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More than Money Newsletter - December 2017

More than Money with Gene Dickison

December 2017

Dear Friends,

 “Immediate and Important”

There are pressing issues at hand as we close our 2017.  Each of these presents their own set of challenges and opportunities to all Americans.  If you find yourself challenges by any/all of these issues please contact our office to speak with a More than Money advisor.

Tax Reform - as of this writing it appears we will have tax reform on the President’s desk by Christmas.  This will impact nearly every American in a number of important ways.  Once again, it is immensely important that investors integrate sound income tax planning with solid investment planning.  One without the other can be quite disastrous.

Stock Market Prospects – 2018 has the appearance of a solid year in the stock market.  In fact, absolutely no one on earth knows for certain what 2018 will bring to the stock, bond, or real estate markets.  Since no one knows (to be fair, God knows, but he isn’t sharing) it is immediately urgent that your investment strategy meets your needs exactly.  If you are not confident that your plan is perfect for you simply request a free second opinion meeting.

Bitcoins -   According to Wikipedia “Bitcoin is a digital asset and a payment system invented by Satoshi Nakamoto, who published the invention in 2008 and released it as open-source software in 2009. The system is peer-to-peer; users can transact directly without an intermediary. Transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called the block chain.”

You now know more about bitcoins than the vast majority of Americans and – sadly – the vast majority of investors who have or wish to invest in this ‘asset’.  Not since the tulip bulb mania of the 17th century has any asset been traded so wildly and – again sadly – so irrationally.

Does all this mean bitcoins are worthless?  Certainly not.  But what it does mean is that bitcoins are not an investment as most of us would define investment.  It is a speculation.  A gamble.  It is not an appropriate investment for the vast majority of our More than Money clients.  Until bitcoins become considerable more stable (daily volatility has often been out of this world) and – for lack of a better word – mainstream we will not be recommending our clients ‘invest’ in this cryptocurrency. 

Will bitcoins become the tulip bulbs of the 21st century?  Time will tell.

Filial Support Law – doesn’t even sound important.  It is and it may derail your financial security.  Pennsylvania courts have been leading the way in holding adult children financially responsible for the expenses of their parents.  Recent court rulings have required adult children to pay (in one case $93,000) nursing home bills for a parent and also monthly expenses (in one case $400 per month from each of three adult children) for a parent deemed to be ‘in need’. 

You may very well find yourself squeezed between providing for both your children (college, personal support after college) and your parent(s) at the very time you should be diligently saving for your own retirement.  It is imperative you accurately assess your potential legal and financial responsibility with respect to your family and make appropriate plans.  More than Money advisors will assist you in both evaluating your situation and building a plan that will meet your family’s needs.

“Holiday Charity Scams!”

It’s the season all right!

Sadly, the season of giving is also the season for fakes, frauds, and phonies to prey on the good will of people everywhere and scam them out of their hard earned money.

The Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities recently issued a very helpful release outlining Seven Ways to Avoid Charity Scams During the Holidays.  It is absolutely full of solid advice and resources to help guide everyone to a happier holiday free of scams and rip-offs.

If you would like a copy of this release simple send your request to Gene@AskMtM.com.  We’ll be happy to send it to you.

“Rising Interest Rates”

Quietly, interest rates have been rising.

Be sure to look carefully at your bond holdings within your investment accounts to insure you are clear about the impact rising interest rates will have.  ‘Safe’ bond investments can absolutely lose painful amounts of principal in a rising interest rate environment.  Don’t be caught off guard.  Do your own homework or request a free evaluation of your bond holdings.

“Cutting Your 2017 Income Tax”

There are a number of actions you can take before the end of the year that could cut your income tax bill next spring:

  • If you have a 401(k), increase your contribution to get as close to the maximum the rules permit.
  • If you are not covered by a company retirement plan, contribute to an IRA to the maximum the rules permit.
  • Consider converting some/all of your traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs.
  • Consider sending some/all of your RMD directly from your IRA to a non-profit (church, charity, etc.) of your choosing. 
  • Evaluate your investments to lock in the tax deductible losses for this year’s tax return.
  • Make charitable contributions before year end. 
  • Consider using an appreciated asset (stock, mutual fund, real estate, etc.) to fund your charitable contribution and avoid the capital gains tax.

Get together with your professional tax advisor now (phone calls work, too) and decide what you should do today to save on income taxes tomorrow.  Our tax professionals are always available to assist you.

“What is a QLAC?”

Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract.

A QLAC is a form of single premium deferred annuity designed to be used inside an IRA.  Recent IRS tax code changes permits a taxpayer to use a portion of the IRA(s) to fund a QLAC.  The investment in a QLAC provides for no income until the investor reaches age 85 or beyond.  As the name implies, the QLAC is a tool intended to provide income protection for folks expecting to live a good, long life.  Additionally, a QLAC may well help some taxpayers reduce the RMD they face with their IRAs.

As with every investment ever invented, the QLAC is neither perfect nor appropriate for everyone.  Annuities (of all kinds) are complex products and require investors (and their advisors) take the time to explore all the pros and cons before committing hard earned dollars.  If you would like to explore if a QLAC would help you meet your financial goals, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.


More than Money Radio and Television

Have Breakfast with Gene every Saturday Morning at 8:06 as 

More than Money with Gene Dickison airs on AM790 WAEB. 
all with your questions live at 610-720-7900 
Two Full Hours – 8:06 through 10:00 AM.

 Who would you like to see interviewed on our radio or television show? 

What topics would you like Gene to discuss?

 Send your suggestions to JoAnne@AskMTM.com

 

Words are Powerful Tools for American Freedom

Several years ago I wrote my December newsletter to all of you and came to this segment sharing words as powerful tools for American freedom.  At that time I was (literally) inspired to see American freedom as directly tied to our personal freedom.  And, of course, our personal freedom is directly connected to the blessings bestowed on us by our Creator.  Hence the following words have been part of my Christmas message each year since.  Merry Christmas and God bless you.

“Christmas – A Time for Gifts!” 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,

that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

Now that’s a gift. Ties are nice.  Power tools are very cool.  Jewelry may be a woman’s best friend.  A nice bottle of wine – nice.  Tickets to the State Theatre – always appreciated.

Eternal life – now that’s a gift! Joy to the World – indeed!  Joy to you and me.  How would you even wrap a gift this great?  Why in swaddling clothes, of course!

 

Please allow us to serve you and those you love.

 

Thank you,

Gene

 

P.S.  My favorite book, play, and movie of all time is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve read the book, seen the show on stage, or watched one of the many movie versions (while the Muppets made a good enough run at it the 1984 production with George C. Scott as Scrooge is – in my humble opinion – the very best).

Who can read, see, or hear of this story of pure redemption and not be deeply touched.  All these years and the story’s end still brings my heart to my throat – and I thank God that it does. 

May your heart be full this Christmas and every day in the New Year.

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