5 Common Factors Affecting Retirement Income

When it comes to planning for your retirement income, it’s easy to overlook some of the common factors that can affect how much you’ll have available to spend. If you don’t consider how your retirement income can be impacted by investment risk, inflation risk, catastrophic illness or long-term care, and taxes, you may not be…

MARKET WEEK: AUGUST 20, 2018

The Markets (as of market close August 17, 2018) The large caps of the Dow and S&P 500 got a boost from a tentative agreement between the United States and China to settle their trade dispute by November. Strong corporate earnings reports also helped push stocks higher, particularly for the Dow, which rose close to…

National Financial Awareness Day

Today is National Financial Awareness Day! This holiday was created to allow a scheduled day to get your finances in order and be sure you are prepared for your future. Below, Certified Financial Group has provided a helpful infographic on easy steps you can take to begin your financial journey. We would love to help!...

Social Security Benefits in Marriage and Divorce

In Social Security, the spousal benefit is a key component that must be considered. At retirement, this payment goes not to the worker who paid into Social Security over time, but her/his spouse. Originally, this was established to benefit a spouse with a stay-at-home role, and it still remains for those who may take some…

Nursing Home Safety

When making the choice to place a loved one in a nursing home, one must be thorough in their research to find the best and safest facility. Slowly but surely, laws are being passed to ensure the safety of residents in every nursing home, but there are still precautions to take. Finding top-quality care can…

5 Tips for Financial Success in 2018

Are you ready to start your financial journey? Certified Financial Group has you covered! Read these tips from 5 of our 11 Certified Financial Planners™ to begin the path to financial success. Practice Mindful Spending – “Separate the things you want, vs. the things you need. This may sound like a rather standard practice, but…

4 Tips for National Social Security Month

Did you know that April is National Social Security Month? This entire fourth month focuses on encouraging the public to become educated about using social security to plan for their future. Here are four quick tips from our Certified Financial Planners™ to help you make the most of your social security plan. Understand How it…

Do This Now – 3 Moves To Make Before The End Of The Year.

Posted by Nancy Hecht , CFP®, AIF® This year has gone by fast, take advantage of these three moves before the year is over. Bunch your deductions. Many of us are receiving our property tax bills now. Look at your projected income for next year, if you are expecting a raise or bonus, you may…

Don’t’ Be a Grumpy Old Man.

Posted  by Nancy Hecht, CFP®, AIF®  Do you remember the 1993 movie “Grumpy old men?” It was about a couple of retired guys that spent most of their retirement bickering with each other and fishing. You would think that a story about lifelong friends spending their retirement years on the water would be nice, but they…

Mistakes with Inherited IRAs

Posted by , Denise Kovach, CFP®, AIF® Inherited IRA’s, also known as stretch IRAs, are specifically designed for retirement plan non-spouse beneficiaries – those who have inherited an IRA or workplace retirement plan such as a 401k (although one would be appropriate for a spouse who is under the age of 59-1/2 and needs access…

Long-term Care Insurance… is it something I need?

Posted by Denise Kovach, CFP®, AIF® We are living longer due to healthcare innovations, which is the good news. However, the bad news is that at least 70% of people over the age of 65 will require long-term care services at some point. People are often confused that Medicare and private health insurance programs pay…

Ladies – it is time to take care of yourself!

Posted by Nancy Hecht, CFP®, AIF® I get more calls from my female clients vs. their male counterparts telling me that there is a family emergency and they need to pull funds from their retirement account to help. It pains me to liquidate the funds but I know they have no place else to turn….

The Income is Not The Issue

Posted by Nancy Hecht, CFP®, AIF®  I recently recalled a conversation I had with a young client about 20 years ago.  The client said to me, “If I only had XX $$’s in income, everything would be perfect.”  My client felt that if they made “a lot” of income, and then could have a pile…

Bad Habits That Can Ruin Your Retirement

Posted by  Denise Kovach, CFP®, AIF®, NSSA® First, don’t treat retirement as the destination! It’s actually the beginning of the next part of life. It’s easy for people who are still working to think of retirement as an end goal, but it is a mistake if you only concentrate on reaching the finish line with no…

Common IRA Mistakes

Posted by Denise Kovach, CFP®, AIF®  One common mistake occurs when an IRA owner fails to name a beneficiary. Unlike other property, IRA’s do not pass by will. They pass according to the IRA’s beneficiary designation form. If there is no named beneficiary, the default beneficiary will generally be the owner’s estate and subject to…

Easy Button for Social Security Claiming Strategy – MATH

Posted by Gary Abely , CFP®, AIF® Let me first admit I have been guilty in the past of providing clients with 5 plus page reports purporting to solve one of the “biggest retirement dilemmas”, when to start claiming Social Security (SS) benefits.  I found the report confusing myself so I sought to make this…

You don’t sound like my grandson.

Posted by Nancy Hecht , CFP®, AIF® Last week I received a call from a client asking that I flag his accounts. He thinks someone is trying to scam him and get his funds. He received a phone call from someone with a foreign accent stating that his grandson was in an accident while on…

What are you willing to give up?

Posted by Nancy Hecht , CFP®, AIF® I know many people that cannot function at all without their premium coffee first thing in the morning. There are many other little things that we buy regularly that we can make ourselves at a much lower expense but don’t. So I ask; what are you willing to…

Challenges facing “Millennials” today and costly mistakes to avoid

Posted by Gary Abely, CFP®, AIF®, CPA If you read current headlines about Millennials you might draw some poor conclusions.  For example, recently I was listening to The Clark Howard Show and heard Millennials spend more on coffee than their retirement savings.  While I’m sure this may be true for some in their 20’s and…

Common IRA Snafus you don’t want to make

Posted by Nancy Hecht, CFP®, AIF® IRA’s have been around for a long time and are widely used for retirement savings. Here are three common snafus that a lot of people make:

Who Is Liable in a Breach of Fiduciary Duty Lawsuit?

Posted by Joe Bert, CFP®, AIF® There were dozens of breach of fiduciary duty lawsuits filed, settled and adjudicated in 2016 against plan sponsors, fiduciaries and investment advisors. The trend for 2017 is for this legal torrent to continue regardless of the next steps with the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule.

Do this to maximize your Social Security Benefits

Posted by Denise Kovach, CFP®, AIF® Now (tax season) is a good time to double check your earnings history on your Social Security statement to confirm that it is accurate.

Wacky but real – can you take these deductions also?

Posted by Nancy Hecht, CFP®, AIF® We always hear of wacky things that people try to deduct from their taxable income – these happen to be deductions that, surprisingly so, worked. When I was in high school, I was trying to decide between art school and business school. I decided I did not want to…

We are better than you! At least when it comes to investing.

Posted by Nancy Hecht, CFP®, AIF® According to Fidelity Investments, female investors have outperformed male investors in the past decade. We are not selfish, so I will share with you some of the reasons why we invest better than our male counterparts.

These red flags can cost you some green

Posted by Nancy Hecht, CFP®, AIF® Who doesn’t love tax time!  So many colorful thoughts and words come to mind.  Here are some RED flags for you to avoid so you do not spend any extra GREEN:

Don’t Follow The Rules, Follow the Principle

Posted by Joe Bert, CFP®, AIF® Many of us are likely familiar with the accounting world’s Rules v. Principles ethics regulation. But you may not be aware that the Department of Labor, since promulgating its fiduciary rule last year, has implemented a similar type of principle-based regulatory approach. Within the financial advisor world much of…

Tax time, Again!

Posted by Gary Abely, CFP®, AIF®, CPA I know, it seems like yesterday we were gathering our documents for our tax preparer for the 2015 tax year.  The 2016 tax filing season is upon us and I thought I would share 10 often over looked tax planning opportunities.

When life is too much to handle…

Posted by Judith Sanborn, CFP®, AIF® When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, and when the stock market volatility gets you down, remember the story of the mayonnaise jar and 2 beers.

Is a Reverse Mortgage Right For You?

Posted by Denise Kovach, CFP®, AIF® A reverse mortgage is actually called a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) which is government backed. This program enables you to withdraw a portion of your home’s equity. It is a type of home loan that requires no monthly mortgage payments. It does require repayment, plus interest, once you…

When Merely Being Suitable is Not Enough

Posted by Joe Bert, CFP®, AIF® The “Suitability Standard”, yet another ERISA-based mystery.   Let me endeavor to decipher this term by delving into the often-turgid waters of the fiduciary ocean by asking ourselves if merely meeting the standard of suitability meets the criteria for being a fiduciary. Put another way; is acting suitably a…

You may be able to cut your 2016 tax bill

Posted by Nancy Hecht, CFP®, AIF® While many taxpayers have payroll deduction retirement plans, it does not necessarily prevent you from making a deductible IRA contribution. If you are married filing a joint return and your adjusted gross income is between $98,000 – $118,000, you can make a partial or completely deductible IRA contribution for…

The Alphabet Soup of Fiduciary Designations

Posted by  Joe Bert, CFP®, AIF® At Certified Financial Group, we live by a simple rule: act in the best interests of our clients. This philosophy is also the underpinning for the financial advisory industry’s “Fiduciary Standard.” But the word fiduciary is truly a sophist’s dream. There’s a veritable alphabet soup of numbers and letters…

2016 Quotes that may resonate in 2017

Posted by Gary Abely, CFP®, AIF®, CPA “Volatility is not risk, it is the source of future returns.” – Jan. 10, 2016 “Volatility” can be measured by using the standard deviation or variance between returns from a market index over a certain time frame.  While volatility is not exactly risk, it can provide an indication…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Posted by Nancy Hecht, CFP®, AIF® A fresh new year is once again upon us. It’s the time to be thankful for the blessings of the past year and to take stock of all our achievements. At the same time, New Year 2017 is a brand new year to start afresh, to start strong, and…

Social Security mistakes you should avoid

Posted by Denise Kovach, CFP®, AIF® Mistiming a divorce. I know, if you are in the process of getting a divorce you don’t always have a choice of when things will become official. However, if you do there is an opportunity to monetarily benefit from, without affecting, your spouse’s SS benefit while leaving your own…

A Distinctive Fiduciary Standard Spelled C-E-F-E-X & D-O-L

Posted by  Joe Bert, CFP®, AIF® At Certified Financial Group, we don’t see it as the firm’s goal to be the knight-errant of the fiduciary standard for all financial advisors. Nor do we propose to wag our fingers at those with conflicts. Rather, we simply hope to intimate our firm’s pride at our Investment Advisor,…

Withdrawal Strategies in Retirement

Posted by Gary Abely, CFP®, AIF®, CPA Most of us have heard that in retirement we can withdraw approximately 4 to 5% per year from our retirement accounts without too much worry about outliving these assets.  One of the biggest risks a new retiree faces is sequencing of returns, or a bear market in the…

The Biggest Money Mistakes People Make

Posted by Judith Sanborn, CFP®, AIF® Decade by decade, our costliest financial errors vary by age.

Can I Roll my Traditional IRA into a 529 College Plan?

Posted by Denish Kovach, CFP®, AIF® The short answer is “Not without paying taxes.” The IRS considers moving money from your IRA to a 529 plan as a distribution included in your taxable ordinary income. Plus you would face an additional 10% penalty if you are not yet age 59-1/2. So rather than opening the…

When You’re the “One”

Posted by Aaron Bert, CFP®, AIF® The one incident that could change your entire future Whenever you read about important topics like long-term care, health care or retirement, you’re likely inundated with facts and numbers. The cost of care, the likelihood you’ll experience various diseases, how much you’ll need in retirement to live and pay…

Your past does matter.

Posted by Nancy Hecht, CFP®, AIF® Recently I was listening to a competitor’s radio show and the financial advisor speaking stated that your past life as an employed person, and how you were living it, does not matter for retirement planning. I respectfully disagree with this guy. Your past matters a lot. The crux of…

8 Ways to go wrong with a traditional Inherited IRA

Posted by Judith Sanborn, CFP®, AIF® What you should know in order to benefit the most from this type of inheritance. An inherited individual retirement account or IRA, lies at the tricky 3-way intersection of estate planning, financial planning and tax planning.  One wrong decision can lead to expensive consequences.  The first thing to do…

Mid-year Tax Check up – A few things to consider

Posted by Denise Kovach, CFP®, AIF®, NSSA® Things happen throughout the year that could have a big impact on your taxes, such as changing jobs, getting married, or retiring. Now is the time to ask yourself some questions in order to maximize any potential tax benefit and reduce any additional tax liability.

And then there was one.

Posted by Nancy Hecht, CFP®, AIF® We were promised that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would provide choice, innovation, lower premiums, and no need to change your Doctor. We have seen that this has not actually been the case. The biggest concern for many of us now is the insurance companies are dropping like flies.

The “HUGE” Disconnect

Posted by Gary Abely, CFP®, AIF®, CPA “Have you and your child had a frank conversation about college costs and responsibility for payment of tuition, fees, books, room and board?” In the past, I would ask the above question to individuals attending my “Financial Basics for Life” workshop.  This workshop is designed to teach young…

Your think you are the beneficiary? Think again, maybe you are not.

Posted by Nancy Hecht, CFP®, AIF® I am not a fan of leaving money with a company that you no longer work for.  You might be surprised as to how many former employees actually do this.  Here is another reason you may want to rollover that account to an IRA.

What happened to my three legged stool?

Posted by Nancy Hecht, CFP®, AIF® A generation or so back, many people retired with a pension, social security, and personal retirement savings. This is no longer the case. Hardly anyone receives a pension, we still have social security, but the personal savings rate is so low it is scary. A survey conducted in 2014 by…

Financial Moves to Make as You Near Retirement

Posted by Denise Kovach, CFP®, AIF® Retirement planning is complex. There are so many moving parts that it can be a challenge to know if you’ve done enough. You run retirement calculators, rebalance your investment portfolio, and get a second opinion from an unbiased financial planner… all of which are positive. But here’s some other things you can…

Is your ETF liquid?

Posted by Gary Abely, CPA, CFP®, AIF® Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) have become popular for their low cost and tax efficiency, but are they liquid and appropriate for your portfolio? As we enter the lower trading volume and often more volatile period of the summer months, it is an important question to ask yourself, especially…

Common myths about your FICO score

Posted by Gary Abely, CPA, CFP®, AIF® Even if you don’t need credit, your FICO score is still important to monitor.  A FICO score is used not only by creditors to evaluate your credit worthiness, but also by insurance carriers, landlords, and even employers.  Your score could impact your ability to land the job you…

Are you financially prepared for a hurricane?

Posted by Nancy Hecht, CFP®, AIF® It is that time of year again, hurricane season. Each year, we prepare by stock piling water and canned goods, flashlights and batteries. What about your important papers? A little bit of water can cause a lot of damage. If your important papers are not protected, it is very…

Happy Half Birthday, Baby Boomers!

Posted by Judith Sanborn, CFP®, AIF® The first boomers turn 70 1/2 in July. Don’t give the IRS too much reason to celebrate.  When you hit this age, it is time to start taking a Required Minimum Distribution (“RMD”) from your IRA.  RMDs can be seen as confusing, so be sure to review these tips.

Think Medicare Pays for Long Term Care? Better Think Again!

Posted by Denise Kovach, CFP®, AIF® There recently was a survey conducted about Long Term Care in America and 38% of the people surveyed said they plan on using Medicare to cover their care needs as they get older, including extended nursing home stays.

I am SO disgusted!

Posted by Nancy Hecht, CFP®, AIF® About a year ago, I received a call from a client – her voice was shaking – she told me that their family had decided they were going to liquidate all of their accounts and move everything into annuities. I asked if they planned to move their IRA and…

Financial Planning: It’s not all about money

Posted by Gary Abely, CPA, CFP®, AIF® Most of us know that financial plans involve saving and investing, budgeting, risk management, debt management, tax planning, retirement planning and estate planning.  All of these components do involve money in one form or another, yet the best financial plans should involve discussions of non-monetary items as well. …

Using your Roth IRA as an emergency fund…WHAT??!!

Posted by Denise Kovach, CFP®, AIF® It is possible, because the principal is available without penalties anytime.

I want it! I need it! Wait, which is it?

Posted by Nancy Hecht, CFP®, AIF® I have been talking to a lot of first time investors that are in their 20’s, which makes me happy. They were in high school during the crash of 2008 and know that things can change quickly. They watched their parents lose jobs and homes. They are also learning…

You don’t itemize – no problem. You can still take these deductions.

Posted by Nancy Hecht, CFP®, AIF® These tax breaks are still available to you even if you don’t itemize. I believe you should use every legal means possible to lower your tax bill. Look to see if any of these apply to you.

They really do love Susie more than me!

Posted by Nancy Hecht, CFP®, AIF® Since 1995, that number of parents that do not split their assets equally among their children has doubled. Is this proof that they really do love Susie more than you? Perhaps. More likely, the un-even split is more practical than any other reason.

Problems using “Averages” in Financial Plans

Posted by Gary Abely, CFP®, AIF®, CPA If someone suggested to you that, on average, you will feel fine if you place one hand on a fire and another on dry ice, you would instinctively know to raise your antenna when listening to this individual. Yet, many financial planners use averages when discussing healthcare expenditures…

Birthdays You’ll Either Love or Hate

Posted by Judi Sanborn, CFP®, AIF® When we are young there is always a birthday to look forward to, whether it’s getting a drivers license at 16 or being able to buy a drink at 21. But there comes a point where most people stop looking forward to the next birthday. But if you are approaching retirement…

Navigating Social Security Claiming Changes

Posted by Denise Kovach, CFP®, AIF®, NSSA® For years, Americans have been utilizing Social Security claiming strategies to maximize their overall benefits. Until recently, couples wanting to use these strategies could do so quite easily. They just needed to know that the strategies existed and how to properly apply them to their own financial situation.

Eleven Ways to Help Yourself Stay Sane in a Crazy Market

Posted by Roger Johnson, CFP®, AIF® Keeping your cool can be hard to do when the market goes on one of its periodic roller-coaster rides. It’s useful to have strategies in place that prepare you both financially and psychologically to handle market volatility. Here are 11 ways to help keep yourself from making hasty decisions…

A Grandparents’ question

Posted by Nancy Hecht, CFP®, AIF® Question: My husband and I are in our 70′s, retired and in good health. We have three grandchildren age 5 and under. We want to set up a trust for them which will hopefully help with their college tuition. Our plan is to contribute to it periodically as we…

The Way I Figure It…

Posted by Joe Bert, CFP®, AIF® By popular request, we have provided simple formulas and tables that will assist you in figuring out certain financial planning questions: Rule of 72 Take any rate of return and divide it into “72” to figure how may years it will take to double your money.  For instance, at…

Why won’t he save money? 3 tips to get your Spouse on the same page

Posted by Nancy Hecht, CFP®, AIF® Opposites often attract but when it comes to saving money for the future, this may not be a good thing. Here are three things to look at to help you get on the same page.

The Russell 2000 index (small cap stocks) is already in a bear market, are large cap stocks next?

Posted by Gary Abely, CPA, CFP®, AIF® For many investors, the start of 2016 has been anything but happy.  We are often asked two questions by our clients, “What causes a bear market and how long do they last?” and “Is the current market correction the beginning of the next bear market”.  First, let’s define…

Things you can do to brighten your financial outlook

Posted by Denise Kovach, CFP®, AIF®, NSSA® A good thing to ask yourself is, “Where am I?” “Am I spending too much money and saving too little?” “Do I have life insurance, disability insurance, and health insurance?” “Are my beneficiaries correctly listed on my insurance and retirement accounts?”

You Win the Powerball Jackpot. What Now?

Posted by Joe Bert, CFP®, AIF® With all the focus on the recent large lottery power ball at stake, Kiplinger asked Joe Bert for his views – What If I Win? It can be a blessing…or a curse. You’ll need help sorting through the decisions surrounding sudden wealth.

11 Ways to Improve Your Finances in 2016

 Posted by Roger Johnson, CFP®, AIF® Calculate your net worth and set goals for the New Year.​ Knowing your net worth is key towards growing it. Each year in January, tally your current assets and liabilities to figure out your current net worth, then work on building it from there. Make sure you have a…