How the Fiduciary, Fee-Only Model Works

The financial advisory world is undergoing a major transformation in how it serves up advice. More and more, advice is being decoupled from a product sale in an unbundling of services. Advisors are gaining additional certifications and better training, and industry enforcement on poor practices and unethical behavior is getting stricter. The industry is maturing […]

Optimizing Saving and Investing During Retirement

Investing undergoes a few changes when you retire. This of course is expected. You no longer add money to your accounts – you drain them. This paradigm shift requires a new approach to managing money, and its one that runs against the last 30 to 40 years of hard-won habits you’ve established. Your portfolio must […]

What slows down when interest rates speed up

The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates this year with several more hikes expected before year end. This will be the first time in almost three years that the Fed has raised rates and tightened fiscal policy. The pivot to a hawkish stance is expected – inflation is running hotter than at any point in […]

The Best Way to Pay Off a Mortgage in Retirement

If you’re like most Americans, your home is probably your largest asset and your mortgage is probably your largest monthly expense. Paying it off could increase your disposable income. It’s hard not to wonder what you would do with thousands extra each month in retirement, not to mention how good it would feel to wipe […]

Q&A: What’s the difference between an ESOP and an ESPP?

The financial world is loaded with jargon. You’re dealing with company ownership with both an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) or an Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP). These plans were created with the intent to help employees create and build wealth, but ESOPs specifically can also provide benefits for business owners. We’ll break down the […]

How the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) Impacts Pension Payments

Social Security was established in 1935 as part of President Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’. The program provided relief from poverty for tens of thousands of seniors and continues today as one of the nation’s most significant social insurance programs. About 96% of all Americans are now covered by Social Security according to figures from the Government […]

Using a Trust as a Beneficiary of an IRA

The IRA is one of the most significant retirement vehicles in America. In fact, the Investment Company Institute (ICI) reports that as of 2021’s third quarter, U.S. investors held more than $13 trillion in IRA accounts. That’s more than all defined benefit (pension) plans in the US combined.[1] However, the IRA is also an elaborate […]

The 401k Age 55 Rule for Early Retirement

401k Age 55 Rule man awaiting early retirement

Retirement accounts like IRAs, Roths, and 401(k)s offer incredible tax benefits. But those benefits come with strings attached. You cannot generally take money out of a retirement account prior to age 59½ without incurring a penalty, though there are exceptions. Congress recognized that not everyone would retire in their 60s when they created this legislation […]

7 Last Minute Tips to Reduce Your Tax Bill

Slash your 2021 taxes

The deadline for most taxpayers to file their 2021 returns is April 18th this year. The number of opportunities to slash your tax bill drops off dramatically once the calendar year comes to a close, but there are still a few tried and true ways to get your taxable income down now before you file. […]

The Retirement Readiness Checklist

We periodically like to put together helpful guides and pieces that are easy to share with friends and family. Welcome to our newest piece! The retirement readiness checklist has everything you need to think about, consider, and work through as you approach your last day of work. We hope you find it helpful.   Retirement […]

The Roth Conversion Sweet Spot

Retired man read newspaper

There is a period that acts as something of a Goldilocks zone in in determining when to do Roth conversions: the interval between the point that you retire and your first required minimum distribution at age 72. Income is generally lower than it was during your working years, withdrawals from pre-tax retirement accounts aren’t mandatory, […]

When to Withdraw from a Roth IRA

Designing a Roth withdrawal strategy creates happiness

Most posts, blogs, and discussion boards we see feature lengthy comments about adding to a Roth IRA. When do you convert? What tax brackets make sense for contributions? Am I even eligible in the first place? But what do you do when you’ve made the choice to build a Roth IRA and have reached the […]

Multiple Compression: 7 Reasons Why the Market is Selling Off

January is off to a no good, very bad, terrible start to the year. We’ve seen three consecutive down weeks and some very painful corrections in individual names like Zoom, Peloton, and Moderna, who are all down more than 40% from their 52-week highs. Why is there such a bloodbath in stocks right now? The […]

What it Actually Means to Claim Social Security for Early Retirement

Social Security Early Retirement

The decision on when to claim social security is complicated enough when retirement comes at the normal retirement age. You’ll need to think about health conditions, personal preferences, spousal benefits, and of course, your social security benefit amount. But when your goal is to leave the rat race as soon as possible, you add another […]

Making the most of company stock in your 401(k)

401(k) plans are a great way to save money for retirement, but you have to manage it well! You are responsible for selecting investments and you will ultimately bear the brunt of your choices. Its critical you get it right! Many employers will put ‘guiderails’ on the plan by limiting investment choices to a selection […]

How to get the maximum ACA subsidy when retiring before 65

More and more Americans are retiring before reaching age 65 and qualifying for Medicare. This brings up a thorny issue: what can be done for health insurance coverage in those intervening years? A marketplace/Affordable Care Act (ACA) plan, COBRA, or a spouse’s coverage all make for good options. But COBRA comes with a time limit […]

The NIIT-y Gritty of the Net Investment Income Tax

Man working on financial papers

The Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) has been around since 2010, and it applies to investors who have high incomes and healthy investment account balances. It applies regardless of whether you are working or are retired and covers a broad range of assets classes. But since retirees often rely on withdrawals from investments to generate […]

The 9 Best Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor in 2021

Financial Advisor meeting

Not all financial advisors are created equal, but it can be so hard to tell! Expert advice has always been difficult to quantify and rank. What makes one doctor better than another? Or one attorney better than their peers? Similarly, it’s tough to determine which financial advisor is the best one for you. Add in […]

12 Must Know FAQs to Get Ready For Medicare

Navigating the transition from private health insurance to Medicare can feel daunting. Although Medicare is a complicated enough system, getting ready for enrollment is straightforward. You just need to ensure you’re read up on the subject. Remember, Medicare is offered individually to each person who enrolls. You cannot cover a spouse under your Medicare coverage. […]

Bridging the Gap to Medicare when Retiring Early

Matt Bacon 9/20/21 Early retirement is a dream for many. But it’s a dream that requires careful planning, particularly when it comes to managing your healthcare options. It can be a mad scramble to find affordable, quality healthcare coverage in the intervening years between retirement and Medicare eligibility. When Medicare does kick in you will […]

How to Navigate the financial impact of long-term care

A successful retirement has as much to do with saving money and investing well as it does with managing risk. And when it comes to managing risk, you have four options – absorb the risk, avoid it, reduce it, or transfer it. The order of operations is to avoid risk when you can. Take measures […]

Explained: How to Hit the Upgrade Button on Your 401(k)

Your 401(k) savings will be used to create a good portion of your income in retirement, so getting as much money in there as possible while you’re working makes sense. If you’ve been contributing the maximum every year – good job. But there are other moves you can make that can significantly boost the value […]

What is Tapering and Why Is It Important?

Graph showing 10yr Bond Yield after tapering

You may have heard the term “tapering” if you’ve been following the news lately. The Federal Reserve (Fed) has many tools it can use to stimulate the economy, which includes purchasing bonds in the open markets. Tapering refers to the Fed cutting back on its bond purchases (i.e. “tapering down”). The term goes back to […]

60 Day IRA Rollover Rules

Piggy bank with the words 'rollover IRA' written on it

You probably have several retirement accounts. It’s common. But you may start to think about consolidating some of those accounts as you approach retirement. The simplicity in managing fewer accounts is hard to ignore. This means consolidation – and the 60 day rollover rule. There are two ways to consolidate accounts: direct and indirect transfers. […]

Summer Financial Fitness

July marks the mid-point of the year. With kids out of school and the prospect of real, not-in-the-backyard vacation this year, it can be easy to put off thinking about some of the things you need to do consistently to keep your entire financial picture in focus. Below are a few things you should be […]

Inherited Roth IRA Rules

Inherited Roth IRA Rules

Inherited Roth IRA Rules can be complicated. This is especially true if you inherit an account as a non-spouse beneficiary. Understanding how these accounts work, what the rules are for withdrawing money, and the tax consequences that follow are all critical to maximizing the value of your inheritance. We’ll break down everything you need to […]

When It Pays to Max Out Your HSA

HSA Debit Card

A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a unique tool that provides special tax benefits when used for medical expenses. They are packaged as an add-on to a high deductible health plan and are becoming an increasingly popular employee benefit. We field lots of questions on these accounts – everything from how they work to whether […]

The Executive’s Guide to Financial Planning

Financial Planning for Executives

We see investors of all stripes as financial advisors. Over the decades, we’ve observed that most people invest like the rest of their community. Entrepreneurs, executives, retirees, young families, medical professionals – they all have similar goals. But executives are cut from a different cloth, which makes sense. So many of them are also founders […]

How to Avoid the IRMAA Medicare Surcharge

Medicare

You may not be aware, but Medicare is means-tested. Earning above certain thresholds during retirement could see you get hit with a Medicare income-related monthly adjustment amount (IRMAA), which is a fancy way of saying that you’ll pay more. This can be a nasty surprise. Case in point: a 65 year old married couple retiring […]

The Intentional Approach to Retirement

Intentional Approach for Retirement

Matt Bacon     June 1, 2021 Retirement preparedness is a tricky subject. The Federal Reserve conducted a brief survey on the subject just before the pandemic. 44% of respondents felt that their retirement was not on track while another 20% said they weren’t sure. That’s startlingly high at 2 out of every 3 Americans. We’ve […]

The New Biden Tax Increase (And What to Do About It)

Biden Speech on Tax Increase

Matt Bacon         April 22, 2021 A big announcement came yesterday about regarding the new Biden tax increase. During a scheduled press conference, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced that President Biden will propose raising taxes on the wealthy next week. The tax increases will be used to fund nearly $1 trillion in investments for […]

10 Things All Homebuyers Should Know in a Hot Housing Market

Matt Bacon         April 14, 2021 The US is experiencing a hot housing market and the DC area is no exception. Chances are you’ve probably lost an over the asking price bid or two if you’ve been a house hunter the last few months. But signs are starting to suggest that the market may be heading […]

Why interest rates are killing your portfolio

Matt Bacon         March 12, 2021 Executive Summary – Bond yields moved more than two standard deviations since January 1st. Equity markets can’t handle that much movement that quickly. This led to volatility with a sell-off in long dated bonds and growth stocks with high multiples (mostly tech). Interest rates look like they have stabilized. Certain […]

3 Ideas to Steal for Navigating the Biden 401k Changes

Biden 401k Changes

Matt Bacon        March 4, 2021 President Biden made waves during his run for office with a series of progressive legislative changes. One of those is moving closer to fruition. In a recent Senate hearing, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced that she is looking into changes to current retirement plan rules. Yellen didn’t elaborate on what […]

Where should you roll your 401k?

Paint Roller with Dollar Bills and Green Background

Matt Bacon        March 1, 2021 Where should you roll your 401k? This is one of the most asked questions we field. That, and “who is the best”? Like everything it’s a matter of perspective, but regardless of the answer we’re always struck by the knowledge gap on who the players are and what they actually […]

Twitter Flirts with a New Business Model

Matt Bacon      February 10, 2021 Twitter is flirting with a new business model. Analysts have long lobbied for a subscription model at the company and may yet see one. When asked about a subscription model, CEO Jack Dorsey said on a Tuesday earnings call that “We will continue to build out these teams […]

The Story Behind the Wall Street Bets Reddit Thread and an Epic Short Squeeze

Gamestop (GME) is having its best worst week in company history. It started the year at a modest $17.25. This week it set an intraday high of $483, representing a 2,700% return. That’s impressive for a company with an obsolete business model. Their highest margin business line is in buying and reselling physical video games. […]

2020 In Review

US Dollar Decline Graph

2020 was a strange year. A pandemic, the likes of which have not been seen for a century, claimed jobs, fortunes, and lives. At its height, nine of every ten economies around the globe entered recession. Not since 1870 has the world entertained such a synchronous downturn. The US lost 25 million jobs. The S&P […]

The Definitive Year End Planning Checklist for 2020

December 9th, 2020               Matt Bacon 2020 is finally coming to a close and thank goodness! The year may as well have been a Tarantino flick. We can count a global pandemic, millions of deaths, trillions of dollars in global debt, mental depression, social unrest, and a contested US Presidential […]

Tesla Finally Cracks the S&P 500

Tesla Logo

Matt Bacon         Nov 20, 2020 Tesla marks yet another milestone this week as it joins the S&P 500. The company will officially join the index on December 21, 2020. The stock is up about 478% year to date, though earnings growth is paltry by comparison. Inclusion will drive the price even higher as assets tied […]

Why Equity Markets Just Had Their Best Week in Seven Months

November 9th, 2020          Matt Bacon Equity markets rallied last week in a way we haven’t seen since April. The S&P 500, Dow, and NASDAQ indexes were up 7.35%, 7.12%, and 8.98% respectively over just the last five days. Not only is this an incredible run, but it happened during the week […]

How the Biden Tax Plan Would Work

Oct 22, 2020       Matt Bacon Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is proposing sweeping changes to the tax code. The Biden Tax Plan would work to undo many of the Republican-backed tax cuts that were signed into law in 2017 as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). This will result in higher taxes […]

12 Tips for Choosing a Financial Advisor

Matt Bacon         Oct 15, 2020   It can be difficult to know if you’re on the right path when choosing a financial advisor. A good one can be well worth their cost, but a bad one could spell out disaster. So how do you sort between the two when finance isn’t your strong suit? In […]

Update on Fiscal Stimulus Round 2

A deal on a second round of fiscal stimulus has been in the works for months, but the House and Senate remain at an impasse. The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sep. 18th made the passage less likely with a battle looming over the appointment of a new justice. However, hope […]

10 Facts About SPAC That Will Make Your Hair Stand On End

Matt Bacon         Sept 25th SPAC is shorthand for Special Purpose Acquisition Company, and if that’s a new term for you keep reading. This is the latest financial innovation to gain popularity on Wall Street and money is currently flooding in. 82 SPACs went public this year with a record $31bn raised and we still have […]

Why the TikTok App Ban is Making Waves

Matt Bacon         Sep. 23rd, 2020   The Trump administration has railed against Chinese owned social media company TikTok in recent months citing grave national security concerns around data privacy. The rhetoric reached a fever pitch in mid-August with President Trump threatening a full TikTok app ban if corrective measures weren’t immediately taken. Despite a relatively […]

The Fed Spoke. Markets Shrugged.

Matt Bacon         Sep 17, 2020 The Federal Open Market Committee met yesterday and left interest rates unchanged. We weren’t surprised. General economic conditions are poor and will likely remain poor until the public health crisis brought about by the pandemic is resolved. The Fed will need to maintain what they call an “accommodative” stance until […]

What happened to FANMAG last week?

By Matt Bacon, Sept 14, 2020 Volatility returned to equity markets again last week as money fled big tech, which has led the rally almost exclusively since the March lows. This anxiety driver didn’t strike out of the blue; it has its origins in late August when we first started to witness a rotation out […]

Converting an IRA to a Roth IRA after age 60

Updated June 9, 2022 Most people hit their peak earning years in their 50s and 60s. Consequently, these also tend to be the peak tax years. On the face of it, converting an IRA to a Roth IRA doesn’t look like an obvious choice. The act accelerates deferred income into the current year and stacks […]