News & Insights

5 Tips on when to file your tax return (and when to expect the information you need)

by Chris Jaccard, CFP®, CFA on 2/28/2017

Depending on your sources of income and the types of investments you have, it may be a good idea to wait to submit your tax return until close to the April filing deadline.  Based on our experience, here are some thoughts on the timing of your preparation and when you can expect to get all the information you need.

1. Potentially File Early

If you have a relatively simple tax return and only have wage (W-2), contract work/rent (1099-MISC), or social security (SSA-1099) income, you should have everything you need to file your taxes by mid-February.  Basic 1099-INT or 1099-DIV forms should be available by early February.  Also note that the IRS does not require banks or investment custodians to send some 1099s if the amount to be reported is less than $10.00, so you don’t need to hold out for “de minimus” information like this.

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posted in BlogPersonal Finance

Market Review – Q4 2016

by Financial Alternatives on 2/7/2017

Newsletter-Cover-Image-QMR2016Q4 (00083159xAE0F3)

  • Looking at broad market indices, the US outperformed both non-US developed and emerging markets during the quarter.
  • US and non-US real estate investment trusts (REITs) recorded negative returns and lagged the US and non-US equity markets.
  • Small caps outperformed large caps in the US and developed markets outside the US.

posted in InvestingNewsletters

Investing Newsletter – Jan 2017

by Financial Alternatives on 2/7/2017

Newsletter-Cover-Image-Jan2017 (00083160xAE0F3)

  • Stocks and bonds were volatile in 2016, but overall it was a decent year for patient investors. Intermediate-term bonds performed in line with shorter term bonds in three of four rising interest rate environments – so no changes are planned in these assets.
  • First Trust Deeds continue to provide a high interest yield and should perform well in an increasing rate environment.
  • New all-time highs in equity markets have historically not been useful predictors of future returns.
  • It is impossible to time the market consistently and profitably.
  • Ensure you are comfortable with the risk in your portfolio so you don’t panic and sell your investments during a severe market downturn.

posted in InvestingNewsletters

Prediction Season

by Jim Freeman, CFP® on 12/16/2016

stockpredictionIn one of our newsletters from October, we included an article entitled, “Presidential Elections and the Stock Market”. The conclusion of the article was:

Trying to make investment decisions based upon the outcome of presidential elections is unlikely to result in reliable excess returns for investors. At best, any positive outcome based on such a strategy will likely be the result of random luck. At worst, it can lead to costly mistakes. Accordingly, there is a strong case for investors to rely on patience and portfolio structure, rather than trying to outguess the market, in order to pursue investment returns.

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posted in BlogInvestments

Scam Watch: Protect Yourself From Phishing Schemes

by Thao Truong on 11/4/2016

It has recently come to our attention that the clients of some of our colleagues have reported a jump in the number of phishing attempts on their investment accounts. Although we haven’t heard this from any of our clients recently, we understand that becoming a cyber-security victim can be very painful and costly.

We continually upgrade our systems and procedures to help prevent and detect unauthorized access, but hackers are getting smarter and bolder. Because security is a shared responsibility, we think our clients and others need to know what a phishing attack looks like and what steps they can take to defend themselves.

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posted in BlogGeneralPersonal Finance

Market Review – Q3 2016

by Financial Alternatives on 10/12/2016

Index Performance

  • Looking at broad market indices, emerging markets outperformed all other equity markets during the quarter.
  • The US equity market lagged developed markets outside the US.
  • The Bloomberg Commodity Index Total Return posted a -3.86% return during the quarter.
  • US real estate investment trusts (REITs) recorded negative absolute returns and lagged the US equity market.

posted in InvestingNewsletters

Planning Newsletter – Oct 2016

by Financial Alternatives on 10/12/2016

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  • Emotions are running high this election season and investors are nervous about how the election will affect their investments.
  • Tumultuous events have been a constant theme for presidential elections throughout history.
  • In 17 of 18 past presidential elections, a hypothetical $10,000 investment in the S&P 500 made at the beginning of each election year would have gained value 10 years later.
  • Long-term investment success has depended more on the strength of the US economy than on which party occupies the White House during any particular four-year period.
  • Beliefs about which political party is best for the markets may encourage you to vote, but shouldn’t discourage you from investing.

posted in NewslettersPlanning

Cancel your Covered California Plan When You Turn 65

by Ellen Li, MSBA, CFP® on 9/27/2016

If you have a Covered California plan, chances are that you also receive tax credits that reduce your monthly insurance premiums. When you turn 65 and enroll in Medicare, you become ineligible for those tax credits, which can amount to hundreds of dollars a month. As a result, you will not only lose your tax credit but you will also need to start budgeting for the premiums on Medicare Part B & a supplemental plan.

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posted in BlogPersonal Finance

Become a Better Health Care Consumer

by Jim Freeman, CFP® on 9/6/2016

Health CareHow do you become an empowered health care consumer?  A recent blog post on the Forbes magazine website, authored by financial planner/doctor Carolyn McClanahan, suggests that the relationship between doctors and patients is entering a third phase of its long-term evolution.  Phase one was paternalistic, where the doctor told the patient what to do and the patient was expected to do it.  With the rise of the Internet, the relationship has become more informational—the doctor provides the patient with a number of choices, and the patient chooses one of them.

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posted in BlogPersonal Finance

Create a Social Security Account before a Hacker Does it for You

by Chris Jaccard, CFP®, CFA on 8/15/2016

Social Security Log InTighter Security

The Social Security Administration now requires a cell phone number for people who want to access their benefit information at SSA.gov.

When you log into your Social Security Administration account, you give your user name and password but then you receive a one-time security code sent by text message – and must type in that code to complete your login procedure.  In the cybersecurity trade, this is known as multi-factor authentication.

While this has tightened security, it does not prevent identity thieves from fraudulently creating online accounts for people that haven’t already done so – potentially siphoning their benefits.

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posted in BlogPersonal Finance

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Posts are general in nature and do not constitute the rendering of legal, investment, accounting or other professional advice.