Let’s Talk Money, May Edition

On the move?

If you’re planning on buying and/or selling a home this summer, you want your move to be as smooth as possible. Since a house may be your largest financial investment, you’ll want to make the best decisions possible for you and your family.

Working for a living this summer

A summer job for your teen may offer more benefits than just earning money. A working teen may learn responsibility, build self-confidence and gain real world experience.

By the numbers: this new house

Here’s a snapshot of the housing market during the second quarter of 2016 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Travel tips

These suggestions may help you enjoy your vacation without busting your budget this summer.

Up we go

Even a relatively low rate of inflation could affect your future buying power. Your financial professional can help you factor inflation into your financial strategy and retirement budget.

Insurance:

Make it easy on your beneficiaries

You can help ensure that your life insurance benefits go to the people you want to receive them by updating contact information, keeping beneficiaries informed and providing detailed information to the insurance company.

Let’s talk insurance Q&A

• What are the differences between term life and whole life insurance?

Retirement Planning:

Converting from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA

You can convert a traditional individual retirement account (IRA) to a Roth IRA regardless of income or tax-filing status. While you may have to pay income taxes on the amount you convert, this can be a good strategy. Your financial professional can help you determine if a Roth conversion is right for your situation.

Let’s talk retirement Q&A

• Which accounts should I tap first for retirement income after I stop working?

Small Business:

Retirement plans for small businesses

If your small business doesn’t have a retirement plan in place, consider establishing one. A retirement plan can be a key part of your business’s ability to attract and retain talent. And offering tax-favored retirement benefits can provide greater retirement security for you and your employees.

Let’s talk business Q&A

• Can I fund a supplemental retirement plan with cash value life insurance? • What are some inexpensive but meaningful fringe benefits I can offer employees?

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Investing for the years ahead

Setting aside money for goals that are far in the future often takes a back seat to spending on current needs. However, investing for retirement should be one of your financial priorities. Talk to your financial professional about strategies that can help you pursue your long-term goals.

Let’s talk investing Q&A

• What are target date funds and how do they work?

Newsletter for May-June

Check out our latest newsletter here: https://www.ltmonline.com/jerrysiver
Helpful information on all these subjects:
Estate Planning:
Let’s Talk Estate Strategy Q&A
 • What tax-efficient strategies can individuals use to pass assets to adult children?
 • How can individuals let family members know where to access important documents in case of disability or death?
Protecting your child:
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day give us the opportunity to show Mom and Dad how much we appreciate them. But could moms and dads be doing more to protect their children? If you’re the parent of a minor child, you can help ensure your child’s future by naming a legal guardian and having sufficient life insurance.
General Interest:
A moving experience
 • Moving to a new home can be both physically and financially draining. We offer some tips to help make the move less stressful.
Lost and found
 • If a loved one dies and no life insurance policy is found, how can you determine if one exists? We list some strategies legal representatives can use to find the answer.
By the numbers: total annual college charges
How much does it cost to go to college? Here’s a look at some 2014 statistics from the   College Board.
 • The smart way to pay for college
Borrowing to pay for college is sometimes unavoidable. But a smarter and less expensive way to pay for your child`s education is to build a college fund through investing.
 • Thoroughly modern money
Technology has made managing finances a lot easier. There are now many options that can help you budget, deposit checks and pay bills more efficiently.
Insurance:
Good health = lower premiums
Looking for a way to lower your life insurance premiums? By making a few healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, exercising and quitting smoking, you may be able to qualify for lower insurance rates.
Let’s Talk Insurance Q&A
• Should first-time homeowners buy life insurance?
• Why are life insurance premiums generally higher for men than for women?
Retirement Planning:
Get your retirement account in shape
Is your retirement account as healthy as you’d like it to be? To help you get your investments in shape, we list some common mistakes to avoid.
Let’s Talk Retirement Q&A
• How much do retirement plan contributions reduce an individual’s income taxes?

Seniors:
Let’s Talk Retirement Q&A
• What is the difference between an assisted living facility and a nursing home?
• Why is the term” activities of daily living” important to understand when searching for a long-term care facility?
When what you leave behind matters
May is Older Americans Month. It’s the time we celebrate the accomplishments of individuals ages 65 and older. As a member of that generation, what’s important to you? Is it leaving your loved ones a financial legacy? You may not be able to if you haven’t factored medical and long-term care expenses into your retirement strategy.
Small Business:
Let’s Talk Business Q&A
• Are individual retirement accounts still protected by federal bankruptcy laws?
• How can employers increase participation in their retirement plans?
Spring into May with a healthy outlook
If it’s been a while since you reviewed your finances, now would be a good time for a checkup. We discuss some items that can get both your business and personal finances on the right track.
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Is your investing strategy fiscally fit?
May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. You know exercise and a healthy lifestyle can help keep you physically fit. But what can you do to ensure you’re fiscally fit? A review of your investments can help you determine if your current investing strategy is still in line with your goals.
Let’s Talk Investments Q&A
 • What is a target date retirement fund’s glide path?
Womens:
Pamper yourself with a secure retirement
 • Mother’s Day is the day your children recognize you for all you do. But sometimes the things you do, such as taking time out of the work force to care for children or an elderly parent, can affect your ability to invest for retirement. By starting early, maxing out your contributions and opening a spousal IRA, you can help build a financially secure retirement.

SMARTWATER CSI. The new anti-theft tool?

A northwestern Indiana police department is one of the first law enforcement agencies in the country to distribute a theft-deterring chemical that leaves DNA-like “signatures” on property and those who attempt to steal it.

Makers of SmartWater CSI say the product makes it easy to track stolen items and link thieves to crimes they’ve committed. Although it has seldom been used in the United States beyond Florida, company officials say it’s been used in Europe for several years.

Read the story here: SMARTWATER CSI

Let’s Talk Money Online

The November issue of our newsletter is now available for viewing here:

https://www.ltmonline.com/jerrysiver

Subjects include:

Estate Planning:

More than taxes

When you first developed your estate strategy, your primary goal may have been to mitigate taxes. But there’s more to an effective estate strategy than taxes alone. An updated strategy can help provide financial protection for you and your loved ones and management for your assets when you can’t or don’t want to manage them yourself.

General Interest:

Keep the happy in your holidays

Shopping during the holidays doesn’t have to be stressful. Sticking to a budget, looking for bargains and watching out for scams can help you save money and reduce stress.

Secrets of successful investors

To be financially successful, you need to invest money on a regular basis. We offer some tips to help you invest more.

Give yourself the gift of lower taxes

Even though the year is quickly coming to a close, you still have time to reduce your income-tax liability for 2013. We list some ways you may be able to lower your tax bill.

Keep or toss?

You finally cleaned out your filing cabinet and have a pile of old tax documents ready for the shredder. Not so fast. If the documents support items shown on your return and the period of limitations for that return hasn’t run out, the IRS requires that you keep them.

By the numbers: average monthly spending

In which month do you think Americans spend the most on average? Here’s a look at the highest and lowest months for spending according to a Gallup poll.

Insurance:

Talking term insurance

With various options to choose from, buying the right type of life insurance can seem like a daunting task. If you want an affordable option that provides coverage for a set period of time, term life insurance may be what you’re looking for.

Tips for year-end charitable giving

With the holiday season upon us, you may be thinking about sharing your good fortune with others by giving to charity. We offer some tips to help you maximize the tax benefits from your donations.

Retirement Planning:

Retirement hopes versus reality

Like most Americans, you probably hope you’ll have enough money to live on in retirement. But your hopes for your future may be very different than reality. There are several steps you can take to help make your retirement more secure.

Spousal IRA one-two punch

Investing for retirement can be hard for a stay-at-home spouse. But even when one spouse does not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, there is another investing option worth considering: a spousal individual retirement account.

Seniors:

Prioritize your protection

Are you one of those people who thinks only the elderly need long-term care protection? Think again. Anyone can suffer a disability that could require long-term care services. Taking the time now to assess your possible long-term care needs, along with your disability income and life insurance needs, can help ensure your family’s financial security is protected.

Small Business:

A year-end checkup for small businesses

An annual financial review can help keep your business healthy and growing. As part of your review, make sure your business has the insurance coverage it needs.

Put your plan on autopilot

Setting money aside for retirement is important. Unfortunately, not all your employees may think so. To raise your company retirement plan’s participation rate, you might want to consider introducing an automatic enrollment feature.

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Find out if you’re still in the zone

Have your investing goals changed over the past year? If they have, then now is a good time to review your investment strategy to determine whether it’s still appropriate for your other goals and time frame.

Womens:

Got money for retirement?

Women have a harder time accumulating money for retirement than men. Why? They tend to live longer, typically earn less and may take time out from the work force for caregiving. But don’t let those factors fool you into thinking you can’t have a financially secure future. We list some steps women can take to improve their finances in retirement.

Personal Watercraft

From the Insurance Information Institute:

Personal watercraft are not generally covered by homeowners or auto insurance, and where they are, the coverage limits can be fairly low. You may need to purchase a specifically designed policy in order to insure these vessels. The personal watercraft policy covers:  
  

  • Bodily injury
  • Property damage
  • Guest passenger liability
  • Medical payments
  • Theft

Typical policies include deductibles of $250 for property damage, $500 for theft and $1,000 for medical payments, although these may vary from company to company.

Liability limits start at $15,000 and can be increased to $300,000. This coverage will provide financial protection if your personal watercraft is involved in an accident.

Most policies also include water sports liability, which covers risks associated with activities such as waterskiing.

Consider buying an umbrella policy which will provide more liability protection. One million dollars in extra coverage costs about $300 a year and would extend to your home and auto insurance policies.

If you have several personal watercraft, you may qualify for a multi-boat discount on your insurance. Additional coverage can also be purchased for trailers and other accessories.

Be sure to speak with your insurance agent or company representative about your specific needs.

 

Personal Watercraft Safety

Sea Doos, Wave Runners and other personal watercraft are fun and so easy to use that you can get a false sense of security; however, each year they cause thousands of serious injuries.

To safely enjoy your personal watercraft, the I.I.I. suggests the following:

 

  • Never follow directly behind another personal watercraft. Stay at least 100 yards behind the vessel in front, and no less than 50 yards to one side. Because these vessels can travel at a very high rate of speed, each rider must be able to react to sudden changes in order to avoid a collision. Eighty percent of all injuries and fatalities occur when two vessels collide with one another.
  • Don’t jump the wake of a passing boat. You could misjudge its speed and cause a collision. Or you might end up in the path of traffic coming from the other direction.
  • Stay alert! Be aware of what is going on around you. Steer clear of other watercraft, swimmers, divers, water skiers and fishermen

Boats…they need insurance too!

Most companies provide limited coverage for property damage for small boats such as canoes and small sail boats or small power boats with less than 25 mile per hour horse power under a homeowners or renters insurance policy. Coverage is usually about $1,000 or 10 percent of the home’s property value and generally includes the boat, motor and trailer combined. Liability coverage is typically not included–but it can be added as an endorsement to a homeowners policy. Check with your insurance representative to find out if your boat is covered and what the limits are.

Larger and faster boats such as yachts, and personal watercraft such as jet skis and wave runners require a separate boat insurance policy. The size, type and value of the craft and the water in which you use it factor into how much you will pay for insurance coverage.

For physical loss or damage, coverage includes the hull, machinery, fittings, furnishings and permanently attached equipment as part of either an actual cash value policy or on an agreed amount value basis. These policies also provide broader liability protection than a homeowners policy. But there are distinct differences between the two types of policies.

Actual Cash Value policies pay for replacement costs less depreciation at the time of the loss. In the event of a total loss, used boat pricing guides and other resources are used to determine the vessel’s approximate market value. Partial losses are settled by taking the total cost of the repair less a percentage for depreciation.

Agreed Amount Value basis policies mean that you and your insurer have agreed on the value of your vessel and in the event of a total loss you will be paid that amount. Agreed Amount Value policies also replace old items for new in the event of a partial loss, without any deduction for depreciation.

Physical damage exclusions might include normal wear and tear, damage from insects, mold, animals (such as sharks), zebra mussels, defective machinery or machinery damage.

Boat insurance also covers: 

  • Bodily injury—for injuries caused to another person
  • Property damage—for damage caused to someone else’s property
  • Guest passenger liability—for any legal expenses incurred by someone using the boat with the owner’s permission
  • Medical payments—for injuries to the boat owner and other passengers
  • Theft

Most companies offer liability limits that start at $15,000 and can be increased to $300,000. Typical policies include deductibles of $250 for property damage, $500 for theft and $1000 for medical payments. Higher limits may be available. Additional coverage can be purchased for trailers and other accessories. Boat owners may also consider purchasing an umbrella liability policy which will provide additional protection for their boat, home and car.

Boaters should also inquire about special equipment kept on the boat, such as fishing gear, to make sure it is covered and verify that towing coverage is included in the policy.

Boat owners should also inquire about discounts for the following:

  • Diesel powered craft, which are less hazardous than gasoline powered boats as they are less likely to explode
  • Coast Guard approved fire extinguishers
  • Ship-to-shore radios
  • Two years of claims-free experience
  • Multi-policies with the same insurer, such as a car, home or umbrella policy
  • Safety education courses, such as those offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons, or the American Red Cross

Boat Safety

There are thousands of recreational boating accidents per year. Contributing factors to these accidents include traveling too fast for water or weather conditions, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, failing to follow boating rules and regulations, carelessness and inexperience.

To prevent boating accidents, we offer these safety suggestions:

 

Care and protection of vessel

 

  1. Check weather forecasts before heading out.
  2. Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.
  3. Check engine, fuel, electrical and steering systems, especially for exhaust-system leaks.
  4. Carry one or more fire extinguishers, matched to the size and type of boat. Keep them readily accessible and in condition for immediate use.
  5. Equip the vessel with required navigation lights and with a whistle, horn or bell.
  6. Consider additional safety devices, such as a paddle or oars, a first-aid kit, a supply of fresh water, a tool kit and spare parts, a flashlight, flares and a radio.

 

Care and protection of crew and guests

  1. Make sure that every person on board the boat wears a life-jacket.
  2. Know and obey marine traffic laws, the “Rules-of-the-Road.” Learn various distress signals.
  3. Keep an alert lookout for other watercraft, swimmers, floating debris and shallow waters.
  4. Pay attention to loading. Don’t overload; distribute the load evenly; don’t stand up or shift weight suddenly in a small boat; and don’t permit riding on the bow, seatbacks or gunwales.
  5. Don’t operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Skippers can obtain free advice and boating-safety courses from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Upon request, the auxiliary will conduct a Courtesy Marine Examination (CME) on your boat, checking electrical and safety equipment and fuel hoses. Boats meeting safety standards are awarded the CME decal “Seal of Safety.”

Jan/Feb Let’s Talk Money Newsletter

View the newsletter here: https://www.ltmonline.com/jerrysiver

Estate Planning:

What your children should know about your finances

It may not be easy talking to your adult children about your finances and estate strategy. But discussing your finances with your grown children now can better prepare your whole family for the future.

General Interest:

Great way to start the new year

If you spent more than you wanted to this holiday season, you need to take a closer look at where your money is going. A spending plan can help you track your money and get your finances in order.

I resolve to . . .

Instead of making the same resolutions you have in the past, resolve this year to improve your financial health. We offer several ways to become more financially fit.

By the numbers: spending patterns

The Employee Benefit Research Institute has released some statistics on the spending patterns of Americans ages 50-64.

The minimum payment trap

Paying the minimum amount on your credit card may seem like a good idea, but it’s not. Not only will it take you longer to pay off the balance, but you’ll also end up paying more for the item than what it originally cost.

Insurance:

Single? You need life insurance, too

Just because you’re single doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider life insurance. Incorporating a life insurance policy into your financial strategy can be a smart move.

The gift of a better financial future

If you’d like to help a family member get the year off to a better financial start, consider making a gift that can make a real difference in your loved one’s financial future. Your generosity also may help save estate taxes later.

Retirement Planning:

Take charge of your retirement

With pensions becoming far less common than in the past, it’s up to you to figure out how to fund your retirement. We discuss several recommendations from the IRS for preparing for retirement.

Put a realistic price tag on your retirement

When it comes to funding retirement, not everyone needs to save the same amount. Figuring out how much income you’re going to need ahead of time can put you on the path toward an enjoyable retirement.

Seniors:

Have you had the talk?

The beginning of a new year is a good time to talk to your loved ones about your possible long-term care needs. Discussing your wishes and possible solutions for long-term care can help alleviate any future stress and indecision.

Small Business:

Does your business have a contingency plan?

Financial issues can cause considerable stress between business partners. Setting up a buy-sell agreement can alleviate some of that potential stress.

The life insurance crisis

Many American households don’t have individual life insurance, even though they need the protections it provides. If you’re looking for a way to help your business attract and retain valuable employees, consider making life insurance part of your employee benefit package.

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Are you an abstract or a concrete thinker?

If you have trouble saving money, it could be because your strategy doesn’t match the way you think. Figuring out what kind of thinker you are can help you create a successful strategy for reaching your goals.

Womens:

Protect your income with disability insurance

Illness or injury can happen to anyone. Would you be prepared if it happened to you? Having long-term disability insurance coverage could help keep you financially afloat if you were prevented from working due to disability.