Importance of TOD & JTWROS Designations

A convenient move that could ward off probate on your accounts.

TOD, JTWROS – what do these obscure acronyms signify? They are shorthand for transfer on death and joint tenancy with right of survivorship – two designations that permit automatic transfer of bank or investment accounts from a deceased spouse to a surviving spouse.1

This automatic transfer of assets reflects a legal tenet called the right of survivorship – the idea that the surviving partner should be the default beneficiary of the account. In some states, a TOD or JTWROS beneficiary designation is even allowed for real property.2

When an account or asset has a TOD or JTWROS designation, the right of survivorship precedes any beneficiary designations made in a will or trust.3

There are advantages to having TOD and JTWROS accounts – and disadvantages as well.

TOD & JTWROS accounts usually avoid probate. As TOD and JTWROS beneficiary designations define a direct route for account transfer, there is rarely any need for such assets to be probated. The involved financial institution has a contractual requirement (per the TOD or JTWROS designation) to pay the balance of the account funds to the surviving partner.4

In unusual instances, an exception may apply: if the deceased account owner has outlived the designated TOD beneficiary or beneficiaries, then the account faces probate.5

What happens if both owners of a JTWROS account pass away at the same time? In such cases, a TOD designation applies (for any named contingent beneficiary).4

To be technically clear, transfer on death signifies a route of asset transfer, while joint tenancy with right of survivorship signifies a form of asset ownership. In a variation on JTWROS called tenants by entirety, both spouses are legally deemed as equal owners of the asset or account while living, with the asset or account eventually transferring to the longer-living spouse.4

Does a TOD or JTWROS designation remove an account from your taxable estate? No. A TOD or JTWROS designation makes those assets non-probate assets, and that may save your executor a little money and time – but it doesn’t take them out of your gross taxable estate.

In fact, 100% of the value of an account with a TOD beneficiary designation will be included in your taxable estate. It varies for accounts titled as JTWROS. If you hold the title to a JTWROS account with your spouse, 50% of its value will be included in your taxable estate. If it is titled as JTWROS with someone besides your spouse, the entire value of the account may go into your taxable estate, unless the other owner has made contributions to the account.6

How about capital gains? JTWROS accounts in common law states typically get a 50% step-up in basis upon the death of one owner. In community property states, the step-up is 100%.6

Could gift tax become a concern? Yes, if the other owner of a JTWROS account is not your spouse. If you change the title on an account to permit JTWROS, you are giving away a percentage of your assets; the non-spouse receives a gift from you. If the amount of the gift exceeds the annual gift tax exclusion, you will need to file a gift tax return for that year. If you retitle the account in the future, so that you are again the sole owner, that constitutes a gift to you on behalf of the former co-owner; they will need to file a gift tax return if the amount of the gift tops the annual exclusion.6

TOD & JTWROS designations are designed to make account transfer easy. They simplify an element of estate strategy.

TOD or JTWROS accounts are not cheap substitutes for wills or trusts. If you have multiple children and name one of them as the TOD beneficiary of an account, that child will get the entire account balance, and the other kids will get nothing. The TOD beneficiary can of course divvy up those assets equally among siblings, but in doing so, that TOD beneficiary may run afoul of the yearly gift tax exclusion.6

As you create your estate, respect the power of TOD & JTWROS designations. Since they override any beneficiary designations made in wills and trusts, you want to double-check any will and trust(s) you have, to make sure that you aren’t sending conflicting messages to your heirs.6

That aside, TOD & JTWROS designations can represent a convenient way to arrange the smooth, orderly transfer of account balances when original account owners pass away.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at 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. 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.

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 – finra.org/industry/terms-and-acronyms [9/26/18]
2 – investopedia.com/terms/j/jtwros.asp [12/20/18]
3 – thebalance.com/why-beneficiary-designations-override-your-will-2388824 [12/19/18]
4 – washingtonpost.com/business/2018/11/12/transfer-death-deed-may-be-good-instrument-leaving-your-home-your-child-beware-flaws/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.3162fd5503c9 [11/12/18]
5 – thebalance.com/what-is-a-transfer-on-death-or-tod-account-3505253 [12/30/18]
6 – investopedia.com/articles/pf/08/joint-tenancy.asp [3/20/18]

Gradual Retirement

Not everyone retires the same way – or at the same pace.  

Are you in a hurry to retire? Not everyone is rushing to that particular finish line. According to the 2018 retirement survey from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, which gauges the outlook of American workers, 56% of those who describe themselves as “fully retired” did so before age 65, while another 14% said goodbye to the daily grind in the year they turned 65. But that still leaves a significant number – 30% of respondents – working beyond age 65, with some even indicating that they never “expect to stop working.”1    

Are financial needs shaping these responses? For some, though not everyone. Those who retired after age 65 offered a wide range of responses. Forty-seven percent of respondents indicated that they wanted to remain “active” or that they “enjoy what [they] do.” But many indicated that they couldn’t afford to retire (24%), needed to maintain health benefits (12%), or simply wanted to continue making money (56%). That latter statistic may speak to a desire for more financial independence, or a hope to spend a few extra years in the workforce, so they can continue making contributions to retirement accounts.1

“Retirement” and “work” are no longer mutually exclusive. Whatever your reasons for not retiring at the earliest opportunity, the truth is that many people enjoy good health and vitality well into their seventh decade (and beyond) and see no reason to speed their way into that phase of their life.2

Social Security will eventually become a factor, whether you retire in your sixties or wait until after you turn 70. We are sometimes cautioned that working too much in retirement may result in our Social Security benefits being taxed. Your benefits stop accumulating at that age, as do delayed retirement credits. Delaying collecting benefits until age 70 does have one big plus: your monthly deposit will be 132% of the basic monthly benefit.2

If you do want to make a gradual retirement transition, what might help you do it? First of all, work on maintaining your health. The second priority: maintain and enhance your skill set, so that your prospects for employment in your sixties are not reduced by separation from the latest technologies. Keep networking. Think about Plan B: if you are unable to continue working in your chosen career, even part time, what prospects might you have for creating income through financial decisions, self-employment, or in other lines of work? How can you reduce your monthly expenses?

Easing out of work & into retirement may be the new normal. Pessimistic analysts contend that many Americans will not be able to keep working past 65, no matter their aspirations, and that 70 is out of the question. They may be right, and many will not be able to meet that goal. That said, they may be wrong – you are part of an active, ambitious generation that has changed the world, so don’t be surprised if you also help change the definition of retirement.3

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. 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.

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 – transamericacenter.org/docs/default-source/retirees-survey/tcrs2018_sr_retirees_survey_financially_faring.pdf [12/18]
2 – thebalance.com/why-retire-at-70-2389048 [3/2/19]
3 – cnbc.com/2018/10/03/david-bach-disagrees-that-70-is-the-new-retirement-age.html [10/3/18]

Bad Money Habits to Break

Behaviors worth changing. 

Do bad money habits constrain your financial progress? Many people fall into the same financial behavior patterns, year after year. If you sometimes succumb to these financial tendencies, now is as good a time as any to alter your behavior.

#1: Lending money to family & friends. You may know someone who has lent a few thousand to a sister or brother, a few hundred to an old buddy, and so on. Generosity is a virtue, but personal loans can easily transform into personal financial losses for the lender. If you must loan money to a friend or family member, mention that you will charge interest and set a repayment plan with deadlines. Better yet, don’t do it at all. If your friends or relatives can’t learn to budget, why should you bail them out?

#2: Spending more than you make. Living beyond your means, living on margin, or whatever you wish to call it – it is a path toward significant debt. Wealth is seldom made by buying possessions; today’s flashy material items may become the garage sale junk of the future.

#3: Saving little or nothing. Good savers build emergency funds, have money to invest and compound, and leave the stress of living paycheck to paycheck behind. If you are not able to put extra money away, there is another way to get some: a second job. Even working 15-20 hours more per week could make a big difference.

#4: Living without a budget. You may make enough money that you don’t feel you need to budget. In truth, few of us are really that wealthy. In calculating a budget, you may find opportunities for savings and detect wasteful spending.

#5: Frivolous spending. Advertisers can make us feel as if we have sudden needs; needs we must respond to, or ones that can only be met via the purchase of a product. See their ploys for what they are. Think twice before spending impulsively.

#6: Not using cash often enough. No one can deny that the world runs on credit, but that doesn’t mean your household should. Pay with cash as often as your budget allows.

#7: Thinking you’ll win the lottery. When the headlines are filled with news of big lottery jackpots, you might be tempted to throw a few bucks at a lottery ticket. It’s important, though, to be fully aware that the odds in the lottery and other games of chance are against you. A few bucks once in a while is one thing, but a few bucks (or more) every week could possibly lead to financial and personal issues.

#8: Inadequate financial literacy. Is the financial world boring? To many people, it can seem that way. The Wall Street Journal is not exactly Rolling Stone, and The Economist is hardly light reading. You don’t have to start there, however. There are great, readable, and even, entertaining websites filled with useful financial information. Reading an article per day on these websites could help you greatly increase your financial understanding.

#9: Not contributing to retirement plans. The earlier you contribute to them, the better; the more you contribute to them, the more compounding of those invested assets you may potentially realize.

#10: DIY retirement strategy. Those who save for retirement without the help of professionals may leave themselves open to abrupt, emotional investing mistakes and other oversights. Another common tendency is to vastly underestimate the amount of money needed for the future. Few people have the time to amass the knowledge and skill set possessed by a financial services professional with years of experience. Instead of flirting with trial and error, see a professional for insight.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at 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.

Is America Prepared to Retire?

A look at some ways to get ready. 

Are Americans saving enough? Only 19% of U.S. adults describe themselves as “very confident” when asked about their savings. Worry spots include retiring without enough money saved (16%) and anxiety about having a “rainy day” emergency fund (14%). These findings come from the 2018 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. (The survey collected data from 2,017 U.S. adults.)1 

Only 41% of us keep a regular budget. If you are one of those roughly two-out-of-five Americans, you’re on the right track. While this percentage is on par with findings going back to 2007, the study also finds that while 65% of Americans are saving part of their annual income towards retirement, 29% indicate they are “not at all confident” that their savings will be enough to sustain them.1

Relatively few seek the help of a financial professional. When asked “Considering what I already know about personal finance, I could still benefit from some advice and answers to everyday financial questions from a professional,” 79% of respondents agreed with the statement. Yet only 13% indicated that they would seek out the help of some sort of financial professional if they had “financial problems related to debt.” While it isn’t surprising to think that 24% of respondents would turn to friends and family, it may be alarming to learn that 18% would choose to turn to no one at all.1

Why don’t more people seek help? After all, Americans of all incomes and savings levels certainly are free to set financial goals. They may feel embarrassed about speaking to a stranger about personal financial issues. It may also be the case that they feel like they don’t make enough money to speak to a professional, or perhaps, a financial professional is something that millionaires and billionaires have, not the average American worker. Another possibility is that they feel like they have a good handle on their financial future; they have a budget and stick to it, and they contribute to an IRA, 401(k), or have some other investments. But that 79% admission, mentioned above, indicates that a vast majority of Americans are not as confident.1

Defined goals lead to definite strategies. If you set financial objectives, you vault ahead of most Americans – at least according to these findings. A written financial strategy does not imply or guarantee wealth, of course, nor does it ensure that you will reach your goals. Yet that financial strategy does give you an understanding of the distance between your current financial situation (where you are) and where you want to be.

How much have you strategized? Retiring without a financial strategy is an enormous risk; retiring with a strategy that hasn’t been reviewed in several years is also chancy. A relationship with a financial professional can help to bring you up to date about what you need to do and provide you with more clarity and confidence when it comes to the financial future.  

Mike Moffitt may be reached at phone# 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 – nfcc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/NFCC_BECU_2018-FLS_datasheet-with-key-findings_031318-002.pdf [3/13/18]

Social Security by the Numbers

Facts about the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. 

Social Security has been a pillar of retirement life for several decades, but how much do you really know about it? Here are some facts that might surprise you:

The Social Security trust fund exceeds the gross domestic product of every major economy in the world, except the nine largest: China, the European Union, the United States, India, Japan, Germany, Russia, Indonesia, and Brazil.1

For 61% of retirees, Social Security is a major source of income.1

Benefits are subject to federal income taxes, but it wasn’t always so. Amendments to the Social Security Act made benefits potentially taxable beginning in 1984.1

Benefits are determined by your average earnings during a lifetime of work, based on your 35 highest-earning years.1

If you receive Social Security, you no doubt welcome cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs) to your benefits. Did you know that Social Security COLAs once required an act of Congress? That was the case before 1975, when they were finally pegged to advances in the Consumer Price Index.1

In the middle of 2018, more than 1 in 6 Americans were collecting Social Security benefits. Older Americans constitute about 80% of Social Security recipients, and their average monthly benefit in June 2018 was $1,413.2

When should you begin taking Social Security? That may depend on several factors, but many people choose to claim benefits as soon as they are eligible. You can receive benefits beginning at age 62, but you may choose to delay taking them. You can wait until age 70 to claim them, and if you take them before reaching Social Security’s Full Retirement Age (67 for those born in 1960 or later), your monthly benefit will be fractionally reduced. You may receive over one million dollars total in benefits across your retirement, so when and how you decide to take that income may be critical.1,3

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

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

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.

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.

Citations.

1 – https://www.waddell.com/explore-insights/market-news-and-guidance/planning/9-facts-about-social-security [2/13/19]
2 – https://www.cbpp.org/research/social-security/policy-basics-top-ten-facts-about-social-security [8/14/18]
3 – https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/agereduction.html [12/13/18]

Certain Uncertainties in Retirement

Two financial unknowns may erode our degree of confidence.   

The financial uncertainties we face in retirement may risk reducing our sense of confidence, potentially undermining our outlook during those years.

Indeed, according to the 2018 Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefits Research Institute, only 17% of pre-retirees said they are “very confident” about having enough assets to live comfortably in retirement. In addition, just 32% of retirees were “very confident” in their prospects for doing so.1

Today, retirees face two overarching uncertainties. While each one can lead even the best-laid strategies awry, it is important to remember that remaining flexible and responsive to changes in the financial landscape may help you meet the challenges posed by uncertainty in the years ahead.

An Uncertain Tax Structure. A mounting national debt and the growing liabilities of Social Security and Medicare are straining federal finances. How these challenges will be resolved remains unknown, but higher taxes – along with means-testing for Social Security and Medicare – are obvious possibilities for policymakers.

Whatever tax rates may be in the future, taxes can be a drag on your savings and may adversely impact your retirement security. Moreover, any reduction of Social Security or Medicare benefits has the potential to increase financial strain during your retirement.

Consequently, you will need to be ever mindful of a changing tax landscape and strategies to manage the impact of whatever changes occur.

Market Uncertainty. If you know someone who retired (or wanted to retire) in 2008, you know what market uncertainty can do to a retirement blueprint.

The uncertainties have not gone away. Are we at the cusp of a bond market bubble bursting? Will the eurozone find its footing? Will U.S. debt be a drag on our economic vitality?

Over a 30-year period, uncertainties may evaporate or resolve themselves, but new ones may also emerge. Solutions for one set of financial or economic circumstances may not be appropriate for a new set of circumstances.

Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle said, “He who could foresee affairs three days in advance would be rich for thousands of years.” Preparing for uncertainties is less about knowing what the future holds as it is being able to respond to changes as they unfold.2

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

Website:  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 – https://www.ebri.org/docs/default-source/rcs/1_2018rcs_report_v5mgachecked.pdf?sfvrsn=e2e9302f_2 [4/24/18]
2 – https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/thomas_carlyle_118785 [12/17/18]

1099 Forms

Explaining these ubiquitous forms and their uses.

What is a 1099 form? This is a record of payment from an individual or entity, showing a payment, generated for your records. The individual/entity sends a copy to both the payee as well as the I.R.S.1

Who might be sending 1099s? Clients send their freelancers 1099s, recording work performed. Banks send 1099s to reflect interest from a savings account. A state may send a 1099 for a tax refund. If the financial institution who handles your retirement account writes you a check, they will also send you a 1099.1

In any event, a 1099 includes the taxpayer identification number or Social Security Number of the payee. Receiving the 1099 does not automatically mean that the payee owes tax, as there could be situations that offset that income, but it definitely means that the I.R.S. also has a record of that payment.1

There are many types of 1099 form. Here are a few of them:

1099-A. This form is a consequence of foreclosure or bank repossession of secured real property – “acquisition or abandonment,” in I.R.S. terms. Lenders send it to the foreclosed party and the buyer.1

1099-B. Brokers and barter exchanges report proceeds from securities, futures, commodities, or barter exchange transactions with a 1099-B.1

1099-C. The 1099-C reports debt cancellation. You must claim the indicated amount on the 1099-C form as income in the year the debt was forgiven. When you pay income taxes on that amount, the creditor cannot come after the debt again. This form sometimes follows a foreclosure.1

1099-CAP. This one is for those who own shares in a corporation that has been acquired or has undergone a significant change in capital structure. If it was sold or changes have been made where you’ve earned cash or stock, for example, this form would be necessary.1

1099-DIV. When you receive dividends, capital gain distributions, or liquidation distributions, you get one of these. For example, when a mutual fund sells off funds and realizes a capital gain, the fund informs you of your share of the capital gain through a 1099-DIV.1

1099-G. This form reports payments from government agencies and qualified state tuition programs – everything from state and local tax refunds and unemployment benefits to agriculture payments, gambling winnings, and taxable grants. It is usually issued to show unemployment benefits or a state tax refund.1

1099-INT. This form reports interest income of $10 or more, and sometimes other tax items related to interest income (such as federal tax withholding or early withdrawal penalties).1

 1099-LTC. As the LTC part hints, these forms report distributions (payments) from long term care insurance contracts and accelerated death benefits paid out as a result of a life insurance contract or a viatical settlement.1

1099-MISC. This category includes “miscellaneous income,” including awards and prizes.1

1099-OID. The 1099-OID reports the difference between the stated redemption price of a bond at maturity and the issue price of that bond.1

1099-PATR. This form reports patronage dividends, such as in a farm cooperative.1

 1099-Q. Have you been paying for school expenses from a 529 plan or a similar savings plan? Withdrawals will be reported on this form.1

1099-R. The 1099-R reports distributions from all types of retirement, pension, and profit-sharing plans as well as any IRA or annuity contract.1

1099-S. The 1099-S reports gross proceeds from real estate transactions or exchanges.1

1099-SA. This form reports distributions from Health Savings Accounts (HSA), Archer Medical Savings Accounts (Archer MSA), or Medicare Advantage Medical Savings Accounts (MA MSA).1

Questions? Are you thinking you should have received one of these forms? Or maybe sent one of these forms? Be sure to talk with a qualified tax professional or qualified financial professional today; they can help you generate, request, and understand the 1099 forms in question.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at 641-344-0328 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 – nerdwallet.com/blog/taxes/what-is-a-1099-form/ [8/22/18]

Your Emergency Fund: How Much is Enough?

An emergency fund may help alleviate the stress associated with a financial crisis.

Have you ever had one of those months? The water heater stops heating, the dishwasher stops washing, and your family ends up on a first-name basis with the nurse at urgent care. Then, as you’re driving to work, giving yourself your best, “You can make it!” pep talk, you see smoke seeping out from under your hood.

Bad things happen to the best of us, and instead of conveniently spacing themselves out, they almost always come in waves. The important thing is to have a financial life preserver, in the form of an emergency cash fund, at the ready.

Although many people agree that an emergency fund is an important resource, they’re not sure how much to save or where to keep the money. Others wonder how they can find any extra cash to sock away. One recent survey found that 29% of Americans lack any emergency savings whatsoever.1

How Much Money? When starting an emergency fund, you’ll want to set a target amount. But how much is enough? Unfortunately, there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer. The ideal amount for your emergency fund may depend on your financial situation and lifestyle. For example, if you own your home or provide for a number of dependents, you may be more likely to face financial emergencies. And if the crisis you face is a job loss or injury that affects your income, you may need to depend on your emergency fund for an extended period of time.

Coming Up with Cash. If saving several months of income seems an unreasonable goal, don’t despair. Start with a more modest target, such as saving $1,000. Build your savings at regular intervals, a bit at a time. It may help to treat the transaction like a bill you pay each month. Consider setting up an automatic monthly transfer to make self-discipline a matter of course. You may want to consider paying off any credit card debt before you begin saving.

Once you see your savings begin to build, you may be tempted to use the account for something other than an emergency. Try to budget and prepare separately for bigger expenses you know are coming. Keep your emergency money separate from your checking account so that it’s harder to dip into.

Where Do I Put It? An emergency fund should be easily accessible, which is why many people choose traditional bank savings accounts. Savings accounts typically offer modest rates of return. Certificates of Deposit may provide slightly higher returns than savings accounts, but your money will be locked away until the CD matures, which could be several months to several years.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insures bank accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs) up to $250,000 per depositor, per institution in principal and interest. CDs are time deposits offered by banks, thrift institutions, and credit unions. CDs offer a slightly higher return than a traditional bank savings account, but they also may require a higher amount of deposit. If you sell before the CD reaches maturity, you may be subject to penalties.2

Some individuals turn to money market accounts for their emergency savings. Money market funds are considered low-risk securities, but they’re not backed by the federal government like CDs, so it is possible to lose money. Depending on your particular goals and the amount you have saved, some combination of lower-risk investments may be your best choice.2

Money held in money market funds is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Money market funds seek to preserve the value of your investment at $1.00 a share. However, it is possible to lose money by investing in a money market fund. Money market mutual funds are sold by prospectus.2

Please consider the charges, risks, expenses, and investment objectives carefully before investing. A prospectus containing this and other information about the investment company can be obtained from your financial professional. Read it carefully before you invest or send money.

The only thing you can know about unexpected expenses is that they’re coming – for everyone. But having an emergency fund may help alleviate the stress and worry associated with a financial crisis. If your emergency savings are not where they should be, consider taking steps today to create a cushion for the future.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at 641-782-5577 or mikem@cfgiowa.com
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 – cnbc.com/2018/07/02/about-55-million-americans-have-no-emergency-savings.html [7/6/18]
2 – investor.vanguard.com/investing/cash-investments [12/13/18]

Coping with the Shutdown

A look at who is affected, and the potential economic impact.
Right now, many households across the country are contending with the financial pressures resulting from the partial federal government shutdown. About 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed, and about 4 million government contractors are now working for free. Besides the interruption of key services, the closures risk causing a degree of disruption in the economy.1

Nine federal departments have scaled back operations. The list: Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, State, Transportation, and Treasury. (About 240,000 workers have been furloughed by Homeland Security alone.) Even so, many essential federal government services are still being provided. The Social Security Administration is continuing to send out retiree benefits, and the Postal Service is still delivering mail.2,3

The longer the shutdown lasts, the deeper its possible economic impact. Kevin Hassett, who chairs the Council of Economic Advisers, estimates that each week of the shutdown hurts quarterly GDP by 0.13%. If Hassett is correct, then first-quarter growth may already be about 0.5% short of federal government projections. Some analysts think the economy could contract in Q1 if the shutdown drags on through the start of spring.4

What options do furloughed workers have? The gig economy beckons, with short-term jobs that can be left behind with little notice if the shutdown ends. It may come down to driving for rideshare or meal delivery companies or working as a barista or waiter – something with a flexible or alternative schedule. Some can find part-time accounting, editing, or health and safety work. (The New York Times recently noted a turn-of-the-year spike in online job searches by workers at federal agencies.)4

Of course, some furloughed federal workers are barred from accepting interim employment. Those not classified as “excepted” or “exempt” cannot even volunteer while furloughed.3

On January 16, President Trump signed a bill into law to reimburse federal workers for lost wages when the shutdown ends. Furloughed federal employees who are receiving state unemployment benefits will have to return those benefits after they collect their back pay.3,5

As the gridlock continues, these employees and contractors are showing great patience and resourcefulness. Hopefully, they will not have to cope with financial anxieties and hardships much longer.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at 641-782-5577 or 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 – cnbc.com/2019/01/10/amid-shutdown-thousands-of-federal-workers-file-for-unemployment-.html [1/10/19]
2 – tinyurl.com/ycmnaqfl [1/1/19]
3 – oregonlive.com/business/2018/12/government-shutdown-2018-will-i-get-mail-what-about-social-security-benefits.html [12/26/18]
4 – nytimes.com/2019/01/15/us/politics/government-shutdown-economy.html [1/15/19]
5 – cnn.com/2019/01/16/politics/trump-signs-backpay-bill-government-shutdown/index.html [1/16/19]

The Anatomy of an Index

The S&P 500 represents a large portion of the value of the U.S. equity market.
Did you know that nearly $10 trillion in assets are benchmarked to the Standard & Poor’s 500 Composite Index, including about $3.5 trillion in index assets?1

The S&P 500 is ubiquitous. It is constantly referenced in financial and non-financial media, and we may compare the return of our own investments to its performance. As the index represents approximately 80% of the value of the U.S. equity market (or about 80% of market capitalization), it may be worthwhile to gain a better understanding of its structure and workings.1

Breaking down the benchmark. The S&P 500, as we know it today, was introduced in March 1957. It tracks the market value of about 500 large firms that are listed on the Nasdaq Composite and the New York Stock Exchange. The S&P is structured to include companies from across the sectors of the business community, in an effort to represent the breadth of the U.S. economy.1,2

There are a number of criteria a company must meet to be considered for inclusion in the index. A firm must be a U.S. company publicly listed on a major equity market exchange, have a market capitalization of $6.1 billion or more, and have at least 250,000 of its shares traded in each of the six months prior to its consideration for index membership by Standard & Poor’s. A company must also be financially viable: the ratio of its annual dollar value traded to its float-adjusted market cap must be greater than 1.0.3

The S&P has changed over time. Companies have been gradually removed and added over the past 60-odd years. At the benchmark’s fiftieth anniversary in 2007, just 86 of the original components remained. Subsequent mergers and acquisitions have reduced that number further.3

Right now, about 20% of the weight of the S&P is held in ten companies, and the performance of tech shares influences the benchmark’s return, perhaps more than any other factor.3

The index has been altered through the years in response to changes in the economy. Across several decades, the makeup of the index’s various sectors has differed, along with their weightings. This leads to frequent updates for the equity funds that aim to replicate the index; in order to maintain that replication, they may quickly need to buy or sell shares of corporations that are being added or removed.3

Keep in mind that amounts in mutual funds and ETFs are subject to fluctuation in value and market risk. Shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Equity funds are sold only by prospectus, so please consider their charges, risks, expenses, and investment objectives carefully before investing. A prospectus containing this and other information about the investment company can be obtained from your financial professional. Read it carefully before you invest or send money.

It should also be noted that investors cannot invest directly in an index. Also, index performance is not indicative of the past performance of a particular investment, and past performance does not guarantee future results. Investment choices designed to replicate any index may not perfectly track it, and their returns will be reduced by fees and expenses.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at 641-782-5577 or mikem@cfgiowa.com
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 – https://us.spindices.com/indices/equity/sp-500 [12/5/18]
2 – https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/041015/what-history-sp-500.asp [11/12/18]
3 – https://www.fool.com/investing/2018/07/10/7-fascinating-facts-about-the-broad-based-sp-500.aspx [7/10/18]