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Articles on Wealth Management Topics

Dollar-Cost Average or Invest In One Lump Sum (or Pay Down Debt)?

With the bond universe ranging from " ... obscenely overpriced to somewhere on the expensive side of fair value", and with most major U.S. stock indices within shouting distance of all-time highs, the current market environment is presenting a quandary not just to financial advisors but to investors as well. The investing public with cash on the sidelines seem torn between the fear of missing out on a further rally in stocks and the fear of committing capital at valuations that have often presaged middling returns, if not nasty bear markets. Consequently, a question clients have been posing recently is: Is it better to commit new money to the markets as fast as possible, or is it better to dollar-cost average our way into the markets over time?

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An Allocation to Investment-Grade Fixed-Income Securities in the Current Market Environment

If recent conversations with clients are any indication, a primary worry out there is how to plan for, or guard against, the "inevitability" of higher interest rates, a.k.a. falling bond prices. Most of these discussions arise from genuine concerns about the future performance of fixed-income investments given this backdrop. Some arise from a touch of performance-chasing, i.e. "Stocks have done so well in the last few years, so why not allocate more of our portfolio to them at the expense of our bond allocation, which has been languishing?".

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Tax-Free Exchanges of Annuities for Long-term Care Coverage

Luckily, even the worst annuities don't have to be "roach motels" - there is often a way out of them without having to sacrifice an arm and a leg. The best escape route depends on a variety of factors, i.e. the annuity's surrender charge schedule, whether or not it's held in a tax-qualified account, the fine print of the annuity contract, the client's financial situation, etc. A provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) offers another possible way out.

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Making the Most of Health Savings Accounts (HSA's)

Health Savings Accounts, or HSA's, were only introduced in 2004, and already there are over 20 million of them. Much of that growth, however, has taken place in the last few years, driven by the recent popularity of high-deductible health insurance plans. I've owned an HSA since 2011 and am a big fan of them, so let's discuss the benefits of these relatively new accounts.

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Should You Withdraw from your Retirement Accounts or File for Social Security?

Almost half of retirees take Social Security at age 62, the earliest possible age you can sign up for these benefits. And the vast majority of retirees request benefits before their full retirement age. While the decision of when to file for Social Security benefits must be based on individual circumstances, I would argue that many retirees would be better served to wait longer to access this lifetime, inflation-adjusted stream of income.

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When to Pay Off Your Debt and When to Invest

Your ability to successfully fund your retirement and to finance your other financial objectives is dependent on your net worth, i.e. your assets less your liabilities. So whenever you have excess cash flow, whether as a result of a one-time windfall like an inheritance or simply by virtue of your income exceeding your expenses on an ongoing basis, a conscious decision should be made whether to invest/save on the one hand or to reduce debt on the other.

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Should You Convert Your IRA or 401k to a Roth IRA?

There was a lot of hoopla when the rules were changed a few years ago to allow any taxpayer, regardless of income level, to convert IRA's and retirement plans to Roth accounts. So much so that you would think Roth conversions were "no-brainer" decisions. But in reality, a Roth conversion probably only makes sense for a small minority of investors. Here are some of the major factors to consider in deciding whether to convert your IRA or retirement plan account to a Roth IRA.

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