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What are some strategies for paying off credit card debt?

Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to get caught up in the cycle of credit card debt. In fact, it’s become a growing problem for many Americans. According to the Federal Reserve, total U.S. credit card payments reached 111.1 billion in 2016, up 7.4% from 2015.1 If you find that you are struggling to pay down a credit card debt balance, here are some strategies that can help eliminate your credit card debt altogether: Pay off cards with the highest…

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What are some tips for creating a budget and sticking to it?

It’s a common problem for many individuals — wondering exactly where your paycheck goes each month. After paying expenses, such as your mortgage, utilities, and credit card bills, you may find little left to put toward anything else. Creating a budget is the first key to successfully manage your finances. Knowing exactly how you are spending your money each month can set you on a more clear path to pursue your financial goals. If you become sidetracked when it…

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Four Points to Consider When Setting a Retirement Income Goal

No matter what your age or stage of life, targeting a goal for monthly retirement income can seem like a daunting task. Following are four considerations to help you get started. 1. When do you plan to retire? The first question to ponder is your anticipated retirement age. Many people base their target retirement date on when they’re eligible for full Social Security benefits, and for today’s workers, “full retirement age” ranges from 66 to 67. Other folks hope…

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Government Report Details Household Finances

Every three years, the Federal Reserve sponsors the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), which collects information on the financial state of U.S. households. The survey is one of the nation’s primary sources of information on the financial condition of different types of households. Here are a few interesting observations gleaned from the most recent surveys conducted in 2013 and 2016, with the latter comparing changes during that timeframe. Income The typical household’s median family income rose 10% between 2013…

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Will a government pension reduce my Social Security benefits?

If you earned a government pension from a job not subject to Social Security tax withholding (“noncovered employment”) and are also eligible for Social Security benefits through a job where Social Security taxes were withheld, two provisions might reduce your benefits: the windfall elimination provision (WEP) and the government pension offset (GPO). The WEP affects how a worker’s Social Security benefit is calculated. If you’re subject to the WEP, your benefit is calculated using a modified formula, possibly resulting…

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How does working affect Social Security retirement benefits?

If you’re thinking about working as long as possible to increase your retirement savings, you may be wondering whether you can receive Social Security retirement benefits while you’re still employed. The answer is yes. But depending on your age, earnings from work may affect the amount of your Social Security benefit. If you’re younger than full retirement age and make more than the annual earnings limit ($17,040 in 2018), part of your benefits will be withheld, reducing the amount…

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College Saving: How Does a 529 Plan Compare to a Roth IRA?

529 plans were created 22 years ago, in 1996, to give people a tax-advantaged way to save for college. Roth IRAs were created a year later, in 1997, to give people a tax-advantaged way to save for retirement. But a funny thing happened along the way — some parents adapted the Roth IRA as a college savings tool. Tax benefits and use of funds Roth IRAs and 529 plans have a similar tax modus operandi. Both are funded with…

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Weathering the Storm: Are You Prepared?

Severe weather can test even the most seasoned homeowners. And while storm hazards such as power outages, downed trees, and flooding can result in costly damage to your home, they can also put your family’s safety at risk. The key to making it through a storm safely is to be prepared. Protect your home Before a storm arrives, you’ll want to take proactive steps to prevent damage to your home, such as: Cleaning your gutters and downspouts so that…

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IRS Retirement Plan Announcements for the Recent Hurricanes and California Wildfires

Many individuals have recently been significantly impacted by both the hurricanes and California wildfires and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provided relief for qualified individuals in retirement plans through several announcements. In addition, President Trump signed the Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017 (“Act”), which provides tax relief for individuals affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria (“HIM”). Below is a summary of the recent communications, including new information based on a recent IRS…

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Weather or Not, Stay Invested

2017 was one of the strongest years on record for hurricanes in the Atlantic region of the United States and among the costliest of seasons on record, with preliminary estimates totaling over $200 billion. This is the second largest season in damages since 1900, with 2005 having a slightly higher total (Hurricane Katrina).¹ For those not directly affected by the hurricanes or other extreme weather events, some often wonder how it might affect them indirectly, via their investments. Article…

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