The Diversified Blog

A wealth management blog dedicated to creating a long lasting sustainable retirement

Robert Pyle, CFP®, CFA, is a wealth manager at Diversified Asset Management. He focuses on providing wealth management solutions to successful individuals, families as well as senior executives, small business owners and retirees. Together with his strategic partners, he helps successful, affluent clients address their five biggest concerns: preserving their wealth, mitigating taxes, taking care of their heirs, ensuring their assets are not unjustly taken, and charitable giving.   Robert founded Diversified Asset Management, Inc. in 1996 with the goal to simplify his client’s financial life and solve their most pressing financial challenges, allowing them to have more time with their families and the things they love. He uses a unique consultative process to gain a detailed understanding of his client’s deepest values and goals. He then employs customized recommendations designed to address each client’s unique needs and goals beyond simply investments.   Successful individuals and families work with Robert to: -Develop and implement a comprehensive wealth management plan to help them reach their financial goals and create a long lasting, sustainable retirement. -Make smarter decisions in today’s uncertain political, economic and social environment. -Obtain an independent second opinion from a top financial advisor in their community. -Receive fee-only advice that promotes the clients’ best interests at all times, while avoiding any potential conflict of interest with commissions.   Robert is a widely recognized leader in the Boulder financial advisor community, serving on the Boulder County Estate Planning Council board from 2009-2011. Mr. Pyle has received the CFP® (Certified Financial Planner) and CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) professional designations. He completes a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education every two years. Robert is a frequent contributor to the Boulder County Business Report (BCBR) and has appeared on 9News.

14 Secrets to Shopping at Costco

Here is a nice article provided by Andrea Browne Taylor of Kiplinger:

 

By Andrea Browne Taylor, Online Editor | Updated April 2017

 

14 Secrets to Shopping at Costco

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10 Cheapest US Cities to Live In

Here is a nice article provided by Dan Burrows of Kiplinger:

 

By Dan Burrows, Contributing Writer | May 2017

 

When it comes to cheap living, don't mess with Texas. The Lone Star State is home to the two most-affordable cities in America. But Texas doesn't have a monopoly on low living costs. Five other states make an appearance on our list.

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When Rates Go Up, Do Stocks Go Down?

Here is a nice article provided by Dimensional Fund Advisors:

 

Unlike bond prices, which tend to go down when yields go up, stock prices might rise or fall with changes in interest rates. Despite the unpredictable nature of interest rate changes, investors may still be curious about what might happen to stocks if interest rates go up.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE:

When-Rates-Go-Up-Do-Stocks-Go-Down.pdf

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Letter From the Chairman, 2017

Here is a nice article provided by David Booth of Dimensional Fund Advisors:

 

After more than 35 years in the financial services industry, I have found that having an investment philosophy—one that is robust and that you can stick with—cannot be overstated.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE:

Letter-from-the-Chairman-2017.pdf

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On Leading, Learning, and the Future

Here is a nice article provided by Dave Butler of Dimensional Fund Advisors:

 

Since being appointed Co-CEO of Dimensional in late February, I’ve had a number of advisors ask me about my new role. I recently sat down with Jake DeKinder, Head of Advisor Communications, for an internal Q&A session with Dimensional’s Financial Advisor Services (FAS) group. 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE:

On-Leading-Learning-and-the-Future.pdf

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The Uncertainty Paradox

Here is a nice article provided by Dimensional Fund Advisors:

 

“The market hates uncertainty” has been a common enough saying in recent years, but how logical is it? There are many different aspects to uncertainty, some that can be measured and some that cannot. As individuals, we can feel more or less uncertain, but that is a distinctly human phenomenon.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE:

The-Uncertainty-Paradox.pdf

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12 Secrets to Shopping at Home Depot

Here is a nice article provided by Bob Niedt of Kiplinger: 

 

By Bob Niedt, Online Editor | March 2017

 

Home Depot is probably the first retailer to come to mind when you’re thinking “ubiquitous big-box hardware store.” The rise of these orange-hued home-improvement centers was a revelation to those who grew up with small, neighborhood hardware stores in the 20th century and who became adult homeowners and DIYers in the 21st.

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13 Ways to Simplify Your Finances

Here is a nice article provided by the Editors of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance:

 

By the Editors of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance | From Kiplinger's Personal Finance, May 2017

 

We know you're stressed out. Our strategies can help you simplify, streamline and organize your financial life to free up both time and cash.

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15 Surprising Benefits of Amazon Prime

Here is a nice article provided by Bob Neidt of Kiplinger:

 

By Bob Neidt, Online Editor | March 2017

 

Many of us first signed up for Amazon Prime years ago to take advantage of free two-day shipping, and stayed with it as the giant online retailer edged the annual fee toward the triple-digit mark. But what are you really getting with your $99-a-year Amazon Prime membership? A lot more than you’re probably using.

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Evolution of Financial Research: The Profitability Premium

Here is a nice article provided by Dimensional Fund Advisors:

 

Since the 1950s, there have been numerous breakthroughs in the field of financial economics that have benefited both society and investors. An important insight is how profitability and market prices can be used to increase the expected returns of a stock portfolio without having to attempt to outguess market prices.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE:

The-Profitability-Premium.pdf

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Going Global: A Look at Public Company Listings

Here is a nice article provided by Dimensional Fund Advisors:

 

To build a well-diversified portfolio, an investor has to look beyond any single country’s stock market and take a global approach.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE:

A-Look-at-Public-Company-Listings.pdf

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Investment Shock Absorbers

Here is a nice article provided by Jim Parker of Dimensional Fund Advisors:

 

Ever ridden in a car with worn-out shock absorbers? Every bump is jarring, every corner stomach-churning, and every red light an excuse to assume the brace position. Owning an undiversified portfolio can trigger similar reactions.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE:

Investment-Shock-Absorbers.pdf

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The Reality of Models

Here is a nice article provided by Dimensional Fund Advisors:

 

Investors who are evaluating investment strategies can benefit from understanding that the reality of markets, just like the weather, cannot be fully explained by any model. Hence, investors should be wary of any approach that requires a high degree of trust in a model alone.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE:

The-Reality-of-Models.pdf

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Models, Uncertainty, and the Importance of Trust

Here is a nice article provided by Marlena Lee of Dimensional Fund Advisors:

 

Models are approximations of the world. They can be useful for gaining insights that help us make good decisions. But they can also be dangerous if someone is over confident and does not understand their limitations. 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE:

Models-Uncertainty-and-the-Importance-of-Trust.pdf

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New Market Highs and Positive Expected Returns

Here is a nice article provided by Dimensional Fund Advisors:

 

When markets hit new highs, is that an indication that it's time for investors to cash out? History tells us that a market index being at an all-time high generally does not provide actionable information for investors. 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE:

New-Market-Highs-and-Positive-Expected-Returns.pdf

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Prediction Season


Here is a nice article provided by Dimensional Fund Advisors:

 

Predictions about future price movements come in all shapes and sizes, but most of them tempt the investor into playing a game of outguessing the market. It is wise to remember that investors are better served by sticking with a long-term plan rather than changing course in reaction to predictions and short-term calls. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE: 

Prediction-Season.pdf

 

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The Dimensional Active Passive Powerhouse

Here is a nice article provided by Jason Zweig of The Wall Street Journal:

 

The fastest growing major mutual-fund company in the U.S. isn't strictly an active or passive investor. It is both. Dimensional Fund Advisors is the sixth-largest mutual-fund manager, drawing nearly $2 billion in net assets a month at a time when investors are fleeing many other firms. 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE:

 The-Active-Passive-Powerhouse.pdf

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8 Things Home Buyers Will Hate About Your House

Here is a nice article provided by Pat Mertz Esswein of Kiplinger:

 

By Pat Mertz Esswein, Associate Editor | February 2017

 

As a home seller, you don’t want to let the small stuff sabotage your sale.

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17 Red Flags for IRS Auditors

Here is a nice article provided by Joy Taylor of Kiplinger:

 

By Joy Taylor, Assistant Editor | March 2017

 

Ever wonder why some tax returns are eyeballed by the Internal Revenue Service while most are ignored? Short on personnel and funding, the IRS audited only 0.70% of all individual tax returns in 2016. So the odds are pretty low that your return will be singled out for review. And, of course, the only reason filers should worry about an audit is if they are fudging on their taxes.

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Time-Tested Tactics to Build Your Wealth

Here is a nice article provided by the Editors of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance:

 

By the Editors of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance | April 2017

 

We have doled out a lot of good advice over the 70 years we’ve been publishing Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. So in many ways it was easy to come up with 70 ideas on how to create wealth. But when our editorial staff submitted nearly 300 ideas, the editors had to roll up our collective sleeves and distill the advice into absolute gems.

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10 Secrets Trader Joe's Shoppers Need to Know

Here is a nice article provided by Andrea Browne Taylor of Kiplinger:

 

By Andrea Browne Taylor, Online Editor | Updated March 2017

 

Trader Joe's is well-known to its fans for low prices on unique food items, ranging from cookie butter to turkey corn dogs. The chain is also known for its quirky culture. Employees, easy to spot in their Hawaiian shirts, go out of their way to be helpful, and plastic lobsters are used to decorate stores.

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10 Worst States To Live In For Taxes

Here is a nice article provided by Sandra Block of Kiplinger:

 

By Sandra Block, Senior Associate Editor | October 2016

 

Lots of people fret about how much they have to pay Uncle Sam, but he’s not the only tax man you have to worry about: Your state can squeeze you for plenty of taxes, too.

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5 States Where Taxes Are Going Up in 2017

Here is a nice article provided by Sandra Block of Kiplinger:

 

By Sandra Block, Senior Associate Editor | January 2017

 

Although President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to cut federal taxes, state taxes are rising across the U.S. as financially strapped states search for funds to repair deteriorating infrastructure and close widening budget shortfalls. In their search for revenue, states have targeted everything from e-cigarettes to lottery winnings.

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10 Kirkland Products You Should Buy at Costco

Here is a nice article provided by Bob Niedt of Kiplinger:

 

By Bob Niedt, Online Editor | January 2017

 

Years back, retailers got wise to the ways of store brands. You know the drill: Grocers stock their shelves with food items packaged just for them, from pasta sauces to pinto beans. For most, gone are the days of those products signaling to customers that yes, they’re less expensive than national brands -- and less tasty. I’m looking at you, old-school A&P with your Ann Page line of goods. Rest in peace.

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7 Habits of People With Excellent Credit Scores

Here is a nice article provided by Lisa Gerstner of Kiplinger:

 

By Lisa Gerstner, Contributing Editor | February 2017

 

Want to improve your credit score? Take a page from the best. People with excellent scores know that following a few basic rules is the key to success. Adopting their habits could boost your score into the stratosphere, opening the door to the best interest rates and terms on loans. And capturing the lowest loan rates can save you a bundle of money in the long run.

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8 Things You Must Know About Grocery Shopping at Publix

Here is a nice article provided by Rebecca Dolan of Kiplinger:

 

By Rebecca Dolan, Online Community Editor | February 2017

 

If you’re going grocery shopping in Florida, you’re probably headed to Publix. With more than 750 locations, the regional chain isn’t just ubiquitous across the Sunshine State, it is popular, too. The grocer ranks #2 (and has done so for four straight years) in research firm Market Force Information’s annual “loyalty index” that measures shopper satisfaction; in 2016, only Wegmans, which doesn’t operate any stores in Florida, ranked higher.

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Job-Changer’s Financial Checklist

As you look forward to starting a new job, it's important to consider how you will manage your finances while making the transition from one employer to the next.

The checklist to use before starting a new job:

●  Proactively manage your health insurance to avoid a lapse in coverage.

●  Discuss dates with your old and new employers to assure continuous coverage.

●  Check on the status of any pending claims under your old coverage.

●  Arrange any needed transfers of records from your old insurer to your new insurer.

●  Provide forwarding and contact information to the trustee of any health savings accounts (HSAs). If you expect to enroll in a high-deductible health plan at your new job, you can generally have any remaining balance in your HSA transferred, so you should determine what procedures you may need to follow. If you do not plan to enroll in a new high-deductible health plan, you can generally leave any HSA assets in your current plan and draw them down as needed for eligible future expenses.

If you have a flexible spending account (FSA) with your current employer, it's important to pay attention to the details of the plan before you change jobs.

●  A flexible spending account (FSA) lets you set aside a pretax portion of your paycheck to cover qualified medical expenses that would have otherwise come out of your pocket. Be sure to file all eligible expenses because, under current rules, you may only carry over up to $500 in unused funds to the next year.

●  Prepare for your job change by submitting all eligible expenses for reimbursement under your old programs before you leave your current job, and check with your company's HR department to find out whether or not you have a grace period for submission.

●  Determine whether any future child care or commuting expenses may qualify for reimbursement from your old accounts.

Address important decisions about your future financial security by managing your retirement accounts.

●  Evaluate all of the post-employment options for assets in your current plan -- leave the assets in place, roll them over to an IRA, or roll them over to your new employer.

●  Determine whether your old plan will require you to arrange a transfer within 60 days or get automatically cashed out, keeping in mind that cash-outs carry immediate tax consequences.

●  Provide any necessary change-of-address information.

●  Keep up your retirement savings efforts at your new employer.

Manage your employer-sponsored life and disability coverage.

●  Determine the extent to which your new employer's coverage might be a complete replacement for your existing coverage.

●  Evaluate conversion options for existing coverage.

●  Consider the need for individual disability insurance.

Keep records and receipts of any moving and transfer expenses for potential tax adjustments and reimbursements.

The checklist to use when you don't have a job lined up:
Manage your health insurance.

●  Determine the date for termination of coverage and look into extension and conversion options to avoid a lapse in coverage.

●  Find out what kind of private individual and government-sponsored health insurance might be available in your area and evaluate your options.

●  Check on the status of any pending claims.

●  Track down copies of your insurance records.

●  Provide forwarding and contact information to the trustee of any HSAs. Keep in mind that any remaining HSA balance should remain available to you for future eligible medical expenses, so you should determine what your plan procedures would be.

Manage your FSAs.

●  Submit all eligible expenses for reimbursement before your departure, or confirm that you will have a grace period for submission.

Manage your retirement accounts.

●  Evaluate the post-employment options for assets in your current plan -- leaving the assets in place or rolling them over to an IRA.

●  Determine whether your plan will require you to arrange a transfer within 60 days or get automatically cashed out, keeping in mind that cash-outs carry immediate tax consequences.

●  Provide any necessary change-of-address information.

Manage your employer-sponsored life and disability coverage.

●  Evaluate all conversion and replacement options for existing coverage.


Source:

You have choices for what to do with your employer-sponsored retirement plan accounts. Depending on your financial circumstances, needs, and goals, you may choose to roll over your eligible savings to an IRA or convert to a Roth IRA, roll over an employer-sponsored plan from a prior employer to an employer-sponsored plan at your new employer, take a distribution, or leave the account where it is. Each choice may offer different investment options and services, fees and expenses, withdrawal options, required minimum distributions, tax treatment, and may provide different protection from creditors and legal judgments. These are complex choices and should be considered with care.


Required Attribution

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by DST Systems, Inc. or its sources, neither DST Systems, Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall DST Systems, Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.

© 2017 DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions.


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.


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Using Trusts to Maximize Charitable Giving While Minimizing Estate Taxes

If you're eager to pass along accumulated wealth to heirs in the most tax-efficient manner possible while also retaining the ability to support a charity either right away or at some point in the future, then a split-interest trust may be just the tool you need. Split-interest trusts are so named because their financial interest is split between two beneficiaries -- typically a charitable beneficiary and noncharitable beneficiary.

Two of the most popular types of split-interest trusts are charitable remainder trusts (CRTs) and charitable lead trusts (CLTs). The two vehicles are related, yet fundamentally different. They essentially work in opposite fashions. A CLT pays income to a charitable beneficiary for a certain period of time, after which the remaining assets in the trust (the remainder interest) passes to a noncharitable beneficiary or beneficiaries, such as children or grandchildren, or even the donor. With a CRT, the assets placed in trust provide a stream of income to noncharitable beneficiaries for a period of time, after which the assets become the property of a charity. Income tax, capital gains tax, and estate and gift tax differ significantly between CLTs and CRTs. As a result, you should seek the advice of a qualified tax and trust professional before determining which strategy is better for your situation.

Charitable Lead Trusts

A CLT can be set up to pay either a fixed annuity or a unitrust amount to a charitable organization, which means that it can pay either a fixed dollar amount each year or a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust's assets. While there is no limit on the amount of time a CLT can remain in effect, it must be for either a predetermined number of years or until the death of the donor.

CLTs are often the tool of choice for individuals with assets that have a high potential for future appreciation. They may also be well suited for those with heirs who are minors or otherwise not ready to assume full control of significant assets. By creating and funding a CLT, a grantor can make final arrangement for the disposition of an estate, but defer the date at which beneficiaries actually receive and control the property. In the meantime, the charity of choice receives immediate and ongoing benefits. When the assets do eventually pass to the noncharitable beneficiaries, they are not subject to the federal estate tax.

Keep in mind, however, that the grantor is not able to claim an income tax deduction for making contributions to a CLT. In addition, the grantor may have to pay a federal gift tax on a portion of each contribution, albeit only on the value of the remainder interest earmarked for noncharitable beneficiaries.

Also remember that while a CLT allows assets to pass to heirs with no federal estate taxes, a CLT is not a tax-free entity. Any income the trust generates in excess of the amount paid to charity is still taxable. And the sale of appreciated assets held within the trust may trigger capital gains taxes.

Charitable Remainder Trusts

In the eyes of a charity, a CRT is the mirror image of a CLT. A CRT first pays income to noncharitable beneficiaries before permanently awarding ownership of its assets to the charity. But in the eyes of Uncle Sam and taxpayers, the most significant differences lie elsewhere.

First and foremost, a CRT is a tax-exempt entity. For this reason, CRTs can be extremely useful for individuals who want to sell appreciated assets, such as investors eager to liquidate highly appreciated, concentrated stock portfolios in order to reallocate the money within more diversified portfolios or to create income streams for themselves or beneficiaries.

In addition, a grantor can claim a tax deduction for his or her donation to a CRT, equal to the present value of the charitable remainder interest. And although a CRT's assets are ultimately distributed to the charity free of estate and gift taxes, the noncharitable beneficiaries of a CRT must pay income taxes on the income received from the trust.

As with CLTs, CRTs are classified according to their payment methods. A charitable remainder annuity trust pays a fixed dollar amount at least annually, whereas a charitable remainder unitrust pays a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trusts assets. According to IRS guidelines, each type of CRT must pay no less than 5%, but no more than 50%, of its fair market value annually. A CRT may remain in effect for life or for a predetermined period of time, not to exceed 20 years.


Tax rules governing trusts are complex. You should seek the advice of a qualified tax and trust professional before determining which strategy is better for your situation.


Required Attribution


Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by DST Systems, Inc. or its sources, neither DST Systems, Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall DST Systems, Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.

© 2017 DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions.


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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The Alternative Minimum Tax -- Not Just for the Wealthy

When first introduced, the alternative minimum tax (AMT) was widely acknowledged to be a rich person's 's tax -- a fallback tax for those wily taxpayers with big incomes and numerous deductions. However, as finances evolved and incomes grew, more and more people found themselves subject to the AMT, even after the introduction of automatic inflation adjustments in 2013. That's why a general understanding of how the tax works can help you avoid it and even use it to your advantage.

The Other Federal Tax

The AMT truly functions as an alternative tax system. It has its own set of rates and rules for deductions, and they are more restrictive than the regular system. Taxpayers who meet certain tests essentially have to calculate their net tax liabilities under both sets of rules, and then file using whichever calculation yields the greater tax assessment.

The AMT can be triggered by a number of different variables. Although those with higher incomes are more susceptible to the tax, factors such as the amount of your exemptions or deductions can also prompt it. Even commonplace items such as a deduction for state income tax or interest on a second mortgage can set off the AMT. To find out if you are subject to the AMT, fill out the worksheets provided with the instructions to Form 1040 or complete Form 6251, Alternative Minimum Tax -- Individuals.

AMT rates start at 26%, rising to 28% at higher income levels. This compares with regular federal tax rates, which start at 10% and step up to 39.6%. Although the AMT rates may appear to cap out at a lower rate than regular taxes, the AMT calculation allows significantly fewer deductions, making for a potentially bigger bottom-line tax bite. Unlike regular taxes, you cannot claim exemptions for yourself or other dependents, nor may you claim the standard deduction. You also cannot deduct state and local tax, property tax, and a number of other itemized deductions, including your home-equity loan interest, if the loan proceeds are not used for home improvements. Accordingly, the more exemptions and deductions you normally claim, the more likely it is that you'll have an AMT liability.

There's also an AMT credit that allows you to claim a credit on your tax return in future years for some of the extra taxes you paid under the AMT. However, you can only use the AMT credit in a year when you're not paying the AMT. To apply for the credit, you'll need to fill in yet another form, Form 8801, to see if you are eligible.



Averting Triggers for the AMT

Because large one-time gains and big deductions that trigger the AMT are sometimes controllable, you may be able to avoid or minimize the impact of the AMT by planning ahead. Here are some practical suggestions.

Time your capital gains. You may be able to delay an asset sale until after the end of the year, or spread a gain over a number of years by using an installment sale. If you're looking to liquidate an investment with a long-term gain, you should review your AMT consequences and determine what impact such a sale might have.

Time your deductible expenses. When possible, time payments of state and local taxes, home-equity loan interest (if the loan proceeds are not used for home improvements), and other miscellaneous itemized deductions to fall in years when you won't face the AMT. Since they are not AMT deductible, they will go unused in a year when you pay the AMT. The same holds true for medical deductions, which face stricter deduction rules for the AMT.

Look before you exercise. Exercising ISOs is a red flag for triggering the AMT. The AMT on ISO proceeds can be significant. Because ISO tax issues are complex, you should consult with your tax advisor before exercising ISOs.



Required Attribution

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by DST Systems, Inc. or its sources, neither DST Systems, Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall DST Systems, Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.

© 2017 DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions.


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.



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Ten Investment Mistakes to Avoid

Who needs a pyramid scheme or a crooked money manager when you can lose money in the stock market all by yourself. If you want to help curb your loss potential, avoid these 10 strategies.

1.  Go with the herd. If everyone else is buying it, it must be good, right? Wrong. Investors tend to do what everyone else is doing and are overly optimistic when the market goes up and overly pessimistic when the market goes down. For instance, in 2008, the largest monthly outflow of U.S. domestic equity funds occurred after the market had fallen over 25% from its peak. And in 2011, the only time net inflows were recorded was before the market slid over 10%.

2.  Put all of your bets on one high-flying stock. If only you had invested all your money in Apple 10 years ago, you'd be a millionaire today. Perhaps, but what if, instead, you had invested in Enron, Conseco, CIT, WorldCom, Washington Mutual, or Lehman Brothers? All were high flyers at one point, yet all have since filed for bankruptcy, making them perfect candidates for the downwardly mobile investor.

3.  Buy when the market is up. If the market is on a tear, how can you lose? Just ask the hordes of investors who flocked to stocks in 1999 and early 2000—and then lost their shirts in the ensuing bear market.

4.  Sell when the market is down. The temptation to sell is always highest when the market drops the furthest. And it's what many inexperienced investors tend to do, locking in losses and precluding future recoveries.

5.  Stay on the sidelines until markets calm down. Since markets almost never "calm down," this is the perfect rationale to never get in. In today's world, that means settling for a minuscule return that may not even keep pace with inflation.

6.  Buy on tips from friends. Who needs professional advice when your new buddy from the gym can give you some great tips? If his stock suggestions are as good as his abs workout tips, you can't go wrong.

7.  Rely on the pundits for advice. With all the experts out there crowding the airwaves with their recommendations, why not take their advice? But which advice should you follow? Cramer may say buy, while Buffett says sell. And remember that what pundits sell best is themselves.

8.  Go with your gut. Fundamental research may be OK for the pros, but it's much easier to buy or sell based on what your gut tells you. Had problems with your laptop lately? Maybe you should sell that IBM stock. When it comes to hunches, irrationality rules.

9.  React frequently to market volatility. Responding to the market's daily ups and downs is a surefire way to lock in losses. Even professional traders have a poor track record of guessing the market's bigger shifts, let alone daily fluctuations.

10.  Set it and forget it. Ignoring your portfolio until you're ready to cash it in gives it the perfect opportunity to go completely out of balance, with past winners dominating. It also makes for a major misalignment of original investing goals and shifting life-stage priorities.


Source:

1.  ICI; Standard & Poor's. The stock market is represented by the S&P 500, an unmanaged index considered representative of large-cap U.S. stocks. These hypothetical examples are for illustrative purposes only, and are not intended as investment advice.


Required Attribution
Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by DST Systems, Inc. or its sources, neither DST Systems, Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall DST Systems, Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber’s or others’ use of the content.

© 2017 DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions.


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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Tax Strategies for Retirees

Nothing in life is certain except death and taxes. —Benjamin Franklin

That saying still rings true roughly 300 years after the former statesman coined it. Yet, by formulating a tax-efficient investment and distribution strategy, retirees may keep more of their hard-earned assets for themselves and their heirs. Here are a few suggestions for effective money management during your later years.

Less Taxing Investments

Municipal bonds, or "munis" have long been appreciated by retirees seeking a haven from taxes and stock market volatility. In general, the interest paid on municipal bonds is exempt from federal taxes and sometimes state and local taxes as well (see table).1 The higher your tax bracket, the more you may benefit from investing in munis.

Also, consider investing in tax-managed mutual funds. Managers of these funds pursue tax efficiency by employing a number of strategies. For instance, they might limit the number of times they trade investments within a fund or sell securities at a loss to offset portfolio gains. Equity index funds may also be more tax-efficient than actively managed stock funds due to a potentially lower investment turnover rate.

It's also important to review which types of securities are held in taxable versus tax-deferred accounts. Why? Because the maximum federal tax rate on some dividend-producing investments and long-term capital gains is 20%.* In light of this, many financial experts recommend keeping real estate investment trusts (REITs), high-yield bonds, and high-turnover stock mutual funds in tax-deferred accounts. Low-turnover stock funds, municipal bonds, and growth or value stocks may be more appropriate for taxable accounts.

The Tax-Exempt Advantage: When Less May Yield More



Which Securities to Tap First?

Another major decision facing retirees is when to liquidate various types of assets. The advantage of holding on to tax-deferred investments is that they compound on a before-tax basis and therefore have greater earning potential than their taxable counterparts.

On the other hand, you'll need to consider that qualified withdrawals from tax-deferred investments are taxed at ordinary federal income tax rates of up to 39.6%, while distributions—in the form of capital gains or dividends—from investments in taxable accounts are taxed at a maximum 20%.* (Capital gains on investments held for less than a year are taxed at regular income tax rates.)

For this reason, it's beneficial to hold securities in taxable accounts long enough to qualify for the favorable long-term rate. And, when choosing between tapping capital gains versus dividends, long-term capital gains are more attractive from an estate planning perspective because you get a step-up in basis on appreciated assets at death.

It also makes sense to take a long view with regard to tapping tax-deferred accounts. Keep in mind, however, the deadline for taking annual required minimum distributions (RMDs).

The Ins and Outs of RMDs

The IRS mandates that you begin taking an annual RMD from traditional IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans after you reach age 70½. The premise behind the RMD rule is simple—the longer you are expected to live, the less the IRS requires you to withdraw (and pay taxes on) each year.

RMDs are now based on a uniform table, which takes into consideration the participant's and beneficiary's lifetimes, based on the participant's age. Failure to take the RMD can result in a tax penalty equal to 50% of the required amount. TIP: If you'll be pushed into a higher tax bracket at age 70½ due to the RMD rule, it may pay to begin taking withdrawals during your sixties.

Unlike traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs do not require you to begin taking distributions by age 70½.2 In fact, you're never required to take distributions from your Roth IRA, and qualified withdrawals are tax free.2 For this reason, you may wish to liquidate investments in a Roth IRA after you've exhausted other sources of income. Be aware, however, that your beneficiaries will be required to take RMDs after your death.

Estate Planning and Gifting

There are various ways to make the tax payments on your assets easier for heirs to handle. Careful selection of beneficiaries of your money accounts is one example. If you do not name a beneficiary, your assets could end up in probate, and your beneficiaries could be taking distributions faster than they expected. In most cases, spousal beneficiaries are ideal, because they have several options that aren't available to other beneficiaries, including the marital deduction for the federal estate tax.

Also, consider transferring assets into an irrevocable trust if you're close to the threshold for owing estate taxes. In 2016, the federal estate tax applies to all estate assets over $5.45 million. Assets in an irrevocable trust are passed on free of estate taxes, saving heirs thousands of dollars. TIP: If you plan on moving assets from tax-deferred accounts, do so before you reach age 70½, when RMDs must begin.

Finally, if you have a taxable estate, you can give up to $14,000 per individual ($28,000 per married couple) each year to anyone tax free. Also, consider making gifts to children over age 14, as dividends may be taxed—or gains tapped—at much lower tax rates than those that apply to adults. TIP: Some people choose to transfer appreciated securities to custodial accounts (UTMAs and UGMAs) to help save for a grandchild's higher education expenses.

Strategies for making the most of your money and reducing taxes are complex. Your best recourse? Plan ahead and consider meeting with a competent tax advisor, an estate attorney, and a financial professional to help you sort through your options.


Source(s):

1.  Capital gains from municipal bonds are taxable and interest income may be subject to the alternative minimum tax.

2.  Withdrawals prior to age 59½ are generally subject to a 10% additional tax.
*Income from investment assets may be subject to an additional 3.8% Medicare tax, applicable to single-filer taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income of over $200,000, and $250,000 for joint filers.


Required Attribution

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by DST Systems, Inc. or its sources, neither DST Systems, Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall DST Systems, Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.

© 2017 DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions.


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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Starting Out: Begin Funding for Your Financial Security

Congratulations! You’ve graduated from school and landed a job. Your salary, however, is limited, and you don't have much money (if any) left at the end of the month. So where can you find money to save? And, once you find it, where should this cash go?

Here are some ways to help free up the money you need for current expenses, financial protection, and future investments -- all without pushing the panic button.

Get Out From Under

For most young adults, paying down debt is the first step toward freeing up cash for the financial protection they need. If you’re spending more than you make, think about areas where you can cut back. Don't rule out getting a less expensive apartment, roommates, or trading in a more expensive car for a secondhand model. Other expenses that could be trimmed include dining out, entertainment, and vacations.

If you owe balances on high-rate credit cards, look into obtaining a low-interest credit card or bank loan and transferring your existing balances. Then plan to pay as much as you can each month to reduce the total balance, and try to avoid adding new charges.

If you have student loans, there's also help to make paying them back easier. You may be eligible to reduce these payments if you qualify for the Federal Direct Consolidation Loan program. Though the program would lengthen the payment time somewhat, it could also free up extra cash each month to apply to your higher-interest consumer debt. The program can be reached at 800-557-7392.

What You Really Should Buy

How would you pay the bills if your paychecks suddenly stopped? That's when you turn to insurance and personal savings -- two items you should “buy” before considering future big-ticket purchases.

Health insurance is your first priority. Health care insurance is now also mandatory under the Affordable Care Act. If you're not covered under an employer plan, look into the new state or national health insurance exchanges, which offer a variety of coverage options and providers to choose from. You may also qualify for a subsidy if your taxable income is under 400% of the federal poverty level.

Life insurance is the next logical step, but may only be a concern if you have dependents.

Disability insurance should be another consideration. In fact, government statistics estimate that just over 25% of today's 20-year-olds will become disabled before they retire. 1  Disability insurance will replace a portion of your income if you can't work for an extended period due to illness or injury. If you can't get this through your employer, call individual insurance companies to compare rates.

Build a Cash Reserve

If you should ever become disabled or lose your job, you'll also need savings to fall back on until paychecks start up again. Try to save at least three months' worth of living expenses in an easy-to- access "liquid" account, which includes a checking or savings account. Saving up emergency cash is easier if your financial institution has an automatic payroll savings plan. These plans automatically transfer a designated amount of your salary each pay period -- before you see your paycheck -- directly into your account.

To get the best rate on your liquid savings, look into putting part of this nest egg into money market funds. Money market funds invest in Treasury bills, short-term corporate loans, and other low-risk instruments that typically pay higher returns than savings accounts. These funds strive to maintain a stable $1 per share value, but unlike FDIC-insured bank accounts, can't guarantee they won't lose money. 2

Some money market funds may require a minimum initial investment of $1,000 or more. If so, you'll need to build some savings first. Once you do, you can get an idea of what the top-earning money market funds are paying by referring to iMoneyNet, which publishes current yields. Many newspapers also publish yields on a regular basis.


Build Your Financial Future

Some long-term financial opportunities are too good to put off, even if you are still building a cache for current living expenses.

One of the best deals is an employer-sponsored retirement plan such as a 401(k) plan, if available. These tax-advantaged plans allow you to make pretax contributions, and taxes aren't owed on any earnings until they're withdrawn. What's more, new Roth-style plans allow for after-tax contributions and tax-free withdrawals in retirement, provided certain eligibility requirements are met. Another big plus is direct contributions from each paycheck so you won't miss the money as well as possible employer matches on a portion of your contributions.

Don't underestimate the potential power of tax savings. If you invested $100 per month into one of these accounts and it earned an 8% return compounded annually, you would have $146,815 in 30 years -- nearly $50,000 more than if the money were taxed annually at 25%. 3 Bear in mind, however, that you will have to pay taxes on the retirement plan savings when you take withdrawals. If you took a lump-sum withdrawal and paid a 25% tax rate, you'd have $110,111, which is still more than the balance you'd have in a taxable account.

If you're already participating, think about either increasing contributions now or with each raise and promotion.

If a 401(k) isn't available to you, shop around for individual retirement accounts (IRAs), both traditional and Roth, at banks or mutual fund firms. In 2016, you can contribute up to $5,500 to traditional IRAs or Roth IRAs. Generally, contributions to and income earned on traditional IRAs are tax deferred until retirement; Roth IRA contributions are made after taxes, but earnings thereon can be withdrawn tax free upon retirement. Note that certain eligibility requirements apply and nonqualified taxable withdrawals made before age 59½ are subject to a 10% additional federal tax.

Stop Waiting for the Next Paycheck

Beginning your working life with good financial decisions doesn't call for complex moves. It does require discipline and a long-term outlook. This commitment can help get you out of debt and keep you from a paycheck-to- paycheck lifestyle.


Source(s):

1.  Social Security Administration, Fact Sheet, March 2014.

2.  An investment in a money market fund is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Although the fund seeks to preserve the value of your investment at $1.00 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in the fund.

3.  This hypothetical example is for illustrative purposes only. It does not represent the performance of any actual investment.


Required Attribution

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by DST Systems, Inc. or its sources, neither DST Systems, Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall DST Systems, Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.

© 2017 DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions.


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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Frequently Asked Retirement Income Questions

When should I begin thinking about tapping my retirement assets and how should I go about doing so?

The answer to this question depends on when you expect to retire. Assuming you expect to retire between the ages of 62 and 67, you may want to begin the planning process in your mid- to late 50s. A series of meetings with a financial advisor may help you make important decisions such as how your portfolio should be invested, when you can afford to retire, and how much you will be able to withdraw annually for living expenses. If you anticipate retiring earlier, or enjoying a longer working life, you may need to alter your planning threshold accordingly.

How much annual income am I likely to need?

While studies indicate that many people are likely to need between 60% and 80% of their final working year's income to maintain their lifestyle after retiring, low-income and wealthy retirees may need closer to 90%. Because of the declining availability of traditional pensions and increasing financial stresses on Social Security, future retirees may have to rely more on income generated by personal investments than today's retirees.

How much can I afford to withdraw from my assets for annual living expenses?

As you age, your financial affairs won't remain static: Changes in inflation, investment returns, your desired lifestyle, and your life expectancy are important contributing factors. You may want to err on the side of caution and choose an annual withdrawal rate somewhat below 5%; of course, this depends on how much you have in your overall portfolio and how much you will need on a regular basis. The best way to target a withdrawal rate is to meet one-on-one with a qualified financial advisor and review your personal situation.

When planning portfolio withdrawals, is there a preferred strategy for which accounts are tapped first?

You may want to consider tapping taxable accounts first to maintain the tax benefits of your tax-deferred retirement accounts. If your expected dividends and interest payments from taxable accounts are not enough to meet your cash flow needs, you may want to consider liquidating certain assets. Selling losing positions in taxable accounts may allow you to offset current or future gains for tax purposes. Also, to maintain your target asset allocation, consider whether you should liquidate overweighted asset classes. Another potential strategy may be to consider withdrawing assets from tax-deferred accounts to which nondeductible contributions have been made, such as after-tax contributions to a 401(k) plan.

If you maintain a traditional IRA, a 401(k), 403(b), or 457 plan, in most cases, you must begin required minimum distributions (RMDs) after age 70½. The amount of the annual distribution is determined by your life expectancy and, potentially, the life expectancy of a beneficiary. RMDs don't apply to Roth IRAs.

Are there other ways of getting income from investments besides liquidating assets?

One such strategy that uses fixed-income investments is bond laddering. A bond ladder is a portfolio of bonds with maturity dates that are evenly staggered so that a constant proportion of the bonds can potentially be redeemed at par value each year. As a portfolio management strategy, bond laddering may help you maintain a relatively consistent stream of income while managing your exposure to risk.1

In addition, many of today's annuities offer optional living benefits that may help an investor capitalize on the market's upside potential while protecting investment principal from market declines and/or providing minimum future income. Keep in mind, however, that riders vary widely, have restrictions, and that additional fees may apply. Your financial advisor can help you determine whether an annuity is appropriate for your situation.2

When crafting a retirement portfolio, you need to make sure it is positioned to generate enough growth to prevent running out of money during your later years. You may want to maintain an investment mix with the goal of earning returns that exceed the rate of inflation. Dividing your portfolio among stocks, bonds, and cash investments may provide adequate exposure to some growth potential while trying to manage possible market setbacks.


Source(s):

1.  Bonds are subject to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rates rise. Bonds are subject to availability and change in price.

2.  Annuity protections and guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.


Required Attribution

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by DST Systems, Inc. or its sources, neither DST Systems, Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall DST Systems, Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.

© 2017 DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions.


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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A Vote for Small Cap Stocks?

Here is a nice article provided by Weston Wellington of Dimensional Fund Advisors:


In the days immediately following the recent US presidential election, US small company stocks experienced higher returns than US large company stocks. This example helps illustrate how the dimensions of expected returns can appear quickly, unpredictably, and with large magnitude.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE:

A Vote for Small Cap Stocks.pdf


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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New Market Highs and Positive Expected Returns

Here is a nice article provided by Dimensional Fund Advisors:


There has been much discussion in the news recently about new nominal highs in stock indices like the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500. When markets hit new highs, is that an indication that it’s time for investors to cash out?
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE:

New Market Highs and Positive Expected Returns.pdf


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail i This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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The Fed, Yields, and Expected Returns

Here is a nice article provided by Dimensional Fund Advisors:


In liquid and competitive markets, current interest rates represent the expected
probability of all foreseeable actions by the Fed and other market forces. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE:

The Fed Yields and Expected Returns.pdf


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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Things You Should Never Buy at Aldi

Here is a nice article provided by Bob Niedt of Kiplinger:


Haven’t shopped at an Aldi supermarket yet? That could change soon. The German chain, famous for its no frills and low prices, is in the midst of a boom. After steadily expanding its footprint in the eastern part of the country over the past 40 years – the first U.S. store opened in Iowa in 1976 – Aldi is now adding locations in Southern California. By 2018, the company expects to have close to 2,000 stores nationwide, up from fewer than 1,600 today.

If you’re new to Aldi’s minimalist approach to grocery shopping, you’re in for a shocker. You pay a refundable quarter to rent a cart. You bag your own groceries. Oh, and you’ll even need to pay for those bags unless you bring your own. There are few shelves, few employees and none of the amenities you’ve come to expect from the likes of Wegmans or Whole Foods. Still, discount shoppers have proven willing to accept the trade-offs. We compared prices and reached out to shopping experts to identify some of the best things to buy at Aldi based on cost, quality or both. We also identified some of the worst things to buy. Have a look.

1.  Buy Kitchen Staples

Heading to the supermarket for some basics, say a gallon of milk, a dozen Grade A eggs, a loaf of white bread and a jar of peanut butter? Strictly judging by the bottom line, you may want to give Aldi a shot.

We priced out these four kitchen staples at an Aldi in Northern Virginia, and then compared the everyday, non-sale prices to similarly packaged store brands at three other nearby grocery retailers: Giant, Harris Teeter and Target. Here are the results (from cheapest to most expensive):

Eggs: Aldi, 39 cents; Harris Teeter, $1.39; Target, $1.49; Giant, $1.99
Bread: Aldi, 85 cents; Harris Teeter, 97 cents; Giant, 99 cents; Target, $1.64
Peanut butter: Aldi, $1.49; Target, $1.79; Giant, $2.19; Harris Teeter, $2.29
Milk: Aldi, $1.49; Target, $2.98; Giant, $3.49; Harris Teeter, $3.59

2.  Don’t Buy Fruits and Vegetables*

Like most of Aldi’s goods, fruits and vegetables are typically sold from the bulk boxes they were shipped in. No fancy, bountiful horn-of-plenty displays. And unlike major chains, the bulk of Aldi’s stores don’t refrigerate produce. While I’ve found Aldi’s fruits and vegetables generally top notch, others disagree.

“Produce [from Aldi] can spoil more quickly,” says Tracie Fobes, a money-saving expert at the website Pennypinchinmom.com, “so buy only what you can eat within a few days.”

Also, Aldi pre-packages many of its fruits and vegetables in bulk, so if you want, say, an apple you need to buy an entire bag. Most big supermarket chains sell similar produce loose. The latter approach allows shoppers to pick out the freshest individual items available.

* This advice applies to most of Aldi’s older existing stores. New (and newly renovated) stores are another story…

3.  But Do Buy Fruits and Vegetables at New Aldi Stores

Aldi is rolling out changes aimed at fending off competitors including Whole Foods’ offshoot discount chain, 365 by Whole Foods. On top of better lighting and wider aisles, Aldi’s new store format puts fresh produce center stage and includes refrigerated units for the likes of greens, perishable fruits and (shocker!) premade soups and dips. Bulk packaging still rules at new stores, but that’s a big reason why Aldi can keep produce prices so low.

If you’re produce shopping at an Aldi store that hasn’t adopted this new format – which means most of them – there are workarounds.

“Aldi’s fruit and vegetables are usually the lowest price compared to other grocers, and they rate as good quality, especially if you shop early mornings when stock is full to choose from,” says Brent Shelton of money-saving site FatWallet.com. “A good tip to improve shelf life is to make sure you wash any produce as soon as you get home.”

4.  Buy Aldi’s Name-Brand Knockoffs

You won’t find many name brands at Aldi. About 90% of the items it stocks are private-label products wedged into a mere 15,000 square feet of space (about one third the size of a standard supermarket).

Yet, as you walk Aldi’s aisles, a lot of the packaging will seem familiar even if the brands aren’t. That’s not by accident.

“A good majority of Aldi’s private-label products are actually name-brand products, just repackaged,” says FatWallet’s Shelton, “so quality is high, and price is usually lower than the brands available at regular grocers.”

Fobes of Pennypinchinmom.com says quality is especially high in Aldi’s canned goods, pasta, condiments and almond milk, which is “smooth and creamy, but more affordable.”

5.  Buy European Novelty Foods and Drinks

Aldi wears its German roots proudly. Look no further than the strudel in the freezer case for proof. You’ll find German and other European chocolates on store shelves, too. According to Fobes, specialty chocolates, in general, are among the best things to buy at Aldi because they are “smooth and creamy at a much lower cost than most other stores.”

Aldi loyalists also rave about the inexpensive, and interesting, selections of wines and beers, as well as the selections of Italian and French sodas and lemonades. Look for packaged gourmet cheese, too.

Prowl the aisles to find more European products that aren’t carried by other U.S. grocers. Keep checking back, since Aldi tends to rotate stock at a high rate. Many products are here today, gone tomorrow.

6.  Buy Organic and Gluten-Free Products

Aldi has been stepping up its game with organic and gluten-free products, especially as it escalates its war on Whole Foods with the redesigned stores.

“They have a huge variety [of organic and gluten-free products],” says Fobes, “which is much less expensive than the name brands.”

And if, from a health perspective, you’re concerned about the quality of Aldi’s private-label foods, there’s been a major change over the past year.

Aldi has removed from the majority of its private-label goods such healthy eating no-nos as partially hydrogenated oils and MSG, says Shelton. The company has also removed growth hormones from its dairy products and carries a line of packaged meats labeled “Never Any!” that is free of added antibiotics, hormones and animal by-products.

7.  Don’t Buy Anything You Can’t Eat or Drink

Savings experts say it’s best to steer clear of most toys, home goods, cleaning supplies and other non-food items at Aldi. But if you’re tempted – every so often, Aldi will score national-brand products and put what appears to be amazing prices on them – first pull out your smartphone and price-compare.

“Make sure you check the price on these as they tend to be higher prices on lower quality items at Aldi,” says Shelton. “Plus, you can often find coupons for these types of items at other stores, even grocers, which would make buying them elsewhere a smart thing to do.” Aldi doesn’t accept coupons.

When we compared prices on a roll of paper towels, for example, Aldi’s price of 99 cents was the same as the price at Giant and Target. However, coupons and loyalty discounts could’ve brought down the price more at the latter retailers. (Aldi doesn’t have a loyalty program, either.)

“Paper products are not always less expensive [at Aldi],” agrees Fobes. “You may find a better deal and quality at the big-box stores.”


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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The 23 Most-Overlooked Tax Deductions

Here is a nice article provided by Kevin McCormally of Kiplinger:


Years ago, the fellow running the IRS told Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine that he figured millions of taxpayers overpaid their taxes every year by overlooking just one of the money-saving tax breaks listed here.

We’ve updated all the key details in this popular guide to the common tax deductions many filers miss to ensure that your 2016 return is a money-saving masterpiece. Cut your tax bill to the bone by claiming all the tax write-offs you deserve.

1.  State Sales Taxes

After years of uncertainty, in 2015 Congress finally made this break “permanent.” This is particularly important to you if you live in a state that does not impose a state income tax. Congress offers itemizers the choice between deducting the state income taxes or state sales taxes they paid. You choose whichever saves you the most money. So if your state doesn't have an income tax, the sales tax write-off is clearly the way to go.

In some cases, even filers who pay state income taxes can come out ahead with the sales tax choice. And, you don’t need a wheelbarrow full of receipts. The IRS has tables that show how much residents of various states can deduct, based on their income and state and local sales tax rates. But the tables aren't the last word. If you purchased a vehicle, boat or airplane, you may add the sales tax you paid on that big-ticket item to the amount shown in the IRS table for your state. The IRS even has a calculator that shows how much residents of various states can deduct, based on their income and state and local sales tax rates.

We put those quotations marks around permanent above because, as Congress takes up tax reform in 2017, one possibility is the elimination of both the sales tax and the state income tax deductions. But you’re still sure to have the choice for your 2016 return.

2.  Reinvested Dividends

This isn't a tax deduction, but it is an important subtraction that can save you a bundle. And this is the one that former IRS commissioner Fred Goldberg told Kiplinger millions of taxpayers miss . . . costing them millions in overpaid taxes.

If, like most investors, you have mutual fund dividends automatically reinvested to buy extra shares, remember that each new purchase increases your tax basis in the fund. That, in turn, reduces the taxable capital gain (or increases the tax-saving loss) when you redeem shares. Forgetting to include reinvested dividends in your basis results in double taxation of the dividends—once in the year when they were paid out and immediately reinvested and later when they're included in the proceeds of the sale.

Don't make that costly mistake.

If you're not sure what your basis is, ask the fund for help. Funds often report to investors the tax basis of shares redeemed during the year. In fact, for the sale of shares purchased in 2012 and later years, funds must report the basis to investors and to the IRS.

3.  Out-of-Pocket Charitable Deductions

It's hard to overlook the big charitable gifts you made during the year, by check or payroll deduction (check your December pay stub).

But little things add up, too, and you can write off out-of-pocket costs incurred while doing work for a charity. For example, ingredients for casseroles you prepare for a nonprofit organization's soup kitchen and stamps you buy for a school's fund-raising mailing count as charitable contributions. Keep your receipts. If your contribution totals more than $250, you'll also need an acknowledgement from the charity documenting the support you provided. If you drove your car for charity in 2016, remember to deduct 14 cents per mile, plus parking and tolls paid, in your philanthropic journeys.

4.  Student-Loan Interest Paid by Mom and Dad

Generally, you can deduct interest only if you are legally required to repay the debt. But if parents pay back a child's student loans, the IRS treats the transactions as if the money were given to the child, who then paid the debt. So as long as the child is no longer claimed as a dependent, he or she can deduct up to $2,500 of student-loan interest paid by Mom and Dad each year. And he or she doesn't have to itemize to use this money-saver. (Mom and Dad can't claim the interest deduction even though they actually foot the bill because they are not liable for the debt.)

5.  Job-Hunting Costs

If you're among the millions of unemployed Americans who were looking for a job in 2016, we hope you were successful . . . and that you kept track of your job-search expenses or can reconstruct them. If you were looking for a position in the same line of work as your current or most recent job, you can deduct job-hunting costs as miscellaneous expenses if you itemize. Qualifying expenses can be written off even if you didn't land a new job. But such expenses can be deducted only to the extent that your total miscellaneous expenses exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income. (Job-hunting expenses incurred while looking for your first job don't qualify.) Deductible costs include, but aren't limited to:

Transportation expenses incurred as part of the job search, including 54 cents a mile for driving your own car plus parking and tolls. (The rate falls to 53.5 cents a mile for driving in 2017.)

Food and lodging expenses if your search takes you away from home overnight

Cab fares

Employment agency fees

Costs of printing resumes, business cards, postage, and advertising.

6.  Moving Expenses to Take Your First Job

Although job-hunting expenses are not deductible when looking for your first job, moving expenses to get to that job are. And you get this write-off even if you don't itemize. To qualify for the deduction, your first job must be at least 50 miles away from your old home. If you qualify, you can deduct the cost of getting yourself and your household goods to the new area. If you drove your own car on a 2016 move, deduct 19 cents a mile, plus what you paid for parking and tolls. (The rate falls to 17 cents a mile for 2017 moves.) For a full list of deductible moving expenses, check out IRS Publication 521.

7.  Military Reservists' Travel Expenses

Members of the National Guard or military reserve may write off the cost of travel to drills or meetings. To qualify, you must travel more than 100 miles from home and be away from home overnight. If you qualify, you can deduct the cost of lodging and half the cost of your meals, plus an allowance for driving your own car to get to and from drills.

For 2016 travel, the rate is 54 cents a mile, plus what you paid for parking fees and tolls. You may claim this deduction even if you use the standard deduction rather than itemizing. (The rate falls to 53.5 cents a mile for 2017 travel.)

8.  Deduction of Medicare Premiums for the Self-Employed

Folks who continue to run their own businesses after qualifying for Medicare can deduct the premiums they pay for Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D, plus the cost of supplemental Medicare (medigap) policies or the cost of a Medicare Advantage plan.

This deduction is available whether or not you itemize and is not subject to the 7.5% of AGI test that applies to itemized medical expenses for those age 65 and older. One caveat: You can't claim this deduction if you are eligible to be covered under an employer-subsidized health plan offered by either your employer (if you have a job as well as your business) or your spouse's employer (if he or she has a job that offers family medical coverage).

9.  Child-Care Credit

A credit is so much better than a deduction; it reduces your tax bill dollar for dollar. So missing one is even more painful than missing a deduction that simply reduces the amount of income that's subject to tax. In the 25% bracket, each dollar of deductions is worth a quarter; each dollar of credits is worth a greenback.

You can qualify for a tax credit worth between 20% and 35% of what you pay for child care while you work. But if your boss offers a child care reimbursement account—which allows you to pay for the child care with pretax dollars—that’s likely to be an even better deal. If you qualify for a 20% credit but are in the 25% tax bracket, for example, the reimbursement plan is the way to go. Not only does money run through a reimbursement account avoid federal income taxes, it also is protected from the 7.65% Social Security tax. (In any case, only amounts paid for the care of children younger than age 13 count.)

You can't double dip. Expenses paid through a plan can't also be used to generate the tax credit. But get this: Although only $5,000 in expenses can be paid through a tax-favored reimbursement account, up to $6,000 for the care of two or more children can qualify for the credit. So if you run the maximum through a plan at work but spend even more for work-related child care, you can claim the credit on as much as $1,000 of additional expenses. That would cut your tax bill by at least $200.

10.  Estate Tax on Income in Respect of a Decedent

This sounds complicated, but it can save you a lot of money if you inherited an IRA from someone whose estate was big enough to be subject to the federal estate tax.

Basically, you get an income-tax deduction for the amount of estate tax paid on the IRA assets you received. Let's say you inherited a $100,000 IRA, and the fact that the money was included in your benefactor's estate added $40,000 to the estate-tax bill. You get to deduct that $40,000 on your tax returns as you withdraw the money from the IRA. If you withdraw $50,000 in one year, for example, you get to claim a $20,000 itemized deduction on Schedule A. That would save you $5,600 in the 28% bracket.

11.  State Tax Paid Last Spring

Did you owe tax when you filed your 2015 state income tax return in the spring of 2016? Then, for goodness' sake, remember to include that amount in your state-tax deduction on your 2016 federal return, along with state income taxes withheld from your paychecks or paid via quarterly estimated payments during the year.

12.  Refinancing Points

When you buy a house, you get to deduct in one fell swoop the points paid to get your mortgage. When you refinance, though, you have to deduct the points on the new loan over the life of that loan. That means you can deduct 1/30th of the points a year if it's a 30-year mortgage. That's $33 a year for each $1,000 of points you paid—not much, maybe, but don't throw it away.

Even more important, in the year you pay off the loan—because you sell the house or refinance again—you get to deduct all as-yet-undeducted points. There's one exception to this sweet rule: If you refinance a refinanced loan with the same lender, you add the points paid on the latest deal to the leftovers from the previous refinancing, then deduct that amount gradually over the life of the new loan. A pain? Yes, but at least you'll be compensated for the hassle.

13.  Jury Pay Paid to Employer

Many employers continue to pay employees' full salary while they serve on jury duty, and some impose a quid pro quo: The employees have to turn over their jury pay to the company coffers. The only problem is that the IRS demands that you report those jury fees as taxable income. To even things out, you get to deduct the amount you give to your employer.

But how do you do it? There's no line on the Form 1040 labeled “jury fees.” Instead, the write-off goes on line 36, which purports to be for simply totaling up deductions that get their own lines. Include your jury fees with your other write-offs and write "jury pay" on the dotted line.

14.  American Opportunity Credit

Unlike the Hope Credit that this one replaced, the American Opportunity Credit is good for all four years of college, not just the first two. Don't shortchange yourself by missing this critical difference. This tax credit is based on 100% of the first $2,000 spent on qualifying college expenses and 25% of the next $2,000 ... for a maximum annual credit per student of $2,500. The full credit is available to individuals whose modified adjusted gross income is $80,000 or less ($160,000 or less for married couples filing a joint return). The credit is phased out for taxpayers with incomes above those levels.

If the credit exceeds your tax liability, it can trigger a refund. (Most credits are “nonrefundable,” meaning they can reduce your tax to $0, but not get you a check from the IRS.)

15.  A College Credit for Those Long Out of College

College credits aren’t just for youngsters, nor are they limited to just the first four years of college. The Lifetime Learning credit can be claimed for any number of years and can be used to offset the cost of higher education for yourself or your spouse . . . not just for your children.

The credit is worth up to $2,000 a year, based on 20% of up to $10,000 you spend for post-high-school courses that lead to new or improved job skills. Classes you take even in retirement at a vocational school or community college can count. If you brushed up on skills in 2016, this credit can help pay the bills. The right to claim this tax-saver phases out as income rises from $55,000 to $65,000 on an individual return and from $110,000 to $130,000 for couples filing jointly.

16.  Those Blasted Baggage Fees

Airlines seem to revel in driving travelers batty with extra fees for baggage, online booking and for changing travel plans. Such fees add up to billions of dollars each year. If you get burned, maybe Uncle Sam will help ease the pain. If you're self-employed and traveling on business, be sure to add those costs to your deductible travel expenses.

17.  Credits for Energy-Saving Home Improvements

Your 2016 return is the last chance to claim a tax credit for installing energy-efficient windows or making similar energy-saving home improvements. You can claim up to $500 in total tax credits for eligible improvements, based on 10% of the purchase cost (not installation) of certain insulation, windows, doors and skylights. The credit is subject to a lifetime cap, so if you’ve already pocketed the max, you’re out of luck. But there’s no such limit on the much more powerful incentive for those who install qualified residential alternative energy equipment, such as solar hot water heaters, geothermal heat pumps and wind turbines in 2016. Your credit can be 30% of the total cost (including labor) of such systems.

18.  Bonus Depreciation ... And Beefed-Up Expensing

Business owners—including those who run businesses out of their homes—have to stay on their toes to capture tax breaks for buying new equipment. The rules seem to be constantly shifting as Congress writes incentives into the law and then allows them to expire or to be cut back to save money. Take “bonus depreciation” as an example. Back in 2011, rather than write off the cost of new equipment over many years, a business could use 100% bonus depreciation to deduct the full cost in the year the equipment was put into service. For 2013, the bonus depreciation rate was 50%. The break expired at the end of 2013 and stayed expired until the end of 2014 . . . when Congress reinstated it retroactively to cover 2014 purchases. Then, the provision expired again . . . but near the end of 2015, Congress revived the break. The 50% bonus applies for property purchased in 2016 and 2017, too; the bonus drops to 40% in 2018 and 30% in 2019.

Perhaps even more valuable, though, is another break: supercharged "expensing," which basically lets you write off the full cost of qualifying assets in the year you put them into service. This break, too, has a habit of coming and going. But as part of the 2015 tax law, Congress made the expansion of expensing permanent. For 2016 and future years, businesses can expense up to $500,000 worth of assets. The half-million-dollar cap phases out dollar for dollar for firms that put more than $2 million worth of assets into service in a single year.

19.  Social Security Taxes You Pay

This doesn’t work for employees. You can’t deduct the 7.65% of pay that’s siphoned off for Social Security and Medicare. But if you’re self-employed and have to pay the full 15.3% tax yourself (instead of splitting it 50-50 with an employer), you do get to write off half of what you pay. That deduction comes on the face of Form 1040, so you don’t have to itemize to take advantage of it.

20.  Waiver of Penalty for the Newly Retired

This isn’t a deduction, but it can save you money if it protects you from a penalty. Because our tax system operates on a pay-as-you earn basis, taxpayers typically must pay 90% of what they owe during the year via withholding or estimated tax payments. If you don’t, and you owe more than $1,000 when you file your return, you can be hit with a penalty for underpayment of taxes. The penalty works like interest on a loan—as though you borrowed from the IRS the money you didn’t pay. The current rate is 3%.

There are several exceptions to the penalty, including a little-known one that can protect taxpayers age 62 and older in the year they retire and the following year. You can request a waiver of the penalty—using Form 2210—if you have reasonable cause, such as not realizing you had to shift to estimated tax payments after a lifetime of meeting your obligation via withholding from your paychecks.

21.  Amortizing Bond Premiums

If you purchased a taxable bond for more than its face value—as you might have to capture a yield higher than current market rates deliver—Uncle Sam will effectively help you pay that premium. That’s only fair, since the IRS is also going to get to tax the extra interest that the higher yield produces.

You have two choices about how to handle the premium.

You can amortize it over the life of the bond by taking each year’s share of the premium and subtracting it from the amount of taxable interest from the bond you report on your tax return. Each year you also reduce your tax basis for the bond by the amount of that year’s amortization.

Or, you can ignore the premium until you sell or redeem the bond. At that time, the full premium will be included in your tax basis so it will reduce the taxable gain or increase the taxable loss dollar for dollar.

The amortization route can be a pain, since it’s up to you to both figure how each year’s share and keep track of the declining basis. But it could be more valuable, since the interest you don’t report will avoid being taxed in your top tax bracket for the year—as high as 43.4%, while the capital gain you reduce by waiting until you sell or redeem the bond would only be taxed at 0%, 15% or 20%.

If you buy a tax-free municipal bond at a premium, you must use the amortization method and reduce your basis each year . . . but you don’t get to deduct the amount amortized. After all, the IRS doesn’t get to tax the interest.

22.  Legal Fees Paid to Secure Alimony

Although legal fees and court costs involved in a divorce are generally nondeductible personal expenses, you may be able to deduct the part of your attorney’s bill.

Since alimony is taxable income, you can deduct the part of the lawyer’s fee that is attributable to setting the amount. You can also deduct the portion of the fee that is attributable to tax advice. You must itemize to get any tax savings here, and these costs fall into the category of miscellaneous expenses that are deductible only to the extent that the total exceeds 2% of your adjusted gross income. Still, be sure your attorney provides a detailed statement that breaks down his fee so you can tell how much of it may qualify for a tax-saving deduction.

23.  Don’t Unnecessarily Report a State Income Tax Refund

There’s a line on the tax form for reporting a state income tax refund, but most people who get refunds can simply ignore it even though the state sent the IRS a copy of the 1099-G you got reporting the refund. If, like most taxpayers, you didn’t itemize deductions on your previous federal return, the state tax refund is tax-free.

Even if you did itemize, part of it might be tax-free. It’s taxable only to the extent that your deduction of state income taxes the previous year actually saved you money. If you would have itemized (rather than taking the standard deduction) even without your state tax deduction, then 100% of your refund is taxable—since 100% of your write-off reduced your taxable income. But, if part of the state tax write-off is what pushed you over the standard deduction threshold, then part of the refund is tax-free. Don’t report any more than you have to.


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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10 Reasons You Will Never Make $1 Million Dollars

Here is a nice article provided by Stacy Rapacon of Kiplinger:


Wealthy people usually aren't born that way. Most spend their lives amassing their fortunes by working hard, spending little, saving a lot and investing wisely. It may sound like a simple strategy, but the fact that the vast majority of Americans fall short of millionaire status proves that it's easier said than done.

Then again, 10.4 million households in the U.S. have $1 million or more in investable assets, according to market research and consulting firm Spectrem Group, and their ranks are growing. So it's not impossible.

Read on to learn what you might be doing to keep yourself out of the millionaire's club. More importantly, find out how you can change your ways and build your own seven-figure nest egg.

1.  You Picked the Wrong Profession

Accumulating wealth starts with your first paycheck, and some jobs can get you going faster than others. According to consulting firm Capgemini's World Wealth Report, many wealthy people today work in technology, finance and medicine—fields that are well represented in our list of the best jobs for the future. Positions in these areas have generous salaries and are in high demand. For example, among our top jobs is nurse practitioner, which has a median salary of more than $97,000 a year. In contrast, a door-to-door sales worker, among our worst jobs for the future, can expect to make about $20,700 a year. Of course, given enough time and the right saving and spending habits, you can build a fortune even with a small salary. But a higher income can certainly make it easier to save more, faster.

What you can do about it

If you're still in school, majoring in a promising field can put you on the path to a lucrative career and help make you a millionaire. But remember: You'll have an easier time working hard for the rest of your life if you have a legitimate interest in your chosen profession.

If you're past your college days, you can still learn some skills to advance your career and increase your earning potential with free online courses.

2.  You Fear the Stock Market

Cash stuffed under your mattress or even deposited in a savings account won't keep up with inflation, much less grow into $1 million. In order to maximize your gains, you need to invest your money wisely. In many cases, that means putting your money mostly in stocks.

Consider the math: According to Bankrate.com, the highest yield you can expect from a money market account right now is 1.26%. If you put away $10,000 in one and added nothing else, in 10 years, with monthly compounding, you'd have about $11,340 total. But if you invested that $10,000 and earned a 6% return, you'd have almost $18,200, or $6,860 more.

What you can do about it

There's no denying that the stock market can take you on a bumpy ride, so your fears are understandable. But steeling yourself and diving in is well worth it. Over the long term, stocks have marched upward and proved to be the investment of choice for expanding wealth.

Savings earmarked for retirement are particularly well suited for the stock market. With a long time horizon, you have time to recover from market dips.

3.  You Don’t Save Enough

If you don't save money, you're never going to be rich. It's hard to get around that obvious (but often ignored) principle. Even if you earn seven figures, if you spend it all, you still net zero.

What you can do about it

Begin saving as soon as possible. The sooner you start putting your money to work, the less you actually have to save. If you start saving at age 35, you'll need to put away $671 each month in order to reach $1 million by the time you turn 65, assuming you earn an 8% annual return. If you wait until you're 45 years old to start saving, you'll have to save $1,698 a month to hit $1 million in 20 years.

How can you start saving? First, you need a budget (more on budgeting later). Lay out all of your expenses to see where your money is going. Then, you can figure out where you can trim costs and save. Any little bit you can muster is a good start. And whenever you get a bonus or some extra cash—for example, after selling some belongings or getting a generous birthday gift—add it to your savings before you have time to think of ways you can spend it.

4.  You Live Beyond Your Means

Spending more than you earn can put you in a dangerous hole of debt. On the bright side, you won't be in there alone: According to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, one in three American households carries credit card debt from month to month. And among those balance-carrying households, the average credit-card debt is $16,048, according to financial research firm ValuePenguin.

What you can do about it

Again, you need to have a budget to make sure you have more money coming in than going out. With the availability of credit, it's easy to fall into thinking you can afford more than you actually can. But, as Knight Kiplinger has pointed out, "the biggest barrier to becoming rich is living like you're rich before you are."

Even once you are rich, you may still want to live like you're not. According to U.S. Trust's Insights on Wealth and Worth survey, the majority of millionaires don't actually consider themselves "wealthy." If you don't think of yourself as well off, and you maintain the same lifestyle after your income and savings increase, you can put away even more for your short- and long-term goals without losing an ounce of comfort.

5.  You overlook the value of nickels and dimes

No, we're not suggesting that you search for loose change under your sofa cushions. Rather, cutting seemingly insignificant expenses—such as baggage charges on your flights, late-payment penalties on your bills and out-of-network ATM fees on your cash withdrawals—can add up to substantial savings.

Investing fees attached to mutual funds and 401(k) plans can be especially detrimental. For example, let's assume you currently have $25,000 saved in your 401(k) and earn 7% a year, on average. If you pay fees and expenses of 0.5% a year, your account would grow to $227,000 after 35 years. But increasing the extra charges to 1.5% annually would mean your account would grow to just $163,000 over that time.

What you can do about it

More than you realize. Pay attention to the fine print, and avoid those sneaky extra charges. You can skip airline baggage fees by packing lightly and bringing only a carry-on or by flying Southwest Airlines, which allows you to check two bags free. If you make a late payment on a credit card, ask the issuer to waive the fee. Long-time customers who usually pay on time are often given a pass. For more, see How to Avoid Paying 21 Annoying Fees.

For your 401(k), you can see how it rates with other plans at www.brightscope.com. You can select low-cost mutual funds to lower your investing costs. (Check out the Kiplinger 25, a list of our favorite no-load funds.) Also consider talking to your employer about the possibility of lowering the plan's fees.

6.  You are drowning in debt

Again, debt can be a danger to your financial well-being. If you're constantly paying credit card bills and racking up interest, you won't have a chance to save any money.

But not all debt is bad. Borrowing to go to school, to get professional training or to start your own business can help boost your career and income potential. Especially in a low-interest-rate environment, the investment can be well worth it. In fact, borrowing funds is one of the most preferred funding strategies used by high-net-worth individuals with 60% opting to use bank credit before tapping their own holdings for quick cash, according to U.S. Trust.

What you can do about it

If you already have some debt troubles, be sure to devise a repayment plan. One strategy is to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first. The sooner you clear that away, the more you save on interest. Another strategy is to pay off the smallest debt first to give yourself a psychological boost and encourage you to keep chipping away.

If you're considering taking out new loans—to go back to school or seed your business, for example—make sure you understand all the terms, including your interest rate and repayment details, so you can decide whether it's truly worth it.

7.  You neglect your health

You need to work to make money, and you need to be healthy in order to work. The rich understand that, and 98% of millionaires consider good health to be their most important personal asset, according to U.S. Trust.

What you can do about it

Take care of yourself—and do it on the cheap. You can take advantage of free wellness programs offered by your employer, as well as free preventive-care services guaranteed by federal law, such as blood pressure screenings, mammograms for women older than 40 and routine vaccinations for children. Also try to quit any bad health habits, such as smoking or excessive drinking, that can cost you dearly.

8.  You don't have a budget

Without a budget, it's easy to lose track of how much you're spending and live beyond your means. Working toward financial goals, such as saving for a vacation, buying a house or funding your retirement, can also prove difficult if you don't have a well-thought-out plan.

What you can do about it

Do what the majority of millionaires do: Establish a budget. Knowing where your money is going helps you identify ways to keep more in your pocket. Break out the pencil, paper and calculator to lay out your income and expenses.

Or go digital with your finances by using a budgeting Web site such as Mint or BudgetPulse to help you track your spending. With Mint, you provide your usernames and passwords for bank accounts, credit cards and other financial accounts, and the site organizes your money movement for you. Your bank or credit card issuer might offer similar tools to help you analyze your spending habits.

9.  You pay too much in taxes

Did you get a tax refund this year? Receiving that lump-sum payment from Uncle Sam may seem like a good thing. But it actually means that you've loaned the government money without earning any interest.

What you can do about it

Adjust your tax withholding. You can use our tax-withholding calculator to see how much you can fatten your paycheck by doing so. If you got a $3,000 refund (about average for 2015), claiming an additional three allowances on your Form W-4 can boost your monthly take-home pay by $250. The extra money, which can be invested in stocks or deposited in an interest-bearing account, should start showing up in your next paycheck.

Such a sum may not lend itself to millionaire status on its own, but being mindful of taxes is important to increasing—and keeping—your wealth. Indeed, 55% of high-net-worth investors prioritize minimizing taxes when it comes to investment decisions. A couple of smart tax-planning strategies you should consider: picking the right tax-deferred retirement savings accounts and holding investments long enough to qualify for the lower, long-term capital gains tax. Even choosing the right state to live in can have a big impact on your finances when it comes to taxes.

10.  You lack purpose in your life

There's more to life than money, and wealthy people know it. According to U.S. Trust, 94% of millionaires say they have a clear sense of purpose in their lives. "Whatever that purpose or direction happens to be—whether it's their family, their family legacy, philanthropy or stewardship of a business—[knowing their purpose means] they have the emotional maturity to focus on it and make decisions in the context of what's most important to them," says Paul Stavig, managing director and wealth strategist of U.S. Trust.

What you can do about it

Entire religions and philosophies are dedicated to helping people figure out what they're meant to do in this life. We won't try to compete. But we will note that a clear purpose can help motivate you to make and save more. Indeed, 76% of millionaires recognize that money can give you the opportunity to create change and fulfill your life's purpose.


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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9 IRS Audit Red Flags for Retirees

Here is a nice article provided by Joy Taylor of Kiplinger:


In 2015, the Internal Revenue Service audited only 0.84% of all individual tax returns. So the odds are generally pretty low that your return will be picked for review.

That said, your chances of being audited or otherwise hearing from the IRS escalate depending on various factors. Math errors may draw an IRS inquiry, but they’ll rarely lead to a full-blown exam. Whether you're filing your 2015 return in October after getting an extension or looking ahead to filing your 2016 return early next year, check out these red flags that could increase the chances that the IRS will give the return of a retired taxpayer special, and probably unwelcome, attention.

1.  Making a Lot of Money

Although the overall individual audit rate is only about one in 119, the odds increase dramatically as your income goes up, as it might if you sell a valuable piece of property or get a big payout from a retirement plan.

IRS statistics show that people with incomes of $200,000 or higher had an audit rate of 2.61%, or one out of every 38 returns. Report $1 million or more of income? There's a one-in-13 chance your return will be audited. The audit rate drops significantly for filers reporting less than $200,000: Only 0.76% (one out of 132) of such returns were audited, and the vast majority of these exams were conducted by mail.

We're not saying you should try to make less money—everyone wants to be a millionaire. Just understand that the more income shown on your return, the more likely it is that you'll be hearing from the IRS.

2.  Failing to Report All Taxable Income

The IRS gets copies of all 1099s and W-2s you receive. This includes the 1099-R (reporting payouts from retirement plans, such as pensions, 401(k)s and IRAs) and 1099-SSA (reporting Social Security benefits).

Make sure you report all required income on your return. IRS computers are pretty good at matching the numbers on the forms with the income shown on your return. A mismatch sends up a red flag and causes the IRS computers to spit out a bill. If you receive a tax form showing income that isn't yours or listing incorrect income, get the issuer to file a correct form with the IRS.

3.  Taking Higher-Than-Average Deductions

If deductions on your return are disproportionately large compared with your income, the IRS may pull your return for review. A large medical expense could send up a red flag, for example. But if you have the proper documentation for your deduction, don't be afraid to claim it. There's no reason to ever pay the IRS more tax than you actually owe.

4.  Claiming Large Charitable Deductions

We all know that charitable contributions are a great write-off and help you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. However, if your charitable deductions are disproportionately large compared with your income, it raises a red flag.

That's because the IRS knows what the average charitable donation is for folks at your income level. Also, if you don't get an appraisal for donations of valuable property, or if you fail to file Form 8283 for non-cash donations over $500, you become an even bigger audit target. And if you've donated a conservation or facade easement to a charity, chances are good that you'll hear from the IRS.


Be sure to keep all your supporting documents, including receipts for cash and property contributions made during the year.

5.  Not Taking Required Minimum Distributions

The IRS wants to be sure that owners of IRAs and participants in 401(k)s and other workplace retirement plans are properly taking and reporting required minimum distributions. The agency knows that some folks age 70½ and older aren’t taking their annual RMDs, and it’s looking at this closely.

Those who fail to take the proper amount can be hit with a penalty equal to 50% of the shortfall. Also on the IRS’s radar are early retirees or others who take payouts before reaching age 59½ and who don’t qualify for an exception to the 10% penalty on these early distributions.

Individuals age 70½ and older must take RMDs from their retirement accounts by the end of each year. However, there’s a grace period for the year in which you turn 70½: You can delay the payout until April 1 of the following year. A special rule applies to those still employed at age 70½ or older: You can delay taking RMDs from your current employer’s 401(k) until after you retire (this rule doesn’t apply to IRAs). The amount you have to take each year is based on the balance in each of your accounts as of December 31 of a prior year and a life-expectancy factor found in IRS Publication 590-B.

6.  Claiming Rental Losses

Claiming a large rental loss can command the IRS’s attention. Normally, the passive loss rules prevent the deduction of rental real estate losses. But there are two important exceptions. If you actively participate in the renting of your property, you can deduct up to $25,000 of loss against your other income. This $25,000 allowance phases out at higher income levels. A second exception applies to real estate professionals who spend more than 50% of their working hours and more than 750 hours each year materially participating in real estate as developers, brokers, landlords or the like. They can write off losses without limitation.

The IRS is actively scrutinizing rental real estate losses. If you’re managing properties in your retirement, you may qualify under the second exception. Or, if you sell a rental property that produced suspended passive losses, the sale opens the door for you to deduct the losses. Just be ready to explain things if a big rental loss prompts questions from the IRS.

7.  Failing to Report Gambling Winnings or Claiming Big Losses

Whether you’re playing the slots or betting on the horses, one sure thing you can count on is that Uncle Sam wants his cut. Recreational gamblers must report winnings as other income on the front page of the 1040 form. Professional gamblers show their winnings on Schedule C. Failure to report gambling winnings can draw IRS attention, especially because the casino or other venue likely reported the amounts on Form W-2G.

Claiming large gambling losses can also be risky. You can deduct these only to the extent that you report gambling winnings. And the costs of lodging, meals and other gambling-related expenses can only be written off by professional gamblers. Writing off gambling losses but not reporting gambling income is sure to invite scrutiny. Also, taxpayers who report large losses from their gambling-related activity on Schedule C get an extra look from IRS examiners, who want to make sure that these folks really are gaming for a living.

8.  Writing Off a Loss for a Hobby

Your chances of "winning" the audit lottery increase if you file a Schedule C with large losses from an activity that might be a hobby—dog breeding, jewelry making, coin and stamp collecting, and the like. Agents are specially trained to sniff out those who improperly deduct hobby losses. So be careful if your retirement pursuits include trying to convert a hobby into a moneymaking venture.

You must report any income from a hobby, and you can deduct expenses up to the level of that income. But the law bans writing off losses from a hobby.

To be eligible to deduct a loss, you must be running the activity in a business-like manner and have a reasonable expectation of making a profit. If your activity generates profit three out of every five years (or two out of seven years for horse breeding), the law presumes that you're in business to make a profit, unless the IRS establishes otherwise. If you're audited, the IRS is going to make you prove you have a legitimate business and not a hobby. Be sure to keep supporting documents for all expenses.

9.  Neglecting to Report a Foreign Bank Account

Just because you may be traveling more in retirement, be careful about sending your money abroad. The IRS is intensely interested in people with money stashed outside the U.S., and U.S. authorities have had lots of success getting foreign banks to disclose account information. The IRS also uses voluntary compliance programs to encourage folks with undisclosed foreign accounts to come clean—in exchange for reduced penalties. The IRS has learned a lot from these amnesty programs and has been collecting a boatload of money (we’re talking billions of dollars). It’s scrutinizing information from amnesty seekers and is targeting the banks that they used to get names of even more U.S. owners of foreign accounts.

Failure to report a foreign bank account can lead to severe penalties. Make sure that if you have any such accounts, you properly report them.


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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Hedge Fund Math: Heads We Win, Tails You Lose

Here is a nice article written by James B. Stewart of The New York Times:


In a letter to Pershing Square Holdings Ltd. investors this month, Bill Ackman disclosed that through the end of November, the fund had declined 13.5 percent this year after accounting for fees.  The reality is that many hedge funds reap far higher percentages of their gains than that stated in their fee structure. That’s because when they experience substantial losses they don’t have to give anything back.  Investors seem to be finally catching on to the fact that most hedge fund managers share generously in the good times, but are exposed to none of the losses in bad.  READ MORE HERE:


Hedge Fund Math: Heads We Win, Tails You Lose


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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12 Reasons You Will Go Broke in Retirement

Here is a nice article provided by Stacy Rapacon of Kiplinger:

 

Retirement is a major milestone that brings many life changes. One thing that doesn't change for most people: the fear of running out of money. According to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, the most frequently reported retirement worry is outliving savings and investments. Across all ages, 51% of respondents cited this concern, and 41% of retirees claim the same fear. Additionally, only 46% of retirees think they've built a nest egg large enough to last through retirement.

Now is the time to face your fears. Take a look at a dozen ways you could go broke in retirement and learn how to avoid them. Some you can avert with careful planning; others you have little control over. But you can prepare your finances to make the best of whatever may come.

1.  You Abandon Stocks:

It's true that stocks can be risky. For example, so far in 2016, Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, a benchmark for many investors, has experienced several wild swings, opening with a 5% decline in January and including a headline-grabbing, single-day drop of 3.4% on June 24 in response to the Brexit. So once you're retired, you might be inclined to move your money out of stocks altogether and instead focus on preserving your wealth.

But that would be a mistake. Despite the volatility, the S&P 500 is up about 6% year-to-date, as of mid October 2016. Without stocks, "you don't get the growth that you need," says Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, senior vice president at Charles Schwab and author of The Charles Schwab Guide to Finances After Fifty. "You need your money to continue to grow through those 20 to 30 years of retirement." She recommends maintaining a stock allocation of at least 20% during retirement for your portfolio to outpace inflation and help maintain your lifestyle.

2.  You invest too much in stocks:

On the other hand, you're right: Stocks are risky. "You don't want to have too much in stocks, especially if you're so reliant on that portfolio, because of the volatility of the market," says Schwab-Pomerantz. There's no one-size-fits-all formula, but for the average investor Schwab-Pomerantz recommends moving to 60% stocks as you approach retirement, then trimming back to 40% stocks in early retirement. Later in retirement, allocate 20% to stocks.

If you're hesitant to make these portfolio adjustments yourself and don't want to work with a financial adviser, consider investing in target-date mutual funds instead. These funds are designed to reduce exposure to stocks gradually over time as you approach (and surpass) your target date for retirement. Not all target-date funds are the same, even if they sport the same retirement target year in their names. Be aware of specific funds' expenses and asset-allocation strategies to ensure they are affordable and fit your needs.

3.  You Live Too Long:

More time to enjoy the life you love is a joy; trying to afford it can be a pain. Current retirees are expecting a long retirement—a median of 28 years, according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. And 41% of retirees expect their retirements to go on for more than three decades. Women have to plan for an even longer life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a man who was age 65 in 2014 can expect to live to age 83, on average, while a woman of the same age may reach 85.5 years.

When saving for retirement, plan for a long life. But if it starts to look like your nest egg will come up short, you have to adjust your budget. For example, it might behoove you to downsize your home or relocate to an area with low taxes and living costs. You may even consider finding ways to pull in extra income, such as starting an encore career, taking a part-time job or cashing in on the sharing economy, if you can.

4.  You Spend Too Much:

It might seem obvious, but most of us—retired or not—are guilty of making this mistake and could benefit from a reminder to quit it. In fact, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, nearly 46% of retired households spent more annually in their first two years of retirement than they did just before retiring.

And retirees on a fixed income are particularly vulnerable to the ill effects of committing this error. "One of the biggest mistakes, I think, is that people continue to spend the way they did in their earning years without taking a close look at their current income," says Schwab-Pomerantz. "For retirees, budgeting is more important than ever." (Use Kiplinger's Household Budgeting Worksheet to get your expenses under control.)

5.  You rely on a single source of income:

Multiple income streams are better than one, especially in retirement. Case in point: Social Security is the primary source of income for 61% of retirees, according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. And 44% of retirees report that one of their biggest financial fears is that Social Security will be reduced or cease to exist in the future. Based on current projections, Social Security will only be able to pay 77% of promised retirement benefits beginning in 2035.

A pension, which 42% of retirees use as a source of income, or inheritance likely can't stand alone to support you through retirement, either. But when you put them all together, along with your self-funded retirement accounts—such as 401(k)s and IRAs—then you have a more stable and diversified financial base to rely on throughout your retirement.

6.  You can't work:

Another good reason for needing plenty of savings and multiple streams of income to support you in retirement: You can't count on being able to bring in a paycheck if you need it. While 51% of workers expect to continue working some in retirement, only 6% of retirees report working in retirement as a source of income.

Whether you work is not always up to you. In fact, 60% of retirees left the workforce earlier than planned, according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. Of those, 66% did so because of employment-related issues, including organizational changes at their companies, losing their jobs and taking buyouts. Health-related issues—either their own ill health or that of a loved one—was cited by 37%. Just 16% retired early because they felt they could afford to.

7.  You get sick:

As you age, your health is bound to deteriorate, and getting the proper care is expensive. According to a 2015 report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a 65-year-old man would need to save $68,000 to have a 50% chance of affording his health-care expenses in retirement (excluding long-term care) that aren't covered by Medicare or private insurance. To have a 90% chance, the same man would need to save $124,000. The news is worse for a 65-year-old woman, who would need to save $89,000 and $140,000, respectively. Be sure you're doing all you can to cut health-care costs in retirement by considering supplemental medigap and Medicare Advantage plans and reviewing your options every year.

Long-term care bumps up the bill even more. For example, the median cost for adult day health care in the U.S. is $1,473 a month; for a private room in a nursing home, it costs a median of $7,698 a month, according to Genworth. No wonder 44% of retirees fear declining health that requires long-term care and 31% fear cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Consider getting long-term-care insurance to help cover those costs, and use these tactics to make it affordable.

8.  You tap the wrong retirement accounts:

This mistake probably won't leave you flat broke, but lacking a smart withdrawal strategy can cost you. The most tax-efficient way to go, suggests Schwab-Pomerantz, is to draw down the principal from your maturing bonds and certificates of deposit first, since they are no longer bearing interest. Next, if you're 70½ or older, take your required minimum distributions from your traditional tax-deferred accounts, such as IRAs and 401(k)s, focusing on assets that are overweighted or no longer appropriate for your portfolio. You face a stiff penalty from the IRS for neglecting to take RMDs on time.

Then, sell from your taxable accounts, for which you only have to pay the capital-gains tax. (Note: Retirees in the two lowest income tax brackets pay no tax at all on their capital gains.) Finally, withdraw from your tax-deferred and Roth accounts, in that order.

9.  You don't consider taxes:

Needing to be tax-smart extends beyond your drawdown strategy (see #8). Where you live impacts what you pay in taxes big time. That's part of why so many people flock to Florida and Arizona after they retire. Along with the warm weather and ample sunshine, those states offer two of the country's ten most tax-friendly environments for retirees. Other states with retirement-friendly tax codes include Alaska, Georgia and Nevada.

Of course, taxes alone shouldn't dictate where you live in retirement. Friends, family and other community ties play a major role. But you have to keep state and local taxes in mind (especially sales taxes, property taxes and taxes on retirement income) when planning your budget. Take a look at our state-by-state guide to taxes on retirees for more.

10.  You bankroll the kids:

A mistake made out of love is a mistake all the same. You may feel obligated to assist your children financially—paying for college, contributing to the down payment for a first home and covering them in emergencies, for example. But doing so at the expense of your retirement security may cause bigger problems for both you and your kids in the long run.

"It sounds awful to think a parent won't help [his children], but you're only going to become a drag on your kids eventually if you don't really focus on your own financial security during those later years," says Schwab-Pomerantz. "You gotta take care of yourself first."

11.  You are underinsured:

Cutting costs in retirement is important, but scrimping on insurance might not be the best place to do it. Adequate health coverage, in particular, is essential to prevent a devastating illness or injury from wiping out your nest egg. Medicare Part A, which covers hospital services, is a good start. It’s free to most retirees. But you’ll need to pay extra for Part B (doctor visits and outpatient services) and Part D (prescription drugs). Even then, you’ll probably want a supplemental medigap policy to help cover deductibles, copayments and such. "Medicare is very complex, and it's more expensive than people realize," says Schwab-Pomerantz. "So it definitely needs to be part of the budgeting process."

And don't forget about other forms of insurance. As you age, your chances of having accidents both at home and on the road increase. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 586 adults who are 65 and older are injured every day in car crashes. Beyond your own medical expenses, all it can take is a single adverse ruling in an accident-related lawsuit to drain your retirement savings. Review the liability coverage that you already have through your auto and home policies. If it’s not sufficient, either bump up the limits or invest in a separate umbrella liability policy that will kick in once your primary insurance maxes out. Premiums on a $1 million umbrella policy might run about $300 a year.

12.  You get scammed:

Older adults are particularly vulnerable to scam artists and fraudsters. The FBI notes that seniors are prime targets for such criminals because of their presumed wealth, relatively trusting nature and typical unwillingness to report these crimes. Even worse, the perpetrators may be closer than you think. According to a study from MetLife and the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, an estimated one million elders lose $2.6 billion a year due to financial abuse—and family members and caregivers are the perpetrators 55% of the time.

Some common scams to watch out for: Con artists may pretend to represent Medicare to collect your personal information. Cheap prescription drugs marketed online could be knock-offs, and you may be handing over your credit card information in exchange for endangering your health. Charity workers seeking donations for disaster aid might actually pocket the money for themselves. See our advice on how to protect yourself from fraudsters.


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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Prediction Season

Here is a nice article provided by Dimensional Fund Advisors:


Predictions about future price movements come in all shapes and sizes, but most of them tempt the investor into playing a game of outguessing the market.  READ MORE HERE:

Prediction Season.pdf


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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Making Billions With One Belief: The Markets Can’t Be Beat

Here is a nice article written by Jason Zweig of The Wall Street Journal:


The fastest-growing major mutual-fund company in the U.S. isn’t strictly an active or passive investor. It’s both.

Dimensional Fund Advisors LP, or DFA, is the sixth-largest mutual-fund manager, up from eighth a year ago, according to Morningstar Inc., drawing nearly $2 billion in net assets per month at a time when investors are fleeing many other firms. Learn why DFA’s founders are pioneers of index funds here:

Making Billions With One Belief: The Markets Can’t Be Beat


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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Dissecting Dimensional

Here is a nice article written by Charles McGrath of Pensions & Investments:


Dimensional Fund Advisors began with the idea that using academic research to invest in smaller, under priced companies with a tilt to profitability could outperform the market by avoiding subjective stock picking and the rigidness of pure index investing. The firm’s assets have grown significantly since the financial crisis as institutions look for low-cost active strategies that deliver alpha. It is the largest manager of quantitative strategies, strictly to institutional investors.  LEARN MORE:

Dissecting Dimensional


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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15 Things You Should Never Buy During the Holidays

Here is a nice article provided by Bob Niedt of Kiplinger:


The season of giving is also the season of getting. You're likely spending lots of money purchasing gifts for friends and loved ones during the holidays. But proceed with caution: There are a number of things you shouldn't be buying between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Why? Because certain items tend to be considerably less expensive outside the peak holiday shopping season.

We reached out to deal experts to give us the particulars on what not to buy during the holidays. Here are 15 things they say you will be better off purchasing at other times of the year.

1.  Cars

Forget the notion of waking up on Christmas morning to find a new car in the driveway. Instead, think New Year's Eve (during business hours, of course) to get the best deal on a new vehicle. Car dealers are in the mood to haggle and clear their inventory before year's end to make room for new models and earn manufacturer incentives.

Looking for a used car? Hold off until April for the best deals. It's the month dealers tend to buy the most at auction, giving you the best selection.

2.  Exercise Equipment

You might see a few sales on fitness gear and apparel in late November and December, but January is when the real deals appear on exercise equipment, according to Benjamin Glaser of DealNews.com.

Hey, we've all done it and retailers know it: We resolve to lose weight and get fit in the New Year. To that end, those retailers have sales on fitness equipment in January. Look for markdowns of 30% to 70% on fitness DVDs, treadmills, elliptical trainers, stationary bikes and complete home gyms.

3.  Caribbean Cruises

Cruising during the holidays can often mean more crowds and higher fares, says Colleen McDaniel, managing editor of Cruise Critic. By booking a cruise for January, February or March, you can take advantage of lower fares, avoid the holiday crowds and beat the spring break rush. The industry's "wave season" also takes place during that time, when cruise lines offer added discounts that may help you save even more on your trip, she says. You can score some of the best cruise deals if you book at the last minute -- just don't expect the really cheap tickets to get you a stateroom with a view.

4.  Bedding

If you're considering stocking up on bedding during the holidays -- we're talking everything from comforters to sheets and pillow cases -- wait a few weeks longer for even deeper discounts, according to the deals website BensBargains.com. Take advantage of "white sales" in January at big-name retailers including Macy's, Target and Kohl's. Savings on bedding during these annual sales can add up to as much as 50%.

5.  Broadway Tickets

You can get two tickets for the price of one to several popular shows during Broadway Week (which is actually two weeks). In 2017, it runs from January 17 to February 5. The twofer tickets go on sale January 5. Some shows might even offer the discount for up to four weeks, according to one Broadway insider we spoke with.


In general, January and February are good months to see Broadway shows. It's off-season and the dead of winter, so ticket prices tend to drop. Avoid the crush between Christmas and New Year's.

6.  Furniture

If you need to spruce up the living or dining room before guests arrive for the holidays, don't expect to find a good deal on a sofa or table and chairs before Christmas. Instead, wait until after Christmas, when furniture stores hold clearance sales to make room for new styles that are usually released in February. For example, furniture retailer Room & Board has an in-store and online clearance sale once a year, typically the day after Christmas. Expect discounts of up to 50% on discontinued furniture styles and in-store floor samples.

Also, many stores offer 0% financing along with the big discounts during annual clearance sales. Put this note on your 2017 calendar: Because new styles often are released in August, too, July is another good month to look for deals on furniture.

7.  Gift Cards

Gift cards are a no-brainer when you're stumped for ideas. However, if you can hold off until after the holiday shopping frenzy has died down to purchase gift cards, you could save yourself some money.

Here's the scoop from deals experts: Some people who receive unwanted gift cards for the holiday turn around and sell them for cash online. Web sites such as CardCash.com and Cardpool.com buy the gift cards at a steep discount and re-sell them below face value. Since sites typically get flooded with gift cards right after the holidays, the average card price is driven down due to the increased inventory. Also on eBay right after the holidays, gift cards can sell for up to 15% cheaper than the original price.

8.  Winter Sports Gear

Hold off on gifts for winter sports enthusiasts until the New Year. Snowboards, skis, ice skates, goggles, hockey gear and more will be marked down at least 10% to 20% in January, according to DealNews. If you can wait a bit longer, expect even deeper discounts during clearance sales in February and March when the winter sports season winds down.

9.  Jewelry

A new piece of jewelry ranks high on many holiday wish lists. But high demand often means higher prices, so you may want to give your sweetheart a rain check and wait until after Valentine's Day to buy that pearl necklace or those diamond earrings. You can save 15% to 25% on jewelry during post-Valentine's Day sales, says Howard Schaffer of deal site Offers.com.

10.  Luggage

If you need to replace a beat-up roll-on that's been tossed around too many times by airline baggage handlers, March is the best time to buy luggage. Retailers mark down luggage because sales have slowed after the busy holiday travel season and haven't picked up yet for summer travel, according to Deals2Buy.com, a deals and coupons website. Look for discounts ranging from 20% to 70%.

11.  Mattresses

You probably don't expect Santa to shove a mattress down your chimney. But if you were thinking about giving your holiday guests something more comfortable than a futon to sleep on, you might want to reconsider buying a mattress during November or December. You'll save as much as 70% by waiting until Memorial Day sales in May to buy a mattress. In the meantime, promise your guests a plush mattress next year and hope they don't mind sleeping on the couch this year.

12.  Perfume

Perfume sales often peak around Christmas and Valentine's Day. So retailers tend to discount perfume heavily after these holidays have passed. FreeShipping.org founder Luke Knowles says consumers can expect prices on perfume to be slashed by as much as 50% in late February and March, with the best sales at websites dedicated to perfume.

13.  Tools

Tools typically are discounted during Black Friday sales. But wait to buy a new drill, wrench set or tool chest around Father's Day instead. You'll save 5% to 15% more on tools in June when retailers have sales on gifts for dads, says Offers.com's Schaffer.

14.  Winter Apparel

Retailers will offer discounts on coats, sweaters and other cold-weather clothing during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. However, the deals will be even better in January when stores have clearance sales on winter apparel to make room for spring clothing. You can expect to see markdowns of at least 75%.

15.  Holiday Decorations

Resist the urge to buy new holiday decorations before Christmas because you can get them at bottom-of-the-barrel prices in January, according to Glaser of DealNews.com. Retailers typically mark down ornaments, garlands, artificial trees and décor as much as 90% after December 25. If you don't mind the red-and-green theme or chocolates shaped like a wreath, you can also load up on deeply discounted edible holiday treats in January. Buy durable decorations that will last in storage until next year, says Glaser.


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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8 Things You Should Never Keep in Your Wallet

Here is a nice article provided by The Editor’s of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance:


That overstuffed wallet of yours can’t be comfortable to sit on. It’s probably even too clunky to lug around in a purse, too.

And with every new bank slip that bulges from the seams, your personal information is getting less and less safe. With just your name and Social Security number, identity thieves can open new credit accounts and make costly purchases in your name. If they can get their hands on (and doctor) a government-issued photo ID of yours, they can do even more damage, such as opening new bank accounts. These days, con artists are even profiting from tax-return fraud and health-care fraud, all with stolen IDs.

We talked with consumer-protection advocates to identify the eight things you should purge from your wallet immediately to limit your risk in case your wallet is lost or stolen.

And when you’re finished removing your wallet’s biggest information leaks, take a moment to photocopy everything you’ve left inside, front and back. Stash the copies in a secure location at home or in a safe-deposit box. The last thing you want to be wondering as you're reporting a stolen wallet is, “What exactly did I have in there?”

1.  Your Social Security Card:
...and anything with the number on it.

Your nine-digit Social Security number is all a savvy ID thief needs to open new credit card accounts or loans in your name. ID-theft experts say your Social Security card is the absolute worst item to carry around.

Once you’ve removed your card, look for anything else that may contain your SSN. As of December 2005, states can no longer display your SSN on newly issued driver's licenses, state ID cards and motor-vehicle registrations. If you still have an older photo ID, request a new card prior to the expiration date. There might be an additional fee, but it's worth it to protect your identity.

Retirees, double check your Medicare card, too: If it was issued before April, 2015, it has your SSN on it.

Instead: Photocopy your Medicare card (front and back) and carry it with you instead of your real card. Experts are torn when it comes to blacking out a portion of your Social Security number on the copy, so to be safe, black out all nine digits. If an appointment requires the full SSN, you can then provide it as needed.

2.  Password Cheat Sheet:

The average American uses at least seven different passwords (and probably should use even more to avoid repeating them on multiple sites/accounts). Ideally, each of those passwords should be a unique combination of letters, numbers, and symbols, and you should change them regularly. Is it any wonder we need help keeping track of them all?

However, carrying your ATM card’s PIN number and a collection of passwords (especially those for online access to banking and investment accounts) on a scrap of paper in your wallet is a prescription for financial disaster.

Instead: If you have to keep passwords jotted down somewhere, keep them in a locked box in your house. Or consider an encrypted mobile app, such as SplashID (free or $1.99 monthly for Pro), Password Safe Pro ($19.95, Android only) or Pocket (free, Android only).

3.  Spare Keys:

A lost wallet containing your home address (likely found on your driver's license or other items) and a spare key is an invitation for burglars to do far more harm than just opening a credit card in your name. Don't put your property and family at risk. (And even if your home isn't robbed after losing a spare key, you'll likely spend $100+ in locksmith fees to change the locks for peace of mind.)

And, speaking of keys, be careful what you hand to the valet, warns Adam Levin, chairman and cofounder of Identity Theft 911. "Remember that every time you stop and hand your key to a valet, depending on what's in the glove box [or trunk], you are making yourself vulnerable."

Instead: Keep your spare keys with a trusted relative or friend. If you’re ever locked out, it may take a little bit longer to retrieve your backup key, but that’s a relatively minor inconvenience.

4.  Checks:

Blank checks are an obvious risk—an easy way for thieves to quickly withdraw money from your checking account. But even a lost check you've already filled out can lead to financial loss—perhaps long after you've canceled and forgotten about it. With the routing and account numbers on your check, anybody could electronically transfer funds from your account.

Instead: Only carry paper checks when you will absolutely need them. And leave the checkbook at home, bringing only the exact amount of checks you anticipate needing that day.

5.  Passport:

A government-issued photo ID such as a passport opens up a world of possibilities for an ID thief. “Thieves would love to get (ahold of) this,” says Nikki Junker, a victim adviser at the Identity Theft Resource Center. “You could use it for anything”—including traveling in your name, opening bank accounts or even getting a new copy of your Social Security card.

Instead: Carry only your driver’s license or other personal ID while traveling inside the United States. When you're overseas, photocopy your passport and leave the original in a hotel lockbox.

6.  Multiple Credit Cards:

Although you shouldn’t ditch credit cards altogether (those who regularly carry a card tend to have higher credit scores than those who don’t), consider a lighter load. After all, the more cards you carry, the more you’ll have to cancel if your wallet is lost or stolen. We recommend carrying a single card for unplanned or emergency purchases, plus perhaps an additional rewards card on days when you expect to buy gas or groceries.

Also: Maintain a list, someplace other than your wallet, with all the cancellation numbers for your credit cards. They are typically listed on the back of your cards, but that won’t do you much good when your wallet is nowhere to be found.

7.  Birth Certificate:

The birth certificate itself won’t get ID thieves very far. However, “birth certificates could be used in correlation with other types of fraudulent IDs,” Junker says. “Once you have those components, you can do the same things you could with a passport or a Social Security card.”

Be especially cautious on occasions—such as your mortgage closing—when you may need to present your birth certificate, Social Security card and other important personal documents at once. “Everything’s together,” Junker notes, “and someone can just come along and steal them all. Take the time to take them home, and don’t leave them in your car.”

8.  A Stack of Receipts:

Beginning in December 2003, businesses may not print anything containing your credit or debit card’s expiration date or more than the last five digits of your credit card number. Still, a crafty ID thief can use the limited credit card info and merchant information on receipts to phish for your remaining numbers.

Instead: Clear those receipts out each night, shredding the ones you don’t need. But for receipts you save, keep them safe by going digital. An app like Shoeboxed lets you create and categorize digital copies of your receipts and business cards. Plans start at $9.95 per month. For even more ideas, check out 7 Steps to Convert Paper Files to Digital.


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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8 Things Kohl's Shoppers Need to Know

Here is a nice article provided by Bob Niedt of Kiplinger:


Chances are, if you’re not a Kohl’s fan, you know someone who is – and given the opening that someone will shower you with stories of saving big. The Wisconsin-based department store chain boasts a fiercely loyal customer base made up mostly of thrifty suburban shoppers. You’ll find a typical Kohl’s – there are 1,164 stores in 49 states – in a standalone location in a well-to-do shopping center. Malls are not its thing.

If it strikes you as puzzling that Kohl’s has a cult following along the lines of Trader Joe's or Wegmans, then this story is for you. Current customers might even learn a hack or two, as we look into the nuts and bolts of shopping – and saving – at Kohl’s.

1.  Hand Over Your Personal Info:

Yes, you want to give them your name and email address. If you’re like me and tired of giving out your email address, you’ve stopped. But give it up for Kohl’s. It’s where the savings will start. You will also want to sign up for Kohl’s Yes2You Rewards. You can do it in-store or via the Kohl’s app (we’ll get to that later). It’s basically a 5% cash-back program. You garner points as you buy stuff. You will also get special discount offers throughout the year.

Give them your birthday, too. It pays off. You’ll get birthday discounts when your special day rolls around.

2.  Collect Kohl’s Cash:

Take advantage of Kohl’s Cash. Kohl’s Cash is, in essence, a coupon that you earn by shopping during a specified time period. It can be redeemed on a future purchase made during a corresponding redemption period. You get $10 worth of Kohl’s Cash for every $50 you spend after all discounts are applied and before sales tax. (Insider tip: Kohl’s will round up to $50 even if you only spend $48.) So, for example, if you shop between the 15th and 20th of the month, you can redeem the Kohl’s Cash you earn when you shop again between the 21st and 31st of the month.

3.  Download Kohl’s App:

Use it to store all of your Kohl’s coupons including Kohl’s Cash. Additionally, when fired up in-store, you can score 10 free Yes2You rewards points.

“Kohl's always has a coupon offer available and the app is the easiest way to make sure you always have the best coupons available when you walk into the store,” says Heather Schisler, founder of PassionForSavings.com, a coupon and deal website. “You can also use the bar-code scanner in the app to check the price of any item in the store.”

4.  In-Store Technology Is Your Friend:

Use the Kohl’s in-store kiosk. It’s like a self-checkout, except, in my Kohl’s experiences, it’s usually near the customer service counter in another part of the store. It has its savings perks – like free shipping anywhere in the U.S., straight to you or your friends and family (think birthday or holiday gifts).

While shopping at Kohl’s, connect to the free Wi-Fi. A coupon could come your way, typically in the range of $5 off a $25 purchase or $10 off a $30 purchase.

5.  Pile On The Coupons:

Kohl’s accepts multiple coupons for most purchases. Take advantage. “Kohl's coupon policy allows you to stack a dollar-off coupon (a $10 off $30 purchase coupon) with a percent-savings coupon (save 20% on your entire purchase). By using one of each type of coupon you can get double the savings,” says Schisler. “This is one of the best ways to save big when shopping at Kohl's.”

You can even use coupons on clearance items, which have already been marked down 60% or more. So if the clearance price is 80% off and you have a 30% off coupon, stack it, baby.

There’s a caveat to couponing at Kohl’s. Increasingly, more products are on the no-sale list, meaning you can’t use Kohl’s coupons and promotional offers to buy them. Count out most electronics, Keurig items and Nike goods. Check before you commit to a purchase.

6.  Read The Signs:

Electronic price tags on the shelves of Kohl’s stores are there to be easily changed by corporate to reflect new pricing. Learn to interpret the codes parked in the upper-left corner of the LCD readout. BB stands for Bonus Buy (meaning Kohl's bought a lot of these from a manufacturer at a ridiculously low price); BGH stands for Buy One, Get One Half Off; PP is Product Placement, meaning the sale price is fixed by the manufacturer or Kohl's and not discounted; and S stands for Sale, meaning that item will be on sale for up to two weeks. Is there a square in the upper-right corner of the electronic tag? That means the product is at its lowest price – until it goes on clearance.

7.  Know the Best Days and Times to Shop:

Start by playing the age card. If you’re 55 or older, you get a 15% discount every Wednesday in-store. And yes, that’s an offer that’s stackable with other discounts and promotions. Bring valid identification.

Night owls should shop on certain Fridays from 3 p.m. until closing time, when in-store and online specials are offered. Early birds get similar treatment on some Saturdays from opening until 1 p.m. Night Owl/Early Bird specials occur at least twice a month. Check your newspaper insert or Kohls.com for specific dates.

8.  Go Off-Aisle:

Kohl’s is experimenting with a new off-price concept, Off/Aisle by Kohl’s. The recently opened pilot stores in Wauwatosa and Waukesha, Wis., and the year-old store in Cherry Hill, N.J., sell overstock items as well as goods customers have returned to Kohl’s stores or Kohls.com. The heavily discounted merchandise has locked-in prices – meaning you can’t use Kohl’s discounts, offers, promotions, coupons or gift cards at Off/Aisle. And all sales are final, with no returns or exchanges. Kohl’s deemed the New Jersey store a big hit before opening the Wisconsin stores in June. Expect more.


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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15 Worst States to Live in During Retirement

Here is a nice article provided by Stacy Rapacon of Kiplinger:


Number crunching alone can't tell you where to retire. That's a choice you'll ultimately need to make on your own. But identifying the places that hold the lowest appeal for retirees can at least help narrow your search.

We rated all 50 states based on quantifiable factors that are important to many retirees. Our rankings penalized states with high living expenses—especially taxes and health care costs—and rewarded states with relatively prosperous populations of residents age 65 and up. We also ranked states lower if their populations are medically unhealthy, or if the state has fiscal health problems (red ink in state budgets could lead to tax hikes and program spending cuts for seniors).

Using our methodology, the following 15 states rank as the least attractive for retirees. That doesn't make them terrible places to live. They might, indeed, be great states in which to work or raise a family. You might even choose to stick around in retirement simply to be close to your grandchildren. But in dollars-and-practical-sense terms, retirees might be better off looking to settle elsewhere.

The average health care cost in retirement of $387,731 we cite is a lifetime cost for a 65-year-old couple who are expected to live to 87 (husband) and 89 (wife). For a complete explanation of our methodology and our data sources, see the Methodology slide at the end of this slide show.

15.  Minnesota

Population: 5.4 million

Share of population 65+: 13.6% (U.S.: 14.5%)

Cost of living: 2% above the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $43,623 (U.S.: $50,291)

Average health care costs for a retired couple: About average at $387,007 (U.S.: $387,731)

Minnesota's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax Friendly

The Land of 10,000 Lakes is a hard place for retirees to stay afloat. Above-average living expenses and below-average incomes can equate to imbalanced budgets in retirement. Plus, the tax situation adds an extra burden. One of the 10 Worst States for Taxes on Retirees, Minnesota taxes Social Security benefits the same as the feds. Most other retirement income, including military, government and private pensions, is also taxable. And the state's sales and income taxes are high.

On the other hand, Minnesota is a great place for health-focused retirees. The state is the third-healthiest in the country for seniors, according to the United Health Foundation rankings, which are based on people's behaviors, such as physical activity, as well as community support and clinical care provided. In fact, Rochester, home of the renowned Mayo Clinic, ranks seventh among the best small metro areas for successful aging, according to the Milken Institute, in part due to its abundance of health care providers.

14.  West Virginia

Population: 1.9 million

Share of population 65+: 16.8%

Cost of living: 3% below the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $38,917

Average health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $370,403

West Virginia's tax rating for retirees: Tax Friendly

Despite its below-average living costs and positive tax rating, the Mountain State offers some rocky terrain for retirees. According to a recent report from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, West Virginia ranks as the eighth-worst state in terms of fiscal soundness, indicating low confidence that it can keep up with short-term expenses and long-term financial obligations.

The state also scores poorly for the health of its 65-and-over population, ranking 45th in the country, according to the United Health Foundation. While 41.8% of older adults nationwide enjoy excellent or very good health, only 29.5% of those in West Virginia can say the same.

13.  Maine

Population: 1.3 million

Share of population 65+: 17.0%

Cost of living: 6% above the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $38,504

Average health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $367,832

Maine's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax Friendly

The Pine Tree State can be a bit prickly when it comes to its retirees. While Social Security benefits are not subject to state taxes, most other retirement income is taxable. There's even an estate tax. Plus, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University ranks Maine as the ninth-worst state in the country in terms of fiscal soundness.

Individuals in the state may have an equally difficult time balancing their own budgets. With below-average household incomes, retirees may struggle to cover Maine's above-average living costs.

12.  Kentucky

Population: 4.4 million

Share of population 65+: 14.0%

Cost of living: 9% below the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $39,935

Average health care costs for a retired couple: About average at $384,317

Kentucky's tax rating for retirees: Tax Friendly

Kentucky seniors suffer the third-worst state of health in the country, according to the United Health Foundation's rankings. Among its challenges are a high rate of smoking, limited access to low-cost, nutritious food, and a low number of quality nursing homes. Also, physical inactivity among residents age 65 and up has increased to 40.2% over the past two years, compared with a national rate of 33.1%.

The Bluegrass State does offer low living costs, as well as a number of tax breaks for retirees. Social Security benefits, as well as up to $41,110 of other retirement income, are exempt from state taxes. However, with a low ranking of 45th in the country for fiscal soundness, those tax benefits may not be very secure. Also, despite the state's overall affordability, plenty of older residents struggle to make ends meet: 11.4% of those age 65 and older are living in poverty, compared with 9.4% for the U.S. as a whole.

11.  Indiana

Population: 6.5 million

Share of population 65+: 13.6%

Cost of living: 4% below the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $39,260

Average health care costs for a retired couple: About average at $388,954

Indiana's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax Friendly

With its below-average living expenses, Indiana might seem like a winner for retirees. But when you consider the well-below-average household income, the older residents of the Hoosier State start looking more like underdogs. And the tax situation doesn't help their cause much. Most retirement income other than Social Security benefits is taxable at ordinary rates.

The state's health ranking is also among the 10 worst in the country. Some of the challenges Indiana's older residents face are high rates of obesity, physical inactivity and premature deaths, according to the United Health Foundation.

10.  Wisconsin

Population: 5.7 million

Share of population 65+: 14.4%

Cost of living: 10% above the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $37,673

Average health care costs for a retired couple: About average at $387,705

Wisconsin's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

High living costs and low average incomes can put a yoke on retirees in Wisconsin. In fact, the state's average household income for seniors is the second-lowest in the country, behind only Montana. The tax situation in the Badger State doesn't help, either. Social Security benefits are exempt from state taxes, but most other retirement income is subject to taxation (though there are some breaks for low-income residents).

If you can afford it, though, the state capital of Madison holds its charms for retirees, offering an abundance of quality health care facilities, as well as plenty of museums, libraries and the University of Wisconsin.

9.  Vermont

Population: 626,358

Share of population 65+: 15.7%

Cost of living: 19% above the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $42,599

Average health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $373,830

Vermont's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax Friendly

It's not easy being retired in the Green Mountain State. Exorbitantly high living costs and taxes weigh heavily on below-average incomes. Social Security benefits, as well as most other forms of retirement income, are subject to state taxes, and the top income tax rate is a steep 8.95% (which kicks in at $411,500 for both single and married filers).

On a positive note, Vermont boasts the healthiest seniors in the country, according to the United Health Foundation's rankings. Burlington, a small city on the shores of Lake Champlain, rates as a great place to retire thanks to beautiful surroundings that surely help boost physical activity and overall health among the locals.

8.  Montana

Population: 1.0 million

Share of population 65+: 15.7%

Cost of living: 1% above the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $36,933

Average health care costs for a retired couple: Below average at $377,877

Montana's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax Friendly

Despite its Treasure State nickname, it can be hard to hold onto your fortune in Montana. Living costs are about average, but incomes are well below the norm. In fact, the average household income for residents age 65 and up is the lowest in the country. The tax situation certainly doesn't help. One of the 10 Worst States for Taxes on Retirees, Montana taxes most forms of retirement income, and the top rate of 6.9% kicks in once taxable income tops just $17,000.

Still, Big Sky Country seems to retain a large number of retirement-age folks: The state's 65-and-older population is 15.7%, compared with 14.5% for the U.S. The great (albeit cold) outdoors, including Yellowstone and Glacier national parks, may be what trumps the state's drawbacks for adventurous retirees. Great Falls, on the high plains of Montana's Rocky Mountain Front Range, proves particularly popular with the over-65 crowd, which makes up 16.1% of the metro area's population.

7.  Rhode Island

Population: 1.1 million

Share of population 65+: 15.1%

Cost of living: 13% above the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $55,802

Average health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $392,592

Rhode Island's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax Friendly

Tiny Rhode Island packs in big bills for older folks. On top of the above-average living costs, it's one of the 10 Worst States for Taxes on Retirees, taxing virtually all sources of retirement income at ordinary rates. (Note: Starting in 2016, the state will begin to give residents a break on Social Security taxes.) The state sales tax is 7%.

On the bright side, the above-average incomes for older residents can make those burdensome costs a bit more bearable.

6.  Massachusetts

Population: 6.7 million

Share of population 65+: 14.4%

Cost of living: 17% above the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $61,436

Average health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $413,007

Massachusetts's tax rating for retirees: Not Tax Friendly

The Bay State harbors some heavy costs for retirees. On top of the high overall living costs, the total a couple can expect to pay for health care throughout their retirement is the second-highest in the country, trailing only Alaska.

And though the average household income for seniors is high, taxes can take a big bite out of those earnings. Social Security benefits are exempt, but effective in 2016 most other retirement income is taxed at the state's flat rate of 5.1%.

5.  Illinois

Population: 12.9 million

Share of population 65+: 13.2%

Cost of living: 4% above the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $51,079

Average health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $398,927

Illinois's tax rating for retirees: Mixed

The Prairie State's fiscal standing has been sliding downward for years. Illinois has weighty long-term debts, large unfunded pension liabilities and big budget imbalances. All this puts it squarely at the bottom of the state rankings for fiscal soundness, according to George Mason University's Mercatus Center. In October 2015, ratings agency Fitch downgraded the state's credit rating to near-junk status.

On the plus side, the state doesn't tax distributions from a variety of retirement income sources, including 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts. For now, that is. Given such a poor fiscal state, tax breaks are hardly assured, and higher taxes are on the table. Already, state and local sales taxes rise above a combined 10% in some areas, and they will be even higher effective July 1, 2016.

4.  Connecticut

Population: 3.6 million

Share of population 65+: 14.8%

Cost of living: 29% above the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $63,726

Average health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $402,594

Connecticut's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax Friendly

The Constitution State does little to promote the general welfare of its resident retirees. In fact, Connecticut ranks among the 10 tax-unfriendliest states for retirees. Real estate taxes are the second-highest in the country. Some residents face taxes on Social Security benefits, and most other retirement income is fully taxed, with no exemptions or tax credits to ease the burden. Because Connecticut ranks 47th out of all states for fiscal soundness, state taxes are not likely to go down any time soon.

All those taxes come on top of high living costs, the second-highest in the country, tied with New York and behind only Hawaii. One plus: Connecticut residents can often afford the costs. The state's average household income for seniors is the fourth-highest in the U.S., and its poverty rate for residents age 65 and older is a low 7.1%, compared with 9.4% for the U.S.

3.  California

Population: 38.1 million

Share of population 65+: 12.1%

Cost of living: 15% above the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $62,003

Average health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $394,831

California's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax Friendly

Another one of the 10 Worst States for Taxes on Retirees, the Golden State could be fool's gold as a retirement choice. Except for Social Security benefits, retirement income is fully taxed, and California imposes the highest state income tax rates in the nation (the top rate is 13.3% for single filers with $1 million incomes and joint filers with incomes above $1,039,374). The state sales tax combined with additional local levies can reach as high as 10%.

Everything seems bigger in California, including high living expenses. Indeed, plenty of older residents are unable to bear it: 1 in 10 Californians age 65 and over are living in poverty.

2.  New Jersey

Population: 8.9 million

Share of population 65+: 14.1%

Cost of living: 22% above the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $66,409

Average health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $403,420

New Jersey's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax Friendly

Retirees planning to plant themselves in the Garden State might want to reconsider. Both living costs and taxes in New Jersey take a big bite out of retirement nest eggs. The combined state and local tax burden is the second-highest in the nation. And it doesn't ease up after you die—the money you leave behind is subject to both an estate tax and inheritance tax (though there are exemptions for spouses and some others). Plus, with the second-worst ranking for fiscal soundness, behind only Illinois, the tax picture is unlikely to improve soon.

More bad news: New Jersey's living costs are the fourth-highest in the country, with retiree health care costs ranking third-highest in the nation. Still, residents seem to bear the burden well. The average income for 65-and-up residents is the third-highest in the U.S., and the poverty rate for the age group is a low 7.9%.

1.  New York

Population: 19.6 million

Share of population 65+: 14.1%

Cost of living: 29% above the U.S. average

Average income for 65+ households: $63,174

Average health care costs for a retired couple: Above average at $397,107

New York's tax rating for retirees: Least Tax Friendly

One (pricey) Big Apple spoils the entire Empire State. Manhattan reigns as the most expensive place to live in the U.S., with costs soaring 127.4% above the national average, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research. New York sports the second-highest living costs of any state, behind only Hawaii.

Despite boasting an average income for residents age 65 and older that's among the top five in the country, the same age group suffers a poverty rate of 11.4%, worse than the national 9.4% rate.

Worst States for Retirement 2016

Our Methodology

To rank all 50 states, we weighed a number of factors:

Taxes on retirees, based on Kiplinger's Retiree Tax Map, which divides states into five categories: Most Tax Friendly, Tax Friendly, Mixed, Not Tax Friendly and Least Tax Friendly.

Cost-of-living, with data provided by FindTheData.com.

Average health care costs in retirement are from HealthView Services and include Medicare, supplemental insurance, dental insurance and out-of-pocket costs for a 65-year-old couple who are both retired and are expected to live to 87 (husband) and 89 (wife). With a national average of $387,731, the average couple can expect to spend about $8,400 per person per year in retirement on health care costs. Note: Some of the worst states for retirees have less than average costs in this category, a positive factor for most retirees, but other factors drove the lower rankings.

Rankings of each state's economic health are provided by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and are based on various factors including state governments' revenue sources, debts, budgets and abilities to fund pensions, health-care benefits and other services.

Rankings of the health of each state's population of residents 65 and over are from the United Health Foundation and are based on 35 factors ranging from residents' bad habits (smoking and excessive drinking) to the quality of hospital and nursing home care available in the state.

Household incomes and poverty rates are from the U.S. Census Bureau. While many of the worst states for retirees in our rankings have above-average household incomes, high average living costs in those states tend to offset the higher incomes.

Final note: Population data, including the percentage of the population that is age 65 and older, is also provided by the Census data. They are highlighted in these rankings, but were not a factor in our methodology for ranking the states. We provided this additional information for readers to decide for themselves whether they are important factors. Some retirees may want to live in states with higher-than-average retiree populations. For others, this isn't important.


Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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10 Worst States for Taxes on Your Retirement Nest Egg

Here is a nice article provided by Sandra Block of Kiplinger:


Retirees have special concerns when evaluating state tax policies. For instance, the mortgage might be paid off, but how bad are the property taxes—and how generous are the property-tax breaks for seniors? Are Social Security benefits taxed? What about other forms of retirement income—including IRAs and pensions? Does the state impose its own estate tax that might subtract from your legacy? The answers might just determine which side of the state border you’ll settle on in retirement.

These 10 states impose the highest taxes on retirees, according to Kiplinger’s exclusive 2016 analysis of state taxes. Three of them treat Social Security benefits just like Uncle Sam does—taxing as much as 85% of your benefits. Exemptions for other types of retirement income are limited or nonexistent. Property taxes are on the high side, too. And if that weren’t bad enough, some of these states are facing significant financial problems that could force them to raise taxes, cut services, or both.

10.  Utah:

State Income Tax: 5% flat tax

Average State and Local Sales Tax: 6.69%

Estate Tax/Inheritance Tax: No/No

The Beehive State joins our list of least tax-friendly states this year, replacing Rhode Island (which no longer taxes Social Security benefits for residents with adjusted gross income of as much as $80,000/individual, $100,000/joint).

Utah offers few tax breaks for retirees. Income from IRAs, 401(k)s, pensions and Social Security benefits is taxable at the 5% flat tax rate. The state does offer a retirement-income tax credit of as much as $450 per person ($900 for a married couple). The credit is phased out at 2.5 cents per dollar of modified adjusted gross income over $16,000 for married individuals filing separately, $25,000 for singles and $32,000 for married people filing jointly.

On the plus side, property taxes are modest. Median property tax on the state's median home value of $223,200 is $1,480, 11th-lowest in the U.S.

9.  New York:

State Income Tax: 4.0% (on taxable income as much as $8,450/individual, $17,050/joint) – 8.82% (on taxable income greater than $1,070,350/individual, $2,140,900/joint)

Average State and Local Sales Tax: 8.49%

Estate Tax/Inheritance Tax: Yes/No

New York doesn’t tax Social Security benefits or public pensions. It also excludes as much as $20,000 for private pensions, out-of-state government pensions, IRAs and distributions from employer-sponsored retirement plans. New York allows localities to impose an additional income tax; the average local levy is 2.11%, per the Tax Foundation.

The Empire State also has some of the highest property and sales tax rates in the U.S. Food and prescription and nonprescription drugs are exempt from state sales taxes, as are greens fees, health club memberships, and most arts and entertainment tickets.

The median property tax on the state's median home value of $279,100 is $4,703, the 10th-highest rate in the U.S.

While New York has an estate tax, a law that took effect in 2015 will make it less onerous. Estates exceeding $4,187,500 are subject to estate tax in fiscal year 2016–2017, with a top rate of 16%. The exemption will rise by $1,062,500 each April 1 until it reaches $5,250,000 in 2017. Starting Jan. 1, 2019, it will be indexed to the federal exemption. But if you’re close to the threshold, get a good estate lawyer, because New York has what’s known as a "cliff tax." If the value of your estate is more than 105% of the current exemption, the entire estate will be subject to state estate tax.

8.  New Jersey:

State Income Tax: 1.4% (on as much as $20,000 of taxable income) – 8.97% (on taxable income greater than $500,000)

Average State and Local Sales Tax: 6.97%

Estate Tax/Inheritance Tax: Yes/Yes

The Garden State's tax policies create a thicket of thorns for some retirees.

Its property taxes are the highest in the U.S.The median property tax on the state's median home value of $313,200 is $7,452.

While Social Security benefits, military pensions and some retirement income is excluded from state taxes, your other retirement income could be taxed as high as 8.97%. And New Jersey allows localities to impose their own income tax; the average local levy is 0.5%, according to the Tax Foundation.

Residents 62 or older may exclude as much as $15,000 ($20,000 if married filing jointly) of retirement income, including pensions, annuities and IRA withdrawals, if their gross income is $100,000 or less. However, the exclusion doesn’t extend to distributions from 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plans.

New Jersey is one of only a couple of states that impose an inheritance and an estate tax. (An estate tax is levied before the estate is distributed; an inheritance tax is paid by the beneficiaries.) In general, close relatives are excluded from the inheritance tax; others face tax rates ranging from 11% to 16% on inheritances of $500 or more. Estates valued at more than $675,000 are subject to estate taxes of up to 16%. Assets that go to a spouse or civil union partner are exempt.

Proposals to increase the state’s estate-tax threshold—the lowest in the U.S.—to levels that would ensnare fewer estates have been derailed by the state’s financial woes. George Mason University’s Mercatus Center ranks New Jersey 48th in its analysis of states’ fiscal health.

7.  Nebraska:

State Income Tax: 2.46% (on taxable income as much as $3,060/individual, $6,120/joint) – 6.84% (on taxable income greater than $29,590/individual, $59,180/joint)

Average State and Local Sales Tax: 6.87%

Estate Tax/Inheritance Tax: No/Yes

The Cornhusker State taxes Social Security benefits, but new rules that took effect in 2015 will exempt some of that income from state taxes. Residents can subtract Social Security income included in federal adjusted gross income if their adjusted gross income is $58,000 or less for married couples filing jointly or $43,000 for single residents.

Nebraska taxes most other retirement income, including retirement-plan withdrawals and public and private pensions. And the state’s top income-tax rate kicks in pretty quickly: It applies to taxable income above $29,590 for single filers and $59,180 for married couples filing jointly.

Food and prescription drugs are exempt from sales taxes. Local jurisdictions can add an additional 2% to the state rate.

The median property tax on the state's median home value of $133,800 is $2,474, the seventh-highest property-tax rate in the U.S.

Nebraska's inheritance tax is a local tax, ranging from 1% to 18%, administered by counties. Assets left to a spouse or charity are exempt.

6.  California:

State Income Tax: 1% (on taxable income as much as $7,850/individual, $15,700/joint) – 13.3% (on taxable income greater than $1 million/individual, $1,052,886/joint)

Average State and Local Sales Tax: 8.48%

Estate Tax/Inheritance Tax: No/No

California exempts Social Security benefits, but all other forms of retirement income are fully taxed. That’s significant, because residents of the Golden State pay the third-highest effective income tax rate in the U.S.

Early retirees who take withdrawals from their retirement plans before age 59½ pay a 2.5% state penalty on top of the 10% penalty imposed by the IRS.

At 7.5%, state sales taxes are the highest in the country, and local taxes can push the combined rate as high as 10%.

The median property tax on the state's median home value of $412,700 is $3,160.

5.  Montana:

State Income Tax: 1% (on as much as $2,900 of taxable income) – 6.9% (on taxable income greater than $17,400)

Average State and Local Sales Tax: None

Estate Tax/Inheritance Tax: No/No

You won’t pay sales tax to shop in the Treasure State, but that may be small comfort when you get your state tax bill.

Montana taxes most forms of retirement income, including Social Security benefits, and its 6.9% top rate kicks in once your taxable income exceeds a modest $17,400.

Montana allows a pension- and annuity-income exemption of as much as $3,980 per person if federal adjusted gross income is $35,180 ($37,170 if filing a joint return) or less. If both spouses are receiving retirement income, each spouse can take up to the maximum exemption if the couple falls under the income threshold. Montana also permits filers to deduct some of their federal income tax.

The median property tax on the state's median home value of $196,800 is $1,653, below average for the U.S.

4.  Oregon:

State Income Tax: 5% (on taxable income as much as $3,350/individual, $6,700/joint) – 9.9% (on taxable income greater than $125,000/individual, $250,000/joint)

Average State and Local Sales Tax: None

Estate Tax/Inheritance Tax: Yes/No

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