Category Archives: Personal Finance

Dream Planning

dream-800xIn working with financial planning clients, one of the questions we ask is “What are your dreams during retirement?”  About half the people will say they want to travel.  About one in 20 will say something beyond that:  “I want to by an RV and cruise the country”, or “I …

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Pay Yourself First

A recent survey by the American Savings Education Council indicated that Americans of all wage levels are having a hard time saving. Its seems that the old saying “you grow into your income” just might be true. The recent study as reported by CNBC shows that 31% of consumers have $0 non-retirement savings.
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Your Advisors Interest May Not Align With Yours

iStock_000032784774SmallWhen individuals are choosing an investment advisor, it can be a very confusing process. After all, to most people, we all look the same, just different firm names; however, there are many differences. At the core, there are advisors that are legally bound to work in the best interest of …

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5 Ways Your Brain Can Sabotage Your Investing

The stock market is a great brawl in which minds with opposing views battle over whether prices will go up or down. Unfortunately, investors are often their biggest foe in this arena because our brains have biological mechanisms to screw us up.

Here are five reasons the self-sabotaging brain does this. Continue reading

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Legal: Partnership Agreements

Forming a partnership, even when with a trusted friend or colleague, should be done so with the foresight to protect yourself and your new joint venture. By formally setting the rules of the partnership at the formation of the business, you are setting your business up for success. Continue reading

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2014 IRS Limits – Saving For Retirement

It’s 2014, and the new IRS limits have kicked in. Here’s what you need to know concerning your 401k, IRA and other limits. Continue reading

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Early Retirement – IRS 72t – Avoiding the 10% Penalty

What happens, though, if because of health or company early retirement mandates, you are forced to retire before age 59 ½? How can you access your retirement savings without paying penalties? The answer is 72(t). Continue reading

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Who Needs Long Term Care?

Having a long term care policy in place can help you preserve assets that would otherwise be diverted to custodial care, and give you peace of mind that your care needs will be addressed should the need arise. Continue reading

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Payoff that Mortgage Prior to Retirement

If your house was paid for, would you take out a loan to invest it in the stock market? Amazingly many people reading this would actually pause to think about it. The answer should be no. Continue reading

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2013 IRS Saving, Gifting and Other Limits

It’s 2013, and the new IRS limits have kicked in. Here’s what you need to know concerning your 401k, IRA and other limits. Continue reading

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Indexed Annuities, Better Read the Fine Print

So you purchase the annuity and tie it to the S&P 500 index. This year, the index grows 20%. You would expect to see a 20% return in your annuity, right? Wrong! Continue reading

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Your Financial Future – Can You Fill in the Blanks?

I need to save ___% of my paycheck to reach my financial independence goal to make working optional at age___. My retirement nest egg needs to be built to $_____ to achieve this goal. Continue reading

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Why You Need an Estate Plan

Many people think estate plans are for the rich and not necessarily famous. After all, most of us don’t have millions of dollars sitting around, with heirs who fight with murderous intent. But you would be surprised at how useful – even essential – an estate plan can be for the average citizen. Continue reading

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The Burden of Debt

If interest rates are too high such as to make your minimum payments too onerous to allow much wiggle room, do not be shy about calling the debt provider to ask for a reduction in the rate. They don’t have to honor your request, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Continue reading

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Book Review: The Vigilant Investor

You can go with your gut when choosing between steak or chicken. Use knowledge to choose an advisor. This book will help you do that. Continue reading

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The Stretch IRA

A stretch IRA is not officially in the IRS code. It is a wealth transfer method that allows you to potentially “stretch” and even grow the IRA assets over several generations. The strategy involves adjusting beneficiary designations to minimize so-called required minimum distributions (RMDs) over a long period of time. Continue reading

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4 Tax Saving Ideas

It’s almost 2012. Your business has done better than expected. Here are a few things you may consider to help lower your tax liability before year end, but you had better hurry! Continue reading

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Individual Stocks and Diversification

No matter how aggressive an investor you are, investing in one company, or even a few companies, is not a wise move. Continue reading

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Retirement Plans for the Self Employed

So you quit the corporate rat race to start your own business.  It’s hard work, but you enjoy the freedom and the thrill of being your own boss.  There is nothing that you miss about your old job.

Except maybe your 401(k). 

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A Tale of Risk and Reward

There is no room for greed in investing. In the investing world you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. If you want the reward you have to take on the risk as well. Put another way, you have the potential to be rewarded for the amount of risk that you take. Notice I said “potential”. Reward is not a guarantee. The reason is risk. Continue reading

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The Lure of Debit Cards

But is a debit card really better than a credit card? Studies have shown that we spend more when using a credit card. You’d think that using a debit card would alleviate this problem, since you know that you’re using your own money to make the purchase. This isn’t true. Some smart college students I know have figured out they do indeed spend more using a debit card, and now use cash for most purchases. Continue reading

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When Markets Go Crazy

Worry much about your investments? In volatile markets, it’s easy to feel uneasy. Memories of 2008-2009, when the market lost more than half its value, are still fresh in everyone’s mind. So when the market swings widely nowadays, investors get concerned. Sometimes concerned enough to act.
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Save Early for Retirement

At what age is it better to save for retirement? In your early years of working, money is probably tight. It’s hard to find the extra money to save towards such a far end goal, when the rent needs to be paid, and you have a more immediate need to build emergency savings. You might think that waiting until later in life to save for retirement, when your income is likely higher and you can more likely afford to do so, would be the best option.
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How to pay for College

It’s a blessing and a curse. After much nagging about grades and extra-curricular activities, your beloved Junior or Juniorette has made it into college. Your first thought is how proud you are of your child’s achievement. Your very next thought is, “How in the world do I pay for this?” Continue reading

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IRA Charitable Rollovers

You have done well for yourself. You’ve watched your pennies, saved aggressively, invested wisely, and now, in your golden years, you have a retirement nest egg that is more than you need. You have a philanthropic bent – an alma mater you’re fond of, a charity that is near and dear to your heart. How can you donate to these worthy causes without sacrificing to the IRS more than you think it deserves?
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Play Defense with a Solid Portfolio

The pictures and stories from Japan have shocked us all. The human aspect of this country’s struggle to cope with the earthquake and tsunami tugs at our hearts. The same applies to those in Middle Eastern countries crying out for freedom and democracy only to be responded to with bullets …

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An ETN to replace the Variable Annuity?

A new exchange traded note (ETN) has come to market offering a well-known approach to investing found in active investment strategies, but new to the exchange traded products. The US RBS Trend Pilot ETN (ticker TRND) tracks the total return of the S&P 500 (actual return plus dividends), but provides safety in that if the S&P 500 drops below its 200 day moving average, then TRND will “sell” the S&P 500 and “purchase” short duration US treasury bonds. Looking back to 2008, TRND would have been in treasuries during the financial crisis, missing the worst decline in the S&P 500 in decades and benefiting from treasuries climbing to record prices. Continue reading

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2010 Tax Relief Act – Estate Implications

The 2010 Tax Relief Act has been passed. What does this mean for your estate plan? Continue reading

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A Random Act of Christmas

Chris Ciulla, a client here at Wiser Wealth Management is organizing support for our troops through his program A Random Act of Christmas. Chris is raising money to purchase gift cards that he and his family will hand out to our troops as the pass through the Atlanta Airport. The gift card will be used by the troops online to pick out a gift of their choosing. You can contribute with a little as $32 to purchase one gift card. Continue reading

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Why do they keep trying to sell you that annuity?

There are several types of annuities with the most popular being the variable annuity. The bank salespeople, often falsely referred to as financial advisors, make the sales pitch sound as if these products are the best things since the Wright Brothers took flight. I say buyer beware. Continue reading

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Free ETF Trades at TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade offers 100 commission free ETFs. Continue reading

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How to Choose a Financial Advisor

The title “Financial Advisor” has a myriad of meanings. To most, it probably means a financial “expert” to guide you through important decisions and help manage investment assets for the present and future.

However, all advisors are not the same. So, how do you pick one? Below are five factors …

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Vanguard Lowers the Cost of Investing… Again

Vanguard has lowered the floor on S&P ETF index investing. Continue reading

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How Poor Investments Happen

Investors tend to do poorly when they react to what the market does instead of preparing for what may happen and taking advantage of long-term forecasts. With a reactionary attitude, investors will rarely do well. Continue reading

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Top 5 Estate Planning Mistakes

Top 5 estate planning mistakes

I recently read a report that suggested that only about 20 percent of the population has a formal estate plan. After reviewing the points below, please take a minute to consider whether it’s time for you to create or update your estate plan.

Here are

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Letter to Clients – Crisis in Europe

“Because major developed markets are now so highly linked, there is no way for problems in Europe to remain isolated there; we will see a ripple effect here in the US.” Continue reading

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Wills and Trusts – In the Box or Off the Web

Dawn Levine an Attorney in Marietta, GA often gets asked what she thinks about Wills done over the internet. Continue reading

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Wiser Helps Those Out of Work – Free Tax Prep

Wiser Wealth Management offers free tax preparation services to those currently out of work. Continue reading

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Active vs. Passive – Morningstar’s Second Half 2009 Report

Morningstar has released their Box Score Report looking at active vs. passive investing strategies over the second half of 2009.…

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The Cruel World of Financial Advice

You expect that your banker or broker will always do what is in your best interest. Can they? It’s a mixed up world when your financial advisor is your salesman. Continue reading

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Should you put ETFs in your 401k?

ETFs are empowering individual and professional investors with the power of transparency, diversification, low fees, and, compared to many of active fund managers, better performance. …

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Fiduciary and the “B”

Is the “lack of demand” for the ‘B’ share mutual funds because brokers are cleaning up their act and ditching one terrible product to show that they really don’t need to be fiduciaries to have the client’s best interest at heart? Continue reading

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Closet Indexer

There is an old joke that financial news journalists write about the hot stock or mutual fund by day and privately invest in long term healthy index funds by night. Could this be true of active fund managers as well? Continue reading

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House Makes Death Tax Permanent Today

Despite Republican efforts to do away with the Death Tax, the House voted to pass H.R. 4154 with a final vote of 225 to 200. H.R. 4151 will extend the 2009 3.5 million personal exemption (7.0 million per couple) and the 45% tax rate above those levels through 2010.…

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Indexing Thought Brought to you by Today’s Mail

A look at look at 401k Maximizer, a active trading platform for airline employees and how this pie in the sky approach may leave some grounded in the long term. Continue reading

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Stock Picker to Indexer

Recently, Jason Zweig, in his Intelligent Investor column, discussed data mining and proprietary trading on Wall Street, and the unreliability most of these strategies have on predicting the future.…

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Death Tax Changes Uncertain

I recently received an Estate Tax update from The Estate Plan (TEP). TEP cited Leimburg Associates, Inc as the source of the following information. Here is my summary.…

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Run..Run.. from the Salesman with the Annuity!! UPDATED

I had a email conservation today with an old friend who just purchased an annuity.…

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Leverage ETFs in the News…Again

Leveraged ETFs Under Investigation

The Massachusetts Secretary of State, William Galvin, is looking into the marketing of leveraged ETFs and has reportedly written letters to the three biggest players in this market, ProShares, Direxion and Rydex.…

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Another Advocate for Indexing

Yesterday, I met with a Captain from Atlantic Southeast Airline (Delta Connection). As soon as he walked in the door, he handed me an article from USA Today about a new book by Justin Fox. Justin Fox was unknown to me but the title of his book, “The Myth of …
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John Bogle Endorses Wiser Wealth, Well…Sort of

Our friends at indexuniverse recently interviewed John Bogle. Mr. Bogle is the mutual fund indexing pioneer that started Vanguard.…

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Mutual Fund Lending of Your Money!

A Wall Street Journal article caught my eye today. Jason Zweig’s article “Is your Fund Pawning Shares at Your Expense?” covers a unknown regular occurrence that Mutual Fund Managers often loan out shares of the fund’s stocks to other institutions. …

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President Obama: An Index Investor

In a recent report, President Obama disclosed a large holding in Vanguard Index Funds. Continue reading

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Winning in a Losing Market

In a recent press release, Lou Harvey, President of DALBAR, said,

For 15 years, QAIB has shown that investor returns lag what performance reports and prospectuses would lead one to believe is acheivable.  While those returns are, in fact, theoretically acheivable, the reality is that investors are not rational, and

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Isaac Newton: The Investor

“Long ago, Sir Isaac Newton gave us three laws of motion, which were the work of genius.…

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ETFs Vs. ETNs; You Better be Careful

I recently returned from Singapore, where I participated in the Asia Indexing Conference. My Day 1 role was presenting to my Asian peers the difference between an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) and an Exchange Traded Note (ETN).…

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Insights From the Inside ETF Conference

Last Weekend I was able to attend the Inside ETF Conference in Boca Raton Florida put on by Index Publications, LLC.  While we were there, Wiser Wealth Management’s president, Casey Smith was a moderator on a panel covering advisors using ETFs.…

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