financial markets remain at levels unseen in years, one of the most common questions for those readers who are currently retired or plan to retire soon, is this: "Should we stay invested and allow our investments to just ride out this wave?"

SEE MORE How to Invest for Retirement If You're Over 60  It's a question that almost all investors, no matter what age, have been asking for months.  However, for those approaching their golden years, getting this decision right is critical to maintaining a prosperous retirement and avoiding the need to put life on hold. 

There is absolutely no one right answer to this question given that the needs, wants and desires of every retiree are so vastly different.  Relying on generic advice to determine the most appropriate strategies can be dangerous and result in less-than-desired outcomes.

Though there are many parts to this equation, here are a few foundational things to consider when answering this question for yourself:

1. Know your ‘Income Security Score' Your Income Security Score is quite simply the percentage of your monthly expenses that are covered by predictable and guaranteed sources of income, such as Social Security, pensions and annuities.  For example, if your monthly expenses are $5,000 and these guaranteed income sources combined account for $3,000/month, then your income security score would be 60%. 

In this case, there is a "gap" to be filled of $2,000 that needs to come from other sources just to maintain lifestyle.  If that means taking regular distributions from accounts that are volatile and fluctuate, that can be a dangerous approach, resulting in possibly having to sell assets when values are low.  However, if your score

Kiplinger
May 13, 2022

3 Tax-Efficient Strategies to Help Maximize Your Retirement Income
When people start planning for retirement, they often focus on one major goal: accumulating enough money to retire comfortably when ready.

Unfortunately, that's often where the planning stops, meaning some pretty important stuff might be left out, including:

Figuring out how to convert those accumulated assets into a reliable income stream that will provide the desired lifestyle.Looking at tax strategies that will help you hold on to and pass down more of what you worked so hard to save. Creating a plan that distributes your investments in the most tax-efficient manner possible can help you reach your goals for retirement and beyond — but it's no easy task. And if you procrastinate, you could miss out on some of the significant tax savings provided by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, as many of its provisions are set to expire at the end of 2025.

Here are three tax strategies that could strengthen your retirement plan going forward.

Converting Traditional IRA Dollars to Roth IRA Dollars Worried about future tax rates — especially when required minimum distributions (RMDs) kick in at age 72? Converting your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA could help you reduce the tax burden down the road for both you and your heirs. Here's an example:

SEE MORE Why a Pension Lump Sum Option Is Better Than an Annuity Payment Our office is currently working with a client who would like to take about $60,000 each year from an IRA when she reaches 72. Along with her other income streams, that's all she expects to need. But based on what she has in her account now, and with an estimated 6% growth rate, the amount the government requires her to withdraw could be

Kiplinger
May 12, 2022

Stock Market Today: S&P Inches Toward Bear Market
A day after Wall Street was told consumer prices continued to rise at an uncomfortably rapid rate in April, it learned the same about producer prices. The result was another choppy session that saw many stocks finish in the red.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said Thursday that the producer price index (PPI) roared ahead by another 11% year-over-year last month - only a hair slower than March's record 11.5% print, and a touch higher than expectations.

SEE MORE 65 Best Dividend Stocks You Can Count On in 2022 "Given the clear inflation problem and the Fed's unwavering commitment to fighting it, the market may see more downside before it sees durable relief," says Liz Young, head of investment strategy at SoFi. "Despite the major drawdowns we've already seen in tech stocks and the Nasdaq broadly, we are still only two hikes into the tightening cycle and likely need to get through at least two more before we can confirm whether or not it's 'working.'"

Some experts emphasize additional sources of downward pressures on equities right now.

"Weakness/volatility in the crypto complex has increasingly been weighing on sentiment, and that was paramount again ahead of the open," says Michael Reinking, senior market strategist at the New York Stock Exchange. Bitcoin closed down another 3.1% to $28,572, bringing its year-to-date losses to 38%. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m.)

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In fact, the total market cap of all global cryptocurrencies has collapsed to roughly $1.2 trillion curr

Kiplinger
May 12, 2022

3 Investment Ideas for Retirees Right Now
Ah, retirement. Picture long, blissful walks on the beach. Or you're watching the sunset from the balcony of your cruise ship and thinking: This is it - the way life should be. Then you casually check your smartphone to see how your investment accounts are doing and, gasp! You might not be as rich as you thought were.

SEE MORE The Best and Worst Presidents (According to the Stock Market) Retirees are facing major headwinds right now when it comes to investing: Troubles in Ukraine, higher inflation and stock market jitters to name a few. If you are in or near retirement and wondering what you can do with your portfolio, here are three ideas I share with some of my clients:

1. Consumer defensive stocks I want clients to be as diversified as possible. However, I may tilt their portfolio to consumer defensive stocks for retired or more conservative clients. Defensive stocks generally include utility companies like natural gas and electricity providers, healthcare providers and companies whose products we use day-to-day, like toothpaste companies or food and grocery stores.

According to the Center for Corporate Finance, a leading finance educator to financial professionals, defensive stocks tend to be less volatile than other types of stocks. Less volatility can mean less upside potential, but it can also mean less downside risk, which I find is what many retirees want - less downside (and hopefully better sleep at night).

2. Bonds for retirees - but not just any bonds I like municipal bonds for retirees. Municipal bonds are issued by states, cities or local municipalities. There a

Kiplinger
May 11, 2022

Stock Market Today: Stocks Stumble as Inflation Remains Red-Hot
It was a choppy day for stocks as investors unpacked the latest consumer price index (CPI). Data released by the Labor Department this morning showed that prices consumers paid for goods and services in April rose at an annual rate of 8.3% - down from March's 8.5% pace to mark the first drop in inflation in eight months. While encouraging at first glimpse, there were concerning signs deeper inside the report.

For instance, the decline in CPI last month reflected a drop in gas prices, which have since rebounded. Food prices remained elevated, while airfare and restaurant bills increased ahead of the key summer travel season. And core CPI, which excludes the volatile energy and food categories, rose 0.6% on a sequential basis - double what it was in March.

SEE MORE 5 Stocks to Sell or Avoid Now "While this report appears to mark the first that shows some moderation from the ever-rising pace of inflation since September of last year, one data point does not necessarily make a trend; and the rise in core CPI should lead to some consideration that the moderation in inflation will not be quick," says Jason Pride, chief investment officer of private wealth at wealth management firm Glenmede. 

With prices already high, Pride said, it should be harder for the CPI to continue to rise at the same pace, especially with the Federal Reserve also hiking interest rates to combat higher prices. "However, it will likely take multiple reports for such a trend [of moderating inflation] to clearly establish itself," he says.

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This sen

Kiplinger
May 11, 2022

Coinbase Brings Another Cryptocurrency Risk to Light
A precipitous plunge in Coinbase Global (COIN, $72.99) stock is suddenly more than just a concern to current shareholders. That's because the cryptocurrency exchange operator just warned its users that, in the event of a bankruptcy, the company might just hold on to their digital assets.

Typically, the most important news to come out of a publicly traded company's quarterly earnings report is … well, the earnings. Analysts, media and investors all flock to see how the company's most recent sales, profits and other performance metrics stacked up, and when available, what the company projects it will do going forward. 

SEE MORE 18 Bitcoin ETFs and Cryptocurrency Funds You Should Know But in Coinbase's report, released Tuesday after the market close, the biggest news nugget was tucked away in a lesser-viewed section: "Risk factors."

Public companies must regularly disclose extensive amounts of information related to their business to aid investors in understanding the full risks involved with their investments. And in their Q1 2022 filing, a new SEC requirement called SAB 121 obligated the company to detail responsibilities to safeguard crypto assets held for users on the trading platform. The disclosure stated that, in the event Coinbase ever declared bankruptcy, "the crypto assets we hold in custody on behalf of our customers could be subject to bankruptcy proceedings" and Coinbase users would

Kiplinger
May 11, 2022

Adult Day Centers Help Retirees with Alzheimer's
When Eileen Roehr's husband, Casey, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2018, she went looking for helpful resources. High on her to-do list was finding an adult day center for him. "The two most valuable things to keep people with dementia functioning as long as possible [are] physical activity and social interaction," says Roehr, 80, a former psychiatric nurse.

SEE MORE PODCAST: Having the Money Talk with Your Parents, with Cameron Huddleston Roehr, of Reston, Va., found a center, Insight Memory Care Center, that served only those with Alzheimer's and other memory impairment. Casey attended it five days a week for several years until a recent move to a residential facility. For Roehr, the center was the best option; her husband enjoyed going there and was taken care of during the day, all while still living at home.

Adult day centers (those in the field eschew the term "adult day care" because it's infantilizing) are becoming increasingly popular. In 2018, about 6,200 licensed or accredited adult day centers served roughly 300,000 people nationwide, according to the National Adult Day Services Association, and that's before including several thousand unlicensed centers, such as small church-based groups or those operating in states that don't require licensing, says William Zagorski, NADSA's board chair. The number of centers have grown 35% since 2002, according to the nonprofit organization Aging in Place. Many adult day centers temporarily suspended services during th

Kiplinger
May 11, 2022

The "Real" Cost of Buying a Car
On this episode of Cope'ing with Money, we're going to be talking about the real price and the real cost of buying a car.

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

SEE MORE The "Real" Cost of Buying a Home We've all heard that buying a car is a game, and we've got to learn how to play it. There's all sorts of things that they tell you to do once you get to the dealership. But the truth is, after you've made that handshake deal and agreed on a price point, that's still not the full price you're going to pay.

So today, we're talking about all those additional fees and breaking down the real cost of buying a car.

The Real Cost of Buying a Car Check the Term of Your Loan First and foremost, let's check the term of your loan. Whether you're buying or leasing, you'll typically pay the price of your car through a series of monthly payments over a fixed term.

These may appear to add up to the agreed price, but there are actually additional costs depending on your down payment and the length of your loan. Longer terms mean smaller monthly payments, but also mean you'll be paying a lot more in interest over the life of the loan. Plus, if you're buying used or you plan to upgrade your vehicle in just a couple of years, a long-term loan might even outlive the life of your car.

Try sticking to a five-year loan for buying a new car and a three-year loan for buying a used car. Always review the terms and find a payment option that works for you. But in most cases, paying it off sooner is better.

Remember Your Location Remember your location. In addition

Kiplinger
May 11, 2022

5 Things to Do Before You Retire
For many people, retirement planning is a rather nebulous concept. They stash money away - sometimes thoughtfully, sometimes without true goals in mind - all with a vague idea that someday they will reach retirement, whatever that might mean.

SEE MORE 14 Reasons You Might Go Broke in Retirement But just letting retirement happen isn't wise because, once it sneaks up on you, it's too late, and you'll wish you had given it more attention. A lot more.

So, if you are closing in on retirement, here are five things to do before you get there:

1. Envision what retirement is Perhaps it's not that surprising that many people arrive at retirement and realize they haven't given a lot of thought to what they want from it. After all, they were too busy working, raising their families and handling the day-to-day crises that life dealt them. But suddenly, it's time to give up much of their old routine and try something new, and they don't know what that "new" will be.

Are they going to travel? Volunteer? See the grandkids more often?

If you're in that situation, try to envision what retirement looks like to you. Write it down and make it as vivid as possible. Putting it on paper helps make it seem more concrete, and it will be easier to turn your dream into reality.

2. Develop a better understanding of your day-to-day expenses How much do you spend each month? If you're like a lot of people, you can't answer that question.

 In many homes, people are so accustomed to the regular paycheck coming in that they don't bother to budget. They just pay the bills and live off what's left. But retirement comes with too many unknowns to leave expenses to chance that way.

Where will your income come

Kiplinger
May 10, 2022

Stock Market Today: Stocks Try to Find Their Legs Ahead of CPI Report
Wall Street searched for stability Tuesday, with a couple of the major indexes able to muster some gains ahead of a vital inflation reading tomorrow.

The 10-year Treasury note, after touching 3.2% yesterday, pulled back below the 3% threshold to as low as 2.94%. This retreat in interest rates removed some pressure from growthier stocks (which had been pummeled Monday), with technology ( 1.5%) firms leading the session's relief rally. Semiconductor stocks such as Nvidia (NVDA, 3.8%), Broadcom (AVGO, 3.3%) and NXP Semiconductor (NXPI, 3.2%) were among the day's notable risers.

SEE MORE The 22 Best Stocks to Buy for 2022 It wasn't all roses, though. Investors continued to punish once-hot companies showing any signs of weakness.

For instance, artificial-intelligence lending-platform maker Upstart Holdings (UPST) plunged 56.4% to trade around all-time lows. While it beat Street estimates for first-quarter earnings, the company reduced full-year revenue forecasts to $1.25 billion from $1.4 billion previously.

Work-from-home darling Peloton Interactive (

Kiplinger
May 10, 2022

5 Stocks to Sell or Avoid Now
It's been a horrific year so far for equities, and yet the market remains littered with stocks to sell in anticipation of even deeper losses.

True, one of the worst starts to a year in market history has surely created a smorgasbord of bargains. But it hardly follows that every stock is worth buying on the dip. 

Although being greedy when others are fearful is a generally fine first principle, remember that some stocks go down for good reasons. Such stocks to sell have plenty of room to decline even further.

Given that negative ratings on equities are exceedingly rare on Wall Street, it seemed like a good time to see which names analysts collectively single out as stocks to sell now. To that end, we used data from YCharts and S&P Global Market Intelligence to screen the Russell 1000 index for the stocks with the highest-conviction consensus Sell recommendations by industry analysts.

Here's how the ratings system works: S&P surveys analysts' stock calls and scores them on a five-point scale, where 1.0 equals a Strong Buy and 5.0 is a Strong Sell. Any score equal to or below 3.5 means that analysts, on average, rate the stock at Sell. The closer a score gets to 5.0, the stronger the consensus Sell recommendation.

After running the screen we were left with a very short list of names. (As we said above, Sell calls are rare.) And although they come from sectors as diverse as retail, insurance and utilities, they all have one thing in common: The Street expects them to underperform the broader market handily over the next 12 months or so.

Read on for more information about Wall Street's top five stocks to sell now.

SEE MORE The Best (And Worst) Sto

Kiplinger
May 10, 2022

How Taxes Impact Your Wealth Gap
Imagine you're standing on the bank of a river. The bank you're standing on represents your current financial status, and the opposite bank is the amount of wealth you need for retirement. The river itself is the difference between how much wealth you currently have and what must be accumulated to reach your retirement goals.

When we look at bridging this wealth gap, it's important to factor in anything that could get in the way of reaching our goals. That's why taxes are so important. You can't have an accurate calculation without understanding how taxes impact your wealth gap. You see, taxation plays a significant role in our ability to accumulate wealth. If you went through your whole life without utilizing any of the tax breaks available to you, you would have built substantially less wealth than someone who understood the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and took advantage of its many tax-saving benefits.

SEE MORE 10 States with the Highest Gas Taxes In fact, one of my colleagues often calls the Internal Revenue Code "the greatest wealth creation tool in the United States." He's not wrong. The IRC is a tool for wealth creation. As such, it can be the difference in whether taxes impact your wealth gap in a negative way. You see, much of the IRC is pages and pages of information on how you can legally minimize taxes. 

Let me be absolutely clear, I am not offering tax advice. Nor am I advocating for illegal or unethical means of avoiding the payment of taxes. You should always consult a professional before employing any of the strategies found within the IRC to ensure that you are compliant with the law.

By the Numbers The top marginal income tax rate of 37% affects taxpayers with a taxable income of $539,900 or m

Kiplinger
May 09, 2022

The Long, Hard Road of Fighting Age Bias in the Workplace
A wave of pandemic-related early retirements may be about to reverse itself. Instead of older Americans fleeing the labor force, more are expected to participate in it over the coming years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects nearly 40% of adults ages 65 to 69 and nearly 25% of people ages 70 to 74 will still be working by 2030, up from 33% and 19%, respectively, in 2020. Some of those workers will be returning from early retirement, continuing the prepandemic trend of Americans working past age 65.

But labor participation rates tell only part of the story. Many older Americans also face age bias in the workplace even though the

Kiplinger
May 09, 2022

Stock Market Today: Stocks, Bonds, Crypto and More Take a Dive
The S&P 500 fell to its lowest point in more than a year Monday as last week's selloff retained all of its momentum and bled into just about anything that trades.

Interest-rate fears continued be the selloff's primary driver. The 10-year Treasury briefly touched 3.2% today and, even after pulling back to 3.06%, sits around levels last seen in 2018.

SEE MORE 12 of Wall Street's Newest Dividend Stocks "Interest rates are a hammer, not a scalpel - they are blunt tools designed to move slowly and with great force, rather than precisely," says Andy Kapyrin, co-chief investment officer at registered investment advisory firm RegentAtlantic. "The Fed is swinging the interest rate hammer, and the financial markets are responding to the aftershocks."

Technology (-3.9%) and consumer discretionary (-4.3%) were among the usual suspects in a trading day that saw each of the 11 S&P 500 stock sectors finish in the red. But this was a wide selloff that went well beyond just stocks and bonds.

U.S. crude oil futures, for instance, cratered by 6.1% to $103.09 per barrel, amid ongoing worries that China's strict COVID-19 lockdowns will cramp oil prices. Indeed, energy (-8.3%) was Monday's worst-performing sector, with even blue chips such as Exxon Mobil (XOM, -7.9%) and Chevron (CVX, -6.7%) taking it on the chin.

Gold futures? A bad day, too, off 1.3% to $1,858.60 per ounce as investors piled into the U.S. dollar. 

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Kiplinger
May 09, 2022

Will Gas Prices Ever Go Down?
As it becomes increasingly painful to fill up your gas tank, you might well be wondering: Will gas prices go down at some point?

Fuel prices feel like they've been on a never-ending ride higher of late. A year ago, the national average price of regular unleaded was $2.96 per gallon, according to travel website AAA. A month ago, it was $4.12. Today, it's $4.33. And it's probably heading higher still this spring.

SEE MORE The 25 Cheapest U.S. Cities to Live In We recently looked at the reasons why gas prices are so high: global oil demand rebounding from the pandemic faster than production. The war in Ukraine. Efforts in the U.S. to transition the economy away from reliance on fossil fuels. Energy companies' reluctance to invest in more oil production.

Now, we'll try to answer the question undoubtedly on many drivers' minds: Will gas prices go down soon - and if so, what will do the pushing?

Fuel Tax Relief? A few states have tried to ease the financial burden on their residents by suspending their state fuel taxes for a short period. But are gas prices doing down because of those moves?

Not really.

For instance, Connecticut suspended its 25-cent-per gallon state levy on fuel for April, May and June. But according to AAA, the average price of regular unleaded in the Nutmeg State today is $4.32, up from $4.13 a week ago. Increases in crude oil prices can swamp the effect of suspending a state's gas tax. And when those state taxes are paused, the savings don't all go in the driver's pocket. Fuel sellers keep some portion of them.

Could the federal

Kiplinger
May 09, 2022

5 Leading Lithium Stocks Worth Digging Into
Lithium stocks are having their day in the sun.

This comes amid renewed focus on lithium as many countries shift to more environmentally friendly policies - including a transition toward electric vehicles and away from gas-burning internal combustion engines.  

In the U.S., for instance, President Joe Biden last August signed an executive order requiring half of all new vehicles sold domestically to be electric by 2030.

This increase in demand is creating a boon for lithium stocks, but a headache for automakers. In order to power these EVs, the industry needs batteries, and lots of them. And as demand for electric vehicles spikes, so has the price of lithium - a critical element used in lithium-ion batteries that power the emissions-free vehicles. An estimate from data provider Benchmark Mineral Intelligence indicates the price of lithium is up by around 130% this year.

SEE MORE The 22 Best Stocks to Buy for 2022 Sky-high lithium prices have garnered a lot of media attention, with Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk recently joining in on the debate. "Price of lithium has gone to insane levels! Tesla might actually have to get into the mining & refining directly at scale, unless costs improve," Musk tweeted in early April. He added that there's no shortage in lithium, but that the extraction and refinement process is "too slow."

In an aim to boost the battery supply chain in the U.S. - which will account for only 7% of global battery production this year, according to the Benchmark Mineral's Lithium-ion Battery Database - the Biden administration announced $3.16 billion of funding to companies that manufacture and recycle lithium-

Kiplinger
May 09, 2022

Walt Disney (DIS) Earnings Expected to Surge as Theme Parks Pop
First-quarter earnings season keeps rolling on. Headlining this week's earnings calendar will be entertainment giant Walt Disney (DIS, $110.71), oil name Occidental Petroleum (OXY, $62.97) and buy now, pay later company Affirm Holdings (AFRM, $25.04).

Through April 29, the percentage of S&P 500 companies reporting higher-than-expected earnings per share (80%) is above the five-year average (77%). However, the magnitude of the earnings beats (3.4%) is below the five-year average (8.9%), according to John Butters, senior earnings analyst at FactSet.

SEE MORE 15 Hot Upcoming IPOs to Watch For in 2022 At the sector level, Butters says industrials and consumer staples have had the highest percentage of earnings beats at 91% and 89%, respectively. At the low end, real estate  and consumer discretionary have the smallest amount of companies reporting earnings above estimates at 63% apiece.

Can Earnings Give Walt Disney Stock a Boost? Walt Disney w

Kiplinger
May 09, 2022

The Cure for the Great Resignation: Hire Older Workers
A truly fascinating, just released book by psychology professor Becca Levy of Yale University shatters many of the basic - and completely wrong - assumptions that we have been told were gospel about aging as far back as most of us can recall.

"Breaking the Age Code: How Your Beliefs About Aging Determine How Long and Well You Live," provides answers to challenging questions facing both employers and America's aging population itself.

SEE MORE How to Keep Your Employees from Jumping Ship During the Great Resignation Recently I chatted with Dr. Levy about the myths of getting older - how age impacts what we are able do.  If you thought that the mere act of flipping pages on a calendar meant a decline in mental and intellectual health and that "You can't teach an old dog new tricks," then step right up here for a doggy biscuit, because today's story will dispel that belief.

For, as her book makes clear, "Thinking ourselves old is a self-fulfilling, dangerous prophecy."

She is on a mission to convince an aging population to believe in themselves and realize that candles on a cake have no connection to reality, for the person blowing them out or their employer. 

I asked her to list several of the more common myths about aging and their consequences for our society, the world of business, and each of us when we wake up one day with a wrinkle that wasn't there before.

Myth No. 1: Your older workers are not as effective in the workplace. Reduce their job responsibilities. Research shows: Both anecdotally and decades of research has shown that older workers take fewer days off for sickness and reflect a strong work ethic that rubs

Kiplinger
May 08, 2022

The Haves-vs.-Have-Nots Problem Won't Go Away Without Doing This
What exactly is financial literacy?

People talk about it and write about it. It is a buzzword of sorts now, bandied about in many ways and contexts, particularly during Financial Literacy Month, which just wrapped up in April.

In fact, it is important to understand what it means, and why it is important to all of us.

SEE MORE Why Financial Literacy Alone Will Always Fail Financial literacy isn't just understanding how to write a check and balance a checkbook (if that even applies anymore). It is having the confidence and understanding to manage one's own finances, or lack thereof, and the wherewithal to figure out a prudent road forward that will support you and your family into retirement and beyond.

So why is increasing financial literacy important?

The growing divide between the "haves" and the "have nots" is real. And like education, being financially literate can help to lift a person from one category to the other.

The statistics tell the story: Women and people are color are most at-risk There has been a steep decline in financial literacy in recent years with regard to more complex topics, including inflation, financial risk and mortgages rates. The nation has seemingly backtracked, as the number of  Americans surveyed by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation who could correctly answer most questions on important financial topics plummeted by 8 percentage points in 2018 compared with 2009 — 34% versus 42%, respectively.Specific segments of the population fared worse than others. The study showed a lower level of financial understanding among res

Kiplinger
May 07, 2022

2 Alternatives to Required Minimum Distributions
Here's my simple explanation of required minimum distributions (RMDs): At age 72, Uncle Sam knocks on your door and asks you to pay taxes on your tax-deferred investments. You've gone perhaps years without paying taxes on these accounts, and he's $30 trillion in debt. In more technical terms, an RMD is when you take out a specific percentage (based on the IRS life expectancy table) from your tax-deferred investments (401(k)s, IRAs, etc.) and pay taxes on it.

SEE MORE When It Comes to Your 401(k), Trust But Verify The older you get, the more that percentage increases. Most retirees not only see an increase in that percentage, but they also see their investments grow. This combination may cause you to take out significantly more in the future, which can cause issues when it comes to paying taxes. It could push you into a higher tax bracket, cause Social Security to be more taxable, push you into a higher Medicare premium bracket and cause capital gains to be taxable or more taxable.

Now, what if you don't want to take your RMD? Can you just pass on it? You do not want to do this, as the penalty is a 50% tax. I know not everyone wants to take out their RMD, but this is something you don't want to miss. Luckily, there are a few ways to make RMDs a little less troublesome.

Strategy 1: Roth Conversions You could deal with this now by reducing your RMDs in the future. This could involve taking money from your tax-deferred investments before age 72 or utilizing

Kiplinger
May 06, 2022

Stock Market Today: Stocks Sink After April Jobs Report
On the heels of their worst session of 2022, stocks initially struggled to find direction Friday following the release of the April jobs report - though in the end, they settled for selling, again. 

The Labor Department this morning said the U.S. added 428,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate held steady at 3.6%. This marked the 12th straight month U.S. employers have added at least 400,000 new jobs. At this pace, the economy could recover all of its pandemic-related job losses by mid-July, says Kiplinger economist David Payne. 

SEE MORE 37 Ways to Earn Up to 9% Yields on Your Money Also notable in the report was wage growth, which rose 0.3% month-over-month and 5.5% year-over-year, and the participation rate - or the percentage of the population that have jobs or are seeking them - which declined slightly to 62.2%.

"While there's no shortage of concerns to take the wind out of investors' sails right now, this jobs read likely won't be one of them," says Mike Loewengart, managing director of Investment Strategy at E*Trade. "With a relatively rosy jobs picture, despite slight misses on participation and wages, the Federal Reserve likely won't be swayed from its rate hike campaign. And since numbers came in mostly in line with expectations, the market may have already priced in a robust jobs read."

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Stocks initially opened lower before finding their way higher by lunchtime. These intraday gains were short-lived, however, with all three markets sinking back into negative territory in the afternoon.

At

Kiplinger
May 06, 2022

12 of Wall Street's Newest Dividend Stocks
Skyrocketing inflation has spurred demand for investments that can keep pace with rising prices. This includes renewed interest in income-paying investments, including both old and new dividend stocks.

"If inflation is here to stay, I believe dividend growth stocks are likely to outperform," says Denise Chisholm, director of quantitative market strategy for Fidelity. Her research, which focuses on stock performance during periods of high inflation, found that stocks with rising dividends outperform the broader market.   

And a firm's ability to pay a dividend is a sign of quality. Companies that initiate new dividends join an elite group whose members stand out for their generous cash flows, solid balance sheets and commitment to creating shareholder value.

SEE MORE The 22 Best Stocks to Buy for 2022 "Initiating a new dividend is often a sign that a company has matured into a stable and more durable business and one that's a lot less likely to disappoint," says John Del Vecchio, forensic accountant and co-manager of the AdvisorShares Ranger Equity Bear ETF (HDGE) says.

The data supports these assertions. A study by Ned Davis Research found that dividend stocks have experienced the highest returns relative to other stocks since 1973 while exhibiting significantly lower volatility. 

Between 1973 and 2021, dividend growers and those that initiated new dividends produced an average annual return of 10.7% and a standard deviation of 16.0%. Over this same period, the S&P 500 generated an average 8.2% annual return and a 17.5% standard deviation. The average an

Kiplinger
May 06, 2022

Do You Have a Retirement Plan, or Just a Bunch of Uncoordinated Accounts?
Inflation hit a 40-year high of 8.5% in March. Some people don't factor in inflation when doing their retirement planning, but the significant spike in prices recently should be a trigger for all of us to look at inflation with more scrutiny.

Because the cost of everything is going up, that may mean that you have less money you can save for retirement. So, the question becomes, how can you generate more income to offset inflation?

SEE MORE Fed Is Raising Interest Rates. How Do Retirees Benefit? What many people don't consider is how inflation would affect them in retirement if it went above 2% or even higher for long stretches of their retirement years. It's important now to take a look at the next 10, 15 and 20 years with the possibility of inflation being higher than normal and determining how that would affect your financial situation. How could you do things differently with your money? How can you better prepare your current asset allocation for higher inflation?

The taxation angle is another consideration as you plan for retirement. Income tax rates were reduced in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, but they're going back up when the legislation expires at the end of 2025. There have been other proposals to increase taxes, such as the capital gains tax and the income tax rate on the highest earners.

Therefore, you need to ask yourself this question: If your tax rates were

Kiplinger
May 05, 2022

Stock Market Today: Stocks Suffer Worst Losses of 2022
The major indexes wiped out yesterday's relief-rally gains and then some Thursday in a market-wide rout as Wall Street took a more sober look at the investing landscape.

For one, most of the worries hanging over stocks haven't disappeared, including on the interest-rate front. While Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell did dismiss the idea of a 75-basis-point hike yesterday, the expectation is for at least two more 50-basis-point hikes at the next two Federal Open Market Committee meetings - a still-considerable level of monetary tightening.

SEE MORE The 25 Cheapest U.S. Cities to Live In "We are still not out of the woods yet, as there is still too much uncertainty over how the Federal Reserve's actions will tame inflation without causing a recession," says Zach Stein, chief investment officer of climate change-focused investment manager Carbon Collective.

Indeed, the yield on the 10-year Treasury, which retreated yesterday, roared back to life Thursday to eclipse 3% once more. That weighed particularly hard on rate-sensitive growth places in tech and tech-esque stocks such as mega-caps Tesla (TSLA, -8.3%), Nvidia (NVDA, -7.3%) and Apple (AAPL, -5.6%).

Speculative assets such as cryptocurrency went heavily risk-off, too; Bitcoin, for instance, plunged 8.9% to $36,287. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m.)

Gene Goldman, chief investment officer of Cetera Investment Management, pointe

Kiplinger
May 05, 2022

Why Are Gas Prices Still Going Up?
Drivers in 2022 face an increasingly painful experience every time they fill up their gas tanks. National-average regular unleaded gas prices sit at $4.23 per gallon as of this writing - up 2% from $4.13 just a week ago, up 29% from $3.28 at the start of the year and 45% higher than the $2.91 national average a year ago.

Why are gas prices rising so much? And when will gas prices go back down again?

SEE MORE PODCAST: High Gas Prices with The Kiplinger Letter's Jim Patterson Let's explore some of the drivers behind higher gas prices, then delve into whether there's any relief in store for consumers at the pump.

COVID Crushed Oil Demand … Then Crushed Oil Production There are several reasons why Americans are facing rising gas prices.

First, blame the COVID-19 pandemic, which threw oil markets severely out of whack two years ago. They still haven't fully recovered from the damage the virus inflicted.

When COVID first hit, it put a deep dent in global oil demand as many normal activities shut down and millions of people who usually drive to work stayed home. As a result, crude oil prices plunged. In fact, at one point in April 2020, benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude prices actually fell below $0 - something that would normally seem impossible.

With oil demand so weak due to COVID-19 restrictions, places to store unwanted crude filled up, and traders in oil futures scrambled to unload their positions in crude. Eventually, some had to pay buyers to take future oil deliveries off their hands.

Negative prices didn't last long, but oil stayed very cheap for much of 2020. That led energy companies and major oil exporting countries in OPEC to slash t

Kiplinger
May 05, 2022

Accident Victims (and Their Doctors) Sometimes Get Shafted by Letters of Protection
There is a lot to like about Texas. Texans are known for being down-to-earth, helpful and friendly. Texas-style BBQ is famous worldwide. And who hasn't heard Deep in the Heart of Texas?

However, the state ranks high among those with the most vehicular deaths, with Houston earning the dubious distinction of being the city with the greatest number of red light wreck fatalities from 2004-2018, according to the National Coalition for Safer Roads. 

SEE MORE Need to Hire a Lawyer? Why Local is Best. "That's why I would always count one...two...three before driving into an intersection when my light turned green," "Art" wrote to me, adding, "and, you can't imagine how many red-light runners I saw during those three seconds!"

Bad Accident Leads to Hiring a Personal Injury Law Firm One day, while Art was counting at a stoplight, the driver behind him was texting, failed to slow down, and crashed into him, totaling both cars and leaving Art with severe neck and lower back trauma.

"His insurance company said that I caused the accident by not promptly driving off when my light turned green! On top of that, while I had auto medical payments insurance, the limits were not adequate for my needs.

"So, I hired a Houston attorney - whose ad I saw on television - and he assured me there would be no problem in getting the care I needed. ‘We will send our Letter of Protection (LOP) to the doctors you treat with. This assures them of being paid when the case settles,' they told me, but none of the physicians I have seen will take my case as long as I am represented by this law firm. What's going on?"

How a Letter of Protection is Supposed to Work A letter of protection, also ca

Kiplinger
May 05, 2022

Why a Pension Lump Sum Option Is Better Than an Annuity Payment
Often, the decision to take a pension annuity option over an available lump sum option rests on which option provides the greatest income. And that makes perfect sense if all of the other factors relating to this decision are excluded from the due diligence process.

But when considering all the factors that accompany this decision, whether to take a pension annuity option over an available lump sum option becomes more about control than it does the amount of the payment.

The Problems with Pensions Today we are seeing fewer pensions than we did 20 years ago, and there is a reason for this downward trend.  The truth is that pensions are facing systemic problems, which is why we see private sector companies replacing these defined benefit plans with defined contribution plans, such as 401(k)s.

There was a time when employees worked until they could no longer physically do their job, and when they retired they died shortly after. What we see today is employees retiring much sooner in the cycle and living longer, which translates to significantly higher pension costs that are simply unsustainable.

SEE MORE When It Comes to Your 401(k), Trust But Verify Speaking of sustainability, historically pensions have used 4.5% to 7.5% to calculate their projection of benefits and with interest rates far below this range, it goes a long way in improving the optics of the plans, but does very little to change their actual solvency. 

Interest rates have been far below these percentages for decades and when you couple that fact with a projected 10-year benefit period you can see how the math appears great on paper. But the reality is that if someone retires in their 50s (which is most often the case when a pension is involved) and live well into their 70s and 80s, you can see that 10-year estimate

Kiplinger
May 04, 2022

Stock Market Today: Stocks Rally on Powell's Rate Reassurance
Stocks breathed a massive sigh of relief Wednesday afternoon after the Federal Reserve gave the markets exactly the rate hike they were betting on - and indicated that future hikes were unlikely to be more aggressive.

Specifically, the Federal Open Market Committee chalked up its first 50-basis-point increase to its benchmark Fed funds rate since 2000. Between that and March's 25-point hike, the Fed's target rate now sits at 0.75%-1.0%.

SEE MORE 9 Great Growth ETFs for 2022 and Beyond The central bank also said Wednesday that it would begin winding down its $9 trillion trove of bonds, mortgage-backed securities and other assets it previously bought up to stimulate the economy, starting at $47.5 billion per month and reaching $95 billion per month by September. 

Both announcements were right in line with many strategists' expectations.

"There were no major bombshells in the press release today, and the plan for quantitative tightening was mildly dovish," says Cliff Hodge, chief investment officer for registered investment advisory firm Cornerstone Wealth. "[The FOMC's statement that it would be 'highly attentive to inflation risks'] provides some flexibility to adjust policy in light of new data. Overall, [the announcement was] about as dovish as could be expected while still showing that the Fed is serious about fighting inflation."

However, Jamie Cox, managing partner at Harris Financial Group, noted that Fed Chair Jerome Powell "had a third mandate today - and that was to dispel the notion of a 75-basis-point rate increase."

Mission accomplished.

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Kiplinger
May 04, 2022

PODCAST: Which Documents to Keep, Which to Shred and Which to Scan
Subscribe FREE wherever you listen: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Overcast | RSS

Links mentioned in this episode: Now You Can Own Bitcoin in 401(k)s. Should You? Trading Options for Your 401(k) US Department of Labor cautions 401(k) plan fiduciaries to exercise extreme care as they consider cryptocurrencies Create a Financial Plan for Natural Disaster  How to Protect Your Home from Natural Disasters with the Right Insurance  Transcript: David Muhlbaum: What documents can you throw out, and which must you save, and where do you put them, is a debate as old as, well, writing things down. But technology and nat

Kiplinger
May 04, 2022

Warren Buffett's Inflation Plan: Buy, Buy, Buy
Rapidly rising prices are on the radar for virtually everyone in America - even the billionaire class. Indeed, Warren Buffett himself has his eyes on inflation.

Buffett finally whipped out Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.B, $318.99) checkbook in a big way earlier this year, spending tens of billions of dollars in a matter of weeks. 

SEE MORE 65 Best Dividend Stocks You Can Count On in 2022 All it took was a historically bad start to the year for stocks - or at least, that's how things would appear at first glance.

But stumbling share prices, while certainly critical, aren't the whole story here. Warren Buffett clearly has been monitoring America's rampant inflation, which appears to be a key factor driving his renewed appetite for equities. 

And make no mistake: Berkshire's chairman and CEO is hungry.

Berkshire Buys Like There's No Tomorrow Buffett has embarked on a shopping spree the likes of which we haven't seen since the Great Financial Crisis. During the first quarter …

The Berkshire Hathaway equity portfolio scooped up $41.5 billion in net stock purchases in the first quarter. That's the most cash Buffett has splurged on equities in a quarter since 2008The Oracle of Omaha spent another $3.2 billion buying back BRK.B shares. Berkshire also announced that it would spend $11.6 billion to acquire insurer Alleghany outright - a deal that should close during the fourth quarter.

Kiplinger
May 04, 2022

Timely Tips for Investors to Deal with Today's Worst Challenges
Investors are facing two significant challenges right now: stock market volatility and high inflation. For instance, the Dow recently saw its worst daily percentage drop since October 2020, falling almost 1,000 points, or 2.8%, on April 22. And inflation spiked to 8.5% in March, the highest it has been in 40 years.

To help investors navigate these challenges and make informed decisions regarding their portfolios, Janus Henderson is pleased to offer the following time-tested tips.

SEE MORE 65 Best Dividend Stocks You Can Count On in 2022

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