Social Security notices available online, though traffic slows access

Social Security notices available online, though traffic slows access

If you’re like other retirees, you’re eager to see just how big your Social Security check will be next year. The Social Security Administration has released its cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, notices online. To find out what your payment will be, log on to your My Social Security account. Your cost-of-living adjustment will be found in the message center. Be warned: It may take more than one try in order to access your notice. More…

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Why retirement investors should fear the big yield curve inversion 

Why retirement investors should fear the big yield curve inversion 

A normal curve with the two-year offering a lower yield than the 10-year is fundamental to how banks make money. Banks borrow short term at lower interest rates so that they can make long-term loans to borrowers at higher interest rates. The difference between those two interest rates, the positive spread, is their profit. If a bank is borrowing short term at a higher interest rate and making loans to borrowers at a lower interest…

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These two accounts will ramp up your tax-free income in retirement

These two accounts will ramp up your tax-free income in retirement

In 2019, the IRS will permit savers to put away up to $6,000 in a Roth IRA, plus $1,000 if you’re 50 or older. The exact amount of money you can save in this account will be based on your modified adjusted gross income or MAGI. If you’re single and with an MAGI of up to $122,000 (or married-filing-jointly with up to $193,000 in MAGI), you can contribute up to the annual limit. Contribution levels…

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Many Americans dream of retirement but lack a game plan

Many Americans dream of retirement but lack a game plan

That’s not the only discrepancy. When asked about finances, survey respondents reported, on average, $610,000 as the ideal amount to have saved by retirement age. Age-group-wise, baby boomers think they’ll need $574,000, while millennials foresee a higher, $687,000 as the goal. Neither demographic is aiming high enough; $1 million as a minimum nest egg, long the industry standard, is now considered too low by many pundits. Worse still, neither group thinks they’ll actually hit their…

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Investors worry liquidity crisis might loom on fixed income horizon

Investors worry liquidity crisis might loom on fixed income horizon

Liquidity is like good health. You don’t really appreciate it until you lose it. Investors are starting to appreciate it. As volatility has surged, first in the stock market and now in credit markets, liquidity is starting to dry up across segments of the corporate bond markets. The ominous widening of spreads in the high-yield bond market — from 322 basis points on Oct. 2 to 422 points on Nov. 20 — could be a…

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Here are 5 ways to control your stress during a volatile market

Here are 5 ways to control your stress during a volatile market

While I can’t give you any investment advice or help you ignore the current market conditions, I can teach you how to manage stress so that “volatile” describes the market and not your mindset. Emotions can help influence decision-making, but when it comes to considering investment decisions in a volatile market, getting stressed out may point your investments in the wrong direction. The high level of stress in today’s financial market is not only threatening…

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To save Social Security, we need to make it ‘hip’ with millennials

To save Social Security, we need to make it ‘hip’ with millennials

Survey after survey reveals that millennials are resigned to the idea that Social Security, as we know it, might not be there by the time they reach retirement age. According to a Transamerica survey, 81 percent of millennials polled believe this to be true. This is in contrast to a 2011 survey, which found that only about 50 percent of millennials at that time didn’t feel they would receive Social Security upon retirement. It’s safe…

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5 key tips for anyone working that side hustle

5 key tips for anyone working that side hustle

Side hustles can be a great way to bring in extra cash or plant the seeds to grow your own small business. As an entrepreneur, you are fulfilling many roles, and it can be easy for some of those jobs to fall through the cracks. Whatever your hustle, one of your key responsibilities is to make sure your business has a solid financial foundation. An important but often overlooked part of that foundation is getting…

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Morgan Stanley launches new advisory technology platform

Morgan Stanley launches new advisory technology platform

The platform also lets advisors monitor assets that clients hold elsewhere – such as 401(k) accounts – in order to make more accurate financial plans. The platform includes four main parts: portfolio advice, which lets advisors construct portfolios and screen investments; portfolio risk, which helps advisors evaluate the risks changes could bring to a portfolio before they make them; relationship fee implementation, which helps come up with a pricing strategy for a client relationship and…

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These 9 bad habits and traits will keep you from your financial goals

These 9 bad habits and traits will keep you from your financial goals

While people start out with good intentions and set their sights on meeting various financial goals, many never achieve them and instead fail miserably. Here are nine bad habits that will hinder investors from reaching their financial success. 1. Failing to plan. Lacking a financial plan means you have no focus and you can easily be swayed. A recent study by the University of Scranton revealed that 92 percent of people who do not achieve…

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Take these steps to control your (over)reaction to market volatility

Take these steps to control your (over)reaction to market volatility

Gyrating markets, rising rates and significant market volatility will always create anxiety for investors and leave them with a bad, sinking feeling. Those big swings typically cause investors great concern, no matter the rise or fall. But what is the root of the anxiety? Behavioral science suggests that humans are “uncertainty reduction” machines. That’s one of the reasons why we can get a reward for putting money at risk in the markets … that is,…

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Why retirees’ tax rates may be higher than they expect

Why retirees’ tax rates may be higher than they expect

You may have stopped working, but Uncle Sam is still digging into your pocket. Though high-income retirees are looking forward to lower taxes once they’ve exited the workplace, they can still expect to pay stealth taxes in the form of Social Security income levies and higher Medicare premiums. “For a lot of retirees, the thinking is, Oh, they’re retired and their tax bracket is going down,” said William Reichenstein, professor emeritus at Baylor University. He…

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Things getting stormier for investment grade bonds

Things getting stormier for investment grade bonds

Rising interest rates are to blame. With the Federal Reserve Bank continuing to hike the short-term fed funds rate, longer-duration investment-grade bonds with historically low yields have suffered. “The hit from interest rates has been a big deal,” said Elaine Stokes, a fixed-income strategist and manager of several bond funds at Loomis Sayles. While the spread between investment-grade bonds and the 10-year Treasury has widened from 90 basis points in early February to as much…

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Here are key decisions if you win the Powerball or Mega Millions jackpot

Here are key decisions if you win the Powerball or Mega Millions jackpot

You also get to decide whether to take an immediate lump sum or spread your winnings across several decades. Either way, Uncle Sam will take 24 percent before it reaches you. For the $548 million Mega Millions jackpot, the cash option is $309 million. For the $282 million Powerball win, it’s $161.1 million. The 24 percent federal tax withholding would reduce Mega Millions’ cash option by about $74.2 million, to $234.8 million, and Powerball’s by…

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How to use your credit card perks to pay for your vacations

How to use your credit card perks to pay for your vacations

Financial advisor Winnie Sun has a client who has not paid for a vacation in six years. She has credit card rewards to thank for that. “She is pushing on only almost 5 million points,” said Sun, founder of Sun Group Wealth Partners. That client puts all of her businesses expenses on her cards, along with any other costs she can, to watch her points pour in. Sun has some tips on how people can…

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