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January-February 2017 Newsletter

Posted: January 18, 2017

Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Social Security Retirement Benefits? Social Security is an important source of retirement income for millions of Americans, but how much do you know about this program? Test your knowledge, and learn more about your retirement benefits, by answering the following questions. Questions 1. Do you have to be retired to collect Social Security retirement benefits? a. […]

November – December 2016 Newsletter

Posted: November 28, 2016

Will vs. Trust: Is One Better Than the Other? When it comes to planning your estate, you might be wondering whether you should use a will or a trust (or both). Understanding the similarities and the differences between these two important documents may help you decide which strategy is better for you. What is a will? A will is a legal document that lets […]

Fall 2016 Newsletter

Posted: September 23, 2016

Quiz: Test Your Interest Rate Knowledge In December 2015, the Federal Reserve raised the federal funds target rate to a range of 0.25% to 0.50%, the first rate increase from the near-zero range where it had lingered for seven years. Many economists viewed this action as a positive sign that the Fed had finally deemed the U.S. economy healthy enough to withstand slightly higher interest […]

Summer 2016 Newsletter

Posted: July 31, 2016

Investors Are Human, Too In 1981, the Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller published a groundbreaking study that contradicted a prevailing theory that markets are always efficient. If they were, stock prices would generally mirror the growth in earnings and dividends. Shiller’s research showed that stock prices fluctuate more often than changes in companies’ intrinsic valuations (such as dividend yield) would suggest. (1) Shiller concluded that asset prices sometimes move erratically in […]

March – April 2016 Newsletter

Posted: March 29, 2016

Protecting Your Business from Cyber Threats Risk management is a key component in any successful business plan. In today’s world–where data breaches are common occurrences–it’s especially important for business owners to understand the digital risks they face. Are you doing all you can to mitigate the risk of a cyber attack? Understanding the risks Many small-business owners may think their organizations hold little appeal to hackers due to their […]

February 2016 Newsletter

Posted: February 10, 2016

Changes to Social Security Claiming Strategies The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 included a section titled “Closure of Unintended Loopholes” that ends two Social Security claiming strategies that have become increasingly popular over the last several years. These two strategies, known as “file and suspend” and “restricted application” for a spousal benefit, have often been used […]

January 2016 Newsletter

Posted: January 4, 2016

When a Saver Marries a Spender, Every Penny Counts If you’re a penny pincher but your spouse is penny wise and pound foolish, money arguments may frequently erupt. Couples who have opposite philosophies regarding saving and spending often have trouble finding common ground. Thinking of yourselves as two sides of the same coin may help you appreciate your financial differences. Heads or tails, […]

December 2015 Newsletter

Posted: January 4, 2016

New Legislation Makes Many Tax Provisions Permanent The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 In one of its final actions for calendar year 2015, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, a massive spending bill that will keep the federal government funded for fiscal year 2016. Signed into law on December 18, 2015, the legislation […]

September 2015 Newsletter

Posted: January 4, 2016

Financial Mistakes People Make at Different Ages There’s a saying that with age comes wisdom, but this may not always be true in the financial world. As people move through different life stages, there are new opportunities–and potential pitfalls–around every corner. In your 20s Living beyond your means. It’s tempting to want all the latest and greatest in gadgets, entertainment, and travel, but if […]

Eleven Ways to Help Yourself Stay Sane in a Crazy Market

Posted: August 31, 2015

Keeping your cool can be hard to do when the market goes on one of its periodic roller-coaster rides. It’s useful to have strategies in place that prepare you both financially and psychologically to handle market volatility. Here are 11 ways to help keep yourself from making hasty decisions that could have a long-term impact on your ability to achieve your […]

February – March 2015 Newsletter

Posted: August 13, 2015

Points to Consider If Your Retirement Goal Seems Out of Reach Each year in its annual Retirement Confidence Survey, the Employee Benefit Research Institute reiterates that goal setting is a key factor influencing overall retirement confidence. But for many, a retirement savings goal that could reach $1 million or more may seem like a daunting, even impossible mountain to climb. What if you’re investing as much as you […]

January 2015 Newsletter

Posted: August 13, 2015

Healthy Resolutions Can Pay Off (Literally) If you made a New Year’s Resolution to get healthy, you may get more bang for your resolution buck than you bargained for. That’s because healthy habits can benefit your wallet as well as your body. The link between health and money According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC), chronic conditions–including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer–account for more than 75% […]

December 2014 Newsletter

Posted: December 8, 2014

Four Questions to Ask Before You Open Your Wallet Even if you have the best of intentions, it’s easy to overspend. According to a Gallup poll conducted June 9-15, 2014,* 58% of people who had shopped during the previous four weeks said they spent more at the store than they originally intended to. Even if you’re generally comfortable with how much you spend, you may occasionally […]

October – November 2014 Newsletter

Posted: October 17, 2014

Saving or Investing: Is There a Difference? Financially speaking, the terms “saving” and “investing” are often used interchangeably. But the concepts behind these terms actually have some important differences. Understanding these differences and taking advantage of them may help you in working toward financial goals for you and your family. Saving You may want to set aside money for a specific, identifiable expense. You park […]

September 2014 Newsletter

Posted: September 19, 2014

Quiz: How Much Do You Know about Social Security? You’re probably covered under Social Security–according to the Social Security Administration, an estimated 165 million workers are*–but how much do you know about this program? Test your knowledge by answering the following questions: Questions 1. If you decide to collect your retirement benefit starting at age 62, your benefit will be […]

August 2014 Newsletter

Posted: August 14, 2014

Home Staging-Get Your Home Ready to Sell In today’s competitive housing market, your home’s appearance plays an important role in determining how quickly it will sell. Before you put your home on the market, many real estate professionals recommend doing at least some form of home staging. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can […]

July 2014 Newsletter

Posted: July 11, 2014

15 Facts about Social Security It’s easy to take Social Security for granted when retirement is years away, but with 94% of the U.S. workforce covered by Social Security,* it’s likely that this program will play a role in your financial future, perhaps even sooner than you think. Here are some facts and statistics from the […]

June 2014 Newsletter

Posted: June 6, 2014

Top 10 Tax Breaks You’ll Miss in 2014 You probably didn’t notice, but when the clock struck midnight on December 31, 2013, a number of popular tax benefits, commonly included in the list of provisions referred to as “tax extenders” expired. While it’s possible that Congress could retroactively extend some or all of these items, you’ll have to […]

May 2014 Newsletter

Posted: April 29, 2014

What Baseball Can Teach You about Financial Planning Spring training is a tradition that baseball teams and baseball fans look forward to every year. No matter how they did last year, teams in spring training are full of hope that a new season will bring a fresh start. As this year’s baseball season gets under way, here […]

February 2014 Newsletter

Posted: February 2, 2014

Should You Pay Off Your Mortgage During Retirement? For many homeowners, paying off a mortgage is a financial milestone. This is especially true when you are retired. Not having the burden of a monthly mortgage payment during retirement can free up money to help you live the retirement lifestyle you’ve always wanted. To pay off, or not to […]

January 2014 Newsletter

Posted: January 9, 2014

The Impact of Health-Care Costs on Social Security For many retirees and their families, Social Security provides a dependable source of income. In fact, for the majority of retirees, Social Security accounts for at least half of their income (Source: Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security, 2013). However, more of that income is being spent on […]

December 2013 Newsletter

Posted: December 5, 2013

  It’s December 31st. Do You Know Where Your Money Is? December and January are the perfect months to look back at what you earned, saved, and spent during the past year, as W-2s, account statements, and other year-end financial summaries roll in. So before Punxsutawney Phil comes out of his burrow to predict when […]

November 2013 Newsletter

Posted: November 12, 2013

2013 Year-End Tax Planning Considerations As the end of the 2013 tax year approaches, set aside some time to evaluate your situation. Here are some things to keep in mind as you consider potential year-end tax moves. 1. The tax landscape has changed for higher-income individuals This year a new 39.6% federal income tax rate applies if […]

October 2013 Newsletter

Posted: September 24, 2013

Plan Now for a Year-End Investment Review: You might not enjoy sitting down to do year-end investment planning, but at least this fall you can make plans with greater certainty. For the last three years, investment planning has meant trying to anticipate possible changes in tax law; for tax year 2013 and beyond, you know […]

September 2013 Newsletter

Posted: September 4, 2013

Why You Need a Power of Attorney and Medical Directive: It’s late at night and you’re waiting for your husband to arrive home from a business trip. Suddenly the phone rings and the voice on the other end informs you that your husband was in a terrible car accident and has been rushed to the […]

August 2013 Newsletter

Posted: August 5, 2013

When Is Market Volatility Most Dangerous? Though a market downturn generally isn’t fun for most people, its timing can have a greater impact on some investors than on others. For example, a market downturn can have greater significance for retirees than for those who are still accumulating assets. And it has the most impact if […]

July 2013 Newsletter

Posted: July 5, 2013

15 Ways to Save on Your Next Vacation: Whether your vacation budget is big or small, no one likes to spend more than necessary when traveling. Here are some tips that can help you save on your next trip. Air travel • Pick your travel times wisely. Popular wisdom holds that Tuesday and Wednesday are […]

June 2013 Newsletter

Posted: June 12, 2013

Just How Risky Is Your Portfolio? If you’re like most people, you probably evaluate your portfolio in terms of its return. However, return isn’t the only factor you should consider; also important is the amount of risk you take in pursuing those returns. The term “risk” is often understood to mean the risk of loss. […]

May 2013 Newsletter

Posted: May 5, 2013

Income-Based Repayment (IBR) for Federal Student Loans The federal government’s income-based repayment program (IBR) for student loans allows qualified borrowers to tie their monthly federal student loan payments to their discretionary income. A new version of the IBR program called “Pay As You Earn” took effect on December 21, 2012 (it was originally scheduled to […]

April 2013 Newsletter

Posted: April 4, 2013

Estate Tax After the Fiscal Cliff: After threatening to go over the fiscal cliff, the gift tax, estate tax, and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax have come in for a soft landing. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA 2012), enacted on January 2, 2013, permanently extended the $5 million (as indexed) gift tax and […]

March 2013 Newsletter

Posted: March 5, 2013

Making the Most of Your 401(k) Plan: A 401(k) plan represents one of the most powerful retirement savings opportunities available today. If your employer offers a 401(k) plan and you’re not participating in it, you should be. Contribute as much as possible The more you can save for retirement, the better your chances of enjoying […]

February 2013 Newsletter

Posted: February 8, 2013

Federal Income Tax Filing Season Is Here: While 2012 is over, there are a few things taxpayers can do in 2013 to save taxes for2012. First, if you are not covered by an employer plan, you can make a deductible contribution to a Traditional IRA. Second, if you have a small business, the Simplified Employee […]

Market Week: January 28, 2013

Posted: January 28, 2013

The Markets: Domestic equities had yet another good week (as long as they weren’t Apple). The Dow was less than 2% away from its October 2007 all-time closing high of 14,164, and the S&P 500 was just under 4% away from a similar milestone. However, the Nasdaq struggled against the headwind created by Apple’s post-earnings […]

Market Week: January 22, 2013

Posted: January 22, 2013

The Markets: The bulls continued to dominate 2013, encouraged by Friday’s reports of a proposal that could postpone a debt ceiling confrontation for three months. A report that Apple had cut iPhone parts orders helped nibble at the Nasdaq’s performance, but the tech-heavy index managed to remain positive. The other three domestic indices did even […]

Market Week: January 14, 2013

Posted: January 15, 2013

Market Week: January 14, 2013: The Markets Equities didn’t match the prior week’s fireworks, but they still posted gains in the new year’s second week. The S&P 500 hit a five-year high for the second week in a row. However, the Global Dow soundly beat all four domestic indices for the week, in part because […]

Annual Investment Commentary for 2012

Posted: January 15, 2013

Annual Market Review 2012: Resilience in the face of adversity seemed to be the theme for 2012. Hurricanes that shuttered Wall Street for two days and cut oil production, the threat of a “Grexit” from the euro, Europe’s record unemployment and second recession in four years, Chinese growth that hit a three-year low, and uncertainty […]

January 2013 Newsletter

Posted: January 15, 2013

The Fiscal Cliff Solution: At the 11th hour on January 1, 2013, the House of Representatives voted and approved the Senate Bill, American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, and renamed it the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012 (Act of 2012). Following is a summary of the Act: 1. Individual marginal tax rates […]

Market Week: December 17, 2012

Posted: December 20, 2012

Market Week: December 17, 2012 The Markets As the lack of progress on fiscal cliff talks left investors wondering whether to batten down the hatches, equity markets continued to produce more vacillation than direction. Even a fresh infusion of quantitative easing from the Fed and decent economic data failed to lift investors’ spirits. Of the […]

December 2012 Newsletter

Posted: December 17, 2012

The Economics of Borrowing from Your 401(k): When times are tough, that pool of dollars sitting in your 401(k) plan account may start to look attractive. But before you decide to take a plan loan, be sure you understand the financial impact. It’s not as simple as you think. The basics of borrowing A 401(k) […]

November 2012 Newsletter

Posted: December 17, 2012

Fear of the Unknown and the Fiscal Cliff: We are all aware that the U.S. government is in a fiscal conundrum by failing to properly deal with the budget deficit and taxation issues in 2011. Now the lack of compromise between the House of Representatives and the White House is bringing the issues of deficit […]

October 2012 Newsletter

Posted: October 25, 2012

Year-End Income Tax Planning: The purpose of year-end tax planning is to look for opportunities to reduce your current or future income taxes, given the existing tax laws and your own personal circumstances. While this effort has always been challenging, this year is articularly difficult due to the presidential election and the long-standing gridlock in […]

Market Week – September 17, 2012

Posted: September 20, 2012

Market Week: September 17, 2012 The Markets Equities had a second strong week, helped along by a German court and the Federal Reserve. The S&P 500 has now gained more than 4% in the last two weeks, and all four indices are at their year-to-date highs. The renewed enthusiasm for stocks helped send Treasury yields […]

Markiz & Associates P.C. and Portland Financial Advisors, Inc. Moving Notice

Posted: September 20, 2012

M&A and PFA Moving Notice

September 2012 Newsletter

Posted: September 20, 2012

High-Income Individuals Face New Medicare Taxes in 2013 New tax on investment income Beginning in 2013, a new 3.8% Medicare contribution tax will generally be imposed on the unearned income of high-income individuals. The tax is equal to 3.8% of the lesser of: • Your net investment income Two new Medicare-related taxes take effect in […]

August 2012 Newsletter

Posted: August 28, 2012

Speculating on the Future of the Federal Estate Tax What’s the future of the federal estate tax? All we know is that no one knows for sure; it’s all speculation. So, let’s take a look at what could happen. There are five possibilities: (1) Congress could extend current tax law (commonly referred to as the […]

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