Information for those giving, receiving, and organizing. Have you donated money to a crowdfunding campaign this year? You probably have. You may be wondering how the Internal Revenue Service treats these donations. Do the common tax rules apply? The I.R.S. may or may not define such donations as charitable contributions. It depends not only on who the crowdfunding is for, but also who has organized the campaign. A donation to a qualified non-profit organization – a 501(c)(3) – is tax deductible if it is properly documented and itemized on Schedule A. Donations to crowdsourcing efforts administered by 501(c)(3)s are, likewise, tax deductible.1 If an individual sets up a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for another individual or a cause or project, it is highly unlikely that a 501(c)(3) organization is in place to accept the donations. (An organization can attain such status faster these days, thanks to the Internet, but
Investors may be lulled into a false sense of security by this market. Will the current bull market run for another year? How about another two or three years? Some investors will confidently say “yes” to both questions. Optimism abounds on Wall Street: the major indices climb more than they retreat, and they have attained new peaks. On average, the S&P 500 has gained nearly 15% a year for the past eight years. Stocks will correct at some point. A bear market could even emerge. Is your investment portfolio ready for either kind of event?
Know the signals that could hint at theft or embezzlement at your business. Weird things are happening at work. Power tools are missing. Something seems odd with your inventory. Bank reconciliations seem slightly amiss. Follow up on your suspicions. You may have a problem with employee theft. What are the signs that you might have a thief at work?
Deficient coverage may cost you someday. Many households and businesses are insufficiently insured. The problem is not necessarily the quality of coverage, but the breadth and depth of it. Your own business or household may be more vulnerable than you realize. Too many people go without disability insurance. If you work in a physically demanding field, your employer may provide short-term disability coverage – but many companies do not. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 39% of workplaces offer employees short-term coverage, and only 33% offer long-term coverage.1 If you are disabled and cannot work, your income soon disappears. Short-term disability insurance, which may last anywhere from 10-26 weeks, commonly replaces around 60% of it. Not ideal, but better than 0%. About 8% of the time, however, a short-term disability lasts more
How can you protect yourself against ransomware, phishing, and other tactics? Imagine finding out that your computer has been hacked. The hackers leave you a message: if you want your data back, you must pay them $300 in bitcoin. This was what happened to hundreds of thousands of PC users in May 2017 when they were attacked by the WannaCry malware, which exploited security flaws in Windows. How can you plan to avoid cyberattacks and other attempts to take your money over the Internet? Be wary, and if attacked, respond quickly. Phishing. This is when a cybercriminal throws you a hook, line, and sinker
Markets have cycles, and at some point, the major indices will descend. We have seen a tremendous rally on Wall Street, nearly nine months long, with the S&P 500, Nasdaq Composite, and Dow Jones Industrial Average repeatedly settling at all-time peaks. Investors are delighted by what they have witnessed. Have they become irrationally exuberant? The major indices do not always rise. That obvious fact risks becoming “back of mind” these days. On June 15, the Nasdaq Composite was up 27.16% year-over-year and 12.67% in the past six months. The S&P 500 was up 17.23% in a year and 7.31% in six months. Performance like that can breed overconfidence in equities.1,2 The S&P last corrected at the beginning of 2016, and a market drop may seem like a remote possibility now. Then again, corrections usually arrive without much warning. You may want to ask yourself:
How much financial knowledge do they have? Some young adults manage to acquire a fair amount of financial literacy. In the classroom or the workplace, they learn a great deal about financial principles. Others lack such knowledge and learn money lessons by paying, to reference William Blake, “the price of experience.” Broadly speaking, how much financial literacy do young people have today? At this writing, some of the most recent data appears in U.S. Bank’s 2016 Student and Personal Finance Study. After surveying more than 1,600 American high school and undergraduate students, the bank found that just 15% of students felt knowledgeable about investing. For that matter, just 42% felt knowledgeable about deposit and checking accounts.1 Relatively few students understood the principles of credit. Fifty-four percent thought
What do each of these terms really mean? Investment management can be active or passive. Sometimes, that simple, fundamental choice can make a difference in portfolio performance. During a particular market climate, one of these two methods may be widely praised, while the other is derided and dismissed. In truth, both approaches have merit, and all investors should understand their principles. How does passive asset management work? A passive asset management strategy employs investment vehicles mirroring market benchmarks. In their composition, these funds match an index – such as the S&P 500 or the Russell 2000 – component for component. As a result, the return from a passively managed fund precisely matches the return of the index it replicates. The glass-half-full aspect of this is that the investment will never underperform that benchmark. The glass-half-empty aspect is that it will never outperform it, either.
Today’s impulsive moves could breed tomorrow’s regrets. When emotions and money intersect, the effects can be financially injurious. Emotions can cause us to overreact – or not act at all when we should. Think of the investors who always respond to sudden Wall Street volatility. That emotional response may not be warranted, and they may come to regret it. In a typical market year, Wall Street can see big waves of volatility. This year, it has been easy to forget that truth. During the first third of 2017, the S&P 500 saw only 3 trading days with a 1% or greater swing – or to put
Careers & businesses end, but the need to borrow remains. We spend much of our adult lives working, borrowing, and buying. A good credit score is our ally along the way. It retains its importance when we retire. Retirees should do everything they can to maintain their credit rating. A FICO score of 700 or higher is useful whether an individual works or not. For example, some retirees will decide to refinance their home loans. A recently published study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College
Keep an eye on where it goes, as some destinations may be better than others. You can probably envision how most of your retirement money will be spent. Much of it will be used on living expenses, health care expenses, and, perhaps, debt reduction. Beyond the basics, you will unquestionably reserve some of those dollars for grand adventures and great experiences. If your financial situation permits, you may also contribute to charity. You just have to remember that your retirement fund is not a bottomless well. If outflows begin to exceed inflows (that is, you repeatedly withdraw more than you make back), you will face a serious financial problem. With that hazard in mind, be wary of these four spending sieves. Some retirees fall prey to them, and all four can potentially reduce a
You don’t need to be wealthy to make an impact & get a win-win. Do you have to make a multimillion-dollar gift to a charity to receive immediate or future financial benefits? No. Consider the following options, which may bring you immediate or future tax deduction Partnership gifts. These gifts are made via long-term arrangements between donors and recipient charities or non-profits, usually with income resulting for the donor and an eventual transfer of the principal to the charity at the donor’s death. For example, a charitable remainder trust allows you to pay yourself a dependable income (perhaps for life) derived from assets placed within the trust. When you die or the trust term ends, the remaining trust principal can go to charity. A charitable lead trust works the opposite way. It makes annual, charitable gifts, giving you the potential to reduce gift and estate taxes; your beneficiaries get the leftover...