The SECURE Act

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019, better known as The SECURE Act, is a retirement security package under debate in Congress.  Currently, the bill is stalled in the Senate after passing through the House of Representatives in May 2019.  Among the changes to retirement plans and 529 plans, two of the more notable changes, if …

Borrowing on Margin

In the event of a large cash need, the decision to liquidate investments to raise cash to cover or the use of financing usually comes down to the cost of capital (expected rate of return from the investments vs. the cost of borrowing). There are, however, tax implications for some financing, such as the ability to deduct certain interest from …

ISM Non-Manufacturing Index

The ISM Non-Manufacturing Index helps determine the overall economic strength of the services sector.  Components evaluated are employment, business activity, new orders, and supplier deliveries; which are then compiled into an index.  The nonmanufacturing sector represents a much larger share of the overall U.S. economy when compared to the manufacturing sector, making up approximately 80%; the sector’s economic weight makes …

New Home Sales

New single-family home sales represent the number of brand-new houses that were purchased or committed to being purchased over the course of a month. Data pertaining new home sales is collected from the Selling Office Commission and local building permit offices assuming that new houses built are being built to sell. This indicator has a trickle-down effect as demand rises …

Consumer Spending and Personal Income

Consumer spending, measured by Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE), makes up approximately two-thirds of the economy and is a direct measure of purchasing activity. PCE is a reliable indication of inflation because it is calculated from data acquired directly from the GDP report and businesses. We see where consumers are spending their dollars, whether it be durable and nondurable goods, or …

Work Smarter – Not Harder!

Reclaim your time and energy to live your best life Each of us has just 168 hours per week to accomplish our tasks and goals – at work, at home and out in the world. If you feel like you spend too much of that time on things that don’t add value to your life, you are not alone. The …

Architecture Billings Index

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) is an indicator for commercial and industrial building activity. The Work-on-the-Boards survey is given to architecture firms each month to report how billing activity performed in the previous month. The ABI is a reliable tool for firms to track architectural movements in the market. Readings above 50 indicates rising levels of construction for non-residential buildings …

Total Capacity Utilization

Total capacity utilization measures the percentage of total economic output that is being utilized. A high rate of total capacity utilization is an indicator of inflation as an economy nears its maximum level of output. Low capacity utilization makes it difficult to stimulate the economy because incentives for increasing production that the government provides are often unable to reach many producers, this is because of the limited number …

Retail Sales (Excluding Foods)

Retail Sales are the total amount of merchandise and related services sold to consumers.  It is considered a sign of strength of U.S. Consumer spending, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of the economy.  This indicator also provides insight into which areas of the retail space are experiencing strong sales, such as auto sales. Retail sales excluding food rose to 0.36% …

ISM Manufacturing Index

The ISM Manufacturing Index is derived from a survey of purchasing managers and their outlook on overall conditions by looking at factors such as orders for durable goods, industrial production and hiring. It gives a general direction rather than the specific strength of the factory sector and manufacturing activity in the U.S. A reading above 50 is an indicator that …

The Power of Charitable Remainder Trusts

Do well by doing good A growing number of individuals and families want to use some of their wealth to support the causes and organizations they care about most. From helping those less fortunate to facilitating scientific breakthroughs, from providing safe habitats for wildlife to sharing the arts, philanthropy is a core value for many. Of course, it is important …

Elite Wealth Planning

What it is and why it matters Elite wealth planning often plays a key role in the lives of today’s highly successful individuals and families—as well as those who are on the path toward great financial success. With that in mind, here is a closer look at just what elite wealth planning is—how it works and how it can potentially …

Federal Reserve

Yesterday the Federal Reserve gave us an idea of what they were thinking for 2019.  The market does not like it and is showing it with its actions.  It is my opinion, that both the market and the Federal Reserve are wrong. Let me explain. The Federal Reserve has a dual mandate; full employment and price stability.  As the chart …

Increased Contributions Limits

The IRS announced cost of living adjustments in the contribution limits to popular retirement savings accounts for 2019.  The limit allowed to be contributed by employees to a 401(k), 403(b), Thrift Savings Plans, and 457 plans for 2019 increased from $18,500 to $19,000.  Participants over the age of 50 can contribute an additional $6,000 (unchanged from 2018). Contribution limits to …

Back-Door Roth Contributions

Because of the nature of tax-free growth and distributions, Roth IRAs are one of the more valuable savings tools available. The one major hurdle to these accounts is the income limitation when making direct contributions. In 2018, for single filers contributions to a Roth IRA are phased out for people with Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) above $120,000 and completely …

Savvy Negotiating

To Get the Moon, Ask for the Stars One key way to build serious wealth – whether in a business or your everyday life – is to effectively and consistently negotiate deals that are good for you and your bottom line. Ideally, everyone walks away from a negotiation feeling good about the outcome – a win-win scenario. But ultimately, to …

Insightful Questions that can Ramp Up Your Success

Want to see some amazing results in your life? Ask questions and then listen well. We have discovered that a disproportionate number of the most successful people consistently and systematically use an approach known as insightful questioning to build rapport with other people in ways that generate much better outcomes. Here is how they engage in insightful questioning – and …

Smart Ways to Take Control of a Trust

Many successful families use trusts to minimize taxes, transfer wealth and protect assets from creditors and others. You may have already set up a trust, or you may hold an inheritance you received in a trust that was created decades ago. Trouble is, too many families relinquish more control over their trusts than they need to, basically hoping that the …

It is Time to Get Serious About Your Happiness

There is a great quote by Jean-Paul Sartre: “We are our choices.” When it comes to our happiness and our overall success in life, that is truer than you might have realized. Taking time to examine the choices you make in your life and work each day and over the long term to make sure they are enhancing your well-being …

529 Education Savings Plan

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the new law expanded the definition of qualified distributions for a 529 plan. Under previous law, qualified distributions were distributions for tuition, books, room & board, fees and supplies for higher education. Qualified distributions were tax-free at the federal and state level and avoided a 10% federal penalty. With the tax …

What’s Your High-Net-Worth Personality?

Here’s why you need to know As a successful person with big goals, you require truly valuable financial advice that maximizes your ability to achieve your most important personal and professional financial objectives. That means you need to work with professionals who connect with you. Who relate to you. Who understand you well enough to really “get” what you want …

Five Reasons to Make Philanthropy a Family Affair

Getting your family involved in charitable giving can create a powerful legacy. A growing number of successful people have a strong urge to “pay it forward” by financially supporting causes and organizations that are near and dear to their hearts. Many of you already make regular and sizable charitable contributions. And we know from research that one key reason successful …

Wills and Trusts

The foundations of your rock-solid estate plan For so many of us, family is paramount. You probably expect to use your wealth to take care of your family in the here and now—health care, travel, college tuition and the like. But chances are you haven’t thought nearly as much about positioning your assets so they’re ready and able to help …

The Billionaire Money Rules

What our research shows about how the self-made Super Rich build their wealth If you are like nearly every other successful person, you’re not ready to rest on your accomplishments. You want to build on your success so far to create even more wealth and more value. In fact, according to our research, 94 percent of successful business owners want …

Pay Increases in Other Forms

A key measure many economists look to in determining the health of the labor market is wage growth.  As employment rises and the job market becomes more competitive, people look for higher paying jobs and an increase in wages.  What many people fail to recognize in terms of wage growth are the pay increases they receive that do not come …

Social Networking Use Among Adults

As we look back on how rapidly our world has changed over the years we certainly have to look at social media usage. Social media is primarily a way of exchanging and communicating information and opinions. In the figure below, we look at the percentage of social media users between certain age ranges. It should come as no surprise that …

Did Your Babysitter Make the Nice List?

With the holiday season in full swing and sales poised to set another record, some might wonder how this money is being spent. Although not shown in the graph, family members benefit the most, with people devoting the majority of their holiday budget to gifts on family members. Money spent on items such as cards, flowers, and decorations has remained …

Falling Behind

It should come as no surprise that delinquencies on student loans have been on the rise given the dramatic increase in student loan debt outstanding.  As we can see from the graph below, the delinquency rate on student loan debt is now more than the rate on credit cards and mortgages and has been increasing since before the recession.  A large portion …

Income Gaps: It’s About Who You Work For

As the never-ending debate regarding income inequality remains at a gridlock, perhaps it’s time to shift our focus from an individual and consumer level, to a company level. As we can see from the first graph in the series of graphs below, the 90th percentile of the largest 500 companies have increased their market share dramatically. While we have seen …

Investing in the Government for Big Returns

Imagine having an investment portfolio in which you contribute $500 every month, like it is taken straight from your paycheck. Now, throughout the course of the year, this portfolio grows 450% to a total value of $33,400. That’s something to brag about! These are the numbers from the bottom 20% of tax filer’s net income tax rate. On average, the …

The Middle Class is Growing

As the political season has begun and the debates are heating up, we have heard more and more about the mystery of a vanishing ‘Middle Class’. Though we have yet to hear who or what is defined as the ‘Middle Class’, we have been sufficiently reassured that it is both incredibly important and that the state of our economy rests …