Smart401k Blog

  • What You Need to Know - Move-up/Repeat Home Buyer Tax Credit

    Recently, I had a friend over to watch some football. Seeing as KU was down considerably, conversation moved away from football to what was going on in our lives. I was surprised to hear that my friend, who goes by Bear (he's big and burly like a bear), was looking into buying a home and taking advantage of the First-time home buyer tax credit. I knew about the program, but he brought up that the new stipulations passed recently, which I didn’t know about. I assumed the extension passed a couple weeks ago was just that – an extension, ...
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  • Reverse Mortgages - The Real (Not So Pretty) Story

    There has been some discussion on our forum lately on the topic of reverse mortgages and it sounds like most people are confused when it comes to the details of these complex arrangements. After observing this discussion, I decided to address this topic to provide some clarity on how a reverse mortgage works and how it can affect your retirement.
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  • Common 401(k) Pitfalls - Gen X/Y making big mistake by cashing out their 401(k)s

    The average Generation X or Y employee will work seven jobs over the course of their lifetime. For most of these jobs some type of a retirement plan such as a 401(k) plan will be involved. Intrigued by this fact, I decided to do a little more research to see what these investors have been doing with their retirement plan balance when they leave their employer.
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  • Can Men's Underwear Really Predict the Stock Market???

    Masking my true identity, I ventured into the Halloween night to admire the costumes of others as we took a night off from being our everyday selves. From Michael Jackson and Octomom, to Big Bird and The Muppet Babies, some of the costumes were brilliant. Seeing all these people dressed up, I started thinking of the different ways people try to “dress up” obscure investing ideas and pass them off as legitimate, money-making strategies. As the thought became more persistent, I decided to look into the world of market superstitions, and find out what types of wild strategies people are using to try and gain an edge over the market. A few of my favorites are below.
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  • Estate Planning- What You Need to Know... To Get Started

    Some people may be under the impression that estate plans are only for the Rockefellers of the world, but in reality anyone who has something of value or someone they care about can benefit from having one. Estate planning is the process of planning what happens to your property and potentially your dependants when you pass. By planning ahead you can rest easy knowing that you have made arrangements for the future of your loved ones, and maybe save them some money on taxes while you’re at it.
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  • Common 401(k) Pitfalls - How Emotional Investing Negatively Impacts Your Bottom Line

    As an advisor, I frequently speak to investors that are letting their emotions dictate their investment decisions. Every day we hear about what the market is doing. The Dow is up or the Dow is down. This overload of information has caused many investors to make decisions, based on short-term market movements, that will have a significant long term impact on their account.
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  • Parents & Kids are Pulling Together to Meet College Expenses

    Recent economic conditions have impacted families in many ways, one of which is in regards to saving for college. Today’s competitive job market has emphasized the importance of having a college degree, while making the strains to fund it even more difficult.
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  • So What's an Emergency Fund For Anyways???

    At the beginning of the year, my fiancée, ready to pursue loftier goals than her current position, decided to go to law school. I was thrilled that she wanted to pursue one of her dreams, but at the same time I was more than a little nervous about going from two incomes to one amidst a full-blown recession where the term ‘job-security’ no longer existed. While we had some money set aside, I spent a few sleepless nights wondering how we would make ends meet as we were already facing student loans, car payments and saving for our wedding.
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  • Ever wonder what types/amounts of insurance you need?

    These days it seems like there is an insurance company offering coverage for almost anything. I receive at least one offer a week for one insurance product or another. From wedding insurance to kidnap insurance the list is endless. But which ones offer real protection and which are wastes of money? Below you’ll find a few simple steps you can take to evaluate your insurance portfolio.
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  • Cancer??? The Mother of all Wake-Up Calls

    A couple months ago on a trip to St. Louis I got the wake-up call of all wake-up calls. I had recently visited my doctor about a shoulder injury I suffered while exercising. He told me a little rest and no heavy lifting would cure all my problems, but then about a week later I got an unexpected follow up call. The radiologist had found a growth on my humorous (long arm bone), which could potentially be a malignant tumor.
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  • What You Need to Consider When Choosing a Beneficiary for Your 401(k)

    After reading a recent report regarding investor behavior and 401(k)s, I thought I would take the time to go over some of the common pitfalls of 401(k)s. In the coming months I will go over those pitfalls and how to avoid them. In this initial article I thought I would take the time to go over beneficiary designations.
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  • Is the Media's Focus on Inflation Warranted?

    As the end of summer nears and the beginning of fall approaches, financial news has seemingly made a transition in coverage from the recession to fears of inflation. While I certainly would agree that we need to be mindful of this potential danger, I think current economic conditions do not warrant the attention it has received. The group charged with monetary policy seems to have the same opinion.
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  • Cash for Clunkers Program: What You Need to Know

    As mentioned in past articles, I have been looking into purchasing a new car and had decided to put it off until next year. Well, the Car Allowance Rebate System (aka: Cash for Clunkers program) was passed and I started to think about it again. I thought to myself, I have a clunker, I need a new car: A + B = $4,500 rebate! What a great deal. Well that's the way the ads on the radio, TV and my friends made it sound.
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  • Fund Review and Ivy Asset Strategy A

    This week I thought I would take the time to discuss another one of my favorite funds, Ivy Asset Strategy A. In the interest of disclosure, this fund is another of my personal holdings. Ivy Asset Strategy is a world allocation fund. For those of you that may not know, a world allocation fund is a fund that will invest in stocks and bonds of domestic and foreign companies.
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  • Planning Your Ultimate Retirement "Vacation"

    This is the time of year when many take their summer vacation. As I start to plan mine for later this month, I am reminded by a stat I've heard a few times over the years: many Americans spend more time planning their vacation each year than they do planning for retirement.
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  • Bernanke II: Did he get the job, and how is he doing?

    A few weeks ago I asked for your opinion: would you hire Ben Bernanke based on his credentials? I received a number of responses and it was actually split 50-50 on those who would and wouldn't hire him. Some of you agreed with the decisions he has made while others strongly disagreed. To get a better sense of Mr. Bernanke's impact since he's been in office, I'd like to review his responsibilities, then look at some of the decisions he made through the last couple years and why those decisions were made.
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  • Thinking about getting back into the market? Follow these steps.

    I'm sure it'll come as no surprise to hear that the downturn and volatility in the market prompted some investors to get out. After all, The Dow Jones Industrial Average, one of the most common market benchmarks, fell 33% in 2008 and followed that up by reaching a 12 year low in early March.
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  • Celebrating the 4th of July & Your Financial Independence

    Around each holiday, I try to remind myself of the true significance of that day, as tradition often shrouds the actual meaning. For example, this time of year, it's easy to get caught up in the BBQ's, parades and fireworks, while overlooking an event that took place 233 years ago. On July 4th, 1776, the Second Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, marking the birth date of the United States of America and break from British rule. This day signifies the culmination of years of careful planning and sacrifices to get to that point.
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  • Would You Hire Ben Bernanke?

    Considered by many as one of the most powerful people in the world, how much do you know about Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve? A lot has been made about the ability of Ben Bernanke of late, especially with the way the economy has struggled since he took over at the beginning of 2006. Some say he's re-shaping the Federal Reserve and single handedly responsible for the rebound we've seen of late while others say he's ruining our economy. There is no doubt about his intelligence, however; some question whether he has what it takes to effectively fill one of the most important positions in the world.
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  • Employers believe 401k advice and education are more important than ever

    A recent released survey by Charles Schwab and the CFO Research Services focused on the opinions of senior finance and HR executives regarding the health and quality of their 401(k) plan. It revealed some pretty powerful messages around the importance of advice and education in the midst of today's volatile financial markets.
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