Should you use tax-advantaged accounts?

With Tax Day quickly approaching, many households are forced to take a closer look at their financials. Some people are anticipating a large tax refund check, while others may be left owing thousands. Whether you are looking to begin 2019 by investing your tax refund or aiming to lower taxable income in the coming year, tax advantaged accounts can offer benefits both the short and long term.   Preparing for retirement and minimizing taxes can often go hand in hand. Here are some of the mo...
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Reasons ESG Investing Is Increasing in Popularity

In April 2019, the S&P Dow Jones Indices launched the S&P 500 ESG Index, an index that maintains similar industry groups as the S&P 500 while excluding companies that do not meet the sustainability criteria. Nowadays, the number of institutional as well as retail investors who look to allocate their capital in ESG areas are on the rise.  According to data by Morningstar, the estimated net flow to U.S. open-end and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in the first quarter of 2019 was $4.1 bi...
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A Tax Break for REITs

The Basics   REITs or Real Estate Investment Trusts, give investors exposure to real estate without the level of capital investment or time associated with direct investments in real estate. Investors can buy shares in REITs similarly to how they would buy shares in a company or mutual fund, either through a broker or directly from the issuer. REITs are companies whose sole business is to own and operate real estate properties. Examples of REIT-owned properties can include apartment comple...
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5 Tax Planning Tips for Millennials

David Barral, CPA, is a tax and accounting manager in New York City, and an adjunct professor at Wagner College in Staten Island. In the September issue of Journal of Accountancy, he offers a number of recommendations on how tax professionals can offer effective tax planning to millennials. Here are some of his top recommendations, recast as advice for the millennials themselves. (1) Finance a first-time home purchase. Do not draw upon retirement funds, such as 401k plan accounts or IRAs,...
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WSJ’s 19 Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisor

Jason Zweig wrote this piece for the Wall Street Journal.   Based on his questions and model answers, North Capital earns a solid A. The burden of finding an adviser who will act in your best interest is on you. Getting all stockbrokers, financial planners and insurance agents to act in the best interests of their clients is a struggle that financial firms and their regulators still haven’t resolved. That should be their job — but for now, it’s yours.  Read More.......
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Teen Financial Literacy

20% of U.S. students do not meet baseline levels for financial literacy proficiency, according to the PISA 2015 Financial Literacy assessment. Only 10% are considered "top performers" capable of analyzing complex financial products and problems.  Teens who had a bank account scored better, on average, than those who did not, and if they had  a savings account the result was better still.  "The beauty of starting with a savings account is, it's teaching them to make deposits and watch that...
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Hidden Debt, Hidden Deficits, and a Dire Warning

Joshua Rauh pens an essay which updates previous research by the Hoover institution at Stanford University on the public pension crisis facing state and local governments.  As demographics and investment fundamentals in our country have shifted, the level of unfunded liabilities of our state and local governments has risen to untenable levels.  In some states (see below) the stated liabilities are less than half of the true liability, as calculated by Rauh using a net present valu...
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The Blockchain Chasm of Death

90% of the companies now developing blockchain technology—a new type of record-keeping software—will tumble into the "chasm of death" and vanish before the technology goes mainstream, according to Arvind Krishna, director of research at IBM.   Krishna says the survivors will be the companies that create software that makes it easy for businesses and consumers to capitalize on the benefits of blockchain.   Read the full piece at Fortune.com....
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How to Protect Yourself from Another Madoff

@AmandaSteinberg ‏ of DailyWorth writes about some of the lessons learned from the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme, which is featured in the new docudrama from HBO, The Wizard of Lies.   Many of the "take aways" apply to all investing, not just private fund investing. Understand what you are investing in.  Ask questions, do research, follow up. Ensure that independent parties are  involved with the investment.  It is more difficult for an investment sponsor or advisor to...
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Positive Skew and Why Active Management Under-performs Passive Strategies

The story of active management under-performance is retold on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.  And it appears that investors are listening, based on the wall of money that has flowed, and is continuing to flow, from active to passive funds.  In this context, I mean "passive" not only to be index tracking funds, but also funds like those offered by Dimensional Fund Advisors, who utilize broadly diversified portfolios to implement their investment strategies.   Much a...
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