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Resources

Is Participant Choice a “Get Out of ERISA Court Free Card”?

Finally, something everyone could agree on — at least on the Supreme Court of the United States. The question before the court in Hughes v. Northwestern University was the plausibility of a breach of fiduciary duty claim stated by current and former participants in two university retirement plans. SCOTUS ruled that the petitioners in the case, originally dismissed by a district court and upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, did in fact plausibly state…

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Behavioral Finance and Plan Design: Four Ways to Boost Participation

Though many employees are aware that behaviors such as enrolling in and contributing sufficiently to their company 401(k) can help them prepare for a successful retirement, too often they fail to develop the necessary saving and investing habits. One reason for this may be an outsized influence of emotion, biases and faulty heuristics on financial planning at the expense of more rational decision making. And this could also be why participant engagement strategies that rely exclusively on financial education…

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Adjusting Your Tax Withholding

Now that you’ve seen last year’s tax results and can see where this year is heading, it may be a good time to consider adjustments to your income tax withholding. Getting It Right If you have too much tax withheld, you will receive a refund when you file your income tax return, but it might make more sense to reduce your withholding and receive more in your paycheck. However, if you have too little tax withheld, you will owe…

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Should You Consider Tapping the Equity in Your Home?

With home values skyrocketing recently, your home may be one of your largest assets. Using home equity to help finance other financial objectives is a strategy many people consider, but before doing so be sure you understand the risks as well as the potential benefits. Home equity is the difference between how much your home is worth, based on current market conditions, minus your mortgage balance. Let’s say your home is worth $450,000 in the current market and your…

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A Wealth of Information: How to Read a Mutual Fund Prospectus

With more than 7,400 mutual funds to consider in the United States alone, some investors may feel overwhelmed by the thought of deciding which ones to select for their portfolios. At the same time, most mutual fund-owning households base their purchase decisions on these measures: historical performance (94%), investment objectives and risk potential (91%), and fees and expenses (90%).1 Fortunately, reading a mutual fund prospectus is a key way to learn important details about your investment options while learning…

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GDP Growth Highest in 37 Years

In 2021, U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) — the value of goods and services produced in the United States — grew by 5.7%, the highest annual rate since 1984. This marked a strong recovery from 2020, when GDP dropped by 3.4%. Real GDP is adjusted for inflation to more accurately compare economic output at different periods. Current-dollar GDP, typically used to measure the overall size of the economy, increased by an even more impressive 10.1%. IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES Wellspring…

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Early Withdrawals Can Lead to Tardy Retirements and Problems for Everyone: How to Help

Albert Einstein may not be remembered as a finance expert, but he seems to have had a bead on the power of smart investing. When asked what mankind’s greatest invention was, he’s reputed to have answered “compound interest,” describing it as the “eighth wonder of the world.” Compounding may indeed be one of the most potent forces in the universe, but there’s one noteworthy caveat — to leverage its awesome power, investors need to stay in the game. According…

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Why Retirement Plan Sponsors Should Care About Employee Student Loan Debt

According to the College Board, the cost of a four-year education increased more than 200% (after inflation) from 1988 to 2018. This has placed a tremendous burden on graduates, with national student loan debt now topping a staggering $1.6 trillion. Surprisingly, while grads ages 25 to 34 are most likely to carry educational loans, the greatest amount of debt is owed by 35- to 49-year-olds, making this a problem not limited to those just entering the workforce.  Whether it’s through providing…

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Avoiding Probate

Probate is the process of proving the validity of a will and supervising the administration of an estate usually in the probate court. State law governs the proceedings in the probate court, so the process can vary from state to state. Supervising the administration of an estate can result in additional expense, unwanted publicity, and delays in the distribution of estate assets for a year or longer, which is why planning to avoid the probate process may be beneficial….

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Food Inflation: What’s Behind It and How to Cope

As measured by the Consumer Price Index for food at home, grocery prices increased 3.4% in 2020, a faster rate than the 20-year historical average of 2.4%.1 More recently, food inflation accelerated by 6.5% during the 12 months ending in December 2021, while prices for the category that includes meat, poultry, fish, and eggs spiked 12.5%.2 Food prices have long been prone to volatility, in part because the crops grown to feed people and livestock are vulnerable to pests…

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