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Mary's Money Minute Newsletters

April 2018

Government Report Details Household Finances: Every three years, the Federal Reserve sponsors the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), which collects information on the financial state of U.S. households. The survey is one of the nation's primary sources of information on the financial condition of different types of households.

The Standard Deduction and Itemized Deductions After Tax Reform: The Tax Cut and Jobs Act substantially increased the standard deduction amounts for 2018 to 2025. It also eliminated or restricted many itemized deductions for those years. You can generally choose to take the standard
deduction or to itemize deductions. As a result of the changes, far fewer taxpayers will be able to reduce their taxes by itemizing deductions.

Four Points to Consider When Setting a Retirement Income Goal: No matter what your age or stage of life, targeting a goal for monthly retirement income can seem like a daunting task. Following are four considerations to help you get started.

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March 2018

Due Date Approaches for 2017 Federal Income Tax Returns: Tax filing season is here again. If you haven't done so already, you'll want to start pulling things together — that includes getting your hands on a copy of last year's tax return and gathering W-2s, 1099s, and deduction records.

Four Tips for Downsizing in Retirement: Going through years of accumulated possessions and memories is probably not how you envisioned spending part of your retirement. It may sound like a daunting and emotionally draining task, but downsizing could be a savvy financial move, especially if you haven't reached your retirement savings goals.

College Saving: How Does a 529 Plan Compare to a Roth IRA?:  529 plans were created 22 years ago, in 1996, to give people a tax-advantaged way to save for college. Roth IRAs were created a year later, in 1997, to give people a tax-advantaged way to save for retirement. But a funny thing
happened along the way — some parents adapted the Roth IRA as a college savings tool.

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February 2018

What's Your Money Script: Money is power. A fool and his money are soon parted. A penny saved is a penny earned. Money is the root of all evil. Do any of these expressions ring true for you? 

What is Cyber Insurance and Should Your Business Have it?: What is cyber insurance? What does it cover? Who needs it? Plan ahead before a cyber attack occurs. 

Why is it important to factor inflation into retirement planning? Inflation is one of the key factors you will need to consider when planning for retirement. Not only will the cost of living rise while you're accumulating assets for retirement, but it will continue to rise during retirement, which could last 25 years or longer.

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January 2018

How much Risk Can You Take?: Many market shocks are short-lived once investors conclude the event is unlikely to cause lasting economic damage. Still,major market downturns such as the 2000 dot-com bust and the 2008-09 credit crisis are powerful reminders that we cannot control or predict exactly how, where, or when precarious situations will arise.

Key Retirement and Tax Numbers for 2018: Every year, the Internal Revenue Service announces cost-of-living adjustments that affect contribution limits for retirement plans, thresholds for deductions and credits, and standard deduction and personal exemption amounts. Here are a few of the key adjustments for 2018.

Don't Delay: The Potential Benefits of Starting to Save Now : For long-term investment goals such as retirement, time can be one of your biggest advantages. That's because time allows your investment dollars to do some  of the hard work for you through a mathematical principle known as compounding.

What can I do to crack down on robocalls? You may not mind if a legitimate robocall provides a helpful announcement from your child's school or an appointment reminder from a doctor's office. But sadly, criminals often use robocalls to collect consumers' personal information and/or conduct various scams.

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December 2017

Questions to ask before buying that thing you've always wanted:  Even if you're generally comfortable with your finances, you may occasionally worry about how much you're spending, especially if you consistently have
trouble saving for shorter long-term goals. Here are a few questions to ask that might help you decide whether a purchase is really worth it.

Baby Boomer RMD's: In 2016, the first wave of baby boomers turned 70½, and many more reach that milestone in 2017 and 2018. What's so special about 70½? That's the age when you must begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from tax-deferred retirement accounts, including traditional IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, SEP IRAs, SARSEPs, and 401(k), 403(b), and 457(b) plans. 

I still have money left in my FSA that I have to use by December 31st. How should I spend it?:  Health flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are a great way for individuals to pay qualified medical and dental expenses using pre-tax dollars. If you find that you still have money left over in your FSA as the end of the year approaches, there are a number of ways to spend down your account balance.

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November 2017

What You Can Do with a Will: A will is often the cornerstone of an estate plan. Here are five things you can do with a will.

Does Your Business Need a Buy-Sell Agreement? When you're mired deep in the day-to-day challenges of the management of your business, it's often hard to step out of the trees and take a good hard look at the forest. But at various points in the business cycle, it's important to do just that.. 

Ten Year-End Tax Tips for 2017: Here are 10 things to consider as you weigh potential tax moves between now and the end of the year.

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October 2017

Company Stock and Your Portfolio: Keep Your Eye on Concentration Risk: The opportunity to acquire company stock — inside or outside a workplace retirement plan — can be a lucrative employee benefit. But having too much of your retirement plan assets or net worth concentrated in your employer's stock could become a problem if the company or sector hits hard times and the stock price plummets.

Managing Debt While Saving for Retirement: It's a catch-22: You feel that you should focus on paying down debt, but you also want to save for retirement. It may be comforting to know you're not alone.

Is the Social Security Administration still mailing Social Security Statements?: For several years, the Social Security Administration (SSA) mailed these statements every five years to people starting at age 25, but due to budgetary concerns, the SSA has stopped mailing Social Security Statements to individuals under age 60.

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September 2017

For Women, A Pay Gap Could Lead to a Retirement Gap: Women in the workforce generally earn less than men. While the gender pay gap is narrowing, it is still significant. The difference in wages, coupled with other factors, can lead to a shortfall in retirement savings for women.

Life is for the Living, and So Is Life Insurance: September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. Life can be busy. The requirements of work and family often leave little time to step back and think about where you've been and where you're heading. But as your responsibilities grow, so does the need to evaluate what would happen if life for you stopped.

Medicare and Your Employer Health Plan: How does Medicare work with your group health plan? If you plan to continue working after you reach age 65, you may be wondering how Medicare coordinates with your employer's group health plan. When you're eligible for both types of coverage, you'll need to consider the benefits and costs, and navigate an array of rules.

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August 2017

Hot Topics: Your Money Philosophy: What the heck is a money philosophy? Guess what? You already have one - you just may not know it! Money Philosophy is what you feel money does for you in your life.

Q&A's on Roth 401(k)s: The Roth 401(k) is 10 years old! With 62% of employers now offering this option, it's more likely than not that you can make these contributions. Are you taking advantage of this?

Nearing Retirement? Time to Get Focused: If you are within 10 years of retirement, you've probably spent some time thinking about this major life change. The transition to retirement can seem a bit daunting, even overwhelming. If you find yourself wondering where to begin, the following may help you focus.

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July 2017

Alternatives to Long-Term Care Insurance: The costs of long-term care can be overwhelming, potentially exhausting retirement income and savings. You may be thinking about buying long-term care insurance (LTCI) to help cover some of the potential costs of long-term care, but LTCI can be expensive, and if you do buy the coverage, you probably hope you never have to use it.

Test Your Investing IQ: How much do you know about market basics? Put your investing IQ to the test with this quiz on stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.

Kickstart Your College Fund with a 529 Plan: If you're looking to save money for college, one option to consider is a 529 college savings plan. How does it work? What are the benefits? What are the tradeoffs? Find out more here.

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June 2017

Pick up your book now!: Are You Ready To Pull The Retirement Trigger? hit bookstores June 20th.

Student Loan Debt: It isn't just for Millennials. A student loan debt clock at estimates current outstanding student loan debt — including both federal and private student loans — at over $1.4 trillion.

Expect the Unexpected: What to do if you become disabled:  Although you may be healthy and financially stable now, an unexpected diagnosis or injury could significantly derail your life plans. Would you know what to do, financially speaking, if you suddenly became disabled? Now may be a good time to familiarize yourself with the following information, before an emergency arises.

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May 2017

Pre-Order Your Book Now!: Mary's new book, “Ready To Pull The Retirement Trigger? Your Strategic Guide To Retire With Confidence” went to international best-seller status as an e-book on Amazon in 6 countries. It will be released in its  print version on June 20th and be available in bookstores across America. You can preorder a copy now at your favorite bookstore – like Barnes & Noble , Books-a-Million , Amazon and more!

Tax Benefits of Homeownership: Buying a home can be a major expenditure. Fortunately, federal tax benefits are available to make homeownership more affordable and less expensive. There may also be tax benefits under state law.

Is it Wise to Trade Your Pension for a Lump Sum?: Many pension plan participants have the option to take their money in a lump sum when they retire. And since 2012, an increasing number of large corporate pensions have been implementing "lump-sum windows" during which vested former employees have a limited amount of time (typically 30 to 90 days) to accept or decline buyout offers.

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