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Previous Tips:

Growth of US credit card debt lags behind that of GDP and personal income

How bad is $1 trillion of credit card debt?

US credit card debt is approaching a big milestone. But the real question is how much it has increased compared to other things.
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The lifetime exclusion amount determines how much money you can give away or bequeath during your life without incurring taxes.

A big estate tax break is about to shrink

If you hope to leave behind a large chunk of change after you die, you should know about the lifetime exclusion amount.
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Is infinite banking a scam?

Even if you have never heard of it before, the term “infinite banking” is probably enough by itself to set off alarms in your head. Is it for real?
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Instead of increasing, interest rates decreased after the US credit rating downgrade in 2011.

How bad would a US credit rating downgrade be?

Despite the headlines, a US credit rating downgrade may seem like much ado about nothing. After all, how bad can AA+ possibly be?  
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International indexes like those of MSCI can help investors expand beyond the US stock market

America is great, but it isn't everything

The US stock market is so huge that it is easier to forget the rest of the world exists, at least when it comes to investing. But that would be a …
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Covered call writing: a fancy trick for simple investors

If you want to generate some extra income from your portfolio - without getting too risky or complicated - you may be interested in this technique.
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How to save your money from the nursing home

"Keep your savings and still qualify for Medicaid!” Sounds great… but how is this actually accomplished? And what is the catch?
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Should you "Sell in May and Go Away"?

I hear this old investment proverb every single year around this time. Is it a reliable rule of thumb? 
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There is more than one type of investment risk

People can fall into black-and-white thinking with investment risk. They will ask if a given asset is risky, when they should be asking *how.*
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Do I need a financial advisor for estate planning?

An advisors wider perspective can be invaluable in helping clients work through three critical questions about their estate.
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How to not run out of money in retirement

The last three years have made this perennial question more urgent than ever: how do I know my retirement savings will be enough?
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the type of account you use for long-term savings can make a big difference to your lifetime tax liability

Three great ways to hack your tax savings

Even if you can't change much for this year’s taxes, the choices you make today can mean big tax savings in the long run.
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the tax advantages of an HSA make it a great option for retirement saving

How to invest in an HSA - and why you should

Most of us don't think to invest in an HSA and instead treat it as emergency savings. This could be a mistake, however.
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The Ten Commandments of Portfolio Protection

The financial landscape is still full of uncertainty, so here are some perennial investing principles for good and bad times alike.
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pay off debt with IRA example projection

Should you pay off debt with your IRA?

Ideally you will only use your retirement savings for, well... retirement. But perhaps a ton of high-interest debt is the exception?
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While fee-based advisors may earn commissions by offering access to third-party products, fee-only advisors may not.

The great advisor debate: fee-based vs. fee-only

The common claim is that fee-based advisors are vulnerable to conflicts of interest, while fee-only advisors are not. This is a huge …
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Will a trip to Disneyland torpedo your retirement?

There is a hazy but nonetheless widespread idea that every kid should get to go to Disneyland at least once. Is that realistic?
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Does the debt ceiling actually do anything?

You and I cannot just raise our own credit limit at will, so why does the government get to do so? What is the point of a debt limit anyway?
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No, the tech layoffs are not actually a crisis

The number of recent tech layoffs may be big, but there are other important numbers that are even bigger.
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Why derivative investments are not really investments

Many people perceive derivatives as a more esoteric, complex, glamorous (and so on) type of investment. But that is not what they are at all.
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Now is the time to start earning from your savings

While stability and liquidity are critical for your savings, that does not mean they are doomed to just sit there without earning power.
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The Benefits of a Bad Year: 2022 in Review

While 2022 did not meet all the criteria for a recession, it was a major doozy in other ways. But we are still standing, and that is worth something.
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How to time your IRA rollover

If you're looking to roll over a 401(k) into an IRA, should you wait for the market to be up, or down... or neither?
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What does a financial advisor actually do?

For those of you who like to know how the sausage gets made, here is a breakdown of what this financial advisor does.
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How to get not-terrible gas prices

Perhaps it’s sad to get excited for three dollars a gallon... but hey, it’s better than five dollars a gallon. But will this downward trend continue?
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Target-date funds: a little too easy

Target-date funds can be a great fit for some investors because of their convenience. But convenience always comes with a price.
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Single-stock ETFs: a safe(ish) way to gamble?

I recommend treating the latest hot fad with a healthy degree of skepticism. But this one could have its uses - within certain limits, anyway.
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Bad news for the economy = Good news for your portfolio?

During recessionary periods, the stock market often starts to improve even as other aspects of the economy keep declining. What's the deal with that?
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Turns out inflation might be *your* fault

At the end of the day, businesses will keep raising prices if they think consumers will keep paying them. And so far, consumers are still paying.
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MLPs can be a great way to mitigate the effects of a high income tax bracket

High income tax got you down?

MLPs can be a great source of income for investors who are currently in a high tax bracket but expect to be in a lower one down the road.
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How to kickstart your kids' investing

When my kids (ages 10, 9, 2, and baby) are old enough to start investing, the first account I will encourage them to open is a…
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opportunity zones can be found throughout the Pacific Northwest

Invest in the Land(s) of Opportunity

When you think of the "wild west" of investing, Opportunity Zones may not be the first thing to come to mind. But they really can live up to their …
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The underrated benefits of "lazy" money

Most investors want to put their extra cash "to work" rather than letting it sit around. That's very sensible… but a pile of cash has its uses too.
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Why the markets might be in for an upswing

Since 1950, the S&P500 has almost always had positive returns following a certain high-profile event. Know which one it is?
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the rule of 100 claims that age should determine how your portfolio is allocated

The investment "rule" you should actually ignore

Sure, we all know that rules of thumb are imprecise and should not be viewed as ironclad laws. But this one is frankly garbage.
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If you invested k in AAPL in 2012, reinvesting dividends would have earned you ,370 more than just holding the shares.

When to spend your dividends

Reinvesting dividends is usually a good idea. But there are instances where it may be more appropriate to take the money and run.
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projected increase in exports by partner countries in the Belt and Road Initiative

Who will be the next "world's factory"?

China may be looking for a successor to its throne as the king of manufacturing. And that could spell opportunity for savvy investors.
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So you want to invest like a Senator?

Politicians aren't supposed to use their connections for an investing advantage. But you might be able to get a piece of the action when they do!
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Will the CHIPS Act save tech?

After the beating Big Tech has taken this year, the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act is welcome news to many investors.
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An exemption on your real estate taxes can really help to trim expenses, if you're eligible.

How to (possibly) slash your property taxes

A property tax exemption is one of the juiciest tax cuts out there for those who can get it. But how does one get it?
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Walmart's share price dropped drastically in after-hours trading on July 25, 2022.

Big-box retail and the bullwhip effect

Early this week, Walmart had one of its worst stock market days in decades. How did that happen?
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In two of three top product categories, Chinese imports formed the majority of American sales in 2020

Is it time to play nice with China?

In the name of fighting inflation, Biden considers rolling back the Trump-era tariffs on our biggest economic competitor. What would that accomplish?
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The annual returns of key asset indices have varied dramatically over the last 20 years

Don't be an itchy investor!

The “average” investor is bad at investing - and I mean really bad! But it's not because they're always picking the wrong assets.
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inflation is affected by factors like monetary supply, wealth distribution and productivity

A Macro Smackdown: The Fed vs Inflation

Inflation is a very complex phenomenon, so it's hard to say if the Fed's recent rate increases will do the trick against it.
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Home inventory has fallen well behind the rate of population growth over the last decade.

Is another housing crash on the way?

A drop in prices is definitely plausible - but that's hardly the same as a full-blown housing crash.
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Let's be honest: things are scary

In contrast to its gangbuster performance in 2021, the market in 2022 has left everyone rattled. What's going on, and what can you do about it?
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According to Ray Dalio, our recent spike in spending and inflation could mean big changes ahead

Is a "New World Order" on the way?

A look at Ray Dalio's forecast of a "new world order," and what it could mean for us today.
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bond prices have had a notable decline during 2022

Turns out bonds can get crazy, too

The bond market is a full three times bigger than the stock market, and has also seen some important developments recently.
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So, the Nasdaq just took a nosedive

We explore possible causes for the recent whiplash that's afflicted Big Tech stocks in particular.
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stagflation refers to an economic condition of concurrent inflation and recession

Stagflation: when everything goes wrong all at once

A mashup of “stagnation” and “inflation,” stagflation occurs when inflation accompanies a recession – the worst of both worlds.
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The MPI: future of savings or snake-oil scam?

The MPI isn't technically a scam - but it's no financial silver bullet either.
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Is the MPI too good to be true?

Maximum Premium Indexing claims to revolutionize retirement saving with risk-free investment. How realistic is that?
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The most basic - yet confusing - question for retirement planning

The choice between traditional and Roth plans largely comes down to two variables: your time horizon and your expected future tax bracket
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Is the platform economy about to take over?

The platform economy has expanded a lot in the wake of the pandemic. But will its momentum keep up?
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At least a 401(k) loan is better than credit card debt

The ONE time you should borrow from your 401(k)

It can be tempting to borrow from your 401(k), but it's rarely worth the cost unless you're really in a tight spot. Here's why.
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A field guide to stock options

We examine the variables that go into stock options: vesting, exercise price, taxation, and ISOs versus NSOs
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The American cost of Russian sanctions

How serious are the sanctions on Russia? Will they even work? And how will they affect us here in the States?
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Who's afraid of the Big Bad Fed?

Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the inflation numbers for January 2022. At an eye-popping 7.5% (annualized), last month’s …

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SPACs are shell companies created for the express purpose of acquiring other firms and profiting from their success.

Are SPACs finally fizzling out?

Along with the increased market volatility we’ve seen lately, another sign of market cooling is the decrease in SPAC activity.
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major intra-day market corrections on January 24, 2022

What happened with Monday's market meltdown?

The last week was something of a bloodbath, as giants like Apple and Microsoft led a downward tumble in all three of the biggest indices.
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increased volatility may be an indicator of normalcy

Actually, scary is kind of normal

After almost two years now of economic and social upheaval, what was once weird starts to feel normal - and what was normal now seems weird.
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How much is a picture of a monkey worth?

We all know that having a digital copy of a painting isn't the same as owning the original. But is the difference really that valuable?
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Can we spend our way to a merrier Christmas?

There is some unusual stuff going on with holiday consumer spending this year. In some ways this is good news... but in others not so much.
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Job openings and overall wages have increased much faster than the number of job-seekers has.

How great is the "Great Resignation"?

While the US labor market is indeed in a strange place right now, it seems that our label for the phenomenon is almost precisely backward.
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Like many rules of thumb, the 4% rule is not as reliable as people think

The 4% rule isn’t really a rule at all…

While the 4% rule may serve as a starting point, there's no one trick that will guarantee the longevity of your nest egg.
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the factors and metrics of financial risk

What Counts as "Risk," Anyway?

Today I want to talk a bit about one financial topic that attracts lots of bad advice – namely, risk management.
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more reasons why it sucks to be rich

(More Reasons) Why it Sucks to be Rich

A deep dive into some of the financial and legal hassles facing America's "mass-affluent," or upper-middle class
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tax credits are direct savings, while tax deductions just reduce your taxable income

Is a tax deduction or a tax credit better?

Tax deductions and tax credits will both save you money... but there is a big difference between the two
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The SEPP method (substantially equal periodic payments) offers several options for early retirement withdrawals

How to make early retirement withdrawals without paying a penalty

The SEPP method (substantially equal periodic payments) offers several options for early retirement withdrawals.
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why it sucks to be rich

Why it Sucks to be Rich

A deep dive into some of the financial and legal hassles facing America's wealthiest citizens
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The basics of estate planning

The Basics of Estate Planning

Like many big life events, death involves a lot of paperwork – but estate planning helps to preemptively streamline that process
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Despite its simplicity, the rule of 72 can be surprisingly accurate for predicting returns

Predict your returns with this one weird trick!

The one analysts don't want you to know about... (ok, they don't actually care. But it's still a great hack).
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Market proofing your retirement portfolio

Market-Proofing Your Retirement Portfolio (Mostly)

There's no foolproof technique for protecting your portfolio. But tricks like bucketing and rebalancing can make a big difference.
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Sequence of Returns: The Secret Trap for Your Portfolio

A good sequence of returns early in retirement can make all the difference to the longevity of your portfolio – and so can a bad one.
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Differences between 401(k) and IRA accounts include administration, loan policy and contribution limits

401(k) versus IRA – why should you care?

One of the biggest questions about retirement prep is “what’s the difference between a 401(k) and an IRA?” So I figured I'd drop a line about it here.
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Using Sequential Withdrawals to Maximize Retirement Income

Retirement planning doesn't necessarily stop after you're retired – your sequence of withdrawals matters just as much as your savings
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Growth stocks have run ahead of value stocks for over a decade

Choose your fighter: value vs. growth stocks

As in life, there are both hares and tortoises in the market. And the rivalry between value and growth stocks is a great example of this.
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Tax Projection: the "Secret Sauce" of Retirement Saving

Small taxes can add up to huge amounts over the course of decades – and long-term tax projection right now can save a fortune in the future
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While you may owe tax on a large monetary gift, you can instead put the gift toward your lifetime exclusion amount.

The million-dollar gift tax hack!

Many people assume that the “gift tax” is automatically applied to gifts exceeding a certain amount. But this perception is actually false!
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So who is IRMAA, anyway?

Do you know IRMAA? No, we didn’t misspell the name of your mother-in-law or the woman at church who chairs the monthly bake sale.
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An argument could be made that interest rates haven't been this low since the Babylonian Empire.

Millennials have it rough – but it's getting better

It's tempting to conclude that things are bleaker than ever for today's young adults. But the COVID crisis has some silver lining for them.
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Your HSA could be your secret weapon

Need more tax advantaged savings accounts? Meet the HSA, your new best friend. For those who are looking for tax shelters in addition to IRA’s …

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markets react to Biden's proposed capital gains tax

The buzz around Biden's tax plan

The narrative is that Biden's tax plan will simply increase taxes for the wealthy. That's not an inaccurate takeaway, but it's also pretty …
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The CARES Act may enable you to delay payments on federally owned or backed mortgage loans

Could your mortgage use a break?

For homeowners, mortgage payments can be a real pain amid the financial chaos of COVID – but the good news is that temporary relief may be available.
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reporting Covid stimulus money on Form 1040

Have you been procrastinating on taxes?

Among all the other confusion of the last year, you may still be wondering if your stimulus check counts as taxable income.
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Why you might not want to pay off all your student loans before investing

So you’ve just graduated with a shiny new degree... and a ton of debt. Should you focus on paying off your loans before you start investing?
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