Investing & Retiring

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was enacted in 1974 primarily to set standards for private pension programs. Prior to ERISA, the management of some large pension funds had been indulging in questionable investments and loans. ERISA was enacted to make sure that pensioners get the benefits that they deserve from their fund contributions.
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The pitch is very appealing to fiscally conservative seniors. Earn up to 8% on your investment with a guarantee not to lose money. Sounds too good to pass up, doesn’t it? Welcome to the world of indexed annuities. These financial vehicles are sold by insurance companies and target the risk-averse investor or retiree. Indexed annuities
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Benefits for Social Security and traditional pensions are apportioned very differently. With traditional Social Security, your benefits are calculated based on your work record and supported by taxes removed from your salary during the course of your working life. With pensions, the company or government entity you worked for puts aside money in a fund
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Now that the U.S. is among the world leaders in oil production, does it make sense to retain the ban on U.S. oil exports? These bans were imposed in the mid-1970s in response to the oil embargo from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). At the time, the U.S. was highly dependent on oil
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Unless you have been in an isolation tank for some time, you know that Donald Trump is running for President of the United States. He of the iconic hair is particularly sensitive to discussions about bankruptcy, as his operations have declared bankruptcy multiple times. While the Donald may not like it, it’s fair to ask
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A land trust is a type of revocable living trust designed for only one purpose – to hold title to real estate. Usually, they are created to provide some level of privacy and/or protection to the landowners. A trustee is chosen (typically a corporate entity), and beneficiaries make their wishes known to the trustee with
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Retirement is approaching. Do you have a comprehensive overview of your retirement funds and how you will manage them when you actually do retire? A surprising number of people do not know much about their retirement funds other than that they exist. Some don’t even realize how many sources of retirement funds they have. This
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Ah, summertime. The weather warms up, the flowers bloom, and the flocks of home improvement scammers return for their annual summertime gathering. Like other unwanted pests, shady home improvement contractors tend to show up in the spring and summertime offering services ranging from driveway sealing to chimney repair to roof replacement to a complete home
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Solar energy seems to be reaching a mainstream tipping point worldwide. While solar power currently makes a small contribution to the world’s energy production (accounting for 0.5% of global electricity demand in 2011 according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions), the percentages are growing rapidly. Within the U.S., the amount has grown from
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Antoine Walker had the world by the tail in 1996. He was coming off a NCAA championship season with the Kentucky Wildcats and was chosen by the Boston Celtics as the sixth pick overall in the 1996 draft. Fourteen years later, he declared bankruptcy with assets of $4.28 million and $12.74 million in liabilities. Walker
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A QTIP in the financial field refers to Qualified Terminable Interest Property, a definition used in forming a special type of trust. QTIPs are properties such as lifetime income interests that qualify for the marital deductions on estate taxes. There are three primary purposes to a QTIP trust: Direction of Assets After Surviving Spouse’s Death
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You may have saved diligently for retirement and managed your money well, but in the end, long-term care costs can derail your plans and quickly exhaust your savings and other assets. According to LongTermCare.gov, average costs for 2010 were $6,235 and $6,965 per month for semi-private and private rooms in nursing homes, respectively. For how
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Eike Batista has been on the most extreme financial roller coaster you could ever imagine. Actually, it is doubtful that anyone but Batista could truly understand the financial highs and lows he has experienced over the past few years. Eike, a Brazilian entrepreneur, built an empire of companies that resulted in a net worth of
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What do Silicon Valley and agriculture have in common? Not much, you may think… but agriculture and technology are becoming increasingly intertwined. Tech companies see financial opportunities in agricultural pursuits, farmers see potential cost savings and higher yields through technological improvements, and perhaps world hunger may be reduced as a result. The tech industry is
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Investing in the stock market is an inherently risky endeavor. Throughout history, the major stock indices have risen and fallen sharply over both short and long periods of time, leading some investors to avoid stocks due to their volatility. However, what if you could buy “stock insurance” that would effectively limit your portfolio losses should
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There have been rough times in the commodity markets, but copper has been hit especially hard. From an early-2011 peak that approached $10,000 per metric ton, copper lost nearly 30% of its value in mid-2011, and after a brief recovery, has slowly dropped to its current price ($2.534 per pound or $5,575 per metric ton
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The term “market correction” is unsettling to most investors, but it really should not be. If you take the longer view of investing and resist overreacting, you may be able to capitalize on the correction and make long-term lemonade out of short-term lemons. A correction is generally defined as a relatively short-term loss of 10%
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Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) can be tricky to value, because they have the pricing characteristics of both mutual funds and stocks. ETF’s, like mutual funds, contain a market basket of shares of different companies, and so their valuation is calculated as a Net Asset Value (NAV) which gives you the collective valuation of the underlying holdings
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CDARS may sound like trees you might find in the FREST – but it actually stands for Certificate of Deposit Accounts Registry Service, a method of insurance for very large deposits that is backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). CDARS exists primarily because of the limits on FDIC-insured accounts. FDIC limits for CDs
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“Buy low, sell high.” This simple piece of advice sums up the goal of every investor — to sell securities at a higher price than what was originally paid. Of course, this is easier said than done. Buying and selling the right stocks at the right time is tricky business, even for investment pros who
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Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) are securities issued by the government that adjust for inflation based on the value of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Unlike other fixed-income investments, the face value (and therefore the interest income) varies over time based on the amount of inflation adjustment. This makes TIPS a good choice for a laddering
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A new type of investment has recently emerged that has piqued the curiosity of options investors. Commonly referred to as binary options, this investment is an options contract in which the payout is based on the correct or incorrect answer of a simple yes/no proposition. Binary options are also sometimes called all-or-nothing options or Fixed
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Pairs trading, developed by analysts at Morgan Stanley in the 1980s, uses correlation between two similar investment vehicles to create a market-neutral trading strategy – where profits are not related to whether the overall market goes up or down. Correlation of two investment vehicles refers to how their prices change relative to each other. If
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The Foreign Currency Market, often called the FOREX or FX market, is a marketplace for the buying and selling of currencies, which are considered a form of commodity. Investors make or lose money based on changes in the value of relative currencies. Trades on the FOREX market are made in currency pairs – you are
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An investment is considered “triple-tax-free” if it is exempt from taxes at all three levels of government – federal, state and municipal. What kind of investment gives you that sort of a sweet deal? The answer is municipal bonds. Generally, a state or a municipality offers the bonds with tax-free interest payments to promote investments
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“The Witching Hour” sounds like a bad public access television show, but it really refers to a particular time of day where odd and unexplainable things happen. When referring to stocks, it means pretty much the same thing, except that the reasons behind the activities are somewhat explainable. Triple-witching days occur four times a year
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Natural gas has been touted by some as a greener alternative to other fossil fuels, and thanks to technological improvements to increase supply, the current price also makes natural gas an attractive option. The relatively sudden increased availability of natural gas was a boon for energy consumers. Unfortunately for investors, natural gas price plummeted through
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There are two avenues of government assistance to disabled Americans – Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. To qualify for these programs, generally a person must meet the definition of disabled as defined by the Social Security Administration, must have resources of less than $2,000 and the disability must prevent them from holding a job.
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