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Glen Starr, CFP®

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8 Things Financial Planning Can Help You Address

Financial planning is unique for each person; no two financial plans look the same because everyones life and personal goals are different. Regardless of what your goals are, financial planning can help you work towards achieving them. One of the most significant benefits of financial planning is that it gives you the confidence to stay on track towards your goals or make changes to pursue them.
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The Ultimate Home Financing Guide

Congratulations! Your ready to buy a home. But before you start scouring the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), you need to secure a home loan. Use this guide to learn about some of the most common types of mortgages and which one works best for you.
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Estimating College Costs

What is the forecast for college cost increases? A college education is expensive. All those benefits of personal growth, expanded horizons, and increased lifetime earning power come at a price, a price that increases every year.
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Resources for Women-Owned Small Businesses

Small businesses face many problems related to their size, capital, and capability, and for women-owned small businesses, the challenge is sometimes even greater. The good news is there are many professional organizations out there that understand the challenges that women-owned small businesses face and have positioned themselves as resources to help provide assistance. Below are a few resources women-owned small business owners may wish to consider.
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5 Tips for Navigating Medicare in Retirement

One of the main concerns about retirement is health care. As healthcare costs continue to rise, medical bills may quickly derail your retirement plan. The good news is when you turn 65, you will be able to apply for Medicare, which provides you with coverage for some of the larger bills you may face during your retirement. Though navigating Medicare is a little tricky, the following tips can make the process less daunting.
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An Essential Guide to Estate Planning Preparedness

A recent survey by Caring.com found that a whopping two in three American adults do not have an estate plan an alarming statistic, considering that an estate plan can protect your assets and ensure that they go to the right people. If you have not begun to prepare an estate plan, or if your estate planning efforts have stalled, what can you do to get back on track?
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Changing Jobs? Know Your 401(k) Options

What will I be entitled to? If you leave your job (voluntarily or involuntarily), youll be entitled to a distribution of your vested balance. Your vested balance always includes your own contributions (pre-tax, after-tax, and Roth) and typically any investment earnings on those amounts. It also includes employer contributions (and earnings) that have satisfied your plans vesting schedule.
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Life Insurance and Estate Planning

Life insurance has come a long way since the days when it was known as burial insurance and used mainly to pay for funeral expenses. Today, life insurance is a crucial part of many estate plans. You can use it to leave much-needed income to your survivors, provide for your children's education, pay off your mortgage, and simplify the transfer of assets.
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3 Ways To Improve Your Finances for Self-Improvement Month

September is self-improvement month and a great time to work on your financial health. When you think of self-improvement, you likely think of your health or career but may pay little attention to your finances. Getting your financial health in order may help alleviate stress and give you some breathing room to improve your life in other ways. Below are a few simple tips that may help improve your personal finances so that you may move on to other important areas of self-improvement.Trim Down Yo
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Setting and Targeting Investment Goals

Go out into your yard and dig a big hole. Every month, throw $50 into it, but don't take any money out until you're ready to buy a house, send your child to college, or retire .It sounds a little crazy, doesnt it? But thats what investing without setting clear-cut goals is like. If youre lucky, you may end up with enough money to meet your needs, but you have no way to know for sure. How do you set investment goals?
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Five Keys to Investing for Retirement

Making decisions about your retirement account can seem overwhelming, especially if you feel unsure about your knowledge of investments. However, the following basic rules can help you make smarter choices regardless of whether you have some investing experience or are just getting started. Don't lose ground to inflation Its easy to see how inflation affects gas prices, electric bills, and the cost of food; over time, your money buys less and less.
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4 Tips and Resources to Help Seniors During Periods of High Inflation and Market

In 2022, U.S. inflation hit a 40-year high, with prices for food, housing, gasoline, and other key staples increasing by nearly 10% over the previous year. During these uncertain times, stocks have continued a roller-coaster ride that has given heartburn to financial professionals and investors alike. For retirees and seniors on a fixed income, the true costs of inflation and market volatility can be much higher potentially jeopardizing a comfortable retirement.
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Defined Benefit Plans: An Attractive Option for Small Businesses

Defined benefit pension plans may still be an attractive retirement benefit option for small employers. This is especially true for small business owners who have been too busy growing their businesses to plan for their retirement. Because of their late start, they must make up for lost time. A defined benefit plan may be just the ticket.  Background and Basics Historically, the defined benefit plan was the standard type of employer-sponsored retirement plan. In recent years, however, defi
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Investment Planning - The Basics

Why do so many people never obtain the financial independence that they desire? Often its because they just don't take that first step getting started. Besides procrastination, other excuses people make are that investing is too risky, too complicated, too time consuming, and only for the rich. The fact is, there's nothing complicated about common investing techniques, and it usually doesn't take much time to understand the basics. One of the biggest risks you face is not
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5 Ways a Financial Professional Could Be a Small-Business Owner's Best Friend

As a business owner, you may assume you do not need professional financial advice until you hit certain milestones such as $1 million in sales, having ten employees, or some other tangible measure. However, financial professionals may benefit small-business owners no matter what the stage of their business. The earlier you seek financial advice, the more this advice might help your business as it grows. Here are five ways a financial professional could be your ally as a small-business owner.
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6 Retirement Tips for Surviving the Sandwich Generation Squeeze

Adults caring for aging parents and children simultaneously have now become known as the "sandwich generation." While each generation comes with its own array of financial challenges, the sandwich generation often feels a tight financial squeeze as they juggle the cost of care for their elderly parents with care for their children. Due to the financial strain, saving for retirement gets put on the back burner. Don't let your retirement dreams vanish before they get started. Follow these six tip
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Seeking Simplicity: Understanding SIMPLE IRAs and SIMPLE 401(k)s

For those who don't have a 401(k) option through their employer which includes some small-business owners how to save for retirement might be challenging. In a competitive employment market, offering retirement options to new hires and existing employees may help you remain competitive and attract top talent. 
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Wellness in Retirement: The Benefits of Social Wellness for Retirees

Social isolation makes people more susceptible to illness and death.While retirement is a time for relaxation and enjoyment from a lifetime of work, it may lead to a lack of purpose if you have depended on work for social activities and interaction. In retirement, it is sometimes necessary to create new social connections and a new social network, especially if you relied on work for your socialization.
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Freedom, Fireworks, and Fueling the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early)

Freedom is not won by sitting idly and hoping for a miracle. Financial freedom requires vision, courage, and sacrifice for a higher goal. The Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) movement is a part of that vision. What Is the FIRE Movement? The FIRE movement, inspired by the 1992 book Your Money or Your Life; includes people who want to be financially independent at a young age. They may be able to quit work decades early.
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Four Tips for Gaining Financial Independence

The golden rule of financial planning: if you can plan it, you can pursue it; Over the past July 4th, we celebrated our country's history of declaring independence and guaranteeing basic human freedoms. But true freedom includes financial independence, as well. Self-sufficiency isn't guaranteed, but every one of us has the opportunity to achieve it. Check out these four steps to help you work towards financial independence: Make sure to plan ahead.
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Fixed vs. Variable Annuities

Annuity products have grown more sophisticated over the years to meet the demands of today's more sophisticated investors.Just as mutual funds grew in popularity as an alternative to certificates of deposit, the variable annuity was developed as an alternative to the fixed annuity. Variable annuities offer potentially higher returns than fixed annuities. Of course, there is a risk of loss as well.
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Tips to Shape Up Your Fiscal Fitness this Summer

Many people realize that the best way to stay in shape is to develop an appropriate fitness regimen and then stick with it. If you start a fitness program and drop out, you never give yourself a chance to become physically fit. In the long run, regular workouts pay off.
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Funding Your Future with a Fixed Annuity

A fixed annuity is a contract between you and an annuity issuer, usually an insurance company. In its simplest form, you pay money to the annuity issuer; the issuer invests the funds and pays the principal and its earnings back to you or to your named beneficiary. What's fixed about a fixed annuity? The issuer guarantees (subject to its claims-paying ability) a minimum rate of interest on your investment and a fixed benefit amount if you elect to annuitize. When is an annuity appropriate?
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6 Savvy Ways Small Businesses May Save Money This Summer

Whether your business tends to slow down or speed up in the summer months, there are a few things small-business owners may consider to cut expenses as the temperature rises. Here are six savvy ways for small businesses to save money during summer. Consider Going Remote For retail stores or restaurants, remote work may not be possible. However, for other types of businesses, using a remote office setup might lower overhead expenses without negatively compromising your services.
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Financial Aid Resources for Your Incoming Freshman

College is expensive for many people. The average tuition and fees at a college or university for the 2019 to 2020 academic year at a four-year institution was $9,4001. This may include the cost of tuition, books, and housing. For some students, the investment is worthwhile as it may open the door for many types of employment. For freshmen just entering the college world, there are a number of financial aid resources that may help to cover the cost of a college degree for those who qualify
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Home Sweet Home: The Power of Your Homeowners Policy

If you're like most homeowners, the importance of homeowners insurance is obvious. If your home is damaged as a result of fire, theft, lightning, heavy snow, or high winds, your homeowners policy would likely cover the cost of damage. But, did you know that your homeowners policy may also protect you from property damage or injury for which you are legally responsible? To understand the scope of a typical homeowners policy, consider a few hypothetical situations in which personal liability
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Opening a 529 College Savings Plan Is Better Late Than Never

If you wonder whether it’s too late to start saving for your child’s college education—the answer is no. Whether your child is a newborn or already starting college, a 529 account may provide some tax benefits. Here are a few things that parents of older children may consider when opening a 529 college savings account and contributing to it.
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Assessing the Health of Your Business

In today’s business climate, it may be more important than ever for companies to operate at maximum efficiency and with a keen awareness of the potential impact of changes in their industry and the economy. Using a SWOT analysis to take a closer look at your company’s internal operations, as well as its position in the marketplace, may help you avoid costly mistakes, improve your management practices, and refine your long-term strategic goals.
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Financial Planning Tips for Police Officers

Police officers have one of the most stressful—and dangerous—jobs in the United States. As a result, they also have different retirement benefits that may allow full retirement after only a couple of decades of active duty.1 For some officers, relying on the police pension may not be enough to retire comfortably and confidently. Here are four financial planning tips for police officers.
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Did You Know? Important Facts About the United States Military Branches

How well do you know the branches of the military and what they do to protect our country? For example, do you know which branch was founded first? Which has fought in the most wars? Which lives by the motto Honor, Courage, Commitment? Which is on the ground first in a conflict?
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The Financial Impact of Mental Health

Mental health is essential to everyone’s wellbeing. Mental health disorders, diagnosed or not, may be playing a role in your daily life. Often, financial problems or worries may impact your mental wellbeing, especially if you’re anxious or depressed about your situation. Mental health complications impact people in various ways, sometimes even causing financial strife. Below, we take a look at some examples.
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How Life Insurance Policies Make Money for You

With all of the attention the life insurance industry has been receiving lately, it's easy for policyholders to overlook two important factors: 1) few investments, if any, meet the safety of life insurance and, 2) few investments offer the advantages of tax-free accumulation of cash values and tax-free death benefits. Whether you own a traditional whole life insurance policy, or an interest- or investment-sensitive policy, it is important to have some familiarity with how your policy earning
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A Tax-Deductible Buy-Sell Arrangement

One of the critical needs of a small business is to protect against the untimely death of an owner. This is important because the family of the owner may face a large tax bill, and may not have the liquidity to pay the tax.
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Invest in Your Financial Education During Financial Literacy Month

April brings more than possible rain showers. It also marks Financial Literacy Month in the U.S. Whether you’re interested in a quick refresher or seeking to learn something new, it may be worth the effort to brush up on some financial concepts that give you a broader knowledge base from which to make financial decisions. Here are several ways to invest in your financial education for this Financial Literacy Month. Check Out the Library With financial topics and discussions available in o
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4 Tips for Managing Financial Stress During the Pandemic

Two years into the pandemic, it may feel like you entered a time warp for some. And from shutdown-related expenses to changes to your employment situation or workload, it can be tougher than ever to try to navigate your financial life. How can you manage unexpected expenses during this time of uncertainty? What are some ways to deal with the financial stress you are experiencing? Here are four tips for managing financial stress through the pandemic.Review Your BudgetIt can be easy to stress over
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3 Golf Tips to Keep Your Retirement Plan on Course

In golf, as in finances, there are a few rules of thumb that may improve your game: keep a level head, avoid traps, practice before trying something new and stay the course. Applying lessons from the golf course to your financial life and vice versa may help you improve your game in both arenas. Here are three tips that may help you work toward success on and off the golf course.Avoid HazardsGetting bogged down in a sand or water trap may cause frustration and add many strokes to your ultim
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Health Is Wealth: How Improving Your Physical Health May Benefit Your Finances

Researchers found that those with more severe debt may be more likely to have physical and mental health issues, although causality is a challenge to establish.1 Fortunately, taking steps to improve your financial habits may also benefit your health. Here are some financial exercises to consider to help you explore the relationship between health and wealth.Set Goals and Make a PlanWhether you hope to lose weight, manage your blood pressure, save for an emergency fund or cut expenses, havin
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Myths and Facts About Social Security Myths and Facts About Social Security

Myth: Social Security will provide most of the income you need in retirement. Fact: It's likely that Social Security will provide a smaller portion of retirement income than you expect. There's no doubt about it — Social Security is an important source of retirement income for most Americans. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), nearly nine out of ten individuals age 65 and older receive Social Security benefits.1 But it may be unwise to rely too heavily on Socia
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A Refresh for Your Finances

When spring rolls around, your thoughts might turn to organizing your closets or giving your floors a good deep clean. But how much thought have you given to cleaning up your finances? If the answer is “not much,” you might want to reconsider.Spring is a great in-between time of year to take stock of your financial health and to create goals for the rest of the year—or to plan for the years ahead.But before you dive headfirst into any new financial plan, you need to take a look
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Everything Older Workers Need to Know About Retiring

Many workers have been dreaming of retirement since they first entered the workforce. However, once this retirement date draws near, the prospect of giving up your primary source of income may be nerve-wracking, even if you've diligently saved and planned. Below, we discuss a few steps you may wish to take to potentially make this transition easier. Draft a Retirement Budget Even if you haven't adhered to a strict budget during your working years, having a budget during the early months
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Attracting Key Employees with Creative Benefits

Whether you are the head of a small, family-owned business or a large corporation, finding the right employees is becoming more and more challenging. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for several businesses to compete for the services of skilled and talented individuals in the same manner as they would compete for a customer’s business.So, how can your business set itself apart from the others and attract high quality, “key” individuals? Core Benefits Potential employees have
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Credit Education Month: 4 Ways to Boost Your Credit IQ

March is National Credit Education Month in the U.S., which makes it the perfect opportunity to brush up on your credit basics.1 Whether you're a credit novice or well-versed in the art of the FICO score, below are four ways to potentially boost your credit IQ. Dissect Your Credit Score Do you know what goes into your credit score? Although the exact weight given to each factor is proprietary, the credit reporting bureaus look at the following: Late payments and accounts in collection
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4 Reasons to Get Fired Up About 'Refired' Not Retired Day

March 1st is Refired, Not Retired Day. It is a day for those retired or close to retirement to start thinking about their next stage in life. It is a day not to reinvent, rekindle, and refire your life, focusing on what is ahead instead of what is behind you.The day was founded by Phyllis May, who retired at age 55 after 34 years in the education field without a plan for the next stage of her life. After realizing she had no reason to stay where she was, she packed her belongings on March 1st, 1
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Building a Strong Financial Foundation

Today, many people are concerned about saving for retirement or paying for a large ticket item, such as a child’s college education. If you belong to this group, now may be the time to organize your finances. It is never too early to begin, and the sooner you start, the better. Consider the following steps to building a strong financial foundation:  Get organized. Smart money management begins with organizing your financial paperwork. By grouping documents according to categories (e.g
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3 Financial Lessons We Can Learn from Past Presidents

In the U.S., the third Monday of each February marks President's Day—a holiday that's often marked with mattress and furniture sales and discounts on new cars. But aside from these budget-friendly purchasing opportunities, there may be many more financial lessons to be learned from past U.S. presidents. Below, we share three of the most enduring money lessons from George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. George Washington: Use Debt Wisely In his presidential farew
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5 Types of Retirement Plans for Small Business Owners

Small business owners are different from the average hourly employee in a lot of ways. One often-overlooked difference is how they plan for retirement. Although small business owners may offer a classic 401(k) for their workers along with other benefits such as insurance and other perks, such a plan may not be the right option for the owner of the company. Instead, you may want to consider a few of these other retirement planning tools.There are three overarching categories of plans that aim to&
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3 Practical Time Management Tips for Investors

As the holiday season approaches, some people are planning to spend more quality time with their loved ones. But for investors who are accustomed to keeping a close eye on their assets' performance, balancing one's "to do" list with one's "want to do" list may be tricky. Below, we discuss three time management tips investors may employ to free up some extra time for what matters most. Why Time Management Matters Adopting time management skills may do two things.
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5 Valentine's Day Gifts that Grow in Value Over Time

Valentine's Day is one of the biggest holidays for romance and for lavishing gifts on that special someone in your life. While flowers and chocolates may be the most common gifts exchanged on that day, why not consider a gift that may grow in value year after year? Then you would truly be giving the gift that keeps on giving. Want to learn about some value-gaining gifts for your loved ones? Check out some of the ideas listed below. 1. Treasury Bonds Treasury bonds are one reliable gift that
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Critical Business Strategies for Entrepreneurs Preparing for Retirement

When you work for an employer, saving for retirement can be as simple as signing up for a 401(k) plan and making regular contributions, but when you own your own business, preparing for retirement can be more challenging. While pouring decades of your life into your business, you need to make sure you're also thinking about what will happen when you retire. To leverage your business to help during your retirement, keep the following strategies in mind. 1. Choose the Most Effective Retir
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Home-Health-Care Factors for You to Consider

Are you thinking about home health care as a solution to providing help with daily activities such as bathing, meal preparation, and housekeeping? Many older individuals benefit from receiving assistance in the comfort of their own homes, allowing them to maintain their independence longer. But, before you agree to at-home care, carefully consider all the factors involved before you hire a home health aide.Let’s face it, bringing a stranger into your home is a big change. So, to help with
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What Should Small Business Owners Know About Data Privacy Obligations?

Each year, some of the biggest companies in the world fall victim to data breaches—in 2020, this list included Microsoft, Facebook, and Instagram. But just because small businesses aren't dealing with billions of electronic records like Amazon or Google doesn't mean they aren't just as vulnerable to data breaches. And failing to safeguard sensitive data may put businesses at risk of violating state and federal data privacy laws. Learn more about the data privacy obligation
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Quit Saying “I’m Broke”: How to Stop Unnecessary Spending

Saving money can be hard. It often feels like your paycheck goes in your bank account and a minute later it’s gone. Between bills and unexpected life moments, it always seems you’re left saying “I’m broke.”  Let’s fix that.  1) Use cash, not a card. Using a credit or debit card can be a convenient alternative to paying with cash. However, it also makes it easier to make impulse purchases. Strive to use cash where yo
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5 Vital Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

Buying your first home is equivalent to embarking on a grand adventure. Although extremely thrilling, learning the ins and outs of the process can often seem overwhelming. From determining a budget to obtaining a loan, there are numerous factors to take into consideration along the way. Keep these five tips in mind throughout the journey. Check your credit score Your credit score impacts various aspects of your life, especially when it comes to buying a house. It’s a determining factor in
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Five Healthy Habits for Financial Wellness

Financial stress can have a direct negative impact on a person's health and happiness. Unfortunately, this may lead to a downward spiral. The more stress you're feeling, the larger your financial hurdles may seem, and the more you may rely on unhealthy stress-reducing habits. Fortunately, there are steps you may be able to take to improve your financial situation and help manage money-related stress. Below are five habits you may wish to adopt to work toward financial wellness. Set
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Tax Prep Checklist: Everything You Need to Be Ready for Tax Season

Regardless of whether you prepare your taxes yourself or use a professional's services, it's a good idea to gather the information and documentation you need well in advance of your actual tax filing date. Below, we've listed some key information you need when preparing this year's taxes. Your Personal Information The personal information you may need to file taxes may contain information from your prior year's return, including: Your Social Security Number (SSN), along wit
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Five Wealth-Building New Year's Resolutions

At the beginning of each year, and regularly after that, it may be a wise idea to take stock of finances and make some changes to help improve your financial life. Here are five resolutions you may make to increase financial independence and work toward building wealth. Review Subscription Services The number of people who have cut the cord of cable in favor of subscription streaming options has tripled in the last seven years. But while these streaming services may seem less costly than c
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Retirement Mistakes to Fix Before the Holidays

Spend as much time fixing your mistakes as you do planning the holidays. You probably spend more time planning your holiday gathering than preparing for your golden years. As a result, you make basic mistakes in trying to fund your retirement. Here are a few of the top mistakes people make to screw up this potentially crucial saving. No specific goal. Many people say something like, “I want to retire in my 60s. Fine but pinpointing the age when you want to retire is n
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Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree: 5 Christmas Tree Facts

One of the most popular icons of the Christmas season is the Christmas tree. It has become a symbol of the holidays and the center point for Christmas displays, party decorations, and events. During the Christmas season, you may find almost every manner of Christmas tree, from plastic-colored versions to fresh-cut ones that are stories high. Here are some fun facts about Christmas trees you may not know. 1. Christmas Trees Have Been Around for Centuries While evergreens were used in the winter
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A Season of Giving: 5 Different Ways To Give During the Holidays

With the holidays here, now is the time to get into the giving spirit and help to change others' lives for the better. Whether you are looking to make a difference in a specific persons life or the life of many, there are many ways to give this holiday season. Here are some different ways to give back to others in a major way this holiday season. 1. Play Secret Santa and Help a Struggling Family The holidays are hard for parents trying to make it through the year. Some parents may even
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Thanks and Giving: How You Make a Difference on Giving

Giving Tuesday is a day to extend the goodwill that the holiday season may bring to help others. With so many in need, the holiday season is a reminder to help those less fortunate. Whether you want to donate your time or contribute funds to your favorite cause, there are many ways to celebrate the day. Here are some ways to mark the occasion.Donate to a Food Bank or ShelterFood banks are always in need of donations. Give your pantry a once over to see items you could donate, or go to the store
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Carving Out Time to Support Small Business Saturday

American Express created Small Business Saturday in 2010 to provide small businesses with a holiday season boost on the heels of Black Friday. The day comes after one of the biggest shopping sales events and serves as a reminder to spend some of your holiday funds with local shops. Those shops may on your support to stay in business. Check out some simple ways to support your local businesses this Small Business Saturday.Provide Your Support on Social MediaSocial media has become one of the fast
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2021 Year-End Planning for Retirees

For some, 2021 has flown by—and as we approach the last quarter of the year, it's a good time to begin planning for the next one. Year-end planning is especially important for retirees and those hoping to retire in 2021 or 2022. There are tax and income strategies you might consider regarding your financial assets. Here are three steps you may take when planning the end of the 2021 tax year and the beginning of 2022.Consider Tax Loss HarvestingAlthough the pandemic roiled markets in 20
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Quarterly Economic Update Third Quarter 2021

Equity markets ended the third quarter with mixed results. While the quarter started with strong earnings reports, lifting many large US stocks during the summer, it ended with the Federal Reserve (Fed) striking a dovish tone, confirming its hesitance to tighten policy too fast. Despite many positives, growth and inflation concerns late in the quarter caused many equities to retrace their steps in September. September has ranked as the weakest month for equities over the last 20 years.
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The Most Common Tax Tips before Year End

Tax planning can be advantageous when done during the year and well in advance of year- end. Opportunities exist for you to mitigate tax liability, which may leave more income for you and/or your family. Generally, people put off tax planning because paying income taxes is an obligation. So, this "negative" view can cause frustration.
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Protecting Your Financial Information Online

More consumers are conducting financial transactions online and may become vulnerable to tracking, hacking, identity theft, phishing scams, and other cyberspace risks. While nothing can guarantee complete safety on the Internet, understanding how to protect your privacy can help mitigate your exposure to risk.
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Understanding the Estate Planning Process

It is common for people to put off planning their estates. After all, no one wants to anticipate his or her own death. In addition, many people may believe that only the wealthy require estate planning or that all that is involved is tax planning, which can be done “later.” They may well be wrong on both counts. Your level of wealth and the ultimate tax consequences of your estate become secondary to the planning and care of your family and other heirs.
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Long-Term Care: Exploring Your Options

Have you ever thought about what would happen if you or a family member were no longer able to live independently? What if your elderly parents were no longer able to drive or perform basic activities of daily living, such as bathing or toileting? Would you or another family member be able to provide the care that your loved one might need? With longer life expectancies for both men and women, it is likely that you or someone close to you will eventually need some type of long term care (LTC).
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Financial Planning at Every Age

In 2013, a Gallup poll found that only about one in every three U.S. households maintained a budget.1 A 2021 survey of 1,000 Americans found that 80% now say they have a budget.2Americans are budgeting more due to the pandemic. Knowing where your money is going and making sure you're adequately funding your future could be helpful to maintain your lifestyle for the decades that you may live.
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Quarterly Economic Update Second Quarter 2021

In the first half of 2021, investors welcomed a new administration in the United States of America, saw the reopening of many countries, experienced volatility in equity markets, and ended a second quarter that produced many new highs. The S&P 500 has now gained ground for five quarters in a row. Notably, it has gained more than 5% for five quarters in a row, only the second time since 1945 that the index has been able to pull off that feat.
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Things to Consider Before Buying a Franchise

There are nearly three-quarters of a million franchise businesses in the U.S, employing more than 8 million workers.1 Though franchises may take away much of the hassle and up-front cost of starting a business, essentially providing a "business in a box," there are also some special considerations to mull over before purchasing a franchise. Below, we discuss just a few of the things to consider before becoming a franchise owner.
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Four Financial Planning Essentials to Ease Your Retirement Fears

When it comes to planning for retirement, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Putting together a financial strategy can be complicated at any time of life, what with changing regulations, ups and downs in the market, and disagreements – even among the better-known investment advisers – about the best ways to save and spend money. But the closer you get to actually stopping that regular paycheck, the scarier things can get.
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Financial Considerations for Working Parents

Nine of every 10 U.S. families with children have at least one working parent.1 Though working parents make up one of the largest demographic groups in the country, they face many challenges—from the cost of childcare to inconvenient scheduling issues. There are a few steps working parents may wish to take to smooth the path ahead, both financially and logistically.
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Clearing the Air on 401(K) Hardship Withdrawals

When it comes to 401(k) plans, some people may find themselves a bit confused about the 10% Federal income tax penalty for withdrawals prior to age 59½ and hardship withdrawals from a 401(k) plan. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does allow qualified hardship withdrawals from a 401(k) account. However, a qualified hardship withdrawal does not avoid the 10% Federal income tax penalty for early withdrawals.
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The Importance of Charitable Giving

Charitable giving is a term often heard around the holidays, or in some cases, around tax season. Nonprofit charitable organizations often rely on contributions from businesses and individuals to help them accomplish their goals and provide the products, programs, and services needed. Below are just a few of the reasons why giving to charity is important.
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Life Insurance

Changing Times, Changing NeedsWhen Judy purchased her life insurance policy 10 years ago, she thought her insurance planning was complete. She assumed that if she paid her premiums on time, she could sit back and not think about life insurance anymore. Judy’s life insurance may help to protect her loved ones from future uncertainties, but her policy should not be left to run on autopilot. Life insurance is just like any other piece of your financial puzzle.
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Are You Maximizing 401(k) Contributions?

The more money that you can save when you are working, the easier it should be for you to retire and enjoy your golden years. Unfortunately, Social Security may no longer provide a sufficient income to live on during retirement. To combat this financial challenge, many small businesses have adopted the corporate approach to 401(k) matching.
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Starting a Business with a Friend: Do’s and Don’ts

It is estimated that about 40 percent of business founders were friends before they became business partners.[1] But while starting a business with a friend can be a great way to secure your financial future, it can also put new and challenging pressures on your friendship. Below are some tips and tricks to help you maintain best business practices while growing your relationship with your friend.
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What Can A Financial Professional Do for Non-Profits?

As of 2017, about two-thirds of all nonprofit organizations in the U.S. had annual budgets of less than $1 million.[1] For these non-profit organizations where every penny has a purpose, having the services of a financial professional can be incredibly valuable. Below, learn more about the different ways a financial professional can help non-profits succeed.
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What Should Grandparents Know About 529 Savings Accounts?

Grandparents can often find themselves in a better financial position to save for their grandchildren's education than their own children are. The parents of prospective students may still be contending with competing priorities like their own student loans, high-interest credit card debt, or a hefty mortgage.
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Taxpayer Appreciation Day—Recognizing Taxpayers' Contributions

Though U.S. taxpayers received an extra month to file and pay their federal income taxes in 2021, some are still smarting from having to write a check to the IRS.[1] For many, it can be tough to make the connection between those hard-earned dollars going out the window and the roads, services, and even technological advances that are made possible through taxpayer dollars. Taxpayer Appreciation Day was designed to bridge this gap.
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Why Invest?

To accumulate wealth, people may choose to invest their money into various types of investments. Investing creates opportunities that otherwise would be difficult to manage due to the consistency of contributing to the investment. However, investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. No investment strategy or risk management technique can guarantee return or eliminate risk in all market environments.
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Changes to Medicare in 2021: What Recipients Should Know

For many people, turning 65 provides one of the keys to retirement: access to affordable healthcare. Whether you're enrolling in the Medicare program for the first time or have been a Medicare enrollee for years, it's important to stay on top of current offerings, costs, and enrollment dates so that you can select the plan that best fits your needs. Learn more about some of the recent changes to the Medicare program in 2021.
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The Crazy Cost of the Olympic Games

Since the first modern Olympic games in 1896, the competition has been a prestigious honor for the hosting country, but also a significant economic and structural undertaking. Billions of dollars are put toward the construction of new stadiums, lodging, and other facilities, not to mention the opening and closing ceremonies, which can bring in millions in additional costs.
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Annuities and Market Risk: What You Need to Know

Market risk is something all investors may worry about, but those close to retirement have limited time to recover from market loss. If you are within ten years of retirement, now is a critical time for your portfolio to continue to gain value and avoid loss.Without thinking through the dynamics of gains and losses, investors leave themselves open to market risk  that could prematurely deplete their retirement assets.One way that investors can mitigate risk is by including annuities in thei
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How Small Businesses Can Stay Competitive

Launching a small business can be an all-consuming prospect. Even after you start to feel as though you have gotten into a groove you could find yourself facing unforeseen challenges—from a new competitor to supply chain issues. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to try and remain competitive regardless of what is being thrown at you. Read on for three approaches that small businesses can take to stay on top in a competitive market.
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5 Tips to Get Started With Tax Aware Investing

Ultimately, the goal of investing is to try to make as much money as possible, and of course, you don't want to let taxes eat into your gains. Tax aware investing helps you minimize the effect of taxes on your investment portfolio. Wondering how to get started with tax aware investing? Take a look at these tips.
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Are Early Retirement and Pension Buyout Offers a Good Deal for You?

In today's economy, offers of an early retirement buyout for a current employee or a pension buyout directed at a former employee are becoming common as companies look for ways to cut costs. Many large employers are offering employees who are not yet at retirement age the option to take an early retirement buyout. For companies that had a pension plan for their employees, pension buyout offers have become standard practice due to the increasing costs of administering pension plans.
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Investing in Your Vacation

Why do most avoid this important investment? Why do so many of us not use our vacation days? Sales people talk about "leaving money on the table." Well, employees leave vacation on the table. And the cost to us is significant. In fact, Americans leave 429 million vacation hours on this proverbial table, according to a report from Forbes. And USA Today reports that, according to their study, over 30% of employees do not use all of their vacation days.
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Are You Aware of the Child Tax Credit Changes?

The Child Tax Credit (CTC) was introduced through the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 and it was a $500-per-child nonrefundable credit to provide tax relief to families. And over the past 20+ years, there have been a dizzying number of modifications that have increased the value of the tax credit as well as expanded its availability.
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Market Volatility: A Natural Part of the Investment Experience

Equities (i.e. stocks) represent the ownership of businesses and is the only asset class that, I believe, fully captures human ingenuity. For nearly a century, a broad cross-section of mainstream equities have provided an investment return in excess of three times that of inflation and twice that of comparable bonds. This equity premium is the way an efficient market prices in the unpredictability of equity returns -- i.e. volatility. What is stock market volatility?
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Does a Guaranteed Income Stream in Retirement Make Sense for You?

Everyone’s retirement cash flow situation is different. Some people are prepared with enough retirement savings to last their lifetime, others are not.  Still, others are unsure about the ‘ups and downs’ that can happen to their retirement savings and are concerned about variances in their monthly payments.  If you are one of those people that has concerns about out living your retirement savings, or watching retirement asset values fluctuate as the market fluctuates,
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When’s the Right Time to Retire?

Retirement is inevitable, but knowing exactly when to do so is often unclear. No matter when you actually begin your retirement, you'll benefit from planning your post-work life as early as possible. According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans who expect to retire at age 66 or older has risen dramatically, from 21% in 2002 to 41% in 2018.
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Donor-Advised Funds: A Solution to Gifting with Tax Benefits

Gifting, for many investors, is about the philanthropic support they want to give charities. Gifting to help make the world better by benefitting society is one reason many families choose to donate. The charitable giving tax deduction they received in the past was a bonus. The above-the-line deduction for charitable giving is $300 per calendar year per individual under the CARES Act.
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The Great Wealth Transfer: Is Your Family Prepared?

Over the next twenty years, a wealth transfer will occur that exceeds $30 trillion as the Baby Boomer generation passes the remainder of their wealth to the Millennials and subsequent generations. The Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) are considered the wealthiest generation, currently controlling 70% of the disposable income in the United States. It is imperative families develop a plan to transfer assets since the transfer of wealth is inevitable.
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Caregiving: A Decision That May Impact Your Retirement Savings

Many women have been a caregiver while raising children. Still, now many are caring for a loved one out of necessity as the older family member can no longer care for themselves. The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies report, The Many Faces of Caregivers, indicates that 42% of Generation Xers and 42% of Baby Boomers care for a parent, and 57% of Individuals born before 1946 are currently caring for a spouse or loved one.
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How Can You Smooth the Intergenerational Transfer of a Family Business?

If you own a business, you may have spent years dreaming of passing along the business to your children, nieces and nephews, or other family members after you retire. However, transferring a family business, and its ability to create wealth to the next generation, can often be fraught with hurt feelings and potential complications. What can family business owners do now to set the groundwork for a smooth transition?
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5 Investment Considerations for Small Business Owners

If you're a small business owner, many of the best practices employed by individual investors are also available to you (of course!), but you also have some additional options and factors to weigh while creating your investment plans. We've outlined five key differences for your consideration.
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Maximizing Military Retirement Benefits

Retiring from the military is a profound accomplishment. For many, this retirement will provide you with positive things, including the time and geographic stability you need to start a new career or simply enjoy leisure activities with your loved ones. But if you're worried about your post-retirement income or just aren't quite sure what your finances will look like once you're no longer an active member of the military, you are not alone.
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4 Reasons to Consider a Life Insurance Policy

Buying a life insurance policy is something that many people push off, sometimes until it is too late. For many people, the thought of buying life insurance means thinking about their death, which is something that most people wish to avoid. Life insurance is not about death, but instead about the future and security of your loved ones. If you have not yet made the jump to purchase your life insurance policy, below are four reasons you should consider one.
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Traditional IRAs versus Roth IRAs

Currently, there are two popular Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) vying for your attention: the traditional IRA and the Roth IRA. While both are long-term savings vehicles with tax benefits, each has different rules concerning contributions, age, and income that may change from one year to the next.
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Key Benefits of a Financial Advisor

Whether you've been wondering about boosting your investments, rates of return or are concerned that your financial affairs are a bit too complicated for your next of kin to handle, it may be time to seek advice from a financial professional. Financial professionals help their clients create strategies to develop their wealth, from optimizing their taxes to setting retirement savings goals. But how do you know whether it is time for you to seek professional financial guidance?
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Contribute to an IRA Before the May 17th Deadline

Taxpayers of all ages may be able to claim a deduction on their 2020 tax return for contributions made to their Individual Retirement Account made through May 17, 2021 (the U.S. Department of the Treasury is delaying the April 15th deadline to file and pay taxes until May 17th, giving individuals and businesses another month to file and then pay the government what they owe). And unlike in past years, there is no longer a maximum age for making IRA contributions.
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Retirement Planning: To Roth or Not to Roth?

When saving for retirement, it often makes sense to contribute to employer-sponsored retirement plans to take advantage of any available employer match opportunities. However, not everyone has access to an employer-sponsored plan. Even if you do, there are reasons you may want to consider using Traditional and/or Roth IRAs to supplement your retirement savings. There are important differences between the two types of accounts.[i]
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Key Considerations as You Start Receiving Social Security Benefits

As your retirement draws closer, you will probably start to have lots of questions such as: How much Social Security will I receive? When should I retire? How will I know when to retire? Do I have enough saved? What will I need to do to maintain health insurance after I retire? The answers to these questions can vary widely depending on your income, your job duties, and your assets. There are a few factors that everyone should keep in mind when you begin making your retirement decisions.
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Tips for Growing (and Preserving) Your Family Business

When you're first starting out with your own business, you're likely to be focused more on staying afloat than on contingency planning. But as your family business expands and grows, it's important to ensure that this is done in a sustainable way. Read on for some tips and tricks to consider to grow (and preserve) your family business.
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Investing for the Future

For years, you have diligently invested in your retirement portfolio, accumulating wealth that you hope will sustain you throughout your Golden Years. To help see that your assets are sufficient to help you support your lifestyle standards, there are important steps that you can take.
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Re-thinking Your Bucket List

When approaching the latter part of life, it is easy to get caught up in achieving every goal on your bucket list. Individual lists vary widely, but often are filled with wild adventures like skydiving and scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef. Bucket list items are the things one plans to do their entire life once they have the time and money to do it. Unfortunately, accomplishing all the items on a bucket list often does not go as planned. Whether it is an illness that gets in the way, a lack
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When to Begin Collecting Social Security

Deciding when to retire and begin collecting Social Security is an important life decision. For some, savings losses may dictate that you delay your retirement plans and continue working, which means postponing when you begin collecting Social Security. Current law allows workers to begin collecting Social Security between 62 and 70 years of age.
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Why Women Need to Save More Than Men

Men and women may not be on equal footing when it comes to investing for the future. On average, women work fewer years and earn less than men, but they also tend to live longer.1 Therefore, women must focus on the concerns that are unique to them when planning for retirement.
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Common Retirement Investment Mistakes

Only one-in-four Americans (27%) feel very confident that they will have enough money to live comfortably when they retire, according to the 2020 Retirement Confidence Survey Summary Report.?11 While there is no single action that can boost the collective confidence of retirees, there are several key investment mistakes that, if avoided, can help maximize retirement savings and provide confidence to those who are entering their Golden Years.
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