Articles for October 2019

End-of-the-Year Money Moves

Here are some things you might consider.

What has changed for you in 2019? Did you start a new job or leave a job behind? Did you retire? Did you start a family? If notable changes occurred in your personal or professional life, then you will want to review your finances before this year ends and 2020 begins.

Even if your 2019 has been relatively uneventful, the end of the year is still a good time to get cracking and see where you can manage your tax bill and/or build a little more wealth.

Keep in mind this article is for informational purposes only and is not a replacement for real-life advice. Please consult your tax, legal and accounting professionals before modifying your tax strategy.

Do you practice tax-loss harvesting? That is the art of taking capital losses (selling securities worth less than what you first paid for them) to offset your short-term capital gains. You might want to consider this move, which may lower your taxable income. It should be made with the guidance of a financial professional you trust.1

In fact, you could even take it a step further. Consider that up to $3,000 of capital losses in excess of capital gains can be deducted from ordinary income, and any remaining capital losses above that can be carried forward to offset capital gains in upcoming years. When you live in a high-tax state, this is one way to defer tax.1

Do you want to itemize deductions? You may just want to take the standard deduction for 2019, which has ballooned to $12,200 for single filers and $24,400 for joint filers because of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act. If you do think it might be better for you to itemize, now would be a good time to get the receipts and assorted paperwork together. While many miscellaneous deductions have disappeared, some key deductions are still around: the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, now capped at $10,000; the mortgage interest deduction; the deduction for charitable contributions, which now has a higher limit of 60% of adjusted gross income; and the medical expense deduction.2,3

Could you ramp up 401(k) or 403(b) contributions? Contribution to these retirement plans may lower your yearly gross income. If you lower your gross income enough, you might be able to qualify for other tax credits or breaks available to those under certain income limits. Note that contributions to Roth 401(k)s and Roth 403(b)s are made with after-tax rather than pre-tax dollars, so contributions to those accounts are not deductible and will not lower your taxable income for the year.4,5

Are you thinking of gifting? How about donating to a qualified charity or non-profit organization before 2019 ends? Your gift may qualify as a tax deduction. You must itemize deductions using Schedule A to claim a deduction for a charitable gift.4,5

While we’re on the topic of estate strategy, why not take a moment to review your beneficiary designations? If you haven’t reviewed them for a decade or more (which is all too common), double-check to see that these assets will go where you want them to go, should you pass away. Lastly, look at your will to see that it remains valid and up-to-date.

Can you take advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit? The AOTC allows individuals whose modified adjusted gross income is $80,000 or less (and joint filers with MAGI of $160,000 or less) a chance to claim a credit of up to $2,500 for qualified college expenses. Phase-outs kick in above those MAGI levels.6

See that you have withheld the right amount. If you discover that you have withheld too little on your W-4 form so far, you may need to adjust your withholding before the year ends.

What can you do before ringing in the New Year? Talk with a financial or tax professional now rather than in February or March. Little year-end moves might help you improve your short-term and long-term financial situation.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email:  mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

Citations.

1 – investopedia.com/articles/taxes/08/tax-loss-harvesting.asp [2/26/19]

2 – nerdwallet.com/blog/taxes/itemize-take-standard-deduction/ [9/6/19]

3 – investopedia.com/articles/retirement/06/addroths.asp [7/28/19]

4 – investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/041315/tips-charitable-contributions-limits-and-taxes.asp [6/5/19]

5 – marketwatch.com/story/how-the-new-tax-law-creates-a-perfect-storm-for-roth-ira-conversions-2018-03-26 [2/24/19]

6 – irs.gov/newsroom/american-opportunity-tax-credit-questions-and-answers [6/28/19]

Making Room for Ourselves

Why do we hold onto things we haven’t used in years and find it hard to let go of what our friends and neighbors might simply call “useless stuff”? It relates to our happiness. We may become even happier, though, with less of it.

Seemingly everyone has heard the decluttering mantra popularized by author Marie Kondo: if an item does not “spark joy,” then get rid of it. Realistically, though, it is hard for many of us to ruthlessly purge our attics, basements, spare bedrooms, or garages because so many items we keep relate to happy memories and even our identity.

We buy certain things because we know they will make us happy or make others happy. The tipping point arrives when our happiness and self-worth link strongly to our possessions rather than our relationships and our role at work or in our community. As Matt Paxton (of Hoarders) reflected in a recent TED talk, people lose “time, money, space, relationships, and opportunities every day because they’re holding onto their stuff.” When that opportunity cost is evident, then it becomes time to jettison the excess. Paxson suggests decluttering one square foot at a time, donating as much as you can, and throwing out items that have no real appeal or value. The space you free up may be mental as well as physical, and tackling the job today has merit. The heirs of those who never thin out household clutter often end up squabbling, but not over who should inherit it rather who should deal with it.1

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email:  mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

Citations.

1 – ideas.ted.com/many-of-us-have-a-little-bit-of-hoarder-inside-us-heres-what-to-do/ [9/3/19]

Rebalancing Your Portfolio

Should investors make regular adjustments?

Everyone loves a winner. If an investment is successful, most people naturally want to stick with it. But is that the best approach?

It may sound counterintuitive, but it may be possible to have too much of a good thing. Over time, the performance of different investments can shift a portfolio’s intent as well as its risk profile. It’s a phenomenon sometimes referred to as “risk creep,” and it happens when a portfolio’s risk profile shifts over time.

Balancing. When deciding how to allocate investments, many begin by considering their time horizon, risk tolerance, and specific goals. Next, individual investments are selected that pursue the overall objective. If all the investments selected had the same return, that balance – that allocation – would remain steady for a time. But if the investments have varying returns, over time, the portfolio may bear little resemblance to its original allocation.1

How Rebalancing Works. Rebalancing is the process of restoring a portfolio to its original risk profile. There are two ways to rebalance a portfolio.

The first is to use new money. When adding money to a portfolio, allocate these new funds to those assets or asset classes that have fallen.1

The second way of rebalancing is to sell enough of the “winners” to buy more underperforming assets. Ironically, this type of rebalancing forces you to buy low and sell high.

As you consider the pros and cons of rebalancing, here are a couple of key concepts to consider. First, asset allocation is an investment principle designed to manage risk. It does not guarantee against investment losses. Second, the process of rebalancing may create a taxable event. And the information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult a professional with legal or tax expertise regarding your situation.

Periodically rebalancing your portfolio to match your desired risk tolerance is a sound practice regardless of the market conditions. One approach is to set a specific time each year to schedule an appointment to review your portfolio and determine if adjustments are appropriate.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

Citations.

1 – kiplinger.com/article/investing/T023-C000-S002-rebalancing-your-portfolio-to-reduce-risk.html [10/3/18]

 

How Many Buckets for a Rainy Day?

Just how large should your emergency fund be? Your unique answer may depend on some life and financial variables.

Every household is urged to have some kind of emergency fund. The question is, just how large should it be? The standard answer is that the fund should hold enough to pay for 3 to 6 months of living expenses. Your answer may differ.

After all, some households have irregular monthly expenses related to a small business, occasional long-term guests, a rental property, travel, or consulting or freelance work. People with seasonally dependent incomes or variable monthly incomes may want a larger emergency fund than some others. The same goes for couples or families living in relatively inexpensive metro areas who think they might someday move to a more-expensive area for a job or a business opportunity. Also, appetite for risk may influence an emergency fund’s balance. A conservative household may feel comfortable with a larger rainy day fund, but a household with a more opportunistic outlook may have second thoughts about having such a sizable cash reserve. Households relying on one earner may want to consider having an emergency fund large enough to handle six months of fixed costs, while dual-income households might be able to devote less to their emergency funds.2

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email:  mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

Citations.

2 – businessinsider.com/how-much-money-to-save-in-emergency-fund-rules [7/27/19]