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Money Minute Newsletters

October 2020

Is It Time to Think About Tax-Free Income?: Federal and state governments have spent extraordinary sums in response to the economic toll inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic. At some point it is likely that governments will look for ways to increase revenue to compensate for this spending and increase income taxes as a result. That's why it might be a good time to think about ways to help reduce your taxable income. Here are three potential sources of tax-free income to consider.

Five Investment Tasks to Tackle by Year-End: Market turbulence in 2020 may have wreaked havoc on your investment goals for the year. It probably also highlighted the importance of periodically reviewing your investment portfolio to determine whether adjustments are needed to keep it on track. Now is a good time to take on these five year-end investment tasks.

Three Questions to Consider During Open Enrollment: Open enrollment is your annual opportunity to review your employer-provided benefit options and make elections for the upcoming plan year. You can get the most out of what your employer offers and possibly save some money by taking the time to read through your open enrollment information before making any benefit decisions. Every employer has its own open enrollment period (typically in the fall) and the information is usually available online through your employer.

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September 2020

Women Outpace Men in Degrees Earned: During the 2019-2020 academic year, U.S. colleges and universities conferred an estimated 989,000 associate's degrees, 1,975,000 bachelor's degrees, 820,000 master's degrees, and 184,000 doctoral degrees.

Return of Premium Life Insurance: Protection and Cash Back: You have decided you need life insurance coverage and are considering buying a term policy. But you ask your financial professional, "Do I get any of my money back at the end of the term?" It's possible, if you consider buying a special kind of term insurance called return of premium term insurance, or ROP..

Printing Money: The Fed's Bond-Buying Program: The Federal Reserve's unprecedented efforts to support the U.S economy during the COVID-19 pandemic include a commitment by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to purchase Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities "in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning and effective transmission of monetary policy."

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August 2020

Almost 9 Out of 10 Women Qualify for Social Security on Their Own: Because of a long-term rise in the employment rate for women of all ages, the percentage of women ages 62 to
64 who are fully insured for Social Security retirement benefits based on their own work records has increased significantly since 1980.

The Changing College Landscape: The 2020-2021 academic year is right around the corner, and the coronavirus pandemic has upended the college world, like everything else. Not only has COVID-19 impacted short-term college operations and student summer plans, but the virus could end up being the catalyst that changes the model of higher education in the long term. Here are some things to know about the changing college landscape.

Three Things to Consider Before Your Next Trip: The health and economic crisis created by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will have a long-lasting impact on how we all will travel going forward. And though it may be difficult to think about planning a trip during these uncertain times, here are some things to consider if you do decide to travel.

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July 2020

Foreign Tourists: More than 79 million foreign tourists visited the United States in 2019, adding $254 billion to the U.S. economy. Residents of Canada and Mexico accounted for almost half of the total, while the countries below were the top 10 sources of overseas visitors.

Tapping Retirement Savings During a Financial Crisis: As the number of COVID-19 cases began to skyrocket in March 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The legislation may make it easier for Americans to access money in their retirement plans, temporarily waiving the 10% early-withdrawal penalty and increasing the amount they could borrow. Understanding these new guidelines and the other rules for loans and early withdrawals may help you determine if they are appropriate options during a financial crisis.

Portfolio Performance: Choose Your Benchmarks Wisely. Dramatic market turbulence has been common in 2020, and you can't help but hear about the frequent ups and downs of the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the S&P 500 index. The performance of these major indexes is widely reported and analyzed in detail by financial news outlets around the nation.

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June 2020

Student Debt Isn't just for Young Adults: Recent college graduates aren't the only ones carrying student loan debt. A significant number of older Americans have student debt, too. In fact, student loan debt is the second-highest consumer debt category after mortgage debt. In total, outstanding student loan debt in the United States now stands at approximately $1.5
trillion, with the age 30 to 39 group carrying the highest load.

Mid-Year is a Good Time to Fine-Tune Your Finances: The first part of 2020 was rocky, but there should be better days ahead. Taking a close look at your finances may give you the foundation you need to begin moving forward. Mid-year is an ideal time to do so, because the planning opportunities are potentially greater than if you waited until the end of the year.

The ABCs of Finance:  It's never too soon to start teaching children about money. Whether they're tagging along with you to the grocery store or watching you make purchases online,
children quickly realize that we use money to buy the things we want. You can teach some simple lessons today that will give them a solid foundation for making a lifetime of sound financial decisions.

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May 2020

State Population: Winners and Losers: The U.S. population was 328,239,523 in 2019, an increase of 0.5% over 2018. This was the fourth consecutive year of slowing population growth due to fewer births, more deaths, and lower immigration from other countries.

Five Key Benefits of the CARES Act for Individuals and Businesses: By now you know that Congress has passed a $2 trillion relief bill to help keep individuals and businesses afloat during these difficult times. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act contains many provisions. Here are five that may benefit you or your business.

Will vs. Trust: Know the Difference: Wills and trusts are common documents used in estate planning. While each can help in the distribution of assets at death, there are important differences between the two.

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April 2020

Tax Refund: Spend or Save: About 72% of taxpayers received a refund in 2018 and 2019. Here's how consumers spent the tax refunds they received in 2018 and what they planned to do with their 2019 refunds.

Keeping Cool: Investment Strategy vs. Reaction: After losing ground in 2018, U.S. stocks had a banner year in 2019, with the S&P 500 gaining almost 29% — the highest annual increase since 2013.1 It's too early to know how 2020 will turn out, but it's been rocky so far, and you can count on market swings to challenge your patience as an investor.

Social Security May Offer a Lifetime of Protection: Social Security is much more than a retirement program. Most Americans are protected by the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program — the official name of Social Security — from birth through old age. Here are four times in your life when Social Security might matter to you or the people
you care about.

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March 2020

Due Date Approaches for 2019 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.

Is It Time to Review Your IRA Estate Planning Strategies?: The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, which was passed in December 2019 as part of a larger federal spending package, included a provision that warrants special attention from those who own high-value IRAs. Specifically, the "stretch" IRA provision — which permitted
nonspouse beneficiaries who inherited IRAs to spread distributions over their lifetimes — has been substantially restricted. IRA owners may want to revisit their estate planning strategies to
help prevent their heirs from getting hit with higher-than-expected tax bills.

Is there any way to stop getting unwanted robocalls?:  Whether it's a helpful announcement from your child's school or an appointment reminder from a doctor's office, getting
robocalls has become an everyday occurrence. Unfortunately, robocalls are also used by criminals to collect consumers' personal and financial information and/or conduct various
scams.

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February 2020

Tips for Targeting Your Retirement Savings Goal: What if you're saving as much as you can, but still feel that your retirement savings goal is out of reach? As with many of life's toughest challenges, it may help to focus less on the big picture and more on the details.

The SECURE Act Offers New Opportunities for Individuals and Businesses: The SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act) is  major legislation that was passed by Congress as part of a larger spending bill and signed into law by the president in December. Here are a few provisions that may affect you. Unless otherwise noted, the new rules apply to tax or plan years starting January 1, 2020.

Closing Gaps in Your Insurance Coverage: Buying insurance is about sharing or shifting risk, but you may think you're covered for specific losses when, in fact, you're not. Here are some common coverage gaps to consider when reviewing your own insurance coverage.

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January 2020

Socially Responsible Investing: Sustainable, responsible, and impact (SRI) investing (also called socially responsible investing) has been around for a long time, but growing interest has moved it into the mainstream. U.S. SRI assets reached $12 trillion in 2018, 38% more than in 2016.

Hindsight is 2020: What Will You Do Differently This Year?: According to a recent survey, 76% of Americans reported having at least one financial regret. Over half of this group said it had to do with savings: 27% didn't start saving for retirement soon enough, 19% didn't contribute enough to an emergency fund, and 10% wish they had saved more for college.1

Key Retirement and Tax Numbers for 2020: Every year, the Internal Revenue Service announces cost-of-living adjustments that affect contribution limits for retirement plans and various tax deduction, exclusion, exemption, and threshold amounts. Here are a few of the key adjustments for 2020.

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December 2019

How to Give Like a Billionaire When You Don't Have Billions to Give:  Since Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett created the Giving Pledge in 2010, more than 200 of the world's wealthiest individuals and couples have committed to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropic or charitable causes.

Take This Quiz: The Social Security Retirement Earnings Test: Can you work and receive Social Security retirement benefits at the same time? Yes, but the Social Security Administration (SSA) will apply an earnings test. Part or all of your monthly benefit may be withheld if you earn too much. To help avoid surprises, take this quiz to find out what you know — and don't know — about Social Security earnings test rules.

 Should I sign up for an identity theft protection service?:  Unfortunately, data breaches are now normal, everyday occurrences in our society. As a result, many companies are offering services to help you protect your personal information. If you want an extra layer of protection, an identity theft protection service is a good option. However, the term "identity theft protection service" can be misleading.

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November 2019

Three Regrets of Retirees: A recent survey found that more than half of retirees have retirement planning regrets. Unfortunately, many of these retirees had to cut back on their lifestyles to compensate for financial shortfalls. 

Ten Year-End Tax Tips for 2019: Here are 10 things to consider as you weigh potential tax moves between now and the end of the year.

Tips for Managing Your Holiday Spending: Like almost everything else these days, the holidays have become a barrage of options and choices, with nearly limitless opportunities to overspend. Here are some tips to help you make sure your family's spending remains in check this holiday season.

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