The Diversified Blog

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

Getting Value in a Vacation Home

There are two great reasons for buying a vacation home: You want one and you can afford to buy it. Buying a vacation home as an investment, however, should not be your primary motivation.

Some vacation properties can also be good investments. Others aren't. As recent history has shown, real estate prices can go down as well as up, and there are no guarantees.

There are, however, some guidelines that can help you find a vacation home that will provide value along with pleasure.

The Rules Have Changed

Consider first whether you want to buy or rent and, if you choose to buy, where and how. There was a time, back before tax-reform legislation in the 1980s, when there were compelling tax advantages to financing a second home. You're still able to deduct mortgage interest on one such home; but, unless it is income-producing property with its attendant complications, the once-valuable depreciation write-offs are gone. To help decide whether buying a vacation home is right for you, consider the following.

How Often Would You Use the Property?

If you plan to spend just one week, or even two, out of every 52 at a vacation home you purchase, you would probably be spending a lot of money for each day there. Mortgage payments continue all year long, as do payments for insurance, taxes, and necessary regular maintenance. If you'd be paying full price but getting only part-time use, consider renting.

There are good reasons for buying a vacation home, not the least of which is a simple desire to own the place and do what you want with it. But renting lets you experience vacation life in different places, and is relatively affordable. Rents can run from $500 to $2,000 a week or more, depending on location and amenities. At the end of your stay you close the door and forget about the place. Financial planners say that if you're just looking for a few weeks of vacation a year, it's probably cheaper in the long run to rent. An extra attraction to renting is that it gives you a chance to test different locations before settling on one to buy.

How Desirable Is the Location?

The old real estate saying goes like this: "What are the three most important things about selling a house? Location. Location. Location." The same holds true for a vacation home. Are you looking at a simple cabin in the backwoods or a comfortable house or condo in or near an attractive resort area? A rural hideaway may be great for hunting, hiking, or just getting close to nature, but don't expect its value to appreciate as fast as a more comfortable place located near amenities.

With the graying of the Baby Boom generation, some analysts predict an increasing demand for country getaways in the future. That great population bulge is rapidly approaching an age when many can be expected to spend the money they've been working for and take life a bit easier.

Keeping that in mind, the best investment for future resale would probably be a fully equipped getaway that could double as a second home, perhaps on waterfront property or with privacy-protecting acreage. Amenities are important. Younger people often don't mind minor inconvenience, but older people look for microwaves, dishwashers, and even hot tubs. That condominium on the ski slopes should not be "bare bones."


You Don't Have to Be Rich

The vacation home doesn't have to be a stand-alone house. A condominium purchase can let you have a home in a terrific location that would be otherwise unaffordable.

For value today, look for that house, condo, or timeshare in a location that has activities in more than one season. Keep in mind, too, that vacation properties often become retirement homes. So safety, taxes, and the availability of cultural opportunities should be considered. With those things in mind, look for bargains in lesser-known places; investigate upswing markets, places that haven't yet become overrun or overpriced.

Look for areas where the local economy is strong and taxes are low. You don't have to be near a city, but you should be within a reasonable distance of populated areas to have access to services like quality medical care.

Another reason for being near more populated areas is that such a location allows you the opportunity to try to rent out your property when you're not using it to help cover mortgage payments and, perhaps, sell at a profit later on. With the right choices, returns can exceed the future payoff from stocks.

Tax Considerations

If you rent your home for 14 days or less a year, you do not need to report the rent. Beyond that, however, the IRS considers the rent taxable income. But you may then be able to deduct all of your rental expenses if you had a net profit on the property (deductions are limited if you report a loss). These are guidelines only; your specific tax obligations should be discussed with a qualified tax advisor.


Location Winners

Florida is, as it has been for years, a number one location for vacation homes. While Florida's east coast has been traditionally the most popular (and expensive), the west coast has also grown in popularity in recent years. Elsewhere, properties within driving distance of popular resort areas have a good chance of healthy appreciation while giving you the realistic option of renting when you're not there. Although prices are generally higher on the west coast, other winners include Oregon's northern coast and Colorado's ski resort areas.

But the best location for you is one where you feel at ease and that is convenient to get to from your primary residence. Depending on how you live, that could mean a three-hour drive or a five-hour airplane flight.
 

Required Attribution

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by Wealth Management Systems Inc. or its sources, neither Wealth Management 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 Wealth Management Systems Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.

© 2016 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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Investing Long Term? Don't Overlook the Inflation Factor!

A penny saved is a penny earned, right? Not necessarily. Thanks to inflation, over time that penny could be worth less than when it was first dropped into the piggy bank. That's why if you're investing -- especially for major goals years away, such as retirement -- you can't afford to ignore the corrosive effect rising prices can have on the value of your assets.

Inflation Under the Microscope

Just what is inflation, this ravenous beast that eats away at the value of every dollar you earn? It is essentially the increase in the price of any good or service. The most commonly referenced measure of that increase is the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is based on a monthly survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The CPI compares current and past prices of a sample "market basket" of goods from a variety of categories including housing, food, transportation, and apparel. The CPI does have shortcomings, according to economists -- it does not take taxes into account or consider that as the price of one product rises, consumers may react by purchasing a cheaper substitute (name brand vs. generic, for example). Nonetheless, it is widely considered a useful way to measure prices over time.

Inflation has been a very consistent fact of life in the U.S. economy. Dating back to 1945, the purchasing power of the dollar has declined in value every year but two -- 1949 and 1954. Still, inflation rates were generally considered moderate until the 1970s. The average annual rate from 1900 to 1970 was approximately 2.5%. From 1970 to 1990, however, the average rate increased to around 6%, hitting a high of 13.3% in 1979.1 Recently, rates have been closer to the 1% to 3% range; the inflation rate was only 0.73% in 2015.

What It Means to Your Wallet

In today's economy, it's easy to overlook inflation when preparing for your financial future. An inflation rate of 4% might not seem to be worth a second thought -- until you consider the impact it can have on the purchasing power of your money over the long term. For example, in just 20 years, 4% inflation annually would drive the value of a dollar down to $0.44.


Or look at it another way: If the price of a $1,000 refrigerator rises by 4% over 20 years, it will more than double to almost $2,200. A larger-ticket item, such as a $23,000 automobile, would soar to more than $50,000 given the same inflation rate and time period.

Inflation also works against your investments. When you calculate the return on an investment, you'll need to consider not just the interest rate you receive but also the real rate of return, which is determined by figuring in the effects of inflation. Your financial advisor can help you calculate your real rate of return.

Clearly, if you plan to achieve long-term financial goals, from college savings for your children to your own retirement, you'll need to create a portfolio of investments that will provide sufficient returns after factoring in the rate of inflation.

Investing to Beat Inflation

Bulletproofing your portfolio against the threat of inflation might begin with a review of the investments most likely to provide returns that outpace inflation.

Over the long run -- 10, 20, 30 years, or more -- stocks may provide the best potential for returns that exceed inflation. While past performance is no guarantee of future results, stocks have historically provided higher returns than other asset classes.

Consider these findings from a study of Standard & Poor's data: An analysis of holding periods between 1926 and December 31, 2015, found that the annualized return for a portfolio composed exclusively of stocks in Standard & Poor's Composite Index of 500 Stocks was 10.07% -- well above the average inflation rate of 2.91% for the same period. The annualized return for long-term government bonds, on the other hand, was only 5.64%.2

There are many ways to include stocks in your long-term plan in whatever proportion you decide is appropriate. You and your professional financial planner could create a diversified portfolio of shares from companies you select.3 Another option is a stock mutual fund, which offers the benefit of professional management. Stock mutual funds have demonstrated the same long-term growth potential as individual stocks.


A Balancing Act

Keep in mind that stocks do involve greater risk of short-term fluctuations than other asset classes. Unlike a bond, which guarantees a fixed return if you hold it until maturity, a stock can rise or fall in value based on daily events in the stock market, trends in the economy, or problems at the issuing company. But if you have a long investment time frame and are willing to hold your ground during short-term ups and downs, you may find that stocks offer the best chance to beat inflation.

The key is to consider your time frame, your anticipated income needs, and how much volatility you are willing to accept, and then construct a portfolio with the mix of stocks and other investments with which you are comfortable. For instance, if you have just embarked on your career and have 30 or 40 years until you plan to retire, a mix of 70% stocks and 30% bonds might be suitable.4 But even if you are approaching retirement, you may still need to maintain some growth-oriented investments as a hedge against inflation. After all, your retirement assets may need to last for 30 years or more, and inflation will continue to work against you throughout.

Take Steps to Tame Inflation

Whatever your investor profile -- from first-time investor to experienced retiree -- you need to keep inflation in your sights. Stocks may be your best weapon, and there are many ways to include them. Consult your financial planner to discuss your specific needs and options.
 
Source(s):

1.  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2.  Wealth Management Systems Inc. Stocks are represented by the S&P 500 index. Bonds are represented by a composite of returns derived from yields on long-term government bonds, published by the Federal Reserve, and the Barclays Long-Term Government Bond index. Inflation is represented by the change in the Consumer Price Index.

3.  Diversification does not ensure against loss.

4.  These allocations are presented only as examples and are not intended as investment advice. Please consult a financial advisor if you have questions about these examples and how they relate to your own financial situation. The investor profile is hypothetical.


Required Attribution

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by Wealth Management Systems Inc. or its sources, neither Wealth Management 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 Wealth Management Systems Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.

© 2016 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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Longevity Risk and Retirement Income

How long might you live in retirement? Think carefully. Your answer could influence whether you have enough money for a comfortable retirement or just scrape by.

According to pension mortality tables, at least one member of a 65-year-old couple has a 72% chance of living to age 85 and a 45% chance of living to age 90.1 This suggests that many of us will need to plan carefully to ensure that we don't outlast our assets.

Live Long and Prosper

The first step in tackling longevity risk is to figure out how much you can realistically afford to withdraw each year from your personal savings and investments. You can tap the expertise of a qualified financial professional to assist you with this task. Or, you can use an online calculator to help you estimate how long your money might last.

One strategy is to withdraw a conservative 4% to 5% of your principal each year. However, your annual withdrawal amount will depend on a number of factors, including the overall amount of your retirement pot, your estimated length of retirement, annual market conditions and inflation rate, and your financial goals. For example, do you wish to spend down all of your assets or pass along part of your wealth to family or a charity?

Protecting Your Retirement Paycheck

No matter what your goals, there are ways to potentially make the most out of your nest egg. The remainder of this article examines how a strategy might play out with assets held in taxable accounts.

First, you'll likely need ready access to a cash reserve to help pay for daily expenditures. A common rule of thumb is to keep at least 12 months of living expenses in an interest-bearing savings account, though your needs may vary.

Then, consider refilling your cash reserve bucket on an annual basis by selectively liquidating different longer-term investments, timing gains and losses to offset one another whenever possible.

Developing a Diverse Income Strategy

Responding to the current interest rate environment is one way to potentially squeeze more income from your savings and stretch out the money you've accumulated for retirement. For example, if rates are trending upward, you might consider keeping more money in short-term Certificates of Deposits (CDs).2 The opposite strategy may be employed when rates appear to be declining.

Most retirees need their investments to generate income. Bonds may help fill this need. "Laddering" of bonds can potentially create a steady income stream while helping reduce long-term interest exposure (see illustration).



A common way to help temper investment risk is to spread it out by diversifying among different types of securities. A retiree seeking income can use the same strategy by adding dividend-paying equities to his or her portfolio.

These stocks potentially offer the opportunity for supplemental income by paying part of their earnings to shareholders on a regular basis. Another potential attraction? Qualified stock dividends are currently taxed at a maximum rate of 20%, rather than ordinary federal income tax rates, which currently run as high as 39.6%. Also, keep in mind that investing in an equity-income mutual fund, which generally holds many dividend-paying stocks, may help reduce risk compared with investing in a handful of individual stocks.

Adding Annuities to the Mix

One way to potentially provide regular income and address longevity risk is to purchase an immediate annuity. In exchange for giving an insurer a specific amount of money, you're guaranteed income for either a specific period of time, or life. Keep in mind, however, that guarantees are backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuing company. There are many types of annuities, so speak with a financial professional to carefully weigh your options, and be sure to examine fees and other charges before buying.3

The chart shows how adding an annuity could potentially increase the odds that your money will last your lifetime. One tactic is to figure out your annual expenses and determine how much income you'll receive from Social Security and pensions (if any). Then, consider purchasing an annuity that will make up any shortfall. This allows peace of mind, knowing that your regular expenses are covered. Then, you can put your other investments to work pursuing growth.

Accounting for Growth

Finally, be cautious about being overly conservative with your investments. Many people may live 30 or more years in retirement. Therefore, your portfolio may need a boost of stocks to outpace inflation over the years.

These are just a few ideas for developing an adequate income plan during retirement. Consider sitting down with a qualified financial professional to discuss these and other strategies that might be appropriate for your situation.



Points to Remember

1.  For many Americans, a great threat to their financial security in retirement is the risk of outliving their money.

2.  The first step in tackling longevity risk is to figure out a sustainable annual withdrawal rate from personal savings and investments.

3.  Next, consider keeping a cash reserve of 12 or more months to help pay for daily expenditures.

4.  Consider diversifying the rest of your taxable portfolio among different savings and investment options, including those with different maturities to account for fluctuating interest rates.

5.  Purchasing an immediate annuity with part of your nest egg can provide regular income and help address longevity risk.

6.  You may need to own some stocks to outpace inflation over the years.

7.  Work with a qualified financial professional to discuss retirement income strategies that might be appropriate for you.

Source(s):

1.  Social Security Administration, Period Life Table (2007, latest available).

2.  Certificates of Deposit (CDs) offer a guaranteed rate of return, guaranteed principal and interest, and are generally insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), but do not necessarily protect against the rising cost of living.

3.  Withdrawals from annuities prior to age 59½ are subject to a 10% additional tax and all withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income. Issuing companies may also charge surrender charges for some early withdrawals. Neither fixed nor variable annuities are insured by the FDIC, and they are not deposits of -- or endorsed or guaranteed by -- any bank. Investing in variable annuities involves risk, including loss of principal.
 

Required Attribution

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by Wealth Management Systems Inc. or its sources, neither Wealth Management 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 Wealth Management Systems Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.

© 2016 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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Paying Off Student Loans

Actively managing your debt is an important step, and your student debt may be one of the biggest financial obligations you have. There are many strategies that could help you manage student loans efficiently. Here is a checklist.

•  Choose a federal loan repayment plan that fits your circumstances:

o  The Standard Repayment Plan requires a fixed payment of at least $50 per month and is offered for terms up to 10 years. Borrowers are likely to pay less interest for this repayment plan than for others.

o  The Graduated Repayment Plan starts with a reduced payment that is fixed for a set period, and then is increased on a predetermined schedule. Compared to the standard plan, a borrower is likely to end up paying more in interest over the life of the loan.

o  The Extended Repayment Plan allows loans to be repaid over a period of up to 25 years. Payments may be fixed or graduated. In both cases, payments will be lower than the comparable 10-year programs, but total costs could be higher. This program is complex and has specific eligibility requirements. See the Extended Repayment Plan page on the U.S. Department of Education website for details.

o  The Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR), the Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan, the Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR) and the Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan offer different combinations of payment deferral and debt forgiveness based on your income and other factors. You may be asked to document financial hardship and meet other eligibility requirements. See the U.S. Department of Education's pages on income-driven repayment plans and income-sensitive repayment plans for more information.

•  Take an inventory of your debt. How much do you owe on bank and store credit cards? On your home mortgage and home equity credit lines? On car loans? Any other loans? Consider paying extra each month to reduce the loans with the highest interest rates first, followed by those with the largest balances.

•  Free up resources by cutting costs. Consider eating out less, reducing snacks on the go, and carpooling or using mass transit instead of driving to work. You may also be able to cut your housing costs, put off vacations and reduce clothing purchases.

•  Think about enhancing your income. A second job? A part-time business opportunity?

•  Consider jobs that offer opportunities for subsidies or debt forgiveness.

o  Federal civil service employees may be eligible for up to $10,000 a year for paying back federal student loans. See the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's Student Loan Repayment Program for more information.

o  Nurses working in underserved areas may be eligible for loan assistance through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program.

o  Service members in the U.S. Armed Forces are eligible for support. Check out the service-specific programs offered by the Air Force, the Army, the National Guard and the Navy.

o  Teachers can consider programs such as Teach for America and the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.

•  Sign up for automatic loan payments. Many loans offer discounted interest rates for setting up automatic electronic payments on a predetermined schedule. A reduction of 0.25% per year may look small, but over the life of a 20-year loan, it can reduce your total interest cost by hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

•  A last resort is seeking loan deferment or forbearance. Students facing significant financial hardship may be able to put off loan interest or principal payments. To see whether you might qualify, look to the U.S. Department of Education's information on Deferment and Forbearance.


Required Attribution

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by Wealth Management Systems Inc. or its sources, neither Wealth Management 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 Wealth Management Systems Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.

© 2016 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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Get in the Habit -- Smart Investing Habits to Adopt This Year

Some of your New Year's resolutions may be to break a few of your bad habits and to take on some new, positive habits. If you'd like to improve your investing habits, setting up daily, monthly, and yearly routines may help.

Daily Investment Habits

Simple day-to-day routines may be the key to your investment success. It's important for you to know where your investments stand and to learn from past mistakes. Taking the time each day to gather and record this information may help you throughout the year.

Develop a regular reading and research routine -- Set aside a small part of each day to read about investments. Perhaps a good time for you is while you're having your morning coffee. While there is a plethora of financial literature available, you don't need to read everything that is printed. Instead, carefully choose those publications or websites that give you a clear idea of how the market is performing. You should also read about your particular investments.

Keep a daily journal -- Jot down notes on trades you make, what happened in the market that day, and your perspective on the investment climate. Over time, your diary entries may reveal patterns and provide you with insight. Recognizing past investment mistakes is the first step in learning from them and modifying future behavior.

Monthly or Quarterly Investment Habits

Get in the habit of evaluating your investments on a monthly or quarterly basis. More frequent assessment isn't recommended because you may be tempted to make changes based on short-term fluctuations in your investment values.

Evaluate everything -- Take a look at how everything is doing -- not just your retirement accounts or your stock holdings -- to get an indication of overall performance.1 Gains in one holding might be offset by declines in another, so you need to see the big picture.

Start keeping score -- Pick appropriate yardsticks to measure the performance of your investments. For example, choose benchmark indexes that track the returns of the types of securities in which you are invested. Once you've established your yardsticks, start keeping score.

Yearly Investment Habits

Once a year, take the time to do a complete review of your investment strategies. Since it may be hard to stick to an annual habit, tie it to another yearly task, such as preparing your income taxes, spring cleaning, or end-of-the-year organizing.

Review your results -- Your routine investment habits may come in handy at the end of the year. Reading your investment diary should help you analyze your successes and failures throughout the year. Your scorecard may help you determine the effectiveness of your investment strategy.

Your financial professional can help you invest to meet your goals.
 
Source:

1.  Investing in stocks involves risks, including loss of principal.


Required Attribution

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by Wealth Management Systems Inc. or its sources, neither Wealth Management 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 Wealth Management Systems Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.

© 2016 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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What to Know About Annuities

Are you retiring soon and looking into your options to start drawing down your savings from your employer-sponsored plan? Are you also concerned about making sure your money lasts as long as you need it to? If so, annuities may make sense for you.1 Annuities, simply put, reduce the risk that you will outlive your savings. Here is how to decide whether an annuity is right for you.

Understanding Annuities

Annuities are contracts offered by insurance companies that pay a stream of monthly payments in exchange for a premium. An immediate annuity is one in which you receive payments right away. A deferred annuity is one where you purchase a contract, but don't receive payments until after a set period of time.

While annuities reduce the risk that you will outlive your savings (and suffer a drop in your standard of living), they do so at a cost. They are not liquid -- once you have purchased one, it can be expensive or impossible to change your mind later. For this reason, using a portion of your savings to purchase an annuity may be most attractive when:

•  You (and your spouse) expect to live for many more years.

•  You have relatively low income from other sources (e.g., from Social Security or defined benefit pension plans).

•  You are relatively more averse to risk.

Which One Is Right for You?

Whether the amount of the annuity is right for you -- or even if you should annuitize -- involves a lot of issues, such as your other assets, savings, income, and taxes. If you're only taking care of yourself, the lifetime payment option might be a good choice. If there are other people counting on the income, you'll want to look into the other options.

Another issue for you to think about is today's low interest rates. One way to deal with this is to "ladder" smaller investments in immediate annuities over several years to take advantage of potentially higher interest rates.

Regardless of your decision, here are three key factors to keep in mind.

•  Comparison shop. Payment rates will differ significantly from insurer to insurer. Look carefully at the fees and expenses. Examine the rates and terms they offer.

•  Find a reputable company. Investigate the stability and financial strength of the companies you are thinking of purchasing an annuity from. Be sure to include the main insurance company rating agencies -- A.M. Best, Moody's, Fitch, Standard & Poor's, and Weiss -- as part of your due diligence process. And don't forget to ask your agent for a current listing of COMDEX scores for insurance carriers. COMDEX is a service that compiles scores from a range of ratings agencies and assigns a score to each company from 0 to 100 -- 100 being perfect.

•  Watch for additional costs. At their core, immediate annuities are a very simple product, but extra features come with additional costs. Be sure to read the fine print.
 
Source/Disclaimer:

1.  Variable annuities are long-term, tax-deferred investment vehicles designed for retirement purposes and contain both an investment and insurance component. They are sold only by prospectus. Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuer and do not apply to a variable annuity's separate account or its underlying investments. The investment returns and principal value of the available sub-account portfolios will fluctuate so that the value of an investor's unit, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original value. Withdrawals made prior to age 59½ may be subject to a 10% additional tax. Surrender charges may apply. Gains from tax-deferred investments are taxable as ordinary income upon withdrawal.


Required Attribution


Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by Wealth Management Systems Inc. or its sources, neither Wealth Management 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 Wealth Management Systems Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.

© 2016 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 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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Recent Market Volatility

Here is a nice article written by Dimensional Fund Advisors:

The market events of January 2016 provide an opportunity to examine several questions important to investors and revisit some fundamental principles of investing in capital markets. 

Click here to read more:  Recent Market Volatility.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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The Charitable IRA Transfer: Permanent at Last

In December 2015, President Obama signed into law the "Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes Act of 2015." This new ruling made permanent many tax breaks that had been dubbed "extenders" as taxpayers would have to wait -- typically until the last minute -- for lawmakers to reinstate them for another year. Among the most popular of the bunch is the IRA charitable transfer provision. So if you are age 70½ or older and charitably minded to boot, consider tapping your IRA.

The qualified charitable distribution (QCD), also known as an IRA charitable rollover, allows you to donate up to $100,000 per year to qualified charities. A QCD can be made tax free, can help minimize your taxable estate, and can help fulfill your philanthropic desires -- all while satisfying your annual required minimum distribution (RMD).

Benefits of a QCD

Without this provision, withdrawals from traditional IRAs and certain Roth IRAs (including those held for less than five years) would be taxed as income, even if they were directed immediately to a charity. While the donor would receive a tax deduction for his or her donation, various other federal and state tax rules would prevent the deduction from fully offsetting this taxable income. As a result, many donors have chosen not to use IRA assets for lifetime gifts. Now, the qualified charitable distribution permanently eliminates this problem. While there is no tax deduction allowed for the donated assets, they don't count as income either.

You may benefit most from implementing the QCD strategy if you:

•  Do not need all of the income from your RMD.

•  Want to avoid being taxed on your RMDs.

•  Have significant assets in your IRA.

•  Make charitable gifts, but don't itemize deductions. Generally, only taxpayers who itemize get federal income tax-saving benefits from charitable donations.

•  Make a gift that is large, relative to your income. A QCD is not included in taxable income, therefore it does not count against the usual percentage limitations on using charitable deductions. In addition, by lowering your income, a QCD may potentially help you to lower your tax bracket and avoid higher taxes on Social Security benefits or tax surcharges such as the 3.8% net investment income tax.

Limitations of a QCD

There are limitations to making a QCD from your IRA, including the following:

•  You must be at least 70½ years of age when the gift is transferred.

•  Total gifts cannot exceed $100,000 per year, per IRA owner or beneficiary. Married taxpayers with separate IRAs can give up to $200,000 total, but no more than $100,000 may be distributed from each spouse's IRA.

•  Gifts must be made directly from your IRA to a public charity. Private foundations, supporting organizations, and donor-advised funds are not eligible. You also cannot use the distribution to establish a charitable gift annuity or fund a charitable remainder trust.

•  You can only make a donation from your traditional or Roth IRA. They cannot come from other employer-sponsored accounts, such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s, SEP-IRAs, or SIMPLE IRAs. You can, however, roll over funds from your 401(k) or 403(b) to an IRA to contribute to a charity.


This communication is not intended to be tax advice and should not be treated as such. Each individual's tax situation is different. You should contact your tax professional to discuss your personal situation.

Required Attribution

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by Wealth Management Systems Inc. or its sources, neither Wealth Management 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 Wealth Management Systems Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.

© 2016 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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Turning the Page: Five Things Baby Boomers Need to Know About RMDs

The times they are a changin' for baby boomers. The generation that lived through and influenced the revolution in the retirement industry is now poised to begin withdrawing money from their retirement-saving vehicles -- namely IRAs and/or employer-sponsored retirement plans.

If you were born in the first half of 1946 -- you are among the first baby boomers who will turn 70½ this year. That's the magic age at which the Internal Revenue Service requires individuals to begin tapping their qualified retirement savings accounts. While first-timers officially have until April 1 of the following year to take their first annual required minimum distribution (RMD), doing so means you'll have to take two distributions in 2017. And that could potentially push you into a higher tax bracket.

This is just one of the tricky details you'll have to navigate as you enter the "distribution" phase of your investing life. Here are five more RMD considerations that you may want to discuss with a qualified tax and/or financial advisor.

1.  RMD rules differ depending on the type of account. For all non-Roth IRAs, including traditional IRAs, SEP IRAs, and SIMPLE IRAs, RMDs must be taken by December 31 each year whether you have retired or not. (The exception is the first year, described above.) For defined contribution plans, including 401(k)s and 403(b)s, you can defer taking RMDs if you are still working when you reach age 70½ provided your employer's plan allows you to do so AND you do not own more than 5% of the company that sponsors the plan.

2.  You can craft your own withdrawal strategy. If you have more than one of the same type of retirement account -- such as multiple traditional IRAs -- you can either take individual RMDs from each account or aggregate your total account values and withdraw this amount from one account. As long as your total RMD value is withdrawn, you will have satisfied the IRS requirement. Note that the same rule does not apply to defined contribution plans. If you have more than one account, you must calculate separate RMDs for each then withdraw the appropriate amount from each.

3.  Taxes are still due upon withdrawal. You will probably face a full or partial tax bite for your IRA distributions, depending on whether your IRA was funded with nondeductible contributions. Note that it is up to you -- not the IRS or the IRA custodian -- to keep a record of which contributions may have been nondeductible. For defined contribution plans, which are generally funded with pretax money, you'll likely be taxed on the entire distribution at your income tax rate. Also note that the amount you are required to withdraw may bump you up into a higher tax bracket.

4.  Penalties for noncompliance can be severe. If you fail to take your full RMD by the December 31 deadline on a given year or if you miscalculate the amount of the RMD and withdraw too little, the IRS may assess an excise tax of up to 50% on the amount you should have withdrawn -- and you'll still have to take the distribution. Note that there are certain situations in which the IRS may waive this penalty. For instance, if you were involved in a natural disaster, became seriously ill at the time the RMD was due, or if you received faulty advice from a financial professional or your IRA custodian regarding your RMD, the IRS might be willing to cut you a break.

5.  Roth accounts are exempt. If you own a Roth IRA, you don't need to take an RMD. If, however, you own a Roth 401(k) the same RMD rules apply as for non-Roth 401(k)s, the difference being that distributions from the Roth account will be tax free. One way to avoid having to take RMDs from a Roth 401(k) is to roll the balance over into a Roth IRA.

For More Information

Everything you need to know about retirement account RMDs can be found in IRS Publication 590-B, including the life expectancy tables you'll need to figure out your RMD amount. Your financial and tax professionals can also help you determine your RMD.


The information in this communication is not intended to be tax advice. Each individual's tax situation is different. You should consult with your tax professional to discuss your personal situation.
 
Required Attribution

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by Wealth Management Systems Inc. or its sources, neither Wealth Management 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 Wealth Management Systems Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.

© 2016 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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Funds’ survivorship bias worse than you think

We wanted to share with our readers an article posted on BizWest, a website that covers the dynamic business community of the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado, including Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer and Weld counties.


The article, Funds’ survivorship bias worse than you think, is written by our very own Robert Pyle.
 

Here is a preview of what you will find:

 
"Survivorship bias is a problem with the way mutual-fund returns are reported. Funds that are liquidated or merged into other funds are eliminated from the averages. Only the surviving funds are included when the aggregate returns are reported by the mutual-fund reporting services or the newspapers. Understanding survivorship bias is important because…”  To read more go to:  http://bizwest.com/funds-survivorship-bias-worse-than-you-think/ 

 


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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Happy 20th Birthday to Diversified Asset Management

Happy birthday to us! In April 1996, twenty years ago, I founded Diversified Asset Management, Inc. My wife and I were dating at the time; my eldest son wasn’t born until 2001 and his brother joined us in 2002. So you might say that Diversified has been one of my longest-standing passions. Hands down, raising our two wonderful boys has been the most rewarding of all, but being able to dedicate my career to helping other families achieve their own goals comes in a close second. 

 

Together, we’ve been through a lot in these 20 years. 

Diversified Asset Management – The Early Days

...
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Free Throws

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

Dave Butler explains the power of routine in responding to pressure and offers a sports-related example to help investors apply discipline in a stressful market.  Click here to read more:  Free Throws.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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Revisiting Yields

Here is a nice article written by Dimensional Fund Advisors:

The market’s ability to reflect the probability of different outcomes and events in security prices reinforces the importance of focusing on asset allocation, diversification, and information in security prices.  Click here to read more:  Revisiting Yields.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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Why Should You Diversify

Here is a nice article written by Dimensional Fund Advisors:

Over long periods, an approach to equity investing that uses the global opportunity set available to investors can provide diversification benefits as well as potentially higher expected returns.  Click here to read more:  Why Should You Diversify.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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Retirement Spending in Scary Markets

When the markets are down or particularly volatile, how do I safely withdraw retirement money out of my portfolio?


This is a common question and a very good one. It is very scary when the market is volatile and the TV is telling you the world is coming to an end. It can be even scarier when you are in or near retirement. While one blog post won’t replace a fee-only wealth planner who is committed to serving your highest financial interests in an ongoing relationship, the following are three ideas to get you started.


1.  Take a Reality Check


The first step to knowing how you’re doing is to determine where you stand. For this, we suggest taking a very analytical approach to withdrawing money from your portfolio.


At our firm, the first thing we look at for clients who are taking money out of their portfolio is their withdrawal rate. In other words, what percentage of the portfolio’s total worth are they taking out? If the withdrawal rate is reasonable according to their financial plan, then everything should be fine. If the withdrawal rate seems too high (again, according to their particulars), we let them know.

...
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Advisors Who Think Like Demographers Can Identify The Right Niche

We wanted to share with our readers an article posted in Investor’s Business Daily, a website designed to provide exclusive stock lists, investing data, stock market research, education and the latest financial and business news to help investors make more money in the stock market.

 

The article, Advisors Who Think Like Demographers Can Identify The Right Niche, highlights our very own Robert Pyle and his passion for advising.

 

Here is a preview of what you will find:

...
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Your Second Wind — Starting Up a New Business in Retirement

Not that long ago, retirement meant being put out to pasture, with long days punctuated by occasional games of golf and bridge. But today, with lengthening life expectancies and dwindling pensions, many Americans are looking to retirement as an opportunity to start a new business. "We've never before seen so many seniors who are this active and doing so many things,'' says Lisa Gundry, a professor of management at DePaul University's Kellstadt Graduate School, who has worked with seniors in DePaul's business incubator program. "They've accumulated enough financial security so that they are better able to take a risk on a business than someone who is younger and has a mortgage and small children.''

 

Senior Start-ups: Common Characteristics

 

Older entrepreneurs differ from their younger brethren in several critical ways. For one, seniors are usually in a much better financial position than younger entrepreneurs. Their bigger financial cushion -- retirement packages, nest eggs, or home ownership -- affords them flexibility in the initial stages of a start-up, where funding is often critical. Because they can often rely on other sources for current income, they are in a better position to take greater entrepreneurial risks. Start-up funding may also be easier to come by for seniors, who can draw from personal savings and a lifetime of business and professional contacts. Senior start-ups may also be looked on more favorably by lenders, who often associate older entrepreneurs with a lower risk of default.

...
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Understanding Medicare: Parts A, B, C, and D

Medicare contains many rules that beneficiaries and their caregivers are required to learn. Perhaps the best way to grasp the program's details is to review the major components of the Medicare program: Parts A, B, C, and D.

 

Medicare Part A: Hospital Insurance

 

This insurance is designed to help cover the following:

...
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Put Savings (and Yourself) First With a Budget

Americans, it seems, are spenders. Although personal savings rates have increased recently, they remain low by historical standards, as many people continue to spend beyond their means.

 

If you're among those Americans who can't seem to save, it might be time to create a budget. A budget allows you to understand where the money goes and may help you free up cash for important savings goals, such as college and retirement.

 

Getting Started

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Planning 2016: New Realities, New Expectations

Financial resolutions often fall prey to the same procrastination that hinders personal aspirations. Yet current volatility in the financial markets along with other unsettling factors such as the impending presidential election and widespread geopolitical unrest may have led investors to pause, rethink their financial situations, and set new expectations for the future.

 

Resolutions typically fall into one of three financial "life stages" -- accumulation, preservation, or transfer of wealth. In order to establish action plans for these phases, you need to examine opportunities, identify challenges, and add a dose of reality to your planning efforts.

 

Accumulating Assets

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Ten Reasons to Consider Tapping Home Equity Now

The Federal Reserve has set the wheels in motion and for the first time in nearly a decade, interest rates are on an upward trajectory. The initial hike was a modest one quarter of one percentage point -- not a game changer for most investors or consumers. And from what Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen telegraphed in her remarks following the mid-December, 2015, announcement, the Fed plans to move with caution and lift rates very slowly over the next few years.

That said, for homeowners contemplating refinancing their mortgages or tapping the value of their home via home equity borrowing, carpe diem may be the message to be heeded.

Positive Sales Trends

Data gathered during the first three quarters of 2015 found that single-family home and condominium sales reached their highest level in nine years. Further, those who sold their homes in the third quarter of 2015 also garnered the biggest price gains in eight years -- an average of 17% over their purchase price.1 Rising home values and historically low interest rates have also stimulated refinancing activity.  According to data reported by The New York Times, refinanced loans represented 42% of lenders' loan volume in September of 2015 -- a 5% increase over August and the highest level reached since May.1

The same trend is in evidence as homeowners are tapping into the equity they have built up in their homes and using the cash for a range of purposes. Here are 10 good reasons to borrow, cited by banks and other types of consumer lenders.

Top 10 Reasons to Consider Tapping Home Equity

1.  Refinance higher-cost debt.

2.  Pay off higher interest credit card debt, then redirect freed-up cash to retirement savings.

3.  Take advantage of potential tax breaks.

4.  Avoid liquidating a solid investment, or better time a capital gain.

5.  Refinance retirement plan loans that would be difficult to repay immediately if employment ends.

6.  Refinance life insurance policy loans that are approaching the cash value.

7.  Enhance liquidity with an emergency fund.

8.  Help a family member with college tuition, a home down payment, or a business start-up.

9.  Stop deferring a significant purchase or project that could be more expensive in the future.

10.  Take advantage of what may be a limited opportunity to lock in an exceptional deal.

If you are thinking of tapping the equity in your home and need a refresher on what type of borrowing vehicle is right for you, consider the following at-a-glance comparison:

Home Equity Loans and Lines of Credit -- What's the Difference?



Keep in mind that historically, home values have gone down as well as up, and a sustained decline could limit the financial options for those with significant loan balances. For more information or to obtain current rate data, contact your banking institution, credit union, or other consumer lender.

Source:

1.  The New York Times, "Cashing in on Home Equity," November 13, 2015.

Required Attribution

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by Wealth Management Systems Inc. or its sources, neither Wealth Management 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 Wealth Management Systems Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.

© 2016 Wealth Management Systems Inc. All rights reserved.


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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A Vanishing Value Premium?

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

Value stocks under-performed growth stocks by a material margin in the US last year. This column reviews a previous period when challenging performance caused many to question the benefits of value investing.

 

A Vanishing Value Premium.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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2016: 10 Predictions to Count On

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

The New Year is a customary time to speculate. In a digital age, when past forecasts are available online, market and media professionals find it harder to hide their blushes when their financial predictions go awry. But there are ways around that.  READ MORE:  2016: 10 Predictions to Count On.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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Treasury Market Absorbs Fed's Increase

Here is a nice article written by Dimensional Fund Advisors:

On December 16, 2015, the market was unsurprised and able to digest, without a catastrophic loss, the first increase in the federal funds target rate since 2006.  READ MORE:  Treasury Market Absorbs Fed's Increase.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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Second-Hand News

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

Why don’t the media run more good news? One view is bad news sells. If people preferred good news, the media would supply it. But markets don’t see news as necessarily good or bad, rather in terms of what is already built into prices.  CLICK HERE:  Second Hand News.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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Hedge Funds: What Are They Good For?

Here is a nice article written by Peter Lazaroff and posted on the CFA Institute blog Enterprising Investor:

 

What are hedge funds good for?  Absolutely nothing.

That is the answer to the title’s question. It is also what hedge fund investors receive in return for shelling out exorbitant fees.  CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE:

Hedge Funds: What Are They Good For?

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Volatility, China, and Oil

Here are some nice articles written by Dimensional Fund Advisors:

January 2016 saw the worst start to the year for the S&P 500 in history, while the Chinese equity market experienced a decline in prices as well as continued volatility and a decline in oil prices coincided with a decline in stock prices. These events provide an opportunity to examine several questions important to investors and revisit some fundamental principles of investing in capital markets.


Recent Market Volatility.pdf


An Update on China.pdf


Crude Oil and Financial Markets.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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When To Take Social Security

What is the best way to take Social Security?

Figuring out how to make the most of your and your spouse’s Social Security is one of the most challenging retirement-planning decisions you may make in your lifetime. You may not only find yourself between a rock and a hard spot, but you can expect some blind curves and steep hurdles thrown in for good measure!

Collect Some Now or Collect More Later
First, there’s the rock: You may be tempted to begin taking Social Security as soon as you’re able. But the hard spot means that the earlier you begin taking it, the less monthly income you’ll receive over your lifetime, and the smaller your cost of living adjustments (COLA) will be over time. Longevity risk – the risk that you end up living a long time in retirement – could throw you additional blind curve. 

I know: You’re probably not used to thinking of “living a long time” as a risk. But when you’re pushing the pencil around on your retirement planning, that’s exactly what it is. If you live to 95 or 100 years old, you could potentially spend 30–40 years in retirement, during which you’ll want to be able to depend on your retirement income to see you through. 

Let’s examine what those numbers might look like. Here are typical monthly payments you could expect under current circumstances:

 

If you begin taking Social Security at …

Expect to receive about …

Age 62

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Focus on the Forest, Not the Trees, of Investing

It's a message worth repeating. Investing is a matter of focus. Despite recent disappointments in stock market performance, investors who are willing to assess the whole universe of investment choices may find that the market continues to offer new possibilities. And those who keep their sights set on long-term investment goals may find that a "forest, not trees" approach to investing offers the greatest potential for success.

 

Focus is especially important for retirement savers -- those who are still in the accumulation stage -- as well as for retirees who need to keep the potential for growth alive in their portfolios.

 

Are You a Micromanager?

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When Should You Sell an Investment?

Effective portfolio management is about more than buying securities, it's also about selling them when the time is right. Unfortunately, there's no crystal ball that tells investors when to sell their investments. Many investors hold securities for too long and reproach themselves for not having sold sooner. Others sell too soon and second-guess their chances of having done better. Psychology -- and human nature -- aside, there are some practical selling strategies you may want to consider when managing your portfolio.

 

Exit Strategies: When to Sell

 

Sell -- if your investment's value shifts by a predetermined percentage. When a security is purchased, define the maximum price movement up or down before you'll sell. If the value rises, your maximum upside number becomes an automatic signal to take profits. If the value drops, your "stop-loss point" on the low side is a fail-safe for limiting losses and protecting some part of any gains. For example, the stop-loss point could initially be set between 80% and 90% of the purchase price. If the investment's price later rises, the stop-loss point might be raised to maintain the same margin below the current price.

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Wealth Transfer in a Low-rate Environment

For those fortunate few individuals whose personal wealth exceeds the current estate-tax exemption threshold -- $5.43 million for 2015 rising to $5.45 million for 2016 -- today's historically low interest rate environment offers potentially powerful wealth transfer opportunities.

Recent low rates of interest have affected two important factors used to value wealth transfers involving trusts -- the applicable federal rate (AFR) and the Section 7520 rate -- both of which are published and calculated each month by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). These rates reflect what the IRS assumes the assets in a trust will earn over the life of the portfolio. They are sometimes referred to as "hurdle" rates because if investment returns outperform the interest rate, the difference may be passed tax free to trust beneficiaries.

Given current conditions, the following strategies may prove especially attractive.

Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs). A GRAT is an irrevocable trust that is used to shift the growth and appreciation of assets from one generation to the next, often with little or no gift-tax consequence. In a typical GRAT, a donor or "grantor" places stock or other assets in the trust for a specified term during which he or she takes back principal in the form of annuity payments that are calculated using the low IRS-prescribed interest rate.

Any appreciation in trust assets above that interest rate passes to the GRAT's remainder beneficiaries outside of the transfer-tax system. Thus, the lower the interest rate, the greater the potential gift that can pass out of the donor's taxable estate to heirs.

How might a GRAT play out today? Given current conditions, an individual could transfer more shares of depressed stock into a GRAT. Then, if the market rebounds and outperforms the hurdle rate for an extended period, that difference could represent considerable wealth that would transfer to heirs.

Charitable Lead Annuity Trusts (CLATs). For those who wish to combine charitable giving with the transfer of wealth to family members, a CLAT offers an alternative solution to a GRAT. In this case, periodic annuity payments are made to a charity of choice, not the grantor. At the end of the trust's term, any remaining assets are then paid out to the non-charitable beneficiaries, typically family members, tax free.

Sale of Assets to a Family Trust. Another potentially attractive technique is to sell (rather than give) assets that are likely to appreciate in value to a family trust for the benefit of children. The grantor receives a promissory note with AFR interest. Because the grantor is essentially making a loan to himself or herself, the interest received on the note is not considered taxable income. As the property increases in value, the note remains static, while appreciated assets pass to heirs.

The current environment may present an attractive opportunity for those gifting assets as well as those receiving them. Be sure to explore these and other wealth transfer options with your tax and legal advisors as part of your overall planning strategy.

This communication is not intended as tax and/or legal advice and should not be treated as such. Each individual's situation is different. You should contact your tax professional to discuss your personal situation.

Required Attribution

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by Wealth Management Systems Inc. or its sources, neither Wealth Management 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 Wealth Management Systems Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.

© 2016 Wealth Management Systems Inc. All rights reserved.


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 Business Retirement Plan

I am starting my own business and I want to set up a retirement plan. What should I do?

As a firm that specializes in helping small business owners, we know how overwhelming it can be when you’re starting a business, and trying to take care of all of the related details. Presumably you are embarking on your new venture because you have a great idea you expect to profit from. To make the most of your efforts, it’s best to establish a retirement plan early on, so you can save and invest a portion of your proceeds in tax-favored accounts. 

These days, there is a wide and growing range of retirement plan solutions for the small business owner – as well as a wide and growing range of related requirements. Because selecting and implementing the best plan for you and your business depends on a number of specifics, we suggest speaking with a professional advisor to help you weigh the options and manage the operations. Following is an overview to get you started.

The Solo- or Owner-401(k) Plan
If you don’t have employees, a solo- or owner-401(k) may be the best way for you and your spouse to save money from your business profits, with two contribution opportunities from your dual role as employee and employer:

•    Your employee contribution allows you to save $18,000/year if you are under 50, and $24,000/year if you are 50 or older.

•    Your employer contribution allows you to save an additional 25% of your salary.

For example, if you pay yourself $100,000/year and you are 50 or older, you can contribute $24,000/year as an employee and $25,000/year as an employer (in addition to your salary), for a total of $49,000 annually. The maximum 401(k) contribution is $53,000 if you are less than 50 and $59,000 if you are 50 or older.

The SEP IRA
What if you and/or your spouse is employed at another company and maximizing the employee contribution there, but one or both of you are also running a small business of your own? You can set up a “self-employed” or SEP IRA for your separate business. The contribution limit for a SEP cannot exceed the lesser of 25% of your self-employed compensation or $53,000 per year. These are the guidelines for 2015 and 2016, and are subject to annual cost-of-living adjustments for future years.

Defined Benefit or Cash Balance Plan
If you want to save even more than described above, you can consider a defined benefit plan or a cash balance plan. The limits for these plans are around $200,000/year but it depends upon age and income. Typically, you set an annual contribution amount and there is a range around it. You are required to contribute each year.

Defined benefit and cash balance plans are more complex to set up and administer, but if your situation calls for it (for example, you are older with high income), they can be a great way to save even more than you can in a 401(k) plan. They also can be paired with a 401(k) plan, but this limits the employer contribution part of the 401(k) plan.

Company 401(k) Plan
Once you have employees, you can consider a company 401(k) plan to help you save for your own retirement while providing an important benefit to your valued employees.

A company 401(k) plan is more complex, and the current regulatory environment may soon call for even higher levels of vigilance with respect to your fiduciary duties as the plan sponsor. If you are considering establishing one, we suggest aligning with a Registered Investment Advisor relationship that includes accepting the fiduciary role of acting as your plan’s 3(38) investment manager. This doesn’t relieve you of all fiduciary duty to your plan participants, but it helps you sensibly shift the investment management portion to a professional investment manager.

Getting Started
Regardless of which plan or combination of plans makes the most sense for you, there are a number of custodians who are set up to house the assets for you. For the relatively straightforward solo-401(k) or SEP IRA, there should be no additional set-up fees. If you are planning to establish a company 401(k), defined benefit or cash balance plan, expect additional administrative and management fees to apply.

Circling back to where we began, if you are considering launching or have recently launched a new business, we are ready to help with your retirement plan set-up. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions.


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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Budget Deal Curbs Social Security Claiming Options

On Monday, November 2, President Obama signed into law H.R. 1314, the "Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015." One significant byproduct of the legislation is the elimination and/or curbing of two Social Security filing strategies that two-income married couples may have been using -- or counting on -- to increase their lifetime Social Security payouts. The two programs, referred to in the bill as "unintended loopholes," generally involve one of the following strategies: file and suspend and restricted application for spousal benefits. As with most things related to federal programs, there's complexity in the details.

Here are a few key points of explanation about the strategies and how the new law will change and/or eliminate them, along with some takeaways you may want to discuss with your advisor.

What's at Stake?

Very generally, the strategies in question allowed both spouses who had reached full retirement age (currently 66 for most claimants) to delay claiming benefits on their own earnings records -- and, thus, increase their individual annual payouts -- while, depending on the tactic used, also allowing one spouse to claim a so-called spousal benefit based on the other's earnings.

Under file and suspend, for instance, typically the higher earning spouse would start receiving Social Security payments and then suspend them, allowing the lower earning spouse to claim spousal benefits. Under restricted application for spousal benefits, typically the higher earning spouse would delay filing for his or her own benefit but claim the spousal benefit on the lower earning spouse's benefit.

In both scenarios, the end game for couples was to delay receiving benefits, perhaps until as late as age 70, and thereby increase Social Security payments by 6% to 8% per year -- potentially adding thousands of dollars more in income over their lifetimes.

What's Changing?

While dual-earner couples will still be able to suspend their payments and start up again at a higher rate no later than age 70, under the new rules they generally can no longer "double dip" -- that is, first collect one type of payment (i.e., spousal benefits) and then switch to payments based on their own earnings record, which would have grown due to delayed retirement credits. Similarly, in most cases, if you suspend payments, the new law will prohibit spouses or other dependents from claiming Social Security benefits on your work record until you resume payments again.1

Windows of Opportunity

Note that there is a four-month window in which these strategies will still be in effect in their current iterations. So if you are 66 now, or will turn 66 within the next four months, you may want to speak with your advisor about taking advantage of these claiming options before you lose the option to do so.

Also keep in mind that your age plays a key role in how the new rules may impact you. For instance, individuals who will be 62 or older as of December 31, 2015, may still be able to take advantage of some of these strategies once they reach full retirement age.2

In addition, those who are already employing these strategies are generally "grandfathered," and their benefits will not be eliminated or changed by the new laws. Similarly, widows and widowers generally won't be affected, while divorced persons and same-sex married couples may be among the groups most adversely affected by the changes.

While determining when and how to claim Social Security benefits has always been a challenging task, these new rules create even more complexity for those nearing retirement. If you need help navigating the changing Social Security landscape, speak with your financial advisor.

Source(s):

1.  U.S. News & World Report, "How the Budget Deal Changes Social Security," November 13, 2015.

2.  MarketWatch, "Millions of Americans just lost a key Social Security strategy," November 7, 2015.

Required Attribution

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by Wealth Management Systems Inc. or its sources, neither Wealth Management 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 Wealth Management Systems Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.

© 2016 Wealth Management Systems Inc. All rights reserved.


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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Mutual Funds and Taxes: A Primer to Help Lighten the Load

Filling out your tax return is like compiling the index of a book -- the book is complete, but you have to rummage (sometimes painfully) through your work again, assuring accuracy and factual content, in order to make the book easier for someone else to read. If you're a mutual fund investor trying to determine your taxable gain or loss for the past year, your tax return will entail additional work.

 

But if you've kept good records and understand some basic guidelines, the process can be relatively painless.

 

Tax Treatment of Mutual Funds

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Managing a Disability or Chronic Illness

Create a financial plan that can help you make the best of any circumstance. Here's a checklist for financial preparedness.

 

Lay a secure foundation

 

Consider disability insurance to replace income that you may no longer receive if you become disabled by illness or injury. Some employers offer free or discounted disability insurance policies to their employees. Many insurance companies sell individual policies.

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Make the Most of Your 401(k)

As more Americans shoulder the responsibility of funding their own retirement, many rely increasingly on their 401(k) retirement plans to provide the means to pursue their investment goals. That's because 401(k) plans offer a variety of attractive features that make investing for the future easy and potentially profitable.

 

What is a 401(k) plan?

 

A 401(k) plan is an employee-funded savings plan for retirement. For 2015, a 401(k) plan allows you to contribute up to $18,000 of your salary to a special account set up by your company, although individual plans may have lower limits on the amount you can contribute. Individuals aged 50 and older can contribute an additional $6,000 in 2015, so-called "catch up" contributions.

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Maintain a Good Credit Rating

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Unhealthy Attachments

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

 

Have you ever made yourself suffer through a bad movie because, having paid for the ticket, you felt you had to get your money's worth? Some people treat investment the same way.  CLICK HERE TO READ MORE: Unhealthy Attachments.pdf

 

 

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Under the Surface

Here is a nice article written by Dimensional Fund Advisors:

 

Sophisticated systems and highly skilled people working with great efficiency and precision underpin every Dimensional fund.  This Issue Brief provides an overview of our operations.  CLICK HERE TO READ MORE:  Under the Surface.pdf

 

 

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Which Hat Are You Wearing?

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

 

Most of us have multiple roles—as business owners, professionals, workers, consumers, citizens, students, parents and investors. So our views of the world can differ according to whatever hat we're wearing at any one time.  CLICK HERE TO READ:  Which Hat Are You Wearing.pdf

 

 

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Introduction to Dimensional’s Advisor Byline 2015 Review

Here is a nice article provided by Bryan Harris of Dimensional Fund Advisors:

To counteract some of the stress that the markets have been putting us through lately, we’d like to share a short, upbeat tale with you about risks and expected rewards.

Once upon a time in 1981, there were two young men in Brooklyn who created a fund management company based on a set of ideas that were “bigger than the firm itself.” Its funds would be new and groundbreaking, but they would be guided by evidence-based insights that had been decades in the making. It would be the first fund manager (and still one of the few) with scientific discipline and academic oversight built into its strategies.

The firm has since flourished, with a global family of funds structured to efficiently capture worldwide dimensions of market returns. But during its early years, success was far from guaranteed. Its first fund was designed to isolate U.S. small-cap returns, which frequently defied expectations by under-performing U.S. large-caps for multiple, multiyear periods. During these trials by fire, its founders didn’t know when – or even if – their confidence in the science of investing would be rewarded.

But there was one thing they did know. If they abandoned their well-reasoned plan without giving it the test of time it deserved, failure would be certain. So they stuck to their evidence-based guns; the rest, as they say, is history.

As you might have guessed, this is the tale of Dimensional Fund Advisors. It’s a tale to take to heart for your own resolve. In that context, we are pleased to share Dimensional’s freshly released 2015 Market Review.pdf.

With an evidence-based rigor, the data is the data. We don’t attempt to whitewash it. At a quick take, 2015 was marred by nearly universal negative-to-low returns, especially from small-cap and value stocks; continued declines in the world oil market; and weak economic growth in China and elsewhere. Investors who held globally diversified portfolios tilted toward riskier sources of market returns were not rewarded. Not last year, anyway. 

The stage-setting in 2015 may or may not also explain the rough ride we’re experiencing so far in 2016. But if you add Dimensional’s current annual review to the ones it has been publishing since 2011, the sensible take-home becomes clear: Markets have been on an overall uphill trajectory for as long as anyone has been tracking them. But they’ve also exhibited wild unpredictably nearly every step of the way. In that respect, the current climate is no exception to our evidence-based expectations. It’s the “risk” part of the risk/reward equation.

We invite you to use Dimensional’s 2015 Market Review to better understand some of the global forces that are shaping the markets today. For shaping your own financial course, two sources remain your best guides: (1) the tenets of evidence-based investing, which give you your best odds for investment success over time; and (2) your personal relationship with Diversified Asset Management, Inc., to keep you from playing too many of your own emotional wild cards during the heat of the pursuit.

If we can help strengthen your resolve or answer any questions during these challenging times, please be in touch.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP, CFA
Diversified Asset Management, Inc


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 Global Movement

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

 

Dave Butler discusses his summer 2015 visits to Dimensional’s regional offices and explains why he thinks the independent financial advice model is advancing worldwide.  CLICK HERE TO READ MORE:  A Global Movement.pdf

 

 

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The Rise of Short-Term Rates

Here is a nice article written by Dimensional Fund Advisors:

 

While many market participants wait for the “inevitable” rise in short-term interest rates expected when the Federal Reserve tightens its monetary policy, some investors may have missed the increase in short-term rates already underway as a result of market forces.  CLICK HERE TO READ MORE:  The Rise of Short Term Rates.pdf

 

 

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What Happens to My Retirement Assets in the Event of a Divorce?

Federal law requires that participants in employer-sponsored retirement plans designate their spouse as their beneficiary unless the spouse waives this right in writing. Assuming that you and your spouse adhered to this practice, a document known as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), which is part of a divorce settlement, specifies how retirement assets are divided.

 

A QDRO specifies the amount or portion of a plan participant's benefits that are paid to a spouse, former spouse, child, or other party. A QDRO typically governs assets within a retirement plan such as a pension, profit-sharing plan, or a tax-sheltered annuity. Benefits paid to a former spouse typically are considered income for tax purposes. If you contributed to your retirement plan, a prorated share of your investment is used to determine the taxable amount.

 

Former spouses on the receiving end of a lump-sum distribution mandated by a QDRO may be able to roll over the money tax free to a traditional individual retirement account or to another qualified retirement plan. Following such a transfer, assets within the plan are subject to rules that would normally apply to the retirement plan. If you transfer assets within a traditional IRA to your spouse as part of a divorce decree, the transfer is not considered taxable and the assets are treated as your former spouse's IRA.

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FAQs About Investing In 529 Plans

In a recent post, we addressed a frequently asked question about determining where you stand with your overall investing. Today, let’s focus in on a subject near and dear to many investors’ heartfelt goals: funding their children’s higher education. 

 

To help families save and invest for college, Congress created the tax-advantaged 529 plan in 1996, named after Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. Today, you’ll find that most states and some educational institutions offer 529 plans. 

 

While there are often good reasons to establish a 529 plan for college savings, there also are many factors to be weighed and choices to be made along the way. Savingforcollege.com is a great resource to learn more, but here are two of the biggest questions we regularly encounter. 

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What Are the Tax Issues Associated With a Gain or Loss on a Primary Residence?

For U.S. federal income tax purposes, you may be able to exclude from income any gain up to $250,000 for a single taxpayer and $500,000 for a married couple filing a joint return. Generally, to exclude the gain, you must have owned and lived in the property as your main home for two of the five years prior to the date of the sale. If you lose money on a sale, the loss is not tax deductible.

 

Your Adjusted Basis

 

A dollar amount known as your adjusted basis determines whether you experience a gain or a loss. If you purchased or built your home, your initial cost basis typically is the cost to you at the time of purchase. If you inherit a home, the cost basis is the fair market value on the date of the decedent's death or on a later valuation date selected by a representative of the estate.

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Choosing the Right Benchmarks for Your Mutual Fund

Community school boards use standardized tests to gauge how their students perform in relation to national averages. On an even more basic level, your local weather forecasters can check the accuracy of their predictions by measuring temperatures and rainfall. As a mutual fund investor, you also have tools available to gauge the performance of your investments. Such tools are known as market benchmarks. The challenge, however, is choosing the tool that most accurately serves your purpose.

 

What Are Investment Benchmarks?

 

The dictionary defines a benchmark as "a point of reference for measurement." Market benchmarks are used by individual investors, portfolio managers, and market researchers to determine how a particular market or market sector performs. Often cited in news reports, market indexes can be especially helpful to mutual fund investors by offering market "standards" to help them evaluate the risk and the return history of their own investments. However, investors should remember to compare their mutual fund to the index that best tracks securities comparable to the fund's holdings, and to use an appropriate time frame.

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Coping With Market Volatility

Global market volatility ramped up last summer as worries about the tenuous state of the Chinese economy shook virtually all major financial benchmarks, indicating once again how interrelated the world's economies and investment markets have become.

 

Widespread uncertainty has not only heightened anxiety among investors, it was also a likely contributor to the Federal Reserve's decision to leave interest rates near zero when the Central Bank's decision-makers met in September. Indeed, despite the continued strengthening of the U.S. economy, there are many signs that indicate that this turbulent period for stocks may linger indefinitely.

 

Five Investing Strategies for a Volatile Market

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When Changing Jobs, It Pays to Keep Track of Your 401(k)

Americans are on the move, not only in their leisure pursuits, but in their jobs as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 38% of U.S. workers change jobs every year. If your employment situation changes, do you know what your choices are for managing the money in your 401(k) account?

 

Generally, workers have four options available to them: leave the money in their former employer's plan, transfer the money into their new employer's 401(k) (if allowed), roll the money into an IRA, or take a cash distribution. What many individuals don't realize is that if they fail to choose one of those options -- and their account balance is small enough -- the decision can be made for them. Specifically, current law allows employers to force participants with vested balances of $5,000 or less out of their 401(k) plans into an IRA without their consent. Further, if the account balance is less than $1,000 when the participant separates from the employer, the plan is allowed to cash out the account, triggering taxes and penalties if the participant does not take action in a timely manner to redeposit the money in another retirement account.

 

How prevalent are these practices? According to the Plan Sponsor Council of America, more than half (57%) of 401(k) plans transfer account balances of between $1,000 and $5,000 to an IRA when a participant leaves the company and/or cash out those accounts with balances of less than $1,000.1

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Common Estate Planning Mistakes -- and How to Avoid Them

Estate planning can be a minefield of potential missteps, some of which could have far-reaching consequences. Many of the poor choices individuals make when planning for their own future or passing assets to their families are caused by "one-size-fits-all" planning strategies or well-intended advice from family or friends. Following are some common and potentially costly mistakes along with suggestions for avoiding them.

 

Failing to plan. Whether drafting a basic will or crafting an elaborate strategy involving trusts and tax planning, an estate plan can help reduce estate taxes, save on estate administrative costs and specify how your assets are to be distributed. Today, the majority of Americans have no will. If you die without one, your estate will be divided according to the intestacy laws of your state -- not according to your wishes. This could create problems if your intended beneficiary is a minor child, a child with special needs, a favorite charity, or a combination of the above. In these cases, you need a will that details each contingency and a trust or multiple trusts to accomplish your goals.

 

Not maximizing your marital estate exemptions. Perhaps one of the most important pieces of tax legislation passed recently is referred to as the "portability" provision. This means that if one spouse dies without using up his or her federal estate tax exemption -- $5.43 million in 2015 -- the unused portion may be transferred to the surviving spouse without incurring any federal estate tax.

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