Smart401k Blog

  • Recent Market Volatility

    There is no doubt that the market activities of Thursday (05/06/2010) rattled the nerves of investors. The cause of the severe volatility is still being investigated, but the initial reaction is that several factors may have contributed to the brief market drop. Initial reports claimed that an error made by a trader started the downward spiral which was then magnified by computer based trading systems...
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  • An article from the Smart401k Women's Series

    During the month of May, Smart401k will place extra emphasis on women and investing. One element of our Women’s Series will be a set of blog articles that highlight women’s opinions, challenges, interests and unique situations with investment, budgeting and general finance...
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  • My Pilgrimage to Omaha

    Last weekend, I attended the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha Nebraska. This is the second year I have attended, and this year it was once again extremely entertaining, informative and just plain fun. There were 37,000 people pack the Qwest Center, and nearby conference rooms to watch two senior citizens sit behind a small plain table and just answer questions for several hours....
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  • How Two Minutes a Day is Helping Me Save More for Retirement: My Mint.com Experience

    I love money. I love having it, I love saving it, and sometimes, I even love spending it. The problem is, I can also be paranoid about my money. I’ve noticed, lately, that I’ve developed a bad habit of checking all my accounts each day. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good idea to know how much you have, but...
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  • Fund Review: Heartland Select Value (HRSVX)

    I would like to discuss a fund I’ve been following for a few months. A client originally asked about the Heartland Select Value Fund (HRSVX), so I did some research about this option. This is an overview of what I found.
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  • Understanding Mutual Fund Share Classes in Retirement Planning

    Let’s say you were on the TV show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire and the million dollar question was, “Which of these funds would have the highest upfront expenses?
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  • Common 401(k) Pitfalls - Company Stock

    In my last Common Pitfalls article, I discussed some common diversification pitfalls to avoid. For this article I thought I would go over one more diversification pitfall, investing in company stock.
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  • ETFs vs. Index Funds in your 401(k)

    As an adviser at Smart401k, I get to evaluate and provide advice on a lot of 401(k)s. Mutual funds and company stock are typically the only type of offerings in an employer plan; however, there have been some of late that have included exchange-traded funds (ETFs) as core holdings. For those who have a brokerage option through their 401(k), you also have the ability to select ETFs.
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  • Smart401k's Newest Retirement Planning Tool: Retirement Guidance

    Did you know that 43% of workers have less than $10,000 saved for retirement; and, only 16% are confident that they will be able to save enough for retirement? I was alarmed when I saw these statistics in the 2010 Retirement Confidence Survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (See the full survey here). While the poor economy and the rise in unemployment have helped to contribute to these numbers, the survey really drove home that fact that many people just aren’t doing enough to plan for their retirement.
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  • Finding your Balance in Retirement Planning

    I’m now four years into being a parent, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that my son’s life requires balance. Left to his own devices, he would likely sleep as little as possible, only eat foods where the primary ingredient was sugar and watch Star Wars for 10 hours a day.
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  • Common 401(k) Pitfalls: Using Diversification Correctly

    In my last common 401(k) pitfalls article I discussed a few advanced distribution strategies. For this article I thought I would take a step back and discuss a couple things to avoid regarding the diversification of your account.
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  • Visiting the KC Fed Helped Put Retirement Planning Into Perspective

    Last Friday, I had the opportunity to attend a speech by Alan Barkema at the Kansas City Federal Reserve. He’s the senior vice president of the Research Division and Director of Research for the KC Fed. It was a great experience to visit the new(ish) Fed building and hear from a very experienced and very knowledgeable economist.
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  • Fitting credit cards into your long-term strategy

    Credit cards can be your best friend or your worst nightmare. When used appropriately, they provide a convenient and efficient way of making purchases. Whether it’s filling up your gas tank or buying groceries, a credit card can speed up the purchase process and keep you from having to carry around a pile of cash or fumble through a pocket of loose change...
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  • 401(k) Advice, My Ruined Vacation (Thank You Delta) & Why You Should Care

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  • Take Charge of Your 403(b) & Avoid Common Investor Mistakes

    If you are an employee of a public school, hospital or other 501(c)(3) organization, then you are most likely eligible to participate in a 403(b). The responsibilities of employers offering a 403(b) plan are much looser than those of 401(k) sponsors. For example, employers offering a 401(k) (or 403(b) with an employer match) have a fiduciary duty to ensure that there is an appropriate mix of investment options offered and that the fees in the plan are reasonable for the services being provided.
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  • Building a Football Team & an Investment Strategy - Are They Similar?

    Once again the Super Bowl is upon us and my beloved Kansas City Chiefs are watching from home. But I have hope. Recently the organization secured two of the top coordinators available — Charlie Weis will be the new offensive coordinator and Romeo Crennel will be the new defensive coordinator. These are the same individuals that contributed to the Patriots’ three Super Bowl victories from 2001-2004. For the first time in a decade, I feel like there is a strategy in place and it’s designed to get the Chiefs to the ultimate destination – a Super Bowl victory.
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  • Common 401(k) Pitfalls - Advanced Distribution Strategies

    In the last installment of Common 401(k) pitfalls, I discussed an investor’s options for their 401(k) when they leave an employer. In this installment, I thought I would go into a little more depth and cover some a couple of lesser known distribution strategies. The first is a strategy used to withdraw money prior to age 59 ½ without penalty and the second involves company stock.
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  • What You Need to Know - Capital Gains & Tax Loss Harvesting

    Last year I wrote about two topics that received extra attention from our members, capital gains and tax loss harvesting. Because we are coming to the end of the year I thought it would be a good idea to reiterate how you can use capital gains and tax loss harvesting in your favor at tax time.
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  • Did You Make the Naughty or Nice List This Year?

    Regular readers of the blog will know that I have a three-year-old son. As we prepare for Christmas, I recently learned about one of the greatest tools a parent can have – making sure my child knows the difference between naughty and nice as it relates to Santa’s willingness to bring him presents. Every time I remind him that only ‘nice children get presents’ he quickly reverts to his usual well-mannered behavior.
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  • What You Need to Know - 529 Plans

    Several weeks ago, our Senior Investment Advisor, Kevin Jaegers, wrote an article about how recent economic conditions have caused parents and children to pull together to meet college costs. Much of the article was based on a study by Fidelity Investments, which discovered that an increasing number of parents are saving for their children’s education. With so many parents wanting to provide tuition assistance to their children, I thought it would be helpful to take a deeper look into the pros and cons of one of the more popular college savings vehicles, the 529 plan.
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