News & Insights

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

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

Planning for Special Needs Children in Your Estate Plan

by Ellen Li, MSBA, CFP® on 7/22/2016

If you have children or grandchildren with special needs, whether they were born with congenital defects or develop disabilities through accident or disease, you should consult with your estate planner and financial advisor to protect the future of these children.

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posted in BlogPersonal Finance

Market Review – Q2 2016

by Financial Alternatives on 7/22/2016

  • Looking at broad market indices, the US outperformed developed markets outside the US and emerging markets.
  • US REITs had very strong positive returns for the quarter, outperforming the broad equity market.
  • Commodities were broadly positive during the quarter. The Bloomberg Commodity Index Total Return gained 12.78%.

posted in InvestingNewsletters

Investing Newsletter – Jul 2016

by Financial Alternatives on 7/14/2016

  • Despite a historic US stock price drop at the start of the year and the recent Brexit vote, most asset classes showed positive returns for the first half of 2016
  • In volatile markets, it’s important to remind yourself of what you really own when you own a diversified collection of stocks as part of your portfolio.
  • Ideally, a client of ours will have underlying stock ownership in 5,500 – 11,500 companies from all over the world.
  • These companies have millions of employees that work diligently day after day and year after year in an effort to increase the earnings of their companies.
  • In aggregate, these companies make a profit and part of this is paid out to shareholders in the form of dividends.
  • Ignoring the often sensationalist day to day financial news and focusing on the progress mankind continues to make can help you maintain a positive long term focus.

posted in InvestingNewsletters

Interesting Article: Hold Your Nose and Buy Europe

by Jim Freeman, CFP® on 6/17/2016

Jason Zweig wrote an interesting article in the May 28th Wall Street Journal entitled, “Hold Your Nose and Buy Europe.”  Zweig says that as investors search for bargains in a world of overpriced assets, they should be guided by the EMH. That isn’t the Efficient Market Hypothesis, which holds that the price of a security reflects all available information but instead Zweig’s own Emetic* Market Hypothesis, which says if the mere thought of owning an asset turns your stomach, that probably is a sign to buy it.

*Emetic – a medicine or other substance that causes vomiting.

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posted in BlogInvestments

Beware the Rollover Offer: 5 Important Questions to Ask

by Chris Jaccard, CFP®, CFA on 5/28/2016

Last week, one of my aunts asked me about rolling over an old 401(k) plan.  She had been getting calls from a friend saying she can get up to $8,000 in bonuses/incentives if she does the rollover now.  Wow, I thought, this is way beyond the usual $100 or $200 cash offers I’ve seen.

New Law Not in Full Effect

My remark to her was – Beware!  I told her of the new law I wrote about last month, and that we recently learned that the protections actually don’t come into full effect until April 2017.

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posted in BlogInvestmentsPersonal Finance

Taxes and Your Children

by Ellen Li, MSBA, CFP® on 5/6/2016

Over the years we have encountered questions on whether client’s children need to file their own taxes.

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posted in BlogPersonal Finance

6 Income Tax Audit Triggers

by Jim Freeman, CFP® on 4/22/2016

Laura Saunders recently wrote an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Is Your Tax Return Audit Bait?” With taxes still on everybody’s mind, I decided to give you a brief summary of her article.

First of all it’s interesting to know that in 2015 the IRS audited less than 1% of nearly 147 million individual returns – the lowest rate in a decade. The overall numbers don’t tell the whole story. In recent years, the IRS has increased its focus on high earners, and in 2015 it audited nearly 10% of returns with $1 million or more of income. In 2006, just 5.3% of taxpayers reporting at least $1 million of income were audited.

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posted in BlogPersonal Finance

Market Review – Q1 2016

by Financial Alternatives on 4/14/2016

  • Looking at broad market indices, emerging markets outperformed developed markets, including the US.
  • Global REITs recorded the highest returns.
  • Commodities were mixed during the first quarter. The Bloomberg Commodity Index Total Return gained 0.42%. Precious metals led the index with gold returning 16.40% and silver returning 11.87%.

posted in InvestingNewsletters

Planning Newsletter – Apr 2016

by Financial Alternatives on 4/12/2016

  • One early retirement study noted that a withdrawal rate of 4% is relatively safe.
  • Many researchers have evaluated withdrawal rates and related issues since then – proposing adjustments to the traditional 4% rule.
  • One such proposal, the Target Percentage Adjustment (TPA) suggests modifying your withdrawals year by year.
  • Being flexible in the face of market downturns and inflation can allow you to increase your withdrawals in retirement.
  • Be sure to know what your withdrawal rate is from year to year.

posted in NewslettersPlanning

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