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Articles on Wealth Management Topics

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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The Importance of Investment Time Horizon in Asset Allocation Decisions

Clients who've endured conversations with me about their recommended asset allocation know how much I stress the importance of their investment time horizon. During a recent discussion about investment ideas, my dad suggested "What's your time horizon?" be my epitaph. Maybe so, but considering in advance when you will need the money you're investing can keep you from making the worst kinds of financial mistakes. And keeping your investment horizon in mind during periods of market turbulence should help keep you on course for attaining your financial goals.

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Cost-Effective Annuities to Exchange for Those You've Been Sold

To pick up where we left off in our last blog post, immediate annuities can play a useful role in a retirement portfolio. But like any other financial product, there are cost-effective, well-engineered annuities and expensive, poorly-designed ones. Here are some welcome and interesting annuity features that you may be unaware of if your only prior experience with annuities is through an insurance salesperson:

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Do Annuities Have a Role to Play in Your Retirement Portfolio?

If there's one investment vehicle that causes more controversy than any other, it has to be the annuity. Opinions among financial professionals are usually divided along the lines of compensation model. Commission-based brokers and insurance salespeople tend to think more highly of them, and to recommend them more frequently, than Fee-Only financial planners.

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The Role of High-Quality Bonds in a Diversified Portfolio

If there is a Rodney Dangerfield of investments, it has to be Treasury Bonds. They always yield less than other taxable fixed-income investments with the same maturity, they don't get the airtime afforded stocks, and they don't have the mysterious allure of alternative investments. But in times of crisis, when other investments are withering under the pressure, Treasury Bonds usually step into the breach to provide a diversified portfolio with capital gains when they're needed most.

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