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Financial Advisor

Jun 19, 2020 In a nutshell, a financial advisor helps people manage their money. Typically, there is an investing component to their services, but not always. Some financial advisors - often accountants or lawyers who specialize in trusts and estates - are wealth managers. One of their primary functions is protecting their clients' wealth from the IRS. Other financial advisors are called money managers or investment advisors. They often have business school or finance backgrounds - and maybe previously worked for an investment bank, hedge fund or brokerage. Then there are the financial advisors who bill themselves as financial planners. Generally, their emphasis is on educating clients and they provide risk management, cash flow analysis, retirement planning, education planning, investing and more. As you can see, financial advisors have many different specialties - and it can be easy to end up with an advisor who doesn't suit your needs. To help you find the right advisor for you, SmartAsset created a  free financial advisor matching tool. It will connect you with up to three advisors in your area. For more about what financial advisors do, their certifications and how much they cost, read on. Read More...

Jun 30, 2020 A tax cliff happens when a small increase to your income triggers an increase in your tax bill.  Personal income taxes increase gradually as a proportion of income; even if your income increases to the point that you enter a new tax bracket, only the income that falls into the bracket is taxed at the higher rate. Tax cliffs, on the other hand, occur when the tax code triggers a credit, deduction or increase at a very specific amount of income. Cross that threshold and you will change your taxes significantly. Here’s how it works. Read More...

Jun 30, 2020 Mutual funds can offer a simplified way to diversify your portfolio. Rather than picking individual stocks, bonds or other securities to invest in, you can gain exposure to multiple investments and asset classes using a single mutual fund. A balanced fund is a common type of mutual fund that features a mix of both stocks and bonds. You can use these mutual funds to balance risk across your investments or generate income, but they aren't all alike. If you're considering an investment strategy that includes balanced funds, it's helpful to know how they work. Read More...

Jun 24, 2020 Being part of the sandwich generation - meaning you're caring for aging parents while also raising children - can create unique challenges in shaping your financial plan. You may be trying to balance the financial goals and needs of your spouse and children against the financial needs of your parents when it comes to things like paying for health care or simply managing everyday expenses. If you're caught in the financial squeeze, it's important to rethink your approach to short- and long-term planning when it comes to your money. Read More...

Jun 24, 2020 Many people graduate from colleges in the United States with debt. According to EducationData.org, the average 2020 student loan debt was $32,731 per graduate. This means that many people are paying over $400 per month on their student loan debt when first entering the workforce. However, many entry-level jobs, especially those in education and social services, do not pay well enough for recent graduates to balance their student loan payments with rent and other expenses. This is where income-based repayment plans for student loans come in. Read More...

Jun 24, 2020 There are a multitude of certifications for financial professionals. Each one specifies a distinct type of service an advisor is qualified to offer. A retirement management advisor (RMA) is one such designation. You may consider working with an RMA if you want guidance and help with creating a personalized retirement income plan. Here's what you need to know about retirement management advisors, and how they compare to other types of financial advisors. Read More...

Jun 23, 2020 Cash flow describes how money flows into and out of a business. It covers a specific time period, such as a month or quarter. Managing cash flow is crucial for both individuals and businesses. Even highly profitable businesses can fail if they don’t manage cash properly. Here are the basic principles and techniques for effective cash flow management. Read More...

Jun 23, 2020 A PEG ratio is a tool used in  fundamental stock analysis by investors to assess a share's value. It measures a stock’s price-to-earnings ratio against the anticipated earnings growth for the underlying company. If the ratio is significantly above 1, the stock might be overvalued; its price might not accurately reflect how the company is expected to perform. If the ratio is significantly below 1, the stock might be undervalued; its price might not accurately reflect future expectations. Here is a description of this metric and its usefulness.  Read More...

Jun 23, 2020 The phrase "buying to cover" describes the final step in an investment tactic, known as  short selling, that seeks to profit from a bearish market. Investors who believe a security or index is going to decline can turn a profit - provided their analysis of the security or index is correct - by selling borrowed securities, typically stocks. Returning the borrowed securities requires the investor to buy them, which is known as buying to cover. There are other types of investment strategies that seek to profit from a declining market, but a short sale and buying to cover is one of the simplest. It is  not, however, without risk. Here's what you need to know about this tactic. Read More...

Jun 23, 2020 Caring for aging parents or for special needs children or other relatives can add new dimensions to your estate plan. There are various legal and financial issues that may need to be untangled and establishing conservatorship or guardianship may be a necessary part of the planning process. While both terms sound similar, they can carry different meanings and responsibilities. If you're wondering what the difference is between conservatorship and guardianship, here's what you need to know. Read More...

Jun 18, 2020 The term “lean startup” describes a method of  starting a business that favors a flexible, trial-and-error approach to product development. Unlike traditional startup methods, which include analyzing, testing and verifying potential customer demand, a lean startup anticipates uncertainty in operating conditions and is prepared to quickly pivot the company's focus. Here’s what a lean startup approach looks like, and how to do it.  Read More...

Jun 18, 2020 Creating a financial contingency plan for your business is just as important as creating one for your personal finances. Part of that plan may include purchasing a key person insurance policy. Key person insurance is a type of life insurance that's designed to cover the most important person or persons within a business. This type of insurance can help ensure that the business is able to continue operating if a critical owner or employee passes away. You may also choose to have this kind of policy in place as part of a buy-sell agreement when passing the business on to someone else. Read More...

Jun 18, 2020 Trusts can be a useful addition to your estate plan if you want to create a financial legacy for your loved ones or minimize estate taxes. An asset protection trust is a type of trust that has a specific purpose - protecting your assets from creditors. Establishing this type of trust may be necessary if you're concerned about your assets being attached as part of a lawsuit settlement or court judgment. If you're considering an asset protection trust, it's important to understand how it works and how to legally create one. Read More...

Jun 18, 2020 Unemployment is a messy statistic. Every month the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes its civilian unemployment rate or what is more commonly referred to as simply “the unemployment rate.” That rate was  13.3% in May - far above February's 3.5% rate.  The weekly rate in early June hovered slightly above 14%. These are some of the highest unemployment rates the nation has ever seen. Yet, it also likely overlooks millions of people who may be out of work. It all depends on how you define unemployment. Read More...

Jun 17, 2020 Several grant programs exist to support minority-owned small businesses, from both the government and nonprofit organizations. The definition of “minority” varies by program, though most focus on racial and ethnic minorities like African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders. In this article we'll explore in detail some of the largest grant programs available to minority-owned businesses. Read More...

Jun 17, 2020 Small business owners can now host their e-commerce efforts on Facebook through its recently launched Facebook Shops, which the social media giant began rolling out on May 19, 2020. It's not an entirely new product; instead, it’s a renaming and enhancement of its existing Facebook Page Shops offering. Learn how it works and whether it makes sense for your business. Read More...

Jun 17, 2020 Writing a will is an important part of creating a financial and estate plan. A will allows you to specify how you want your assets to be distributed among your heirs after you pass away. You can also use a will to name a legal guardian for your minor children. But what happens if you need to change the terms of your will? That's where a codicil can help. There are different reasons for adding a codicil to an existing will. It's important to understand when you might need one and how to add it. Read More...

Jun 17, 2020 If you are married, you've likely spoken to your spouse about retirement. You may have a goal of moving somewhere tropical and enjoying your golden years on a beach, or you might want to stay where you are and spend time with friends and family. Regardless of how you envision your retirement years, it is important for married couples to understand how to save and create a financial plan to make the most of your retirement. Here's what you need to know. Read More...

Jun 16, 2020 The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact many working Americans. Whether they contract the disease themselves, are responsible for the care of someone with the virus, or have had their employment or finances impacted by the economic fallout, there are many questions about how employer health plans will help support these individuals. To help out, the IRS has given employers permission to let employees make changes to their company health plans during COVID-19. Here’s how. Read More...

Jun 12, 2020 Part of running a business means planning for curveballs that could make managing day-to-day operations difficult. Business overhead expense insurance is designed to keep things going when a disability or illness requires you to be temporarily absent. This is different from personal disability insurance, which makes payments directly to you to replace lost income if you can't work. If you own a business, getting familiar with the basics of business overhead expense insurance and how it works can help you decide if it's a good investment. Read More...

Jun 12, 2020 The two most popular ways of organizing a small business are LLCs and sole proprietorships. They are less costly and complicated compared to the alternatives of corporations and partnerships. There are key differences between these two widely used structures, including the owner's liability, expense and ease of creation. The advantages of a sole proprietorship are simplicity and low cost; the advantage of LLCs are their flexibility for tax purposes and their liability protections for owners. Read More...

Jun 12, 2020 Overseen by the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is the largest fixture of federal coronavirus financial relief programs. The program provides forgivable loans to small businesses, defined as those with fewer than 500 employees, to cover payroll and associated costs. Read More...

Jun 10, 2020 Since the coronavirus pandemic went global in early 2020, travel and tourism have been heavily impacted. Millions of people have seen their trips canceled by airlines and tour companies, with millions more choosing to cancel their trips out of caution and fear. Those who still need to travel for essential reasons are forced to take extreme precautions. So while most people are opting out of traveling for the time being, let's take a look at what you should know about traveling during the time of coronavirus. Your travel plans won't be the only thing that changes during this time. To make sure you're prepared for the future, talk to a financial advisor today. Read More...

Jun 10, 2020 Times of economic uncertainty and market instability tend to affect the housing market, frequently including drops in average home prices. Yet for all the economic and financial convulsions of the coronavirus pandemic the housing market has remained strikingly steady. The purchase prices of residences have edged higher while the cost of renting a residence has risen, held steady or decreased, depending on region of the country. Here is a closer look at how the coronavirus has affected home prices and the rental market. Read More...

Jun 10, 2020 Taking out a business loan can help you get your startup off the ground or scale an existing business. But you could run into problems if you find yourself unable to repay your lender. A business loan default isn't an ideal situation to be in, and there are several ways it can affect you financially. Knowing what to do - and what not to do - when taking out business loans can help you avoid that situation. Read More...

Jun 10, 2020 Estate planning can take on a new dimension when you own a business. Not only do you need a strategy for managing personal assets but you also need to consider what will happen to your business in the long-term. Estate planning for business owners begins with knowing what your plan should include and thinking ahead about potential challenges or issues that may arise. Whether you operate your business solo, have one or more partners or run a family business, it's never too soon to think about your estate planning needs. Read More...

Jun 10, 2020 When you think of Croatia, do you think of the beautiful Dalmatian seacoast where they shot "Game of Thrones"? Or perhaps Croatia conjures up visions of Plitvice Lakes National Park’s waterfalls and blue water. Or, if you’re a city person, maybe you dream of the markets in Zagreb. Croatia seems to have a little bit of something for everyone, especially retirees. So, if you want to retire in Croatia, here's everything you need to know. Read More...

Jun 10, 2020 Estate planning begins with knowing which documents you need and making sure they are up to date. Among the most common such documents are wills, trusts, powers of attorney and designations of beneficiaries. In addition, whomever you pick to handle your estate will need access to any insurance policies, deeds of property, investments, records of debt and financial accounts you may have. Understanding how each document works and what they're designed to do can help you figure out what belongs in your estate plan. Read More...

Jun 10, 2020 So you've got a business that's impacted by the coronavirus economy. Even with PPP loans and other government resources for small businesses, your revenue is suffering and you're not sure if you can afford to stay in business. But rather than shutting down, should you be thinking of pivoting your business? It could mean the difference between having the pandemic stop you in your tracks or finding a new path through the current crisis. Here's what you need to know about pivoting. Read More...

Jun 10, 2020 Mutual funds can offer a simplified approach to portfolio diversification. When you buy a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF), you can own a collection of investments rather than having to purchase individual stocks. Sector funds are a type of mutual fund or ETF that targets individual market sectors or industries. These funds are a more specialized option for investors who want to gain exposure to a specific grouping of companies or areas of the economy. Investing in sector funds starts with understanding how they work and what they can add to your portfolio. Read More...

Jun 08, 2020 The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes over $2 trillion in federal funds to help address the economic fallout from the coronavirus global pandemic. The bill includes several provisions that affect college students, including deferred student loan payments and money for carryover funding of colleges and universities around the U.S. At the same time, the CARES Act provides stimulus checks, mortgage and rent payment relief and more. The uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic can be difficult to navigate. Talk to a financial advisor today to begin planning your financial future. Read More...

Jun 08, 2020 A financial advisor can help you shape a plan for managing your money, including saving and investing for retirement. Traditionally, you'd need to meet with a financial advisor in person to get advice, but these days many financial advisor firms allow you to connect with a professional online. Working with a financial advisor online has its pros and cons, but it might appeal to you if you're interested in getting advice in a way that's convenient and cost-effective. And it's become an especially attractive option as the coronavirus pandemic has made face-to-face interaction difficult or impossible. If you're thinking of working with an online financial advisor, here's what you can expect. Read More...

Jun 05, 2020 The term "top 1%" is typically used to refer to people among the top 1% wealthiest Americans, as measured by either  annual income or net worth. The income of those in the top 1% is many multiples above that of the average American:  According to one study, in 2018 the average person in the top 1% earned an income more than 39 times that of someone in the bottom 90%. In this article we'll discuss how to know if you fall in the top 1%, how it varies by state, and how the top 1% in the U.S. compares to the top 1% globally. Read More...

Jun 05, 2020 Trusts can be helpful in estate planning if you want to avoid probate or minimize estate taxes. A revocable living trust, for example, might be useful if you have assets you want to pass on to your beneficiaries that aren't part of your will. Certain types of trusts, however, may only be used in very specific situations and a constructive trust is one of them. A constructive trust can be established to remedy situations where property that belongs to you is held unfairly by someone else. This type of trust has limited uses but it's important to understand how it works. Read More...

Jun 05, 2020 When you're struggling to make mortgage payments, you may be wondering what options you have. Mortgage forbearance programs can help provide temporary relief from payments, while mortgage forgiveness can reduce the amount you have to pay back to your mortgage lender. While they may sound similar, they work very differently. If you're wondering how the different options can help you manage mortgage debt, here's what you need to know. Read More...

Jun 03, 2020 Establishing a trust as part of your financial plan can yield certain benefits, including the potential to minimize estate taxes. An intentionally defective grantor trust (IDGT) is a type of irrevocable trust that can be used to limit tax liability when transferring wealth to your heirs. This type of trust can be established to benefit your spouse, children, grandchildren and other descendants but it may be more appropriate in some situations than others. Getting to know the details of what an IDGT is and how it works can help you decide if it makes sense for you. Read More...

Jun 03, 2020 Cambodia is known for its stunning landscapes, vast temples, and low cost of living. Cambodian people are often noted as being some of the friendliest people in the world. From its rich culture to unique ecosystem, there are plenty of things that entice people to retire in Cambodia. Here's what you need to know if you're considering retiring in the southeast Asian nation. Read More...

Jun 03, 2020 Thinking of starting a business in Indiana? The Hoosier State’s low costs for doing business and low costs of living combine with a business-friendly regulatory environment and well-built infrastructure to attract people planning to start businesses. On the other hand, according to one survey of American states, Indiana's quality of life is below average. Here's what you should know, including business licenses and insurance requirements. Read More...

Jun 03, 2020 If you're considering starting a business in Maryland, you'll likely be impressed with the state’s well-educated populace, one of the country’s lowest poverty rates and the strong economic presence of defense contracting and medical research. Tax planning is a key part of starting a business in Maryland, however, because the state has one of the higher combinations of business, sales and individual income taxes. Here's what you need to know about starting a business in the state. Read More...

Jun 02, 2020 Despite various government relief programs, the coronavirus crisis has already affected the finances of many Americans. Over the past eight weeks, more than one in four individuals filed for unemployment. Though unemployment benefits are expanded under the CARES Act, enhanced benefits are scheduled to end on July 31, 2020. Additionally, though many businesses say they will rehire workers as the virus becomes contained, University of Chicago economists have theorized that more than 40% of recent layoffs will result in permanent job loss. Beyond unemployed workers, Americans who are still working may face financial pressure as well. According to a National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) April 2020 survey, nearly nine in 10 Americans say the COVID-19 crisis is causing stress on their personal finances. Read More...

Jun 01, 2020 A partnership is a form of business that has more than one owner. A limited liability partnership (LLP) incorporates some elements of a corporation and some elements of a partnership. An LLP offers greater liability protection and management flexibility than other partnership formats and is easier to set up than a limited liability company. Here's an overview of LLPs and why this structure is so common. Read More...

Jun 01, 2020 A limited partnership (LP) has two kinds of partners: One who does not get involved in daily management and another who is involved in daily management and bears more personal liability. It’s similar to a general partnership but with some significant differences, especially regarding liability and management control. Here's how that works and why you might choose this business structure. Read More...

Jun 01, 2020 So you've decided that a family member won't be getting an inheritance, after all. Maybe you have an ungrateful or irresponsible family member you want to cut out of the will. Or maybe there's someone you've decided to favor at the expense of other family members. Here's what to know about the process of disinheriting an heir, including some legal considerations - such as who may be immune from being disinherited. Read More...

Jun 01, 2020 Certified Fraud Examiners are trained in fraud examination activities like forensic accounting.  Certified Fraud Examiners (CFEs) have a variety of job options, such as forensic accountant, compliance officer, internal or external auditor, state or private investigator, and law enforcement. CFEs can also become special agents, inspector generals, chief risk officers, chief compliance officers, and chief audit executives. In this article we'll explore how the certification is earned and used. Read More...

May 29, 2020 Do you dream of spending your retirement drinking Bordeaux and champagne in Paris? Perhaps you want to spend it in a beautiful seaside villa in Biarritz or the ski the Alpine slopes of Chamonix at the base of Mont Blanc? If France sounds like your idea of a dream retirement destination, here's what you need to know. Read More...

May 28, 2020 Japan is known for bullet trains, an amazing cuisine and some of the cleanest, litter-free streets in the world. Overall, the nation is a beautiful place to both visit and live. In addition to its beautiful landscapes, there are plenty of reasons that people choose to retire in Japan. If you’ve dreamed of retiring to a beautiful country with plenty of good food then Japan might be the perfect retirement destination for you. But before you pack your bags, here's what you should know about spending your golden years in the Land of the Rising Sun. Read More...

May 27, 2020 When it comes to retirement, you can't afford to be unprepared. Having a clear idea of how you want to spend your later years, and how you'll pay for it, are key to ensuring that you can retire comfortably and securely. Financial planning and retirement go hand in hand, covering a variety of different tasks and topics. Whether your retirement is a few years away or you have several decades to get ready, there are certain things you'll want to add to your financial planning to-do list. Read More...

May 27, 2020 Despite a recent bounce-back, stock prices have fallen sharply since the coronavirus first emerged. For some investors this may not prove much of a problem. Historically stocks have rebounded strongly in the wake of serious recessions and, as of mid-May, the market seemed to be on track to continue that pattern. However, long- and short-term investors are being impacted in another way: In recent weeks dozens of companies have announced that they will be reducing or suspending dividend payments altogether. For income investors, this means that their portfolios will not pay out their anticipated returns. For others, this will cut into funds that could have otherwise fueled growth and reinvestment. For everyone in the market, this means yet another hit to a volatile stock market. Read More...

May 26, 2020 Working with a financial professional can offer numerous benefits when you need clarity or guidance on managing your money and investments. Once you have decided to engage the services of a  financial advisor rather than a financial planner or another type of financial professional, you may be asked to sign an investment advisory agreement. This agreement spells out the scope and terms of the services your financial advisor will offer, as well as any authority you give them to manage your financial accounts. Investment advisory agreements can include a lot of confusing jargon and complex terms. Knowing what's in the typical agreement can help you better understand what you're signing off on when working with a financial advisor. Read More...

Jun 09, 2020 By some estimates, nearly one in four Americans is out of work. A steady stream of bankruptcies has begun, both out loud and quietly, and many businesses have shuttered for good. The full extent of the damage wrought by the coronavirus recession will not become apparent until local economies begin to reopen. But there's one part of the economy that appears to be going gangbusters: The U.S. stock market, at least as measured by its major indexes. Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (which tracks shares of the nation's 30 largest industrial companies) and the S&P 500 have rebounded more than 40% by the second week of June from their mid-March lows. So why is Wall Street recovering even as Main Street continues to struggle? Read More...

May 26, 2020 One of the federal government's main economic responses to the coronavirus pandemic is the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, which provides assistance for both small businesses and larger ones. For businesses with fewer than 500 employees the act offers forgivable loans, administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA), like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Assistance Program. For companies with 500 or more employees, which are too big to receive SBA assistance, the act provides non-forgivable loans. The money is designated for use in four ways: loans for airlines and national security assets; Federal Reserve loans; loans for mid-sized businesses; and the Main Street Lending Program. Here is a brief description of these initiatives. Read More...

May 20, 2020 If you are near retirement and recently unemployed, you have a lot of company. Roughly 600,000 Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 left the workforce in April, according to the New School’s Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA). Some were voluntary departures, but presumably most were layoffs. What’s more, SCEPA estimates that in the coming months, if the unemployment rate reaches 25%, the number of older workers who lose their jobs due to the coronavirus recession will grow to 10.5 million. Read More...

May 20, 2020 At time of writing the United States owed $19.3 trillion in public debt. It owed another $5.9 trillion in debt held by its own agencies. Together, these figures come to a national debt of $25.2 trillion. With substantially more coronavirus spending almost certainly still to come, 2020 will be one of the most expensive years in U.S. history. As a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), the coronavirus response has already pushed government spending to its highest levels since World War II (the single most expensive event in U.S. history). How is the United States going to pay for all of this? Read More...

May 20, 2020 Having sufficient savings is imperative as a person enters retirement and leaves the workforce behind. But several factors - including a delayed start to saving, the increasing cost of living, a decrease in the number of people with traditional pensions and now the economic downturn precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic - may make seniors consider returning to the workforce in order to supplement whatever retirement income they might already have. Will they be joining plenty of peers in their area who are working in old age as part of their financial plan? SmartAsset analyzed the data to find where seniors are increasingly staying in the workforce the most. Read More...

May 21, 2020 If your small business is struggling to pay its debts and your creditors are threatening to take your assets, bankruptcy is an option. Although bankruptcy sounds like the end, it actually can be a way for a business in dire straits to find a new beginning. With the right understanding of bankruptcy, a small business owner can repair a troubled balance sheet and keep his or her business going. Here’s how to declare, what the process looks like and how your company can survive it. Read More...

May 18, 2020 In late April 2020, the Treasury Department concluded agreements with several U.S. airlines and began to make initial payments of the Payroll Support Program, a provision established in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that intends to support the hard-hit aviation industry after the grounding effects of the onset of the coronavirus crisis. Read More...

May 18, 2020 Moderna, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company, announced that one of its COVID-19 vaccine trials has seen promising results. The vaccine has only been tested on a handful of individuals, but it has shown an ability to promote antibodies and an immune response when exposed to coronavirus in a lab. While the vaccine will need to undergo much more rigorous testing before it can be manufactured and made available to the public, Moderna's announcement has given hope to many people, including investors. A financial advisor can guide your investments through the coronavirus crisis. Speak with a financial advisor today. Read More...

May 18, 2020 You may have noticed that when we are in a recession, there tends to be increased consumer interest in mortgage refinancing. You might see or hear advertisements about lower interest rates and how you can lower your monthly mortgage payment. However, there are several factors to take into account when deciding when - or if - you should refinance your mortgage, including the expected trajectory of mortgage rates. Here are a few scenarios where you should consider refinancing. Read More...

May 18, 2020 When financial troubles mount and debts are piling up, filing for bankruptcy protection may be a last resort option. Personal bankruptcy filings usually involve Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, but when businesses need help, they may seek to reorganize by filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Of the three, Chapter 11 is generally the most complex filing option but it can bring relief during difficult times. Here's more on what's involved with this type of bankruptcy filing, how it works, and who can use it. Read More...

May 18, 2020 When the stock market is plunging, or at least stagnant, it may make sense to move your assets out of equity markets and put them into bonds or even cash. These don't offer much in the way of growth, but they are generally safer than stocks and can protect you from losses. However, under such circumstances, investors have an alternative to bonds or cash - one that not only protects you from market losses, but allows you to profit from them. That alternative is called shorting the market, and it can provide a great hedge against market losses or even let you make big bets on a coming crash. But like any speculative market play, it can burn investors who aren't careful. Here's what investors should know about shorting. Read More...

May 15, 2020 Several insurance companies have created relief programs to support their car insurance customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of these insurers are providing premium refunds, pausing policy cancellations, extending payment deadlines and more. And if you have an auto insurance policy in effect between April and May, you'll probably qualify. However, while you'll want to communicate with your insurer to see whether you qualify for relief, many Americans are also consulting financial advisors to help them navigate a looming recession. Plus, you can take also take advantage of coronavirus crisis government help. Read on to see which companies are currently offering auto insurance relief and whether you're eligible. Read More...

May 14, 2020 The  Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a law that ensures that employees have access to up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for qualified medical and family-related reasons. Up to 26 weeks of leave are available to employees caring for a servicemember with an illness or serious injury. As a result of the coronavirus outbreak and the  Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), several FMLA benefits have been expanded. If you're thinking of taking advantage of these benefits, you'll need to know how to navigate the various forms associated with the law. Read More...

Jun 30, 2020 The stated goal of the  Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is to help small businesses keep employees on their payrolls. The program's relatively simple loan application and relaxed requirements are meant to enable small businesses to get quick access to liquidity so they don't have to resort to layoffs or furloughs during mandated closures and social distancing orders. If borrowers use the money as the federal government intends, the loans are forgiven. With the recent passage of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (PPPFA), though, the government changed many of the rules, largely to be more flexible. Read on to know the rules to ensure that you receive full debt forgiveness. Read More...

May 14, 2020 The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020. The bill includes a number of provisions that help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. These include expanded unemployment benefits and additional paid sick and family leave. But perhaps the most well known aspect of the CARES Act is the one-time stimulus check payment of up to $1,200 that most Americans are eligible for. These checks are meant to provide some aid to people who might be having financial troubles during the coronavirus crisis. Below, we go through each of the major questions about these stimulus checks so you know exactly what you're getting and when. Thinking about investing or saving your stimulus check money? Talk to a financial advisor today. Read More...

May 18, 2020 Coming in at 1,815 pages, the new coronavirus relief bill proposed and approved by the House is a giant wishlist. Named the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, it includes: $540 billion for states, territories and tribal governments; $100 billion for a public health and social services emergency fund; $100 billion for emergency rent assistance; $90 billion for state grants to support public school systems; $75 billion for a homeowner assistance fund; $75 billion for COVID-19 testing and and contact tracing and $25 billion for the postal service. All told, just the appropriations take up 140 pages and add up roughly to $3 trillion. When combined with the costs of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the interim bill after it, that's a whopping $6 trillion in aid so far. The House approved the bill last Friday; the Senate, though, says it wants to see the impact of the last stimulus bills before considering a new one. In the meantime, here are the highlights related to personal finances and small businesses - including another round of stimulus checks. Read More...

May 13, 2020 In April 2020, many Americans received their first economic stimulus payments as a result of the CARES Act. While these checks of up to $1,200 per person were helpful for many families, it wasn’t enough for many to make ends meet, especially as the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting quarantines have dragged on. With this in mind, Democratic senators have proposed additional financial aid by introducing the Monthly Economic Crisis Act. So, if the bill passes, what does this mean for Americans? Read More...

May 13, 2020 While many of the relief programs created to aid people during the coronavirus pandemic have come from the federal and state governments, there are relief programs created by companies and nonprofits. One such program is the recently created Give Together Relief Fund. The fund was created by the Family Dependence Initiative and Stand Together Foundation to provide direct relief to individuals and families impacted by COVID-19. To determine if you meet the eligibility requirements and understand application details, here’s what you should know. Read More...

May 12, 2020 A holographic will sounds like something high-tech, but it's quite the opposite: A will that's completely written by hand, specifies what property or assets, such as bonds, stocks and fund accounts, are being willed and any circumstances that recipients must meet to receive named assets. Such wills aren't necessarily recognized in all situations, with the legal status of such wills varying by state. In this article we discuss the requirements for holographic wills, which states recognize them and the potential downfalls. Read More...

May 12, 2020 Stepped-up basis is a tax provision that allows heirs to reduce their capital gains taxes. When someone inherits property and investments, the IRS resets the market value of these assets to their value on the date of the original owner’s death. Then, when the heir sells these assets, capital gains taxes are applied based on this reset value. The result is a situation - often considered a tax loophole - that allows investors to pass assets to their heirs virtually tax-free. Read More...

May 12, 2020 All property falls into two categories: real or personal property. Whether something is considered real property or personal property depends on a surprisingly simple test: Can you physically move it? The outcome of that test determines the distinction between real property and personal property, which in turn has real implications for taxation. Read More...

May 12, 2020 The $2.1 trillion CARES Act, which Congress passed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, includes a ban on corporate stock buybacks. Specifically, the law prohibits large corporations that receive loans or loan guarantees authorized under the legislation from buying their own or their parent company’s stock. This ban continues until 12 months after such a loan is no longer outstanding. Here is an overview of the share buyback ban in the CARES Act, and why it was included. Read More...

May 12, 2020 Small businesses dealing with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic can qualify for several federal small business relief programs. Most of these take the form of Small Business Administration loans and grants (such as the PPP loan program, which is a loan that effectively become a grant if certain criteria are met). In addition to these programs, the SBA is offering debt relief to small businesses with an existing SBA loan. Each small business’s debt relief eligibility is based on the size of its business. This includes how many employees they have, what their annual revenue is, and other size standards the Small Business Administration (SBA) determines. Here is what you need to know about the SBA debt relief program, if you are eligible and how to apply. Read More...

May 12, 2020 In the face of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, which has left many Americans out of work and struggling to meet basic needs, President Donald Trump is considering proposing a plan to allow workers to take an early Social Security payment in exchange for getting lower payments later, after they’ve retired. This plan was developed by people at the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institution, two prominent conservative think tanks that have developed many GOP plans through the years. If you’re struggling with your finances and think you need help, consider working with a financial advisor. Read More...

May 11, 2020 If you're one of millions of Americans who has yet to receive a stimulus check from the government, you have until noon on Wednesday, May 13 to submit your direct deposit information to the IRS using the "Get My Payment" tool. If you miss the stimulus check deadline, you'll still be able to receive your payment, but you'll be stuck waiting for a paper check to come in the mail. This could takes weeks or months, depending on your adjusted gross income (AGI) and other factors. Thinking about saving or investing the money in your stimulus check? Talk to a financial advisor today. Read More...

May 07, 2020 When two or more people join forces to create a for-profit business, the result is a general partnership. A general partnership is an unincorporated business run by two or more people who are known as general partners. Although general partners may contribute differently to the enterprise, all are equally responsible for the partnership's, profits, losses, debts and liabilities. Such an arrangement has many advantages and is one of the most common ways to structure a business. It also has some significant limitations compared to other business entities.  Read More...

May 07, 2020 A commodity trading advisor (CTA) has expertise in trading commodities and related instruments. Although a CTA can act much like a financial advisor, and some financial advisors may hold the designation, this designation is specific to advice related to commodities or futures trading. CTAs might manage investment accounts or trade futures on behalf of clients, and a CTA can be either an individual or a company. Here's how the CTA certification is earned, and what it qualifies a financial professional to do. Read More...

May 07, 2020 During periods of economic uncertainty, it's natural to question the stability of banks and banking systems. After all, you rely on your bank to keep your money safe and secure so you can continue to pay bills and cover everyday living expenses. You may be worried about what could happen in the event of a bank failure, but the good news is that you and your money are protected. If you've ever wondered what happens when a bank fails, why this can sometimes happen, or what it means for you, here's what you need to know. Read More...

May 07, 2020 An index investing strategy often appeals to investors who are interested in taking a passive approach to the market. While there are many possibilities, Vanguard index funds are among the most popular options for low-cost investing. These funds, which seek to match the performance of a stock market benchmark rather than beating it, allow for simplified diversification when building a portfolio. Read More...

May 07, 2020 Banks, brokerages, insurers and even some government agencies spend significant resources to identify, assess and mitigate financial risk. One of the top certifications for professionals in this line of work is the professional risk manager certification (PRM). Here's what you should know about the certification, how to get it, the fees entailed, and what it equips designees to do. Read More...

May 07, 2020 When inflation threatens an economy by becoming excessive, the government has two ways to dial back the problem: Contractionary fiscal policy and contractionary monetary policy. Congress handles the former, while the U.S. central bank, known as the Federal Reserve or Fed, handles the latter. Here is an overview of how these two approaches work. Read More...

May 07, 2020 A master of business administration (MBA) degree is designed for those who want to hold leadership or management positions in corporate or public sectors. It’s the world’s most popular professional degree program, and there are more than 2,500 MBA programs around the globe. Here's what you need to know about MBA degrees, including how much it costs and what it can do for your career earnings. Read More...

Jun 10, 2020 The coronavirus pandemic has hammered the U.S. economy and Americans' incomes. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) said on June 8 that in February 2020 the economy fell into recession, ending 128 months of growth - the longest growth period since 1854. The announcement was not altogether a surprise. Here's why and a look at how economists typically think about recessions. Read More...

May 05, 2020 Subsidies, which are a kind of economic stimulus, are government payments made to businesses. Subsidies can target either specific companies or an entire industry, and they typically apply in one of two ways. In some programs the government supports an industry directly, providing cash payments, tax breaks, or paying for certain costs. In other programs the government supports an industry by making their products cheaper for consumers, often by providing vouchers or breaks on taxes. Through subsidies, a government can encourage a business that would otherwise be unprofitable in the free market. Read More...

May 05, 2020 Drafting a will can help ensure your assets are passed on to your heirs according to your wishes when you pass away. But if you have a larger estate, you may consider setting up a trust to manage your assets as well. While not everyone needs a trust, there are certain benefits to creating one. Understanding what a trust is, how it works and the various types of trust can help you decide if one belongs in your estate plan. Read More...

May 05, 2020 Financial planning means giving thought to how you want to manage your investments and other assets during your lifetime. But it also means taking a longer view and considering what will happen to your assets after you're gone. That includes creating an estate plan, which often involves a  last will and testament. Dying intestate means that you've passed away without drawing up a will, which is something that can have serious consequences for your estate. If you're still putting together your financial and estate plan, here's more on what intestacy means and how it can affect your loved ones. Read More...

May 05, 2020 When market volatility sets in, the savvy investor looks for opportunities. If stocks are overvalued, employing a shorting strategy could help you reap gains in your portfolio, but it's not without its risk. Short-selling involves borrowing stocks, selling them at their current price, then repurchasing them later at a lower price so you can return them to the investment firm you borrowed from. If the price drops, you see a profit. This tactic can be profitable if you're able to identify the right stocks at the right time. Knowing how to recognize an overvalued stock is essential if you're considering a shorting strategy to capitalize on market trends. Read More...

May 01, 2020 Like most states, South Dakota has taken multiple steps to recover its economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state currently has more than 2,200 cases with 11 deaths, according to the South Dakota Department of Health. And the government has both created and expanded various state programs to aid individuals and small businesses impacted by the outbreak. But the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act also directs coronavirus crisis government help toward residents and businesses in need. In this guide, we explore your options for coronavirus relief both at the state and federal levels. Many Americans are consulting financial advisors to combat the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis. Find a financial advisor today. Read More...

May 14, 2020 The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying economic crisis has impacted life throughout the world, hurting both individuals and small businesses as our normal way of living has profoundly changed. North Dakota has not been hit particularly hard by the outbreak, but there is not a corner of the United States that has not at least been affected by the current economic situation. Both the federal government and the state of North Dakota, though, have plans in place to help individuals and business. As always, a financial advisor can help you make the most of your financial situation. Read More...

May 28, 2020 The COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying economic crisis has impacted life everywhere, from major cities to small towns in the middle of the United States. The state of Wyoming has not been hit as hard as some other states, possibly owing to its small population and low population density, but the Cowboy State has still felt an impact to both individuals and businesses. The state government, in turn, has implemented measures to make life during this pandemic a bit easier. If you want to make it through this crisis financially healthy, consider speaking with a financial advisor. Read More...

May 01, 2020 The COVID-19 pandemic has caused problems all around the world, and Alaska, despite its relative remoteness, has not been spared. The lives of both individuals and businesses in the Last Frontier State have been impacted by the pandemic and the economic downturn that has accompanied it. During and after this crisis, consider working with a financial advisor as a way to plan your future and make sure you are protected against future economic downturns. Read More...

May 01, 2020 As Delaware's coronavirus cases approaches 3,000, the state has introduced many measures to keep its residents safe and to protect any individuals or small businesses adversely impacted by the outbreak. And the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides direct coronavirus crisis government help at the federal level, with several programs for coronavirus relief for businesses. In this guide, we take a closer look at the coronavirus relief programs both at the Delaware and federal levels. Financial advisors can help you protect your finances while navigating economically difficult times. Find a financial advisor today.  Read More...

May 28, 2020 Montana provides a number of relief programs to combat the economic challenges presented by the COVID-19 outbreak. With more than 480 cases and fewer than 20 deaths, the state has implemented stay-at-home orders, unemployment benefits expansions and numerous other coronavirus assistance programs for individuals and small businesses. But the U.S. also provides coronavirus crisis government help for eligible applicants. In this guide, we take a closer look at the available state and federal programs for Montanans. Countless Americans are meeting with financial advisors to protect their assets during economically turbulent times. Find a financial advisor today.  Read More...

May 11, 2020 As a response to the economic challenges presented by COVID-19, Rhode island is providing widespread coronavirus support to individuals and small businesses impacted by the pandemic. In fact, the state's efforts have led to unemployment benefits expansions, utilities expansions, financial grants and more. And if you're a coronavirus-impacted employee or small business owner, you can also take advantage of coronavirus crisis government help. Below, we take a closer look at the available relief programs at the state and federal level. Many Americans are meeting with financial advisors to protect their wealth during economically turbulent times. Find a financial advisor today. Read More...

Apr 30, 2020 Traditionally, if you needed medical care you'd head to your doctor's office, urgent care clinic or even the emergency room. With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping many Americans home, telehealth services have emerged as an alternative to in-person care. Being able to consult a doctor remotely can be convenient, but what exactly does it involve and who does it benefit? If you've never used telehealth services before, you may be wondering what it covers and how much it costs. This guide covers the most important things to know about telehealth coronavirus services. Read More...

Apr 30, 2020 As the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. grows, you might be wondering whether your health insurance will cover you if you were to contract the disease, COVID-19. While every health plan differs, here’s what you need to know about your policy and what coverage you can expect. Read More...

May 15, 2020 During a recession the Federal Reserve gets the most headlines for dropping its benchmark interest rates to spur lending, and the spending that lending allows. While that’s the most well-known move the Fed makes, it’s far from the only one. In fact the U.S. central bank has a number of ways it can influence monetary policy during an economic downturn. One of those options is to subsidize U.S. money markets through what's called the Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility. Read More...

May 15, 2020 Elderly people have been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with the greatest risk of complications and death occurring among older people. If you're an elderly person on Medicare, you might be wondering what medical costs related to coronavirus are covered by the programs. In this article we'll break down which costs are covered by Medicare, and what other services are provided and covered during this time. Read More...

Apr 30, 2020 Maine provides several coronavirus relief options for its individuals and small businesses. As the state works to recovery its economy, it has introduced numerous expansions and programs to support those severely impacted by the pandemic. Among these are unemployment benefits expansions, financial grants and various other programs. But employees and small business owners may also benefit from federal relief efforts. In this guide, we explore your options for relief both at the state and federal levels. A financial advisor can help you protect your assets during turbulent times. Find a financial advisor today.  Read More...

May 15, 2020 New Hampshire is one of the smallest and most rural states in the U.S., so it makes sense that, compared to larger, more urban states, it has not been hit as hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The state confirmed its first case on March 2; within six weeks it had 3,382 confirmed cases and 151 deaths. Individuals and small businesses in New Hampshire have access to some state programs. There are also plenty of federal programs available to businesses and individuals alike. If you're looking for more specific help managing your finances during the coronavirus pandemic, talking to a financial advisor could be beneficial. Read More...

May 15, 2020 In comparison to the rest of the U.S., the state of Hawaii hasn't been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, by mid-May 2020 there were 638 confirmed cases of COVIDF-19 and 17 fatalities. However, the state is feeling the effects of the pandemic in other ways. There has been a statewide stay-at-home order in place since March 25, and all non-essential businesses have been forced to temporarily close. Hawaii residents affected by the pandemic can avail themselves of numerous  federal programs. If you or your business have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, consider speaking with a financial advisor who can help address your concerns. Read More...

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