Love is Grand – $30 Grand

The cost of Love

February is the month for hopeless — and hopeful – romantics. Here is a roadmap to the courting process, courtesy of our friends at Turbotax. Love is grand, it’s true. But as you head down the road to everlasting love, you’d better start saving – the cost of a wedding averages almost $30 grand. It [...]

Are financial problems making you feel stupid? Scientists have figured out why.

Confused?

If your month lasts longer than your money, don’t berate yourself for stupidity. When financial stress gets you down, your mind is slower as well, scientists have found. Most people tested lost about 13 IQ points when they were worried about money. That’s because stress slows your brain and makes thinking more difficult, the same [...]

Top Four New Years Resolutions

Top 4 New Year's Resolutions

Here are four top financial resolutions that will help you get on track in 2014. Follow these and by December you’ll be set for the future.  

The Cost of Christmas is on the Rise Again

The rising cost of 12 days of Christmas

Ever wonder what the twelve days of Christmas would cost in today’s dollars? Well, believe it or not PNC Wealth Management has been tracking exactly that for 30 years. The cost of the gifts in song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is $27,393.17 in 2013, almost $1,200 more than last year. Build the gifts from [...]

Want to Attract More Women Clients? It’s a Science.

science

A cartoon I saw recently shows a male advisor pitching a woman prospect from across the desk. He’s explaining all the facts and figures about markets and indices and asset allocation models. Next panel: She’s left his office, and he’s pumping his fist in the air saying, “Nailed it! I told her everything she needed [...]

Is Divorce on Your Holiday Shopping List?

Holiday List

Six Steps from the Experts on Handling the Holidays when Your Marriage No Longer Feels Like a “Gift” Thinking about shopping lists, presents, parties, and…divorce?  Holidays are usually a time for reconnecting, but if you are married — and not so happily — seasonal preparations can put major strain on relationships that are already teetering [...]

Don’t get taken in by the latest financial scam

Can you spot a financial scam. The new Financial Fraud and Susceptibility survey bets you can’t. About 40% of the 2,400 people surveyed recently said they’d be enticed by a fully guaranteed investment, especially if it offered an annual return of 110%. Really? Bernie Madoff’s guaranteed return rate was only 12%, and that was clearly [...]

Home transfers in divorce can render mortgage interest non-deductible.

picket fence with lightning

There are three parties to every divorce: the husband, the wife, and Uncle Sam. Uncle Sam is very picky about interest deductions on home mortgages, and a misstep can cost your client a tax deduction. Here’s a common situation that can trip you up, and ways to get around it. Your client agrees to transfer [...]

Reverse Mortgages Can Be Dangerous

MH900311002[1]

If an older cash-challenged client wants to borrow funds to buy their spouse out of the home, they are often told that if they use a reverse mortgage they’ll never have to make a mortgage payment again. Here’s how it works: A reverse mortgage converts equity into cash, as a one-time payout, ongoing monthly payments [...]

Higher Education Just Got Higher

college-costs

College kids and their parents are having a tough time of it financially, and it’s going to get a whole lot worse with government cost-cutting, I’m afraid. Public colleges have always been the low-cost alternative to private schools (such as Harvard, Yale and Stanford), but the words “low-cost” don’t really apply any more. The tuition [...]

Should You file Taxes Jointly or Separately?

Tax Time

It’s tax time again, and many are wondering whether they should file jointly with their soon-to-be-ex-spouse. There are many factors that I consider when I meet with clients to determine their best course of action for filing taxes. If you suspect your spouse is cheating on taxes by under-reporting income or over-reporting deductions, you can [...]

COBRA coverage lasts only 36 months.

That’s the conventional wisdom, but it may not be true. It is true that COBRA, which applies to companies with 20 or more employees, only requires 36 months of group health plan coverage for divorced spouses. But an employer’s plan isn’t limited to providing only 36 months of coverage, and it may provide for a [...]

Want to save taxes? Buy carrots.

Carrots

As Congress and the White House consider cutting spending and raising taxes, I hope they consider what creative entrepreneurs do when tax rates get too high. Here’s an example: When a special sales tax on theater ticket sales were raised to 21%, a theater owner in Spain put on his thinking cap. He noticed that [...]

Teaching Your Children the Value of Saving and Investing

Learn About Money

Ask savvy investors how they learned their first lessons about money, and they’ll probably tell you lessons their parents taught them. The money values we learn as children stay with us the rest of our lives. If you are a parent, teaching your children the value of saving and investing will benefit them the rest [...]

What Our Parents Teach Us

Teaching Children about Money

When I was growing up, I remember hearing my parents discuss money. It wasn’t usually pleasant: my father loved to find bargains, while my mother’s nickname was “Mrs. Rockefeller” for the way she spent. Now that I am grown, it is difficult for me to feel neutral about money. I always have the struggle within [...]

Top Ten Ways to Have a Truly Happy New Year

Excellence and Habits

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.”   –Aristotle Make this New Year a great year by living your life well every day. By incorporating these good habits into your life moment by moment, you will have a wonderful year to celebrate. Slow down Take time in each moment [...]

If You Shop ’til You Drop, Will America Prosper?

Shop till you drop?

The headlines are abuzz with predictions of lower holiday spending this year, which the pundits say will mean the recession is a long way from being over. So if we shop ‘til we drop this December, will that improve our national economy? That makes no sense, and here’s why. If you spend $100 on dinner [...]

Starting Your New Business the Right Way

Planning Checklist

If you decide to start your own business, you will need an idea, a plan, and financial backing. Your business is unlikely to succeed without all three, and while most people who go into business start with an idea, most businesses that fail do so because they were undertaken without enough financing to sustain them [...]

Maybe There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills!

Stacks of Money

Here’s something that is more promising than a lottery ticket – an unclaimed property that may be waiting for you. And now it’s easier than ever to find that property using the Internet. Unclaimed property comes in many varieties. Perhaps it’s a savings or checking account you’ve forgotten about. Or it could be an uncashed [...]

Four Smart Ways To Save Money On Health Care

Buried Treasure

Health care has been on Congress’s menu lately, from prescription drugs for Medicare recipients to HMO legislation. But regardless of what Congress decides to do, there are four steps that you can take right now to protect yourself from the high costs of health care. Step one: Become an educated consumer. Remember that you are [...]

“If Only I Had More Money…”

Money Dreams

“If Only I Had More Money….I could _______ (fill in the blank).” It’s true that money can’t buy happiness, but it certainly can help you live the life of your dreams. You don’t fancy investment strategies to become financially secure, and you don’t need to win the lottery either. Here are five simple steps you [...]

Mistakes People Make Buying Insurance

Errors People Make

A catastrophic loss can scuttle any financial plan, and bring your savings to its knees. You need insurance to protect yourself against medical costs, sudden loss of life, and loss of property or earning power. Many people are mostly in the dark when it comes to insurance coverage. They worry that they are underinsured, but [...]

Get Organized — It’s Tax Time Again

Paperwork Toss

It’s that time again! Whether you prepare your own tax return or employ a tax preparer, it’s time to gather information about your income and deductions. Ugh! Compiling tax information is not the most fun thing in the world- but you gotta do what you gotta do, right? First, gather all of the statements you [...]

How Do You Spell Tax Relief?

Home For Sale

The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 was the answer for permanent relief from income taxes on the sale of a principal residence. The rules are simple — if you sell your home and the gain on the sale is $250,000 or less ($500,000 on a joint income tax return), there’s no tax due when you [...]

Standing Up To The IRS

IRS Reaper

When you receive a plain brown envelope marked “Official US Business” from the Internal Revenue Service, it’s enough to strike terror in your heart. Your first instinct to the deficiency notice inside might be to pay them whatever they want, but don’t do it. There are four common notices that you might receive from the [...]

Pay More Taxes – You’ll Be Richer

Taxes

This time of year, most Americans have income taxes on their minds, but some people hurt themselves financially by putting tax savings first and economic benefits second. Here are some tax-reduction schemes that may end up costing you more than you save: Municipal bonds The interest paid by municipal bonds issued within your state are tax [...]

For the Record: Keeping Tax Documents

Filing cabinet for your financial records

Now that your tax return is prepared, it’s time for some spring cleaning. How long must you keep records before you can throw them out? It depends. You must keep the records needed to substantiate all your income and deductions available for inspection by the Internal Revenue Service. You don’t have to spread them out [...]

How To Deal With The IRS

IRS Interogation

Only one percent of all tax returns are audited each year. Even if you are audited, you should encounter few problems if you have reported all of your income and have kept careful records of your deductions. If the information reported by payers on W-2s and 1099s does not match what you reported on your [...]

Tax Changes That Affect You

IRS Grim Reaper

Wouldn’t you think that Congress had fiddled enough with the tax laws? Not hardly, it seems. Each year they find some new tax lever to pull that will “improve the economy” and 2003 was no exception. No matter whether you think the changes to the tax law are right or wrong, you can’t afford to [...]

What Will You Do With Your Tax Refund?

Handful of Cash

That big check you get in the mailbox after April 15 is your fun money, right? It’s your free gift from your kind Uncle Sam, who has so thoughtfully given you this chance to go on vacation or have fun at the mall. Not really. That check is the repayment of interest-free loan that you [...]

Is it a Business or a Hobby?

Is it a hobby or work?

If you have a small business and you want to deduct your expenses, the IRS says you must be able to show that you are engaged in a trade or business for profit. But that doesn’t mean your business has to be profitable every year. If you can show that you are trying to make [...]

Business Deductions for Employees

Tax Calculator

Even if you don’t have your own business, you may have some expenses that are tax deductible. If you are a salaried professional, teacher or other employee, here are some deductions you shouldn’t overlook. Dues for professional organizations Personal supplies, such as pens, pencils, briefcases, calculators, executive diaries, etc. Fees for credit cards used exclusively [...]

Estate Planning is Dead! Long Live Estate Planning!

Fairy Tax Mouse

In the wake of the excitement from the “biggest tax reduction in 20 years”, we taxpayers are left with the daunting task of figuring out exactly what was reduced. Take the estate tax “repeal” promised by President Bush—please. From all of the hype, you might think that the estate tax is being slowly phased out [...]

Chicken Little Investing

Chicken Little

“The sky is falling, the sky is falling” cried Chicken Little.  Some investors may agree.  What should you do If you find the stock market plummeting. 1.  Don’t panic. Remember that panic is not an effective, long-term investment strategy. But when the Nasdaq plunges as much as 5% a day for several days running, it’s hard [...]

Investing Is Risky Business

Roller Coaster

These are the times that test investor’s souls, or at least their tolerance for risk. If you invest in technology, biotech and other stocks that trade on NASDAQ, you’ve seen quite a bit of volatility this year. What does the future hold?More volatility, which means risk. In stock market terminology, risk is the chance that [...]

One Simple Investment and You Can Retire Early

Retire Rich

Would you like to earn 8% or more on your money, guaranteed and risk-free? Like to trim your future expenses so you can retire early? Want to save thousands of dollars in interest expense? One simple investment can do it all: prepay your mortgage. To trim five years off a 30 year, 8% mortgage of [...]

Got The Stock Market Jitters?

stock graph

If you like roller coasters, you might be enjoying the ride on Wall Street these days, as the stock market spikes then tumbles, then hits bottom and careens up again. But for most of us, whose stomachs clench at such high jinks, these are unsettling times. But take heart – those reckless gyrations may actually [...]

Surfing The Business Cycle

Surfing

Selecting stocks can be tough. But stock selection is much easier once you understand stock market and economic cycles. Diversification is key. To build a portfolio, you should own several different stocks in several of the eight market sectors: consumer cyclicals, technology, financial, energy, industrials, basic materials, consumer non-cyclicals and utilities. Decide which of the [...]

Changing Lanes: Getting Ahead in the Financial Markets

Changing Lanes

San Diego is growing. There are thousands more cars on the road every day – and they are all in my lane! I’m normally a cautious driver, but when the freeway lane I’m in slows to a crawl while those in adjacent lanes are flying by, I’m tempted to change lanes. But as soon as [...]

Investing In The Rain

Investing in the Rain

My cat Augie loves to lie in the sun all day. Who wouldn’t?  But even in sunny San Diego, it sometimes rains. Augie hates that, and he turns away from the open door in disgust. Then he goes to a different door to be let out. He’s looking for the door where it isn’t raining [...]

Honey, I Shrank Our Investments — Now What?

Shrink Investments

Uh oh, the stock market slid again. So what else is new? Even patient optimists have gotten fed up with the market, which is exactly why it’s going down.  As the last rat (excuse the expression) bails off the ship, there will be no more sellers left. With only buyers left at the party, the [...]

Riding Out Market Storms

Storm

Volatility can make your stomach churn, and the volatility of an unstable stock market causes even the most savvy investors to reach for the Pepto-Bismol. So you may be surprised to hear stock market volatility can actually be a good thing — at least for your retirement savings. Say you are investing $500 in a stock [...]

25 Ways to Save Taxes Through Life’s Transitions

Internal Revenue Service Grim Reaper

Taxes are, unfortunately, a part of every financial decision. Like it or not, Uncle Sam’s greedy fingers reach into your pocket with every paycheck and each dollar of investment earnings.

IRA Blunders

Man Holding Money

If you have been contributing to Individual Retirement Accounts over the years or have rolled a lump-sum pension distribution into an IRA, you have taken solid steps toward building a strong retirement nest egg. But three common blunders can keep you from getting the greatest income possible when you retire. Blunder #1. Too many IRA [...]

The Amazing Truths About Retirement

eyeglasses

This article was excerpted from the book Your Next Fifty Years: A Completely New Way to Look at How, When, and If You Should Retire by Ginita Wall, CPA, CFP and Victoria Collins, CFP If you are one of the four million baby boomers who turned 50 in 1996 or the seventy-three million more who [...]

It’s Never Too Early to Start Planning for Your Retirement

Trouble is, there’s always so much more in your life that requires time and money that it’s not always easy to devote those precious resources to a retirement that is years away. Here are five painless ways you can begin saving for your retirement without unduly busting your budget. 1. Let your employer do it. [...]

I Can’t Believe I Forgot To Save For My Retirement!

An elephant always remembers....

Most people in their twenties and thirties have other things on their minds than retirement. But as we get older, we suddenly realize we have to save for retirement! If you’ve procrastinated in planning for retirement, you may not be as far behind as you think. Perhaps your employment benefits include a defined benefit retirement [...]

Choosing Where to Live After Retiring

Home Sweet Home

For many people, retirement means picking up and moving to warmer climates. Here are a few tips to help ease your move. When you think about retirement, do you imagine sandy beaches, a mountain cabin, settling down in a resort community or hitting the road in a mobile home? Many people decide to move when [...]

Organizing Your Family Records

Taming Paper Work

Got records? Most people do. But can you find last month’s bank statement? A copy of your will? The manual for your DVR? If your answer was something unprintable, you need to get a bit more organized. The beginning of a new year is an excellent time to set up a financial record-keeping system for [...]

Twelve Tax Myths

Myths

It’s what you think you know that really isn’t true that can hurt you. A study by the American Institute of CPAs identified twelve misconceptions that taxpayers have about their income taxes. Myth #1 If you apply for an extension to file your taxes, you’re more likely to be audited. Studies have never found any [...]

10 Great Year-End Tax Tips

Our Friends at the Internal Revenue Service

When you think of the holiday season, what comes to mind? Gift exchanges? Holiday parties? Home-baked pies? Taxes? We know you have a lot of other things to do this time of year-baking those pies, for example-but, as your WIFE, we must remind you of those important details that are so easy to overlook. The [...]

Tax Strategies for Women

Checked Off

Despite the media frenzy each year about tax cuts and increases, truth be told, not much has changed for most middle-class women. So what’s a financially savvy gal to do? Take advantage of every tax break you possibly can! Read on to learn how to save on taxes in your retirement accounts, education planning, and [...]

Tax Break For Widows

I was widowed in 1998, and a friend told me she heard there are some tax breaks for widows. Can you help?   Yes. As a widow, you may file a joint return for 1998. In addition, if you still have a dependent child at home, you may use the joint return rates for 1999 [...]

Prince Charming Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

Prince Charming

UN-tying the Knot? Everything You Need to Know When Prince Charming Leaves the Building

Don’t Overlook Important Assets In Your Divorce

Airplane Miles

My husband and I have drawn up a list of what we own and we have tentatively agreed on how to split everything. I’m afraid we might have missed listing something. Can you help? As a financial divorce consultant, I often review final property settlements to determine additional tax and financial considerations that should be [...]

Changing Your Name After Divorce

Name Change During Divorce

When I was divorced, I didn’t change my name, but now I want to resume my former name and drop my ex-husband’s name. Is it too late to do this without an expensive attorney?   Divorce is very unsettling, to say the least. It is difficult to think about changing one’s name when there are [...]

Are You Losing Your Social Security Benefits?

Missed the Social Security Boat?

I recently heard that I may be entitled to collect Social Security benefits when I retire based on my ex-husband’s earnings. But I looked at my divorce decree and it doesn’t say anything about it. Did I miss the boat? Here’s some good news about your divorce! If you were married to your ex-spouse for [...]

Should You Keep Your House After Divorce?

Home Residence

My husband moved out of the house six months ago. I don’t think I can afford to buy him out, and so I am considering moving into the rental condo we have, which means we’d sell our house. But my husband thinks that I should stay in the house until our son leaves for college [...]

Getting Income From Retirement Plans After Divorce

Cash and Income

As a part of my divorce settlement, I am supposed to get a portion of my husband’s retirement plans. I’ll need some of the money to live on, but I’m only 53, so I’m too young to receive retirement benefits. What’s the best way to handle this retirement plan distribution? Generally, a Qualified Domestic Relations [...]

Getting Your Financial Life Back On Track After Divorce

I have just been through a divorce, and I feel as though I’ve been through the wringer. I have a great therapist who is helping me through the emotional aftermath, but I don’t know where to begin to get my financial life back on track. Unfortunately, “splitting the sheets” also means splitting the assets and [...]

The Divorce Threat List

threaten

My husband and I are divorcing, and he says that unless I agree to split the property the way he wants, he’ll take me to court and the judge will order us to sell everything. Can he do that? Sure, he can take you to court, but it is unlikely that the judge would order [...]

Divorce and Bankruptcy

birdcreature-r

My husband is a spendthrift and we are deeply in debt. Money, or rather, the lack of it, is a constant source of irritation in our marriage, and we have talked about divorce in the past. Now, due to his business problems, my husband says we may be facing bankruptcy. If I go ahead and [...]

Dividing Debt in Divorce

cashsplit

I know that California says that I get half of the property my husband and I have accumulated during our marriage. But what we have is mostly debts. What’s the best way to deal with them? Unfortunately, its not unusual for couples these days to have more debts than assets. The general rule is that [...]

Financial New Year’s Resolutions

New Year's Resolutions

This year, resolve to have a more prosperous new year by creating good financial habits that will last a lifetime. Good financial habits are truly a gift to yourself that keeps on giving-and they are much more fun than vowing not to eat another piece of chocolate cake! I Will Monitor My Spending Pick three [...]

Planning for the Inevitable

Death and Taxes

And they lived happily ever after. It happens in fairy tales, but in real life, every marriage ends some day. Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce, and 35% end in widowhood, usually with the death of the husband. On average, women will be on their own financially for one-third of their adult lives. It’s [...]

Overcoming “Bag Lady” Anxieties

Today’s women are no longer the weaker sex financially. Recent census figures show an unprecedented societal and economic shift. About 27 percent of married households identify the woman as the head of household, earning a greater income than her husband. The number of women earning $100,000 or more has quadrupled in the last decade. Women [...]

Giving the Gift of Financial Knowledge

kid-with-porfolio[1]

Looking for perfect gift for your children or grandchildren? Instead of giving cash or the latest gadget, try giving a financial gift. These gifts will help your loved ones to develop valuable money skills that will last long after the holiday season. Mutual funds: Giving shares in a mutual fund can be an excellent way [...]

The Benefits of Being Married Ten Years

Seeing Thing Differently -- the long-term marriage

My nine-year marriage has been rocky for quite some time, and my husband and I periodically talk about divorce. A friend told me I should stick it out a while longer since there are benefits to being married ten years or longer. What are those benefits?

Is There Credit After Divorce

creditafterdivorce

I am thinking of divorce, and I don’t know what to do about my credit cards. Will I be able to get credit after I divorce, or will I have to start over?

The Twelve Financial Pitfalls of Divorce

High Dive to Divorce

Each year, nearly 2.8 million men and women go through the emotional and financial trauma of divorce. During divorce, many women are concerned about financial survival—and with good reason.

Saving Time and Money This Holiday Season

Christmas Elves

The holiday season is fast upon us. With so many demands on our time (there are just so many cookies to eat, it’s hard to know where to start!), and demands for our money, it’s no wonder that we’re all looking for a few extra ideas to make the holiday season run more smoothly. Give [...]

The Wealth Bubble – Real or Illusion?

Investment Bubbles

Happy days are here again! The economy is flourishing, real estate is booming, and Internet stocks are going to the moon. We’re saving less, and no wonder. There’s no need to save, with all the wealth being created under our noses. But how much of the wealth is real, and how much is illusion? Here’s [...]