Creating Financial Plans

Pet Financial Planning

Are you a good pet owner? Owning an animal means more than feeding it and loving it. Pets aren’t cheap, so doing right by Fido or Tabby involves financial planning.

How to Read Your Tax Form

Tax time is here, with the deadline for filing on Tuesday. Very few people do their own taxes, and many do not understand what the Internal Revenue Service form 1040, the central document of your return, says.

The components combine to tell the IRS your story. Following are some ideas for helping you understand your return.

Simplifying Retirees’ Portfolios

You can go crazy – or worse, invest badly – when all the world’s financial news is a few clicks away. The complexity can be overwhelming. That’s why, in portfolios as in life, think about when and how simple is best.

Warren Buffet, the most recognized and successful investor of our times, recently discussed provisions in his will – specifically how his final instructions are simple and clear.

10 Best Financial Websites

In this digital age, we’re fortunate to have a plethora of sources to find information and help order our financial lives. But amid the vast array of sites, 10 stood out. I highly recommend them.

I weaned this list from an enormous field. According to Google Dashboard, I currently maintain 663 bookmarks in my Chrome browser, sorted among 53 different folders. All of these websites were important enough that at one point, I elected to bookmark them.

Taking Out Retirement Money

Staying the course in a rollercoaster stock market challenges both you and your financial advisor – a challenge made even tougher when you take your retirement distributions. Here’s how a withdrawal policy statement (WPS) helps avoid panicked investing moves.

Bettering Kids’ Lives (Pt. 1)

We all want better lives for the next generation. Here are some of the challenges we must address first.

Most of us born in the baby boom or before remember grandparents with no indoor plumbing and no car. They lived through the Great Depression and World War II. Our grandchildren can't imagine how we grew up without computers, smartphones or satellites. Today's children are the first who didn't learn childhood games from their parents; many of us lack the technological skills to understand their games – or even understand our own smart phones.

Dollar Cost Averaging Woes

The general concept of dollar cost averaging (DCA), a systematic and gradual method investing, seems like a sound approach. The standard advice is that this is the way to commit your money. Well, not always.

Specifics vary, but DCA involves investing a fixed dollar amount at regular intervals over a specified period, as opposed to lump-sum investing (LSI) – that is, investing all at once.

Know Annuities’ Hidden Costs

Annuities come with a lot of nuts and bolts – and sometimes slick sales pitches. Here’s what to know.

I recently received an invitation to a dinner session on annuities. Financial dinner seminars are a traditional method for investment advisors, estate planning attorneys and insurance and annuity sales types to get their message out to potential clients.

Inheritance for the Kids? Why?

A survey done by the financial services company HBSC finds that only 59% of U.S. parents intend to leave their children an inheritance, the lowest of the 15 nations studied. The fact the U.S. is last came as no surprise to me. What did surprise me was that 59% seemed high.

Sochi and Retirement Plans

To listen to me commenting on the Olympic figure skating in Sochi, you’d think I was an expert. But I know very little about it. Tragically, too many investors make decisions whose basis is as thin as my knowledge of skating.

As we watched the Winter Olympics skating competition on TV, I pointed out to my wife a Salchow jump and then a death spiral. She looked at me with surprise and marveled at how much I knew about the sport.

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